Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collection
By William Johnson, Secretary of Tuscola county Pioneer
The following is a brief memorial of our late esteemed townsman, Mr.
James Johnson of Vassar, Tuscola county, Michigan, who departed this life at his
residence in Vassar on Monday, March 10, A.D. 1879, in the 45th years
of his age. Mr. James Johnson was
born in the town of Pittsford, Monroe county, New York, on the first day of
September, A. D. 1834. He resided at that place until the autumn of 184, when his
fatherís family emigrated to Armada, Macomb county, Michigan, with whom he
lived till the year 1853, when he came to Vassar. After serving as a clerk in the principal dry goods store of
the place for two or three years, he purchased a drug store, and soon worked up
a good and profitable business and became a careful and competent druggist,
which business he closely pursued until his death.
In the year 1863 he married Miss Mary E. North, eldest daughter of Hon.
Townsend North of Vassar, who survives him, and by whom he had four children,
two sons and two daughters, all now living.
He was a person oof excellent moral character, and of the strictest
integrity, respected by all his acquaintances, and held in the hightest esteem
by his neighbors and numerous friends. His
death was a severe loss to his beloved wife and children, as well as to the
community in which he was so well known. Mr. Johnson was a member of Tuscola county Pioneer Society.
CHAMPION WOLF TRAP OF MICHIGAN.
the Vassar Pioneer.
At the pioneer meeting in this place on Thursday, January -, 1881, Mr. L.
Hart, of Tuscola, exhibited a steel-trap with this history:
The trap was made by a brother of Mr. Hart while residing in the State of
New york, some forty-five years ago, and is considered a fine piece of
workmanship, strong and made of the best steel.
It was given by the make to his brother, L. Hart, when soon after he
removed to Michigan, thinking it might be of service in the wilds of the West.
Mr. Hart located on a farm in the township of Tuscola, where he no rededs,
over forty years ago. The country
was then a wilderness and infested with wolves.
Mr. hart caught in the trap the first wolf caught in Tuscola county, and
several afterwards about the same time. He
had again set the trap for another of those pests of the early settlers in the
woods not far from his house, on the spot where now stands the residence of E.
W. White. It was fastened to a
heavy clog of wood, but it disappeared suddenly, and nothing more was heard or
known of it until about forty years afterwards, when it was discovered by a man
chopping in the forest near Mt. Morris, Genesee county, some thirteen miles
distant, suspended in the crotch of a tree thirty-six feet from the ground.
When the tree was felled, the trap was discovered, released from its long
captivity, and borne home in triumph by the sturdy axman as a lawful prize.
When found, the chain attached, and which was wound around the tree, was
concealed from sight, being completely grown over and embedded in the growing
wood and bark. The trap haning on one side of the crotch, and the ring at
the other end of the chain dangling on the other side, were all that was exposed
to view. Speculations as to the
manner in which it came there may have ample scope; but the most natural theory
seems to be that some powerful animal must have carried the trap and clog up the
tree to the crotch, passed around the tree and through the crotch again, thus
winding the chain completely round the body of the tree, and shortening it so as
to be unable to extricate itself from it perilous situation, and there hung
until it died of starvation, and its flesh and bones decayed and dropped from
their imprisonment, or were devoured by ravenous beast or birds.
When discovered, some months ago, no traces of its victim remained, save
some little bits of hair between the jaws of the trap.
The clog must have perished in like manner.
The astonished discoverer cut off a section of the tree containing the
crotch and imprisoned trap, and took it home for exhibition, but its history was
involved in mystery. At length it
came to the knowledge of Mr. hart, who recognized it at once as his trap, which
he had set near his house forty years before; and his brother, who had also came
to Michigan, knew it to be the identical trap that he made in New York State, as
already stated, and gave to his brother.
What kind of an animal it was that was caught in it, and carried it off
bodily, with the heavy clog attached, and to so great a distance, is mere
conjecture. It must have been one
of great strength, and may have been a lynx wild cat, or some other powerful
The section of the tree exhibited by Mr. Hart, and containing the trap
shows it to be beech, and the main trunk is about five inches in diameter, while
the branch is some two inches across. A
hole is cut in the body which reveals the chain embedded an inch or more beneath
the other bark. Mr. Hart proposes
to prepare a more full account of this most singular relic of the past, to be
attached to it.
© 2006 of
transcription and digital photographs by Carol
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