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Mid 1980's
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Akron Beacon Journal 07/15/85


Section: OHIO

Page: C3

Don Keating of Newcomerstown gathered his friends and neighbors together Saturday, at Newcomerstown High School to talk about "Bigfoot." Keating told more than 30 persons that he thinks there are two or three such creatures within a 15- to 20-mile radius of the Tuscarawas County community. Keating said the meeting provided information on new sightings and confirmed previous ones. Keating said the creature was "a humanlike figure walking on two legs with a bit of a slouch, at least 7 1/2 feet tall." 

Below are some pictures from near the sighting areas near Newcomerstown while we were there in July, 1985. We didn't find much other than a dead raccoon along a beat down trail from a large object. We couldn't find any evidence to identify what made the trail after following it for a mile. We did log in some notes about hearing some kind of wood hitting wood in an area not pictured below, but didn't think anything of it at the time.

Akron Beacon Journal 07/29/85


Section: OHIO

Page: A1

By Barbara Galloway, Beacon Journal staff writer

The sign at the town limits says this is the home of baseball great Cy Young and Ohio State University coaching legend Woody Hayes.

But Don Keating wants to prove that Newcomerstown also is the home of a third famous citizen: Bigfoot.

The 22-year-old Keating, who works as a driver and farmhand at a produce farm in nearby Coshocton County, has investigated reports of four sightings in the area within the last two years. He says two of those sightings were made by his friends on expeditions he led into a wooded area of Oxford Township just south of the village. He and his friends split up, keeping in contact by walkie-talkie. Unfortunately, Keating said, the other men saw the creature, and he didn't. "I wanted to go back to see if I could spot it," Keating said. "But they just wanted to leave. They wouldn't go back for a few days." Keating says there also have been sightings on the following dates:

November 1983 -- A hunter walking through the woods got the feeling someone was watching him. He stopped and looked around, but saw nothing. When he emerged from the woods less than a mile from his house, he saw a large, black, hairy creature, looking at him from less than 100 feet away.

April 28, 1984 -- Three men walking in a wooded area "smelled something rotten." When they rounded a bend in the path, they saw a large creature pulling leaves off trees and eating them. The men took off in the other direction.

Keating said he has been tracking Bigfoot since last July, when he found footprints in Salt Fork State Park about 15 miles southwest of Newcomerstown. He thinks the creature might commute between the Salt Fork area and Newcomerstown. The prints were 14 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches deep. The heel prints were 5 feet apart, he said, indicating that whatever made them had a pretty long stride. "I tried to get a plaster cast from one, but I must have been inexperienced "cause it fell apart," he said sheepishly. On July 13, Keating held a 2 1/2-hour meeting at the Newcomerstown High School to tell people about the sightings and give a little Bigfoot history. He said the creature was first reported in Ohio in the 1890s, snooping around a chicken coop near Portsmouth. Keating said he was surprised when 32 people showed up for the first meeting. One woman was from Logan, northwest of Columbus, in a county where Bigfoot supposedly was sighted five years ago. Spotted by farmers A man-like creature about 7 feet tall with long hair but no facial features was spotted by four farmers and a game warden's wife in Logan and Union counties in August 1980. Two witnesses said the creature stood with its knees bent and palms facing outward, as if making a gesture of curiosity. Keating will have another meeting Saturday, at 7 p.m. in the high school on the corner of Beaver and Oak streets. Tom Archer, a Bigfoot investigator from Reynoldsburg, is the guest speaker.

