WEDDING AND DEER HUNT IN KENTUCKY.
WRITTEN FOR THE “ SPIRIT OF THE TIMES,” BY NATT. PHILLIPS.
Mr. Editor,--I s’pose you think we have no fun in these diggins ; you are sucked in ; and to show you that you are, I will just give you a description of a Deer Chase, which beats them at the White Sulphur Springs to death, in my opinion. Our great hunting place is between the two Kentuckys, about two miles above the little town of Carrolton, in the forks of Kentucky and Ohio rivers.
As myself and my old friend T. was on our way to the hunting ground, with our dogs and guns, and in about a mile of our place of staing all night, we was met by a horseman, coming down at full speed. “ What ! hellow, Jim ! are you drunk--riding for the Doctor, or what is putting you in such a splutter ?” “ Nothing more than a wedding,” says Jim ; “ old John Snooks’s daughter Bets is married to-day, and the greatest frolic will be there to-night that ever was there or any where else, or I am mistaken. There is about one hundred, with, I think, about sixty gals ; and if I can git a fiddler, the way you will sorter hear it thunder towards dark will be curious. Turn and go up you and T., and I will go on after my man.” So off he puts, leaving T. and myself consulting ; says T. “ We had better not go up there--they are a hell of a set, and the way there will be all sorts of fighting scrapes, and nocking one another in the eyes before morning, will be a caution !” “ I am determined to go, T.,” said I, “ and we will manedge to get some place to put our dogs up in, and we will give them one round to-night to make them recollect us. I am sure we will be well received, for I can give them ‘ ‘Possom up the gum stump,’ and ‘ Luther Britches,’ at a rate that will astonish them.” “ Well, if you will go, go it,” says T., and turning our course, steared our horses’ heads plump for the wedding, which was about two miles.
When we came up to the house, and was about dismounting, the croud outside being mery with liquor, gave us three chears, noing me a sort of gouger on the fiddle. Well, we got down ; the old man coming up and bidding us welcome in a very friendly manner, saying we ware very welcome to any of his out-houses to shet our dogs in (eight in number), as good as ever struck the trade of fox or deer, which we jammed into the smoke-house quicker than shooting. By this time there was several young men of my acquaintance come up, wishing me to go and be introduced to the gals. The house, a duble cabbin, two large rooms, filled to the overflowing of about thirty outside, comfourtably drinking and enjoying themselves by a large log fire. Well, as I drew near the house, with one of the young men by my side, a kind of master of ceremonies, I began to pluck up my shirt collar, and set my hat kiner on one side, to make a grand entray, and attract as much attention as posible. As we steped about three paces into the house, he lets go my arm, and steped to the center of the room, the gals and boys being strung three duble all round on benches and chairs. Says he, “ Gentlemen and ladys, Mr. Natt Phillipps, of the Big Bottom.” I straitened as erect as possible, and made a low bow with a considerable flourish of my hand above the head, to the ladies on the benches to the right. Then turning on my right heel with a majestic movement, and draging my left heel agreeable to cience into the hollow of my right foot, I unfortunately caught her in a crack between two punchions, which brought me to the left about flat of my back, slap across the lap of a gal and her beau, nocking the combs out of her head, and bursting the waist ribbons and apron strings to fitts, to my great confusion ; for on getting up as speedily as possible, I recognised in the lady the beautiful girl that I had got aquainted with at the barbycue down on Little Greecy. And her beau, which I didn’t like from first sight, jumps to pick up her combs ; he was a big six footer, long arms, stoop-shouldered, and red-headed, and seemed, from his looks, nearly in the act of mounting me as I began my apology to the lady. By this time all eyes was on me, and everything as hush as death, which added very much to my confusion. But I began--“ Madam, you must excuse this unfortunate accident ; I am sure I don’t know how to begin to apologise.” I stamerd very much, and came to nearly a stand still, as my friend who introduced me steps up, saying, “ Damit, Nat, no excuse is wanting--the lady nows it was purely accidental. Come, take a chair, set down, and enjoy yourself.” So taking me by the arm, led me across the room to a seat, whilst the girl left hers to go into the next room to adjust her apron strings and ribbons, to the great annoyance of Redhead, who got up, walked the room with his white corded pantaloons and black coat, fitting beautifully, as he thought, but with furles actually hanging from his seat nearly down to the bend of the nea, and occasionally saying in low curses to himself, “ Damed drunken pup--ought to be cicked,” and so on. I never said anything, but swelled a little about the neck, and thinks I, “ old fellow, if you aint mity careful I will rampoosell you a fore morning ;” still having some douts, for he was an ugly looking child. Well, being seated, I presently discovered that the old man had provided beautifully for his company in the eating line, for in a large old-fashioned chimney, about seven feet across, sought a tollerable sised salt biler in one corner, that had bin made full of backbone and chicken pie to an overflowing, all of which had bin taken out, excepting about six gallons of rich gravey, with here and there a fragment of backbone, or chicken leg, sticken up through it.
