Research from, local newspaper archives, first-hand witness accounts, and more have revealed a number of unexplained phenomena in Gallia County, Ohio. Below you will find a collection of stories dating back to the late 1800s.
Was “Bigfoot” born in Gallia County? A perusal of several websites dedicated to the pursuit of “Bigfoot” in Ohio usually begin their research with a January 1869 report that appeared in a Mankato, Minn., newspaper about “Bigfoot” coming near the Old French City.
“Gallipolis is excited over a wild man, who is reported to haunt the woods near that city. He goes naked, is covered with hair, is gigantic in height, and ‘his eyes start from their sockets.’ A carriage containing a man and daughter was attacked by him a few days ago. He is said to have bounded at the father, catching him in a grip like that of a vise, hurling him to the earth, falling on him and endeavoring to bite and to scratch like a wild animal.
“The struggle was long and fearful, rolling and wallowing in the deep mud, half suffocated, sometimes beneath his adversary, whose burning and maniac eyes glared into his own with murderous and savage intensity. Just as he was about to become exhausted from his exertions, his daughter, taking courage at the imminent danger of her parent, snatched a rock and hurling it at the head of her father’s would-be murderer, was fortunate enough to put an end to the struggle by striking him somewhere about the ear. The creature was not stunned, but feeling unequal to further exertion, slowly got up and retired into the neighboring copse that skirted the road.”
The next major “Bigfoot” sighting in Gallia County was in 1912. According to the Bigfoot Casebook by Bord: “It was the year 1912 in Gallipolis, Ohio. On that day, ‘Mr. Jim’ and his mother noticed a strange dark cloud hovering over them. When they took a path through the woods, it followed them. Around 50 feet down the trail, the elder mother took the lead. The story got stranger from there. They soon realized that a ‘monster’ was pacing them. It kept to the right of Mr. Jim, parallel to the path on which they traveled. The mother screamed, ‘Let’s go!’ The creature began turning to its left as its gaze fell directly on Mr. Jim. ‘It made some sort of noise, like growling or maybe a barking sound.’ It has been noted that the creature’s body was partially hidden by the terrain as it continued to follow them. They walked another hundred yards when ‘both creature and cloud disappeared.’ The eyewitnesses described the creature’s shoulders as ‘monstrously wide.’ They estimated that its shoulders were twice the width of a man’s. It had a ‘bulky head and appeared to have no neck.’”
There were also sightings on “Bigfoot” in Old Gallia as recent as 1972. It was in 1999 that there was a lot of interest in “Bigfoot” in southern Ohio when Dallas Gilbert reported seeing the creature nine times in the Shawnee Forest near Portsmouth. Gilbert’s hunting partner, Wayne Burton, first saw “Bigfoot” in 1978. In early 1998, there were a number of “Bigfoot” sightings in Adams County, Ohio. Several sightings in northeast Ohio have been recorded in the last seven years as well.
“Bigfoot,” also called Sasquatch, Gigantopithicus or Giganto, is believed to have been the offspring of some type of giant baboon that once inhabited Asia. The theory was that they somehow came into North America and moved across the northern United States.
There are several websites given over to the study of Bigfoot in Ohio. There have even been a few book written on that subject, including Christopher Murphy’s Big Foot Encounters in Ohio: Quest for the Grassman.
The last report of “Bigfoot” in Gallia County (1972) was a big year for “Bigfoot” sightings in general as he was seen in the Toledo, Defiance, Cleveland, Germantown, Ironton and Dublin areas. Two security guards in Dublin even saw an eight feet tall “Bigfoot” on a golf course.
Some of these sightings report the creature to smell like Limburger cheese on a hot muffler, have read eyes, reddish brown fur or hair, be about eight feet tall and weigh around 500 pounds. A few motorists said they had to swerve off the road to miss “Bigfoot” and that is why they ran into a ditch. Most people, including insurance companies, doubt the existence of “Bigfoot,” but no less authority than Jan Goodall was convinced that “Bigfoot” did exist.
Article by James Sands is a special correspondent for the Sunday Times-Sentinel.
In 1952 and 1953, Crown City made the national news when a “mystery house” was reported seen on the lawn of the Methodist Church.
Luther Suthers, then in his 80s and living 300 feet from the church, reported that for six weeks he had seen a “phantom house” near the church.
According to an interview with Suthers done by the Columbus citizen, Suthers started “Sometimes it (the house) dissolved or moved away after being there.”
Suthers tried looking with one eye at a time, but the house was still there. Finally, he was convinced his old eyes were not playing tricks on him.
“It was always the same – a one story house without windows or door,” he said. “There always was a 10 to 12-foot shrub that that was very green in front of the house.”
Later, P. C. Gatewood and Garfield wats saw the house as they came out of a mid-week church service. These two men saw a two story house with large windows down and smaller ones up.
A soft yellow glow came through all the windows. Gatewood and watts thought the building looked foursquare, meaning it was some public building, not a house.
When Gatewood and watts saw the “phantom house” it blocked out the coal house at the back of the lot. They started for it, but as they approached, the “phantom house” drifted away.
These three men were all convinced that the other Crown City persons had seen the house but were afraid to admit it. The church lawn became quite a tourist attraction as persons came to see if they could see the “house.” But no one ever did, other than these three men.
Explanations for the vision were offered. Harry Hurn, who was then a writer for the Gallia Times, spent a whole day in the Gallipolis Library researching space time continuums, space works, space faulty and mirages. But he came up empty.
One man offered the suggestion that lights from across the Ohio River reflected off the windows of the church into the lawn.
The minister of the Crown City Methodist Church said, “Id I saw something like that house and I was not right with my God, I would get down on my knees and try to get right.”
Most of the church people regarded the appearance of the “phantom house” as an omen that God would bless the work of the church. The church was in the midst of raising money to build a basement and to add a modern heating system.
After the appearance of the “phantom house,” contributions to this work increased greatly.
Some skeptics claimed that an explanation could be found in the fact that all three men who saw the “house” were elderly. Those persons claimed that “tired eyes” play tricks on people.
There was one other possible explanation and very few in Crown City then would have thought of it. At the turn of the century, the minster at the Methodist Church in Crown City was preaching a sermon that quoted a text about a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The minister quoted the verse, smiled, and then collapsed over the pulpit. Members rushed to his aid, but he was dead from a massive heart attack.
No one knows, of course, but some suspected that the minister some 50 years before had been the first one to see the house.
So far as we know no one has seen the “phantom house” since 1953, but who knows but what it may make its third appearance or set of appearances this century.
The house always appeared in the twilight of late October days.
By Jim Sands Sunday Times-Sentinel Special Correspondent
After the November 15, 1966 sighting of what locals were calling a “Big Bird” began getting media attention, it was an Ohio copyeditor who dubbed the thing “Mothman.” While most people remember the sightings from the Point Pleasant side, the record clearly shows Ohio was a hotbed too. On November 17, 1966, a teenage boy said he saw a gray man-shaped ten-feet tall creature with red eyes, while he
was driving on Route 7, near Cheshire.
The Mothman spread its wings and pursued the eyewitness’s car. Then on December 4, 1966, five pilots at the Gallipolis airport saw what they thought, at first, was an airplane, going 70 mph. Then all five clearly said it appeared to be a giant bird, with a long neck. On December 7, 1966, four adult women were driving along Route 33, in Ohio, when they spied a brownish-silver man-shaped flying creature with glowing red eyes.
But the history of Ohio’s links to these avian wonders goes back deeper into the past. In Mark A. Hall’s 2004 book, Thunderbirds: America’s Living Legends of Giant Birds, he finds old Ohio cases. Hall uncovered this entry by William Connelly in this entry among the Wyandot Indians from Ohio: “The Flying Heads plagued the Wyandots. They were more dangerous and troublesome during rainy, foggy, or misty weather. They could enter a cloud of fog, or mist, or rime, and in it approach a Wyandot village unseen. They were cruel and wicked hook-kehs and cannibals. They caused sickness; they were vampires and lay in wait for people, whom they caught and devoured. They carried away children; they blighted the tobacco and other crops; they stole and devoured the game after the hunter had killed it.”
Hall also discovered reports from the early 1900s, of large birds with wingspans of 12 feet across flying up and down the Ohio River Valley. During World War I, there were accounts of “Birdman” with glistening dark reddish feathers seen in the same area, around Gallipolis. Children were kept inside. After World War II, people said they were chased by a huge bird while traveling on the highways near the Ohio River.
However in the early 1930s near Northup there was a strange goings on. The Gallipolis Daily Tribune: “A few nights ago a guitar at the Trimble house happened to be left near a window. Suddenly the guitar began to give forth music and for more than an hour regarded the Trimbles with a wide assortment of delightful harmonies. They sat and listened, and pondered.”
The guitar was moved and the playing stopped. But a few nights later the piano started playing. The spirt must have had a sense of humor because two of the songs played by the spook were: “Did You Ever See A Dream Walking” and “Old Granny’s Nightmare Is Full of Threats.” The next evening there were several guests at the Trimble house and they all heard the playing. The unusual concerts continued for some days and then ended.
Article by James Sands is a special correspondent for the Sunday Times-Sentinel.
In the 1930s there were reported sightings of unusual aircraft, including a blimp, that were seen by dozens of people over a wide area, blowing up in mid-air. No trace of the wreckage was ever found.
In 1950 some persons living in Green Township reported seeing strange lights in the sky. Some concluded that the lights were from flying saucers. The Tribune headline read: “Saucers and Stuff.”
Article by James Sands
During 1950 there were reportedly a number of eyewitnesses claiming to have seen flying saucers. It was during that scare that a strange chemical paste was discovered in Gallia County.
The substance had a yellow, sulfur-like appearance on its surface. The “stuff” had fallen out of the sky onto a farm outbuilding. The resident of the farm said that the night before she discovered the “strange goo,” she had seen unusual lights in the sky. One person thought that the substance might be some new experiment being conducted by the government related to bacteriological warfare. Another considered it a part of a Communist plot to take over the country. And there were others who opted for the flying saucer explanation. At any rate, those who came into contact with the substance reported becoming very nauseated.
I’d always been told the Chamber building was haunted, and over the years, there were weird things that happened, but mostly just a feeling that you were being watched on occasion if you stayed a little later. One evening, I was working late, well past dark. I had music playing, the blinds closed, and was focused on my computer when all of the sudden all the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and arms and I had an overwhelming feeling that someone was standing behind me. When I spun my chair around, I couldn’t see anyone, but the feeling was still there. I was under a tight deadline that night and was not in the mood, and said out loud something like, “I’m not leaving. I have things to do, so just get back upstairs and leave me alone!” Immediately, the feeling of someone else being in the room vanished, and I went back to work without any other issues that evening.
Account from past Chamber employee.