1869, Crawford County August 15. Correspondence of the St. Louis Democrat :
We of the Arcadia Valley, in the southern part of Crawford County, are having a new sensation which may lead to some new disclosures in nature history, if investigated as it should be. It is nothing less than the discovery of a wild man or a gorilla, or 'what is it'.
It has, at different times, been seen by almost every inhabitant of the valley, and it occasionally has been seen in the adjoining counties of Missouri, but it seems to make its home in this vicinity. Several times it has approached the cabins of the settlers, much to the terror of the women and children, especially if the men happen to be absent working in the fields.
In one instance it approached the house of one of our old citizens, but was driven away with clubs by one of the men. It has so near a resemblance to the human form that the men are unwilling to shoot it. It is difficult to give a description of this wild man or animal. It has a stooping gait, very long arms with immense hands or claw; generally walks on its hind legs but sometimes on all fours. The beast or 'what it is?' is as cowardly as it is ugly and it is next to impossible to get near enough to obtain a good view of it.
The settlers, not knowing what to call it, have christened it 'OLD SHEFF'. Since its appearance our fences are often found down, allowing the stock free range in our corn fields. I suppose OLD SHEFF is only folling his inclination, as it may be easier for him to pull them down than to climb over. However, as it is, curses loud and deep are heaped upon its head by the settlers. The settlers are divided in opinion as to whether it belongs to the human family or not. Probably it will be found to be a gorilla or large orangutan that has escaped from some menagerie in the settlements east of here.
At one time over sixty of the citizens turned out to hunt it down, but it escaped; but probably owing to the fright that it received it kept out of sight for several days, and just as the settlers were congratulating themselves that they were rid of an intolerable nuisance, OLD SHEFF came back again, seemingly as savage as ever. If this meets the eyes of any showman who has lost one of his collection of beast, he may know where to find it. At present it is the terror of all women and children in the valley. It cannot be caught and nobody is willing to shoot it.
M. S. Trimble
Posted to the BFRR web site by Matt M. (Matt@BFRO.net)
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