Gather 'round the fire, kiddies, it's time for some Concord Fables. The Insider dug up stories of Concord's legendary figures, and we think these historical heroes are every bit as exciting as Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. Those guys just had better representation. We've taken these stories, with little or no editing, straight from the pages of "The History of Concord," by Nathaniel Bouton. Buckle up your buckskin and get your ramrods ready, we're about to take a trip back to pioneer times.
The first installment of "Concord Fables" is all about Richard Potter, a true legend of Concord's early wilderness. He and his family settled in Concord, "the land of promise," in 1771, and he quickly made a name for himself as being "of robust make, strong constitution, and industrious habits." Potter served in the Revolutionary War, farmed, logged and generally did awesome pioneer stuff. This first vignette finds him dealing with a wild intruder on his settlement:
Richard Potter used to relate that soon after settling on his place, he heard a noise at the lower end of "Pine Hill," southeast of his house. Proceeding thither, he found a bear. Bruin had mistaken a wasp's nest in the roots of a tree for a honey-bee's nest, and was attacking it fiercely for its supposed sweets! But the attack proved a bitter sweet - for the wasps, stirred up at so unprovoked an attack, had gone after him with waspish fury!
The bear would rush up to the tree, thrust both paws into the nest, and then, covered with wasps-paws, head and ears-he would retreat a rod or two, uttering the most painful shrieks!
Mr. Potter furnished himself with a stout pitch-wood knot, and when the bear rushed up to the tree to attack the wasps, he rushed up behind him, and dealt him a blow that staggered him; and, repeating them with a will, he brought bruin to the ground, and dispatched him.
Potter won that confrontation with the wild beast. But he didn't always come out on top of the battle of man versus nature:
Mr. Richard Potter was logging in Loudon, three or four miles from home. A large log which his team was drawing on a side-hill, suddenly slid and caught his leg between it and a small tree. The bruise was so severe as to endanger his life. A council of physicians was called, a majority of whom concluded that Mr. Potter must die, and it was of no use to cut his leg off. But, after the other doctors had left, Dr. Carrigan said, "Potter might be saved, and the leg should be cut off."
Accordingly, cutting round the flesh, just below the knee, the doctor took a saw, which he brought with him, and commenced operating; but finding the saw very dull, he stopped and requested Benjamin Thompson, a neighbor, to run home, about a quarter of a mile, and get a sharper saw. With this, the operation was finished.
Mr. Potter was insensible at the time, but the next night after the operation he knew the watchers. His leg was cut off close to the knee. The bone was left bare and smooth. In order to make the skin heal over, Dr. C ordered New-England rum to be heated and poured slowly on, while the bone was picked and roughened with an awl!
Mr. Potter, after a long confinement, was able to get about; and, being somewhat of a mechanical genius, he constructed for himself a wooden leg, with which he could not only walk comfortably, but could even run and wrestle. Mr. Potter lived many years afterwards in good health. He died July 6, 1828, aged 84 years.