Today we will start to look at some pieces from a scrapbook formed by a man who lived in Nebraska. The scrapbook contained some very early hunting and fishing licenses and several accompanying newspaper articles, wherein he provides detailed (and entertaining) accounts of his sporting exploits. These narratives provide context and flavor seldom encountered with fish and game artifacts from this early time period, thus providing one of the inspirations for this “show and tell” series of posts.
I acquired it from Larry Golden, a long-time federal duck stamp and Nebraska license collector, when visiting with my friend Ken Pruess in the early 1990s. As all of the licenses were from out-of-state, Larry was not particularly interested in keeping the scrapbook. Ken and I thought it contained some remarkable items back then, including the earliest hunting licenses recorded from Florida and Texas.
Against crazy odds, not only were these two licenses originally purchased and used by the same hunter over a hundred years ago, he then saved them in a scrapbook where they have managed to survive to this day – and each remains the earliest example from what are now the second and third most populous states in the U.S. This is the story of an ardent sportsman and a legacy which has helped to enrich our hobby.
Meet Herman Schoettger
Herman D. Schoettger was a prominent and highly respected citizen of Fontanelle Township in eastern Nebraska (43 mile northwest of Omaha – see Figure 1). His parents, William and Margaret, were both born in Germany and subsequently moved to Quincy, Illinois where they were married. They moved from Illinois to Fontanelle in 1869, purchased a partly improved farm, added several surrounding tracts of land and built a family homestead where Herman was born and would live for his entire life.
Herman had three bothers and a sister, all of whom lived within an hour of each other in Nebraska: Fred, a farmer who lived near Enterprise; Henry, one of the founders of the Arlington State Bank; Frank, who also lived on the family homestead in Fontanelle and Mrs. A.E. Woodman, who lived with her husband in Omaha.
Fontanelle has an interesting history, resembling the “boom and bust” ghost towns of the southwest. It was a planned community, organized by the Nebraska Colonization Company which was founded in Quincy, Illinois in 1854 by the Congregational Church. The Company’s goal was to establish a literary institution to be known as Nebraska University.
In the spring of 1855, a prospecting party – aided by local trader Logan Fontenelle – chose a site for the town and university along the Elkhorn River, 12 miles from the present city of Fremont. Fontanelle (the settlers misspelled his name) had one of the first churches in the Nebraska Territory as well as the university (also known as Fontanelle University) and was originally the county seat of Dodge County before becoming a part of Washington County.
In it’s early years, Fontanelle was repeatedly raided by the local Pawnee Tribe, who frequently set-up camp right across the Elkhorn River. In order to protect the town and it’s citizens, the U.S. Army also established a post there.
The once thriving town of over 500 was seriously considered for the capital of the Nebraska Territory, before that honor went to Omaha. Subsequently, the town failed to secure a vital railroad connection and this led to its rapid downfall. Fontanelle lost the county seat, the university was moved to Crete (becoming Doane College in 1872) and the town folded in the 1890s – leaving an unincorporated community numbering a few dozen people and a newly constructed meeting hall and polling place (see Figure 2).
Herman, better known as “Shorty” to his friends and relatives, was born to William and Margaret in 1871. He was a farmer, a sports editor for at least two nearby newspapers and was active in civic affairs. He was known as a man of great integrity and served as Washington County Commisioner for several terms before being elected to the Nebraska State Legislature in 1907 (see Figure 3).
A life-long hunter and fisherman, Shorty served in the legislature through 1909, after which he focussed on annual out-of-state hunting trips to various parts of the U.S. and Canada. He collected trophies from his many hunts and built a private museum for them on the family homestead which was known as The Sportsman’s Lodge. Over the years, thousands of fellow hunters visited Shorty and toured his museum. He was also an active member of the Nebraska State Historical Society.
On May 3, 1927, Herman married Miss Emma Franke and, as we shall later see, took her on a fishing trip to Florida. Soon after the Florida trip, Herman’s health started to decline and he had to curtail his hunting and fishing adventures. On April 30, 1943, Herman D. “Shorty” Schoettger passed away on the original family homestead where he had lived his entire 72 years.
After Herman’s death, Emma disposed of the items in The Sportsmen’s Lodge, sold the Schoettger homestead to an Alfred Skov and purchased a home in nearby Fremont. As per Herman’s request, Emma donated over 50 of the most prized trophies to Morrill Hall at the University of Nebraska. Also known as The Nebraska State Museum, Morill Hall is one of the nations’s top natural history museums. The smaller trophies and other items were donated to The Washington County Museum, now the Washington County Historical Association (see Figure 4).
Some of Shorty’s possessions went to his niece in Omaha. Larry recalls that while on a visit there, he spotted an ad in the classified section of a local free magazine offering various hunting-related items for sale. He called and made an appointment to view the items. The first thing that struck him as we walked through the door was a giant snapping turtle mount – with jaws wide open. It was the largest Larry had ever seen.
Try as he might, Larry was not able to persuade the woman to part with the unique turtle. However, he did come away with several neat items – including the scrapbook detailing Shorty’s adventures.
