Flying Snakes, Horned Gazoozas, and 19th Century Journalism

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 29th, 2011

Karl Shuker’s book, From Flying Toads to Snakes With Wings covers the topic of modern and older reports “flying snakes” quite nicely. Let’s take a look at one story we’ve published here before.

Cryptomundian Tony Hollon sends in this: “In the course of my own research in the achieves at my local library, I came across what appears to be a re-write” an earlier story published here.


A Snake that is Frightening the People

It Carries Off Cattle and is Very Busy
Just at Present Stirring up the

Editor Signal:

A flying snake much like the one recently discovered in Jersey has built it’s nest in one of the tall trees on Brown’s Run and when it’s not sitting on it’s eggs to hatch out a lot more flying snakes, is roving around intimidating the natives of this region.

The snake is not known in natural history and exists only on the Run, where it recently made its appearance and where we are making desperate efforts to locate it before it eats some of the long whiskered gentry of the locality.

Simon Houping, who saw the flyer, is perhaps the most prominent citizen on the Run. Of course I need not have said so, as it is known that the people who see sea serpents, panthers, flying snakes, wild men of horned yazoozas are invariably prominent people in order that the stories may not be doubted, and the place reflected upon by some Hamilton newspapers or some Jersey people, who will claim this snake is all their own.

Simon was taking a short cut through the woods, determined to take his annual bath in the creek, and as he was cogitating on the turnip and buck wheat crop he was suddenly frightened by a flying snake darting from a branch of a sycamore, looking vindictive and flapping its wings with hoarse cries until it vanished in the distance. It had the look of a bat in its face, but was a venomous flying snake with a puff adder skull with no hair, eyes that flashed and a tail that swept to and fro as it glided through the air. Simon says he never did set eyes on a monster like that, though he has seen all sorts of things that has made their appearance in this place in the last 70 years.

A hunting party has been organized. They found its footprints, not in the air where a flying snakes prints should be, but on the ground in a swamp. They are weblike, something like that of old man Stubb’s goose, though Stubbs says the goose has not been down there since the rain. This was positive proof that the animal existed and a vigilance committee was formed to run it down.

Yesterday morning at daybreak Sam Gibbard saw the flying snake crossing the creek just above the old distillery. It exchanged looks of deadly hate with him, and uttering a shrill cry, it unwound a pair of batlike wings and flew toward the hills, where it is feared it is hatching out more snakelets.

Sam Kroot missed a hundred pound hog and Dave Tracy saw the snake with something big in its jaws that squealed like a pig and it is thought it was Kroot’s personal property.

Middletown Signal, Saturday May 20, 1899

Tony Hollon notes:

“This comes from the Middletown Signal newspaper published in Middletown, Ohio on May 20th 1899. If you compare these articles line by line you’ll find the facts are the same and only the names and location were changed.

“What does this say about journalism and flying snakes at the turn of the twentieth century?

“The first article posted here was published May 23, 1899 in Texas, a reprint from the New York Journal. That means the editor of the Galveston Daily News got it off a wire service as did the editor of of the Signal three days before. The Signal editor decided to re-write the story with some local flavor and created the myth of the Brown’s Run Monster.

“The reference to “horned gazoozas” appears in both articles. This suggest that, whatever they were, they must have been known on Browns Run as well.”

Loren Coleman adds: “Of course, Mr. Hollon’s theory is spot on. Unfortunately, we may never know the placement of the Signal article in the true sequence of these journalistic events. We may never know the true origins of this story, who wrote it first, and how long ago it began to be reworked by every newspaper editor who wished to gerrymander it for their own locale.”

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.

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