Sea Monster Near Seadrift? by Jasmine Gordon

Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 15 Oct 14 - 0 Comments

There I was at the library in Victoria working on a particular project; things weren’t going well and my frustration was beginning to get the best of me. At moments like these stepping away from the project is usually the best answer. Ten minutes later I found myself exploring the O’Connor Room. This room holds all of the reference books, commissioner’s minutes, local newspaper and magazine archives — basically anything you can’t check out. I always think of the video sequence in a scary movie where the sleuth is investigating a myth in old newspaper archives.

I’m pretty familiar with all of the books written about Seadrift and Port Lavaca but today I found a book which I’d never laid eyes upon, Looking Back by Paul Henry Freier. The book is a historical scrapbook of Calhoun County and Matagorda Bay, Paul also wrote a column for The Port Lavaca Wave, Looking Back for more than ten years. As I read the introduction, I felt an instant connection with the author and I wondered if I could someday have a book of all of the articles I’ve written.

After skimming the Table of Contents I went directly to the chapter entitled, Strange People, Strange Animals, Strange Days. October is my favorite month of the year so it only seemed appropriate since I’d been on a recent scary movie marathon. A couple of pages into the chapter, there it was… the headline read, The Great Monster Fish of Green Lake. While the article had been published on Wednesday, June 2, 1976 — it was about a sea monster from over 100 years ago!

In the article, Paul explains that in early April of 1913 The Daily Advocate ran a headline offering a $5,000 reward for the capture of a sea monster that was wreaking havoc in the Guadalupe River 25 miles below Victoria eating goats, pigs, hogs and other animals. The Advocate sent a reporter to confirm the sightings which in fact he did the following day. He also reported that the monster was spotted moving towards Green Lake. Apparently the fish was described as “of several tons, with a head like a cross between a horse and a cow with short curving horns.” Colonel Bill Sterrett, commissioner of the state Fish and Oyster Commission identified the fish species as “homosifitoninotabus.”

Everyone was terrified of the sea creature, fearful that it would eat anything in it’s path. Watchers lined the banks of the lake, standing guard alas the fish continued to move upstream feeding along the way. There was even a report in which a “Victoria resident claimed he lost tires off his car to the fish near the ‘Brownsville’ bridge near Bloomington.” Although multiple attempts were made to capture the sea monster none were effective much less killing it.

I looked up from the book and realized The Advocate archives were less than 5 feet from me. It didn’t take me long to find the microfilm; what did take me some time was figuring out how to load it and operate the software. I finally got the hang of it and before I knew I found the headline for the reward and a dozen more within a month’s span. I was extremely disappointed that I could not read any of the text in the articles but I was amazed to be peering into life 101 years ago. I was further disappointed that the headlines stopped mid-May which no evidence of what happened to the sea monster. Below are the headlines I found:

April 7, 1913: $5’000 Reward for Capture
April 8, 1913: Big Fish Story is Confirmed
April 9, 1913: Big Sea Monster Still in Hiding
April 10, 1913: Col Sterrett After The Fish
April 11, 1913: Oh! Horrors! Where’s the Fish?
April 14, 1913: Great Crowds Go Down the River
April 19, 1913: Sea Monster Like Rubber
April 26, 1913: Sea Monster on a Rampage
May 1, 1913: Big Fish Was Seen Here Before
May 5, 1913: Frogs and Fish Fight Fiercely
May 6, 1913: The Monster Swallows Queen

The lights in the building suddenly dimmed and I realized the library was about to close; I’d been on the hunt to find out about the sea monster all afternoon. I left puzzled having not been able to find information about the fish species. I did find that sea monsters and serpents have been reported since the early 1500s.

On the drive home I called my grandma and began to tell her about my day. I started to tell her about the sea monster but before I got too far into my findings she said, “Oh yeah, my dad used to tell me that story also.” I said, “No, this is about a sea monster seen near Seadrift and Victoria.” She explained about a similar story her dad would tell her about a sea creature seen where he grew up. Interesting…

Does this explain why the headlines suddenly disappeared just as quickly as they had appeared?

Was it just folklore like The Loch Ness Monster? One thing I do know is wish I could read those articles! Till next time.

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