History of Madison County
Jefferson Township Early Incidents, Customs and Reminiscences
From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883
The earliest incident of note we have to place upon record is a bear chase by Reason Francis, which must have taken place as early as 1805. He was one day wending his way homeward on horseback through the dense forest, when he discovered a large bear, which he decided to give chase. The thought was executed by putting his horse under a good speed; but, after a long and continuous chase through teh woods, and his horse being almost exhausted, the bear struck on a trail, or path, which led by the pursuer's house, standing then on the east bank of Little Darby. Down the path the chase continued, and, when passing by his house, he succeeded in getting his dog to pursue the animal, which soon resulted in treeing bruin near the creek. The dog was very vicious, and, when the bear ascended the tree, he fastened his teeth so firmly in the bears' ham that the bear carried him up the tree. Upon reaching the first limb, which chanced to be one partly decayed, the bear hoped to rest and free himself from his enemy; but alas! the limb broke, and down came dog and bear, the latter seizing the dog in his squeezers and miking him howl terrifically, when Francis, with his tomahawk, came up and buried it in the skull of his victim, releasing his faithful dog. The horse had been so completely exhausted that he soon afterward died from the effects.
About 1825, there was a wolf den near the residence of the late A. R. Haynes. The animal made its usual visits south to the plains, on the Roberts and Heath farms, to catch sheep. A large pit was dug in the ground near his path, covered over with a board arranged on a pivot, and bait suspended in the air. The animal scented it and became the desired victim. Rev. Isaac Jones was called to the scene. A forked stick was procured and place dover the animal's neck. Mr. Jones then had some one hold the stick, keeping the wolf close to the ground, and he descended, chained and gagged the animal, came out and took the wolf to John Mills' grist-mill where he was kept to fight dogs for a long time. The wolf-trap was thoughtlessly left open, and subsequently a neighbor's cow became a victim of the same trap. After several long and continuous searches, she was given up as being strayed off, but was finally found, after a long while, in the wolf-pit, in almost a decomposed condition. Rev. Jones seems to have been much given to hunting. In 1835, when game was becoming scarce, a large crowd assembled for a wolf-hunt, and such other animals as might be within their intended circle. Rev. Jones was appointed to climb a tree, and when the game was driven near him, to do the shooting. As he was ascenidng the tree, a Mr. Pitcher handed him his gun, and the hammer caught on Pitcher's sleeve resulting in firing off the gun, and the ball passing through Jones' wrist, crippling him for life. His attendant physician was Jonathan Alder. The accident badly affected the hunt, but still a few wolves and some deer were caught.
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