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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 5 - 2 Cryptids 1 Urban Legend


DAVID:

Crawfordsville Monster


 Crawfordsville Monster
Drawing of the Crawfordsville Monster

Today I have two Indiana cryptids. The Crawfordsville Monster and the Beast of Busco. Now some may have heard of the beast of Busco but, since we travel through there quite a bit to visit Sarah’s sister that lives south of us, I wanted to share the legend of the beast with Sarah and those that might not have but I am going to start with the Crawfordsville monster.


In recent years we all have heard the term “fake news” more and more. With social media fake news has become more prevalent in our lives. In earlier times fake news was generally taken as real news and would cause panic as the stories become better known in faraway cities. Today I am bringing you a tale of a cryptid that was precisely just that.


Crawfordsville, Indiana. 50 miles west of Indianapolis, In and founded in 1834. With a population of 16,000 today. Is where in the 1890s the Atmospheric cryptid known as the Crawfordsville Monster was first spotted.


In the early morning hours of September 5, 1891, two ice mongers (salesmen), Marshall McIntyre and Bill Gray were preparing their ice wagon for the day’s work. They both would have this overwhelming sense of “dread and awe” as they described it and looked up in the sky when they saw the monster as they recall it was about 300 to 400 feet in the air above them hovering. They took shelter in a nearby barn and observed it flying in a circle around a house before it flew off to the East.


About two hours before Gary and McIntyre are seeing the monster Reverend G. W. Switzer of the Methodist church had gotten up in the night to get a drink of water from the church’s well. He would get a strange feeling as he looked up and spotted the monster in the glow of the electric lights, presumably street lights at this time. Switzer calls his wife to come see it. The minister described his encounter with the monster as being sixteen feet long and eight feet wide. And moving like a flowing drapery or swimming through the air from the southeast. After a few minutes of observing the monster, The Rev. and his wife returned to bed as they grew tired again. Several hundred residents had also spotted the monster with similar descriptions the nights following the first two.




Some of the Crawfordsville monster's features from other witnesses are:


  1. Approximately anywhere between eight to twenty feet in length

  2. Eight feet wide

  3. No definitive shape

  4. Moving with several pairs of fins

  5. White in color

  6. A giant red eye

  7. No distinguishable face or tail.

  8. A wheezing-type sound from an invisible mouth.


Newspapers across the country are starting to take notice of this story as far east as Brooklyn, New York, and as far west as St. Louis.


Reports of the monster created believers. One cult known as The Millerites claimed it to be a sign of the end of the world.

A woman in St. Louis became so worried she started writing letters wanting to know if it can be seen during daytime hours, its color, migration pattern, and if it has been spotted anywhere in Ohio.


Even though the reverend could account for everything that he saw, Professor Robert Burton of the Keeley institute of Inebriates sends letters to the editor of The Crawfordsville Daily Journal. Saying Rev. Switzer is delusional and needs treatment for “intoxicants on optic nerves.”


With most cryptids, there may or may not have a rational explanation for their existence. For the Crawfordsville monster, there is one.


Two local men followed a large flock in the 100s of a species of bird called Killdeer, Kill Deer are brown with a white belly. Now I did look into this trying to find a video of a flock of Killdeer in flight, but I wasn’t able to find one. According to “Nature works' ' on PBS Killdeer are solitary birds or paired mates. Meaning the birds were most likely misidentified.


Although starlings do fly in a similar pattern to the described Crawfordsville Monster. Now I want to show you a video of Starlings flying to see if you agree that is what the monster could have been mistaken for.


Starlings are usually most active during dusk in the murmuration display we just watched before they bed down at night. But because of environmental changes with electric lights, this could easily confuse the flock of starlings to think it's daytime or dusk causing them to take flight.


I tried to find if there is any festival similar to the Mothman Festival of Point Pleasant, West Virginia for the Crawfordsville monster but, I couldn't find any information for one. I did find a musical Artist that goes by Raincoat… (With ellipsis on the end) that all of their songs are named after cryptids and, one of their songs is named after the monster and one for our second cryptid as well. Also, a brewing company in Crawfordsville has paid tribute to the monster with an Imperial stout beer. Stout beer is dark in color and has a high alcohol content usually over 9%.



