Walt's Look Around: Teddy's Bear - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Teddy's Bear

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Not long ago there were very few if any bears left in the state. Now they are making a comeback. But used to, we had PLENTY of them. And one in particular is famous world wide.

The old canebrakes and sloughs up in the Delta have largely given way to corn and cotton fields today. But just a little over a hundred years ago this was still pretty wild country in some places. Wild enough that in 1902 when President Teddy Roosevelt wanted to go on a bear hunt he came here. ‘Here’ being a couple of miles south of Onward, Mississippi at Smedes Plantation.

Holt Collier, his guide from Greenville, lassoed a bear and tied him to a tree. And an aid summoned the President to come shoot the bear. Roosevelt, being the sportsman he was, refused to do so.

Cartoonist Clifford Berryman with the Washington Post saw the incident and published it, and a toymaker in New York saw the cartoon and soon started turning out Teddy’s Bears. And we still have them today. There is an original Teddy Bear in the Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg.

"That was given to a young boy named Homer here in Vicksburg by Teddy," said Museum Director Bubba Bolm.

Onward Store is close to where the hunt was held. There are all sorts of hunt related items in the story along with some good burgers. And the folks at the story are always explaining for tourists.

"Holt Collier tied the bear to the tree and then Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t shoot it and that’s how the Teddy Bear came about," said Carley Handcock of the Onward Store.

Up the road in Rolling Fork they have the Great Delta Bear Affair every year in October commemorating the hunt. And used to, about the only bears you were going to see anywhere were those carved and scattered around Rolling Fork. But here lately, that’s not been the case.

"About three weeks ago, a couple was sitting in their back yard on a swing and a bear walked between them and their house, said Jeffery Mitchell.

Last week, Monday I believe, we saw a black bear coming through the city of Rolling Fork on the creek bank," said Lee Washington.

"And supposedly they think it’s because of the backwaters from the flood and its pushing them further in, added Chuck Steveson.

Wildlife fisheries and parks says they are looking for food. But for whatever reason along with the deer at night, now we may need to start watching out for bears, too.

And remember, if it weren’t for not only Roosevelt, but also Holt Collier and a lone tree a bear got tied to somewhere out in the Delta, we’d have never had the Teddy Bear.

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