A T R U E S T O R Y
THE BULL AND I
Harry C. Grover, 1885 – 1969
Here’s a little background on my dad. He was born on Christmas Day in 1885. When he was two years old, he fell downstairs and broke his back. It didn’t get any attention, so he was a hunchback the rest of his days. He had only a third-grade education but became a bookkeeper. He had a beautiful hand-writing. I guess you could call him a self-made man.
I went to work for Joe A. on a farm in a northern county of Kansas.
Joe had a bunch of cattle and a mean white-faced bull named Pete.
Previous to my going to work they had dehorned the bull on account of his
being so mean to the horses and the other cattle, but that didn’t take
the meanness away from him. He had every horse on the farm scared
of him, so
a few months later Joe hitched up his buggy and said he was taking his
wife to see the doctor across the Blue River eight miles distant.
He told me to take my pony and ride out into the east pasture and bring
in a cow and her new calf. I started out through the night pasture, through
the gate to the east pasture, and found the cattle on the east side of
Then the pony seemed to realize that she would have to roll over to get free from him. She started to turn over, and the saddle horn struck me near the heart. I was lying on sandy ground, and I drew down my left shoulder so that the saddle horn slipped up and struck my collar bone and broke it. The pony got to her feet, and I did the same at the same time. The pony then took out through a brush patch, and the bull brushed me aside as he took out after her and followed her about 20 to 30 feet before stopping. I figured he would turn and come back after me, so I tried to climb a tree nearby.
I tried to reach a branch with my left hand but found I couldn’t use my
left arm, so I started for the fence, and the bull started for me, but
I beat him and got over on the other side in a hurry. I looked around
for the pony and saw her over by the dividing fence. I started over
to her, keeping the fence between myself and the bull, and when the pony
saw me coming she
Pete, the bull got worse, and I carried my long-barreled 22-pistol with me when I had to go through the pasture, and every time the bull would show up, I’d shoot him. That wouldn’t hurt him much but would stop him. That went on for some little time until Joe finally decided to sell the bull to the butcher. The butcher offered him $20 and said he would be out on a certain day to get him. On that day Joe said, “Let’s saddle up and go out and bring Pete in so it will be handier for him to get him.” I said, “All right, but I’m going to stay my distance from that bull.” He laughed and said, “O.K., coward. I’m not afraid as long as I’m on my black mare.”
We rode through the night pasture, and when we got down to the gate and opened it, there was the bunch of cattle right where they were when the bull took after me. I rode out to the side and told Joe to drive Pete through the gate, and I’d go ahead and be ready to close the gate. He just laughed and called me a coward again, but I didn’t mind—I wanted to see the fun, which I knew would come. He got the bull as far as the creek, a few yards from the edge, and there Pete balked. Joe sat on his mare and kept cracking his whip, trying to urge the bull on, but suddenly the bull turned and started for him. He wheeled the mare and started whipping her. She tried to run, but Pete caught up with her in a hurry, butted her and would lift her rear end every jump she made. Joe’s hat fell off, and he was scared half to death.
After they had gone on in this way awhile, the bull skidded to a stop, and Joe came up to where I was. I’d dismounted and was lying on the ground kicking up my heels and laughing my head off. Joe rode up and said, “What are you laughing at, you fool? That wasn’t funny.” I told him that was the funniest show I’d ever seen and asked him what he was going to do now. He said, “That bull’s going to die before sundown.” So we rode to the house, and got there just as the butcher came. When we explained what had happened the man said, “Well, I don’t think I’d better try to take him to town to butcher if he’s that mean,” and I told him that was a wise decision, that the bull would probably wreck every team and buggy or wagon he met on the way to town. So Joe said he’d go to one of the neighbors and see if he could get a couple of men to come and help butcher the bull. The neighbor and his son said they’d come later in the evening after they’d finished their day’s work.
were Jim and his son who got there about dusk. Jim had a double-barreled
shot gun, and the son had a revolver. Joe had a squirrel rifle.
We hitched up to the wagon, came to the gate, and there they turned the
team and wagon over to me, saying they would go up the hill and over to
where they could hear Pete fussing over the east fence with the neighbor’s
men came up and I asked them what was the matter. They said that
they’d shot him with the shot gun, but he got up and ran, so we all got
in the wagon and followed the herd. Right on the precipice of another
hill, the bull started to charge the team, and Joe shot at him, but it
wasn’t a good shot, and he fell and rolled against the wagon. I had
to whip the team up to get out of the way, and the bull rolled head over
heels down the side of the hill. Jim with his shot gun ready went
down the hill right after him. He no more than got to the bottom
than the bull got up, and Jim came back up faster than he went down.
I called to him and asked what was wrong, and he stammered, I just happened
to remember that I snapped that shell at a
time Pete was getting tired, so he and the other cattle headed for the
southwest corner of the pasture to bed down for the night. Joe walked
within ten feet of the bull, shot, and missed his shot entirely.
Then when the bull lay down again, Jim said, “Load that gun and let me
have it,” and walked up and killed the bull. We skinned him right
there and cut him into quarters
The next day Joe peddled it out to his neighbors, selling around $11 worth of meat, but when the neighbors found out it was bull-meat, they threw it to the dogs and got pretty mad about it. We found 22 bullet holes through the hide but only one had gone into the flesh, the balance just through the hide. Joe sold the hide for around $11 as the buyer didn’t unwrap it and see the holes in it. So he got about the same by selling the meat and the hide as he would have got from the butcher, and we cut up and dried two salt barrels full of meat. Often I would go up into the hay loft where it was stored when I came in from the field and take my pocket knife and cut me off a chunk of the dried beef to eat—it was real good, or else I was always hungry, and thought it was good.
The end of a true story —
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