The Vagabond – Anonymous Scott, a trapper from Canoe Creek

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By Danny Crownover

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the general merchandise stores in Gadsden advertised that they would buy hides, beeswax, tallow and ginseng.

Many of the stores displayed hides from such fur-bearing animals as mink, otter, beaver and occasionally raccoon.

There were many fur- bearing animals in this part of Alabama trapped along the creeks and rivers by experienced trappers and some farmers. All knew how to tan hides. One of the more interesting of the local trappers was W.R. Scott, who dressed as a western mine prospector and often spent some time in cabins in the woods.

Scott did his trapping mostly on Canoe Creek in Etowah County and Beaver Creek in St. Clair County while buying hides from other trappers. He made his headquarters at the home of A. Baber on what is now Rainbow Drive off Canoe Creek.

Scott apparently was brought to America from England at a young age and orphaned at seven years old. He settled in Etowah County before the Civil War.

Nobody knew Scott’s first name until it became necessary to sign some legal document for record at the courthouse, at which point he revealed that his name was Anonymous.

Scott made good money at trapping, but by 1888 he realized that settlers in the region were destroying wildlife and that he soon would be out of business.

Scott eventually moved to Gadsden and became a clerk in the Lowenthal and Herstein store, more familiarly known as the One Price Store. He proved to be an educated man who dressed well and was a member of all the York Rite Masonic Lodge. Scott was evidently a man of good family but did not speak much about his origin or his home state.

Between customers at the store, Scott had the habit of writing in a small notebook, leading his fellow clerks to believe that he was writing a diary. However, Scott pointed out that he was merely writing to his girl, and that the book contained the best love story he could put together. Nobody believed Scott until one day he walked in the store with his bride, who apparently was a truly beautiful woman.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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