The Ben Lilly Legend

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University of Texas Press, 1950 - History - 253 pages
2 Reviews

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..

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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
The Cowwhip
HI That Hawk Kept Flying
Teddy Roosevelts Chief Huntsman
In Texas and Mexico
Master Signreader of the Rockies
VH That Taos Bear
The Lilly Dogs
Ben Lilly on Panthers
The Smell of Mortality
People and Print

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Rivers of Texas
Verne Huser
Limited preview - 2004
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About the author (1950)

J. Frank Dobie was born on a ranch in Live Oak County, Texas on September 26, 1888. He graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in 1910 and received his master's degree from Columbia University. He became an American folklorist, writer, and newspaper columnist. He wrote numerous books depicting life in rural Texas including A Vaquero of the Brush Country, On the Open Range, Tongues of the Monte, The Voice of the Coyote, Tales of Old Time Texas, I'll Tell You a Tale, and Cow People. Coronado's Children won the Literary Guild Award in 1931. On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the Medal of Freedom. He died four days later on September 18, 1964.

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