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Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: Roosevelt in Sharkey and Issaquena Counties

Roosevelt Visit to Sharkey and Issaquena Counties

B'ar, B'ar, Seek Your Lair
President Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out

Roosevelt the Rough Rider Hits the Trail with His Trusty Rifle and His Ivory Handled Bowie Knife - Vanishes into the Swamps of Mississippi - Where Signs Are Plentiful - Leaves Train at Smedes Siding for Sunflower Creek Camp.

Smedes, Miss., Nov. 13. - [Special] - President Roosevelt and his party arrived here shortly before 4 o'clock this afternoon, and in their hunting togs started soon afterward for he camp on the Little Sunflower river. As the distance is about fifteen miles and the trail is rough and bad, the chances are that it was after dark before they reached the camp.

Smedes is a siding on the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley railway, where cotton is loaded from the big Smede plantations. A plantation store and the residence of one of the managers are the only structures except negro cabins within sight. Work on the neighboring plantations was suspended this afternoon, and several hundred negroes were at the siding when the train stopped.

President in Hunting Rig

The president was clad in hunting costume, khaki riding trousers, heavy leather leggings, blue flannel shirt, corduroy coat, and wore on his head a brown slouch hat. Around his waist was buckled his cartridge belt and at his side hung his ivory handled hunting knife. Two guns, blankets, and other small baggage were loaded into a four mule wagon.

When all was in readiness the members of the party, except Mr. Fish and Mr. Dickinson, mounted small, wiry, tough looking horses and dashed away for the woods. The president's mount was a black horse. He did not look spirited, but it was explained that he was just the sort of animal needed to force a way through the dense undergrowth. Mr. Fish and Mr. Dickinson were too heavy to ride horseback and followed the others in a buckboard drawn by two mules.

Disappointment at Outset

Two disappointments met the president here, the first one was that Mr. Mingum, who had much to do with arranging the hunt, was too ill to proceed to camp tonight, and the other was the story which came back from camp that in trying the pack of hounds today half of the dogs had gone off after a deer, which was jumped while Hoke Collier was on the trail of a bear.

As there are only twenty-two dogs in the pack the split is disquieting. Mr. Mingum as soon as he heard of this accident, put himself in communication with Bobo, a famous bear hunter, who has a fine pack of forty-five dogs on his place about 100 miles north of here, at Bobo Station. If his pack can be secured there will be a great sufficiency of dogs.

Hugh Foote to Lead Hunt

In place of Mr. Mingum it has been arranged that Hugh Foote and Hoke Collier will hunt with the president. They will start out at daylight tomorrow morning. Paths have been cut through the undergrowth, to be used as cutoffs to the river crossing, and, on these stations, the members of the party, except the president will be placed.

The president and his guides will follow the hounds through the undergrowth in order to be at hand if a bear is brought to bay. "It will be powerful hard," said Mr. Mingum, "and I predict the president will lose at least five pounds in the next five days. I rode through there a few days ago, and when I got out my clothes were almost torn off me. I looked as if I had been in a railroad wreck."

Mr. Mingum says the black bears here-abouts weigh from 300 to 600 pounds. "We have a set of scales at the camp," said he, "and the beasts will be weighed when they are brought in."

Bear Signs Are Plenty

The signs of bear in the vicinity of the camp are plentiful, and Mr. Parker promises the president a shot before tomorrow evening.

In one water hole Hoke Collier on Monday found the footprints of nine.

The president's train is on the side track here, and a telegraph station has been rigged up in a boxcar on the siding.

The arrangements made here to prevent a crowd of curious people from spoiling the president's fun were admirably carried out. The people of Vicksburg wanted to run an excursion up here this afternoon to allow them to see the president start on his hunt, but President Fish of the Illinois Central would not permit it.

India jungles are hardly more impenetrable than the section of country through which the presidential party will pursue their game in Sharkey and Issaquena counties. There is but one habitable and comfortable domicile in all that stretch of primeval forest, the Vicksburg Hunting and Fishing club house, which is about seven miles southwest of Smedes.

Swamp Full of Big Game

The swamp surrounding the camp teems with big game and is an ideal spot for the ardent sportsman. Through the miles of dense canebrakes in that locality the bear ambles in peaceful content and the panther pursues his prey undisturbed.

Hunting in the canebrake is hazardous sport. Large packs of dogs are employed to chase bear, and a killing is usually attended by the wounding of many hounds for the canebrake bear is a fighter and does not give up the ghost without making a fierce struggle for his life.

Source: The Chicago Daily, November 13, 1903, Page 12



In the swamps of Issaquena,
Just a little way from Smedes,
Which, perhaps, is near Elena
And not very far from Eades -

We're not any too well posted
On the state of Mississipp,
Tho's we casually coasted
Once along it on a ship;

But the swamps of Issaquena
We're informed are close to Smedes,
Tho' we can't speak for Elena,
And we're hazy as to Eades.

The maps do not contain 'em
And the postal guide's obscure;
The tourist books disdain 'em
All the books we can procure.

But assume that Issaquena
Is in easy reach of Smedes;
Never mind about Elena -
To the devil, too, with Eades.

What we started out to mention,
If to hear it you still care -
Thank you for your kind attention,
Mr. Roosevelt's hunting bear.

Source: The Chicago Daily, November 13, 1903, Page 12

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Entire Contents Copyright © 2005 Bob Franks.
Some of the photographs on this page are courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division