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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Spanked a Bear

In frontier Wisconsin, it was not too uncommon for settlers to own a tame bear. If a female killed during a hunt had a cub, once in a while a hunter would decide to raise it. Keeping a tame bear was not without its challenges, of course, and could lead to peculiar situations like the following.

The neighbor of a man who owned a bear looked out his window one morning and saw it harassing his cow. The angry farmer stormed out of the house, marched right up to the bear, and smacked it a few times to drive it away from his livestock. When the bear finally lumbered off, he headed next door to turn his anger on the beast's owner.

"Say John," he shouted, "how can my cow give milk when your tame bear tries to wrestle with her?"

John silently pointed out the window at his bear safely chained up as usual.

Then the truth dawned on him, and the embarrassed farmer realized what a narrow escape he had just had.

This is but one of the hundreds of stories collected in the 1930s by anthropologist Charles E. Brown. See them all at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

:: Posted in Animals on August 11, 2011
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