These are my notes, credited in part to past investigative work done by the late Ramona Clark Hibner who lived at the time I met her in Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida.
The notes I made during phone conversations with her in the early days surfaced recently and it seemed like an appropriate time for me to address the same Florida issues she expressed some concern over; some of them still relevant these 15 years later.
During her tenure in research, the bulk of Ramona's work was sent to John Green in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia and index-card-catalogued in his B.C., Museum Archives in Vancouver. Not all of her work in Florida was published in his book “Sasquatch, the Apes Among us…” and not all of it was published in Bord's publication: “The Bigfoot Casebook.”
To follow are a small number of those reports, some of them taken directly from the archived index cards out of the Archival Manuscript Records, British Columbia Archives...to wit, the collection of records from John Green (Victoria, 1979) as part of its manuscript collection, MS-1132. There are fourteen (14) volumes in total in this collection, which deal with Sasquatch sightings in Canada and the United States.
The remaining notes we were able to recover reflect Ramona's concerns about certain issues in Florida that were of some concern and in her memory, I'll bring those issues up to date and address them head on...
Before her untimely death, Ramona Clark Hibner was one of the few women doing investigative research in the early days. She was a member of George Kelly's Evaluation and Technological Investigator teams and the South Mountain Research Group of Brooksville plus a number of other investigative BF groups in Florida & elsewhere across this nation. She covered the eastern seaboard from Florida north into Tennessee, some of the southern states, a few of the Midwestern states but primarily Florida where she made her home with husband, Duane.
We shared a number of things in common, both of us having had close up encounters with the hairy folks; both of us having almost identical creature descriptions - her's in Florida, mine way out west. In those days we shared a common wish to understand what the hairy ones were and how it is they are able to survive on their own. I was at that time, her naïve student and for the most part, her captive audience.
Ramona's passing was a huge loss to the gathering of relic homin data for research purposes… I miss her and I miss the work she was capable of producing and the reasonable no nonsense good judgment she brought to general research.
Florida's Sasquatch smaller in stature?
In the gathering of Ramona's files, I came to a significant realization. What research can take away from her earliest contributions, if anything, is perhaps a truth about the false notion that persists in certain circles and in crypto-publications that the southern Sasquatch, also known as the Florida skunk ape, is shorter in stature than the adult Bigfoot in the northeast or the northwest. This concept appears to be untrue and is more likely the creative exaggeration published by an east coast cryptozoologist. He is the same crypto-guy who is quoted on a recent MonsterQuest TV program as saying that the green reptile-skinned Lizardman reported in the Carolinas was “nothing more than an algae covered Bigfoot.” Hogwash! This is the same Maine cryptozoologist who unwisely suggested that apes in Florida came to the States on slave ships! His tendency toward careless hyperbole is the worst kind of misinformation and frankly along with many of you, I am tired of dealing with it.
Getting it straight...
Florida's adult Bigfoot is NOT less than five feet tall with shorter legs, it isn't physically capable of a literal run on all fours; it doesn't have tiger-sized eye-teeth or fangs dripping with saliva, it isn't given to knuckle-walking or side-stepping like a crab, it is not dog-faced and its eyes are not capable of projecting red streams of light.
General Bigfoot research needs to understand that witnesses who describe these science fiction features are not describing any of the known characteristics of the Sasquatch. I don't pretend to know what witnesses must be seeing, but a logical explanation might be that there simply must exist other entities in the bush that may or may not feed into these odd-ball descriptions that foul up and confound the database…that isn't to say that Floridians aren't seeing these things, only to equate these features with Bigfoot isn't a happening thing…come on!
In all of Ramona's archives, only one Sasquatch report is listed less than 6 feet tall, the rest are listed in the same height range and weight distribution as all other North American Sasquatches. It is possible that the one outstanding report containing the description of a lesser-sized Sasquatch was that of a juvenile. Whatever the case, one report does not constitute a variety of a smaller species or sub-species; Ramona wasn't an advocate of sub-species anyway and neither am I. Certainly no where in her records did she indicate her belief that the Florida ‘skunk ape' was any different from those describe in other regions. I noticed though, in the late 1960's - early 70's, Ramona still referred to the hairy ones as a ‘yeti'… not ‘big foot' and certainly not 'skunk ape,' …a moniker nobody likes much.
Florida's Glowing Red eye reports
One odd descriptive detail that Ramona found perplexing and one that was a slight surprise to me was the high number of glowing red eye reports in her files. Generally, red eyes are more often associated with alien beings, moth man, chupacabra, lizardman, werewolves, and occasionally a descriptive report associated with the southern dogman reports. Glowing red eyes & eyes that “project” or beam any color out of the eye socket is NOT a known characteristic of a hominid. The ill-informed in research who have not studied, examined this notion do a serious disservice to research when they perpetuate alien concepts with hominids. If anything, the concept that hominids are capable of projecting red eye glow is more supportive of another life form completely separate from human and non-human primates.
