I first came across the story of the wild hogs in Horseshoe Bend ten years ago. It's a true story that was written by Dr. J. McDaniel. It was first published almost forty years ago in a bulletin of the Fulton County (Georgia) Medical Society. McDaniel was the society's president. Originally called Whose Bread I Eat His Song I Sing, the story has come to be known as the Wild Hogs in Horseshoe Bend. The truths contained in the story are timeless. Here's what McDaniel had to say:
I remember as a small boy in knee britches going with my father to hear an address given by the Honorable Stephen Pace, then a congressman from the old Georgia 12th District. It was on the banks of the river. There was a barbecue, and citizens, especially farmers, from all over the area gathered. This was before the First World War.
It seemed that someone in government had introduced a bill that would give the farmers some money provided they did something. Mr. Pace vigorously opposed it. I have no idea what it was because I was busy watching a ground squirrel play with a pine cone. He snapped me back to attention, however, when he said, "I'm going to tell you a true story about the wild hogs that once lived about 40 miles down the river.
"Years ago," he said, "in a great horseshoe bend down the river, there lived a drove of wild hogs. Where they came from no one knew, but they survived floods, fires, freezes, droughts, and hunters. The greatest compliment a man could pay to a dog was to say he had fought the hogs in Horseshoe Bend and returned alive. Occasionally a pig was killed either by dogs or a gun. Whenever that happened it would be talked about for years to come.
"Finally, a man wearing a single suspender came by the country store on the river road and asked the whereabouts of these wild hogs. He drove a one-horse wagon, had an ax, some quilts, a lantern, some corn, and a single barrel shotgun. He was a slender, slow-moving, patient man -- he chewed his tobacco deliberately and spat very seldom.
"Several months later he came back to the same store and asked for help to bring out the wild hogs. He stated that he had them all in a pen over at the swamp. Bewildered farmers, dubious hunters, and storekeepers all gathered in the heart of Horseshoe Bend to view the captive hogs.
"`It was all very simple,' said the man, tugging at his suspender strap, `First I put out some corn. For three weeks they would not eat it. Then some of the young ones grabbed an ear and ran off into the thicket. Soon they were all eating it; then I commenced building a pen around the corn, a little higher each day. When I noticed that they were all waiting for me to bring the corn and had stopped grubbing for acorns and roots, I built the trap door.
"'Naturally,' said the patient man, 'they raised quite a ruckus when they seen they was trapped, but I can pen any animal on the face of the earth if I can jist get him to depend on me for a free handout.'
We have had patient men in our central government in Washington for years, the only difference is that they are using our own dollars instead of corn. Maybe that's why I still think about the trap door, and the slender, stooped man, when he spat tobacco juice and turned to the gathered citizens many years ago and said, "I can pen any animal on the face of the earth, if I can jist get him to depend on me for a free handout."