03 September 2013

Follies of Oldtime Snipe Hunting in Early 1880s

Snipe Hunting in Nevada.

One of the most interesting snipe hunts of the season took places at Wadsworth one night last week. The method of sacking snipe had been explained to a young many who had recently arrived there, and he was eager to go on a hunt. So, fully instructed, he took up his position on top of a big rock on a hill overlooking the town. He carried with him a red signal lantern and a big dinner-bell. From dark until ten o'clock, for more than two hours, that young man stood on the rock waving his lantern and holding the sack. Sometimes he would ring the dinner-bell with all his might, and then he would shout like one possessed. he kept up an incessant din, never doubting for a moment that the snipe were coming in. The boys had done their work well, and he was fully impressed with the necessity of patience and perseverance to secure a good bag of birds. While this performance was going on the people of Wadsworth had all turned out to watch it. There was the young man high on the hill, in the red glare of his lantern, his yells and shouts ringing in their ears. It was too good. The "boys" just rolled over and over on the flat, delirious with joy, kicking up their heels in an ecstasy of delight. They laughed so much that they could laugh no more. But still, when the red light would be swung and the shouts of "Sni-pe, sni-pe, sni-pe, O sni-pe" would descend from the hill, they would experience fresh convulsions, and double up like youngsters stricken with colic after a feast of green apples. Suddenly the lantern was extinguished and all was silent on the hill. He had "tumbled" and was gone.

October 22, 1880. Jasper Weekly Courier 22(43): 2. From the Reno (Nev.) Gazette. Also in Red Cloud Chief on November 25, 1880.

A Memphis Snipe Hunter

On Monday night a few of the humorous wags induced a verdant Memphis commercial tourist to engage in a "snipe hunt." Bounding with enthusiasm, the party soon found themselves amid the dark and gloomy recesses of Cane creek bottom, and the necessary measures were taken for making a big haul of nocturnal game. The bag was spread, candles lighted and the luckless wight joyfully took his stand to see them enter. The rest then scattered to scour the woods, find the game and drive them in, leaving the solitary watcher alone in his glory. The sequel is too ludicrous to mention. Suffice it to say, the victim will not want to go on a snipe hunt soon amid the Cane creek jungles.

November 28, 1882. Memphis Public Ledger 35(76): 3. From Ripley News.

Doesn't Want Advice From Strangers.

The afternoon of Thanksgiving day was of that dreary, hazy, nonpareil character when the affluent glories of soft Italian rain were slowly fading into the autumnal tints of a blue norther that came streaking down from the bald summits of the Rocky Mountains, and cast its chilling shadows on the shingle roof of the City Hotel at Brenham, Texas. Our scene opens in this famous hostelry.

Five solitary drummers were lying around the stove, and in picturesque groups, but in obedience to the natural instinct all drummers seem to have to impart a fictitious expansion to the truth. They had been lying so much in a professional capacity that it was a treat for them to have a little go as you please lying match with each other on general principles. The subjects under discussion, or rather under prevarication, were fishing, hunting and field sports generally. They told such fearful lies that the very stove turned red, which stove they had surrounded as completely as if it was a country merchant who needed goods.

The youngest commercial emissary in the delegation was a youth named Levi Jacobson, who was raiding on Texas in the interest of Baltimore house in the boot, shoe and clothing line. He did not join the conversation, and there was really no reason for him to do so, as the sacred cause of truth was suffering abundant mutilation as it were, at the hands of the other inquisitors. The reason Levi Jacobson did not volunteer to help was because there were other topics on which he could do better. If they had talked about the drama, or of female loveliness, he would not have been found without something to say, for was he not a critic and a master of the mashers? He prided himself on being one of the knowing one; but having lived all his life in cities or on the road he was somewhat lost when the talk was of quail, trout, deer, and of the rival merits of choke bore, centre fire, 10-calibre, etc., etc., etc.

Snipe were mentioned, and some one made an allusion to that hackneyed old practical joke about catching snipe in a sack, never supposing for a moment that there was any one alive on earth who did not know the joke. Jacobson, however, was ignorant, as he demonstrated by remarking that "those snipe must be stupid, like that ostrich was, to put their head in a bag."

