Bigfoot Encounters


By Betty Allen for the Humboldt Times, 1959

Another article by Betty Allen, this one is an interesting story in several ways and has naturally been received with whoops of joy by the skeptics.  The story of Big Foot and John Wheeler is from the Humboldt Times dated January 3, 1959 and reads:

Mrs. Alvin Bortles of Boise, Idaho discussed an account of a Big Foot who lived prior to 1868 in the wilderness of Idaho.

The mother of Kenneth Bortles, vice principal of the Hoopa Valley High School, Mrs. Bortles said that mysterious tracks of a tremendous size and human shape stirred the residents of Idaho in the early days.  Just as with the Big Foot tracks of Northern California's Bluff Creek area, some believed they were genuine, others saw them as a clever hoax.  

Big Foot lived in the remote wilderness of Reynold's Canyon now known as Reynold's Creek.  A thousand dollars was offered for him, dead or alive.  Here the likeness to the local Big Foot ended for the "Gigantic Monster" as he was called in Idaho, was a killer. 

The full extent of the depredations of Big Foot were never known, nor the many robberies and murders attributed to him, which he probably did not commit.  The sometimes wanton killings that were the work of almost super human strength both with stock and humans, brought about his downfall.  A thousand dollars was offered for Big Foot dead or alive.

John Wheeler, a former army man set out to collect the reward. In the year 1868 he came upon Big Foot and shot him 16 times.  Both legs and one arm were broken before he fell to the ground. As he lay there Big Foot asked for a drink of water and because of his great fear, Wheeler shot him, breaking his other arm before giving the drink to the creature. 

Before he died, he told Wheeler that his real name was Starr Wilkerson and he had been born in the Cherokee Nation of a white father.  His mother was part Cherokee and part Negro.  Even as a very small boy everyone had called him Big Foot and made fun of him.  At the age of 19, the white girl he loved jilted him for another. Gathering a small band of men about him, he killed him at the time for the sheer love of the killing.  Later Wilkerson killed the girl that he had loved.

The foot length of this great giant of a man was 17 ½ inches and 18 inches around the ball of the foot.  His height was 6 feet 9 inches with a chest measurement of 59 inches and his weight was estimated at 300 pounds. He was all bone and sinew, no surplus flesh.  He was known to have traveled as far as 60 or 75 miles in a 24-hour period.

The story Big Foot and John Wheeler is detailed further in Ron Marlow's “Indian Tales of Bigfoot,” which was first printed in The Independent-Enterprise Newspaper, Payette, Idaho, Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Adelaide Hawes gives an account of Starr Wilkerson or “Big Foot” in her book, “The Valley of the Tall Grass,” written in 1950. Another brutal Idaho story was the one told by President Teddy Roosevelt, “The Bauman Story          

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