What Was Captured in Alabama in 1877 as the ‘Jackson County Giant’?

In 1877, the story of the “Jackson County Giant” captivated Alabama with its mysterious origins and dramatic capture. It all began when two men stumbled upon enormous footprints resembling those of a human. As the news spread, the entire state became fixated on the existence of this colossal creature, said to be over 21 feet tall. Newspaper articles at the time recounted the astonishing events in detail, fueling the curiosity and intrigue surrounding the “Jackson County Giant.” However, years later, a deathbed confession revealed that it was all a carefully orchestrated hoax. This revelation left many questioning the true nature of the story and the identity of the supposed giant.

Incredible Tracks Spotted

The story started when two highly respected citizens, Col. John Snodgrass and Dr. Payne, came across remarkably large, human-like footprints. This discovery took place during their return from a fishing trip near Bellafonte. The footprints were deeply imprinted in the ground, capturing the attention of both men. Curiosity led them to follow the tracks for about 800 yards across a cotton field owned by Gen. Addison White. What they found amazed them even more. The creature responsible for these tracks had an astonishing stride that covered seven rows of cotton in the field. The length of the footprints, as reported in various articles, ranged from an incredible 18 to 34 inches. Overwhelmed by their findings, the two men wasted no time in returning to Scottsboro, where they shared their unbelievable story with the townsfolk gathered at the town square. The news of a formidable creature roaming the woods and rugged terrain of northeast Alabama spread rapidly, giving birth to the legend and the fear of the “Jackson County Giant.”

The Posse

The “Jackson County Giant” caused intense fear and prompted action among the locals, as reported by the local newspapers. A decision was made to address the presence of the roaming monster in Jackson County. On the designated hunting day, a staggering number of 300 men arrived with their hunting dogs, determined to capture the creature alive. Equipped with hunting rifles and an ample supply of rope, the men assembled at the base of July Mountain. Some were on horseback, while others were on foot. Meanwhile, Colonel Snodgrass used a spyglass to search for the beast. The newspaper reported that he eventually spotted the monster in a small cove.

“Then the horns were blown, the dogs yelped and barked, the horses neighed and the little army of three hundred men was put in motion. Impatiently, they pressed forward, each man with his rope coiled, determined to do his duty, and if need be die in the ditch.”

The Capture

Over 21 Foot Tall!

Around 100 men came together to rescue the beast from the ravine. They skillfully used ropes to secure the creature and successfully pulled it out of the ravine. Once they had the beast on solid ground, they took him to a nearby meadow to get a closer look and take measurements. The Jackson County Giant’s incredible size was carefully recorded, as detailed in the article.

“His height is 21 feet 3 inches; 6 feet 8 inches across the shoulders; arms 7 feet 9 inches long; fingers 14 inches long; his head is about the size of a flour barrel; nine and a half inches between the eyes; his beard is 6 feet long.”

Here’s Where It Gets Weird…

It seems like there is a possibility that a Bigfoot or an unknown cryptid might have been captured in rural Alabama based on those measurements. However, the newspaper article provides a detailed description of the Jackson County Giant, and this is where things start to get strange.

“The eyes of this monster are most frightful to look upon. They open perpendicularly, instead of horizontally. They are near the size of cantalopes, and indeed look something like them, being striped and the stripe coming to a focus in the center, variously colored, each stripe being deep red and the other green – and they glare most verociously! His mouth is shaped like a triangle, and from it protrude a tusk 8 inches long. His complexion is between a pea green and a sky blue. The nails on his fingers and toes are like claws, and 4 inches long. While being measured he was quiet and sullen. Some think him related to the gorillas.”

The Escape

After they took the measurements and made their observations, the men gathered to discuss what to do with the Jackson County Giant. It was during this discussion that the creature managed to escape. According to the newspaper account, he broke free from his restraints and effortlessly leaped over 40 men and their horses. Even the dogs were too frightened to give chase, and the men ultimately made the decision to let him go. The article further mentions that he was later spotted in the area near Sand Mountain.

The Doubts and the Facts

Until this point in the story, when the local paper included a fantastic capture and description of the monster, the Jackson County Giant appeared to be real. However, doubts soon circulated. Several newspaper articles and mentions of the Jackson County Giant appeared around the state. One particular article published in the Weekly Advertiser from Montgomery seemed to separate fact from fiction. It stated that the human-like tracks, which initiated the whole story, were witnessed by trustworthy men and were indeed real. However, they believed that the rest of the story was a pure fabrication by a newspaper editor who sought to break up the monotony of a slow day. It’s also interesting to note that the giant was repeatedly referred to as a “Brobdignag.” Brobdignag was a fictional land described by Jonathan Swift in his popular novel, Gulliver’s Travels. It was a land occupied by giants.

Was it a Hoax?

The story of the Jackson County Giant, which dates back to 1877, has been extensively covered on various Bigfoot and cryptid websites and forums. Alabama has had numerous bigfoot sightings throughout the years, including reports in Jackson County. The evidence, particularly the footprints, strongly resembles a modern bigfoot mystery. However, most people stop at this point in the story. During my research, I stumbled upon another article from 1939 that provides the remaining details of the Jackson County Giant saga. This article offers a comprehensive account of the entire story.

Deathbed Confession

Plez McClendenon, the caretaker of the farm where the tracks were initially found, revealed before his death that the entire incident was actually a hoax. According to an article published in the Huntsville Times in 1936, Plez confessed that the purpose behind the hoax was to deter chicken thieves. It turns out that Gen. Addison White and his caretaker, Plez McClendenon, devised the idea and crafted the giant footprints. They created the footprints by cutting wooden pieces and placing them on stilts, while Plez’s son executed the plan. So, although the footprints were indeed real, they were not made by an actual giant. Instead, they were part of an elaborate scheme to scare off local chicken thieves. The newspaper exaggerated the size of the footprints and the number of people in the posse that followed. In reality, the footprints were smaller and only covered a few rows of cotton, while the posse consisted of around a dozen individuals. They gathered at the cotton field, examined the footprints, and took no further action. However, the story managed to evoke genuine fear among many residents of the county and successfully achieved its purpose of deterring theft. Plez chuckled as he recalled the story, saying, “It may have been a joke, but it surely did stop that stealing.” And with that, the true tale of the Jackson County Giant comes to an end.

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