Keating says he has three reasons for holding the meetings. "I want to let people know there might be such a creature here, then see if someone will open up and tell about their experience," he said. "I also want to get people who live out of town to let us know if they see anything." Even in the age of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, people fear a stigma if they say they saw something strange. Keating said the people who told him about the four sightings -- even his friends -- made him promise not to reveal their names. Keeping location secret He said he also is keeping secret the location of the sightings, three of which were within an area about one mile square. He said he heard what happened when specific locations were given for the Logan and Union County sightings. "The place turned into a three- ring circus with all the hunters," he said. The same thing happened after the sighting of the so-called "Minerva monster" in August 1978. Hunters armed with high-powered rifles, "killer" Dobermans and lots of beer, stalked the creature in a wooded area off U.S. 30 behind the home of a Paris Township family. Several members of the family and some visiting friends said they were able to get a good look at the large, hairy creature on several occasions. One night, it stood at their kitchen window, directly under a security light, and did not move when a rifle was pointed at it. Stark County deputies who investigated the sightings said they were not a hoax. Years later, they said they still could not identify the hair samples and what looked like a jaw bone. Evidence of sightings Union County officials also took the 1980 sightings seriously. A deputy who led a team on an all- night investigation of one area said afterward: "We found definite signs that indicate something is there."

Tuscarawas County Sheriff Harold McKimmie said his logs show several Bigfoot calls last year but only one since he took office in January. That one was from Keating, who had heard of a possible sighting in March. He reported it to Newcomerstown police, who passed it on to the sheriff's department. McKimmie, however, did not take it seriously and sent no one to investigate. "I don't think the people are that interested in town, unless there's a definite sighting and a law enforcement agency is involved," said Newcomerstown Police Chief James Friel. Newcomerstown, a village of about 4,500, seems concerned with more down-to- earth matters -- like whether or not residents can keep their jobs in area factories. The town has a bowling alley and a number of bars. Though a white man, Nicholas Neighbor, is credited with founding the town in 1814, Newcomerstown is recorded as the capital of the Delaware Indians under Chief Netawatowes in 1764. Gekelemukpechunk The name of the village then was Gekelemukpechunk, a name more fitting the hometown of Bigfoot. The town museum is in the old Temperance Tavern -- though members of the historical society cannot explain why a tavern carried that dry name. On the second floor is a glass case containing bronzed tennis shoes and the cap and whistle that belonged to Wayne Woodrow Hayes, who graduated from
Newcomerstown High in 1931. Next to the case are Cy Young's rocking chair, traveling bag, hat and shoes (not bronzed). Young started his major league career in Cleveland in 1890 and still holds the records for most years pitching (22), most games (906), most wins (510) and most consecutive hitless innings (23 in 1904.)

Newcomerstown teeters on the border of Tuscarawas and Coshocton counties and is just north of Guernsey County. The forests are not particularly dense and the area usually is overrun with hunters during deer season. That is why state game officials do not think Bigfoot could be hiding in the area. Of course, officially, the state does not believe in Bigfoot at all. "Myth and fantasy" "We've been down this dusty road many times before," said Robert Donohoe, supervisor of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources forest wildlife program. "It's nothing but myth and fantasy; usually people having fun by making big footprints." Donohoe keeps statistics on all woodland creatures, big and small, that live in Ohio. He said some black bears have wandered into Ohio -- one just a few weeks ago near Youngstown. But when that happens, he says, not only do plenty of area residents see the bear, but his people do as well. And while there have been plenty of rumors about all three, Donohoe said there are as many Bigfoots as there are bear and cougar in the Salt Fork-Newcomerstown area: Zero. "We've never seen one," he said of the Bigfoot creature. "But if you bring us one, we'll be happy to look at it."

Akron Beacon Journal 08/04/85



Page: D2

WAIT `TIL Hollywood gets wind of this: Jaws IV, The Ohio River.

It seems some good ole boys were catfishing near Portsmouth recently when they hauled in what they think is a shark. It's not much of a shark, if it is one -- about a foot long, allegedly a baby sand shark. Sand sharks can get big enough -- 10-feet long, 400 pounds -- but they are not the creatures that inspire either creativity in scriptwriters or fear in movie audiences.