By this time it had become dark, and the gals being very anxious for a dance, crowded around me six or seven of them with a fidle, the pretty gal in the croud insisting on me plaing them a few tunes. I smiled on all the gals in as winning a way as possible, and taking hold of the fiddle, throughed myself back in my chair in as buckish a manner as possible, sorter cross-legged, and commenced thumping and rumbling over the strings to get her in order for operating, when all at once, I heard my old friend T. out at the log fire burst out in one of his greatest glees of singing to the boys the song of “ the warm fireside and a Gorum,” as good a sole as ever lived, except sometimes would get a little too much snapped. Well, there being two rooms, and both full, it was proposed that I should move to the partition door, so that all could hear the music, and two sets dance at the same time. They soon fixed for an eight in each room, Redhed and the pretty gal heading the set in the room next to me, and standing very close, made my flesh sorter creep as I looked on. But I struck up “ Old Luther Britches,” accompanied by a lad with a big clivice, and a negro with an old coffee-pot, one third full of gravel, and the way we plade was as curious, and the way they danced was a little after the old-fashiond of cast of and right and left. And every time that gal came up on her side facing me, she gave me a look that made me eatch right under the ear, and feel so comical, that I would miss a hole turn of the tune ; but fortunately, the negro caught it up on the coffee-pot, rattled the gravel, and plaid it over his hed with velosity, he, nor the clivice, never missing the first note. Well, the reel being out, in popps Jim with his man, the fidler, which he had engaged for five dollars the night, provided he did not get drunk. A rusty-looking old chap, with two large whiskers, and his right eye smashed out, carrying under his arm a piller-case which contained his fidle ; and after taking two large pools at a big stone jug which set on a small table in one corner, he quietly seated himself, and commenced pulling the instrument out of its case, whilst we made a rush at the floor with our partners, I making a fling for the pretty gal’s hand, but could not come it, Redhead being too smart. I engaged her for the next set. Off goes the music, and at it we went with a rattling pace, changing the dance a little from right and left to hands round, with three grand flourishes til each party comes round to the place they first ocupide, lets go hands, and flies back a little from each other, and the Heavens but the old house roars like thunder all out-dooing there best, some going it on gigg time, whilst others was tareing ane beating the tune all to smash after the old fidler, as plain as a pair of drumsticks would have done itt. I cannot say that claret was taped on all sides ; but I say the Perspiration ran freely. This is the Dance for curing the Dyspepsy, and if you have any friend that is groing meaguer and thin with a Towne life, just send him out here the tenth of next September, and before the hunting and dancing season is over, I will have him as sound as a rock. Let him bring loose clothing if he wants to figuer well with the galls, for the different steps and positions he will have to throw himself into in this Dance would split your tight-laced and stayed Dandy from the Locomotives to his cranium, every Popp.
