Loren Coleman June 10, 2005
PO Box 360
Portland, ME 04112
Dear Mr. Coleman:
My name is Corey Holden and I live in Keosauqua, (pop 1,000) along the banks of the scenic Des Moines River, in Southeast Iowa. I’ve been into cryptozoology for many years and spend a great deal of my time searching for unknown creatures. I believe Van Buren County (Bear Creek) to be haunted by mysterious black panthers, mystery maned cats, demon dogs?? and wolves, Bigfoot, or the Missouri momo. Phantom kangaroos and UFOs have also been reported. My sightings include a large black panther, Bigfoot or momo, and a large unknown, very short legged weasel, also two UFOs.
I am searching for a creature called a “bear-cat” that has been described. It is described as being large, heavily built, covered with long shaggy reddish brown or black hair, no tail, and moves very fast, cat-like. It was seen July 4, 2003 by a local Keosauqua man (now deceased) and by an Illinois man at the mouth of the creek while checking bank lines that early morning. However, the local man does drink. They said saw it jump out of a tree and ran quickly away. It was a reddish-gray color. All I know of it that it preys on deer by stalking and attacks horses. There is a woman from Pennsylvania that described what to be a “bear-cat” and called it dog-bear.
I talked to a local kid a few years ago and he was talking about the “bear-cat”. He said it bothered their horses and they weren’t allowed to go out at night when they used to live at Bear Creek. He described it the way Connie did and it was three to four feet at the shoulder. He also said a tracker from Missouri came up and searched for it along the creek.
Much of the Des Moines River valley is heavily forested with many limestone bluffs and VBC has many large tracts of forestlands that are rare in the state. Only the Northeast corner has more. Our woodlands are still large enough to hide a family cats or Bigfoot’s.
Bear Creek is a short creek about 6 miles long but it is forested with bluffs near the mouth. There are also Indian burial grounds up on the bluffs. The creek is very elusive with very few houses. Many parts of the creek are very thick and very difficult to hike in.
Dennis and Connie Gwinnup have land along the creek and Connie claims to have seen strange creatures for at least 20 years. She told me about the creatures after reading about the black panther I had seen which was mentioned in the county paper in 2000. After hearing her stories, I got very excited and took on the challenge. It helped being open-minded and fascinated with the unknown. Also having a few encounters myself and believing in Bigfoot.
I’ve been tracking the creek since July 2000 but have found very little physical evidence except footprints of an unknown animal. I spend a lot of time roaming the creek both day and night between June - November and it does seem to be spooky at times.
Bear Creek seems to be haunted by very large creatures. They act ghost-like or like demons. They are very quick to leave the scene and appear when no one is looking. They seem to be unafraid of humans and seem to be attracted to human activity. They will come into the thickets behind the house and red barn at night or even during the daytime if anyone is out doing something. I’ve heard strange noises or bird-like calls at night in the thickets while standing in the yard. Once I heard a high-pitched bird call and went to investigate and shined my flashlight all around but saw and heard nothing. Connie said she heard this last spring and it sounds like a large animal. It sounds much like a bird that I am unable to identify. I am very knowledgeable with birds and their songs.
When something appears in the thickets, the four horses would stay in the barn or stand in a corner watching out in the field. It becomes very quiet, especially at night, no night sounds and sometimes even during the day. At night, it is often dead quiet and you won’t hear anything. At other times, every dog in the area will be barking. We often hear tromping around in the thickets both day and night and they always sound like very heavy animals. Last fall around 5:00 PM, I took a walk down by the pasture. As I turned the corner I heard something very large tromping around. At first I thought it was one of the horses following me down the trail and then stopped. I found out that the horses were all up in the barn and didn’t come out that day. It sounded like a very large creature.
Connie and Tony, her son, 34 years old, have seen red glowing eyes in the field near the house. Tony said they were at least six to seven feet off the ground and made him sick and freaked him out. He saw red eyes on November 3, 2002.
