July 13, 1914: Superior “Wild Man” scare declared false alarm

On this day across the bay in 1914, the Duluth News Tribune reported that stories of a “wild man”—naked and armed with a knife—terrorizing farmers in South Superior was apparently a false alarm. On July 7 the paper first reported that a wild man with a knife chased two people and that the “unclothed creature spreads terror among farmers near South Superior.” A. Henderson, who operated a farm near Bardon Avenue and the Nemadji River, told the paper he was driving his cows to pasture when a “stranger jumped from a clump of bushes, gave wild whoops, waved his knife aloft and came forward with leaps and bounds.” The man wore nothing but a pair of shoes. Local insane asylums were contacted, and all denied any patients had escaped. A search party was formed, but no one was found. For seven days the paper asked, where is he? Who is he? Why is he running nude in the woods? The sheriff called off his search on the 10th, but the next day the paper reported that children had spotted him in Billings Park, wearing more than he had in previous sightings. A storm on the 11th had the newspaper speculating if the man has died from exposure. Finally, on July 13, the truth was revealed. The naked wild man was actually a farmhand who had merely washed his only set of clothes in the Nemadji River and was standing by the road waiting for them to dry. He was living in the woods until he could find a job.