LORDSHIP MERMAIDS AND SEA MONSTERS

Seaserpent

September 17, 1878 - THAT SEA SERPENT IN THE SOUND: Mr. Kelley, an assistant engineer on the steamboat State of Now York, says that on Monday evening about seven o'clock, as the steamer was between Huntington, on the Long Island side, and Stratford, on the Connecticut shore, he witnessed a strange sight in the Sound. Not far from the side of the vessel he saw the head of a monster raised several feet above the waves. The hour, about sunset, was light enough to show the creature plainly; it was seemingly not fifteen rods off. It was a horrible looking head, with a wide open month. The head disappeared and a portion of the body was shown, forming an arc under which it would have been easy, so far as space is concerned, to have driven a team of oxen. There were several smaller curves, indicating a long body. The object disappeared in a few seconds, before Mr. Kelly who was standing alone in the midship gangway could call anyone to see it. He describes the body as being as large round as that of a big horse.' Mr. Kelly is a sober, trustworthy man, and though his story is a strange one and well calculated to excite the derision of those who in the face of much concurrent testimony utterly discredit all 'sea serpent' stories, there is every reason to believe that Mr. Kelly is not seeking to create a sensation with a fabricated story. His character forbids such an explanation.

September 11, 1886 - A story is published in Bridgeport tonight that four men, Timothy Downey, Michael Mulvey, Michael Goggins and Richard Barry went sailing on the Sound last night and off Stratford Light saw a sea monster over 100 feet long. It is said that they fired at it with a revolver and that it sank out of sight.

July 18, 1895 - FOUGHT AN OCTOPUS - A VERACIOUS SKIPPER TELLS OF AN ENCOUNTER WITH A MONSTER: The Monster Hit a Porpoise and Was Set Upon by a Boxing School, Which Finished Him. - Captain Obadiah Donaldson has plied the waters of the sound for years and years, and no one has ever accused him of telling a lie. If anyone else but Captain Donaldson had steamed into port with the yarn that he brought to Bridgeport, Conn. the other day, be would have been publicly scoffed at. But Captain Obadiah has said it, and it goes. He came into harbor with his steam oyster dredger, which is a cross between a tugboat and a mud scow in search of coal. Five of his sailors then landed with a thin substance looking very much like 100 feet of fire hose. This they laid out on the wharf. Sea dogs assembled in convention over it, but shook their heads nonplused, being unable to make it out at all. Then Captain Donaldson spoke in those words: "That," said he, "is the arm of an octopus, which can be easily verified. I take it that its 100 foot long now, being as it's shrunk, but it was twice that length when we caught it. "The fight in which we got it occurred shortly after 10 o'clock this morning. We were steaming five miles off Stratford light, were going four knots an hour, and we were in 15 fathoms of water. I was heading east by southeast two points, and the wind was blowing north by northwest seven points, all of which can be verified. "Suddenly on the starboard bow 500 feet ahead I spied a huge mass, black and motionless, lying on the surface of the water which was as smooth as a pond. I changed my course one point and rang the bell for a full head of steam in order to hurry up and see what the black thing was. I soon made it out as an octopus, 60 foot in diameter, with arms and legs a couple of hundred feet long. "I didn't want any of that in mine. I brought the wheel down to clear the monster. He was in a deep sleep, and his snores could be heard quite a way off. But I was too late. The boat struck him amidships. He awoke in a jiffy. At first he thought we wore a nightmare, but he rubbed his eyes and identified us as enemies, though heaven know: I had no wish to fight him. "He darted at us, kicking up the sea. One of his long arms came aboard and seized the forward steam windlass. He wound his arm around it, thinking, I suppose, that it was a sailor. The mate, with great presence of mind started the windlass, and in less time than it takes to tell it a couple of hundred feet of the arm was wound in, and we had the fish a prisoner. "But we'd caught a Tartar. He began to pull at the boat, and I was afraid he meant to sink it and eat us at his leisure. The vessel rocked, and I thought she would capsize every minute. I called to Frank Taylor, the boatswain, to cut off the arm and he did so with a meat chopper. "The octopus, thoroughly aroused, swam half a mile to leeward and crouched for a spring, but suddenly a distraction occurred. Three porpoises came along, the pilot porpoise leading. He ran right into the arms of the octopus, who seized him and held him high in the air and squeezed the life out of him. We could hoar his bones crunching. Having killed the poor porpoise in his rage, he tossed him high in the air. The other porpoises at once turned tail and swam to Penfield Reef light, a favorite feeding ground of these fish. They returned with an enormous swarm of porpoises, all greatly excited and gnashing their teeth. The chums of the murdered porpoise evidently had made a speech to them and got them worked up. They lined up like football players and made a combined rush for the octopus, who gazed at them viciously with his cruel, slimy eyes. It was an awful battle that followed. "The sea was lashed into a crimson foam. As the porpoises came within reach the octopus seized them in his arms and tossed them high in the air. A she had seven arms he pitched 'em up" seven at a time. If we hadn't got that other flipper, it would have been eight at a time. The sea for more than a mile was strewn with the fins and tails of porpoises and with bits of octopus. Any fellow who wants a load of good fertilizer can get it there. "I do not know how many porpoises were killed. Eventually they did up the octopus, however, and in their anger tore him limb from limb. Then they all swam to their homes, and I put into Bridgeport."

