Historic Cryptid Headline: September 9, 1896
September 9, 1896
“Rock Lake’s Monster”
For years it has been known that an immense serpent or water beast of unusual size and peculiar shape made its home in our lake. Numbers of fishermen have reported seeing it, or at least having a fight with it, but always with the result of losing hook and line, as it was always unmanageable.
Week before last Alderman Chapman, of Chicago (Oak Grove house) had a battle with it. He says it had feet and scales somewhat like an alligator.
Fred Seaver, Sr., has for years insisted that there was a “monster” in the lake. That on one occasion several years ago, it seized his trolling hook and pulled his boat after him for several rods and finally raised his slimy head out of the water four feet, shook its homely head at him and disappeared. Mr. Seaver confesses that he was so frightened he immediately made for the shore.
R. Hassam once told the writer that he saw it near the rushes on the west side of the lake. At first he supposed it to be a large crooked limb of a tree floating. On seeing it move away he struck it with an oar.
Last Sunday Captain Howe, of the boat livery, saw a terrible commotion among the fish a little way off his pier. Pickerel and pike of unusual size were jumping out of the water as if pursued by a demon. Occasionally in the midst of the racket he saw a shape belonging to no fish nor serpent ever seen by him before. The water was soon lashed into a foam. He rowed out to it an soon saw what the disturbance was: A serpent about seven feet long and four or five inches thick and covered with yellow spots and had large projecting eyes. On each side of the head where the gills are located on a fish, was a long fluke through which the serpent spouted large quantities of water while attacking. Captain Howe shot at the monster twice, but his aim was bad under the circumstances; he however succeeded in giving it a might blow with an oar. It sank into deep water. The next morning he found it on the shore dead. It had three fish hooks in its mouth. The animal is a curiosity. It is neither serpent nor fish, and cannot be classified by any adept in natural history.
It has been on exhibition for several days at Davis’s barber shop, having been embalmed by him.
It is supposed that what Alderman Chapman took for legs on the animal were streams of water thrown out of the beast’s flukes. Bathers and timid fisherman may now banish all fear of an attack from the lake monster.
The above appeared in The Lake Mills Leader last week. It is interesting reading to local frequenters of Rock Lake, although many upon first hearing of the capture, were inclined to be skeptical over the matter. There were others, however, who were certain the story was genuine, for they claimed to have had experiences with the monster at different times.
Joe Harvey said he and Henry Bertram nearly caught a whale in Rock Lake twelve years ago; he was sure this was the same animal. George Weber claimed that last summer he, Frank Dickoff and Emil Berg had the monster hooked and alongside their boat, but were unable to land it. These confident parties will be somewhat chagrined, however, when they hear the sequel to the story. The whole thing is a stupendous “fake” – a summer resort advertisement.
Mack Henderson, the genial proprietor of the Park Hotel at the Lake, who attended the fair yesterday, gave us the particulars. The “monster” is nothing but a piece of canvas hose, cunningly shaped into a fishy looking and ugly arrangement, the handiwork of a practical joker. It was placed on exhibition and for a time served its purpose well. Hundreds viewed its homely form, and then the delusion became apparent and the fun was over. Our citizens may continue to visit Lake Mills and bathe and fish with the utmost serenity.
“Historic Cryptid Headlines” showcases actual articles involving cryptids that were published within United States newspapers back in the 1800’s-1900’s. The articles posted here are written exactly as they appeared during their original publishing date.
-The Pine Barrens Institute