Days Gone By - stories from the past

Do you remember when bear, panther and wolf were common in early Alabama?

(The article below has been exactly transcribed (with misspelled and grammar mistakes) from FIFTY-FIVE YEARS IN WEST ALABAMA that was printed in the Tuscaloosa Gazette August 12, 1886)




Recurring to the general aspect of the country:—Fayette county at that day embraced nearly all the territory now included in the county, and all the Southern portion of the county of Lamar. The face of the country is generally broken,—in some places the hills approaching the altitude of mountains.

Most of the county was an excellent range country for cattle.

Plenty of switch cane in winter, and abundance of grass in summer, cattle did well, and several parties laid the foundation of future competence by raising them. As a farming country, it was then, and is to day fully up to, if not a little above, the average. The whole country abounded in game of all kinds.— Deer and Turkey seemed to be inexhaustible, with a good sprinkling of Bear.

Fayette County, Alabama

fayette county, alabama

The smaller game, both as to animals and birds, supplied the people with fresh meats just for the catching. The Panther, Wild-Cat, and Cattamount, put in their appearance with an air that seemed to say, “We live here” One man, on “Hell Creek,” in a period of less than eight years killed eighteen Panther, a number of Bears, and a great many wildcats, etc. But, had liked to have forgotten the Wolf. In almost every part of the county they made night hideous with their howlings. I have heard them break out in the swamp as late as ten o’clock in the morning, and less than half a mile from the house.

Bear, panther and wolf have left

But all this has long since passed away. The bear, the panther and the wolf, has refused to associate with, or live in the same region with the white man. It seems to be a fact that all races of men, and all the wild animals of the country make way for the progressive tramp of the Anglo Saxon.black_panther-t2

There was another denizen of the fields and forests that I must not overlook. He was regarded as one of the dangerous pests to men:—I mean the Rattle Snake. They were found in considerable numbers in all parts of West Alabama; some of them grew to enormous size. They were frequently killed measuring five, six, seven, and sometimes as much as eight feet in length. I believe the highest number of Rattles I remember was twenty-eight,—which snake-men tell us indicate the age in years of his snakeship.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1)

Snake ate fawn

I expect the largest one ever seen on the continent, if not on the globe, was killed in Walker county, in the fall of 1854. The story was told to me about as follows:— Two men were out hunting and heard the distressing bleats of a fawn. Supposing it had been caught by a wild-cat, or something of that kind, they hasted to the place, and found the fawn in the coils of a monster rattle snake, which was in the act of swallowing it. One of the men shot the snake through the body, which caused it to disgorge the fawn, and threw himself into a coil of defiance, when the other shot him through the head causing his death through terrible writhings (sic) and contortions.

The men said their first impression was to skin and stuff the monster, but in a very short time they became so sick that both of them vomited profusely, so they came away and left it. One of the men said his head looked about as large as his two fists held together;—that his rattles were about the size of a man’s hand with the thumb taken off. Whatever allowance we may make for the excitement of the men, there is little doubt but that the snake was the largest one of his species ever encountered by man. There are three species or varieties of the rattle snake:—the diamond-back, which is the largest,—the common pided ones, of a smaller size,—and the ground rattle, which is very small. They are all very poisonous, and although the bite, if taken in time, is rarely fatal, still it is asserted by many that no one bitten by one of them ever gets entirely over it.rattlesnake

One or two incidents connected with rattle snakes may be told without breaking the continuity of the story: In the early days of Tuscaloosa county, Dr. T—, of the city, desired to get a rattle snake for the purpose of extracting the oil from his body. He wanted the snake killed without being fretted, and if possible by severing his head. Old Mr. R—, going home pretty high up in whiskey, came across a very large one not far from the present site of Gay’s Mill, and while the snake was lying perfectly quiet, the old man opened his knife, holding it in his right hand, cautiously approached the snake seizing him just behind the head with his left hand, and cut off his head with his right hand. I have this story from the son of the old man. In reputation for veracity the son had no superior.

