Melon Heads are allegedly small-sized humanoid cryptids with large heads native to remote forested parts of Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut.
According to folklore, the creatures live hidden in caves and underground tunnels in the woods but come out at night to attack people and terrorize neighboring communities.
Melon Head origin stories
The description and characterization of Melon Heads vary between communities in the states of Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut, where the legends are most widespread.
They are small humanoid creatures with large bulbous heads that look like melons. The creatures live hidden in the woods and rarely come out. Most sightings occur at night when they hunt forest animals.
They sometimes steal livestock and domestic animals, such as dogs and cats. The Melon Heads also kidnap humans–especially teenagers and hikers–and engage in cannibalism.
Michigan Melon Heads
Michigan folklore claims Melon Heads live in the forested area near Felt Mansion in Allegan County. The creatures also supposedly live in wooded areas in neighboring counties, including Ottawa County.
[Note: Felt Mansion is a historic mansion near Holland and Saugatuck in Michigan. The industrialist Dorr Felt built it in 1928. ]
According to Michigan folklore, the Melon Heads were young children with hydrocephalus who escaped abusive treatment at a hospital or insane asylum near Saugatuck, Michigan.
[Note: Hydrocephalus is a condition associated with the accumulation of fluids in the brain, resulting in a large bulbous head.]
The children plotted to overpower the staff and kill the supervising doctor. They cut the body of their victims into small pieces and buried them on the mansion grounds.
They then fled into the forests and established a community in the caves and underground tunnels in the woods.
Allegan County Historical Society
Scott Kuykendall of the Allegan County Historical Society told WWMT.com that people believe Melon Heads haunted the network of trails in the woods around the Felt Mansion. The creatures allegedly hide in underground tunnels and come out at night to attack people.
Kuykendall added that there were no records of an insane asylum in the area. There was also no evidence supporting stories about a facility where hydrocephalic children suffered abuse.
However, the state authorities once used the Felt Mansion as a police post and a prison. The mansion also served as a seminary for boys in the late 1940s.
Kuykendall explained that the locals nicknamed the seminarians “melon heads.” Michigan folklore about the creatures might have developed from the tense relationship between the locals and the school authorities.
Ohio Melon Heads
The Melon Heads in Ohio are allegedly native to the Kirtland area.
Amy Kapostasy at the Lake County Historical Society told WKYC that Ohio folklore says the Melon Heads were children at an orphanage in the Kirtland area managed by a mad scientist, Dr. Crow.
Crow and his wife abused the children and used them for sinister experiments. They injected experimental substances into their heads, causing them to develop massive head swellings, physical deformities, and mental health issues.
The children eventually conspired to murder Dr. Crow. They set the orphanage on fire and escaped into the nearby woods.
They roamed the woods at night and terrorized communities around Kirtland. People reported seeing them on Kirtland’s Wisner Road.
Another version of the legend claimed that government authorities sent the children to a facility in Kirtland for use in top-secret experiments that caused them to develop massively swollen heads.
According to Kapostasy, some accounts claim that Crow was a caring person. When the children escaped from the government facility, he and his wife took them in and cared for them until he died.
After they died, a fire razed the house, and the children abandoned the building to live in the woods.
The locals nicknamed them Melon Heads because of their large heads.
Connecticut Melon Heads
Melon Head folklore is widespread in the counties of southern Connecticut, especially Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
According to the New England Historical Society, legends claim that the Melon Heads live in the wooded areas around towns such as Monroe, Newtown, Stratford, Weston, Easton, Shelton, and Trumbull in Fairfield County. They live around Seymour, Oxford, and Southbury in New Haven County.
Folklore from Connecticut claims that the Melon Heads were juvenile inmates at the Fairfield Hills Hospital, formerly a mental institution in Newtown. A different version claimed they were inmates at the Garner Correctional Institute, another mental asylum in Newtown.
Other versions did not specify the facility.
A fire razed the unnamed facility sometime in the 1960s, killing the entire staff. Some inmates died in the inferno, but some relocated into the woods.
They established an inbreeding population. Inbreeding over generations and cannibalism caused them to develop Melon Heads.
Melon Head Road
The Melon Heads raided communities in Connecticut and kidnapped people to eat. Multiple accounts from different localities associated Melon Heads with forest lanes and rural roads referred to as Melon Head Road and sometimes Dracula Drive.
People traveling alone or in small groups in the forest lanes connecting rural communities were often ambushed and kidnapped.
Despite the frequent reference to Melon Head Road and Dracula Drive in the legends, there isn’t any road in Connecticut by that name. But folklorists have identified it with local roads such as Milford’s Zion Hill Road, New Haven’s Marginal Road, Southbury’s Jeremy Swamp Road, and Trumbull’s Velvet Street.
