Jim Crow Museum
1010 Campus Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307
My name is Peter Reitan. I wrote a blog on pop-culture history.
I recently did a piece about "alligator bait" that you may be interested in, or at
least Franklin Hughes who wrote a piece on your website, Alligator Bait Revisited June/July 2017, might be interested.
I imagine much of it might be duplicative of what he's seen, but I found a few interesting items.
I was able to find out who T. W. Villiers (the person who wrote the 1923 piece about alligator hunting in Chipley, Florida) is - he wasn't a great journalist. He was better known as a "sex philosopher" who gave lectures with live, nearly nude demonstration models.
I traced the history of the various, similar "crocodile bait" stories out of Ceylon, India, Egypt or the Sudan to a particular person, H. G. Robley, who wrote the original crocodile bait piece for the Graphic in London in 1888. He was better known as a military-humor cartoonist, so it is not clear how serious his piece was in the first place.
The sudden widespread use of the expression "alligator bait" after 1898 seems more linked to a publication of a particular, successful photographic print mass-marketed by a photographic studio in Knoxville, Tennessee, more than to any sudden awareness of any alligator hunting practices.
I would be willing to share my original research if anyone there is interested.
I would be interested in hearing your comments, if any.