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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