Did you ever go looking for one thing and end up finding something else entirely? That’s what happened to me recently when I was researching old newspapers. I turned up a couple of “gems” of information that I just need to share.
While looking through a large storage tote of newspaper clippings donated to the Westville History Center, I came across a couple of undated, yellowing clippings that caught my eye.
The first clipping headline read: “Tuper’s Calf Unconventional, An Oddity in Bovine Circles.” The story goes on to explain that a 6-month-old calf on the Eugene Tuper farm in South Bombay resembled a miniature buffalo.
Named “Unconventional,” she was born of Jersey stock, was 3 feet long and 2 feet high, had shaggy black hair, was double jointed at the ankles and had a pug face. She easily became a pet to Mrs. Tuper.
The Tupers built a small pen for her in a garage. Mr. Tuper picked her up daily and carried her around, placing her in the sun when he thought she needed some recreation.
Unconventional drank 4 quarts of milk a day and became a little butterball. She weighed about 70 pounds and was very friendly.
Mr. Tuper said, “Most calves are standoffish when strangers approach them but not Unconventional … She enjoys being petted and babied.”
The article also said the odd-looking bovine didn’t moo, but just made a coughing sound instead. By all reports, the calf was in good health. The clipping includes a photo that I will scan and put on my Facebook page. Take a look. You will be amazed.
The clipping doesn’t include a date or the name of the newspaper. It does mention the Post Standard that was located in Watertown on the back side. A search of the Northern New York Historical Newspaper website didn’t turn up any information on what happened to Unconventional. If anyone knows, I’d be pleased to hear from them.
Another article in the bin ran in the Malone Evening Telegram in 1983. It tells the true story of a baby moose that became a family pet.
In the spring of 1908, Henry Trudell of Mountain View was walking out of the woods from a long day of logging when he found a baby moose on the railroad tracks. John Garland Jr., who worked for Trudell, decided to take the baby home with him. He and his father, John Garland Sr., raised and trained the moose, letting him have the run of the farm in east Duane.
The story continues, as told by Edward Garland, a grandson: “…one fine day the moose decided to go into the house, stepping over my sister, Winfred, who was about a year old at the time. My mother was nearly scared out of her wits. She in turn got after my father to get rid of it (the moose) because it was becoming such a nuisance.”
He goes on to tell that his father hated to get rid of the animal because he had trained it to draw a wagon just like a horse. Garland Sr. had seen the moose run like lightning, so he took him to the fairgrounds to train him to race, but “the moose got lonesome being cooped and tied in the pen. They claim he was overfed so he died of a lonely heart and overeating.”
This might be just a tall tale except for the fact there is a picture with the article. Indeed, the moose is harnessed to a wagon. I will also scan and post this picture on Facebook.
Believe it or not, winter will be here before long, and we will all be spending more time inside. So dive into those research projects and fall closet-cleaning chores you’ve been dreading. You never know what you’re going to find, and if you find something hysterical, unbelievable or outlandish, drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you.
One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She started at the Press-Republican in 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.