~ John Eason Sellars and the

1881 hunting expedition catastrophe ~


As written by John Eason Sellars

Transcription by <a href="hal">Hal Rogers</a>






This writer {Hal Rogers} received a small brown leather ledger book from William Leroy "Roy" L. Sellars {1884-1978}, son of Charles Weber Sellars {1854-1884} , and the adopted son of his uncle Michael Allen Garber Sellars {1843-1918}. In the ledger Roy wrote to me that his uncle "John Eason Sellars {1831 - 1914} wrote this account of the hunting expedition while the Sel lars family lived in San Jose. In those days hunting for the market was legal."


John Eason Sellars was the third son of David Sellars {1798 - 1891} and his first wife, Margaret Barnes Mears {Sellars} {ca.1805 - 1835}. David's first wife died four months b efore his father Peter Sellars died. The Charles M. Bennett inscription for Peter's place of burial confirms that Peter was buried in the Barnes cemetary in Washington county, Tennessee. David's first wife, being a member of the Barnes family, would also have been buried near Peter Sellars in the same Barnes cemetary.


August 16, 1881 San Jose Tuesday


John Bowen, Wm Sellars and myself {John Eason Sellars} started on a hunting trip to the lower country....we camped on Akily Slough...Bill caught 2 very large fish for supper 2 inches long each .....distance about 36 miles to day.


{August} 17 2nd day


Started about 8 Oclock. After traveling 3 or 4 miles John treed a large french frog on some water cress and blazed a way got his game and dressed it right ther e and as we traveled along we shot several Prarie dogs and presently we espied several large hawks sailing overhead and then we see that they was after a very large hog. I should think its body was a bout 4 {feet} long and its head about as big as a foot ball it started to follow us but I think hawks had him for dinner. Camped good water spring Frog and Prarrie dog for supper. Distance a bout 30 miles to day.


{August} 18 3rd day


Started about same time after traveling some distance we came to Park Mills Lade in our supply of flour and stoped at the mill dam and prepared dinner. John and Bill went fishing but all they got was the fishermans luck {you know} then as we was traveling along through Rabbit Valley we seen two deer and Bill piled out gun in h and and soon had them boath hung up and after we had gone a short distance further Bill killed a large Lynx. Camped on Bitter water Liver and Lynx for supper....distance a bout 30 miles to day.


{August} 19 4th day


Left camp early and traveled along bitter water and then over into Peach Tree and stoped and got dinner and seen 4 deer but no shot then we crossed over into Long Valley down it a ways and then crossed over Almond ridge on to the Salinas and seen 1 antelo pe camped on the river at Godshaws place....vinison for supper. Distance 30 miles to day.



{August} 20 5th day


Started bright and early and went about 2 miles to Godshaws house watered our horses and filled our canteens and started for Sargents ....af ter we got to his house and started to the spring we seen 2 deer. Bill piled out and went for them and John and I went for the spring but missed the road and went on till we seen we was clost to Tulare Lake and then we turned around and coming back and me t bill hungry tired and mad but no deer so we went on. Found the road and camped at Mustang Springs over clost to wild Indian Valley. Distance about 20 miles to day.


{August} 21 6th day


John and Bill shouldered their rifles and started out to look at the country and see how the game was. They seen several deer but got none stayed in camp to fix up and to have grub ready every thing lovely.


{August} 22 7th day


Bill and John out again to day and I stayed in Camp. Bill killed one deer and seen several. John watched at the spring all night but got nothing.


{August} 23 8th day


John and Bill out again seen some deer and John killed one and I looked for a bee tree but did not succeed in finding any so we had to take flap jacks strate.


{August} 24 9th day


John and I went out and left Bill in camp. I seen several deer and killed a spike buck but John swore he had been close to the Joaquin and hadnt even seen a wild coyote hungry.... tired and mad.


{August} 25 10th day


Bill and I went out and left John in camp. We seen several deer and Bill killed one and I got one and we carried them in but was laid up next day and John watched at the spring killed nothing but a wild coyote.