Retinal Reflection, glowing eyes, eye shine and so on…
The late anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz on pg 159 of his book “Big Footprints” states that, “it is suffice to say that there are reports of yellow, orange and red reflecting eyes being the most common; stories about “glowing eyes” may safely be discounted.” I would tend to agree with Krantz on that note and suggest that the glowing red eye business belongs to something other than a Sasquatch, albeit interpreted by the observer as a Sasquatch …it simply cannot be. Any report of light projecting from a Sasquatch eye is so contradictory that Krantz made no attempt to make any scientific sense out of the allegation in his book.
Reading further in Krantz's paperback, I began laughing at his theory; Krantz also states in that same book, “The sasquatch is clearly a nocturnal species,” but then Krantz defeats his own statement by adding, “John Green records the same number of sightings by day as by night.” How can he conclude Sasquatches are “clearly nocturnal” with reports showing six of one and a half dozen of another? The subject photographed by Roger Patterson was filmed mid-day, which is reasonable evidence for the diurnal argument, yet for some reason Krantz concludes sasquatches are nocturnal; we had some lively discussions over that one!
On the subject of Sasquatch self-luminous eyes (projected, glowing or other color eye shine) I want to share with my readers this memo I received from Dr. W. Henner Fahrenbach:
“I sincerely wish that any talk about "self-luminous" eyes would be relegated to discussions of the Morlocks in the "Time Machine." It is a truly ludicrous, at best a science fiction concept, probably closely related to such items as music producing ears. Admittedly, I did write a spoof piece to the IVBC some years ago about this weird idea, suggesting the biological basis for such structures, e.g., eyeballs filled with luminescent bacteria feeding on the decaying retina or the photo-receptor cascade of the rods and cones being driven backwards by unknown mental discharges, mostly of the uncontrolled variety. But in the present, the more sane context, such stuff should properly be shunned. There is no excuse needed for rejecting the possibility of some postulated irrational and absurd phenomenon until such time as some evidence, at least a strong circumstantial one, and a scientific rationale is provided.” (Fahrenbach, March 3, 2000)
I had the opportunity to discuss this and other points several times with Ramona by phone back in the ‘90's and she wondered if the idea of “red eye and red eye glow” didn't have its origins in crypto articles such as moth man yarns, extraterrestrials or some other unknown apart from a bigfoot? Were her witnesses really seeing genuine Bigfoot, or something else? It left a measure of wonder to us both, how bizarre this red eye phenomenon really is...
Ramona's own experience with a close up visual in Florida included no red eye description, “its eyes were fully human,” she told me, "brown in color with huge rounded shoulders towering above its thick torso; he was in the 7 foot tall range."
Other Florida oddities mistaken for the Sasquatch…
In 2004, a bizarre case in point: A sighting in Polk County, Florida by Jennifer Ward of an alleged Bigfoot that looked more “alien” than it did a Bigfoot. It was unfortunate that Scott Marlowe kept any communication from me & general research away from Ms. Ward; nobody was ever able to speak with her directly that I know of, in fact that she existed was even in question. The sketch of that non-bigfoot oddity is here. Whatever these people are seeing, it is not Sasquatch. Ward's sketch looked nothing like the hairy hominids of North America but it immediately reminded me of another sketch more closely resembling the October 1965 Nelson County, Kentucky description of the Kentucky "whortlechort," yes that is what they called it, a whortlechort, beats all, doesn't it? The similarities between the whortlechort and Ward's Florida creature description are worth noting. The sketch of the whortlechort is on an external site, scroll down on that page for the witness sketch. Certainly Ward's Florida swamp monster account is not descriptive of the North American Bigfoot neither is the Kentucky Whortlechort; - so, what exactly are these other entities mistaken for a Sasquatch??
Readers can gather what conclusion they wish from those two records for I have never had an interest in werewolves, moth man, aliens, chupacabras, Spring Heel Jacks or others listed under the heading, ‘cryptozoology.' For me, it has always been a daunting task just to maintain focus on the singular Sasquatch mystery and the truths surrounding those stories, -Ramona agreed in principle…"why confused a mystery with another mystery?”
For the moment, let us agree that the bipedal hair-covered giants in the southern states are descriptively the same as the Sasquatch in other regions of North America and generally are no more ape like than the hairiest human. This hair business observed in the Sasquatch may not be an ape characteristic after all, even though there is an occasional bomb that goes off in this research by those who would spin it that way!
