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Bigfoot in Texas?
By Craig Woolheater

  Maps comparing river basins, precipitation amounts, and bigfoot sightings in Texas. More information.

Some people think that the Bigfoot phenomenon is strictly a Pacific Northwest occurrence. They would be sadly mistaken. There have been reported sightings in every state in the Union with the exception of Hawaii.

In East Texas, which is where the majority of the reported sightings of Bigfoot occur in the state, there is nearly 12 million acres of forestland. That is equivalent to 12 million football fields. There are four national forests and five state forests in Texas, all located in East Texas, the primary and most important forest area in Texas. The East Texas Pine Belt, or "Piney Woods" as it is commonly called, extends over forty-three counties and accounts for almost all the state's commercial timber. Marion County is smack dab in the Piney Woods.

There has been a long history of sightings in the state of Texas. One of the first in the history books is the strange case of the "The Wild Woman Of The Navidad". This is a story that was recounted in the "Legends of Texas" published by the Texas Folklore Society in 1924. The creature was described as covered in short brown hair and was very fast. She eluded capture because the horses were so afraid of the strange creature that they could not be urged within reach of the lasso. These events occurred in 1837 in the Texas settlements of the lower Navidad. Mysterious barefoot tracks were seen frequently in the area. There are Native American legends dating back hundreds of years that describe tribes of giants that were hair-covered and lived in the woods.

A report that I came across years ago was written up in a Bigfoot newsletter in 1970. It was written by a man from California who shared a barracks in the Army with two soldiers from Longview. He wrote "In or about the year 1965, there was a rash of reports of giant hairy creatures roaming the thickets and back country between Jefferson and Longview, Texas, but nearest to Longview. A man and his little daughter reported it as being a large, black and not a bear. Several head of cattle and a couple of people were supposedly killed by it. Private Jacobs was a member of a posse that hunted the creature when he was a teenager. He told me that he saw the body of one of the murdered persons and that the victim had been torn apart. At the time, he threw his gun back in the car and went home. I can't blame him, he was only 14 or 15 at the time."

We started investigating this case by digging through the newspaper and library archives in Marshall and Jefferson finally finding an article dated September 1st, 1965 that mentions the Marion County Monster Legend. The article was titled "Boy Says For Real Sighting of Monster Renews Marion Legend." The story is about a 13 year old boy who was chased by an ape-like creature while walking home from a friend's house one afternoon. 2 men picked the boy up in a car and drove him home. The boy described it as "about 7 feet tall with thick long black hair all over its body except for the face—the face, stomach and palms of its hands." Marion County Deputy Sheriff George Whatley investigated the scene, but found no evidence of a large animal having been there. A UPI clipping, dated September 20, 1965, from Jefferson, Texas, entitled "Town Fed Up With Monster Hunters" was also found concerning the incident. Sheriff Luke Walker is quoted as being upset by the Bigfoot hunters from three states who had overrun his small northeast-Texas town since a thirteen-year-old boy came running out of the woods three weeks earlier telling of seeing a big, black hairy thing.

Charles DeVore of Karnack, one of our members, started doing some follow up investigation, using the names found in the articles. Sheriff Luke Walker and Deputy George Whatley had both passed away. He went to current Jefferson law officers who were very helpful and directed him to one who worked for Sheriff Luke Walker back in the early 70's. This officer related that he had spent many hours with Sheriff Walker back then talking over events of his career and their was no possibility that any Bigfoot killed anyone around Marion County during the 60's or any other time in Jefferson history. This officer even called several people that he knew that were around back then and none of them knew of any Bigfoot killing.

Next on the list was Dwain Dennis who owned the Jefferson Jimplecute at that time. Charles found him to be in good health and with a very sharp memory. He corroborated the Marshall News Messenger story about the 13-year-old kid who claimed to have been chased by a Bigfoot. He had interviewed the kid himself that day. He related that something had scared him very bad but to this day is not sure what it was. He feels that the tracks that he found were all faked evidence.

