Lake County History, Chapter 120: The Grizzly Bear

After killing calves and cattle, the farmer decided they must kill the offending animal, one of the many Grizzlies that hunted Lake County at the time. He set a trap and waited. Next morning, when the Grizzly sprung the trap, which fired a shotgun blast, except for bloodstains, there was no sign of the bear. Soon, following the blood, they came upon the bear.

“My father told me what happened next. ‘We both shot at the bear again with our musket-loading rifles. At this, the bear reared up on its hind legs and made for us. We dropped our guns and ran for dear life. The bear was gaining, and we had good reason to run even faster. Before long, seeing the bear was winning, we climbed the nearest tree.  The wounded bear came to our tree and stalked us with blood in its eye and jaws open for business. Lucky for us, the bear was badly wounded. Otherwise, he would have climbed the tree easy. That would have been the end of Dan and me. He was too crippled by our second shot and too sick to climb the tree. The dying bear turned away at last and went crashing through the brush and down to the creek for water. After a while, giving the bear plenty of time to make up its mind, we took off for home.’”

“Next day, we saw buzzards circling over the spot where I believed the bear was gone. I was pretty sure, by this time, that bear was a goner. We went back out, our guns at the ready. When we got to the creek, what we found was a dead bear and two Grizzly cubs.”

“With the help of the local Indians, my father captured the cubs. In that day, Grizzlies were not only dangerous predators, there were thousands of them. Now that the mother bear was dead, its cubs were certain to perish. My father gave the hungry cubs milk, which they lapped up like dogs. The cubs soon learned to play in the yard with the smaller children like puppies.”

“After a few months, as the cubs grew larger, Father could see they had become dangerous for his small children. Father made a two-wheeled wooden cart with a cage on top. He decided to sell the bears in Marysville forty miles away. It was a two-day journey, so they camped that night, spread their blankets on the ground near the pack mules and near the cubs, planning to reach Marysville in the morning.”

“During the night, the cubs set up a mournful whining and howling. Father told my brother, ‘Dan, we’d better take the mules and get out of here. The first thing we know, those cubs will draw more Grizzlies. Let’s get out fast, or we will be surrounded by Grizzly bears.’ They moved in a hurry, packing up and getting out of there fast. The bear cubs were making a pitiful mourning sound, but Father planned to return for the bears the next morning. They went back for their bears, hitched the mules to the wagon, and went on to Marysville, where he sold the bears for a fortune of $150.”

Next episode; Farm Life for the Pioneers


To enjoy and learn more about Author Gene Paleno’s books

visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com/

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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