Maximillian Gustavus Pohl
Hunting in Coos County, then driving cattle north in the 1860s, nearly dying on the Applegate Trail circa 1868, ditto in Northern California in 1871.
[PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 1]The following incident happened many years ago, and still neither time gone by nor the great distance between here and where it happened will influence me to clearly define persons or locality.
Judge Lynch in the Border Days.
In a certain town on the Pacific Slope, the sheriff of the county and a young, rich, but very reckless man had committed a crime which attracted more notice than affairs in general do. A number of ladies in the town had taken matters in hand and with a stern determination forced their husbands, brothers and friends to rout the evildoers. A vigilance committee was formed, the members agreed to capture those two men, give them a fair trial, and if found guilty or the charges, to tar and feather both and run them out of the county.
While asleep, both were captured early the next morning. The clearest evidences proved their guilt, and without losing much time the process of tarring and feathering began. The sheriff, as the most brutal of the two, had his hair shaved off, then he was stripped of all his clothes and a liberal application of tar and feathers soon gave him the appearance of an extremely large owl; the other man was ornamented on his back and shoulders. The sheriff, riding upon a fence rail resting on the shoulders of a number of strong men, was carried, his companion in shame following, surrounded by the group of stern spectators. Still and silent as specters, the procession went the way up Main Street; not a sound, not a word was heard; this dead-like silence gave the most awful and funeral-like expression.
Outside the town the two dishonored men were released, given notice to clear the county within twenty-four hours at the risk of their lives. Both obeyed the order in the shortest time. Here should end the story but the affair had raised such an excitement, that as in all frontier countries, men to make themselves notorious kept not only the ball a-rolling, but made matters worse. At a so-called "shindig" or "stag dance," given by a number of miners in the mountains, a notorious fellow while intoxicated made some remarks, thereby throwing an improper light upon the character of a highly respectable young lady of the valley.
Another miner (we call him G---) reports such to the father of the girl (he we call L---). In company of a third party, K---, equipped with tar, straw and filthy matter, ropes, knives, etc., they set out in search of Scotty.
The last named by this time received warning and paid a visit to a friend McD---, this a Justice of the Peace of this district. Here, the trio of avengers located their game. K---, under the pretense of wanting to buy some cattle of McD--- with him leaves the house in search of the stock. They soon are out of sight.
Now, L--- and G--- enter the house in which Scotty is busy with some indoor work. Mistrusting some unpleasant intention, he steps into the corner of the room and informs G--- and L--- that he cannot go further back and shall act in self-defense.
G--- makes the attack. Scotty falls to the ground. L--- is trying to rope him; in the wrestle Scotty draws a knife--eight inches in length--and stabs G--- in the heart. The wounded man releases his hold. By this time L--- receives a cut in the ribs, splitting his side from the armpit to the strong leather belt around his body.
L--- has succeeded in binding Scotty's feet; a heavy stroke floors him; his hands are bound, the feet drawn upward, all covered over with blood from L---, he is tarred and covered with straw and filth; rolled outdoors and dispatched down the knoll upon which the house is built. G--- has fallen outside the house a corpse. L---, nearly ready to faint, calls the approaching McD--- and K---. L---'s wound is dressed roughly, G--'s body thrown over a horse and lashed with ropes to prevent it falling off and taken by K--- and McD--- to L---'s residence. Meantime men on horseback, among them myself, are passing the prairie. Noticing the mysterious object, they cautiously advance, ready to make use of their weapons. So complete was Scotty's transfiguration that none expected a human being in disguise. After a heavy kick with a boot in which was a strong foot, applied to the mass laying before us, motion and groans notified us that there was life within the ball. In searching, the ropes were found and cut, the benumbed figure taken to the nearby creek, the coat scraped and washed off to the best of our ability, and Scotty made his reappearance as a fellow citizen. A good draught out of a bottle with something stronger than water restores the much-absent activity of body and limbs.
We went on our way. Scotty, fearing a worse consequence, the effects which might be an incurable sore throat, makes good his escape. G---'s old mother, a resident of the state of Maine, is notified of the death of her son Charles, cause, heart disease.
Since that no vigilantes have been called for in this neighborhood.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, July 9, 1891, page 4
[PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 2]Under ordinary circumstances, prospecting for gold is as much sport to miners as fishing is to the fishermen, or hunting to the hunter; yet there are difficulties connected with the searching for undiscovered treasures of which but few men East have a faint idea.
Perils and Pleasures Prospecting for Gold.
Many men have started out, full of hope, carelessly sacrificing a good home and happiness, but soon the novelty of prospecting has lost its charm; footsore, weary, poor and ragged, the majority of such adventurers return from whence they started much wiser men. I will give to your readers a description of such a trip which has left an impression unable to be forgotten by those participating.
A rumor of a discovery of extremely rich mines in the neighborhood of St. Mary Station, located on the Sweetwater, Wyoming, had caused considerable excitement among the people of the mines. No one knew any particulars about it, but everybody spoke of it as a fact. The fever ran high; many wished to go and stake out a claim, but the promising discovery lay in the Indian territory, and hostile savages were swarming the plains in good numbers. Nevertheless, Albert M., myself and an Israelite, whose name has passed from memory, were determined to go. Odds were strong against such a small party, and the possibility of having our scalps raised forced us to be more than careful. Burdened with an outfit of sixty to eighty pounds, such as victuals, tools, blankets, ammunition, gun and revolvers, shortly before sundown we started on our expedition, intending to march the best part of the night and rest during the daytime.
Midnight had passed when we arrived at Strawberry Creek. At the present time Fort Stambaugh is located there, but in 1860 [sic] principally Indian trails crossed the valley. An old--and the only one--adobe house, whose builder had been slain by the Sioux, might have given us shelter for a few hours, but fearing discovery we preferred to find a place for a short rest among the willow groves alongside the creek. Our slumbers were interrupted by the dull tramp of passing horses, but as the sound became fainter and finally died away we turn over for another nap. A cold lunch was our breakfast; cooking coffee was omitted for the simple reason that smoke could be scented a long distance and would betray us. When we resumed our march we selected the bluffs on the south side of the creek, from which elevation we had a fair observation for many miles around us.
Several miles we had thus advanced when far in our rear a densely rising dust warned us of the approach of some rapidly moving objects--men on horseback--Indians--there they came fleet as the wind, the same who had passed us some hours before. They had made a successful raid on a horse ranch, and drove the stolen horses before them. By impulse we stepped behind a large rock, there depositing our load. Albert and myself, armed with breechloading rifles and Colt's navy revolvers, had to advance. The Israelite, having no weapon, to him I gave my revolver with the remark: "Five bullets for the Indians, one for yourself." Poor fellow, he turned very pale, and thus we left him. Albert, a very dear friend of mine, I concealed behind another rock, but before I had time to do likewise the cavalcade came on, spurring the stolen horses to a neck-breaking speed.
The foremost Indians, seeing me, made a short halt, then turned the flight of the herd in another direction and after entering a deep ravine made their reappearance on the opposite bluff. What should I do? So far they had seen but me. I called to Albert, "Fire!" at the same time raising my rifle; the next moment shots went across the canyon. One of the Indians reeled in his saddle, but kept his seat. They now greeted us the same way, luckily without effect, then disappeared. The danger past, we held a council, to go or return; it was decided to brave the future. Sage hens were around in large flocks, antelopes were feeding and moved off at our approach, coyotes and gray wolves trotted along, jackrabbits pricked up their long ears and sought safety in rapid flight, prairie dogs took observation of us, and, with a short bark, disappeared into their ground holes instantly to pop up again, prairie owls, the companions of the former animals, scared by our trap, flew across our path, curlews reveled above our heads; we passed them all. Our eyes were strained to watch the distant horizon, but no sign of Indians disturbed our solitary tramp over the waterless desert. The rays of the sun had become boiling hot. Our burdens with the length of the journey apparently became heavier and heavier. We were bathed with perspiration and covered with alkali dust. Thirty-five miles beyond the last settlement, and now the sun is sinking.
St. Mary Station, a deserted overland route station of the formerly well-known Pony Express, lay before us. The Sweetwater River wound its course through a lovely valley. Aspen, cottonwood, alder and willow enriches the view over the prairie land. Before we leave the plateau to descend to the much-desired water of the river, we closely observe the landscape before us. No living creature is to be seen. But halt! There through the bushes rises a light smoke. Hastily we retrace our steps, making a circuit to gain a different view. Twilight has set in. Light vapors arise above the bushes. But there, at the edge of the willow grove, that is a man. Not far from us there is a ravine; we descend cautiously, for water we must have at all hazard. Step for step is made carefully, and at last the river is before us. A cooling drink refreshes us. Now, as a matter of safety we have to find out who our neighbors are.
On all fours, the rifle in the left hand gripped, Albert and myself advance noiselessly. Foot by foot we twist our way through the weeds and bushes. At last the dim light of a fire allows us to distinguish the forms of some men. Closer we sneak, and now we hear their low voices. It is not the guttural tone of the redskin, they are white men; one of them we know, a Frenchman, the blacksmith from Atlantic City. We call his name. Surprised, the men spring to their guns; another word and we are welcomed as friends and reinforcement. Our partner and packs are brought into camp, a chunk of roasted antelope is left from their supper, which in short order is divided and devoured, for we are hungry as wolves. Finally the sore and tired limbs are stretched on the green sod, a smoke, some conversation, and sleep overcomes us. The following morning two sentinels were sent to the highest points, a third man was detailed to kill some game, the rest went out in search of the looked-for mines; but all search failed in anything favorable to our anticipations. A second day is spent in this neighborhood with like results. On the morning of the third day we leave this camp. To cover our tracks we depart in Indian file, each one stepping into the footprint of the leader. We passed the old buildings of the station. Only a few months previous three miners, prospecting as we were, had been surprised by the noble red men, had been besieged and after a fierce struggle overpowered, and horribly mutilated and murdered. Their remains were found and buried at the graveyard of Atlantic City, a place where the bodies of twenty-eight lay, out of which number only five died of sickness; the rest were slain by white or red men.
Pursuing a direction upstream, and after a search of many miles, we were compelled to take a rest for refreshments. A shady grove of tall trees at the bank of a small but crystal-clear creek where we had now arrived was just such a place as looked for. A few hours of recreation brought us to our line of march again, partly for a better observation, partly to shorten the distance by avoiding the many and long crooks and bends of the river, we had gone upon the plateau, when next our attention was called to a small band of bison traveling as if pursued. Suspecting that Indian hunters had caused their flight, we descended again to the river bottom, here densely covered with trees. The wide bottoms now lay behind us; here the water forced its way through a deep and rough canyon strewn with boulders and logs. Both sides of the banks were formed by high and towering cliffs. The water foamed and hissed around the obstructions, making conversation impossible.
Once turning around a sharp bend we ran into a camp of--no, they were not Indians--but white men, a bright fire is burning; a number of busy men, also victims of this excitement, are engaged in general work of camp life. It was they who started the bison and had killed a young cow, which furnished the camp with plenty and choice meat. We now numbered eighteen men and were able to meet hunting parties of Indians. For several days we stopped here, thoroughly prospecting the whole surroundings, but gold was nowhere to be found. At my turn of standing guard I waded through the river; climbing up a steep ravine, for the first time of my many hunts I met a herd of mountain sheep. The color of their hair resembled [so] much the color of the rocks that I came up quite near to them, seeing them first, when they left in long leaps. I sent a ball after them; it crippled one and I followed the plain track marked by blood, but never was able to find it.
Days passed one after the other and the results of prospecting remained a failure, so we broke up camp and started for the west toward Atlantic City and South Pass. Once more we met a band of Indians; they were on horseback, but kept out of rifle range. Near Atlantic City we awaited darkness of the night before we ended our journey, this being done to avoid the remarks of men who pretended to be wiser, but who only had been afraid to venture out.
M.G.P.Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, July 30, 1891, page 4
[PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 3]The month of September had come. The backwoods of Oregon were in their greatest beauty. The foliage bright, here and there a leaf, a bush of crimson; the greasewood covered with its blue flowers; berries of all descriptions in abundance. Days and nights equal in temperature made camping out a pleasure. At this time of which I now write there was no region in the United States more filled with wild game of all descriptions than the Coast Range of Oregon. In those days the "buck elk" was in his prime, for, with the coming of full moon, the mating season of the elk set in; a few days hence, a week later, bucks become valueless and not worth the powder and lead necessary to kill them.
Elk Hunting in Oregon.
