Was the one-eyed Steinthal monster fact or fiction?
We often think of Manitowoc County as an ordinary place, but in the fall of 1960, the Village of Steinthal was anything but normal.
Local reporter Syd Herman wrote about the mysterious events surrounding the so-called Steinthal monster from a collection of newspaper clippings.
Herman, a Manitowoc native, was born in 1910 and graduated from Manitowoc Lincoln High School before attending the Marquette University School of Journalism. After spending some years at the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal, he found his way back to Manitowoc and began working for the Manitowoc Herald Times.
His column, "Sparks From The Campfire," had been read for more than 50 years and much of the following story came from Herman's description.
As the story goes, it was a cold fall night in 1960 when the Steinthal monster appeared. The Village of Steinthal, located west of the Village of St. Nazianz, is full of winding roads, springs and deep ravines — the perfect setting for a small town monster.
As Herman's article said, "Strange sightings have been made at an old farm, down a long lane across the swamps at the north end of the village."
On that cold fall night, people down the lane left in a hurry, supposedly frightened away by a "nine-foot-high hairy monster with one gleaming eye in the center of its head."
Those brave enough to venture toward the dilapidated farmhouse reported seeing ghosts coming down the stairs at night.
The mystery of the Steinthal monster soon spread beyond the small community. One night, Herman and a television cameraman went out to the farmhouse. When they looked up the home's stairs, which was lit by the moonlight, they saw a ghost standing at the top of the staircase.
When they aimed their bright camera lights on the figure, they discovered it to be simply a dress form with a white sheet around it. Both men suspected it was just a group of kids planning a prank and decided to move on.
Herman wrote, "After it had 'appeared' again one night following a heavy rainstorm, we (the cameraman and Syd) went back the next morning to look for tracks. There were apple trees in the orchard — and nothing but deer tracks."
Stories developed, and with each telling, the tales became more and more outlandish.
Was the monster a deer in disguise? Or was the sight simply a deer, standing on its hind legs reaching for an apple from the tree?
Realistically, the so-called monster could have been a bear, which at the time had been reported near the swamp. These are the questions Herman asked, but no one had an answer for the odd sightings.
The Steinthal monster story spread far beyond our county's border. Television stations and the Associated Press in Milwaukee even ran the story.
But then, as with all legends, the story and the monster disappeared.