I have been collecting local history for almost 30 years, which means I have spent a lot of time with my nose in old newspapers, whether paper, microfilm, or online.

Anytime I found a good animal story, I would stash it away. I always knew I’d find a good place to share them someday.black bear

Here’s a few I thought you would enjoy:

● Delivery Horse Loved Funeral Processions — Tom was a delivery horse for Scott Brothers General Store in Pacific, Mo., in 1914. His normal mundane life consisted of pulling Roy Scott’s delivery wagon as Roy went about town delivering groceries and other merchandise to his customers.

As a storekeeper in a small town, Roy’s social obligations included attending funerals. On those occasions, Tom got to pull a carriage instead of his usual delivery cart. Tom liked the pomp and circumstance involved in being part of a funeral procession. In fact, you could say he loved funeral processions.

One Friday in 1914, Roy was making deliveries as usual. While he was occupied with carrying the merchandise into his customer’s home, chatting with the customer, and collecting payment, Tom spotted a funeral procession. He forgot all about Roy. It didn’t bother him in the least that he was pulling a plain delivery wagon instead of the dress buggy. Tom took off!

He galloped up Front Street to join the procession, apparently thinking he was being cheated out of his place in line. Before Roy could catch up with him, Tom went to the front of the procession and came to a stop so close to the hearse that some damage was incurred. (Pacific Transcript)

● Five-Foot Wolf Ignores Approaching Hunters in 1928 — In Washington County, Mo., William Anderson’s dog came home with his throat badly cut. The suffering animal had to be killed.

Believing the dog’s injury to have been caused by a large timber wolf, William Anderson and his friend, Fred Collins, loaded their shotguns the following morning and went in search of the culprit. They soon heard a cow bawling and soon discovered it was being attacked by a timber wolf.

The wolf was so intent on having beefsteak for dinner that he didn’t notice the approaching hunters until they were within 40 steps. When the wolf turned and raised its head, Collins fired and the wolf dropped. The wolf measured five feet from nose to tail.

It is an interesting coincident that two men by the same names robbed the Bank of Union in 1903, shot a Pinkerton detective, led officers on two nationwide manhunts across several states, and were eventually hanged in Union in 1905. (Sullivan News)collared_gray_wolf_04-01-13

● Roguish Sow Takes Town by Storm — A roguish sow left a farm one night in 1927 and took Stanton, Mo., by storm. The excitement almost equaled that in Kansas a year ago when an elephant went on a rampage.

Several men turned out and were finally able to corral the out-of-control domestic animal, but not before she had managed to turn over several backyard chicken coops. (Sullivan News)

● Walked About the Countryside with a Black Bear — A black bear and his human companion shuffled through Franklin County in 1881. The man was offering the bear for sale for $200. There were no takers because no one wanted to leave hearth and home and wander about the countryside to earn a meagre living by showing the bear.

Area dogs gave the pair a noisy welcome but stayed their distance. Horses went snorting and shying past, but the bear was quite a sensation to the little folks. (Franklin County Tribune)

● Boys Thought They had Killed a Wildcat — Leroy Sohn, 16, and Raymond Wells, 15, went hunting in Johnson’s Bottom and shot what they believed to be a wildcat. It was a tawny gray-and-black  female, weighing about 20 pounds. It was not a bobcat.

A beagle had led the boys on the cat chase. The dog trailed the cat to a small cave where she had been dining on a rabbit. She quickly climbed a nearby tree, but the boys took aim and brought her down.

Vernon Seiler, who was the wildlife agent, determined that it was a house cat that had been living in the wild and had grown huge for its species. The dead cat’s carcass was displayed in the local newspaper office. (St. Clair Chronicle)


All of my life I have been under the misconception that it was legal to kill snakes in Missouri, whether poisonous or harmless. I made this assumption because I have seen so many people do it over the years.

However, Lisa Richter, who is a naturalist for the Missouri Department of Conservation (and who enjoys reading River Hills Traveler), emailed to let me know it is against Missouri’s Wildlife code to kill snakes in Missouri.

She was glad to see I had mentioned in the January issue that River Hills Traveler does not promote keeping wildlife for pets. I appreciate Richter taking the time to help me clear this up.

Richter explained that few Missourians realize all snakes native to our state are protected. The Wildlife Code of Missouri treats snakes, lizards, and most turtles as non-game. This means that there is no open season on these animals, and it is unlawful to kill them.

There is a realistic exception; however, when a venomous snake is in close association with people, which could result in someone being bitten.

We hope that more people realize that snakes are interesting, valuable, and, for the most part, harmless. More information can be found on the www.mdc.mo.gov website.

By Sue Blesi

(Sue Blesi can be reached at franklincountyhistory@msn.com.)