THE GARLITZ FAMILY
[from Brown’s Miscellaneous Writings by Jacob Brown, Printed in 1896]
"____Garlitz, father of Christian, Henry and John, and two sisters, was born in Montgomery county, Md. During or near the close of the Revolutionary War, he removed with his family westward and located in the southeastern part of Somerset, (then Bedford,) Co., Pa. Here his family grew up, Henry and John remained in Pennsylvania, and Christian stepping over the line into his native State. He married Elizabeth, daughter of old Casper Durst*
Christian Garlitz first located himself on what is now known as the Samuel Brown farm, where he remained for some time, and strengthened himself sufficiently to purchase several hundred acres of land on Chestnut Ridge, three miles south of Grantsville. Here he established himself for life, and opened up a good mountain farm. The situation, prospects and atmosphere were delightful. At this place (now owned by Jacob Gnagey, Esq.,) all his family, four sons and as many daughters, were born and raised. The sons were Jacob, Henry, Jonas and Basil Tomlinson, all living except Jonas. Jacob is living in retirement near here, seventy-seven years old, and is deservedly respected. Henry is living in Somerset county Pa., and Basil T. in Cumberland, Md., and is the popular host of the Tremont House. He is the youth of the family, but most prominent. Was sheriff of Allegany county in 1863-65, and now holds a place in the court for his county.
Christian Garlitz in his nature and character was strong, decided, emphatic and industrious; hardy and strictly honest; in comfortable circumstances, but no more. Ostensibly a farmer, but really he loved the deep forest more than his fields and meadows, and his rifle more than the plow or scythe, as will later appear. Though of a positive and excitable temperament, he was exceedingly genial and cordial in his manners. Hospitable and sociable in the good olden time fashion. Fond of company and entertainment. All the neighbors knew that, and availed themselves accordingly. His home was a lively one, and he always the central figure. His hunting anecdotes were inexhaustible, and the delight of all. But everyone knew his word, or statement must not be questioned. So approval always came, and contradiction never. This useful, respected and marked man died at home in the year 1845, of a long besieging tumor in his throat, aged 68 years. His widow survived him till 1863.
But our subject gained his great distinction as a hunter. In this he had no superior in this or Allegany county, unless it was Meshach Browning, who has commemorated his achievements in a very readable book of 400 pages of his own authorship. Our hero lacks this advantage, and after a lapse of forty years it will be possible only for the writer to do more than faintly reproduce a few of his feats with his rifle and traps. What is now stated is as reliable in facts as can be with such a vista of time behind. Living persons much older than the writer can and do verify.
Olde "Christly" carried his rifle and manipulated his traps for forty seasons, and only gave them up when infirmity and waning of his favorite game compelled him. Deer, bears, panthers and wolves were his staples, and he hardly ever condescended to anything smaller. Sometimes he would take a hand in reducing the number of such "varmints" as wild cats, catamounts, foxes and coons.
It would be now impossible to come within hundreds in computing the number of the deer and ferocious beasts he distroyed[sic] in his long service in the woods.
In his early days the beasts of prey were the terror of the sparse population, and the scourge of domestic animals. When a foray would be made upon the fold by these animals, Christian Garlitz would be sent for as a matter of course, just as a doctor would be called for a sick person and he would always respond and generally afford relief with his rifle or traps. He killed a great many deer in his time, but only enough for his table and such as he could conveniently sell. He never would slay this beautiful animal wantonly, or out of season. It has been protected by many statutes since 1789 - the first.
He was the untiring foe of the bear panther and the wolf - the latter he hated the worst. These animals have had a price upon their heads for almost as many years as their gentle victim has been protected. There was not a season in which he did not destroy more or less of these troublesome beasts.
Once Jesse Tomlinson had a lot of sheep killed by these night prowler in view of his house. Christly was sent for and in due time he and his traps were on hand, and in a short time the whole pack (9) was caught; and on another occasion the same good old man's favorite dog was missing, with strange tracks upon the premises. Naturally the same benefactor was consulted, who heard the old man's plaintive story, and exclaimed at once, "A painter sure as you liff." Momentarily the trusty rifle and shot-pouch were in place and he and his well-trained dogs were on the warpath, and panther tracked to his lair, and there, too, was found the missing dog, partially devoured. The surprised animal, to save himself, sprang up a large spruce tree, (as is their habit in time of danger) but the unfailing rifle brought down his body crushing through the boughs to the ground.
