Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, August 03, 2015

More on the City Island Sea Serpent, Pelham's Monster of the Deep

As I have said many times, Loch Ness, Scotland has nothing on the little Town of Pelham, New York.  The City Island Sea Serpent has been sighted off Pelham shores on many more occasions and clearly is a much fiercer beast that has tossed ships out of the water and even taken on steamboats in the waters of the Sound. After one sighting, the beast was described in terms that make clear that dear Nessie of Loch Ness must be a doting, slow, and gentle distant relative of the fierce City Island Sea Serpent.

I have written on many occasions regarding the City Island Sea Serpent seen for many decades in waters off Pelham, along Long Island Sound and even near New York City.  For a few examples of such writings, see:

Bell, Blake A., The Sea Serpent of the Sound: Spotted in Pelham Waters in 1877, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIV, Issue 29, July 29, 2005, p. 9, col. 1. 

Wed., Oct. 29, 2014:  Sea Serpent of City Island: Sea Serpent Sighted in 1877 Returned on Many Occasions.

Wed., Jun. 29, 2005:  The Sea Serpent of the Sound: Spotted in Pelham Waters in 1877 (Part I)

Thu., Jun. 30, 2005:  The Sea Serpent of the Sound: Spotted in Pelham Waters in 1877 (Part II)

Fri., Jul. 01, 2005:  The Sea Serpent of the Sound: Spotted in Pelham Waters in 1877 (Part III).

Detail from 19th Century "Bird's Eye View" Map of Manhattan
Entitled "NEW YORK" Published by Rogers, Peet & Co.
With Reports of Sightings of the Sea Serpent of the Sound 
Arising on Nearly an Annual Basis Late in the Nineteenth
Century, the Mapmaker, Tongue-in-Cheek, Included this
Serpent Cavorting in the Waters Near Manhattan.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog collects much more research about the "serpent" in the form of transcribed articles and published images.  The material is included in roughly chronological order beginning immediately below.



So much has been said of a sea serpent in the Sound, that the curiosity of Mr. Lou Merritt and many others has been aroused, and Mr. M. determined to ferret out the mystery.  He goes bass spearing every night and paddles slowly along the shore in a small row-boat made very strong and capable of resisting the fury of the fish when captured.  In the stern is a lamp and huge reflector, which sweeps the bottom of the sea.  When he sees his game he drops the oars and seizes his 'lily-iron' and with a rapid, skillful movement thrusts the sharp prongs into its back.  John Myers accompanied him Saturday night week, to witness the proceedings.  The brilliant light attracted the billiard-ball eyes of his serpentship and -- but the story is better told by Mr. Merritt himself, in a note to one of our prominent citizens, which we are permitted to give verbatim et literatim:


There has bin a rumor about seeing a monster in the Sound, and it has been seen by a number.  Some prenounce it a sea serpent and some a whale and 2 or 3 hundred feet long.  I have had graite desire to see it and have said i would spear him.  On Saturday night last I came up on his serpentship and had a chance to hit him as I was looking for Bas off flat Rock neare Greenwich point, with hamp and spare [hemp and spear].  Mr. John Myres was with me -- wee saw something floating on the surface of the water about two hundred yeards off -- I suposed it to be a spare.  I shoved the boat off to it as I came up to it the heade was raised out out [sic] of the water about 5 or 6 feet his mouth opend [sic] with a tremenous [sic] hiss I droped [sic] the speare I held in my hand and picked up a small harpoon and struck him 8 or 10 feet from the head, then he started and threw his taile over the Boat clearing Myres head about two inches, throuing a quantety of water in the Boat he commenced to circle around the Boat the water was all of a fome and such a boble I could hardley manage the Boat.  Myres haire stood strate on end now I do not scare worth a cent but I will acknoledg my haire never felt so much like brissels in my life  I droped on that seate and maid for the shore.  I thout I heard some one call me on shore the monster made one circle around us but I cut him out of the second by getting close to the shore he turned and struck a bee line for long island casting his heade about 8 or 10 feet out of water making as much sea as a steamer  But at the Raite he was going I do not beleve he could stop and went rite over the island into Atlantic this monster is about 50 or 60 feet long and about as big around as a flour barrell in the middle has a fin running the whole lenght [sic] of his back like an eel he has a sort of crown on his heade his eyes are about the size of Billiard balls his teeth are 5 or 6 inches long, a kinde of hocked horne.  Mr. Myres has made up his mind those that want to hunt sea serpents can count him out and I pass.

wee want no more spares floting round in the nght [sic] (signed) ALONZO MERRITT

Mr. Myres will cooberate this statement.'"

Source:  Greenwich -- THE SEA SERPENT AGAIN, The Port Chester Journal, Oct. 11, 1877, Vol. IX, No. 464, p. 1, col. 7.


A Real Simon Pure Sea Serpent and All About Him.

From the Greenwich (Conn.) Observer, Aug. 1.

