Christian Garlitz
Great Pioneer and Hunter

 

The various stories surrounding our patriarch(s) are hard to authenticate. This is made all the more difficult due to the fact that there were, by various accounts, three Christian Garlitzs. Heinrich Christian Garlitz  - (Christian I) - 1740 -1805, his son Christian II - 1777 - 1845, and Christian III - 1797 - 1873, who was the grandson of Christian I, son of Henry and nephew of Christian II. It is very likely that the stories form a composite of the experiences of all three. There need be no confusion that all three are referred to as pioneers. The Alleghenies were consider to be the frontier of the country well beyond the Revolutionary War. And while there were other settlers in the region, the Christian Garlitzs stand out as men who tamed the wilderness through their skill as hunters and trappers, making it habitable for all their neighbors. This explains why even the third generation Christian is referred to as The Pioneer.

What can be said for certain is that, contrary to American myth, hunting was uncommon in early America and guns were rare. Only one in ten males owned a gun, and half of those were said to be in disrepair. Guns were expensive to purchase and maintain and few had the knowledge to use them effectively and safely. Thus if someone was known as a hunter, he was esteemed by the community as a person of considerable skill and courage. Since few owned guns they relied on the local hunter and trapper to protect their livestock from predators. Again, contrary to myth, colonial and post revolutionary Americans depended upon domesticated animals for their meat and not on wild game. When their food source was threatened, the Great Hunter would be called upon. This, from written and oral history, is the role that Christian Garlitz performed for the people of Western Maryland and Southwestern, Pennsylvania.

Regardless of the veracity of the hunting stories, what can be said with assuredy is that equal to their skill in hunting was their craft of spinning a tale, a Garlitz tradition which has past down through the generations to this day.


Hunting Tales

Stories From Jacob Brown's Book referring to Christian II, but some anecdotes could be attributed to Christian III.

"Old Christy" carried his rifle and manipulated his traps for forty seasons, and only gave them up when infirmity and waning of the favorite game compelled him. Deer, bears, panthers and wolves were his staples, and he hardly ever condescended to anything smaller. Sometimes he would take a hand in reducing the number of such varmints' as wild cats, catamounts, foxes and coons.

In his early days the beasts of prey were the terror of the sparse population, and the scourge of domestic animals. When a foray would be made upon the fold of these animals, Christian Garlitz would be sent for as a matter of course, just as a doctor would be called for a sick person. He killed a great many deer in his time, but only enough for his table, and such as he could conveniently sell.

He never would slay this beautiful animal wantonly, or out of season.

It has been protected by many statutes since 1789 - the first. But he was the untiring foe of the panther and the wolf - the latter he hated the worse. These animals have had a price upon their heads for almost as many years as their gentle victims has been protected.

Once Jesse Tomlinson had a lot of sheep killed by wolves near his home at the Little Meadows. Christly was sent for; in due time he and his traps were on hand and in a short time the whole pack of nine were caught.

Another time Tomlinson's favorite dog was missing; strange tracks upon the premises. Garlitz listened to the story and exclaimed at once, "A painter, sure as you liff." Trusty rifle and shot- pouch quickly in place, he and his well-trained dogs were on the warpath. The panther, tracked to his lair and surprised while feasting on the missing dog, sprang up a large spruce tree, but the unfailing rifle brought his body crushing thru the boughs to the ground.

A poor settler far off in the woods had one of his two cows killed by wolves. The sufferer came down to Christy; the story was no more than half told till his ire was up. Three traps were brought forth, greased, smoked and set in the woods. One of the culprits was captured that night, and so on till the whole gang of seven were destroyed.

Brown here remarks "that great skill and strategy is required in trapping wolves - the wildest of quadrupeds.

About the year 1825, wolves became exceeding troublesome, raiding the country from their base - the famous Wolf Swamp and Meadow Mountain. They had the audacity to venture upon the Premises of their old enemy and kill one of his cows - an insult and injury not to be overlooked. The slaughtered cow was hauled to a spring on the side of Meadow Mountain and a cordon of traps set. The campaign lasted a month, resulting in the capture of the whole pack, sixteen in number. Garlitz used his dead cow to bait the traps he was amply reimbursed in bounties, which were then $15 for scalp of an old wolf, $6 for a young one and $5 for a panther. last panther killed in this end of the county was killed by John

In the early part of his hunting life, Christian Garlitz shot an elk between the waters of Horse Pond and Savage. This was the last of the trace in this county; but their immense antlers in early times were frequently found. Christly shot his last panther near the Laurel Run. From nose to tip of tail it was as long as a fence rail - 11 feet. This beast had ed a buck, which the old hunter was following, so he baited his trap with the remains of the deer and caught the big cat when it returned to feed.

"Tho brave and fearless, old Christly always fought cautiously and according to his own rules, one of which was after firing, never to move a step till he had reloaded. Even wounded game is often dangerous to an unprepared hunter.

Unfortunately, Garlitz did not write a book as Browning did, but he "had a story or anecdote for any place, time or situation, nearly always of his own experience. No one dared exceed him. When a good one would be told by another he was always ready with a better one. Even his beloved 'Liss' had to bear some of his often told stores, one of which was something like this: During their early married life, his wife Elizabeth, went out 'after dusk' to milk her cows, one of which was a black muly. After milking one, she walked toward her muly, as she thought, but it trotted away with a heavy grunt. Verily it was a bear!" 

 


See also Who was Christian GarlitzChristian II, Christian III, and History of St. Ann Parish.


 
 

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