Picklebean’s Ballfork Creature

This legend has been told in my family for four generations now.

Back in the 1940’s, my Great, Great, Great Grandpa named Francis Hatfield (Known by many as "Picklebean") was riding his horse (Yeah in Pike County we were still riding horses in the 40’s) down Ballfork mountain. It was dark and he was returning home from his job at the coal mines. He had to go up and back down the mountain to get to and from work. The moon was high in the sky and was the only source of light.

ballfork_mountain1After Picklebean got to the top of the mountain and started going down, he felt something jump on the back of his horse! It’s long, hairy arms held him tight. It’s breathing was heavy and felt steaming hot on the back of Picklebean’s neck. As Picklebean kicked his horse into high gear, he remembered the story that some miners were talking about earlier that day. They mentioned some kind of creature that lives on Ballfork mountain and it would jump on the back of people’s horses and the only way to get it off is to get to the bottom of the mountain.

Picklebean with his wife and his two daughtersPicklebean yelled at his horse to go faster and faster, as the grip of the beast grew tighter and tighter, Picklebean was gasping for air. Right when Picklebean gave up hope of ever seeing his family again, the horse got to the bottom of the mountain and the creature jumped off! As Picklebean was riding away he heard a chilling voice say "I’ll see you tomorrow night!".

After that experience, Picklebean requested to be assigned to a different mine. And that was the last he saw of the "Ballfork Creature".

This is a true story! After coming home, Picklebean took his shirt off and there were bloody scratches all over his body. My grandma was a little girl at the time and she was at his house that night. She saw the scratches. There’s even a hollow named "Picklebean Hollow" in Pike County, Kentucky, in honor of my ancestor.




Jojo King from Pikeville, Kentucky


When we looked up the “Ballfork Creature” we found a couple of posts, including the one below, by a “kittenz” who talks about a “Bigfoot-like Creature” known as the Ballfork Monster from the 1970’s. Originally posted at cryptomundo.com

  • kittenz Sept. 18, 2006

    In the mid-1970’s, in the county where I live in eastern Kentucky, there were sightings of a mysterious creature. It was hairy, huge and walked upright. Most of the sightings came from a remote mountain area known as Ball Fork. It came up onto one lady’s back porch and left huge, muddy footprints. People even got audiotape of the creature making unearthly noises from the woods.

    The area is rugged and dark, even in the daytime, as it is heavily forested. At that time the only road was a narrow dirt road going across the mountain, and there were no residences on the mountain itself; it was property owned by coal mines. Lots of old mine works existed and in some of those, bones were found. As more and more residents encountered the creature, it became known as the Ball Fork Monster.

    People were afraid to go out after night. Coon hunters reported seeing something huge and bipedal, at least eight feet tall, with eyes that glowed in the dark. The local newspaper urged people to keep their children close to home.

    The sightings became more and more frequent and they grew more detailed. People began reporting the monster from different areas. Some claimed to have had close encounters. Some of the reports came from very credible witnesses. For awhile there was a sort of hysteria about the monster that gripped the area. People were scared to death. Some people went out into the hills hunting for the monster. This went on for several months. I was a teenager at the time and I remember the Ball Fork Monster very well.

    Then a local good ole boy fessed up. He was a good-humored sort who liked to go up in the hills at night and kick back with a case or two. He was one of those happy-go-lucky fellas whom in older days might have been referred to as a town drunk. He thought it would be fun to stir things up a bit (not too much exciting happens here, and even less 30 years ago). There had been a lot of Bigfoot sightings out west that had been reported in the evening news.

    So he made up a monster just for kicks and giggles.

    He had a head from an old werewolf costume. As time went on he made a pair of feet (for making footprints) out of an old pair of mining boots strapped to boards. He put some beef bones and I think maybe a pig skull in an old mine. He went out at night and let out some scary howls and roars, etc. He was actually one of the first people who reported encountering the “Bigfoot-like” creature. He only stopped when he got shot at one night. He figured it had gone far enough.

    The strange thing is, people did not want to believe that the Ball Fork Monster was not real. They did not want to feel that they had been just been duped … especially those who had sworn that they had close encounters and whose descriptions of said encounters were vivid. Finally Blue Eyes (his nickname; I won’t give out the guy’s real name) took his monster paraphernalia in to the local newspaper to prove that he had been the monster. The sightings stopped.

    But even now, some people swear that there must have really been a Ball Fork Monster. Human nature: Stories grow with repeated telling, and we WANT to believe.

    That is one of the reasons that I am skeptical. I saw first hand how easily something that something “mysterious” can be made to seem so real.