From early spring, after shedding their antlers, the bucks separated from the cows and calves, the latter to find shelter in the thickets of the valley, the first to seek quietness in mountains, here to range but little; in companies of one or two, they take life easy and grow fat. During the whole of the year these animals appear to be dumb, but at their rambles in search of companionship, they give forth a loud, far-sounding call, resembling somewhat a tone produced by blowing into a large bottle. This is a challenge to other bucks and a love call for the cows. Mild as their nature is, they now become bold and even aggressive. The hunter, acquainted with their habits, and able to imitate the peculiar sound and the response by the cows, can call the game up. The buck, expecting to meet a foe, will carefully approach. Being an animal of one thousand pounds and over and hindered in its advance by its weighty antlers of from forty to sixty pounds, it is astonishing how easily they advance, carefully avoiding to step on any sticks or brush whereby a noise might be produced. In this situation it becomes an exciting moment for the hunter. A wrong call, [or] the sight or scent of the hunter, will bring the buck to a rapid flight. Only experience, a sharp ear, a keen eye and a steady nerve can bring such game to the hunter's feet.
Ranging back of the clearing and the log cabin of Billy L., with whom I bunked, lay an almost impenetrable thicket of gooseberry bushes; for nearly two miles in length and hundreds of yards in width. Only a few bear trails allowed a difficult passage through this labyrinth of briers, among which the wood rats had built many houses by carrying sticks between the clusters of dead trees. Some of those houses were from six to eight feet in height. Beyond this thicket extended a hilly country, well watered, sheltered by a luxuriant growth of trees and bushes. Farther back a mountain prairie. In this locality deer, bear, and many herds of elk enjoyed unmolested a peaceful existence.
To gain an entrance into these but little explored hunting grounds Billy and myself started out accompanied by Carlos, an honest dog. Equipped with rifles, axes and matches we selected a most favorable bear trail, and often on our knees and hands made our way into the brier mass. At every rat house in our line of march we halted, applying fire, which readily caught and swiftly spread to the surrounding bushes. In a short time, a fierce fire had started behind us, and so rapidly that we had to give up further firing and seek for safer quarters. Huge clouds of smoke rose up into the air, penetrated by the bursting flames. Satisfied that the result of our expedition would meet with our expectations, we headed for the nearest ridge, when the call of a buck elk in close proximity drew our attention. Billy, motioning to me to keep Carlos under control, disappeared behind the ridge. A few moments later the sharp report of a rifle broke the stillness; a second shot followed. Carlos became unmanageable and broke away, but the work was done. Within a short distance lay a capital buck, while a second one, wounded, had started off, with Carlos on his trail. Weakened by the shot, this buck, in trying to clear a deep gully, missed the opposite bank, and fell into the ravine; there his mighty antlers were wedged so firmly that he became a prisoner. Another shot ended his sufferings.
The fire had by this time, fanned by a mild breeze, extended north and south, shutting us off from our home. We, therefore, commenced to prepare a camp in which to take care of the great quantity of meat and fat. Out of forks and stiff poles we erected a scaffold upon which the meat, cut in long thin slices, was hung underneath; a smothered fire created a dense smoke, drying and "jerking" the meat. The tallow, a much-desired article, was in particular taken care of. For two days we had worked thus, our meals consisting of choice roast ribs and water; it now became necessary for one of us to procure a large kettle and vessels to render and receive the tallow. The fire in the woods had lost its force; the thicket had been consumed. Still, many pitch pines and large cedar logs were yet on fire. This return, through the deep hot ashes, with many live coals, and the falling of the trees, made the journey hazardous; but it was completed without greater mishap than the burning of my well-worn hunting suit and moccasins. By the sound of a horn our neighbor, Adam Rhodes, was summoned, and well loaded we returned to camp. Several days yet we were busy with our work. Then we brought our horse into requisition, and a number of trips had to be made to fill our larder with a stock of winter meat. To give an idea of the condition of such fat bucks, I will mention that we gained more than eighty pounds of rendered tallow. This tallow, harder than beef tallow, was to a great extent used for making candles, and also used for cooking purposes. The hides and horns, not representing any value, were left behind.
The fire, which had traveled over hills and mountains, illuminated for many nights the surrounding neighborhood, until a good rain made an end to the conflagration.
Our former friend and old neighbor, Adam Rhodes, only a few weeks ago left his old home for a better world, and it was his death that reminded me of this occurrence.
M.G.P.Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, September 3, 1891, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 4Billy L., whom I mentioned in my last sketch, had in former years followed a seafaring life. He was a good-natured man, but rough if inclined to be so; physically of great strength and courage. Myself, a young man of wealthy parentage sent abroad to see the world and to learn thereby, in consequence overestimating my qualities. Two such characters could not work together for any length of time without sparks flying, and it came. Both of us were engaged by Mr. V. to help in getting timber to build a house, and to do such other jobs as were necessary in clearing and fencing a place in the backwoods. One day we were splitting some logs. One word brought on another, and before a minute had passed, he attacked me with a heavy mallet; in return I was ready to defend myself with the ax. From that day we avoided each other's company.
Billy was an excellent hunter and a true shot. Every Saturday afternoon he would go out hunting, in a few hours returning with meat enough to supply Mr. V.'s table for a week or longer. One Saturday he again shouldered his rifle, followed by his dog Carlos. I remained at work but became tired being alone, so I gave up working, whistled for my dog, Jack, took my rifle and struck out, selecting a very high ridge, the timber of which had been burned off by a former fire, thus giving a full view over a vast stretch of country. Many a time I had been here, passing hours in looking over vale and dale. More than once I watched deer and elk below me nibbling a sprout here a blade of grass there, then disappearing behind the bushes. Often have I listened to the rolling of the surf of the Pacific Ocean and felt a pleasure in this perfect isolation from any intercourse with other men. Alone with the wonders of nature; a perfect ease and rest to me. Meantime, Billy had gone into a valley through which Ketchum Creek was winding its way at the foot of the mountain upon which I enjoyed myself. He had followed a trail made by a herd of elk; coming to an opening obstructed by a large dead tree lying on the ground he had stopped to listen. As it so happened behind this log a brown bear had lain down to have his afternoon nap. Carlos, scenting the game, jumped on the log and thereby disturbed the slumbering bear. Billy at once aimed for the eye of the bear, not twenty yards away, but by some movement the ball broke the jawbone of the animal; the dog in attacking the wounded bear received a blow with one of the powerful paws, sending him howling into the bushes.
The game, now excited, advanced; another hurried shot missed a deadly spot but broke one of his arms. By this time perfectly infuriated, he made for his assailant. Billy had managed to load again, dropping the ball without a plaster into the barrel and fired the third shot; this threw the bear, but the next moment he rose again. Myself, hearing the rapid firing as well as the howling of the dog, mistrusted something wrong; without hesitating I ran down the mountain, crossed Ketchum Creek, then set Jack on by hissing; the same moment the cry for help forced me to greater haste. I came in time to see the bear rise upon its haunches, his eyes wicked and sparkling with a greenish light, the ears flat to the head and spattered with blood, it was ready to crush its enemy. With a heavy blow of his rifle Billy shattered the gun over the bear's head, this changing the position and giving me time to step into the fight. The bear had paid no attention to my coming, and every minute I expected to see Billy lying crushed underneath the maddened foe. I placed the muzzle of my gun under the shoulder of the bear, sending ball and fire into its body; the bear fell dead. Billy, white as chalk, stepped up to me extending his hand. I took it. For a few moments we stood silent, but a new and strong tie was formed between us. Then we looked for Carlos, poor fellow; the one blow had lacerated his side from neck to hip, the skin and flesh hanging in strings about him. We picked him up and carried him to the nearby water, washed and cleaned his wounds and out of Billy's shirt we made a bandage. Before we went home a good supply of meat was left near him. The next morning, he lay before our door, having followed us home. With some stitching the hide was fixed into shape, and thus we got him around all right again.
From that day Billy and I were friends; what one had the other was welcome to. For three years we inhabited one cabin, but never had another word of disagreement.
M.G.P.Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, September 10, 1891, page 4
A BRUSH WITH THE SIOUXThe reservation of the Shoshones is located on the easterly slope of the Rocky Mountains, ranging north of the Wind River. Under all circumstances Washakie, the chief of the tribe, a most friendly Indian, educated and wise, has taught his people to be friendly with the "pale face," thereby befriending themselves. I have seen the old chief at different times. I have been among his people and always felt easy and was treated right and hospitably.
NO. 5 IN A SERIES OF PIONEER SKETCHES
Written for the Courier by One of the Participants in the Affray.
It was then in the month of May. The weather was delightful. The Shoshones had just left in a body their reservation, passed Fort Brown, South Pass, and were traveling to their summer hunting grounds west of the Rockies. Such a caravan as a tribe of Indians on their journey will form has a great many interesting features. At its head are the principal braves, the chief, the medicine men, then come the warriors, all decked with ornaments, such as looking glasses, beads, bells, some metal toys, furs and feathers. With blankets or without them over their bodies, the warriors are often only clothed with a breechcloth and moccasins. Headgear of all kinds, painted with all sorts of colors, combined with their stoical faces; they present the picture of the race, cunning, ignorant, cruel and wicked. Then comes the pack animals and squaws, loaded with all the wealth of Indians, such as tepees, mats, blankets, cooking utensils, buffalo robes, tepee poles, babies slung on the horses or the backs of their mothers, the old and infirm following. Among them were the dogs; some of the larger ones packed similar to the horses, their pedigree a mixture of dog, wolf, bear, coyote or fox. This whole cavalcade was ended by a rear guard of warriors.
Following these Indians, Albert M., Bill and Charles W. and myself, seated in a light wagon drawn by two able-bodied horses, supplied with a tiptop outfit and two hundred rounds of ammunition for each one of our four rifles, we went on a hunting and fishing expedition. The weather was delightful. The scenery of the mountains to our right, the wide plains sloping towards the Pacific Ocean before us and to our left, without care we breathed the ozone of an atmosphere strictly genuine, out of the great laboratory of the Creator. Now and then we caught up with some of the roaming and hunting Shoshone party. The afternoon was well spent when we arrived at a suitable camp, just where the Little Sandy leaves the Rocky Mountains, rushing and tumbling and foaming through a rough and steep canyon; its waters speeding over rocks and boulders, lashed to spray, and at last liberated from the obstructions it enters the wide plain and quietly follows its course. Right there we struck the camp. We tried fishing for trout but owing to the low temperature of the water they would not take the bait yet. We tried hunting on the plains; the antelopes had been scared away by the Indians. We tried the mountains, fresh tracks of elk we followed for miles, but did not overtake the game. Crossing the lower end of a swamp up in the mountains, we struck the tracks of a grizzly bear. To get a shot at them we secured seats up in tall trees beyond their reach. There we sat all night. We heard the crackling of bushes and dead limbs, the splashing of water, but could not get a chance to draw a bead. Two days we had passed thus without success, then we hitched up and made our way down the Little Sandy. We crossed Lander's Cutoff (overland route) and nearly six miles below this point we reached a fine bottom about a quarter of a mile wide, hemmed on both sides by bluffs from seventy to eighty feet in height, the Little Sandy running through the middle of the valley, willow bushes lining the edge of the water, the bottom itself covered with the tall dry rye grass from last year, among which good grazing for the horses had sprung up.
Before evening had come, we knew that we had found good hunting grounds. Antelopes in herds roamed about, and best of all one of them was secured before the campfire was blazing. Sage hens also were innumerable, and as it was their laying time, we found nests filled with eggs. As for trout, there were plenty of them ready to take the hook. The next morning bright and early found us busy with sport. Every one of us returned successful. Our meal was a joyous one. But in our gaiety, we forgot all about the dangers to which we were exposed. The hostile Sioux and Arapahos were in bands straggling over the country, and once on our tracks they would have followed us for no good purposes. Another day was spent with such good success that we concluded to go to the mines, sell our game and come back for more. By daylight we hobbled the horses to let them fill up on the rich, new grass. Our breakfast over, we made the wagon ready for the start. I went for the nearby feeding horses when one of the parties in camp called "Indians." Sure enough, there they were on both sides of the bluff. It gave me time enough to slip to one of the animals, keeping it on the side most exposed. I secured the second one and between them well covered returned to camp. The Indians, some twenty to twenty-five in number, sent us a greeting, which was quickly returned with our breechloaders. This whole day we laid low, exchanging now and then a shot as opportunity would offer. Night came, and this we feared as the best time for an attack by the enemy. To meet or prevent such, we left camp in four different directions some fifty steps to guard against a surprise. Several shots were fired, whether at a redskin or not, none knew; at any rate we gave them notice of our being awake.
On the next day the skirmishing was repeated, and it became plain to us that the Indians would not openly fight but were trying to wear us out. A second night had passed, and we were nearly exhausted for want of sleep and sufficient nourishment. The only chance we had to cook was by throwing some fish or meat into the hot ashes and trusting to luck whether it was done or not.
