From the Newspaper Archives: More Midwest Monsters

Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

Today I share three more Midwest monsters from the newspaper archives. As we saw in the last post, old newspapers have an interesting and witty way of investigating the supernatural. It always makes for some fun reading, especially when the current news is stressful. Enjoy the following stories and say safe, my friends!

Michigan’s Bigfoot is Good for Business (Michigan)

During the summer of 1964, the “Sister Lakes Monster” (or “Monster of the Sister Lakes”), also called “The Dewey Monster,” terrorized Michigan. The 10-foot monster weighed more than 500 pounds with long black/brown hair (the description of the monster changed article to article). He ran on his hind legs and was notably aggressive. These sightings occurred near Dewey Lake in Dowagiac, Michigan and close neighbor Sister Lakes, Michigan.

The monster made national news and soon the region was a hot spot for curiosity seekers and monster hunters. Local business capitalized on the busy summer. Drugstores sold “monster kits” for $7.95. Items included: “a wooden mallet, a net, a baseball bat, an arrow, a squirt gun and a flashlight.” Gas stations sold “getaway gas,” which helped cars easily escape the monster or possibly reach to the nearest drive-in quickly for a Monster Burger.

Source: “‘Monster’ Drawing Tourists.” The Star Press, Muncie, Indiana, 14 Jun 1964, p. 1.

Is Michigan’s Bigfoot at it Again? (Monroe, Michigan)

The “Monster of Sister Lakes,” which caused a flurry in this area last summer, has apparently packed his bags (or whatever monsters pack) and headed to Monroe, Mich.

– The News-Palladium (August 1965)

Mrs. George Owens (age 38) and daughter Christine Van Acker (age 17) were attacked by a monster, believed to be “The Monster of The Sister Lakes” of the summer prior, on August 13th, 1965. According to my calculations this was Friday the 13th!

A 7-foot, 400-pound monster with hair “like quills,” jumped onto the side of the car and grabbed Christine’s head through the open window. The monster slammed Christine’s head onto the door until she was unconscious. Christine luckily survived but suffered a black eye. This was not the first sighting of the monster, there were 16 other sightings that summer. Search parties were created to track down this monster.

The mother and daughter took two lie detector tests. They passed the first test, taken for a radio show, but failed the polygraph test given to them by the police department. The police deemed it a hoax, but the mother and daughter stood firmly behind their story.

Sources: The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, 17 Aug 1965, Tue, p. 9 // The South Bend Tribune, South Bend, Indiana, 24 Aug 1965, Tue, p. 3.

Momo, the Shapeshifting Speedy Monster (Illinois & Beyond)

Two days ago Momo the mysterious monster was black, hairy, orange-eyed, pumpkin-headed, reeking of sulphur and skulking around the hills of Missouri. Now, he has grown several feet, acquired extra toes, learned to swim fast and cavorts about Illinois.

When a 1972 article from The Indianapolis News starts like this, you keep reading. You had me at pumpkin-head!

The Momo monster, according to the article, was first sighted by an 11-year-old boy in Louisiana on July 11th. Then the article, which was published on a Friday (July 28th), stated the monster was spotted on Wednesday night in Louisiana by an elderly women. At this point, the monster was 7 feet tall with black hair and an awful smell. Minutes later, the monster was spotted in Creve Couer, Illinois, now gray and with 3 more feet added to his height. Instead of thinking that maybe this monster was two separate monsters, the article put forth the theory that the monster swam 120 miles up the Mississippi River in mere minutes.

On July 27th, the monster was spotted in East Peoria by “two reliable citizens.” The monster had “gray U-shaped ears, a red mouth with sharp teeth, thumbs with long second joints, and ‘looked like a cross between an ape and a cave man’.” So, this monster was fast and a shapeshifter.

Those who report seeing the Momo monster have to take a breathalyzer test, the article stated.

Source: The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, 28 Jul 1972, p. 4.

