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Black Panthers Seen in the Piney Woods: Fact or Fiction?

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The Galveston Weekly printed one such story in 1874. It spoke of the horrible end which a man suffered on a trip to deliver provisions in Louisiana by wagon. The article stated he had only been gone approximately 15 minutes when locals witnessed his team of horses running back on their own. When they set out in search of him, they claim to have seen his body lying in the road being gnawed on by a huge panther. They left to return with firearms, and again found the panther intently devouring the victim. Although they took aim and fired, the beast was reported to have disappeared into the Piney Woods. A similar account from 1881 told of a brazen attack by two such cats on two black men near what would now be known as Lumberton. The victims fought back with clubs and lived to tell the tale, but with very little clothing left to speak of. Still, a third article published in the Galveston Daily News told of a young boy and his dogs having an encounter with a panther that resulted in the boy’s father (a steamboat captain) having the cat stuffed and mounted as a trophy in the steamer’s pilot house.

Even now, more than 150 years later, reports of black cat sightings by East Texans remain consistent. In the early ‘80s, a Houston County woman claimed to have spotted a black panther on the hood of an old car as she approached her home at dusk, following a nursing shift. As she tried to get closer in her own vehicle, she said it disappeared into a thicket. In 1999, a Houston County couple say they witnessed a black panther vanishing off into the woods just past a local goat farm. The man used a spotlight, with which they both claimed to have watched it make a hasty retreat, barely seeming to even touch the ground, it was so stealthy. By their estimate, it was at least six feet in length, minus the tail.

Black Panthers Seen in the Piney Woods: Fact or Fiction?
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