Thirty-three or thirty-nine snakes in the log

The next will give an idea of the prolificness (sic)of the rattle snake. In 1855, I was going home with a gentleman from one of the public gatherings preceding one of the elections of that year, in the South-eastern part of Tuscaloosa county. Going through a nigh way, we passed a hollow chest-nut log that had been cut from across the road. The gentleman told me that some years before, he was going through that way with his family, going to a Camp Meeting:—that it became necessary to cut that log out of the way:—that when they cut into the hollow they found it contained an old rattle snake of large size with her brood, and it was either thirty-three or thirty-nine snakes they killed from that log. But the rattle snake too, like the Indian, the bear, the panther and the wolf, has given way to the inroads of the white man. It is a very rare occurrence now to find a rattle snake in West Alabama.

A great deal has been said and written about the peculiar traits of the rattle-snake. Some tell us that it is never aggressive, and never bites except it be in defence of itself. I think this is true,-—and I think this is true about most, if not all snakes. There is another idea of the rattle-snake which I don’t think is true,—that is, that it never strikes without giving warning. It is true, that it rarely, if ever, strikes without rattling, but the rattling is the result of throwing itself into coil for striking, and not from any notions of generosity.

(This article has been exactly transcribed with misspelled and grammar mistakes from FIFTY-FIVE YEARS IN WEST ALABAMA that was printed in the Tuscaloosa Gazette August 12, 1886)


VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague.

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past



VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

By (author): Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey



  1. Faith Serafin

    Giant Eagles were also among Alabama’s more prominent species during frontier times. Here in south Alabama, just this week, I was traveling along 169 in Lee County and saw one. It’s the first time I have ever seen one here. People often see them near lake Martin and other water ways. It’s good to see some of these animals making a come back. To see them in their natural habitat is breath taking.

  2. Betsy Dill

    Ha ha ! I believe the rattle snakes are still that big in Fayette County Al

  3. I personally have seen several rattlesnakes in the last few years in Citronelle, AL (mobile county) that were 4 ft plus and as big around around as a softball easy. They’re still around I believe. They have just gotten smarter about hiding from us white men!

  4. Billy Allen

    I don’t know we’re you live, but there are plenty of rattlesnakes around.

  5. Robert Willis

    I have a bear that shows up in back pastures he’s beautiful

  6. Kevin Irish

    There are Black Panthers in southeast Alabama.

  7. Donald Mullins

    Back in the 1950’s when I was a kid, we would go camp around Town Creek on Guntersville lake back when it was wild country. Several times we had to get up quick and get in the fishing boat at night and go out in the water until daylight because big cats would come down off the hills and tear up our camp site.

  8. Mark Lewis

    They are still there.

  9. Brian DesRochers

    Seen all of the above while hiking the Pinhoti Trail.

  10. Mildred Plant Masten

    yes i have seen a panther near selma

  11. David Smith

    When I was a kid possum hunting the dogs heard the panthers scream they would stay right with us

  12. Claudia Swift

    don’t know about wolves……we’ve got coyotes; do they count? There are also plenty of wildcats—haven’t seen any panthers yet, though. And as for bears……apparently they haven’t read this article. I passed one on Highway 84 4-5 years ago, between Monroeville and Repton. Okay, so it was a small bear. Still a bear. And he isn’t the only one; we see reports of bear sightings in the paper at least 2-3 times a year.

  13. Mildred Plant Masten

    who did that? i don’t see it

  14. Mildred Plant Masten

    never mind, i do see it…lol….that’s one of my pet peeves, too!!!!!

  15. Jeff Pollard

    Yep. Black Panther on our property.

  16. Willie Perdue

    Black panther has been spotted on out property in Butler county

  17. Brett Davis

    Didn’t they (them they people) spot a bear westward Alabama a few years ago?

    1. Dave Cooper

      Saw a photo on Tanner Williams website of black bear swimming across Big Creek Lake in west Mobile County a couple yrs ago.

  18. La Donna Cauley

    I saw a panther with 2 cubs one night (around 1969) near Bayou La Batre, Al. Also my Grandpa Tillman told me stories about hunting bears that attacked the cattle.

  19. Tim May

    Yea, I was just a youngster in 1886

  20. Greg Swanner

    Black panther seen by me and my wife…six months ago…butler county…

  21. James Vann

    I have been told of several sightings of black panthers in the wetlands between Grand Bay and Bayou la Batre, and also of black bears.

