A Medford midnight marauder.
In the summer of 1865 Marshall Symmes, Jr., of Winchester, had a field of sweet corn in what was then called the ‘Upper Thompson Lot,’ the highest land of the Le Bosquet farm, the birthplace of Governor Brooks, at Symmes' Corner, directly adjoining wooded areas which have since become a part of the great Middlesex Fells Reservation. At frequent intervals, about the time the corn was ripening, a wild hog came from the woods and wrought serious damage. Mr. Symmes and his brother Charles determined to catch the marauder and save what was left of the corn. They thought the pig was not very large, and that, with the help of a good dog, they could catch him. One dark night they took a large bull dog and lay in wait at the edge of the field. Covering themselves with horse blankets they fell asleep, but before midnight the growls of the dog brought them to their feet. They heard the pig going through the corn back to the woods. Directly the dog was in full chase, followed by the two men. For a half mile they made their way through dense undergrowth, urged on by the noise of a great struggle. [p. 8] At the ‘Brooks Lot Spring,’ quite near the big rock on top of which grows the old red cedar, they came into the fight. Tige had the pig by the throat, but was unable to hold him, the great size and strength of the quarry throwing him back and forth over considerable ground. The men grasped the legs of the hog, and after being bounced, bruised, and nearly stripped of clothing, they finally got him down in the wet ground near the spring. Knowing from experience that hogs are well nigh helpless when on their backs, they worked this one into a depression, on his back. Mr. Charles Symmes, who was a very powerful man, sat on the pig's belly and held him from turning over. The dog had all this time kept a vise-like grip just under the pig's left ear. As they began to realize that instead of an ordinary pig they had caught a very large, long-legged old hog, the question was how to get him home. Mr. Marshall Symmes went for help, getting a horse, ropes, a stone boat and men. Before daylight they had the animal in a horse stall, with the front nailed up. He was so savage that he would rush at anything coming in sight, it being necessary to lower food and water in an iron kettle. They kept him till November. When killed and dressed he weighed a little over four hundred pounds. In one of his hams was found two bullets and sixteen buckshot, showing that some one had, once, at least, tried to get him with a gun. From his size, and the length of his tusks, it was known that he was several years old, and from his ferocity it was believed that he had lived in the woods a good part of his life. In the old days, before the war, it was no uncommon sight to see a drove of pigs from the country driven through the streets. They would be in charge of a man, with boys assisting in keeping the refractory ones in the road. The drover usually wore a long frock, and carried a stout bag and steelyards slung over his shoulder, with which to weigh the porkers he sold along the route. [p. 9] This wild hog, doubtless one who had eluded the vigilance of the drover and the more active boys, was marked with patches of black, and in his wild life had developed such cunning and strength that it is a wonder he was captured at all. The writer well remembers seeing him, and also the sorry appearance his captors presented after their struggle with him in the woods.