Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Beast Of Bray Road

Werewolves have been part of the myths and legends of our ancestors for centuries, leading to a great deal of fear (and no doubt a great deal of mob "justice" on misidentified "werewolves"). But for all the terror movies can add to a subject (just see our reactions to sharks after Jaws came out) in the case of werewolves they have served only to make them an ever more distant, fantasy concept. But perhaps, just perhaps, there is more to the legends than meets the eye... 

Werewolves??, I hear you cry with derision. Well maybe that's not the best word for it as it comes attached with all sorts of transformational baggage. Instead think of bipedal wolves, the canine equivalent of bigfoot perhaps, or a "wolfman". Whatever gets you in the mood. 

Today we shall be concentrating on a particular example, a creature known as the Beast of Bray Road (pretty damn awesome name if you ask me!), but in case you think tales of wolfpeople are somehow isolated incidents then please take a look here and here.

Sightings of the Beast started in earnest relatively recently in the late 1980s, although there are some older reports. Bray Road is near Delavan, Wisconsin and is the location of the first few sightings, hence the name of the Beast, although sightings have been reported across Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan. 

In 1989 Lorianne Endrizzi was driving along Bray Road when she thought she saw a person hunched over by the roadside. She slowed down to take a closer look. She was no more than six feet away from it. Endrizzi clearly saw a beast with grayish brown hair, fangs, pointed ears and glowing yellow eyes (which is what you'd expect a canine's eyes to look like when reflecting headlights). "His face was … long and snouty, like a wolf" she said. Unusually she reported that this muscular creature was crouched on it's rear legs whilst holding a prey animal in it's human like hands (sketch can be found at top of this page)

She had been prompted to report her story only after hearing rumours of a more recent encounter (the year then being 1999) from a lady named Doristine Gipson. On 31st October 1999 Doristine was on Bray Road, about half a mile from where Lorianne had had her own encounter a decade before, when she felt her right front tire leave the ground as if she had hit something. She stopped the car and had a look on the road but could see nothing. But as she looked around, peering into the darkness, she saw a form race towards her. She managed to throw herself back into the car but as she tried to pull away the creature jumped onto the bonnet. Thankfully it had been raining and the wetness of the car and the movement meant it slid straight back off and she was able to escape. Later that evening she was taking a girl trick or treating and had to drive past the spot. She again saw a form lying on the side of the road where she had left it but quickly rushed away as the form began to move again.

There are older reports:  

"It all started one night in 1936 when a lone man driving down a dark stretch of US 18, just east of Jefferson City, saw a strange, hairy creature that stood at least six feet high and had a canine muzzle and strange three-fingered hands.
The beast was digging up one of the many Native American burial mounds that dapple Wisconsin’s countryside. The witness, a local named Mark Schackelman, drove on, but returned the next night to see if he could find evidence of the creature. Schackelman reports walking over to the mound, only to find the man-wolf standing there, stinking of decaying meat and growling a strange, three-syllable word that sounded like “Gadara.” The witness goes on to report that, understanding the creature to be some agent of evil, he began praying and slowly backing away until he reached his car and was able to escape." Source

And then:

Year: 1964
Location: Jefferson County, Wisconsin
Dennis Fewless was driving along Highway 89 around midnight when he saw a figure running across the road. When his headlights caught sight of the creature, it was eerily similar to werewolf seen in 1936 just a couple of miles away. Large and muscular, it stood around seven feet tall, covered in dark brown hair, with a dog-like face.
Fewless saw the creature run across the road, jump over a barbed-wire fence, and disappear into a corn field.
Fewless waited until the sun was up the next day to return to the scene of the werewolf sighting. He had hoped to find tracks to prove the size of the beast, but the ground was too hard. He was able to find the place in the cornfield where the werewolf had entered. The stalks of corn were broken and askew in such a way that supported the theory that a man-beast of massive size had been there. Source

There are further sightings listed here. Plus a few theories as to what the creature might be (in brief: a wolf, a coyote, a dog, a shunka warak’in, or a hoax). Personally? The sightings last for extremely short periods of time, usually in poor visibility and in the sort of lonely places one might start to let their imagination wander. I know, I know, this is all very dismissive and every paranormal researcher out there is preparing to hit me over the head with a piece of electronic equipment but... I've seen things myself. I know the human mind can see all sorts of things. There are plenty of brilliant and interesting stories here. But are there any wolfpeople in Wisconsin? I don't think so. But hey, I would say that! Linda S. Godfrey is the resident expert over there, and I'd suggest you check out her books to see what you think.  

Further Reading

Hunting the American Werewolf Linda S. Godfrey (UK Amazon Link)

The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf Linda S. Godfrey (UK Amazon Link)

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist