I didn’t know until recently that this area of Illinois is sometimes referred to as “Devil’s Kitchen.”
The name apparently comes from Native Americans and pioneers of this region. Some of them reported strange sights and sounds and unexplained phenomena. They surmised it could only be the work of a devil of some kind.
I could most likely fill the entire month of October with stories that get us in the mood for a good scare. I’ve been reading quite a few from our own neck of the woods.
Since moving to the southwestern part of the state, I’ve been fascinated when my good friend, a native of Prairie du Rocher, told me stories of the Brickey Mansion and the disappearance of the family from that home one evening. When I tried to do a little research on that story, I came up with a fizzled-out ending. I’d still like to look into it a little more. It’s spooky, interesting, and even a little sad.
I’ve heard stories of ghost trains and ghost funeral processions; of large rambling homes around the area. Of course, having spent a night in Alton, I’m intrigued by the goings-on in that town, too.
In my own home county of Wayne and even farther south, I can remember hearing strange and unusual tales of unexplained occurrences.
If one were to do a little research, you might find several stories from 1963, when UFO sightings seemed to ramp up.
My hometown of Fairfield is the sight of one such sighting which apparently occurred on Aug. 4 of that year. The story involves two teenagers on their way back from a drive-in movie, being chased by what seemed to be a UFO. The story tells of the object, speeding up as the car sped up, chasing them all the way to the girlfriend’s home.
Once there, the teenagers went inside the house, turned out the lights and watched through the window as the lit-up “fuzzy” object about the “size of a washtub” hovered outside the house. As the teenagers watched from inside the house, a sister of the girlfriend was also a witness to the unexplained happening.
When the boyfriend started on his way home, the object was again in close pursuit, and his story on the way home tells of the object speeding up, changing color and shape, and even heading straight for his car at a high rate of speed. At times, his own car was topping 120 miles per hour and the object still kept up. He also told of a strange cooling effect in the air as he drove hastily home and reported that his car seemed to have some engine trouble as he got closer.
Once home, the boy ran in and woke up his parents, who remember him speaking in a strange way with every third or fourth word trailing off. Thinking that someone had been chasing his son, the father grabbed a shotgun and ran to the window. Eventually, the family turned out the lights of the house and watched the object through the window.
Police were summoned, as was a doctor to sedate their son. By the end of the story, there were at least a dozen people who had witnessed the object, including police officers. It should also be noted that the dogs in the area barked all night long and on the first attempt to call the police, the phone was not working.
I’d heard the UFO story once or twice and was glad to read the full story when I searched for it on the internet. If you’re interested, give it a look: “1963, Fairfield, Illinois UFO case.”
So yes, UFOs and the unexplained things we sometimes see in the sky are both interesting and frightening. But I can also remember being very little, probably around 6, and hearing of a “monster” sighting in the nearby town of Enfield. I know what you’re thinking… there must have been a lot of fields around to name towns after.
Yes, there are.
Back in the early 1970s, there was a story that came out of the tiny town of Enfield. We used to go down there to a wallpaper store and also attended “Mule Days” a time or two. Don’t ask.
But the talk around that time was of the “Enfield Monster,” and I remember listening in horror as my parents and grandparents talked about it. I remember my grandfather teasing my uncle from Ohio about it. My uncle, a very gullible man, was finally convinced, I think, that such a monster existed.
It seems a farmer was home one early evening and heard a strange scratching at his door. When he went to investigate, he was met by a very strange looking beast, described as having three legs, a short body, two little arms and pink eyes. The creature was around five feet tall and was gray in color. The farmer observed that it seemed to be trying to get in the house.
After shooting at the creature and hearing a hissing noise like a wild animal, the thing “jumped” away, apparently covering a good 75 feet in three long hops. When last seen, the object was near the railroad tracks.
Authorities were summoned to investigate, and were startled to find tracks that looked like dogs but which had six toe pads. The tracks seemed to be indeed made by a three-legged being.
More accounts involve a young boy, the farmer’s neighbor, playing in his front yard, apparently being attacked by the creature before running inside his house. The farmer saw the beast again a few nights later, out in the yard as dogs howled in fright. This time, he just observed the creature, which eventually left, again heading for the railroad tracks in no particular hurry.
Publicity and curiosity brought temporary fame to the small town. The sheriff even threatened to arrest anyone caught “hunting” for the beast or getting people “riled up.” Some teenage boys got in trouble when they reported shooting at a gray, furry creature a few miles from the farmer’s house. One man from a local radio station also saw the creature near the farm and even recorded its loud, wailing cry.
Other witnesses reported the beast looked just like the farmer had originally described it. Several of them heard the wailing. There were too many witnesses not to give at least some credit to the story.
At that time, in 1973, there were more reports of UFO sightings, particularly in that area of Illinois. Many folks wondered if that had something to do with the creature sightings. Perhaps whatever this was had gotten away from the mothership or something. Who knows? There were also explanations of escaped zoo animals, namely kangaroos, although none such escapes were proven.
One person even spoke of wild apes. In Illinois?
Reports of creature sightings stopped as abruptly as they had started. The fame of the town dwindled and I’m wondering if there are any folks around there who still have stories. I’ll bet there are.
And I’m wondering if any of those folks ever wonder? When they see lights in the sky, or hear strange noises, or feel a sudden chill in the air.
It would certainly put you in the mood for a good dose of Halloween.