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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

November 17, 1930, Lake Manawa, Iowa, USA, Mr. C. Willams:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

Towards 2016, British "skeptical" ufologist Peter Rogerson showed in his ufological catalog INTCAT of close encounters of the third kind, probably as an example of "imagination" or "invention", a case he said he found in "Arment 2006 p154" citing newspapers, that he said occurred on November 17, 1930, at night, at Lake Manawa near Council Bluffs in Iowa, USA.

He indicated that the farmer "C. Willams" had met "a hairy humanoid at short distance", that traces had been found, and that other people had also reported it.

I found the echoes of the case in the Press of the time, which told much more. In the first place, the fact is that it was not exactly told of a "hairy humanoid" but explicitly, an ape.

The local Reuters agency in Council Bluffs gave the first information, published in the press on November 18, 1930:

Farmer Burt O. Williams (not "C. Willams"), living 2 miles south of Council Bluffs, near the Missouri River in the vicinity of Lake Manawa, had reported that for at least a week, every night, he heard something barking and screaming in the thickets.

Then, a week before - before November 17 or 18, 1930 when he was talking to the press - while loading hay in a meadow, he saw his mules that were in willows a quarter mile away from him, raise heads and look up on the other side of the pasture. And while the cattle were running away, he saw a figure prancing at a few feet in the open, and standing on its hind legs.

He watched his mules fleeing, and when he looked again at the figure, it was no longer there. He could not see what it was, and decided not to go after it.

Then, on Sunday, November 16, 1930, he was on the pasture again. Arrived at the corner of the mill, he saw the beast, or the gorilla, some ten feet farther on all fours, The thing got up, looked at him, and came towards him. Williams ran home without looking back. When he got home and turned around, he saw the animal disappear into a cornfield. His opinion was that there was an ape at large wandering in southwestern Iowa.

That Sunday in the evening, Williams H. Bacon, Roy Steuben and Bacon's son John, found traces that lloked like those of a heavy human foot in mudflats. But they did not follow the trail.

On the same date, Elmer Larson, night worker at the Coppa garage in East Anderson, reported an encounter with the animal. He explained that several weeks earlier, at 4 a.m., he was alone with the door open. He heard something strolling along the driveway, he looked out and saw a hairy figure staring at him. He wanted to run away but was frozen with fear. The thing finally went.

Locals thought he had "imagined things", but over time, more statements were added to his. Twenty people living near Glenwood, Atlantic, Red Oak and other towns in the area reported having seen the ape.

A family living near Glenwood said they saw a hairy figure drinking from the water tank. O. Cilliam's wife saw the ape, but did not want to tell about it.

The newspaper reported that it was "well established that an ape escaped from a circus in Glenwood more than a year ago." But there were doubts about that from some people who dis not believe an ape would have survived an iowan winter.

On November 19, other newspapers reported the presence of the ape at Emerson too, and indicated that new traces were found along the muddy banks of Lake Manawa, that strange noises were heard on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 in the evening. Search parties, which had been unsuccessful, had been launched on Tuesday.

On November 20, we learn that G. C. Bain, a trapper with experience in Colorado, came to track the animal. He had found traces near Lake Manawa that he found different from those he already knew, and he had decided to set bait traps around the lake.

It was also reported that "parents in Shelby County were accompanying their children to their classes because of reports of the presence of the 'ape'."

But Thursday's rain had erased the "gorilla" trail in the mudflats of Lake Manawa. Then, the size of the animal was questioned. At first it was reported to be tall like a man, but other stories later gave a size of about 3 feet, and rather a medium-sised ape than an imposing gorilla.

The ape was reported seen that Thursday by J. Miller, a farmer working in a field near Lake Manawa, Miller was picking corn in a field bordered on the south by the willow jungles that stretch to the river. His horses had been restless all morning, he said, and suddenly they started running wildly.

Miller then saw "something strolling in the rows of corn, I tried to move the flock quietly, but they were restless, I could not handle them."

