October 30, 2016

The Pigman Cometh! Vermont's Porcine Horror Returns.

It is Halloween, and every Halloween I become jealous of the citizens of Northfield, Vermont. I'm not jealous of their clean country air or access to great dairy products. No, I'm jealous because Northfield has its very own special monster associated with Halloween.

I am jealous because they have the Pigman.

The Pigman first trotted into the public eye in 1999 when author Joseph Citro published Green Mountains, Dark Tales, a collection of spooky Vermont folklore and stories about the paranormal. Citro included an allegedly true story about a creature known as the Pigman, which lurked outside of Northfield in an area called the Devil's Washbowl. Citro heard the story from a Northfield man named Jeff Hatch at a public reading he was giving, but Citro estimated that hundreds of people were also familiar with the Pigman.

The Pigman's fame grew through subsequent books that Citro published, through para-normal themed TV shows, and through the internet. If you are not familiar with the Pigman, here are the basics.

In 1971 a group of Northfield high school students snuck out of a school dance to smoke and drink beer in the woods behind the school. Their illicit fun was spoiled when a naked hairy humanoid with a swine's head lurched out from the trees, grunting. The teens fled back into the school in panic. What was this creature and where had it come from? No one was quite sure. Some locals thought it was the offspring of a farmer who was inappropriately affectionate with his livestock, while others thought it might be a teenage boy who disappeared the previous yet and had gone insane. Others murmured ominously about gnawed animal bones found in caves near the Devil's Washbowl and a pale white thing that menaced teens in parked cars...

Another pig-headed monster appears on this year's season of American Horror Story.

That's the original basic story told by Citro. Another origin story appeared in 2013. According to this version, in 1951 the Pigman was just an average Vermont teen named Sam Harris. On October 30, Sam went out with some eggs and toilet paper to vandalize his neighbors' houses. October 30 is called Picket Night in Northfield, and it's the night that kids cause their Halloween mischief. (Coincidentally, that is tonight!) Unlike his peers, Sam never came back home after egging houses. The police and hundreds of volunteers searched for the boy but he was never seen again.

Well, maybe he was. A male figure seen wearing a pig's head was seen roaming through the gloomy autumn woods. People whispered that Sam had given himself to the Devil the night he disappeared and now was a force of evil. His parents dismissed these rumors, preferring to believe he was dead, until the night Sam appeared briefly on their porch, squealing like a hog and chewing animal entrails. His distraught mother killed herself thirteen days later by throwing herself into a pen full of hungry swine. Later, a local historian who tried to defend Sam's reputation in the newspaper disappeared and was found dead in the woods with the words "Picket Night" carved on her forehead. No one defended Sam after that. Instead, they just feared the Pigman.

Those are the two basic Pigman stories. People still report Pigman sightings, though, and every year around Halloween I search the Web for some new tales of this porcine horror. This year, I didn't even need to look! Someone posted a Pigman story as a comment right on one of my old posts. Here it is.

My father was a very practical man who was well grounded ... not one for an interest in strange sightings. There was a time, however, he told me about two encounters he had with what he described as seeing " A DOG WITH A HUMAN HEAD "... they happened in 1984 and 1985. I believe what he saw was the Pigman as they both occurred in the Northfield, Vt area, specifically West Brookfield, and Brookfield. My brother-in-law was with him when they witnessed the first encounter. My mother was present during the second. He ran inside his home to get a rifle to shoot it because he said it didn't look natural and needed to be killed (I wouldn't have killed it ... I would have reported it to the police) but it was gone when he came back out. It REALLY shook them up .. I even found a cryptozoology sighting form in a dresser drawer he obviously decided against mailing out.

I'm not giving my name because I know what kind of backlash there would be... I don't need it ... but every word I've written is true. 
I'm grateful to whoever left me this little Halloween present, although it leaves me with questions. Did someone's Dad really see the Pigman AND then mistake it for a dog with a human head? Where does one get cryptozoology sighting forms? There probably aren't good answers to those questions, but it's the time of year for scary stories, whether or not they're 100% true.

Of course, I write that from the safety of my well-lit home in the city. If I lived up in Northfield, I'd probably be a little more nervous now that the days are short and the woods are very, very dark.


If you want to read more about the Pigman, you can see my other posts here, here and here. Oh, and here too!

1 comment:

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hmm, I bet it hasn't put off the folk if that town from eating their bacon. ;-)