Wednesday,Â December 31,Â 1890
Chicago Inter Ocean
A Strange Creature Has Been Prowling Around the Desplaines River.
Those Who Have Run Across the Thing Like It to the Traditional Wild Man.
All Efforts to Hunt It to Its Haunts Have So Far Proved in Vain.
IS IT THE WILD MAN OF BORNEO?
Maywood has a mystery, and through it that usually peaceful little suburb bids fair to
become quite notorious.
Something over a week ago a rumor was started in Maywood that a bear or some
animal very much resembling one, had been seen on the Desplaines River bank, just
below the village. Several times this story was repeated, and at last it was
determined to organize a hunting party to search for the animal. In a day or two,
as the party had not materialized, those who intended to go made up their minds
that they had been hoaxed, and so the entire matter was dropped.
Christmas day the Des Plaines River was crowded with skaters. They covered the ice
from Harlem to Turner Park, and were happy as they were numerous. In the crowd
that kept close to the Northwestern railroad bridge, between River Forest and
UNDER FIRST AVENUE BRIDGE
Maywood, was a party of young people from North Clark street. Charles Gardner, a
clerk on the Board of Â Trade, was one of the number, and as he was anxious not to
miss the next train he went ashore below the railroad bridge, removed his skates
and commenced to pick his way a small path which led
TOWARD THE MAYWOOD PARK
This was through a very thick undergrowth, and led directly to a small bridge on
First avenue, spanning a ravine which runs the entire length of the park, running
into the river about two hundred feet from the small bridge.
As Gardner approached the bridge he was startled by hearing what sounded to
him like a moan or a growl. Looking up he saw at the foot of one of the piers of
the bride (sp) something which he first took to be a man. The figure was seated
on a projecting rock and was partially concealed behind the thick weed that
surround the spot. It was peering through the tops of the weeds, and the face,
as the startled man saw it, was that of a monster. It had a low heavy brow, over
which hung hair that was coarse and matted. Its eyebrows were heavy and long,
and the head seemed to be set low down on the chest, so high and massive were
the huge shoulders. The entire face was covered with bushy hair, and as Gardiner
looked in fright and wonder, a huge arm was lifted to grasp the wall as the
creature rose.Â That was all the young man wanted to see.Â He tore his way up the
steep bank, rushed to the depot nearly half a mile away, and boarded his train
just as it was about to leave.
Then he laughed at himself. He imagined that he had probably seen some
FOOTPRINTS NEAR HARLEM:
unfortunateÂ tramp taking a rest under the bridge and had, in the excitement of
the unexpected vision, drawn for himself the vivid picture his mind so well
retained. He said nothing at all about the matter until Sunday, when he was again
at Maywood for a day’s skating. With a few friends he met on the ice he landed
near the spot, picked his way to the bridge, and related what he had seen.Â Of
course he was laughed at until some in the party ventured under the bridge
where they saw, lying among the some small rocks, two pieces of ragged
clothing. Other traces were also visible of the place having been recently
visited by something, and Gardner’s story was at once believed.
IN THE MEANTIME
the mysterious creature had been seen and heard by other people. John
Haberlein, Hans Monns, and Sam Hamburg, three Germans living near Turner
Park, had heard from some boys that some wolves or bears were prowling
up and down the river. Friday they started out with guns and dogs and
carefully scoured both banks of the river from Turner Park almost to Harlem,
but they saw nothing alive, although in the sand on the river bank, near
Harlem, they ran across some strange looking footprints, which led from the ice
to the bank of the river. These tracks resembled somewhat those of a bear, but
the peculiar imprints of the toes at once proved that they were not made by any
Bruin in existence. The hunters followed these footprints until they were lost in
the weeds, and a thorough search of every nook and ravine in the vicinity failed
to bring to light the object which made the marks. The hunters told their story
in Maywood, and the people who had before heard of the mysterious prowling
ON THE ICE NEAR WALLER’S
thing were now thoroughly alarmed, and in many instances parents forbade
children skating on the river, so afraid were they that the animal, or man, or
whatever it was, might do some injury to the little folks.
Late last Saturday night Henry Phillips and R.A. Lewis, two young me who
board in River Forest, went over to Maywood to call on some young ladies.
They were walking home after their visit and when on the West Lake street
wagon bridge, stopped to look at a passenger train that was crossing the
railroad bridge just below. They saw the train pass, and then looked up and
down the river. The moon was shining brightly, and the reflected glitter
from the ice made the picture a pretty one,
AS THE TWO YOUNG MEN
leaned over the railing of the bridge and discussed the possibilities of the ice
losing its charm for skaters, one of them happened to look up the river.
Above the bridge about a half mile is a bend in the river. It is where
Mr. E.C. Waller’s beautiful home rests on the bank of the Desplaines River.
The action of the current here in this bend is gradually wearing away the
bank, and Mr. Waller is constructing a huge wall to protect his property.
Dams are erected there, but the work on the wall has ceased for the winter
months. Around these dams on the ice lie boards and barrels and pieces
of stone, mixed up in the confusion in which they were left when the
workmen stopped. Â The moonlight, shining on the ice, was broken at these
dams, the shadows of the trees and rocks and boards at the bend giving
a pretty contrast to the glimmer of the rest of river’s frozen surface.
