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Thursday, April 22, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Florida lake monster

Does Lake Clinch in Polk County have a lake serpent? The lake contains quite a large fish stock of large mouth bass, and bluegill and lack crappie. There is a food source to sustain something in the lake. However, there is some controversy over whether there is a tradition of a creature in the lake.

'There is a tradition that a sea serpent, or lake serpent, used to haunt Lake Clinch,' M.F. Hetherington wrote in his 1928 A History of Polk County. 'The Indians many years ago insisted there was an immense serpent in this lake. In 1907 residents of Frostproof declared they had seen the monster, and that it must be 30 feet long - this, too, before post-prohibition liquor was known.'

and the opposite view:

'My own inquiries to local libraries and newspapers failed to produce any leads or archival reports,' Newton wrote. 'It is entirely possible that Lake Clinch has produced some cryptid sightings in the past, or that it may figure in aboriginal mythology, but as of press time for the work in hand, no further information was available.'

However, I found this interesting story from 1926 about a man thought to have been killed by a large serpent in the lake:

'...but talk about a lake creature persisted. Settlers spoke of something in the lake and early pioneers, including citizens, claimed to have seen a 30 foot [9.1 m] long “sea serpent” while boating or from the shore. On the night of August 30,1926, 49-year-old Charles M. Mallet stepped out of his simple Florida Cracker style home wearing a bathing suit and carrying a tackle box and bait. Mallett was a businessman, founder of the town’s first bank, and a partner in a prosperous fertilizer and supply company that served the local growers. He was a practical man and tales about a giant serpent inhabiting the lake adjacent to his home did not worry him as he prepared to venture onto the legendary monster’s domain. Before going fishing, Mallett had told several associates that he would be leaving for Sarasota the next day and absent from his usual haunts in the coming week. He stopped long enough to wave to a neighbor then made his way down to the dock. Like other men in Frostproof, he kept a small boat at the pier and frequently fished for the Largemouth Bass that were, and are, abundant in the lake. It was Florida’s “monsoon season” and there had been heavy rain that afternoon, but now it was clear skies as Mallett boarded his boat and headed out onto smooth dark water.

'Three days later, on Thursday morning, G. D. Moree cast a fishing line into Lake Clinch from the eastern shore. While reeling it in, he snagged something big - a human body. The features were so mangled, that given the condition, it might have remained unidentified but for a ring on the corpse’s finger; the name faintly engraved on the inside of the band was “Charles M.Mallet”. To confirm the identity, a person was dis-patched to see if Mallet had returned from his trip. One of Mallett’s employees, C.C. Matthews, dis-covered the door to the Cracker house unlocked and Mallett’s personal effects and suitcase awaiting his return from the lake. There was no doubt that the body was that of Charles Mercer Mallett, but what happened out on Lake Clinch? It is likely that a physician or district coroner examined Mallett’s body (Polk County did not have a medical examiner until the 1970s). A record of the death has been found in the state’s official Death Index'

Source: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache%3AcYrFR-bA5iUJ%3Amysteriesmagazine.com%2Fpreviews%2F24%2F24_lake_clinch.pdf+lake+clinch+monster&hl=en&gl=uk&sig=AHIEtbRvNfjkI4mIBiZVR-PeG6stqpF8Bw

So did Mallet meet the serpent of the lake? Local stories would have it that he did. I have been unable to find any recent sightings of anything in the lake so am inclined to dismiss this as folklore, but if anyone has any new information, please post a comment.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

30-foot-Water-monsters are common all around Florida and most turn out to be in the "giant seal" category. 30 feet is likely to be an exaggeration, more exact reprts are in the size range of 15-25 feet long.
However some of the reports also say "Alligators" of extremely large size, and the mangled condition of the corpse sounds more like what alligators would do.