"I watched the animal, too far away to indentify it positively as an ape, until it suddenly turned its head my way, reared up on its hind legs and disappeared into the woods."

"It was almost as tall as a man, shaggy and broad, but I coulen't say positively what it was," Miller said.

It was after Miller's story that G. C. Bain came on the spot, finding the tracks that were erased by the rain just a bit later. G. C. Bain indicated that he had himself heard the weird howl of the beast, a howl that would have "shamed" the wolves.

Then the searches were abandoned because of the mud caused by the rain, and the Press stopped talking about the ape.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001711
Date of event: 1930
Earliest report of event: April 18, 1930, or 2006
Delay of report: Hours, days.
Witness reported via: To the Press.
First alleged record by: Local newspapers.
First certain record by: Local newspapers.
First alleged record type: Local newspapers.
First certain record type: Local newspapers.
This file created on: October 3, 2018
This file last updated on: October 3, 2018
Country of event: USA
State/Department: Iowa
Type of location: In the willow jungles near Lake Manawa and other places in the area.
Lighting conditions: Night
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: Many.
Witnesses ages: Adults.
Witnesses types: Farmers, garage man, local people.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Ape
Entities height: 1.20 meters to 1.80 meters.
Entities outfit type: None.
Entities outfit color: N/A.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported. Ape, stocky, goes on all four, can stand on hind legs.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None heard.
Entities actions: Strolls in the country.
Entities/witness interactions: Looks, flees.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, went, searched.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witness(es) interpretation: Ape at large.
Explanation category: Probable ape at large, not UFO-related.
Explanation certainty: Certain.

Narratives:

[Ref. dr1:] "DES MOINES REGISTER" NEWSPAPER:

Rumor Loose in southwest Iowa; Some Call It an 'Ape'

Williams and Larson Tell their Stories; Here They Are

(Reuter's Special Iowa News Service)

COUNCIL BLUFFS -- Take O. Williams' word for it, there is an ape running loose in southwest Iowa.

If skeptikal of O. Williams' account, heed Elmer Larson's story of his encounter with the ape. Then add the tales recounted by a score of persons living near Glenwood, Atlantic, Red Oak and other cities of this section.

O. Williams is a farmer living two miles south of Council Bluffs, near the river bottoms around Lake Manawa.

Heard Barking.

"I heard something barking and howling in the willow thickets every night for a week." Williams said Monday.

"Last week a [I] was loading hay in a meadow. I saw the mules thro up their heads and look across the pasture. I could see the cattle running out of this willow a quarter of a mile away..

"As the cattle fled onto the flats, I saw a figure waddle a fea yards out into the open, then rare up on its hind legs.

"The mules started plunging around. when I was able to look again the figure was gone.

Didn't investigate.

"I couldn't figure out what it was, but I didn't take the trouble to go see.

"Then Sunday I went down to the pasture to water some stock. As I came around the corner of the windmill, I saw it not ten feet away. It was down on all fours, but it reared up, looked at me, started at me."

Williams admits he ran. He didn't look back either, until near his house. He wen home in a hurry. The gorilla was traling him. At the door, Williams looked back again. He saw the animal disappear into a cornfield.

Rumor Upon Rumor.

Sunday night Williams, H. Bacon, Roy Steuben and Bacon's son, John, found tracks that might have been made by a thick, heavy human foot in the mud flats. But they didn't penetrate.

Elmer Larson is a night man at the Coppa garage in East Anderson.

"It was 4 o'clock in the morning. I was all alone. The door stood partally ajar," Elmer says.

"I heard something pattling along the driveway, I looked out. There was a hairy figure." Elmer, it seems had in mind to run, but his feet and legs refused to function.

Gets Verification.

"The thing looked at me," says Elmer, "then ambled away."

This happened some weeks ago. hree were those who said Elmer "had been seeing things." But as time passed Elmer had verification from various places thoughout southwest Iowa.

A farmer living near Glenwood said he saw a hairy figure drinking at his water tank. rural dwellers near Atlantic claimed they saw the "ape."

Chooses discretion.

