Geographical Index > United States > Arkansas > Miller County > Article # 260
Media Article # 260
Sunday, June 24, 2001
The Fouke Monster: A look at how the media recorded the reports of the 1971 alleged sighting of a large creature in rural Miller County, Ark.
By Staff Writer
It was not a monster story by any measure.
It didn't even make Page One of the local newspaper.
Yet 30 years later, the tale spawned from that first bit of basic news reporting is still alive and growing. From its humble beginnings, the Fouke Monster developed a life of its own.
Jim Powell, now building manager at the Bi-State Justice Building, wrote the first story when he was a reporter for the Texarkana Gazette and the Texarkana Daily News in 1971. The Monday, May 3 headline read: "Hairy 'monster' hunted in Fouke sector." Here is the text from the original story:
By JIM POWELL/Staff Writer
Miller County Sheriff's Department officers said early today a search of the area where a mysterious creature was spotted near Fouke early Sunday failed to reveal a clue.
"Members of my department searched the area but didn't find a thing. I don't know what it could have been," Sheriff Leslie Greer said.
Bobby Ford, 25, of Rt. 1, Box 220, Texarkana, Ark, who lives approximately 10 miles south of Texarkana on U.S. Highway 71, said the unidentified creature attacked him at his home shortly before midnight Saturday.
Ford was treated at St. Michael Hospital for minor scratches and mild shock and released.
"After the thing grabbed me and I broke free, I was moving so fast I didn't stop to open the door. I just ran through it," Ford said.
The "creature" was described by Ford as being about seven feet tall and about three feet wide across the chest. "At first I thought it was a bear but it runs upright and moves real fast," he said.
Ford, his brother Don, and Charles Taylor saw the creature several times shortly after midnight and shot at it seven times with a shotgun.
"It first started Wednesday when our wives heard something walking around on the porch. Then Friday night about midnight the thing tried to break into the house again.
"Last night it tried to get in again," Don Ford said.
Elizabeth Ford said she was sleeping in the front room of the frame house when, "I saw the curtain moving on the front window and a hand sticking through the window. At first I thought it was a bear's paw but it didn't look like that. It had heavy hair all over it and it had claws. I could see its eyes. They looked like coals of fire ... real red," she said. "It didn't make any noise. Except you could hear it breathing."
Ford said they spotted the creature in back of the house with the aid of a flashlight. "We shot several times at it then and then called Ernest Walraven, constable of Fouke. He brought us another shotgun and a stronger light. We waited on the porch and then saw the thing closer to the house. We shot again and thought we saw it fall. Bobby, Charles and myself started walking to where we saw it fall," he said.
About that time, according to Don Ford, they heard the women in the house screaming and Bobby went back.
"I was walking the rungs of a ladder to get up on the porch when the thing grabbed me. I felt a hairy arm come over my shoulder and the next thing I knew we were on the ground. The only thing I could think about was to get out of there. The thing was breathing real hard and his eyes were about the size of a half dollar and real red.
"I finally broke away and ran around the house and through the front door. I don't know where he went," Bobby Ford said.
"We heard Bobby shouting and by the time we got there everything was over. We didn't see a thing," Don Ford said.
Everyone at the house said they saw the creature moving in the fields close to the house. All said it cold move fast.
Walraven said he was called to the scene about 12:35 a.m. (Sunday, May 2) and searched the area without finding anything. "I looked through the surrounding fields and woods for about an hour. Then, I gave them my shotgun and light. A short time later they called back and told me they had shot at it again. I went back and stayed until 5 a.m."
Walraven said several years ago resident of the Jonesville Community near Fouke reported seeing a "hairy monster" in the area.
"Several persons saw the thing and shot at it, some from close range. They said nothing seemed to stop it. They described it as being about seven feet tall and looking just like a naked man covered with brown hair," Walraven said.
All that remaining Sunday morning at the Ford house was several strange tracks-that appeared to be left by something with three toes-and several scratch marks on the front porch that appeared to have been made by something with three claws.
Several pieces of tin nailed around the bottom of the house had been ripped away and another window had been damaged by the creature, according to Ford.
"We plan to stay here tonight and see if we can get the thing if it returns," Don Ford said.
"I'm not staying her anymore unless they kill that thing, Patricia Ford said.
As for Bobby Ford, he said, "I've had it here. I'm going back to Ashdown."
The next day, the Texarkana Daily News and the Texarkana Gazette both published the same follow-up story indicating sentiment was shifting away from the monster theory and towards another, less abominable, wild thing. The Gazette played the short story on its front page. Its headline read: "Fouke fields combed in search of monster."
The Daily News played the story inside. Its headline read: "Monster may be mountain lion."
The story itself contained the first published reference to the Fouke Monster.
The text reads, in part:
"We think now it might have been a big cat, like a mountain lion or puma," Don Ford said Monday while sitting on his porch watching people wander through his fields looking for a trace of the "Fouke Monster."
After a few paragraphs of background information, a few more new bits of information emerge:
The people said they had been living in the house for five days and had heard something around the house on Wednesday and Friday nights. "It is always around midnight every time," Mrs. Ford said.
The family said about 100 persons had been to the house Monday looking under the porch and in the fields. "I work nights and haven't been able to get any sleep today," Don Ford said.
