Olathe’s Hairy Wildman

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 22nd, 2007

Johnson County, Kansas, People Chasing a Hairy Man.

Kansas City, Mo., June 21. – The people living along Cedar Creek, in Johnson county, Kan., near Olathe, about thirty miles from this city, are greatly excited over the antics of some strange animal that roams through the woods in that part of the country.

Robert Sanders, [an African-American] man, ran into Olathe and said he had been chased over a mile by a hideous monster that appeared to be half man and half devil.

The next morning a man employed on the farm of Edward Lane, living half a mile north of Olathe, reported having seen the man. Since then several others have described the animal as it appeared to them.

All agree upon the description and say that it appears to be fully seven feet tall with a heavy covering of brown hair, and perfectly naked. It stands in a half stooping posture, with long arms crossed over its breast, but when startled or in pursuit, it gets over the ground rapidly with a swinging gait.

Robert Wilson, who owns a dairy farm two and a half miles northwest of Olathe, reports that the monster had killed two cows and a calf belonging to him. He came into Olathe for assistance, and a heavily armed party of men are scouring the woods in search of the strange beast. Two of the party have returned, and say while they found no signs of the animal’s tracks, they found the cows and calf, and say that the carcasses were so torn and mangled that they must have been killed by a most powerful animal.

It is thought by many to be an African gorilla that has escaped from some traveling menagerie, and the people fear it will kill human beings before it can be captured or shot.“A Strange Monster,” Sioux Valley News, Correctionville, Iowa, June 22, 1893

Please see Chapter Four, “Wildmen, Gorillas, and Ape Canyon,” for a discussion on the early use of the term “Wildmen” and “Wild people” to describe Bigfoot-like encounters, in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (NY: Paraview Pocket – Simon and Schuster, 2003).

Thanks for this historical item from Jerome Clark.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

15 Responses to “Olathe’s Hairy Wildman”

  1. khiatt responds:

    I’ve been an avid reader of Cryptomundo since its creation. The title of this article certainly grabbed my attention – I live in Olathe. I fact, I live about one mile from Cedar Creek. This is a perfect opportunity to leave my first comment as this story took place literally in my back yard. While I can’t vouch for the truth of the Wildman claims, I can state the geographic directions and distances in the article to be accurate in relation to 1893 Olathe and where Cedar Creek runs. For fun, I might do a little historical research on where exactly Robert Wilson’s dairy farm was located.

    A fun read for me nonetheless. I’ll be sure and pay “extra” attention while riding my mountain bike through this area. Just in case our friend the Wildman survived father time, suburban sprawl and urban legend!

  2. sausage1 responds:


    Not Penn and Teller, then.

  3. giantchaser responds:

    well, another 19th century atricle… this one may be a true event

  4. ndiandy responds:

    How exciting, I use to live in Olathe, and now live 70 miles west in Topeka. I recently read a post on another website of a sighting just nw of Olathe, near a park named “Earnie Miller”. The sighting took place around 1982. I used to hang out with my buddy’s in that park at that time. (nature trail with a creek running through). To KHIATT above, if you find where the dairy was I would be interested in knowing. I still have family in Olathe and I would love to bore the kids with a trip to where a BF was seen.

  5. khiatt responds:

    Ernie Miller park is in the same area as this alleged old encounter. It backs up to the city landfill which then backs up to the Cedar Creek watershed. I think I read the 1982 report. I will need to revisit that one. I also recall another report from the mid 80s by some teenagers about one mile due West of this location. Northeast Kansas and specifically Johnson County aren’t exactly what I’d consider a prime location for a very large upright primate. While a substantial amount of timber is still present, there just aren’t the large tracts of untouched ground without running into a major road or housing addition. Much of this area is now the affluent Cedar Creek subdivision/golf course. Incidentally, before building our present home, my kid went to Cedar Creek Elementary school.

    I am curious to find the location of the dairy farm. I strongly suspect it’s now populated with new homes. Who knows? Maybe it’s my subdivision?

  6. Rainier responds:

    The Wilson dairy farm would probably have been located in what is now the Ernie Miller Nature Center or maybe even the Prairie Center. Both are NW of Olathe, just off K-7.

