Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County


From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County

GAME AND HUNTERS

The rich, juicy grass, cool, sparkling springs, in some parts deep forests, pellucid streams, afforded sustenance and delightful retreats for every species of game, from the fish to the otter, from the squirrel to the conger and bear. The scream of the panther and the squall of the wild cat mingled with the sweet song of the thrush, and the howl of the wolf drowned the sweet notes of the mocking bird, while stolid bruin roamed the woods, with no ear for music save the squealing of the pioneer hog.

The rifle was an inmate of every household, in the use of which our forefathers were very familiar, and were very solicitous in keeping it in perfect working condition. Those who could afford it, kept two rifles, one for large game, carrying about forty to the pound, and a smaller, or squirrel rifle, running from 120 to 140 to the pound. The powder flask was made from the horn of an ox, boiled and scraped so thin as to transmit the rays of light; a round block of wood neatly fitted to the bottom, and a plug inserted in the smaller end, with usually a buzzard's quill for a charger.

The territory watered by Deer, Paint, Rattlesnake, Sugar, and Compton creeks, now embraced in the limits of this county, when first settled abounded in all kinds of game, and had been for many years the favorite hunting grounds of the Indians; and long after the white man's cabin was erected they built their camps and followed the old trails over the white man's fences, and through his tilled fields, they struck the trace in the woodlands.

There was an old Indian fort on the bank of Sugar Creek, where the Indians would stop on their route from Fort Clark to Oldtown. Captain Burnett, a Virginian, and settler of 1810, says that parties of them, during their yearly hunts, were in the habit of camping at the old site years after the white man came in, rest awhile, and where sitting around his solitary camp-fire, he reviews the scenes of the past, and in his reveries we seem to hear him bemoan the past as follows : "Our fathers have passed away like vapors from the earth; bur very history is fading into forgetfulness, and the places that once knew us will know us no more forever; our graves have been trodden under foot; our forests destroyed; our hunting grounds have disappeared; we have been driven from our native abodes and the sepulchers of our fathers; hunted like wild beasts about the earth, and with violence and butchering sent down to the grave." In the language of an old warrior: "We are driven back until we can retreat no farther; our hatchets are broken, our bows are snapped, our fires are nearly extinguished ; a little longer, and the white man will cease to persecute us, for we shall cease to exist."

Among the first hunters of note in this county was Jacob Alloway, whose territory lay along the valleys of Paint and Compton creeks.

Daniel Grubs, moving from Virginia to Kentucky, came thence to Fayette, and dwelt on Glaze's Run. The trees around yet bear marks of his presence, and bear, wolf, and deer alike fell before the aim of his deadly rifle.

Edmond Blearage, John Arnold, George and Samuel Viniger, James Stewart, John Hase, David Baldwin, John Gest, and H. H. Harmer, were all men who made a specialty of hunting, and were noted marksmen.

George Rupert claimed to have shot in one season one hundred and twenty deer, two bears, wolves, and many of other game.

George Roughner, a hater of Indians, and a Virginian by birth, arrived in the Scioto Valley in 1789. His father, while serving under Danmore, in 1774, as a spy, was killed by the Indians, and Roughner's revenge extended to every exposed Indian. His hunting grounds were on the Paint and Rattlesnake, and he often met, at Cedar Pond and Clifife, the hunters from the Hocking and Kentucky. Finally, a volunteer under General Cass, he was slain by the Indians in 1813.

The Nimrod of old-time hunters was Frederick Berly. The forest was his natural home. He loved solitude, and lived a hermit. A camp frequented by him was on Sugar Creek. From his record, it appears that he had slain sixty bears, ninety-six panthers, one hundred and six wolves, one thousand elk and deer, eleven buftaloes, and ninety-six Indians. His comrades in the chase were Boone, Kenton, Wetzel, and others. At the age of one hundred and one, he died in his cabin on the banks of the Mohican, where a monument was erected to his memory.

A PANTHER SLAIN.

William Robinson, already mentioned as Fayette's first settler, was surrounded by a multitude of game, and in 1802 killed fifteen bears, three catamounts, fifteen elk, and one hundred deer. He was, on one occasion, hunting upon the head-waters of the Rattlesnake, when a light noise behind him caught his alert ear. Wheeling, he saw at a little distance an enormous panther following his trail. It was the work of a moment to leap behind a large oak at hand, pick his flint, and cock his rifle. A failure to inflict a mortal wound was a prelude to a terrible struggle, and carefully the iron tube was leveled as the beast came near. He fired, and as the ball struck the center of its head, the panther fell lifeless to the ground. Its length was eleven feet, its height thirty inches.

POT-HUNTING.

The grass on the prairies growing as high as a man, and the many creeks and pools in the country supplying plenty of food and drink, made the lands of Fayette to abound in game. The number of deer slain seems incredibly large. In the winter of 1815-16 there fell a snow of sixteen inches, followed by rain, which froze and formed a crust, on which boys and dogs could travel, but which broke through beneath the deer. Every one turned deer hunter, and venison was peddled in Washington by the settlers at six cents a saddle, or two saddles for a pound of lead or quarter pound of powder.

Wild turkeys abounded in the county till 1830. Their meat was wholesome, and preferred to bear or deer. They have been killed of twenty pounds weight.

Wolves are dangerous only when famishing. They had here abundant food, and were never known to make an attack. The last wolf was killed in 1848, on the waters of Sugar Creek, by Daniel Carmaen.

Hogs ran at large, and multiplied marvelously. Hordes of them infested the woods. They had long tushes, long and sharp head and nose, and when aroused to anger were more to be dreaded than any beast of the forest. They were swift of foot, and ran like hounds. Their favorite resort was on the banks of Sugar Creek, where their nests were made in the jungles.

Snakes were numerous. Of these there were rattlesnakes, black snakes, the garter, the spotted or "cabin" snake, and the copperhead.