The Ancient and Esoteric Order of the Jackalope

a photo of Pedro, Wyoming's own midget mummy

Vote for Pedro

Wyoming's own midget mummy

It was the summer of 1932.

Cecil Main and Frank Carr from Alliance, Nebraska were gophering for gold in the San Pedro Mountains west of Casper, Wyoming. As two men made their way through a gulch, they caught a glint of “color” on a nearby rock face. They lit a stick of dynamite to see if they could blast free anything of interest.

When the smoke cleared Main and Carr found themselves staring into a small natural cavern, 4′ tall, 4′ wide, 15′ deep, and completely sealed off from the outside world.

It wasn’t empty. Scattered on the floor of the cave were tiny stone arrowheads, less than an inch long, almost like children’s toys. And then there was the thing.

At first it was just an indistinct shape at the far end of the cave. As Cecil and Frank drew closer they realized it was a funny little man sitting on a narrow ledge, with his hands resting on his crossed legs like the Buddha in repose. And when I say little, I mean little. He was only 6″ tall sitting down, and might only be 14″ to 20″ tall even if he stood up.

Cecil and Frank half-expected the little man to get up and start dancing around, but then they took a closer look. His reddish-bronze skin was dry and leathery, his eyes glazed over. They soon realized he was dead but perfectly preserved, mummified by the dry mountain air.

The little man’s visage was hideous and grotesque, with a low flat forehead, bugged-out eyes, a broad nose and mouth, and thin lips drawn up into a snarl or scowl. There was a light down covering his entire body, and a small tuft of silvery hair on the back of his neck. Cecil couldn’t quite tell whether it was a small child or some sort of pygmy or dwarf. Frank knew what it was right away:

My gawd, it can’t be… By golly, Cecil! Darn if it ain’t one of those pint-sized devils the Arapahoe and Shoshone Indians know about — or the mummy of one!

Native Americans had long told of little people hiding in the San Pedros. They were knee-high demons, cunning, clever, and highly territorial. More than one tribe had been driven back into the lowlands by a few volleys of poison arrows. The Shoshone knew the little men as the nininmbe (“mountain men”) and the Arapaho as the nimerigar (“people eaters”). The Cheyenne and Sioux didn’t have a special name for them, because they wisely refused to go anywhere near the little buggers.

No white man had ever seen a ninimbe or nimerigar before, but here was one in the flesh.

The dry, fragile flesh.

Cecil and Frank gently lifted the funny little man from his resting place, wrapped him in a bandanna, and laid him in a boot box. They rushed out of the hills and down into Casper to show everyone what they had found. While Cecil made a report to the sheriff, Frank took the box to the hospital to show him off to a friend.

There’s a man in this box! Look at him! Got him in a cave that we blasted open. He was…

Sure, sure, Frank. Where’s the morning paper you promised to bring?

After a brief commotion the strange little man was turned over to the state historian, Mrs. Cyrus Beard, who examined him for several weeks but could discover nothing more about the mummy or where he came from. She wanted to purchase it for the state museum, but the legislature refused because it was the middle of the Great Depression and money was tight.

Mrs. Beard reluctantly returned the mummy to Cecil Main… and to Cecil Main alone. In the intervening months, Frank Carr had contracted a wasting disease, which he blamed on the mummy.

The Curse of the Pedro Chain is upon us! Looks like our number is up, Cecil — maybe double death, but God grant that it won’t be by violence.

Eager to pass along the curse, Main sold the mummy to businessman and collector Homer F. Sherrill. Sherrill had resources Main did not, and had the mummy examined by experts in Casper, the Field Museum in Chicago, and Harvard University.

The eggheads proved once and for all that the mummy was genuine. X-rays showed that it had a complete skeleton and internal organs. Not only that but an adult bone structure, with a closed fontanel and a complete set of molars and wisdom teeth. The front teeth had been sharpened to vicious points, possibly to help it tear and rend the undigested red meat found in its stomach. It had dirt under its fingernails and toenails, a fractured left clavicle, and visible wounds indicating that it had died violently. It was definitely male — the fact that he was hanging dong was a dead giveaway. The mummy had been at least 65 years old at the time of his death, and had lived at least 9,000 years ago and possibly as far back as 500,000 years ago. Whether it was a Native American pygmy or from some lost race of man, they could not say.

