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rashore

Historical Wildman Account from Tennessee

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rashore
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One thing I have always been interested in when it comes to the sasquatch/wood ape phenomenon is historical newspaper accounts of “wild men.” The accounts I am most interested in all occurred years – often decades – before Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin filmed what might very well have been a living breathing sasquatch at Bluff Creek, California or Jerry Crew found huge footprints surrounding his bulldozer near Willow Creek (an event which was heavily publicized and thought by many to be the moment bigfoot was “born”). NAWAC Chairman Alton Higgins brought the following historical report to my attention today.

 
The article in question was published on Friday May 5, 1871 in the Hagerstown Mail. The article concerns itself with sightings of a “strange and frightful being” that was seen off and on in McNairy County, Tennessee for several weeks in the spring of that year. Following is an excerpt from the article:

https://texascryptidhunter.blogspot.com/2018/04/historical-widman-account-from-tennessee.html

 

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Night Walker

He is said to be seven feet high and possessed of great muscular power. His eyes are unusually large and fiery red; his hair hangs in a tangle and matted mass below his waist, and his beard reaches to below his middle. His entire body is covered with hair and his whole aspect is most frightful.

...

Seven years later a wild man was captured in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee and put on display. He is described as having “a heavy growth of hair on his head and a dark, reddish beard about six inches long. His eyes present a frightful appearance, being at least twice the size of an averaged sized eye. Some of his toes are formed together, which give his feet a strange appearance, and his height, when standing perfectly erect, is about six feet five inches.” This description (particularly the prominent eyes) matches up pretty well with the original description, allowing for distance and/or exaggeration.

However, instead of being covered all over with hair, close inspection revealed that “his whole body is covered with a layer of scales, which drop off at regular periods, in the spring and fall, like the skin of a rattle snake.” Seen from a distance, perhaps the "scales" resembled a covering of hair...

Daily globe., October 29, 1878
The farmer and mechanic. November 07, 1878, Page 31

 

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Night Walker

More Wild Men from Tennessee:

1881, Oct 21 – Referred to as “the wild man”, Mason Ivins took to roaming the woods in Monroe county after “he fell in love with a girl that didn’t reciprocate.”   

1884, Dec 18 - A wild man was reportedly captured at Sweeney's Cave near Jasper, Tennessee. More of the fell-in-love-with-a-girl-who-didn't reciprocate variety of wild man rather than the Bigfoot-kind, this one has an interesting story to it which is worth re-telling. I'll fill in the details shortly - I'm still piecing it together via newspaper archives and trying to make sense of it...

To be continued...

p.s. Does love still make "wild men" of us? Does anyone know of any modern examples of taking to the wilderness after love spurned?

 

 

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Tatetopa

Even 100 and 200 years ago newspapers were  being run by folks that liked to report a sensational story and sell a few extra papers now and again.  They were not living in an age of innocence.  many sources might pick up and report on the same story, not too surprising that they concur.  

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Not A Rockstar

I think there are hermits out there, maybe more than we know today, living in small huts or caves even, but perhaps this is less than the degree you mean as a wild man? 

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Iilaa'mpuul'xem
32 minutes ago, Not A Rockstar said:

I think there are hermits out there, maybe more than we know today, living in small huts or caves even, but perhaps this is less than the degree you mean as a wild man? 

Your comment reminded me of Sawney Bean... the cave-dwelling cannibal, wildman and his family in Scotland... 

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Not A Rockstar

Yeah some just retreat, some do it due to mental illness. I can imagine some of the early "Bigfoot" tales were from kids seeing one of these recluses. When I was young I thought maybe some ancient hominid did have a small presence in the woods but there is too much tech and people and all that for me to entertain it anymore. He'd have been found, same as Nessie, who was my favorite to believe in growing up :). 

JMO. 

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Iilaa'mpuul'xem
6 minutes ago, Not A Rockstar said:

Yeah some just retreat, some do it due to mental illness. I can imagine some of the early "Bigfoot" tales were from kids seeing one of these recluses. When I was young I thought maybe some ancient hominid did have a small presence in the woods but there is too much tech and people and all that for me to entertain it anymore. He'd have been found, same as Nessie, who was my favorite to believe in growing up :). 

JMO. 

