Getting to Know Beaman, Missouri: The Beaman Monster Part II [INTERVIEW]
Kids, if you recall, a while back we discussed the story that is The Beaman Monster. I myself have some unanswered questions. After all, who is this monster dude? Has anyone been keeping tabs on him? Does he have hobbies?
I knew it.
Anyway, I promised you a follow up interview with Travis McMullen, who most of you know as one of the most provocatively interesting columnists at the Sedalia Democrat. I know him as my cousin. But then, we're pretty hard pressed these days to find people I'm NOT related to in our area, it seems.
So anyway, Travis wrote a great article a few years ago about our Beaman Monster friend. So when I was tasked here at our stations to write about it myself, I of course, turned to the nearest expert relative. Here's our interview. My questions are in italics, and his responses are below.
I've heard the legend of the Monster has been around in different incarnations for a while. In your opinion, how old is this story?
It seems to me that the Beaman Monster story is just about as old as Beaman itself – I guess the railroad probably passed through before the monster did, because most residents seemed to trace the monster's lineage back to a gorilla that escaped from a circus train. It proceeded to either live forever and have his features slowly changed by his new forest surroundings or set about interbreeding with various forest species to create a new sort of creature entirely.
How do you feel stories have changed over time?
I think over the years the stories have remained remarkably consistent, at least on a family by family basis. Parents tell their version of the legend to their children, so in that way the stories are individually consistent but not essentially consistent with other people's tales. This person's Beaman Monster might have a slightly different origin story than that of the family down the block, but they're all convinced that there is something out there.
And the name might not even be as consistent as we like to think. There was one individual who made a special effort to comment on the online version of all three of my Beaman Monster stories. They insisted that I was severely misguided, because the preferred nomenclature was obviously “Beaman Beast”. I've got to admit, I like the alliteration but I had never heard anyone use that phrase before.
When you first started researching it, were the residents eager to talk, or did people seem reticent?
Nobody closed the door on me when I asked them about the Beaman Monster. Most of the population of Beaman was more than willing, perhaps even excited to tell me how they experienced the monster.
What was the most outrageous story you've heard about the legend?
The most outrageous story I got came from a woman named Emily Nelson, who told me that her father and his friends would occasionally enjoy some adult beverages and load themselves into the back of a pickup truck with lengths of rope. Nelson's mother would then drive them around as they attempted to lasso the monster. I don't know what they would have done with him if they did manage to catch him.
What is it about this story that you think makes this different from something like a Bigfoot or Sasquatch tale?
I don't think it's very different at all. From what I understand, the Beaman Monster is a whole lot like Sasquatch or Bigfoot. But the people of Beaman, like the people of Pettis County in general, are very independent and even if the beast came complete with a “Hi, my name is Sasquatch” sticker they'd still come up with something else to call him. Everyone else has a yeti, or a skunk ape, or a Sasquatch but in Beaman they've got something else. If they're inclined to label it as not merely Bigfoot, than I'm inclined to believe them. I've never seen it, after all.
Have you encountered many "true believers"? Are most people skeptical? Did you feel like some people were smudging the truth or leading you on?
The line between someone who truly believes in the monster and someone who merely considers it an interesting curiosity is a little blurry. When you're in the woods in the middle of the night it's probably pretty easy to believe that those branches are snapping under the feet of a monster who caught your scent. When you're indoors, it is comparably easy to laugh it off. The level of belief sometimes depends on one's surroundings and current company.
Since you wrote the article about this in 2009, have you gotten much follow up on it? Have people contacted you or tried to add anything to it?
The people have been pretty silent on the whole monster business ever since I wrote about it back in 2009.
When you toured the property for your article, was there any moment in particular that stuck out for you?
The moment that stuck out to me when I toured the Gertz's property was near the end of the night when local girl Hannah Drew seemed to be experiencing some genuine fear. Maybe it was just the night. Maybe it was just the empty space. Maybe it was your associate Michael Gertz (Editor's note: Michael used to work in our News Department), who had made a special effort to scare the girls all night. But in any case, she was severely uncomfortable and it was partly due to that fiendish Beaman Monster. It's real enough to inspire terror, which means it is real enough to deserve a little consideration. Even if it's we only consider it as a thing that affects northern Pettis County society.
Finally, do you have any conclusions or final thoughts about the stories?
I honestly couldn't tell you if the monster exists in a strictly physical sense. I haven't personally seen enough evidence to convince me of that entirely. But it exists all right – in the minds of the people of Beaman and the county that surrounds it. The Beaman Monster is kind of like Santa Claus in that way, albeit slightly more horrifying. If they perceive it as real, then it is certainly not my place to tell them that their perception isn't valid. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their tales – there are some people who will believe in it with every fiber of their being until their dying day. There are some people who have seen it.
Well, I think we've all learned a little something here. We've learned, if nothing else, to STAY OUT OF THE WOODS AT NIGHT. Forever. Or at least don't go alone. If you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them here on this post. Comment and tell me a thing or two.
Thanks again to everyone who sent in a story or comment, thanks to Travis and the Democrat, thanks to Michael Gertz and the Gertz family, thanks to Salesy, and thanks to you, Monster. I know you're reading this.
That's a sweet bike, by the way. Call me sometime.