Wolf bounties once paid in Hancock County

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

Hunters have been on the trail of foxes in Hancock County lately (1962) and have bagged quite a number of them.

There were times in years gone by that not only foxes but wolves and wild cats were roaming the forests of Hancock County.

A bounty was paid on wolves and for a number of years, hunters were thus rewarded for killing such animals in Hancock County. The clerk of courts had charge of the payment of bounties and kept a record book from year to year that told the story of the number of wolves which were slain in the county.

The book, which old records say was about the size of passbooks which banks issue to depositors, is now among the accumulated files at the courthouse. Clerk of Courts Charles “Pete” Oman said this week the book was not among the possessions he inherited within his office at the county building, and he added that it was probably among the records which are stored in the attic of the courthouse.

In a newspaper story which appeared in 1901 in one of the Findlay newspapers — over 60 years ago — the statement was made that the last entry in the book was made in 1854. So it is not surprising that the wolf bounty book should go into storage, for there evidently was no use for it after the county became fairly well settled and the wolves disappeared.

“Register of wolf orders, or book for entering, etc., to whom drawn for Hancock County, Ohio,” read the title of the bounty book.

There were eight entries in the book. The first was made Jan. 17, 1846, and the last June 7, 1854. The first was an order drawn on the state treasurer for the sum of $4.25 in favor of Thomas G. Wells and Joseph T. Hulls for one scalp “over six months old.” The second order was for the same amount in favor of Peter E. Stambaugh issued July 11, 1846. The next order, for the same amount, was issued to William Thompson Nov. 14, 1846. Benjamin Cummins received the fourth bounty Dec. 12, 1846.

Considerable time elapsed before another scalp was taken, evidently, for it was not until Oct. 23, 1847, that another order was drawn, this time to William P. Spence for $4.25, which apparently was the established price for scalps. All of these orders were issued by William L. Henderson, who was clerk of courts at the time.

It was a full year before another order was drawn on the wolf fund of the state from Hancock County. This was issued to Joel Pendleton Oct. 28, 1848, for the usual amount. Mr. Pendleton served as surveyor of Hancock County for 35 years, the longest period of service in a county office in the county’s history. Some of his old instruments are now on display at the courthouse. With them is a powder horn which he carried about the county in connection with his duties. He evidently encountered wild animals at times and was equipped to deal with them, as the bounty for a wolf scalp attests.

Four more years elapsed before another bounty was paid. Carey M. Hopkins was the recipient of the customary $4.25 Dec. 18, 1852. The last entry in the little official volume called for a similar amount to be paid to W.M. Eagle, June 7, 1854. The last three orders were issued by Absalom P. Byal, who was then clerk of courts.

Altogether the sum of $34 was paid out as wolf bounties over the period covered.

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