I have always had a dislike for the use of the term, “skunk ape” or references to any use of the word ‘ape,' ‘creature' or ‘animal' when talking about the Sasquatch. They are not apes
in my humble opinion; apes of course are not indigenous to the United States and Canada; no fossil record exists for apes and no ape ever evolved to walk upright. North America does however, have a record of giants for which little is said.
Sasquatches in such places as the “southern states” are still described virtually the same as any in the northern states and Canada. False claims that “these apes came over on slaves ships,” or “…those apes in Florida were the end result of a Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus train wreck which loosed apes into the Florida landscape” and other forms of misguided logic form a basis for the confusing of feral apes and hairy hominids like the Florida Sasquatch. Dog men are descriptively canine-like; apes are pongids and no ape ever evolved to walk upright, the Sasquatch is upright-walking-human-like... a hominid; none of these are descriptively the same no matter what spin is put on them by either bias.
The train wreck
Regarding the rumor that apes were loosed from a circus train wreck in Florida, luck shined upon me again. I was contacted through my website by long time friend Joe Colossa, an employee of Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus. Some may remember Colossa as the man who found and photographed well-defined juvenile Sasquatch tracks along the sandy shores of the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley of central California in September of 2007. For awhile, I corresponded with Joe & his family on a regular basis, occasionally broaching the subject of the possibility of an alleged train wreck in which a number of apes were freed into the Florida Everglades, a story that may have spawned a rash of ridiculous rumors that the Florida Bigfoot was smaller and more ape-like and that it had perhaps, bred with the big folk. I asked him ‘if' in the history of the circus such a thing ever happened, it had not and certainly not in Florida. I was temporarily encouraged. There was however, a rumor that such an event supposedly happened on February 5, 1952 in Evington, Virginia where there exists today a rusted-out relic of a locomotive tagged “the gorilla train-wreck site.”
The story goes that on a winter's night in February, a broken rail caused the derailment of the northbound Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus train, a train whose next normal stop would have been in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The much exaggerated rumor told of a train allegedly carrying well over fifty gorillas that were part of some special trapeze act; many of the apes along with other animals were said to have perished in the accident, excluding thirty-five gorillas that supposedly escaped from the wrecked cars into the woods near Evington,Virginia and of course from there, ever after into the annals of local legend, rumor and government cover-ups so the stories go. Moreover, the rumor claimed attempts to capture the chimpanzees & gorillas had no success; the apes of course gaining infamy in the newspaper accounts that followed of ape-mischief and shenanigans too numerous to count supposedly happening in and around Campbell County, Virginia. This of course, never happened but it made for great reading in media print in an era where all the news was in newspapers & magazines; today of course few read newspapers, everything is centered on the Internet.
As luck would have it, Joe Colossa of Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus Inc and his good friend who was the expert historian on circus events, Richard Flint, formerly a curator at the Smithsonian informed me it was never a Ringling Brothers train wreck that night in Virginia; the RBBB trains are always housed for the winter months in Florida, and records show they were housed in particular during the month of February 1952. The circus did not leave to go on road-tour until March when it traveled to Madison Square Garden in New York City with a much smaller equipment and animal selection; they didn't need all the tents and extra animals etc until much later in April of 1952.
More telling was Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey overall history, which records that it never carried more than two maybe three apes at a time on any of their trains…ever! It is also interesting to note here that circus veterinarians were quick to say that male apes were generally castrated to facilitate easier handling by trainers which should keep them less excitable should they ever become loosed in the center ring; unneutered male apes can be very dangerous in a circus facility that caters to small children around a center-ring event. It also follows that a castrated circus ape cannot repopulate the generations upon generations claimed as having happened in the southern states, the Virginia bush or in the Florida Everglades by cryptozoology; it simply never happened.
For me, if I had any doubt that there might exist feral apes in Florida or the southern states as a result of any train wreck, the word from Ringling Brothers historians cleared up that idea. In reality, it is highly unlikely that apes ever escaped and repopulated anywhere in the wilds, including the Everglades and the suggestion that slave traders allowed whole apes, then regarded as a no-trade-worthless commodity to take up valuable slave space on their ships is ridiculous. There is no record that I could find of any such cargo; the closest wild thing? Parrots and mynah birds on rare occasions and those didn't take up slave space but hung in cages on board ships bound for America from Africa's Gold Coast.
