The Weirdest and Wildest Collection of Unique Gifts Anywhere!
The more you shop, the more people we can help!
Source: The book Northern Frights
by Dennis Boyer (published 1998) pages 66-69.
The Trapper in the Tree
Introduction by Dennis Boyer
Logging ghosts are found by the hundreds throughout northern
Wisconsin. Not surprising for one of the most dangerous occupations on
earth. Not surprising for the enterprise that profoundly alters the
landscape in a few decades and leaves a legacy of slash fires and
hard-scrabble stump farming.
The human cost of felling the northwoods pinery added a grim chapter to
the annals of this forestry holocaust. Nineteenth-century accounts
painted a gruesome picture: mangled bodies, crushed skulls,
amputations, river jockeys swept away on logjams, and crews starving
and freezing to death in isolated bunkhouses.
Wisconsin has many places where you can hear logging legends and lore.
The Hayward and Antigo areas have quite a few knowledgeable woodsmen
who spin yarns. But perhaps the best place to capture the oldtime
flavor is in Rhinelander. The Rhinelander Logging Museum acts as a
magnet for those seeking to preserve the memories of the early pinery
logging effort. The parklike setting with its towering trees and
cabin-style building sets the mood.
There, museum volunteers and an assortment of hangers-on keep alive the
folk knowledge of pre-chainsaw, pre-Iog skidder, and pre-truck logging.
Memories of their fathers and grandfathers keep the stories fresh in
their minds. Not content with the myths of Paul Bunyan, they are almost
smug in the knowledge of blood relationship to real heroes. Several
visits over a ten-year period lead to a friendship with one of the
museum regulars. But this acquaintance was already in its ninth year
when he took me for a walk in the grove of trees where the wind in the
tops hushed out the city sounds. Willard was finally ready to tell his
The Story From Willard
The woods to the east of Rhinelander are haunted by the Trapper in the
Tree. Especially out by Lake Thompson. Way out on the east end of the
lake. That's where his body was found.
And what an unusual find it was too. Two men working a big crosscut
saw. They were sectioning a tree that had already been dropped. They
first hit empty space - a hollow section. Then they met odd resistance.
Then they hit metal.
What it was, they broke through into a cavity. Then they cut through
the mummified body. Then they sawed into his rifle. You'd better
believe that they were quite surprised when they looked into that
cavity. The man was preserved like a piece of dried fruit.
My grandad Jacob was one of those men. And you could easily say that he
was haunted for life just on the basis of that discovery. He told the
story hundreds of times. But there was more to it from him than just a
sliced mummy in the tree. There had been sightings of a, ghost for
years before this discovery. It was said that a ghost beckoned people
and motioned them to follow him. I guess he wanted his remains to be
found. But who in his right mind follows a ghost? And who would think
to look for a ghost in a hollow section of log twenty feet above the
So how did that man come to be in that tree? Grandad knew exactly how
because of the story his father told him. His father and his father's
brother came in the early days. They lived on trapping until the
logging jobs opened up. They ranged all the way up to the Michigan line.
In those days, not all the Indians had been pushed back into the
reservations yet. There really wasn't much government up here yet to do
that. Anyway, the Indians-mostly Chippewa, but some Menominee,
too-still ranged through much of the forest. They trapped, too. And
they really didn't like the competition.
I must be honest, too. It just wasn't the competition. The brothers
here robbed some traps. So you might figure they made an enemy or two.
As it turned out, the Chippewa caught up with them out near Lake
Thompson. The brothers thought they'd give their pursuers the slip by
splitting up. So the one brother climbed a tree to break up the trail.
On what happened next we can only speculate. The Chippewa must have
gotten close and he must have discovered a hole up in the tree. So he
slipped in. Then you can guess that he got stuck. The way it works in a
tight vertical space is that the more you struggle, the more you sink
into a tighter spot.
The other brother came back and searched. He always heard yelling on
the wind in the tree tops. But he could never pin down where it was
coming from. He probably thought he was already dealing with a ghost.
It's horrible to think of slow death in that tree. But it's also oddly.
humorous to think that body in sap could have been the biggest bug
found in amber in a couple of million years if they had not cut the
tree down. Gives you all sorts of opportunity to call a fellow a
knothead and how he's stiff as a board.
The upshot was generations of hatred toward the Indians in my family.
I'm ashamed to say that I've got grandchildren in grade school who hate
Indians. Like all stories this one has two sides. Or at least another
perspective. That would be the Indian perspective.
They knew something bad happened to one of the trappers. Old Indian men
told me it was long thought that the trapper turned into an evil spirit
and flew away. But when they learned of his fate when the tree was cut
down there was an even heavier feeling. It seems that there is a
feeling that a horrible death like that gives the victim the power to
impose a powerful curse. With that is the sense that the cutting of the
log and the body set loose some powerful bad medicine that festers and
builds over time. It grows because nobody knows how to combat it.
This was certainly true in our family. The bad feelings just kept
building until the explosion of hate on the boatlandings in the 1980s.
That's when the tavern fights and the scuffles at basketball games
started to escalate. I really think that spirit of the trapper may have
moved into my son.
You could see it in his eyes: the bile, the venom, and the irrational
grudges over things that are over and done. And he infected others with
it. He was worked up something fierce and convinced others it was a
political or justice issue. He never had an answer for me why he didn't
tackle any of the thousands of other unfair situations.
From what you've told me, some groups and places have patron ghosts the
way others have patron saints. You make those things sound positive, or
at least harmless. But I guess here we have a different case. There can
be patron evil spirits too, can't there?
The biggest question is, how does this work? Is it just some malignant
natural thing loosed on us through human bumbling? Sort of like bumping
a hornet's nest? Or does the evil spirit lay in wait and lure us in? Or
did people with hate in their hearts stir up spirits who would
Find out these things if you can. Go down to the Mole Lake Chippewa and
to the Forest County Potawatomi. I'll give you a couple of names. No
one wants to see me on account of my son. Let me know if we can put the
Trapper in the Tree to rest and whether that will heal my son.
Looking for Paranormal
Investigating Equipment? Find it all at
Help show your support for this site and our efforts by visiting
UFOWisconsin.com and any links
All information contained above and elsewhere on
www.W-Files.com has rights
reserved to GetGhostGear.com Enterprises
and appropriate permissions must be gained before utilizing anything contained
here on www.W-Files.com to aid in
assuring our visitors, report filers and resources used to bring this site to
you have all protections and due rights made available. Interested parties
please contact us through "Copy Right Services @ GetGhostGear.com"
Disclaimer: W-Files.com has not verified the validity of every
report published within the W-Files.com. All reports are added to
the database 'as is' received. The reports posted have many
possible explanations, including but not restricted to known natural
earthly phenomena, hoaxes etc. We leave it up to the individual
viewer to judge the report based upon the content of the report
itself. As investigations occur, that information will be notated
on the individual report.