Ira E. Cahoon was a good friend and hunting buddy of Shorty’s and he often accompanied him on his adventures. Ira was born in West Brewster, Massachusetts on January 4, 1858 (making him 13 years older than shorty) and his family moved to Fontanelle in 1880.
He married Amanda Jones, a school teacher and the daughter of one of the local pioneering families on May 25, 1883. Ira was active in the community and was a member of several lodges, including Hiram, Modern Woodman of America and Royal Highlanders.
For 13 years he worked as a brick mason and then, in 1893, he founded the Fontanelle Creamery and was the sole proprietor and manager of this business until the time of his somewhat early death in 1921 (cancer). When Ira was unable to accompany Shorty on his trips, he was greatly missed.
The first license in the scrapbook is a very interesting piece, a 1908 Guest Shooting License from the Provence of Saskatchewan, Canada measuring approximately 5 1/2 inches tall and 8 1/2 inches wide (or half the size of a an official letter size sheet of paper). It should be noted that the letter size is only used in the U.S., Canada and parts of Mexico.
Apparently, a piece of letter size paper was cut in half and the license below was produced by a game warden using a typewriter. The hand-written portions are difficult to read:
“Under and by virtue of the power vested in me under the provision of the game ordinance, I hereby authorize H.D. Schoettger and I.A. Cahoon of Fontanelle, Nebraska to hunt, take or kill in the company of James E.M. … (illegible) of … (illegible), Sask.
“any game under the provisions of the law that respect, from the 9th day of October 1908 to the 14th day of October 1908. Both[?] days inclusive. Sunday, 11th October excepted.
“Fee 1.00 for each guest. [Signed] Robert B.C. … (illegible) / Game Guardian.” (see Figure 5).
Aside from being very early and “hand-made”, the most striking thing about the license above is the fee of “1.00 for each guest”. Keep in mind Shorty and his friend, Ira, were non-resident or alien hunters in Saskatchewan and the license states they were allowed to “hunt, take or kill in the company of James… any game (my emphasis).”
According to Game Laws for 1908 – a Summary of the Provisions Relating to Seasons, Shipment, Sale, Limits, and Licenses by T.S. Palmer and Henry Oldys, there was a provision included in the 1908 Saskatchewan game laws that allowed guests of residents hunting with them to pay $1.00 – good for five days. We are left to assume that James was a licensed guide and that Shorty and Ira were graciously extended this guest fee privilege.
Hunting Trip To Sunny South
When I was looking through the scrapbook in my hotel room, shortly after acquiring it from Larry, I remember seeing this headline above a lengthy newspaper article (filling the better part of a page). My heart raced as I envisioned the “Sunny South” being Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia – states where early hunting licenses are very difficult to come by for collectors today.
Alas, when I flipped a couple of pages I discovered the sunny south to guys from Nebraska meant Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas! Further, there were no licenses from this – their first grand adventure after Shorty’s time in the legislature had passed – only an Oklahoma Non-Resident Transport Permit (kind of cool). Oh Well, I suppose Kansas and Oklahoma are south…
As an introduction, I want to share another short article I found on the internet while researching this post. It appeared in the Fremont Tribune of December 7, 1909 and was included under the heading Fontanelle News Notes:
“I.E. Cahoon, “Dad” Hartung and Shorty Schoettger made up a merry hunting party which, equipped with full paraphernalia, departed for the south on Wednesday afternoon. They will stop over a day with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gentamen near Wichita, Kans., before going into the wilds of Oklahoma and Texas, where they expect to slay all the game in sight for the next two or three weeks.”
Now we will hear about the trip in Shorty’s words. As I said, the article is quite long. Therefore, rather than reproduce the entire narrative, I have selected a number of excerpts to to ease us into this post. So, without further ado:
“There is no age limit for the inspiration and devotion which attaches to the lover of things for which the true sportsman stands as an exponent of out-door sports. He who has once caught the great call of the wild knows no music as sweet to the ear as the various languages of the glorious open and the crack of the 25 gr. of Ballister [sic] Smokeless.
“Once in the blood, no other influence can quite satisfy his soul longings. Having hunted in three directions of the compass, I.E. Cahoon, “Dad” Hartung and the Sporting Editor concluded to try the Sunny South for our annual hunt, and in this letter I will endeavor to give a brief description of the trip for the benefit of the readers of the [Arlington] Review-Herald…
“On December 8, at 10;30 p.m., aboard a pullman on the B & M, we left Omaha for Kansas City, with an abundance of ammunition and being so very fortunate as to secure an upper berth… As soon as we reached the state of Kansas, the home of Carrie Nation, we could but notice the climatic changes of the drouthy [lack of rain] kind.
“We stopped for the purpose of spending a few days with our old friend Henry Genteman… We were royally entertained during our stay with his family. Incidentally, we had to kill a few Kansas jack rabbits, to test the killing power of our ammunition. To enlighten the readers of the Review-Harold as to how plentiful the gay and festive jack is in Kansas, we were informed that at one organized hunt 1,500 of them were killed in a day.
