OUT OF THE PAST
This article was printed on November 5, 1870, in the weekly Butte Record in California, referring to an incident that had happened the year before, on the eastern slopes of the Coast range in western Stanislaus County, south of San Francisco.
I saw in your paper a short time since, an item concerning the "gorilla" which was said to have been seen in Crow Canyon and shortly after in the mountains at Orestimba Creek. You sneered at the idea of their (sic) being any such a "critter" in these hills, and were I not better informed, I should sneer too, or else conclude that one of your recent prospecting party had got lost in the wilderness, and did not have sense enough to find his way back to Terry's.
I positively assure you that this gorilla or wildman, or whatever you choose to call it is no myth. I know that it exists, and that there are at least two of them, having seen them both at once not a year ago.
Their existence has been reported at times for the past twenty years, and I have heard it said in early days an ouranoutang (sic) escaped from a ship on the southern coast; but the creature I have seen is not that animal, and if it is, where did he get his mate? Import her as the web-foot did their wives?(??)
Last fall I was hunting in the mountains about 20 miles south of here, and camped five or six days in one place, as I have done every season for the past fifteen years. Several times I returned to camp, after a hunt, and saw that the ashes and charred sticks from the fireplace had been scattered about. An old hunter notices such things, and very soon gets curious to know the cause. Although my bedding and traps and little stores were not disturbed, as I could see, I was anxious to learn who or what it was that so regularly visited my camp, for clearly the half burnt sticks and cinders could not scatter themselves about.
I saw no tracks near the camp, as the hard ground covered with leaves would show none. So I started in a circle around the place, and three hundred yards off, in damp sand, I struck the track of a man's feet, as I supposed -- bare and of immense size.
Now I was curious, sure, and I resolved to lay for the barefooted visitor. I accordingly took a position on a hillside, about sixty or seventy feet from the fire, and, securely hid in the brush, I waited and watched. Two hours and more I sat there and wondered if the owner of the feet would come again, and whether he imagined what an interest he had created in my enquiring mind, and finally what possessed him to be prowling about there with no shoes on.
The fireplace was on my right, and the spot where I saw the track was on my left, hid by the bushes. It was in this direction my attention was mostly directed, thinking the visitor would appear there, and besides, it was easier to sit and face that way.
Suddenly I was surprised by a shrill whistle, such as boys produce with two fingers under their tongue, and turning quickly I ejaculated, "Good God!" as I saw the object of my solicitude standing beside my fire, erect, and (sic) looking suspiciously around. It was in the image of a man, but it could not have been human.
I was never so benumbed with astonishment before. The creature, whatever it was, stood fully five feet high, and disproportionately broad and square at the fore shoulders, with arms of great length. The legs were very short and the body long. The head was small compared to the rest of the creature, and appeared to be set upon his shoulders without a neck. The whole was covered with dark brown and cinnamon colored hair, quite long on some parts, that on the head standing in a shock and growing close down to the eyes, like a Digger Indian's.
As I looked he threw his head back and whistled again, and then stopped and grabbed a stick from the fire. This he swung round, until the fire on the end had gone out, when he repeated the maneuver.
I was dumb, almost, and could only look. Fifteen minutes I sat and watched him as he whistled and scattered my fire about. I could easily have put a bullet through his head but why should I kill him? Having amused himself, apparently, as he desired, with my fire, he started to go, and having gone a short distance he returned, and was joined by another -- a female, unmistakably -- when both turned and walked past me, within twenty yards of where I sat, and disappeared in the brush.
I could not have had a better opportunity for observing them, as they were unconscious of my presence. Their only object in visiting my camp seemed to be to amuse themselves with swinging lighted sticks around.