Bears – Wolves – Panthers 1775

What a contrast in viewing wild animals in 200 years.

This past month [August / September 1975] a bear family has provided entertainment and some trepidation for a family with apple trees north of here. Of course the bears do not visit the trees in the open field but pass them for a tree within 40 yards of the living room window. The tree is now  thoroughly bear-pruned of good and poor branches alike.

There is the other side.  One keeps a watchful eye in going to the garden and on the household pits. This is both day and night as the visits of the bears occur any time. Officials are reluctant to attempt capturing the animals to remove them to higher ground because of recent deer tragedies. One man said he’d shoot any bear he saw as they have wrecked his honey business for the year.

Disaster struck this bear family as one cub was killed on the Northway. They will doubtless meet death with the trigger happy sports who• are waiting for the season to open — and it won’t be for the excuse of killing for food.

Two hundred years ago the people of Skenesborough would not be enjoying the antics of bears or other wild animals. Their domestic animals had to be securely penned to be safe from the marauders coming out of the forests. A bear often seized a lamb and ran off with it.

Wolves were a menace.  Mrs. Tryphena Wright of Northeast Skenesborough kept her eight sheep locked in a tree stump at night. But one night the wolves gained entrance, killed all eight and scattered parts of the bodies around the clearing and nearby woods.

Panthers also were a source of terror. If you’ve ever heard their screech, you know the feeling of having your hair stand on end. These animals were common in the woods around Skenesborough. Not man but the domestic animals were their prey, as witnessed by the ancestors of the late Wheaton Bosworth as they fled from the animal stalking their team.

Knowing the depredations of these wild animals, one can understand the last round-up of wolves in Kingsbury which sent the survivors to the hills of Dresden.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – September 11 1975

From the first Town Record Book 1805

In 1805 the town evidently had troubles with animals running loose. By-laws established that stallion colts, one year or older, should not run at large under penalty of $2; that rams should not run at large under penalty of $2; that hogs, pigs and sows should not run at large under penalty of 50 cents. If anyone should catch the animals that were running at large, they were authorized, if no one claimed them within six days, to put them in the pound.
Horses, sheep and geese should not be free commoners. If they did any damage, they could also be confined to the pound, whether the fence was lawful or unlawful. Roaming animals were a problem and many laws had to do with them or fences to detain. At this same 4 April, I783, meeting a description of a fence was given. All fences should be four feet six inches high made of good stuff and well laid. No hole from the earth three feet upward should be more than six inches and from that to the top should not exceed 12 inches. It would be deemed unlawful to impound any creature which was deemed a commoner unless the field in which such creature be enclosed with a fence of the above dimensions.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – October 5, 1978

N.Y. State Agricultural Society, Vol. 1848 & 1849

From the story of Tryphena Wright and the sheep she kept at night in a hollowed tree, it is known that Whitehall early settlers raised sheep. One learned article on sheep declared that it was profitable to raise 100 animals on 100 acres. It would take twelve tons of hay to keep 100 or 3 percent of their weight per day. In 1845 -Washington County lead the state in the amount of wool produced. The number of sheep was 190,311 and the number per acre 64.
The Merino and Saxon strains of sheep were introduced into the county in the 1820’s and the production rose. In Whitehall in 1825 there were 6125, ninth in the county; in 1825, there were 9966, eleventh in the county; in 1845 there were 13,791, ninth in the county.
There were enemies of sheep. In 1786 a wolf tax was levied. For proof of their destruction the collector had to see the head of the wolf and then he cut off the ears so that a bounty could not be collected again. Foxes were the next in killing, especially, young lambs. The third was dogs. At this time the practice’ of killing any dog that was molesting sheep was begun. The last great wolf hunt occurred in the Kingsbury in 1801. Foxes were prevalent in Putnam.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – March 17, 1988

Gleaning from Whitehall Chronicle in 1874

In the mid and later 1800s there were horse and stock farms around the village of Whitehall. There were many valuable horses owned and a stock breeding business. Some horses were owned by the farmers; others were pastured for out of town owners. A visit was made to George H. Buel’s farm (Austin) and the W.B. Woodward farm across the road. Mr. Buel owned George Barney, a bright blond with a black mane and tail of Morgan ancestry. His descendants were of the same color and grace of motion. Mr. Buel also owned Barney Henry, a black stallion of ancestry from Ethan Allen Jr. and Black Hawk. George Ingall’s pet, an old grey gelding was stabled at the Buel farm. Across the road was W.B. Woodward’s farm, known as the Bascom farm. This was a horse breeding farm. He stalled Ethan Allan Jr., Jack Frost, Francis E. Fish’s two year old filly and Mish Collins’ black colt. Mr. Woodward wintered horses from as far away as Troy, Saratoga, Brattleboro, and Albany. A common saying at this time was “All we need is a track to initiate the movement (racing).

