The Flatwoods Monster
It was almost fully dark on the evening of September 12th, 1952. Edward May, Freddie May, Neil Nunley, and Tommy Hyer, all young residents of the town of Flatwoods, were playing on the lawn of the Flatwoods Elementary School. Suddenly, a bright light streaked across the sky overhead and appeared to crash into a hillside on G. Bailey Fisher’s farm. The boys ran to see what it was they saw in the sky. The May’s home was on their way so they stopped to tell their mother, Kathleen May, what they had seen. Kathleen called on National Guardsman Eugene Lemon and the family dog, Richie, to accompany her and the boys to the crash site.
Upon reaching the site of the crash, the group saw a pulsing red light. Lemon shined his flashlight up the hill, and the group witnessed a terrifying sight—a ten-foot-tall creature, with a head shaped like a spade and what appeared to be a dark, metal “dress”. The creature’s hands were twisted and clawed, and what seemed to be its eyes glowed an eerie orange color. It appeared to levitate off the ground. A strange, sickening mist hung in the air. The creature hissed and glided quickly toward the witnesses, the group then turned and fled in terror.
Some of the members of the group suffered from throat irritation, vomiting, and nausea, which persisted for days. These symptoms were passed off as side effects of hysteria, but it is worth noting that these are also tell-tale signs of exposure to mustard gas.
May and Lemon reported the incident to local authorities, who searched the area that night and claimed to find nothing.
Another sighting of a creature, similar in description to the Flatwoods Monster, was reported by Mrs. Audra Harper not long before the infamous sighting on Fisher’s farm. Harper claims to have seen the Monster while walking through the woods near her home near the town of Heaters. Heaters is about five miles north of Flatwoods. Harper and her friend were walking to a near-by store. The road leading out of their property was implacable and rutted so they were taking a short-cut through the forest instead of walking the road which would have increased their trip significantly. About a half mile into their trip they noticed a ball of fire on one of the hills they were passing. Harper dismissed it, assuming that one of her neighbors was “fox chasing”. When she glanced back, she saw something unbelievable—the fire had vanished, and in its place stood the tall, dark silhouette of a man-shaped figure. Terrified, Harper and her friend ran, escaping among the rocks and boulders strewn around the hillside.
The day after the September 12th incident in Flatwoods, another strange sighting occurred near Strange Creek about twenty miles south of Flatwoods. Reportedly, George and Edith Snitowsky and their 18-month-old son were driving through the rural area between Clay and Braxton County on route 4 when their car suddenly died. Mr. Snitowsky attempted to restart the car to no avail. It was night time and the road was deserted. While the Snitowsky’s were trying to decide what to do, a foul, sulfurous smell filled the air and their baby began to cry. A strange bright light filled the darkness and the couple witnessed a ten-foot-tall creature hovering in front of their car. The description is similar to that of the original sighting, except the Monster was not wearing, what is presumed to be, its spade-shaped hood. Instead, its head was reportedly reptilian and bony. The creature dragged its lizard-like hand across the hood of the car before drifting away into the woods. As soon as the Monster was out of sight, the car restarted and the couple sped away. Snitowsky would later give his account for Male Magazine in the 1955.
These stories have become an eerie folktale, creating a fascinating culture in the small towns around the county. An ice cream shop called “The Spot” opened in Flatwoods, offering a photo op with a painted iteration of the Monster. A museum dedicated to the Monster’s story operates in the town of Sutton, a few miles south of Flatwoods. Five huge chairs, built and painted in the Monster’s image, have been erected around the county
Although the Monster has not been seen since the original incidents in 1952, its impact on the rural community has been huge. Sometimes, if you stand outside at night there, you can almost feel it—like the Monster left a gift from the stars for us, and we just haven’t quite found it yet.
Article by Marilyn Hosey. Hosey is a paranormal enthusiast and a huge fan of the Flatwoods Monster. Marilyn is employed by the Flatwoods Monster Museum and is the author of a fantasy novel for young teens entitled The Swift Ones. The Swift Ones can be found HERE.
The location where the sighting took place in 1952 is on private property. We do not advocate trespassing on the property. Instead visit the museum, and the Monster Chairs!
Need even more of the paranormal? Braxton County has you covered! Click here for more!
In The Media
The original drawing of the Flatwoods Monster ( seen here) based on Kathleen May’s description; seen in countless newspaper clippings, reprinted in books, and shown on television. An image copied by countless artists, game creators, and cartoonist has long been thought to be lost to time. However, the drawing was recently rediscovered in Braxton County, West Virginia. The long time owners would like to remain unnamed due to the rarity of the piece and the possible value it might have. However it is great to know that such an important piece of local history is in safe keeping.
Want your very own piece of Flatwoods Monster history? The ceramic lantern pictured here, originally produced by the Braxton County Junior Chamber of Commerce in the early to mid 1960’s as a fundraiser, is the oldest and longest produced novelty keepsake made to commemorate the events of September 12th, 1952. This ceramic lantern is still in production today. John Gibson, a local resident of Braxton County, has these unique items handmade in Marietta, Ohio by a ceramic artisan. Each piece is hand molded, fired, and painted. These great lanterns are available locally at the Flatwoods Monster Museum, Days Inn gift shop, Exxon convenience store (near Wendy’s), and Sister’s Antique Mall. All located within a couple miles off I-79. These lanterns are also available via mail order, directly from John Gibson. John’s contact information is below. Contact John for whole pricing as well.
The Flatwoods Volunteer Fire Department now sells Monster themed t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts through their website. Shirt sales are a direct fundraiser for new equipment the volunteer fire department needs to better serve the greater Flatwoods area. Child and Adult sizes available. T-shirts available in both blue and grey. Available locally at the Flatwoods Monster Museum.
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How would you like the Flatwoods Monster to pay a visit to your event? Click HERE for details.