The first of these to be recorded in the annals of Springfield was Jesse Range Bayles, an explorer who resided with the friendly Delaware indians and frequently visited our tiny village in its earliest days. John H. Miller, who was a child at the time, remembered:
"In 1831 a strange, odd and remarkable individual, in the person of an old and somewhat demented white man, appeared among us, named Jesse Bayles. He had some English education, but lived a wilderness life among the wild beasts and Indians, seemed half crazy, dressed very scant and odd, and wore an old white wool hat tucked up at the sides, and written thereon in large red letters, 'Death'! He carried a long butcher knife and a tomahawk, and seemed dangerous to look at, but was harmless and even lively. I was with him considerably. He was fifty or sixty years old. He said that no harm should befall me; that he intended to keep the panthers, wolves and Indians from 'a'hold' of me. In a year or two he disappeared. He either died or followed the Indians." (R. I. Holcombe History of Greene County, Missouri, 1883)It is said that he was continuously wandering the area, looking for some beast unseen by civilized men. We can only guess what that was, or if he ever found it.
Knights of Pythias, and was three times elected as the Exalted Ruler of the local lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, while Mr. Rosback was a successful clothier and loyal Freemason. This should not be surprising, as it appears that they were members of an even more secretive fellowship, the Fraternal Order of the Seekers of the Skunk Ape, an organization rumored to have been founded on All Hallows Eve of 1872.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEKEND!