Your point is well taken about the people reporting these stories. Add to that, the desire by many back then to spin fanciful yarns - hunters, loggers, railroad types, the Old West is replete with tales from people like this.
I wouldn't say they were less significant. They're as significant as the tales and stories from today in my opinion.
No, no, no......those are the Amazon women in South America that wear the 5" stilettos. Of course, back in the day I dated a German girl for a while. Didn't shave her pits, legs..........and I can't mention what else was au natural. Once I got her cleaned up and using deodorant she dumped me. I'm sorry......what were we talking about?
Oh yes.....Bigfoot. Now I have the opposite opinion on these older reports. They didn't know about all the BS that is rampant on the web now, they just reported what they saw. I guess that just depends on how you see it. I'm just more skeptical of anyone reporting prints now than I am about those same reports made way back when.