Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I Am Not Making This Up: Monster, Hollywood Star.

Written By: Tracy - Oct• 30•17

When most people move into a new home, they expect to contend with vermin. Maybe a rat or two, or some roaches. They don’t expect to have a maybe-bear come at them through a window.

But that’s what happened to Elizabeth Ford in 1971. And her story would go on to chill and thrill millions when it was made into a movie – The Legend Of Boggy Creek.

Fouke, Arkansas is in the same general area as Texarkana. (Which I wrote about last Monday in connection with a series of murders that may have inspired the hookman urban legend). It’s a quiet, mostly rural area where you might expect to see wildlife. (Even today, a few people will get into car accidents by hitting a deer.)

So when Bobby and Elizabeth Ford heard a large animal around their new home at night, they assumed it was a bear.

They weren’t thinking of The Jonesville Monster, a large, ape-like creature that locals had occasionally seen in the woods around Southwest Arkansas over the past century.

Unlike Grizzly bears, the Black Bears that are native to Arkansas are not an aggressive species. If you leave them alone, (the saying goes) they will leave you alone.

But this creature didn’t leave the Fords alone. On The night of May 1, 1971, while Elizabeth slept on her couch, some kind of large animal reached at her through her screen window.

Elizabeth’s husband Bobby and her brother Don scared the creature away by shooting at it. They claimed that throughout the night, the creature kept coming back. When they called police, a constable responded by bringing them a strong light and a shotgun.

At one point in the night, Bobby said that something with a hairy arm tried to grab him. He would be treated for scratches at a local clinic.

The inhabitants of the house described the creature as being seven foot tall, three foot wide, hairy with red eyes the size of half-dollars.

They said that they shot at the animal seven times throughout the night, and believed that they hit it. But no blood was found on the property. A daylight search revealed three-toed tracks and scratches made with something that had three claws.

In an interview with the Texarkana Gazette, Bobby Ford said that he planned to move out of his new home immediately.

In the days following the attack, authorities speculated that the creature might be a large cat, such as a mountain lion. As sightings continued to plague the area, some wondered if the “Fouke Monster,” might be an escaped circus ape. A Little Rock radio station even offered a $1,000 bounty on the monster.

Then in 1973, filmmaker and Texarkana resident Charles B. Pierce made The Legend Of Boggy Creek, a movie about the monster and his attack on the Ford family. Pierce would go on to make The Town That Dreaded Sundown about the Texarkana murders three years later.

Sightings and other signs of the creature have appeared sporadically around Arkansas (even as far north as Russellville) ever since.

Is The Jonesville/Fouke/Boggy Creek monster real? Experts say no. One month after the attacks on the Ford family, an archaeologists at Southern Arkansas University said that there was a 99 percent chance that the footprints were a hoax.

The uptick in sightings of the beast also coincided with an uptick on Bigfoot sightings across the country. In the early 1970’s, Bigfoot and similar cryptids were a trend in the same way that chupacabras were in the mid-1990’s, and scary clowns have become in the mid 2010’s.

It’s possible that someone could have played a trick on the Ford family, or an encounter with a wild animal got blown out of proportion. The story could have fed local pranksters, leading to strange footprints found in later sightings.

Author and skeptic Brian Dunning has noted that all evidence related to the Fouke Monster is anecdotal (therefore not testable).” The implication being that the monster is probably, like the movie it’s based on, more fiction than fact.

But, as the box office returns for The Legend Of Boggy Creek can attest to, it makes for a really good story.

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