The third day of our unpleasant situation dawned. The sun rose bright and clear, a fresh wind came down the mountain and made us feel quite chilly. All seemed to be quiet, but just this kept us uneasy. And not without grounds, for in the distance above and below us a light smoke arose up into the air. Sure, they were trying to burn us out. The smoke became thicker; the fire fanned by the breeze found only too good nourishment in the abundant dead grass and straw; clouds of black smoke arose up into the air, through which the red glare of the flames became visible. Our time had come to act, and quick work was our only salvation. With our knives we cut the straw nearest to the wagon and started an opposing fire, and with our blankets dipped into the water we extinguished the flames under our own feet and those of the excited horses. In a few minutes the fire formed a circle around us and became most unbearing hot. But the ring widened; a few more seconds and off it went. The heat was less again but the smoke became suffocating, and now for the water. Horses and men plunged into the cooling element; the parts exposed were covered by the blankets. Both fires made rapid progress, roaring and hissing, consuming all vegetation before them. At last the walls of fire met, towering way up into the air, whirling like two fighting giants, and down they fell, sweeping by us on the sides. Blackened was the prairie, smoke, ashes and flying cinders filled the air, but we were safe and more so than before, as we gained a clear view over the surroundings.
Again, the Indians appeared on the bluff, but our rifles were not silenced yet; our yells still answered their war whoops. By means of some extremely insulting action, Billy W. aroused their anger to imprudence. They arose from their hiding places, while we pumped lead into the rascals with glorious effect. It was the last time we saw them; still we stood guard the balance of the day by turns, while the others slept for an hour. The following night we were not entirely sure whether we had or not fallen asleep. However, we were left unmolested. The next morning, we decided by drawing sticks which two had to do scouting, one up and one down the creek. A fresh trail crossing the water gave us the proof of their departure; then the other two had to scout the bluffs. No enemy in sight, but two blankets with bullet holes in them and much soiled with blood were brought in by Albert M. as trophies. Without losing any time we got on the way for safer quarters. Much of the game had spoiled. On the tenth day from the time we had started we again arrived in South Pass City. A week later the stage from Bryan to the Sweetwater mines was also attacked but made good its escape. We did not go back.
M.G.P.Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, October 29, 1891, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 6Am I right or wrong when I say that "hunters and fishermen are more or less affected with superstition"? I have found days in which wind and weather signs were most favorable and still fish would not bite, game got the best of me, all [species], running or creeping, it was of no avail. A change of tactics even, it gave no better result; other times everything seems wrong at the beginning, but game or fish seemed to come to me without effort. My plan always has been, in hard luck, to go home and start anew the next day and all will come as you wish it. Of one of those lucky days I want to write to you and your friendly readers.
Years before Oregon had been admitted as a state, Mr. B. had squatted on a prairie between Camas Valley and the Coquille Valley; in consequence the valley was named after him, "B.'s Prairie," in after years, and at present it is known as "Enchanted Prairie." Through this place passed the only trail from Coquille Valley to Camas Valley, a distance of nearly forty miles. B.'s Prairie, located about halfway, made it a favorable stopping place for traveler. Nothing but the densest forests, with the exception of a few mountain prairies, lay between those localities. No settler yet had claimed a foot of all this fertile land. No stock raiser drove his cattle on these prairies to herd there. Not many hunters even had passed through the hills and dales, filled with all kind of game in great abundance.
Travelers as a rule would stick closely to the trail, once astray it would become a most difficult thing to get back to the trail, and cases are known where men were lost for many days and even weeks. In those earliest days of settling, every newcomer was a most welcome addition, and his or her approach was heralded from one neighbor to the next. But let that newcomer be a young marriageable lady, then the excitement among the many bachelors would run high.
At this particular time, a family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. D., and a young lady of sweet sixteen, had arrived at B.'s halfway house. Mr. B., a most prepossessing bachelor, owner of the range, of a log house, some two to three mustangs, a few cows and hogs, was considered a well-to-do settler, and with the hospitality of such did the honors and made the best possible propositions to keep Mr. D. in his neighborhood, thinking that Miss D. would also stay there. At the same time business, rounding up and gathering runaway cattle preparatory to a trip up to the northern mines, brought a number of herders to this vicinity.
We were a rough and ragged crowd, chasing through thickets and timber, over mountains and valleys, fording or swimming the streams and creeks had done a great deal of damage to our apparel. With all this we were a happy set, and after a number of wild steers and cows had been corralled and branded, the evening meal finished, we paid a visit to Mr. B.'s, but more especially to someone else. A formal introduction, a few stiff bows, some hidden punches into the backs of the foremost ones and the fun of entertaining a charming young lady began. Our rough ways seemed to be most enjoyable to all. Supper at Mr. B.'s was rather late. He had been out hunting, to his mortification, with ill success. This in particular raised much merrymaking, but when the ladies gave their support to the unfortunate hunter we began to brag, and so it came to pass that I posted to kill two deer before breakfast or else to pay a forfeit and apologize to the ladies and Mr. B.
Odds were against me. I was a stranger in this section. I had not come to hunt; true, I had my rifle in camp, but no ammunition. But what would I not do to make a favorable impression upon this fair damsel. All the boys had a share in my victory or defeat. So, powder, caps and eight balls were raised. At a late hour we returned to camp and rolled ourselves into the blankets. We had laid out for our next day's work to scour a number of prairies about one mile south of B.'s. By dawn I shouldered my rifle, my friends agreeing to bring my breakfast (bacon and bread) when they came. As the sun cast its first rays over the landscape, I entered the edge of the first mountain prairie. The crest of the mountain was clear. Below in the valleys lay a fog. There was occasionally a very light puff of air stirring, enough to divide and lift the veil of vapor; thus, I noticed in the center of the prairie two deer grazing. Using a large rock as a cover I soon had an excellent chance. With the report of the rifle one of the deer fell, having its spine broken. With a few leaps the other was beyond reach; then it stopped, waiting for its companion to follow. The disabled deer, a fine buck, rose on its forefeet, but unable to use its hind legs, it rolled over at every effort. This action attracted the attention of the other deer, which gradually advanced, striking the ground with its feet, snorting and scenting, still it came nearer and nearer. I had reloaded. Not long after a second shot, and it too was brought to the ground. Having made good my assertion I shouldered my gun to go in search of cattle, which at such early hours always rested near the edge of prairies and openings. Following a trail through a narrow strip of timber I neared another small prairie in which a number of small deer were feeding. It was my practice never to kill more than I needed. It gave me delight to see those innocent and beautiful animals, how graceful they stepped, how keen they listened and watched for any approach of an enemy. It is wrong to slaughter. I forgot all this; imagine how much more effective it would be to add one or two more deer to the number I had promised to kill, and before I had considered right or wrong a third deer fell. The others scattered, but not knowing where the shot came from they did not enter the sheltering timber. I knew I had killed enough, but here arose the young lady again before my vision; another deer was slain. I wished they had fled, but they seemed to be dumbfounded and not until two more lay bleeding on the green sod did the others speed away. Expecting my friends soon I returned to the first prairie waiting for my lunch. When at last they came was hailed, "Well, what luck?" In a careless way I took them to the first buck, securing the saddle, then to number two. This I claimed as our share and carried it to the ridge to remain until we should return to camp. Then proceeding I took B. to two others. By this time he became excited and wanted to purchase my rifle. Of these too we secured the saddles, but when I took the men to two more dead deer, then they knew no end of praise for me and poor B. had to acknowledge that I had beaten him. For a joke I insisted to take them to two more, which of course I could not do, and as they would not be able to carry any more, I was satisfied of their refusal to go further. My friends were delighted that I had well earned the praise as a hunter, but when they found that my shooting had scared the cattle and thereby lost a day's work they were not anxious to let me go hunting again before breakfast.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, November 5, 1891, page 4
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 7A few days after my narrative the stock was all gathered and branded; we once more corralled them and made ready for an early start.
Hunting and Killing Time.
Way up in the Coast Range and on our road to Camas Prairie lay an extensive mountain prairie. It sloped towards the south. The bright March sun had warmed the soil and brought forth a rich growth of grass, while in the valleys pickings still was short, so we selected this place as another center. Weeks had to pass yet before the principal herd, now grazing on the middle fork of the Coquille River, could be driven through the dense forests, more so as with each drove a number of animals would unavoidably stray off; time after time we had to return and hunt them up and drive them on again to the rendezvous above named. Myself and Billy W. were selected to stay with the cattle gathered. The job itself was a very easy one, the mountains high and steep, grass and water plentiful; the cattle settled at once, and when filled, found a warm corner so agreeable that they made no attempt to get away. It was a lazy job, nothing to do but eat, smoke, lay in the tent or bask in the sun, and once during the day to round up the stock in charge. After the expiration of a few days it became so monotonous that we explored some sort of a pass to while the time away.
At one point of the mountain was a high peak of decomposed rocks; below it a steep incline, hundreds of feet deep, bushes and trees growing sparingly; grass was fair, the very spot deer prefers to occupy. Our plan of operation was to break off large pieces of rocks and see them jump [i.e., to roll boulders bouncing downhill]; with beams sharpened on one end we belabored the crevices and seams, lifting and pushing until a fragment would yield and fall; down it went, rolling, bounding, leaping and thumping, smashing trees and bushes, or shattering to pieces, each part taking a different direction. Deer resting there became frightened by the noise and, accompanying the boulders, fleeing in wildest flight, their tremendous leaps when rocks bounded after them, amused us for many hours. Stormy weather set in forcing us to the tent. Several droves of cattle had arrived and with them a number of hungry men for which we had to provide meals. All went well until the provisions ran low. We had agreed to keep the camp sufficiently supplied with victuals, which were to be obtained from a store in Camas Prairie, three miles distant from our camp.
In the forepart of our stay carelessness and then bad weather had caused us to postpone this, a most difficult task. At last, running short of everything but fresh venison, there was no further delay. By drawing sticks it fell to Billy to perform this duty. It was a difficult and wearisome trip; the trails over the mountains were steep and had become slippery, the overhanging bushes and trees, full of wet snow and water, thus continually dripping, gulches and ravines filled still with snow from last winter would not any longer carry the weight of a person without giving way; the creeks and rivulets too were overflowing with cold water, and worst of all the plateau at the foot of the mountains was more or less under water; this made the journey even hazardous. But here was a compulsion. Early the next morning he started, promising to return by evening. Night came. I had prepared a good roast of venison and made a tea of wild peppermint, but no Billy came. Noon next day had passed; no signs of Billy's return yet. Could anything have happened? I became worried and finally made ready for a search. I carried the venison away from the tent to keep coyotes, skunks and the large wood rats from ransacking the camp, put the fire out, shouldered rifle and ax and went in search of Billy.
About halfway I met him, but without provisions. In the best of humor he told me that there had been a party in the valley, that he had danced all night, enjoyed a good supper and breakfast and had not gone to the store at all, hoping that I would go and do better while he would take out the cattle. Under those conditions nothing else was to be done than to go after the much-needed supplies myself, but when we parted I left him with the determination to pay him back in his own coin. For two days I visited the people in the valley. On the morning of the third day and after the weather had cleared off nicely, the water in the creeks had lowered to a fordable condition and the bushes and trees had ceased dripping, I loaded myself with an ample supply of provisions and about noon adjourned to camp. There was no fire burning, no sign of anyone, nor any response to my calling. Taking down the load I opened the tent and there lay Billy, rolled up in his blankets, grinning for having had such a good rest, and as he was not so very hungry those few meals had not given him any annoyance. Billy's brother had told me of his being lazy, here I had a practical experience, but with all this in future he proved to be a tiptop fellow and a useful cowboy.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, November 19, 1891, page 4
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 8In the forepart of April we made ready to break up our mountain camp to pasture in Camas Valley, there to finish all preparations for a final start for the northern mines.
Over a week we had been there; at last things were in a proper shape. Our horses, well taken care of, were in excellent condition, and when saddled they showed their spirit by pawing. Clinton C., the most experienced and best supplied of us six, was selected captain and manager, and when he gave the order, "Ready boys," it was but a moment ere we had the lariats fastened to the horns of our Mexican saddles; one more examination of the security of our saddles, and we mounted. Slowly the herd of one hundred and sixty-five horned cattle and some twenty head of loose horses began their long journey of nearly five hundred miles.
In the beginning we had to fly around pretty lively, but by using the short-handled, long-lashed whips to the discomfort of the unruly cattle, they were soon brought down to their places.
With a good "lead steer" at the head of the drove they began to string out, and after a few days' travel we made eighteen and twenty miles a day with ease.
The first large stream was the Umpqua River; with a canoe ahead to give the direction in which to swim and with crowding from the rear, the herd plunged into the swift current and swam to [the] opposite bank in good order.
The Willamette Valley lay before us, several hundred miles in length and twenty to forty miles wide; this without a doubt is one of the most fertile regions in the United States.
Eugene City, a very pleasing town, lay behind us. By some cause a number of our cattle became frightened and stampeded through the streets, some of us boys in full chase after them, while the people in a hurry left the thoroughfares to seek shelter in the houses and stores. We made things pretty lively for awhile and all would have passed off without accident had not two Chinamen with a basket of washee-washee endeavored to cross the path of one of the excited steers; leaping over the basket which they carried between them the steer horned one fellow and with a kick felled the other one, but as we had no time, we left them in the care of some Samaritans, ran the herd together again and drove on.
At Salem we swam the Willamette River. From there we left our northerly direction and changed to an easterly direction so as to cross the Cascade Range.
