Monday, November 1, 2010

Sea Serpents Day at the Beach: Part II

The Buffalo Courier

Saturday, May 9, 1896

Page 6, Column 1




Talk with Capt. Beecher

About the Monster.




It Was Close in Shore for Three-Quarters

Of an Hour - Its Color, Its

Eyes and Its Full Form Visible

- The Captain’s Story.


Capt. Lina K. Beecher’s Crystal Beach

sea serpent will not down. In this particular

it is like the famous ghost of

Banquo, though it is, or was last Tuesday,

a more substantial being than Banquo’s

ghost ever was. It is referred to as

Capt. Beecher’s serpent because he “seen”

it first. If there are other claimants,

leaving out of the account, of course, the

people who were with Capt. Beecher at

the time, perhaps the question of ownership

can be arbitrated.

The Courier has obtained further information

about the great creature. Until

yesterday the reporter had not seen Capt.

Beecher, but learned of the strange object

seen at the beach through John A.

Miller of Kenmore, who had talked with

Capt. Beecher. It was only by an accidental

call at Mr. Miller’s office on the

10th floor of Ellicott Square that the reporter

learned that the serpent had been

seen. Yesterday another call was made

at Mr. Miller’s office without prearrangement,

when Capt. Beecher was found .

None of those whose names have been

mentioned have made any effort to have

the story published.

The Courier said Thursday morning

that three persons had seen the monster -

Capt. Beecher, his wife, and Mrs. Gilchrist,

all of Crystal Beach. To these

must be added Mr. Beecher’s little girl,

who is between seven and eight years old.

All were near enough to the monster to

see it distinctly, and its appearance

alarmed Mrs. Gilchrist and the child

greatly. Capt. Beecher, however, is a

Veteran of the War and a G.A.R. man

and has seen many strange sights in his

time. He and his wife lived at one time

in Tennessee, where rattlesnakes and

other similar “varmints” abounded, and

they were not particularly frightened.

The presence of Capt. Beecher and the

two women on the rocky point that projects

into the water is fully explained by

Capt. Beecher. This was not made clear

in the Courier’s first account, and may

have seemed a trifle mysterious to the

dubious mind. The four persons named

were sitting on the steps that lead to

John A. Miller’s cottage, “The Kenmore,”

when they first observed a commotion in

the water, some distance from the land .

Their idea was that the phenomena was

caused by a school of fish, as the disturbance

in the water seemed to be almost

continuous, and there was too much of it

to be produced by one fish. The agitation

came nearer. Finally one of the women

exclaimed, “ Why it’s all one fish.” And

so it seemed to all. There was one object,

apparently, moving along the surface

of the water toward the beach and

having as much fun as a schoolboy. It

was then that all four went down toward

the lake and as far out in the direction

of the creature as they could get.

Capt. Beecher was questioned closely

by the reporter yesterday, with no other

purpose than to get at the exact truth, as

nearly s possible , about what he had

seen. He is a small man, of simple and

modest demeanor, and nearly 54 years old.

He served in the War of the Rebellion as

Captain of the Third New York Cavalry,

and was a comrade of Gen. W. S. Bull,

Superintendent of Police, when the latter

was acting chief of artillery, and of Gen.

Rogers, formerly Park Commissioner here

and now Governor of the Soldiers Home

at Bath.

Capt. Beecher told his story in a

straightforward and earnest manner, and

The Courier representative was impressed

with his apparent sincerity. It was not

a mere fleeting glance of the serpent that

was had by the four persons in the party,

but they watched it for fully three quarters

of an hour, or until it was so dark

that they could no longer distinguish its

form. By this time it had retreated and

was still retreating from the proximity of

the shore. The surface of the lake was

perfectly smooth, and the serpent was so

near to the party that they could distinctly

see its eyes, which Capt. Beecher

says looked as large as silver dollars. At

times it would lie straight on the surface

of the water with its whole length visible.

Then it would lift its head and curl its

body so that it would be visible only at

intervals, where the humps projected

above the surface. At times it would turn

partly on its side, when it was plainly

seen that the color of the lower part of

its body was much lighter than the back,

which was dark brown, or almost black.

“Its head looked like a dogs head, having

A similar prominence above and back

of the eyes. Its tail, however, was pointed,

and like that of any monstrous land

serpent. When Capt. Beecher threw a

stone in its direction it would lunge fully

30 feet toward the stone, as it struck the

water. In this way it turned in various

directions in it efforts to catch the stones,

evidently thinking they were something

suitable for food. It spouted water fully

four feet in the air, and kept “sloshin’

around” in the water, as if it were

nervous or else enjoying itself hugely.

Capt. Beecher says he will swear it was 35

feet long. It did not disappear from the

surface, but they were reassured by Capt.

and Mrs. Beecher, who felt that there

was no real danger, though they too,

might have retreated , if the serpent had

come much nearer. Capt. Beecher looked

for the serpent next morning and the following

evening, but he has no seen it since.

This serpent has not been conjured up

to advertise Crystal Beach. The excursion

season is several weeks away, and

as a matter of fact Mr. Miller was somewhat

solicitous lest publishing of the

story should tend to keep people away

from the resort, especially those who love

to bathe in the lake.

It would be a good bet that these four

people actually saw at the time and place

aforesaid a great fresh water serpent, and

that there is something else than nonsense

in stories of this sort.

-Original article from the microfilm records at,
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Central Library
1 Lafayette Square
Buffalo, NY  14203

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