Mythical Monday: The Flatwoods Monster by Mae Clair

When I think of West Virginia and cryptids, I naturally think of the Mothman, but there is another famous monster that haunted the Mountain State in the past.

Mysterious creature haloed by moonlight

The Flatwoods Monster, or Braxton County Monster, arrived one early fall evening in 1952. Shortly after 7 o’clock on September 12th, a group of boys were playing outside when they witnessed a bright light streak across the sky. Brothers Fred and Edward May, ages 12 and 13, along with their ten-year-old friend, Tommy Hyer, raced back to the May home and excitedly told Mrs. May they had seen a UFO. They were certain it had touched down in a field not far away belonging to a local farmer.

Mrs. May gathered up the boys, along with two more of their friends, plus Eugene Lemon, a seventeen-year-old with the West Virginia National Guard. Together, the entire group headed to the farm to investigate. Lemon’s dog trotted alongside, eventually loping ahead to disappear beyond a hill.

Within moments, the group heard the animal barking wildly. It bolted back to them with its tail between its legs as if terrified by something.

Warily, the group crested the hill, astounded to see a pulsating “ball of fire.” The entire area was swaddled in a rancid mist that made their eyes and noses burn. Two smaller lights, blue in color, peered at them from beneath an oak tree. When Eugene Lemon shone a flashlight in that direction, the beam revealed a strange-looking creature—eight to ten feet tall with a spade-like head, red face, and green clothing that hung in folds from the waist down. The creature hissed and began floating toward them. At the last moment, it switched direction and glided toward the ball of flame. In a panic, the group fled back to Mrs. May’s house where she immediately contacted the sheriff, as well as Mr. A. Lee Stewart, co-owner of the local newspaper. Some of the group became nauseated and Lemon vomited, presumably from the noxious mist they’d inhaled.

Later that night, Stewart returned to the area with Lemon and reported a “sickening, burnt metallic odor still prevailing.” As word spread of the event, other witnesses came forward to report similar experiences in the days before and after the sighting—either with the creature, or to say they’d seen balls of orange light in the sky.  One report involved a mother and daughter who said they’d encountered the monster. The event so traumatized the daughter, she had to be hospitalized afterward.

UFO sighting? Alien?

Skeptics say the ball of fire may have been a meteor and the creature sheltering beneath the tree an owl. In their heightened state of nerves, Mrs. May and her companions may have construed the bird as something otherworldly.

Whatever the answer, there is no question something strange happened that September night in 1952. The Flatwoods Monster remains one of the better known UFO cases to be bandied about in the press.  The 1950s (and 60’s) produced an abundance of UFO sightings, but I can’t help thinking about the nerves that must have been pinging around on that farm field between Mrs. May and her group.

I would have loved to have been part of the excitement. What about you?

Mythical Monday: The Hopkinsville Goblins by Mae Clair

On a summer night in August of 1955, Billy Ray Taylor, a native of Pennsylvania was visiting his friend, Lucky Sutton of Kentucky. Lucky lived on a farm tucked between the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, a rural homestead that lacked electricity and running water. At some point during the evening, Billy hiked outside to get a drink of water from the well. In the process he glimpsed a shining object which descended from the sky and landed in a gully a quarter mile away.

Rural farmstead at night with fog and moon

Hurrying back to the homestead Billy excitedly shared his tale, but the Sutton family laughed off the story. Not long afterward, the family dog broke into a crazy raucous before vanishing under the porch. Later accounts say the poor animal, terrified by something it had seen, remained in hiding until the next day.

Sensing something amiss, Billy and Lucky armed themselves with rifles and headed outdoors to investigate. In the front yard they were drawn up short by a bizarre creature with “large eyes, a long thin mouth, large ears, thin short legs, and hands ending in claws.” The being was unlike any they had ever seen, short in stature and gremlin-like in appearance.

Both men unloaded their guns. They later insisted there was no way they could have missed at such close range but the creature slipped away, vanishing into the surrounding woods. Billy and Lucky returned to the house, barricading themselves inside.

More creatures appeared, trying to gain entrance. Those gathered inside, children and adults, now realized the threat was real. Faces peered in the windows, claws grappled for screens, Billy and Lucky unloading ammo at every instance. It took several hours before family members were able to escape and seek help from the sheriff’s department.

Upon arriving at the homestead, the sheriff and his men found no evidence of the goblin-like creatures, but could readily see holes blown through the walls and screens. All the officers reported that the Suttons were sober and seemed genuinely terrified by something. They eventually left the Sutton farm around 2:15 in the morning.

Almost immediately, the goblin-like creatures descended again, peeking in windows and trying to gain entry. The strange events finally came to a halt shortly before dawn. At a loss for explanation, not knowing what else to do, the sheriff summoned the Air Force.

The story made headline news, prompting many to speculate the Suttons had fabricated a hoax. But they gained nothing from the publicity, and neighbors collaborated their reports of “lights in the sky.” All of the adults who witnessed the event−Billy and Lucky among them−gave the exact same account of events when questioned separately. There are even reports of a highway trooper citing “meteor-like objects” flying overhead around 11PM that night. Additionally, there is mention of “an odd luminous patch along a fence where one of the beings had been shot, and, in the woods beyond, a green light whose source could not be determined.”

Years later, each family member remained firm in their story, no evidence of a hoax ever discovered. Interestingly, the U.S. Air Force has denied any involvement , but it has led many to believe the events of August 21, 1955, were those of an authentic UFO encounter.

Perhaps just one of many?

Mythical Monday: The Lore of Ley-Lines by Mae Clair

You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “ley-line,” but are you able to define exactly what a ley-line is and what it does?

It is believed many of the old places of the Earth resonate with power—fairy paths, shadowy forests, pre-Reformation churches, and wind-ravaged hilltops among them. Think of misty long-barrows, standing stones, crossroads, hill forts, stone wells, and old funerary paths….the list goes on. When these sites or “ley markers” align in a geographical pattern, they create a hypothetical link capable of releasing powerful energy.

A ley-line.

Old stone draw well in the forest

The term was coined by Alfred Watkins in 1921. An English author and amateur archeologist, Mr. Watkins was standing on a hillside in Hereforshire, England, when he noticed an odd peculiarity in the British landscape—many ancient sites seemed to be arranged on a straight line with others nearby. He hypothesized these lines may have been used in prehistoric times as navigation routes for trade or religious rites. The concept of the ley-line was born, though the awareness was far older–dating back to the Druids, then later, to Native American Shamans, who referred to them as “spirit lines.”

While there is no scientific proof ley-lines exist, many believe this grid-work of energy encompasses the globe. In a similar manner to the way stars connect to form constellations, ley markers scattered throughout the Earth, connect to form multiple pathways of ley-lines. UFO sightings have been attributed to areas where ley-lines are prominent, and many new age practitioners and psychics claim to draw on their energy.

Who hasn’t felt a spiritual hush while standing at an old crossroads, visiting a burial mound, or venturing into a circle of wind-pitted stones? The next time you walk the same path as an ancient funerary procession, stop to consider the energy that may be flowing beneath the ground. Whether you believe in ley-lines or not, the concept is certainly a fascinating one.

Have you ever visited a site that could be considered a ley marker?