Reminiscences of Hiram Luddington


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 Fifty-two years ago, in 1852, I came to Black Hawk County. I have hunted buffaloes and deer near Hudson and I may add I climbed a tree one day a great deal quicker than I could now to get out of range of a stampeded herd of buffaloes, which took a notion to come my way. I built the first house that was erected on the town plat of Waterloo and forty-two years ago I left here.

    I came to Black Hawk County from Knox County, Illinois, in 1852 with my wife and four children. I located at first where Hudson now stands and I built the first house in Black Hawk Township. It was of course built of logs and was located on the little knoll about thirty or forty rods east of where the creamery stood later. We lived there during the winter of 1852 and 1853 and in the spring of the latter year we moved to Waterloo after selling my place in Hudson to Adams Shigley. At that time, as I remember, Charles Mullan lived in a log house near where the house subsequently built now stands. Lewis Hallock lived outside the town plat on an eighty-acre piece and on the east side James Virden and his father also lived in log houses above where the town now is located, for the east side had not at that time been platted. Mr. Mullan had surveyed the town plat of the west side, but had not filed the plat and when he gave me a quitclaim deed to a block of land in the town plat he was not able to give a clear title until the entry had been completed.

    I bought a block, as I say, on the edge of the bluff near where J. E. Sedgwick later lived. This house was of logs. It was one story and was either sixteen feet square or a trifle larger. It did not take long to build it and in May or June, 1853, it was ready for use and we moved into it. There was a puncheon floor and the roof was made of clapboards. I remember the neighbors helped put the roof on. There was only one room in it and no chimney. I had brought a stove from Illinois and when we put it up we cut a hole in the roof for the stovepipe to project through. The logs were hewn on the inside and the places between the logs were chinked in and I got some lime that was burned by Mr. Shigley and daubed up between the logs. There were a couple of windows in it and I went to Cedar Falls and bought the glass of Mr. Mullarky, who kept the store there. The house was not very attractive, but it was comfortable, at least for those days. We lived in it until the first November of that year and then I sold it to a man named May from Indiana and he traded it to a Mr. Aldrich living on the east side. We then went back to Illinois and after living there about three years we moved to Minnesota, remaining there about eight years. In 1862 we came here and stayed a few months, then moved back to Illinois and have lived there ever since.

    In the spring of 1853, after I built, I remember that Adam Shigley, John Brooks, Charles Mullan, Squire Hanna and possibly others, built log cabins on the town plat.

    When we came here in 1852 there were buffalo in scattered herds and plenty of beaver, otter, mink, muskrat and other furbearing animals. I killed three buffaloes while we lived in Hudson in the winter of 1852 and 1853. It was early in December and I remember that the first snow was on the ground. My brother-in-law, a young man named John Lang, who lived with us, and I had gone out to hunt coons. We hunted along the Black Hawk to a point about three miles west of Hudson. At that place a little creek flows into the Black Hawk and at that point we saw a drove of buffaloes on the opposite side of the creek and at first we thought they were cattle, then it struck us that they might be bears. I said to my brother-in-law, "You hold the dogs and I will investigate and see what sort of animals they are."

    I went up on the ice to a place where I could crawl up on them and after I had worked myself along for some distance in the snow I raised up, but could see nothing. Finally, about ten feet away from where I was I saw a buffalo in a thicket of hazel brush. I got a shot at him and he fell. Then I loaded again as fast as I could, but the buffalo got up and finally managed to get away. By this time I got sight of a buffalo cow on a side hill and I shot her, the ball entering her eye. She fell over and rolled down onto the ice. I saw several other buffaloes about six or eight rods away and I fired at a large bull. He did not appear to pay much attention to the shot, so I loaded and gave it to him again, this time using two balls. He switched around as if he did not exactly like that dose and this time I saw that the herd was getting a trifle uneasy. Just then another one jumped up broadside towards me and I shot him through the heart. He fell and expired immediately. All this time I had failed to notice that I was directly in the trail that the buffaloes had taken to reach the spot where they were. I observed this fact, however, in a few moments when the whole herd came charging down where I stood. I saw a jack-oak tree a short distance from me and I made for it. I got there when the buffaloes were about a rod and a half away and, well, I climbed that tree and I was not very slow about it either. As they went past me I could not shoot any of them because there was no cap on my rifle. There were twenty-eight buffaloes in the herd and I got two of them. I found afterwards that the reason I did not get more of them was because I had been shooting too high to reach their vital parts. I had been accustomed to hunting deer and knew very little about killing buffaloes. I shot in all twenty-eight times or once for each member of the herd, though I did not shoot at all of them. Sometimes I used two balls in my rifle and sometimes three.

    The next day a buffalo calf came to the place where I had killed the cow and I got that. The day after John Virden and I went up to the forks of the Black Hawk about five or six miles and we got another, but that was the last we saw of the herd and it is probable that was the last herd of buffaloes ever in this section. A few days after a party who were going from what was known as Hardin City to Cedar Falls came across the large buffalo that I had wounded. He had got separated from the rest of the herd and was so badly hurt that they killed him by knocking him on the head.