The Extermination of the American Bison eBook

William Temple Hornaday
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about The Extermination of the American Bison.

“The occurrence of a stream in western New York, called Buffalo Creek, which empties into the eastern end of Lake Erie, is commonly viewed as traditional evidence of its occurrence at this point, but positive testimony to this effect has thus far escaped me.

“This locality, if it actually came so far eastward, must have formed the eastern limit of its range along the lakes.  I have found only highly questionable allusions to the occurrence of buffaloes along the southern shore of Lake Ontario.  Keating, on the authority of Colhoun, however, has cited a passage from Morton’s “New English Canaan” as proof of their former existence in the neighborhood of this lake.  Morton’s statement is based on Indian reports, and the context gives sufficient evidence of the general vagueness of his knowledge of the region of which he was speaking.  The passage, printed in 1637 is as follows:  They [the Indians] have also made descriptions of great heards of well growne beasts that live about the parts of this lake [Erocoise] such as the Christian world (untill this discovery) hath not bin made acquainted with.  These Beasts are of the bignesse of a Cowe, their flesh being very good foode, their hides good lether, their fleeces very usefull, being a kinde of wolle as fine almost as the wolle of the Beaver, and the Salvages doe make garments thereof.  It is tenne yeares since first the relation of these things came to the eares of the English.’  The ‘beast’ to which allusion is here made [says Professor Allen] is unquestionably the buffalo, but the locality of Lake ‘Erocoise’ is not so easily settled.  Colhoun regards it, and probably correctly, as identical with Lake Ontario. * * * The extreme northeastern limit of the former range of the buffalo seems to have been, as above stated, in western New York, near the eastern end of Lake Erie.  That it probably ranged thus far there is fair evidence.”

PENNSYLVANIA.—­From the eastern end of Lake Erie the boundary of the bison’s habitat extends south into western Pennsylvania, to a marsh called Buffalo Swamp on a map published by Peter Kalm in 1771.  Professor Allen says it “is indicated as situated between the Alleghany River and the West Branch of the Susquehanna, near the heads of the Licking and Toby’s Creeks (apparently the streams now called Oil Creek and Clarion Creek).”  In this region there were at one time thousands of buffaloes.  While there is not at hand any positive evidence that the buffalo ever inhabited the southwestern portion of Pennsylvania, its presence in the locality mentioned above, and in West Virginia generally, on the south, furnishes sufficient reason for extending the boundary so as to include the southwestern portion of the State and connect with our starting point, the District of Columbia.


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The Extermination of the American Bison from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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