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Hittell, Theodore H.: Adventures of James Capen "Grizzly" Adams. v1. 4 Jun 07
#1  tsgreer 06-05-2007, 01:36 AM
The actual title is "The Adventures of James Capen Adams, Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear Hunter of California" but was too long for thread name.

James Capen "Grizzly" Adams was the real-life inspiration for the 1970's U.S. TV series "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams."

It turns out that the real life story is actually a bit more graphic than the sanitized TV version. The actual James Adams spent many years living in the mountain ranges of the U.S. west after having financial troubles in the mid-1800's. He befriended a bear cub named Ben (short for Benjamin Franklin) which actually became his pet for some time. While living in the mountains, he had several run-ins with Indians, was attacked by many different kinds of dangerous* animals and generally had a rough time.

He basically made his living by hunting, trapping and capturing animals for circuses and zoos. When not in the mountains doing his mountain man thing, he would visit cities to earn money wrestling (!) his "pet" grizzly bears and other animals for fun and profit for his friend P.T. Barnum. These incidents didn't always go well however, and he often suffered severe injuries--a run-in with a cranky Bengal tiger scarred him pretty badly.

One thing that really stands out though is his love of nature and the environment--well that is if you don't count that he hunted and ate anything he could catch and made a living by sending animals to zoos. It's interesting reading his descriptions of the vast wilderness that existed before our cities and smog took everything over.

On his deathbed he was asked about his faith. He replied: "I have attended preaching every day, Sundays and all, for the last six years. Sometimes an old grizzly gave me the sermon, sometimes it was a panther; often it was the thunder and lightning, the tempest or the hurricane, on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada or in the gorges of the Rocky Mountains. But whatever preached to me, it always taught me the majesty of the Creator and revealed to me the undying and unchanging love of our kind Father in Heaven. Although I am a pretty rough customer, I fancy my heart is in about the right place, and look with confidence for that rest which I so much need, and which I have never enjoyed upon earth."

I've also included four drawings that were in the original 1860 printing of the book. The one that really stands out for me features Adams fighting a great horned elk.
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[zip] AdventuresofJamesCapenAdams.lrf.zip (1.78 MB, 779 views)
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#2  NatCh 06-05-2007, 10:24 AM
Quote tsgreer
One thing that really stands out though is his love of nature and the environment--well that is if you don't count that he hunted and ate anything he could catch and made a living by sending animals to zoos.
Actually, those are not nearly so incompatible as PETA, et. al. would like us to believe. The vast majority of hunters respect and want to preserve the natural resources that are in our care. And zoos, good ones, anyway, help promote respect and interest in the natural world, without intruding huge, disruptive masses of people (most of whom don't really know how to minimize their impact, regardless of however much they might want to) running through the woods, doing really dangerous things that don't seem stupid if you don't know better, like petting grizzly cubs, for instance.

I loved the Grizzly Adams shows as a kid, and even read the novel that come from it (it's still around here somewhere), I thought that was what you were posting at first, Travis, but I think I'll find this quite interesting too, probably more than the other. Thanks for sharing it!
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#3  tsgreer 06-05-2007, 11:51 AM
Actually it's been a great read so far. I've noticed a couple of OCR errors here and there that I am fixing as I read it, but nothing major. This guy had plenty of adventure out in the wilderness. It sorta reads like a H. Rider Haggard novel.

I loved the Grizzly Adams show as a kid too! My dad actually looked just like him, big burly guy, long hair, long crazy beard--now he looks like Kenny Rogers..

Great show though!
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#4  NatCh 06-05-2007, 01:17 PM
Heh, perhaps I'll wait and re-download the corrected version before I read it then, since you're going to the trouble to do it.

I wanted to have a bear as a pet because of that show! Fortunately, I've figured out in the meantime that that is the "not" kind of "good idea."
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