There may be a momo frequently coming up into the thickets day or night and terrifying the horses. Most of the sightings are usually near the phases of the moon between July - November. Spring is usually quiet except 2004. In 2002 Connie claimed to see this large black thing standing in the driveway early one morning and was like a demon. It moved very fast like a flash of light and was very strong, tipping the horse trailer and sitting it back down. I came down that day but found no footprints. Another night the creature jumped over the fence and chased her two dogs through and out of the yard. The dogs came back.
Tony and I decided to go to Bonaparte, which is five miles downstream. He was on horseback, and I was on my mountain bike. When we got down toward the timber, LD started acting really weird and nervous. He was looking down in the timber and tried very hard to turn around and go back to the house.
Tony managed to get him past the timber and continued on but LD was nervous on the whole trip. This was during the day. LD knew there was something down there that he is terrified or smelled something very bad which we were unaware of.
I’ve had my doubts and just about gave up the search. However, that changed after a close encounter on October 13, 2002 with a very large dark gray creature along the creek. On that day, I decided to take a hike on the creek to do some bird watching. It was 12 noon. I was just walking along when all of a sudden I heard a loud ruckus ahead of me between two trees, apparently the creature was resting and jumped up only to vanish and to leave me frustrated. I looked just in time to see a very large gray object but quickly became very quiet. My first impression was that it went up a tree and vanished. It was so fast I didn’t hear it run off in the weedy field or go up the bluff. I hurried as fast as I could since I’m a good runner to see if I could follow it. My hearing is good but heard nothing after I saw this thing. There is a tree leaning over and the foliage was still fairly lush. It was very dry at the time (drought). I didn’t find any type of evidence except for where it was lying down. How frustrating! It left no hair in the brush. I remembered a bird (cardinal) taking off up into the trees and a winter wren chattering away in a brush pile close to the creature. Apparently birds didn’t know it was there. It was at least six to seven feet tall, twice the height of a white tailed deer. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good identification other than its color or its size. The color was similar to the Skunk Ape photos. I was more curious than afraid. I am certain it was a real animal and not a prank.
I truly believe Bigfoot or other unknown primates haunts Bear Creek, as well as all of Van Buren County in Southeast Iowa. A Bonaparte man claims to have seen a gray creature walking on two legs and walked over a fence near the creek. There is a bluff downstream called “Rattlesnake Bluff”. A hunter claims to have seen a huge creature leaving the bluff one evening while hunting. He has shot at it and swore he hit it, but it kept on going. I called the guy and he wouldn’t talk about it, but he did admit seeing something.
A Keosauqua man claims to have seen a chimpanzee last fall. He was fishing on a creek bridge at 7:30 AM on September 2, 2004. He told me that this large chimpanzee-like creature came up out of the brush and onto the road near his truck, screaming and making a lot of racket. He described it as chimpanzee-like, four or five feet tall, tail 24 - 30 inches, gray-brown and walked on all fours. This creek is heavily timbered and very brushy. It empties into a private lake that is surrounded by timber. This lake is around two miles south off Highway 2 and about 6 to 6 ½ miles from Keosauqua. He is now a believer.
