Scientific Look at Bigfoot Draws Crowd

LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Bigfoot believers and skeptics alike packed Loudonville’s Ohio Theatre on Monday night for a scientific discussion of the legendary ape-human hybrid said to roam the North American continent.

Mark Wilson, a geology and natural sciences professor at the College of Wooster, led the presentation, titled “A Scientific Perspective on Bigfoot,” to explain scientists do not believe it’s likely the creature truly exists.

“I’ve long been interested in the Bigfoot legend and other strange and unusual things,” Wilson said.

Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch or Grassman in Ohio, is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal, ape-like creature that lives in the woods of North America.

Wilson used the scientific method, starting with a hypothesis: “Bigfoot is real.”

He then listed several examples of reported proof, like footprints, remains, DNA, photographs, videos and eyewitness reports.

But with each category of evidence, Wilson disproved the hypothesis, explaining why each is not scientifically convincing.

“Scientists don’t think it’s very likely that Bigfoot is out there. …There’s no evidence yet to support the ‘Bigfoot is real’ hypothesis,” he said.

Footprints, DNA, remains, photographs and films have been faked and disproved in the past, he said.

“There are too many doubts, too many errors, too many possibilities of fraud,” he said.

One of the most frequent examples of proof is eyewitness accounts.

Some audience members told Wilson during the presentation stories of their experiences, like a sighting in the woods or casts of footprints.

And about half of the more than 300 audience members raised their hands when asked if they believe in Bigfoot.

But Wilson said these accounts are not reliable and therefore not scientifically convincing.

“The problem is that eyewitness accounts are shockingly poor in reporting what actually happened,” he said. “They make good stories, but they don’t make good science.”

Wilson also explained several reasons it’s not likely the creature exists.

There has never been any real biological evidence, like bodies, bones, skin, hairs or DNA, found, he said.

“To have an animal be real in the world of science, we have to have some real part of that animal,” he said. “And there’s nothing, nothing at all.”

Additionally, any kind of hominid, like a Bigfoot, would need a significant population of hundreds of individuals to reproduce.

“We should have lots of them out there, and we don’t,” he said.

And primates generally flourish in tropical and subtropical locations, like South America, equatorial Africa and southeast Asia, Wilson said.

“It’s not a likely place to find an unknown, bipedal hominid,” he said.

Wilson said the myth persists because it’s a tale that’s easy to fake. Human perception is easily fooled, he said, so it’s difficult to rely on what people say they see, especially if they already believe in Bigfoot and are looking for evidence to support it.

The Bigfoot industry is also profitable, Wilson said, with television shows, conferences, equipment and tours geared toward the creature.

He said he believes it remains a classic tale in American folklore.

“I think it’s fun to think of mysterious creatures in the woods,” he said. “They add flavor to a world that’s increasingly civilized … to have this unattained hominid lurking around in the woods. … It’s really quite a romantic concept.”

Loudonville’s Cleo Redd Fisher Museum of the Mohican Historical Society hosted the program.

The discussion was originally to be held at the museum, which holds about 100 people, but after interest skyrocketed, the event was moved to the Ohio Theatre, said museum curator Kenny Libben.

He invited Wilson to speak after he took a class with Wilson on pseudo-science issues.

“I know there’s a lot of Bigfoot believers in town,” said Libben, who said he believes it’s unlikely but not impossible Bigfoot exists.

Wilson was also featured on two 2012 episodes of the History Channel’s show “Ancient Aliens,” discussing dinosaurs, earthquakes and floods.

“We were scientists,” he said. “We weren’t ‘Ancient Aliens’ theorists, but traditional scientists.”

Copyright: Mansfield News Journal

Second floor of Workman Cabin will open to public

Times-Gazette photo/Joe Pelletier Kenny Libben, left, curator of Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville, and John and Alice Schopfer work on the second floor of the Workman Cabin. Starting May 14, the second floor will be open to the public.
Times-Gazette photo/Joe Pelletier Kenny Libben, left, curator of Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville, and John and Alice Schopfer work on the second floor of the Workman Cabin. Starting May 14, the second floor will be open to the public.

Loudonville Times (Dylan Sams) — After more than 50 years of being closed to the public, the Workman Cabin’s second floor once again will open for visitors to explore.

Occasional glimpses could be made of the upstairs area of the two-story cabin that was the home of Pastor Morgan Workman. Before opening the upstairs, it had been used as storage for Cleo Redd Fisher Museum.

The unveiling of the upstairs will be May 14, when the museum hopes to have re-enactors in the home and outside portraying tasks such as blacksmithing and pioneer cooking in Loudonville’s Central Park.

