I was perusing the Frederick Gazette this morning when I ran across this very interesting article about the Snallygaster.
The Snallygaster is one of Maryland’s own cryptids, a creature that falls “outside of taxonomic records.” These are the animals of myth and legend, the creatures that are seen but whose existence is never proven. These are the beasts whose photographs are always out of focus, always fuzzy. What does the Snallygaster look like? How will you know it when it appears on your doorstep looking for candy? (Truthfully, the Snallygasters are more known for their fondness of blood than candy corn.)
Perhaps the Snallygaster’s most defining feature is its one eye and its very large wings. Other characteristics are debated, but it probably has a beak. It is reported as having claws, but it is also reported as having hooves. At times it has tentacles. It is reptilian, it is bird-like. It resembles a flying octopus.
The word Snallygaster has its origins in the German phrase “schneller geist,” meaning quick spirit. There are early references to ghosties and ghoulies that could be the Snallygaster throughout Frederick’s history. The documented Snallygaster, however, is a twentieth century beast. The first newspaper article about the Snallygaster appeared in 1909 in the Middletown Valley Register. A smattering of articles appeared during that time. The Snallygaster then went dormant in this area until 1932, when a series of sightings were again reported in the Middletown paper.
The Snallygaster’s travels throughout Maryland are not limited to Frederick County. It has been seen not only in neighboring Carroll and Washington Counties, but as far away as Baltimore and Cecil Counties.
If you want to learn more about the Sanllygaster, Patrick Boyton, local researcher and author, will be speaking at 7 p.m. Monday at the Middletown Branch of Frederick County Public Libraries about his recent book about the beast. For further information about this event please call the Middletown Branch at 301-371-7560.
You can also purchase Mr. Boyton’s book Snallygaster: the Lost Legend of Frederick County online.