Wednesday, September 07, 2005

An Exciting Badger Fight

One of the thrills of Waco in its earliest days was witnessing a badger fight, where a fiery badger paired off against a dog or other animal, the badger usually winning the bout. The fight was a chance for onlookers to place bets, and the contests attracted all kinds of observers, which in this example from 1908 included law officers, the secretary of the state humane society (who held the bets), and even a criminal court jury looking for a little distraction.


Young Eastern Court Reporter Participated in Great Contest at State House Last Night

Waco Times-Herald
October 10, 1908

Today there is rejoicing in the House of Kelly, for a worthy scion of that honored Celtic name brought additional lustre to the unblemished escutcheon of the family last night by being one of the chief participants in a genuine, bona fide badger fight, arranged solely and only for his delectation.

A few days ago, Mr. John A.M. Kelly of New York, a crack-a-jack court reporter and a most pleasant and affable gentleman, always ready to enter into any sport with zest and eagerness, arrived here to assist Court Stenographer J.A. Lord. It was deemed necessary by some of the officials in the court house, in order that Mr. Kelly might become familiar with Texas amusements, to arrange a badger fight for him as soon as possible.

...Last night (the State House) was decided upon as the (site) for the exhibition, which took place on the vacant lot adjoining the hotel. The word was passed down the line, and many members of the local sporting fraternity were present to witness the thrilling event.

The badger owned by Henry Little was described to Mr. Kelly prior to the contest, the fighting propensities of the animal being explained to him, particular allusion to the badger's dislike for dogs being made. A search for a dog noted for his staying qualities was made, the fine pointer belonging to Policeman Dave May being obtained.

At the appointed hour, a large crowd gathered to witness the proceedings. Captain M.B. Davis, secretary of the Texas Humane society, announced in advance that the fight, under no circumstances, should proceed more than three minutes, as he did not intend to stand by and see the pointer reduced to sausage meat. Dr. W.A. Howard was near by, it being understood that he would sew up the canine's arteries after the badger had gotten in his work. Knowing that they would also appreciate the sport, Deputy Sheriff John Walton escorted the jury in the Yeiral case, tried yesterday in the Fifty-fourth district court, to the scene of action.

It was decided to make Captain Davis stake holder, and his hands were filled with currency and silver, wagers made on the fight. Most of the money was placed on the badger, though the dog was not lacking in backers.

With great difficulty, Policeman May restrained his dog from endeavoring to claw away the door of the badger's cage. Bayliss Earle was chosen to prevent the badger from entering the contest too early.

Never having participated in an affair of this kind, Mr. Kelly asked for instructions as to the method he should adopt in releasing the badger. "Shall I give the rope a firm, steady pull, or shall I jerk the animal from the box?" he inquired. "Jerk it," yelled some one. With every nerve keyed up to the highest pitch, trembling with eagerness and excitement, his face glowing with anxiety to witness the hair-raising contest, Mr. Kelly jerked the rope. Immediately there came to view a beautiful snow white badger, one of the rarest animals in captivity, unknown entirely in the east. The motion of pulling the rope caused the "animal" to vibrate and rock to and fro, as he appeared before the crowd. The contest was very brief, the badger walking away with the honors. The dog, though, will recover, if given careful attention, and this he will likely receive from his owner.

Mr. Kelly, like the prince of good fellows he is, was "next" in an instant, and he was told this morning that he could no longer claim to be an easterner, he having performed the requistite act necessary to entitle him to citizenship in Texas.

Among the spectators present at the fight last night was Mr. H.C. Stringfellow of Shreveport, and that gentleman stated that the sport would be produced in his home city as soon as he returned.