Captain J. H. Merritt gives this description of it:  "While off Rocky Point, in a sail boat, we observed an unusual commotion in the water fifty or sixty yards from us; but thinking it might be caused by a whale, which, though scarce, are not altogether unknown in the Sound, we proceeded on our way, at the same time keeping a lookout to the lee'ard.  What was our amazement, however, when we beheld, shortly after, the darnedest looking specimen of a fish we ever saw or heard tell of floating on the water right abreast of us.  I tell you, sir, it almost made my hair stand on end, and the other fellows were in a worse fix than me.  I've sailed in most every ocean and sea, lake and river, dared death in all its shapes, passed through storms and scenes of danger of the greatest magnitude unscared; but, sir, I never felt I was so near going to kingdom come as i did last Tuesday, I should say the sea-serpent (for such I believe it to have been) was between seventy and eighty feet long,, of a dark, dull, green color on the back, gradually getting lighter towards the belly, which was perfectly yellow; the head of the monster, I should judge, was about three feet long and two feet broad, with a diameter of probably one foot through the flat side, and resembled the head of a frog, with the exception that it had fierce, fiery eyes that seemed to electrify one; the neck was long and round, a lighter shade in color than the body, and had the appearance of a snake -- in shape I mean; but heavens how much larger!  The thickest part of the body was all of nine feet in circumference, and terminated in a tail the length and breadth of which I could not tell you, for it kept lashing the water until it became a seething, boiling mass for a number of yards around.  It makes me shudder to think of it now.  The head was poised in the air as the monster sailed or rather wriggled along on the surface of the water, which it did for a considerable distance, and then disappeared from our view, and we were not sorry for it, either.  The object remained above water only a few minutes, consequently I won't swear to the accuracy of my description, but I give it as correctly as my brief observation of the monster will permit of.  I tell you, sir, there's a sea serpent in the Sound if there was one anywhere.  Some folks may and some may not believe it; but believe it or not it's true as sure as my name is John Merrit.  I have no object in telling a lie, and would not do so were I to be benefitted thereby.'"

Source:  AT LAST!  AT LAST! -- A Real Simon Pure Sea Serpent and All About Him, Oswego Daily Times [Oswego, NY], Aug. 12, 1878, Vol. XXXVII, No. 158, p. 3, col. 2.  

Positively it Was Not a Porpoise -- Its Resemblance to a Seal and a Giraffe -- An 'Oiler's' Exploits with a Reporter.

A story to the effect that Mr. Kelley, 'an assistant engineer' of the steamer State of New York, had seen a sea-serpent in the Sound,, having been published in the newspapers, a reporter of the EVENING POST was sent to investigate the matter.  According to the printed report the animal had 'a horrible looking head with a wide-open mouth,' and a body 'as large around as that of a big horse;' when the head had disappeared a part of the body was seen, 'forming an arc under which it would have been easy, so far as space was concerned, to have driven a team of oxen.  There were several smaller curves indicating a long body.'  The State of New York arrived this morning, and Mr. Kelley was found on board of her.

'Is that story true, Mr. Kelley,' asked the reporter, with the grave and earnest manner of a striver after knowledge; 'is that story true about your having seen a sea-serpent!'

'Oh, it was too tall,' responded Mr. Kelley, with the air of a man who was bored.

'But there was a sea-serpent, wasn't there?'

'Yes, but the reporter put the figures too high.  Now if he had written just what I told him, he would have been right.  Then he called me 'an assistant engineer.'  I ain't an assistant engineer.'

'What are you!'

'I am only an oiler.  I have been an assistant engineer on some lines, but now I am only an oiler -- and it has made a good deal of trouble.  What did he call me 'an assistant engineer for?'

'Was the sea-serpent a large one,' persisted the reporter, with dignity.

'It might a' weighed a ton.  I was standing by that gangway over there, and he stuck his head up out of the water, and then toppled over just like a hoop-snake.  You have seen a hoop-snake, haven't you?  Well, he fell over just like a hoop.'

'How hight did he raise his head?'

'He put it up like that' (resting his elbow on a rail, and holding his fore-arm perpendicular and rigid).

'Three or four feet high?'

'Yes, but I suppose he looked bigger than he was.  He acted just like a snake.  He stuck his head up, waved it, and then plunged over into the water.'

'What color was he?'


'Have a forked tongue?' 

'No; I didn't see him but a second.  He was off in a jiffy.  I never saw but one other like him. That was twenty years ago.  He acted just like a snake.'

'Was his head as big as a snake's?'

'Bless you -- that wide' (measuring two feet with his hands).

'He popped up like a seal, didn't he?'

'Yes; now that you speak of it, his head did look like a seal's'

'And he reached up with it somewhat like a giraffe?'

'Yes; he kind o' stretched it out that way.  He just looked at the boat, turned around and went under.  He seemed scared.'

'Any whiskers on his cheeks?'

'I couldn't see.  He got off so quick.'  

'You are sure he wasn't a porpoise?'

'What time o'day was it?'

'About 7 o'clock in the evening, and we were making sixteen knots an hour.' 


'Between Stratford and Huntington on the Long Island shore.  The fellows here say it's all a big lie.  But I saw him' (with emphasis).

'There are a good many queer animals in the aquariums, you know,' observed the reporter sympathetically, and by no means incredulously.  'Did you ever see the devil fish?'

'Yes, I've seen him.  But there's that reporter went and called me 'an assistant engineer.'  And if he had only written what I told him -- '

The sentence was never finished.  A fireman came up, and in a tone savoring somewhat of sarcasm, which, however, Mr. Kelley did not deign to notice, said:  'Engineer, how much coal do you want in the bunkers?'