Nessie, must be most people's favourite, I took my kids many times to the Loch, booked in at the local B&B's and Hotels, spent our days on the waters edge looking her, great times and great memories, the possibility of her existence have left many happy moments in our lives, and the Cottingley Fairies, (we live 10 minutes for where they were seen)... Never give in on your believes, @Not A Rockstar or you will miss out on the memories.

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Not A Rockstar

I don't, still have a pile of them, @Iilaa'mpuul'xem but, I agree. Too little joy and light in this world. 

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jaylemurph
2 hours ago, Iilaa'mpuul'xem said:

Your comment reminded me of Sawney Bean... the cave-dwelling cannibal, wildman and his family in Scotland... 

The idea of "Wild Men" date back to at least the early Middle Ages, when the idea as such probably got muddled up with misunderstandings of Christianity and older Celtic/Germanic gods. In the 14th Century, the queen of France held a ball with people dressed up as wild men, some of whom caught on fire and burned to death:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_des_Ardents

--Jaylemurph

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Swede
57 minutes ago, jaylemurph said:

The idea of "Wild Men" date back to at least the early Middle Ages, when the idea as such probably got muddled up with misunderstandings of Christianity and older Celtic/Germanic gods. In the 14th Century, the queen of France held a ball with people dressed up as wild men, some of whom caught on fire and burned to death:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_des_Ardents

--Jaylemurph

Interesting. Perhaps the antecedent of the (Appalachian associated) chivaree?

.

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jaylemurph
27 minutes ago, Swede said:

Interesting. Perhaps the antecedent of the (Appalachian associated) chivaree?

.

Very probably.

But to be fair, I grew up in the Appalachians and never heard of it until just now. (Well, charivaris, I had, but not this mountain version. I'm very interested.)

--Jaylemurph

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Sir Wearer of Hats
2 hours ago, jaylemurph said:

The idea of "Wild Men" date back to at least the early Middle Ages, when the idea as such probably got muddled up with misunderstandings of Christianity and older Celtic/Germanic gods. In the 14th Century, the queen of France held a ball with people dressed up as wild men, some of whom caught on fire and burned to death:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_des_Ardents

--Jaylemurph

It’s potentislly older than that - from the very early days of civilisation where the forests and woodlands were “the wild”, places to be feared and anyone who was at home in them “the outsider” or “the other”, wild, untamed and dangerous - something to be feared.

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Night Walker

The capture of a wild man with long matted hair and very little clothing at Sweeten’s Cave near Jasper (reported on December 18, 1884) created a sensation in Tennessee more so than previous “wild man” stories. It was thought that the captured wild man was John Neal from a prominent family in Alabama who went missing from Tullahoma, Tenn., several months earlier. At the time of his disappearance, Neal had been employed as personal secretary by a businesswoman of great wealth by the name of Miss Maud St. Pierre who was in the process of purchasing and developing vast tracts of mineral land in Marion and Anderson counties. A reward of $1,000 (almost $25,000 in today’s money) was offered by Miss St. Pierre when extensive searches failed to find Neal’s whereabouts. This particular wild man, then, could have been worth a lot of money to his captors.

It was rumoured that Neal had been suffering from delirium tremens and had been hopelessly in love with his employer when he disappeared. Neal’s employer, Miss Maud St. Pierre, was also the subject of many rumours – she was described as being a “mysterious character”, granddaughter of wealthy socialite Myra Clark Gaines, and with a personal worth of some $3,000,000 (over $70 million today) with which she would travel on horseback through the mountains with saddlebags full of money. It had also been rumoured that Neal had been kidnapped for ransom and that St. Pierre, herself, had something to do with his disappearance.

Seeking to build a railroad from Anderson Station, Tenn., to service her nearby mines, Miss St. Pierre was in New York on business when she spoke to a reporter the next day. “The report concerning Mr. Neal, my secretary, and myself is incorrect in some respects. There is nothing at all mysterious about me. I am simply a business woman. My success in business has been a surprise to many people, who think a woman knows nothing of business, and on this account several stories have been started about me.

“I employ fifty men whom I hire and pay personally and am compelled to be on horseback nearly all day, but I never carry large sums about me and have never made the slightest claim to any relationship to Myra Clark Gains.” Determined to set the record straight, St. Pierre reiterated, “There is nothing mysterious about me. I am a native of Louisiana, have been abroad, and am in business to make money.”

