Jacob Shepard, Israel Shreve, and Hugh Wilson Confront Wild Bears, 1816
Oil Creek Lake (now called Canadohta) used to be the home of the brown bear. He did not like the water itself, but often used the wallowing places that the lake waters carved out.
He did not frequent the resort hotels at the lake, but lurked about in the woods looking for food.
On day in 1816, early settlers Jacob Shephard and Israel Shreve were crossing the lake in a canoe. They spotted something black in the water in the distance and paddled toward it. When they got near enough, they saw that it was a bear. They didn’t think the bear would fight with them while it was busy in the water, so they paddled the canoe right up to it.
Jacob and Israel were wrong in their estimation of the bar’s fighting will. The bear reached out one of his paws and grabbed the bow of the canoe. Then he brought up the other paw and prepared to climb into the canoe. It was obvious to the men that if the bear got in, they had to get out.
The two men didn’t have any weapons, so they had to think fast. They did have their paddles and a long pole for pushing in shallow water. Jacob seized the pole by the top and before the bear could haul his body into the canoe, he wacked the butt end of the pole down so hard that he broke the bear’s head.
This ended the nautical adventure of the canoe and the bear.
Hugh Wilson had an adventure with a bear about the same time. Toward the end of winter, he went into the woods to hunt raccoons. When he was crossing a little swamp about half a mile from his house, he saw a bear lying curled up under the top of a green hemlock bush. The heavy snow had knocked it down and fastened it to the ground, forming a little cave underneath. The bear was partly buried in the snow and looked very small and he was lying so quietly that Hugh thought he could hit the bear with his axe before the bear could get away.
Hugh swung. As the axe went own, the bear roared out of his cave and sprang at Hugh. Hugh didn’t have time to take a good aim, but he managed to keep the bear from biting him. The fight went on for awhile without Hugh or the bear getting hurt. Both were exhausted.
Finally, when Hugh jumped back to get more room to strike, he caught his foot in the brush and fell. The bear sprang for his head and face. Hugh got in a lucky blow on the side of the bear’s face as he lept by him. Then Hugh jumped up and finished the job. After sitting and catching his breath for time, Hugh got up and cut a stick. He fastened one end to the bear’s nose, took the other over his shoulder, and dragged him home for meat.