'Fill them,' replied the other, 'as full as they can hold.'  Having been treated in like manner himself, the reporter withdrew."

Source:  WAS IT A SEA-SERPENT?, The Evening Post [NY, NY] Third Edition, Sep. 6, 1878, p. 4, col. 7.   


Serious Defence of its Supposed Existence.

The time has already gone by when to discredit the declarations of the many sea captains and their crews, and of other persons who make oath of having seen a sea monster resembling a gigantic eel, or serpent, upwards of 100 feet long, involves a greater degree of credulity than does the acceptance of this mass of concurrent testimony.  for, be it noted, these men have no earthly object to lie about this matter.  There is, indeed, every reason, except the devotion to truth, for their keeping silent such a subject -- since to relate what they saw is only to invite ridicule.  Yet there have been three or four such cases, of vessels coming into American ports alone, during the last ten years; one, in February, seven or eight years ago, a captain and crew who reached new York from South America, and who repaired to a magistrate and took oath that on the preceding day when the vessel was six or eight miles off Barnegat, they saw a large sea serpent lift his head and body to a height of twenty feet or so, very near the vessel, and that the men were for a moment paralyzed with fright at his ugly look.  A British captain and crew make oath to having seen one off Cape St. Roque, Brazil.  An officer of one of the Hartford and New York steamers testified to having seen such a thing on Long Island Sound.  A score of cases have been published in which the sight of such a creature is described, in various parts of the world, during the last dozen years; and the accounts of some such monster seen at various times are almost as old as history.  Are all these accounts falsehoods?

The sea is vastly larger, as well as vastly older, than the land.  It teems with as great and varied a population; why should it not have creatures larger than those on land?  The saurians, the alligator tribe, survivors of earth's early creatures, are amphibious; why should there not remain, unseen in the ocean depths, still larger and more formidable types of the creatures of the earlier ages?  On the wide waste of the Pacific a ship or a steamer sees no sail for days or weeks; even on the route between New York and Liverpool one sails perhaps all day without even seeing a sail.  Is it wonderful, then, that in the boundless expanse of sea, these creatures may exist and yet very seldom be met with? -- Hartford times."

Source:  THE SEA SERPENT, Brooklyn Daily Union-Argus, Sep. 18, 1879, Vol. XVII, No. 4, p. 1, col. 2.  



A claim of having seen a genuine sea serpent off Long Beach on Sunday is made by M. S. Russell, of No. 188 Bridge-st., Brooklyn.  He is a clothier and went out on Sunday morning with Jsoeph Smithson, of No. 612 Atlantic-ave., for a day's fishing.  A man named Weener, of Gravesend, sailed their boat.  At noon while he was trying to draw a cork from a beer bottle, Mr. Russell's attention was called by his companion to an object a short distance away.  It looked like a snake, he says, with a body as thick as a barrel and almost thirty yards long.  It swam swiftly with a serpentine motion and made waves which rocked the boat.  After appearing above the surface for a couple of minutes, the animal disappeared beneath the surface.  Mr. Smithson corroborated his companion's story."

Source:  THE CORK-DRAWER SIGHTED A SEA SERPENT, N.Y. Tribune, Jun. 6, 1888, Vol. XLVIII, No. 15,179, p. 10, col. 3.


Tentacles Wound on the Windlass -- The Monster Hit a Porpoise and Was Set Upon by a Boxing School, Which Finished Him.

Captain Obadiah Donaldson has plied the waters of the sound for years and years, and no one has ever accused him of telling a lie.  If any one else but Captain Donaldson had steamed into port with the yarn that he brought to Bridgeport, Conn., the other day, he would have been publicly scoffed at.  But Captain Obadiah has said it, and it goes. 

He came into harbor with his steam oyster dredger, which is a cross between a tugboat and a mud scow in search of coal.  Five of his sailors then landed with a thin substance looking very much like 100 feet of fire hose.  This they laid out on the wharf.  Seadogs assembled in convention over it, but shook their heads nonplused [sic], being unable to make it out at all.  Then Captain Donaldson spoke in these words: 

'That,' said he, 'is the arm of an octopus, which can be easily verified.  I take it that its 100 feet long now, being as it's shrunk, but it was twice that length when we caught it.

'The fight in which we got it occurred shortly after 10 o'clock this morning.  We were steaming five miles off Stratford light, were going four knots an hour, and we were in 15 fathoms of water.  I was heading east by southeast two points, and the wind was blowing north by northwest seven points, all of which can be verified. 

'Suddenly on the starboard bow 500 feet ahead I spied a huge mass, black and motionless, lying on the surface of the water, which was as smooth as a pond.  I changed my course one point and rang the bell for a full head of steam in order to hurry up and see what the black thing was.  I soon made it out as an octopus, 60 feet in diameter, with arms and legs a couple of hundred feet long.

'I didn't want any of that in mine.  I brought the wheel down to clear the monster.  He was in a deep sleep, and his snores could be heard quite a way off.  But I was too late.  The boat struck him amidships.  He awoke in a jiffy.  At first he thought we were a nightmare, but he rubbed his eyes and identified us as enemies, though heaven knows, I had no wish to fight him. 

