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As It Was: Bear’s Sudden Appearance Quiets Crying Children

In 1861, Sarah Slagle York and her husband moved to a home on Southern Oregon’s Applegate River where they raised 12 children. Years later Sarah wrote down her memories of that time. Here is one of her stories.

“My husband and the two oldest children went to Jacksonville, twenty miles away, to a circus, and the next (oldest) little girl was wanting to go—she was a little thing—and she cried and cried because she couldn’t go. And then the two younger ones, aged about two years and six weeks got to crying, and it made it lively. I said to the children ‘If you don’t hush crying, you will raise all the bear in the country.’

“The gate was right close to the house and the road ran just along by the gate. I picked up the bucket and went to get some water, and just as I got out on the porch, there stood a black bear.”

Sarah said the children stopped crying. Telling children they might raise a bear to stop their crying may not work today, and Sarah York was surprised at its effect even then.

Maybe worth a try, mothers?

Source: (Slagle) York, Sarah Elizabeth. Memories. Medford, Ore.: Unpublished Manuscript, Southern Oregon Historical Society, York Vertical File, 6-7. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.