Have you ever heard of a “Whangdoodle?” According to early Southeastern United States histories, these fearsome creatures resembled a particularly wild and wooly cougar. Some said they roamed Bulloch County’s woods.
According to reports, Bulloch County resident Ivy Bland was riding his favorite little mule one day when he heard the most fearsome noise coming from the woods.
Bland tried to urge it to a fast gallop but his mule just continued its normal ambling gait. As Bland passed Old Man Bell’s place on the trail, a group of Bell’s hunting dogs (spooked by these weird noises) came charging towards Bland and the mule.
This did get the attention of the mule, which turned around and dashed pell-mell back down the trail. Unfortunately for Bland, who was hanging on for dear life, the mule next spotted a bunch of Bell’s cattle charging up the road towards them.
The mule ground to a halt, lurched around, and madly dashed back up the trail towards Bell’s farmhouse. As they approached Bell’s house, what should Bland see other than old man Bell running around the large Mulberry tree in his front yard, trying to escape his apparent pursuer.
“Uncle” Mark Mercer, a local prognosticator, declared the noise came from none other than the Devil himself.
Many of Bell’s neighbors refused to hunt in the local woods that fall. Therefore, a group of locals bravely assembled a large well-armed “posse” and headed for the woods, determined to “root” the critter out.
Local prankster “Uncle” John Newman told his closest friends that the “scare” was his doing. After he cut a large piece of rawhide and stretched it over a barrelhead, he then cut a small hole in the tightened cover.
He next took a piece of cord he had coated with pine rosin and pulled it in and out of the drum head, making an unearthly sound.
Newman said he had continued to go outside of some of his frightened neighbor’s homes at night and once again make these eerie sounds as he saw his neighbors were beside themselves with fear.
Learning of this, several of his neighbors decided that “Uncle” John needed to be taught a lesson, and it was only the cooler heads amongst them that prevented a really unpleasant experience for Newman.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.