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A Mermaid in the Susquehanna

Henry Loucks reports on five sightings opposite Dugan’s Run

1908 Mermaid Illustration by Latimer J. Wilson (Comes from a Third Year Reader)
1908 Mermaid Illustration by Latimer J. Wilson (Comes from a Third Year Reader)

Dugan’s Run is in Hellam Township; it empties into the Susquehanna River a little over one-mile upriver from Accomac.  This same vicinity contains the Memorial Marker for the Confederate soldier that drowned in 1863.

In 1881, Henry Loucks reported on five sightings of a mermaid opposite Dugan’s Run.  This mermaid illustration looks like it could be set on the Susquehanna River.  The illustration, drawn in 1908 by Latimer J. Wilson, comes from a Third Year Reader.

The newspaper microfilms of the York County Heritage Trust contain the article.  A Mermaid in the Susquehanna appears in the June 8th, 1881 issue of the York Daily:

Mermaids1881Usually, says the Marietta Register, there comes to us from fishermen and skippers, reports of sea serpents and other curious things seen off the coast of Massachusetts, and they have had a monopoly of the wonderful about long enough.  No doubt the “Hub of the Universe” attracts many things in the way of natural history; but it is not the only place in the world that nature exhibits its rarities.

One of our oldest fishermen reports the discovery of one of these rare nondescripts, in the river about one mile above town, in the deep water opposite Dugan’s run.  He has already seen it five times; always either early in the morning or late in the evening.

He says it comes to the surface, looks about it, then gradually sinks down leaving its hair floating on top of the water for a moment or so and finally disappears.  It has the face of a woman and beautiful glossy black hair, but as it only shows itself down to the shoulders, he cannot tell what the other end is like.

He says he could shoot it but is afraid he might be arrested and tried for murder, and it would bring him into trouble.  On being asked if it had a comb or looking glass with it.  “It might have had, but he didn’t see it” and supposes it has a cave somewhere in the bottom of the river under the deep water.

Mr. Henry Loucks, the fisherman above alluded to, is well known in town, and he is considered as reliable as any fisherman on the river.  We are in hopes that the mermaid may be captured alive, if possible, or dead, if it cannot be had any other way, and guarantee him a safe delivery out of his troubles if he shoots it.

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