29 May 2012

Return of a Pilgrim

During the summer of 1870, Col. S.T. Suit, of Sulteville, Prince George's county, Maryland, a few miles below Washington, D.C., was considerably annoyed by thieving hen hawks making raids upon his chickens. Desiring to put an end to their too friendly and frequent visits, the colonel placed a large pole in his yard and fixed upon its top a steel trap, which he baited with a dead chicken. No hawk put in an appearance, but the colonel was greatly surprised one morning to find in the trap a large Turkey buzzard — a bird protected by law in Maryland from the gun of the sportsman. The suggestion was made that the bird be marked in some manner and again set at liberty. Acting on the suggestion, a good-sized old-fashioned sleigh bell was procured and fastened about its neck with wire, and after christening the bird "Maryland," was again given its freedom. Nothing more was thought of the matter until last Sabbath, when the good people of that quiet neighborhood were startled from their noon-day devotions by hearing "music in the air." A glance upward plainly revealed the cause of all the commotion, for circling far above their heads was the long-lost "Pilgrim" of eight years absence, returning to visit its old haunts, with the bell still attached to its neck. How far the bell and bird have traveled since its liberation eight years ago, is the subject of many conjectures among the farmers of that neighborhood who remember the occurrence. Colonel Suit says he reckons many poor darkey has been nearly scared out of his wits by the bird as it passed over Southern towns with the bell ringing, making these poor creatures think that the Judgment Day and Gabriel with his horn were near at hand.

For the above facts I am under obligation to my friend William M. King, a farmer living in the vicinity, who witnessed its return last Sunday, from his house. For his veracity and truthfulness, I can heartily vouch.       Sam.

October 18, 1878. Hudson Evening Register 13(124): 3.