A variation of the Melon Head legends claims they descended from a 17th- or 18th-century family native to Shelton or Trumbull in Fairfield County. The family fled the town following witchcraft accusations and took up residence in the woods.
They developed large heads after generations of inbreeding.
Folklorists have proposed various theories about the origin of the Melon Heads legends.
Felt Mansion once hosted a Catholic school
ClickonDetroit.com reported that the Melon Head legend might have originated when Felt Mansion was the site of a boys’ private school, St. Augustine Seminary. The school started at the mansion in 1949.
A person who claimed to have attended the school said locals nicknamed the students “Melon Heads” because they considered them “brainy” and privileged.
Insane asylum horror stories
In the era before advances in psychiatric practice, asylums were only facilities for detaining people with mental health issues to prevent them from constituting a nuisance to society.
People held in insane asylums suffered harsh conditions and brutal treatment that was more likely to worsen their condition than improve it.
Since people knew little about the goings-on in the prison-like facilities, they often resorted to wild and fanciful speculation that inspired a genre of urban legends. These stories were the precursors of modern-day horror and haunted house stories.
The stories offered creepy-tale entertainment in an era before modern-day entertainment media.
People were also curious about individuals with inherited and acquired deformities and shared macabre stories about them that reflected ignorance about the causes of various teratogenic conditions.
The Melon Head stories belong to the genre of folklore focussed on sharing creepy tales about people with strange deformities and mental health issues.
Mental asylums in Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut
Many communities in Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut hosted psychiatric asylums. Some of the best-known that inspired creepy folktales included Athens Lunatic Asylum (Ohio), Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (Ohio), and Columbus State Hospital, destroyed by fire in 1868.
Others included Longview Insane Asylum, Kalamazoo Sanitarium (Michigan), and Eloise Asylum in Westland, Michigan.
The history of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, an insane asylum founded in 1247 on the outskirts of London, illustrated the public interest in early mental asylums.
[Fun fact: The word Bedlam, a phonetic truncation of Bethlehem, has passed into the English vocabulary. It means a confused uproar, noisy, or chaotic situation.]
Such was the intensity of interest in “Bedlam” that it became a tourist attraction. The hospital authorities regularly conducted members of London’s high society on guided tours, much like people visit zoological gardens today.
Sightings and Tales
Claimed sightings of the Melon Heads often involved teenagers. There was often an uptick in sightings around Halloween.
Young people exploring Felt Mansion during Halloween have reported seeing ghostly apparitions and witnessing poltergeist activity.
They claim to hear strange sounds, heavy footsteps, shadowy figures in the dark, and curtains moving mysteriously.
In the 1970s, Ohio teenagers reported sighting mysterious creatures with oversized bald heads in the woods around Wisner Road.
Blue Ford Granada incident
An alleged sighting in the 1980s involved a group of girls from Notre Dame High School, Fairfield County, CT.
The girls drove out in a blue Ford Granada on a Friday night. They decided to go Melon Head hunting around Velvet Street in Trumbull.
The girls parked their car on Velvet Street and left the headlights on. They had walked only a short distance into the woods when they heard their car doors slamming shut and the car heading away. The girls claimed they saw small creatures with large heads in the car.
The creatures were in rags, and their eyes glowed orange in the dark.
Saw Mill City Road in Shelton
During construction of the Saw Mill City Road in Shelton, workers claimed to have heard strange voices in the woods and seen strange figures lurking in the shadows.
|Other Name/s||Melon Heads, Wobbleheads|
|Habitat||Cities, Countryside, Forest|
Where to find
https://www.clickondetroit.com/features/2017/01/18/the-legend-of-the-michigan-melon-heads/, “The legend of the Michigan ‘Melon Heads’,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
https://www.wkyc.com/article/life/holidays/halloween/3news-investigates-melon-heads-kirtland/95-31c66168-e6b3-4348-a7c6-7a34127b19eb, “3News investigates the ‘melon heads’ of Kirtland,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
https://wwmt.com/news/local/michigan-monsters-beware-the-melon-heads-of-saugatuck, “Michigan Monsters: Beware the Melon Heads of Saugatuck,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
https://newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/the-melon-heads-of-connecticut/, “The Melon Heads of Connecticut,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedlams-theatre-madness-mental-hospital-8845687, “Bedlam’s theatre of madness: A mental hospital, tourist attraction and the mirror of a nation,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
https://www.damnedct.com/the-melon-heads/, “Connecticut: The Melon Heads,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
http://genealogytrails.com/ohio/ohioinsaneasylums.htm, “State Facilities,” accessed on February 17, 2023.
Melon Heads are humanoid cryptids with large bulbous heads native to Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut. Pic credit: Pixabay