Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Real Bigfoot ! ?

Havana Journal

Havana, N.Y., April 21, 1888

Written for the Havana Journal.



By G. W. N.


Chapter 1.

About twenty-five years ago when
the mines of Idaho were discovered
and its large valleys were being set
tled, robbery, murder, and massacre
were quite common. Among the out
laws was an Indian, named Bigfoot,
because of his large feet, who was a
terror to Southern Idaho and to East
ern Oregon. For many years, when
ever any robbery or murder was com
mitted, especially by the Indians, the
monster tracks of Bigfoot were quite
sure to be found.  Generally he had
but few companions with him. It
they were mounted, he was always
on foot, and as we shall see he had
but little need of a horse even could
he have found one strong enough to
carry him. He traveled from one
part of the country to another with
almost incredible rapidity. One day
his fresh tracks would be seen in one
place and the next day he would be
heard of seventy or eighty miles distant.

Once he was chased by three white
men—Wheeler, Franklin and Bryant,
who were all well mounted,while Big
foot, as usual, was on foot. Wheeler
and his two companions were camped
near the head of one of the small
rivers which empty into the Snake in
south-western Idaho. During the
first part of the night their horses
were frightened. Thinking that Indians
might be prowling near them
the people kept a watch until daylight
came. Then, upon examining,
they found that Bigfoot and two
other Indians had during the night
been within two or three rods of them.
Of course, at this discovery, all were
greatly excited, but eager for a chase.
Bigfoot had that night been treading
upon dangerous ground. Here were
three cool and deliberate men that
feared no danger; all of them fine
marksmen, accustomed to fighting
Indians, and as good horsemen as
could be found in the northwest.

The party ate a hasty breakfast and
prepared for pursuit of the Indians.
As they mounted, Franklin remarked :
"Well, boys, we' ll make it hot for his
bigfeet to day!'' To this Wheeler replied
: "Yes, and he will make it hot
for our horses, if he can go as far in a
day as some say he can."

In hot pursuit the three men rode
on, and, in about two hours, came in
sight of the Indians, who were run
ning toward the river. All prepared
in deadly earnest for the chase. To
the already bleeding and somewhat
wearied horses, the large spurs were
applied without mercy, and the two
smaller Indians were soon overtaken
and shot down. They were brave
Indians, used to danger, and made a
determined and desperate resistance,
but they, with their ponies, arrows
and old style guns, could not cope
with the men with whom they now
had to do, mounted as they were, and
armed with the Henry rifle. Their
resistance was of no avail.

But this encounter was an advantage
to Bigfoot, who at the beginning
was some distance ahead of the two
Indians. By the time the encounter
was over he was a mile or more ahead
of the horsemen, and running and
jumping the sage brush that covers
the plaine like a frightened deer.
Where the ground was rough and
cut with gullies, he increased the dis
tance between him and his pursuers,
and where it was smooth he lost

For about twenty five miles was
this most exciting chase kept up with
about the same result. Upon reaching
the river, Bigfoot plunged into
the stream and struck out for the
opposite bank, carrying his gun and
ammunition above the water and
Swimming this most treacherous
stream, because of its rolling and
eddying undercurrent. The Indian
proved himself a good swimmer as
well as a good runner. When the
men saw Bigfoot plunge into the
river they put their faithful horses to
their utmost speed, but to their disgust
and anger they reached the
bank only in time to see the monster
climbing out, on the other side. Upon
being thus surprised, Franklin shouted
: "Boys, don't that beat all you
ever heard of?' "Yes, and in beats
our horses too," exclaimed Bryant,
while Wheeler laconically remarked,
that if Bigfoot did not have the rheu
mutism after that race and swimming
that cold stream he deserved to be as
famous for good health as for some
other things.

The Indian climbed the opposite
bank, shook himself, and after giving
a most, inhuman yell, shouted out in
plain English: "Come over, come
over, you cowards." He then plunging
on into the thick brush and was lost
from sight.

The river was so wide that to shoot
across was useless, and all the men
could do was to stand and look. The
poor horses, covered with foam, stood
bleeding, completely exhausted, and
seemed to feel the defeat. The riders
were in much the same condition.
Often during the chase the horses had
plunged into badger holes and those
of other animals and thrown their
riders over their heads, but in a sur
prisingly short time both horse and
rider were up and away again. Even
though he were a wonderful runner, it
was owing to the gullies and the
roughness of the ground that Bigfoot
made his escape.

The horsemen dare not attempt to
cross the river because of its treacher-
-ous depth and current.  The only
thing left for them to do in following
up the pursuit was to go to the nearest
ferry, five miles down the river, cross,
and, coming up on the other side,
strike the trail and continue the chase.
This they did, and followed the Indian's
big tracks until they came to
the mouth of the Weiser river. Here
Bigfoot, feeling quite sure that when
he swam the river he had ended the
pursuit, had caught two large sized
salmon, built a fire, roasted the fish
and picked the bones clean. He then
retraced his steps to the Snake, and
for some reason, either to carry out
his own plans or anticipating the
movements of the horsemen might
make again swam the river to the
side from which he had crossed.

It was about dark when this was
ascertained, and when night came on
it found three of the maddest and
hungriest of men. But they were
accustomed to such a life. The day's
experience was a part of it, only a
very rare one. Yet a fire, some of
the same kind of fish of which Bigfoot
was so fond, and a little rest
soon brought cheer among them ; all
agreed that Bigfoot could out-run
and out-wind any Indian of whom
they had ever heard ; that he was the
largest man and had the biggest foot
they ever saw, and that lie was a good
swimmer and a great lover of fish.

When morning came the men concluded
to abandon the chase for a
time, but as Wheeler looked at his
noble horse, now ruined, he said : "I'll
get even with that old big footed fisheater,
if it takes me ten years to do it."
This he did in a much shorter time,
but at great peril to himself.

Between Boise City and Silver
miles south the road is
narrow ravine, a sort of
either side high rocks
which form a table land. This offered
good ground for the operations of
Bigfoot and his band ot savage outlaws.
From the many hiding places
here, he, with his few chosen com
panions, would sally forth on the
unsuspecting traveler. In this place
many of the early settlers and speculators
lost their lives. He also made
raids after the stock of the settlers
and traveling trains until the very
name of Bigfoot struck terror in the
feelings of many. But this rugged
spot chosen by the outlaw was quite
fittingly the place in which his own
murderous career was brought to an

There was a good deal of travel
between Boise and Silver, and there
was scarcely any day but Bigfoot
could have seen some one pass, espe
cially the stage. One bright August
day a teamster might have been seen
nearing the canon. But as he was
alone he concluded to wait until some
one came along with whom lie could
go through the dangerous place. Ac
cordingly, he very foolishly turned
his horses loose to graze while he pre
pared himself something to eat.
While he was cooking, his horses became
frightened and ran off, leaving
the freighter, afoot, alone, and badly
frightened. The horses had gone
down the creek which ran to a short
distance within the road. The freighter
followed until he found the horses
had started through the canon, where,
being afraid to go farther, he turned
to go back. As he did so, looking
across the creek he saw three Indians
coming toward him in full speed.
They were painted and arrayed in
feathers, and as they were coming
directly toward him he felt sure they
saw him ami that, there was no possible
escape. He knew that the terri
ble looking Indian was Bigfoot. He
was about forty yards ahead of the
second Indian, who was about the
same distance ahead of the third. At
the sight of the Indians the freighter
stood for a moment paralyzed with
fear. Upon reflection, the only thing
that occurred to him was to drop behind
something and await the death
that seemed so near. Accordingly
he dodged behind a large overhang
ingrock, and as he did so silently bid
farewell to all kindred and friends,
believing that in a few moments his
scalp would hang from the belt of
the monster Bigfoot.

Hardly had the frightened man settled
himself in his hiding place when
Bigfoot came thundering and panting
along, like a buffalo, within twenty
yards of where the freighter lay. He
did not stop, but made on for the
road. The man had not been seen,
but the stage full of passengers,sever
al females among them, was the
object ot the Indians' chase. His plan
was to head off the stage, murder the
passengers and rob them, as he had
done before. But, this bloody work
he was soon to be denied.

Of course, when the freighter saw
that he was not the object of Bigfoot's
haste, he could but give a sigh of
relief, yet the iminent peril of the
passengers gave him very little com

When the Indian next behind Big
foot was opposite the rock the sharp
report of a rifle rang out on the clear
mountain air, and the Indian dropped
dead within twenty feet of the rock.
At the sound of the gun, Bigfoot
leaped behind a rock, and the other
Indian turned back over the hill and
was seen no more.

For a Moment all was quiet except
the sound of the stage, and the stage
driver, as was his custom on nearing
the dangerous place, urging the horses
to their utmost speed.

The passengers went on in safety,
knowing nothing at the time of the
danger that, had b e t ! so near to
them, nor of the frightened man who
would have given all to have been
with them, nor of the most desperate
and bloody encounter which so soon
took place.

