Lucy Crawford.

The history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket online

. (page 9 of 13)
Online LibraryLucy CrawfordThe history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket → online text (page 9 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ment to keep the balance of him, and look out
for the horse, for she would turn her head round

IJn rtirronv of thf.

nnd soc h» r Imrdr'n, and snort and stop shorty
nnd fippoai-ed to iV-el (juitr dissatistied and un-
i-asv with her Umd. 'I'lii* we dressed nicely,
but the flesh was not of much use to my iamily,
ns there was »n antipathy at home, in conse-
quence of stories Ffspecting their hnrbaroua
conduct sometimfs, w^hen they get hungry and
tear to pieces hunmn flesh and devoiir it.' Nor
one would eat oi' tiie bear when cooked, although
it snielled and tasted well. We mnnaged Uf
save the oil o^f what fle?h we could not give
away to our n<?igubors.

At another time, wnen going out to this n.,..
celebrated place for bears, 1 found a good sizcd
vearlins bear caught in a steel trap by one ct'
his fore feet, and he appeared not to have been
lonir there^ H« had fastened tlie grapple to a
bunch of roots, and there was a chain between
the grapple and the trap ; here he was sitting m
an humble and ashamed-looking position. I
looked him over and at length concluded to con-
trive means to lead him home. I cut a round
stick, ten feet in length, sufficiently large and
stout to lead him with ; then taking the throat-
latch from the bridle, the stirrup leather and ths
mail straps from the saddle, set the horse at
liberty, and managed to get hold of the bear's
hind feet, these I straitened and tied to a tree —
I then went up to his head and secured his
mouth, but not so tight but what he could lap
water; while thus engaged, in spite of all my
care, he put out his fore paw, the one that was
at liberty, and placed it so hard against one of
my legs, that I really think had it not been for a

good strong Doot, he would have torn the skin^
but the boot prevented him from tearing my le^r;-
he however took a piece of my pantaloons with
him ; still I would not give up the idea of bring-
ing him home alive. I then fastened a strap
around him, before and behind, Txnd the stick
upon his neck, loosened his feet and then began
to try to lead him ; here we had a o-reat stru^olo
to see which was the stronger, and which should
eventually be master; and he played his part
so well I could do nothing with him ; he would
turn upon me and fight me all he possibly could.
I now thought I must kill him — but as I had
never been beaten by a wild animal, I was un-
willing to give up now. He would conx) to a
tree and hold on, so that I found I could not lead
him. I again contrived a way to confine him^
but with more difficulty than before, as hi* feet
were entirely free, and being quick and active
with ihem, I had hard work to get them again,
but after a while, I made out to. I then tied his
hind and fore feet together, in such a manner
that he could not scratch me ; then placing him
on my shoulder, with one hand hold of his ear,
to keep his head from coming too- near mine, in
case he wished to make a ^little closer friend-
ship, I trudged on ; but he was so heavy and
ugly to manage that it made me sweat, and I
was obliged to lay him down often and rest, and
whenever I came to water, I would let him lap
it. ^ I made out to get two miles — he all the
while growing worse and worse — at last he ac -
tually turned upon me and entered into arr
engagement with me, by scratching and trving
12 b , .


to bite, and after tearing my vest, I concluded t
would once more lay him down — and the way
was not easy — lifting him up as high as I could,
I let him fall, and the ground being hard, tho
breath left his body. Here I left him, and went
home, and sent a man after him.

This fall, at that place, we caught ten bears,
for which I had three dollars premium, apiece,
and the skins were worth about as much more,
which paid me pretty well for my time and

As we were passing back and forth through
the woods, we discovered signs of sable. A3
they appeared plenty, I thought it expedient to
catch them and make merchandise of them —
their fur, at this time, bringing a high price, and
the fur of those sable which live in this cold
region, is much better than the fur of those of
a milder climate, and superior in quality. I
hired two men and went with them myself into
the woods ; we set up traps, spotted trees to
make a line that might be followed again, sev-
eral miles in length, and then selecting from a
flock of sheep, the oldest and poorest, such as
we thought would hardly winter for age, killed
a number, and took them for bait. This busi-
ness we stuck closely to, while in the season of
it, but it did not last long, as the snow falls early
on the mountains, and a small depth of snow,
with a warm day and cold night, would freeze
the traps, so that they would suffer being robbed
without any resistance.

