14 August 2007

Rabbit Lore #1 (1976)

John Wesley Snipes Interview, 1976 SEP 20 and NOV 20 (added 2007 AUG 14):
[Excerpts from an oral history with Bynum resident John Wesley Snipes, born 1901 in Bynum. Brent Glass of the Southern Oral History Program conducted the interview, the full transcript of which is available on the Documenting the American South web site.]
Snipes: And it's the only county in the world that I've ever heard tell of (and the records bear this out) that ever shipped a solid carload of rabbits to New York. Chatham rabbits; we were known for Chatham rabbits. They caught them in hollows and boxes. And you could go in New York seventy-five years ago and call for Chatham rabbit on the menu in New York City [laughter].

BG: Wow. I tell you, I didn't know that.

Snipes: Rabbits run just like ants or grasshoppers. They shipped them by the carload to New York.


BG: How about hunting or fishing? Did you do much of that when you were a boy?

Snipes: Well, we didn't have nothing to fish. I mean, there's nothing but little old branches and creeks, and not much water up in that area. And we didn't get to go nowhere. I'd never seen the river 'til I was a great big boy. We rabbit hunted. Now, that was a big occasion: go out and kill thirty or forty rabbits a day.

BG: What would you kill them with, guns?

Snipes: Sticks and guns, and the dogs'd run them down and catch them. We'd just take the entrails out in real cold weather and hang them up in the smokehouse with the hide on them, and dry them out. Then we made rabbit hash, and cooked them. And they replaced a whole lot of meat, hog meat. There was a lot of quail way back there, a lot of turkeys. Chatham County has been blessed with rabbits: just thousands and hundreds of thousands of them way back seventy-five years ago.

BG: And you were telling me that Chatham County supplied. . .?

Snipes: It's the only county in the United States that ever shipped 'em by the carload, a carload of nothing but rabbits with the entrails taken out with the fur on them: just pack 'em down and fill the whole car full. Like this place over here Rabbit's Crossings, they've shipped them from there here in Chatham County, and Devil's Tramping Grounds and over there at Hogs Crossing and all that. They shipped them by the carload. But the foxes got so they destroyed them, and we don't have that many rabbits now, very few.

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