'He darted at us, kicking up the sea.  One of his long arms came aboard and seized the forward steam windlass.  He wound his arm around it, thinking, I suppose, that it was a sailor.  The mate, with great presence of mind started the windlass, and in less time than it takes to tell it a couple of hundred feet of the arm was wound in, and we had the fish a prisoner. 

'But we'd caught a Tartar.  He began to pull at the boat, and I was afraid he meant to sink it and eat us at his leisure.  The vessel rocked, and I thought she would capsize every minute.  I called to Frank Taylor, the boatswain, to cut off the arm and he did so with a meat chopper. 

'The octopus, thoroughly aroused, swam half a mile to leeward and crouched for a spring, but suddenly a distraction occurred.  Three porpoises came along, the pilot porpoise leading.  He ran right into the arms of the octopus, who seized him and held him high in the air and squeezed the life out of him.  We could hear his bones crunching.  Having killed the poor porpoise in his rage, he tossed him high in the air. 

'The other porpoises at once turned tail and swam to Penfield Reef light, a favorite feeding ground of these fish.  They returned with an enormous swarm of porpoises, all greatly excited and gnashing their teeth.  The chums of the murdered porpoise evidently had made a speech to them and got them worked up.  They lined up like football players and made a combined rush for the octopus, who gazed at them viciously with his cruel, slimy eyes.  It was an awful battle that followed. 

'The sea was lashed into a crimson foam.  As the porpoises came within reach the octopus seized them in his arms and tossed them high in the air.  As he had seven arms he pitched 'em up seven at a time.  If we hadn't got that other flipper, it would have been eight at a time.  The sea for more than a mile was strewn with the fins and tails of porpoises and with bits of octopus.  Any fellow who wants a load of good fertilizer can get it there. 

'I don't know how many porpoises were killed.  Eventually they did up the octopus, however, and in their anger tore him limb from limb.  Then they all swam to their homes, and I put into Bridgeport.' -- New York World."

Source:  FOUGHT AN OCTOPUS, The Batavian [Genesee County, NY], Jul. 20, 1895, Vol. XXVIII, No. 29, p. 3, col. 3.  

Sighted by Four Persons Who Are Positive of the Fact and They Testify that it had the Form of a Snake with a Head Like that of an Alligator -- Length of the Monster is Estimated to be at Least One Hundred Feet and it Goes Through the Water Like an Express Train -- Details of the Fright.

New York, Sept. 26. -- The Sun will print the following in the morning:

Another chapter has been added to the rather fragmentary history of the great sea serpent.  The story comes from the Jersey coast, and its sponsor is Willard P. Shaw of 41 Wall st.  Not only did Mr. Shaw have an excellent view of the monster, but his wife, ,their 9-year old son and Miss Ella B. D. Salter of Patterson, who was visiting at the Shaw's cottage at Spring Lake, also watched it for several minutes.  Moreover, a neighbor who was walking along the beach observed the phenomenon, and his observations tally exactly with those of the Shaw party.  

As it is Mr. Shaw who is sponsor for the story, it is worth while to take into consideration four point regarding him.  First, he is temperate; second, he is not subject to hallucinations; third, his sight is excellent, and, fourth, his veracity is unimpeachable.  The same is true of the other observers.  Mr. Shaw who is a lawyer at 41 Wall st. lives in Paterson, and has a cottage at Spring Lake, N.J. just across the road from the sea beach.

Yesterday afternoon he, Mrs. Shaw, Miss Salter and young Willard Shaw were sitting on the front porch, which overlooks the sea, trying to keep cool.  The afternoon was calm and hot, and the only motion of the water was a long, quiet swell breaking monotonously on the beach.  The conversation, which had been desultory, had almost died away, and about 1:30 Mrs. Shaw was considering the advisability of going up stairs for a nap, when Miss Salter, who had been looking intently out to sea toward the north, said:  'There's something strange out there in the water, and it is coming this way.'

Looking where she pointed, the others saw a black object projecting from the water, and about a considerable commotion.

'Perhaps its [sic] a school of porpoises' suggested Mr. Shaw.

'Or a whale,' exclaimed the boy.  

'It dosn't [sic] act like a whale I ever saw, and I've seen a good many,' replied Mr. Shaw, shading his eyes with his hands, 'and it certainly is not porpoises.  If I believed in such things I should say it -- well, bring out the big glasses.'

Running into the house, the boy quickly came out with a pair of very powerful field glasses.  Boy like, he held them to his own eyes for a moment before giving them to his father and on getting the object in range he cried:  'Why, papa, it's a big snake.'

Mr. Shaw took one long look at the creature in the water and passed the glass to Miss Salter, who, after using it, handed it to Mrs. Shaw.  Then they all looked at one another.

'The sea serpent they said simultaneously, and hurried down to the beach.  By this time the creature, which was plowing through the water with tremendous rapidity, had reached a point opposite them.  Judging from the fishing net poles set out in the water Mr. Shaw thinks that it must have been about a half mile out from shore, but where the excursion steamers usually run.  The water there is 60 or 70 feet deep.  As there were no waves to impeded the sight an excellent view was obtained of the monster's every motion.

As near as they could judge the serpent was from 75 to 100 feet long.  The head, which projected above the water as it swam, was flat-snouted like an alligator's head.  It seemed five or six feet long, and as large as a flour barrel in circumference.  No part of the body was as large as the head, the mean diameter being perhaps two feet.  Its tail was long and tapering.  