Again, a poor beginner, far off in the woods, had one of his two cows killed by the hated wolves. Forthwith the sufferer came down to Christly. The story was no more than half-told till his ire was up. Three traps were brought forth, greased and smoked, ready for the campaign. One of the culprits was captured the first night, and so on till the whole gang of seven were destroyed. It ought to be remarked that great skill and strategy is requisite in trapping wolves - the wildest of quadrupeds.
About the year 1825 these animals became exceedingly troublesome and demonstrative from their base of operation the famous Wolf Swamp and Meadow Mountain. They had the audacity to venture upon the premises of their old enemy and kill one of his cows. This was an insult and an injury not to be overlooked. If he failed to swear on this excited occasion, it was simply because he could not fairly do justice to the subject. The slaughtered animal was hauled out to a gushing spring on the side of the mountain already named, and a cordon of traps set in the most strategic manner. The campaign lasted a month, resulting in the capture of the whole brigade, sixteen in number, the last one being a phenomena in color (jet black). The balance of the account in this transaction was on the side of the trapper. There was considerable less disagreeable music on the mountain thereafter to the bovines. About this time the law provided a bounty of $15 for the scalp of an old wolf, $6 for a young one and $5 for a panther. Some years later the amount was increased to $30 for the first named. It can now be stated as a certainty that for the last twenty-five years the wolf has been an extinct animal in Garrett and Allegany counties.
The late Holmes Wiley used to insist that the railroads and the iron belonging thereto drove them off. Every year we hear of a few bears being captured, and occasionally a panther, but for many years they have been neither destructive or feared. The last panther killed in this end of the county was killed by John Wilhelm.
He relished a bear fight more than any other; he was an obstinate animal, and a battle with him always involved excitement and duration. He could not be dispatched at once with the old time weapon - a special rifle was kept for his benefit which was called the "bear gun" and which threw an ounce ball.
The old woodsman always contended a wounded bear would plug up a small bullet hole, and thus staunch the flow of blood and in that way sometimes escaped. Though brave and fearless, old Christly always fought cautiously and according to his own rules, one of which was after firing, never to move a step till he had reloaded. Even wounded game is often dangerous to an unprepared hunter. He understood the tactics and etiquette of the woods perfectly. Once a neighbor of some hunting pretentions, wounded a large bear in the shoulder, but he lacked the skill or courage to secure the game. The veteran had to be consulted; forces in men and dogs were joined, and a grand fight came off. Bruin was driven to the last ditch by the allies, that is he took an upright position with his back against a tree, and boxed the dogs right and left with his sound arm. After the sparring had proceeded, and been enjoyed for some time, the old chief put an end to the battle with a well-directed shot from his "cannon". The product of this heroic beast was 400 lbs. of cleaned meat, and a half barrel of oil. Once while in the quiet pursuit of a fine buck with a favorable snow, though the trail was not a hot one, but the pursuer knew about when and where the game could be overtaken, but suddenly disappointment and disgust came. A "sneaking painter" had been lying in wait for the unsuspecting deer, and sprang upon it with a leap of 30 feet; it was already killed, partially eaten, and snugly hidden for future meals. The circumvented hunter at once went for his traps, and set them the same evening to the ready prepared bait. The first visit found the sneak in bonds, ready for fight, but at great disadvantage. The enraged beast tried to climb a tree, and tore gashes in it that could be seen for many years. He was duly shot according to the law in such case made and provided - length 11 feet from nose to tip of tail - the regulated length of a fence rail. This was Christly's last panther fight, and the scene of it near the Laurel Run.
In the early part of his hunting life he shot an elk, between the waters of Horse Pond and Savage. This was the last of the race in this county, but their immense antlers in early times were frequently found. Deer of the male kind will sometimes fight very viciously, even with their own kind. Our subject once found positive evidence of this fact in the woods. Two horned bucks had fought a desperate duel. The weaker one was dead and the stronger alive, with their great horns so interlocked that they could not be disentangled till the survivor was killed, and a hatchet used to cut off some of the involved prongs.
