Into the Strange: Wisconsin’s Paranormal

Strange Wisconsin.  You could call it that.  And Linda S. Godfrey does.  She’s the author of the midwest collection of Weird Wisconsin, Strange Wisconsin, and Strange Michigan.  Godfrey started out as a reporter and cartoonist for a newspaper, but always had an interest in the mysterious.  Her journey into the strange began when a few Wisconsin citizens started reporting werewolf sightings in the town of Elkhorn.  (I think I went to Girl Scout camp there.)  Considered out of hand and nonsense, no other reporter would touch the story, but Godfrey thought if there was a beastly animal loose in the neighborhood, the people deserved to know.  So began the interviews with witnesses of The Beast of Bray Road and Godfrey became the expert of paranormal Wisconsin.

Here is a sketch of the beast Godfrey drew after tallying the descriptions around town.  If you ask her where she stands on the explanation behind such a creature, she’ll tell you it’s firmly in the middle.  We simply don’t know.  She has coined the term “canid” to describe a canine hominid, saying it’s possible a breeding species has kept itself hidden in the pockets of Wisconsin’s wild until now.  We’ve only really inhabited our state for 200 years.  It could be evolution that caused the animal to become bipedal over time.  But there are accounts of sudden manifestation and telepathy that cause skeptics to wonder.  Is this mythological animal suddenly real?  Where did it come from?  Who sent it?

Some Native Americans believe the animal to be from the spirit world.  And one correlation Godfrey discovered is that the majority of these ‘werewolf’ sightings occurred in close proximity to Indian effigy mounds.   There are more effigy mounds in our part of the country than found anywhere else.  These mounds are assumed to have been used for burial or other ceremony, but their true meaning is unknown.  Some mounds that have been shaped like a man with antlers were thought to represent a holy man, but could it have been pointy ears?  Is it the same creature people are seeing today?

Godfrey was in my town several months ago, speaking at the library.  I stayed afterward to chat with her about her experiences and tell her a few of my own.  When I told her the name of the town I grew up in, her eyes widened.  “That’s in my book!” she exclaimed and immediately started assaulting the poor young librarian trying to help her handle the book sale table.  The girl was trying to grab the book Godfrey wanted to show me and find the map she was looking for.  “It’s near the front!  Then use the glossary!  Give me it!”  I couldn’t imagine what was so important about my little hometown that she would yell at this poor girl.  “The Circle of Strange!”  Apparently, my town makes up one of the four directional cities that encompasses what Godfrey calls the Circle of Strange.  This circumference holds the most sightings of werewolves and other eerie things than any other.  Huh?  Who knew?

Example of an Effigy Mound from my hometown's Koshkonong Mounds Trail. This mound is thought to be a turtle or lizard.

I’m not going to tell you I’ve seen a werewolf.  I never have.  But I have witnessed my fair share of Wisconsin’s paranormal.  I guess it’s a hazard of the neighborhood when you live in the Circle of Strange.  What do you think?  Hoopla or happening?

For more great posts on the paranormal, check out these blogs by:

Terrell Mims Werewolves – Monsters of the Church?  Learn the origin of the werewolf!

Manon Eileen  Weird Phenomenon:  Lake Eerie Lights View footage of the strange orbs over another midwest landscape, Lake Eerie.

Chelsie Matthews from Three Ring Mom I Do Believe in Spooks!  I Do! I Do! I Do!  Chelsie relays the haunted happenings in her home and they’re starting to freak her out!

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21 responses

  1. Interesting post!
    I’m actually pretty convinced my old apartment was haunted. I have pretty extensive evidence, other witnesses, and other such fantastic hysteria. I had to be sure it wasn’t my overactive imagination. XD

    1. Yah, proving to people you’re not crazy is tough. LOL. I’ve had my share of haunted encounters. I liked when other people were with me so we could collaborate on what we were seeing or hearing. It took 5 YEARS before my old boss admitted the video store we worked in was probably haunted. I thought I was losing it for a while.

