In 1993, my husband, Lee Schmidt, had a one week seminar during which the employees stayed in the dorm on Missouri State University campus. One evening in the common area during general conversation, he shared this story about my Great-grandmother, although he did not know her name.
Immediately his roommate sat up saying, “Wait, I’ve heard that story. That is my Great-grandmother.” They went to the pay phone and called me, Joyce Steely Schmidt, to obtain clarification on family history.
Yes, my Grandmother Susie Emmeline Keller Steely (Susie) was the older sister of his Grandmother (hey, it has been 25 years and I do not remember which sister) and…we did, indeed, share Great-grandmother Suzanne Emmeline Mosier Keller(Susan) who is the star of this story.
The date of this story is uncertain (somewhere between 1845-1885), but it occurred on the Keller farm along Cedar Creek in Cedar County, Missouri.
On a crisp October evening Susan Keller went out to milk the cows at dusk, as always. Yes, they know what time it is and a line of cows are headed toward the barn.
Wait! There is one under the black walnut tree in the brush, not even facing the barn. Susan marches down the slope commenting in irritation, “Come on get yourself up to the barn, Bessie!” She gave a strong slap to the rump.
As the nerves in her hand send a quick message to the brain, “NOPE, Ain’t no cow hide!” The animal turns to look at Susan, pulling back lips into a snarling GROWL.
Susan steps back. The bear, possibly pregnant, certainly fat and thinking of hibernation lumbers around to the other side of the tree.
Susan retreats to the milking task…and a memorable story is born. A story shared down the family line repeatedly throughout the years. I am Joyce Steely Schmidt and these are my ancestors. I stand by the truth of this story although I may have taken some artist leeway.
Black Bears eating Walnuts www.youtube.com/
Current Black Bear in Missouri information: mdcgis.maps.arcg