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Geographical Index > United States > Iowa > Delaware County > Article # 55

Media Article # 55

Sunday, March 9, 1980

Bigfoot Rears His Hairy Head in Iowa Again

By T.J. Ryder
Des Moines Register

Many Sightings Reported in Delaware County

MANCHESTER, Iowa - Delaware County Sheriff Bert Elledge never strays far these days without the tranquilizer gun he keeps in his office. That's because Elledge has become the latest in a growing list of Iowa sheriffs who believe that there just might be something to all the talk about Bigfoot.

Elledge isn't the kind of man who courts publicity. Quiet and practical, he prefers to keep a low profile and even shuns the efforts of those who want to photograph him. But developments in Delaware County during the past two months have brought the press to his door.

Since Jan. 15 other Delaware residents -- solid, practical men like the sheriff himself -- have come to Elledge with tales of a strange-looking creature roaming the countryside. On his desk, the sheriff has a file that has grown thick with the testimony of what they've seen.

"There's been too many sightings, " Elledge said last week. "These people have got to be seeing something."

From the descriptions provided by witnesses, Elledge's nephew, Tommy Elledge, 15, of Edgewood, a budding young artist, drew a sketch of the creature. The Sheriff said two witnesses, who said they got a close look at the creature, say the drawing, which resembles the legendary Bigfoot, is a true likeness.

Rural residents who live near here are curious and puzzled about the sightings. One farmer, who asked that his name not be used in the newspaper, said farm folks are asking themselves, "Could there really be a creature like that in these parts?"

Deputy Dick Snyder said that though puzzled by the sightings, country people are taking the situation in stride, and he knows of no one who is arming for protection.

If there is a strange creature in these parts, there's evidence it's been here for some time. Elledge turned up a witness who says he saw a frightening sight in 1973 just north of Manchester.

That sighting, in September of 1973, was reported by Jerry Ewing, who at the time was a service manager for a Manchester auto dealer. Ewing, who now makes his home in Colorado, said in a phone interview last week that on the day of the sighting he had driven his pickup truck into the country. "I intended to spend my noon lunch period hunting squirrels," said Ewing. "I drove about five miles north of town and pulled into a clearing. I got out of the pickup and in a field about a hundred yards away I saw a strange man-like animal walking alone. It was about a foot taller than a normal man and was covered with hair and it was big, real big, going at about 400 pounds. I'm a hunter and I've seen lots of wild animals but I've never seen anything like that before. I couldn't believe my eyes."

Getting/Giving the Eye

"It went into some woods, then came out and looked at me. We looked at each other for maybe five minutes. I wanted to get a better look but all I had was a .22 (.22-caliber rifle) and I didn't want to get too close."

That sighting was not followed by a rash of others but in January of this year other such reports surfaced.

On Jan. 13, two Edgewood men came to Elledge and, after receiving assurances their names would be kept secret, told the Sheriff they were driving south out of Edgewood, which is 11 miles north of Manchester, when they saw a large form come onto the road from an abandoned farm. They said it came toward the car for several steps, then veered away.

They said they got a good look at it in the headlights of their car and that it was about seven feet tall and weighed about 350 to 400 pounds. They said it had a large chest and very long arms and moved in an upright position.

They also said it had a topknot on its head (a sort of pointed crown of hair or bone) and that long hair extended from the topknot to its shoulders.

The two said they returned in the daylight but were not able to track the animal because there was little snow.

Another Sighting

On Jan. 15, Cyril O'Brien, a railway engineer, said he spotted a strange animal near the railroad tracks near Manchester as he chugged by in his engine. He said it was bent over what he believed was the carcass of a cow, had long thick hair, and was "the meanest looking animal I've ever seen."

On Jan. 23, two men looking for sites to plant trees on their land north of Manchester came across strange tracks in the snow. The tracks were 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. They showed six toe prints. A state conservation officer said the tracks were made by an animal, but he couldn't identify the animal.

The reports are reminiscent of other Bigfoot sightings that have been reported in Iowa over the years. Among the more spectacular were the 1978 sightings in and around the small Humboldt County town of Ottosen, where a dozen residents reported encounters with a tall creature that resembled the legendary Bigfoot -- a hairy creature of the Pacific Northwest that walks upright like a man.

Other sightings were reported last fall in central Iowa.Some believe the beast exists and that it can provide the missing link between man and animal. Various areas have their own Bigfoot. For instance, he's known as the yeti or the abominable snowman in the mountains of Asia, and as mono grande, big monkey, in the Andes Mountains of South America. Deputy Snyder said hunters have asked permission to search for the animal in Delaware County.

"We refused," said Synder. "After all, he hasn't hurt any of us, and we don't want to hurt him."

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