The Ben Lilly Legend
The Ben Lilly Legend brings back to life a great American hunter—the greatest bear hunter in history after Davy Crockett, by his own account and also by the record. J. Frank Dobie met Lilly and was so struck by this extraordinary man that he collected everything he could find about him.
Lilly was born in Alabama in 1856, followed the bear and the panther westward through Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas, leaving a trail of stories about his prowess as a hunter and his goodness as a man. He was at one time "chief huntsman" to Teddy Roosevelt, hunted in Texas and Mexico, and came to be known as the master sign reader of the Rockies.
Here are all the stories Ben Lilly told and a great many more Frank Dobie heard about him, put together in a fresh and fascinating contribution to American folklore.
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I. H. Alford is also recognized in a book called "Birds of Louisiana." He was as well known as Mr Lilly. Also see olberholser 1938..
Though Ben Lily was an interesting figure and occupied a special space in history, I, like my grandfather, found Dobie's book insulting. Tutt Alford, my great grandfather, who was known throughout the area as hunter of no small skills, was called by Dobie "the cook for the dogs". It is apparent that Dobie knew little of the men he wrote of, or dismissed the black hunters entirely. Tutt and others of the hunt, were considered to be as greater or greater hunters than Lily. But I guess it's up to us to write our own history. Dobie, was obviously so unfamiliar with Tutt, that he later notes him as I. H. Alford the noted naturalist (loose quote)--not realizing that I. H. Alford and Tutt were one and the same.
Mister Ben Lilly and His Book
HI That Hawk Kept Flying
Teddy Roosevelts Chief Huntsman
In Texas and Mexico
Master Signreader of the Rockies
VH That Taos Bear