It was now the middle of May, the most delicious weather; the pure, azure sky over us made our journey a regular pleasure trip. Vegetation seemed to rival the climate, trees and flowers were in full bloom; innumerable plants of strawberries offered their delicate fruit of which we made (when in camp) good use and such a dish with fresh, rich milk, right from the cow, was not to be despised, and also a welcome addition to fat pork and bread.
Free and easy in mind, well and hearty in body, we rode along, singing and joking. Meeting some Mexican travelers in possession of some unbroken young horses, I bartered for one, a four-year-old, cream-colored mare, with long white mane and tail, a real beauty of an animal. I had to break it for the saddle, and it did some good bucking, but sooner than I expected it learned. I loved the slick, light-stepping and fleet animal, but to my sorrow it showed lameness in a forefoot. After examination no cause could be found; to favor it I led her by the reins until it stopped limping, then I mounted again and found that it was lame in the other foot. This puzzled us for a day or two--as soon as I dismounted it was all right. At last we found the solution of the difficulty; the cunning little mare played a trick; a good dressing with a whip cured the lameness forever.
For this time enough. Our trip across the Cascade Range will make a good long epistle for your next week's number.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, November 26, 1891, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 9As we were approaching the mountain, the country became more rolling in its nature; instead of oak woods we passed through pine and fir timber. The farms, which had so far shown an advanced state of cultivation, lessened in number and size and appeared of later origin.
Reaching a large meadow with all desirable conveniences for a long stay, we made a halt to give our cattle a necessary rest for a week ere we could task the strength of our stock in crossing the Cascade Rage.
At this time of the year such a trip is an extremely exhausting undertaking; the elevated portions of the mountains were still deeply under snow, in consequence of which we had a number of days and nights without the least nourishment for our stock, and the only green plant was the wild laurel; unfortunately, this is a deadly poison for animals.
This year, two droves, one consisting of sheep, had undertaken the trip; shortly after[ward] the herdsmen returned with but a few head and those more dead than alive.
Afterwards another drove of several hundred horned cattle and a number of horses had gone on so far no one knew how they succeeded; afterward we found them to have had great losses, principally of horses. Therefore our stay. By doing so we wanted to get our stock in a condition to stand fast and long travel, and to give the hot June sun a fair opportunity to melt as much of the snow over and through which we had to take our way.
To become enabled to make forced marches, we adopted the plan of dividing the herd into smaller bodies, easier to be overseen; each driver to take care his own share and to help or receive help when needed. Thus, I received the charge of all the horses. Through the days of utter idleness, I improved the condition of all the pack saddles [and aparejos] by filling them with newly made hay; this part of my labor became afterward the only means of getting every hoof of my charge safely across the range.
Not following up the reckoning of days or dates, we entirely had lost what day of the week we were living in.
One morning, however, we were surprised to see an elderly woman and a girl riding into our camp, but not on horseback. Each one of them was carried by a fleet steer without saddle or bridle, they directed and urged their animals by a stick pointed by a sharpened nail; through them we learned that it was Sunday, and they were on their way to a distant religious meeting.
After resuming our journey, we crossed the "Clackamas River," a swift and rocky mountain stream. In doing so we nearly drowned a number of our cattle which were not able to cross to the ford and thus got below and under steep banks. In those days I was yet a good swimmer. Disregarding the cold water, I plunged into the element, swam ahead and towed them to the shore where they had started from, then driving them up to the ford again a second attempt landed them correctly. In the struggle of doing this work the force of the current had thrown me against a large boulder and severely hurt me, and by the time I came to the desired shore, my friends had to assist me in my chilled and exhausted condition.
From now the grass became scarce. All night one or the other had to stand guard. The next morning--but how can I describe this grand view in sight? Heavy fogs, perhaps clouds, lay over the forests below us, but high above towered Mount Hood in his grandeur and majesty, covered with eternal snow and illuminated by the bright morning sun in pink and crimson, shaded by the dark blue colors of its canyons and ravines, or by the bright white of the snow which still lay in the darkness and shadows. In silence and amazement did we observe this giant of the mountains on the North American continent--more than 15,000 feet above the level of the sea rose this monument, an inspiring work of the great Architect of the Universe.
A still, chilly morning, with a campfire before us, upon which our breakfast became ready for the very best of appetites. With the purest balsamic air nourishing our lungs, no disturbing neighbors around us and the wonders of the globe filling the very soul of men can you, friendly reader, understand what it is, what it means to be out on the mountains far away from civilization? Such changes in life work marvels. In such regions, sickness has to disappear, for such an atmosphere which has never been meddled with by anybody else, which we have been breathing in all night intermixed with the aroma of spruce, pine, and fir, must strengthen us, and a meal has more nourishment than all your hotel and boarding house soups can offer you. Such sights make the spot upon which you stand a facsimile to the burning bush before which Moses stood. It is a holy place.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, December 3, 1891, page 4
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 10Uphill and downhill we drove our herd. At the end of the day we entered a large district of burned timber, among which a growth of pea vines had sprung up; this the cattle accepted, and the horses, refusing to eat them, were secured to the trees. Not far away from there was a small ranch. With the proprietor, an old squatter, we fortunately struck a trade in giving him a number of young calves for a few bushels of oats, and with a part of this we satisfied the horses.
New Hardships--The Plains.
The next morning we reached the "Zigzag," this is called so on account of the thousands of heavy logs laying in every direction, thereby obstructing the advance, and only by winding zigzag through this labyrinth of dead trees we passed this district with much difficulty.
The ascent was gradual but wearisome; at the end of the day we had advanced only a few miles and still had traveled much over twelve miles. Night overtook us at the foot of Laurel Hill, where we corralled the stock, as not a morsel of food of any kind could be obtained. The horses, most fortunate, received another portion of oats.
The following daylight found us ready. The road became worse and worse, steeper and steeper the incline, large blocks of tumbled-over rocks impeded the advance, many places the weaker animals were helped over these difficulties, until finally we were compelled to kill a number of the cattle which could not help themselves, by shooting them in the head, thus to save unnecessary work and delay. When finally, the top of Laurel Hill was gained we entered the snow line; still higher and higher we had to climb; the snow became deeper, the air cold. Again, we had to corral without feed, and nothing but snow for a place to rest and sleep upon.
From now the wild laurel, with its green leaves, tempted the hungry stock, and as this bush is a poison to animals it took our fullest efforts to crowd them on and keep the caravan in motion.
Perseverance will overcome the worst, so here the summit, over ten thousand feet above the level of the sea, was gained.
Mount Hood, only a few miles distant in an easterly direction, was towering way above everything in sight, partly hid by clouds. To the westward was an old crater, the surface covered by wiregrass. Woe to the creature stepping upon the luxuriant green meadow; the roots would part and the treacherous and hidden morass would swallow the trespasser; down it would sink into the bowels of this dead volcano.
Middle of June, and still our roads were covered by over twenty feet of snow, and more than ten feet above our heads were the ax marks made by the men traveling here two weeks before.
An icy breath blew from Mount Hood; this night, to keep animals and men from chilling, we kept rousing large fires going.
It pained me to see the wistful expression of the horses in my charge, and whether or not against protestation, I sacrificed the greatest portion of our flour by mixing a dough and baking bread; how those animals accepted the little I was able to give the friendly reader may imagine for himself.
The following day was the severest of all. Steep roads covered with soft snow, the fatigued stock became more worn out and stiff in limbs. From now, by actual count, the road was lined by seventy-two dead horses, some from last year's hard travel, many the former property of the men now before us. Hundreds of sheep and cattle had also died of exposure and want of nourishment; the gas arising from the bodies was nearly stifling.
In this trouble I remembered the good fresh hay in the pack saddles. Selecting the most able horse, I opened the corners of the cushion, then taking a pack saddle from an empty horse, I trailed the balmy hay before them; anxious to get a mouthful they would struggle on faster than I would be able to drive them. At the end of this day I was miles ahead of the other parties, and best of all, below the snow line.
I camped alone; the hay in nearly all the saddles was used up. It was a lonely camp; the waters of the creek murmured, the wind blew fierce through the trees, the horses cribbed and gnawed with their teeth, the work was much for me and fire sparingly [sic]. I could not rest nor sleep. The moon had lighted up the darkness of the roads. I saddled up and started; many miles I had traveled when day broke. We were on the steady down grade, between the bleak and dreary pine forests; way below me spread an inviting panorama, open plains with rich fresh grass; oh, how inviting.
Down, down I rushed the weary horses, and at last we reached the grass; driving became an impossibility; I pulled the saddles off and let the horses take care of themselves. Then I prepared some bread and meat and with it returned to assist my friends. For more than twenty-four hours they had had nothing to eat, as all the provisions were carried on the horses; my bringing nourishment was gladly hailed. By night the last man, the last of the drove, had arrived at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. The next morning, we returned to pick up a few head of cattle which had given out. Our loss was eleven head.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, December 10, 1891, page 4
My Christmas Contribution.The happy days of childhood are past with me, many, many years. Around me another generation enjoys the days of the birth of Christ, and gives satisfaction and pleasure to me, but it is in another way. The years have made a different person out of me. The habits have changed. Yes, even the sentiments of the Christian religion appear to be executed differently from in those years of which I think and love so dearly yet.
As well as I can remember, it was the winter of 1846-47. My parents were living at the town of Schneeberg (Snow Mountain), in the Ore Mountains of Saxony. I was then a lad of twelve years.
The principal industries of this section of Saxony were silver and cobalt mining and the manufacture of laces. Each of these two branches formed two distinct classes of men. One class, the mining engineers and the corps of bureaucracy, were a well-educated and refined class of men. The second class in this branch were the common miners. Little does the American-born laborer know how poorly other countries have dealt with the working people.
As wages they received from 8 to 12 cents for 12 hours' work; and, as in many instances the mines were miles away from the homes of the miners, many hours of walking were added to the weary day of toil. In those homes many were born and raised, and here they would live and die. They were small, one-story buildings, containing two rooms and a loft; but so little was the income of these people that in many of these houses two and even more families occupied one and the same room. The women were scrupulously and habitually clean, and the well-scrubbed floors were partitioned off by chalk marks, thus forming the lines of territory for each family.
For hundreds of years, from grandfather to father, from son to grandson, one after the other, occupied the same position in certain mines. Many a one had found his rest deep under the earth--and those spots where the fathers had lost their lives became sacred to the succeeding sons, and were saluted in passing with a short prayer and by the lifting of the cap.
As one-half of their lives was spent in those shafts and drifts, full of deprivation and danger, the people as a rule were faithful Christians and extremely pious. Their daily work began with a fervent prayer; the closing hours ended with thanks to the Lord. No meal--if so you could call a few boiled potatoes and a crust of stale black bread, with a cup of brewage from roasted carrots--was taken without blessing and thanks. Their salutation was "Glueck auf!" (Luck with you.)
The other industry was the manufacture of fine lace by hand and was called "kloeppeln." Here also were found two classes. The employer and dealer in laces was often a well-to-do merchant, employing many hundreds of hands, these last being the wives and children of the miners. With all their toil and struggle for existence they were a contented people. Their strength rested in the fear of God, and in their trust in his goodness. While performing their work the time was passed in telling legends; and so often had these stories been told, and so old were they, they had become the truth both to the hearer and the teller. Hundreds of localities were surrounded with myths. Many were the places which should not be passed without a prayer, or else the apparition of an evil spirit would bring bad luck and misfortune. Springs were considered inhabited by "nymphs" or "nixen." Mines were the abode of the "mountain ghost;" and particularly dangerous were certain crossroads.
Combined with such religious sentiments, Nature had gifted them with great love for music. Their singing was peculiarly sweet and melodious, gladdening the hearts of the singers and the listeners.
* * *This winter of 1846 was a severe one. At the beginning of October, and before the so-much-depended-upon potato crops were gathered, snow began to fall in heavy quantities. In December, from ten to fifteen feet covered the whole surface. Houses were out of sight, and only known by the smoke rising from the chimneys, out of the snow, while tunnels gave passage to and fro. The game of the wood and the birds of the air found no more nourishment, and either perished or else were driven by hunger and cold into the villages and inhabited places.
Meantime food had risen to such enormous prices that the poor were not able to obtain the poorest and cheapest qualities. Offal became scarce; hunger-typhus appeared, and the sick and weak died of actual starvation. Crusts of bread and parings of potatoes were all that sustained the lives of suffering children and the old and infirm; boiled straw mixed with the blood of slaughtered animals was consumed by the poor. True, organizations of noble-hearted women relieved some of the intensest suffering, but highways were blocked up so much that only insufficient quantities of provisions could be obtained at any price. Many of the poorest families received a daily contribution of soup and bread from private families.
Among those calling regularly at the house of my parents was an old man, "Angers." His suffering, careworn countenance made such a deep impression upon my boyish sympathy that often my dear mother had to give extra supplies to me, which I then carried to my protege and his family. Often have I found them in devotion asking their heavenly father for their daily bread.
