Helenwood Devil

From Kook Science

The Helenwood Devil was an alleged petrified being with four-inch horns protruding from its skull and wings stretching out from its shoulders that was claimed to have been excavated at a former Keene-Strauck Coal Company mine in Helenwood, Scott County, Tennessee on 20 July 1921. It was reported to have been discovered by Reuben Crusoe "Cruise" Sexton, who suggested it was an idol of "an old tribe of Indians or cliff dwellers" and briefly displayed it to locals (for 25 cents a viewing) before selling the find to J. C. Pemberton as a touring exhibit. The idol was ultimately revealed to have been fabricated by Sexton, in secret, from simple clay over a period of some years before being revealed to the public as a found object.

Press Coverage

  • "Petrified Giant With Horns Found in Mine", Sacramento Union (Sacramento, CA): 2, 11 Aug. 1921,, "KNOXVILLE. Tenn., Aug. 10. - Workmen of the Keene-Strauck Coal company at Hellenwood, Scott county, have found buried in the earth and petrified, a giant six feet, four inches tall. About its neck was a beautiful chain. The fingers are perfect with long tapering nails. The hands are folded across the breast. On either side of its head are two horns, each about four inches in length. Its weight is about 450 pounds." 
  • "Petrified Freak Mystifies Finders", Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK): 3, 11 Aug. 1921,, "Knoxville. Tenn., August 11. - Further information as to the petrified body of gigantic proportions found near Helenwood in Scott county, Tenn., was received here. Cruise Sexton of Helenwood found the “devil” as he call it on July 20 last, while prospecting for coal. The formation was five feet under ground. It weighs something like five hundred pounds. The freak is described as having a head of abnormal size adorned by horns resembling those of a ruminant. Its mouth is of unusual size with 24 prominent front teeth. The arms are of unusual length, with enormous hands. A chain resembling an ordinary trace chain encircles the neck. Long wings of brownish color reach from the shoulders almost to the ankles. Imprint of the left hand is plainly visible on the chest. [S]exton believes the object may be an image of an old tribe of Indians or cliff dwellers." 
  • "Horns and Wings on Petrified Body Found in Tennessee Mine", Daily Journal (Telluride, CO): 1, 25 Aug. 1921, 
  • "The Devil", Somerset Journal (Somerset, KY), 9 Sep. 1921,, "There was exhibited last week at the Somerset Fair an object that attracted several thousand people into a small tent. They each paid 25 cents admission fee. Some came out and said the whole thing was a fake, while others said they would not have missed it for a dollar. Anyway, it was the biggest drawing card at the fair. The object that is attracting so much attention was found by Crusie Sexton while digging for coal near Helenwood, Tenn. It has the appearance of a petrified form, about five feet, ten inches long, large head with horns, large nose and ears, wings reaching to ankles and teeth showing. The arms are long and slender and are crossed over the body. The hands have extra long fingers and the ankles are enlarged. Mr. Sexton, who made the find, was in the city this week and made an affidavit that he found the object in the ground about five feet below the surface. He dug it up and removed it to Helenwood where it created such excitement that he put it in a box and charged admission. IT is said that the sum of $25,000.00 has been offered for it. It is owned by Mr. J. C. Pemberton of Oneida, Tenn., now. The form is now reposing in a box with iron bands around it, four pad locks on the box, nails driven in the lid and a guard standing watch. A professor from an eastern university says it is some ancient idol of an early race. Anyway, whatever it is, the owners bid fair to get rich."