Cultures, Research

Bigfoot and the Cherokee Hill, by Stephen Wagner

Bigfoot and the Cherokee Hill

A journey into sacred lands where the creature has been known for generations

By Stephen Wagner. Source: Tsalagi Thunder

According to one witness, this is what the Hebbardsville creatures look like. Described as averaging 8 ft. tall, 400 lbs. with black skin and long arms that hang below the knees.

Bart Nunnelly is convinced that Bigfoot exists, and may even be thriving in the many remote wilderness areas of North America. He has good reason to think so. As co-owner and co-creator of Kentucky Bigfoot (with fellow Bigfoot researcher Charlie Raymond), Bart devotes a great deal of his time researching sightings and examining evidence of these remarkable forest giants in the Bluegrass State. And the evidence he’s gathered is both fascinating and compelling. Bart recently met with an eyewitness to these creatures, a Cherokee elder who took Bart on a journey into the heart of Bigfoot territory and provided detailed information about the giant from his own experiences as well as the age-old traditions of the Cherokee people, who know these creatures well. This is Bart’s story….

(Note: The names of the locations in this report have been intentionally altered for the privacy of those involved.)

After learning from a local paranormal investigator friend of mine about an old Cherokee fellow who also claimed to be a Hebbardsville, Kentucky Bigfoot witness, a phone interview was arranged and conducted in November, 2006. The information proved correct. Not only did the witness describe repeated (often at will) sightings of groups of these hairy creatures since his childhood, he also claimed to be in possession of what he was convinced was an actual tooth, which he described as a canine, from one of these creatures. Moreover, he could describe, in great detail, the physiological features, general attitudes and predictable behavior of these mysterious “hillbillies” known to the rest of the world as Bigfoot.

After several more phone interviews a meeting was arranged and, under the promise of strict anonymity, M.F. (not his real initials) agreed to allow me to eventually photograph the alleged Bigfoot canine for possible identification.


M. F. lived only a short drive from the Hebbardsville area, only a twenty minute drive from my own doorstep. My heart sank at the sight of the closed and locked gate in front of the house. No one was home. He had warned me that he and his wife were taking a trip out of town that particular weekend, but expected to be back the previous night. Evidently they had not made it. I had tried phoning him that morning and his answering machine had picked up. I had hoped, in vain as it turned out, that he would be back before our 2 p.m. appointment. I waited for a few moments, then turned around and drove away, feeling somewhat defeated and tired from the morning’s excursion.

I arrived back home around 3 p.m. and kicked off my shoes, wincing at the dime-sized blister the rubber boot had left on my right heel. I was sore and nearly exhausted from all the walking. After reviewing the digital photos of the Pleasant Hill sighting area I decided a short nap would be in order, so I turned on the rotating fan and lay down on the sofa. No sooner had I closed my eyes when the phone rang. It was M.F. He explained that his wife had took ill on their trip, forcing them to stay away an extra night. They had only just arrived back home. He was still willing to meet with me, he said, if I didn’t mind driving back out to Hebbardsville. I looked at the clock. It was well after three already with less than two hours of daylight left. I told him that I was on my way.

I found the gentleman to be pleasant, friendly, down to earth and of obvious intelligence. He immediately pulled the tooth out of his pocket. It did resemble a human canine, or eye-tooth, only about three times as large. I examined it and noted the obvious authenticity and great antiquity of the object, taking several photographs. It was complete with most of the root system still intact. The outer edges were very slightly serrated, almost imperceptibly, which I found most unusual. He viewed the tooth as a scared object, he had told me during one of our previous phone conversations, and he would consent to no DNA testing because to do this would mean that at least a partial destruction of the tooth would occur. He could never allow that to happen. Nor would he allow it to depart his possession in any way or for any length of time.


As a matter of fact, he had informed me that he didn’t really care at all to try and prove the existence of these creatures to anyone. They had always been a fact of life to his people. Evidence of his Cherokee heritage was strewn about his yard, flower beds and doorsteps, and worn proudly around his neck. These creatures were the “Old People of the Forest,” he told me, and their reality caused no controversy except to the whites. It would be amusing if not for the fact that in their ignorance, the logging and mining of the white man was causing the rapid desecration and destruction of the Bigfoot’s habitat – land considered sacred by the Indians since the beginning of history.

“Can you show me where they lived?” I asked.

There was daylight left. He asked me if I cared to take a ride.

M. F.’s story was an interesting one. He had first been exposed to the creatures while growing up in the Spottsville, Reed areas, although at least two earlier generations of his family had their own tales of sightings and strange happenings. He remembered his great grandfather recounting how he had run outside one night after he’d heard some kind of commotion to see one of the “old people” carrying off two of his full grown sows, one under each arm, like they were piglets. It swiftly made its escape even though the pigs weighed about 200 lbs. each!

SIGHTINGS IN THE ’60s and ’70s

Around the time of the “Spottsville Monster” events of 1975, his brother was finding strangely mutilated dead cattle. He had lost six head that year. Literally. All six carcasses were found with their heads torn off and missing. They only found one head, he claimed, and it was stripped to the bone and missing the lower mandible. None of the other meat on the carcasses was consumed or even disturbed.

When the family moved across the Green River to Hebbardsville, the sightings continued. In fact, he claimed that from the late 1960s until the early to mid-’70s hardly any weekend went by when he and a car load of friends didn’t park near the intersection of Ash Flats and Old Bell roads and observe groups of these creatures, ranging in number from four individuals up to as many as fifteen or better, engaged in the act of eating bitter roots and grass. There were countless sightings, he claimed, by dozens of different individuals.

“Were they hairy Indians?” I asked.


