Thunderbird Mystery

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 26th, 2011

This series of drawings, origin unknown, was posted by Estancia de la Ding Dong (apparently not a real name) at the Twisted Vintage site. Anyone have any ideas as to the date or publication in which this first appeared?

Obviously, stories like this don’t always have happy endings.

EAGLE CARRIES OFF CHILD.; Body of 18-Month-Old Girl Found Mangled in the Sutherlandshire Mountains.

From the London Express, May 9.
May 20, 1904, Section , Page 8.
While a little girl about eighteen months old, the only daughter of a young Sutherlandshire crofter, living about a mile from Invershin Station, on the Highland Railway, was playing at her father’s cottage door on Saturday evening, an eagle swooped down, gripped her in its claws, and carried her off to the mountains, where some hours later her dead and mutilated body was found by a gamekeeper.

It appears 1908 was an especially busy year:

“Medicine Hat, Alberta, April 23 – While Anna Jergensen, a 2-year-old child of a farmer, was playing in the yard of her home, near here, yesterday, an enormous eagle swooped down and carried her off in its talons. The bird flew to its aerie on a mountain nearby. The Parents are prostrated.” (Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York, 4/23/1908)

“Swooping down into a crowd of persons who were watching a recent baseball game near Point Richmond, S. I., an American eagle attacked John Pollackson, 8-years-old. A group of men set upon the bird and the father of the boy ran to his home, procured a shotgun and returning, killed the eagle…The eagle measured seven feet six inches from tip to tip.” (Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana 9/15/1908)

“New York, Sept. 18 – While Blanche Cribler, 3 years old, the daughter of Fred Cribler, a summer resident of Helmetta, N.J., was at play near her home, a large eagle swooped down and attempted to carry the child away in its talons. Cribler was working near by and the screams of his daughter attracted his attention. He fought off the bird and as it attempted to fly away his brother, who came up with a shot gun, fired and crippled the eagle. Its capture was then an easy matter. Except for a few scratches, the child was unhurt.” (Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana 9/18/1908)

See also others on Scott Maruna’s 2007 list, here.

Thanks to Matthew Cardier for the comic art citation.

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.

6 Responses to “Thunderbird Mystery”

  1. RandyS responds:

    The blogger says the comics image was sent to him by an Italian friend. It’s from an Italian comic book from the ’60s — well after stories, other comics, and movies had dealt with the same subject matter. It likely has no connection to any real incident.

  2. jum1801 responds:

    I have two thoughts about 100-year-old newspaper articles about Thunderbirds.

    First, such articles are quite often complete fabrications. Usually the guilty party is a contemporary who is either a) a hoaxer motivated by the same personality quirks that move vandals, anarchists or hackers to act; or b) badly misguided fans of cryptozoology who believe so deeply in the field that s/he creates the “proof” in a supposedly old news article. I’ll be surprised if the newspapers themselves ever existed, much less the reporters or the stories in question.

    Second, until well into the 20th-century it was not uncommon for paper owners, editors or reporters to feel no compunction whatever about creating “news” about a completely fictitious event, particularly about fanciful or legendary subjects. Such stories sold papers. It is for this reason that I cringe when I see yet another researcher into the paranormal/cryptids/UFOs trot out “news articles” from the early 20th century (or even earlier) about supposed discoveries by an intrepid explorer of, for example, rich tombs of giants in hidden caves, gargantuan sea serpents, hundreds of fairies, etc. Such stories are very fragile and leaky vessels in which to carry our hopes of proof.

    As to the content of the stories, it is beyond dispute that for a couple of hundred years at least, and probably much longer, European folktales have existed about giant birds snatching small children. As the tales go, the rescue teams assembled from villagers could find no trace of the poor children, until years later when a “woodsman” or “mountaineer” stumbled upon a great aerie in a hidden cleft in which was found some small human bones, a single child’s shoe and a tiny, torn dress, etc., etc.

    I wouldn’t put too much hope in these, even if they could be tracked down.

  3. Mnynames responds:

    The kid looks like he’s wearing lederhosen. Wasn’t there a report of an eagle abducting a child in Germany back in the 1930’s?

  4. Fhqwhgads responds:

    The comic looks like total fiction. How is the father able to get a gun before the bird is out of range? How is he able to fatally shoot the bird without hitting his son? How does the child survive the fall uninjured? It’s all very unlikely. Maybe this is meant as some sort of parable about the good Volk protecting their offspring from rapacious outside threats?

  5. gavinf responds:

    Regarding jum1801 “First, such articles are quite often complete fabrications.” If that is true, then some are not fabrications, correct? Were there made up stories to advance publication? Absolutely. But looking for an easy answer or easy out doesn’t make it the right one.
    Also, UFO/Fairies reports are a far cry from seeing an animal do something we today may feel is extraordinary. The footage of the upright walking gorilla seems to fall in that category.
    If every story is shot down because it seems to be like another story that was proven false, we will definitely miss a true story.
    Besides, who doesn’t like a good cryptozoological mystery?

  6. jum1801 responds:

    Well, just as soon as I comment about the dearth of provenance of so many of the European tales of children snatched by huge birds, and tacitly imply such stories are more folktales than true events, up pops an article with what certainly appears to be provenance. “Anomalist” on 1/29/11 cites a post by Bob Rickard at “CFI Blogs“, who writes of some pretty well sourced incidents, one in which a child was plucked…and died. That’s pretty dang big, IMO.

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