{August} 26 11th day


Bill and John went out and killled a big fine buck and was back by the time I got the others cut up so we all was happy.


{August} 27 12th day


John went out and Bill and I stayed in camp. John seen nothing and swore the deer had all left and we laughed and we all laughed {you know}


{August} 28 13th day


Bill and I went out and left John in camp we seen eleven deer and killed 3 and come into camp and John and Bill took the horses and went and brought them in.


{August} 29 14th day


John and I went out.... took the horses with us seen several deer and killed 3 so John alowed there was plenty of deer


{August} 30 15th day


Bill went out and John and I stayed in camp. Bill seen one deer and killed it...all hands well.


{August} 31 16th day


All hands stayed in camp and called it Sunday. John was Preacher I was singer and Bill was the audiance....had a general good rest and lots of venison and beans....all hands happy.


Sept 1, {1881} 17th day



John and Bill went out and killed a verry large buck. John swore it was an elk.... we got 15 lbs of hunters butter out of him so now we can have doughnuts.


{Sept. 2} 18th day


Bill and John went out and kill an other fine buck and got in early. The 2 boys from Sargent came a long and stayed for dinner. They sayed they had a can of fine strained honey that Joe had given them...so we thaught we would have a way up dinner but when they opened it it was the cone and mashed up bees where he had strained al l the honey out....oh what a generous Joe.


{Sept.} 3 19th day


Bill and I went out and killed a fine deer and found 2 Bee trees. Seen lots of deer and 3 wild cats. John stayed in camp and fixxed bate to snare a wild coyote.


{Sept.} 4 20th day


Bill and John went and cut one of the bee trees and got a bucket of honey so we can revel in honey and flap jacks all hands happy.


{Sept.} 5 21st day


John and I went out we seen several deer and I killed one .... I seen a wild coyote and a badger.


{Sept.} 6 22nd day


Bill and I went out seen several deer Bill killed 2 and I got 2 so that made up for the day..... we cut the tree and didant get any {honey}.


{Sept.} 7 23rd day


Bill and I stayed in camp to cut up meat and John went out and walked himself blind and didant see any thing so you can judge what he had to say when he got in camp.


{Sept.} 8 24 day


John and Bill went to cut the other bee tree they cut it down but the bees run them out so they killed a deer and come home and in the evening we seen a deer from camp feeding on the hillside and Bill sliped out and killed it and John watched at the sprin g and killed a fine 2 prong buck...all hands ahppy.


{Sept.} 9 25th day


We all stayed in camp and cut up meat and rested and Bill watched at the spring and shot a fine buck but did not get him so we called it bad luck.


{Sept.} 10 26th day


Bill an d I got up about 3 Oclock and went to get the honey out of the tree they had cut...... we got 3 buckets and a pot full of nice white honey and left lots in the tree and Bill killed a fine 2 prong buck so we hung the deer up in a tree and swung out honey o n a pole and started for camp as happy as lords....when we got to camp we eat dinner and had a good rest and smoke and was talking about what good luck we had and that we would finish drying up what meat we had and start for home in a few days with about $ 120.00 worth of meat and hides and while we wer talking I heard the fire hoping in the smokehouse and told bill he had better see to the smoke and he steped in to see and hollared the smoke house is a fire, and John and I run and in trying to put it out w e nocked out the braces and down it cum with all our meat and hides in there. And I tell you if we didant hollar and sling fire its all right but we succeeded in saving most of our hides and considerable meat. John got one hand badly burnt. Bill got his fi ngers burnt and I got my overhauls a fire. John lost all his blankets and all our sacks and a quilt was burned. Estimated loss about $50.00 no insurance.


{Sept.} 11 27th day


Bill and John went to get the rest of the honey and the deer we hung in the tree and I stayed in camp to pick over the remains of the fire....they got 2 buckets of honey and left lots in the tree yet and then John watched at the spring all night but did not get any thing.


{Sept.} 12 28th day


All hands in camp smokeing meat straining honey and repairing our wagon and fixing for a start home all hands got the blues.