Monday, February 10, 2020

Bear-King of Marble Falls, Texas by Sable Hunter

Hello! Happy February! I love this month – not only does it contain Valentine’s Day, but it also has Mardi Gras and my sweet Emma’s birthday. Already, the year is already speeding along and I have so many things I want to accomplish. One of the things I ‘intentioned’ for the year is to enjoy where I live more than I have – do more fun things. After all, I live in a wild and crazy place, wonderful weird Austin and the amazing Hill Country of Texas.
Now, in my defense, I do go exploring and I love to research the odd facts, lore, and legend of my home territory – and I have included many, many of those interesting things in my books. To my joy, I have had more than a few fans travel from long distances to come and explore the things I’ve written about. They call it going on the ‘Sable Hunter tour’. When they do visit, I always try and meet them for lunch or dinner somewhere.
What my days lack, however, is more excursions just for the sake of experiencing the region. I have a tendency to drive by a place, take a few pictures, then do the rest of my reconnaissance in my recliner on the computer. My new plan is to get out more – try new restaurants, attend events, go for drinks – you know…normal stuff.
One of my first excursions for the year was to the nearby town of Marble Falls. Below is the link to a short 2 minute You-Tube video of the area from a drone.
It shows an aerial view of the region from just near my house toward Marble Falls. You’ll see the terrain, a glimpse of the lake, the millions of ashe junipers, the limestone hills, and the highway you see is the road from Lago Vista to Marble Falls. This is all just north west of Austin on Lake Travis. 1431 is the number of the highway and it twists and turns, dips and climbs, winding itself through an amazing panorama of scenery.
My plans for the Marble Falls trip was to spend the whole day just doing fun things. As I came into town, I had to stop at a red light. I glanced around, passing the time. Suddenly, I noticed a white pickup pulling a stock trailer turn into a gas station to my left. As I watched, a man got out – a cowboy – a really good-looking cowboy. If I didn’t know Aron McCoy was a product of my vivid imagination, I could’ve sworn the character had come to life and was now sauntering his tight-jeaned self around the parking lot.
Toot! Toot!
A car horn behind me brought me out of my daze. I had to make a split-second decision – stop and see if I’d conjured up the ‘real McCoy’ or go about my business.
Alas – I didn’t have the courage to accost the poor man. I continued on my way.
For the first stop, I intended to visit the Foxglove Botanica to pick up some hoodoo supplies and a bit of refreshments. Here is their Facebook page so you can see the neat business.
At Foxglove, I purchased a string of lapis lazuli beads to use in a grounding ceremony and some Bird of Paradise Juice made with mango, blueberry, banana, and elderberry – yum! Most of what you’ll read today, including the main story and this shop has been incorporated into a book I’m working on called MOONFLOWER.

My second stop was to the Bluebonnet Café. This is a famous spot to buy pie. And I love pie. My favorite is coconut custard. To get a feel for this treasure trove – check out this photo. 

             I didn’t choose to eat there – I did worse.   I bought a WHOLE pie to take home.   To work off some of those future calories, I took a drive right outside of town to a very mysterious   place -Dead Man’s Hole. Doesn’t that sound neat? I have been here before.

The opening is about seven feet wide and about 155 feet deep. During and right after the Civil War, it was used as a place to dump bodies. Ick! There was a group of vigilantes called the ‘fire eaters’ that killed people who didn’t believe the way they did about the conflict. About 36 people were thrown into the hole – most dead, but some were thrown down to die. I used this site in HOW TO ROPE A MCCOY as the place where Heath found Cato and rescued her from the man who intended to kill her. As I stared down in the pit, I couldn’t help but think it had to be haunted. Since my trip, I’ve researched that possibility and discovered from a site called TEXAS ESCAPES that one ghost hunting group investigated there and got an interesting EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) on a digital recorder. Surprisingly, it wasn’t of an old cowboy or union sympathizer – it was the voice of a little girl who said over and over again … “Daddy, you promised to take me to Dairy Queen.” Ha! Go figure.
Here’s that article if you’d like to see and read more history of Dead Man’s Hole.
After this side trip, I was thirsty. So…I ventured back into Marble Falls to find something cool to drink. The place that drew my eye possessed an unusual name. Bear-King Brewery. Now, who wouldn’t be intrigued by that moniker?
Check out the site.
I found a table and ordered a raspberry ale called Empty Promise and this was on the bottle: There was once a girl named Heidi. With the beauty of fair Aphrodite. She grew raspberries wild and said ‘I do’ with a smile – then fled with a dowry quite tidy. Very tasty.
One bottle didn’t prove to be enough – so I ordered another. While I was waiting, I decided to wander around the brewery and I found something that caught my interest. There was a display against one wall containing the information about where the brewery got its name – Bear-King. My heart began to pitter-patter – this stuff is right down my alley!
My eyes grew big and I devoured the information faster than I planned to devour the coconut pie later that night.
A newspaper article with the title “Carried Off A Girl” snared my gaze. The subtitle was equally seductive - Last Depredation of the ‘Great Bear Man’ of Texas.
I was hooked. I love legends and mysteries. They tantalize my imagination. Nessie, the Rougaroux, the Jersey Devil – and here was one that supposedly existed right outside of Marble Falls!
This was the illustration that accompanied the article in the May 11, 1901 edition of the Washington D. C. Bee.

