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Wild Man of White & VanBuren Counties, 1878


Knoxville Daily Tribune, (Knox Co. TN) Saturday, November 2, 1878:

Contributed by Caleb G. Teffeteller


“A Wild Man" --- [Louisville, Kentucky]

The wild man brought to the city yesterday by Dr. O.G. Broyler, of Sparta, Tenn., is truly a mysterious and wonderful creature. He will be exhibited throughout the country by Manager Whallen of the Metropolitan, who is a third owner in this remarkable being, who promises to successfully baffle all scientists who desire to give a satisfactory explanation of his unnatural appearance. Before entering into the details of his capture, which form quite a thrilling and interesting episode, a description of the curiosity which promises to excite more attention than Barnum’s “What Is It?” will be given. At a distance the general outline of his figure would indicate that he is only an ordinary man. Close inspection shows that his whole body is covered with a layer of scales, which drop off at regular periods, in the spring and fall, like the skin of a rattlesnake. He has a heavy growth of hair on his head and a dark reddish beard about six inches long. His eyes present a frightful appearance, being at least twice the size of the average sized eye. Some of his toes are formed together which gives his feet a strange appearance and his height when standing perfectly erect is about 6 ft 5 in. A nervous twitching of his muscles shows a desire to escape and he is constantly looking in the direction of the door through which he entered. His entire body must be wet at intervals and should this be neglected he begins immediately to manifest great uneasiness, his flesh becomes feverish and his sufferings can not be alleviated till water is applied. At times he is dangerous and yesterday morning when Mr. Whallen attempted to place him in a wagon in which he intended to bring him to the theater, it occupied some time. The strange creature acted in the most mysterious manner, refusing obstinately for some time to get into the wagon. He has quite a sharp appetite, having eaten a meal yesterday morning that would have fully satisfied at least four men. With the exception of fish, his meals are all prepared in the ordinary way, but the fish is eaten entirely raw. Dr. Broyler says that when alone he will sometimes mutter an unintelligible jargon which it would be impossible for anyone to understand, but that in the presence of visitors he remains perfectly silent. Yesterday afternoon from one to four a private exhibition was given, and a number of physicians were present, among them Drs. Brady and Cary Blackburn who said that he was a great curiosity. Dr. Blackburn said that his scaly condition could not be attributed to any skin disease, but undoubtedly he was born in that condition. He will be on exhibition in one of the private rooms of the Metropolitan Theater this afternoon and tomorrow between the hours of one and four o’clock.

Only physicians and those specially invited will be allowed admission. His exact age is not known, but for the past eighteen years he has been running wild in the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee, near Caney Fork and Big Bone Creek. He has been the constant terror of the community, although he was never known to attack anyone until the day of his capture. Dr. G.G. Broyler of Sparta, Tennessee, says that since the surrender of the Confederate Army it has been his intention to capture this creature and exhibit him throughout the country. The doctor says the parents of the wild man are respectable citizens of North Carolina named Croslin. That their son is unquestionably a mysterious freak of nature they did not deny, but they could not account for his scaly skin. At the tender age of five years, having always been possessed with a roving disposition, he left his home and plunged immediately into the mountainous region of Tennessee. Here he lived as best he could, subsisting on the products of the country, such as roots and herbs and small animals that he could capture. When in the water he was in his element. He would dive down into the depth of the inland lakes, remaining under water for a considerable length of time, and finally emerge with both hands filled with small fish, which he would devour at once in the raw state. Dr. Broyler says that until about eighteen months ago he had not attempted the capture, although he had been watching the creature’s actions for the past twelve years. About the 15th of September he started into the mountains fully determined to succeed in the capture.

Louisville Courier Journal


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