SEDALIA, Mo. -- People have told tales of the Beaman Monster for more than 100 years, although no evidence of the creature exists.
Some speculate the origins of the beast may have more to do with moonshine than anything else.
One Beaman native says the legend dates back to the early 1900s. Russell Holman, 81, of Sedalia, was born a mile northeast of Beaman.
"I've heard about the Beaman Monster most of my life," he said. "It escaped from that circus train."
Holman's father told him a train wrecked in 1904, and all the animals were caught except one, a 12-foot tall gorilla.
"They claim the Beaman Monster was the offspring of this gorilla," he said.
Holman also remembers an uncle, who lived on Glenn Road, telling a story about a commotion in his cornfield in the late 1950s.
"People were out there with all kinds of shotguns walking through his cornfield," he said. "They were hunting that Beaman Monster."
Stories of the Beaman Monster quieted until recently, Holman said.
"It seems like they revive that story every 50 years," he said. "Dad said, when the boys would get out of hand, they'd call out the Beaman Monster if you didn't behave. I never did see anything."
Most describe or think of the Beaman Monster as a type of Sasquatch, but one Sedalia man remembers it as being shaped like a wolf or coyote.
"I've seen what my uncles told me was the Beaman Legend," said Daemon Smith, 29. "I haven't heard nobody speak of it since I was little."
Smith said the sighting happened when he was about 10. He was riding in the bed of a pickup truck when a wolf-shaped creature came out of the woods and began to run alongside the vehicle.
"It wasn't quite animalistic," Smith said. "It's hard to explain unless you've seen it."
Other strange happenings occurred around the farm of Smith's uncle. Smith remembered when a pig was found mauled to death without any signs of another animal, such as tracks. Another time, a dark figure moved around in the woods during a thunderstorm, he said.
"It's like one of those things, it could be something or it could be your imagination," Smith said.
Others have reported seeing large footprints, which they view as evidence of the beast's existence. Steve Mallard, 41, grew up near Smithton. When he was about 12, Mallard and a friend went behind his parents' barn to dig for fishing worms.
It was a dewy, spring morning, and Mallard and his friend noticed a spot where it "looked like a deer or something had laid down." Then they noticed the footprints.
"There were these huge footprints," Mallard said. "We followed them down to the pond and just got spooked. They were big; we couldn't stride that far apart."
A couple of people recall the Beaman Monster as a prank in the 1950s. Jerry Laudenberger, 65, of Sedalia, was in high school in 1957 or 1958, when Broadway Boulevard was widened to four lanes.
"This was about the same time the technology came along that used strobe lights as a caution (for the road construction)," he said.
Some teenagers stole a construction sign with large, round, yellow flashing lights, covered it with brush and hid it in a field near Beaman.
"We would drive out there just to see who was out there checking on the monster," Laudenberger said. "Mainly to see who was gullible enough to see the monster. ... It did kind of look like eyes flashing."
Laudenberger said he knows the culprits behind the prank, but "I've held the secret 50 years; I'm not telling now."
The Beaman Monster may make the books as folklore, but seeing is believing.
"It's not like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny," Smith said. "I think something does exist that's unexplainable."
Mallard said he thinks the Beaman Monster may exist, especially after watching documentaries about American Indians who described seeing similar creatures.
"I get made fun of for it all the time, but I know what I saw that morning, and I'll never forget it," he said.