I have lived in Massachusetts & New Hampshire 99.9% of my life and until last week never heard of the mysterious Sea Serpent of Cape Ann (Gloucester) which created a local media frenzy from 1817-1827 & beyond. Was it real? Were there more than one? Was it really just a whale? Who knows...but the tales of many who are said to have exceptional reputations, and the sightings by hundreds of people according to period newspapers certainly makes you ponder...hmmm...maybe...? Here's just one of hundreds, if not thousands of articles during 1817-1827, which mention sightings of the enormous creatures all along the New England coast.
“WE have in our possession an extract of a letter from John Low, Esq to his son in this town dated Gloucester, Thursday afternoon Aug 14, 1817.
There was seen on Monday and on Tuesday morning playing about our harbour between Eastern Point and Ten pound Island – a SNAKE with his head and body about eight feet out of water –his head is in perfect shape as large as the head of a horse. –his body is judged to be about FORTY-FIVE or FIFTY FEET IN LENGTH—it is thought he will girt about 3 feet round the body, and his sting is about 4 feet in length.
While writing the above a person has called in, who says that there are two to be seen, playing from the Stage-hed into the harbour inside of Ten pound Island.
The spectors are Mr Charles Smith and Mr John Proctor and several others. A number of our sharp-shooters are in pursuit of him but cannot make a ball penetrate his head. Another party is just gaining in pursuit with guns, harpoons, & c. –Our small craft are fearful of venturing out a fishing.
The above can be attested to by twenty different people of undoubted veracity – Salem Gaz Office
In addition to this account the Salem Register states, that the Serpent is extremely rapid in its motions which are in all directions—that it shews a length of 50 feet; that a man who discharged his musket within 30 feet of the fish. says its head was partly white and that he hit it – that a large sum had been offered for it; that ‘it appears in joints like wooden buoys and a net rope almost as large as a barrel” –that musket balls appear to have no effect on it –that it appears like a string of gallon kegs 100 feet long.
The ediftor of the Register quotes an account of a Sea Serpent seen on the coast in 1746, something like it. It had a head like that of a horse—and as he moved he looked like a row of large casks following in a right line.”
Photo via: http://myweb.northshore.edu/users/ccarlsen/poetry/nahant/image_pages/sea_serpent_cape_ann.html who apparently got it from Nahant Historical Society - http://www.nahanthistory.org
Boston Intelligencer, Boston, MA, Uncommon Serpent , 08-16-1817, Vol 4, Iss 1, Pg 2 via GenealogyBank
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy