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Jonas Wessel Crøger and his fight with a pyton snake
First version

The story of the Norwegian minister Jonas Wessel Crøgerand his fight with a pyton snake in the Brazilian jungle has since 1855 been passed on by mouth from one generation of Norwegian- American emigrants to another.

In two of his printed manuscripts Jonas Wessel Crøger tells of a dreadful encounter with a huge, brownish snake with red flaming eyes trying to hypnothize him. It had been wounded severely by his flintlock and the big snake was for a couple of seconds looking straight into his eyes, writhing in its own death struggle and then fell dead into a ditch in the wilderness of the Brazilian jungle. But he did not tell, if it was a Boa or a Pyton snake.

This incident described by Jonas Wessel Crøger himself in his travel diary as a rather terrible experience, also appears in his daughter, Helle Crøger-Devold-Mengshoel's, newspaper versions of her fathers working papers, so this particular event most certainly must belong to the original version of the handwritten travel diary of her father.

Jonas Wessel Crøger and his fight with a terrible snake.

Second version

When I was about four years old (in 1937), my father, with great purpose, sat me down and told me a story meant to differ from all those preceeding and following it. It was my privilege, he said, to be the great-great grand-daughter of a very brave and noble man named Jonas Wessel Croger.  This man left his home in Norway and endured a long and hazardous journey to Brazil where he hoped to establish a settlement for fellow Norwegians. A bold explorer, he set up camp in the jungle and began investigating a terrain totally foreign and hostile to him.

One fateful afternoon he returned to his jungle hut and upon entering, was horrified to see a gigantic snake inside. It was positioned in such a way that most of its lenght was clinging to the thatched wall, with its head and upper body on the ceiling in a most advantageous striking position. With only one round of ammunition in his flint lock, my grandfather knew he must take faultlessly precise aim at a spot near the back of the snakes' head - or be squeeged to death in its coils, hearing his very bones snap even before his last breath escaped. He took aim, fired - and the snake fell dead upon the hut floor.

This was the end of the story - my father and I sat staring at each other in silent amazement. He told me the story many times, and although we were both neurotically afraid of snakes, we could never get our will of this bit of family history. As I grew older, he included my grandfathers associations with the church, and his audience with Dom Pedro II. Growing up, I pressed the story on all my friends whether they wanted to hear it or not and I've told my children and grandchildren, of course. Just a few month ago, my little grandson, then 5, started telling me, with great animations about his grandpa who killed a snake. I thought he meant my former husband who lives on an acre of land in a nearby suburb. He became very agitated as he tried to make me understood that it was not that grandpa! I finally made the connection and it was gratifying to see the impact this story had on my dear little grandson - and the please it gave him. I've recently learned there are no pythons in South America. The snake must have been either a boa () or an anacondo much longer (than the Python-snake) commonly up to 30 feet in lenght. I have scared myself silly and will have to sleep with a light on tonight. Really.

Told by the great-great granddaughter of Jonas Wessel Crøger, Minneapolis, USA,Oct. 28, 1997

Copyright 2001
Åge Skjelborg