Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grandpa's Ferrets

Last year I transcribed a letter written by my Aunt Tamerson to my grandfather in 1905. Grandpa was traveling "out west" and he saved a few of the letters he received from home. I wasn't at all surprised that he had a hunting dog but I was surprised to learn that he had ferrets. Having cute little pets just seemed out of character from what I'd been told of him. So I asked Mom about it and her response was that she didn't know that but she wasn't surprised. What more was there to say? I filed that little snippet away.

A couple of weeks ago while looking for information on a different branch of the family I found this little article that gave me a place of residence for Cleveland Horner in 1927.

The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, Thursday, December 22, 1927

Today's Live Michigan News


BUCHANAN, Dec. 22 - John Batten, a prominent farmer residing near Galien, paid a fine of $10 and costs before Justice Al W. Charles __ Buchanan for hunting with a ferret.

Batten, with a gun and ferrett, was scouting in the woods for game yesterday when he was met by Cleveland Horner, a deputy game warden. Horner placed Batten under arrest and took him before Justice Charles. Batten pleaded guilty.

Ferrets were used for hunting?! I always thought they were just pets. So I asked Mom if she thought Grandpa had used his ferrets for hunting. This time, clearly exasperated, she responded "Why else would he have ferrets!?" She'd never heard of having a ferret merely as a pet.

You know how annoying it is when a five year old continually asks why? Since I guess I don't always know when to ask why, I'll just have to pretend I'm five and ask why relentlessly - until she either runs out of answers or shoots me.

Now I'm wondering how many other perfectly reasonable, totally wrong assumptions I've made based on the difference between how things are now and how they were then.


Carol said...

Oh, do I relate to this today. After spending a day slogging through Man's mother's papers and old cards and such. Goodness, what I found. Stuff in those old cards that I spent hours trying to find. Ahhh, research and its good days!

Greta Koehl said...

Hmm, that sounds like a really good piece of advice for researchers: "Ask questions like you were a five-year-old." My question is: Why was it illegal to hunt with a ferret?

Joan said...

Boy, o, boy, I have been lead down that primrose path a time or two by my mom.

A rootdigger said...

I agree with you on that last comment. I didn't want to bother mom in her last days try to express herself, when she had so much trouble speaking, yet at times, I wish I had asked a bit more anyway. so I say ask while you can.
I thought ferrets were for pelts or something.

I found a few books, maybe men read, that may help me understand the west. Not that it will help you, but you never know what novels might reveal. One I have read was by Conrad / Dick Whootan.