Still, a very good question remains: How did it get in the Ohio River, a few thousand miles -- as the fish swims -- from the nearest saltwater? One ever-popular theory is that the shark was released from a home aquarium, perhaps flushed down the toilet -- a practice that has contributed alligators to the sewers of New York and a couple of grade "B" movies to the general public. Others speculate that the fish could have come upriver by boat from the Gulf of Mexico. Skeptics, of course, snicker that the fish is just a small sturgeon or paddlefish, and it might look like a shark if you've been in the sun too long without a hat. But it was been identified as a shark by a Kentucky outdoor writer who should know what is and isn't in the Ohio River. This followed closely sightings of a sea monster, or two, in Lake Erie. So what's next? You guessed it -- Bigfoot in central Ohio. It was reported recently in this newspaper that some people around Newcomerstown have spotted a large, hairy fellow who smells bad -- stalking about, acting abominably. It seems that in the area of mystery, Ohio is destined to remain the heart of it all. It's easy to laugh at those who report such creatures. But we should give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, there are many unexplained phenomena in this world: The appeal of frozen waffles, the Indians' rebuilding program, which Coke is "it." There is certainly room for a good monster or two.

Akron Beacon Journal 06/08/87



Page: B6

By Bill O'Connor, Beacon Journal movie critic

Harry and the Hendersons is a type of movie that has been a part of the Hollywood machine from the time a camera first was pointed at movement. Fellow named Ronald Regan once made a movie like this one. He and a chimp traded looks in that one. Harry is a gimmick movie. That's not too bad, especially as the movie seems to have been aimed at the pre-teen set. Chances are, that age group will find a lot to laugh at in this film. That's because there are some good laughs in Harry and the Hendersons, and the story is not all that bad. The problem with the film is that often it cannot cash the comic checks it writes, and this leaves an adult unsatisfied. On top of that, the film, in style and content, is such an obvious imitation of E.T. that it is a bit embarrassing. George Henderson (John Lithgow) and his wife, Nancy (Melinda Dillon), are on a camping trip with their two kids, Ernie (11-year-old Joshua Rudoy) and Sarah (16-year-old Margaret Langrick.) George attempts to show Ernie, a smart-aleck motor-mouth of a kid, that he has to learn to kill things in the woods. When they are driving home, the family station wagon runs into Bigfoot (Kevin Peter Hall). The family thinks the big fellow is dead, so they load him onto the top of the car to show him to experts. However, Bigfoot is merely stunned, and he comes to life. At first, the family is terrified. Soon, though, they realize that Bigfoot is quite harmless. In fact, his big heart is soft gold. He is saddened and angered at the hunting trophies -- mounted heads, etc. -- that George has hanging around the place. He has a terrible time understanding how people can eat the flesh of other animals, for Bigfoot eats mostly plants. (He does gulp down a goldfish, however.) Bigfoot, after giving scolding glances, buries the animal parts. While rambling through the neighborhood, he peeks in a kitchen window and watches a woman dip a chicken carcass into a pot of boiling water. Then he turns and watches a man and a woman lower themselves into a steaming hot tub. This is pretty good stuff and is going to get a laugh from both kids and
adults. However, director William Dear and writers William E. Martin and Ezra D. Rappaport don't center their movie around such insight. Nor do they center it around the character of Bigfoot, allowing him to disappear for a large middle section of the movie. And, they don't center it around the impact Bigfoot has on George and the other Hendersons. Instead, all of these themes are touched here and there. We shoot by them a few times, as though being driven in a big circle. The result is that the movie, while imitative, is easy enough to watch, and often enjoyable, but it has no forward motion. By the end, the film seems totally contrived for, lacking any continuity of theme or story, Harry has no exit. A subplot, about a dedicated Bigfoot hunter (David Suchet) and an anthropologist (Don Ameche), is clearly a deus exmachina. The film just sort of fizzles out.

Akron Beacon Journal 09/06/88


Section: METRO

Page: A1

By Bob Downing, Beacon Journal staff writer

Mark Francis of Twinsburg is undaunted by the fact that people don't believe Bigfoot exists in Ohio. Francis, 24, a rock `n' roll singer-guitarist and aspiring actor, is a full-time Bigfoot believer and a serious Bigfoot hunter. His business card identifies him as a Bigfoot researcher and field investigator. From April through October, Francis is in the field in Ohio -- armed only with cameras and tape recorder -- at least three times a month. He also investigates Bigfoot reports in the winter, although less frequently. "Most people probably think that I'm crazy, and some of my friends are probably convinced that I'm nuts ... but what keeps me going is the unrelenting sincerity of the people who report seeing something," he said. "People who have no reason to lie, don't know each other and live in different parts of the state end up describing the same animal. Doesn't that say something? They had to see something. ... You'd have to be a fool to call them liars. "I definitely think they exist, that they're out there," he said of the elusive or, some would say, fictional creatures. "I want to see one, to be able to say to it, "Damn, you're real." ... Proving that Bigfoot is real will be the biggest crypto-zoological (the study of unknown animals) discovery of all time. "Trying to prove that Bigfoot is real is intriguing. It's a mystery, a puzzle, an adventure. You're dealing with an unknown animal that's not supposed to exist. But that won't stop me because we may have an undiscovered animal out there."

Francis -- a veteran Bigfoot buff -- has never seen one of the hairy, manlike-apelike creatures, variously known as the abominable snowman,
sasquatch or yeti in other parts of the world. But he has seen large three-toed and five-toed humanlike footprints. He has heard what he calls
unexplained high-pitched animal screams and found animal hairs, blood and droppings that defy classification. Witnesses have told him of seeing green and red eyes glowing in the dark. While Bigfoot reports are more common in the Pacific Northwest, Ohioans have reported seeing the creatures periodically since 1869, he said. According to Francis, there are perhaps 200 Bigfoot reports in Ohio over the years. That, he said, includes what he calls three valid Bigfoot reports in 1986, eight in 1987 and three in 1988.

One of the areas of Ohio that Francis said he believes is most likely to shelter Bigfoot is an isolated triangle between Cambridge, Coshocton and Newcomerstown. There have been between 15 and 20 reports from that area of Guernsey, Coshocton and Tuscarawas counties since 1973, he said. For example, a young woman on a horse reported seeing a large creature covered with dark brown hair run across a dirt road about 300 feet in front of her on Jan. 31, 1987. In another example, a young man in mid-1985 reported seeing a mysterious creature hunched over a dead deer near the Wills Creek dam in the area. Francis and another Bigfoot researcher, Don Keating of Newcomerstown in
southern Tuscarawas County, have both been working in that area. In addition, there have been repeated Bigfoot reports -- and subsequent
investigations -- in Vinton County in southern Ohio in the early 1980s and in Union, Logan and Perry counties northwest of Columbus, where reports of the creatures surfaced six times in 1980 and once in 1985. Francis said he believes the creatures are intelligent, shy and highly
mobile because of the relatively small area of Ohio wilderness. They number perhaps "a couple dozen" across Ohio and feed on plants and small animals and semi-hibernate during the winter, he said. That doesn't impress Denis Case of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "There's absolutely no credible evidence that such creatures exist," said Case. "We have enough real problems with real wildlife in Ohio that we don't deal with such reports and stories," said Case, assistant administrator for wildlife management and research in Columbus. Francis is, however, undaunted. He has created in his basement what he calls the North American Bigfoot Information Center. His group, which has six other members scattered across Ohio, was formerly known as the Ohio Bigfoot Research Group. Francis, a graduate of Chamberlin High School who has taken some classes in anthropology at Kent State University, has established ties to the cadre of Bigfoot hunters and scientists in the Pacific Northwest. He said his group -- admittedly largely a one-man operation -- has no plans to kill or capture Bigfoot and has no plans to get rich off of the creatures, should they exist. Francis, who is working on a book on Bigfoot in Ohio, acknowledged that some people have faked footprints and photos and linked Bigfoot to UFOs, facts that he said hurt his group's credibility. But over the last eight years he has talked to more than 300 Bigfoot witnesses in Ohio and other states, including most recently in South Carolina, and that has convinced him Bigfoot is real, he said.

He got hooked on Bigfoot about 15 years ago while at a family wedding in southwest Pennsylvania where he first heard relatives' accounts of a purported hairy creature in the hills. He began his own investigations in 1980 in Vinton County. Asked what he says to skeptics who laugh at his efforts, Francis said, " There's an old saying that is appropriate: Ridicule is the crown of ignorance on the head of fools. And ridicule without investigation is especially so."

