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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Pioneer Hunters And Their Adventures

Dallas Bogan on 8 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Frontier hunters of the new lands of Ohio sought the livelihood of their families in the huge surrounding forests. Wild game on both sides of the Ohio amply supplied the needs of the household as far as meat supplies go.
The Indians that were present when the first white man arrived used their hunting skills as a means of necessity, not sport. Facts have been presented that show the Indian villages were not always feasting abundantly, but sometimes on the edge of starvation.
Early white hunters also depended on the amount of wild game available. The flesh of the wild animal was a food source, their skins and furs being objects of clothing or trade and barter.
The life of a hunter was one of continuing excitement; sometimes destined to disappointment and other times, prosperity.
Amongst the first white men to explore the Ohio territory were the early surveying parties, which included guides, scouts and hunters. A sketch of General Nathaniel Massie (for whom Massie Township is named), written by Col. John McDonald, presents an interesting story that portrays a portion of the adventures of Massie.
Massie made extensive surveys on the east side of the Little Miami River. Besides himself he would have three assistant surveyors and six men with each surveyor. A total of four surveying parties consisted of twenty-four men.
The succession of men would be the hunters first, who would lead the way and look for game and guard against the Indians. Next would be the surveyor, chain carriers and markers, and last would be the pack horses cared for by the company cook.
Sometimes the only prepared food source would be flour, in one trip they had no bread for thirty days.
Each man carried his own rifle, tomahawk and scalping knife. After Wayne's victory in 1795, disturbances by the Indians were rarely noticed.
But sometimes the frontiersmen suffered for want of food, the hunters not being able to kill any game. McDonald wrote that on one occasion food was so scarce that it was described as "the starving time."
This related experience stated the whole party of twenty-eight men were caught in a driving snow storm for about four days. They were surrounded by a wilderness with no shelter at all; no tents, covering, and worst of all, no provisions. On the third day they killed two wild turkeys which were "boiled and divided into twenty-eight parts and devoured, heads, feet, entrails and all."
McDonald said of Massie that he could live on bread without meat, or on meat without bread and be totally contented.

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This page created 8 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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