 

SARAH:


Michigan Melonheads

Michigan Melonheads
Mockup of the (Michigan) Melonheads

Let me start by saying that there is not a wide variety of information about this urban legend. That said, here we go…


There is a story out of southwest Michigan - Saugatuck / Holland area be exact - about a group of feral beings with small, child-like bodies and large, alien-like heads.


In 1929 there was a mansion owned by Dorr Felt and his family. The family chose to sell their estate to a seminary for boys in 1949. From there, the seminary supposedly built an asylum, or hospital, behind it, which they named Junction Insane Asylum.


Children in the care of the doctor (or, as some call him - a scientist) within Junction were experimented on as a means of “curing” them of their ailment. The ailment is Hydrocephalus. For those not familiar with this condition, to simplify, it means there is excess fluid on the brain, which gives the head a more prominent look than quote / unquote “normal” heads. Hence the name “Melonheads.” This condition also leads to pressure on the brain, which causes a plethora of other abnormalities. Back when this tale originated, we did not have the technology or resources available for this condition that we do now. So back then, this led to experimentation which undoubtedly caused further problems.


The patients reportedly were physically and mentally abused on top of having experiments performed on them. The children became hateful of anyone who didn’t look like they did. They became incredibly hostile toward the doctor treating them, going from children to wild animals. Once the hospital was forced to close, the children had nowhere to go. Together they turned on the doctor - beating him, killing him, and then eating him before escaping into the woods around the Felt mansion.


The Melonheads took over tunnels below ground as their means of hiding, travel, and a vantage point they could use to pop out and attack anyone wandering by. Branching out, they began leaving the tunnels and into the surrounding woods to carry out more brutal attacks while waiting within its shadows.


This tale has been told in numerous ways for centuries. Even spreading out and entering Ohio and Connecticut, which have similar versions, though Michigan is where it originated. Some that have tried to dig up history on the subject have come to find that the asylum set behind the Felt mansion never actually existed. Documents found state that after it was a seminary and then it became a police station and a prison after that. Others claim that all of the Asylum talks were legitimate. There was even a horror movie about this in 2011 called….wait for it….The Melonheads!


The remains of what once stood as an asylum, seminary, police station, and prison are long gone. The Felt mansion closed its doors for a while but was bought by Lakeland Township in 1995 and registered as a Historic Place. It has been reopened and is now a tourist attraction - actually offering tours within.


There are still thrill-seekers that go out on the property at night, hoping to encounter the Melonheads. Some say they feel like they are being watched, some say they have seen their glowing eyes, while others say they feel and see nothing out of the ordinary.


We will probably never know for sure, and I am 100% ok with that. The thought of former tiny kids with glowing eyes and giant heads running around in the shadows and attacking people is beyond the scope of shit I am willing ever to experience firsthand.


Do you think this is plausible? I don’t. If you have seen a child with severe hydrocephaly, you’d know that’s not likely. Not impossible, but unlikely. They are often unable to support the weight of their heads on their necks and are forced to lay there or be held. So the thought of them running around as freely as these Melonheads are said to be extremely hard for me to believe.



 


DAVID:


Beast of Busco


Beast of Busco, Churubusco Indiana
The Beast of Busco


Now I know I said early on we aren’t doing well-known topics. Well, I am breaking this rule for this episode because we travel frequently through where this cryptid is from. Now Sarah I’m sure you are curious about how Churubusco got its name Turtle Town, USA, and why there is a giant concrete turtle when we first drive through there.


