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 Joel Vandeveer

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Joel Vandeveer

Birth
North Carolina, USA
Death 15 Aug 1874 (aged 83)
Pana, Christian County, Illinois, USA
Burial Pana, Christian County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 53309664 View Source
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The Marshall Democrat. Marshall, Saline County, Missouri, Friday Morning, April 1, 1859, vol. 2, no. 11, p. 1, col. 2.

For the Marshall Democrat.
A Bear Hunt.
[Anomymous]

Putnam’s celebrated exploit in pursuit of the wolf in the cave, has been cited by hundreds, yea thousands, as a deed of noble and extravagant daring. Almost every school-boy has read this story, which of itself was sufficient to immortalize Putnam in their estimation. But while the great of earth thus receive their just meed [sic] of praise for every deed of daring, but too many of nature’s noblemen, owing to the want of a chronicler, pass into the grave of oblivion but poorly rewarded for having exercised those traits of character which, under more favorable circumstances, would have stamped their names with immortality. Many of these men, too, were the pioneers of the West—the men whose invincible courage and brawny arms paved the way for advancing civilization. Of a brave act of one of these men, whose subsequent services in the Indiana Legislature during seven years, will not soon be altogether forgotten in that State, we now purpose to give as nearly as may be in accordance with the facts as related to the writer by the hero himself.

It was back of New Albany some miles that Joel Vandeveer, of Kentucky, located a good many years ago, and opened a farm in a newly settled country. The vast woods in that vicinity had not yet been cleared of those wild beasts that were the terror of the timid and the sport of the brave. Among these quadrupedal aborigines of the West, was a large black bear, who seemed to take it as his especial privilege to commit depredations upon the property of the “whites,” and hence this latter class, as is their wont, conspired against Bruin. Like Putnam’s wolf, however, he invariably eluded the search of his vigilant foes, most generally secluding himself in a neighboring grotto. Finally, Vandeveer accompanied by the hunters, and the bear again fled to the friendly shelter of the cave.—Nono [sic] was found brave enough to venture his life in an unexplored cave, containing an enraged bear, until finally our hero ventured to pursue his ravenous enemy into his own quarters. Preparing himself with a torch and gun, he ventured into the narrow passage. He had proceeded but a little distance, when the infuriated animal, making a lunge at him, extinguished the light, whereupon Vandeveer returned. Determined not to be so easily defeated, he again prepared himself with gun and knife, and proceeded this time without light, having a rope attached to his body, with which he was to be drawn out by his less adventurous companions in case of emergency.

It was about two, or perhaps three o’clock in the afternoon, when he again entered the cave, determined on victory. The passage was narrow, so much so as barely to admit the body of our hero, he being quite large and fleshy. Proceeding down the narrow defiles of this dark unknown region he finally encountered the object of his search in a narrow passage formed by two stubborn walls of stone, standing so closely together as not to admit the passage of both at the same time. The consequsnce [sic] was, that the bear in attempting to pass, wedged Vandeveer so tightly between the rocks as to render it difficult for him to extricate himself. Now, although Egyptian darkness pervaded those subterranean halls, no light was needed to detect the presence of this dangerous animal. With that presence of mind which characterizes the brave along, Vandeveer drew his knife, and plunged it into the rump of the bear, thus turning his attension to the exciting cause of his pain, when, true to his nature, Bruin “wheeled about,” suppsing himself attacked in the rear.—Vandeveer then leveled his gun, and, crouching down, crept slowly along the passage, prepared to fire so soon as the muzzle should come in contact with the bear. Presently he felt the teeth of the infuriated beast clash upon the muzzle of his invulnerable musket, and immediately touching the trigger, the foe of the neighborhood was made to expire upon a supper of lead and sulphurous flame, instead of pork and mutton. But the trouble did not end here with our hero. Having slain his enemy, his next effort was to exhum [sic] him. Having arranged the rope about the body of the beast, he gave the necessary signal, and the company at the entrance of the grotto commenced drawing out the prize. Long and anxiously had they waited. Drawing the bear to the lower extremity of the entrance to the cave, his shoulder caught on opposing rocks. This entirely closing the entrance, Vandeveer was completely imprisoned, until with his faithful knife he finally succeeded in severing the shoulder from the body of the bear, and shortly his companions, having exhumed the butchered carcass, had the pleasure of greeting their adventurous friend safely emerging from his dark field of encounter. But you may imagine his surprise when, on emerging from cavernous darkness into light again, he found it to be the light—of the next day!

Had this deed been performed by a Putnam, it would have been trumpeted throughout America.

Gravesite Details

Probate records demonstrate that Joel Vandeveer died in 1874 unlike the monument which indicates 1875.


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