July 23, 1895 - THE SEA SERPENT AGAIN: As the Sound steamer Richard Peck was making her way past Stratford Light on Sunday evening last bound for New Haven, Robert Robbins and C.W. Pratt, employees of the New Haven line who were leaning over the rail on the port side of the boat meditating as to how they would spend their next evening off, were attracted by the sight of an immense mass of rusty seaweed, as Robbins, who is a hearty man, described it. Again they looked and noticing a coiling motion to the mass of seaweed they called the attention of a passenger and he too was of the same opinion. They had not time to decide what it was when the steamers whistle gave a blast and the sea monster, as such it must have been if what they say is true, dove out of sight, first raising its head as if it had not been aware of the approaching steamer and had been disturbed from peaceful slumber. By this time the water was in great confusion which they think is sufficient proof that it was nothing but a live sea monster. Pratt who kept his head better than Robbins during the excitement thinks the monster, as much as was visible was over forty feet long. He says he can only give a vague estimate as the serpent sank immediately after the blast of the whistle leaving sea foam and great whirlpools on the surface of the water. The collaborates the story of the sea serpent told last week by Captain Geer of the City of Lowell and it is not unreasonable to suppose that there are monsters when eminent men of science are of the belief that such animals are in existence. Robbins and Pratt say they would have called the attention of others to their discovery had not the passengers been busy securing their baggage and the employees engaged in making preparations for the landing of the boat.

July 31, 1896 - A BIG SEA SERPENT: Said to Be Two Hundred Feet and In Long Island Sound. - A sea serpent with pea green whiskers passed down Long Island Sound in a big hurry Wednesday morning. He was plowing through the water at a 25 knot clip when he passed the Stratford lighthouse and left a wake of foam behind him a mile in length. He was easily 200 feet in length, and his head was reared 20 feet above the brine. That afforded a good view of his whiskers, which were of the rich deep green color of bog hay. The big reptile was plainly seen from the lighthouse by Keeper Theodore Judson, his wife, his son Henry and his daughter Agnes, and by H. W. Curtis of Stratford, as well as by a number of people at Captain John Bond's place, up the river. These latter saw only the loftily reared head, which at a distance looked like the tall funnel of a sound flier. Keeper Judson seriously declared to a reporter that he could not be mistaken. "I saw it plainly," he said, "and so did my wife and children and Mr. Curtis. All of us are familiar with the appearance of a school of porpoises, and this sight was entirely different. Besides, the head stuck up straight, and porpoises could hardly present that appearance unless they were pushing along a stovepipe in the water. Of course it is hard to say just how big the creature was, but the body was very long and quite thick. It was traveling down the sound at a rapid rate, perhaps a half mile offshore. It could be plainly seen without a glass." The other witnesses all corroborate Keeper Judson's statement, which bears the imprint of truth. Incumbency in the lighthouse service is prima facie evidence of sobriety, an element not always closely connected with stories of sea monsters. Still the pea green whiskers are inexplicable.