Everything in the upstairs ranges from 1840 to 1870, museum curator Kenny Libben said.

The upstairs was used as a bedroom for Workman’s children. A bed and crib sit in one side of the top floor, along with a spinning wheel, mannequin and rocking chair.

“They raised 11 kids and then his wife died young,” said Alice Schopfer, who maintains the cabin along with her husband, John. “So, you can probably imagine they probably had mattresses laying all over the floor.”

Libben added that many cabins from the time period were frequently used as inns for travelers, meaning some people could have used the upstairs for an overnight stay.

“At any point, they could have had 20 people sleeping in here,” he said.

The upstairs is meant to be as authentic as it can be, but John Schopfer pointed out plywood was used to reattach the roof of the cabin after it had been taken off to be moved to Central Park in 1964 for Loudonville’s sesquicentennial.

“Nobody paid much attention to the historical aspect (then),” John said, adding that it originally hadn’t been intended to be open to visitors. Beams supporting the roof also were rearranged — marks on the beams are an indication they had been adjusted.

“It was never intended to be seen,” Libben said of the adjustments.

“We always just had a chain across and people could look up the stairway and there was just so much interest as to what was up here,” Alice said.

So, they opened it.

The staircase leading up to second floor also likely was an addition made in later years.

“Originally, there were no stairs and it was just a ladder to the loft. Judging from the construction, that staircase is probably from the 1870s,” Libben said.

The opening of the upstairs comes after chinking of the cabin was redone last summer to protect it from water damage. The logs that make up the cabin are all original from 1840 aside from one, which had to be added two years ago to make the cabin structurally sound.

While the cabin was used as a home for Workman, it also was used as a church until Workman’s congregation became so large a new church was needed.

The cabin has become a tourist attraction for the museum even though it never really was intended to be in Central Park for more than a year after the 1964 sesquicentennial celebration. Yet, there the cabin sits, with the second floor set to be explored, just as it had been when it served as a bedroom for its original occupants.

2016 Summer Bus Trip Announced

Loudonville — The Mohican Historical Society has announced the itinerary for their 2016 Summer Bus Trip.  The trip is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8th and will include stops in Columbus, German Village, and Utica.  
Cost is $45 for members and $60 for non-members, which includes transportation (to and from Loudonville), admission to sites, and german-style lunch buffet.  Seating reserved for members until April.  Memberships are $10 for individuals.  Non-members can still register immediately, and will be placed on a wait list until reservations are lifted.
To register or for more information please contact the CRF Museum at info@crfmuseum.com.

2016 Tour

Museum Offers History of Christmas Displays

Times-Gazette photo/Joe Pelletier Nick Atterholt shows Jean Jones her Christmas print made from the former Seville Chronicle press at Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville on Saturday. The museum opened Saturday for a special holiday exhibit, offering holiday history and giving its various rooms a Christmas touch.
Times-Gazette photo/Joe Pelletier: Nick Atterholt shows Jean Jones her Christmas print made from the former Seville Chronicle press at Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville on Saturday. The museum opened Saturday for a special holiday exhibit, offering holiday history and giving its various rooms a Christmas touch.

LOUDONVILLE — As  Liam Paterson walked through Cleo Redd Fisher Museum on Saturday, his eyes grew wider and wider.

Paterson, almost 2 years old, gazed up at the massive 12-foot Christmas tree on the second floor, shining and sparkling with vintage ornaments. He walked through the historical exhibits on the first floor — all of which had special holiday touches accurate to the period — looking at the corn-husk dolls of the pioneer era and the popcorn chains of the Victorian era.

And his favorite part — like most people of any age who visit the museum — was the animatronic village of Walker Lee on the second floor

Clicking and clacking with 8,000 moving parts, the tabletop display shows a 19th-century village in motion. Liam’s eyes pored over the layout, from the lumberjacks cutting wood to the steaming trains to “Linda Lou” in the community privy.

“It’s his first time here, and watching him be captivated by the lights and sounds is really special,” said his mother, Bethany Paterson of Loudonville.

Walker Lee, of Perrysville, built the animatronic village over the course of 19 years from 1930 to 1949.

The entire museum was open Saturday as director Kenny Libben and his volunteer crew decked the halls of the building for a one-day open house that offered a history of the Christmas season.

There were local holiday pieces — like a vintage aluminum Christmas tree courtesy of Modern Home Supply in Loudonville — and educational stories of holiday traditions across the world.

Displays offered tales of holiday personas like “Krampus,” a demon-like terror, and Father Christmas, the kindly Santa Claus equivalent in Great Britain.

The local touches made the open house special. Upon the massive Christmas tree on the second floor (donated by Lori Byers) were the holiday ornaments of volunteer Alice Schopfer — each with their own unique story.

