Archive for the ‘Creatures and Critters’ Category

Beverly Hillbillies “That Old Black Magic”   Leave a comment

Hoot Owls   Leave a comment

The Hoot Owl has a lot of lore attributed to it in the Ozarks, from being a herald of death, and being connected with witching.

There is a belief that was once widely practiced regarding Hoot Owl eggs. The eggs were said to be able to stop a man from drinking. Women would send children out to fetch these eggs from the nests, and cook them for their alcoholic husbands, believing this to be a sure cure.

The gizzard of a Hoot Owl is said to grant luck, when dried and worn around the neck.

The feet are suspended, claws up, in chimneys, to keep witches and evil spirits from entering the home through the chimney.

The feathers are used by some witches in their workings; sometimes burned and reduced to ashes, and at other times tightly rolled into feather balls for various curses and maledictions.

Note: Owls are a protected species in many areas; this post is again just for the preservation of folklore. Don’t go off killin’ Hoot Owls.

Momo – the Missouri Monster   Leave a comment

White River Monster   Leave a comment

From the Encyclopedia of Arkansas

White River Monster


The White River monster is one of Arkansas’s premier mysteries. Since 1915, along the White River near Newport (Jackson County), the monster has appeared several times and has become a local legend.

Sightings of “Whitey” began in 1915 but were sporadic until 1937. On July 1 of that year, Bramlett Bateman, owner of a plantation near the river, saw the monster. He reported it as having gray skin and being “as wide as a car and three cars long.”

As news spread, construction of a huge rope net to capture the monster began. The monster had been seen in an eddy, so a diver was brought in to search for it. However, Whitey was not captured, and construction of the net stopped because of the lack of money and materials.

In 1971, the sightings began again when someone reported seeing a gray creature with a horn sticking out from its forehead. Other witnesses described it as having a spiny back twenty feet long. Later, a trail of three-toed, fourteen-inch prints was found in the White River area. Crushed vegetation and broken trees were evidence that something large had passed by, and it was assumed that the tracks were Whitey’s.

In 1973, the legislature signed into law a bill by state Senator Robert Harvey, creating the White River Monster Refuge along the White River. The area is located between “the southern point on the river known as Old Grand Glaize and a northern point on White River known as Rosie.” It is illegal to harm the monster inside the refuge.

While there have been no recent sightings, theories about Whitey abound. It is hypothesized to be anything from a huge fish to an elephant seal, though none of the theories fully explain Whitey.

For additional information:
Harris, William. “The White River Monster of Jackson County, Arkansas: A Historical Summary of Oral and Popular Growth and Change in a Legend.” Mid-South Folklore 5 (Spring 1977): 3–23.

Mackal, Roy P. Searching for Hidden Animals. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980.

“The Misplaced Monster of the White River.” The UnMuseum. (accessed January 25, 2006).

“The White River Monster.” (accessed August 26, 2005)

Conor J. Hennelly

Roland, Arkansas

The Gowrow   Leave a comment

From the Encyclopedia of Arkansas


The gowrow, one of several fabulous monsters reported in Arkansas popular lore, may owe its origins more to journalism than to traditional narrative and folk belief. The principal documentation of the creature’s existence is a story that appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on January 31, 1897, apparently written by Elbert Smithee. Elmer Burrus provided an illustration, allegedly based on a photograph, to accompany the piece.

Fred W. Allsopp, who edited the Gazette at the time, recounted the circumstances that led to Smithee’s story. William Miller, a Little Rock businessman who had been traveling in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, told Smithee of a “horrible monster” known as the gowrow. Its name came from the noise it made during its nocturnal depredations. The creature had been slaughtering livestock and pets near Blanco (Searcy County) in Calf Creek Township. Miller formed a posse that tracked the gowrow to its lair, a cave littered with animal skeletons and even some human remains. As they waited to ambush the monster, they heard it emerge from a nearby lake, causing the earth to tremble as it made its way toward them. The gowrow perished after several volleys from the posse. Before its death, it ripped up several trees and tore off the leg of one of the posse members.

An examination of the remains revealed a creature twenty feet in length with two tusks, large webbed feet ending in claws, a row of short horns along its back, and a long thin tail with a blade on the end. Williams claimed to have sent the body to the Smithsonian Institution, but it never arrived at the Washington DC museum. Allsopp dismissed the account: “It was a great fake, probably without foundation in fact.”

The Ozark research of folklore collector Vance Randolph revealed additional details about the gowrow, which he believed had been reported as early as the 1880s. Randolph’s sources suggested that the gowrow was a species of creature rather than an individual monstrosity. The young hatched from soft-shelled eggs as large as beer kegs, and the mother carried newly hatched infants in a pouch. Randolph related a story about an encounter with a gowrow by a spelunker exploring Devil’s Hole in Boone County. He also told of someone from Mena (Polk County) who claimed to have captured a gowrow by inducing the creature to eat so many dried apples that it swelled to a size that prevented its escaping into its burrow. The gowrow’s captor was exhibiting his catch to anyone who would pay a quarter. Once he had a sufficient audience, the man would stagger from behind a curtain with his clothes in rags announcing that the gowrow had escaped. This sent the crowd into a panic without his having to produce an actual gowrow.

Creatures such as the gowrow abound in the folklore of exaggeration that is often associated with the frontier. Though sometimes stories about them may be told as true, more frequently they are tall tales or “lies,” as some storytellers denominate them. In fact, Randolph presented his material on the gowrow in his collection of tall tales titled We Always Lie to Strangers.

For additional information:
Allsopp, Fred W. Little Adventures in Newspaperdom. Little Rock: Arkansas Writer, 1922.

“The Green Gowrow, Killed in Searcy County.” Arkansas Gazette. January 31, 1897, p. 16.

Randolph, Vance. We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks. New York: Columbia University Press, 1951.

William M. Clements
Arkansas State University

Posted June 1, 2012 by drcorbeaux in Creatures and Critters

Ozark Howler in the News   Leave a comment