Christmas had come. On this day, in accordance with the usage of the country, young and old serenaded the houses of the richer men by singing Christmas hymns and receiving gifts of money. Myself and the sons of two other families followed this custom, visiting the friends of our parents. Our voices, unweakened by hunger and sickness, rang out clear on the crisp, cold winter air:
"Glory to God on high,The donations had been more than liberal, and in a few hours each of us possessed several thalers. What should be done with all this money? Need we had not for it. Our parents were now already busy preparing the Christmas trees, and placing thereon the many presents selected for us. Come--let us see old Angers. At the next bakery the largest loaf of bread, an eight-pounder, was bought. With a knife, holes were cut through the crust, and each hole filled with silver and copper coins.
Christ is here!"
The church bells tolled the vesper hour; the family had gathered around the table. A pan of something like dishwater was all they had; no meat, no brew. All were bowed in prayer when we entered:
"Give us this day our daily bread."Yes, Kris Kringle had heard them. The loaf of bread, accepted with tears and thanks, came to still the pangs of hunger, and as they broke it and tried to eat it, and found the money--who can picture the scene? With light and joyful hearts we left them. Evening set in. One tree after another illuminated the rooms of happy people. Bells are ringing. Christ is come.
"Holy sign, peaceful night!
All is darkness save the lightAt last the door of the brilliantly lighted room opened for us, brothers and sisters; when my good mother, who had been visited by my old friend, clasped me to her heart. Then I knew what I had done in childish simplicity.
Yonder, where the sweet vigils keep
Over the Babe, who in silent sleep,
Rests in heavenly peace!"
Again Christmas has come. My children around me, safe and sound, praise the Lord. They sing, while I accompany them on the organ:
"When safe in your dwelling, so cheerful and warm,Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, December 31, 1891, page1
Ye hear but the wailing of cold winter's storm;
When loved ones ground you are gathered once more;
Then pause for a moment! Remember the poor!"
A Colorado Hunting tripTime and the advance of civilization are two factors which cannot be checked. Colorado of today and Colorado Territory, twenty-five years ago, are no more alike than a piece of woodland and a well-cultivated field.
Twenty-Five Years Ago
WRITTEN FOR THE COURIER BY "M.G.P."--ONE OF THE HUNTERS
Pioneer Sketch Number 11
In those days no railroads traversed the wide plains; population was comparatively thin; towns which now are known all over the Union had not sprung into existence; some were represented by a few primitive houses or an inn. Indians made traveling unsafe; road agents or horse thieves created excitement; life was ruder; freedom greater--hardly to be credited by persons unaccustomed to frontier life.
December 1867, near Golden City. Outdoor work is practically stopped; jack frost had set in for good. Only in the mountains the chopping of railroad ties for the just-surveyed Colorado Central,gave work to hundreds of hands, stripping the government land of its best and tallest timber.
The transportation of such ties was difficult and expensive. The ties were simply floated through the extremely steep and rough canyons of the Sierra Colorado. At the headwaters of Chasse a la Poudre was one of these camps. Winter quarters in these mountains means very nearly an exclusion from all communication. The first and great care of a manager of such a camp is to have a full supply for man and beast.
Friend Harry C. received the job of hauling several four-horse loads of supplies. C., on horseback, with his two regular teamsters, started on the trip. The weather was extremely stormy and disagreeable, nevertheless delay was impossible; one heavy snowstorm would have made the expedition a failure. At the close of the day man and beast found a shelter under the roof of a so-called halfway house; at intervals rough characters stayed there to receive information, victuals or aid.
While yet busy with feeding and providing for the animals, two strangers rode up to the stables, representing themselves as deputy marshals and demanded the delivery of several mules which they claimed as stolen property. C. naturally refused, warning any person at the risk of their lives to step into the stable; the sight of three Colt's navy revolvers supported the assertion. Not knowing what was to come, C., after darkness had set in, saddled his horse and sped homeward, the teamsters securing the entrance against a surprise.
C. made good time. Two of his neighbors were ready at short notice. Myself and two boarders, awaiting clear weather and snow to start on a hunting and fishing excursion, gave consent to assist. In less than half an hour our light wagon was loaded, and out into the darkness we went. The roads were muddy; splashing fell the rain and snow; a cold, chilling wind benumbed horses and men. Over rocks and gullies, through creeks and pools of water and slush, our horses flew at the top of their speed.
When dawn broke we were yet miles from the inn, but whip and spurs animated the tired animals. At last we had the satisfaction of knowing that the time was well used; the teamsters still held the fort. With a cheer we drove up; our number was overwhelming; the deputies abandoned their claims. We fed and harnessed up, breakfasted and drove on. The two neighbors of C. returned.
A peculiarity of the Colorado mountains on the eastern slope is a long, high ridge called "Hogback," running parallel with the main chain of mountains and forming a well-watered and protected fertile valley. The view of the mountains was dreary, the timber covered with snow and sleet, the higher portion hidden by heavy, quick-shifting clouds.
At Boulder, a stage station for the overland Pony Express, we indulged in a substantial dinner; the price of the same, one dollar per man. High in price! Not a bit! Considering the quantity of victuals and coffee we managed to stow away, much to the merriment of some guests; our attack was finally checked when the good landlady stopped furnishing new editions.
After a drive of some miles we left the stage road, working our way up to the mountains. The road was good. "Lone Pine," a well-known landmark, a solitary extremely high pine tree, many miles from any other timber, lay behind us when again we camped.
Next morning, we entered the mountains proper; towards evening we drove into one of those many parks--a paradise for hunters.
Here we made headquarters. The next morning C. drove on. He, expecting to return in about thirty-six hours, left his saddle horse. Being short of flour, we retained a bag of bran for a possible emergency. An extra wagon sheet answered as a tent. Soon our camp presented a look of comfort; one of the many deer inhabiting those rarely visited places gave assurance of a good time in general; steaks and ribs roasting before the fire. We rejoiced in the freedom of the free.
The clouds settled lower and lower; a fast-falling snow covered the landscape. After the storm had passed and the sun broke out clear and bright, the tracking of game was not difficult. Before sundown the camp had the appearance of a miniature slaughterhouse; a number of deer decorated the trunks of the trees.
The time for the return of C. and his teams was at hand. We sat up awaiting their return, whiling away the hours with jesting and smoking. But night passed and another day had gone, still we had not seen our friends. Thus, it became our duty to go and search for them.
Higher we advanced into the mountains; deeper and deeper the snow became; trees and bushes, burdened by the white covering, obstructed the narrow road. Brushing them away, the showers of snow fell over us. When the evening sun illuminated the peaks, we returned to dry our garments by a good big fire. Again, we started out to proceed with our work. Late in the afternoon, being miles away from camp, B. returned to take care of the horses. L. and myself ended our work to find a good shelter for the coming night. A short distance from a ridge was a lake. There we made our way. Large logs of dead yellow pine furnished us, with but little work, sufficient firewood for a much-needed fire during the long and cold night.
The next morning, having gun and fishing lines with us, we tried fishing. With the ax we broke the ice; fished the same out and awaited the settling of the disturbed water. The fish gradually arose from the deep and warmer water to the air holes; slowly and stupefied they swam around, throwing up air bubbles when inhaling a fresh breath. The lines were made ready; but what for a bait? A piece of red flannel, a part of a woolen shirt, answered admirably. Hardly dipped into the water, the fish would take it and were fast. Being benumbed by the cold they gave no trouble to land, so that in a short time we had more than a dozen of the beautiful salmon trout, from four to six pounds in weight. Our selected powder used instead of salt, we had something to break our fast with. A few hours later we met our friends on the dividing ridge of "North" and "Middle Park." Then another lot of fish, several hundred pounds, was secured and taken to the wagons. Late in the evening we arrived at headquarters. Next day the teams went on their home trip, to be followed by us, for just a week after the end of this time, we returned, well loaded with deer and one mountain sheep.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, February 18, 1892, page 1
Fata Morgana.Having returned from a trip from Paradise Valley to Winnemucca, both in Nevada, at the railroad depot [I] discharged a cargo of merchandise; accounts squared; I was waiting orders from the party owning the team, which consisted of two heavy freight wagons coupled together and drawn by twelve draft animals. [The Central Pacific Railroad reached Winnemucca in 1868.]
PIONEER SKETCH NO. 12
Just then a fire broke out in a clothing store on Main Street. The buildings of the town being all frame houses, the fire, fanned by a stiff breeze, became a serious conflagration.
In one of those buildings I had stored my superfluous clothing, a tent, some few ounces of gold dust, a double-barrel rifle, this the property of my brother, for which he had paid $118.
To save this, through smoke and fire I rushed into the room in which I knew they were stored.
The ceiling had kindled, and through the joints of the boards flames, sparks and smoke were shooting; one more second and I grasped the rifle and tent, then the element forced me out just in time to escape the falling mass; nevertheless my hat and shirt on my back were burning in different places. My other goods went up in smoke.
Fortunately, I had my pay for the trip just ended and soon had improved my appearance. Instead of going on another trip I resolved to follow my brother, who, in company with Mr. Heller and family, two weeks ago had passed through here en route for Coos Bay, Oregon; this was a distance of five hundred miles, one half of which was [through] an entirely unpopulated country. At once I purchased a pack mule, loaded the same with the necessary provisions, tent, blankets and buffalo robe, shouldered my rifle and said goodbye to Winnemucca.
On the banks of the Humboldt River, below Mill City, I made my first camp. Should you, friendly reader, have never heard of this river and its peculiarity, I will tell in a few words, that many miles out of here the waters of the stream sink into the ground; not a drop runs beyond Humboldt Sink. The name of the Humboldt River at this point is Lost River. Like many other bodies of water in the region of the Northwest, it has a subterranean outlet.
When I last saw my brother he described to me the projected route of their journey, and as there was but very little travel, or rain had not washed away the tracks, it was an easy matter to follow their trail. My next camp at Antelope Springs had nothing worthy to record. Early in the morning I was again on the tramp for Rabbit Springs, a distance of twenty-eight miles through a barren, dry, sandy plain, and as there was not a drop of water to be found I suffered some with the heat, reflected by the hot sun rays on the well-heated sand. At sunset in camp I observed one of the beautiful phenomena often seen in Nevada, the Fata Morgana.
The setting sun sinking behind the horizon, which appeared but a few miles distant, but in reality was from twenty to five and twenty miles away, cast a reddish hue over the alkali flats covered by nothing else but the sage brush, bunch grass or sauce alkali grass. The bluffs in the distance showed the outlines clear and distinct. All at once the bluffs seemed to separate from terra firma at an angle of twenty to thirty degrees; they were reproduced suspended in the air, the base of the bluff uppermost, the top below. Deeper the sun sank in the west, and with every moment this optical delusion [sic] assumed another form. At sunset it became very nearly double, both bluffs connected half way by a small band. In a second more, the sun had gone, the specter vanished, a short twilight set in, and one star after another began to light up the firmament, and I rolled up in my blanket for a good rest.
The grass around this camp being very poorly, the carcasses of dead cattle lying around in different directions filled the otherwise exhilarating air with a stifling gas. Coyotes, sneaking around and feasting on the remaining bones and dry skin, yelped into the night air and made me restless, and when before daybreak the moon arose, I started on my journey.
Before me lay another waterless stretch of over twenty miles; shortly after meridian I entered the Black Rock district--the same a basalt, nearly black in color, running out in a spur--this circumtraveled and before me lay the Black Rock Desert. Not far from here out of the seams of this back ridge flowed a large spring of boiling water, containing different minerals, but principally soda. Following the course of the creek for a quarter of a mile, the water had cooled sufficiently to become drinkable, although unpleasant in taste. But not being able to find a better substitute, it had to be used to still the great thirst. A small sand heron, fat and plump, and not acquainted with the unsafe neighborhood of the pale face, was shot and made a very welcome change in my diet of fat bacon.
As I have stated, Black Rock Desert lay before me, a body of fine white sand, alkali, soda, etc. Perfectly level for a hundred and fifty miles in length, in width differing from eighty to this, the extreme narrowest place of ten miles. Clear as the atmosphere was, it appeared to be not more than two to three miles. Every sage bush on the opposite side could be seen without any difficulty.
But the scorching heat of the sun, and the hot sand, became unbearable. The atmosphere was in a constant flickering motion; perspiration flowing out of every pore in the body, quickly drying left a crust of salt crystals on the skin and the clothes; advance at this time of the day could not be thought of. I stretched my tent and like good comrades, myself and mule found shelter and shade until evening, then preparing for another night's march; the day had ended, the sun was sinking behind the chain of a distant mountain range, the heat diminishing, and darkness settled over the country
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, March 17, 1892, page 1
The next two issues of the New Jersey Courier survive, but do not contain Pioneer Sketch No. 13.