“No”, he said. They were not Indians of any type. They had black skin and an average size of eight to ten feet tall, although he had seen one awhile back that was at least a twelve-footer. Their eyes were a dark brown color with no visible whites or irises. They were bearded, had thin lips, a weak chin and a flat, wide nose, like individuals of African descent. They had normal-looking hands of a large size with pale-colored palms, but their feet had an opposing toe sticking out at an angle away from the other four toes, like an ape’s or chimp’s.

They had extremely long arms that hung down past their knees and could run quadrupedally 35 to 40 mph. The females also possessed beards, though shorter than the males’. They were of more stocky build, had furry breasts and carried their young beneath them clinging to their bellies. He described the males as being covered with short, straight, usually dark hair, with longer areas of about six inches at the beard, backs of the head and genital areas.

“Pull over here”, M.F. said as we approached a medium-sized muddy creek at the Old Bell, Ash Flats location. I pulled over and we got out. This was the place, he told me, that he and scores of friends had witnessed these creatures feeding countless times. According to him, they didn’t seem to mind being watched. Unless someone got out of the car. Then they would all rush into the creek and be gone in an instant. They traveled the creeks, he claimed. The water would wash away the tracks and they were excellent swimmers if the water was up.


After photographing the location, I asked him if he could take me to the place where he found the tooth. He said nothing for several seconds as he carefully considered the request. I was beginning to think that I had overstepped my bounds, as it were, when he looked up. He would take me there, he answered, if I promised never to disclose the location. It was a sacred place, he explained – a burial place of the Cherokee people and home to other powerful legendary beings as well as the “old people”. I agreed and we got back into the truck.

We traveled a short distance from the Ash Flats area and stopped. “Follow me…” he said, and started up a thickly forested ridge. Although he was nearly 60 years old, he ascended the steep terrain as nimbly as a jack rabbit and, after a short but vigorous trek, we crested another large hill and stopped. “Look freely,” he said. “Take pictures, but nothing else.”

I looked around. We stood at the rim of a forested ridge which wound around the area like a dark circle, forming an impressive natural amphitheater. The bottom of the “bowl” formation was mostly clear and somehow comfortable looking even now. All around me were graves, stacked in layers, some ancient beyond reckoning. Many were marked with stones onto which Cherokee petroglyphs and letters were carved. I had hunted Indian artifacts nearly all my life, but had never seen a single stone in Henderson County bearing intact Native American images or writing. Now I was surrounded by them.

“This place is called ‘The Great Hill’ by my people,” M.F. told me. Here were buried the bodies of the famous Cherokee chieftain, Double Head, his daughter, Corn Blossom and countless others. I snapped pictures one after another while the sunlight faded much too swiftly. Daniel Boone, pioneer hero of old, had written of this place. Twice Boone was taken prisoner by the Shawnee just across the Green river. Twice his freedom was bartered for and obtained by the friendly Cherokee. Two heavily weathered stones still bore his name and short messages, carved by Boone’s own hand during his stay there over 200 years ago.

Still other stones were carved with images of corn stalks, deer and sun. Three stones displayed the likenesses of strange faces. No one knew who most of the graves belonged to. This was the final resting place of the “Great Chiefs” of antiquity, whose names were lost forever. Stone circles were present. Raking back the dead leaves revealed a wealth of stone artifacts still lying where their makers had placed them so many generations ago. This was also the sacred home of other mythical beings from tribal lore, he told me. They were called “The Little People,” tiny humanoids standing only two feet tall, who could be either friendly or malignant depending on the content of one’s heart.

During heavy rains some of the graves would wash out, I was informed, and M.F. had needed to re-inter some of the bones on occasion. He had found the tooth several years ago here, in 2004, at the foot of the hill, washed up by the rushing water. No other creature native to this area had teeth like it, he felt sure.


The claim was intriguing but not unprecedented. There are many 19th and early 20th century reports of the unearthing of giant human, or humanlike, skeletal remains in the Bluegrass State. Most were said to have been taken from Indian burial grounds, but not all. M. F.’s own mother had told him how she had witnessed the excavation of one such skeleton in Beals, Kentucky back in the 1920s.

Workmen had unearthed the skeleton while trying to bridge a creek. She said it was measured and found to be 12 feet tall! As with all the old reports, the remains fell into the hands of private owners and out of common knowledge. Admittedly, this was the first time that I had been able to personally view an alleged tooth from one of these giants.

“The whites don’t know about this place,” M.F. said. “If they were to find out…”

He didn’t need to finish the statement. I knew exactly what would happen if the location was ever made public. Hordes of relict hunters would descend upon the location and have it stripped clean, all 15 acres of it, within a week.


“Can you keep this secret, Bart?” he asked.

I looked squarely into his wizened, intelligent eyes. “You can trust me,” I said.

He smiled good-naturedly. “I know.”

As the last feeble rays of the sun disappeared and we were left standing in the darkness surrounded by trees and human graves, I knew it was time to take my leave.

I vowed to return again soon, however, for better pictures and more conversation if he’d have me. “Any time,” was his reply. I had made a new friend, it seemed, one who struck me as being perhaps the most knowledgeable person regarding Bigfoot that I had ever met. I had obtained both the story and the pictures that I sought. And much more.

I took many photographs of this extraordinary location, both out of my own fascination regarding the history of the site and the significance of the fact that the giant tooth had been found there. I am indebted to M.F. for the opportunity to do so. With his help I was also able to sketch a facial study of these particular humanoid’s features for all to view. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to this man for agreeing to speak with me, sharing some secrets and showing me such an interesting and historically significant location. A location unlike any other that I have ever personally witnessed.

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