What once was a large and dismal swamp just east of Cookeville, Tenn., gave rise to a legend that cost a preacher his faith. In the 1850s, a minister whose name is lost to history was riding his horse along the road that dissected the marshy area that was about eight miles long and two miles wide. The swamp followed the path of what is now Highway 111.
Through the darkness, the minister spotted a terrible sight. Upon his arrival back in town, he would describe “a pure white body floating about a yard above the ground,” author Walter S. McClain wrote in the book A History of Putnam County, Tennessee in 1925. The apparition, the minister said, tried to communicate but his horse became spooked and ran away.
According to some accounts, the apparition was headless. Because “spooks” were not part of the church’s beliefs, congregants tried to get the minister to retract his story.
He refused. He stood by the details of his story. The minister was tried in a church court and expelled from the ministry for consorting with evil spirits.
The swampy area was thereafter known as “Booger Swamp.”
People began to avoid the swamp but those who did not, including couples who wanted a private spot to court and hunters, would report hearing strange sounds or seeing eerie apparitions. At times, hunting dogs would come running from the woods, yelping in fright.
One legend claims the apparition is the ghost of an Indian maiden whose young brave was killed on a hunting trip. She is said to have been hunting for him through eternity.
Over the years, people have claimed to see the ghost of a Civil War soldiers. After the film The Legend of Boggy Creek was released in 1972, people reported seeing a hairy beast that walked upright in the swamp. That report led to a belief that a Bigfoot lived in Booger Swamp.
Today, development has filled in much of the swampy area but legends persist: What kind of creature lurks in the depths of Booger Swamp?