Want of space constrains further indulgence in the many exciting and dangerous encounters in which our subject participated; but no doubt the reader would like to know something of the weapons which destroyed so many animals. He never used but two rifles - the bear gun or cannon already mentioned, which disappeared long ago. But his favorite gun is yet in existence, and is in the possession of his son, Basil, and greatly prized by him. It is of the ancient pattern, four feet six inches long, after being cropped at the breach in changing it from a flint to percussion lock; with plain brass mounting, no silver, that would glare and frighten game. On the face of the barrel dimly appears, "M. Rizer", the maker, no doubt. He used the same shot pouch throughout his life. The suspended powder horn by long usage and mere friction became worn through. He would not replace it with a new one, but repaired it with a jacket of leather, and in this way it came to his son, who deeply regrets its loss by a careless neighbor. What precious articles these would be for the relic hunter, such as Judge Tomkins, of the Pension Bureau. Meshach Browning's celebrated gun is said to be in the Smithsonian Institute.
Christly had a story or anecdote for any place, time or situation, nearly always of his own experience. No one dared exceed him. When a good one would be told by another he was always ready with a better one. Even his beloved "Liss" had to bear some of his often-told stories, one of which was something like this: In early life one evening in the "dusk", she went out to milk her cows, one of which was a black muly. After milking one, she walked towards her muly, as she thought, but she trotted away with a heavy grunt. Verily it was a bear in the place of the cow. No harm whatever having been done to his spouse he just rolled upon the puncheon floor with laughter, when she told what happened. Liss often heard of this and the neighbors too. This looks incredible but no doubt is true.
When small the writer was a cowboy - not of the Texas or Kansas sort - and it was not extraordinary for him to find a deer, the wildest of all animals, associating with the cattle. The bell and want of company lured it to an unnatural circle. Its exquisitely beautiful and delicate ear loves domestic and even musical sounds. No animal in the world tames and domesticates so readily as the spotted fawn. We once had one at our early home, and it was as fond of the house as a kitten and ten times as mischievous. Once in fall season she went away with her beautiful neck adorned with a sleigh bell and scarlet band. She was escorted home by a splendid fellow of the other sex. He however, kept at very respectful distances, showing himself off to the very best advantage, but "Fanny" was a coquette and declined all his alluring invitations for any further flirtations.
Once upon a time a little conceited tailor plied his trade down at the Little Crossings, then the business center of all this country. He was very fond of his little squirrel rifle, and one day as a flock of swan were flying very low, he fired upwards, and down came a bird. The pride of the little prince of the iron goose at once mounted higher than the range of his game. It was not long till old Christly came down to the little metropolis, and he was vauntingly asked whether he had ever shot a swan on the wing. No, but he caught one [in] a foot race once, and got a good thrashing with it[s] wings in the bargain. The tailor was never heard to say anything more about his big white bird. Again he was asked whether he ever met with disappointments, or was fooled in hunting; Yes, often; but the worst case was something like this; He heard a crashing noise in the woods, "jist" like the tramp of a bear - cocked his gun and crept along for a long distance, till in sight of it, and what you think it was, no bear or "painter" either, but a limb that had fallen from a tree so d____d crooked it could not lay still. "I sneaked home and hung my gun for a long time."
Once storm stayed at a house he did not often visit (our own home) for a day and night, he indulged without stint or reserve in his anecdotes. The day was bitterly cold, just such a one he said, as when he once froze his finger stiff as sticks in setting his wolf traps. To save his fingers he filled his mittens with fresh snow, and then carefully inserted the bitten members in his woolen mittens, and in this way, he restored them to life. At the same time, he was asked by one of the youngsters of the house, if he knew anything about coons. He said he did not consider them fit game for a hunter, and never bothered much with them, but once in the latter part of the winter he was out in the woods and saw a great many tracks. The further he went the more he saw, and they all appeared to be going in the same direction. He determined to see what it all meant, and at last he came to an immense old hollow chestnut tree and it was as full of coons as a hive with bees, and as they breathed the cracks of the tree would open and close. He was asked whether he got any of them. No, mighty glad they did not get him, for they could bite and scratch one's shins like the mischief.
*One of these sisters became the wife of John Custer, of Cresaptown, Md., who was the grand-father of Gen. Geo A. Custer, whom the whole country admired. No wonder he was such a fighter, when he came from stock that feared neither man or beast."
Brown's Miscellaneous Writings ~ 1880 to 1895
by Jacob Brown