It was nuts to the other drummers to find at last "the most innocent man on the road."

A snipe hunt was at once proposed, Mr. Jacobson to take the leading role and carry the sack and lantern.

They went out about three miles from town in a hack at 9 o'clock at night, across creeks, through woods and swamps, until they came to what the driver said was a good snipe ground, Jacobson was placed in a path with a lantern in one hand and the sack in the other. The rest of the party were to scatter out for some distance, and then to gradually close in and return back to Jacobson, driving the snipe before them. The leading man in the company was instructed how to kill the snipe when he captured the full of the bag, and how to set his trp and wait for more. Then the other drummers went howling out into the darkness in pursuit of snipe.

Mr. Jacobson waited.

Holding the sack made his arms ache.

Bullfrogs croaked.

Jacobson continued to wait.

Owls hooted.

The night grew apace and found Jacobson still waiting for the snipe to come out of the darkness.

It was midnight.

Around the same stove four solitary drummers were gathered. They were full of mirth and gayety, and they laughed loud and long.

Suddenly the laugh died away on their lips, the merry joke was chopped off in its utterance and an unripe pun was hastily thrown under the stove by the long-legged drummer, for there in the doorway stood a ragged and mud-stained remnant — all that was mortal of Jacobson, the snipe hunter.

He said: "My vrends, you thought dot was a good joke, but I vas acquainted vith dot joke sefen years ago. I stayed out vith dot bag there just to see if you was so man as to blay dose tricks on a stranger, and I vants nodings more to do with you."

He refused all overtures looking toward a reconciliation, and went to bed swearing he would leave the place on the next day's evening train. He stayed in his room all of the next morning. The joke got all over town. Mr. Moses Solomons, a leading merchant of the place, thought it was decidedly wrong to have treated Jacobson so badly, and called to make his acquaintance and extend his sympathies.

When he was admitted to Mr. J's room the latter said:

Vat you vants? Guess you would like to go bear-hunting vith me and a flour-sack; or do you vant to have some fun driving jack-rabbits into a mosquito net, eh?"

Mr. Solomons explained that he had heard that the boys had treated Mr. Jacobson rather roughly, and that he had threatened to leave the city without showing his samples. He merely called, he said, to say that the citizens should not be blamed, and to advise that Mr. J. should change his intention and prosecute his business as if nothing had happened.

"I don't vant any advice from stranger. I vas treated padly in this town, and I leaves it right away. There vas no shentlemans in this blace."

Mr. Solomons has a great deal of pride in the social and financial standing of the people of Brenham.

When Mr. Jacobson was dragged from under Mr. Solomons it was found necessary to adjust his scattered Abrahamic countenance with about a yard of court-plaster. He is now travelling in Western Louisiana, and he tells the merchants with whom he does business that he was run over by a hand-car on the Central Railroad.

Juniata Sentinel and Republican 37(6): 1. Issued February 7, 1883.

A K.C. Drummer Goes Snipe Hunting With the Boys.

Saturday night after we had retired tired to our "downy couch", we were aroused by the sound of many voices, some hollowing, laughing and making numerous other noisy expressions, which paralyzed us for a minute, but, recovering, and feeling a sense of duty creeping over us, we got up and stuck our head out of the window to ascertain, if possible what was the cause of the disturbance, but in this we were baffled, for between us and the scene of excitement stood a brick building, and not being able to penetrate its walls, we proceeded at once to don our trousers, and other necessary wearing apparel, and wend our way into the noisy street. When nearing the Medicine Lodge house we saw a large group of men sill circled around some object, which we could not then see, for it was completely hemmed in; this gave us renewed energy, and so we determined to proceed further and investigate the matter, we elbowed our way into the crowd, and what do you think we saw a man, yes, a man, we got closer; we knew we had seen him, but when and where, we put our ponderate brain to work, and in a short time it all came to us, it was Mr. S. H. — of a well-know leather and shoe linings house in Kansas City. We had seen him several times on Saturday, but, oh, my, under much more favorable circumstances. He wore bycickle pants, cut bias, with brake attachment, a "seymore" coat, kid gloves and a dude hat, but it shocks our modesty to describe him there in that crowd with his shoes off, his pants pulled up as far as they would go — owing to the smallness at the bottom, they refused to be pulled up any further, his coat off, and his shirt once white, looked as if it had a dose of eppecach or had been the victim of a cyclone. He was mud from head to foot, and had evidently got into the river. On inquiring of the woe-begone how he got in such a predicament, we were in informed that he had been the victim of a "snipe hunt" He met, and became acquainted with, at Pratt Centre, a Mr. Harrington, traveling for Dignan and McGinnis, St. Louis, and Chas. Beckmeyer, representing McComb Bros., Wichita. They told him that when they got to Medicine Lodge they would get some of the leather men there and go out snipe hunting; To this Mr. H. readily consented. As soon as the drummers got here they informed W. S. Finney, an other member of the leather brigade,of their scheme, and he became one of tho active participants in the hunt. After supper they procured sufficient conveyance to take them to the snipe region, loaded the unfortunate in and left town. They had supplied themselves with a gunny sack and a couple of candles. They took and kept the San City road until they had crossed the river, then they took the ravine for

