Thursday, May 7, 2009

Harry Wilshire of Scipioville

April turned into a very busy month and before I knew it, was gone! I was finally able to get outside and pick some daffodils; this week I have been watching the newborn calves in my neighbor’s field. There is a new one almost every day! No doubt about it, Scipio is still a farming community for many of us.
I was also honored to receive Registered Historian status from the NYS Association of Public Historians in April. I have been working towards that for a few years now. Maybe you are reading this blog because you saw the address in the nice article in our local newspaper, The Citizen about my achievement.
Or maybe you are looking for an ancestor, or to learn more about central NY and the Finger Lakes in our early days.
An interesting way to learn more is to use the Footnote website to look up old news articles (there is a link to Footnote at the bottom of this page).
In the first decade of the 20th century, there was a local paper called the Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal. I found a story about a Scipioville teenager named Harry Wilshire that was quite intriguing.
The headline boldly declares in capital letters “CHASED BY A WHAT-IS-IT – Scipioville Youth is Driven from Woods by Strange Wild Beast.” With a heading like that I just had to read more.
It seems that Harry was a good boy who did not indulge in alcohol, lending credence to his “bloodcurdling” tale. Out for an afternoon of squirrel hunting on the Searing farm, and doing a little daydreaming, Harry suddenly looked up to see a wild beast, not five rods away.
Being a smart fellow, Harry shot at the beast, causing it to jump into the air, then make a beeline for poor Harry who turned and ran. Or as the writer put it, Harry “put on the high clutch for the open country.”Somehow, Harry managed to outrun this beast, and safely made it home. The description he provided later matched that of a bobcat. The story mentions that a similar creature was seen a few years past in Union Springs, less than 4 miles away.

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