And yet the historical facts indicate differently. Something very big and wild has been living a reclusive existance in Lee County for centuries.
According to descriptions made by Father Jacques Marquette in 1673, an"upright walking beast taller than a man yet neither bear nor ape watched us from a promontory not far above us this morn. We wondered at it in great alarm. It watched us for sometime and exuded such a musky stench that I could not continue matins and pleaded with Joliette to put off in our canoes."
Less than 75 years later, a tale filtered out of the Iowa wilderness to the Hudson's Bay Company concerning a trapper named Joseph Charolais. He had settled somewhere near the confluence of the Mississippi and a small stream known as "Le Ruisseau Sang" (the exact location remains unknown) and taken a native girl to wife. The two were awakened one spring morning by a very tall foul-smelling man-beast who snatched excitedly at the man's wife trying to abduct her. Charolais was tossed across the room of their scant cabin trying to free his wife from the monster. Eventually, he managed to wound the beast in the side with his musket, forcing it to drop his wife. The animal fled. No substantial reasons for the attack are given as such but the record does mention indelicately that the woman was in her menses.
Then in 1838, Robert Lucas, who would shortly be appointed Territorial Governor of Iowa, wrote this startling account to U.S. Senator Samuel Hillard:
To the Right Honourable Senator Samuel Hillard, Washington, DC
January 12, 1838
My esteemed friend,
My wits tremble as I write now with a hand still shaking from the ordeal of my encounter in which I discovered that this Territory of Iowa, so well o'er glosed and studied in all respects, may well yet conceal mysteries both great and small within the folds and contours of her natural rainment.
Snow blanketed all the morning I rode from Fort Madison going north along the river to Courtwright. It was there I hoped to sound Mr. Alexander Houlihan on the matter you had asked of me. My mare was a docile and comfortable nag, not prone to excitement. We had traveled a little more than ten miles, nearly half-way, when the road narrowed between the high cliffs of the bluff and the great Mississippi. I then felt suddenly ill at ease, haunted I should say by the intuitive feeling of being watched by another. The mare, the poor dumb beast, plodded placidly onwards until the road took us around a protruding corner of the bluff into a deeply shadowed hollow. At once, I grew further distressed and as such drew out my pistol and held it ready. As we crossed the hollow, I faintly saw shapes furtively moving in the depths of the hollow and was sorely tempted to fire upon them. But as soon as I stopped my horse to aim, the movement amidst the snow-bedecked trees ceased and stillness returned.
I stayed there motionless in the road for some minutes when from above and behind me came the most horrific scream---or cry---so disturbing in that it sounded neither human nor animal and yet was both. I looked up behind me and there to my terror stood what I can only describe as a hairy wild man some forty feet upon the rock above me. He possessed a great barrel-like chest probably three feet across and stood almost seven feet tall. In his hand, he waved a thick wooden stave as tall as himself and was covered entirely in white to sandy-brown colored fur that shone richly in the sun.
At that instant, twenty other similar individuals came out of the depths of hollow and as they emerged, a heavy, musky stink came, too. Neighing wildly at the smell, my mare reared up and I fell down; dumped from my saddle like a sack of wheat. I lay helpless on the ground, the wind entirely knocked from me and many of the huge wild men gathered over me, snorting and grunting. Their stink was nauseating at such close quarters; smacking of rotten meat and uncleaned chamber pots. I knew nothing of the fate of my faithless horse being too much concerned with my own.
It was then, my dear friend, that I recalled your own words regarding wild beasts: show no fear. With a great effort of will, I fixed a stern scowl upon my face and stood up among those towering hideous beasts. They seemed unimpressed, being more curious than frightened, though one of their number bared his teeth and uttered the most spirit whithering snarl I have ever endured.
Their heads were massive: large bony ridges at the brow brooded over dark, wild eyes. Their hair as I have said was light brown to sandy-brown to white in some places, and was very thick. Their excellently expressive faces too sprouted such hair, though some had less than others. Their noses were broad and flat, their ears are small and covered by thick tangled hair. Their jaws are heavy and massive, armed with long, slightly curved canine teeth that do not emerge from their mouths which are ringed with heavy, black lips. Their arms seemed somewhat longer than ours with hands twice the size as my own and powerful. They walked upright albeit with a rolling gait.
They studied me for sometime, and though I tried to speaking to them, they understood not one word and seemed even surprised at the wide range of sounds I made. At length, one tugged at my coat and was surprised when I unbottuned it and slipped it off. Intrigued, the wild-men felt and sniffed it for some minutes but gradually grew tired of it and their interview with myself that they withdrew back into the wooded hollow, leaving me wholly to my own devices.
I was unable to find my horse and had to walk the remainder of the route to Courtwright arriving there at dusk. Because of the urgent matter I was to address to Mr. Houlihan, I did not confess my experience to him, knowing full well my credability would naturally be suspect and instead explained my lateness and shaken state as being pursued by ruffians. He is a compassionate man and rest assured my friend that I am well looked after and shall return to my usual self by our next meeting.
Senator Hillard found the account so striking and so compelling that he convinced President Polk to order a detachment of troops to investigate the area in the spring. No record of their report is known to exist.
Other subsequent sightings since have been limited only to witnesses seeing an shaggy animal standing taller than any bear and walking furtively into or through the forest. It is hoped therefore, that Dr. Webster's forrays into those "folds and contours" that may conceal such an amazing animal will show positive results and that we may all someday gaze into the "dark, wild eyes" of a Lee County Yeti.
Le Oddessie d' Nuevell Français, Jordan Rolfe, Editor, Paris, 1972.
Trapper Tales: Stories of the Hudson's Bay Trading Company, Martin Klempaner, York, 1923.
The Personal Papers of Senator Samuel Hillard, 1830-1864, New York, 1946.