In August 2002 a large creature appeared in the thickets behind the red barn, apparently having horses on its mind. It had really spooked the horses. Connie and Tony went back to get them. It was nighttime and they had shined the flashlights in the thickets. They saw big yellow eyes about 8 - 10 inches apart and about 4 feet off the ground. As this was going on, Connie decided to call me so I jumped on my mountain bike and went down there, which is 6 miles from Keosauqua. This was about 10:00 PM and when I got there at 10:30, one of the horses was still carrying on, but soon got very quiet. Tony and his girlfriend have just gotten back. They told me this story. One of the dogs took off barking down toward the mouth of the creek. They got on a horse rode along the cornfield, which is on the other side of the thickets. Tony thought he had seen something black but wasn’t sure. When they came back something ran out of the corn and hit the horse’s back legs, almost sitting it down. With them and the horse, their total weight was about 1,300 pounds. All they could do was hang on for dear life as they hurried back to the house. This happened just below where they saw the eyes. We examined the back legs, found small puncture wounds and blood apparently from the claws. Both were shaken up. I stayed that night and got up at dawn and looked for footprints. I was lucky to find tracks of the attacker. I found a set of tracks coming in out of the corn to where the attack scene took place but disappeared, then found a line of tracks leaving the site in the 2nd row of corn, but they also disappeared. The corn was laid down only in a small area but no tracks of the creature. It was like it was walking then disappeared into thin air. It was a very dry summer (drought) and tracking was very difficult. The footprints were in deep, indicating a heavy animal. I went and bought a bottle of plaster mix at the drug store. I made three perfect plaster casts and kept them in a shed by the house. I drew a picture of one of them and traced one actual size. We called up the local game warden and he came to look at them. He told us “dog” and ignored me when I started talking about unknown animals. He said “not in this area”. We said “big dog” and laughed. He seemed to know it all and had all the answers. After October 13th, I called him up again telling him about the large gray creature. He had me talk to a so-called cat expert from northern Iowa and asked me to describe the bear-cat. He admitted that it was an unknown animal but had no interest in searching for it and said good luck in my search. Well some time later Connie told me the D.N.R. were driving back and forth three to four times a day, then the plaster casts came up missing from the shed where I had them hidden and I only showed a few people besides the game warden. Connie said someone got in the shed one night and thought it was I.
Between November 3 and 18, 2002 I took a walk along the creek around evening with their two dogs. I had just gotten up from where I saw the gray creature. All of a sudden three does came up at 40 M.P.H. to the creek and almost ran me over. One stopped in the middle of the creek ahead of Hoss and me. The other stopped behind me and snorted real loud, while the other kept going and up the bluff. Timber, weighing 100 to 110 pounds mastiff was running all over with her nose to the ground and went up on the bluff where the deer came down from. Hoss went up and ended up at the house. Tony said he ran up and lies on the porch. The deer were running at top speed and when they had passed me by I jumped up on the bank to see if anything was chasing or following them and saw nothing. Deer don’t normally run at their greatest speed unless they are trying to escape danger. The deer were running at top speed like a blur. It was rutting season but saw no bucks. Whatever they were running from, they easily outran and outdistanced it. I’ve only seen red foxes run that fast. Not long after that incident I discovered tooth marks on a tree where the gray creature was. They’re odd, rather small but very sharp. Most of the marks are four to five feet up on the tree with some up to seven feet. All of them down on the tree look like it was chewed on and used for a long time. As of today, they still look fresh. No other tree has these tooth marks. Very strange!
A local photographer thought maybe a squirrel was the culprit but another man didn’t think so. After that deer incident, Hoss ‘s personality seemed to have changed. He avoided the creek. He started to go to Bonaparte, which is five miles downstream. He started acting very strange when he was around us. He wouldn’t stay home so Connie just gave him away. Hoss had lived there for seven years and wasn’t afraid of anything. He is no longer with us. Could he have had a close encounter with the creature?
I once saw a doe clear a road in Lacey-Keosauqua State Park at top speed. She must have been running from something, cleared the road, and kept on going. She leaped 25 to 30 feet, and was at least six feet up in the air. I just stood there in amazement.
Summer of 2003 was very active. Tony and a friend claims to have seen a black creature, which I believe to be a Missouri momo. They said it was on two legs when they first saw it. Then it dropped down on all fours and ran quickly away. It seemed to like following. It’s six feet tall, covered in shaggy, shiny black hair including its face and a short six-inch tail. They couldn’t see the face. It was seen several times that year. I’ve been unfortunate to see the creature and it seems to avoid me since I’m actually looking for it. It must sense that and is a very intelligent creature. This was August 17, 2003. On August 10, 2003 the momo was seen. On August 23, 2003, a black animal was seen running through the tall weeds below the trailer. I believe it was a black panther. That week we put up a night camera but only got deer pics and possibly a bobcat.