Mrs. O. Williams has seen it and chose discration as the better part of valor. Where does the "ape" come from? It seems well established that an ape escaped from a circus at Glenwood more than a year ago.

But how can an ape, which accordinf to naturalists, is a delicate animal, very susceptible to cold and the like, have survived an Iowa winter?

Burt O. Williams and Elmer Larson aren't concerned about that. They've seen this "ape."

[Ref. sc1:] "SIOUX CITY JOURNAL" NEWSPAPER:

Iowans Hunt Gorilla on Lake Shore

Council Bluffs -- (AP) -- The Missouri river bottoms around Lake Manawa, two miles south of here, was the scene Monday of a search for an animal, believed to be a gorilla, which has been seen in that vicinity for the last six days.

O. Williams, a farmer, reported he had seen the animal at close range and that it was about the size of a man. Tracks of a large foot were found in the mud along Mosquioto lake.

The animal has been reported seen near Read Oak and Atlantic during recent weeks and previously at Emerson. It is believed to be the gorilla which escaped from a circus near Glenwood more than a year ago.

[Ref. sc2:] "SIOUX CITY JOURNAL" NEWSPAPER:

Gorilla Leaves Fresh Tracks on a Lake's Banks

Council Bluffs, Ia -- (AP) -- Fresh tracks along the muddy banks of Lake Manawa and strange noises heard Monday night and Tuesday added new strengthto the report that a large animal, believed to be a gorilla or an ape, is still in that vicinity.

Efforts to trap the animal or to trail it proved futile Tuesday. It is believed to have escaped from a circus near Glenwood y year ago last summer, tlthough doubters of the story refuse to believe that an animal accustomed to tropical weather could have survived in Iowa winter.

[Ref. co1:] "THE WATERLOO COURRIER" NEWSPAPER:

Western Trapper on Trail of "Gorilla" at Council Bluffs

Council Bluffs, Ia. -- (AP) -- C. Bain, who says his experience with a Colorado sheepmen's organization qualifies him for big-game hunting, Thursday was on the trail of an animal, variously described as an ape or gorilla.

The beast, said to have escaped from a wagon circus more than a year ago, has been reported seen or heard by farmers living as far as 50 miles from here during the last three weeks.

Tracks near Lake Manawa, threee miles from Council Bluffs, were described by by Bains as being unlike he has ever seen before. He said he would put baited traps around the lake, and said, "we should have a look at whatever it is in a day or so."

It was reported that parents in Shelby county were accompanying their children to school because of the reports of the presence of the "ape."

[Ref. gg1:] "THE GLOBE-GAZETTE" NEWSPAPER:

HUNTER HOT ON 'GORILLA' TRAIL

Strange tracks Near Council Bluffs Thot to Belong to Circus Animal

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Nov. 20 (AP) -- G. C, Bain, who says his experience with a colorado sheepmen's organization qualifies him for big-game hunting, Thursday was on the trail of an animal, variiously described as an ape of gorilla.

The beast, said to have escaped from a wagon circus more than a year ago, has been reported seen or heard by farmers living as far as 50 miles from here during the last three weeks.

Tracks near Lake Manawa, three miles from Council Bluffs, were described by Bains as being unlike he has ever seen before. He said he would put baited traps around the lake, and said, "we should have a look at whatever it is in a day or so."

It was reported that parents in Shelby county were accompanying their children to school because of the reports of the presence of the "ape."

[Ref. qc1:] "THE QUAND CITY TIMES" NEWSPAPER:

Hunter Trails Giant Ape in Western Iowa

Council Bluffs, Ia., Nov.20. -- (AP) -- G. C, Bain, who says his experience with a colorado sheepmen's organization qualifies him for big-game hunting, Thursday was on the trail of an animal, variiously described as an ape of gorilla.

The beast, said to have escaped from a wagon circus more than a year ago, has been reported seen or heard by farmers living as far as 50 miles from here during the last three weeks.

