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The Snallygaster

Posted by Paul H on Monday, November 6, 2006

Here's a little background on my song Snallygaster.

The Snallygaster

From Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County by Timothy L. Cannon and Nancy F. Whitmore

 


Reports of a strange flying beast known as the Snallygaster first appeared in Frederick County in early February, 1909. The story was carried prominently in Middletown’s Valley Register, a weekly newspaper, for about a month, when the story mysteriously died.

In the early issues, the flying beast seemed to be everywhere at once: New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio, and headed this way.

It was reported to have created quite a stir in New Jersey, where its footprints were first discovered in the snow.

The first person to see it, James Harding, described it as having enormous wings, a long sharp beak, claws like steel, and one eye in the middle of its forehead. He said it made shrill screeching noises and looked like a cross between a tiger and a vampire.

A vampire may have been a good description, for it was reported to have killed a colored man, Bill Gifferson, by piercing his neck with its sharp bill and slowly sucking his blood.

It was also seen in West Virginia, where it almost caught a woman near Scrabble, roosted in Alex Crow’s barn, and laid an egg near Sharpsburg, where it was reported some men had rigged up an incubator to try to hatch it.

T.C. Harbaugh, of Casstown, Ohio, wrote a letter to the Valley Register in early 1909, telling of a strange beast that flew over his area making terrible screeching noises. Harbaugh described it as having two huge wings, a large horny head, and a tail twenty feet long. He said it looked as though it was headed this way.

Sure enough, the Snallygaster was first sighted in Maryland by a colored man, who fired a brick-burning kiln near Cumberland. The strange beast was seen cooling its wings over the outlet of the kiln. When the beast’s sleep was disturbed by the man, it emitted a blood-curdling scream and angrily flew away.

It was also shot at near Hagerstown, sighted south of Middletown at Lover’s Leap, and seen flying over the mountains between Gapland and Burkittsville, where it was reported to have laid another egg – big enough to hatch an elephant.

Sightings of the Snallygaster were creating such a commotion that at one point it was reported that President Theodore Roosevelt might postpone a trip to Europe so that he could lead an expedition to capture it.

Apparently the Smithsonian Institute was also interested in the beast. From the des



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