The Dodge Family Association

Incident of a Pioneer
James K. Dodge 
Judah Dodge m. Annis Chapman (Daniel(4), David Britain(3), John(2), Tristram(1))

The story below is a dramatization of a story handed down through the Dodge family and told to James K. Dodge by his father, Judah Dodge.  The story is an incident in the life of Judah's great grandfather. He was born February 10, 1770, died May 20, 1856. He was said to be a very large and very powerful man. He came to Union County, Ohio from Windham, Vermont in 1812, via covered wagon. He bought 400 acres in Union County "covered with timber and having only a rude shack on it made by the Indians." He is buried in New California, Ohio with his wife Annas (Chapman), where their gravestones still stand. 

Grandfather Judah Dodge started. to harness his team to the mudboat loaded with freshly butchered -pork, when his good friend and neighbor said: 

"Best you should stay the night, Judah. I heard a lot of wolves howling, close in, there in the deep woods where you're going. You go through there now, in the dark of it, and them wolves will go crazy after your fresh meat." 

The two men, with help from other family members, had rounded up the hogs from the woods. It was the custom of pioneer families to release hogs into the woods in the spring, where they fed on succulents, roots, and tubers. More recently as fall passed into early winter they had fed and fattened on nuts and acorns. This procedure produced a flavor in the meat, superior to and unknown by to- day's standards. This day they had butchered some of the herd that they jointly shared, and Judah was preparing to take his share to his own home, a mile,or more away through the primeval woods.

"No Enoch'," said Judah, "I'll hurry on home and start the cure on these hams and bacon sides. Don't believe the wolves will bother that much."  Famous last words!!!!!! 

As he crossed a small creek at the first edge of the woods, lined with hemlock  and spruce and very dark in their shade, the wolves came out of the deep snow, ghostlike. First they worried the horses, causing them break into a fast gallop miraculously staying in the harness, but staying in the trace as the only clear area in which they could run, they caused the mudboat to sway and swing perilously.   The wolves meantime, finding they could not keep abreast of the team because of the trees and undergrowth, fell behind the sled and were able to gain on it. They began to jump on the back and worried away a side of pork intended for bacon. 

Grandfather Dodge could have thrown off a head that would have given him more time, but he was a fighter. He dropped the reins and let the horses run - they need no stimulus. Grabbing a sled stake from the front, and holding to a stake near the rear, to keep his balance, he clubbed each wolf that attempted to get at the meat. This hazardous race continued for almost a mile through the deep woods. Finally one of the largest of the pack jumped on the sled, and ignoring the meat came directly at grandfather and with jaws snapping seemed bent only on attacking him. With an extra effort grandfather crashed the sled stake bard on the wolf's head. The wolf fell off 'the sled just ahead of the meat, quivered and lay still.

Breaking into the open clearing that was his own hayfield, Judah shouted to his wife: "Annas - fetch the musket - they's wolves right behind me." 

'The wolves, out of their element in the cleared land and with the brighter light making them more visible, uneasily 'faded back into the deep woods. 

The pelt from the large wolf that grandfather killed was hung first on the barn to dry, then tanned with oak bark in due season. It was then used as a throw rug in front of the fireplace, and was a conversation piece for many years.