|Page 1 of July 26, 2016 'Bigfoot Letter'|
July 26, 2016 had all the makings of a typical Tuesday at The Evergreen Courant until our office manager Cheryl Johnston came back from the post office with the mail. When she returned, she handed me a white, standard-sized envelope that was addressed to me, and I noticed right away that the envelope didn’t have a return address.
I opened the envelope with my trusty pocketknife and pulled out two sheets of paper that would ultimately have a big, but unusual, impact on the local community. Here’s what the 176-word letter had to say.
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In June, you printed a story regarding possible Bigfoot sightings in this area. I don’t know if this is the same thing, but on the afternoon of Sat., July 23, 2016 at around 2:30 or 3 p.m., a friend and I were traveling west along Highway 84 East. As we approached Sepulga River, we saw a moving figure run straight across the bridge in front of us.
For a split second, I thought it was a person running across the bridge, then I realized that the thing we were seeing was solid black. It ran very quickly with its knees appearing to be bent while it kept its head and upper body very erect. It jumped over the railing. It raised its arms to the sides as it jumped and they seemed to be very shaggy. We lost sight of it after that.
There were cars behind us on the road. We also saw parked vehicles near the water. Possibly those people saw it too, though I couldn’t say for sure if they did.
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The letter, which was postmarked July 25, was unsigned, and quickly became the subject of much discussion in the newspaper office. Our general policy at the newspaper is not to print anonymous letters, but this letter seemed very different. Although unsigned, it seemed to carry all the earmarks of a writer who genuinely wanted to let us know about something important without making their name public.
Not long after that, I was reminded that this was not the first time that an unusual creature had been spotted near the Sepulga River. According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a similar creature was reported near the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and the Sepulga River on Aug. 10, 2004. With that in mind, I decided to write a news story based on the anonymous letter sent to the newspaper, and that story was printed on the front page of the July 28 edition of The Courant.
As it turned out, the public’s response to that story was unlike anything I would have ever expected. I was soon flooded by phone calls, e-mails and personal visits from individuals who reported having seen “Bigfoot-like” creatures in and around Conecuh County, most notably the Acreman brothers of Pine Orchard. I even fielded questions from Bigfoot researchers from as far away as Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.
Local radio personality Luther Upton, who is also on the Evergreen City Council, also took an interest in the Bigfoot stories as did local Bigfoot enthusiast Ashley McPhaul, a Navy veteran who lives just over the Monroe County line in Excel. The resulting wave of publicity even caught the interest of Bigfoot researchers associated with the TV show, “Killing Bigfoot.”
Bigfoot hunters Donald McDonald of Mississippi and Michael Humphreys of Oklahoma from the TV show “Killing Bigfoot” visited Conecuh County in January and even put on a program about Bigfoot at Evergreen’s Collard Green Festival. Based on a large set of claw marks they found in Pine Orchard, they declared that there’s definitely “monsters” in the woods in and around Conecuh County. All of this led to stories that went worldwide on AL.com and other big media outlets, including widely-syndicated radio shows like Rick & Bubba and Coast to Coast AM.
Around this same time, a group of local Bigfoot enthusiasts formed an organization called the Southwest Alabama Bigfoot Hunters and in February, the Evergreen city council approved an official resolution declaring the City of Evergreen to be the Bigfoot Capital of Alabama because Evergreen seemed to be the geographic center of all the Bigfoot activity. All the while, Bigfoot sighting reports continued to flow in and eventually the Alabama State Senate declared Evergreen to be the official Bigfoot Capital of Alabama.
All the while, you could go down to CVS and buys all sorts of Bigfoot-related items including Bigfoot Capital t-shirts and caps.
I say all that to say that the anonymous Bigfoot letter sent to the newspaper on July 26 was the tiny spark that started it all, and to this day, I still have no idea who wrote that initial letter. I’ve saved the letter and have even considered having it framed for posterity’s sake.
In the end, I’m asking for the author of that letter to consider coming forward, so that I can ask them more about what they saw near the Sepulga River on July 23, 2016. I think it’s important that we fully document what you saw, and, who knows, it might even prompt more witnesses to come forward with their own reports of Bigfoot sightings.