Tracks near Lake Manawa, threee miles from Council Bluffs, were described by by Bains as being unlike he has ever seen before. He said he would put baited traps around the lake, and said, "we should have a look at whatever it is in a day or so."

It was reported that parents in Shelby county were accompanying their children to school because of the reports of the presence of the "ape."

[Ref. ic1:] "THE IOWA CITY PRESS-CITIZEN" NEWSPAPER:

HUNTER LAYS TRAPS FOR APE

Animal Believed to Have Escaped from circus

COUNCIL BLUFFS -- (AP) -- G. C, Bain, who says his experience with a colorado sheepmen's organization qualifies him for big-game hunting, Thursday was on the trail of an animal, variiously described as an ape of gorilla.

The beast, said to have escaped from a wagon circus more than a year ago, has been reported seen or heard by farmers living as far as 50 miles from here during the last three weeks.

Tracks near Lake Manawa, threee miles from Council Bluffs, were described by by Bains as being unlike he has ever seen before. He said he would put baited traps around the lake, and said, "we should have a look at whatever it is in a day or so."

It was reported that parents in Shelby county were accompanying their children to school because of the reports of the presence of the "ape."

[Ref. dt1:] "THE DES MOINES TRIBUNE" NEWSPAPER:

RAIN WASHES AWAY TRACKS OF IOWA APE

'Gorilla' Now Tought Only Three Feet Tall

COUNCIL BLUFFS (AP) -- Rain Thursday had obliterated the trail of the phantom "gorilla" said to have been seen in the Lake Manawa mud flats south of here.

G. C. Bain, a trapper from Colorado, took up the search early thursday determined to to stay on the trail until he had located the animal.

Doubt has arisen as to the size of the animal, at frst reported to be as large as a man. Later and more generally accepted stories of persons who saw the animal agreethat it was only about three feet tall and probably one of the species of monkeys which inhabit the temperate reagions of Africa.

[Ref. dr2:] "DES MOINES REGISTER" NEWSPAPER:

U. S. Trapper to Seek Iowa Phantom Ape

Modern Tarzan to Take Traile Today.

BY LARRY FERGUSON

(Register Staff Writer)

COUNCIL BLUFFS -- Page Tarzan,. Page a couple of Tarzans.

Such was the cry that went up in Council Bluffs Wednesday, and as a result a modern Tarzan, in the form of G. C. Bain, government trapper of the Rocky mountains will take the trail this morning of west Iowa's phantom ape.

Bain arrived here Wednesday morning, lured by newspaper accounts of the howlings which farmers and hunters report coming from the willow jungles southeast of Lake Manawa each night.

He journeyed to the "stamping arounds" of the strange animal, took a look at the tracks it had left in the mud and announced that he would "stick."

Traps to Be Set

"I thought the animal night be a big cat of some kind when I heard the howl," Bain said. "But this animal leaves a trail entirely different from any creature I ever saw of heard of. I'm going to put out traps and bait and we should have a look at whatever it is in a day or so."

While examining the trail of the Manawa ape, Bain discovered deer tracks in the river bottoms and following these until late afternoon, flushed a white tailed buck and doe from a thicket. According to pioneers of this section of the state, these are the first deer to be seen near Council Bluffs in years.

"Ape's" Rule Undisputed

But the discovery of deer was of secondary importance to residents of Council Bluffs and the country to the south. The one topic of discussion everywhere was the ape. It was served to you with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and advice on what to do and the reverse should one meet the creature was handed out with each purchase in all stores.

Each man "aped" his neighbor. Shortly after dark Wednesday cars begun lining up along the road bordering the ape's territory - and his rule is undisputed - while the curious waited, half feaful, for him to howl. Hunters, armed with guns and flashlights, beat the thicket near the road.

Reported Seen in Shelby

While the hunt is on here, reports from Harlan, northeast of here, resound the wanderings over the east end of Shelby conty of an animal as large as a gorilla. School children there are being accompanied to their classes by parents, according to word received here.

But with the credulous, there are the unbelievers who lock their doors at nightfall, but the shotgun in the corner by the bed and label it a lot of "monkey business."