July 31, 1896 - Captain Ewing of Perth Amboy, is the last mariner who says he saw the great sea serpent off Stratford light in Long Island Sound. It may or may not be pertinent as to what Captain Ewing actually did see, but it is rather suspicious for the telegraphic reports to add that the venerable "Captain does not drink grog" enough to affect his sight. There is a great deal in the word "enough."

December 27 1906 - ROCK CLIMBING FISH: Young Pugilist Took an Unidentified Fish Specimen From the Sea - While Young Corbett, the prize fighter, who is training at his quarters in Stratford, Conn., was taking his exercise along Long Island Sound the other day he noticed a peculiar animal climbing a rock and taking an oar out of a rowboat, struck it on the head, says a special dispatch from Bridgeport, Conn., to the New York World. "With the assistance of Augustus Wood, one of his trainers, he tied the denizen of the sea to the rear of an automobile and brought it to Bridgeport. It weighs thirty pounds and has two wing-like fins and two small feet, which it used to climb on rocks. The fish has a mouth ten inches in length and a pair of horns. It is over three feet long and eighteen inches across the back. No such species of fish was ever been in these waters.

Goosefish.JPG

July 18, 1909 - BIG FISH THAT STOLE CHICKENS: Taking his trusty shotgun down from the rack abaft the binnacle, Theodore Judson, keeper of the Stratford Lighthouse went out last Tuesday night and shot the big fish that has been keeping him awake nights for the past two months with its weird cries and catching his chickens. This happening is perfectly true as Mr. Judson got the fish and he has subscribed to every detail of the occurrence over his own signature. The Stratford Light is a quiet place and few noises are heard of night except the moaning of the sea, the booming of the fog bells and the hooting of whistles in thick weather, the occasional popping of an occasional launch and the frequent sound of one of the lighthouse keepers hens laying an egg. It might be ungenerously suggested that the solitude of a lighthouse keepers life is favorable to the development of the imagination, but that has nothing to do with this occurrence. For two months or more back, Mr. Judson has had his rest disturbed nights by weird sounds coming from the direction of the water. He has been unable to describe these sounds more closely than by stating that they were remindful of something between the howl of a hound dog and the wail of a lost soul. Every morning after these sounds were heard it would be discovered that a raid had been made on the chicken yard and several choice fowl had been taken. While it was evident that there was a connection between the weird cries and the stealing of chickens, Mr. Judson was unable to catch the thief although be did sentry duty with his shotgun many a night. The only clue to a nocturnal marauder left was the marks of feet resembling the flippers of a turtle which with a string of poultry feathers led from the chicken yard down to the edge of the water. The longer this sort of thing kept up the more Mr. Judson was mystified and the less hope he had of catching the thief. As he lost over 200 chickens in this way he was in despair. Last Tuesday night the weird cries were heard and Mr. Judson ran outdoors with his gun. At first he could see nothing nut finally he discovered what looked like two coals of fire blinking on the sand not two rods from him. Pulling up the gun, Mr. Judson let fly with both barrels. There was a grunt of pain and a sound as of some heavy body struggling on the sand. Then all was still. Getting a lantern, Mr. Judson found on the beach a huge fish the like of which be never saw before. It resembled a flatfish or a skate as much as anything only is was nearly a yard long and was afterward found to weigh sixty pounds. The beast was almost black in color and differed from a flatfish in that it had a mouth that extended the entire width of its head and was armed with long, sharp teeth like those of a shark. The mouth when distended was large enough to accommodate a derby hat. Along the creatures back extended a row of sharp spines while over each eye, which was as large as that of a human being, was a feeler fully a foot in length. The strangest part of the whole fish was the presence on its underside of two flippers identically like those of a turtle. After having given up all efforts to find out what sort of a thing it was he had shot, Mr. Judson boxed it up and sent it to his friend, A.C. Christenson, who has a fish market in Ansonia. When it arrived many chicken feathers were still clinging to its teeth. However there is a suspicion that they were placed there by Mr. Judson in order to supply plenty of truth of his story. The big fish was placed in the window of the market where for two days it excited unbounded wonder in all who gazed at it. Nobody was able to tell what sort of a fish it was, although everybody has a guess. In face, the thing that Mr. Judson shot was a goose fish or angler. These fish feed on smaller fish and are provided with flippers or crawlers which are used in crawling about the bottom of the water. This one evidently wandered in from deep water. It is only at long intervals that one of the species is seen in this vicinity and this specimen was unusually large.

