Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sheriff Hutcheson gunned down on Hwy 33 Bridge

The fine looking gentleman in the picture is none other than, Sheriff Lewis Bratch (L.B.) Hutcheson. The photo was sent to me by his granddaughter Linda Compton.

Just in case you aren't aware of exactly who Sheriff Hutcheson is, let me fill you in.

L.B. Hutcheson was born on June 14, 1884. At the age of 19 he married 15-year old, Della Lyons. They settled into their home just spitting distance from Norris Dam, in Maynardville, TN. At the age of 46, L.B. was elected sheriff of Union Co, where he served honorably, and was much loved among his peers and by the community.

Sheriff Hutcheson spent the first 4-years of his law enforcement career, keeping the citizens of Union Co. safe. It wasn't until his 5th year as Sheriff, that he would face the most difficult and deadly case of his career.

During the Spring of 1935, big trouble was brewing just a couple of counties over. Sitting locked up in the Cocke County jail were 3 no good for nothing's; Gus McCoig, John Campbell, and Clarence Bunch. The jail couldn't hold these three menaces to society, and they soon escaped. Campbell soon parted ways with McCoig and Bunch.

Hell bent on destruction, the motley duo of McCoig and Bunch, set their sights on cutting a pathway of crime through East, TN. Robbing stores, looting homes, stealing cars, and shooting at anyone or anything in their path. They would add other degenerates to their crime team, which would later be known as "The Bunch Gang."

Clarence Bunch ended up being gunned down in a battle with Knox County law enforcement officers on the front porch of notorious Claiborne Co. bootlegger, C.T. Epperson. McCoig was apprehended and sentenced to 15 years in the State Pen. Once again, prison bars couldn't hold McCoig, and he escaped with fellow inmates, George Moss, and Pete Dean. Moss was quickly arrested outside of Tazewell, TN, after he was spotted on the side of the road. Dean and McCoig picked up another partner in crime, Frank Hopson. On December 6, 1935, the three of them made their way to the Citizen's Bank in Tazewell, TN, where they held up the bank and got away with $2000.00 in cash. They made their getaway down Highway 33 toward Knoxville.

This is where Sheriff L.B. Hutcheson comes in. A cashier, at the recently robbed bank, called up the Sheriff's office in Maynardville, to alert them of the robbery. Sheriff Hutcheson and Deputy Austin Matthews, quickly jumped into the Sheriff's cruiser and roared off up Hwy 33 toward the oncoming getaway car. "About seven miles from Maynardville, and a short distance beyond the bridge over the Clinch River, the officers parked beside the highway. A car with three male passengers passed them at top speed. Matthews swung the car around and began a chase. The speeding sedan stopped at the south end of the bridge and turned sideways, blocking the highway. Dean remained in the car while McCoig and Hopson got out and stood on the roadway beside the car. McCoig was holding a forty-five caliber automatic concealed partly by his trousers. Matthews stopped his car a short distance away and he and the sheriff got out. In a soft tone Hutcheson began to speak to the boys but never finished the sentence. McCoig raised his weapon and opened fire. The first shot went wild, hitting the windshield, but the second struck Sheriff Hutcheson squarely between the eyes. McCoig then trained his weapon on Deputy Matthews, who was now out of ammunition, and ordered him to surrender. At that time a Greyhound bus pulled in behind Hutcheson's car and stopped. McCoig went to the bus with his forty-five flashing and told the driver and passengers that he had just killed the Union County sheriff. After boasting, he left the bus and paused a few moments to look at the body of the fallen sheriff before returning to the getaway car and heading toward Maynardville." -Source: Union Co. Historical Society

The gang managed to escape and a massive manhunt ensued. Frank Hopson was found and arrested within 24 hours. It wasn't until February of 1936 that police were able to apprehend the other two men. Pete Dean was picked up in Gainesboro, TN after robbing a bank in Whitley, TN. By that time Gus McCoig had settled in at a tourist camp in Crossville, TN, where he was arrested without incident...while singing and strumming a guitar.

After a 6-day trial, the 3 gang members were found guilty of the murder of Sheriff Hutcheson, and were sentenced to die by electrocution. After an appeal to the Supreme Court, the sentences of Dean and Hopson were reduced to life in prison. Gus McCoig's death sentence remained, and according to the state of Tennessee dept. of corrections records, he was put to death on April 3rd, 1937.

