Sometime ago, I posted a quick blurb on Turtle Stones of Conesus Lake, NY. I was surprised at how many people emailed me and commented. What is a turtle stone? Rock hounds get ready. These beauties form naturally along the Conesus Lake, NY shore, and creek off shoots. They seriously look like turtles. There is a lot of myth and legend connected to these rocks, most root in the Seneca Indian Tribe and their legend. I have posted a copy of the Legend for your reading enjoyment.
Turtle Stones and the Legend of Bare Hill- Ray Lavato
Before the first European settlers came to what is now Conesus, it was the Land of the Senecas. The following story, from the Ganondagan State Historic Site, recounts the origins of the Seneca people and provides an interesting explanation for the turtle stones once common along the Canandaigua Lake shoreline.
The Seneca are known in their own language as “Onondowahgah,” or people of the Great Hill. Tradition relates that long ago, two men paddling home from a hunting trip found a small, brightly colored serpent floating on a leaf. They put this serpent in their canoe and took it home. The people were much amazed and the whole town fed the snake. The snake grew until it was no longer satisfied with insects or mice but craved rabbits, then deer, and even bear. When the people became exhausted from feeding it, the great snake broke out of its pen and began eating them. So huge was the snake and so ravenous its appetite, that soon it ate all the people of the town. Then it began hunting human beings, going from town to town, spreading terror and death. Finally, all were eaten except the people who lived on a great hill overlooking Canandaigua Lake.
There, in a dream, a boy and girl were told to make a bow of white pine, a string from the girl’s hair, and an arrow of dogwood tipped with a pure-white arrowhead. These two, the last survivors, shot and killed the serpent. As the snake died, its body rolled down the hill into Canandaigua Lake, disgorging human skulls. To this day, no trees have grown where the serpent rolled down the hill. It is said that the round stones at the bottom of the lake are the skulls.
The boy and girl were the first People of the Great Hill, the founders of the Seneca Nation. “This is the period when the Seneca people were beginning to live on Bare Hill,” Peter says. “The first time it appeared in print was the book on her life. This is why the Senecas are known as the people of the snake.”