Fortunately, my luck changed on July 9, 2004 at 9:30 PM. I took off through the field to go down to the camper at the mouth of the creek. The field was planted in winter wheat and was cut all but a strip that was left standing. I had just gotten to the strip and started going around and I shined my flashlight down by the river. There standing at the edge of the trees in the field was a pair of yellowish eyes staring at me and did not move. I’ve never seen these before. I walked a little closer to see what it was but it kept staring at me. I backed off and walked around on the other side and hustled down to the camper. I looked over and kept seeing the eyes over the weeds just glaring. I believe it to be the “bear-cat” and what attacked the horse that night. Unfortunately I was unable to tell how high off the ground the eyes were. I’m sure it wasn’t a large coon or any native animal. I’ve never been stared down like that by anything at night. It’s just not normal behavior. Most animals are naturally afraid and only are curious of man for a short time before they move away.
The next night I went down to the camper about 10:30 PM. I started going around the weeds and ahead of me I spotted a pair of large greenish eyes. I stopped dead in my tracks and watched the eyes. The first thing I noticed that the eyes were far apart; I’m guessing six to ten inches. It looked like it was close to the ground and I saw it turn its head only showing one eye. That freaked me out so I backed off and cut through the weeds. I hurried to the other side and kept shining my flashlight over at the wheat and saw a pair of green eyes staring at me just above the weeds.
The eyes were very close and it was very quiet. The eyes seem to just glare in the dark. I hurried down to the camper and I kept shining my flashlight back behind me to see if it was following me. I almost turned around and went back up to the house and very spooked. I didn’t go down the next night. I went down the following night with a dog. The creature seemed to have moved on. We looked for footprints or any type of evidence but we were very disappointed. However I came to a conclusion that the eyes were at least six to seven feet high off the ground and where it was standing, the weeds were five feet high, tall enough to hide a big buck. The eyes must have been above the weeds. There was no doubt in my mind that I was being watched and followed by a momo and I believe the night before I was being watched by the “bear-cat“.
I truly believe that the Missouri momo or other unknown primates haunt Southeast Iowa and Northeast Missouri. I recently talked to Mrs. Peiffer about the “Lockridge Monster” and gave me hope. She described the creature to me and was not afraid to tell me anything that I asked her. She described it as bear-like, covered with black shaggy hair and four legged. I told her that I believe what they saw is the same creature that we are seeing around Bear Creek and is still being seen. She seemed to be relieved and said she always wondered whatever came of the creature. She seemed to be very honest. Mrs. Peiffer said she has gotten a lot of attention and still does. She is more than willing to talk about the creature.
Last spring a man from Douds told me he found a 10 L times 5 W, three toed clawed footprint, in a pasture near a creek behind his mom‘s house in Village township south of Selma. He said he ran over it with a four-wheeler before he discovered it, saying it was very old and faint but good enough to show detail. He told me that his cattle stampeded the neighbor while he was feeding them. Something scared them and they were acting very strange that night. I told him about the creature at Bear Creek and he seemed to be very interested in coming to the creek but has not showed any interest since then.
A footprint of a Bigfoot was found around Ely’s Ford in Lacey-Keosauqua State Park in the early 1980s. Connie Guinnup says she saw the plaster casts in the sheriff’s office and asked about it and soon came up missing. Go figure?
In 1985 a Keosauqua woman told me she was driving through Shimek State Forest near Farmington at dusk and saw a very large creature standing along the timber. My first thought Bigfoot? She also heard what sounded like a woman screaming in the middle of the night at Morris Park while camping. She said there was a lot of tromping around in the woods and then heard the scream. I’ve had many people tell me that they have heard a woman screaming in the middle of the night. I’ve heard that female mountain lions in heat scream like a woman and also black panthers and Bigfoot.
There are lot panther sightings in Van Buren County and all of Southeast Iowa. I’ve heard stories all through my childhood (I am now 34). Unfortunately people are afraid to speak out because they think everyone will think they’re crazy. I’ve had many people tell me about big cats that they have seen. Large mysterious black panthers are frequently seen. I’ve been fortunate to see one while bird watching.
