Thursday, August 25, 2011

Old West Stories of the Wild West & Pioneer Men & Women


My Father told me one evening; when he was a Boy He could
Crack a Harmless Garter Snakes head off; by taking it
By the Tail, and crack it like a whip.

And so one Day I was crossing the Prairie and came on to
a Harmless Milk Snake about three feet long.
I had nothing to kill it with; and thought I would
Try Cracking his head off.

The snake was going into a hole, and I grabbed its tail,
Pulled him out of his hole, and swung him around like
an Ox Whip; and when I reversed and undertook
to crack hie Head off-

I only Succeeded in wrapping it around my neck.
I was very much Frightened; and so was the Snake.
I Quickly Jerked it off, and killed it with my feet.


That was the First and Last. time I ever tried to crack a snakes Head off by the Tail.

(from the book "True Tales of the Old-Time Plains" by David Dary)




This was written by Harry Jasper Harris, a cowboy of the old west, in 1850. In those days, snakes were like weeds, all over the place and a big nuisance.

The old west and American prairie are full of stories, legends, and lore. Some about cowboys and their courage, about cowgirls and prairie women strength, and of course Indians.

But have you heard about Snakes and Snake Lore.......

I came across some great stories of snakes and superstitions......


Indians believed that by killing a snake they would make the "other" snake tribes mad-so Indians did not kill snakes.......

So when the Pioneers and early settlers came to the old west there were a lot of snakes!!!

Pioneer women found the snakes to be a very large "inconvenience"- they were always showing up in their frontier home while cleaning the kitchen or under a bed. Here is a true story of one Pioneer woman's experience with her first rattlesnake....


"Returning from the woods one day with an armful of sticks, I saw a large snake lying across the path in front of my three year old daughter who was with me. I caught and pushed her behind me, then throwing down my sticks, picking out the largest as I did, I went for the snake. The stick was rotten and broke with my first stroke. It enraged the rattler. He coiled himself up on one side of the path, and, rearing his head two or three feet from the ground, ran out a red forked tongue and made such a noise with his rattles that my other daughter in our cabin nearby ran to the door to see what it was.

Without taking my eyes off the snake I called to her to get the hoe. She ran around and came up behind us with it. Then, without moving from my tracks I took the hoe and made short work with his snakeship. We dragged him up to the house and cut off the rattles, sixteen in number, and measured him. He was over five feet in length and as large around as a man's arm."

(from the book "True Tales of the Old-Time Plains" by David Dary)

There is another story told, about a boy who found a hole with a few snakes.....later he came back with his friend to the same hole and they found and killed 46 snakes. The boys told the other frontier men and they came back to investigate. The men dug a hole around the original hole and found more snakes.....1700 to be exact. They killed them all.....


The men kept on digging, hoping to find an end to the snakes, but it never came....at first the snakes were cowardly and timid, but as time went on the snakes started to fight back and become vicious. The men kept on. When the number of snakes dead reached 4,000 the men decided to pour blasting powder down the hole.....

Needless to say the remaining snakes were disposed of. The pioneer men reasoned that the hole they found led to a larger cavern in the depths of the earth. The believed that many thousands of snakes, from all over, gathered in this cavern for winter.


The old west stories and tales of the pioneer men and women are fascinating!! And I guess they can teach us a few lessons-

If you see a snake hole-let it be, who knows how many more snakes are down there!!!!!!!!






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