[Ref. dr3:] "DES MOINES REGISTER" NEWSPAPER:

PHANTOM APE IS SEEN AGAIN

But Rain Washes Tracks Away Near Manawa

BY LARRY FERGUSON

(Register staff Writer)

COUNCIL BLUFFS -- Lake Manawa's phantom ape, some strange creature which has been seen several times, but which has evaded capture since Sunday night, Thursday showed himself to another farmer working in a field, then vanished to remain a mystery.

The farmer, J. Miller, who lives in the vicinity of Manawa, was picking corn in a field, which is bordered on the south by willow jungles stretching to the river. His horses had been resless all morning, he said, and suddenly they started plunging wildly.

Horses Frightened.

"I looked towardwhere the horses were grazing," Miller said, "and saw sonething ambling though the corn rows. I tried to move the team away quietly, but they were wild. I couldn't manage them.

"I watched the animal, too far away to indentify it positively as an ape, until it suddenly turned its head my way, reared up on its hind legs and disappeared into the woods.

"It was almost as tall as a man, shaggy and broad, but I coulen't say positively what it was," Miller said.

Rain Hinders Search.

G. C. Bain, Gunison, colo., big game trapper, went to the spot where Miller said the animal went into the thicket and began trailing the beast. A few moments

(Continued on Page 14, col.5.)

PHANTOM APE IS SEEN AGAIN

But Rain Washes Tracks Away Near Manawa

(Continued from Page 1.)

later, Bain was forced to give up the hunt when a downpour of rain obliterated the tracks.

Further weight was given the legend of the ape Thursday when Dode Bachelor, hermit of the willow thickets for more than a century, sent out word by Bain that there was some creature in the wild that "has never been there before in fifty years."

Even Skeptics Convinced.

Bachelor, according to the few persons who have ever penetrated the jungles to the hermit's hut, admits skepticism of all things men do and say, and his declaration that something unusual is roaming the brakes brought expressions of credence from heretofore skeptics.

Bain said the hermit told him he had been hearing a noise entirely new to the jungles along the river and that it "put to shame" the howl of a wolf in its uncanny wailing.

Bachelor's Dog Restless.

"It sounds like a woman being murdered and knowing it," Bain said the recluse told him. "I keep indoors nights and the dogs have been restless for two weeks," Bachelor told Bain.

The true character of the land over which the ape is said to be roaming is such that it is next to impenetrable after the rains of Thursday and Wednesday. The gumbo mud peculiar to the district makes it impossible for a man to walk more than a few yards without accumulating such masses of mud and leaves on his boots as to make walking impossible until the boots are cleaned.

Plan to Take Trail Today.

That, added to the dense grow of willow and weeds trhough which hunters are forced to cut their path with corn knives, ended the Search Thursday. Bain indicated that he would again take up the trail today if no more rain fell Thursday night and the water had drained off the jungle floor.

There was a possibility, however, he said, that the search would be abandoned until Saturday or sunday if heavy weather continued.

[Ref. pr1:] PETER ROGERSON:

November 17 1930. Night.

LAKE MANAWA near COUNCIL BLUFFS (IOWA : USA)

Farmer Mr C Willams encountered a hairy humanoid at close range. Tracks were found. Other people also reported the thing.

Arment 2006 p154 citing Albert Lea (MN) Evening Tribune + Lincoln (NE) Star both 18 April 1930

Points to consider:

Peter Rogerson once again included in his catalog a story that is not of a ufological nature, but a story of a hairy creature, of those who will later be called "Bigfoot" by some authors. From what he explains in the introduction of his catalog, we understand that he did this in order to show that "imagination" and "invention" have always existed.

He gives very briefly as a source "Arment 2006 p154", which is actually a "Bigfoot" book [ca1], quoting two newspapers. The first cited is the Evening Tribune, of Albert Lea, Minnesota, USA, for April 18, 1930. I have been able to cover the 20 pages of this newspaper, I have done it twice, and yet I have not found this story.