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August 1, 1909 - GOOSEFISH STOLE CHICKENS: Theodore Judson keeper of the Stratford lighthouse uncovered yesterday a novel chicken thief in the shape of an immense goosefish or angler. The creature is common on the Long Island coast but is seldom found out of deep water. The Stratford lighthouse is situated on a point which projects far out from shore and on its narrow slopes Judson has raised many chickens. Recently he lost at least 200 fine birds. The only clues he could find to the thief were marks in the sand at low water resembling those made by the flippers of a turtle and a trail of chicken feathers leading to the tide mark. Last Saturday he heard an unearthly noise in his coops and with a shotgun and a lantern he reached the brooder to find his hens in a commotion. He discerned a pair of round fiery eyes shining at him, promptly dropped the lantern and blaze away with both barrels of his gun. Judson found the angler with half its breast blown away. It weighed 60 pounds.

July 4, 1915 - JUDSON SEES MERMAID AT LORDSHIP: This is the sad saga of a Stratford Lighthouse keeper who after 40 years finally captured a mermaid but let her slip from his grasp because he was too late to collect the $20,000 reward offered by P. T. Barnum for a live mermaid. For almost 40 years Thene Judson had kept at his dreary post as keeper of the Stratford Point Lighthouse hoping to capture a mermaid and win the Barnum prize. But is was not until two decades after the great showmans passing that the lighthouse keeper made his great catch. It was on July 4, 1915 he told The Bridgeport Herald at that time. It was late in the afternoon; I was out on the rocks facing Long Island Sound when I noticed a school of mermaids off Lighthouse Point. There were as many as 12 or 15 of them, their yellow hair glistening and their scaly tails flashing. The sky was thickening. I crept closer and all of a sudden I noticed one mermaid sitting all by herself on the rocks. Her hair was wet and she was brushing it to get it dry. She had lovely gazelle eyes and a fair skin and she was bare to her waist and below that all silver spangled scales. Her tail was about three feet long. She weighed all told about 75 pounds. As I grabbed her she did not scream or speak, but she had a tongue and beautiful white teeth and the only sound she made was a hissing noise. In a second she slipped out of my grasp like an eel and into the water to vanish. When I looked around the other mermaids had disappeared too. The keepers friends believed his story and none accused him of being a psychopathic case. If Judson was wrong mentally he would never been able to hold his responsible job so long snapped his wife who produced a hair bush which she said was used by the mermaid. It was a very ordinary wooden back hair brush of a cheap type but on the back of it was an oyster shell, the many layers testifying to a good old age. Judson argued that mermaids get their brushes from the state rooms of wrecked steamers.

JudsonMermaid1904

Lordship Mermaid

August 21, 1925: SEAMONSTER IS SEEN OFF LORDSHIP: Early morning bathers at Lordship Beach have been watching for the past few days the movements of what appears to be a gigantic marine monster. Projecting above the calm surface of the water could be plainly seen, although the apparition was a mile from the shore, several curved sections of an eel like body of enormous girth and as each section seemed to move in unison as if directed from a central source of motion, like the undulations of a snake, it dawned upon the few excited spectators that there was actually some strange sea monster in close proximity to the beach. Yesterday morning the second appearance of the monster, the coils were continuously diving and reappearing and a flock of birds wheeled round the place screaming wildly. Several bathers launched a boat to reach the great fish, but before they could get within distance it disappeared beneath the water with a quiet swirl. Hoping to catch another glimpse of the fish, quite a crowd assembled early today on the waterfront some armed with rifles, but they were doomed to disappointment as the monster failed to appear. The Post has learned from fishermen in the vicinity that this is no the first time a strange serpent like fish has been seen in the waters of the Sound though not so near the shore and only recently a similar marine beast was sighted off Montauk Point, by three skippers of coastal craft who saw the creature at different times on the same day.

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