This That and the Other Thing

Oct 14, 2019

Local Maryland Legends and Folklore


Image result for snallygaster images

The info in this post comes from the book Monsters of Maryland by Ed Okonowicz. If you pick up any book about Maryland folklore, you will find the story of the snallygaster!

  • The prime domain of this rarely glimpsed predator is centralized in western mountains of Maryland (Cumberland, Hagerstown, Frederick).
  • Large number of sightings occuring around Frederick County (Maryland), but sightings have also been reported in Carroll, Baltimore and Cecil Counties.
  • possibly has German origins… “schnell geist” or “schnellergeist”, roughly translated “fast” or “quick” ghost.
  • it can move objects, create threatening or unexplained noises and even eminate harsh, unexplained smells
  • its main claim to fame: eating small children, terrifying travelers, provides night time story matter
  • today it is described as a combination of a dragon and a fast moving invisible spirit
  • other details are derived from American Indians, Pennsylvania Dutch; isolated mountain lore

In 1735 is the year the creature is believed to have migrated, along with German settlers (it also happens to be the same year as the reported birth of the Jersey Devil).

Jan 1909, a man saw a creature he claimed look like a cross between a vampire and a tiger and was responsible for the blood sucking death of an African American man. Other sightings at the same time occurred in/near Sharpsburg, Cumberland and Hagerstown, at Lover’s Leag near Gapland, near Burkittsville. There were also reports during that time of a whistle-screeching sound in parts of West Virginia, Ohio and Massachusetts.

In 1932, a Snallygaster was reported to have swooped over the Middletown valley area. The creatures cries had caused a local politician to fall dead.

It was sighted near Rockville, where they claim it had a nest. One witness reported that the beast was observed in the sky wearing water wings and riding a bicycle. (This made me chuckle! Sounds to me like he was really drunk or on some drugs or something.)

In 1934, several loud explosions near Middletown were (reported) to be the sound of several hatching eggs. An infant Snallygaster was shot five times. It was five feet tall, had speckled feathers, and had 4 inch claws.

In the 1940’s, Manchester and Hampstead (2 Carroll County towns) became involved in a feud as to which locale the beast preferred to terrorize.

In the 1960’s a man apparantly fought with a baby Snallygaster in his backyard, bordering Gambrill State Park; told officers it was a “Dwayyo” (a baby Snallygaster). It walked on 2 legs, had fur and the face of a wolf. Some say it is the offspring, others say it is the enemy.

To date (2012) it has never been captured, photographed, killed or placed on display. And then there’s this photo…but then there’s this article from 1909.

Middletown Valley Register, February 1909.
Middletown Valley Register, February 1909.

I have never heard or seen the Snallygaster, but the legend is there.

“It’s a great winged beast, with scales like a reptile and the wings and talons of a great bird. No. It’s half bird, half wildcat with yellow and black stripes. No. It’s a sable-eyed muskrat with a tuxedo front.” – from the Middletown Valley Register, 1909

I hope you enjoyed!

Have a great day!!

Thanks for stopping by!!

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