Festive Buffalo, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Union , 1 October 1886.

Recollections of the Past - The Festive Buffalo - Chapter 1

In the early days, when the settlers in this portion of the county were few and far between, the principal occupation was buffalo hunting. The meat furnished food for the pioneers, while the hides were taken to Wichita and Hutchinson and sold. Quite a revenue was derived from this source, it being a paying business in many instances.

Many hardships and privations were passed through in those days, but behind the darkest cloud the sun shines brightly, likewise in those times there were little instances and circumstances which dispelled the gloom of privation, and through the rent thus formed, came streaks of sunshine, brightening the moment with a laughable incident.

One afternoon, late in the fall, Frank Whitaker, who was considered an excellent buffalo hunter in those days, crossed the river just south of town and attempted to "crease" a buffalo calf, about half grown. He failed to "crease" it, but succeeded in wounding it. Before he could load his gun again the buffalo charge upon Frank with head down and tail in air.

At this stage of the game Frank remembered an important engagement at home and started for town. It is needless to state that he used considerable haste in putting his idea into effect. He rushed down the hill-side like a mad torrent, fanning the earth with his feet. The buffalo was doing the same thing, and fast closing the gap that existed, between them.

Finally the calf struck Frank, and the latter felt as though a cyclone had ran up the leg of his pants, and preempted a quarter section along his spinal column.

As soon as Frank could recover his equilibrium, he grappled with the calf and a first class rough-and-tumble fight ensued.

The calf seemed to enjoy the fight, but as for Frank, he would have much rather had a position up in a tree. How long the fight would have lasted there is no telling, had not a hound dog rushed into Frankís aid and succeeded in driving the calf away.

At this juncture Uncle Tom Whitaker put in an appearance, puffing and blowing. When he was told of the affair, and had the calf pointed out to him, he laughed long and loud, and smacked his thigh with glee at the idea of a man being downed by a buffalo calf. Frank suggested to the old man that he had better try a tussle with the calf himself. The idea struck Uncle Tom in a favorable manner. He resolved upon capturing the calf. Like David of old, who placed his stones in a sling and went forth and slew the giant, Uncle Tom started for the calf, minus the sling, of course.

The calf was half way up the hillside when Uncle Tom overtook him, and grabbed hold of one of its hind legs. If a pile driver had struck Uncle Tom he could not have been more astonished. As quick as lightning that calf let fly with both hind feet and struck Uncle Tom in the stomach, in the vicinity where his pants and vest meet and get acquainted.

Uncle Tom did not stop to bid the calf good-bye. He gyrated about ten feet towards heaven, spread out like an old-fashioned Dutch windmill, clawed the air, struck the earth doubled up, turned sixteen back summer-saults, three cart-wheels, two hand-springs and fell into the river.

After they had fished him out of the river, pumped the muddy water out of his stomach, and raked the quicksand out of his hair, he requested the boys to tell him whether he hadnít made a mistake, and instead of catching hold of the buffalo, he had grasped hold of the tail end of a cyclone that was sleeping in a canyon.

Thanks to Kim Fowles for transcribing and contributing the above article and to Landon Fowles for providing technical assistance in designing this page!

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