On John Neal, St. Pierre side-stepped the rumour of their romance, “He belongs to one of the first families of Alabama. He is a cousin of the late Wm. M. Love, member of Congress from Alabama, and is a gentleman in every respect. He was employed by me as a secretary and had been with me about one year when he disappeared. He had been sick for a short time.

“On June 8th he left his house at Anderson, about noon, and went to Glen, a short distance away. He was missed almost immediately, and a party started in search of him. Not more than twenty minutes later the flowers of a button hole bouquet which he had worn were found scattered over the rocks in Glen, but no other trace could be found. I used every means in my power to find him. Ponds were dragged. All my men were included in the searches, and I hired detectives. A reward of $1,000 is still standing, and I would gladly pay it for his recovery.

“How or why he disappeared I can’t say. I had sent him down to Anderson from Huntsville, fifty miles away, to get money from the bank with which to pay the men, and it is possible that some ruffians may have known this and may have followed and killed him, but I don’t know anything about it. There were five disappearances in six weeks at this time, all of persons living within a radius of fifty miles.”

As for the recently captured Tennessee wild man, St. Pierre believed it could be Neal. “A number of rumours of his having been seen have come to me from time to time. One coloured woman said she saw a man in ragged clothes run in and out of a deserted church of Bennett’s Cave, which is six miles from Anderson.  The woman is quite certain it was Neal; she knew him well.” Search parties were promptly sent to the area but found no trace of the man. 

“I believe the report that he was found in Sweeten’s Cave is correct. The caves are so many and the paths in them intricate, that a person might easily hide in them for a long time without being discovered. I think he is suffering from temporary aberration of mind. The story about his having delirium tremens is entirely false, for he never was under the influence of liquor.”

Although what became of the wild man found in Sweeten’s Cave is unknown, he certainly was not John Neal.

To be continued…
 

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Swede
20 hours ago, jaylemurph said:

Very probably.

But to be fair, I grew up in the Appalachians and never heard of it until just now. (Well, charivaris, I had, but not this mountain version. I'm very interested.)

--Jaylemurph

Yes, the potential connection could be an interesting study, though more in your bailiwick than my own. Please keep us updated should any further insights come to light. The topic may even be paper-worthy.

Edit: Typo.

Edited by Swede

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Oniomancer

Bigfootforums member Tirademan compiled a huge collection of wildman accounts from old newspapers. Unfortunately he's since passed and with the site reorganization, the ones he actually posted are behind a paywall.  Not sure if any of them were on an open subforum that Wayback machine could bring up or not.

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oldrover
4 minutes ago, Oniomancer said:

Bigfootforums member Tirademan compiled a huge collection of wildman accounts from old newspapers. Unfortunately he's since passed and with the site reorganization, the ones he actually posted are behind a paywall.  Not sure if any of them were on an open subforum that Wayback machine could bring up or not.

I've heard of this, a friend of mine remembers these, and was looking for them a few years ago, but was understandably reluctant to pay. I'll ask him if he did in the end. I think he did. 

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Night Walker

2vl41vc.jpg

John Neal departed Anderson in the morning of Sunday, June 15th (not June 8th), to attend to business in Franklin on behalf of Miss Maud St. Pierre, a wealthy business woman who had just purchased 22,000 acres of land. Neal was last seen at midday picking mountain flowers by the side of the road, in the area of Glen just a few miles away. An extensive and expensive search conducted at the behest of his employer found the flowers from his button-hole bouquet but no further trace of the man. A reward of $1,000 for his return was subsequently offered by St. Pierre. A rumour circulating in the newspapers that Neal had been kidnapped for ransom does not seem very credible. One thing was certain -- Neal had disappeared.

The rumour of some relationship between Neal and his employer, however, did gain some traction. It was reported that in Memphis 10 months prior to his disappearance, Neal had procured a marriage license to Maud St. Pierre but that it was returned unexecuted. A row presumably followed as the couple were ejected the next morning from the luxury hotel in which they were staying.

