The "Hoedag." - [Fearsome Critter / Cryptid? ]
[Newspaper excerpt of the 'Hoedag' as drawn by "Edward Fusk." - Photo Thanks to the lake improvement association.]
• About this Critter: A distinct lake creature from St Mary's, Grand Lake, Ohio. - The 'Monster of Lake St Mary's' also known as 'The Terrible Hoedag' - is mentioned in various news articles from 1912 through the 1960's - it is vicariously described as a near 'dinosaur or dragon-sized' strange animal, around 3/4ths the size of an elephant: with a slender 'giraffe-like' neck which could turn on a swivel allowing it look in any direction, its neck was covered in 'bristly quills like a porcupines, but mixed with feathers.' The creatures body was described as having spots like a baby cows and a fuzzy back hump like a camels. With long "chicken-like" front legs and short "pig-like" stubby hind legs, both ending in flat plate-like feet. - (Which allow her to tiptoe over mud and lily pads and easily avoid being tracked.) Atop of its horse-like head, it has one eerie green glowing eye on her cow-licked forehead, and on the opposite end, a smaller angry, brightly glowing red eye on her 3ft slender tail. - The glow emitted has also been compared to flickering traffic or boat lights. - (Some accounts say that the rear eye did not reflect light, but did glow in the dark.) - [One humorous account (from 1945)] says that it could shoot concentrated fire (similar to a blow torch or a laser beam) from its tail and that it would use it to destroy traps that where laid out for it.]
This 'Hoedags' diet was said to consist of wild geese & lost dogs: (A few articles mention that missing dogs remains were often found torn asunder, and washed up ashore among the cattails.) The creature has also been said to be responsible for missing persons. - [Most lake monsters are blamed for drowning victims and such.] The Hoedag was said not to attack adults but it will not hesitate to go after young lovers. – For this among other reasons, the creature has also gotten the nick name & reputation of being known as the "Terrible Hoedag." - However, it has also been said to eat 'peanuts, sweets & other things that children like.' - its most favorite treat was said to be cakes & pumpkin pie! it was often blamed whenever pies went missing from windowsills. (Also, Pies where often used as a way to bait said creature into a trap.) -
The creature is said to be absolutely terrified of humming birds, so much that it has been said that humming or whistling a tune whilst you're alone, was a surefire way to keep the creature away. (perhaps that's why its said to only comes out on foggy nights.)
its often said to be the last of its kind and very attention-starved. (though there was at least one account of its handler, Fred 'Midget' Longsworth & the H.T&T (hunters, traders and trappers association*) successfully breeding the creature.
• History: The "Hoedag" is accepted as a local legend that patrols the waters of Grand Lake St. Marys. - The few that know of it consider it the lesser-known "nessie" of the area. - 'Legends' about this creature date back to at least 1912 with written accounts being published at least once a year [often on April 1st or surrounding the fools date.] - through until the 1960s. - [The earliest records available online* seem to begin in the 1930's]
[Mardi Gras at St. Mary's to be held Friday The Lima News (Lima, OH), p. 9 1930s] - [according to yet another article, the float was soon found to be missing.] -
*Most early accounts of the Hoedag seem to center around one "Fred (Midget) Longsworth" of the 'Hunters, Traders & Trappers association' (H.T&T.) - According to an article researched and written by Blueprint, One night 'Midget' met the hoedag while out canoeing with a friend who fell overboard and then went missing... he and his crew managed to tame the hoedag until it ranaway after being branded by the other members...
[dated July 8th 1944 Midget's response to the Celina lake monster - Another local cryptid.]
[*another article where Midget, (H.T&T) the Hoedag are mentioned, sadly no date was provided, and the photograph is askew.]
the hoedag was also remembered in late 1957, mentioned in an article about dragon sightings!
• Recent 'Hoedag' news:
Although this 'Hoedag' is no where near as widespread or famous a mascot as the Rhinelander, Wisconsin variety of 'hodag.' - The local ST.Mary's community has since involved the creature in a few projects to bring awareness to help keep the Lake safe and clean from algae & other pollution.
in 2011 the Lake Improvement Association launched the “Save The Hoedag” Video Contest. - [a few videos can from said contest can still be watched on YouTube here: [x] [x].] - The video project was focused on how the Hoedag’s natural habitat was being harmed and what people in the communities could do to help it! - This project aimed to increase awareness of the algal issues in the lake & involve local youth in helping Grand Lake area!
In 2014 a mechanical dredger was also named after the Hoedag as well!
Hopefully we'll see more of the hoedag in more of the community projects soon! i think it would make for a fine mascot! :)
...One far more recent [and frankly, unnecessarily mean!] yarn about the origin of this "hoedag" can be sourced to an interview from The Guardian, Student newspaper of Wright State University, 2020. - an interview with one "Robert Kinnison" goes as follows:
"When digging Grand Lake, the workers unearthed a horrific desiccated fossil that returned to life upon being submerged in the water with which they filled the newly dug crater. The Hoedag terrified and completely wiped out the population of the first two settlements in this area. It was actually captured with the help of several native peoples and butchered into thin sausages that the white people poisoned and fed to the natives that helped them. Unbeknownst to most people, these sausages were named after the creature, ‘Hoedag,’ and this is the origin of the term ‘hotdog,’” said Robert Kinnison." - another account included in the article says that the hoedag must have been responsible for their friends missing dog."
--worth note is that this story does not appear in any earlier writings or earlier articles on the subject of the hoedag (at least from that I've been able to uncover.) (Though the bit of lore about the monster being dug up and "unearthed" is at least accurate to one earlier article.) - I'd assume its simply a tall tale they made up and spun on the spot for the interview.
... As a folklorist, it feels far more likely to me that Legends and stories of the "Hoe-dag" derived from Rhinelander Wisconsin's 'Hodag' (whos 'hoax' & lore were still 'viral' at the time of this creature's conception.) perhaps someone heard about it and then it spread separately from the "hodag' lore but as a unique lake monster just two states over. - What's fun and Interesting about this, is because the Rhinelander "hodags" lore says that 'a Hodag is born for 7 years every year after an ox was cremated in the woods' [as mentioned in Lake Shore Kearneys story 1922] - so, there's room for both to exist simultaneously, despite (almost) sharing a name! - [it could be seen as A water variety of hodag perhaps?] - Also worth note is that the 'Hoedag' is quite visually similar to the "Hugag" from 'Fearsome Critters'  - (back hump, circular feet, coincidentally also shares a close by location!!!) - Perhaps the 'hoedag' originated as a derivative or perhaps even a misidentification between the two. - Who can say for sure?!! - According to the lake improvement association, this creature was also the game in many fruitless hunting expeditions (so it could also be seen as a local variant to the "Snipe")
*Thankfully the lake improvement association was kind enough to provide me with some extra article clippings [*which are quite sadly not available online currently due to their database hiccuping, I'll be sure to update here if/when that gets fixed!] - Thanks to these, I was able to piece together a better description & draw an illustration for the Hoedag! - [you can find even more newspaper articles about the hoedag archived by date on fearsomecritters.ca as well!]
Sticker Art & writings by @Samkalensky part of my 'Fearsome Critters' collection of stickers! - Check my shop & follow me for many more!