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Bulloch History by Roger Allen
Whangdoodles invade Bulloch
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    Have you ever heard a Whangdoodle? Have you ever even heard of a Whangdoodle? Well, according to early Southeastern United States histories, these fearsome creatures were said to have resembled a particularly wild and wooly cougar. Reaching as much as three feet in height, and as much as four feet in length, they were reported to have large ears and have been covered with a coarse grey fur. Some historians think it may even have been a northern cousin to the much-talked about Chupacabra of South America.
    It turns out that Bulloch County was the scene of a number of Whangdoodle sightings back in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Local resident Ivy Bland was outside of Statesboro riding on a trail one day on his favorite little mule when all of a sudden he heard the most fearsome noise coming from the woods. His mule seemed unconcerned, for when he tried to urge it to a fast gallop it merely continued its normal ambling gait.
    As Bland passed Old Man Bell’s place on the trail, a group of Bell’s hunting dogs (apparently spooked by these weird noises) came charging towards Bland and the mule. This did get the attention of the mule, which immediately proceeded to turn around and dash pell-mell back down the trail from whence they had just come. Unfortunately for Bland, hanging onto the mule for his life, the mule spotted a bunch of Bell’s cattle charging up the road towards them.
    The mule came to a grinding halt, lurched around, and dashed back up the trail towards Bell’s farmhouse, sensing that the dogs were not as much a threat as were the spooked cattle, which were now stampeding in their direction. 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.
    When both men recounted their tales later, “Uncle” Mark Mercer, a well-known local prognosticator on matters such as these, stated very seriously that these noises had come from none other than the Devil himself. Bell’s neighbors became so concerned about the prospect of this devilish occurrence that they all refused to partake of the opportunity to hunt in the local woods that fall. Nonetheless, there continued to be reports of these nocturnal creatures’ visits to local farmhouses throughout the county.
    After a while, as no reports of anyone being abducted or taken captive were made, a group of locals bravely assembled a large well-armed “posse” and headed for the woods, determined to “root” the critter out. Future Statesboro Mayor Rountree himself, at this time just a strapping young lad, joined the group of armed avengers searching the woods for any sign of this ghastly apparition. Believe it or not, local prankster “Uncle” John Newman chose this time to begin to tell his closest friends that at least some of these events had been his doing.
    According to Newman, he had taken a large piece of rawhide and stretched it over a barrelhead. He then, he said, cut a small hole in the tightened cover and inserted a piece of cord he had coated with pine rosin. Pulling this cord in and out of the drum head, he told them, had made an unearthly sound. Knowing of people’s state of mind, his curious sense of humor had led him to go outside of some of his neighbor’s homes at night, and then begin making these eerie sounds.
    He soon discovered that they quickly became beside themselves with fear and evidencing a great deal of distress.     This, apparently, pleased him to no end, so he decided to continue, and actually expand, his nightly activities. 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. As newspaper reports later stated, a sense of quietude soon returned. The “Whangdoodles” did not disappear forevermore, but have mentioned recently at least three times in literature.
    Dame Julie Andrews’ award-winning novel “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” she paints the picture of the creature as a small horse with marvelous horns that sported a notorious “sweet tooth” that lived in a land no humans could enter called “Whangdoodleland”.  In Roald Dahl’s very popular movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, he pronounced them to be the only natural enemies of his factory’s workers, the Oompa-Loompas. Dahl used them again in his book “The Minpins”, in which he referred to them as the most dangerous creatures in the woods. Whatever they are (or were) they certainly made their mark in Bulloch County.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger
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