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Monday, July 3, 2017

 Harrisville Lake
Photo by Pete Stemmer

The following report was published by The United States Gazette of Philadelphia. It was a letter written to William McCarthy, a well respected business man. The letter was written by a Mr. Salmon.

"Mr. Wm. McCarthy -Sir: I feel it my duty to inform you that I have seen what I suppose to be a sea serpent, since I left your village. In a few days after I came home, I was informed by two men, Thomas Jones and Israel Rulon, that some unusual animal was in the creek, but that they could not tell what it was.

I thought but little of it at the time, but concluded I would go and see for myself. In proceeding down the creek, (when probably half way) I saw some animal in the water, its head raised about eighteen inches above the surface, and turning it's head each way.
I could as the same time see its back out of the water a few inches high, and several feet in length. Its colour appeared to be black, and as I drew nearer to it, it raised it head five or six feet high. As i approached, it gradually drew itself down and finally disappeared under the water. Its head appeared just like a snake, as also its body.

As near as I could judge from appearance, it must have been forty or fifty feet long. Just below its head the body was about eight inches in diameter. It was also seen by four other men beside myself. It was seen again the same afternoon by Israel Rulon. He was returning up the creek toward home in a small boat. He told me that he saw it raise its head above the water two or three times, once within about forty yards, had its mouth open, but did not come towards him. 

I collected all the men I could in this village, with arms, ammunition, harpoons, and also a seine, to go with me and make an effort to take it; but we saw nothing more of it; it was gone.

It may not be improper to give you a rough description of our creek. It is known by the name of Deer-Point Creek; it puts out of Manahawkin bay, about six miles the two inlets called Little Egg Harbour Inlets; the bay is quite large, and has a deep and wide channel that runs from the inlets close along by the mouth of  Deer-Point Creek.

The Creek is about two miles and a quarter in length, and nearly three hundred yards in width at its mouth. It is considered deep for this section of the country; about ten or twelve feet in its depth.

We did not understand that the serpent was seen any further up than when I saw it; that is half way.

The like of this monster was never seen in this part of the country before.

I forgot to tell you when I saw it, it was on the 28th day of March, 1840.

Yours respectfully
Job Salmon "  

Mr. McCarthy, a well respected business man of the era, vouched for Mr. Salmon, saying:

"The writer is well known to me. I believe him to be a person of  strict veracity. He is a member of the Methodist society, and is willing, if necessary, to make an affidavit of the truth of his statement."  

McCarthy built an iron making town, cleverly name, McCarthyville, which is just up the road from New Gretna. After McCarthy went broke, McCarthyville became a town called Harrisville. Harrisville was a paper producing town. The Harrisville lake is an area where many local towns folks swim. I grew up swimming there as well as my kids.

Now, is this report true? We may never know for sure, but it is a good piece of history.

~ Bill

This post by TCC Team Member Bill Hamilton. Bill is a full time wild land firefighter. As part of his job duties he gets to travel to remote locations. Bill is a trained observer thanks to his fire aviation background.

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