From the Newspaper Archives: Hoosier Monsters

Photo by Eric Fleming on Unsplash

One of my favorite activities as of late is browsing the newspaper archives with a cup of tea or a pint of pumpkin beer (depends how my day was). My most recent rabbit hole was reports of monsters in Indiana, which eventually opened up to surrounding states. Two pints of beer later, I realized I had a couple blog posts. Today, I will start with historic reports of monsters in Indiana.

In a prior post, I shared casual internet research I had done on monsters in the Midwest. The newspaper archives add another interesting, sometimes witty, layer to this topic. Hope you enjoy these historical tidbits as much as I did!

The Mill Race Monster (Columbus, Indiana)

I discussed the Mill Race Monster in the prior blog post and #humpdayhaunts (on Instagram). I will quote my past post to catch you up.

In the 1970s, Columbus, Indiana was tormented by a large, green, and bipedal monster (described by some as amphibious). The monster was tied to Mill Race Park, a park with lush forests, winding rivers, and two lakes. On November 1, 1974, two different groups of teenagers spotted the large beast. The second sighting was by far the scariest. Two young women spotted the monster while sitting in their car at night. The monster ran over and started banging on their windshield, leaving a thick mucus on the glass. They were able to turn on the car and drive away.  There were other sightings reported and many enthusiastic monster hunters headed to the park with baseball bats and guns. The city eventually closed the park to the public at night.

I thought I was done with the monster, but he reappeared during my monster search. I came across an article with the title “Monster-ous Thing At Columbus Is Green, Hairy And Scares Cats,” which on its own is pure gold.

As stated above, there were multiple sightings of the creature. On November 8 at around 9:00 a.m., the city’s dog catcher Rick Duckworth (and John Brown) went to the park to rescue two cats from a tree. While trying to figure out the best way to get the cats down, the men spotted the monster about 200 feet away. Duckworth moved towards the monster, but it ran quickly into the forest.

The cats, when put back down on solid ground, ran off. Duckworth told the paper: “They were really scared.” Duckworth also told the paper he would use his tranquilizer, the same one he uses to catch dogs, to take down the monster if he witnessed it again.

The paper also shared a theory on the identity of the “monster”: “Police and a dogcatcher believe the monster is a man wearing green blankets and a green mask enjoying a frolic in balmy Indian summer weather and by the light of the harvest moon.”

Source: The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 09 Nov 1974 (pg. 1).

The Square Lake Monster (Portland, Indiana)

Five youths had their fishing trip at Portland, Indiana’s Hollow Block Lake cut short when a square-shaped monster with the scream of a banshee emerged from the water. The monster, half the size of a car, came from the water like a submarine. The police found the youths trustworthy, especially since this was not the first monster sighting at the lake; this was the third sighting in two years.

Some theorized this monster was the same monster that appeared earlier that summer in Lynn, Indiana (about 30 miles south of Portland). Some believed the “monster of Craig’s Well,” as it was named, moved to Portland after too many curiosity seekers came to visit the well.

I would love to see how the monster got from the well to the lake!

Sources: Muncie Evening Press, Muncie, Indiana, 04 Aug 1960 (pg. 2) // The Commercial-Mail, Columbia City, Indiana, 05 Aug 1960, Fri (pg. 4) // The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 05 Aug 1960, Fri (pg. 5).

Snake Monster? (Indianapolis, Indiana)

In 1946, Indiana received an increase in monster sightings, including giant snakes. Window shoppers in Indianapolis reported a giant snake in the side walk grates. Police started poking the beast with their guns, but “The snake didn’t budge. It was a novelty ash tray with a stuffed snake on it.” Mystery solved!

Source: “Stories of Monsters Spreading in Indiana,” Linton Daily Citizen, Linton, Indiana, 13 Aug 1946, Tue (pg. 1).

Monster Captured (Lebanon, Indiana)

In the same year (1946), tales of a monster that lived in a gravel pit, cried like a baby, and killed livestock spread throughout Lebanon, Indiana. The monster met its demise in September of 1946. Harry McClain and his assistant Roy Graham shot the monster with a rifle after a 15-mile chase through the woods. According the McClain, “It was definitely a black panther.” The Vidette-Messenger of Porter County reported on the hunt:

“We chased him out on the tip end of a big tree and he fell in a creek after Roy shot him.” The mud was so sticky and the water so deep, McClaln added, that It was” impossible to recover the body of the panther. “He’s probably floated Into the next county by now,” McClaln said. 

McClain assured the people of Lebanon that they were no longer in danger: “If anything else shows up to scare people, it’ll just be imagination.” He also said, since there had been many monster sightings in Indiana, that he would start out again if there was an emergency.

Sources: “Stories of Monsters Spreading in Indiana,” Linton Daily Citizen, Linton, Indiana, 13 Aug 1946, Tue (pg. 1) // “Hunter ‘Slays’ Monster; Corpus Delecti Missing,” Vidette-Messenger of Porter County, Valparaiso, Indiana, 05 Sep 1946 (pg. 4)

The Monster as Big as a Jail (Indianapolis, Indiana)

There were multiple monster sightings in a field near the Castleton neighborhood of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1965. The monster was described as very large. One witness said, “It was big, about as large as the Marion County Jail.” The monster was black and made sounds like screeching tires.

Source: “Monster is as Big as Jail, 3 Report,” The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, 02 Oct 1965, Sat (pg. 2).


In my next post, I will talk about the Monster of Monroe, Michigan and other interesting monsters from the Midwest.

Yesterday, I shared a FREE Patreon post on hosting your own cemetery tour. Enjoy!

Mourners Find Love in a Cemetery

jill-dimond-d53BtUWniBY-unsplash

Since Valentine’s Day is this Friday, I thought I might share some romantic content. During my research in the newspaper archives, I found two stories about mourners falling in love with cemetery employees.

“Aged Couple Married in Cemetery Romance,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, July 19, 1945

Mrs. Thoresca Cartisser (age 72) married Louis Schafer (age 74) in a simple ceremony on July 18, 1945. The bride wore lavender with matching posies in her straw hat. The two met at St. George’s Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Cartisser was visiting her second husband’s grave (“dressed in mourning black”) and Schafer was the cemetery caretaker. The romance began with walks and then led into phone calls from Schafer to Cartissser’s residence. Along with their age, the article explains, they both had the German language in common (she was from Austria and he was from Germany). In addition, they were both married twice before.

“Romance In Cemetery: Gravedigger Wins Widow at Grave of Husband,” East Oregonian, August 16, 1909

Charles Kramer, the oldest gravedigger of the Evergreen Cemetery in New York, “has probably dug more graves than any other man living in this city.” He fell in love and “wooed” Mrs. Theresa Furman, having spotted her during her daily visits to her late husband’s grave.

Every time Mrs. Furman appeared at her husband’s grave, Kramer, somehow or other, always succeeded in being ahead of her. He carried water for her. helped her plant flowers and did other little things, all of which aided him later when the time to propose to the Widow Furman arrived.

A few weeks later they were married and the gravedigger moved in with Mrs. Furman and her stepson James Weigand and son William Furman. One night, Kramer got into a quarrel with the sons over a “trifling matter.” The next night he received a blow when entering the home: “biff! something struck me over the head. It appeared to me as is some one was intent upon slipping me into one of the holes I had dug that day.”

The gravedigger left the matter alone, only to be hit again:

Last night I was going into the house when something fell on my head again. I heard some one say, ‘We hit him square that time,’ and disappear. I thought at first the house had fallen on me. but later discovered that it was nothing more than a good sized baseball bat.

Well, as you’ve probably figured out, it was the two sons. They were held on $100 bail. Kramer just went back to doing what he does best: “Evergreen’s champion grave digger then hurried to his place of employment, announcing that he had a ‘little job of digging a few graves’ waiting for him.”

I am not sure of the effect this incident had on the marriage of the mourner and gravedigger as the article just ends with no mention of Mrs. Theresa Furman.

Sorry to end on a depressing note. If you can handle it, check out my past Valentine’s Day post on ghost stories of tragic love. 

 

Photo by Jill Dimond on Unsplash