“After having to contend with bad railroad connections… we eventually reached our hunting grounds [in Oklahoma]. Having received many pointers from another sportsman to whom we were referred, and procuring a non-resident license, the fee for which was $15 per man, which carries with it a transport permit, which allows one to ship out of the state a three days bag limit of 150 birds, when the transport tag is attached (my emphasis – see Figure 7), we hired a liveryman to to carry us to carry us to the hunting grounds…
“Game of various kinds were found, Quail being especially plentiful, as they could be numbered in the thousands. As quail were chiefly what we wanted to bag we had the time of our lives with the Bob White. Nothing affords more excitement with a good dog than quail hunting. From 25 to 50 per day were bagged, we not wanting to act the game hog…
“You may talk about your swell dishes, but if anything tickles the palate more than quail on toast, we have been unable to find it…
“We kept on hunting until we thought we had enough sport out of our license fee, and concluded to pack our camping outfit preparatory to returning to our Nebraska home, having had a pleasant time and a good shoot. Three hundred and seventy-seven quadrupeds and bipeds of various kinds were killed. We shipped home about 130 quail, as trophies of the hunt… Shorty.”
In 1909, two years after Oklahoma became a state, a State Game Warden was appointed by the governor, the Oklahoma Game and Fish Department was established and the first hunting licenses and transportation tags were issued.
A Hunter’s Paradise
Shorty’s next big adventure, in 1910, was a trip out west to Oregon. He spent most of his time in the northeast part of the state, in and around Wallowa County. There was a newspaper article about the trip in the scrapbook and, as it is relatively short, you can read the original (see Figure 8).
While in Oregon, Shorty purchased both an angler’s and a hunter’s license. Somehow, he was able (once again) to obtain resident licenses – paying a fee of only $1.00 each (see Figures 9 and 10).
Oregon started requiring sportsmen to purchase individual county hunting and fishing licenses starting in 1905 and 1909, respectively. None of the licenses included a picture or image until 1910.
The 1911 Texas License
In 1911, Shorty’s annual trip once again took him south, to Texas. In the Fremont Tribune article of December 7, 1909, it is stated that the hunting party consisting of I.E. Cahoon, “Dad” Hartung and Shorty had originally planned to visit Texas on their hunting trip to the “Sunny South”. However, in Short’s account there is no mention of any hunting taking place in Texas on that trip and I believe – possibly due to numerous train delays – they never made it that far.
Fortunately for our hobby, they decided to make up for it in 1911. The scrapbook contained only Shorty’s Non-Resident Hunting license and no article (see Figure 11).
Texas resident hunting licenses were first sold in 1909 at a fee of $1.75 and were available from any county clerk. Although the fee for non-resident licenses was $15.00 and they needed to be obtained directly from the Game, Fish and Oyster Commissioner, the 1911-12 Non-Resident license issued to Shorty Schoettger is currently the earliest Texas license recorded.
Very few residents purchased hunting licenses prior to 1920. An explanation for this can be found in Game Laws for 1917 – A Summary of the Provisions of Federal, State, and Provincial Statutes by George Lawyer. Lawyer states that, by 1917, Texas residents were still not required to purchase a license to hunt in their county of residence, in a contiguous county to their residence or on any lands owned or controlled by them. In a subsequent publication, Lawyer stated that by 1919 residents were still not required to purchase a license to hunt in their county of residence.
New Brunswick, Canada
There was nothing in the scrapbook to indicate that Shorty and his friends made a sporting trip in 1912. In 1913, Shorty made the first of three hunting trips to New Brunswick, Canada. He obtained a Non Resident Hunting License for $50.00 that was good for killing one Bull Moose, One Bull Caribou and Two Deer (see Figure 12). There was no accompanying article.
In Hunting Licenses – Their History, Objects and Limitations (1904), T.S. Palmer refers to two 19th century game laws requiring the purchase of hunting licenses in New Brunswick as far back as 1875 (non-residents in 1875 and residents in 1897). However, it is not clear to what extent such licensing actually took place, especially prior to 1897.
Were the licenses formally printed or hand-made as in the case of Shorty’s Saskatchewan license shown above and to what extent was the actual level of compliance and enforcement at this time? We don’t know these answers. However, to my knowledge, no 19th century hunting license has been recorded from New Brunswick.
Palmer discusses numerous changes in license requirements taking place between 1897 and 1903. In 1897, non-residents and residents were required to purchase licenses to hunt for moose and caribou for $20.00 and $2.00, respectively. However, in addition to the license fees – non-residents were required to to provide a $100.00 bond (over $3,000.00 in today’s dollars) and residents were required to provide two resident sureties (guarantors who would be responsible for their actions). Once again, it is not clear how much licensing took place under these conditions.
According to The Evolution of Wildlife Law in Canada, New Brunswick began [regularly] issuing both resident and non-resident hunting licenses as a result of the Game Act of 1903 – ten years prior to Shorty obtaining his license. In Hunting Licenses – Their History, Objects and Limitations, Palmer reports a total of 338 non-resident licenses were sold for the 1903 seasons, so it seems pretty likely that earlier examples exist.