Huge cat prints have been found in Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, one of the largest in the state. There’s over 2,500 acres of forest adjacent from Keosauqua. A local Keosauqua man told me he saw a large black animal on the river trail one evening while walking on the bridge and he had found large cat prints on the trail. Recently a man told me about that incident and told me he had seen a black panther. He seemed to be interested in what I was telling him. I gave him a Website. This other guy told me he found a huge cat print, large enough to lay your hand spread out in on a gravel road between Bonaparte and Farmington.
On February 29, 1997 I was bird watching four to five miles downstream from Keosauqua near rugged timbered bluff called “Rattlesnake Bluff”. On the other side of the river in a cornfield I spotted a large black cat in a stalking position just below a farmhouse. It went into a wooded grove for about 15 minutes, then came out and walked over a hillside out of sight. It resembled a black leopard. I watched it through my binoculars and it looked to be about seven to nine feet long with a long tail. It was pure black and there was no doubt in my mind what I saw was a mysterious black panther. I was about two football fields away from it. In 2000 I talked to the farmer and he said he found a cat print six inches wide down by the river but didn’t make plaster casts of it. He also told me of a creature that he thought resemble a giant rabbit that hopped around on its hind legs. He described it as being three feet tall, with hardly any tail, hind legs longer than the front and more muscular, moderately long ears. This was 10 to 15 years ago. He seemed to be very honest.
In late February - March 2003 a local photographer and I were hiking along the bluff looking for a cave that was supposed to be there and I had found two piles of cat scat more than 16 inches and coiled and 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter, pointed at the ends, full of deer hair. The big cat may still be in the area. A snowstorm the next day destroyed them but the photographer took a couple of photos of one with a tape measure beside it. I believe the scat and the footprint belong to a mysterious maned lion. Did the American lion really go extinct?
Many of the cat sightings are of very large individuals with wide heads, yellow eyes, are pure black or tawny brown and leave huge tracks. I’m really into paleontology and very fascinated with life of the past. Is the American lion still roaming our forests? What native feline leaves six-inch wide prints? Whatever species they belong to, they must be very intelligent and very elusive.
In recent years mountain lion sightings have been increasing in the state as well as all the Midwest. Many are probably released by the D.N.R. to control the large deer population. However, I do not believe that all of them have been released into the wild. Mountain lions have been known to travel long distances and they have spread to the Midwest. They could thrive here because of the huge deer population. However, I do not believe that all the big cat sightings are mountain lions, but some other unknown feline.
Early June of 2004 three or four people just a couple miles north of Bentonsport-Vernon saw a large cat. I talked to the guy that lives there and he told me that something was running his horses through the electric fence and spooking the neighbor’s cattle. He said something growled at him out by the road one night and keeps his dog barking. He also said he was terrified of the weird sounds that they heard. The guy seemed to be very serious and was afraid as well as angry because of it. He was also hearing strange noises from the timber near the house and out in the weedy field. I rode my bike out there one night and spent some time watching and listening. The night after there was a man on a four-wheeler and he had a gun. I asked him what the gun was for and he said there was a big cat with yellow eyes watching them while they were looking for arrowheads. Another night about 10 PM I heard a loud high-pitched whistle followed by a lower trill much like that of a bird. It only did it three times, and then stopped. Whip-poor-wills were calling earlier. I can identify most birds here by their songs and this was something I never heard before. I don’t know many birds that sing at night, but I frequently heard birds sounds that night. Very strange!
Last year a couple from Lockridge told me that they saw a black panther one night on a road between Lake Sugema and Lacey-Keosauqua SP. He said the eyes were green and she said that they were yellow. They said it headed towards the park. A Bonaparte man told me that he had seen a big black cat chasing deer in Lindsey’s Wilderness near Bonaparte last spring.