Once Sherrill knew the mummy was genuine, he took the next obvious step. He put him on exhibit as a sideshow attraction to lure potential customers to his used car business. The Pedro Curse soon caught up with him, though. The used car business floundered and Sherrill forced to sell the mummy. The next owner also fell victim to the Pedro Curse, as did the next, as did the next.

By 1950 the mummy was back in Casper, in the possession of businessman Ivan Goodman. On the recommendation of an associate, Goodman took the mummy to New York to be examined by experts. During the trip Goodman collapsed and died in the street… the final victim of the Pedro Curse.

As for the mummy, it vanished from Goodman’s hotel room, never to be seen aga…. cough cough Ugh, that’s so hard on the throat. How does the Cryptonaturalist do it? That can’t be his real voice, can it?

The Rest of the Story

That, my friends, is the story of the San Pedro Mountains mummy, or “Pedro” to his friends, or “Wyoming’s own midget mummy” if you’re the Weekly World News.

It’s a fun story, to be sure. But is it true?

It’s hard to say, because like many tales it has changed greatly during the telling, with important but inconvenient details being omitted and eventually being replaced with exaggerations and outright lies. Let’s see if we can knock off all the sensationalistic cruft and get at the truth.

Pedro was real, everyone agrees on that. There’s a mountain of documentary evidence that attests to that: newspaper reports, photographs, x-rays, etc. And of course there’s also eyewitness testimony from those who saw him on exhibit over the years.

He was not a mummy in the traditional sense of the word. His condition was not the deliberate result of an elaborate burial ritual but an accident of climate and chance. This is not unusual, because the dry mountain air of the Rockies is apparently a hell of a preservative. Similar mummies have been found by miners, shepherds, hikers, fishermen, and anthropologists. In the 1960s several were discovered near Yellowstone in what eventually became known as “Mummy Cave,” which was featured prominently in Science magazine and National Geographic.

The earliest mention of Pedro specifically comes from October 1932, when state historian Mrs. Cyrus Beard returns the mummy to Cecil Main. The date of his discovery is harder to pin down: some say January, others June, and even others October. There’s no way to know for sure which date is right, but if we assume Mrs. Beard took a few weeks to examine the mummy then June seems like the most likely option.

It is not clear where he was found, either. Cecil Main was never able to find the cave again, throwing its very existence into some doubt. Indeed, the primary reason the state museum declined to purchase the mummy was not lack of funds, but lack of clear provenance. They weren’t going to waste their budget on artifacts of unknown origin.

Main did file an affidavit recounting his version of the discovery story, which more or less conforms with the story I first told. If you’ve heard our episode on Gustave Blair, though, you’ll know that people lie in affidavits all the time, making them practically useless as a means of discovering the truth. It’s also worrying that Main’s affidavit was only written in 1936, some four years after the purported discovery, and not notarized or filed until 1943. That’s a huge red flag.

At some point Main (or Beard) seems to have taken Pedro to a Dr. Whitby at the Memorial Hospital in Casper. Dr. Whitby took some x-rays, and discovered that the mummy’s oddly flattened head was the result of anencephaly, a rare condition where a developing fetus never forms a brain, usually caused by severe malnutrition in the mother. He was not a full grown pygmy or dwarf, but an unfortunate infant who could not survive outside his mother for more than a few days at most. Assuming he wasn’t stillborn.

In April 1934 Main sold Pedro to serial entrepreneur Homer F. Sherrill of Crawford, Nebraska. At various points in his career Sherrill had been an insurance salesman, a milliner, a restaurateur, a liquor store operator… but mostly he was a used car salesman, famously the most trustworthy and honest of all professions.

Sherrill took the mummy to his own expert, Dr. L.E. Perkins of Harvard University. Dr. Perkins came to the opposite conclusion from Dr. Whitby, that Pedro was a full-grown adult, dated back to the middle of the Pleistocene era, and likely came from a race of humanity that pre-dated the Native Americans.

This was less impressive than it sounds. For starters, Dr. Perkins was not a paleontologist or anthropologist or ethnologist but a physician at Harvard Medical. His analysis of the mummy appears to have been rushed and cursory, and it’s not clear if he took x-rays of the mummies or ran any sort of chemical tests. The idea that there were pre-Native American peoples in North America is an outdated one unsupported by evidence, and promoted mostly by those interested in junk race science.

Perhaps most damningly, Perkins was Homer Sherrill’s brother-in-law, making almost anything he had to say suspect. Assuming he actually said it in the first place, and Sherrill wasn’t just making it all up.

