1892: Connecticut Snake Story

A Farm Hand Makes a Discovery at the Bottom of a Well.

Middletown, Conn., November 13.–The long drought in the Connecticut valley has greatly delayed the advent of winter, and wild flowers, fruit trees and strawberry blossoms, snakes and other things are still current. The drought has also dried all the small streams and wells, and it was on account of the drought, too, that Farmer Alexander Penfield’s hired man, a Pole, had a unique and startling experience today. Like all his neighbors, Penfield had been getting his drinking water in a hogshead for his household and his barn stock from the distant river, and he was tired of the job. He determined to clean out an old well on the premises. It was a deep and capacious one, and it had been unused for several years.

The two men found that the well had been partly filled with brush, stones and other debris, but Penfield quickly rigged up a rope and bucket and sent the Pole to the bottom of it in the bucket. The Pole had not labored long before he was disturbed by a singular buzzing sound like the humming of a swarm of bees, and a moment later he began to see snakes. From every crevice in the stone curb of the well serpents thrust forth their heads, hissing loudly, then advanced their bodies, little by little, into the well, which were followed instantly by more snakes, all crowding on the frightened workman and tumbling on each other into the bottom of the dimly lighted shaft.

There were black snakes, water snakes, striped snakes and adders. For awhile the Pole waged a desperate battle against the serpents with his shovel, simply to protect himself from their attack, but in a few moments he was completely invested with a hissing, writhing, squirming, tossing tangle of serpents in the bottom of the pit, while a shower of snakes was continually falling upon him from the walls above his head.

Finally the Pole became terror-stricken and shouted to Mr. Penfield to haul him out of the engulfing torrent of reptiles. Mr. Penfield pulled vigorously on the bucket rope and soon had his man out of danger. After an hour or so the serpents returned to their retreat behind the well walls. Then Farmer Penfield lowered his man into the well again. He found the bodies of thirty-four snakes which the Pole had killed with his shovel. Mr. Penfield has abandoned his project of using the well and is still getting his water from the Connecticut river.

From the Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania), Monday, November 14, 1892.


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