In the following months the disappearance of Neal, St. Pierre continued to conduct business and attract speculation. It was suggested that St. Pierre was from the nation’s political capital in Washington and was thought that she was representing a company with capital stock of over $100,000. It was revealed that St. Pierre had purchased more coal and timber lands in Anderson, Tennessee, and was plans on building a town with all modern conveniences to service them. She was also in the process of supplying Chattanooga with the finest drinking water piped in from a nearby spring which she had also just recently purchased.

fdfy3p.jpg

Interviewed by a reporter in Oct, 1884, St. Pierre, is described as, “a rather tall, fine-looking lady, with erect carriage, a keen eye and a perceptible something about her which unmistakably means business.” St. Pierre spoke briefly of the disappearance of Neal and asked whether she was from England. “Oh, no; I was born in Louisiana, but having spent most of my life abroad a great many people are of the opinion that I am English.” St. Pierre went on to reveal that she took charge of the family business at the age of seventeen when her father died; her mother later passed away prior to her stay in Europe.

St. Pierre also spoke of her plans to develop the land in and around Tennessee, to harvest timber to make colonies for disenfranchised white families from the South who would provide labour rather than using cheap convict labour which she detested. She estimated the cost of such projects at about $1,300,000 which, St. Pierre suggested, was still one tenth the cost of doing it in Washington or New York where she preferred to spend the winter. 

Indeed, St. Pierre was in New York in December of that year when the “wild man” thought to be John Neal was captured. Neal’s whereabouts remained a mystery but St. Pierre continued ploughing ahead in business during 1885:
In January it was announced that an extensive coal mine and marble factory were to be opened in Anderson, Tennessee, to be followed with a bucket manufacturer, paint factory, blast furnace, and railroad.

vziskx.jpg

Preliminary mining began in one of St. Pierre’s mountain properties in March. On site general Manager, W. H. Lovell, was only waiting for Miss Maud’s arrival before commencing operations on a larger scale. An article described St. Pierre as “probably the most independent woman in the world.” Called the “Coal Queen,” St. Pierre reportedly owned nearly 300,000 acres of mountains and valleys and plains In Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky rich in coal, metals, and other minerals. Even the horse St. Pierre used to ride over her domain was the sister of famous racehorse Maud S

Back in Tennessee in April, St. Pierre spoke enthusiastically to a reporter about her plans to build herself a residential cabin with Queen Anne style interior on a mountain spur with superb views. She attributed her success to being “more intelligent” than most. “I hate a lie and love fair dealing.” When she first arrived, labours were paid 25c per day in bacon but St. Pierre insisted, against advice, on paying her men $1 per day in actual money and was proud to inspire the loyalty of her sixty employees. 

so47pw.jpg

Finally, in December, St. Pierre was negotiating the purchase of 55,000 acres of land in Lawrence County, Tennessee. 

After this busy year, nothing more was reported about Maud St. Pierre other than receiving a mention among the nation’s other notably wealthy women in a widely circulated article in April, 1887, entitled, OUR RICHEST WOMEN. A LOOK AT THE MONEY QUEENS OF AMERICA. 

The spotlight did return to Maud St. Pierre when her former secretary and lover, John Neal, reappeared in April, 1888.

To be continued…
 

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Night Walker

9qfjsx.jpg

Robert McCallow was walking along a steep bluff in the mountains just to the east of Anderson, Tenn., in April, 1888, when he came across a discarded shoe. Although weathered, the shoe was of good quality so he took it home to show his friend, Taylor Stephens. The area in which the shoe had been found was rarely frequented by locals as it was particularly rugged and thick with vegetation. Agreeing the find to be suspicious, they decided to search the area more thoroughly on the weekend. 

On Saturday morning, after less than an hour, the men came across a human skeleton lying in a very dense thicket. The bones were described as being in a “confused state” but, nonetheless, were all there except the lower jaw. Not wanting to disturb the remains too much, the men marked the location, removed the distinctive coat and, with the shoe found earlier, headed to the nearby station to notify the Colonel. 

33erdcj.jpg

Colonel Anderson suspected that that he knew whose remains the men had found but called in some prominent locals for confirmation as McCallow and Stephens were sent back to gather the skeletal remains in a small box. Dr. Keith arrived and recognized the distinctive silk lapel on the coat front and Major Wall, who had just come in from Stevenson, positively identified the shoes, “as he once taken them out of a place where they were left as security for drinks.” When McCallow and Stephens returned with the remains, four upper teeth found plugged with gold confirmed their suspicions beyond a shadow of doubt – John Neal had been found.