      1. Lol. That sucks. At least you were validated after the fact.

  2. Our local legend is UgWug, a half-seal, half-salmon sea creature who purportedly lives in the caves at Reversing Falls…I’ve never seen him…

    One of the books I got at the book sale in Moncton was on secular effigies in England (13th century): http://www.daveshootsbookseller.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=9960&keyword=effigies&searchby=keyword&offset=0&fs=1&CLSN_1028=130512583910286a53052c78c4e81dcd

    Wendy

    1. Oh Wisconsin has you beat. We claim werewolves, batmen, lizard men, bigfoot, and ghosts of all kinds. PLUS we have REAL creepers too: Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer… So, who’s going to come visit me first? We’ll go for a walk in the woods, maybe find an abandoned shed somewhere… 😀

      Let me know what you think of the book. And if you ever get an UgWug sighting! Who would be scared of a half-seal, half-salmon sea creature, though? Does he have sharp teeth and death ray eyes? Do people call him Uggie? I must know!

  3. The Pacific Northwest is another hotbed for both paranormal activity and serial killers. Bigfoot and Bundy, the first modern-day UFO sightings and the Green River Killer…we’ve got it all!

    1. Makes sense why I like it there so much too.

  4. I love the paranormal. I’ll be honest, I can’t say I really BELIEVE most of it, but its always really fascinating. Also, my brother LOVES werewolf lore and the Beast of Bray Road is one of his FAVORITES.

    You always have the most interesting little stories. I’m so jealous. ^__^

    1. You thinking what I’m thinkin’? Road trip!!! LOL.

  5. I love the idea of paranormal. I believe in it, if only to make it real. (if that makes any sense.) What fun to find out you lived in the circle. Yep, cool stuff, Jess!

    1. I agree with you Lenore. I think, sure, people can go too far, letting their imaginations get the better of them by believing in things. HOWEVER, I wholeheartedly believe that you have to be open to these things too. My boyfriend for instance, total skeptic. Never believes me when I say I saw something. But I think the reason he can’t see is cause he won’t allow himself to admit it’s possible.

  6. I used to believe in everything — UFOs, ghosts, ESP, out of body experiences, communication with the dead. But after reading dozens of books, listening to others’ opinions, and thinking for a lot of years, I’ve rejected most of it. The area that still seems feasible to me is the one that includes sightings of strange creatures. The planet is a big place, and it’s very likely there are many animals still undiscovered by humans. We just have to remember that legends can also cause people to think they’re seeing one thing when they’re really looking at something else. I guess my attitude is this: there’s plenty of amazing stuff out there, and I don’t want to waste too much time thinking about things that are based on misperception, or an outright hoax.

    1. Yah, I was interested in this interview I read of Linda Godfrey’s when she highlights that this beast could be a species we haven’t seen yet. It’s just fascinating how many directions these topics can go. Take faith for example. The power of the mind can work miracles or disasters. You want to read some trippy books on the afterlife, check out psychic, Sylvia Browne. I’ve gotten in some great conversations based on her writing. Whether you believe it or not, I think it’s fascinating to discuss!

  7. Wow, no late night walks during full moons! That is incredible and so cool that you were able to talk to the author.

    Perhaps a baggy of silver dust in case you need a more immediate circle of protection 🙂

    1. She was full of stories and so welcoming to guests after her speaking. I would love to go “into the strange” with her sometime, I could certainly recommend a few places to check out.

      Do you know where I might find a bag of silver dust? I did used to sleep with a knife under my bed, but that was for my siblings. 🙂 http://jesswords10.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/little-sister-of-nine-lives/

  8. Jess – very cool post! Wow – you live in the paranormal sector, eh? Now, I want to check out Linda Godfrey’s stuff. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. You should definitely check out her books. Some of the stories she relates are hilarious! My favorite is about a guy who claims to have seen an alien outside his house, so he made HIS OWN certificate of authentication, signed it himself, and framed it. Proof beyond any doubt, that he’s insane.

  9. […] my last post about Paranormal Wisconsin, I mentioned that Godfrey found a unique correlation between werewolf sightings and Indian Effigy […]

  10. Is it weird to want to move there?

    1. Just don’t live in the woods. No one will hear your screams!

  11. […] for multiple werewolf sightings!  I blogged about it last summer when I met her at the library, Into the Strange:  Wisconsin’s Paranormal.  Local lore to my new home digs include the Legend of Bat Man, and I guess there’s also a […]

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