A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 01, 2009
Hairy Man (Bigfoot/Sasquatch-type legend)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Hairy Man Festival
The History of the Hairy Man Festival
The Hairy Man Festival has been an annual event since 1994. It is a family-oriented festival that has raised between $20-35,000 each year in nonperishable food and cash donations. These donations benefit four local food pantries and charities serving Williamson County, north rural Travis County, and the Hill Country.

The festival includes an arts and crafts area with numerous artisans participating. Local civic groups, school clubs, homeowner associations, and charitable organizations raise funds through dozens of food and games booths. There are special performances and live music by local groups and organizations on the Festival Stage. Judged by local community leaders, the festival closes out with the legendary ‘Hairiest Man’ contest.

The Hairy Man Festival is presented by the Brushy Creek Women’s Association (BCWA) and the Brushy Creek MUD. The BCWA is a vehicle to unite and serve families in the Brushy Creek area. The group provides numerous social and service-oriented activities and is a great way to get involved in your community. For more information about joining the BCWA, please send an email to the BCWA at .

Hairy Man Festival
The Legend of the Hairy Man
By Gwen King, Local Historian
Children whisper tales of a strange hermit, the Hairy Man, who haunts the winding road along the Brushy Creek. Many legends persist about the Hairy Man. Some believe he was an infant accidentally left behind by settlers heading west in the 1800s. Raised by wild animals in the fern bluffs, the Hairy Man viewed the creek as his own. He resented the intrusion of strangers into his territory and would jump out of the trees to frighten people away. Or, hanging from the leafy canopy above the road, he would drag his feet across the top of passing carriages. On one occasion, the Hairy Man attacked a horse-drawn wagon, spooking the horses. The old hermit was supposedly run over by the wagon and killed, and now his spirit lingers along the creek and road.

The Hairy Man of Round Rock
by Maggie Van Ostrand
Want to tell your kids how the Hairy Man of Round Rock came to be? Well, one day far ago when his pioneer family was headed West, a young boy fell off their covered wagon. His parents didn’t notice that he was missing until many miles later. Of course, there’s a variation of this which says the boy was separated from them by flood waters. Either way, the result is the same and they were unable to connect with each other ever again.
Alas, one day, his aim was off and he fell out of the tree smack into the path of a stagecoach careening toward him at top speed. The startled quartet of horses got frightened and accidentally trampled him to death.

Google Books
Ghost stories from the American Southwest
By Richard Young and Judy Dockrey Young
Little Rock, AR: August House
Pg. 21:
A story about a hairy man is told by folks east of here {Waco, Texas]. He lives along RIchland Creek and the Trinity River. He hasn’t been seen recently, maybe in the 40s, but he has a huge head and—this is the interesting part—his hands and feet are alike,...
Pg. 24:
9. “The East Texas Hairy Man,” provided by a librarian in Waco, Texas, who declined to be identified, in November, 1989. Compare this summary with the events in story number 104.

Google Books
Ghastly Ghost Stories
New York, NY: Wings Books; Avenel, NJ: Distributed by Outlet Book Co.
Pg. 129:
The Hairy Man In Central Texas, where I used to live, people talk about a hairy man who lives in the woods. I didn’t ever believe in him until two years ago. My mother and I were living alone together in a rundown house near a creek bed…

The Daily Texan
Hairy man bares it all
Bare Weber wins hairy man contest at annual festival

By Victoria Rossi
Published: Monday, October 18, 2004
In many ways a typical small town fair with moon walks, face painting and peach cobbler, the Hairy Man Festival focused on a local legend.

Round Rock citizens often speak of a squatter who lived alone by Brushy Creek. Considering the land his private property, the man would hang from trees to scare stagecoaches away. Eventually, one of the coaches ran over him, but his spirit is said to haunt the surrounding area.

Terri Allman, festival operations coordinator, said the Hairy Man legend was chosen as the festival’s theme because of its proximity to Halloween. What adults considered a piece of Round Rock folklore, children thought of as “a spooky Halloween story.”