At one time William was going round to these
traps, ho found a live sable in one of them,


which, from its appearance, had just got in.
This was a pretty creature. He was three miles
from home, and knowing their dexterity and
fondness for mice, and being infested with rats
at the house, he thought he .would bring him
home alive, and try an experiment with him.
So he pulled off his mitten, putting him in head
foremost, then placing him snug in his coat
pocket, went on his way. The little fellow
being warm and comfortable, enjoyed it quito
well. When he got home, we tied a cord around
his neck, two or three yards in length, and then
let him go. He did not seem wild, but would
partake of food, such ar, was set for him. Wa
put him in the cellar, and he soon made a clear-
ing of the rats. He soon became satisfied with
our treatment towards him, and gnawing off tho
string, which left the cord around his neck,
climbed a window that was cracked a little,
made a hole through it, and escaped. He ap-
peared to understand longitude, as he steered
directly back, and the first time after this, on
going to the traps, we found him in the next one to
that in which he was first caught. Poor fellow,
he was now dead, the cord still around his neck,
and thus we knew him. These animals are
beautiful in form, color and motion — more active
than a cat ; and their fur is excellent for trim-

This fall we caught about seventy-five of these
sable, for which I realized nearly one dollar
apiece, and felt quite satisfied for our work.
We made a considerable havoc among the wild
animals, and we made a handsome profit from


them, besides clearing- the woods of some pemv-
<cious ones, such as might have troubled us had
they been suffered to live, as they w-ste geltini^
plenty. We felt quite easy with the thought
that we were mostly free of them.

While engaged in this hunt, we discovered a
beautiful little pond, about two miles back of ths
Notch House, one of the sources of the Merri-
mac. The appearance of this pond and its
situntion, pleased me much, as I thought it
-^'ould afford abundance of amusement for our
A'isitors, such as were fishermen. Beside this,
the way in which we travelled was over a
romantic scenery. Leaving- the main road, half
a mile below the Willey House, and travelling
in the woods half a mile, we came to a ledge of
great height, impossible to climb;; this we took
a different course to go round. For beautv and
grandeur, it is no where surpassed by any spot,
to me known, about these mountains. This
pond was well calculated for Moose, as here
grew the lily, such as ijiey were fond of pulling
.up, enting 'their roots. Besides, we saw signs
and tracks of them, recently made, but we did
not happen to come in sigiit of an^y one of them,
while in hunting this fall ; although one was
heard, but it was dark and he took care to make
.off with himself before it vvas light enough for
him to be made a mark for the hunter.

This winter, iS30, 1 had business at Colebrook.
I here fou'id a man who had accidentally come
-across a hollow log, containing a nest full of
•young wolves; two of them he saved alive, and
{tamed ; these were so wcU domesticated, th^j I


thought it would gratify our friends, and add to
the noveUy of our scenery, to have such an
animal with us. I enira£red him for the ne.xt
summer. He was so docile as to suffer himself
to take a spat in the stage, in the spring, to Lan-
caster; then word was sent me to come for him;
I went, and led him home, without any incon-
venience, excepting when crossing the tracks of
rahbiis, he would jump and try to follow them ;
I would have to hold him fast by his chain. I
brought him safely home, and fastened him in
the blacksmith's shop, in full view for any one
who chanced to pass. Our liille boy tutored
him, and would make him bowl whenever he
desired him. We found that when fed on ani-
mal food, he was more savage than when fed
upon milk. I never but once had any trouble
with him, and then when going into the shop
door, I stepped upon a bone which he had just
buried in the dirt, and he made a violent attack
upon me ; I chastised him severely, and ever
after, he remembered it, and whenever I came
near, he would appear humble, obedient and
fawning. He was as playful as any dog what-
ever, but he did not like strangers quite as well;
if they came near, while he was eating, he
would then appear cross, but he never hurt any