Sherrill also claimed that Pedro had been examined by the Field Museum in Chicago, and had been briefly exhibited there. The museum has no record of such an exhibit, and there are no contemporary reports of one.

Shortly after purchasing Pedro, Sherrill put him to work as a carnival attraction. For the next several years he was a regular presence at county fairs and carnivals throughout Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. To promote these appearances, Sherrill printed out a series of advertisements and flyers full of sensationalistic and unverified statements.

These advertisements are the source of claims that Pedro had filed teeth in his mouth, undigested red meat in his stomach, dirt under his fingernails, and mortal wounds indicating a violent death. They also state that the cave where he was found was littered with tiny arrowheads, a detail not present in any other version of the story.

Then there’s “the Curse of the San Pedro Mountains” that will strike down all of those who disturbed the mummy’s eternal rest. This not something from actual folklore, but a piece of fakelore inspired by the so-called “Curse of King Tut” and the then-current Universal Mummy movies staring Boris Karloff.

If there ever was such a curse, it must have worked retroactively. By the time he discovered Pedro, 23-year-old Cecil Main had lost two children in infancy, was divorced from his wife on grounds of mental cruelty, and had been seriously injured in a car accident, albeit the sort of serious injury that makes it completely impossible for you to work during the week but not impossible to go prospecting in the mountains on the weekend. (Another blow to his credibility.) The curse also apparently took its sweet time, because Main managed to outlive everyone else who ever owned the mummy, dying in 1954.

Ah, but what about Frank Carr, the Pedro Curse’s first victim? Well, here’s the kicker: Frank Carr may not have existed in the first place. Contemporary reports of Pedro’s discovery don’t mention Carr at all. Sherrill’s pamphlets are the first time he comes into the picture, and they can’t seem to decide whether he’s “Frank Carr” or “Frank Garr.” If he was a real person, his role in the story was minor at best. If he wasn’t, he seems to have been added to the story solely to provide the curse with a victim.

Sherrill was also the first person to claim that Pedro was some sort of Native American spirit. (To clarify: the legends of the ninimbe and nimerigar are real, the ninimbe and nimerigar themselves likely aren’t.)

As is often the case with sideshow exhibits, Pedro eventually exhausted the local market and was no longer a draw. Sherrill sold the mummy, which passed through several different owners before winding up in the possession of Floyd Jones, a druggist from Meeteetse, Wyoming. (Jones would later claim the mummy was forced on him by a relative who wanted to get rid of it, White Elephant style.) Jones put Pedro on display in his front window, rented him out to other druggists in Casper and Denver, and had a small sideline selling postcards bearing his likeness.

In 1946 Jones began worrying that someone was going to steal Pedro and decided it was time to get out of the carnival business. He sold the mummy to Ivan Goodman, a serial entrepreneur from Casper. According to Goodman’s long-suffering wife the mummy cost them several thousand dollars. Her revenge was that she would not let him bring the hideous little thing into the house.

Goodman had been an insurance agent, a real estate agent, ran an ice cream factory, and owned a service station, but like Homer Sherrill he was primarily a used car salesman. Before 1947, his shtick was that he was “Honest Ivan”, “The Angel of B Street”, “The World’s Best-Known Used Car Dealer”, whose ads were peppered with corny dad jokes. After 1947, his shtick was you could walk into his dealership and see Wyoming’s own midget mummy.

Goodman kept Pedro in a memorable display setting that quickly became famous: seated on a stout cedar plank and covered with a thick glass dome. His ads touted Pedro as “The world’s rarest human mummy!” and proclaimed “It’s Educational! It’s Scientific! It will amaze and thrill you! It’s a pygmy preserved as it actually lived!” When the mummy failed to draw the expected crowds at the used car dealership, Honest Ivan threw it in the back of his station wagon and took it on the road, exhibiting it at carnivals and fairs and the occasional college campus, where he charged 25¢ a peek.

In 1948 a curious carnival-goer suggested to Goodman that he should run some more up-to-date tests on Pedro, so Goodman sent the mummy to New York to be examined by Dr. Harry L. Shapiro of the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Shapiro had access too the mummy for about a month and took some x-rays, but was too busy to do any sort of microscopy or run chemical tests.

Shapiro was confirmed that Pedro was indeed human, though he cautiously refrained from making definitive statements about him age, origins, or any potential injuries. He did state that the body was likely not a dwarf or pygmy, because if it was full grown it would be significantly smaller than any such individual known to modern science, and if it wasn’t it didn’t conform to any known growth patterns for such individuals. Instead he suggested that Pedro, you guessed it, was the naturally mummified remains of an anencephalous child.