But I am straing from the dance ; every thing ends, so did it. The gals were all led to there seats, while some toddy was making to go round, and the old fidler whetting his whissell from the big gug, making ready for the next reel. I got alongside the pretty gall, and dang it--what was the matter, I dont now--I could’nt say a word. Had she put a spell on me, or what ? I could talk to any other gall living--never had bin done up before--but now I could’nt come it. I was making a desperate rally, as Readhead walked up and interrupted me by making an offer for her hand the next reel ; she thanked hi, and said that she was ‘ engaged,’ and as he walked off looking very savarigious, she says,--“ What a dispisable crature that is ; you must be on your gard, for I have heard him make some ugly threats to-night, and fighting is his trade.” I felt mity good for the anxiety she shoud about me, but let he rnow that I was one of them cind of children myself when called on, and the sines seemed to show a cuf or two between us afore morning. Well, the music beginning to tune up caused a general scuffle to the floor for places ; myself and partner headed to the dance, when to my surprise, Readhead loozeing his place below, came up with his partner to crowd down the head ; I gave way a little, determined  not to have a furse with the galls on the floor, and noing the cuple below would have to go of, I determined to try him the minuit it was over. Well, we capered and ranted around mityly, got through, and seated our partners, and just as Readhead was pasing between me and the chimney, I rushed at him, made a motion to strike, but actually run into the pit of his stomach with my head, running him back into the chimney with great force, striking the back wall, and nocking him down, with the hole of his hinder parts into the cittle of grease, squirting her out on each side into the fire, cindling it up into a perfect blaze all round us ; it was hot dooings, and I began to think about getting away and leaving him and the fire to fight it out. But he was to smart, he held fast to me, and I pulled him out ni on to as fast as I shoved him in. In a moment we was both on our feet in the middle of the floor ; both drew back and striking at the same time, sliped, and fell to the floor by the side of each other ; as I drew my feet and hands under me to gather up quick, I caught hold of something with my right hand, which happened to be three goints of a backbone, dragged out of the pott by the seat of his britches. I raised and threw it with a vengeance right at his profile, takeing him above the right eye, cutting a chanel across his forehead like he had bin sawed with a hand-saw. The bone splitting at each goint flew into the clapboards, and made the old loft rattle like a hale storm. I drew back to strike, but sein he was perfectly blind, by the grease from the bone flung into his eyes, I determined on putting him out of the house ; so I run in under him, mooved him towards the door, caught the hipp lock, and threw him out heels over head slapp across the rim of a big spining wheel, which had bin set out to clear the house for dancing, braking her down, and comeing with a crash on to the bench, and then to the ground. I threw a hand into each cheak of the door, and drew my right foot back a little, to play the Zeba on him, for I expected he would come roaring like a steam car ; but the dooings in the house, and the old wheel bench, had taken the rare and charge pretty considerably out of him,--but he was beginning to crall up as the old man of the house stept out under my arm, with a hat in one hand and candle in the other. Says he, “ Young man, you was invited to my house in a friendly manner, you have abused that friendship by trying to raise a furse ever since you came here ; here is your hat, go home, and never come here again untill you learn how to behave yourself ; good night,” and walks in again. Not so Readhead, he turned and gave me an ugly look, as much to say, “ I am not done with you yet,” and walked of. Good by, if you are gone, thinks I, but never said a word, and turning into the room was complimented by the hole party for what I had done. We cupled of and seated ourselves around, and was getting mity happy, but, as some fellow said, “ Tru love never did run smothe” or “ happiness last long.” We was interrupted by a devil of a furse being cicked up out at the Log fire ; two or three of us runing out, who should it be but my old friend T., with the hole company forming a ring around him, cursing, foaming, and daming every boddy and every thing to pieces he could think of. I began to about for the cause of his madness, and presintly saw a pile of rales on fire, and that the end of his coat-tail and seat of his britches was burnt of, and hearing two chaps out to one side talking and splitting there sides nearly in laughter. Says one, “ Dam my sole, John, if the old chap has laid a little longer if we hadn’t niguerd him of plump at the small of the back.” “ Yes,” says the other, lafing fit to kill himself, “ it has she ared his coat-tail slick, and run mity hard down into the seat of his britches,” then laffing heartily, which I did not like, and as I was walking up out gumps a drunken fellow that had bin wakened by the furse, and came runing up to the crowd squeeling like Stalion, says he, “ Gentlemen here is Old Medock, dam it, bring up your fine stock, hoo the hell is this speaking on the Land Bill here ?” “ Medoc, you and the Land Bill be damed,” said T., “ hoo the hell are you come in here, I can lick you quicker than you can say Jack Ralisan.” “ Go it, old horse,” says the fellow in a perfect good umer. By this time I had walked up to him, and determined to make the best of it I could ; said I, “ T., it was all an axcident, the boys say the sparks from the log-fire caught in to the rale pile you was lying on.” “ They are a damed set of liars, didn’t I see two of them bloing the blaze up under me as I gumped up all on fire, and if it hadent bin for that fellow throughing the bucket of water on me, theyed  have burnt me up alive ; they are a set of devils, murderers, savages,” --he was going on worse than ever when I caught him by the arm, gave him a shake, and beged him to be still ; some one handing me his big coat, which I pulled on him as quick as possible civering all the breach the fire had made into his lower regions, and by persuasion and half pulling I manedged to get him into the house. By this time the wemen of the house began to raise fires under there cooking aparatuses for an early brecfast, which came on of the most substantial fare about an hour by the sun.