L.B. Hutcheson died on December 6, 1935. He was only 51-years old.

L.B. Hutcheson's wife, Della, took over the job of Sheriff of Union Co., and became the 3rd woman to be sheriff in the state of Tennessee. She passed away on June 3, 1960, at the age of 71.

Cross posted on Knoxville Trivia Blog.

More interesting links of related information:

Photo of L.B. Hutcheson and wife Della Hutcheson's grave in Loyston Cemetery.

Union County Historical Society - Probably the best write up, however, there are some wrong dates listed and a few misspelled names.

Metro Pulse article about Clarence Bunch

Joe Paynes Geneology page info about the Bunch Gang

A thread on Roots Web about the death of Sheriff Hutcheson

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fairmont, WV

I took the following photos in Fairmont, WV during my visit in November.

Marion County Courthouse
Downtown Fairmont

The Monongahela River

Cross posted at Appalachian Scribe

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Albert J Ewing, photographer

portrait by Albert J Ewing
Albert J. Ewing was a traveling photographer who worked on a floating studio aboard the Water Queen showboat that cruised the Ohio River. Way's Packet Directory, 1848 - 1994 indicates that the Water Queen operated from 1880-1915. Ewing, who lived in the town of Lowell, Washington County, OH, photographed thousands of residents of southern Ohio and West Virginia, documenting living conditions and family life in Appalachia at the turn of the century. These two photographs were taken between 1890 and 1910. The Ohio Historical Society owns about 170 of his photographs.

portrait by Albert J Ewing

related post: A National Treasure, Almost Lost Forever

Originally blogged at Appalachian History

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Biltmore House, Asheville, NC

Cross posted at Appalachian Scribe

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Down on the Crooked Road

XM Satellite's channel 14 is the lone station on their digital dial dedicated to bluegrass music. The playlist varies from the timeless songs of stars from days gone by to big name bands that headline today's festivals. I was cruising along down the road the other day when lyrics of a song on this station grabbed my attention:

"Headin' out of Ferrum on this winding two lane road, Mountain music hummin' from my dashboard radio..."

I looked at the radio display to see who would be singing about Ferrum, a small community at the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge in Virginia. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that band was the Dixie Bee-Liners, a group based in Abingdon, Virginia.

The song, Down on the Crooked Road, is a lyrical ride from end to end of Virginia's Heritage Music Trail. It is also the first single released on the Dixie Bee-Liners' sophomore album that is due out in Spring '08. Take a listen to the song on the group's myspace page and enjoy their other work while you're there.

The Letcher County Giant

Martin Van Buren Bates, sometimes referred to as “Baby Bates,” the “Letcher County Giant,” or the “Kentucky Giant,” was a legitimate Appalachian folk hero. During his lifetime, he was known throughout America and Europe for his impressive stature and his various exploits. He was literally a “giant among men.”

Martin Van Buren Bates was born in Letcher County, Kentucky, on November 9, 1845, the son of John Wallis and Sara Waltrop Bates. At birth, Martin was a normal sized infant, the son of normal sized parents, and the brother of normal sized siblings. So it was quite a surprise when he grew up to become famous as the “Kentucky Giant” and one of the more interesting characters to emerge from Appalachia.

Bates began his amazing growth by age nine, at which time he reportedly weighed 300 pounds and was six feet tall. His mother forbade him to do any work, fearing his growth had made his body too fragile. Nevertheless, his amazing growth continued.

By the time he reached adulthood, Martin was unquestionably a giant. Some sources claim he was 7 feet 11 inches tall, although the Guinness Book of World Records places him at 7 feet 9 inches and 470 pounds. Either way, Bates was undeniably an imposing figure in nineteenth century America (and today, for that matter).
The Giant’s adult life began normally enough. He decided to become a teacher, an occupation he held until the outbreak of the Civil War. His presence must have intimidated many potential class clowns. One of his former students would later recall:

I never did care about obeying a teacher, but that “Big Boy Bates” was a fellow none of us boys ever sassed. We didn’t dare.
In spite of the fear he must have instilled in students, Bates was popular among his students, probably due to his well known kindness.