The next day, Col. Anderson spoke to reporters in order to give all the facts known concerning the disappearance of John Neal and the relationship existing between him and Maud St. Pierre, “an alleged woman of wealth.”

On Wednesday, June 11th, 1883, “Maud St. Pierre came to my house and stated that she was possessed of enormous wealth, and had made a trip to Anderson for the purpose of purchasing all of the vast ranges of mineral land in that section. She added that her private secretary, John W. Neal, and a geologist, Col. Walls, would also want accommodation, as they were in her employ, and she wished them near. They were admitted as guests of the Anderson mansion. 

ydj0x.jpg

“Miss St. Pierre was about thirty-five years of age, and claimed to be an English lady of vast wealth and unlimited resources. She negotiated with Colonel Anderson and bought from him 1,400 acres of mineral land, the price being $6 per acre. She gave him a check on a bank at Huntsville, Ala., for $150, to hold an option for ten days.

“Major Wall, of Stevenson, Ala., was engaged, presumably by Miss St. Pierre, as a geologist, but on his arrival at Anderson he was really a nurse to attend and wait on her alleged private secretary, John W. Neal. Major Wall was with Neal for only a day when the latter had a bad case of delirium tremens, and Miss St. Pierre gave Wall leave of absence. 

Col. Anderson described Neal as being in a pitiful state. “Miss St. Pierre clung to him through all his illness, which she explains as follows: She was engaged to be married to Hon. William Lowe, of Alabama. Before their marriage could be celebrated, Congressman Lowe died, and Maud, heart-broken, determined to take under her protection the favourite nephew of the Congressman, no other than John W. Neal, of Huntsville, Ala.”

2nsxw1u.jpg

Then on Sunday morning, June 14, 1883, a great sensation was created by the mysterious disappearance of John Neal. Neal left Col. Anderson’s residence, going east, on Sunday morning. He met several farmers, who asked him where he was going. Neal had replied that he was going to Huntsville, but it was noticed that he was going in almost a directly opposite direction to that city. Skilful detectives later searched every conceivable place within five miles, but no trace was ever found of the missing secretary until now.
“The silly rumour that he was murdered is untrue,” Col. Anderson continued. “The facts show that he crawled into this thicket and, in a choking fit of delirium, died. His body was found just one mile from his last disappearance from human eyes.”

The spotlight then turned to Miss Maud St. Pierre. “The lady who has been so prominent in this case was last heard from in Florida, but her whereabouts during the past three years has remained an impenetrable mystery.”

Where was Maud St. Pierre? And, more importantly, who was she really?

To be continued...
 

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Night Walker

It is evident that Maud St. Pierre did have money – just not the vast amounts she claimed and was rumoured to have. The $150 cheque St. Pierre paid Col. Anderson in June, 1884, towards the initial purchase of his land in Franklin County was sent to the bank at Murfeesboro and, after corresponding with the Huntsville bank, was initially refused. Anderson, however, was mollified when he later collected $700 as down payment for the land from St. Pierre. While staying in Anderson, St. Pierre was reported to have spent some $1,500 as she sought to buy more land and as payment in wages for the extensive search for her lost secretary. Those who have had dealings with Miss St. Pierre at this time claimed that she was very prompt in her engagements and able to carry them out. However, the large contracts she negotiated, embracing thousands of acres across three states, were all eventually defaulted.

St. Pierre, accompanied by Maj. W.J. Whitthorne Esq., was in Kentucky in December, 1885, negotiating to buy more land. It is after this time that her whereabouts became a mystery. 

After the remains of John Neal had been found in April, 1888, local reporters began the search for St. Pierre. It appears that sometime in 1886, she went to Milton, Florida, where she continued the ruse of being a “woman of affairs.” After a short stay, St. Pierre departed on a short journey in order to conduct further business but did not return. She left several heavy trunks behind, and as the bill for her board was unpaid, the trunks were opened and found to contain nothing but wood.

In January, 1887, St. Pierre appeared in Escambia County, Florida, to take charge of a school in the town of Brooklyn but failed to get the desired position. For the next 15 months, St. Pierre lodged with a couple who were struggling financially but she paid no rent, while continuing to negotiate to buy large tracts of timber land In Conecuh and adjoining counties. No money was passed, however, and when the payments were due the contracts were again forfeited. To settle her board bill, St. Pierre presented a draft on behalf of Col. Cranston, of Washington, but asked that it not be presented before June, the following year.

