Connecticut River Monster

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 17th, 2010

Sioux Valley News

[Correctionville, Iowa]

June 28, 1894


Austin Rice of East Deerfield Saw the Sea Serpent.

Austin Rice of East Deerfield, Conn., is a plain unimaginative farmer, who for nearly fifty of the seventy years of his life has resided in his quiet home on the banks of the Connecticut river, says that nothing on earth can convince him that he did not see a snake in the river a few days ago that answers all the descriptions of the far-famed sea serpent. Farmer Rice’s story:

“I don’t expect that people who do not know me will believe the story, but those who do know me will believe I am telling the truth.

“I was near the bridge a little over a week ago when I heard what seemed to me like a grunt, followed by a splash. I looked out into the river, and not more than twenty-five feet away I saw a big snake. Its head was out of the water and its body raised some six or seven feet.

“At the neck the snake was about as large as a man’s leg at the thigh, and the body was about as large as an ordinary stovepipe. His eyes were as large as those of a horse, and his mouth, which was open, was nearly a foot across. The color of his body was black, and a white strip [stripe?] around his mouth extended down onto his belly.

“I followed the snake, trying to keep alongside. At one place he started for the bank and I away from it. His power of locomotion was so strong that he had no trouble in keeping still in the river against the current.

“When he got alongside a boat house, where some boys were hammering, he heard the noise and raised himself about ten feet into the air and then fell back into the water and disappeared.”

Mr. Rice’s reputation for veracity among his neighbors and acquaintances is good, and he never drinks.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

17 Responses to “Connecticut River Monster”

  1. cloudyboy87 responds:

    Interesting story..I’m always wary of newspaper reports though..I hope someone looks into this more..being very familiar with reptiles it sounds like hes describing a real animal..

  2. rondaily responds:

    Interesting premise, but the kind of story you would see in the Weekly World News alongside “bat boy.” For one, there is no town named Deerfield, CT. That’s pretty pathetic. Also, the article does not seems to exist at any newspaper online (Sioux Valley News has no website?). In addition, how did a newspaper based out of Correctionville, Iowa assess a Connecticut farmer’s “reputation for veracity among his neighbors.” How about a specific or two to add some credibility to the reporting?

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Fakeshopper: Did you note the date on the story? Please consider that may be the source of your inability to find online sources for the existence of an article that is over a hundred years old. Some data only exists in books and libraries, still, and not just on the Internet.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Also, of course, in the 19th century, stories were picked up from Eastern papers and published in the Midwest and West, and the reverse. The Iowa re-write merely carried what the Eastern source said about checking on the eyewitness’s reputation, of course.

  5. fuzzy responds:

    rondaily – Gee, I didn’t have any problem Googling the name
    Deerfield Connecticut, located just outside Hartford!

  6. Steleheart responds:

    Deerfield, MA is on the Connecticut River – East Deerfield Rd. runs right close to the river. Could be a simple editing error.

    Digging a bit: Check “Vital records – Marriages – for Deerfield Massachusetts to 1850” And look under “Ball, Abigail”. Clarissa and Austin Rice, Mar. 15, 1849. Are listed there.

    However from Rootsweb :Austin RICE was born on 7 Feb 1819 in Deerfield, Franklin, Massachusetts.69,97 He was buried in East Deerfield Cemetery, Deerfield, Franklin, Massachusetts.

    Those the persons referenced there are quite a bit younger (subject of the story was born abt 1779) They could be relatives of the man in the story. See others ie: Col. Austin Rice b 1794 in that area.
    From acursory search it seems we have 3 generations at least related if not directly. So seems likely he is a real person who could be tracked down and verified.

    This from a simple Google search. It is easy to offhandedly dismiss something because verification is not super-readily available ‘on the web’

  7. Steleheart responds:

    Correction – The subject of the story was born abt 1824 from the data in the article.

  8. cryptidsrus responds:

    Ironically, it is some of those “sober,” “unimaginative” people like Austin Rice who make some of the most credible witness. Because of their “unimaginative” natures, it then becomes unlikely that they would “make something up.” Not saying they couldn’t, but it tends to be less likely they would. Great story!!!

  9. billgreen2010 responds:

    where this creature was sighted is realy not too far from me in bristol or so but close enough wow. keep me posted ok

  10. rondaily responds:

    Lauren Coleman, You are right and I was wrong.I totally missed the date of the article. Thank you for your courteous correction. I also see that you are credited with posting the article. I’m a big water creature fan (have visited Loch Ness). Would love to know more about this story.

  11. Dr. Strings responds:

    Just for the record, I happen to have been born and raised in Connecticut, having lived here my entire life, and I have never heard of a Deerfield or East Deerfield. A paper map and Google map search turned up nothing, as has a Google web search. There are landmarks and roads that come up on the Google map(such as Deerfield Apartments, etc.), which may have led the one poster to believe East Deerfield is located on the outskirts of Hartford. My career has had me all over the state for 20 years with my face in map books, so I do know most of the state very well.
    To my knowledge, East Deerfield, Connecticut does not currently exist. I suppose if it did exist at some point it could have been re-named, but I couldn’t find any evidence to support that. It certainly is in Massachusetts, much closer to the Vermont border than the Connecticut border, so it seems like a pretty big mistake for a journalist to make. It could have been misplacement of the name, but mistakes like that would prompt one to question the entire account, certainly.
    I did find something very interesting in my search, a New York Times article about an alleged sighting of a sea serpent in the Connecticut River at Cromwell(roughly 15 miles south of Hartford) printed nearly a full eight years before the above article:

    It’s quite the tale, so judge for yourself.

  12. Loren Coleman responds:

    As Steleheart and others imply above, the eyewitness is from East Deerfield, which no doubt is East Deerfield, Massachusetts, which is on the Connecticut River and at a large railroad junction. Probably that is the town, which should have been credited as the focus of these events.

  13. Steleheart responds:

    Thank you Loren,

    We must point out that when stories were transcribed back about 100 years ago, editors did not have the benefit of digital cut and paste functions we take for granted today. It is also likely that when this story was reprinted in Iowa, it was already a couple years old.

    While late in 19th century, stories about this cryptid came mostly out of CT, it is entirely believable that a creature of the reported size could cruise for long distances up the river. Personally I think that coming out of MA as opposed to CT, this story gives even more credence to the cryptid.

    I did not find any persons with that name in CT at all, but that is just crude searching from my desk. Imagine treking out to Deerfield, Ma to the library and tracking down the Col. and his sons, possibly finding some old anecdotal news article. What a long strange trip it would be, haha. That is the kind of research that helps, rather than dismissing old stories as not credible.

  14. Steleheart responds:

    Billgreen2010, if you are from Bristol, could you tell us where East Deerfield is exactly? My wife is from Burlngton and has never heard of it. Thanks.

  15. Dr. Strings responds:

    Steleheart, East Deerfield is situated in the northern third of Massachusetts in Franklin County, on the west bank of the Connecticut River, northwest of Montague and northeast of Deerfield, very close to and on the eastern side of I-91. It’s about 2-3 miles south of Turners Falls.

  16. Steleheart responds:

    Dr. S., Yes I know I made that clear already, thank you 🙂

  17. ange33 responds:

    I was born and raised in East Deerfield. It is in MA, and on the banks of the CT river. The main road is River Road. The Rice family is well known to the locals. This is a small farming town, right off of Deerfield, MA. I saw many strange things in the river while growing up, but they were usually huge eels or carp.

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