Sinclair Fox, Sr., father of Samuel, living on the homestead where now resides Daniel Fox, was one night awakened by fearful squealing of his hogs. Arising in haste, he went north across the road to a swamp where I now Anthony Stoddard’s strawberry patch, and found a large bear holding one of his hogs in his fore legs, squeezing the breath and life out of him, the squealing becoming fainter and fainter. But with clubs and stones and faithful dogs, the compelled bruin to relinquish his hold and take to the dense forest. The foxes gave chase; driving the bear down on the creek bank near Wm. Brydle’s, calling the Niles boys to the rescue, and pursued him in an easterly zigzag direction, crossing the Center Road north of Farnham’s mill, running near Wm. Frack’s mill, thence into Pennsylvania as far as John Law’s farm. Fortunately by the light of the moon, the barking dogs, the growling bruin, they could pursue him. In his frequent tussles with the dogs, the men at times could overtake him. At last, nearly exhausted, the bear stopped, the dogs were called off, and they shot at him, where he ran into the swamp and they gave up on the chase supposing he had escaped. But about ten days later, the scent of the carrion in the vicinity led to a search, and they found his remains in the swamp with bullet holes in his body. The dogs were so sore and so lame from the chase that they were compelled to help them over the logs on there way home.
Soon after Diocletian Wright, living on the east part of his farm, now A.J. Cheney’s, was one night alarmed with the squealing, most lustily of his fatting hog. He ran to learn the cause, when, in taking the situation, he made his way to Seth Thompson’s for his army musket, resolved to meet the bruin with powder and ball. But having no wadding, the ball was rolled into the musket on the powder without any wrapper, hence they had to seek a level with the game, lest the ball would roll out of the musket. They succeeded in dispatching the black thief, but the hog was injured that it died.
Lemuel Jones, Esq., after moving to the Ridge, and for a time living in a log house, near where is now Mrs. Blake’s tavern, heard on a certain day one of his shoats turning up his squealing organs down on the flats now owned by Frank E. Sanford. Running to the bank, he beheld a bear with one of his young hogs in his mouth over his back crossing Conneaut Creek. He went to Eli Sanford’s for a gun and dog and pursued him………up with him, bruin dropped his prey and gave him chase, running him back to Mr. Jones’ and the men, them whirling about, the bear run the other way, and the dog pursuing him. Thus, after two of three exchanges of this sort he fled, but the pig was found dead where he had been dropped, and the dog returned toward the night with is throat bitten through.
When the corn was growing on the same flats, Frank E. Sanford’s great-grand father, Eli Sanford, Esq., started up a large bear among his corn, his great dog and a smaller one gave chase. Running up the creek bank, the black fellow sent many stones rolling down the hill behind him. The small dog snapping at his heels, but the larger one went for his throat. They chased him onto the lands now owned by B.B. Smith, Esq., and treed him. Mr. Sanford fired upon him, the ball passing through one of the bruin’s fore feet, and he fell to the ground. While the dogs were grappling with him, Mr. S. did not dare to shoot lest he kill one of them, hence he dispatched him with an ax. Coming to house about dark, in the evening, Mr. S. sent his boys with a team to draw the carcass home. Hence, he had bearskin and bear’s meat for his use.
Wolves were a terrible trouble in those early years. Families did not bring dogs large enough to contend with them. Some of our citizens can remember when they would gather with horrid yells almost within a stone’s throw of their cabins. If their faithful canine attendants were let out of the house to drive them away, often they would have to flee before the drove of wolves under the house or some secluded place where they could not pursue them.
When Eli Sanford came here in 1814, the wolves seemed to have full sway of the place. His large bear dog made an inroad among them. One evening not long after sunset, there was a fearful outcry where now is the F.B. Church. This aroused all the canine qualities of Mr. Sanford’s dog and he barked and leaped to be free. He told his son E. to open the door and let him go. He soon changed his tune of the howling drove, but the yelps of his faithful dog proved too plainly that they had come to close contact. All he felt deeply concerned to know how their faithful animal was succeeding with so large a force as a dozen or fifteen wolves. But nothing was seen of him until the second day after he left. In the morning the exhausted fellow reached home, sore and lame. It was two or three weeks before he entirely recovered. Some time after this Mr. Sanford started for Kingsville on business, and his dog followed him a short distance when he struck a wolf track and ran off to the north west and was gone until the next day, returning greatly wearied as he always did after an encounter with wild animals. As a result of such watchful care, the wolves were driven almost wholly from the settlers. Being a watch dog he would not suffer any game to be taken from him by any hand except his master’s. Finally he was missing for a time and at last was found dead with a charge of buckshot in his head.
