Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hunting the Wild Panther!

    This week’s local history post digs way, way back into the newspaper database we have available online at  We now have access to “Hoosier Chronicles,” an online database for scanned newspapers from around the country, and several from our county.  As I was proofreading the January 2, 1836, issue of “The Crawfordsville Record,” I found an article about wildlife in northern Montgomery County.
     It seems that in Coal Creek Township, back in the 1830’s, a six-foot panther made several appearances.  Now, this being a time without television, or computers, young men needed something to occupy their time. A few intrepid young men, including the sons of Rev. Benjamin Brooks, decided to go out night hunting for this panther. Upon sighting the big cat, the boys sent in their hunting dogs to do their jobs.
One of the smaller boys involved asked for the ax to kill the panther, but the biggest boy, having half his wits about him, decided it was time to hightail it home to Pa, and get some help.  Once home, they could hear the panther screaming in the distance. They also found one of their dogs later, ripped to shreds by this beast. It was decided by the neighborhood dwellers that finding the cat and dispatching him from his earthly life would happen on the next snowy day when he would be easy to track.  

       Rev. Benjamin Brooks (1779-1855), the father of some of these brave young lads, was an original purchaser of land in Township 20-N and Range 5-W, section 36, land now occupied by Pleasant Hill Elementary School.  He is buried nearby, next to his son, William (1821-1834). He and his wife (her name is lost) together had a family of eight children: Rev. Stephen, Nancy B. Kirkpatrick, John, Sarah B. Springate, William, James, Benjamin, and Samuel. 

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