Snapping turtles weigh about 10 to 12 pounds and are generally active during Midsummer. It was around this time of the year in Churubusco, Indiana, that Gale Harris, a farmer, heard that a turtle the size of a tabletop lived in the lake on his property. While Harris was patching his roof with the help of his minister, the turtle was spotted at a distance. Upon a closer look, it appeared that the turtle was four to five feet wide and about six feet long-in short a monster! With significant effort, and help from his neighbors, Harris sought to capture the turtle.
It seems that Harris tried nets, grapples, homemade nets and pens, professional divers, and even a female turtle as a decoy. After articles appeared in local papers, crowds began to gather to watch the various efforts. But, the turtle who came to be known as Oscar always managed to escape unscathed. In 1950, the town needed to raise funds to build a new meeting hall and decided to exploit the fame of Oscar, the so-called Beast of Basco, as its main attraction. The festival was such a success that the Midsummer pattern for Turtle Day was set and continues today.
Because of its slow and deliberate movement, the turtle is regarded as intelligent and prudent. Its ability to reach very old age assures it great respect. In most African legends, the turtle always comes away victorious and is usually associated with the God of rain, because of its ability to live both on land and in the water.