In color the creature was very dark.  No fins could be seen, nor was there tentacles projecting from the head, as described in the case of the serpant [sic] recently alleged to have been seen in Long Island Sound.  It made no noise, but the water was greatly stirred up by its movements.

Progress was made by a series of writhing movements, not sidewise, but up and down.  Its speed was estimated as being at least 40 miles an hour.  At times nearly all the body could be seen as the huge serpent contorted itself, and again only the head was out of the water.  From the time it was first sighted to the time it disappeared in the distance the head was not once withdrawn beneath the surface of the water.  

'Evidently the serpant [sic] had some definite objective point in view,' said Mr. Low in describing it, 'for it never paused or turned from its course, but kept pointing south, skirting the coast at a distance of half mile out.  A little further in it would have struck the nets, and then there would have been a fine commotion, I suppose.  Luckily the creature kept to the deeper water.  I think if it had turned toward the shore I should have been inclined to colect [sic] the family and run for the wood.  

'It was in sight for more than seven minutes.  When Miss Salter first saw the serpent it was more than two miles down the shore, and altogether we must have seen it cover considerably more than five miles.  I should say that 40 miles an hour was a moderate estimate of the speed.  In describing our strange visitor generally, I should say that it looked like an enormous smootheskinned [sic] serpent, with an alligator-like head.'

After the monster had vanished from sight, its uplifted head being the last thing seen, the spectators went back to the porch to talk it over.  In comparing observations they found that all their estimates agreed.  While they were talking a neighbor who occupied a cottage not far from Mr. Shaw's came breathless and in great excitement.

'I have seen the sea-serpent,' he gasped when he reached the porch.  'I was walking along the beach and saw it as plain as I see you now, swimming south faster than any steamer that ever floated, out beyond the fish poles.  Didn't any of you see it.'

They assured him that they had all seen it, and asked for his description of it, which he gave.  It tallied with theirs exactly.  

Before he went away he said to Mr. Shaw:  'I hope that you'll make this thing public.  I'll go at any time and take oath to what I have seen.'

In his excitement the neighbor went away without giving Mr. Shaw his name, but he can be found easily at any time.

The question of the expediency of making public their adventure was discussed by the Shaws.  Mr. Shaw was very doubtful about what he should do.  'A great many people will think that you are romancing,' said his wife, 'and many others will make fun of you or think you are trying to make fun of them.  Nevertheless, as there is not any reasonable doubt that it was the sea serpent we saw, I think, as a matter of scientific interest you ought to give out the facts.'

Mr. Shaw said that he was willing to make affidavit in support of his statements."

Source:  IT IS A TERROR -- AWFUL MONSTER IS SEEN OFF THE COAST OF NEW JERSEY, Witchita Daily Eagle [Witchita, KS], Sep. 27, 1895, Vol. XXIII, No. 113, p. 7, col. 1. 

Artist's Rendering of "Sea Serpent" Seen by Willard P. Shaw and Others
on Sunday, September 22, 1895 Off Shore at Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Source:  WAS IT THE SEA SERPENT?, The Sun [NY, NY], Sep. 24, 1895,
Vol. LXIII, No. 24, p. 1, col. 1 (text of this article same as that quoted
immediately above).



Two Fishermen Saw it After a Visit to an Army Canteen.


WHITESTONE, L. I., August 11, 1896.--Anthony Rick and Westley Hunt, residents of this village, say they saw a sea serpent in the Sound yesterday afternoon.  The men were fishing near Fort Schuyler.  Nothing disturbed them in the early part of the day, but in the afternoon they became so thirsty that a visit to the canteen at the army post became necessary.  It is not known how many drinks each took, but it was not long after their return to the Sound that one of them saw a big, sea green colored monster making its way through the water toward New York.  In hoarse whispers he called the attention of his companion to the monster gliding through the water with a rapid wiggle.  Both watched the sea serpent for some time, and after it was a safe distance beyond their boat they pulled up anchor and started shoreward.

They did not row around the fort in the wake of the monster, but hauled their boat out and carried it across Throggs Neck.  

Both declare that they saw a sea serpent and both are positive that the government beer they drank at the fort had no effect upon their vision.  They said the serpent was about fifty feet long and had a savage appearance, with a big head and a body covered with scales."

Source:  LONG, SCALY SEA MONSTER.  Two Fishermen Saw It After a Visit to an Army Canteen, N.Y. Herald Brooklyn Supplement, Aug. 12, 1896, p. 3, col. 2.


Superintendent of a Hartford Sunday School Discovered It While Out Fishing.
It Did a Serpentine Dance for Him and His Two Friends and Then Vanished.


HARTFORD, Conn., August 9, 1897.--The sea serpent of Long Island Sound, on whose annual appearance many veracious fishermen stake their reputations, presented its compliments to three Hartford citizens on Saturday.  The serpent chanced to pass their way while they were out fishing, and it executed the serpentine dance for their delectation.

During the entertainment they had an opportunity to discover that the serpent was twenty-five feet long, that it had a head and tail, and these were connected by the other parts of the monster's body.  Oddly enough, the sea serpent did not have green eyes, or if it had, the fact escaped the notice of the fishermen.