He and his wife spent all their spare time for about 6 weeks researching into that story and a few related stories that sprang up from the original. His newspaper articles generated calls from throughout the country and from several foreign countries. Many other stories sprang up in other media and tabloids and got embellished from there. While many people did come to Jefferson to learn more or chase down embellished rumors, or hunt down the imaginary killer Bigfoot, there was no posse organized to hunt it down. All the wild stories were generated by other outlets and totally false. He stated that there were no killings in or around Marion County or Jefferson that could even remotely be blamed on a Bigfoot.

  Photo purported to be of the Lake Worth Monster, taken by Allen Plaster. (Click image for larger view.)

Probably the most famous of the Texas reports is the case of the Lake Worth Monster. This case hit the public consciousness in the summer of 1969. While America was caught up in the moon landing, sightings of this hairy creature were being reported in the Greer Island area of Lake Worth in Fort Worth, Texas. The animal was described as being approximately seven feet tall, weighing in the neighborhood of three hundred pounds, covered with white hair and walked upright like a man. It was seen repeatedly throughout the year and during July the area was packed with locals who had witnessed the beast. At one point it was said to have become annoyed at the onlookers and hurled an automobile wheel and tire at them from the distance of five hundred feet. Needless to say, they leapt into their cars and departed the area post haste.

The last sighting of the creature that year was by Charles Buchanan on November 7. He was sleeping in the open bed of his pickup truck and was awakened when his sleeping bag was suddenly grabbed by a creature and was pulled from the truck. He stuffed a bag of chicken in its mouth and it shuffled off into the water and swam towards Greer Island.

This series of events was the impetus of my interest in this field. I was a child of nine years old that summer and my grandparents lived in Fort Worth. They had a boat on Eagle Mountain Lake, which was separated by a dam from Lake Worth. I can still remember seeing the headlines in the Fort Worth Star Telegram about the "Goatman". We spent many a night anchored out in the middle of the lake and my imagination ran rampant with all manner of scenarios of the monster climbing aboard our boat.

That same summer something was going on in the Sulphur River bottoms near Commerce, Texas. Jerry Matlock and Kenneth Wilson saw a creature that they described as about eight feet tall, man-like in posture and covered with brown hair. They went back the next day and found footprints left by the beast. "I put my arm down in one of the prints" Matlock recalled, "and that print was as long as from my elbow to the tips of my outstretched fingers". Our group has recently contacted Mr. Wilson and we are planning to go with him to the site.

There were two separate sightings in the same area in September of 1973, near the town of Peerless. Again they were in the Sulphur River bottoms. Are we beginning to detect a pattern here?

Later that fall, Kenneth Thurman of Paris, Texas had an encounter with what he described as "a hairy bipedal creature over eight feet tall". This occurred 30 miles Northeast of Commerce, Texas. Once again it was not far from the Sulphur River. Mr. Thurman was making butane gas deliveries in a rural community. He stopped the truck and he and a co-worker stepped outside to relieve themselves. They noticed a foul odor in the air. They spotted a long shadow moving toward the back of the truck. Mr. Thurman found himself facing the rapidly approaching creature that was as tall as the butane tanks on the truck. "That thing wasn't four feet from me when I dove into that truck," Thurman said. "Listen, I'm a hunter and I'm not scared of the woods or anything in it, but that thing reached out for me and I was afraid for my life. I don't know what I'd have done if it caught me. It must have come out of the woods from behind the truck. We dove in, threw that truck in gear and took off. Bet it wasn't two seconds from the time I saw that thing until we took off." Thurman got a better look at the creature in the side mirror as he sped off. After making the deliveries, the men had to take the only route back to the highway, the same road they had come in on. Thurman sped through the area and entered the highway.

At this point they saw it for a second time. It was running in the same direction as the truck, 75 yards out in a field. The road curved ahead, but before the creature crossed their path, it ran into the woods. "I was doing about 60 miles per hour and it was outrunning the truck," Thurman said. He reported the incident to his company but he was laughed at.