Bates’ life as a teacher, like so many others, was interrupted by the Civil War. He decided to enlist in the Confederate Army as a private. The Giant proved to be a fierce fighter and was soon promoted to Captain. During battles, he would emerge from bushes and startle Union troops, who immediately fled, fearing they were fighting an army of giants. Bates gained a measure of notoriety among them, as stories circulated among Yankees of a “Confederate giant” who was “as big as five men and fought like fifty.” He also became famous across the South for his bravery and fighting prowess.

Bates was eventually wounded in a battle neat Cumberland Gap and captured, although he did not remain in captivity for very long. How he escaped captivity is something of a mystery, as some sources claim he escaped and others contend that he was freed as part of a prisoner exchange.

When the war ended, Bates returned home to Letcher County and began reestablishing old friendships. Unfortunately, it was not the same county he had previously called home. Like most border states, Kentucky was fiercely divided by the Civil War. In Letcher County, feuds were beginning to ignite among former Unionists and Confederates. He also found that his home had been burned. Bates wanted no part of this. "I've seen enough bloodshed; I didn't want any more,” he said as he sold his property and quickly left Letcher County.

Bates ended up in Cincinnati. Realizing that his stature could be used for financial gain, he joined a circus and quickly became the star of the show. The circus traveled across North America, and while performing in Nova Scotia, Bates happened to meet a young woman named Anna Hannah Swan. Incredibly, she was even taller, standing at 8 feet 1 inch. The promoter (some say P.T. Barnum himself) saw a major marketing opportunity and promptly hired Miss Swan. Bates and Swan were then marketed as a pair of giants.

As fate would have it, Martin and Anna would fall in love. While touring Europe, the two were married in London in 1871. The marriage was such an event that it was reported that half of all London residents wanted to attend. Queen Victoria herself was present at the wedding, and gave the new couple a watch specifically sized to the new couple’s proportions. As they had in America, the couple were now celebrities across Europe.

After their marriage, the legend of the giant couple only grew. Mr. and Mrs. Bates were performers in the circus for many years and were highly regarded both for their physical size and their personal kindness. As the Arthur Dixon, writing in the Mountain Eagle would later recall of their travels in Europe with the circus
All the acts drew applause, but the overgrown man and woman with such warm smiles were the darlings of the people. Their magnetic personalities transcended all barriers of race, custom and language and endeared them to the spectators everywhere.
After returning from Europe, the Bates couple established a home in Seville, Ohio. They attempted to start a family, but tragedy struck when their eighteen-pound child was stillborn in 1874. To deal with their grief, the Bates once again toured Europe. They returned to Seville by the late 1870s and again attempted to have a child, but again tragedy struck: their twenty-three pound (at birth) son died after living only eleven hours.

Life was not all tragedy for the Bates family; in 1881 the couple was part of a Barnum & Bailey parade on Broadway in New York. But the loss of her second child greatly hurt Anna, and she never recovered. She died in 1888 and was buried in the Mound Hill Cemetery in Seville. Eventually, Martin remarried in 1897, this time to a normal sized woman. The couple lived a quiet life in Seville until Martin Van Buren Bates died in 1919, and was laid to rest next to Anna.

(Note: “Baby” Bates is of particular interest to me, as I am a descendent of his sister, Martha. He is thus my 5th great-uncle).

See also my blog at Appalachian Scribe

Sources: The Mountain Eagle (Letcher County, KY) March 5, 1970; Martin Van Buren Bates chronology (Letcher Heritage News, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 1997); Wikipedia

Monday, January 14, 2008

French Broad

The French Broad River, in Hot Springs, NC.

Cross posted at Appalachian Scribe

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dungannon Resident Speaks Out About Proposed Dominion Virginia Power Plant

Reprinted below is a letter sent by Frank Hoyt Taylor of The River Farm in Dungannon to The Coalfield Progress. If you'd like to learn more about this issue, and what you can do, visit the Wise Energy for Virginia website at Also visit the sites of the coalition partners on that site to educate yourself as to all facts before you make a conclusion about the merits of this proposal. Regulatory approvals by state agencies are still imminent. If you care about this, I encourage you to act now.

