My old hometown’s name, Decatur, has a cryptozoological and Forteana mystique about it that creates all kinds of mojo.
Such sites are named after the War of 1812′s Navy hero, Stephen Decatur, who fought against the Barbary pirates. Decatur at one time conducted tests in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in 1804, and fired on the Jersey Devil. The records say that Stephen Decatur identified the winged creature as a “devil” – pale in color, with leathery bat-like wings. Decatur perforated one of the thing’s wings with a fired cannonball, but it seemed unfazed, which disturbed everybody who was there at the time. It flew off.
Second, the word decatur is loosely translated as “dweller at the sign of the cat,” and Native Americans who lived in the area that is now Central Illinois had numerous stories of encounters with large dark predatory cats, which are still sighted in the area to this very day.
Stephen Decatur, a Masonic figure of some noteworthiness, is responsible, as well, for the Stephen Decatur House in Washington D.C. is reportedly haunted. By the way, it is located on Lafayette Square.
I have investigated black panther sightings, tawny mountain lion encounters, out-of-place alligators, weird kangaroos, and Bigfoot reports for Decatur, Illinois, which is in Macon (French for “Mason”) County. UFOs, airships, skyquakes, frog falls, cattle mutilations, hauntings, and other Forteana have occurred in that Decatur.
Other Decaturs around the USA tend to have higher than normal concentrations of weirdness about them. Falls of frogs in Decatur, Indiana. A history of panther encounters (all the sport team mascots are “Panthers”) and cattle mutes exist around Decatur, Tennessee. Georgia’s Decatur is known for panther accounts and things like a weird link to John Lennon’s assassin. The Alabama town of Decatur has been linked to southern Bigfoot accounts.
My brother Jerry Coleman investigated reports of a black panther being seen between Decaturville and Devil’s Knee, Missouri, in 1982.
Now comes the news that Tabatha Hunter in the Benton County Daily Record has updated today another old name game creature, “Decatur’s Bigfoot”:
In October 2003, the small town of Decatur on the western side of Benton County [Arkansas] found itself with a new resident.
It did not take everyone long to realize that the new neighbor who had moved into the woods around Crystal Lake was, indeed, Bigfoot.
“We had some pretty interesting calls on it,” Decatur Chief of Police Terry Luker said. “I had one lady call me and I tried to explain to her that it was not a Bigfoot and that it was too small to be a Bigfoot.
“The lady stopped me and she said, ‘Well, you know, they have babies, too.”’
The official stance on Decatur’s Bigfoot sightings in 2003 is that the monkey-like creature people were getting fleeting glances of around town was actually a baboon that had escaped from the local wilderness safari in nearby Gentry.
The first spotting of Bigfoot was on Hill Street, and it was not long before the police department was getting calls from citizens who had seen Bigfoot on the west side of Decatur, Luker said.
“It was a lot of fun. I have not heard of any sightings lately,” Luker said.