"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV. John Russell.
"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV
"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV
"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV
"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV
"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV

"The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" in The Family Magazine: or, Monthly Abstract of General Knowledge, Vol. IV

New York: Redfield & Lindsay, 1837.

First edition. viii, 472 pp. Publisher's half leather with black patterened cloth, gilt ruling and lettering, marbled edges and endpapers. Vol. IV compiling 1836 and 1837 articles. Very Good with rubbing and wear to tips, contents toned and a little foxed. Profusely illustrated. Uncommon in collectible condition.

John Russell's short article, "The Piasa: An Indian Tradition of Illinois" pp. 101-102 was first published in the August 1836 issue of The Family Magazine and is collected herein, its first book publication. Bookseller John J. Dunphy writes in an article for the Illinois History website, "Piasa legend is pure fiction!":

The work purported to be the retelling of an Illini tribe legend, although scholars have long noted that Russell later admitted to his son that the story was simply fiction that had been inspired by the account of those eerie bluff paintings seen by Marquette and Jolliet.
All the classic elements of the Piasa Bird legend we know today are present in Russell's story: the winged monster who lived in a bluff cave and fed on Indians, the brave Illini chief Ouatoga who offered himself as live bait to attract the Piasa, and the 20 warriors who emerged from cover to let fly poisoned arrows that killed the monster. Russell concluded the story with his alleged discovery of a cave in the bluffs that was heavily littered with "sculls [sic] and other bones." This spurious finding of the monster's lair, replete with the remains of its victims, gave what seemed to the readers of that day as 'blood-chilling credibility to Russell's chronicle.
Reprinted in a number of frontier newspapers, such as Alton's Telegraph the story became a minor classic that many readers obviously mistook for the factual retelling of a Native American narrative.

Dunphy goes to dismantle the article's claims of truthfulness. The Piasa bird or dragon has become a minor but fascinating character in American folklore and cryptozoology. Item #140939796

Price: $250.00

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