A Wild Man in the Woods

The news of this incident, which occurred near Chattanooga, Ohio, made it all the way to Cincinnati in 1886.

Dateline Decatur, Indiana.

A Wild Man in the Woods
Special Dispatch to the Enquirer
Decatur, Ind., July 9
[1886]—The citizens of Chattanooga, Ohio, and vicinity are very much excited over the appearance of a crazy or wild man in the woods adjacent to the town. Mrs. Charles Bollenbaugh was working in a field two miles from Chattanooga yesterday when she discovered a man approaching her who was entirely naked, except hat and boots. As soon as she saw him she ran for an adjoining field, where there were some men at work, and gave the alarm. The men started after him, and he ran for an adjoining woods and disappeared in the thick underbrush. To-day the farmers in that region have all stopped harvesting and are in search of the crazy man, and expect to capture him before the sun goes down to-night. The women and children of that section are afraid to venture outside of the house while he is at large. It is supposed he has escaped from some insane asylum. [1]

"A Wild Man in the Woods," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 July 1886, p.9.

“A Wild Man in the Woods,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10 July 1886, p.9.

The woman described in this clipping was most likely Catherine E. (Becker/Baker) Bollenbacher, wife of Charles “Carl” Bollenbacher.

Catherine Bollenbacher (1845-1917).

Catherine Bollenbacher (1845-1917).

The Charles Bollenbacher farm was located south of Chatt. on Oregon Road, between State Route 49 and the Indiana State Line. Their large brick home was built in 1886. [2]

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio.

Charles Bollenbacher home on Oregon Road, Mercer County, Ohio. (bef. 1900)

What a scare that must have been for Catharine Bollenbacher. I wonder if they ever found the wild man?


[1] “A Wild Man in the Woods,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 10 July 1886, p. 9; digital images by subscription, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 March 2014).

[2] Mercer County Chapter, OGS, Mercer County, Ohio, Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio, (Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Windmill Publications, Inc., 1999); 1900 Atlas, p. 12, 84-85.



  1. Ha! Oh my. You’ll have to post a follow-up if you’re able to get to the bottom of this.

  2. Given some of the crazy people in the family, this hardly seems a noteworthy story! Guess they were a little more sensitive to “naked” men back in that day. At least we can see that the women in the family were always out there working when it counted to help make life successful. Whether shoveling snow, working the fields or just taking care of the home, they had a solid role in our lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.