The Hartfordites who passed the time of day with the serpent were Daniel R. Howe, treasurer of the Hartford Street Railway Company, who also is superintendent of Wayburton Chapel Sunday School; A. A. Olds and George B. Reed, vice president of the Blodgett & Clapp Company.  They have been spending a few days in Blackpoint, on the Sound, and went fishing on Saturday aboard Mr. Old's [sic] yacht.  

They had been out but a few hours when they encountered a sea serpent.  The monster of the deep, who saw them at first, was overjoyed at discovering that it was not alone, and, according to Messrs. Howe, Olds and Reed, leaped six feet into the air.  Then it skimmed along the water, swimming part of the time on its stomach, occasionally on its head, and once in a while, covering a few feet on its tail.  In this way the serpent enabled Messrs. howe, Olds and Reed to size it up, so they could tell all about it when they got home.


The reptile, according to the three fishermen, had a small head, which, with the neck and tail, comprised more than half of the twenty-five feet in his composition.  The tail was not fan shaped, but was straight, and looked as if it might have been borrowed from a Jersey cow for this occasion.  Its body was thick and round, and the serpent was jet black from head to tail.  It had four appendages, which Messrs. Howe, Olds and Reed call 'flippers,' and which, they say, looked like the claws of a griffin.

The snake plunged back into the water after executing the serpentine dance, and there was a great splashing and much foam in which the serpent was enveloped and under cover of which it was lost to the sight of the three fishermen.  The serpent gave them no inkling of its future plans, but started, they seem to think, for the Klondike gold fields."

Source:  SAW SEA SERPENT IN THE SOUND -- Superintendent of a Hartford Sunday School Discovered It While Out Fishing, N.Y. Herald, Aug. 10, 1897, Vol. XX, No. 7,186, p. 5, col. 3.

Drug Clerk Stauson Establishes a New Record for Seeing Things in Long Island Sound.

If a man should halt suddenly in the streets of this city and announce loudly that he saw a monster serpent with green saucer eyes, pink ears, and a mouth as big as a barrel, he would be immediately seized by the citizens around him and held until a policeman came.  Then he would be manacled and hustled to the alcoholic ward in Bellevue Hospital, there to be fed on bromides and soused in ice water baths until he was willing to swear that he never saw such a serpent and hoped he never would.  If he demanded the reason for his summary confinement he would be told that he had had an attack of delirium tremens, and the law of the community is that he be immured for the public safety.  All this simply because he alone saw the serpent, although he might be a man of perfect sobriety.  This law, apparently, obtains only in this and other large communities, for from time to time reports come in from coastwise towns about persons who see the most monstrous kind of serpents in the sea, and they are hailed as heroes by their townsmen.

One of these reports came from Greenport, at the end of Long Island, yesterday, and the hero eclipsed all the sea serpent tales on record by declaring that he had seen two sea serpents at once.  C. Edwards Stauson, a drug clerk, is the hero of the new sea serpent story.  He went fishing early yesterday morning on Long Island Sound, and when he got back at 11 o'clock, had no fish but a whopping sea serpent yarn, which he proceeded to exploit as soon as he met the villagers.  Stauson says he was fishing just north of Greenport, and 'when about to start for home his attention was attracted to the head of a monster sea serpent tearing through the water not over 100 feet from the shore.'  Stauson measured the distance with his eye, but the report does not state how big his eye is.  The monster's head was four feet in circumference, also measured by Stauson's eye.

Stauson sprang from the rock where he sat fishing to the shore and watched the monster turn back somersaults and pirouette on its tail.  At any rate, if the monster was not doing this he was lashing the salt, salt sea into such a fury that the whirlpool rapids would be a mere puddle beside the spot where the monster cavorted.  The creature was certainly fifty feet in length, Stauson said.  Suddenly, while he was watching the monster, he says, a second sea serpent reared its head up out of the Sound about fifty feet behind the first, and both went 'madly tearing through the water in a westerly direction along the Sound coast.'

The motion of the serpents was snakelike, and at no point were their bodies less than three feet in circumference.  There is no telling how many sea serpents Stauson might have seen had he stayed longer, but he had seen enough and hastened home to tell the neighbors." 

Source:  SAW TWO SEA SERPENTS AT ONCE, The Sun [NY, NY], Nov. 17, 1897, Vol. LXV, No. 78, p. 7, col. 6.



White Plains, July 29.--A number of fishermen were on Long Island Sound near Port Chester Monday morning, looking for two sea monsters which were seen by boating parties near the Captain's Island lighthouse.  It is believed that the monsters were either sea serpents or large sharks.

They were seen to raise their heads out of the water and then it was noted that they had long ears and heads like a cow with grins [sic] which forced them along in the water at great speed.

Once before a sea serpent was seen near Captain's Island and there was great excitement among the fishermen.  These present inhabitants of the deep are said to be about ten feet long and they follow each other churning the water as they pass along."

Source:  THE ANNUAL SEA MONSTER, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 29, 1902, p. 4, col. 1.  

Capt. 'Jim' Wigmore Brings Monster from Red Hook to This City.

Capt. 'Jim' Wigmore has caught the sea serpent.  It's the only real sea serpent ever brought into New York Harbor, according to Capt. Wigmore, and it is securely tied and under guard at no. 6 Dover street.