Unsatisfied with Shapiro’s conclusions, Goodman sent Pedro to be examined by Dr. Paul Martin at the Field Museum of Chicago. Dr. Martin ran a few tests, and then announced his judgment: Pedro was, wait for it, the naturally mummified remains of an anencephalous child.

Despite these judgments Goodman continued to advertise Pedro as coming from hitherto-unknown tribe of Native American little people. It seems he was more interested in using Shapiro and Martin to get x-ray images he could run in his ads than he was in any sort of scientific rigor.

Goodman took Pedro back east once more in November 1950. While he was in New York he collapsed in the middle of the street… but he did not die there. He made it all the way back to Casper, where his doctors discovered a large brain tumor. Goodman died a few weeks later in Denver during an operation to remove it.

One thing is true, though. Goodman went to New York with Pedro… and when he returned, Pedro was not with him. And he was never seen anywhere in public, ever again.

¿Dónde es Pedro?

Ironically, disappearing made Pedro more famous than ever. The combination of mysterious mummy and mysterious disappearance proved too alluring for the press to resist. It became the subject of countless paranormal puff pieces over the years.

Much of this coverage was driven by Ivan Goodman’s son Dixon Goodman, who asserted that mummy had been stolen. His claimed that his father had taken it to New York to show off to either a scientist who wanted to examine it, or a fellow carney who wanted to buy it. In either case that individual turned out to be a con artist who disappeared with the mummy and who was never seen again.

It wasn’t clear how much Dixon could be trusted. His version of the Pedro’s history seemed to wildly differ from the chronology had already been established, like his assertion that the mummy had originally acquired from a shepherd who found him in the mountains. If the mummy had been stolen why did he not file a police report? If he knew who his father had been meeting with, why was he reluctant to name them? Especially if they were in hiding?

In 1969, a Casper librarian accidentally named the individual in response to a press inquiry: S. Leonard Wadler.

This was astounding, because if S. Leonard Wadler was trying to keep a low profile, he was doing a terrible job of it. Wadler was a graduate of Yeshiva College and a psychologist specializing in love, but who seemed to love publicity more than anything else. In the 1950s he ran a “Lonely Hearts Club” in Brooklyn that preached the gospel of singlehood and self-reliance. In the 1960s he changed his tune after getting married, and instead operated a Museum of Love, Courtship and Marriage on Broadway, a few storefronts down from Lincoln Center. When the museum went under in the early 1970s he retired to Florida, where he died in 1980.

Dixon Goodman reached out to Wadler’s family to see if he could recover Pedro from them. The Wadlers said they had no idea what he was talking about. Dixon spent the rest of his life looking for the mummy, but never found it before his own death in 2022.

The search continues to this day, with Dixon’s oldest son Guy Goodman taking up his father’s quest. Such is the fate of the Pellinores, I guess.

In 1994 Pedro was featured on an episode of the TV show Unsolved Mysteries, which interviewed Dixon Goodman, Pedro super fan Eugene Bashor, and University of Wyoming anthropologist George W. Gill. When the episode ran, their phone lines lit up with hundreds of calls and hot tips… none of which led to Pedro. Some of the callers seemed to have their own midget mummies which they wanted to get verified. Most of them had unverifiable origin stories very similar to Pedro — found in the mountains by a shepherd or miner — and almost all of them turned out to be crude fakes made by unscrupulous charlatans. One was even carved out of a turnip.

The most recent attempt to recover Pedro came in 2005, when John Adolphi offered to pay $10,000 for the mummy’s return, no question asked. Adolphi, a “Young Earth” Creationist and owner of Bibleland Studios, intended to make Pedro the centerpiece of a Creationist museum, tangible proof that evolution was a lie. (He did not elaborate on how, excatly that would work.) The cash reward turned up a few leads — he was on a tribal reservation in Wyoming, he was at a garage sale in New Jersey — but in the end they all turned out to be wild goose chases. Adolphi quietly retracted his offer.

Pedro is still missing to this day.

So where is he? The way I see it there are three options.

Number one is that Pedro is no longer with us. He managed to last a long time up there in the dry mountain air, but maybe being under a glass dome on a cedar plank isn’t a good long-term storage solution. The pies at the diner certainly don’t seem to last forever. There’s a good chance that rough handling and the elements have taken their toll on his fragile form.

Number two is that Pedro is the possession of someone who doesn’t know what they have, or who doesn’t even know that they have him. If he’s tucked away in a back room or an attic or a storage locker, that opens up the possibility that one day he’ll resurface on an episode of Antiques Roadshow or Storage Wars.

Number three is that Pedro is in the possession of someone who does know exactly what they have, some rich private collector who knows that even if they’re not the receiver of stolen goods their ownership rests on a very shaky provenance. The Goodmans, you see, aren’t the only ones who would be interested in Pedro if he resurfaces. He would almost certainly be subjected to a claim under NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which would almost certainly lead to an expensive years-long court battle with an uncertain outcome.

Which possibility do I favor? Always follow the money, I say.


Okay, so we have no idea where Pedro is. What about the other key question: what is Pedro? An unfortunate stillborn baby? A Native American pygmy? Some sort of fairy or leprechaun?

At this point in our tale three trustworthy doctors and scientists have all come to the same unambiguous conclusion, but maybe you’re still unconvinced. Maybe you need one more.

Here’s one more.

In the 1970s George W. Gill, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, became interested in Pedro when students kept pestering him about it. He found the tale intriguing, and soon became the world’s foremost authority on the midget mummy. Whenever someone was writing about Pedro and needed a quote from a living scientist, Gill was their go-to guy. He was even featured on that 1994 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Gill struck up a correspondence with Harry Shapiro of the American Museum of Natural History, who had examined the mummy in 1948. It turns out Shapiro still had all of his notes from his examination, and gladly sent copies of the files to Gill. That included the first crisp x-rays of Pedro that had been seen in years, and both Gill and Shapiro agreed that they clearly showed Pedro was (say it with me) an anencephalous infant. They also independently concluded that Pedro was probably not more than a few hundred years old, but conceded that without material to test it would be impossible to know.

We already mentioned that Unsolved Mysteries brought a lot of folks out of the woodwork, most of them with their own fake midget mummies. They weren’t all fakes, though. One elderly man had a Pedro-liked mummy that seemed to be genuine, but he didn’t want to have it x-rayed because he didn’t want to know if it was real.

And then there was Chiquita.

Chiquita was yet another mummy, a tiny girl about the size of a baked potato with blonde hair. She had purportedly been found in a hidden mountain cave by a shepherd in 1929. (If this sounds familiar, well, Dixon Goodman confusingly made the same claim about Pedro, and several other mummy owners made similar claims. It makes you wonder if there really was a shepherd out there doling out midget mummies when he needed extra cash, or if it’s just a convenient way to say, “I don’t know where this came from, and I don’t care.”)

Chiquita’s current owners were interested in knowing more about their family heirloom, and reached out to Gill. He was able to negotiate access to the mummy, three separate sessions, so he could conduct a series of non-invasive tests including x-rays, DNA testing, and carbon dating. The tests revealed that Chiquita was, go figure, an anencephalous baby, with DNA markers indicating Native American heritage, and dated from the Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century.

When the tests were finished, Chiquita’s owners reclaimed her and then disappeared, never to be seen again.

It’s been three-quarters of a century since anyone has seen Pedro, and a decade since anyone’s seen Chiquita. They were hiding up there in the San Pedros for centuries, though. Maybe they just needed to take a break from the spotlight to recharge their batteries. Or maybe they just yearn for the silence of the grave, and we should let them be.

That might be the best option. After all, none of us wants to be the next victim of the Pedro Curse.


Pedro isn’t the only sidewshow attraction to mysteriously disappear. In 1969 the country was fascinated by a frozen Bigfoot nicknamed “the Minnesota Ice Man,” which may or may not have been replaced by a rubber dummmy before it could be examined by scientists (“The Ape-Man Creature of Whiteface Customized My Van”).


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Artist. Lover. Social Media Unfluencer. Acknowledged authority on lucrative bogs. Dave "The Knave" White is all this and more. But most days he's a web developer, graphic designer, and cartoonist. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, his two cats, and his crippling obsession with strange trivia.

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a photo of Pedro, Wyoming's own midget mummy

Vote for Pedro

Wyoming's own midget mummy

It was the summer of 1932. Cecil Main and Frank Carr from Alliance, Nebraska were gophering for gold in the San Pedro Mountains west of Casper, Wyoming. As two men made their way through a gulch, they caught a glint of “color” on a nearby rock face. They lit a stick of dynamite to see […]

Categories: Intriguing & Unsolved Mysteries, Series 13, Wild Card