I bought a beautiful deer, which I kept this
summer, and a handsome peacock; these all
amused our visitors. But there was in the wolf,
a kind of a shy, mischievous disposuion, lurking
vi'^ithin, and whenever he could get a chance, he
would lay still and seem to be friendly ; if a

i^ -HlSTOttY QT THJt

chicken would pass his way, and if he cam*:
within his reach, he would make a sudden jump
and take him, and the sheep, when they passed
his door, he would try hard lor org of them. At
one time I lied a long rope to the end of liis
chain, and let him into the hog yard, where there
was a number of swine, and an old one, who had
young pigs, went at him in full rage, so much,
that yh3 would not sufler him to take one of her
young ones, nor give him any quarter At
another time we let him chase the calves, in
this way, with a rope tied at the end of his
chain, and he would have succeeded in killing one
of them, if h3 had been permitted. The deer
possessed a mild, peaceable, inoffensive disposi-
tion, letting anyone go near her, and would eat
bread from the hands of any one, she was so
tame and gentle ; but Jet slrangers go into her
pen, and take her by one =of her hind legs and
they could not hold her ; such was her strength
and dexterity, that she would get away frrfm
•them, do the best they could. The peacock was
another favorite, he was a full grown one, and
for beauty was not surpassed by any fowl what-
ever ; he possessed a sort of pride in showing
himself, and our little boy had taught him to
strut, generally, when he desired him. These
animals were of no use to us, they were an ex-
pense ; but I always liked to have such things
to show our friends and visitors, as they all
seemed to be delighted in viewing them ; for
they combined, as it were, the nature of the
forest, and they, with the romantic scenery, al-
ways gratified every beholder.


This summer I had no great business on
'hand. I spent my time, mostly, with my visit-
ors at the house, and ascending the mountains,
whenever they decidedly requested it. But as
I had been so many times up there, I was tired
and worn out. I did not go when I could help
it, but I always kept good and faithful guides,
and every other accommodation that was in my
power. The fame of this mountain scenery
beginning to spread, and it becoming fashionable,
many came to view these wonders of nature,
and they were generally, if not always satisfied,
and considered themselves well paid for their
time and trouble, and likewise they were satis-
fied with their fare while they stayed with us.
We used to tell them that whatever was lackingr
in substance we would try to make up in good
will, and do the best we could to make them
happy and their situation as pleasant as possible,
^and this never failed of havinsf the desired
effect of convincing them they were as much as
possible at home. Among others, there came
this summer four pedestrians from Boston, to
spend several days with us, and ascend the
mountain, fish, hunt, &c. One pleasant morn-
ing three of them proposed trj'ing the hills ; —
they were provided with a guide, and every
thing necessary, and set off early, while the
other one remained at home with me. As he
had been up a few years before, he did not want
to go again, and chose rather to try his luck in
the forest.

A short time after they were gone, he took
tiis gun an4 steered foi the woods to a plac?


where I directed him, and where I had in the
spring put into an old rotten log some salt for
deer — they found the salt and frequented it.
Here he approached with great care, and soon
had the good fortune to see a deer, and after
shooting him, cut his throat, and with the assist-
ance of another man, returned in triumph to the
house with his prize. After performing the du»
ties of a butcher, he hung him up to ripen, after
which it was taken down and prepared for the
table, at which he and his friends bountifully
partook. During their stay with us I had a
quarter of a fine fat bear sent me; it was caught
in one of my traps, which I had previously lent
a neighbor : this they also enjoyed very much.
Here they stayed and spent some time, enjoying
themselves in various ways, and then returned
home. This feat which he performed was told
when he arrived home, but was hardly credited
by some of his companions. He referred them
to me, and I confirmed the statement.

1 went up the mountain by an express desire
from a botanist, to collect plants and save them
alive, for I had been there so many times with
a botanist, to collect plants, that I had acquired
a considerable knowledge of plants, and the dif-
ferent places where they grew. I went ovfer the
hills, and came down into the gulf, and then se-
lected different species, such as grow no where
else except in the cold climate of Greenland. —
I carefully took them up with a quantity of
earth, and brought them home, placed them in a
vase, with some moist moss to preserve them,
«nd then labelled the vase and sent it immedi-


.alely to Boston. It was safely conveyed, and
the plants were placed in a Botanical Garden ;
how many of them survived I cannot tell, as I
never heard from them afterwards. The plants
that were sent to New York the year before,
perished by the way, or rather some of the deli-
.cate ones. This -was a beautiful employment,
which I always engaged in with much pleasure ;
finding cut how curiously Nature had formiod
them, and put them in different places, accord-
ing to their merits, or properties, :and the stale
of the atmosphere in which they -were destined
to live.