We received a report from a woman that was traveling to Lake O' The Pines with her husband and daughter. She saw a large, ape-like creature squatting down next to the fence line as they drove past it. The only movement she detected was its head turning to face them as they drove by. Her daughter turned around in the back seat and watched it stand up and run off after they passed it. This took place on a Friday evening in the summer of 1974.

From November of 1974 through August of 1976 there were numerous sightings in the San Antonio area culminating in two sightings near Kelly Air Force Base. A witness saw a seven-foot-tall brown Bigfoot run out of his backyard. A few days later his next-door neighbor saw a three-foot-tall brown creature sitting on her back step. It then ran off on two legs.

The summer of 1976 brought a sighting in Hallsville, Texas where a witness saw a twelve-foot-tall silver-haired Bigfoot shucking corn. A smaller red-tinged female creature accompanied it.

July 6 of 1977, three witnesses saw the "Hawley Him", and it threw rocks at them. This occurred at the Abilene Boys Ranch near Hawley, Texas. The next month, three women saw a Bigfoot on the road near Trinidad, Texas, which borders Cedar Creek Lake. Two weeks later a man saw a seven-foot-tall Bigfoot on a road near Corsicana, which is in the same general area.

In January of 1978, a woman in Sand Hill reported to the Harrison County Sheriff's Department that a Bigfoot growled at her, and was fighting with some dogs in the woods in the community about eight miles west of Marshall on U.S. Hwy. 80.

In June of 1978, in the town of Vidor, Texas, a couple had so many sightings of a Bigfoot around their house that they were forced to move out. August of 1978 brought a flap of activity to the Commerce, Texas area in the vicinity of guess where? The Sulphur River bottoms. On the nineteenth, in broad daylight, a witness saw a Bigfoot cross the road ahead of them and it went across a pasture towards the river. Also that month a witness saw a seven-and-half-foot-tall Bigfoot cross a forty-two foot wide road in three steps while he was driving at night. Two days later on the same road, three boys saw a Bigfoot around midnight.

There have been several reports out of the Woodlawn area. A family out after visiting family on Easter Sunday decided to stop to commune with nature while the husband did a little target practice. After only a few shots, a large animal lunged at them and chased them back to their car. On New Year's Eve 1996 a mother and her son saw a large animal crouched down on the side of the road.

In the fall of 1987, a deer hunter on the southeast side of Benton Lake off Big Cypress Bayou above Caddo Lake observed a large, hair covered animal stand up from a crouched position in one foot of water. The creature did not detect the camouflaged hunter as it turned its head from side to side, walked out of the water and disappeared into the woods.

In January 1992, the Hamilton Herald News printed a lengthy letter by a man that claimed that while driving home from Stephenville late at night with his family, they saw a huge, hairy creature on the riverbank. Here, in part, is what the letter said: "It stood, I would say, approximately seven to eight feet tall, weighing probly (sic) between four to five hundred pounds. Its body was covered with hair. It had long arms that extended down to its knees. Its face looked almost human…It looked at us and growled a low moan, showing four fang-like teeth, two on top, two on the bottom, and the rest flat like humans. Then it hurled over the guard rail and ran off into the night toward the brush along the river banks on the west side…For the record, we were not drunk or doing drugs or anything like that, and we have respectable jobs in this and surrounding towns. We are not crackpots. I thought maybe there are others living here who have had a similar experience and would come forward now that the door is open to talk about it."

It did have that effect on Hilda Lunsford. She wrote the newspaper telling about her experience early one morning in 1985 while driving between Olin and Cranfills Gap. "A huge thing came out on the side of the road and got right in front of the car and stood up on its hind legs and I stopped and locked my doors an the car and waited to see what it was going to do," Ms. Lunsford wrote. "It looked right at me and it had a face of an ape and it was [a] big black something…Yes I was laughed at for telling about it, but every word is true."

