Wild Man Sighting in East Springfield, Ohio in 1883

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A Wild Man Story From Ohio – Hermit or Feral Human?

This Wild Man story takes place “two and one-half miles northeast of East Springfield” in Ohio, on a “desolate tract of timber.” While many Wild Man reports seem to closely resemble what we would today call a Bigfoot, this one, if true, seems to describe an eccentric hermit, or perhaps a feral human. The article suggests that the creature was responsible for the theft of shoes, clothing and food from local residents.

The Wild Man is described as being barefoot and almost naked, though his lower extremities are “wrapped in twine string,” whatever that means. He also seems to be bearing a corn-cutter as a weapon. He is first spotted by two coon hunters, supposedly around mid-December of 1883, sitting in the snow. Startled, the Wild Man wields his weapon, and the hunters wisely retreat.

Weeks after the initial sighting by the hunters, a local farmer saw tracks around his barn and followed them until he came across the Wild Man, sleeping in the snow. He sneaked away and returned with a group of friends, who overpowered him and took him into custody. No background on the Wild Man is given. Here is the full text of the article, which has been edited slightly for clarity*:

A WILD MAN OF THE WOODS.

It was reported 5 or 6 weeks ago that a man of very singular appearance had been seen about two and one-half miles northeast of Springfield, Ohio, in a very large and desolate tract of timber, situated on both sides of the stream known as “Long run”, but very little attention was paid to the report, as it never entered the minds of any of our good people that a “Wild man” was running at large in our midst. In about two weeks after, George Maple and Will Kriner were out hunting coons in the same locality, when suddenly they came on a man sitting on the ground, surrounded by snow, without fire and almost destitute of clothing, he having his lower extremities wrapped with twine strings, and altogether presenting a most hideous appearance. He was armed with something that had the appearance of a corn-cutter. When they attempted to approach, he seized the corn-cutter and made signs of fight and they, thinking that it would bnot be altogether safe to go nearer, made a hasty retreat. In the meantime, eatables of every description, clothing of different kinds, boots and shoes, cooking utensils, etc., were missed by different parties, but no one knew where they were gone.

Yesterday morning John Shull noticed strange tracks about his barn and spring house and as he had some things stolen a few nights before, he concluded to investigate the matter. He started on the track and after folllowing it for some distance he came up with the object of his search in a piece of woods just north of the Bacon Ridge school house. He was lying under a large oak tree in a bout two feet of snow and fast asleep. John saw at a glance that this was the “wild man” of which we have heard and not caring to attempt the capture alone, he at once set out to notify the authorities. They immediately assembled at the school house and marched to the spot. Finding himself in the hands of so many, he surrendered without any trouble and was conducted to the residence of Squire Shane, where he was guarded by W. T. Sturgis and S. R. Ryon last night. He was brought to Steubenville and will be placed in the infirmary.

January 28, 1884
The Times. Philadelphia, PA

*Edited version copyright 2015