The Bear Story

As told by Marble Billings many years ago, about 1879

Shortly after I was married and moved to my farm east of Lyn, I was called to the door one morning in November by a neighbour, William Judson, who said that he had left his horses out in the back pasture the day before, and finding a couple of inches of snow on the ground next morning had started out to bring them home. On arriving at the pasture, which also contained a growth of shrub trees, he found his horses in a very excited state, running around with heads and tails up, snorting and very scared. His dog, which had preceded him into the grove, started barking and growling, running around a clump of bushes, and finally with an awful howl, started for home.

On approaching a little nearer the grove, he saw a large black bear digging in the leaves for some wild apples that had fallen from a small apple tree growing there. At once, realizing he could do nothing alone, he had hurried to me to bring my dog and a gun, a muzzle-loader shot gun, which I first loaded with buckshot. Then I routed out another neighbour, Clark Clow, also Firman Judson, and Henry Rowson, who each had shot guns, which were soon all loaded with buckshot or bullets. Then we started back to the pasture.

Of course our several collie dogs were all excited at seeing the guns being loaded, and upon arriving at the grove, the dogs got the scent of the bear aand started tracking him along a ditch that crossed the side road and into the Rowsom woods. Soon they caught up to him, barking and racing towards him, when suddenly Mr. Bear turned and gave one of the dogs a cuff with his paw, and started chasing them. By this time we were getting pretty close to him and one man fired. The bear then turned, and coming to a big elm tree that had proved the tallest in the woods, he started to climb it, keeping on the side farthest from the hunters. Up and up he went and finally stopped where there were a couple of big limbs branching out making a little shield for him from the shots now being fired. Finally, when a well aimed shot penetrated his ear he squealed, and started backwards down the tree again.

Mr. Rowsom finally fired. The bullet penetrated his brain and he fell backwards to the ground. I had not fired my gun before as I knew it would have been of no use, but when the bear struck the ground I ran up and held the muzzle of my gun to his head, but the bear was dead. By George ! We were an excited bunch.

We got a wagon and team into the woods and loaded the carcass on. Putting the side board up so that it would not roll off, we drove up to Lyn to the hay scales which at that time were at the side of the street opposite the Baxter Block. We had covered our prize with blankets and we were over to the store and asked whether they would come and weigh our bear. Of course everybody laughed for they thought it was a joke. But when we lifted off the blankets and side board there was a mad rush towards the wagon.

Our bear weighed over four hundred pounds, and we sold the hide for seven dollars. I have always been sorry I did not buy it myself, as it would have made a lovely sleigh robe.

I have heard my father tell this true story many times, and always it was so real that we children listening were very much disturbed by it, especially when it was told to a neighbour about our bed time.


A Bear Sleigh Robe. This robe was made out of the fur from a Black Bear shot by John Johnston on his farm south of Lyn around 1895. It was used on their cutter in the winter to keep them warm
The Black Bear Robe measures 4′ x 5′ and has a wool backing on it