I failed in my attempts to track down some other lesser-known circuses that may have been at the root of the Evington, Virginia story; if it wasn't a Ringling Brother's story, could the story have taken place with some other circus? The short-lived Captain Eddy's Trained Wild Animal Circus had as their permanent address, Huntington West Virginia but that would have been only 1958. In 1952, as related in the "gorilla train-wreck story,” the only other circus in the area was the Rogers Brothers Circus act out of Ft. Myers, Florida but their history records no acts with any of the great apes; the great apes were regarded as too dangerous a cargo to have where large numbers of young children make up the spectator listings.
As for the cryptozoology tales and the newspaper accounts, who is to say literary license wasn't taken? One of the worst offenders at taking 'literary license,' was apparently Loren Coleman, the self-described "world's leading cryptozoologist" who was always known to exaggerate, embellish or invent cryptid creations in the name of sensationalism; anything to gain attention; his literary works written purely out of imagination like his proposed 9 varieties of mystery primates where he added creatures with fins like merbeings.
In the end, some believed that the rumor came from something written in one of Ralph Helfer's circus elephant books. One Florida resident told me it was more likely that giant boars/hogs with bristle hair about the body were most likely the object of these strange sightings, not any non-human primate. Another Floridian insisted that some domesticated chimpanzees kept as pets may have been loosed during hurricanes.
Recently I took notice of an incident cited in the southern State of Mississippi where a friend of mine had occasion to observe an ape chained in a tree on the property of a local resident. I see that as a disaster waiting to happen for both the ape and any unsuspecting visitor that ape might attack. Mississippi isn't the only state that has adopted regulations designed for keeping as pets, non-human primates, specifically gorillas, chimps, orangs, gibbons, macaques, baboon and mandrills. Permits are required plus $150 annual per each primate or monkey; owners must be 21 & have no less than 2 years experience in care & handling of the species plus carry $100,000.00 in liability insurance for "each" ape or monkey and all of them must have a microchip implanted in its body. Housing for primates in Mississippi including personal residence is required to have an 8 ft fence and a secondary facility separate from personal housing. The housing of non-human primates is also strictly regulated. Fish & Game tell me having a chained ape in a tree in your yard here in California would be illegal.
Owning any of the great apes in Florida is regulated and requires microchipping. Aside from the import expense, daily feed and specialty veterinary care, a special permit, licensing and a bond is required plus adequate insurance before permits are issued and inspection makes those permits difficult to obtain. The tougher laws became the norm after a Connecticut woman was killed by an ape some years back. "In other words,” Senator Dave Aronberg (D –FL) said, “these are unpredictable animals, you cannot have an ape as a pet on a whim in Florida; new laws prevent that.”
In tribute to Ramona, her timely contributions to research, her fieldwork and her honest dedication to the mystery, I will list only a handful of the listings in her files… she was a woman ahead of her time, before the Internet collecting data the hard way…by foot, long distance phone calls, sweat and typed or hand-written USPS mailed letters. What a privilege it was to have obtained some of her work and an even greater privilege to be able to look back and remember her. ...Bobbie Short
Of particular interest below, is the Dade County Public Safety Department report by anthropologist Dr. Gordon Strasenburgh, Ph.D., that I found tucked in with Ramona's notes.
In one of her interviews with Mrs. Rebecca Leinberg of Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia; the witness recounted a couple of stories from the 1950's near Boston, Thomas County, Georgia. In 1951 Mrs. Leinberg heard the dogs barking fiercely, she went outside with a flashlight and saw a giant of a man on the front porch cornered by dogs. It was an upright hairy man. Her husband shot at it and it ran off. On another occasion, Mrs. Leinberg's stepfather was alone in their shack at night when he saw a tall black-faced man at the window. He went for his pistol, went outdoors and fired the gun at it thinking it was a naked Negro man. It ran in the bushes. Next morning they found tracks about 20 inches long and figured the creature to be at least 7 feet tall. The story was second hand but reflects an era of time when sightings did occur… (Ramona Hibner)
The Lockridge Monster: During the 1970's, the name "Lockridge Monster" was attributed to a creature in the Turkey Creek area north of Lockridge, Iowa. According to one of the late Ramona Hibner reports, Mr. and Mrs. Herb Peiffer allegedly saw a large bushy-haired creature on their turkey farm there in Lockridge, Jefferson County in October of 1975. Hibner's report stated that 2 other Lockridge women residents also saw the huge creature; one exclaiming it had a rather ape-like face and was covered in hair much like a bear would be. (Credit: Ramona Hibner, South Mountain Research Group of Brooksville, Florida. The report was also published in the Des Moines Register, 1975) Ramona lived west of Orlando, north of Tampa on Florida's west coast.
The North Harney Hooter
Louise Hart and her father John D. Hart were anchored in their flat bottom boat off Lostmans River entrance, Monroe County, Florida, in spring 1973 when they noticed a dark shadow beneath their boat that moved off and into the river shallows. As they watched, they saw a large man emerge from water. He pulled himself up out of the water and shook himself off like a wet dog; he was clearly covered about his body with hair. The man wore no clothes, was much taller than the average man; he turned and looked in the direction of the Hart's boat, then walked off into the scrub brush. The Hart's eventually told the story to fellow anglers Smitty and Avette Smith over at Chokoloskee Bay's old canoe ramp and were told the man they saw was probably the North Harney Hooter; a crazy man or wild man who hung out around there at Harney where he howled and hooted from the banks at sports fisherman. The same wild man was reportedly spotted the previous year (1972) swimming or fishing near Onion Key where terrified fisherman left the area. One more account with a similar 7-foot tall creature description supposedly seen climbing in and out of the Mangroves with glowing red eyes south of Chokoloskee in 1972; it was unknown if that report was connected to the North Harney Hooter. (Ramona Clark)
A group of people whose names are listed as unknown east of Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida reported in October of 1974 they saw a skunk ape on a backwoods road and that it had followed their car to the highway. The Sheriff was notified, bloodhounds led down highway to the swamp. (Hibner)
St. Petersburg Times article involving Ramona is here where she refers to it as a ‘yeti:' http://www.bigfootencounters.com/articles/hernando-cnty74.htm
1974 and 1975
According to the St. Francisville Democrat in Tunica Hills, Louisiana – published on April 7, 1977; there was a story of a 16-inch two-toed footprint found there in 1974. (It was probable a gator track w/missing toe)… Bryant Conway in “Successful Hints on Hunting and Tracking White Tail Deer,” said Bigfoot roamed there in Tunica Hills Wildlife Management area and in Concordia Parish, Fort Adams, Francisville to Jackson Back to Baker areas. According to the article, a deer hunter shot at one three times in 1975. Allegedly, a boy and girl photographed one of these 6-7 foot high hairy monsters near Unham Springs (corrected to read Denham Springs) and in another report, a crippled Bigfoot was seen near Pride by two boys fishing – that would be East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. (Story investigated & filed by Ramona Clark and later summarized then sent to John Green in 1977)
Martin County, Florida, near Lake Okeechobee, Martin County, Florida: A Mrs. Humphrey reported on March 6, 1975 that while driving, they evidently collided with a 7-8-foot tall skunk ape/bigfoot that was running fast across road; the car was damage. (Ramona Clark)
According to a news article published in an issue of “True Detective” in 1976, by author Dean Bostick: a rookie policeman by the name of Kim Dunn reported seeing a tall skunk ape loping across a road at the edge of town in Miramar, Broward County, Florida on January 23, 1975. During that investigation, Ramona Hibner uncovered several other stories credited to Broward County files, in much earlier years (40's –50's) all fitting the description of an upright walking man figure, naked, hair-covered and black with height ranges from 6 to 8 feet tall with substantial bulk about the upper body, human leg shaped man figures… (Investigative follow-up originally by Ramona Clark)
...and this 3/24 report I found originally in Ramona's files evidently investigated by Dr. Gordon Strasenburgh, Ph.,D... http://www.bigfootencounters.com/sbs/florida_police_report.htm
Hernando County, Florida A group of teen-agers out after dark on Halloween said they saw a large black figure watching them walk across a dirt road for another house to trick or treat. The teens claimed the creature flashed glowing red eyes at them from behind a pine tree. They ran to the safety of the nearest house. (Hibner)
Ramona interviewed Deputy Sheriff Tom Williams of Cape Coral, Lee County Florida in June of 1976. Sheriff Williams put a spot light on an animal bent over in a pond, drinking or trying to fish, he wasn't sure. It loped off into the underbrush on two legs, was built large but was short, maybe four to five feet in height and short hair covered all over it's body. The creature hissed and growled at Williams but seemed non-aggressive. The following month, Tom Drinkwater watched an apelike “beast” lope across a road in the same general vicinity. It was tall, hairy and smelled like it had tangled with skunks. (Ramona Clark Hibner)