  22. Wendy Hodo Roberts

    They are still here. We live on lake Tuscaloosa, and they aren’t seen as much nowadays, but they are still here. From time to time there will be a sighting

  23. Dewayne Matlock

    They are in Colbert County!! Have seen both in the last couple of years.

  24. Myra N Edwards

    We have large ones here in Elkmont, Alabama. My husband ran over one while bush hogging, he thought it was a large log.

  25. Terry Huggins

    I have seen one panther and one bear. A guy that works with me killed a bear when she ran into the road. Two large cubs were with her. I suppose they survived ok.

  26. Scott Wright

    Tall tales. And the “panthers” we had were Cougars/mountain lions. The melanistic leopard in the photo has never lived anywhere in the Americas. Melanistic jaguars do exist in south and Central America, but they are far more rare than the normal spotted ones, which are rare themselves.

    1. Dave Cooper

      Almost as bad as a Grammar Nazi, a Detail/Fact Nazi. People don’t need a condescending obinion from people like you to try make yourself out to be on a higher knowledge level than everyone else, if as you put it “panthers WE had” you must also know that the vernacular of identification for these big cats is as old as the earliest settlers in the region.

    2. Scott Wright

      LOL. Yeah, you don’t need no stinkin’ facts! Amirite?

    3. Dave Cooper

      Scott Wright Did not see any post any place that requested access to your knowledge base, yet you felt obliged to imply with your “Tall tales” statement that the reported evidence by citizens was based on these tall tales without foundation. Just sayin.

    4. Scott Wright

      Much of that article is exaggerated nonsense. And either the person who added the photos is under the impression (as half the people in AL are) that we have or did have big, black cats in our woods, OR that person is deliberately playing off of that myth to gain attention to the article. When I see bullshit, I call it out. When I’m wrong, I want to know. If any person doesn’t, it’s because he’s afraid of knowing how wrong he is. Perpetuating ignorance is… Well, ignorant.

    5. Annette Weeks Otts

      Scott, the black panther does exist in Alabama and also vouchers.

    6. Scott Wright

      No, it really doesn’t, Annette. I know many, many people claim otherwise, but they’re wrong. All these sightings, and not one ever killed by hunters or cars, none found dead, and not a single real photo. Sounds like Bigfoot.

    7. Scott Wright

      Cougars, yes. Big, black cats, no.

    8. Jeff Pollard

      Scott Wright I beg to differ.

    9. Scott Wright

      You can differ all you want, but you can’t produce any evidence.

    10. Ann Robertson

      Saw one while riding horses in the mountains in nances creek have also saw the brown mountain lion. They say away from people and are rare. It is also against the law to shoot em

    11. Scott Wright

      There are two species of big cats that are sometimes black – the leopard, which lives in Africa and Asia, and the Jaguar from south and Central America. Which of the two do you suppose you and all the other spotters saw in Alabama? It must be the Jaguar, since they are known to range into southern Texas and Arizona on occasion. Oddly, they just get the normal, spotted ones over there. For some reason, all of them that exist in Alabama, despite all science saying they don’t, are the black, melanistic cats. The black ones only make up about six percent of Jaguars in the places where they actually live. I wonder why we never get any spotted jaguars here in Alabama, since, you know, almost all of them in the world are spotted. Weird.

    12. La Donna Cauley

      Call it what ever you want. What I saw wasn’t a big black house cat with 2 kittens.

    13. Scott Wright

      And, for the record, the “panthers” those pioneers were referring to were cougars. “Panther” is just a generic name used for a lot of big cats. The fact that the article added a photo of a black leopard is ridiculous.

    14. Scott Wright

      Deep down, you know very well there’s a chance you were mistaken about what you saw.

    15. Annette Weeks Otts

      Scott, Don’t know where you live, but you haven’t done your research. You need to interview some of these folks. I have talked to educated and intelligent people who have seen them.

    16. Scott Wright

      Annette, I know a lot of people think they’ve seen them. That doesn’t constitute research. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve spent most of it in the woods hunting. I’ve talked to the same people and heard the same stories.

