John E. Bush
"History of Shelby County, Ohio"
by A.B.C. Hitchcock; Sidney, Ohio; 1913
Richmond-Arnold Pub. Co.; Chicago, IL.
JOHN E. BUSH, The subject of this biographical effusion, John E. Bush, of Orange township, one mile south of Sidney, on Sulphur Heights, is a Pennsylvanian by birth, as the little Bushwhacker put in an appearance in the home of Henry Bush, in Monroe county, September 30, 1828, so he is now four score and four years. The family came to this county near where John now resides in 1838. He had just entered the legal status of a man when the news came that our new possession of California was just sparkling with gold and its streams rippling over auriferous beds. The intelligence was enough to give almost anyone the yellow jaundice and John, being of an adventurous spirit, had it violently. Giving way to the impulse of feathering his nest in that far off region, he, with his brother, Dr. C. W. Bush, and Morris Jackson, got their possessions together, rigged out a schooner on four wheels, canopied for protection, with a propelling force of a team of horses, and set sail, figuratively speaking, for St. Jo, Missouri, April 19, 1849, and arrived there in about four weeks. St. Jo was the outlying point of western civilization where additional supplies were laid in for the long journey, across the plains, the deserts and over the Rockies and Sierras, from time immemorial the undisturbed abode of the Indians, buffaloes, deer, antelopes, wolves, bears, jack rabbits, prairie dogs, and gophers. Bridges over perilous rivers were a commodity and convenience not encountered, so the dangerous streams, many with bottoms of shifting sands, had to be forded, and many were the fatal disasters in the attempt. Twenty miles in a day was deemed rapid progress through dust shoe top deep and those in good condition walked rather than rode though there was no likelihood of a head end collision as the trains were all moving in the same direction. Even if they had been going in an opposite way the impact of a collision would not have been serious when the velocity was not over two miles an hour, and rarely that. The jolt would have been a good deal like rolling off a sheet onto the floor. Water being scarce, the weather hot, and the dust thick, the weary travelers were some distance from godliness, if cleanliness is next to it. If the pores were closed at night they opened the next day with exuding sweat. The panorama did not change rapidly at the rate they were going so the journey would have been a trine monotonous if some episode did not happen almost daily to relieve it. Buffaloes by the thousands and hundreds of thousands were seen and one night their horses, which were turned out to graze around the camp, were seized with the idea that they would enjoy the freedom of the plains better than pulling a wagon, even though in good society, so they took after the buffaloes and were never recovered. John started after them and pursued them for about eight miles. Almost famished with thirst a little lake of about twelve acres came into view but when he got to the banks he found the buffalo and other animals had converted it into a pool of filth and he could not drink a mouthful. He managed to get back to camp in a most distressed condition but the recollection of that day's experience may dissuade him from voting dry when the question comes up.
At Salt Lake they paused for a while but not long, as Prophet Brigham Young had preached a sermon in which he counseled the saints to not furnish any eatables or other necessities to the weary, worn visitors for love or money. Not all the wives of the much married Mormons were happy, as the party was implored by two or three females to take them along to California, a request that could not be granted. Before they got to their destination their food supplies gave out and with starvation staring them in the face John fortunately shot a duck and a hawk with a squirrel in its talons. These gave them a lease of life and John devoured the squirrel. The duck and hawk were parceled out among the others. In September the Sacramento valley in all its native loveliness was seen from the mountain summit, and Canaan could not have looked more entrancing to the manna surfeited Israelites than did this valley to them. Their money was running low and as nour was over a dollar a pound and other necessities on the top shelf the emergency to "hurry up'' and stir themselves was strenuous. A cradle for rocking the auriferous sands was quickly constructed from the wagon bed and operations were commenced on Feather river with reasonable success from the start, but living was so high that their surplus or sinking fund did not accumulate to the full measure of their hopes. Placer mining was followed by Mr. Bush for four years and then a vessel was taken at San Francisco for the Isthmus of Darien, which he crossed, sailed for New York and then he set his face for Ohio. His brother, Dr. Bush, remained and eventually settled in Los Angeles, where, with the practice of his profession and read estate deals in that thriving city, he accumulated a fortune, which he enjoyed singly, as he never married and died there two of three years ago. Of all the forty-niners that went from this section Mr. Bnsh and Mr. Jacob Shanly are the only living. Returning to the home farm on Sulphur Heights he dwelt in fancy free as a bachelor until September 17, 1863, he joined fortunes with Miss Christiana Rauth and ever since the old homestead and the adjoining acres in the delightful spot on the pike where he now lives has been his residing place. A family of eight children were born in their household, six of whom are living: Charles, John, Will and Fred, of Sidney, and George and Bertha at home with their parents. Edward died in a hospital in California several years ago at the age of twenty-six years, and Maud two or three years since at home, aged eighteen.
Mr. Bush has crossed the continent to California nine times, but the first in his Pullman palace car propelled by oxen with no extra charge for a sleeping birth left a taste in his mouth which the others have not supplanted and a spot in his memory more vivid than all the other trips combined. Being a natural Nimrod there are but few animals native to this country that have not succumbed to his unerring rifle. As a taxidermist he is an expert, and having a taste for curiosities, relics and rare specimens, his home is a museum not equaled outside the cities in the state, for he has gathered them from New Bnmswick to the Pacific.
