Snakes! & The Bluchers

Corpus Christi is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, and the region is the preferred habitat of many species of snakes. Several of the local snakes are venomous, such as rattlesnakes, coral snakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads. As such it is always advisable to be aware of your surroundings as you walk the TAMUCC Hike & Bike Trail, or any of the local parks.

The following recollection of pioneer snake encounters was recently discovered in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library’s Special Collections & Archives Department while processing the Charles F.H. von Blucher Family Papers. The processing of these papers was made possible with two generous, successive grants from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The Blucher family have a long and storied history in both Corpus Christi, and the world. Gebhard Leberecht Blucher was in shared command at the battle of Waterloo that defeated Napoleon in 1815, and Battleships were named Blucher in his honor in both World War I and World War II (on the German side, with both being sunk in action). The following is a recollection from Charles F.H. von Blucher, and is believed to have happened in the 1860’s. It is unedited and presented as written in 1935.

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“One day an immense gray snake came slowly crawling across the yard from a northeast direction. When we children saw it we hurriedly called out and “Uncle Busse” came running with his shotgun. By this time the snake crawled under an old house in the yard. It was too close to the ground for us to see very well, but Uncle Busse did his best at shooting the snake where it had taken refuge. We did not know whether or not he had succeeded in killing it, and waited during the days that followed for the smell that would indicate that the snake had indeed been killed; but we did not detect anything.

About four years after this event, we children were seated around the table at breakfast, one morning, when Mary, my sister, who was facing the side of the room where the windows were, jumped up and yelled, “The snake! The snake!” We looked at the window and there, coming right in through the open window (which was only a short distance above the ground) was an enormous snake. Mary was a brave girl and she ran to the kitchen and grabbed an axe that we kept there and attacked the snake with this weapon. She succeeded in cutting the snake in two, thus killing him. We examined him with great interest, on account of his great size. He measured at least eight feet in length and was about six or more inches in diameter. In color he was grayish brown, as near as I can recall.

I skinned this snake and tacked the skin down to dry on the board roof of our chicken house. In skinning the snake I found many small shots imbedded in the skin, and we were convinced that this was no other than the big snake at which Uncle Busse had shot that time four years before.

Not long after this, Uncle Busse, whose small house was not far from ours, woke up from a nap to find the head of a snake suspended immediately in front of, or rather above, his head as he lay in his cot. Imagine his amazement as he beheld this great reptile, hanging from one of the small cross pieces of the rafters of the unceiled house, swinging there so close to his head. He quickly grabbed the snake and gave a strong pull. The snake was so tough that the pull broke the timber and down came snake and all. Uncle Busse soon killed the snake; I skinned this one also. It was apparently the mate of the other one just described, and about the same size.”

Charles F.H. von Blucher

Eric Christensen

Special Collections & Archives, Librarian of Archive Processing