In 1874 on Poultney Street there was a pair of grey mares owned by Mike Nichols, three year olds. These were of Banner stock, one of which showed great promise. Frank Douglas on the Gibson farm had a handsome bay team, four year olds.One was a Hamiltonian colt. There was also a two year old Ethan Allen Jr. which
showed promise.Sheep: Sheep were at one time very important in Washington County and were on Whitehall farms. Perhaps this shows why they disappeared. In 1874 Jerry Brown and Robert Mytoll had flocks of sheep. One night dogs killed eighteen. They must have been large dogs and savage, for the sheep were torn and some had the hides almost torn off. The dogs had bitten at the head and torn the hide off. At the same time George S. Griswold at South Bay had three killed, one with an especially long fine wool. Jerry Brown had 200 acres of land valuable for sheep raising and Robert Mytoll 75-100 acres. They said they were getting rid of all their sheep and would not raise any more.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – July 7, 1988

Some Horses in Whitehall In 1874

Interest in horses has increased lately in Whitehall as well, as in other parts of the country. An interesting TV program that has attracted many is called The American Horse and Horseman and appeals to the owners of Whitehall’s quarter horse, standard breed Morgan and App but in Whitehall 100 years ago the Morgan breed held the
leadership. These horses seemed to be owned by Whitehall’s business men. On the Bascom farm one mile south of the village was kept a famous horse Ethan Allen Jr., owned by S.B. Woodard. This horse and his line furnished many of the horses in this area.

His genealogy started with Justin Morgan, that tough versatile animal brought to Randolph., Vt., in 1795 from Springfield, Mass. an “unbroken two year old runt.’’ From
him in line was Sherman bred in Lyndon. Vt., and noted for his endurance and docility; Black Hawk. Sherman’s greatest son born in Essex county; Ethan Allen born in 1849 in Ticonderoga to become the fastest trotter in the world and from whom every Morgan living today can be traced (his mother was owned by F. A. Leland, an itinerant peddler through Hague, Schroon Lake and Whitehall); and Ethan Allen Jr. whom W. H. Cook of Ticonderoga raised.

Mr. Bascom in 1874 was raising at least seven colts. All sired by Ethan Allen. Jr. Across the road was George H. Buel brother of Julio Buel of fishing tackle fame and
noted in his own right as a good farmer. He was one of the sheep raisers of the town. He was keeping horses owned by W. F. Bascom, an Insurance man in the village and some of his own.

H. C. Hall in the Manville Scribner & Co. lumber business owned a driving horse of the Lambert line. He is noted in the directory as a “Horseman”.
E. W. Hall owned a sorrel horse, a trotter “Mystery”, a matched pair of family horses, and a tandem team of the Ethan Allen stock. He was a slate manufacturer, a drug
store owner and owner of the Hall Mansion on West Mountain. George A. Hall a hardware merchant owned a matched sorrel team with white faces
and white legs of the Black Hawk stock.

The Honorable F. E. Davis, a dealer in all kinds of lumber, had a span of matched horses, very fast travelers.A. Martin, a village trustee and dealer in lumber in the steam mill on the east side of the lake, owned a span of English draft horses.

N. Collins, a milkman and farmer, had a well matched roan team.

Joseph Arquette, who owned a meat market, drove a fast trotter while John Brett, a feed store proprietor, had two trotters of the Black Hawk line. Supervisor George Brett and B. H. Baldwin drove trotters.

William Pardo, a barber, had a gelding of the Columbus stock. The farmers Francis Fish, Warren McFarren, Frank Douglass, George and Frank Bartholomew owned fine
colts of the Ethan Allen stock.

Hannibal Allen, town clerk and owner of a hardware store, went to the Hambleton man blood which was an out breeding of the Morgan Line not now allowed. David
Bartholomew of the Yule Hotel owned one of this line. George Griswold in the tin ware business and H. G. Burleigh of the transportation line had trotters of the Lambert stock.

Dr. Holcomb’s horse was not listed as to line but he always had a good horse to be able to attend to the sick at a distance Whitehall does not have any monuments to horses as does Crown Point. A 12 foot statue in the village square as erected to honor Pink, Col. John Hammond’s horse which was in 88 skirmishes and 34 battles of the Civil War. He descended from the Black Hawk line. Another statue is at Penfield Museum for Billy, wounded at Gettysburg and owned by Col. James A. Penfield. He was a grandson of Black Hawk.

An interesting item for horse lovers, or not, is that Ethan Allen was taken by his later owner to Rhode Island and from there to a western ranch where he made a contribution to the quarter horse breed. The American saddle horse is also indebted to the Morgan as is the Walking Horse.

Early newspaper items tell of the trotting races on the ice, road racing and ownership of fine horse flesh in Whitehall. Mr. Wilkins said ‘Our town is famous for its
handsome ladies, its fine looking, genial, gallant men and for its gallant stock particularly that noble animal, the horse.”

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – December 26, 1974