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Wounded Grizzly Mauls Settler Near Ashland, Ore.

One day during the Rogue River War of 1855-56, Henry Chapman and two of his Ashland, Ore., neighbors went hunting for hostile Indians in the nearby hills.  Instead, Chapman tangled with a grizzly bear.  His sister, Victoria Mickelson, told the Oregon Journal in 1924 how it happened.

Alone on a hillside, Chapman ran into grizzly bears eating berries.  He fired his muzzleloader at one of the bears, which “fell in its tracks.”

Failing to reload, Chapman approached the bear, which roared up and chased him to a tree, knocked him down, ripped loose his shoulder blade, and clawed off his clothes.

Chapman tried playing dead on the ground, but screamed in agony as the bear clawed his head and chewed his neck. When Chapman rammed a fist into the bear’s mouth, it crushed his hand and wrist. Then the bear “stripped the flesh from one leg from the thigh to the knee.”

Hearing his screams, Chapman’s companions rushed to him and killed the grizzly.  Severely disabled for life, Chapman relied for years on his sister’s care. 

The wounded-bear attack was on nearly-6,000-foot-high Grizzly Peak, which rises above Ashland from across the Bear Creek Valley.

Source:  Fred, Lockley. "The Lockley Files Conversations with Pioneer Women/Victoria Chapman (Interview published Oregon Journal 1-3 Sept. 1924). Rainy Day Press. 16 Nov. 2003.  http://iagenweb.org/, edited by French Paul, iagenweb.org/boards/vanburen/biographies/index.cgi?read=39762. Accessed 25 Jan. 2017.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.