recent evening, the newspaper told its readers, Ramie ventured out to gather her
flock of sheep. “This was a common occurrence and her absence was not noticed
by the family until her mother heard her daughter scream wildly a short distance
from the house,” the story noted.
Mrs. Arland heard more screams from
Ramie, and also the authorative cry of what she thought sounded like a cougar.
“The mother seized a gun and rushed into the woods,” the Bee buzzed, “but could
find no trace of her daughter. She returned to the house and, collecting a hunting
party, searched the woods all night.”
Alas, the searchers could not find
day, according to the story, a hunter “wandering in the woods several miles from
Marble Falls” discovered
Ramie “aimlessly walking about.” He escorted her home, where she “quickly recovered
from her experience.”
Fortunately, the suprisingly articulate Ramie shared
an incredible story with an unknown journalist. Whether area newspapers published
the tale is yet to be determined, but it ran nationally, appearing both in the
San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Bee.
was walking along a narrow trail,” Ramie began, “when a large black bear suddenly
appeared in front of me. He quickly turned to run away, when a curious looking
animal, running on four feet, sprang out of the chaparral into the trail. I saw
at a glance that the monster in some way resembled a human being, and it flashed
across my mind that I was confronted by the ‘bear king’ of the Kickapoos.”
Indeed, as the Washington newspaper went on to explain, the Kickapoo people believed
in a bear king “who rules all the bears of the mountains.”
unless some Kickapoo just happened to pass through the Hill
Country on their way to Mexico
in the mid-1860s, that tribe had never lived in that part of Texas.
However, biologists do know that black bear once were common in Central Texas,
including Burnet County. No native population exists there today, but occasionally
one will wander into the Hill
Country from West Texas or Mexico.
But to get back to Ramie’s story:
“[The bear king] threw one of its long arms about my neck, glared into my eyes
and uttered a horrible sound. I expected to be torn to fragments. The creature
seized me and ran toward the mountains.”
Eventually, the hairy critter
with a human-looking face reached a cave and left Ramie lying on its floor. Ramie
tried to escape, she said, “but the creature struck me repeatedly on the head
when I did so.”
Ramie figured her life would soon be over. But then the
bear, apparently worn out from toting the attractive young woman up into the mountains
and then cuffing her around, lay down for a short hibernation. Ramie waited about
an hour to make sure he was sound asleep and then slipped away.
the settlers and cowboys heard this strange story,” the Bee reported, “they at
once set out in the direction of the Moon Mountains for the purpose of destroying
No slackers at tracking, the “settlers and cowboys” soon
found the bear king in or near his lair.
“It ground its teeth together,
and, while pounding its breast, it would roar and scream like a panther,” the
Bee went on. “It was now so apparent to the hunters that the thing was at least
human in shape that they hestitated to fire upon it.”
the men pondered what to do, the creature “suddenly bounded with rage straight
toward the astounded hunters. They were compelled to kill it in self-defense.”
with that revelation, the story drops deader than the Bear King. The newspaper
piece also has just about as many holes in it as that bear must have had, assuming
he ever existed.
Given that the Marble
Falls area has no “Moon Moutains,” no chaparral, never had any Kickapoo and
probably never had an Arland family, it is likely that this story was just another
of the then-popular journalistic hoaxes found in the yellower sheets of the era.
That, or the “belle of Marble
Falls” simply needed a good cover story for a promiscuous night out and her
parents, pastor and community actually bought it.
Cox - January
19, 2012 column
Ghost & Legendary Creatures
Related Topics: Texas
People | Texas Towns | Columns