Tuesday, August 10, 1949

Armed Squads To Seek Killer Bear Tonight Near Gooseville

Will Converge on Area Terrorized by Phantom Animal

Alton Telegraph

Bethalto – Seven armed squads of men, armed with loaded shotguns, are to comb the dense brush of the Gooseville area, nine miles east of Alton on Highway 140, starting at 5 p.m. today until nightfall.

They will be seeking an animal – believed to be a bear – known to be dangerous.

An expected 100 men will comprise the posses which will rendezvous at the washed-out Moro bridge, one mile north of Highway 140, 10 miles east of Alton.

The hunters will attempt to flush the animal killer from its lair somewhere in the ominous dark wooded areas flanking Indian Creek.

65 Meet at Bethalto

Sixty-five men met last night to plan today’s hunt at the Bethalto City Hall. They came from communities of the area, rallying to a call for volunteers. The hunt is to be lead by Mayor Henry Gerdes, mayor of Bethalto.

Fear of the bear has held the Gooseville residents in the grip of night terror for three weeks. Children and livestock have been guarded with extra precautions. Outside night activity has dropped to zero.

The animal last week killed and mangled a 7 months old bull calf owned by Fred Pruett. Pruett, at that time, related that he had laughed when he first read a week earlier about the night shrieks and screams of the alleged bear in the Gooseville area. “but I’m not laughing anymore.” He declared.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ed Heeren, Bethalto, exhibited a 60 pound bear trap which he is to set. Several of the hunters said they have had experience before in hunting dangerous animals – wolves and bears.

Reports 4-Inch Tracks

At latest report this morning, there was added evidence that it is a bear that has caused the terror.  M.A. Dodd described some tracks he had discovered Tuesday noon in the mud under a bridge in the area. He said they were fresh and some measured 4 inches in length.

The tracks, Dodd said, were not there when a group of Bethalto American Legionaires were searching for the animal in the Gooseville area Sunday morning.  A group of Legionnaires was to follow the trail last midnight. Evidently the trail failed to lead to the bear as no report was received today of success in the hunt.

In the last two weeks Gooseville residents and others have told of seeing an animal which they said looked like a bear. The animal was described variously as having a broad back, and brown or black.

Saw Beast’s Eyes

At least one has seen wicked eyes of a beast of prey starring from the darkness near a garage.

Other reports more recently have been received from residents in the eastern fringe of Alton. Some say they have seen or heard the animal.

Two weeks ago in Chautauqua, 32 miles northwest of Alton, residents of that summer resort reported the screams of a wildcat echoed over the still valley in the dead of night.

The general plan of tonight’s bear hunt at Gooseville is for the seven posses to converge from the four directions, meeting at the Moro bridge at dusk.

The posses are to meet and start as separate units at 5 p.m. Each posseman will carry a shotgun, with the chamber empty and the magazine loaded.

Elmer Westerhold,  Liberty Prairie, is captain of the three groups which are combing the 1000 acre Hatch timber, northeast of the intersection of Indian Creek and Highway 140. The squads will roam down Paddock’s Creek, which winds its way through the timber to Indian Creek.

Clifford Crabtree is leading a squad down the channel of Indian Creek from the north. Bob Cooper’s men will rendezvous at the northwest and proceed southeast to the central meeting place.

Other groups will comb the area to the south of Highway 140.

Included in the bear hunting parties are numerous veteran bear and wolf hunters. H. H. Carstena of Wood River reports killing several wolves near Carrolton a number of years ago. “I’d like like to meet that sucker – I’d make a floor mat out of him.” Carstena said.

Deputy Sheriff Frank Imel and Clyde Tisdel Sr. a constable, are stationed at Indian Creek and Highway 140 to keep traffic moving in the event sight-seers appear in large numbers.