Monday, April 25, 2011

The Cloak Man of Clifton Heights, Jack the Terror, and a giant snake

From the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger (Sept. 26, 1916):
A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER, man or woman, wearing a long black cloak and black hood, has caused much excitement in Clifton Heights the past few evenings, and not a few women as well as some or all of the men have become thoroughly frightened by this mysterious creature, now called a "cloak man."
From the Pittsburgh Dispatch (Aug. 25, 1889):
A Man Disguised in Woman's Clothes Scares Southside Ladies.

A mysterious creature is prowling around the Twenty-fifth ward. Last evening he went in women's attire to the home of John Scheck, as foreman of the Republic Iron Works, on Sarah street, and told Mr. Scheck he was wanted at the mill. He went immediately. As soon as he had gone this tall masquerader entered his home and scared Mrs. Scheck.

When Mr. Scheck returned from the mill he notified the police, but the man in woman's clothes could not be found.

The same evening he frightened the wife of Harry Brooks, living next door to Scheck's. The men in the neighborhood threaten to harm him if they lay hands on him.
The Mad Gasser of Mattoon (referenced below) had a similar propensity towards genderbending, sometimes seen as a man, sometimes as a woman, and sometimes as a man in woman's clothing. The Cloak Woman also displayed similar traits.

The method in which he/she gained entry to the Scheck's is, to me, extremely reminiscent of Spring-Heel Jack's appearance at the door of Jane Alsop under a pretence of having caught Spring-Heel Jack. "For God's sake, bring a light!"

And from the Scranton Tribune (May 13, 1897):
Westmoreland County Man Beholds a Strange Creature.

Greensburg, May 12. - Last evening as Thomas McQuaide, a young farmer residing near Delmont, was riding along by the Burnt Cabin district, his horse took fright at something in the bushes. He turned to see what the object was, and was almost paralyzed to behold a monster snake, which was at least 18 feet in length, and thicker than a man's leg at the ankle. Mr. McQuaide had hard work to control the horse, which nearly threw him off. He rode hastily away for assistance to kill the reptile, but when the snake shunters reached the spot the snake was gone. They searched and beat the bushes but could find nothing.

Daniel G. McQuaide, father of the young man, thinks the monster is the same one he saw several years ago in about the same place. A number of persons of Delmont have formed themselves into a committee to hunt for the snake, which, if discovered, will be captured alive and placed on exhibition.
Do we have here a westward-ranging representative of the same species as the Broad Top Snake to the west in Huntingdon and Bedford Counties?

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see it's not just our generation that is freaky.