Akron Beacon Journal 01/13/89


Section: SPORTS

Page: D4

by Tom Melody

Never, John Green said, has he been ridiculed for spending more than half of his life, 32 of his 61 years, chasing after the phantom of the outdoors, Sasquatch. Nor, he suggested, is there cause for ridicule. Not for him, not for the hundreds of folks throughout the world who believe they have either seen such a creature or evidence of its existence. Sasquatch, or Big Foot. Hairy beasts with the build and walk of a man.
Large, very large. Eight feet, maybe 12 feet, tall. Husky, very husky. Six-hundred pounds, maybe 1,000 pounds. Romping about the planet, reportedly being seen here and there and everywhere. The United States, Canada, Russia, China. Never caught, though, dead or alive. Some, the scientific community included, swear there is no such creature. Not in the minds of the sane and the sober, anyway. Others, indeed sane and sober, prefer to differ.

Green, a writer with degrees from British Columbia University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is among those who prefer to differ. His allies include the hundreds of persons he has dealt with over the years, those he judged to have their senses about them. The folks near Coshocton, for example. The folks near Berlin Center as well. "They seemed to be sane and sensible and sincere persons to me," Green said the other day. A couple of years ago, he said, a woman who lived on a farm in the Berlin Center area (Mahoning County) looked out a window and saw a creature leaning over a 6-foot fence and watching her pet ducks swim about. It was about that time, Green said, that farm animals in the area were prone to act strangely. "Then," he added, "it all stopped."

Green, who is appearing at the Great Lakes Recreational Vehicle Show at the I-X Center near Cleveland Hopkins Airport, has collected some 2,000 such stories and therefore is considered the foremost authority on Big Foot. OK, so does he believe? "Belief is a word I associate with religion," he has said, "but I will tell you that this is either some bizarre human activity that creates the same impression or it's the most interesting undiscovered animal in existence today. I tend to feel it's the latter." Having said that, Green moves without hesitation toward developing a case for the existence of Big Foot. The footprints reported time and time again over a period of 30 years, often in the Pacific Northwest. "I personally have seen footprints 10 or 12 times," Green said, "and they were of such quality that I don't see how they could have been faked." The footprints got Green out of the newspaper business (he owned a weekly in Agassiz, British Columbia) and onto the trail, so to speak, of Big Foot. "Since childhood I've heard numerous stories of people reporting the existence of huge, hairy creatures and giant, humanlike footprints, but my investigative instincts weren't truly aroused until 1957 when, as a newspaperman, a sighting of Sasquatch came to my attention," Green said. A year later, he added, he saw Big Footish tracks in Bluff Creek, Calif., and that was the beginning of his watch for Sasquatch. He has since written four books, one a hardback, on the subject -- and an indication of interest in Big Foot is shown in the sale of 250,000 of the books. Green understands, he said, that skepticism has built over the years "because we're talking about a creature that walks like a man and yet we have been unable to catch it." But, Green asked, "how does one account for the fact that people all around the globe have been collecting evidence of such a thing?" He is puzzled, he said, by the absence of interest in Sasquatch by the scientific community as well as by governments. The whole matter is dismissed as being a hoax by those in science, he said. And what of governments? They are inclined to spend millions upon millions to study, oh, the mating posture of the firefly. Or maybe why truckers stop to rest at rest stops. "Never to my knowledge," Green said, "has a penny been spent on (Sasquatch) research. Why? Why do we refuse to deal with this? It seems to be a forbidden subject." There is a short piece of movie film taken in 1967 in the northwest corner of California, Green said, that shows an upright creature approximately 7 feet tall ambling across a sandbar. If the creature is a man in an ape-like costume, the filming was splendidly done, Green said. He is inclined to believe it is authentic. "All of this is fascinating," he said. "There is the fascinating animal, there is the fascinating human behavior." Yes, it is a fascination, all right. A fascination to last a lifetime for John Green.