Well, I have bin pretty much like the fellow that worked three days on a piece of iron and steel for a broad-axe, and at last it came out a Frow, so I have bin so long at this confounded weding. But when I want to hear a thing, I want to hear the hole. So now for the Deer Chase ; as we set down to brecfast, I proposed it and was seconded by three young men who insisted on its taking place amediately after eating, and as we got through, eatch fellow made for the stable to rig and fix his horse for the chase. All being ready, T., and the three young men mounted, I made an excuse to go back to the house. I tell you this is a captain of a gall, made right every where superxscilent in the part that most of them fail in, the foot and Paster Joint and the way she can handle it’s a caution. I said a great many fine things before biding her adu, and then gumping into the sadle of a good horse, a fierce gallop brought me up to my companions in about two miles. They had stoped and was consulting, and determined to put one of the greatest punishments upon me, they could possibly have fixed on. This was to take one of the young men with me, and to go to the two stands on the river ; a thing which I positively despise, for give me the woods, the music of the Dogs, and a good horse, and I am never out of hearing, and very frequently in full view of the Chase. But go I must, it being as near from where we was to the stands on the river, as to the ground they had to go to start on. so we all put T. and two of the young men as managers of the Chase, myself and the other to the Stands on the river, which was about half a mile apart, I taking the uper stand it being the best, the Deer coming to it twice out of three times and always coming to one or the other certain, if not caught on the ground, this being the only place for miles up and down the river, but what there is a large Bottoms and farms that prevents them runing through ; here the river is about one hundred yards wide, and oposite where I set, for we allways get on the oposite from where the Deer comes in, was a long ridge which came from the main divide between the two rivers, runing down oposite to where I set to the rivers edge, and steep nearly to a perpendicular.