Last Sunday I accepted an invitation, without urging, to take dinner at the Bush residence and a little after 11 o'clock John, Jr., was at the front door with his Reo automobile which whisked, us to the homestead in ten minutes, where I was greeted by the veteran, wife and family. Dinner was soon announced, for outside the corporation sun time is in vogue, which puts the country folks about half an hour ahead of the urban population. After dinner, a look was taken at three wild geese in an enclosure that have one wing clipped to prevent them from joining a flock should it happen to fly over the farm in its migration. Two wild ducks with a brood of sixteen, a day old, were sporting in a little artificial pond. The little balls of animated feathers do not have to go through a training process to teach them to swim, but perform with all the grace of connoisseurs from the very start. John, being somewhat of a crude artist, painted on the white barn, in jet black, some alleged bears, deer and other wild animals and his son, Will, said that when the horses first got a glimpse of these caricatures it was with difficulty they could be got near the barn, but eventually their timidity was overcome, for a horse can get used to almost anything however frightful. Returning to the house I was taken through the apartments and made a note of some of the specimens. In the sitting room a huge moose head, nine inches across the nose, and with fan-like antlers, looked down from the wall. Mr. Bush and son, Fred, killed the animal on the north shore of Lake Superior a few years ago. The animal was six feet and six inches high and weighed about 1,200 pounds; the horns have twenty-two points. To the left was a magnificent pair of elk horns of twelve points, five feet and seven inches high with four feet spread, a fine deer head and another of one killed in Minnesota. A center table with legs of three elk horns, another center table, three stories high, with moose and deer feet, a sideboard, hat rack with a split fawn head and hooks of deer feet, a Columbus chair made by Mr. Bush, who, is handy with carpenter's tools, from sixty pieces of hickory and covered with the skin of a bear he killed in Wisconsin. In the hall is another hat rack with deer feet hooks, a score or so of beautiful canes and a badger skin.
In the parlor is a diamond willow stand, the material of which he gut on the upper Missouri, a stool with deer feet and elk horns for railing, corner parlor chair which Mr. Bush fashioned from hickory and ash, a much prized photograph of eight deer suspended and killed in Maine with the liunters standing near, Joseph and Jess Laughlin, James Wilson, William Kingseed, Frank J. Brewer and Mr. Bush. Four of the deer he killed. There is also a photograph of two wild turkeys and one of himself taken in California in 1853. Barbers being a scarce article there his black hair covered his shoulders and a fringe of whiskers gave him the solemn look of a Dunkard preacher.
From the parlor we went up stairs to a large front room devoted entirely to specimens and relics which are there by the thousands, collected in different parts of the country, to which are added, countless queer and beautiful shells gathered by Mrs. Bush and daughter Bertha, on the shore of the Pacific. Gold bearing quarto, curious stones, many of beautiful moss agate with vegetable sprigs visible in the translucent stones, onyx, chalcedony, etc., in almost endless variety, condor quills, the head of a black wolf killed by William Kingseed, twenty-seven birds, many of the duck family, and a wild goose, a wild turkey, a cormorant, a bald eagle, blue winged heron, road runner, Jack rabbit, a porcupine which Mr. Bush killed in Wisconsin with a club, a bass, caught by him in the Lewistown reservoir with Joseph Laughlin managing the boat. This bass weighed eight and one-half pounds when caught, the head of a wolf killed by George Lmder in Wisconsin, thirteen deer heads on the walls, two of which got their homs locked while fighting and were found dead in South Dakota, three pair of buffalo horns and a host of other curiosities fairly bewildering in number. When in California, he was attacked in the mountains by a grizzly she bear that had cubs. From the fierce indications he thought that this Bush better aspire to a tree and ascended one as rapidly as possible and so did the bear to fhe same one and caught, his hind leg near the calf, making four holes in his boot leg. Both fell to the ground, when the bear ran to her cubs. and he, to avoid any disagreeable encounter, went somewhat hurriedly in an opposite direction, which was a prudent movement, for she returned with malicious intent but he avoided the rush by starting early. He cut off the boot leg and has it among his collection with the autograph or mark of the bear. Mr. Bush has killed over 200 deer, a moose, four bears, ducks and geese without number, and doesnot have to draw on his imagination for fish stories. In politics he is a Democrat though a great admirer of President Roosevelt, has served two terms as county commissioner but enjoys a deer hunters' picnic better than a political convention and prefers an outing with his gun or fish pole to a sojourn at a summer resort. In shooting contests he rarely returns without winning a prize. His philosophy in life is to enjoy the passing moment and not depend too much on an uncertain future, subscribing without mental reservation to the saying that one bird. in the hand is worth two in the Bush.
Mr. Bush has been honored by his party in being elected infirmary director, serving nine years, and in 1881 was elected county commissioner for three years and
re-elected in 1884, but is in no sense an offensive partisan. The blankets, the knives, hatchets, etc., he has won in shooting contests at the deer hunters' picnics would give each of his children a good setting out in articles of that line, and still have enough for himself and his wife. No other marksman of his age in this region has much show when he draws a bead on the target and the younger ones find in him a stubborn competitor.
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P. S. One of the bears shot by Mr. Bush was a grizzly, killed in the California mountains, near Eureka lake. Another episode in his career was a fight with the Indians. They had rifled a camp and he with three others attacked about thirty braves and squaws as they were eating breakfast and put them to flight. John's gun was a flint lock. All the heads of the deer, twenty-five in number, and other specimens, were preserved and mounted by him and sons, John and George, who were expert taxidermists. At Fort Arthur all the hotels have saloons and there are many others also which are well patronized by whole-souled fellows, but he did not hear an oath. They were two days and nights crossing the American desert without water and many were so exhausted that they had to be loaded into wagons and their tongues were so swollen they could not talk, but their lives were saved by administering much reviled whiskey, thus showing that it is a good thing on a desert. The nights were gorgeous with volcanic fireworks, which, in the distance, roared and illumined the sky and many of the springs were so hot anything could be cooked in the water.
A. B. C. H., 1908.