    If Bigfoot by whatever name does exist, then sooner or later a body or an undisputable living specimen will turn up.”

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    16 Responses

    1. Lexii says:

      ok really? you can tell this is fake.
      1. The 1940’s with his great, great, great grandfather? How old is he?
      2.His Grandma was just a child…would that be her great grandfather?

      • Darres7460 says:

        Answer to question 1: It actually depends on what year he was born.
        Answer to question 2: Yes you moron, what other logic is there

    2. Jojo says:


      It was my mistake, after talking to my grandmother, she told me it was my great great grandfather and it was either the early 50’s or late 40’s. My fault.

    3. Merya Bentley says:

      This is amazing to find something like this on this particular site. I live in Letcher County, KY. Right next door, anyways My grandmother told me this story as a child she lived in Pike County as a girl the only difference was that the mountain she spoke of was called Boone Mountain (I don’t know if this is its real name or not but I spent years as a child walking up this moutain, horseback riding etc)and the man in the story was unnamed. (Boone mtn connects letcher county to pike county) Sorry if this is disjointed i’m a tad excited. i’ve looked everywhere for some east ky ghost stories, especially the ones my daddy, mammaw, and pappaw used to tell. If anyone reads this and knows any more get up with me at bentleyj5312aol.com and we’ll swap ghost stories.
      Thanks Merya Bentley

    4. paul says:

      idk about the 1st story but ino 4 a fact that the 2nd story is true my dad was friends with blue-eyes in those
      days an my mother new him too my dads from bid creek ky an mother from belfry it was all a hoax by blue-eyes dude was crazy lol

      • paul says:

        big creek* not bid

      • paul says:

        theres also the story of scrap iron some may know the gigantic catfish in the tug river that no1 can catch has so many hooks in his mouth it looks like scrap iron lol

    5. Anonymous says:

      In the second story, he was a young man and was not the town drunk. He was just having some fun. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories that were told about the Ball Fork Monster in the 1970’s. I think I still have the article that was in the Williamson Daily News about him.

    6. Fred says:

      I was working in the mines at the time of the BallFork sightings in the 70’s. Blue Eyes and myself rode to work everyday together and none of us guys at work knew Blue was the the Ballfork monster,he never gave us any hint it was him.We would talk about what people were saying they saw and it ripping doors off vechicles,yea right Blue was 135 lbs soaking wet. Then one day he told us all about how it was him and he was going to the newspaper and confess. He brought the mask to the mines one day and we had some fun out of our section boss with it.

    7. Jess says:

      I’ve heard about blue eyes being the ball fork monster all my life. I heard he used to jump on cars to scare people lol. I hadn’t heard the horseback story, but maybe that’s where blue eyes got his idea lol.

    8. Anonymous says:

      Yup I knew Blue Eyes too & he was something else … used to tell me stories about it too and would laugh & laugh at how out of proportion peoples stories of the “encounters” were from what had actually happened … but as stated he said he quit after getting shot at … he was one of a kind !!

      • I remember that.... says:

        My daddy told me the story of Blue Eyes Smith dressing up like Big Foot and scaring people. I think they even stood with guns up on Ball Fork Mountain waiting to get a shot at the monster. I’m glad Blue Eyes laid low because my daddy was a great shot!

    9. Jamie says:

      My dad was also involved in this venture with Blue Eyes. Loved hearing him tell this story.

    10. JH12 says:

      I live right smack dab in the middle of this area. About 1 mile from picklebean hollow which is right at the bottom of ballfork mountain on the blackberry side. I’ve spent countless nights with friends and by myself in these hills. One night me and a buddy caught eye of something huge and black that seemed to be stalking us while we were making our way off the mountain. More than likely a black bear, but it never hurts to think “what if it was something else”. Sure as hell makes camping in these hills a lot funner.

    11. Jon says:

      Ok people, the guy who was dressing up as the ball fork monster and scaring drivers was caught back in the day and the rest of the story about the horse and jumping on the back and rising to the bottom is garbage. My view is relevant because I lived and grew up on ball fork mtn, my home place is the only home on ball fork mtn, and my parents and a few heirship people still own the mtn that’s traveled between stone and blackberry. To give u an idea is just how ridiculous the story is that the monster jumped on the back of the horse at the top on the mountain and rode to the bottom, he would have been on the horse for Over 10 minutes. Lol. And the monster would have had to jump off the horse and in to my yard! The “TRUE” story is just that a guy from stone was dressing up in a make-shift gorilla outfit and jumping into the road and scaring people then disappearing into the hills. He went a long time without getting caught and it was a pretty big news story.

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