Red-eyed, yellow-maned and long-fanged, the monster is thrashing about trying to get loose, and from his mouth are rising clouds of hissing steam.  Capt. Wigmore and the other captors, Donald Burns and Charles Darragh, say that the water fairly boils all about the serpent.

Capt. Wigmore and his friends, the other boatmen, have been after this particular sea serpent for several weeks.  Pilots of the Sound steamers have reported him about Hell Gate, and from as far as Gravesend have come reports of his antics.  

Capt. Wigmore has patrolled the waters of the Sound and Bay looking for this particular sea serpent.  Of course, and [sic] old sea serpent would have answered just as well, but Capt. Wigmore was after one with 'eyes like port lights, yellow mane and anywhere from fifty to a thousand feet long.'  

After weeks of observation and total abstinence, Capt. Wigmore and his merry crew figured that their sea serpent was somewhere about Red Hook.  He set his nets for him, and together with Donald Burns, Darragh and others they waited for the sea serpent to start back for Hell Gate to scare the pilots of the Sound steamers.

Sounded Like Torpedo-Boat.

According to Darragh, there was an 'awful hissing sound, like a torpedo-boat coming up the bay,' when the serpent struck the nets.

'But the nets would never have held him if he hadn't got his teeth tangled up in them,' declared Darragh.

The Captain led his men out and hauled in the nets.  According to the stories of all three there was an awful thrashing about but the sea serpent was finally landed.

Since Capt. Wigmore and his men got ashore the length, color and hideousness of the serpent has been increasing.  By night the serpent may have got longer than the Brooklyn Bridge.  Already he is almost long enough to use as a 'third rail' for the Ninth avenue 'L' structure.

Capt. Alexander Banta is an old Hell Gate Pilot and he thinks he has been a mariner long enough to know a sea serpent when he sees one.  Capt. Banta not only saw the real sea serpent, but actually 'rode' it, and this is the description he gives of the serpent:

'Well, I'll reef my mains and go the route of the dory 'Liza Jane -- right to the bottom -- if this ain't the truth,' said the captain as he landed at City Island.

Bigger Than a Whale.

'I was on my way from City Island early this morning before daylight to meet a Sound steamer and pilot her through Hell Gate, as I've done these many years.  Suddenly before me, when about a mile and a half out, the monster poked his sharp, shining head out of the water.  He was much bigger'n any whale ever dared be.  He had two red eyes which shined like the port lights of a liner.

'He caught sight of me and then he reared his head high, shook his yellow mane, ground his teeth and dived in my direction.  The next moment he rose right up under my boat and row as I would I couldn't pull the boat off of that fellow.  He saw he couldn't get at me while I was on his back and he sank and gave my boat a terrific whack with his tail.  Just about this time a Sound steamer loomed up in the distance and the monster was attracted by it.  It was an enormous boat, but from what I saw of that monster it wouldn't be nowhere with it.  I started to row for the steamer but I found that my boat was making water and I turned back for City Island.

'Just as I left the monster sprang in the air, as though delighted with the prospect of a battle with something near his size, and dived.  I don't know whatever became of that steamer.  I just got in before my boat filled.'

May Be Ordinary Snake.

Aside from descriptions furnished by others the 'sea serpent' bears a striking resemblance to an ordinary anaconda or python.  There are some who even refuse to believe that the sea serpent was ever in Gravesend Bay.

The 'monstrous denizen of the deep' is now calmly sleeping in a wash tub in Donald Burn's flat at No. 6 Dover street, and Mr. Burns's little eight-year-old boy plays with him by the hour.

Mr. Burns said he wouldn't take $500 for the 'sea serpent' and there are many who declare that he would have difficulty in getting that much even in 'stage' money for his prize.  Mr. Burns is a dealer in strange animals and says he may get the aquarium people to exhibit his prize.

It may be a sea serpent, but --"

Source:  SEA SERPENT IS CAPTURED NEAR HARBOR OF NEW YORK, The Evening World [NY, NY], Night Edition, Aug. 11, 1902, p. 3, col. 2.   


The Norwhal Fighting With Its Prey Often Mistaken for the Mythical Monster of the Deep -- Improbable Stories With Which Scientists Have Had to Contend

Author of 'The Cruise of the 'Cachalot'

A very simple way of dealing with this paper, and one entirely in accordance with my own feelings upon the matter, would be that said to be adopted by the Irish student who was set to write an essay upon snakes in Ireland, and did so in the sentence, 'There are no snakes in Ireland.'  But whatever my own ideas in this connection may be, I find it impossible to ignore or set aside contemptuously the vast amount of literature upon the subject, much of it doubtless written by very well-informed and entirely honest persons, who were only anxious to disseminate the truth concerning sea serpents.  It is hardly possible for any sensible person at all acquainted with the fauna of the sea and literature generally to approach the subject of sea serpents with an open mind.  It is like the matter of ghosts, one that is mixed up so much with pure superstition, personal bias, human weakness of mind, and credulity, that it seems impossible to get a reasonable account at all. And this setting aside entirely the intentionally mendacious literature on the subject, stuff written falsely from a diseased or riotous imagination with no other object in view than that of creating a sensation, not seldom with the full knowledge that there is always an immense number of otherwise sane and sensible persons who really believe anything they read in print which is not admittedly fiction.  As an instance in point I may quote an experience of my own.  Some years ago I wrote a little yarn, which was published in the Westminster Gazette, entitled 'Up a Waterspout.'  As I had no intention of gulling anybody, I purposely wrote in a ridiculously inflated style, describing my experiences while being sucked up from the sea surface into the clouds and my subsequent sudden descent.  It never even occurred to me that any one could believe the story, it was so obviously absurd.  Yet to my intense amazement, when it was included in a volume of sketches I afterwards published, one critic gravely discussed it as if it were true, and decanted upon the unique advantages of such an experience.  Now the critic may have been joking ponderously and with 'deefeeculty,' but I do not think he was.


