The Okefenokee Swamp was truly a land of mystery in June 1829, when the Milledgeville Statesman published a bizarre story about it. The tale was related by a John Ostean, “residing on the borders of this swamp in Ware County,” and others who lived on the opposite side in Florida. Locals had long heard from Creek Indians of an enchanted island inhabited by “mortals of super-human dimensions and incomparable beauty.” The story goes that two men and a boy had taken advantage of a long dry spell and pushed deep into the swamp for two weeks to seek this island. However, “their progress suddenly arrested at the appearance of the print of a foot-step so unearthly in its dimensions, so ominous of power, and terrible in form,” that they paused. The print was eighteen inches long and nine inches across, the stride of this giant over six feet. The party hastily returned and spread the tale of the “Man Mountain.”
Hearing the story, nine Florida hunters ventured into the swamp. After several days’ journey, they found a similar print and others. The men followed the tracks for several days and had camped on a ridge when two of their members “simultaneously discharged at an advancing and ferocious wild beast” whose screams made the swamp “reverberate with a deafening roar.” The creature came “full in their view advancing upon them with a terrible look… Our little band instinctively gathered close in a body, and presented their rifles. The huge being, nothing daunted, bounded upon his victims, and in the same instant received the contents of seven rifles. But he did not die alone; nor until he had glutted his wrath with the death of five of them, which he effected by wringing off the head from the body.” The four surviving men examined the prostrate giant as it died, “wallowing and roaring. His length was thirteen feet, and his breadth and volume of just proportions.” Fearing the struggle might have alerted similar beings; the men gathered their comrades’ guns and fled for home.