This summer I guided several parties to the
Pond. The fir^t time 1 vrent the^e, we caught,
in a short time, about seventy nice salmon trout;
they differed a Kttle from otr comnion river trout,
as they had a redder appearance, and their tasto
and flavor was delicious. On the bank of the
Pond we struck up a fire, and after dressing a
sufficient number of them, we cooked them in
real hunter style. 1 cut a €tick with three
prongs to it, and put the trout on these prongs,
in form of a gridiron, and 1 broiled them over
the fire, and then I would cut pieces of raw pork
and broil it in the same way, and lay them on
top of the trout, and that would give ihem tho
right relish; and when cooked in this Avay, with
a piece of good wheat bread, they make a good
meal. I always enjoyed these aftd similar feasts
in the woods, as in such ways I suppose our
forefathers lived, when they first came over and
settled this country. We had no fears from the
^natives, as 1 expect they had in that lime, but


we could eat and drink without fear of being
troubled. All the fish which remained after wa
had eaten, I took up and brought home. My
visitors, I believe, were as well satisfied as myself
in all these excursions, wild as they were ; at
least, ihey would-express themselves so.

This fall, we again set our sable traps and
caught a number of sable, but not so many as
we would have done, had it not been for the
black cat, or fisher, who got the art of following
the line, and robbing the traps of bait, and would
not then be satisfied, but would take the sable
from the trap and eat them ; this we did not like
so well, but it so happened that we could not
help ourselves : they escaped being cautrht, al-
though we tried hard to catch them ; still, they
were so cunning or lucky we could not do it.

The wolves had been, for a long time, troub-
ling us, and were actually so cunning, I could
not catch one of them, although I had, in vari-
ous ways, tried. The nearest I came to catch-
ing them, was by setting a trap in the water
where they frequently crossed the river in a par-
ticular place. One of them sprung the trap,
but it was cold weather, and ice had gathered
upon it : it did not shut so closely but that lie
pulled out his foot, and lucky for him, he made
his escape. One good haul 1 made while setting
the trap here in the water. It so happened that
a family of ducks were swimming along, and
they being so near together, four of them were
caught at the same time, in one trap. This, we
thought, was almost a miraculous thing; — but it

WHiTfi Mou^'TAI:TS. 14d

is true, for I took them all out myself, and car-
ried them to the house.

In December there came a number of wolves
to visit my flock in the night, but the sheep re-
treated, and went under the shed, and got in
amidst the cattle and carriages. Their enemy
did not venture in there although they went as
far as the middle post of the shed, for we tracked
them there in the morning ; yet they satisfied
their craving appetites, in a measure, by going
just back of the stable and digging up the old
carcases of bears, which had been thrown thera
a few months before ; these they gnawed closel
to the bone. The riog being shut up in the
house, began to be uneasy and tried to get out,
when at length, I arose and let him out of doors,
not knowing the cause of his uneasiness. He flew
at them and they retired a few rods and then
entered into an engagement with him, and I
really think they would have made a finish of
him, had I not interfered and driven them away.
This was by a bright moonshine, and the doo^,
after being first liberated from them, ran towards
me, and the wolves followed closely behind him,
until they came near me ; and as I had no
weapon to fight them with, being in my night
dress, I observed to them that they had better
make off with themselves, or I would prepare
for them, and that pret'y soon. They then
turned about and marched away, but not with-
out giving us some of their lonesome music.
Th3re were four of them. I counted their tracks
as they made thsm along in a light snow, and
it was just day-light. As my sheep had been


on the place for a long time, and had taken a
notion to ramble in the woods, they were trouble-
some to ns, as we had to look them up every
night, for fear of their being caught. I was de-
termined to sell them and get rid of our trouble,
which I did the second fall after this.

