The Fouke Monster sightings of 1971 were not the first sightings of hairy ape-men in Arkansas. An article by Margaret Ross, referenced below, mentions two more.
The 1851 Wild Man was reported by a man named Hamilton, who, while on a hunting trip with a friend in Greene County, witnessed an oversized, hairy, apelike creature chasing a heard of domestic cattle. When the creature spotted the hunters he stopped and stared at them for a moment before bounding into the wilderness. The creature's tracks were measured at 13 inches long.
The 1851 Wild Man sighting was reported in the Memphis Enquirer and the Arkansas Gazette. A Dr. Sullivan and Colonel David C. Cross (for whom Cross County is named) put together an expedition to search for the Wild Man, but Ms. Ross found no mention of the results of the expedition.
A second ape-man was reported in the Louisianna newspaper Caddo Gazette and in the New York Tribune in 1856. Supposedly this took place in Sevier County near Texarkana when a group of Louisianna men found the Wild Man near Sunflower Prarie and pursued him onto the frozen surface of Brant Lake. The ice broke and the Wild Man vanished under the surface.
That story is suspicious to me because my Arkansas atlas contains no Brant Lake and no Sunflower Prarie and the byline of the story is semi-anonymous, "a traveler in Sevier County." The story was not published in Arkansas where it supposedly happened, but it was published in New York. The USGS GNIS server recognizes a Brant Lake in New York, which strikes me as interesting, given the publication of the story in a New York paper.
Nonetheless, the story continues with one of the hunters riding around the lake to the spot where the Wild Man would most likely emerge. When he broke through the ice and dragged himself onto shore, he spotted the hunter, dragged him off his horse, scratched out an eye and bit hunks out of his shoulder. The Wild Man then snatched the saddle and bridle off the horse, and using a broken sapling as a riding crop, rode away bareback.
Here's a description of that Wild Man: 6-ft 4-in, stout, athletic male, covered with brown hair 4 to 6 inches long, "...ran up the bank with the fleetness of a deer," and, oh yeah, nekkid. That's the end of that story.
Finally, the town of Fourche in Pulaski County had a Wild Man in 1875, although he was never said to have apelike characteristics. His M.O. was to come around the local farmhouses while the menfolk were at work and steal food and scare the women and children. Sometimes he would force the women to cook for him. That's almost cute, isn't it, given the stuff we see on the news every day these days?
He was eventually captured in December and found sane by Judge Thomas C. Peek and guilty of vagrancy by Judge W. F. Blackwood. The sentence was 60 days, and since it was the middle of winter and the guy had no warm place to go anyway, things probably worked out for the best. Turns out he was a railroad worker for the Iron Mountain Railroad. He had experienced some kind of psychotic episode and wandered off the job and into the woods and for two whole years somehow managed to find enough to eat.
So that's it for this month. Two ape-man stories and one wild-man story from Gothic Arkansas. Sorry, no pictures.
Ross, Margaret, "Fouke 'Monster' Had Look-Alikes," Arkansas Gazette, 6/27/71, Section E, page 5, column 2.