the hill, not far distant where they halted.

"Now," said Mr. Finney, "we will find plenty of snipe here," and you can hold the sack and candles while we drive them in, pointing to Mr. Harrington."

"Hold," cried Mr. S.H., "let me hold the sack; I want to see them run in. I want to have something to tell the Kansas City girts when I go back."

Well, this was just the part the boys wanted him to play. So they let him hold the sack.

He got down on his knees — candle in each hand, and holding on to the sack — commenced to watch for the snipe. The boys told him that he must not take his eyes off the sack, and so far as they knew, he did not. The mosquitos were bad, but he dare not strike them lest he lose sight of the snipe. The boys got into the buggy and started out to hunt the snipe and drive them in, after they got a short distance, they commenced hollowing "here they are! Look out for them! Hold on to all you get," and the hard-hearted boys pulled out for town and left him there holding the sack. When they got across the river and on an opposite hill they could see him holding the candles. He had to wade or swim the river and walk several miles in order to get to town. It was about 1 o'clock when he got in. The boys had given him a steamboat racket, and it was his intention to take a boat for Kiowa, and then go up Sand creek to Hazleton. But he changed his mind and took the stage early Sunday morning for home.

Well, he will have something to tell the Kansas City girls, but we doubt very much whether he tells it or not. It is hoped he left Medicine lodge a wiser if not a better man.

August 22, 1884. Barbour County Index 5(12): 3.

A Justifiable Attack.

Special to the Gazette.

At Easton recently a young man named Charles Rousseau has been the victim of a series of playful pranks which in the end drove him from home and came near resulting fatally to a young man named Brewster. Rosseau had recently been converted and manifested his religious zeal in a manner offensive to his acquaintances — so much so that they determined to get rid of him by making him the butt of ridicule. A number of pranks were played upon him, the last one being the ancient "snipe hunt," with Rousseau as sack-holder. For three hours he held a sack in the Sabine bottoms, and then wandered through swamps until daylight. The next day, being ridiculed by Brewster, he leaped upon him with an open knife and gashed his arms and sides in a fearful manner, and when taken from him fled. No trace of him can be found. Brewster is not fatally injured. but is in a very bad condition.

October 18, 1884. Fort Worth Daily Gazette 8(283): 1.

That Snipe Hunt.

Now that there has been so much said about the snipe hunt we will give the whole thing away. Our reported was hired to go along and write the thing up. Dr. McAdams came to the reporter's cage and mapped out the whole plan and requested the reporter to engage as war correspondent for the great expedition. The scribe and the pill-slinger went together to Lawrence's drug store, where our hired man was treated to a pocket full of cigars. When the party got to the edge of the brush he thought he had earned his cigars and started back to town, leaving all the fools behind. Of course he filled his contract by writing it up, but the fun of the thing is that the young man who held the bag was not sold at all. He got back to the city before the smart alecks, and when the cost of the bag, two pounds of candles, half a box of cigars and six bottles of whiskey are figured up, it is easy to tell who was sold.

March 13, 1885. Wichita Daily Eagle 1(254): 4.