Visit with a Pioneer Family
In December, 1818, the early traveler and writer Henry
Rowe Schoolcraft visited an early settler near the Bryant Watershed.
Not long before the chance meeting, Schoolcraft had lost much of his
supplies when his pack horse fell into the North Fork River. The water
ruined the corn meal and other food. Schoolcraft and his traveling companion
were soon quite hungry, because they were poor hunters and had little
dry powder left. So it was with relief that they came upon a trail and
followed it to a cabin on Bennet's Bayou. This would be near present-day
Bakersfield, about eight miles southeast of the point where Bryant Creek
and North Fork River meet.
As they approached the cabin, they could hear the barking
of dogs grow louder and louder. Closer to the cabin, they saw deer and
bear skins stretched out to dry on poles and trees. They also noticed
several acres of land planted in crops around the cabin. The family
who lived there grew corn and wheat to eat. The father was a hunter
who sold pelts and bear oil for money.
The hunter's family welcomed Schoolcraft and his companion
and gave them a meal of cornbread, butter, honey and milk. The two ate
happily but, Schoolcraft writes, could have eaten much more because
they were so hungry.
The walls inside the cabin were hung with horns of deer
and buffalo, rifles, shot pouches, leather coats and dried meat. Two
deerskins sewn into bags hung on each side of the fireplace. One was
full of bear oil, one wild honey. The children were dressed in deerskin
and were greasy and dirty, according to Schoolcraft.
The next day the travelers bought a deerskin from the
hunter to use for making new moccasins to replace their worn out ones.
They also bought bread, honey and some lead for making shot. The hunter
questioned them closely about the nearby land they had passed through.
Hearing about the many bear, and that no Osage had been seen in the
country, he immediately decided to go on a bear hunt. Schoolcraft went
with the hunter for a while on the path and then the hunter pointed
the travelers in the right direction for continuing their journey into