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History Lives Here Text

Exciting Days on Lake Michigan

As SeaSerpent Bobs Up
You Do Not Believe It? well It was Seen by Capt.
Stufflebeam and Harry J. Cook
of Muskegon

These areexciting days in good old Lake Michigan andwhat merriment. So let the orchestra strike up, and joy reign supreme for thefamed "sea serpent" has bobbed up in the lake.

You do notbelieve it? But listen my children and you will understand. Two good and trueseamen and residents of our own city saw it with their own eyes. We refer toCapt. G. E. Stufflebeam of the S. S. TheodoreRoosevelt and Harry J. Cook, 1053 Ireland avenue, knownhere for years for the truth and nothing by the truth.

 

Dispatch Tells Story

But let theAssociated Press dispatch tell the story:

"We were about four miles off shore," said Capt. Stufflebeam last night, "when Donald Steele, thelookout saw it."

"I ordered two floodlights thrown on the creature and there he was-- wriggling and twisting around and going faster than the ship. We kept it insight for five minutes.

"The passengers on deck cried, `What is it?' but I didn't know nordid H. J. Cook, former steamship line official, who was with me.

"Then itflipped its tail and the creature -- about 60 feet long -- started toward Benton Harbor, Mich."

That's CaptainStufflebeam's story and he said he'll stick to it.Now, is there any doubt in your mind that a sea serpent is roaming Lake Michigan frightening women and children? Thereshould not be, and can be none in view of the circumstances, especially if youknow Mr. Stufflebeam and Mr. Cook. And if it has beenyour misfortune not to know them, there is something missing in your life. Twomore truthful and jovial sailors never sat around the kitchen table and spunyarns of their daring and the sea. They are the life of the party.

Commanded Alabama

Capt. Stufflebeamcommanded the steamer Alabamafor years and later was commodore of the state ferry fleet at the Straits. Inand out of marine circles, no captain is considered a more able pilot or a morecharming host. If Capt. Stufflebeam's friends, oreven the passengers, insisted on a sea serpent, a sea serpent it would be.Capt. Stufflebeam is that way.

The steamerRoosevelt is operated out of Chicago daily onexcursions to Benton Harbor. It is to be notedthat it was toward Benton Harbor that the serpentwas headed. Naturally with the double holiday at hand, Capt. Stufflebeam will expect thousands of Chicago people to board his ship in thesearch for that serpent. And with Capt.. Stufflebeam and Mr. Cook there to entertain them, what funthere will be.

Maybe areporter or two will go along. The captain likes reporters and reporters likehim, and there is nothing a reporter enjoys more than a sea serpent chase on lake Michigan with Captain Stufflebeamand his aide, Harry Cook.

 

Contributed by a reader, from a 1934 South Haven paper.

It's hardto tell if this newspaper story is an "in" joke, perhaps to advertisethe cruises, the reporter mocking some unusual event that took place on aprevious trip, or a case of legitimate (albeit light-hearted) reporting.

Occasionallyodd things were seen on Lake Michigan. Theshort story below appeared in the Lake ShoreCommercial, Saugatuck's weekly newspaper, for October 28, 1892:

The One ThatGot Away

One of the sealions at Lincoln Park, Chicago,escaped a few weeks ago and got into Lake Michiganbefore he could be recaptured. A few days ago some young ladies of this place,while standing at the pier at the mouth of the river, saw a strange object inthe lake and their close description of its appearance and movements leaves nodoubts that it was the runaway from Lincoln Park.

 

Later history would repeatitself. The account below is from the March 15, 1935, Commercial Record:

Capt GeorgeSewers of the tug Reindeer, local fishing boat, and his crew Ray Peel and sonPaul and Roy Hill, brought us yesterday probably the most mythical story of theseason, which was a real honest-to-goodness, live seal swimming in the icywaters of our good old Lake Michigan. Although this seems to be most incrediblewe have no reason to doubt the words of Mr. Sewers and his crew.

Whilereturning from their nets Wednesday noon the seal was sighted following themabout a mile from the harbor and continued to do so until they entered theharbor but there he stopped, turned around and went back out in the lake. Attimes Mr. Sewers said, the seal was only 20 feet from the boat and appeared tobe very tame which adds strength to the possibility that it might be a tameseal from some zoo or circus and also to the fact that at his age Mr. Sewersshould be able to recognize a seal at 20 feet.

The seal was about the size of a man andwould probably weigh from 125 to 150 pounds.

Sewers Fish House - 1947