Bigfoot seemed to think, that the
shot had come from a tree standing
on the bank of the creek and surrounded
with a thick clump of willow
brush. In order to prove this supposition,
after the stage had passed out
of sight he began to practice a bit of
strategy. He would crawl to one side
of the rock and look carefully out;
then he would crawl to the other side
and do the same. But no one yielded
to the temptation he then gave for an
uncertain shot. All was so quiet in
the willows by the tree as behind the
rock where the- freighter lay in death
like stillness. The Indian would put
his ear on the ground and listen, but
nothing could be heard. Tired of
this, he tried another plan characteristic
of his race. Carefully cutting a
large sage brush which grew behind
the rock, he tied it on his back and,
to the great horror of the freighter,
began to crawl toward the very rock
behind which he was hiding.

How slowly and gently he moved
with the brush standing erect on his
back! What could the poor man do ?
Should he remain,Bigfoot would soon
kill him, and to attempt to run was
about as suredeath. The Indian was
about halfway to him. He was con
templating to run toward the clump
of willows when a voice rang out in
clear, cool, tones, saying: "Get up
from there, Bigfoot, you old featherheaded
coward. I can see you in spite
of the brush crawling off like a snake.
For once you did not get a scalp.
Here is one for you, come and take
mine, you coward.*' At this the
Indian sprang to his feet, leveled a
double barreled rifle at the willows
and said: "Me no coward,you coward,
you come out, me scalp you too." At
that instant, Wheeler, for it was he,
sprang out in full view, saying as he
did so: "Here I am, come on now."
Both fired at the same instant. Big
foot staggered, recoqered himself, and
fired again. He then threw down his
gun and started toward the dead
Indian. He had gone only a few
steps when another shot caused him
to stagger again, but he succeeded in
reaching his dead companion, and
snatching up his gun fired just as
another shot from Wheeler made itself
felt in the powerful frame. Again he
staggered, but rallying, threw down
the empty gun, drew a large knife,
and giving a most hideous yell,rushed
toward his antagonist. Another bullet
struck him, but still he rushed on. It
began to look as though he might yet
come out victor, for no ordinary man
could escape when once in his grasp.

Wheeler never moved from where
he stood, but cool and deliberately he
handled his gun witli great skill,every
shot taking effect. When within
about twenty yards of Wheeler, Bigfoot
fell with a broken leg. Yet
Wneeler fired the rest of the sixteen
shots into the powerful body, and then
before he approached the fallen Indian
reloaded his rifle. Then stepping
toward Bigfoot he said :"IIow do you
like the way my gun shoots, you old
monster? But I'll bet it against
yours, you don't scalp many more
white men in these quarters.''

As Wheeler approached the Indian
cried out in plain English : "Don't
shoot me again, you have killed me
now." Wheeler walked up to him,
pulled out a revolver, and as lie gazed
upon the monster who had been such
a terror to the country, called to the
freighter behind the rock: " Come
down, whoever you are ; there is no
danger now of your losing your scalp.''

Bigfoot was bleeding from twelve
wounds ; both legs and his left arm
were broken.

As the thirst of death came upon
him he called for water. Wheeler
said : " Wait until I break that other
arm." " Then do it quickly," said the
Indian. At the report of a pistol the
arm fell useless at his side. This look
ed cruel, yet the men thought it the
only safe way to minister with safety
to the wants of the dying Indian.
Wheeler then brought, water from the
creek and gave it to him. Bigfoot
called for whiskey. He was told by
the men that they had none, but,
Wheeler said he had some whiskey and
annmonia which he always carried
with him for snake bites, and if he
wanted that, he could have it. They
put the pint flask filled with the mix
ture to his lips. He did not stop until
he had emptied the contents. He
then fell back saying: " I am sick and
blind." For a moment he seemed to
be dead, but revived again and asked
them to wash the paint off his face
and see what a good looking man he
was. Upon washing his face they
found, much to their surprise, that he
indeed had quite a fine looking face,
and a most handsome set of teeth.
His face had been almost white, but
now, from exposure, was badly tan
tied. His eyes were large and black
with a decidedly wicked expression.
His long black hair hung from his
lead in somewhat kinky shocks. He
was an enormous person; his hands
and his feet especially were of great
size. Soon he became more cheerful
and said he hadl a promise to ask of
them. When they inquired what
it, was, he replied. " Do not scalp
me, nor take me to Boise City after I
am dead, but, put me among the wil
lows, pile some rock upon me and
place my old gun by my side. If you
will only promise to do this I shall die
contented, for I know you will do it."

Wheeler told him that they would
do it, if he would tell them who he
was, and tell the, truth in answer to
their questions.

A largo reward had been offered
for the delivery of Bigfoot, dead or
alive, at Fort Boise, or even for his
big feet, as proof that he could do no
more robbery and murder. This the
Indian knew and very much dreaded
to have it done. After he was again
assured that his request should be
granted on the condition mentioned.
Bigfoot gave the following account of

Chapter III
"I have been a very bad and wicked
man, and should I tell you how very
bad I have been, I am afraid you will
not keep your promise.