The Virginia legislature passed a bill saying that a coal fired power plant in Southwest Virginia would be for the public good. It would not be for the public good. The health of thousands of children would be impaired especially those who live or attend school within 60 miles of St. Paul. There is a mountain of evidence; if you have a computer just search for 'coal fired power pollution children', or ask anyone who lives near the Carbo power plant. They have suffered for years and lives have been shortened, needlessly. The power company will say "but we're not going to pollute that much at our new plant".

They might as well say they're not going to drop a 10 pound rock on our heads just a 7 or maybe 8 pound rock. No amount of mercury or other toxic pollutants will be good for our children. It will make them sick, some severely sick for a long time. The effects of the combination of these pollutants is not known. The pollution will of course affect older people, especially the elderly. But we have a choice and our children do not.

The power company, whose business is to make money and influence legislation, will say 'but the government gives us permission to do all that'. Yes they do but it doesn't make it right. Dominion Power wants to build the plant here in far Southwest Virginia because citizens in the rest of the state will not allow it in their communities. There is no more degrading insult to our people. Haven't we sacrificed enough to provide power to our country?

The thousands of men who have lost their lives in the mines, the tens of thousands who have black lung and the great amount of the land itself stripped away. Isn't that enough? And now they want us to give up the clean air that we and our children breathe? Shame. The hopeless, cynical voice would say that Southwest Virginia and its inhabitants have been so ravaged over the years that this enterprise of Dominion Power would make little difference and would provide some jobs (even more jobs would likely be lost when employers and their families would not want to move here). But I believe the voice of our children is more hopeful and their vision greater.

A toxic cloud spreading to North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, burning our forests with acid rain and destroying our streams is, I'm sure, not part of their vision. It's possible to say yes to the coal industry just no to Dominion Power. Even though my work takes me far away I have lived here all my life and I love the mountains and the people. They have influenced and informed all the work I have done so far. I know I don't have to urge anyone to protect their children but I do urge you to let your voices be heard.

Loud and clear.

Frank Taylor

What's not to love about mountains? Not only are they breathtaking to look at, their geography makes our region unique and they provide habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities, and countless resources that are important to our economy.

The folks over at definitely love themselves some mountains. So much so that they are doing everything they can to protect mountains that are at risk of being levelled in coal producing areas. Nothing against coal production-coal is one of those important resources we need-but there is a problem with certain methods of how it is extracted.

You guessed where I am going with this, right? Yep, Mountain Top Removal. Well, the website has a handy-dandy tool designed to encourage electricity conservation by showing on a zip-code basis where YOUR electricity originates.

They have linked research of MTR sites, coal burning power plants, and your power meter to show directly how our electricity consumption is linked to resource extraction in the mountains.

Go ahead, we'll wait while you check it out:

"Clean coal" is a buzz word on the lips of many people these days. You hear it in Congress, read about it in newspapers, and you've probably even seen commercials about it on television. Those of us from coal producing areas know coal isn't and can never be truly "clean". Ever. Somewhere, a price is paid whether it is at the mine, the prep plant, or the power plant. Contrary to what the fancy commercials want us to believe, coal is inherently a dirty product from start to finish. And it's important that the public gets the real story.

Coal is and will remain a vital part of our economy until a suitable alternative is found. Because of that, it will continue to have impacts, both positive and negative, on the communities where it is produced. Consumers can lessen the impact of coal by turning off a light, turning off the television (or computer when not reading Hillbilly Savants!), or adjusting the thermostat a few degrees to save energy.

Here are some websites with similar information on energy consumption:

U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkley Lab Home Energy Saver - Designed to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy (and money) in their homes.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Personal Emissions Calculator - Short survey to estimate your personal greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Power Profiler - shows on a zip-code basis the energy mix (coal, nuclear, hydro, etc..) of your utility company

And to part, here's a video produced by on MTR and energy consumption in America featuring Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Steep Canyon Rangers

I've been a fan of the Steep Canyon Rangers ever since I saw them as part of a package bluegrass show at the Tennessee Theatre a few years back. They were one of the first bands of the night and their tight set and beautiful harmonies set an embarrasingly high standard for the more famous veteran pickers that followed.

