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The word Schnellegeister is German for fast spirit or ghost. It was also called Snallygaster.
In one legend, the Snally Gaster is a thing immigrating from Europe which eats African Americans. In another, it is a champion of ex-slaves and their families protecting from and interfering the hunters.
Later, sightings of the Snallygaster were creating such a commotion that at one point it was reported that President Theodore Roosevelt might postpone a trip to Europe so that he could lead an expedition to capture it.
Apparently the early twentieth century Smithsonian Institute was also interested in the beast. From the description provided by engineer 83, at Shepherdstown, West Virginia, they determined the strange beast was either a bovalopus or a Snallygaster, since it had the characteristics of both. Further, its hide was so rare that it was worth $100,000 a square foot, as it was the only substance known to man that could polish punkle shells.
(Punkle shells, for those of you who don't know, are used by the African tribes of Umbopeland for ornamentation.)
The Snallygaster or Schnellegeister meaning "quick spirit" in the original German, is described as part reptile, part bird, with limbs of an octopus, and huge jaws with razor sharp teeth or a metallic beak, which can be used to suck blood. It varies in color and size depending on the witness. It seems to have followed the first German settlers to Middletown in 1735. In the early 1900's the staff of the Middletown Valley Register, particularly George C. Rhoderick, SR. And Ralph S. Wolf Sr. Revived the Snallygaster and sagging circulation with a series of articles that are said to have even caught the attention of Teddy Roosevelt, who wanted to capture the German fairytale and present it to the Smithsonian. The legend also resurfaced during prohibition in hopes of scaring away revenuers and explaining the sounds of exploding stills. Luckily in this day and age, people don't play fast and loose with the truth in the media. Think of the uproar it would cause in this day of instant Internet access!
The Snallygaster finally met his end in a way some might envy. The creature was flying near Frog Hollow in Washington County when it was attracted by the aroma of a 2500-gallon vat of moonshine. As the beast flew overhead, it was overcome by the fumes and dropped into the boiling mash. A short time later, revenue agents George Dansforth and Charles Cushwa arrived on the scene. They had received information about the still, but were rather startled at the sight of the dead monster in the vat.
The two agents exploded five hundred pounds of dynamite under the still, destroying the remains of the Snallygaster and John Barleycorn's workshop.
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