" I was born in the lndian Territory
in the Cheerokee Nation. My Father
was a white man named Arthur Wilkinson.
He was hanged in the Cherokee
Nation for murder when I was a
little boy. My mother, I have been
told, was part Indian and part Negro.
She was a good Christian woman.
My name is Starr Wilkinson. I was
named after James Starr, a noted desperado
in the Nation.

"When I was a boy I was made fun
of because I was so large. My hands
and my feet were very large as you
see they still are. I always had a bad
temper, and added to this, I got to
drinking when quite young. I was so
strong that when any one called me
bad names I would fight. I was always
getting into trouble and came
very near killing several persons with
my fist. I knew that if I staid there
I would soon get killed, so I ran away
from home and went to the Capital
of the Nation. While there I met
some emigrants who were going to
Oregon. I hired out to them and
drove a team across the plains for my
board. The folks were kind to me,
and I fell in love with a youg woman
in the company. She thought a good
deal of me until we met a company of
emigrants in which was a young man
from New York. He was an artist,
a smart, good looking fellow, and
soon cut me out. I don't know as I
could blame the girl much.

"After she got acquainted with him
she would have no more to do with
me. I knew he had said something
to her against me. Several times he
made fun of me. When we were in
camp somewhere along Snake River
he and I went out one morning to
hunt up the stock. We were walking
along the bank of the river. I asked
him whether he intended to marry
the girl when they reached Oregon.
He said he did. I told him he ought
not to do that for I had the best right
to the girl. But ho only laughed at
me and said: " Do you think she
would be fool enough to throw off" on
a good looking fellow like me and
marry a big footed nigger like you!"
I told him if he called mo a nigger
again I would kill him. He drew his
gun on me and repeated the word.
Although I was unarmed I started at
him, but he shot and wounded me
slightly in the side. I took the gun
away from him, threw him down,
choked him to death and threw his
body into the river. Taking his gun,
knife, and pistols, I ran off in the hills.

"The camp did not move for a day
or two. They were doubtless waiting
and looking for us. Some of them
went on to Oregon, but the family
with whom I was traveling went back
to Salt Lake City where they spent
the winter.

"I soon fell in with Joe Lewis. Joe,
as you know, was a badman, too. I
was with him when ho was shot by
a mail carrier. I buried poor Joe in
the sand along the Bayette river, and
I do not know as anyone but myself
every knew how he died, for it was
in the night when he was shot. With
Joe I went and joined the Indians,
and have been with them ever since.
I have been a very wicked man. In
one of our raids we found cattle which
I knew belonged to the people that
crossed the plains the year before. I
determined to look up the train, to
find the girl, and, if possible, make
her run away with me. After a few
days I found them, but the girl and
all the rest were very mad at me.
They said I had killed Mr. Hart and
ought to be hung, and I must leave
the camp. This made me mad, and I
told the girl that unless she ran off
with me she would be sorry for it before
she got to Oregon. But she
would not go with me, and I had to
leave the camp. I determined to have
revenge. I got Joe Lewis and about
thirty Indians and followed the train.
As the month of the Boise we over
took them, killed the people; the girl,
also, and drove off the stock.

"After a while I took a squaw for a
wife. She and my little boy were
killed by while men who were trying
to subdue the Indian raids. Since
then I have done all the mischief I
could, and I hope, he added, you will
keep your promise."

"All right, Mr. Wilkinson," said
Wheeler, " I think 1 will do it. I am
from the Cherokee Nation myself, and
have a little of the Cherokee blood in
my veins." As this, and the reassur
ance that neither his body, nor any
part of it, should be taken to the Fort,
the Indian actually wept,and said:
" You are a brave man, and I know
you will keep your word. I, too, am
a brave man. You shot too quickly
for me. You had the best gun and
have killed me. I got my old gun in
the massacre of 1857, and I do not
know how many I have killed with it."

His eyes grew dimmer, and he fell
back exclaiming: "They are coming,
the soldiers !" In a moment he
breathed his last. It was not until
the Indian was dead that the freighter
felt free to approach very near.

They took the following measure-
-ments of Bigfoot: height, six feet
eight and one half inches; about the"
chest, fifty-nine inches; around the,
widest part of the hand, eighteen
inches ; length of foot, seventeen and
one half inches. He would have
weighed fully three hundred pounds;
all muscle and sinew, not a pound of
waste flesh upon him.

Putting a rope about his body they
hitched a horse to it and dragged the
dead Indian to the bank of the creek
and there buried him, as he had requested,
placing his old broken gun
by his side.

Reprinted from the,

Havana Journal
Havana, Chemung Co., NY
1849 - 1893
Now defunct, with no known Copyright.

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