In December 1893, Grover Cleveland, while on one of his duck-hunting expeditions, captured a diamondback terrapin and carved his initials upon its shell in something like boyish exuberance, and then turned it loose again.

In 1903, the terrapin reached New York from the Chesapeake Bay and was served up for the Christmas dinner for the guests of the newly-developed Gregorian Hotel. Cleveland at that time was a former president and living at Princeton, New Jersey, and had the sobriquet of “Sage of Princeton.”

When the terrapin reached the kitchen, proprietor Mr. Gregory found carved upon its shell the initials “G. C.” and the date “1893.” Mr. Gregory wrote to Mr. Cleveland, suspecting him of being the perpetrator, offering him the shell when the terrapin had no further use for it. Cleveland replied that he had carved his initials on the back of the terrapin while lollygagging in his duck blind and remarked that “Terrapins, Philadelphia style” were one of his favorite dishes.

According to experts, the terrapin was in 1903 about sixty years old. Its shell measured eight and one-half inches, which, at that time, was an unusual size for a diamondback terrapin.