A Silver Valley Tale--The French Gulch Bear

One of the great things about being involved in the Sixth Street Theater is meeting new people. One of the people cast in our July show this summer told me her dad likes to write stories about the Silver Valley. She wondered if he could share some of his stories he write on my blog. I was more than happy to let him share his writings. So below is John Eisler's Silver Valley Tale about a former owner of the house he lives in up French Gulch. John has also written a book, and is working on another one. You can find out that information after his story.
Thanks, John, for the story. I think you are my first "guest blogger" I have had on Silver Valley Stories.




I live in an historic location up French Gulch in Kingston, Idaho. The original owner shared almost two hundred acres with his two brothers. The house I own (With the friendly cooperation of the bank) belonged to Oscar Johnson. Oscar originally operated a dairy. Over time he changed from milking cows to killing them and operating a widely known and well-respected meat processing operation. Even decades later, when someone asks where I live, all I need say is, “I live on the Oscar Johnson place.”

The responses are immediate. Almost as quickly they say, “My folks used to get their beef there.” Some alternate responses are, “I used to get my beef there.” That response usually comes from a senior citizen. The third response is, “Oscar used to process my deer, elk, or moose.” This comment was depending one what game they had taken.

Oscar was a wise businessman and he served his customers well. Many of those folks that commented also would say, “I used to cut meat there.” Or, “My mom used to wrap meat for Oscar.”

Now you have to remember that Idaho is a mostly rural environment and years ago that was even truer. Bears were a common sight and if you know anything about bears you should know that they are voracious eaters. Public Television often run specials on bears that break into vehicles and homes in search of food. Oscar was frequently troubled by bears coming onto his property to eat the hides from slaughtered cows that he sold to a tannery. To stop this pillaging, he would take the assorted fat scraps from the processed beef and walk across the gulch and dump it on the hillside. The bears would eat the scraps and leave his hides alone.

Many families that lived in the Silver Valley would plan an outing on Sundays to come see the bears on the hillside eating the scraps laid out by Oscar.

Bears like all animals, humans included, are creatures of habit. Bears not unlike many humans are also inclined to go the easiest way. There was one particular bear, “Old Faithful,” that had staked out a space on the hillside. He would show up about an hour prior to Oscar walking across the road and sit directly above a bare spot where Oscar dumped one of his meat scrap boxes. Oscar would walk up the hill to the bare spot and “Old Faithful” would sit quietly until Oscar dumped his meal. Oscar would go back to the processing shop for additional scraps and take those to two other spots on the hill. The other bears would amble down and occasionally engage in roughhouse play to claim their bounty. “Old Faithful” would finish his meal and walk off into the woods.

In spring, he was the first bear to show up for Oscar’s scraps and as summer turned to fall, he was the last bear there prior to going into hibernation.

It is a privilege to inhabit this historical home and hear the tales of time gone by. This tale was told to me by an older fellow named, “Claude.”

Claude went on to say, “I was just a little nipper and I would go to watch them kill the cows. Oscar always did the actual butchering. They would yank a cow up on the meat rail and Oscar would cut out the heart and then the liver. He would hand them to me and say, “Take these to your Ma.” My little arms would be full of the still warm heart and liver and I would arrive home all bloody from carrying the meat to my Mother. Oscar knew that we needed help with groceries and his gruff manner covered the true kindness in his heart. As I got older, I had a part-time job helping with the butchering. Even then I would go outside and watch “Old Faithful” when Oscar took him his afternoon meal.

Respectfully told by::



Author of:

THE TANNING BED MURDERS A work of fiction set in the Silver Valley and

Coeur d’Alene. Jake Lowry is assigned to work a murder case that is both diabolical and vicious.

Comments from readers: “Eisler knows police procedure. Once you pick it up, it is hard to put down. I lost multiple nights’ sleep trying to finish it.”


THE SEARCH FOR NORA WALLACE This is the sequel to THE TANNING BED MURDERS. Jake Lowry and his partner Bruce David are deeply involved in searching for KEN KUNKLE’S murderer. This book will take you throughout the Inland Empire and to Whitley Bay and Beamish, England.

Autographed copies will be available from the author by emailing him at the above address.

No comments: