|Typical terrain of Caswell County, NC|
In 1873, a giant strange-looking horned animal which howled ferociously was spotted in the mountains of Caswell County, North Carolina. This is the story, which describes a creature perhaps better suited for a Maurice Sendak children's book than for North America, as featured in the March 12, 1873 edition of the Fairfield (S.C.) Herald:
A gentleman recently from the Shelton, Laurel district of North Carolina, some forty miles from this place, informs us that the people in that "densely thicketed" county are greatly excited in regard to the appearance, upon several different places, of a huge mountain monster, the species of which is unknown. Mr. George Anderson, one of the gentlemen residing in the Laurel country, being one of the persons who saw the monster, also furnishes us with the following description of it.
"I was out in the jungle hunting up some lost hogs, when all of a sudden there came into my path a beast, the appearance of which, I must confess, caused me to quake for the first time in many years. Aside from its strange and unusual appearance, the unearthly yell it uttered on perceiving me, which reverberated and reverberated through the forest, was enough to shake the senses of the most daring adventurer.
"The animal was some hundred yards distant from me and appeared to be a huge black bear with mane and head like a lion, but had horns like an elk upon it. Its tail was long and bushy, with dark and light rings around it to its extremity. Its eyes gleamed like a panther's and its size was that of an ordinary ox but somewhat longer.
"Just previous to making its appearance I had shot off my gun at a squirrel, and felt little prepared to meet such a ferocious beast without any weapon of defense. I immediately set about reloading my rifle, but had scarcely begun when it darted toward me. I retreated in as good order as possible, and must say I did some good running- not looking back until I found the animal had disappeared in the Laurel thicket.
"This is no story, Mr. Editor, gotten up to scare naughty children. I am not the only one who has seen the monster- several have seen it since I did; and, as sheep and calves are lately missing, it is presumed to be a carnivorous brute. Many have fortified their house to prevent a night attack from the strange monster, the like of which was never seen in these mountains before. Some think it has escaped from some rambling menagerie, while others superstitiously think it is sent to warn people of some great approaching danger."