John Holley, age 43 of North Fort Myers, Lee County Florida and his brother Bill, their friend John Kersey also of North Ft. Myers were driving on a dirt road RT 31 in the evening of June 6, 1976 when all three of the saw a 6 foot tall ape in a clump of pines about ten yards off the side of the road, standing there, upright. It had black hair. Deputy Warren Vallier found tracks in the wet dirt 2-3 inches deep in the soil crossing the ditch to the fence and then into thick brush. Hair from barbed wire fence sent for study. Holley saw it walk away into the woods making giant strides. (UPI, & Ramona Hibner and John Green)
Condensed from card files: Children of MacDonald family saw a large skunk ape walking among the trees from their vantage point on a high deck. Also some elderly people saw hairy apes on Pine Island and there, 5 toed human-like tracks were found. This area is in Lee County, Fort Myers, Florida, September 1976 (Ramona Hibner to John Green)
Two girls reported a large creature covered with hair from head to foot while they were camping in a pasture in Laurel, Sarasota County, Florida on January 17, 1976. They said it had long dark hair that hung over its face that had large shiny green eyes. It was hunched over and when it became aware it was being observed, ran away upright, “waddling.” (Ramona Hibner)
Hernando County, Florida near Brooksville… summer of 1976 A skunk ape was sighted by children in a drainage ditch at dusk. It was dark in color. There were other sightings near Brooksville in July. (Hibner)
Ramona investigated a report from a woman near Lake Lindsay, 8 miles north of Brooksville, Hernando County Florida in April of 1976. The woman told June Petrus that she saw a creature cross an open pasture at the break of dawn. It had long hair on its head down to its shoulders; was dark brown and walked fast like big, heavy men to when in a hurry. The thing went into the woods by Hwy 476. (Hibner)
In Brooksville, Hernando County Florida - Mrs. Joyce Hudson's stepbrother saw a creature jump up a bank on Croom Road and run into an orange grove. The smell was terrible, like rotting flesh. It was about 8 feet tall, dark brown in color, moving upright like a man would; head of hair quite long and heavily built. (Hibner)
Various witnesses & campers came forward to report to Ramona Hibner that at the Silver Lake entrance to Withlacoochee River Canoe Trail in Croom Wildlife Reserve, in the off-road bike trail area they saw an 8-foot tall, black haired, upright walking creature that smelled like a dead animal. It growled, and then it screamed and then ran off into the woods, this was at dusk. It came from the direction of the river and looked wet. This incident occurred 17 miles west of Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida June 25, 1976.
Fort Myers News Press Newspaper dated June 19, 1976 reported two teenagers watched a skunk ape in a marshy area near Grove City in western Charlotte County, Florida. (Hibner)
Donald Duncan of Dunellon, Florida, Citrus County told Ramona he and his 5 year old son saw a skunk ape in or near trees in their yard at 3 a.m. that night heard dog commotion; went out onto their porch and saw creature rolling in the sand outside the gate with three mongrel dogs. Duncan fired a round in their direction with his .22, which caused the dogs to take off and the creature to stand up. He saw it from 30 feet away, said it had reddish brown hair, was about 7-8 feet tall, black skin and red eyes weighing about 450 lbs. Duncan said it was graceful but shot at it twice causing it to “howl like a wolf.” Duncan was available to take a lie detector test; he found a puppy with a broken neck, his colt injured and saw tracks, one foot seemed broken, had four toes and the other track had three toes. (Ramona Hibner sent report to John Green.)
A number of informants near Dunellon, Citrus County Florida told Ramona Clark Hibner that an elderly man with a 40 acre piece of property claims a tall skunk ape has been there for the past 5 years and recently started coming up to the house. There were three-toed tracks found, probably gator. A 14-year-old girl saw it and several other men shooting at the thing with .22's. No other details. (Hibner)
In early July 1976, Ramona had a report from Stan Moore who told her the story of a woman in Fayetteville, Lincoln County, Tennessee who saw a really huge brown bigfoot standing in a ravine, 20 yards away from where the woman was; the interesting notation here is that this sighting is close to Flintville, site of the April 1976 reports…
In 1977 Ramona interviewed Preston Elliott of Center Sandwich, Carroll County, New Hampshire. In the summer of 1942, Preston was cutting spruce in the late afternoon, looking up from his work he saw a 6 to 7 foot tall hunched “gorilla-looking” creature that came close and hung around and followed him for about 20 minutes. The creature was described as “nearly upright with long legs.” The witness said nobody would believe his story because he was 13 or 14 at the time.
