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Forgotten Towns,History

November 8, 2013

A bear hunt in the early days of Dora Township

Gust Fredholm left Sweden in the fall of 1880. After a few years in Wisconsin, he heard of a farm in Dora Township. He went to look at it and decided that this land of woods, lakes and hills was just what he wanted. In 1885, he sold his prairie farm and traveled by covered wagon to Dora Township. He married Christine Erickson and they had two children, Augusta and Carl.

On their farm, land was cleared. Cordwood and railroad ties were the sources of income, being hauled to Pelican Rapids, mostly across Lake Lida in the winter. Gust bought a team of very dependable horses. During the really bad snowstorms, he would depend on the horses to find the right road home, as there were many roads out on the big lake. When the snow was blowing hard, he couldn’t see any shoreline.

In the early days, people who drove with teams through the area would stop at the Fredholm home to feed and rest their teams, and would sometimes stay overnight.

Occasionally a bear would come walking through the area of the early settlers.

One windy fall day, when Gust returned to his plow, he found bear tracks in the newly-turned furrow. Along came a neighbor, Joe Jacobs, who’d been out squirrel hunting with his pedigreed bulldog and a .22 rifle. Gust showed him the tracks, the dog sniffed them, and away he went along the trail with his plow, followed by Jacobs, who thought they were just following a “‘coon.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t a raccoon they were following. The dog had a big black bear up the tree. Jacobs shot it, but he had only that one shell. Down the bear fell. It laid still a few minutes, then came back up.

Jacobs called, “Sic ‘em” for all he could. The dog took after the bear, biting him in the hind legs (a bulldog never knows defeat). Finally, the bear collapsed and died.

The hunters came back unhurt, but to get the bear out of there was another problem. Jacobs had horses and no suitable rig. (Horses, cattle and most animals, including most dogs, will not go near bears.)

So Mr. Jacobs decided to get a neighbor, Wm. Schimmelpfenig, who had a suitable rig and a team of oxen. The oxen were well trained, but someone had to hold onto them while others loaded the bear. The oxen galloped over the plowed field, up the hill, with the men barely managing to hang onto them until they reached their destination. Oxen never went so fast again.

The venturesome bear became a bear skin robe and bear steaks after a lucky hunting trip that ended happily for all (except for the bear).

This story and more can be found in the East Otter Tail County History books, available online at www.HistoryMuseumEOT.org. Lina Belar is the founder and former executive director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.

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