      You do some real research about your claims. There are no leopards or Jaguars running free in Alabama. There just aren’t.

    17. Paul DeWayne George

      I agree with Scott. I saw a national geographic film that said exactly what Scott is saying. I’m not trying to argue with anyone. I’m just stating what I saw and heard.

    18. Paul DeWayne George

      I’ve lived in Alabama for 47 years as of today.

    19. Annette Weeks Otts

      I haven’t mentioned leopards nor jaguar. I’m saying Cougars and black Panthers.

    20. Cindy Vandiver

      Yes! There are big Black Panthers in Alabama. There are also Mountain Lions. I have seen them several times and I am not a layer nor am I an ignorant person. Many people have seen these animals on several occasions, including me! They have been found dead beside the road, filmed on deer cams, and sightings reported to the Authorities on occasion. If you don’t live in Alabama and you know nothing of what the people here see and witness, and have grown up with, then don’t be arguing and calling people lyres! I tell you what, come on down, we’ll pack you a lunch, and you go camp down by a local lake and we’ll just let you see for yourself. I believe that will solve the whole thing.

    21. Jason Bell

      A black panther is the melanistic color variant of any Panthera species. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (Panthera pardus) and black panthers in the Americas are black jaguars (Panthera onca). Anyway you look at it both are black panthers. Just as we call storms hurricanes they call them typhoons.

    22. Scott Wright

      Annette, as I’ve said several times in this post, “black panther” is a generic name for a melanistic leopard or jaguar. There IS NO species of cat whose name is “black panther”. Seriously, look it up. You can’t tell me to “do some research” while you haven’t done enough to even know what species of cat you’re referring to. Just type “what is a black panther” into google.

    23. Scott Wright

      Cindy, I’ve lived in Alabama my whole life. No, they haven’t been found dead on the road. Nobody has any photos. Nobody has ever killed one. Yes, people have reported seeing them, but they’re mistaken. It’s easy to fool the human brain. That’s how hunters accidentally shoot other hunters every year because they thought the other person was a deer. If a “black panther” were found in Alabama it would be huge scientific news, because they do not live here. Show me one legitimate scientific article discussing these cats in Alabama.

  27. Mandy Farmer Thompson

    Lots of animals like this on Sand Mountain in Northeast, Alabama.

  28. Michael Tolbert

    Never seen a black panther but I have seen a mountain lion in central al

  29. Jackie Vest
  30. Betty Jean Adams

    They still are in Dekalb Co. Ala.

  31. Robert Bob Bob Sapp
  32. William Russ

    Yes see a lot in Brookwood.

  33. Annette Weeks Otts

    They are still among us, maybe not prevalent……

  34. Maxey Baucum

    Frances Catherine Colvin Jeter (1864 – 1952) My great grandmother as a child lived near Red Level. During those days it was customary to help neighbors kill & dress hogs & in return they would share the meat. Her family helped their neighbors & were returning home after dark. She told the story of a pack of wolves following their wagon so they threw the meat out the back. Returning next day they found only pieces of bones.

  35. John

    Ive seen a black panther in NE AL and a cougar

  36. James Michael Pugh

    Here we go again, Cougars/mountain lions possible, black panthers no way!

    1. Joy Horne

      You poor unbelievers. Wait until you see one and everyone laughs at you

    2. James Michael Pugh

      I said cougar/ mountain are possible. I have already saw one in Marengo Cnty in ’89, black panthers are just tall tales.

    3. John

      Not a tall tale. Ive seen one.

    4. Dave Cooper

      What’s in a name, the big black/brown cats have been referred to as panthers since the first settlers came in, this is the identifier that’s been accepted by the population from the get go, so what if it does not fit the exact scientific designation, it does less harm than the lies of newspapers and broadcast media continue to put out in the hopes that if repeated enough, people will believe the lies as fact. Calling these cats panthers does nobody any harm, nor the cats.

  37. Joy Horne

    I remember seeing a panther when I was a little girl in chilton county. I saw one in Houston County close to Farley nuclear plant in the early 90’s

  38. Kristin Jones Ott

    I hike a lot. I’ve seen wolves and bobcats. I’d love to see a black panther from a distance haha.

