Decatur’s Bigfoot and Kin

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 27th, 2009

My old hometown’s name, Decatur, has a cryptozoological and Forteana mystique about it that creates all kinds of mojo.

Such sites are named after the War of 1812’s Navy hero, Stephen Decatur, who fought against the Barbary pirates. Decatur at one time conducted tests in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in 1804, and fired on the Jersey Devil. The records say that Stephen Decatur identified the winged creature as a “devil” – pale in color, with leathery bat-like wings. Decatur perforated one of the thing’s wings with a fired cannonball, but it seemed unfazed, which disturbed everybody who was there at the time. It flew off.

Second, the word decatur is loosely translated as “dweller at the sign of the cat,” and Native Americans who lived in the area that is now Central Illinois had numerous stories of encounters with large dark predatory cats, which are still sighted in the area to this very day.

Stephen Decatur, a Masonic figure of some noteworthiness, is responsible, as well, for the Stephen Decatur House in Washington D.C. is reportedly haunted. By the way, it is located on Lafayette Square.

I have investigated black panther sightings, tawny mountain lion encounters, out-of-place alligators, weird kangaroos, and Bigfoot reports for Decatur, Illinois, which is in Macon (French for “Mason”) County. UFOs, airships, skyquakes, frog falls, cattle mutilations, hauntings, and other Forteana have occurred in that Decatur.

Other Decaturs around the USA tend to have higher than normal concentrations of weirdness about them. Falls of frogs in Decatur, Indiana. A history of panther encounters (all the sport team mascots are “Panthers”) and cattle mutes exist around Decatur, Tennessee. Georgia’s Decatur is known for panther accounts and things like a weird link to John Lennon’s assassin. The Alabama town of Decatur has been linked to southern Bigfoot accounts.

My brother Jerry Coleman investigated reports of a black panther being seen between Decaturville and Devil’s Knee, Missouri, in 1982.

Now comes the news that Tabatha Hunter in the Benton County Daily Record has updated today another old name game creature, “Decatur’s Bigfoot”:

In October 2003, the small town of Decatur on the western side of Benton County [Arkansas] found itself with a new resident.

It did not take everyone long to realize that the new neighbor who had moved into the woods around Crystal Lake was, indeed, Bigfoot.

“We had some pretty interesting calls on it,” Decatur Chief of Police Terry Luker said. “I had one lady call me and I tried to explain to her that it was not a Bigfoot and that it was too small to be a Bigfoot.

“The lady stopped me and she said, ‘Well, you know, they have babies, too.”’

The official stance on Decatur’s Bigfoot sightings in 2003 is that the monkey-like creature people were getting fleeting glances of around town was actually a baboon that had escaped from the local wilderness safari in nearby Gentry.

The first spotting of Bigfoot was on Hill Street, and it was not long before the police department was getting calls from citizens who had seen Bigfoot on the west side of Decatur, Luker said.

“It was a lot of fun. I have not heard of any sightings lately,” Luker said.

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.

5 Responses to “Decatur’s Bigfoot and Kin”

  1. oldphilosopher responds:

    I am a lifelong, born-and-raised, resident of Decatur, Texas. Our own main claim to fame, I’m afraid, is as the origin of the call in craps to roll an 8 … “Eighter from Decatur, county seat of Wise.” (By some supplemented with “home of the bedbugs, fleas and the flies.”)

    Like most such small towns (pop. about 6,000) we have a few locations which some quietly suspect of haunting activity. The town is something over 150 years old.

    Lake Worth is only about 30 miles south of here … site of the infamous “goat man” sightings back when I was a kid. And the community of Aurora, site of the 1897 “Aurora spaceman” crash is only 10 miles from here. (Then again, “Machine Gun” Kelly’s grave is also here in Wise County.)

    I do actually know someone I trust who has quietly told me of a night when he saw a strange, dark, man-like something-that-wasn’t-a-man cross a road a few miles north of here. But I don’t think he’ll go on record with that.

    Just for whatever it may be worth.

  2. mfs responds:

    Whenever I hear or read something about Decatur, Illinois I’m reminded of that really interesting and spooky article that you wrote for Fate Magazine back in the 70’s if my memory serves me correctly “Mystery Animals Invade Illinois.” Great blog!

  3. odingirl responds:

    When I read things like this, I’m immediately catapulted into the Keelian universe (some have suggested ‘multiverse’). I often wonder if human beings aren’t simply the victims of the longest-running series of practical jokes ever perpetuated.

  4. grafikman responds:

    I grew up in Vermilion County, about an hour or so NE of Decatur. A friend and I had our own *near* sasquatch encounter (he saw it, I didn’t, we both ran like hell) in 1981 at Kickapoo Park near the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. Plenty of stories of black panthers, thunderbirds and “hairy men” (hmm, wonder what THEY could be?) around that part of the state.

  5. BRONCOS3 responds:

    Im in Casey IL
    I would like to report a cat sighting
    it was seen near the 5 mile house near charleston it was standing out in the open in a field it was huge looked like maybe a cougar but couldn’t tell it was big muscular I would say it was tan colored but its body structure was huge it was enormous more then a panther or cougar would have its muscle set was massive not sure if it was a lynx or what it was I know others have had sightings of this animal and I would like to know what it is we are seeing
    thank you

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