Less than three weeks later, reporter Powell was working another sighting. The headline in the Monday, May 24 edition of the Daily News read: "Monster is spotted by Texarkana group."
The Fouke 'monster' has been seen again, the first sentence began. It continued outlining the sighting of a large hairy creature about midnight Saturday crossing the highway about two miles south of Fouke. What follows are the eyewitness accounts excerpted from the story:
Mr. and Mrs. D.C. Woods Jr., and Mrs. R. H. Sedgass all of Texarkana, who were returning from Shreveport said the creature crossed the highway in front of their automobile.
"It was hunched over and running upright. It had long dark hair and looked real large. It didn't look too tall, but I guess that's because it was bent over. It was swinging its arms kind of like a monkey does.
"I though my eyes were playing tricks on me but there it was. My husband turned to me after it crossed the road and asked me if I saw it too," Mrs. Wilma Woods said.
Mrs. Woods said when the creature started across the highway, "we were just awed.
"It was just unbelievable what we saw. I had been reading about the thing but thought it was just a hoax. Now I know it's true. It wasn't a bear," she said.
Woods said when he first noticed the creature he thought he was going to hit it.
"It was really moving fast across the highway ... faster than a man. I though we were going to hit it. The thing didn't act like it even noticed us. It didn't look at the car.
"I looked like a giant monkey in a way. It had dark long hair and I would guess it would weigh well over 200 pounds," he said.
Mrs. Sedgass, who was riding in the back seat of the Woods automobile said, "I heard them say they saw the thing and glanced up. All I saw was a large shadow as it entered the woods to our right. I don't know what it was, but it was something big. Some people don't think there is anything to it (the monster) but I do."
Other stories were written in the ensuing days, yet the big monkey speculation never completely died. In a Wednesday, June 16, 1971, story written by Texarkana Gazette staff writer Barry Powell under the headline "He's been sighted again: Monster -a monkey's uncle," this theory raised its ape-like head again.
FOUKE, Ark.-The more skeptical persons in the Fouke area have dismissed the Fouke Monster as "so much monkey business."
They may be closer to the truth than they realize.
Miller County Sheriff Leslie Greer said a sighting Tuesday of a creature on a gravel road two miles south of Fouke has led officers to believe the creature is a member of the ape family-maybe even a "monkey's uncle."
Sheriff Greer said he believes the creature sighted Tuesday is the same creature that has been seen several times in the Fouke area since the first monster incident May 1.
Sheriff Greer said Al Williams and A. L. Tipton, both residents of the rural community, spotted the creature as it "slouched" across the road in front of the car early Tuesday.
Greer said the two men told officers they were close enough to see that the creature was either a small ape or a large monkey. "It appeared to be about three or four feet tall as it crouched over and walked across the road," Tipton told officers.
Williams and Tipton were traveling a gravel road about one-fourth of a mile from the soybean field where officers investigated the discovery of strange animal tracks in the field.
Sheriff Greer said he believes the creature spotted Tuesday morning fits the various general descriptions of creatures spotted in the Fouke area since the creature allegedly attacked a resident May 1.
Since that sighting, residents of the Fouke area have been reporting "strange noises" and several have seen creatures and described them as being "seven feet tall, with hair all over and real red eyes."
Sightings of the creature have been reported in the Southwest area of Texarkana, mostly in wooded areas on Oats street. Tracts of a strange animal were reported found in a vacant part of the fertilizer plant near the intersection of Oats Street and Dudley Avenue.
Sheriff Greer said he and several deputies, along with several residents of the area of Fouke where the creature was spotted Tuesday, attempted to set dogs on the trail of the creature.
"The dogs refused to follow the trail," Willie Smith of Fouke, said Tuesday.
Smith, owner of the soybean field where tracks were found Monday, said the dogs could not follow the trail because "It was too hot and the woods are too dry to hold a scent."
Sheriff Greer said another attempt to locate the creature and capture it will be made "if the weather cools off and it rains." Greer said the dogs would be able to follow the trail of the creature if the ground holds some moisture so that the scent of the trail can be followed.
"Evidently the creature is harmless, unless cornered," Sheriff Greer said. "We certainly don't want anyone to shoot the creature, since it does appear to be harmless. We'll try and track it again, and probably shoot it with a tranquilizer gun to capture it."
The sheriff said he feels certain the creature would remain in that area of the county.
The Tuesday sighting of the creature was the second sighting of an ape-like creature in the area since the tracks were found Monday. Sheriff Greer said several women and children who had traveled to the area to look at the prints in the soybean field reported seeing he ape-like creature on Monday.
"I feel like this creature that was seen Tuesday is the same creature that has been reported seen in this area since early May," Sheriff Greer said.
Believe what you want, but the sightings of this creature have never stopped in this region. There were even a few reported last year, to various organizations that track these type of sightings.
Yet none of them has ever captured the imagination that the first few experiences with the Fouke Monster did.
If you have tales or theories to tell about the Fouke monster, please send them to us. We'd like to publish your thought on the whole deal on this, the 30th anniversary of the famous sighting. Mail them to: Fouke Monster c/o Texarkana Gazette, 315 Pine St., Texarkana, Texas. Or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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