Mr. Popik:

I appreciate your question regarding the origins of the Hairy Man legend.  I came across the designation “Hairy Man Road” soon after I moved to Round Rock four years ago and am frankly surprised that the library has not received more inquiries about the story.  Though the Ask-A-Librarian feature is designed to provide responses to brief, factual queries, we are making an exception in spending more time than usual to answer this.  We will keep this response on file for future use, and we invite you to come into the library to learn about resources to aid your own future research.

Below is your original question, followed by all the information I’ve been able to gather:

Do you know the exact origins of “Hairy Man”? Please provide the earliest verifiable citations that you know, or forward this to any local history scholar who can help.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. The Hairy Man Festival (it’s October 3rd) has a video that purportedly shows an 1854 newspaper citation, but, if you read the words, you see that it’s bogus!

Just give me the facts!

The main fact appears to be that the story is very popular but is not of long standing.  According to Karen Thompson, a boy who lived close to Brushy Creek made up a “hairy man” story back in the 1950s to dissuade his sister from venturing there, and old-time Round Rock citizens don’t think much of the legend that has apparently evolved from that incident.

The story certainly gained momentum after that time.  Long-time resident Gwen King says that she first heard it from their realtor when her family relocated to Round Rock in 1979.  Dale Ricklefs, Round Rock Public Library director, says that she learned of the story when her family moved here in 1977.

One very popular version of the story is as follows:  Young boy separated from family during pioneer expedition, raised by animals as feral creature/hermit, liked to hang from the tree canopy and frighten stagecoach passengers by dragging his feet across the tops of the vehicles; falls to his death and haunts the area.  The link below recounts this telling:


Some other facts are as follows:

. The trees are not as dense today, but the road now named Hairy Man Road was covered with a thick arboreal canopy.
. Karen Thompson and Jane DiGesualdo, authors of Historical Round Rock, Texas, were unable to find documents pertaining to the individual to whom the legend alludes, or his landholdings, or any factual basis for the legend itself, when they were researching their book.  Accounts of at least one hermit living in the area apparently do/did exist.
. Gwen King recalls that back in the 1980s she interviewed a Swedish woman in her 90s who remembered that her family came up from Austin to picnic in the Fern Bluffs area, and the this lady commented that the Hairy Man legend was a favorite story to recount on such family occasions.  Her father believed that he had seen “the hairy man” but thought that the strange man in question was actually named “Harriman”. 
. The Walsh family, prominent in Rock Round (e.g., Walsh Middle School) owned substantial property along the banks of Brushy Creek.  Old Man Walsh—a nickname by which he was known—recalled that transients did reside in the area, especially during the Depression and most notably before Brushy Creek was dammed.
. Round Rock didn’t have a newspaper in 1854; the publication that eventually became the Round Rock Leader, began in 1876.  I haven’t seen the promotional video produced by the Brushy Creek Woman’s Association (to publicize the Hairy Man Festival) but would guess that the videographers selected a random historical date to make the point that the story has been told for many years. 
. Gwen King reports that she has written about the Hairy Man legend more than once in the Round Rock Leader, always characterizing it as simply that, a legend. 

Dale Ricklefs reminded me that, given that Round Rock’s population only numbered a few thousand as recently as the 1970s.  Perhaps the dramatic contrast between the modern, burgeoning city of today and the relatively isolated village of not so long ago accounts for the continuing popularity of Hairy Man.  Of course, October brings us the annual round of newspaper columns recounting local ghost stories, and who doesn’t love a good ghost story?

I am grateful for the assistance of Karen Thompson and Gwen King; we endeavored to provide you with as much historical background as is available.  You are welcome to come into the library and peruse the collection of Round Rock Leader microfilm that I mentioned in a previous communication.  You may also wish to inquire about Georgetown Public Library’s microfilm archives of The Williamson County Sun; those issues date back to the 1800s.

I hope this information is helpful.

Linda Sappenfield
Reference Services Librarian
Round Rock Public Library System
216 E. Main
Round Rock, Texas 78664
(512) 218-7006

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, October 01, 2009 • Permalink