Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bulls vs. Bears

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
One of the most popular Sunday afternoon entertainments for miners was the bull-and-bear fight. As reported in 1849 by the local Sonora newspaper: A fantastically dressed Mexican clown, preceded by a band of shockingly bad music, parades the streets notifying the citizens of a fight about to come off.
Bear and bull fighting, a favorite Sunday afternoon diversion for miners, was certainly not for the fainthearted.
A 600 pound grizzly bear was enclosed in a pen -- chained either to a post or his opponent, a mean bull twice his size. If they didn't take unkindly enough to one another on initial meeting, the promoters got up a little spirit by goading them with spears. It didn't much matter to the spectators whether the bear, with his sharp teeth and powerful jaws, got to the bull's neck first -- or the bull, with superior weight and sharp horns, gored the bear. Blood was the object.
Sometimes the spectators themselves became part of the sport. In a Sonora arena, jammed with 2,000 spectators, a wounded bull jumped the fence and ran wild through the crowd, goring one man to death and trampling several others.
Meanwhile, another incident was taking place inside the area. The promoter decided to throw some water on the exhausted bear. He was grabbed by the animal who started chewing on the man's leg. Several volleys of pistol shots killed the bear, but not in time to save his victim.
An attempt was made to discourage this cruel sport in 1856 by imposing a $25 licensing fee (not much of a deterrent), but it wasn't until 1905 that it was outlawed altogether.
By 1854 Sonora had turned to more sedate family life. Instead of the bull-and-bear fights on this sacred day, troops of rosy-faced, quiet, orderly children are seen returning from Sunday school. Where men from the surrounding camps once quarreled, fought, drank, swore, and squandered their hard-earned means at the gambling table or low brothel, well-dressed men and women attended church. What has caused this great change in public sentiment? It was the presence of women -- virtuous, pure, sympathizing women, the great controller of public opinion, without whom society is dull and existence a blank.
From: California Gold Story of the Rush to Riches


  1. Ugh, what a horrid so-called sport! People can be gross, can't they? Reminds me of early Rome and the gladiators and/or animals. Glad this sort of thing is outlawed. However, cock fighting and dog fights still happen even though they're against the law. And teens battle. People are nuts! Good post, though, to show the civilizing of a town via women.

  2. Yuck. What a horrible "sport."

    Thanks for sharing, Paisley. So nice to know how far we've come as a society, thanks to we womenfolk.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmdit

  3. I almost didn't post it, Caroline, but sometimes it does show how far we've come over the years. Thanks for visiting with me today.

  4. YAY for women is right, Patricia. I think women had more influence than men wanted them to think in those days. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Eeeek!! Lands, how hideous. I skipped a few phrases--if I could stop in time!
    This is somewhat true in the formation of communities--women make all the difference.
    Now if we could get the entire globe under control, we women would have it made.
    Thanks, Paisley.

  6. Wow, I'd never heard of that. Amazing how we come full circle on things like that. Think of the gladiators and other bloody sports. Well, I'm just glad it's no longer legal. Ack. Gives me the shivers.

  7. Sorry I upset your tummy Celia. I almost didn't post it, but since it showed the full impact of a good woman, went ahead with it. Thanks for reading it.

  8. Thanks Ciara. There is a pioneer town that my great grandparents lived in where the sport was men against grizzly. That is completely unimaginable to me.

  9. Thank God for women. I am so glad they interceded and got rid of this horrible sport. Fighting animals is a detestible entertainment and says something really dark about the people who think it's fun. Maybe we need a whole lot more women in congress. Women know how to compromise and get things done.
    This was an interesting blog that certainly shows the significance of women and their influence in society.

  10. Thanks for stopping by Sarah. Yes, I agree that women seem to find better ways of spending their time. :)


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