After Col. Anderson’s revelations following the retrieval of Neal’s remains, St. Pierre moved to a point in the woods fifteen miles east of Brewton, Alabama, seeking seclusion among the poor and illiterate. The residents of Conecuh received the impression that she was in hiding as if from some terrible crime, but those who had been fortunate enough to question St. Pierre about her past received no statement in reply. 

St. Pierre’s secrets remained intact. The final words printed about Maud St. Pierre at that time were, appropriately: “Who is she?”
___

It’d be easy to dismiss Maud St. Pierre as nothing but a con-artist having presented herself as something she was not and engaging in business beyond her means. Yet the more I examine the archives and consider her story the less inclined I am to do so. 

So St. Pierre was not a wealthy businesswoman and the big business deals she negotiated ended up forfeited – so what? What money was lost was her own. While the details of St. Pierre’s own life that she shared, like the various rumours she attracted, were a mixture of history and fiction – the information that is corroborated seems to stand out and it indicates that she was an otherwise good person who acted with the best of intentions.

In the online newspaper archives I was able to access, Maud St. Pierre first appeared in the town of Martin, Tenn., in the fall of 1878 offering her services as a nurse during an outbreak of yellow fever. Entirely without means, St. Pierre stayed with several families of Martin and quickly became a popular and appreciated figure in town. 

In the summer of 1879, Memphis was suffering a terrible outbreak of yellow fever. The city had been decimated – 5,000 of the 40,000 residents died while another 20,000 residents, those who could afford it, fled. A wealthy Martin citizen furnished with the means to travel to Memphis to continue nursing the sick which she did.

In early December of that year, St. Pierre, recognized for her contribution, travelled to Washington D.C. with Mary Eliza (Dillingham) Land (wife of Judge Thomas Thompson Land) and daughter. They stayed at Dumbarton House

In March, 1882, Miss St. Pierre was entertaining prominent citizens and foreign dignitaries with her musical prowess and may have already been in a relationship with the widower, Congressman William Manning Lowe of Huntsville, Ala. Lowe, a former Confederate officer who served with distinction, was well supported by Alabama independents and Republicans and had positioned himself as the candidate of the “common man” – a position with which St. Pierre, herself, identified. By June she was associated with the temperance movement and corresponding with other prominent Americans seeking to improve society. 

Whether St. Pierre was actually engaged to the Congressman or not, when Lowe died in October while in his home at Huntsville, St. Pierre was once again without means -- having connections but no standing or wealth. It is significant that St. Pierre first sought to buy land in Lowe’s homeland, Huntsville.

Lowe’s wayward nephew, John Neal, seemed to have adored her and St. Pierre was not without affection for him. Despite her protestations to the contrary, Neal did seem to have a big problem with alcohol. Given her association with the temperance movement she may well have been trying to ween Neal of his addiction at the time of his disappearance. St. Pierre spent much money to search for Neal when he went missing and paid her employees generously and promptly. She had planned to develop the land for the betterment of struggling Southern families.

Besides the questions of who she was before the outbreak of yellow fever in 1878 and what ultimately became of her after 1888, perhaps the real mystery is how St. Pierre obtained enough money between October 1882 and June 1884 in the first place to begin her ruse as a "Jay Gould in a frock"...

The End.

The Wild Man, the Missing Dandy, and Jay Gould in a Frock

Edited by Night Walker

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Night Walker
On 4/18/2018 at 3:15 AM, Oniomancer said:

Bigfootforums member Tirademan compiled a huge collection of wildman accounts from old newspapers. Unfortunately he's since passed and with the site reorganization, the ones he actually posted are behind a paywall.  Not sure if any of them were on an open subforum that Wayback machine could bring up or not.

I've been collecting old accounts of the "wild man" and related figures ("hairy man", "man of the woods", "ourang-outang", etc) with the goal of putting them online in the one place for free along with any additional details (back-stories, resolutions, etc) I can find. There are heaps and each time I search I find more so I have had little time to check the details. It's on my list of things to do so I'm sure I'll get around to it sooner or later...

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