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Wolves Subdued with Difficulty

William B. Moor was Noted Driver of Oxen - His Wolf Story

(NOTE: Surname also spelled MOORE)

[transcribed from a newspaper article of unknown date, probably around 1920]

Bingham, March -- William B. Moor, whose death ocurred in 1900, was the most noted ox teamster in the Kennebec region. He was born in 1816 and, at the age of eight years, worked his board for Levi G. Fletcher driving a yoke of oxen, that winter hauling clear pine logs. From these were hewn the frame of the store built the next season by Mr. Fletcher. This was the first store built in Bingham. It is still standing on Main Street and is occupied by W.B. Goodrich & Son. At an early age, Mr. Moore worked in the woods often for the Coburns. For more than fifty winters in succession his work was driving four and sometimes six oxen. Horses and log haulers have superceded the slow moving oxen and a good ox teamster is now almost unknown. To be a good teamster a man must know and like his oxen and that was what Mr. Moore always did. Even with a team of oxen he had never driven before, he would soon gain their confidence so that no matter how heavy the load, they would put out all their strenth to it.

In those old times, pine logs often four or five feet through would be loaded on the bunk of a "bob-sled" with the smaller ends dragging. William would step along and with a tap with the "goad" stick on the back of each animal and a word to them by name, each ox would strain at the bow, the load would squeak, stir, and slowly move on its way to the landing.

Among tha many stories we have heard "uncle" William tell was the wolf story. It was in the great wolf year of 1843, when deep snows and hunger had driven the Canada timber wolves into the northern forest of Maine, to the great danger of life in the wild regions. Many the old woodsman who late about coming to camp would be surrounded by a howling pack of wolves. His only course was to climb a tree and remain there till help arrived, simetimes all night. The following story is given as nearly as possible as told by Mr. Moore.

I was driving a team for Moses Chamberlain on the Chase Stream township. We were hauling a mile and a half back of the camp. It so happened that I was very late for my last load one night, so much so that it was dark when I got into the woods. I had to cross a small pond and take my timber on the back side of a ridge that made alongside of the pond. When I got inot the woods the men had all gone to the camp except the sledtender and chopper who loaded my team. The men had a tow path where they went across and struck my logging road. This path was no more than forty rods. While I had to go around the pond three-fourths of a mile. They offered to go around with me but I said "no, I could go just as well alone," so they took the towpath and, as I supposed, went to the camp. It was now pitch dark but I drove around the ridge and across the pond. As my leaders entered on the other side of the pond, a pack of wolves set up their howls not three rods ahead in the road, and a more frightful noise I never heard. All I could see was their eyes that looked like balls of fire. It frightened my oxen so much that my leaders came back to me and it was with difficulty that I stopped them.

Hardly knowing what to do, I made up my mind to unhitch my oxen and let them take care of themselves, and I would climb a tree. There was a limby spruce standing near the road and I knew that I could climb it very readily. Just at that time I heard sounds behind me on the pond and feared more wolves were coming. The second time I knew the sounds were men shouting. I answered and told them to hurry. The men had heard the wolves and were hurrying with all their might knowing that I must be in danger. I straightened my team and went ahead. With great effort, by shouting and swinging our axes we succeeded in driving the wolves out of the road. The two men kept them there till I drove through. Then we all got on to the load and if ever a team went fast with a load it was mine. Those devils followed us within twenty rods of the camp, growling, snarling, fighting and howling the whole distance, sometimes biting the ends of the logs on which we sat.

The next morning we went out, and from the tracks in the light snow found there were seven in the pack. Although we saw no more wolves that winter, we often heard them howling in the distance.

 

 

 

 

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