Balladeer’s Blog covers a lot of mythology and folklore, so here’s a look at five monster legends of the U.S. (Non-Bigfoot categories).
I don’t believe that there was anything truly supernatural in any of these tales, but life is less fun without legends like these. All of them are ripe for embellishment and screen adaptations.
THE VAN METER VISITOR
First Appearance: 1903
Lore: From September 29th to October 3rd of 1903 the Iowa town of Van Meter was supposedly plagued by at least two 8-9 feet tall batlike creatures who could fly, stand upright, climb up and down telephone poles and shoot a noxious odor as a defense mechanism. The three-toed creatures also had a blunt horn on their heads and said horns could supposedly cast light beams via bioluminescence.
Over the course of the visitation multiple shots were fired at the beings as they flew around town, perched on rooftops and telephone wires and roamed around a nearby brick and tile factory as well as an abandoned mine. By October 3rd an armed crowd of Van Meter citizens investigated the factory and the mine. They spotted two of the batlike creatures emerging from the mine and opened fire on them again to no effect.
Eventually the two winged beings retreated into the mine and the crowd quickly blocked off the mine entrance for good, thus ending the rash of sightings.
THE BUTTERFLY PEOPLE
First Appearance: 2011
Lore: On May 22nd, 2011 Joplin, Missouri was hit by an F5 tornado which killed 160 people, destroyed 900 homes and injured hundreds. Among those injured were multiple children and early teens who attributed their survival to the intervention and/or protection of winged butterfly people.
These accounts vary from the butterfly people merely staying with the injured victims to comfort them until medical aid arrived to actual intervention by the winged beings to intercept wreckage flying toward the injured. At the wildest extreme of these tales are claims that the butterfly people were seen flying off into the heavens carrying the bodies of unidentified dead victims.
The supposed height of the entities was several inches to two or three feet. Some of the children who saw the butterfly people consider them to be angels despite their diminutive forms. Others felt they were supernatural Native American entities driven from their lairs by the tornado. There are actually multiple news stories about this incident online, most of them attributing the phenomenon to mass hallucination, but all of them supplying a lot of details for folklorists to build upon.
THE LIZARD MAN OF SCAPE ORE SWAMP
First Appearance: 1988
Lore: Beginning around 2AM on June 29th, 1988 a rash of sightings began of a lizard man in the vicinity of Scape Ore Swamp outside Bishopville, South Carolina. The lizard man’s first victim was changing a flat tire on their drive home from working the late shift.
The traveler hurriedly completed the tire change while keeping a wary eye on the humanoid lizard being, then got back in his vehicle and drove off. The lizard man supposedly leaped onto the vehicle, clutching the roof while the victim tried erratic driving to dislodge the creature.
Other encounters followed, with one leaving a 1985 Ford Ltd damaged from the lizard man’s attack. This Summer of the Lizard Man is memorialized at the South Carolina Cotton Museum. (?)
THE BEAST OF BLADENBORO
First Appearance: 1953
Lore: On the night of December 29th, 1953 a large creature with two prominent front teeth like those on a saber-tooth tiger was first spotted in Bladenboro, North Carolina. On this first night a Bladenboro woman drove off such a creature which was terrorizing her dogs.
The night of December 31st brought the discovery of two dead dogs whose bodies had been drained of blood, supposedly by way of the saber-tooth fangs on the monster. From there nearly each night brought similar news – a large catlike beast was spotted, leaving in its wake dead goats and other animals, all with their blood completely drained.
The Chief of Police even reported a sighting of his own as he saw the creature seize a dog outside of a gas station and drag it into the woods. On January 13th of 1954 the sightings stopped, with some people trying to attribute the attacks to an enormous bobcat or even a malformed bear.
THE DONKEY LADY
First Appearance: 1950s per the San Antonio Current. Other sources say 1960.
Lore: Beginning at some point in the 1950s reports emerged of a donkey lady with the head, legs and hooves of a donkey and the torso & arms of a woman. Some accounts claim even her hands were really hooves. The sightings occurred under or near a stone bridge now called the Donkey Lady Bridge over Elm Creek in the southside of San Antonio, Texas.
The alleged donkey lady would be heard braying or crying like La Llorona and then spotted crossing on or under the stone bridge. Calling her by name would supposedly prompt her to appear but naturally there is no photographic evidence. Strange phone conversations have also been associated with the donkey lady. In 1960 the sightings stopped after the authorities officially decreed that people were misidentifying a real donkey as an upright walking donkey lady. (?)
Origin tales of this figure range from a woman disfigured by a house fire which melted her face and left her hands and feet as charred stumps to a woman who was shunned after her donkey bit a neighbor. The darker origin myths claim a woman gave birth to and raised a freakish daughter who resembled a humanoid donkey, following which the mother was killed and the donkey lady fled to live in isolation afterward.
FOR THE RED GHOST OF ARIZONA, IN WHICH PHYSICAL REMAINS WERE FOUND, CLICK HERE.