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Gander Pulling



“After raising five crops, James Montgomery O'Hair concluded that the mountains had no further attraction for him and in the fall of 1829 he rounded up his hogs which he had increased to one hundred seven head, and his calves, which had grown to be good sized steers, and sold the entire lot, together with twenty acres of standing corn in the field, for five hundred dollars.  His father-in-law, James Montgomery had decided to emigrate to Indiana and he had selected Illinois for his future home.  He hired a man to move him and he himself walked behind the wagon, driving three cows.  He arrived in Illinois about the 10th of October 1829.  He had sent his wife and two children with her father to Indiana.  He entered one hundred fifty-six acres of land six miles south of Paris, sowed four acres of wheat and commenced to build a cabin.  When Sunday came he found there was not a church or school house nearer than six miles.  He began to look about and see what class of people he was to make his home and rear his children with and found them congregated on Sunday at shooting matches, horse races and gander-pullings.  They would take an old gander, tie his feet to the limb of a tree, soap his head and neck, then go back fifty yards and ride as fast as their horses could run under the gander and catch him by the head; whoever pulled the head off received the gander as a prize.  Men were pulled off of their horses oftener than heads were pulled off of the ganders.  As the young farmer from Kentucky had been taught to respect the Sabbath and was a member of the Methodist church, he could not think of rearing his children in such a community.  So he concluded to find a better neighborhood.

"About the last of October he came over to Indiana after his wife and children.  The first Sunday following his arrival he attended church in a log schoolhouse....  After consulting his wife and comparing these men and the land about with the people and land in Illinois, where he had a claim he concluded to sell out and locate in Indiana.  Mr. _______ his brother-in-law, proposed to sell him eighty acres of his land for two hundred dollars and then give him an additional eighty-acre tract adjoining it, he accepted the proposition.  These one hundred and sixty acres form a part of his present home farm six miles from Greencastle.  Immediately after the purchase he left for Illinois and moved all his household


goods on a packsaddle, arriving at his new Indiana farm the latter part of October 1829.