Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Wild Boar Story

When researching your family's history, don't overlook interviewing your ancestors' neighbors. Sometimes they can tell you great stories. The one below comes from a Pierce family neighbor, Mallory Brannan, who was a child at the time of the event.

N.B. "Bonie" Pierce marketed his Wilmer, Alabama, farm's produce in Mobile, a trip of about 25 miles over some roads that were unpaved at the time. He could sell his goods to the many grocers along Dauphin Street or hawk them himself, as he sometimes did at the City Market beneath the old City Hall on Royal Street.

Wild game from around Wilmer also proved popular with Mobile grocery merchants. Bonie shot rabbits at night, gutted them and then sold them to the stores on Dauphin Street. The stores would hang the rabbits from lines for customers to select.

Bonie Pierce
Bonie also caught gopher turtles and put them in cages. When he was ready to take a load of turtles to Mobile, he tied the cages to the running board of his green Model-T Ford. Occasionally, the Pierce family ate one of the turtles, which Julia, Bonie's wife, cooked up with dumplings, making a dish similar to chicken and dumplings.

But one of Bonie’s efforts to profit from the game around Wilmer went awry. Wild boars lived in a swampy area near Wilmer and were getting into Bonie’s cornfields.

So Bonie got some men from Cuss Fork, about 1.5 miles north of Wilmer, with hunting dogs to come and hunt the boar. After the men killed the boar, Bonie pulled the 400- to 500-pound carcass out of the swamp with a mule and ground sled.

He determined to sell the boar meat in Mobile but he didn’t have a container—like that used to boil the hair off hogs at slaughter time—large enough to hold the boar. Pouring boiling water over the carcass proved successful.

Once the carcass had been prepared, Bonie took it into Mobile to sell. "But it had such a strong scent, nobody would buy it," Mallory Brannan recalled many years later. "Old boars have a strong smell."

Bonie was forced to bring the boar back home, but Julia also refused to cook it. "After going to all that trouble Bonie had to leave the carcass to rot," Brannan said.

Have you had success interviewing your ancestors' neighbors?

1 comment:

  1. What a coincidence -- my cousins in SC were just telling me last week some stories of their own about hunting wild boars. They were talking only 300 pounds. They said that boars had a "scent ball" near their hind quarters, and also that sometimes, when cooked, the meat was just too rank to eat. These animals sound almost mythical -- huge, fierce, and unapproachable.