In the past few years, the Steep Canyon Rangers have emerged as leaders in acoustic music's newest generation. They've become regulars players on the festival circuit while all three of their albums have garnered critical acclaim. They're on tour now, so get thee to a Steep Canyon show when they roll into your town.

For the East Tennesseeans out there, tonight would make a perfect night to catch the Steep Canyon Rangers, as they are playing the historic Laurel Theater in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. Put a jug of your second-best wine in a paper bag (yes, that's allowed), head on down to the Laurel and just sit back and enjoy the Steep Canyon Rangers. That right there's a mighty fine way to spend a Friday evening.

See you there.

Update: And a fine show it was:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Heirloom Vegetables

It is a little early in the year to begin salivating over fresh vegetables from the garden, specifically heirloom vegetables, but several things have brought my mind and taste buds to the topic.

Heirloom vegetables are so named because they are passed down generation by generation by families who value the specific variety of vegetable for its unique taste and physical characteristics. Seeds are prized and kept back year after year and passed down through generations. Some heirlooms can be traced back three, maybe four generations in the same family and often in the same hollow.

My sister, who recently received her master's degree from East Tennessee State University, worked in the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services on their Now and Then Magazine. Over the holidays, she was telling me about a story they did on a gentleman by the name of Bill Best in Berea, Kentucky who is president of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center. Mr. Best is a man on a mission to to bring to the forefront the importance of quality heirloom fruits and vegetables, and to make mountain agriculture more economically sustainable.

Coincidentally, I also was given a book for Christmas by my in-laws titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a Year of Food Life, written by Washington County, Virginia resident Barbara Kingsolver along with her husband, Emory and Henry Professor Steven Hopp and daughter Camille Kingsolver. Her book is along the same vein as SMAC, the rediscovery of sustainable agriculture, good eating, and the bucolic way of life. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm enjoying some of the tales from her family's farming adventure.

Both have given me the itch to get out in the garden and start digging. The only problem is that my ground has been frozen until this week's respite from winter here in Virginia.

To placate my urge, I've decided to order some heirloom seeds that I can have on hand to stick in the ground when the time comes. I can almost taste the tomatoes now!

And since I have to wait until spring to plant seeds, I figure I can at least sow some virtual seeds for now:

Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center

Now and Then Magazine

Kentucky Living article on Bill Best

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a Year of Food Life

Appalachian Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange

NC State Organic Research Publication on Heirlooms

And another resource which I cannot find a link to:
Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy
Box 519
Richmond, KY 40476

Friday, January 04, 2008

Red Eyes and Virginia's "Wild Men"

I was in high school, too young to drive, so I was forced to ride the bus when it was so uncool to be seen on the cheese wagon. Even though I could walk up a hill near my house and see Radford High School, I went to Pulaski County High some 20 miles away. With the speed of school buses and all of the stops that had to be made, there was plenty of time for card games, story telling, a chew of tobacco and fights to develop. It’s where you were able to relive childhood memories with the neighborhood school yard kids that tend to get lost in consolidated secondary county schools. It’s also where I learned about the Red Eyed Wolf.

I forget the kid’s name, so I’ll call him Shane for the sake of the story. Shane was one of the last kids to get off the bus, as was I, so we ended up talking from time to time. He wasn’t the kind of person that I would typically hang out with. He was a rebel…with a long mullet and shaved hair well above his ears. He was smoking cigarettes when he was 12 years old. He talked back to teachers. He didn’t give a damn about anything. I’m pretty sure Shane worshiped the devil.

Shane lived in a trailer park that was across the highway from my family’s farm. The farm is mostly wide open rolling pastures with the exception of a forested area. It also lies in corner of the intersection for two major roads, both on the school bus route. Shane had a friend, we’ll call him Chris, that lived in another trailer park that was off of the second road. Shane and Chris would use the farm as their shortcut to get to each other’s house instead of hiking the extra mile or two along the roads. They would have to pass through the forested area of the farm on their journey. It’s a very old growth forest with patches of dense underbrush from logging about 10 years previously. It’s kind of a creepy area with steep hills, cris-crossing cow trails, thorns the size of tiger teeth and big knotty old oaks. It also backs up to a well-to-do subdivision.

