ASHTABULA — A childhood love of reading culminated in J.C. Raphael writing his first books decades later.
Raphael visited the Ashtabula Library on Monday evening to share stories about his book “Monsters in Ohio.”
He detailed the history of 13 monsters that may, or may not, have existed throughout the state.
Raphael said he graduated from St. John in 1995, but first had the desire to be a writer in elementary school. He lives in Mentor but returns often to Ashtabula to see family.
“I have always kept one foot in Ashtabula,” he said. The book regarding monsters is also a study of urban legend, folklore and cryptozoology.
Raphael said the book took about 10 years to write, but there was lots of research material to use ranging from books to newspaper stories.
Lakefront communities, like Huron and Sandusky, featured “sightings” of the Lake Erie Monster, while many others mirrored the Bigfoot legend that has included sightings throughout the state.
Many of the monsters got names that reflected the geographic area where they were allegedly seen and the appearance.
The Crosswick Monster was seen in 1882 by two boys and had dinosaur-like qualities, Raphael said. He said the Norwalk Ape, seen in 1930, is one of the monsters that seems to have Bigfoot linkages.
While many of the monsters appear to have been hoaxes, others have unique characteristics that seem to point to more rational origins. He said the Peninsula Python was a 15 to 18 foot snack and may have been freed from a truck carrying exotic animals during a crash.
Raphael said Mothman was seen 100 times in the mid-1960s and appears to have had the appearance of a large owl. He said one sighting of Bigfoot discussed a large creature that seemed to disguise itself as a tree.
While some of the monsters have been debunked by newspaper or other publications, the legend lives on. Raphael said that even when a creature is debunked, the legend can continue if the story is interesting enough.
The closest monster discussed in the book was thought to have been seen in Kirtland: The Melonheads of Kirtland. He said teenagers have been known to drive the village seeking Melonheads.
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