Just immagion to yourself, now, a fellow crouched down behind a big Sickamore, with a large Rifle across his lap, with his head reeling and noding almost to the ground, and now and then slap it takes the old Rifle Barle.--Alarmed, he gumps up, thinks the Deer and Dogs are down on him. He lisens, but he hears nothing but the thundering roar of the Back Step and Duble Shuffle of last night’s frolic roaring through his head, with now and then the crash of the Coffee Pot and Clirise, and occasionally the softer Strains of the fidle. But it was no go. He sets down again, and by straining and rubing his eyes manages to keep a wake half an hour longer. Still hears nothing, gets nearly to sleep, something strikes his ear and he gumps to his feet. By the Heavens thats my Slut, a beautiful Black Tan, whose shrill note can be heard distinctly when all of the others are out of hearing. But not long are they out ; here they come all in a bunch. Such roaring, good heavens, now they are in about a mile pouring rite down the ridge towards me. I stood with my gun cocked and eyes strained to the top of the ridge, with now and then cold Chills runing over me, and my Teeth chattering together like a fellow with an aguer fitt. In a moment they wheeled short to the left, right up the river through the heads of the hollows that run down to the Plantations. I was disapointed and fearful he would brake through them. But now he turns to the river, as they run through the heads of the hollows above me. They are nearly out of hearing--Can it be posible its a stragling Deer thats going to run them clear of--for they are running to the settlements above. No, here they are swinging in to the right. Now they take the head of the ridge alone--the cry is changed from constant roaring to a quick and distinct yelping, every fellow dooing his Prettyest--now they are in about a mile, but no wheeling this time. My Slut has quit her cry, I new she was in site of her game. Old fellow, you have made your run a most too long. Here they come, turning the top of the ridge together, Deer and all. A tremendious Buck, who bore off a large spice bush on his horns as he came down the hill, and the Dogs driving a lain plump through a thick patch of fall weeds that grew very tall. Carouse the Buck takes the river about fifty feet ahead of the slut, making the water fly fifteen feet high, and foaming as white as a sheet,--most of the dogs in after him, and crying as thick as when on land. About half way over I began to fix for shooting, when that cursed agur came on me again. I sited and shook so devilishly that my eye filled with water, and I had to take down my rifle. By this time it was getting close quarters, and an inner something said, ‘ Dont be a Dam fool Natt !’ I raised gust as study, and taking sight to split him open right behind the shoulder as he swam towards me. Bang went the Gun, and such a perpendicular gump, rite strait up in the water, you never did see ; turning towards the other shore, with the bloody water rising out behind, and making it foam before like a small Steam Boat. Swimming rite through the dogs, but none of them getting hold of him. Pore fellow, he was domed to hard luck, for on the shore, that had not taken the water, stood two stout and powerful young Dogs barking and houling with eagerness to charge him the moment he struck Terafirma, which was not long, and with one bound he cleared the top of their backs, taking rite up the hill, they after him with a rush, and the way the bushes cracked, and the rocks and chunks roaled down the hill was curious--for a hundred yards neither gained, it was equal to any quarter race ; at length I saw the shot began to tell, the Dogs gained fast, and amediately run into him. Down they come all in a heep, rolling and tumbling down towards the river, sometimes the Dogs on top, and then the Deer ; soon the Dogs from the river runs up--the scuffle is over, the old fellow blates. I jumped into my little Canoe, crossed as quick as posible, runing up to where the Dogs had him on his cooling board cutting his throat, and then such wild yells of delight you never did hear. I was presently joined by the hole company--each fellow telling his tale with delight about the chase. Well we soon happused him up before T. on his gentle horse, and on our way home, which we reached in time for a fine venison Stake for super--nothing els occuring than T. occasionally cursing them fellows at the Weding--and swearing the hole skin was coming of his seat.
Well, besides hunting, we have all sorts of Fishing--we goit on the Gigg Tralline and Hand line, and some have pretensions to reels ; but that is spinning it out to two fine a hundred for me ; if ever Natt fishes, let him set down by a deep hole, well baited with corn, with a long sweeping ash pole, about an eighteen footer, and a stout line at the lower end, a heavy lead sinker then, about four inches above four large Hooks tied on back to back, then five inches still farther up, a lesser hook, on which I put my bait, a Doe Ball, the greatest bait in the world for Buffallow ; then when they come up sucking and stealing my bait of slily ; with a sudent girk I gam two or three of them big hooks slap rite into his under gaw quicker than shooting. That is what I call catching with Grabbs--no more, yours, NATT PHILLIPPS.
P. S.--I forgot to tell you I was down and saw the Big race at Louisville, and got throughed tolerably flat, as every other Kentuckian should have done on Grey Eagle, the greatest Colt ever foaled in the West, or almost any wher else : and Wagner, that Old Rambustificator, if ever he and Boston meets on any Western or Southern Course, this Child goes the bigest cind of a Cartload of Pumpkins that “ Old Arthur” cuts his Tobaco finer than he did the day Duane chased him. NATT.
Source: New York Spirit of the Times 9.49 (8 February 1840): 583. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
 Original text reads “ de termined.’
 Original text reads “the yed.”
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