The weekend of Saturday May 5th and Sunday May 6th ranks as one of those anniversaries that creeps into our consciousness, as it is mainly recalled as the peak date of the Enfield Monster mania. It was on May 6, 1973, that Henry McDaniel, for the second and last time, saw the thing that haunted the southern Illinois town of Enfield.
I was reminded of this recently by an old MacArthur High School classmate Dave Wooten, who only lately discovered I was the guy behind the initial investigations of that melodrama in southern Illinois. That he had some personal and physical links to the memories of the events back then surprised me. It is a small world.
Dave wrote: “Do you know I was there and didn’t know you were ‘on the case’! My uncle Cash Wooten was for a time game warden and county commissioner [there]. Cousin Ron Wooten is now commissioner. My grandpa Garwood lived in Enfield, just up from the tracks. I remember my aunt would not leave her windows open at night!”
The Enfield Monster period was during the time of “High Strangeness” sweeping the USA in the 1970s. At the time, I was an anthropology student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, but had moved back to central Illinois again, taking anthropology/zoology courses at the University of Illinois. Naturally, when reports of an unknown creature was registered deeper in the bottomlands at the other end of the state, I traveled there to investigate.
The facts of the case are well-known. On April 25, 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Henry McDaniel returned to their home and Henry had an encounter with a thing that looked like it had three legs, two pink eyes as big as flashlights, and short arms on a four-and-a-half-feet tall and grayish-colored body, along the L&N railroad tracks, in front of his house.
A young man, Greg Garrett, had the incredible distinction of having his tennis shoe covered foot stepped on by the sort of kangaroo-like, apelike thing. I was there, soon afterward, in that May of 1973, and interviewed various principals.
Illinois investigator Troy Taylor, years later, would rename it the Enfield Horror and summarize, online, what happened next, this way:
On May 6, Henry McDaniel was awakened in the middle of the night by howling neighborhood dogs. He looked out his front door and saw the monster again. It was standing out near the railroad tracks. “I didn’t shoot at it or anything,” McDaniel reported. “It started on down the railroad track. It wasn’t in a hurry or anything.”I did travel to Enfield in 1973, with Fortean investigator Richard Crowe and a friend of his. We searched fields, farms, and railroad tracks. We talked to many locals.
McDaniel’s reports soon brought publicity to Enfield and prompted the threats from the county sheriff, but it was too late. Soon, hordes of curiosity-seekers, reporters and researchers descended on the town. Among the “monster hunters” were five young men who were arrested by Deputy Sheriff Jim Clark as “threats to public safety” and for hunting violations. This was after they had opened fire on a gray, hairy thing that they had seen in some underbrush on May 8. Two of the men thought they had hit it, but it sped off, moving faster than a man could.
One more credible witness to the monster was Rick Rainbow, who was then the news director of radio station WWKI in Kokomo, Indiana. He and three other persons spotted the monster near an abandoned house, just a short distance from McDaniel’s place. They didn’t get much of a look at it as it was running away from them, but they later described it as about five feet tall, gray and stooped over. Rainbow did manage to tape record its cry. The wailing was also heard by eminent researcher Loren Coleman, who also came to try and track down the creature. He also heard the sound while searching an area near the McDaniel home. ~ in The Enfield Horror: The Strangest Monster Sighting in Illinois.
I wrote up my notes on the accounts for articles like “Swamp Slobs Invade Illinois” in Fate Magazine, July 1974, and in my subsequent books.
Dave Wooten’s 80 year old aunt was still alive a couple years ago, when he asked her, “Where is Greg Garrett these days?”
As it turns out, Garrett was killed when he was shot in the back by his wife, as he was sitting on his front porch in Enfield, Illinois, several years ago. Garrett’s wife was later acquitted of any homicide charges, as her “self-defense” arguments held up in court.
Wooten did some more checking. He talked to Bob Duckworth, the White County Sheriff at the time, and verified that Garrett was the kid that saw the Enfield monster, which also McDaniel reported seeing. Duckworth said that indeed Garrett was killed by his wife Rosie over 25 years ago.
McDaniel, of course, is a name familiar for its Mothman links.
This reminds me of my exchange with [John A.] Keel about the name game in 1973, when we were discussing the new reports out of Illinois, from Enfield. On April 25, 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Henry McDaniel returned to their home and Henry had an encounter with a thing that looked like it had three legs, two pink eyes as big as flashlights, and short arms on a four-and-a-half-feet tall and grayish-colored body, along the L&N rail-road tracks, in front of his house. I traveled to Enfield....John Keel discussed the 1966-1967 Mothman-McDaniel family troubles further:
John Keel wondered aloud with me about these reports, as he had returned from Point Pleasant well aware of the vortex the McDaniel family had found themselves in. One of the first Mothman witnesses, Linda Scarberry, was, after all, a McDaniel. Her mother saw Mothman. The McDaniel home was the focus of MIBs, telephone troubles, and poltergeist activity, thus involving Parke McDaniel and Mabel McDaniel with the Mothman flap.
Keel had uncovered a 1870s story of an individual named McDaniel who had met up with the Devil in New York State’s Catskill Mountains. Western Bigfoot Society member Vic McDaniel led expedition members to where he had found a Sasquatch bed in August 1979. As the 20th century ended, Stanley V. McDaniel, a philosophy professor and member of the Society for Planetary SETI Research, began to make a name for himself, to turn a phrase, when he produced The McDaniel Report, and a book, The Case for the Face, on his research into the possibility of artificial objects on the surface of Mars. ~ Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (NY: Paraview, 2002)
The McDaniel family had been living in the twilight zone ever since their daughter and the others had first glimpsed “Mothman.” Linda had repeatedly heard the sound “of a speeded-up phonograph record” around her own home after the incident, and peculiar manifestations indicating the presence of a poltergeist began. Finally she and Roger moved into the basement apartment in the McDaniel’s home. The poltergeist followed them. Strange lights appeared in the house, objects moved by themselves, and the heavy odor of cigar smoke was frequently noted. No one in the family smokes. (The smell of cigar smoke is commonly reported in many poltergeist cases throughout the world.) One morning Linda woke up and distinctly saw the shadowy form of a large man in the room. The house was searched. All the doors were still locked. There was no sign of a prowler. The McDaniels’ experience was one of many during the thirteen intense months of the Mothman flap. ~ Strange Creatures from Time and Space (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1970.I continued a look at this name game...
Mabel McDaniel had seen Mothman on January 11, 1967, near Tiny’s Restaurant in Point Pleasant; then later during March, had a run-in with one of those Mad Gasser/Springheel Jack-type fellows, the Men-In-Black. Parke McDaniel had likewise been frightened by the Men-In-Black on December 23, 1967. Keel felt the name McDaniel had a far greater recurrence in these matters than random….McDaniel has a complex history to find its meaning. It is an altered form of Irish McDonnell "son of Donal," from an incorrect association of the Gaelic patronymic with the personal name Daniel ("God is my judge") - who, in the Bible, is eventually thrown to the lions. McDaniel thus is actually from the Gaelic form of Irish Donal (equivalent to Scottish Donald), and erroneously associated with the Biblical personal name Daniel. Mc means ‘son of’; therefore the surname McDaniel is Scottish in origin and derives from the ancient celtic domno "world" + val "might," "rule."
Keel himself has raised the question of name selectivity in his writings: “Hundreds of thousands of phenomenal events have been described in newspapers, magazines and books, and hundreds of thousands of witnesses have been named in print. When dealing with such a large body of evidence—or population—certain laws of probability should surface. We might expect that more Smiths would see UFOs than anyone else, simply because there are more Smiths around. But, in actuality, the name Smith rarely appears in a UFO report.”
What Keel found was that unusual names were the point of convergence for the phenomena. He saw McDaniel, Reeves/Reaves, Maddox, Heflin, Allen, Hill, and others, as being selected for UFO and related experiences. The Smiths, Browns, Williams, and Johnsons—the four top surnames in America—are not the most frequent precipitant names to crop up. I would add that the most unusually named witnesses seem to have the more bizarre encounters. ~ Mysterious America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2007).