During that same interview with Preston Elliott of Sandwich, Carroll County, NH., the witness told Hibner that in February of 1977 he found footprints that were 16 to 17 inches long, 6 to 7 inches wide, 5-toes across but the tracks were slightly distorted due to rain, clear toes barely visible. The tracks led to a small shed, then came back down by a frozen stream and crossed over and went some 2000 yards to a highway and crossed that. (Ramona C. Hibner)
Again, that year Hibner interviewed another New Hampshire witness, this time a Regina Evans of Milford, Hillsborough County who stated she saw a sasquatch-like creature on May 5, 1977. The creature shook her camper with her two sons inside. The investigation yielded tracks all around the camper that were 16 inches long by 8 inches wide; had a large toe with 4 other toes even. The tracks around their camper led to a logging road a half-mile from a flea market where a similar incident happened on May 7th, 1977. (Hibner)
Another report Ramona filed came out of Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi January 17, 1977 and involved Dorothy Abraham and several other residents of Irving Lane who reported to police an “almost human” creature that growled at a dog and fled when the patrol car appeared. Three people in one house said they all saw “huge hairy creature well over 6 feet tall, dark, barefooted and naked; walking with a limp appearing to be curious.” Police found large footprints and some broken limbs. There were similar reports in this area in 1975 and 1976, some published in the Natchez Democrat News on January 20, 1977 – her notes read: “…upright” bare footprints have been seen on Dilbel's sandbar five miles south of town. Sam Corley's son and another man saw large tracks at Sandy Creek 6 months ago…” Ramona Hibner…
Then, published in the Brookhaven, Mississippi Leader, on February 16, 1977 – Ralph and Paul Case reported to Ramona tracks found by Buie Mill Road, west of Loyd Star; boys found huge footprints extremely deep in the soil about 15 inches in length or more. Later found more deep footprints leading into a heavily wooded area on Buie Mill Road. Picture of the tracks in the newspaper were huge 5 toes in a row, very wide bare footprints. There were other accounts of a huge hairy upright walking creature, dark in color, naked, almost human seen by several residents in the Natchez area. Brookhaven & Loyd Star is in Lincoln County.
On February 18, 1977, The Miami News published an account by Delray Beach Police Lieutenant Lorenzo Brooks that occurred in Palm Beach County. According to Florida investigator Ramona Hibner, the superintendent of a nearby golf course, just west of town told an interesting part of the story. He said he had seen a black, hairy seven-foot tall creature down drinking from a lake near the second tee. His description fit the local stories of the ‘skunk ape.' “…There are three golf courses in Delray Beach: The Delray Beach Golf Club course, The Lakeview and the Villa Delray golf courses. I don't recall specifically which one it was; it's been almost ten years since that conversation.”
Duane and Ramona Hibner also investigated a 1977 Pasco County report from people at Moon Lake near Port Richey where there had been several sightings of huge upright walking gorilla-like creatures. Three members of one family saw three of them walking in the yard of their home; the largest creature was reportedly described to Ramona Hibner as a full ten feet tall.
The Miami Herald published a report on January 10, 1974 that stated Richard Lee Smith, who lived at the time on State Road 27 near Hollywood in Broward County Florida told police that just after midnight he ran into something on the road that was “huge and seven or eight feet tall, dark-colored and human-like.” Smith said the thing resembled a gorilla; a strange creature of some sort suddenly jumped in front of his car. After it was hit, it ran limping into the Everglades. There was another report of one hit by a car near Gainesville the following February but the Hibner's had no details written in that file.
In Ramona Hibner's notes she writes, "... Florida Representative Paul Nuckolls from the Fort Myers District attempted to have the Florida State Legislature protect skunk apes from molestation with a one-year jail term and a $1,000.00 fine....the bill was defeated in June, 1977 -- "Shouted down" according to the St Petersburg Times Newspaper. It is interesting to note that the Criminal Justice Committee did pass this bill. John Green published this on page 280 of "Sasquatch, Apes Among Us.”
Ramona writes that Gordon Strasenburgh turned up perhaps the best story of all from the files of Dade County Public Safety Department:
Dade County Public Safety Dept Miscellaneous Report #72168-1
Reported by: Ronald Bennett, 46 w/m 2820 SW 106 Avenue. Phone 226-3619
”Suspicious Incident at Black Point-Goulds Canal, 12:00 a.m. March 24, 1975”
Police were dispatched: 2:26 a.m. Arrived: 2:31 a.m. In Service: 4:22 a.m.
Remarks: The reported stated that at the above time, date and location the witness and his son Michael Bennett and a friend Lawrence Groom w/m 54 yrs 223-0108, while driving down a dirt road toward Black Point near the water dyke they observed what appeared to be a giant ape-like man, approximately eight (8) to nine (9) feet tall and very heavy set, black in color with no clothes, standing next to a blue Chevy and rocking the car back and forth with great force.
The witness further stated they observed a man getting out of the vehicle in a hysterical manner and yelling for help. When the lights of the vehicle that the witnesses were in lit up, the ape like man turned and went into the mangroves. The witnesses stated they could hear the thing moving through the mangroves. At this time the witness' vehicle was turned around and leaving the area. Upon departure they did not see where the man in the blue Chevy went.