Pioneer Sketch No. 14 [sic]A peculiar feeling will take hold of man when entirely alone, far away from any people of his kind, surrounded by different unknown and unseen dangers. His eye is strained, his ear acute, not many objects moving, however carefully, fail to attract his attention. But when the darkness of the night sets in, when the softest breath of air passing through the air creates ever so low a sound, when the smallest bird, the lizard or the step of the horned toad upon the sand and among the dry grass can be heard, or the almost silent flap of the passing owl, the distant howl of the wolf, or the barking of the coyote interrupts the silence of nature, a man so situated, solely depending on his own strength, then he is surely straining his nerves to the utmost. Darkness had covered the desert; one star after another became visible. The North Star became my only guide for the coming journey. The direction I had to take was in a northwesterly direction; I, therefore, made my calculation between the point of destination and the only stationary star in the northern sky, the North Star.
Night on the Desert
On a line with this star are two others, known as the "Pointers," those a part of the seven stars called the "Great Bear." At the time when I started, about 7 o'clock, the Pointers and North Star formed a horizontal line.
Crossing the desert in a diagonal course, and after having reached the opposite edge, a distance of about fifteen miles, the Pointers now stood within a few degrees perpendicularly below the North Star; consequently I had traveled nearly five hours; it was about midnight. This is an easy way to estimate any hour of the night.
I was thirsty, tired. Strike a match I would not do; the smallest light in the blackness of night can be seen a long way. I was in an Indian country. So, groping about with my hands, I selected my place of rest. I took the pack and saddle from my animal; fastened an end of the rawhide rope (lariat as it is called) to his neck, the other end to my foot, this in order to feel any attempt of his getting away; laid down upon the still warm sand and in a moment was sound asleep. Rest was of short duration, the light of the moon, casting its yellow rays over the landscape, fell on my face. I looked up; there not far away from where I rested lay also my mule; a second later my eyes closed again.
The howl of a pack of wolves in close neighborhood brought me to my feet. To drive them away I fired a shot out of my rifle; the mule shied, and to my consternation ran away; those villainous brutes had gnawed the rawhide rope in two.
Hoping to get a hold of the trailing rope, I followed the animal. Hour after hour passed. It became morning and still the mule made its way towards the camp which I had left last night. At last the desert was recrossed, the mule entered some tall sagebrush, started on a full run and was soon out of sight, taking the direction from which we had come. About seventy miles from the nearest inhabited place, without nourishment, my provisions lying on the other side of the desert, I had to make my way back. Perseverance overcomes the most difficult matters, and so it was in this case. My things were unmolested, I took a part of the flour, some bacon, rifle and buffalo robe on my shoulders, hid the rest under the blanket and tent among the bushes, and off I went to secure my animal.
What a heat and the load upon my back. How hungry and thirsty. Finally, I dropped a part of the burden. Sand had worked into my shoes; I did not heed it. At last I arrived at the hot springs, a march of thirty hours, eight-two miles of wearisome walking, what now?
My feet were blistered and bleeding. On the sole of the right foot I had a blood blister as big as a hen's egg. The pain became extremely acute.
To find relief I bathed in the hot mineral water; to my greatest satisfaction at the end of half an hour the soreness and pain had vanished. Now for some nourishment, a slice of fat meat, a few handfuls of flour mixed in a handkerchief with a handful of water, this hung into the boiling spring, and seasoned with plenty of imagination and recollections of former good meals, I found the impromptu pudding palatable and much better than nothing to eat.
Refreshed and strengthened, the following of the trail of the animal was resumed. Rabbit Springs; here too I stopped. It was night, I lay down, my suffering for a drink of water kept me awake for a long, long time, but sleep came. What a glorious sight, there before me lay a lake, how clear and inviting was the water, trees and grass grew around the borders, and here flowed a creek. Nearer and nearer came the water; now for a drink, I rose up, kneeling on the sand. I stooped over--oh, how cruel, it was a dream. Onward. At Antelope Springs, there was water, twenty-eight miles yet. I made it, and here too I found and caught the runaway.
This exertion had been too great for me. I fell asleep, and not before the next morning after sunup did I awake.
First I had my fill of good water; then a refreshing wash; cold, raw bacon and unboiled flour soup without salt for breakfast. This over, I made the mule carry me back to and across the desert. Nothing had disturbed my cache; it was soon placed upon the animal, then I resumed my interrupted journey.
In less than one hour I arrived at Deep Hole, a deserted ranch. The best of water, good grass, and my exhausted body much in need of rest. A flock of wild geese, feeding in a field of volunteer oats, furnished me with two out of their number, and these enabled me to feast; once again I made camp. Roast goose, some sort of bread, the flour of which was worked into a dough, then wound around a stick of wood, and in this fashion baked before a fire, coffee too, and rest and sleep. It was a comfort to my weary limbs and much-abused stomach.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, April 7, 1892, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 15A day of rest, plenty of nourishment, a good night's sleep had fully restored energy and body. Not far from Deep Hole the road, if such you could call it, branched. A herd of sheep lately had passed this locality, and by them every sign or track whereby I could have seen the direction which Mr. Heller and my brother had taken was lost. More than an hour I searched for some trace, but all in vain.
In the Granite Mountains.
After due consideration I chose the right-hand trail. Within half an hour I entered a lovely valley, well watered, and wooded with willows and gums, the hillsides and the bottom lands overgrown with luxuriant grass. The name given to this valley, as I afterward learned, was "Squaw Valley." For a distance of several miles I advanced, then the path turned towards the west, crossing the creek. My former experience had taught me the value of a drink of water; here was plenty of it. I had no thirst, yet to take some along for an emergency, I had no vessel. So, I had to trust to good luck.
Gradually I made my way up into the Granite Mountains. The higher I went the smaller the growth of scattering pines became, and when I reached the first plateau, most of the vegetation lay behind me. A few sage bushes, and they were small. The soil consisted of nothing but decomposed granite, open and loose; as long as the nature of the same did not change, to find water would be an impossibility.
The day became a hot one, the exercise of climbing up and down the waterless ravines or by trudging over the extremely hot flats and plains soon told on me. Water! How I thirsted! Perspiration even ceased; salt crystals had formed all over the skin. Water was nowhere to be found. Should I return? No! Others had passed here, why should I not be able to do the same?
At last after much suffering the day closed. As a red, fiery ball the sun set. Gradually the air cooled and gave relief. By the faint light of the stars I could see the path. Better traveling now. Onward I drove the mule, onward I pushed on my solitary trip. Plateaus and canyons we passed; searches for water remained fruitless. Disappointment and hope filled every thought. Forward, there lay the only help. No owl nor quadruped indicated life through this nocturnal march.
The moon rose; the day broke; I still toiled onward. The sun made its appearance, a red globe surrounded by a lead-colored atmosphere; an hour later and again the heat increased.
The suffering for want of water became a torture. My lips were parched; the tongue swelled; the roof of the mouth dry as a bone, my eyes smarted, pain in the head; fever in the body. Hungry, weary, different remedies I tried to create saliva. For hours I had a stone and a piece of salt bacon in my mouth. I rushed along, but when another Fata Morgana showed me a lake in the distance, trees and cattle scattered around, the delusion became a mockery in my misery. There I gave out. Rest? No; my eyes closed, but as if roasted in a fire, they opened again. My God! I was alone; the only companion, my mule, had left me. Water. The instinct of the animal is keener than that of its master. I found the tracks; they left the path. How long I followed I know not. At last I found it, and what joy! There it stood up to its knees in a pool of water. Lukewarm, stagnated, full of thread worms, thin as a silk thread, white in color, six to ten inches long, but it was water. Down I sank on my knees, placed a handkerchief before the mouth and drank the fluid, not refreshing but relieving.
A fire of sagebrush soon boiled some water, and a strong coffee and the rest of the goose which I had shot at Deep Hole; it strengthened me up. Then a bath, and [I] was ready to resume my journey so nearly fatal to me.
Returning to the spot where hours ago I became discouraged, sick and weak, I made a resolution which has governed me in my life to the present day, "Never give up."
With determination I went on. Before evening I found a rivulet of good fresh water and camped.
Twelve days had passed since I had seen a human being. It was with a light heart that I heard a rooster crow, a dog bark, and now the sight of a house, a woman; it made me glad indeed.
The good lady after hearing my narrative insisted on my taking a good square meal, to which I did ample justice. While yet engaged with this most interesting and successful attack on the victuals placed before me, the squatter made his appearance, a very respect-demanding personality--tall, wiry in figure, dressed in his buckskin hunting suit, rifle and pistol about his person--he looked every inch like a man who could and would stand his ground. In a cordial way he bade me welcome, and after the usual "how do" conversation opened in good form. Through him I was informed that my brother had taken the left-hand road via Susan Lake, while I had followed the road to Surprise Valley, which I had just entered. The meal finished, I bought a fresh supply of necessities and advanced into the valley proper.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, April 28, 1892, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 16Never, under any circumstances, could a place be more happily named than Surprise Valley. The sterile mountains and waterless plains just left, all unsuspected before us lies a fertile oasis of about eighty miles in length and from eight to ten miles in width--surprise indeed.
The east and south side is bordered by plateaus, the mountain ridge is dimly visible; the western part is hemmed in by the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada, whose formation is so greatly different to that of the Sierra Colorado that I cannot do otherwise than to give a short description. The formation of the Sierra Colorado rises gradually from the foothills to the summit, while the Sierra Nevada forms walls of massive mountains with foothills scant to trace. Abrupt are those mountains rearing their lofty peaks heavenward, capped with snow and ice fields. Here and there clouds draw a veil over the view, while other points are brilliantly illuminated by the rays of the sun, and the ravines on the opposite side casting dark blue shadows.
They tell of long gone-by days. Rocks of the hardest of granite or porphyry during uncounted years had to yield to the influence of streams of water, which in those ages chasmed the backbone of the continent, cutting canyons hundreds and thousands of feet deep through these mountains.
The heights of these mountains are covered by dense forests, dotted here and there by rich mountain meadows. Mountain sheep, herds of deer, wolves, and many grizzly bears are the inhabitants of the great ranges.
With never-ceasing, never-resting activity, brooks and streams rush and tumble over and around stones and boulders and now entering the valley glide easily and slowly towards the center of the basin; here they empty into three different lakes of considerable dimensions, filling an area of over twenty miles long and a mile and a half broad. With all this amount of water flowing into them they never rise above their level, having a subterranean outlet.
Distributed through this valley are great numbers of hot springs. At one locality there is, within a space of ten feet, two springs--one with boiling water, the other with an icy temperature.
Settlers here take advantage of this. In hog-killing time they drive their herds of swine to these places and scald them in these springs, thereby saving much labor and time.
Surrounding these lakes are extensive meadows which yield large crops of hay, out of which the proprietors receive a good revenue. Nearer to the edge of the water the meadows change to marshes, which in consequence of the warm springs but rarely freeze in wintertime.
Swarms of wild geese and ducks make their home in these marshes. The noise of these birds when rising from the ground into the air is deafening. Sage hens, prairie chickens and cottontail rabbits are plentiful.
Midway in this valley there is a village called Cedar City; northwest of this town is the corner post of California, Oregon and Nevada.
Like other things on this earth this valley too has its faults. At periods of from two to four years it is overrun with crickets. These insects when full grown measure two inches and over in length; they are wingless and are propelled by their long, strong legs; the color is a dark brown, almost black. They come in myriads, at times covering an area of a mile and from six to twelve inches deep. Their approach is closely watched by the inhabitants and is heralded from neighbor to neighbor. All those settlers raise herds of swine which run in a half-wild state in the marshes; no sooner do the crickets appear than the herd of porkers are gathered and driven to the advancing crickets. There and then a feast begins which is unique in its way.
We witness a rush of many hundred hogs into this moving mass of crickets, we hear a grinding, crumbling, snapping of jaws, a squealing in all the different octaves of the scale, but ere a second has passed the hogs are hard to be recognized, by being covered with a living mass of insects which in return with their bites attacked the different parts of their enemies.
It is a powerful undertaking, but the hogs master it, they feed apparently without losing their appetite, they wallow and kill them by the thousands, but keep up the feast until the swarm is destroyed, then they make a break for their accustomed places nearby, for some other diet.
At times it has occurred that these insects are not checked. Then they overrun houses and farms, nothing is too tough, short of wood and metal. Of shoes, harness, clothing, hay and straw, as well as vegetables, they make a clean sweep.
No building stops them, those that they cannot move by, they climb over. No ditch or creek hinders them, millions may be drowned, still they get over, even if the dead bodies have to form a bridge. Fire or frost only will end their career.
Indians, in particular the Digger Indians, of California, relish them greatly. The insect is caught by the long legs, the body held firm with the teeth, a twist, a smack with the jaw and a swallow, and--ready for the next. The squaws also gather them and roast them in pots. The dry bodies are powdered and used as "hyas close muck a muck," something good to eat.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, May 19, 1892, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 17Indian summer--fairer days, brighter nights I could not have wished for while on such a trip. This evening I camped near a farm house; first the children, then the farmer and his brother gave me a call, and finally I was invited to the hospitality of the house.