Centre Daily Times Tuesday, February 21, 1989

Pennsylvania, popular spot for alien visitors

By CAROL MORELLO The Philadelphia Inquirer

LATROBE – Bob France. Mountain man. Lives in a log cabin with a stockade gate to keep the world at bay. Snares snakes for fun.

The woods and its denizens are as familiar to him as the calluses on his hands. Then one day Bob France went into the dark and teeming woods, and familiarity slipped away. For he had entered another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A dimension known as Chestnut Ridge.

This stretch of the Allegheny Mountain foothills, running from West Virginia up through Westmoreland and Indiana Counties, is Pennsylvania’s Twilight Zone. It was on Chestnut Ridge that France saw the creature he has come to think of as Bigfoot. "I know it’s there," he said recently of the tall, hairy, neither man nor animal that he says he has encountered six or seven times along the Ridge, either glimpsing it through the brush, smelling its rancid emanation or sensing its eyes following him as he walked along the Ridge. "I can feel it." And it was near a Chestnut Ridge hollow called Death Valley, he will tell you as matter-of-factly as if he were mentioning a bear or a deer, that he saw a UFO. "It was cigar-shaped, and it flew up and darted away in zigzags," he said, showing a blurry photograph he took that night of the moon in a starless sky with a second, oval blaze of light in the photo’s corner.

It would be easy to dismiss France’s stories if he were the only one to tell them. But over the years, hundreds of people have reported seeing similar eerie, even unearthly, things along Chestnut Ridge. To be sure, scattered reports of UFOs and Bigfoot come in from across the state. But the one place where reports have consistently accumulated is along Chestnut Ridge. And over the last 18 months, the number of sightings has been on the upswing.

When so many of their friends and neighbors swear they have seen something, even skeptics hedge their bets. "When I see it, I’ll believe it," said Kim Opatka, who covers the UFO and Bigfoot beat for her local newspaper, the Latrobe Bulletin, which publishes stories about the sightings as routinely as some newspapers cover traffic accidents. "But I do believe these people believe they saw something."

Stan Gordon. Electronics salesman. Runs the Pennsylvania Association for the Study of the

Unexplained out of his Greensburg basement. Is listed in the 198I edition of Who's Who in UFOlogy has never personally seen a UFO or Bigfoot. "That hill over there is where Bigfoot was first seen, in 1972," Gordon said one day recently, sitting in the coffee shop of Greensburg’s Sheraton hotel as he looked out a window across a shopping mall and pointed beyond the Sears store. According to reports Gordon has collected, witnesses consistently describe Bigfoot as a longhaired, foul smelling creature 6 to 8 feet tall that walks on two legs, has eyes that glow red in the dark and arms that hang down below its knees. If it makes any noise at all, witnesses have likened it to a baby crying or a bird chirping. Gordon says it is attracted to mobile homes and trailer parks.

UFO descriptions, however, have changed over the years. "In the ’40s and ’50s, most people reported saucers," Gordon said. "Now they say they see cigar shapes and triangles. "So maybe they’ve had a model change." Gordon insists that the number of UFO and Bigfoot sightings has soared since August 1987. He said he has heard of at least 28 Bigfoot sightings throughout Pennsylvania in 1988 alone, and he has not even had time to tally the reported UFOs that cannot be immediately discounted by explainable phenomena such as meteors, aircraft lights and the like. Most were reported from seven counties clustered in southwestern Pennsylvania, and many occurred along Chestnut Ridge, but Gordon said he had not calculated exact figures.

In any case, it still has not reached the level of 1973, when, Gordon said, Pennsylvania led the nation in UFO sightings and men in the towns around Chestnut Ridge formed armed vigilante posses to comb the woods at night looking for Bigfoot. "The Ridge seems to be a window for this kind of thing," Gordon said. "But we don’t know why. One theory is that it’s magnetic forces. All we know for sure is that the area is producing a higher level of this phenomenon for some reason."

Please note: Chestnut Ridge is private property and proper permission must be obtained or you may be arrested and fined $300.

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