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The Silver Lake Snake 1903

·6 mins


Man’s honesty is nat always

commensurate with, hig enterprise, His eagerness for gain often deads to recklessness as regards the means Frequently he cover-reaches himseit and ralls a victim to his own folly. Ocuasionally. however, his boldness is crowned with ap- parent siecess aud years pass before the offense is discovered or the offender punished Sometitices, indeed, as in the case about ta be related, the punishment Is never inflicted. ,

In the early part of July, , while feur boys were in swim- ing in a heautital fake in Western New York, they beheld at a dis- tance what appeared to be a htige sea-serpent. They scampered to the shore, dressed, and in a stile of great excitement rushed to the honsex of the neighboring farmers to tell what they had seen. Thev were ridiculed, of course, but as others saw it from time to time, by the 24th of July the connunily began to feel that thers must at least be something extraordinary in the lake.

A vigilance committee” was formed in a nearby town and prepa- ratinms made for a thoroggh mvestigation, But although three boutloads of men watched nightiv for some rime. no serpent appeared.

Toward the end of the month it was =cen by a whole family, and there were now tew who donbhted fre existence, Jdhe excite- ment was rapidly inereasing and during the following week the lake was almost continnousiy docted with honts. People came from miles around, and many camped on the hores of the lake.

In the early part of August, Daniel Smith, a veteran whaler, while perfectly sober. saw ihe nljrct and became deeply interested in the search. Armed with an enormous harpoon and accompanied by several companions coorving clothes lines and dishhooks baited with chickens, he sot Lin a vain attempt (to capture the mu ter,

It was nor seen again untii the middle of the moh, when BE tvd Fanning, neighboring farmer, got a good look at it; and. as he was able ta describe it more fully than any of thaze who had provious- Ivy seen it, he was indaced by the proprietor ot the village hotel 10 make the Tollowing affidavit:

“About 50) yards from where I was standing a monster of a ser- pent rosa ont of the water, showing at least six feet of the for- ward part of the body above the water. Afrer a few seconds he dis- appeared, Abont three minates later he again came to the surface, the sane length being exposed to view ie remained on the surfare at least three mimes, puking evolutions similar to these of a snake, The third time he cama up he sported on the water, drew up his body, as a snake does, dove head-first and the projected portions of his body appeared above the water as thongh fail of joints. Ts body was as large as a barre), and hus head no less than a toot in diame- ter. Me spotted water from his month at least four feet high, and it would ral] back on him like the =prav from a fountain. His length, 1 should think, was perhaps 109 feet, le was 50 opr 80 vards from my, was of a beautitul dark-green color and perfectly smooth.

“T will be 21 years of ave in April next. 1 dn solemnly swear and certify that the above statement woich 7 have related and which hase been read to me is rue to my own knowledge,


“Subseribed and sworn to before me this 15th dav of August, 1865. (Signed) CYRUS MERRILL, Justice of the Peace”

“We, the undarsignerd, have known Edward Fanning, whnse state- ment is above recorded, fer several years. Tle is a resident of this village. has always maintained a gond character, and is a young man

of inrelligence, truth and veracity. CYRUS MERRIL. H. N. PAGE PERRY. Aug. 15. 1855. F. A. KING.

This settled the matter as far as belief in the existence of the serpent was concerned. Attention was now given to explaining its presence in so small a body of water.

Od traditions were revived-—one, that the lake at one point was bottomless; another, that it had a sabtervancan ennnection with Laka Ontario. Many accented the latter legend. as it seemed io account for tha origin’ of the serpent in the most natural way. Incredulity was now treated as ovidence of an unbalanced mind. Whereas, to ge- cept on faith the monsier’s existence (if vou were nor sn tortunara as ta have seen it), and in devote your energies Lo contriving some why of getting rid of such a menace to the pnblie welfare, was con- sidered a mark of high intelligence and patriotism. So strong did the feeling become at one time that a person’s attitude toward the

question was considered a test of his Inyaity te the State; and it is a fact that no one could get credit at any of the leading estahlish- ments withot first afivming his belief in the Silver Lake serpent.

The sorpent—or whatever it may he colled —was seen many times -—hut nsnally by only one person at a time—up to the middle of Sep- tember, while the crowd increased marvelnugly in the meantime.

After Sept. 15 ‘the appearances of the monster were very infre- rfquent: the number of visitors grew smaller; and hy the Ist of Octo. har the exettement had greatly subsided. The agony had been Inng and strona, but there was at least one man in Western New York who had not been a victim of the lwax. This man was Mr. A. B. Walker, the proprietor of the village hotel.

He had lost considerabla money during his first season—the sum- mer of 1854–biit in the following season, through the generous pa- tronage of the thousands who came to the lake to see the serpent,

he not only regained all he had test, but made enough in addition to purchase the hotel.

Walker’s connection with the serpent wonld have heen unknown gave that, ahout 33 vears after the eventful summer, hig stable was burned. His neighbors hastened to, his assistance, but ware too late ta save the structure. In the midst of the ashes and rubbish that ve- mained, however, there was found, badly charred and decayed, abont 8&0 feet of very large hose, painted dark green, attached to one end of which was what was left of 1 log which, apparently, aft one time had had the shane of a serpent’s head Thus was the origin of the monster revealed, and the story ended which every pioneer of West ern New York delights to relate tn his friends when on a winter’s evening they gather about hig hospitable fireside.

The Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio) · 26 Nov 1903, Thu · Page 3