Friday, November 24, 2006

Snake on the plain

In my quest for data on my friend's ancestors, I ran across this article from the Olean (NY) Democrat newspaper dated 8 August 1893, titled "A Fredonia Snake Story":

"Fredonia, Aug. 7 -- Perhaps the largest snake ever seen in these parts was killed by Henry Berts on Arkwright hills Thursday morning. Berts was hunting woodchucks in the fields back of his house, when suddenly he saw his flock of sheep start on a run. Upon investigation he found that a huge black snake had captured one of his lambs and had coiled himself several times about the animal's body. The lamb was dead.

"Berts came up within 35 to 40 feet of the reptile and gave him a heavy dose of coarse shot. The snake began to uncoil from his prey when Berts took deliberate aim and tore the head completely off with a second charge. This had the desired effect, but the headless snake was still a lively antagonist, and slashed his tail and body in every direction. Berts kept at a safe distance until he had placed two more heavily loaded shells in his gun, and then walked up to within 20 feet of his snakeship and filled his writhing body with the contents.

"The snake was of the black variety seldom seen in this section of the country, with a bright yellow ring encircling the neck and dirt greenish belly. It measured 11 feet 9 inches from the place where the head was shot off to the end of the tail, and 6-3/4 inches in diameter at the largest part of the body. This is undoubtedly the same reptile that gave chase to a party of Cassadaga people in a buggy about a year ago. It is by far the biggest ever seen in these parts."

I wonder what kind of snake this was? It chased a buggy filled with people? Mr. Berts must be a good shot. Did Mr. Berts get any woodchucks, or did he settle for a lamb dinner?

Wouldn't you love to find an article like this for your ancestor? It would kind of spice up the dinner table conversation, eh? My great-grandfather, the snake murderer.

No comments: