Russian researcher visits Overton County Tennessee
in search of answers on Bigfoot
By Jill Thomas, Herald-Citizen Staff
Sept 24, 2004 -- When Mary Green and her husband, John, moved to Dodson's Branch in 1963 they settled into a small trailer home in an isolated area near Rickman.
As time passed strange things kept happening. "I had two small children and my husband was working nights. I'd see large figures walking by under the porch light. And several times late at night I heard someone come into the trailer and rummage around. I reached for our shotgun each time and yelled for them to get out or I'd shoot!" she said. After a minute she'd hear the door close. They always left when she yelled out.
As the years passed the odd things kept happening.
After the Greens built their house, someone kept breaking into the basement. Sometimes there'd be an acrid, bitter stench in the air when Mary went down there. The freezer downstairs was sometimes cleaned out - especially of meat. They'd hear screaming at night from the woods.
One morning her daughters were playing along Little Spring Creek when they spotted a huge, tall, hairy man who actually growled when he saw them.
"My daughter was about 12-years-old and was scared to death," Mary said.
The family would occasionally spot the man and others like him, but for the most part family members just kept alert and tried to avoid going into the woods.
Eventually they thought they knew who the intruders were, but they kept pretty quiet about their theories.
"People would have thought we were crazy," she said.
Mary Green and her family had moved into one of numerous areas in the US reputed to be a populated habitat for Sasquatch, a possible descendent of Cro-Magnon man, who is known in this country as Bigfoot.
She went on to write and publish her account of her experiences in a book entitled "Bigfoot at My Door."
Possible sightings of the beast have occurred in Middle and Eastern Tennessee. Locally they have been reported at Standing Stone State Park, Livingston, along the Cumberland River in Jackson and Clay Counties, Pickett County, and in Fentress, White and Putnam Counties, said Green.
"No one will call this by its right name," Mary said. "You don't dare tell your friends, 'I saw Bigfoot!'"
But a Russian researcher on "Almas" - the Russian word for 'wild man' has come to this part of the world because, among Bigfoot enthusiasts, Tennessee has history of Sasquatch sightings.
Igor Bourtsev, who has sought evidence of Bigfoot for 40 years, spent three days investigating the Rickman area this week and spent nearly three weeks investigating a farm in Monroe County on the eastern edge of Tennessee where a Bigfoot clan is supposed to have lived for generations.
He went down Friday to meet with a television crew from National Geographic to go over the farm's history.
But it was his trip to Overton County that animated the Russian researcher.
Mary Green, along with researcher Wayne Murphy, and Bourtsev spent Monday and Wednesday mornings in Overton on a trip that produced evidence to them that Bigfoot was present in relatively substantial numbers.
"Igor saw things in the woods that I've looked for for years," Mary said.
One of those "things" was a formation made out of trees that had been bent and twisted to form a sort of crisscross shape about five feet in the air.
"I've seen those in Russia, too," Bourtsev said. "We think they may be directional signals for the members of the clan," he said. Mary disagreed.
"I've only seen them when they're near a structure of some sort. I think they're warning signals that a human building is nearby," she said.
Whatever the formation means, the team was enthusiastic about the find.
And they said they knew that there were individual members of the Bigfoot clan nearby because they were pelted with rocks from the trees.
But while the rocks were real enough, no one could catch a glimpse of the rock throwers.
Only one recording has ever been made that contained images that were recognizable, controversial footage taken in 1967 in California by an ex-rodeo rider, Roger Patterson. His film was debunked as a fraud by the Smithsonian, but Russian authorities later said it was authentic.
Bourtsev was present at the first showing of the film in Moscow and it was one of the reasons he continued his search for proof positive of the animal that some people think might be a descendent of apes and others think might be a mutant strain of Cro-Magnon man.
"Americans have a big achievement with this film," Bourtsev said.
"But the American scientific community does not accept it. I want to prove this film to be real.
"Right now only Russia thinks it's real. America ignores the conclusions. But we have proved that Americans made a great film. I hope National Geographic will help us prove its authenticity," he said.
Mary Green has some photos of Bigfoot on her website, but few have images of Bigfoot that are recognizable to the untrained eye, although researchers used to viewing such photos can obviously pick out more details.
She has her own opinion about why there are so few photographs of the huge primitives that have sometimes lived alongside humans for decades.
"No one has been able to set a trap to photograph Bigfoot. He always surprises people so that they're unprepared and then very nervous," she said.
Even the Patterson film is of poor quality and Patterson told of not being prepared and having to grab his camera and race after the creature to get the images.
Bourtsev, like many other Sasquatch watchers, didn't start off thinking he'd spend his life tracking down what many consider to be a mythical figures.
Instead he had a normal life in Russia, graduating with a degree in history and studying Uzbekistan. Then friends invited him on an expedition to search for Almas.
"I like adventures," he said, smiling.
What he saw and learned on that expedition kept him occupied for the next 30 or so years.
There seems to be an instant and ongoing fascination with Sasquatch when people come face to face with something they thought was only a myth.
Wayne Murphy, the young man from East Tennessee who helps Mary Green do field work, said his life was touched by the impossible when he was 16.
He was at a church camp near Sweetwater. The camp was over and everyone else in the cabin had left. Wayne was up reading until two or three in the morning.
The he went to shut off the light by the window and caught a glimpse of something that was crossing the porch.
"I saw it move in front of the door. I could see part of a shoulder and part of a chest, but I couldn't see the head because he was so tall and the porch light went off because he'd crashed into it."
Murphy rushed to the door, slipped on the porch and glass from the broken light went into his knee. He spent the rest of the night in the emergency room.
"Before help came, I heard a whistle in the distance, and the thing whistled back," he said.
Those who study Bigfoot phenomena agree that the primitives do have vocalization skills.
"They growl, and grunt and can imitate a hoot owl," Mary said. "It's more of a gurgle. Some animals have even learned to say a few words."
Sasquatch is not normally aggressive towards humans, although she said there have been exceptions. It is carnivorous and apparently lives on deer and other game, including domesticated animals, she said.
"I think a lot of the calves that farmers say have been killed by mountain lions have actually been eaten by Bigfoot," Mary said.
When Wayne had his encounter with Bigfoot it changed his life forever.
"Everyone who sees one says it changes your life. You can't give up until you get the answers about its existence," he said.
"We know people are going to make fun of us and call us stupid, but once you've seen it, you can't forget it and you might as well work on proving its existence," he said.
Both Mary and Wayne have mixed feelings about their research. They know if they discover concrete evidence they may be signing the death knell for the shy creature.
"Once people really know they're out there, their lives won't be worth a nickel. People will be after them all the time," Mary said.
For those who simply don't believe Bigfoot could continue to exist so close to civilization, Wayne disagrees.
"You go to Bear Knob and see how inaccessible that area is. Bigfoot could go unseen there forever." But, like the Bigfoot researchers before him, he knows that many people could be confronted with evidence and still not believe. "It's too scary to think there really is such a beast," he said. "But you will find them if you look for them." Mary Green's website is http://www.tnbigfootlady.com (Mary has changed her website AGAIN, so this link is not active, but it is as it was listed in this article originally. Mary has a reputation of changing her website URL's like the seasons, her email below probably isn't active either.....)
Anyone who has had an unexplained encounter like those recounted here is invited to leave a description of the event on her website or email Mary....
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