The Empeyville Frog
(Taken from Canal Water & Whiskey: Tall Tales from the Erie Canal Country, by Marvin Rapp)
Red McCarthy found Joshua in the Erie Canal along South James Street while he was still a polywog. As soon as Joshua lost his tail, as polywogs do, and after developing legs he hopped away.
For a while no one knew where he was, but several years later he turned up again at his old pond in Empeyville off the canal. For 100 year Joshua continued to grow. When he reached his full height, his hind legs were six feet long and his front legs three feet long. Each time he jumped in his Empeyville Pond, he splashed water thirty feet into the air and the pond became six feet wider. Joshua’s food consisted of chipmunks, squirrels and sometimes rabbits. He ate whatever overgrown insects he could capture.
Old Joshua was constantly in demand. For a time, he was employed as assistant sawman at Empeyville. He hauled logs and pulled things too heavy for a horse to draw. Probably most importantly, he straightened out roads. It was a simple matter. A chain was hooked to the road and fastened around Joshua’s middle. Joshua would huff and puff and then make one mighty leap. The road was stretched and straightened. They say he moved the town barn about 33 ½ feet without straining a muscle.
The last time that Joshua is known to have been seen was in the summer of 1934. Floyd Esch’s account of the event is reprinted from a clipping from The Rom (NY) Sentinel:
“I had been north of Empeyville building a picnic table for a Roman business man at his camp and this Roman will vouch for the following event. As we were returning home late one evening and arrived at the Busy Corner in Empeyville, old Joshua sat under a tree catching for his supper some of the monstrous insects that inhabit the region. We waited nearly half an hour for him to get his fill. While we were waiting, the pond filled with water. As Joshua turned and entered the pond, the pond overflowed and washed the road out so that we had to rebuild it before we could proceed home.”
Joshua has not been seen since that night, but he may still be alive. At least no death notice has been seen in the local papers. Four of old Joshua’s grandsons are known to be owned by a man in Rome. Charles Beacraft says that they are busy, having been employed by the city to pull stumps. Not many people see the frogs, for they are allergic to strangers. Many of Joshua’s descendants, however, are still living in the Empeyville pond, but none has reached the size and fame of old Joshua.