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A look back at snakes

A good many people are afraid of snakes – as well they should be. There are in excess of 3,400 species of these reptiles, identified by their limbless condition and elongated body and tail. Some are poisonous; most are not. The following items indicate some of the experiences people living in this part of the country have had with snakes. 

May 22, 1906The Rev. Montgomery Groendyke of Lawrence County says one of the largest copperhead snakes ever seen in his neighborhood was killed at his home near Moulton today. Mr. Groendyke’s two small grandchildren were in the front room alone. One of them is a child some 4 years old, and the other is a young baby. The baby was lying in the cradle, and the other child was playing on the floor a few feet away. The mother of the children stepped into the room and found a large snake between the two children. Grabbing the child, she carried it into the yard and then went back after the baby and found that the snake had disappeared. The older child fainted. Later the snake was found and killed. It was a copperhead and measured four feet in length. The snake was a very poisonous one, and Mr. Groendyke says it would have doubtless killed the baby had not the mother happened into the room when she did. 

Sept. 30, 1915—Mrs. Amos Adams, a woman living at Bellwood, died the first of the week from the bite of a rattlesnake. She was of the Holiness belief and would receive no medical attention after the snake had bitten her. During her illness, which lasted about a month, members of the Holiness creed stayed with her and prayed for her. She suffered torture as the poison spread over her from the wound and finally called for a doctor. A physician was not allowed to attend her until a day or two before her death, however.  The poison had spread over her entire body then, and medicine could do her no good. Those adhering to the Holiness doctrine declare that Mrs. Adams lost faith when she called for a physician and, therefore, could not be healed by faith. Members of the Holiness creed have held meetings in various parts of Morgan, Cullman and adjoining counties this summer, and feats similar to the handling of snakes have been performed to show their faith in in their chosen doctrine. 

Sept. 21, 1916—Saturday afternoon Henry Betz perceived an uglylooking snake crawling around his yard and tried to capture it alone. Without any trouble, he seized the reptile around the head, but when attempting to place it in a shoebox, his grasp became slackened, and in a twinkle, its deadly fangs were buried in Mr. Betz’s hand. A doctor was summoned, and antidotes were administered. However, Mr. Betz’s hand and arm are still tremendously swelled, and he has suffered excruciating pain.  

March 19, 1927—One of the biggest snakes that has been seen this spring was killed by Walter Williams this afternoon in a stretch of land down at Vinemont. Walter was walking through the timber, as he frequently does. Near an old log, he just missed stepping on a huge snake. Killing the reptile, he found that it was of the coach whip variety and measured 6 feet, 4 inches. It was as big around as Walter’s arm in the bigger portions of its body. 

June 20, 1935The Rev. Sam Calvert, a well-known Baptist minister in this area, while in town Monday had with him the hide of a large rattlesnake killed by his son while the Rev. Calvert, the son and son-in-law were fishing on a creek on the Rev. Calvert’s farm. The snake measured 4 feet, 6 inches and had 10 rattles on the end of its tail. 

Feb. 17, 1939Matt Chenault of Hartselle Route 2 reports an unusual incident for this time of year. Mr. Chenault was almost bitten by a cottonmouth moccasin snake on the bank of old Flint Creek, south of Hartselle, this morning. Mr. Chenault killed the snake, which measured 4 feet long. 

Aug. 20, 1940—Bites inflicted by a copperhead moccasin have failed to halt the snake-killing activities of Peggy, Bob Nabers’ rat terrier. Peggy is credited with killing 48 snakes in the past four months, her career having been interrupted that one time.