While speaking with Informant RM on the phone, they recounted a local legend that spread across the town of Northport, Alabama. At the time when this legend grew in popularity, Northport was a small town and just about everyone was a farmer.
What RM remembers of the legend is as follows:
“Back in Northport, I can remember a panther used to come through there. They make circles when they travel during the years that range hundred of miles – they come by different places different years. It was always in the cold part of the season, I guess it would be in October or something, and that thing would always come by Northport. It was a black panther they used to call it – a mountain lion-looking thing. He used to come and every time he’d come around there’d be a bunch of chickens killed out in the country, dogs dead … trying to catch the panther. I can remember when I was living in Northport and then all of the sudden it stopped. I don’t know I guess he got killed or something happened to him but he used to come around like clockwork and that was fact because I have seen a part of him – I thought I saw it. Yeah, it was the weirdest blood-curdling yell *imitates panther sound* – you understand? Like I said, he came around for years, I guess he was making a trip coming by, he was on the move all the time and it wasn’t that populated back in the sixties. Like I said, he killed dogs in our area and I would hear howling at night and I would go back in the house because that sound will scare the crap out of you.”
After RM retold all that they could remember about the panther. I asked them if anyone ever saw the panther or killed anything that could’ve been the panther. While RM thought they remembered someone claiming to see it running off into the woods at night, they said that they heard it more than they saw it. They tried to explain and recall its distinct sound which they explained to be like a scream.
While this legend is no longer shared or believed by those who populate Newport, it has yet to be disproven or confirmed. This almost historic legend gives insights into the fears and concerns of those who once believe in it. As a farmer completely dependent on livestock and/or crops, it is likely that unexplained events such as these be rationalized by something in the natural surrounding environment. Since the land on which they lived was probably all Newport farmers knew, it would make sense that this panther creature was just a potentially exaggerated version of reality. Since nature probably presented most of the challenges Newport farmers faced during the time this legend thrived, I am inclined to think that this legend helps demonstrate the rationale used to explain mysterious phenomena.