A cheerful fire in the fireplace gave a bright light, and by and by some neighbors came in, passing an hour of conversation, then the good people before parting had prayer, and all retired.
The next morning, before resuming my journey, instructions were given to me how best to cross the mountains, "Cedar Pass," the easiest and nearest point, by which road I could be enabled to reach the summit in seven to eight hours, taking the first wagon road turning to the left. Those were the parting words. Only about two miles from the house a wagon road turned to the left according to instructions, and this I pursued, soon entering a canyon.
For awhile the wagon road was plain, although hilly and often steep. After another hour's journey, it became indistinct, branching into different tracks; after awhile nothing was left but trails. Still upward I made my way; this too became dim, and for the first time a suspicion arose of being on the wrong road.
The summit appeared to be but a few miles ahead of me, what matter where I crossed it; onward I pushed.
It was now past noon. I had reached the more elevated portion of the mountains, and the scenery and view were grand. From a position I noticed northward, not over a mile distant, but separated by a steep canyon, a lower pass; this no doubt was the Cedar Pass, and to gain this I turned at the next ridge. At the head of a creek I entered a small glen. Several deer rested in the shade of a tall fir tree. As they rose from the ground eyeing me, a prime buck stood broadside, but only for a second, and with the crack of my rifle, he rolled over--and I had a good roast.
Fresh and pure was the atmosphere; beautiful was the scenery of the mountains, spanned by a clear sky. No trace of care or necessity drove me forward, and although early in the day to stop, everything considered, I made camp. My mule doing well, and myself enjoying a delicious roast, no one could be happier than I was. Evening came, my things snugly stored underneath the fir tree I first had mentioned whose long and thickly covered branches nearly touched the ground, forming a spacious and dry shelter; how pleasingly I tucked myself into my blankets and fell asleep.
During the night I awoke. Something cold and wet fell on my face. Pulling the blankets over my head and taking a turn on the other side, soundly the sleep crept over me again. When again I awoke and raised to see around me, a shower of snow fell over me. My blankets, the whole country, was covered with fresh snow. Softly, without a breath of air, large flakes of snow fell down, thick and fast.
Too late to reflect and think of the mistake I made in stopping too soon. The mule--where was it? Gone. Where was the path on which I had come up her? Completely covered; the bushes bent down by the weight, hemmed in and held me fast.
Soon I consoled myself. What of it? I had provisions for over a week and plenty of meat. Wait; the storm will pass. It is too soon for winter to set in. Nothing near so bad as it looks at first, and it might be worse. But it kept on snowing. The second night had passed; faster fell the snow. A cold, sharp wind whizzed through the trees. Snow drifting in my shelter made it as much uncomfortable as at first it had been pleasant.
At the close of the third day the storm ceased. My prospects were now desolate--yes, desperate. Snow, nothing else in the sight, several feet deep on the level, drifts filled the ravines, gulches and cliffs. Escape, impossible at present.
The setting sun brightens the view; how it glimmered and glistened. The only few clouds floating way above me were dry and cold. With this view, hope strengthened again; it all will come right yet. With such thoughts and with full determination, "don't give up, make the best out of it," I again lay down and slept.
The night was bitter cold. In the morning I began to build a better shelter. With fir and pine limbs, a hut was reared; then the snow was packed around and over it, and a fire in the front soon warmed it up. What a comfort I did derive from a good pipe and tobacco. It cheered me up; it stimulated my nerves and consoled me. Surely I was in need of some solace.
Day after day passed. My hopes dwindled down with the disappearance of my store of victuals. Bright days and stormy weather passed; colder became the days and nights. Still I was fast and snowbound.
Snow five feet and more; my eatables gone; the pangs of hunger began to make me look around to shoot any living creature coming in sight.
Fortunately, there was more than plenty of wood to keep a good fire, but my condition became melancholic; the wind sharp and chilly passing through the timber, the wailing and harsh squeaking of the trees rubbing against one another had a most discouraging effect upon me.
For days I became disheartened, and my thoughts wandered back to those happy days of childhood, to the days of honorable toil. Now I was about to perish! No! There were crows, some owls, half-staved wolves, and pine needles to make a tea. In all, I traced a sign of providence that as long as I kept up my hope and energy, all would be overcome.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, June 2, 1892, page 4
The next issue of the New Jersey Courier survives, but does not contain Pioneer Sketch No. 18.
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 19 [sic]Another spell of delightful weather gave me new hopes again. The snow melted, and in particular on the south side of the mountains. In those localities the green grass made its reappearance and the warmer temperature attracted deer; with them around me short rations again belonged to the past. Otherwise the snow settled and became compact, a scale of thin ice formed over it and thus became strong enough to bear my weight.
Incidents and Accidents.
At this day I attempted to reach the valley. It proved to be impossible. The canyon in which I had come upward was filled with snow from twenty to forty feet deep, the danger of breaking through and sinking in, followed by freezing to death, was rather a disagreeable sensation; life, even under such trying conditions, was too sweet.
Often in my loneliness I held long conversations with myself, only to hear the sound of my voice. Worst of all, my solace, tobacco, gave out, so I fund a pastime to manufacture this article, by gathering willow bushes [and] removing the outer green bark; under this is the white sap bark, this after drying by the fire became quite a luxury to me.
My life up here, so far removed from any intercourse with fellow man, was not without accidents. The increasing cold weather compelled me to keep a very large fire day and night, drying the pine boughs out of which my shanty had been built. One stormy night the sparks had blown among them, and in a moment it was set afire. Fortunately, the snow covering the same allowed but slow progress; it made me move my articles in [a] great hurry. A most uncomfortable night followed, but nothing daunted, the next day I rebuilt a better mountain home.
With the increase of winter deer failed to reach those high latitudes, seeking warmer localities in lower regions. Many [a] crow, owl or even a half-starved wolf wandered into my kettle to serve as a meal, often too I only had to do without it, becoming reduced in flesh and strength. Another day I endeavored to reach the valley and, selecting another not-used ridge which had been swept by the wind, the north side of this ridge was a very steep incline; here the snow had formed tremendous drifts and overhanging combs, invisible to me. I stepped on such an edge and before I knew what happened I went down at a breakneck seed, flat on my back with the feet steering the course. Losing my balance, the motion turned into somersaults. Lucky enough the journey came to an end; but I had lost the rifle, this never would do, and with difficulty I made the way back and there it lay in the snow. Badly knocked and bruised, I was considering my position when I became aware of a herd of "bighorns" sunning themselves upon a high cliff. It was a long shot, and a true aim could not be taken; however, I shot. The herd started in haste and passing close to me I let them have the second barrel, crippling one by chance, their flight taking them across a canyon filled with snow, who knows how deep. I followed them until the crust of ice broke and down I settled, hip deep I sank, then I leaned over on my breast clawing the ice with my fingers. There I hung. Beneath me it was soft snow, and the harder I worked the deeper I sank. Perspiration flowed from my forehead, but I was calm. Slowly I packed the snow with one foot then with the other, finally it became harder, inch by inch the rescue proceeded until I was out of danger. Then in a lying position I worked across, but too late--the animals just disappeared over the next mountain and I was too much exhausted to follow.
The evening shadows crept over the scene; my feet had lost all sense of feeling, my boots were frozen stiff and filled with snow; to get them off I had to split them open with my knife, finding my feet badly frosted, parts of skin and flesh sticking to the leather. By hard rubbing with snow the circulation of the blood was restored; then, and by much exertion I kindled a fire. This night was the most fearful one experienced.
By daylight, half chilled to death, I resumed my trip, not for the valley, but for my shanty. It was a tedious route never to be forgotten, the suffering and hunger made me go on very slowly, but at the end of the day my house was reached.
Weeks passed in which I had given myself up for lost, pained, hungry, and sick as I was; the inability of getting sufficient firewood made me feel my desolation more than ever. My strong constitution overcame this at last. Again, I moved about.
One evening I had worked my way to a pass which I had suspected to be Cedar Pass. Here under a large juniper tree, near a trail where deer had passed to and fro, I took my stand, but instead of game I spied a man wading through the snow. This excited me so much that my actions became more like a wild man than a sane one. My shouting must have been extraordinary, for the man refused to approach me. At last I became quiet, and we met. My first question was to ask for something to eat, and as he had a good supply of biscuits, I had a bonanza which he willingly sacrificed to relieve my ravenous hunger. We started a fire and made camp, then I learned that this was the last night of the year 1871. I had a great deal to say and to tell, and much to learn through him. We kept up our conversation until a very late hour; thinking it midnight we wished each other a happy New Year, fixed up the fire so as to last the balance of the night and fell asleep. Next morning, he returned whence he came, finding it impossible to get across the summit, promising to return as soon as possible with nourishment for me, which he did after a month. I was too exhausted to wander as far as he had and so I turned towards my shanty, accustomed to such life.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, June 16, 1892, page 1
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 20Stormy weather and delightful days passed over me; just so, hope and despair entered my heart. All my efforts were directed to make it possible to reach Surprise Valley.
Through California to Oregon.
Out of limbs I constructed a sort of a sleigh. Now it was finished, and the practical test would prove success or failure. Down I rushed over ravines and canyons, places which I never dared to approach before, the snow carried me. Up on the other incline I "tracked" my sleigh until at last in the latter part of January I had accomplished my long-desired aim.
The people had forgotten me, but recognized me when I spoke to them, extending their hospitality with readiness. A week of rest, a thorough cleaning of my garments restored me to some extent, then I went out to look for my animal. When the snow began to fall, with the instinct of the beast it traveled downward, and now after the lapse of three months I found it among a small band of horses and mules in a canyon. Plenty of shelter and sufficient grass had enabled them to rough through winter in better style than I had.
My desire to find employment was also gratified. I accepted a contract of making fence rails. The price named was so high (six dollars per hundred), and not desiring another attempt at solitary life, I began to make preparations next morning.
The grove of pines in which I commenced operations was in a narrow deep canyon; so high were the walls and so nearly perpendicular that during the whole day the sun could be seen only for an hour, from two to three o'clock.
My work proceeded well. I received new orders; another man came to follow my example. We made money and now indulged in good, wholesome nourishment, the best the store could furnish.
At the end of April my contracts were filled, I had saved enough money to purchase an additional horse, double harness, a light wagon and a good outfit, having money left to resume my interrupted journey.
The second week in May I proceeded on my trip in an improved style, and this time I looked sharp so as not to miss the correct road. Seated in my wagon I had good reasons to be pleased and thankful. Arriving at the summit a grand panorama spread before me. Around the towering mountains, covered still with ice and snow, several of them over which I had searched for food and relief, in other directions meadows or fir timbers extending way down to the open valley, westward Goose Lake in California, reflecting the rays of the sun, beyond its wide expanse, prairies or wooded lands, at the horizon the outlines of Mount Shasta appeared more a cloud than a mountain; its glistening snow peak reared way above the clouds.
My first camp was at the foot of the mountains in Goose Lake Valley. I was now in California. Starting again by sunrise I followed for miles a well-beaten road, then crossing different parts of the Sierra, I passed over a district filled up with boulders, fragments of a turned-over mountain, rocks of all sizes, too many obstructions for my advance. At times I had to lift the wagon so as to pass them, other times I had to build up steps so as to get over the largest boulders, a rough road indeed. At a nearly impassable place the forewheel became fastened and ere I could avoid an accident, it was shattered, dished. Resolutely I dropped the fore axle, fastened the tongue to the hounds of the hind axle, shortened the wagon box with an ax; in less than two hours I had remodeled my wagon to a two-wheeled vehicle, which afterward answered my purpose far better than a wagon.
Two days I traveled northward before I rounded the head of Goose Lake. Here I overtook a detachment of United States Cavalry en route for Fort Klamath, Oregon. The soldiers in camp, hunting or on duty, passed many a joke concerning my "go cart," as they called it.
Two days again I met no human being, then a hunting party of Indians came up inviting me to join them, but fearing treachery I ordered them away at once and substantiated my words by placing the rifle over my lap.
Coming to Link River, the connection of Upper and Lower Klamath Lake, Oregon, I had to cross on a ferry. The people there had been fishing and had captured a great quantity of most excellent white fish, fully as large as a Delaware shad.
This part of Oregon is so much elevated that the seasons for agriculture purposes are very short, the winters severe and long. The meadows around this lake are very extensive and furnish good pasture and any amount of hay for thousands of cattle and horses.
In entering the timber regions again, the innumerable blackflies, of sizes to over one inch in length, and with a biting apparatus which would draw blood at every nip, made traveling a difficulty.
Then I entered one of the many lava beds. This peculiar one was known as "Devil's Garden." The rocky nature caused one to drive very slowly. No trees or grass grows in this garden. Yesterday the flies gave torture; today in this garden of His Majesty, the Devil, the mosquitoes belabored me and the animals unmercifully.
Finally I struck prairie again, a large, wide valley spread before me, a level and excellent natural wagon road gave me the chance to try the speed of my span, until the setting sun reminded me of looking up a resting place for the night.