I also read the 28 pages of the second newspaper cited, the Lincoln Star of the same date. There is not a word either on this story.

Since these two newspapers are not local newspapers from Iowa where the story is located, but a Nevada newspaper and a newspaper in Minnesota, it would have been logical for the case to be mentioned in other newspapers. I have access to 159 different North American newspapers for this April 18, 1930, but none of them mention this case when I search for it by search engine. Worse, there is nothing for the few days before and the next few days.

Knowing the habits of the US Press in these years, it seems obvious to me that if a story in Iowa appears in two newspapers in two other states, it should have appeared in many other newspapers.

An obvious sign of poor documentation is that the sighting took place on November 17, 1930, and was reported before, April 18, 1930...

I have therefore assumed that if the observation is on November 17, 1930, the press reports are not for April 18, 1930, but November 18, 1930, and this proved to be correct. Thus I was able to find mention of the case in The Des Moines Register, an Iowa newspaper, for November 18, 1930, on page 3.

And subsequently, a whole series of Press articles, based mostly on the Associated Press newsbriefs, which tell a complex story of ape sightings in Iowa, with its likely explanation, that of an ape escaped from a circus.

Obviously it has nothing to do with a supposed "Bigfoot", let alone with a supposed UFO occupant. And in fact, no "proponent" ufologist seems to have taken this for a ufological incident...

Now, since "skeptical" ufologist Peter Rogerson included such cases in a catalog dealing with the UFO issue, he did so to show that "imagination and invention have always existed", so it remains to be seen whether this case demonstrates "magination", and / or "invention" at work.

Well, nothing is less certain. I do not see, in this series of Press reports of encounters with an ape, the evidence of "imagination" at work. Why would these people not really see an ape? "Skeptical" writers sometimes, and sometimes rightly, say that this or that case of observation of supposed UFO occupants is explained as a misinterpretation of the "ape at large" kind - or other escaped animal. But here, a skeptical author does not seem to be aware of this sort of explanation, or did not care about it. People have more or less vaguely seen an ape at large, they thought it was an ape, and vever claimed it was an "alien" or a "Bigfoot", it was probably an ape escaped from a circus as it was supposed, So what is the value of this as example of "imagination" at work? None.

As for the idea of an "invention" example, it is even more compromised: it is clear that "farmer Mr. C. Willams" is not at all the only one to have reported his observation of an ape.

What we also see with this whole thing is, as in the case of UFOs, ambient skepticism, at least initially. People did not want to "believe" in the first appearances, they thought it was "imagination". It took a multiplicity of independent testimonies, and traces on the ground, to change a part of the general opinion.

There is also a controversy: those who end up convinced that there is an ape in the area, those who believe that people "see things" that do not exist, those who doubt the explanation by the ape escaped from the Glenwood circus a year ago since the ape should not have survived the winter.

There is also a certain "fear". But is it irrational, a case of "hysterical mob"? Maybe not. On the one hand, it is an established fact that big apes are actually dangerous animals. On the other hand, the image of the great apes conveyed by the fictions of the time (in particular "Tarzan", in the movies and in the Press as comic strips and short novels, is indeed an image of a dangerous animal, at least a danger for little children going to school.

To give the context, for the year 1930 alone, I list at least 4000 mentions of the expression "Tarzan the ape-man" in the US newspapers that I can consult, which are obviously not the complete collection available. The newspapers published in comics and illustrated serials the adventures of Tarzan written by Edgar Rice Burroughs:

Circuses capitalized on the success of Tarzan and the apes:

I do not claim that nobody has ever "imagined" or "invented" anything. My CE3 catalog shows enough that it happened. But at least, this case, like in many others, is a poorly chosen example.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
-

Evaluation:

Probable ape at large, not UFO-related.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross October 3, 2018 Creation, [dr1], [sc1], [sc2], [co1], [gg1], [qc1], [ic1], [dr2], [dt1], [dr3], [ca1], [pr1].
1.0 Patrick Gross October 3, 2018 First published.

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