Frederick County’s Mythic Monsters-Snallygaster & Dewayo

Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands has Nessie, the Mothman terrorizes residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and some in Kentucky believe a werewolf by the name of Bearilla is a shape shifter in the woods.


But did you know that Frederick County, Maryland is home to two mythical monsters? According to legend, the Snallygaster and Dewayo have put fear in parents and haunted the dreams of children for years.

The Snallygaster first appeared in Middletown Valley in early February 1909.  James Harding was the first person to see it and said the beast had enormous wings, a long sharp beak, claws like steel, and one eye in the middle of its forehead. He said it made shrill screeching noises and looked like a cross between a tiger and a vampire.

Supposedly, Snallygaster killed Bill Gifferson, by piercing his neck with its sharp bill and slowly sucking his blood.

Others said they saw the beast flying and making a horrible screeching sound.

Snallygaster hysteria reached the White House and President Theodore Roosevelt almost postponed a trip to Europe so that he could lead an expedition to capture it.


In March of 1909, three men fought Snallygaster near Emmitsburg for 90 minutes before chasing it into the woods of Carroll County.

There is one known enemy of the Snallygaster; Dewayo.

Dewayo is said to be a hairy mammal with a bushy tail.  The creature looks similar to a wolf but with the arms, and stands like a human.  Reportedly, the Snallygaster and Dewayo have had vicious fights dating back 1767 when Middletown, Maryland was being settled.

Dewayo sightings have been reported mainly in the west Middletown area.

In November of 1965, a man who lived near Gambrill State Park heard a nose in his yard at night.  He went out to investigate and saw something moving towards him. He said it was as big as a bear, had long black hair, a bushy tail, and growled like a wolf or a dog in anger.  The animal got closer to him and attacked.  The man fought back and the creature ran into the woods.  He called police to file a report.

Others reported seeing Dewayo in Adamstown and Jefferson.

Are these two Frederick County mythical creatures real?  Those who have encountered these beasts say they exist and we need to be vigilant!

–Dianah Gibson