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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Badger Detective


In May of 1872 a body was discovered in a Peshtigo lumber camp. The man had been knocked unconscious by a blow to the head and then strangled. This murder naturally produced much gossip in a nearby tavern, the Dew Drop Inn, but after several days talk moved to other things and the murder was left unsolved.

About a year later a stranger blew into town. He was a greasy, rough-looking man who became the center of attention at the Dew Drop because of his strange traveling companion. In a wooden box by his side, the man carried a live badger whom he called Pinky. This naturally prompted questions, and eventually he admitted that he used the badger in his business –gambling. He offered five dollars to any man who owned a dog that could drag the badger from a barrel. His wager was eagerly accepted by the bar's customers and a barrel was rolled in.

The first contender was a mean looking bulldog. While the bartender held the bets, the bulldog was dumped in the barrel. Right away there was a howl of pain, and the dog shot out again, made for the window, and ran to safety.

The next bet was placed by an old man with a fat, mangy spaniel. They were both nearly laughed out the door, but the old man dumped his dog in the barrel in all the same. Another squeal and the second dog jumped out, this time, however, with the badger clamped onto his leg. The mangy spaniel had won the bet.

The stranger, disgruntled at being beaten, asked the bartender for a piece of rope, saying, "I'm going ter take Pinky out and strangle him. He's no good when he looses money fer me." The bartender pulled some rope from a drawer and the stranger and his pet left.

Later that night, as the bartender was closing up and heading home, he heard the command to "put up your hands." A man pointing a pistol trundled him into a wagon and took him out to the logging camp. There the bartender found himself inside the very same building where the murdered man had been discovered the previous year. In front of him stood the owner of the badger, wearing a badge.

The man was in fact a Pinkerton detective hired to solve the murder case. He had matched the rope the bartender gave him with the rope used in the strangling. Confronted with this evidence, the bartender confessed his guilt and left Peshtigo in the custody of the badger detective.

[Source: "Early Logging Day Tales – Murder Will Out" by Bert Claflin. Green Bay Press Gazette, July 16, 1935]


:: Posted in Animals on November 18, 2010

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