Churubusco, Indiana about 16 miles to the Northwest of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Churubusco has a population of about 1800 people. Churubusco was founded in 1847 after the two towns of Union and Franklin merged together after both towns' populations had grown large enough for a post office but the Postmaster General ordered that they would apply for a joint post office. Before this, they would have to trek 11 miles to Columbia City, Indiana for their mail. The Postmaster General denied either name to be used as they already existed as towns in Indiana. A local teacher suggested Churubusco because it would be a patriotic fit as the United States just won a battle of the same name during the Mexican-American War that was currently happening. Also, the name is so unique at this time it wouldn’t be used anywhere else in the state. Churubusco is also where your favorite Mc Donalds drama of all time had taken place as well.


The Beast of Busco was first originally spotted in 1898 when farmer Oscar Fulk had seen a giant in the lake on his farm but eventually dropped it as the locals figured it was Fulk just trying to bring excitement to this sleepy little town. The Beast of Busco or Oscar, named after the original lake’s owner, the beast would become known as later. Oscar didn’t get much attention until 1948, as two men were fishing in the same lake that came to be known as Fulk lake by this time. These fishermen said they had seen a turtle that had to weigh at least 500 pounds and its head was huge.


Gale Harris who owned the farm since 1947, had heard of the tales of the giant turtle but didn’t really pay attention to them until seeing Oscar himself in 1948 as well in the early fall while helping a minister repair a roof. The minister had pointed out something moving across the lake. At first, the handyman duo ignored it and went on with their work until they noticed it again swimming in the opposite direction the next day.


Now I know what a turtle looks like and so do you and everyone that might be listening but Oscar was described by Harris to be as big as a kitchen table with his head the size of a baby. But it was said Oscar was four feet wide and close to five feet in length. Harris would send his son Vaughn to go get the rest of the family while Harris got in a rowboat in an attempt to get closer and grab him by the tail but, oscar heaved himself out of the water flipping over Harris’ boat forcing him to grab on to a tree nearby.


The hunt for Oscar didn’t really gain traction until 1949 after an Ft. Wayne newspaper sent the story out over associated press. While Churubusco and their beast are getting national attention, locals are trying to capture Oscar with different methods. Gale Harris was concerned with not hurting Oscar. Harris had it in his head we are going to get that turtle. In a six-month period, thousands of people would come to Churubusco to either capture Oscar or just curiosity caused the state police to be called in to keep them under control. By May interest in Oscar was beginning to fade but Harris wouldn’t give up.






Some of these attempts to capture Oscar were but all failed:


  1. A shore trap made of stakes and chicken wire

  2. A large round cage trap.

  3. Professional deep-sea divers walked the lake bottom but stopped because of equipment failure and chest-deep muck.

  4. An airplane for spotting

  5. Lassoing Oscar’s leg but broke the rope.

  6. Using a female turtle to lure him out (came up with this idea after a sea turtle was used to try and cash in from Indy)

  7. Draining/dredging the lake itself


In the last attempt to prove Oscar’s existence, Harris starts to drain the seven-acre lake. This would draw new interest in the beast and the crowds would return and he would start charging a fee to help pay for pumping and the loss of his crops due to on-lookers. After thousands of people including celebrities and senators gathered around the lake in hopes to see Oscar, and on October 13, 1949, those that were curious got their wish as Oscar appeared by leaping out of the water to feast on a live duck set on a trap. The muck-covered lake was in Oscar’s favor as the lake muck would wear out and break down the pump and tractor being used to drain the 2,000-gallon seven-acre lake. Harris reduced the lake down to an acre. He would then bring in a crane to dredge the bottom of the lake before Harris fell ill with appendicitis in December. By the time Gale Harris was well enough to continue on rain had refilled the lake and Harris finally called off the search. There would be no further attempts to capture Oscar as all his money was gone and his health was declining stressing out to find Oscar.


Churubusco has claimed the identity of Turtle Town, USA with its turtle days festival they hold for 3 days in June, and its one of the longest-running festivals in Indiana. With all your festival staples and turtle races. A local historian that was 10 years old at the time of the hunt for Oscar said “Oscar really put us on the map and you could go anywhere in the US and tell them you are from Churubusco and people would ask you to tell them about the big turtle.”


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