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The legend of High Hat

Drawing representing the creature called High Hat
Drawing representing the creature called High Hat
Original drawing

Amongst the Native Americans of the Seneca tribe of Western New York, there is a story of a being that inhabits the swamps on the Allegheny Reservation called High Hat. The being is described as a flesh eater and sometimes a cannibal who always stays near and around the swamp area. He is often called High Hat because of the dark brimmed hat similar to the hat worn by Abraham Lincoln, and in fact, some even sometimes call him (or it?) Abe Lincoln. It apparently is a sort of shape shifter because while it is often seen as a tall pale lanky human dressed in dark clothing and wearing that high hat, it sometimes is seen as a large spider or other animal.

The locals at one time even hung large pieces of meat in hopes of keeping High Hat away from their livestock. A adults often warned children to keep away from the creek and the swamp and the railroad tracks which skirt the swamp where the thing is said to frequent.

One story goes that a man had gone to work and he brought his daughter with him, and he had done this on a regular basis, and he made ready to go home for lunch, but discovered that his daughter was missing. He searched for her everywhere, even going home to see if she had gone home before him. The man and his wife searched for the little girl and found her at the top of a thorn tree, just as it was getting dark, because they had heard her soft muffled cry. They got her home and the girl described a spider like creature that had abducted her as she was wandering in the woods and took her to the thorn tree. When he descended the thorn tree he changed into the appearance of a tall man with high brimmed hat, and he left her there presumably to eat her later.

Another story goes that a boy was wandering in the woods after being sent home from a dance he wasn't supposed to be at because he was too young. He was walking in the woods and approached a railroad crossing when he saw this tall man with a high hat, putting on some white gloves, he started to speak to this tall man, when the tall man in the high hat, turned around, leered at him and growled. The boy, terrified, ran for his life never looking back. He told his parents and his parents scolded him for being out that late and said that he was lucky that High Hat didn't kill him.

The last sighting of the apparition was in 1970 just as the U.S. Government was building a dam across the Allegheny river and they put a power line through the area which went through the swamp. During construction there were many sightings all describing a tall man with a black brimmed hat similar to Abraham Lincoln, and the construction workers took to calling the apparition Abe Lincoln for that reason.

Along the Texas Arkansas border, there is also a great swamp. There is also a being described there that is similar to High Hat. Relative of High Hat? Or maybe High Hat moved there after his swamp was disturbed?...

This article is based on and taken from the article written by Administrators of the Seneca Nation of Indians Website, taken from the Seneca Language Program October newsletter, and that is in turn based on stories found in the book by Du-Wayne Leslie Bowen called One More Story: Contemporary Seneca Tales of the Supernatural.

This is the link to the original story and website:

You'll have to scroll down the page to find the story of High Hat

Here is another link to other versions of the same story from the Paranormal Ghost Society website.


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