Local History - "Rattlesnake Hunting"

rattler

"Rattlesnake Hunting" by Henry Wetmore, 1872 (from The Bronson Book)

[There were so many rattlesnakes in the early Township that they threatened everyone, especially children, horses and dogs. Henry, a son of Judge William Wetmore, recalls this boyhood incident.]

"A man named Samuel Baker came here in about 1808 or 1809, and built a Log House just North of the Cemetery, at that time a plan was formed to watch every spring at the different places where the snakes came up out of the Gulf [the gorge at Stow Corners] until they should be exterminated....One Sabbath morning, about 10 a.m. he discovered a large number of snakes just opposite the cemetery coming out of a small crevice in the rocks about 10 feet below where he stood, at the base of which was a narrow strip of land above the abyss below, upon which the snakes were sunning.

When Baker supposed they were all out he pulled off his coat and dropped it down the mouth of the crevice, and then with a pole prepared for the purpose he corked the crevice with his coat. Then with the pole he descended and killed 65 rattle snakes. My Father, Brother, good old Deacon Butler, myself and others saw them counted, why I have mentioned Deacon Butler's name is this: he, with the few inhabitants here, was holding a Deacon's Meeting at Stow Corners in a Log House, and just as Mr. Butler was in the midst of a prayer Baker's son came bounding into the room exclaiming at the top of his voice, "O, Dad's got a pile of snakes; Dad's got a pile of snakes!" The Deacon said, "Amen," and all ran out to view the slain enemy, which was a sight for us indeed and which I will remember.

"My Father hired Baker to blast open the den the next day, and found only one more in there, the largest one of all, supposed to be the pioneer, and the mother and grandmother of a good share of those killed....This watching was continued every spring until they were exterminated in this vicinity."