Screams in the Night

Folklore: Machias



The days of 1816 was a bitter cold time for the early settlers and food was very scarce.  The cold and frost destroyed most of the crops and there was much suffering and hunger for all.  Animals in the woods also felt the pangs of hunger due to the shortage of available food.

Daniel W. Cheney, a native of Ashford, Conn. was one of these early settlers. Mr. Cheney bought a farm in Yorkshire before that he had lived in Machias.  On certain occasion, while returning from Arcade to the Machias area with grist upon his back, whither he had taken it to be ground, darkness overtook him.  He had just reached the swampy country which surrounds Lime Lake, and he had yet two miles to go. He was startled by the scream of a panther, and still more so when a few minutes later the same ominous sound pierced his ears from a distance of some two rods only. He turned in the direction of the sound, and plainly discovered two eyes, which glared upon him like balls of fire. Nothing more was visible. He commenced walking backwards, still facing the animal, and when he had got off some distance, turned and went forward till he again heard the approach of his expectant foe, when he again turned and faced it. He repeated this maneuver, until he reached a clearing, when the animal uttered a terrible scream of mingled rage and disappointment, and retreated into the woods.


Information from The History of Cattaraugus County, L.H. Everets, 1879

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