Another edition of Friday Folklore! If you have your own thoughts to share about folklore or if you want to request a specific topic, comment below!
In Part Two of The Bookwyrm Series, Helen comes face to face with the Lizard Man of Lee County, or, as he’s known in the story, the Lizard Man of Bishopville. He’s also considered “of Scape Ore Swamp”. Either way, he’s a giant, bipedal lizard with a habit of destroying property and eating livestock–and I don’t mean just in The Bookwyrm Series.
As far as folklore goes, the story of the Lizard Man is rather young. Sightings of him can only be traced back to the 1980s. And while there are Native American legends concerning lizards, there are none that take place around Scape Ore Swamp.
The Lizard Man is known as a “cryptid”. That is, an animal that has been sighted but may either be only a legend or a misidentification. Below is the story of the first sighting of the Lizard Man, taken from criptidz.wikia.com:
The first modern reported sighting of the creature was made by George Holliman Jr. in the Fall of 1987, but it was the report by Christopher Davis, a 17 year old local man that made the Lizard Man famous. Davis said he encountered the creature while driving home from work at 2 AM on June 29, 1988. According to his account, Davis stopped on a road bordering Scape Ore Swamp in order to change a tire which had blown out. When he was finishing up he reported having heard a thumping noise from behind him and having turned around to see the creature running towards him.
Davis said the creature tried to grab at the car and then jumped on its roof as he tried to escape, clinging on to it as Davis swerved from side to side in an effort to throw it off.
After he returned home, Davis’ side-view-mirror was found to be badly damaged, and scratch marks were found on the car’s roof, though there was no other physical evidence of his encounter. “I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down – the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”
Two weeks after the Davis sighting the sheriff’s department made several plaster casts of what appeared to be three-toed footprints – measuring some 14 inches (36 cm) in length – but decided against sending them on to the FBI for further analysis after biologists advised them that they were unclassifiable. According to South Carolina Marine Resources Department spokesperson Johnny Evans the tracks neither matched, nor could be mistaken for, the footprints of any recorded animal. Evans also dismissed the possibility that they could have been made by some form of mutated creature.
The sightings attracted tourists interested in seeing the creature and hunters interested in tracking it, and nearby radio station WCOS offered a $1 million reward to anybody who could capture the creature alive. However, reports of the creature began to decline at the end of the summer with the last credible sighting of the year being reported in July. On August 5 Kenneth Orr, an airman stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, filed a report with the police saying that he had encountered the Lizard Man on highway 15, and that he had shot and wounded it. He presented several scales and a small quantity of blood as evidence. Orr recanted this account two days later when he was arraigned for unlawfully carrying a pistol, and the misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report. According to Orr, he had invented the sighting in order to keep stories about the Lizard Man in circulation.