On October 5, 1995, Danny Sweeten had an encounter near Cleveland, Texas, forty miles North of Houston. While out surveying some land he was considering buying, he came upon a creature lying on the ground. The animal rose on two legs and ran toward Sweeten. It hit him in the chest and caught him under the chin with its forearm, flipping him over and knocking two teeth loose. He was dazed, but managed to shoot some video as the creature retreated into the woods. He quickly left the area.

Still image taken from video shot by Danny Sweeten. (Click image for larger view.)  

Sweeten was harassed by an investigator from a non-existent government agency the man named as the Federal Wildlife Protection Agency. He was told to turn over the tape. Sweeten eventually sold the tape to the television show Strange Universe. The footage was shown on November 3, 1997, along with comments by several well-known Bigfoot researchers. Loren Coleman was interviewed along with Danny Sweeten on Art Bell's radio program Coast to Coast. This is where I first learned of the incident. Luke Gross investigated this case before he and I co-founded the Texas Bigfoot Research Center. His opinion is that this footage is genuine and shows an animal, not a man in a suit.

In November of 1998, two squirrel hunters encountered an eight-foot-tall hair-covered creature near Longview. One of them shot at it 3 times. The creature grunted as if hit, then roared loudly. They ran through the woods, towards one of the hunter's home. It followed them, running upright through the woods, making its own trail to their left, keeping pace with them. They felt that it could have caught them at any time, however it stopped once they reached the clearing near the house. It remained in the wood line, circling the house, roaring and shaking the trees. A pig came up missing that night. The homeowner went out to investigate. He shined his spotlight and saw the creature again, taking another shot at it.

In December of 2001, a deer hunter saw a "7-foot upright stooped ape like figure dark brown in color." This was near Marshall. He observed it for two minutes through his riflescope from a distance of at least 150 yards. He observed it picking up apples that the hunter had put out to attract deer.

We received two reports of sightings in Harleton in 2003. One was an 8-foot Bigfoot crossing Highway 154 in front of a car at the Little Cypress Bayou. The other was repeated activity and sightings at a dog kennel near Harleton.

There is a common denominator to most of the reports listed here: water. All occurred near a lake, river or creek. Many of the encounters took place near the Sulphur River or one of its tributaries. The Sulphur River runs through the city of Commerce and winds its way throughout Northeast Texas. It exits the state of Texas south of Texarkana, near the area where the reports of the Fouke Monster originated. These reports were the basis for the 1970's movie "The Legend of Boggy Creek".

So as is plain to see, when someone says that there are no Bigfoot creatures in Texas, I would clearly have to disagree. If you or someone you know has seen one of these creatures, please contact the Texas Bigfoot Research Center through our website at or at the following address:

Texas Bigfoot Research Center
P. O. Box 191711
Dallas, TX 75219
1-877-529-5550 (toll-free)

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Bord, Janet and Bord, Colin, The Bigfoot Casebook, Stackpole Books, PA, 1982
Clarke, Sallie Ann, The Lake Worth Monster of Greer Island, Ft. Worth, Texas, author, TX, 1969
Clarke, Sallie Ann, personal correspondence and in-person interview, 1999
Coleman, Loren, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Fate Magazine, OH, February, 1998
Green, John, State and Province Sightings Data, Bobbie Short's website, Bigfoot Encounters
Jackson, Kathy, Sasquatch Watch, Dallas Morning News, TX, February 27, 1992
Jones, Mark and Smith, Teresa Ann, Has Bigfoot moved to Texas?, Fate Magazine, OH, July, 1979
Texas Folklore Society, Legends of Texas, Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, 1924 Courtesy of Bobbie Short

Revision History
This article was originally published on the Texas Bigfoot Research Center's website and is republished here by permission. All rights reserved by the TBRC. On August 22, 2004, this article was revised to reflect a version published in the Jeffersonian.

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