POOR COMFORT FROM A FRIENDLY BEAR
By S. C. Turnbo
Mr. Daniel Upton, a native of North Carolina, emigrated to Ozark County, Mo., In 1857. On his arrival he made his home awhile on Lick Creek below where Gainesville Is. Then he moved to Almartha In the north part of the county. From there he went to the east prong of Brattons Spring Creek where he settled on land In the creek bottom and opened up a farm and enjoyed himself In working a little on his land and hunting a great deal. This part of the valley of the creek was a beautiful spot. Pure air and healthy timbered hills and bald knobs with large numbers of deer and some bear to hunt after. Most of citizens did not farm much then but chiefly depended on their rifles and dogs for a living, but as the game gradually disappeared the settlers commenced to open up farms and cultivating the land for corn, wheat and garden stuff. While Mr. Upton lived in Ozark County he found forty bee trees in two years. Henry E. Upton, son of Daniel Upton, who lives at the base of the Lone Ash Bald Hill 6 miles west of Gainesville, tells of his fathers experience one day with a friendly bear which he found its company to be too familiar to be comfortable. "My father had rode out from home into the hills stock hunting and had not dog or gun with him and saw a big bear lying down on a ledge of rock eating hickory nuts. The animal was rather docile and more friendly than wild. He rode up in 25 paces of it and stopped and watched it burst the nuts with its teeth. His bearship was in such a friendly mood that he seemed to invite him down and help to gather the hickory nuts together and help eat them, but of course my father declined to accept the seeming invitation. Continuing my father said, "I noted its actions with much curiosity and expected to see it rise to its feet and shamble off but I was mistaken for it seemed to not have any inclination to go away from its feast of nuts. I wanted to see it run and did not wish to ride off and leave it there. I waited and continued to wait until I become weary of watching and waiting so long but Bruin seemed to be satisfied and went on with his work of eating the nuts the same as if I was not there. Finally I concluded to give the beast a round up by giving him a scare and see It run. I commenced slapping the palms of my hands together and hallooing at It which had some effect on his bearship for he rose to his feet and ran down the hillside from my view but he soon come back again and circled around me then advanced toward me from the opposite side from where it ran off. I sat still on my horse for I was interested in knowing what the bear was going to do. When the animal had approached in ten feet of where I was seated on my horse it stopped and rose on Its haunches. I was amazed at its audacity and supposed it meant to attack me. Its forepaws hung down at its sides and the beast looked at me very impudent. It was strange that my horse kept quiet but he did. His nerves were more settled than mine appeared to be. True., I could have galloped away from the presence of the seemingly fearless Bruin, but somehow I felt a little charmed by the black creature and we kept scrutinizing each others countenance until my fascination for the bear passed off and noticing no disposition of Bruin wanting to retreat I made up my mind to bluff him by charging up to him and suiting the action to the thought I urged my horse forward toward the beast making all the noise I could, whooping and yelling. The bear was not very easy frightened for he kept perfectly still until my horses head almost touched him and I thought he was not going to move. But fortunately he now lowered himself and left the spot on a fast run and so my ruse secceeded in scaring him at last. I congratulated myself on my escape, but I counted too soon for soon after the bear had passed beyond my view he turned and come back. I was now frightened very bad for I imagined it would go for me this time, but Bruin halted in 50 Yards of me and looking at me a moment he turned round and ran out of my sight the third time. This was the last I saw of It. Such close communion with a bear made one feel a little feverish."
The old farm where Mr. Upton lived on Brattons Spring Creek is known as the old Dan Upton farm to the present time.
Springfield-Greene County Library