  7. ndiandy responds:

    To Rainier, it’s interesting that you mentioned Prairie Center. My wife’s Grandfather use to own several businesses their before it was bought out by the government (the whole town) to build the ammunition plant. There is still a cemetery that sits on the west side of the ammunition plant, south of k-10 about 1 1/2. We visit this cemetery several times a year. The road accessing this area isn’t well maintained, it’s gravel and the bridge barely clears the creek. If there is any prime Bigfoot real-estate in Johnson County, it is there. Creeks, trees, corn, soybeans, deer, very little population. Not to mention the large tract of land that is unoccupied that use to be the ammunition plant. Drive down there about dusk and wait for it to get dark, pretty creepy place.

  8. Rainier responds:

    I grew up in Olathe in the 1960s and my family also owned a lot of businesses there (including the most important one, the local tavern!) and I never heard any bigfoot-like stories. However, I was told by more than one childhood cohort to be on the lookout for something called “Snake Man” whenever we went fishing at this small pond just off a dirt road. He was supposed to be a man who had worked carnivals and had some kind of scaly skin condition. Supposedly he had a shack in the area. I don’t remember the location exactly but I believe it was near what used to be a “poor farm” just outside Olathe.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    I am the only one freaking out a bit that a greater percentage than usual comment makers are immediately finding a personal link to the fair town of Olathe? Is there something special (and perhaps weirdly magnetic) about Olathe?

  10. dogu4 responds:

    I’m a little curious. Khiatt believes that there isn’t much good habitat since there aren’t a lot of trees. Indiandy seems to think it would be prime habitat with lots of open space rarely visited. While I have only limited familiarity with Kansas, I’m not sure but from my sense of natural history and a gander at the general landscape of this part of Kansas (on Google Earth) this looks like its natural state is prairie (short grass? long grass?) or some kind of savannah? Can someone point me to a good description of what the characteristics of the land is in contrast to how it was? Usually when settlement happened there would be planting of trees around farms and villages and deforestation where any sizable stand was available, which likewise changes the character of the habitat quite a bit.

  11. Rainier responds:

    Loren, Olathe is indeed a strange (but I’m not sure about magnetic) place that is hard to get out of your system. For even more evidence of this, check out a recent article in the KC Star. It turns out former NBA center Manute Bol lives in Olathe now. To me, that is much stranger than the Snake Man or any other oddities that might be lurking there.

    As far as the habitat, the area around Olathe, to me anyway, can best be described as prairie and agricultural. Not a lot of trees but there is a lot more in the way of trees and other vegetation in eastern Kansas than there is in the truly desolate western part of the state. More in the way of streams, rivers and slightly rolling “hills” as well.

  12. khiatt responds:

    I too am surprised that at least a handful of readers are from the Olathe area. I suspect folks were as excited as me when they read the article. Northeast Kansas is simply not a hotbed of cryptid reports old or new.

    I agree – in its native condition, I’d say this part of the state was probably rolling prairie with abundant vegetation growing along the waterways and creeks. Before WWII, it was turned mostly agricultural (cattle and crops)with hedge rows and fence lines. But, today, Johnson County is suburban Kansas City. Even what’s left of the rural part is populated by houses. There are plenty of trees, but not vast square miles of forest I generally associate with large upright primates besides homo sapiens sapiens.

    Anyway, thanks to Loren for uncovering Olathe’s very own historical Wildman story.

  13. sschaper responds:

    What would be the likelihood, biomechanical sense, to a biped standing hunched over like that? A bear might seem to, with the relative lack of shoulders, but a hominid? That doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, the standard evolutionist drawings show progressively more upright development, but I think, if I’m not mistaken, you don’t have the inbetween state, as it isn’t biomechanically sensible. Evolutionists are now considering if bipedalism developed in the trees, not on the ground to deal with some of that problem.

    Of course, bears don’t typically go loping over the ground bipedally, though a. simus might have been able to, and the asian black bear can locomote bipedally up to a quarter of a mile, I’ve read, I doubt that it is with a ground-eating lope.

  14. ndiandy responds:

    All the posts above are correct there are not large tracts of trees. Most of the sightings in NE Kansas have come from areas near rivers and streams. In the past few years there have been about 4 sightings reported that were within 10 to 15 miles of the Kansas River, near creeks feeding the Kansas. I am one of those believers that BF migrate, and the water ways would allow this. I believe the largest track of forested land in NE Kansas is on Fort Leavenworth, which happens to but up to the Kansas and is the sight of a sighting by soldiers in the 70’s. Though I don’t think I’ll ever see one it’s fun to threaten the kids. There are a couple of other cryptids to be aware of: Cougars and armadillos. Both of which are not suppose to be running about NE Kansas.

  15. Mnynames responds:

    I was just going to ask about the Creek as a possible migration route through this territory, as that might explain the presence of BF in this area…

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