South District Station #4 was notified and responded to the area. A search of the area for the blue Chevy and the ape like man produced negative results.
Note: The location of the incident can be variously described as the eastern end of 248th Street SW, 87th Avenue SW and Biscayne Bay and Snapper Point.
Comment: To get from the location of the sighting to the Bennett home would take no more than an hour and probably thirty minutes. So it is clear that the incident was discussed at least an hour and a half before the elder Bennett decided to call the police. Mrs. Bennett told me that her son began his story with the predictable: “Mom, you're not going to believe this, but …”
The Charlie Stoeckman family, his wife Leslie and two sons Charlie and Shawn were out hunting bottles north of Tavernier, Florida – Monroe County on July 14, 1977. They saw the creature in the mangroves; they related that they smelled an odor like a wet dog. It went crashing off, emitting a high-pitched cry like a dolphin bark. On July 22, that same year, Mrs. Stoeckman saw the creature around 3:00a.m., reflecting colorless eyes and a silhouette of huge shoulders and head! It was approximately 8 feet tall in brush 30 feet away. Mr. Stoeckman phoned the sheriff but the skunk ape crashed off again into the bushes. The report was written up in the Miami Herald on July 26, 1977… (Citation: Ramona Clark Hibner to John Green)
Another interviewee of Mrs. Hibner was a security guard for John's Nursery in Apopka, Florida where he was working the night of October 3, 1977. The security guard, a Mr. Donnie Hall claimed a ten-foot tall hairy Bigfoot attacked him tearing his shirt off in the process. He fired several shots “in vain” toward the reddish-gray-haired chest of the creature with smallish ears. The Florida Game Commission agent reported to have found tacks at the nursery. The full story made the Orlando Sentinel Star on October 5, 1977. (Ramona Hibner)
It must have been a busy year, Ramona reported several Lee County incidents, one in August and another in September of that year near N. Fort Myers by a Sean MacDonald who saw a bigfoot creature on Captiva Island, near N. Ft. Myers. The first time it walked between him and the boat dock and the second time after a series of storms all week, Sean saw it again causing him to “blubber hysterically.” Captiva is an island in the Gulf of Mexico, north of Sanibel Island, which was once a pirates' refuge. After that it was not seen again. (Hibner)
Stan Moore reported tracks found then cast, - presumably Sasquatch near Westmoreland, Sumner County, Tennessee in early February. No other details (Noted by Ramona Hibner)
Gibsonton, Hillsborough County, Florida - Large human-like bare footprints, 17 –inch x 6-½ inch were discovered. (Hibner)
Port Orange, Volusia County, Florida Witness reported an eye to eye sighting with a hair-covered creature that occurred at approximately 2:00 a.m. in July of 1976 while driving on Taylor Road, in Port Orange, Florida - south of Daytona Beach. At that time, this area was quite rural and Taylor Road was only two lanes; today it is a 6-lane roadway. The witness, Martha Cowell said, “When the creature realized we were closely approaching it lifted its head and looked directly at me. Our eyes locked and didn't break until we decided to “move it” and get out of there. The creature didn't look angry or frightened; it looked more quizzical than anything else. It didn't attempt to move, walk or run away. I would estimate that if standing the creature would have stood approximately 7 to 7 ½ feet tall and weighed between 400 and 500 pounds, although all of its hair may have made it look heavier than it was. It was covered with long, somewhat wavy and matted, Irish-setter red-colored hair. The hair on its chest wasn't as thick and long as on the rest of its body. Hair covered the face, but the hair on the face was short like a sheep dog.
There is mention of Ramona's sighting in this old 1974 news item in the St. Petersburg Times: http://www.bigfootencounters.com/articles/hernando-cnty74.htm
By Bobbie Short in memory of Ramona Clark Hibner, Florida Researcher; comments to email@example.com
Hibner, Ramona Clark, files, phone calls & notes 1996 Brooksville, Hernando County, Florida
Colossa, Joe Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus 2007
Flint, Richard Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus 2007 historian
Morrison, Paula G. circus historian
Fahrenbach, Ph.D., W. Henner March 2000 letter from Oregon
Strasenburgh, Ph.D., Gordon, anthropologist
Green, John BC Museum files 2002 and correspondence
Krantz, Dr. Grover S. (1931- 2002) “Big Footprints” and “Bigfoot - Sasquatch Evidence” additional personal correspondence in 1998 & 1999
Napier, Dr. John Russell (1917 -1987) “Bigfoot, The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth & Reality”
Green, John, (1927 - ) 1978 “Sasquatch the Apes Among Us,” Hancock House
Schaffner, Ron - 2009 - "The best editor ever..."
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