This winter (1S31) there came some favorite
hunters to go with me and search for Moose,
As we knew there were Moose somewhere about
th3 mountain, for two had been seen to cross the
road a few months before, half a mile below my
house. Every thing being put in readiness, we
with our dogs and snow-shoes set off. We first
steered to the before-mentioned pond. We trav-
elled all day, but we found no moose, and at
night we v/ent down to my father's ; there we
stayed that night, where some of our party
being wearied, remained the next day, and
amused themselves by cutting pasteboard min-
inoes, while father, Mr. Davis, and myself went
out in search of moose. We travelled another"
day, but with no better success than the former
day. We went up so high and so far into the
woods, as to get beyond the living animals, su^h
as we were then in pursuit of, as we could not
see a track or sign of one, and Had actually
got upon a hill, from which it was difficult to get
down. We struck upon a brook which had'
a smooth surface, being then frozen over, and'
father, sitting down upon the heels of his snow
shoes, commenced sliding down ; he had g6t
under good head way, when he came in contact"
with a tree which stood in his way, and, to save'
himself, caught hold of it; thus, as he was


coming with such force when he took hold of It,
gave him a complete somerset, and turned him
completely round the tree. We came down in
a similar manner, but not without fears, as it
was dangerous. We made out, however, to get
in that night.

The next day, as our party which we left be-
hind had got rested, we started for home, and
on our way took some fine deer. These we felt
justified in taking, as it is said that wolves fol-
low when deer are plenty, and these ferocious
animals had been troublesome, making great
depredations among flocks of sheep in the
neighborhood by killing a number at a time, and
many more than they wanted for present use ;
but in my flock they had been more favorable,
although at one time, they killed and wounded
seven ; however, they generally took no more
than they wanted at a time. They select the
finest and fatest, and on him perform a curious
act in butchering. AVe have found, after they
have visited the flocks, a skin perfectly whole,
turned flesh side out, with no other mark upon
it, excepting at the throat, where there was a
regular slit cut, as though it had been cut with
a knife, down as far as the forelegs ; the flesh
all eaten out, and the legs taken ofl', down as far
as the lowest joint ; the head and back bone
left attached to it ; the pelt left in the field, but
a few rods from the house ; they would some-
times set up a howling, and a more terific and
dismal noise, I never wish to hear than this, in
a clear still night. Their sound would echo
from one hill to another, and it would seem that


the w'oods were filled and alive with them.

We had some trouble with the old barn, that
escaped the lire in 1S16, as it had receiv^ed some
severe shocks in the times of the freshets, and
had some considerable injury done to it this
winter. We had fears lest the wind would blow
it over, and destroy or injiwe the cattle ; how-
ever, we proped it up, and it did not fall. I
went to work and bought a sufficient quantity of
lumber, and brought it home, for a new barn.
In the spring and summer I built a new one^
sixty feet long, and forty wide. This I set bark
of the shed, and I had a communication through
from the shed into it, which made it convenient
for all the buildings.

This summer we had a great many visitors^
and among others, a member of Congress, Dan-
iel Webster. It was in the warm weather of
June, and he desired me to go with him up the
mountain, which I accordingly consented to, and
we went up without meeting anything worthy of
note, more than was common for me to find,
but to him things appeared interesting ; and
when we arrived there, he addressed himself in
this way, saying, " Mount Washington I have
come a long distance, have toiled hard to arrive
at your summit, and now you seem to give me a
cold reception, for which I am extremely sorry,
as I shall not have time enough to view this
grand prospect which now lies before me, and
nothing prevents but the uncomfortable atmos-
phere in which you reside !" After making this
and some other observations, we began our de-
scent, and there was actually a cold storm of

"WHITS MOU.'^TAir^S. 147

snow here on the hill, while below, it was toler-
ably clear, and the snow froze upon us, and we
suffered with the cold, until we came some way
down, and reached a warmer climate. We re-
turned safely home, when he related his tour to
his female friends, whom he had left behind to
spend the day at the house. Here they stopped
again over night, and the next morning- he took
his departure. After paying his bill, he made
me a handsome present of twenty dollars.

I had boH2:ht a little piece of artillery from the
company of militia in Whitefield, and put it on
a lilile mound, which was called Giant's Grave,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13

Online LibraryLucy CrawfordThe history of the White Mountains, from the first settlement of Upper Coos and Pequaket → online text (page 9 of 13)