Perils of travel
From: Lights and lines of Indian character
and scenes of pioneer life
BY J. V. H. Clark, A.M.
Published by: E.H. Babcock
Syracuse N.Y, 1854

LIKE many other of the pioneers of this country, Mr. Oliver Stevens endured severe privations, and was a participant in many startling incidents and adventures. On one occasion, in the month of March, 1792, he resolved to attend the town meeting of the town of Mexico, held that year at what is now called Pulaski. He started off early in the morning, with his gun in hand and a knapsack of provisions oii his back, There was no road, nor scarcely a path. He relied mainly on his skill as a woodsman, on the few blazed trees that were as uncertain guides, and on his knowledge of courses from the position of the sun, to guide him safely through his journey. He traveled on, unconscious of harm till near the middle of the afternoon, when suddenly he found himself beset by a pack of hungry wolves. By their howling he was aroused not only to a sense of his danger, but to the fact that he had lost his way, and had no means of recovering it. He set forward with vigor, in the hope of coming out at a “clearing,” in the vicinity of the place of his destination. But his exertions were all to no purpose. The more he struggled for relief, the more he became convinced of the peril of his situation. The wolves gradually drew nearer and nearer, and seemed by their boldness to be meditating an attack. At length one, bolder than his companions, a large black one, advanced to within a few paces of him, upon which he fired and killed him at once. The scent of the blood of the dead wolf seemed to increase the voracity of the survivors, and for a time he thought he should in turn be slain. Nothing daunted, he stood at bay, looking the hungry pack firmly in the eyes. After a while they retired to a respectful distance, sitting around on their haunches, as if holding a council of war. During this cessation of hostilities, Mr. Stevens struck a fire and kindled it, reloaded his gun, and sallied forth, dragging the dead wolf by the heels to his fiery fortress. At this stage of the affair it seemed as if the fury of the wolves was ungovernable. They approached very near to him, growling and snapping their jaws in the most determined fury. He stamped, hallooed, shouted, and cast burning brands among them, until they finally disappeared. Upon this, he added fuel to the fire, got up a bright light, and began to feel somewhat safe. His next business was to secure the skin of his conquered foe, which was soon effected. By this time it became quite dark. A quantity of fuel was gathered to keep up the light during the long and dreary night that was to succeed. Here the solitary wanderer stood, not daring to refresh himself with sleep. He was frequently greeted with howls from the wolves roaming round in the darkness, who seemed unwilling to relinquish their right to make a meal of him, yet had not the courage to take it. Towards morning he was relieved from his anxiety by the retreat of the wolves, who left, and disturbed him no more. He now prepared a hasty meal at the fire, partook of it, and concluded to retrace his steps. Packing up his wolfskin, he proceeded homeward. The sun rose to meridian, and still he traveled on. Night came, and for ought he could tell, he was no nearer home than when he started in the morning. Being weary with his day’s journey, he again kindled a fire, laid himself down to rest, and slept soundly till the morrow. At early dawn he again set forward in quest of home, and about ten o’clock in the morning, to his indescribable joy, discovered the British flag flying from the fort at Oswego. The officers of the garrison, to whom he related his adventure, treated him with great kindness. With them he spent the remainder of the day, and next morning set out with a light heart for home. The day following—the fifth from his departure—he arrived gladly to his family, who had become seriously alarmed for his safety. The bounty then paid by the State for killing a full-grown wolf was forty dollars, which in due time he received. This in some degree proved a balm for his sufferings, but for which, he would not again encounter the dangers he had risked.

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