  39. Cindy Sanders Word

    Yes have seen a bear and neighbors have seen a panther.

  40. Warren Jones

    I’ve seen all three, but it is very rare.

  41. Jeff Hill

    I saw a black panther about 30 years ago between Auburn, AL and Loachapoka Alabama…could not believe what I saw…it is the kind of thing one cannot forget…

  42. Janet H. Hinton

    Black panther a few years ago, near Ozark, Dale Co. Near Panther Creek!

    1. Janet H. Hinton

      And, in the late 1970s, I saw a light brown large cat, big as a German shepherd, walking beside the Eastern Bypass in Montgomery, near the Wetumpka cutoff.

  43. Terry Neeley

    I saw black panther on skyline mountain a couple of years ago

  44. Ronald Hughes

    They (Black Panthers) have been seen in West Tuscaloosa County over the years.

  45. Amy Parker

    Bears have been sighted in Cullman for years. A big black cat (bigger than a bobcat) was spotted this week.

    1. Cindy Vandiver

      We got’em don’t we Amy?

    2. Amy Parker

      Cindy Vandiver yes ma’am! I know for a fact there were bears here in the mid 80s. One raised up and put it’s paws on the kitchen sink window at my aunt and uncle’s house at Cold Springs. My aunt heard a noise outside and was leaning to look out the window when it pop up right in front of her.

      A few years earlier one got into a chicken house down 111. The old lady that lived at the end of the road called my uncle Lance to check it out. He got down there and it pinned him in the chicken house.

      As for the cat, I have heard it scream at least twice. Mama saw it once and it was spotted at a hunting club in Bremen this past week.

    3. Cindy Vandiver

      Yeah, once you’ve heard one scream, you never forget. Makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. I’ve seen them up close. They are so black they look purple. And huge! I also have saw some half grown and young. We have black bears come toward Smith lake from Bankhead National Forest. Lots of people don’t realize we have them now & then. The cats have never hurt anything as I know of. They are very illusive and kinda nice to have around. That cat in the hunting club may have found him a deer for supper!

  46. Brian Guin

    I seen a black panther when I was a kid in Concord Al.

  47. Cindy Vandiver

    They are still common. They are everywhere!!!

  48. Brad Grigsby

    I have seen a cat and a wolf but no bear.

  49. Keith Harris

    I saw a small Black Bear while bank fishing below Bear Creek Dam. I saw a Black Panther eating my neighbors cat food.

  50. Debbie Parker

    I have seen them in Lakeview Al

  51. Michael L. Turner

    I indeed have seen a panther in alabama it was dead on the side of hwy 211 last jun 2015 it was a young one so i know there have to be others as well

  52. Tere Vermillion Sizemore

    Yes, black bears in Trussville/Argo.

  53. Amanda Lauderman

    Bears are seen every year in south AL.

  54. Shaun Bridgmon

    Bears have been spotted in the Mulberry Fork NWR just across the county line into Walker from Jefferson, and the cats, black and yellow, have been seen between Hueytown and Oak Grove.

  55. Tim Gardner

    Saw Several on Lookout Mountain Alabama late 60s though early 80s two Black leap across dirt road at dusk couple were Brown lions their scream is something you don’t forget old mines in this area

  56. Darrell Silas

    I’ve saw 2. Both in Fayette County

  57. Jerry Hopper

    I have seen mountain lions,small black bear, and honey bears, .NO Wolves are black panther they are not here. ..

  58. Jerry Hopper

    People are seeing coyotes and think they seen a wolf, black panther maybe, I don’t know.

  59. Michael Gilbreath

    Black bears were still common when I was a teenager in 60’s. Friends in Gallant had them in their orchard. I had one come around our camp while deer hunting near Anniston in management area. Found a dead black panther kitten near old mine in Attalla.

  60. John Moseley

    Was told there are some in S/Marengo Co. but I have never seen one. I did however, see a mountain lion/cougar on the banks of the Cahaba river (around 2-3 am), some years back. As the spot light caught it, it quickly moved away from the river bank.

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