Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Silver Lake Sea Serpent of 1855, ... Before the Hoax!

The Daily Courier

Buffalo, NY

Saturday Morning, July 21, 1855

The Sea Serpent Astray





From the Wyoming Times, July 18.

The beauties of Silver Lake, half a mile from

this village, have been recorded in prose and

verse time and again. It is a splendid sheet of

water, about four miles long, and from one-half to

three-fourths of a mile wide. Its outlet, which,

after coursing through a deep gorge, empties into

Genesee river, contains sites for sixteen or eighteen

milling privileges, about half of which are improved.

The lake is a great place of resort for

fishing, parties. Muscalung, pickerel and bass

are caught there with live bait, in the. Summer,

and speared through the. ice in the winter. Cat

fish or bull-heads are as thick as grasshoppers in

a wheat field. There is said to be a (no?) place in this

 where the lead has been dropped in vain. No

sounding has been obtained— hence the presumption,

and we admit it as a presumption—that it

connects, by some subterranean.passage with lake-

Erie or Ontario—and to draw the figure still greater,

with the vast Atlantic. Yet it always displays,

at least on the surface an even temperature

—it is never 'alf'-and-'alf—salt water has never

been discovered there. Fresh water, pure and

clear from the springs which supply it, is the only

element with which it has ever been filled.and

the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

It is the resort of pleasure parties from the village

and from a road, and seldom has anything

occurred by which the fair fame of Silver Lake

has been tarnished, nor has it acquired any other

than an honest reputation of being one of the

most beautiful, safe and desirable places of resort

in tho State, either for fishing, or in its season,

hunting. But to our story.

Friday evening last, as a party, of which we

formed one, Were disembarking from a trip up the

lake, with a hundred pounds or less of.dressed

cat fish, Messrs. Charles Hall, Joseph R. Mc-

Knight, Charles Scribner, and Alonzo Scribner,

accompanied by two boys named George Hall

and John Scribner, were just leaving the landing

.in an evening's fishing excursion. The story of

their voyage and its incident is theirs as-related

to us in all sincerity, and we give it with the remark

that the party had no liquor in the boat,nor

was there any in or about the party.

They left the landing near Mr. How's Pump.

Factory about eight o'clock P. M., Friday, and

rowed up to the narrows of the outlet, where two

of the party got out and dragged the boat thro'.

As the channel became wider, they took seats in

the boat and we rowed steadily up to the lake.

We anchored about the center of the lake, near

tho north-east end, and commenced fishing. The

evening was not dark: Both shores were in view,

and stars and clouds appeared alternately. At

about nine o'clock, as the entire party was; fishing,

McKnight, who sat in the stern of the boat,

called attention to what had the appearance though

much larger, of a long tree trimmed off lying on

the surface of the water, north of their boat, and

a dozen yards off- All looked at it, and various

suggestions were  made regarding it. It appeared

to be 80 or 100 feet long.

However, the party continued fishing, the thing

they saw, be it tree, log. or what-not—remaining

in the same position for twenty minutes or half

an hour. At about 9 1/2 o'clock it had disappeared

when or how, the party had not observed. In

about ten minutes. McKnight called attention to

the same object between the boat the party occupied

and the old sail boat- 'Frolic' which lies

aground on the east shore. The center of the log,

tree, or whatever it was, was in a direct line from

the stern of the boat, and not more than four rods

off.  After watching it a few minutes, McKnight ,

who was nearest it, exclaimed, "Boys, that thing

is moving!" all looked at it , but having seen, continued

 pulling up cat fish.  A few minutes passed,

and Hall noticing that it had and was changing

its position, exclaimed , "See, it is bowing around!"

and true enough, so it was.  all looked and saw 

the same movement. Its head, it could no longer

be called a log, was now within three rods of the

boat, and as it approached, the waves parted on

either side, as if a boat were leisurely approaching.

Scribner, in an attempt to cut the rope, attached

 to the anchor and boat, lost his knife, and

pulled up the anchor. hall grasped the oars and

commenced pulling vigorously for the west shore.

McKnight steering the boat. Scribner took seat

with Hall and assisted in rowing.  all this was

the work of an instant, and their mysterious and

unwelcome guest disappeared while it was going

 forward, to the great joy of the party.

But they were not clear of their visitor.  The 

boat had not propelled more than 40 rods

when the strange customer was again visible on

the surface for the third time, to the north east

of them, and between the boat and the outlet.

This time the visitor was within one rod of the 

boat, and the party were making rapid progress

towards the inlet.  All in the boat saw the creature.

It again disappeared.

For the fourth time, when the party were within

35 to 40 rods from their proposed and now

nearest landing point the south side of the inlet,

the serpent, for now there was no mistaking its

character, darted from the water about four feet

 from the stern of the boat, close to the rudder

paddle, the head and forward part of the monster

rising from the surface of the water eight or

twelve feet in an oblique direction from the boat!

All in the boat had a fair view of the

creature, and concur in representing it as a most

horrid and repulsive looking monster. McKnight

has no doubt that the portion of the body above

water was as large in circumference as a flour 

barrel, while hall, one of the oarsmen, thinks in

circumference it was the of a butter firkin.

Both agree as to the length exposed to view. On

the opposite side of the boat, about a rod and a

half to the north east, the other extremity of the

Serpent was in full view, lashing the water with

its tail.  When the forward part descended upon

the water, it created waves that nearly capsized 

the boat, and suspended regular operations at the oars.

the party reached shore in safety; but frightened

most out of their senses.  they left the 

boat on the side of the lake farthest from home,

and footed home some two miles, rather than

venture down the outlet, not more than half a

mile in length. It is almost needless to say that

they slept little that night or next.

We will add for the benefit of the incredulous,

that these men are persons of character. They 

would be believed in this community in any 

ordinary matter as between man and man. We

admit it is a large story, but it is about a large

serpent.  He would be a monster at half the size.

But here is the affidavit of tow of the party.

Joseph R. McKnight, and Charles Hall, both

being duly sworn, say that they have read

 the article published in the Wyoming Times, in

relation to the serpent in Silver Lake, and that

the statements there made are true of their own

knowledge.   J.R.McKnight,

                  Charles Hall.

Subscribed and sworn this 16th day of July,

1855 before me,     Enos W. Frost

                                       Justice of the Peace.

One dollar a foot has been offered for the skin

of the serpent, if over 60 feet long. where's 

Barnum? what will he give for the serpent,

dead or alive.?

We learn form the editor of the Times that the

serpent was seen again on Saturday last, and that

a party of gentlemen who have not the fear of

snaked before their eyes are making arrangements

to capture the 'beast."

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