During this time that people had dog sentinel to stand the guard they felt safe in beginning to raise flocks of sheep. But the next year after that dog was killed the wolves returned to South Ridge as bold and daring as ever. They made damaging work among the sheep. Eli Sanford has fifteen killed, Seth Thompson has all of his killed, Diocletian Wright, half of his, and other neighbors lost largely. Usually they were herded in their sheep-folds over night. Ralph and Sherman Wright in partnership took of Moses Harmon some ten or dozen to double in three years. But one night Ralph K. Wright, then a lad of five or six years, was entrusted with the care of the sheep. He went for them as usual and drove them into the fold, when from some cause, probably the blowing wind, the door swung open to against the pin, which had been left in the hole for its fastening, holding it about five or six inches open. Ralph K., supposing the door to be closed went into the house. During the night the family heard a great noise in the fold, when with the lantern in hand they made haste to see what the trouble was, and to their sad surprise the door of the fold they saw wide open and the sheep gone. One little sickly lamb stood humped in one corner terribly frightened, which they speedily left and went in search of the sheep. Nearly all were found scattered over the slashes, with throats bitten, lying there yet warm. And one or two still pursued by wolves which were overtaken and killed before the men could reach them and beat them off. For ten or a dozen years the farmers had to keep watch over their flocks lest they should be scattered and killed. At times, wolves would catch a bite and tear the flesh of sheep, which they would not succeed in killing. The with the closest care they might be cured.
South of Conneaut Creek, in what is now Monroe, two men went in pursuit of a wildcat and chased it into a hollow log. Then by cutting off the other end and holding a bag over the log, with sticks thrust in, the cat was inducted to crawl into the bag, and they took him home and for a time they kept him in……
Elk and deer were found here but the former, not very plenty. The latter were numerous and did great damage to the growing wheat.
Venison was held in high esteem by the settlers. Hunters would kill and dress the deer and hang its quarters upon a staddle which they could bend over and let it swing it swing up out of reach. When they wished the meat for use they would return with their teams and get it.
Raccoons did great damage to corn, and often on evenings hunt with dogs an guns, six or eight would be taken in a single night. Some of these remain to the present day.
Porcupines and other vermin often destroyed their poultry. Dogs would surprise the porcupine, when, for their self defense, their quills would stand erect all over them, forming the shape of a round ball. The dog that dared to bite them filled their mouth with their quills, where they remained to works through their flesh if not extracted. Soon they learned to come and stand before their masters and them with pinchers withdrawn.
Serpents were numerous and some so destructive that they were greatly to be feared. Eber Sanford, when a young man, drew in a hand cart his sister, Catherine, into the slashes, and leaving her sitting in it, went to his work. In a few moments a large black snake caught her eyes, when the girl felt compelled to look at him. Such beautiful eyes she had never seen, and she became so charmed that her eyes seemed to be fastened. She did not perceive that the reptile was slowly making toward her and did not think of any danger. Her brother beholding that something unusual was attracting her attention, found that the stealthy serpent was just ready to make his coils around her. He struck and killed it, but Catherine was maddened to a red heat because her brother destroyed her delightful charmer. “Oh! Such beautiful eyes,” she said.
Rattle snakes were so numerous that the settlers were liable to meet them at every turn. A man living on the site of the tavern stand killed two under his door steps. Their rattles were heard under roots, among logs, in the grain fields, and while men were felling the trees, laying their fences, plowing for crops, hoeing corn, reaping their wheat or traveling on the way. Lemuel Jones Esq., said that he had killed enough to fill a bushel basket. Any sunshiny day, on going out within half an hour they could find them.
Chester Sanford & Lemuel Jones on St. Patrick’s Day (17th of March), walked up the creek’s bank towards where is now William Frack’s saw mill. About half the distance from E. Sanford’s house, they discovered a rattlesnake lying about 2/3 out of its length out of its hole. They dispatched it and then went for tools and went for tools and help to dig into its den, where they found four more, larger than the first; in all, five. At the bottom of the den there was a stream of pure clear water, running as much as could be discharged from a ¾ aperture. In this water lay the skeleton of one of the largest rattlesnake ever known in these parts. One of the men said he counted 19 rattles.
In the water and about the den they found frogs, large and small. Mr. Sanford said there must have been as many as fifteen. How the two animals could subsist is a mystery.
The rattlesnake impresses the beholder with terror the moment he puts his eyes upon him. If irritated, he will charge his lustre and make ready for a battle. They quirl their tails, raise their heads from a foot to eighteen inches, and then they prepare to leap. They never fail to hit when the strike. Mr. Sanford had tested them and he could never dodge their aim. With an old shoe on a stick presented, they always hit the object. When they bit stock, the animal would become blind, swell, and die. Boys would sometimes try them on their speed, and they would almost equal their swift-footed Achilles. Hence, they were a terror every where. These were some of the annoyances, by the way. But within a few years the country was cleared from them.