As the two young men watched the ice they saw a movement on the icy
surface at the bend. Without being aware that the other was looking at the
moving object each watched the figure until they broke out at the same
instant with a remark that some fellow must like skating very well to be
out alone at that time of night.
COMING OUT OF HIS LAIR
They both laughed, and as they did the figure drew away from the bend
and made its way down the river toward the two watchers. It came very
slowly and appeared to be carrying something. As it approached the
bridge the young men could see very distinctly that it was not a skater.
It took long, regular, but very slow strides, and at each step a clacking
sound could be heard as is some loose shoe sole was coming in contact
with the smooth ice at every step. On the shoulder of the queer looking
figure was a piece of board, and as it slouched along the young men
carefully watched. The moonlight was brilliant, and as the object drew
nearer and nearer the bridge the general outline became more and
The reflection from the ice threw its ray on the features of the strange
looking midnight marauder, and as it came nearer and nearer to the
young men they were almost horror-stricken at its appearance. The
figure was that of a man, big, brawny and muscular, but whether
covered with hair or clothes was hard to discern. It wore no hat, and
its white hands, as one hung by its side and the other grasped the
burden on its shoulder, were in great contrast to the dark face, black
hair and peculiar looking body. The head seemed scarcely higher
than the shoulders, and as the creature moved along, a peculiar
hissing sound came from it, as if it were breathing through its teeth.
BOTH SPECTATORS WERE BADLY FRIGHTENED
as the fearful looking creature drew nearer. When it halted under the
bridge, or a little to one side of it, and directly in full view ofÂ the
ONE OF HIS HAUNTS
watchers, it dropped its burden. It seemed to be fearful of
something, and looked around in every direction. The young men
crouched on the floor of the bridge and peered cautiously over
the edge of rail. The Thing hissed and mumbled as it stood there,
and Lewis became so badly frightened that he almost yelled
outright, and was only stopped by the strong hand-clasp of
In a few moments a movement was heard on the ice. The figure
had stooped down and was replacing its load on its shoulder.
After having done this it remained motionless for a few
seconds, and then moved under the bridge. It was lost to the
sight of the two men for an instant, and then it emerged from
the shadow and moved on down the river, the peculiar
clacking sound being kept up. They saw it pass under the
railroad bridge and watched it move on down toward Harlem
until it was lost to view around the bend of the river just
Just as Lewis and Phillips had reached the end of the bridge
on their homeward way, and were discussing the strange sight
they had seen, they were again startled by hearing a loud cry.
They concluded they had seen enough for one night, and agreed
that the sound they had just heard Â had been made by some
night bird or animal. They were quite nervous, anyhow, and as
Lewis was especially anxious to go to his home, it was with
difficulty that his friend could persuade him to wait a few
moments to see if anything would appear.
They did not wait long. From under the railroad bridge shot
the same figure they had just lost sight of. It was moving
rapidly, and was without the burden it had carried when last
seen. It rushed to the center of the space between the two
bridges and sat or crouched on a small rock that showed
above the surface of the ice, where it remained for a few
seconds, hissing through its teeth and waving its long arms
around as if to ward off some pursuer or enemy. Only for a few
seconds did the mysterious creature remain in this position.
Then it rose and slowly moved toward the west bank of the
IT PAUSED AGAIN
when it reached the edge of the ice, and seemed to be looking
in the direction of the two watchers, who had cautiously moved
nearer the center of the bridge. It seemed to shade its eyes
with a big white hand, and then, after a long pause, turned and
commenced to climb up the bank. This part of the shore was
in shadow, being covered with weeds and trees, and for some
time the creature was lost to the view of the watching and
anxious men, but when it reached the top it was again
easily seen, the figure beingÂ silhouettedÂ in bold relief against
the white barn which stands near the top.
Close to the bank of the river at this are two straw stacks owned
by Farmer Nicholson. They had been cut into, and both are
propped up by means of long poles and beams. Â Going to the
nearest of these the figure cautiously crawled under one of the
props, arranged some straw for a pillow, and lay down. From
where the two men were watching, just a dark outline of the
figure could be discerned, but it was indistinct and blurred.
The young men at once started for their homes, and the next
morning told their story to Howard Davis, a young book agent,
who lives in River Forest, who it turn recited it to a reporter
for THE INNER OCEAN. Young Gardner was found by the
reporter, and a visit to Maywood disclosed the fact than many
prominent persons had heard of the mysterious figure, but
were inclined not to place much credence in the theory that
there is much of a mystery to the matter. They are inclined
to think that these people have seen a big dog or some other
animal, and have allowed their imagination to get away with
them amid the mysterious surroundings.
Mr. William Rausch, of the Maywood pharmacy, has heard some
talk about the mystery, but is inclined to think that there is
nothing very dreadful about it. He does not know Lewis or
Phillips, nor is acquainted with Davis, who is a reliable young
businessman. Others think that there is some mystery
surrounding this strange creature, and if traces of him are
seen again an effort will be made to capture him.
Is he one of the men who have so strangely disappeared from
Chicago during the past year, or merely some able-bodied
tramp fantastically arrayed is the question asked by those
who have come in contact with him, directly or indirectly.