Schopfer made the paper-mache ones in 1967, she recalled, and gifted a set of them to former McMullen Elementary teacher Jean Kauffman, who was teaching Schopfer’s daughter, Staci, at the time.

Another ornament was an old Santa Claus-shaped light bulb that came from Jeanne Griffin, president of Mohican Historical Society. It was once part of a set of old-time, hardwired Christmas lights in Griffin’s family. Schopfer turned it into an ornament of its own.

“That one must be 100 years old,” said Griffin, 90.

Gifts underneath the tree included John Schopfer’s hobby horse (an 80-year-old Gendron Pioneer model made in Toledo) and his childhood Erector set, complete with packaging.

The former Seville Chronicle printing press also was up and running Saturday, and volunteer Nick Atterholt was helping visitors churn out prints that read “2015 Xmas at CRF Museum.” (The term “Xmas” was used frequently by advertisements and newspapers, Libben said — it saved ink.)

The holiday-themed museum also conjured up memories of the Christmas season in Loudonville.

Way back when, volunteer Virginia Reynolds recalls, kids would sled down Market Street and in the cemetery.

“Why they allowed us to do that, I’ll never know,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also remembered Bob Perrone, one of the founding members of Mohican Area Community Fund, was an integral part in starting the tradition of decorating downtown Loudonville in the 1960s.

Griffin recalled the massive raffle drawings in the 1950s and 1960s that would fill Main Street about a week before Christmas.

During the holiday season, Griffin said, local vendors would hand out tickets for every dollar spent downtown.

“Then, before Christmas, they would put all the tickets in a big drum and pick out names,” Griffin said. “The prizes were big, too — sometimes $500 or a new car — and if you weren’t there and your name was called, you’d never hear the end of it.”

Back then (Griffin moved to Loudonville from Indiana in 1939), the spots to get your Christmas gifts were the Ebeling’s Ben Franklin store, Lingenfelter’s Jewelers (a Loudonville mainstay since 1919), Losh Sons & Kopp dry goods store and Arnholt’s Clothing, which closed in 2005 after 140 years of business.

Jean Jones, 80, stopped by the open house and received a guided tour from Griffin.

Jones, who grew up on a farm in McKay, said she rarely went into town for Christmas as a child. One of 10 children of Ed and Edna Spreng, her lasting holiday memory is the homemade taffy and fudge made by older sisters Virginia, Marjorie, Janet and Mary.

“I remember playing with dolls and this candy would just fall out of the sky,” Jones said with a laugh. “They were just dropping it over our heads, but I could have sworn that candy came right from Santa Claus.”

The museum’s holiday decorations will stay up all month, Libben said.

“I hope people enjoy it and realize how Christmas has evolved and changed,” said Libben, the director for five years. “There are a lot of interesting traditions people have forgotten about.”

Story by Joe Pelletier, published in Ashland Times-Gazette and Loudonville Times.

Libben Honored by Local History Alliance

Libben with OHLA Award

Columbus, Ohio — CRF Museum curator Kenneth Libben was honored for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Local History by the Ohio Local History Alliance, a division of the Ohio History Connection.  OHLA recognized five individuals for their achievements across the state, with the awards being presented at the statewide annual conference held on October 3, 2015.  Libben was nominated by Mohican Historical Society Jeanne Griffin, and supported with over a dozen letters of recommendation from community leaders and educators in the area.  Nominees must meet strict criteria, included having been a member of their respective local history organization for at least five years.  Libben received the award in his first year of eligibility.

He has now served at the CRF Museum as assistant curator for half a year, and as head curator for four and a half years.  He is a 2006 graduate of Loudonville High School, and a 2010 graduate of the College of Wooster where he graduated cum laude with history departmental honors.  Among his major accomplishments in local history are successfully organizing two bicentennial celebrations, preserving a landmark log cabin, modernizing exhibits, publishing two histories of the area, and establishing the museum as a centerpiece in the community.

At the awards presentation Libben was introduced through a summary of his accomplishments and one excerpt from a letter of support, which the committee found best described why he was chosen.  Loudonville High english teacher, twice recognized nationally as an educator, Aimee Ross wrote, “[Kenny] is a former student of mine, and what he has done for the museum, the historical society, my students, and the community in the past five years is absolutely admirable.  I’m honored to work with him.”  As part of his acceptance speech, Libben remarked that while the award was called Individual Achievement none of his accomplishments would have been possible without the hard work and support of the museum’s volunteers, especially the three in attendance: Jeanne Griffin, president, Kenny Utterback, building manager, and Alice Schopfer, cabin manager.