Singular Showers

Daily Whig de Quincy (Illinois), Saturday, August 10, 1889
s1Guenther, Daniel: Magonia Exchange, 2007-07-28
L'article d'origine
L'article d'origine

Remarkable Stories Based On Actual Occurences.

Raining Frogs, Fish and Flesh? Colored Rain and Snow?The "Kentucky Meat Shower"? The Most Satisfactory Explanation? Shower of Insects.

The very singular phenomenon familiarly known as the "rain of frogs" has been ridiculed and contradicted by some scientists, but there is abundant proof that such occurences are by no means rare. One of the earliest narratives of this kind is that communicated to the French academy by Professor Pontus in 1804, in which he gives an account of a shower of frogs near Toulouse, and states that he himself saw numerous young frogs on the cloaks of two gentlemen who were caught in the shower on the road. When the diligence in which he was traveling arrived at the place where the storm burst, the roads and fields were observed to be absolutely full of frogs. In some places they appeared to be three or four deep, and the horses' hoofs killed thousands during the passage of the vehicle through the spot.

A Shower of Frogs

An instance of a no less curious frog shower in our own country is related by a writer in The Overland Monthly, who says that in the year 1864 he was with a number of other tourists traveling in Arizona at least twenty miles from any stream or pond. The day being exceedingly sultry, a halt was made for a rest of an hour or two, when suddenly a dense black cloud made its appearance, which soon began to discharge a copious rain. Nearly every person in the party wore a broad brimmed felt hat, which proved a great protection against the rain, as they had already been against the sun. The attention of the travelers was soon arrested by a vigorous pelting of something which seemed like hailstones upon their sombreros, but which, greatly to their surprise, proved to be a species of diminutive frogs. In less than two minutes the grass was fairly alive with these little creatures.

They were all of one size, about a quarter of an inch long, very lively, and apparently in the best condition. Their fall had evidently been broken by the elastic, springy nature of the grass. Alluding to the theory advanced by some scientists, that in such cases the frogs must of necessity have arisen from the ground, the writer says: "It is not probable that several hundred thousand, perhaps millions, of frogs had suddenly been hatched into life by the rain, or, if they had, that, in their infantile glee, they jumped 5 feet 11 inches from the earth to the top of our heads merely to show how the game of leap frog should be played. They came from above, in company with the rain, and this fact was made clear by holding out the hand and seeing them fall upon it, as well as finding them upon our hat rimes."

Raining Fish

To judge from a number of instances related in Chambers' "Book of Days," it would seem that the cases of fish falls, in the old country, at least, outnumber those of frogs to a considerable degree. On the 14th of April, 1828, Maj. Mackenzie, of Rosshire, while walking in a field on his farm, saw a great portion of the ground covered with herring fry three to four inches in length, fresh and entire. The spot was all of three miles from the Firth of Dingwell. About two years later, in the Island of Islay, in Argyleshire, after a day of very heavy rain, the inhabitants were surprised to find a large number of fresh herrings strewn over their fields. More recently a Wick newspaper stated that one morning a large quantity of the same species of fish were found scattered in a garden in that town. These, it is stated, the peasants cooked and ate, though not without misgivings as to the possibility of some satanic agency having been concerned in transferring them to such a spot.

One of the most curious instances of this nature is related by an English officer, who, while residing in Calcutta, saw a quantity of live fish descend in a heavy shower of rain. "The most strange thing that struck me in connection with this event," said the officer, "was that the fish did not fall helter skelter, everywhere, or here and there, but in an even, straight line, not more than a cubit in breadth." Of all remarkable events of this character, however, the most sensational was the famous "Kentucky meat shower" which mystified so many people some twenty years ago. This was at first regarded by many as a hoax, but was found to be a veritable occurence, although hardly susceptible of a thoroughly satisfactory explanation. This "flesh fall" took place on the farm of a Mr. Crouch, which was in a spot surrounded by high hills and mountains, in Bath county, Ky. This account, given by Mrs. Crouch, was substantially as follows:

A Kentucky Story

"Between 11 and 12 o'clock I was in my yard not more than forty steps from the house. There was a light wind coming from the west, but the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly. Without any prelude or warning of any kind, and exactly under these circumstances, the shower commenced. The fall was of not less than one nor more than two minutes' duration. When the flesh began to fall I saw a large piece strike the ground close by me, with a snapping like noise when it struck. I was impressed with the conviction that it was a miracle or a warning. The largest piece that I saw was as long as my hand and about half an inch wide. It looked gristly, as if it had been torn from the throat of some animal. Another piece that I saw was half round in shape and about the size of a half dollar."

An old hunter, residing in the neighborhood, on being shown a piece of the flesh declared it to be bear meat, and stated that it had "that uncommonly greasy feel" peculiar to the flesh of that animal. A butcher who was persuaded to taste the meat changed his mind about swallowing any of it, and declared that it tasted neither like flesh, fish or fowl. It looked to him like mutton, but the smell was a new one. Some of the meat was quite dry, and there seemed to be a fine, wool like fiber running through it. A great deal of the flesh was sent to chemists and others in various parts of the country, and analyses were made by several well known scientists. Professor J. L. Smith was at first inclined to pronounce it the dried spawn of frogs, but as it was found under the microscope to possess undoubted characteristics peculiar to the flesh of animals, this theory was abandoned. Perhaps the most reasonable explanation is that of Professor Peter, of Lexington, Ky., who believed the fall of flesh to be simply the result of a kind of post-priandial disgorting by a flock of buzzards who had been feasting themselves more abundantly that wisely on the carcass of a sheep. THis is the simplest, and, perhaps, after all, the most satisfactory explanation that can be given of the supposed miracle.

Of showers of insects there are a few instances on record, and it is undoubtely true that the so called colored rain and snow storms are in many cases caused by minute insects and shells of infusoria carried into the atmosphere by the winds.?St. Louis Globe Democrat.