Many of the most famous urban legends in the U.S. are focused on ghost stories, Bigfoot, or that one time your uncle swore that he saw a UFO and little green men. But there are reasons other than ghosts and alien life forms to be wary… at least in Michigan, Ohio, and Connecticut. In the suburbs of these states, locals fear a race of humanoids called melon heads. Each state has its own variation of the melon head urban legend, but everyone who has claimed to have seen these creatures has given the same description. First theorized in the 1970s, melon heads are said to are completely bald with misshapen bulbous heads, deformed arms and legs, teeth like daggers, and luminous red eyes. Appearance aside, the most terrifying thing that every melon head legend has in common is that these creatures were at one time human.
The melon head sightings in Michigan began at the Felt Mansion in Holland (the town, not the country), but the firsthand accounts have spread across other parts of the state such as the woods of Ottawa County and Allegan County. Some Michigan locals believe that the melon heads are what is left of the children at the Junction Insane Asylum near Felt Mansion. The children were all suffering from hydrocephalus, a condition that involves an unusually large amount of cerebral spinal fluid to build within the brain. If there is an early onset of hydrocephalus, it often leads to swelling of the head.
It has been said that the children were physically and emotionally tormented at the asylum until they were eventually turned loose to fend for themselves in the forrest. Although this version of the legend has been passed along multiple generations, Allegan County Historical Society claims that there never was an asylum near Felt Mansion. An alternative local theory is that the children resided in the Felt Mansion and mysteriously fled, taking shelter in underground caves. Others believe that the children murdered the doctor who abused them and hid pieces of his body throughout the mansion.
Ohio’s melon heads are said to spend most of their time lurking in the suburbs of Kirtland. Like the Michigan legend, the legend in Ohio is also centered around children under the care of a dangerous doctor, only this legend places the children in an orphanage rather than an insane asylum. Known mainly by the name “Dr. Crow,” this doc was supposedly responsible for performing scientific experiments on the children, causing their hair to fall out and their bodies to mutate. Also similar to the Michigan myth is the theory that these children were diagnosed with hydrocephalus. However, in Ohio, legend has it that Dr. Crow made the children’s heads even larger by injecting their brains with excess fluid. After murdering the sadistic doctor and setting fire to the orphanage, the children led a feral life in the woods, becoming cannibals.
In southwest Connecticut, there are several versions of the melon heads myth. The most popular version tells the story of melon heads the survived a fire in their insane asylum in the early 1960s. The patients took refuge in the woods around Fairfield County and New Haven County, their deformities being the result of cannibalism and inbreeding. Another theory is that the melon heads date back to Colonial times and that they were members of the Shelton-Trumbull family tree, after which two Connecticut towns were named. In this variation of the legend, the Shelton-Trumbull clan were exiled on the charge of witchcraft, and their only chance of survival was to seek shelter in the woods… and once again the melon heads’ disfigurement is attributed to inbreeding and feeding on anyone who wandered through their new home.
We may never actually know where the melon heads came from or if they existed at all. But if you are planning to visit the woods in any of these three states, keep watch through the trees… because it might be feeding time.