In 1890, near Statesville and in the surrounding counties, residents started noticing chickens, cats, dogs, calves, and if the reports are to believed, even “negro children” going missing.
Eyewitness accounts claimed some sort of mystery beast was carrying them away, and newspapers quickly jumped on the story. The “beast” became known as the Santer, and it may be one of the longest lived bouts of panic in the area, as papers were still crediting the creature with attacks well into the late 1970’s.
At first, the sightings and accounts did all seem in earnest. It could have been a particularly productive fox was carrying off chickens and cats. It could have even possibly been some sort of large cat. Heavens knows there are plenty of sightings of those even today.
As time went on though, the tales became more outlandish. It was even used as a boogeyman to keep children and “negros” from being out too late at night. In the writing of the various papers you catch just a hint of playfulness and a touch of threatening as well.
Did it ever exist? Does it still exist? I honestly don’t know, but even if the creature it’s self is not still out there purloining livestock, the story of the beast is still healthy and roaming the consciousness of the county.
“There is considerable excitement around here about the ferocious wild animal roaming around Shinnsville and other places in South Iredell. Most people who lived here about 40 or more years ago are satisfied that this is none other but an offspring of that same old Iredell County Santer that terrorised the natives around Statesville and Amity Hill, devouring chickens, pigs, calves and carrying off a few colored children that never were found.” -May 28th, 1934
The Santer: North Carolina’s Own Mystery Cat?
by Angelo Caparella III
from the North American BioFortean Review (Begins on page 6)
Entry: “The Santer“
From “Fearsome Critters“, 1939