May 31, 1913: Rattlesnake pointedly proves handler's point

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • July 4, 2013 - 10:24 PM
This story snapped and slithered its way onto the front page of the Minneapolis Tribune:

Carnival Snake Bites
Man; Frightens Police

Trainer in Danger from Fangs of Big Rattler He Was Showing.

Same Reptile Slinks Into the Lake Street Station in Afternoon.

The skepticism of a visitor at the “Reptile World” show at the Lake Street festival last night came near causing the death of Montana Jack, snake trainer. He was bitten by a poisonous rattlesnake when he attempt to prove that the reptile had not been defanged.

“Jack” was demonstrating methods of handling the snakes to a crowd, when one spectator declared that the reptiles had all been deprived of their fangs and that they were perfectly harmless. Grabbing the largest of the dozen rattlers from the bottom of the pit, Jack declared he would prove that the snakes were poisonous.

In forcing open the snake’s mouth it slipped from his grasp for a moment and buried its fangs in the fleshy part of the man’s left arm.

He wanted to treat the bite by his own method, but the police took him to Dr. George E. Thomas. He will recover.

Yesterday afternoon half a dozen policemen in the Fifth precinct station believed they were “seeing things” when the same snake, which had escaped from the tent, slid into the station. There was a scramble for the doors and tops of desks and chairs, and for a few minutes the rattler was in full control of the situation. Then it continued on its way and noiselessly slid out of the rear door into the alley.

It was captured a short time afterward in the grass in the rear of 3032 Third avenue south.


I was unable to find a photo of Montana Jack or any other snake handler of the early 1900s in the Star Tribune's rich archive of photos. But -- snakes alive! -- how about the caption on the back of this 1937 photo: "Radioman from KSTP interviewing a cobra snake." Tell us more, dear archives, tell us more!

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