This, however, only by way of introduction to a very difficult subject.  Difficult, because it is distinctly unpleasant to realize, as one must do who taken up the sea serpent question, how great is the number of people who will, out of sheer wantonness, lie and perjure themselves about some perfectly immaterial matter like this.  Any interest possessed by the sea serpent, if it exists, can only be either scientific or romantic; it has never even been suggested that the creature is dangerous or commercially valuable.  Yet an enormous mass of writing can be collected written by people of almost every European nation, and especially by Americans, whose authors have either admitted, after the sensation caused by their statements has died away, that they were lying for fun, or else all trace of them has been lost, they having invented names and authorities as well as the serpent.  Another large amount of printed stuff has been contributed by persons urgently in need of something to do, who have compiled their amazing stories from hearsay.  Many of these contributors are clergymen, and it is no exaggeration to say that their stories, having only some casual remarks of a careless seafarer for text, surpass in wildness of elaboration even the yarns invented with intent to deceive.  Then come a much smaller quantity, the evidence of those who have seen something and earnestly desire to record what they have seen truthfully, but from inability to describe accurately, or deficient power of observation, or imagination heightened by alarm, or all these reasons (and more) combined, only succeed in misleading.  A splendid instance of this is given in the report of a sea serpent (?) seen off Portland Light, New Zealand, on August 1, 1891, from the deck of the steamship Rotomahana.  Peter Nelson, a quartermaster, says that the head was like that of an eel.  it rose thirty feet out of water.  it had fins about ten feet long situated on either side of the body (which bulged about there) twenty feet behind the snout.  It was the color of an eel on the bacck, but the belly and fins were pure white.  I have condensed the very prolix report, but this is the substance of it.  And I believe that Peter Nelson was a perfectly honest and truthful man who described as best he could the 'breaching' or uprising half-way out of the water of a humpbacked whale (Megaptera), an exceedingly common sight on that coast.  he says, indeed, that it was nothing like a whale, but if his description is as accurate as I believe it is, what he saw exactly represents the behavior and appearance of a humpback gamboling on the sea surface as usual.  Yet because of the lack of previous observation on the part of himself and others, this sea serpent story goes round the world and is published in many newspapers.  It is also used triumphantly by Professor Oudemans, director of the Royal Zoological Society at the Hague, as a convincing proof of the correctness of his theory of sea serpents.

There lies before me as I write a portly volume of 600 pages, with many illustrations, compiled with amazing industry and perseverance by this learned gentleman, apparently for the sole, and to him sufficient, purpose of buttressing his theory as as in the nature and character of the sea serpent of whose existence, by the way, he has no doubt.  Only, the creature he has evolved for his own satisfaction from the mass of material he has so carefully collected is not a serpent at all, but an amazingly developed mammal of the sea tribe, a pinniped, to which he boldly assigns a length of 250 feet.  If it were not for the many instances given in this volume of the amazing credulity displayed by scientific men when in the presence of some extraordinarily gifted examiner inside the British Association and [illegible] stories of flying wombats [illegible] fish in inland lakes, turtle-riding steeds.  I should not feel disposed to quite comment on it about Dr. Oudemans's conclusions 

More  use this link:  http://www.fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2010/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201904%20Grayscale/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201904%20Grayscale%20-%202574.pdf


Stingaree with a Sword 15 Feet Long Taken in Capt. Beiser's Net.


NEW HAVEN, Aug. 3. -- Captain Joe Beiser hauled ashore at Morris Cove to-night the biggest sea serpent which was ever landed on the Connecticut coast.  It weighed several hundred pounds, was nearly two feet in diameter and nearly nineteen feet in length.  he got entangled in the seine of Catain Beiser, who found the reptile enmeshed when he pulled his net to land.  The serpent threshed around terribly and had torn the net pretty well to pieces before Captain Beiser beached him and attacked him with axes and a mallet till the men had given him his quietus.  Captain Beiser, who sailed for years in a whaler, shouted to the corps of sea serpent destroyers who rushed to his assistance, 'Look out for his sword, boys, it's poison.  if he hits you with that it's all over with you.'

Luckily the monster's sword was entangled so badly in the seine that he was unable to use it for self-defense.  Captain Beiser cut out the sword to preserve as a souvenir.  It is nearly fifteen feet long.  The carcass was sent to a soap factory.  A Yale professor who is at Morris Cove told Captain Beiser that the serpent was a stingaree.  Captain Beiser says that he has seen similar monsters in the Pacific, but he never encountered one in Long Island Sound."

Source:  SEA SERPENT CAUGHT IN SOUND -- Stingaree with a Sword 15 Feet long Taken in Capt. Beiser's Net, N.Y. Press, Aug. 4, 1907, col. 5.

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