Here is my summary of the story:
Raime Arland, the acknowledged belle of Marble Falls was out walking on a narrow trail near her home searching for livestock when a curious looking animal sprang out of the bush. At first, she thought it was a bear, then she realized it wasn’t – her attacker was a monster. To Raime’s horror, the beast threw an arm around her neck and let out a horrible bellow. Any moment, she expected to be torn to fragments. Instead, the creature threw her over his shoulder and ran for the hills. When he reached a cave, he darted inside and placed Ramie on the floor. She was struck how human-looking his face appeared. Afraid, she attempted to escape, but the beast struck her in the head, knocking Ramie to the ground. She assumed her life was over, but the creature left her where she lay and retreated to the back of the cave. Horrified, she waited for him to return and when he didn’t, she slipped out of the cave and headed home. When the settlers heard her story, they set out to destroy the monster. No strangers to tracking, the men soon found the bear king near his lair. When confronted, the creature ground its teeth, pounded its chest, and roared like a panther. The hunters hesitated to fire upon it when they saw how human it appeared. The decision was taken out of their hands when it bounded forwarded in rage, charging them. They reported the bear-king was killed in self-defense.
Here's another illustration from another newspaper – this one has more detail.

Full of questions, I wandered back to my table – my thoughts were going crazy. I was just about to sit down to consume my raspberry ale when someone at the next table spoke up. “Hey.” I looked around to find this guy smiling at me. “Hey,” I answered back.
“I saw you reading about the Bear King? What do you think it was?”
I took a sip, thinking. Sometimes I hate to voice my opinion. I’m weird and some people think a little touched. “A wildman? Maybe a cover story to hide a rendezvous with a suitor?”
The guy laughed. “Aw, come on. You know it was Bigfoot.”
I couldn’t help but grin and toast him with my drink. “Ah, a man after my own heart. That’s what I thought.” Hoped. “I was just afraid to say.”
He picked up his mug and walked over to join me. I swallowed. The guy was kinda handsome in a Bradley Cooperish way. “Did you hear about the sighting between here and Lago Vista?” he asked.
“Yea, on 1431.” He held out his hand. “My name is Chris.”
“Sable.” I didn’t offer the Hunter part. They guy was young enough to be…my neighbor – ha! “Uh, I live just off 1431 in Lago.”
Cutie winked at me. “Well, you passed right by the spot.”
Ooooo. I felt my mouth began to water. “Really?”
He proceeded to tell me about this musician who had a late-night encounter as an unknown something crossed the road in front of him. Chris was able to tell me the approximate spot on the road where the encounter took place. I vowed to find it on the way home.
“Yea, back in 2009. About 3 am in the morning, this thing crossed the road in three strides. Covered in hair. Amber reflective eyes.”
“Wow.” I hung on his every word.
Later…at home, I did a bit of Googling and actually found the report on a Bigfoot website called ‘woodape’. Here’s the link for your delectation. 
After he shared that tidbit with me, Chris didn’t linger long. His girlfriend showed up. I finished my ale. Once I was on the road again, I decided to make one final stop for supper. I didn’t have to go far before I spotted the perfect place. The Real New Orleans Style Restaurant. Ha! You didn’t have to invite me twice. Homesickness prevailed and I pulled in. The building was unremarkable but the food was fabulous. I learned that the family who owned it had fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We were able to share quite a few stories. The blackened redfish hit the spot and I couldn’t resist some bread pudding. The coconut pie would have to wait until the next day.
On the ride home, I contemplated the success of my day trip. An Aron sighting. Magical beads. Dead Man’s Hole. Pie. Ale. Bigfoot. And Cajun food! Not a bad haul. Not bad at all.
When I neared the spot in the road where Chris told me the musician saw Bigfoot – I slowed down to a crawl. I looked. And looked. Hoping. But…I saw nothing.
No worries. I’ll make another trip. Soon.
And…I’ll tell you all about it.
Thanks for spending a few moments with me.
Love, Sable. 


Julie Lence said...

What a great day trip you had, Sable! Loved all of it, but the best was the little girl and Dairy Queen. I giggled out loud... think I woke the dog.

Sable Hunter said...

Thank you, Julie - I thought it was neat too. Things like that intrigue me. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate you.

kathleen Lawless said...

What a great day you had! I see a whole bunch of story ideas germinating.

GiniRifkin said...

What a fun and tasty post. I thought Bigfoot too. Maybe next time. Yes, lots of fodder for new stories. Thank you.

Sable Hunter said...

Kathleen Lawless - it was a fun day. We all need to make time for ourselves. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Sable Hunter said...

Gini - Thank you for the comment. Yes, I have a notebook full of ideas and plot bunnies - I hope you have an amazing week.