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Biography of Frederick Proebstel

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FREDERICK PROEBSTEL. – This pioneer of the Wallowa valley was born in Germany in 1829, and with his parents emigrated to America in 1842 and located in Missouri. In 1852 he made the crossing of the plains to Lewis County, Washington Territory, locating on Fourth Plain. Mr. Proebstel, belonging to the family of this name, a number of whose biographies are found in this volume, shared many experiences in common with others, and was one of the Indian fighters of 1855-56, and wishes to bear special testimony to the liberality of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the hard winter of 1852, when many must have suffered without their assistance.

Of the many stories which he tells with feeling and humor in regard to the early settlement of the Wallowa valley, the following are specimens. His niece, returning home from the log schoolhouse one evening met face to face by a panther. Being near home, she called out to her father, and meantime struck the animal with one of her school books. The stroke and the scream caused the panther to slink away; and the father, coming quickly with his gun, secured a fine skin. In 1879 Mr. Proebstel drove his herds to the Imnaha, a portion of the Wallowa country, in order to obtain open range. There he stayed for four years, and while there was much annoyed by grizzly bears and panthers. The grizzlies were frequently disposed of by setting fifty-pound steel traps in a pen, wherein was fresh meat bait, and also a large hog at the opening. The bear usually put his fore foot into the trap as he attempted to gain the bait, or was lured on by the hog. Occasionally panthers were caught in this way; and one is mentioned, both of whose hind feet were thus pinioned, so as to make it impossible for him to tear open the dogs’ bodies, as he could have done without this hindrance.

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