(To Be Continued.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, July 14, 1892, page 1
There is no Pioneer Sketch No. 21.
PIONEER SKETCH--NO. 22 [sic]The sun was sinking; miles ahead of me a line of willow bushes indicated a creek; there I should make a halt for the night. Trotting onward and now rounding a tableland, imagine my surprise when I drove direct into a camp of Indians, their tepees numbering more than a dozen. On a small rise overlooking the whole of the surrounding was located the wigwam of the chief.
The Last Two Hundred Miles.
For a moment I halted, my decision had to be made at once; to go on would not prevent them from finding me if they wanted to do so; better so show boldness than fear. Slowly I passed the last wigwam, stopped the team, unharnessed the animals and made preparations for my supper. I had some prairie chickens which I had killed en route, stewed dried apples, made bead and coffee.
My heart was not at ease, but it would never do to show it to my neighbors. While eating my meal two children, between the age of three and five years, approached me, watching, with wistful eyes, the disappearance of the meal. At last I gave them each on a piece of bread some of the stewed apples, and they left. Not long after a young squaw brought an armful of dry wood, which she laid down. No words passed, I desiring no new acquaintances, still I handed her the dried fruit and made a motion to go, telling her in jargon, "clatterwa," meaning "go," and she "clatterwaed."
My animals were securely fastened to the wheels of the cart, my blankets spread underneath the body of the cart, rifle and revolver alongside of me. I turned in, but not to sleep. Eyes and ears were vigilant all night, but nothing disturbed me.
Bright and early the next morning, before the birds began to chirp, I was up and on the road again. After hours of driving I allowed the horses to satisfy their hunger, and I strengthened myself with something to eat. That afternoon I passed the Applegate Indian Reservation, where I was told that I had passed a night among the Modoc Indians.
From here the country became more settled, then nearing the Cascade Range the road became rolling. The first town I reached was Ashland, Oregon. Mount Shasta lay now due east [sic] from here. This night in camp I received a visitor, seated on a very fine horse, no saddle or bridle, blanket or eatables. All this combined I knew he had stolen the horse, and knowing the danger of being found in company with a horse thief, I gave him to eat both supper and breakfast. I started next morning to get rid of him. I drove to Jacksonville and as he had no business there he rode on, wishing to fall in with me again beyond it, but I changed my route and missed him, much relieved.
I crossed the Rogue River, entered the Willamette Valley near Roseburg, visited a friend, the same now a Congressman. Next morning, I drove into the Umpqua Valley. The spring flood yet swelled the river; the waters were deep and swift. There was no bridge or ferry, and as people thought I could ford it I went into the stream. The animals, soon lifted by the water, had to swim, the cart to float; a moment later the current upset us, spilling the contents and myself into the river.
Being a fair swimmer, I headed the horses and turned them toward shore; assisted by the current we drifted on and landed. With the assistance of a boat I saved a few articles, but my rifle, money, ax and victuals were lost for the present. Returning to Roseburg my friend helped me by the loan of some money to enable me to purchase a new outfit. A week later I joined my brother at the gold mines in the black sand district in Randolph; this is located a mile from the Pacific Ocean.
Four weeks later I returned to Roseburg, paid my friend, and as the water of the Umpqua had fallen to a lower mark, my attempt to find the rifle was successful. Such were the trials and difficulties of former-day travelers. Railroads have made a journey a pleasure, but I think it has taken all romance and spice out of a trip like I have had; it also needs nothing but a few dollars to pay for the ticket. Self-reliance, will, manly quality, has become a secondary consideration. I prefer the old way to find sport, even if it is a little rough.
(The End.)Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, July 21, 1892, page 4
Sport, My Dog.So many of our townsmen and county people are deeply interested in "dog" knowledge, that I feel as if I could add something by telling a story of a dog.
It is natural that when a person becomes the owner of a dog, he will speak of all the good points in his acquisition; after so many valuable good traits are named, the dog gets ashamed of his greatness, hardly able to look straight into the eyes of the listener.
I was living in Detroit; a good friend made me a present of what he called a good hunting dog, for which he had no use, as he said, while I frequently would take the steamer to the flats of Lake St. Clair, or now and then visited friends in Port Huron or relatives in St. Clair, hunting ducks, pigeons or wild turkey; with this acquisition my outfit was complete. Hunting I had to go. I invited some friends, also great Nimrods; my brother Richard from Port Huron and two of his friends came also. Rendezvous at Uncle M. Auntie, a good-hearted soul, would do anything to please us; she even got up an hour earlier to have our breakfast ready before daylight.
This over we got ready for a day's gunning. Just getting ready to leave the room when, bang! Great heaven! One of the fellows had discharged his fowling piece accidentally, making a great hole in the ceiling.
Uncle, who had yet slept soundly, came in a hurry, it was a good thing he wore only one garment; his words sounded something like bad names, but he looked so comical that we burst out laughing and rushed out, followed by his best wishes to shoot one another and not return.
Commencing our tramp from the nearest woods, we separated, forming a line about a hundred yards apart. At once my dog showed unmistakable signs of game; barking, he charged into the thick underbrush. "Purr, purr," away went a flock of turkeys, and so well did Sport scatter them that none could get a shot. He finally returned and received a good thrashing. For awhile he kept close to me. Again he broke, jumping two deer. Some other hunter, well acquainted with the runways, got his work in before we came to where the shot fell; hunter and dog were gone. Sport lay there panting, pleased to see us.
From now until late in the afternoon we marched on but failed to see any more game. Hungry, weary, disappointed we arrived at Uncle M.'s house. His temper had cooled down and when I made him a present of Sport he became nearly as good as Auntie's pumpkin pies.
Early next morning we departed for our respective homes, but not before noticing the dog's face and nose covered with peculiar color, much resembling the yolk of eggs.
Somehow or other, a few days later, Sport's pantaloons were badly damaged by shot. Uncle claimed in trying to shoot a rabbit he missed the mark. From that day all the good qualities as a good hunting dog were lost in Sport. The pointing of a gun at him would send him howling in the direction his nose was pointing.
A few weeks later, Brother R. again paid a visit to Uncle, and when he left he was requested to take Sport with him. Everything went well as long as he was fastened to a line. Beyond St. Clair and in the open country, he was let loose. Near a small farm Brother's attention was called to a great commotion among the fowl. It was Sport having a great time in catching one after the other, with a few shakes dropping it dead to the ground, ready for another victim.
The report of a gun made him clear the field, his mouth full of feathers.
Under such circumstances my brother left the road to find a hiding place in the forest. Not long after, two men, one with a gun, passed, in rather bad humor. Near Port Huron Sport came up, followed by an old lady with the dead body of a yellow hen; he paid for the damage and departed in peace. Anyone would think Sport had had fun enough for one day, but who knows what the next hour will bring.
My brother was living with Mr. H., a gentleman in Port Huron; he wished to own the dog, and the property passed into his hands.
During this night Sport was going to stay in the house as a guard. Next morning everybody was wondering where all the white rags came from.
The mystery was soon explained. Mrs. H. had left part of her clothes in the sitting room, Sport found them and enjoyed himself by making rags out of them.
This was too much; a few minutes later he was fastened to a tree, and a ball ended his existence.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, August 18, 1892, page 4
A Mountain Lion Hunt.The friendly reader who has followed me on my different trips and adventures will kindly follow me in this sketch to the Coast Range of Oregon.
PIONEER SKETCH BY M.G.P.
The locality is and has been known as "Double Prairie"; this name is easy to account for, there being a large mountain prairie divided by a narrow strip of timber.
In a corner formed by the tall pine trees and a slight rise, we find a small log cabin, a spring house, in which the milk of the herd of cows grazing on the juicy grass and clover of the prairie is kept for the manufacture of butter and cheese; quite a number of hogs and a great quantity of fowl, this adding to the pleasant scenery a token of plenty.
Two men, one of them your correspondent, the other one a Swiss, Casper D., who kept a dairy here. At the time we notice them they are in search of something. Both carry rifles. Now and then they enter the woods but return apparently disappointed.
They have left the main prairie, gone through several strips of timber and openings, and now enter another prairie. At the lower edge they notice some object, and by examining the same it proves to be the carcass of a cow, which lately has calved. The calf is missing. The left shoulder of the dead cow has been devoured by the great enemy of the stock raisers--the mountain lion or panther has had a meal here, and he will return the next night; it is, therefore, best not to disturb his rest, but to get ready for a reception. Both men return to the cabin; there P. mounts a horse and rides to the nearest neighbor, Mr. L., three miles distant. After relating the occurrence, Mr. L. and son, accompanied by two savage-looking bloodhounds, return with P. to await the early dawn and draw some plan of possible action.
The day has now ended, the cows are milked and have been turned out of the yard (called corral), they have filled up with the choice food and are selecting a resting place for the night. In the distant corners of the prairie deer are stepping out of the woods. A shot and the fleet animals disappear, save one which lies on the ground struggling in its death agony. A ham is cut out for supper for the men; the rest is left for the dogs to have their share and fill. By this time it is dark, the cabin door is open, a bright firelight shows the men in conversation, spinning hunting yarns; finally, they retire, lying on the floor wherever they find a soft plank. All is quiet, only the occasional taps of a cow bell give signs of life.
The night is passing, the morning star is rising, a faint streak of light becomes visible in the eastern horizon, the canyons are shut out from sight by heavy fog, but over us extends the clear sky.
The fire is rekindled, and the cows are driven to the corral. Breakfast over, Casper attends to the milking, this time without the help of P., who goes with the two L.s, followed by the dogs. On the way the elder L. advises P. not to do the first shooting for he (P.) is young in years and experience, the game is dangerous and if wounded may harm or kill the dogs or even a man. P. don't say much to this proposition; he carries a rifle true and worthy to be the companion of a hunter. P. has clear and sharp eyes and steady nerves. L. only claims the first shot to be entitled to the skin. P.'s mind is fixed to get the first shot if possible.
The sun is up, the prairie lies before us, millions of drops of dew glisten in the bright light of the glorious sun. The grouse hums his melancholy tune from his high position, the woodpecker hammers industriously against the trees in search of worms, and the sound echoes far and near; here and there sails a buzzard high up in the azure sky.
There lies the dead cow, but no game in sight; nevertheless, the lion had been there, made a good meal and covered the fresh cutting by scratching grass and rubbish over it.
As the hunters approached he left in wide springs, whenever he touched the ground the dew is knocked from the grass. The dogs are on the track, and there is no more getting away until the game is treed. Away they go now into the woods, they are getting loud.
As fast as obstructions will allow them they follow. Before a tall fir stump, perhaps 20 feet high, they stand; the lion must have taken refuge in the hollow at the top.
One of them picks up sticks and roots to throw into the hollow, while the others watch for the game.
The dogs are circling, they are off again. The lion had jumped on the stump for a blind, and with a long leap had sprung off; the pursuers are gone over the ridge and were out of hearing.
The L.'s are ahead of me; shod with moccasins, the briers have cut my feet badly in the chase, so I gave up my chance as lost.
Meantime the mountain lion had turned; the dogs become louder and louder; the chase comes nearer.
There, not 100 feet before me, the lion takes the tree. I cannot see the beast; it lies on the other side of the tree trunk, stretched upon a heavy limb.
L. and son return. They stand no further from the tree than I do, but the animal is hidden by dense foliage. The situation does not seem to please the lion; he begins to become restless; in looking around the tree a part of his eye becomes visible to me--that large eye; what a target to aim at. Up goes my rifle; L. cried, "Don't shoot," but too late. My rifle breaks the silence, a crashing of limbs, and then by heavy fall to the ground. The dogs spring at it, but the lion is dead; the ball had entered eye, passed through the brain and out of the opposite ear. Will you doubt that I was proud of my shot? L. had not much praise for it, for I had acted carelessly. I did not say much, but gave him the skin, measuring 8 feet from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. He brightened up and praised my rifle, that was enough for me.
Maximillian Gustavus Pohl, New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, September 8, 1892, page 1
Our thanks are due M. G. Pohl for some fine watermelons.
"Brevities," New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, August 27, 1896, page 3
M. G. Pohl, formerly of this place, is now an optician in an Oregon town.
"Personal," New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, January 16, 1902, page 3
The Democrat says that Miss Martha Pohl, daughter of M. G. Pohl, a former resident here, was recently married to a Mr. Masten at Seattle, Wash.
"Personal," New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, March 20, 1902, page 3
Richard Pohl of New York, son of Max G. Pohl, who lived here a number of years, was in town yesterday. He says his father is well and hearty, living on the coast of Oregon in Coos County. He is now a practicing optician and last summer as fruit inspector for his county.
"Personal," New Jersey Courier, Toms River, New Jersey, February 25, 1909, page 5
POHL--At Highland Park, on February 5, 1929, Mary F., wife of Maxmillian [sic] Pohl.
Relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral from the residence of her daughter, Mrs. William Thatcher, 116 Harper Place, Highland Park, Thursday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock.