The Bear Hunt of 1902
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt went to the Mississippi Delta to hunt black bear as the guest of Mr. Mangrum owner of Smedes Plantation in southern Sharkey County. The bear hunter and guide, Holt Collier, was hired to be the president’s guide on this hunt.
On the first morning of the hunt, the dogs got the scent of a bear. Collier told President Roosevelt where to wait for the bear, so that he could take his shot. The president and his companion, Huger Lee Foote, Shelby Foote, Jr.’s grandfather, listened to the dogs pursuing the bear and waited for it to emerge from the woods. When the bear did not arrive, Roosevelt and Foote returned to camp for lunch, missing the bear when it did come out of the woods at precisely the place that Collier had indicated, but the president was not in position to get his shot.
The bear became cornered by the dogs and grabbed Holt’s favorite dog, Jocko. Collier clubbed the bear with the stock of his gun, stunning the 250 pound animal. Throwing a rope around the semiconscious bear, he sent for the president to shoot the bear.
When the president arrived and saw the injured bear at Holt’s feet herefused to shoot it, stating that it would be unsportsmanlike.
The story of the President, Holt Collier and the bear, traveled around the country in news stories and cartoons. Morris Mitchtom a toy shop owner in New York, wrote the president asking if he could name the stuffed toy bears in his shop “Teddy’s Bears.” to which the president agreed. Soon all stuffed bears were known as Teddy Bears. Michtom began mass producing the bears and went on to found the Ideal Toy Company.