looking back

Things we no longer do: part one

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 4/28/20

Abe Minckler was part of a crew of rattlesnake hunters in late 19th century Sullivan County

As we sit indoors, let’s reflect on something we could be doing but won’t: rattlesnake …

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looking back

Things we no longer do: part one

Posted

Abe Minckler was part of a crew of rattlesnake hunters in late 19th century Sullivan County

As we sit indoors, let’s reflect on something we could be doing but won’t: rattlesnake hunting. 

Not only did it get you outside in the fresh air, with the occasional heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of tracking and killing a poisonous snake, but you could make a career out of it. 

Witness Abe Minckler. “Mr Minckler’s was an old Sullivan County family,” says Leslie LaValley in The Basket Letters, “and at the turn of the century, he was living at Kellam’s on the Pennsylvania side of the river.” He and John Geer of Long Eddy hunted rattlesnakes, selling some to circuses and zoos, or using the skins in belts or the rattles in magical charms. 

Getting bitten was a hazard, of course, so all snake hunters had snakebite cures. John Geer’s remedy was published in The Echo, the Basket Historical Society’s newsletter. You salted the wound, applied a paste of various ingredients, bind the chewed leaves of the arrow-leaved violet between the bite and the heart, and remember, drink milk but never whiskey. 

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