Where is the Snake?

It was a strange story. The paper only mentioned the object once. There is nothing else, and no more is known about what happened to this artifact from Breathitt’s unexplained past.

Sidney Robinson

The Robinson family lived in Breathitt County beginning in the middle decades of the 1800s. John J. Robinson, born in Virginia, moved to the Quicksand area before 1840. He was included in the 1840 Federal Census as John Roberson, a common alternative spelling of his surname. Officials corrected the spelling when they taxed him on the 1841 Breathtt County Tax List.

Robinson and his wife, Mary “Polly” Cole, raised their children near the mouth of a small hollow just north of Snowden Branch, close to the present site of Deaton Funeral Home. The Robinsons were important members of the Quicksand community and many rest today in the Snowden Cemetery high on the hill overlooking the Robinson Subdivision on Old Quicksand Road.

The family patriarch, John J. Robinson, died after 1880 and is buried in the Snowden Cemetery. His children continued to play a role in the development of Breathitt County. John J. Robinson, Jr. married and had a son, Sidney R. Robinson born in 1876.

Through the years, the newspapers in Breathitt County and around the country loved to print strange and unusual stories regardless of the verification of facts. Some of the stories were so outlandish that they could not be true, but others have since been verified. On Thursday, October 15, 1936, The Jackson Times ran a small, one-paragraph article on page 8 with the headline “Petrified Snake.”

The Jackson Times, Thursday, October 15, 1936, page 8.

The article ran once and was never mentioned again. P. T. Barnum never came to Jackson to buy the strange object. Robert Ripley never illustrated a panel about the stiffened serpent to challenge his millions of daily readers to believe it or not. No further mention has been found about the Breathitt County oddity.

Sidney Robinson may have found a fossilized snake similar to this extinct python found in Wyoming. – Source Dr. Michelle Lawing, Texas A.&M.

Sidney Robinson lived until his 72nd year and died on November 8, 1948. His second wife, Sarah (Barnett) Robinson, buried him in the Hightop Cemetery on Robinson Fork.

What happened to his petrified snake? Is it still in the family or was it sold or given away? Was it really a petrified snake or just something that looked like a serpent frozen in time. Where is it now? I hope someone knows. I, for one, would love to see Sidney Robinson’s unexplained find.

© 2023 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
This entry was posted in Breathitt County, Unexplained and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s