In January 2002 Tony saw a large black animal standing in a cornfield on the next road. He said it was around 5 PM. The neighbor told me he saw a black panther walking across the field around 8 AM the next morning. He said it had its tail held high like a typical feline. Connie called me and I went down the next afternoon. We looked for footprints but it was very dry at the time and tracking was very difficult. There was no snow on the ground. I found some odd and faint prints but impossible to identify. The next day it snowed so I waited for the snow to melt and went back to tromp around in the timber nearby. In the cedar trees I came across cat droppings that were full of deer hair. So there was no doubt in my mind that there was a big cat in the area. I have not yet seen any big cats around Bear Creek but I did find three inch mountain lion tracks making seven foot jumps on the snow in the field in March 2002. I also found three to three and a half inch mountain lion tracks near a church on a dirt road between Keosauqua and Vernon.
On November 24, 2004 around 7:22 PM Connie called me up and told me that Timber started barking like crazy. She stepped and heard what sounded like a police siren in the thickets. She said something was walking around five-ten feet from the fence but couldn’t see anything.
August of 1999 I went on a bird watching trip to the Fox Valley Wetlands which is eight miles south of Keosauqua along the IA and MO border. I rode my mountain bike down early one morning and around noon I decided to head home because it was getting too hot. I was riding past this road and saw this large weasel walking slowly across the road. I jumped off my bike and watched it through my binoculars as it crossed. It walked very slowly unlike a typical weasel. I’m very fortunate to be able to give a good description of the animal . It resembled a long-tailed weasel in appearance, with a long body and tail, and very short legs. I immediately noticed how short its legs were as its belly was almost touching the road. I watched it go down into a tall clump of weeds around a telephone pole and stood up with its back to me. It stood higher than the weeds and then I lost track of it. I didn’t see it run for the rocks that were close by. My first thought was that it went down into a hole in the ground. I hurried down to investigate and I discovered there were no holes in the ground. I measured the weeds at two feet high so I’m guessing the animal stood at least three feet tall on its back legs. Apparently it was traveling the brushy creek. I’m certain it was some unknown mustelid. Mink, long-tail and least weasel, ermine, otter, and badger all inhabit Van Buren County. This was no native mustelid. If it was a mink, then it was an extremely large individual. Mink are very common in the Mt. Sterling area and I frequently see them, even during the day. I was at least 20 yards from it. As of today, I still don’t know what species it was.
UFOs have been reported in Southern Iowa. Late July 2000 Tony and I were camping at the mouth of the creek. It was a very humid night (mid 70s) and there was only a slight breeze in the treetops. Mosquitoes were terrible. It was very quiet, only frogs croaking and fish jumping around in the creek. We were lying on the truck bed with a spotlight hooked up to the engine. It was too humid to sleep in the tent so we decided to sleep on the truck bed. We heard what sounded like a high-pitched cooing, much like that of a mourning dove but much higher. We were looking up at the stars when all of a sudden a strange white object came up over the trees above the creek and stayed or hovered in one spot for a period of time. Then it started to move across the sky. It went up then went sideways. I got my binoculars out and watched it. It was moving very fast and in no time moved over the river going north. Later on Tony and I were lying quietly in the back of the truck when all of a sudden there was a loud snap of a log on the ground between the creek, and us, which was not very far. I whispered to Tony and said “Did you hear that?” and he said, “Yes”. We both jumped up and shined the spotlight all around in the timber in the woods but saw and heard nothing. It was in the same area where the “bear-cat” was seen jumping out of a tree and running away very quickly. It was possible that the creature was watching us that night up in the tree and jumped down onto a pile of logs and snapped one because of its weight.
Bear Creek would be a great place for research and expeditions. Any Bigfoot researcher or cryptozoologist would have a good chance to see the creatures. I’m very confident about that. I’m willing to speak out to talk to anyone who is interested in cryptids.
Van Buren County is a huge tourism area which depends on the money the tourists bring to the county. The Van Buren Register refused to put my stories in the newspaper because they didn’t want to get laughed at or be given a hard time, and that it would hurt the tourism. Bigfoot expeditions would sure get everyone’s attention. I hope you would come here to investigate these sightings in the area. I would like to see some research being done here. I would like to see some of these mysteries solved.
916 Country Lane Drive
Keosauqua, IA 52565
Hope to hear from you soon.
Corey D. Holden