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Mountain Lion Nearly Catches Running Man

It was nearly sundown when Frank Mathers left his neighbor’s house to walk the half-mile home in the early 1850’s just east of Phoenix, Ore. He assured the neighbor he did not need a gun as mountain lions only came out at night. Frank’s son Marion tells the story, as follows:

“Frank had not gone one hundred feet into the woods before he heard a snap of a dry twig and a crying sound.  …Frank kept up a good pace and kept track of the … location of the beast of prey. Once the panther was in full view not fifty feet ahead… one of the tormenting tricks of cunning it showed…

“As Frank neared the edge of the timber, the panther gave a loud cry which made a cold sweat come over him… Now he was in the open field with about three hundred yards yet to go.”

Frank ran. The panther made a dash and nearly caught him.  But Frank’s brother-in-law had heard the panther’s cry and with one rifle shot brought it down—the largest they had ever seen—9 feet from nose to tail.

Source: photocopies of pages 38-40 of an unpublished manuscript by Marion Mathers about his pioneer family in Southern Oregon. Found in the “Riley” Vertical File at the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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.