Now that you have a little geographical background, on to the Red Eyed Wolf. This is the story that Shane told to me, as I remember it, one winter day on the school bus. I’m pretty sure that it was a Monday:

Shane was yelling at me to come sit in the seat across from him as soon as I got on the bus. He was an intense dude anyway but this day he was a little over caffeinated. “Mason, man, I saw some weird “stuff” on your farm this weekend.”
“What were you doing on the farm?”

“Walking man, back from Chris’ house Saturday night. I had just come out of the woods and was sitting by the pond and I saw this big-ass thing running across the hillside. It was fast, faster than any cow that I’ve seen. It was dark so I couldn’t get a good look at what it was but the moon was bright so I could see an outline. I was bigger than a dog, smaller than a cow but fast as hell! I threw a rock in the pond about at about the same time that I saw it running and when the water spashed, it stopped and looked at me. I knew it was looking at me because it had red glowing eyes. It was dark and it’s eyes were glowing!”

Now, Shane and Chris were reputed to partake in some illegal smoking activities early on in the high school years so I thought that Shane’s story may have been conjured up by an altered state of mind. At the same time, Shane didn’t get worked up over much and he was freaked out over what he saw. So, the story was born, to me anyway.

Months later, I was hosting a campout in our old horse barn one Friday night. Usually these were impromptu camping trips when one of my friends could get his brother-in-law to buy us a bottle of Jack Daniels. A pint of bourbon split amongst 10 teenagers probably didn’t get us drunk but we sure acted like it did. Like previous campouts, we decided that the smart thing to do would be to climb up on the roof of the barn. We made our way up to the ridge and sat up there for an hour or two telling lies about our girlfriends and the such. I decided to recite the Red Eyed Wolf story for all of the guys and get them a little freaked out. I had no less than just told them about something running across the hillside when something sizeable darted out of the woods and ran across the field at a speed that seemed fluid, like the wind was pushing it or a rope was pulling it. As soon as it was there, it was gone. There was no noises or red eyes but it was some type of animal. We decided to stay on the roof a while longer and see if it came back but it never did. We were about 50 yards away and it had the size of a mature calf, but we had no cattle or horses on the farm at this time.

My younger brother was in middle school at this time so he started making friends with kids that went to other elementary schools in the county. He became really good friends with a kid named Scott. For a while it seemed like Scott was a member of the family because he was always at my house. Scott’s visits didn’t come without a warning from his grandmother, who happened to grow up near the family farm. She warned Scott not to go back in the woods because a red eyed creature lived there. She remembered hearing about it in her childhood. When he told me and my brother this story, chills went up our neck. He swears that he had never told Scott anything about the wolf previously so it seems there could have been something to the stoner’s story.

Jump ahead to the following Halloween, or better yet, the day after. That is when I learned that Shane and Chris had a sighting, sort of. Again, they were trespassing but on a mission at the same time. They were going to sneak up on the well-to-do subdivision at the back of the forest and egg the house of a cheerleader that went to our school (peer outcasts hate cheerleaders thus their house must be decorated with eggs). During their stealthy approach, they heard a howl that they can’t associate with any animal. It seems far away so they keep on with their mission. A minute later, they hear the howl again but this time it seems like the distance between them and the source of the scream has been cut in half. They are a little freaked out so they decide to speed up their pace. Moments later when they get in site of the house, they hear the scream, a booming bass that transitioned into a high pitch howl, directly behind them. They swear it was within 10 feet of where they were standing. At the same time of the howl and from the same direction, they heard something massive crack, like an entire tree snapping off at the trunk. The story is that they ran toward the house without turning around to see what made the noise. Apparently, Shane was still able to hit it with an egg as they high-tailed it back to Chris’ house.

Fifteen years have passed since this incident without another episode to speak of. I have spent a lot of time in this section of woods over those years and have never seen any signs of something non-cattle or deer-like. The Red Eyed Wolf has become a joke to my family but had not been brought up in a long time until this week. My brother sent me this link to a story similar to Shane’s on the VBRO website. Could this be the relative to what haunts my forest? While at this site, click the link at the bottom of the page to look at the county map (or click this). There are some good and some not so good sighting reports in Western Virginia. At any rate, this site deserves exploring.