Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Prose

For the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Of the enormous Bones found in America

BETWEEN thirty and forty years ago at a salt-lick near the banks of the Ohio, the remains of several skeletons were discovered which demonstrate the former existence of animals very far surpassing in size any at present known. There is now in the museum at Yale College, teeth of a monstrous magnitude, sent thither from Muskingum by the late General Parsons. The one the writer of this account saw, was upwards of 16 inches in circumference, and including its fangs, 12 or 13 inches in length.

In the year 1783, as a labourer was ditching a bog meadow belonging to a clergyman at Little Britain in Ulster county, he found a mass of bones, not two feet beneath the surface of the ground, of the same kind probably with those observed at the Ohio: They were of a black colour but very hard and the shape perfect. A German Physician, then with the British army at New-York just before its departure, procured and took them all to Europe. Gentlemen of the first character in this country saw them, and declare that they were astonishingly large: The thigh bone in particular a gentleman measured and found it 35 inches in girth.

It is impossible to arrive at the knowledge of the magnitude of an animal from an imperfect skeleton; but no one can hesitate supposing, that the most gigantic quadrupeds at present known, are mere pigmies compared to some of the former tenants of our western world; but of

these perhaps nothing more will ever be discovered than the memorials above related, and the following tradition existing among the natives. It is given in the very terms of a Shawanee Indian, to shew that the impression has been most forcible.

"Ten thousand moons ago, when nought but gloomy forests covered this land of the sleeping sun -- long before the pale men with thunder and fire at their command rushed on the wings of the wind to ruin this garden of nature -- when nought but the untam'd wanderers of the woods, and men as unrestrained as they, were the lords of the soil; a race of animals were in being, huge as the frowning precipice, cruel as the bloody panther, swift as the descending eagle, and terrible as the angel of night. The pines crashed beneath their feet, and the lake shrunk when they slaked their thirst. The foreceful javelin in vain was hurl'd, and the barbed arrow fell harmless from their sides. Forests were laid waste at a meal -- the groans of expiring animals were every where heard -- and whole villages inhabited by men, were destroyed in a moment. The city of universal distress extended even to the region of peace in the west, and the good spirit interposed to save the unhappy. The forked lightning gleamed all around, and loudest thunder rocked the globe. The bolts of Heaven were hurled upon the cruel destroyers alone, and the mountains echoed with the bellowings of death. All were killed except one male, the fiercest of the race, and him even the artillery of the skies assailed in

vain. He ascended the bluest summit which shades the source of the Monongahala, and, roaring aloud bid defiance to every vengeance. The red lightning scathed the lofty firs, and rived the knotty oaks, but only glanced upon the enraged monster. At length madned with fury, he leaped over the waves of the west at a bound, and at this moment reigns the uncontrouled monarch of the wilderness in despite of even omnipotence itself.

Poughkeepsie Journal
Of the enormous Bones found in America
November 6, 1790


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