The Vagabond – Willie Elbert “Bud” Easterwood


By Danny Crownover

William Kuner recently posted an article about local historian Will I. Martin meeting his grandmother and great-grandfather. Kuner writes:

“In his office of the local newspaper, Will I. Martin was introduced to Mrs. Nancy Ellen Malone of Attalla and learned that she is the daughter of the late Bud Easterwood, a noted trapper, hunter and fisherman of Etowah and neighboring counties back in the good old days. Nancy is the widow of Alfred Malone and had three children. .

“Bud Easterwood was born on Aug. 7, 1869, in Ohatchee. Bud married Francis Lucinda Catherine Moore on Jan. 5, 1890, in Etowah County. The couple had nine children in 26 years.

“Bud widely known in this section of the state, mostly as a trapper. He was an expert at that business, for he knew much about wild habits.

“Bud hunted, fished and trapped, mostly in St Clair and Etowah counties. He hunted with all kinds of dogs and trained many for others. Bud’s daughter Nancy said that the family always had much game and fish to eat but that she didn’t care for any of them.

“If Bud did not bring in quail, squirrels, wild turkey and occasionally deer, all through the hunting season, he was fishing, and he was always lucky at that sport.

“It was many years ago that Will Martin saw Bud Easterwood and his wife and children when they stepped off the train at the N.C. and St Louis depot on North Fourth Street in Gadsden, back from a long trip home from Texas. The family had left for Texas some time before with the intention of making their future home in the Lone Star State but had to come back because of sickness. Every member of the family, except a three-month-old baby, was sick with chills and fever. That baby was Mrs. Malone.

“The family had arranged in advance to go to W.P. Johnson’s farm south of the city. While waiting for transportation, the family members sat around on the depot platform after finding the sunny side and shook with chills that required medical attention.

But Bud was anxious to get his brood into a house and declined Mrs. Johnson’s offer to get a doctor. Bud said that all he wanted was a gallon of whiskey, a double handful of quinine and shelter. “Mr. Johnson furnished the medicine that Bud asked for, and pretty soon the family was in a wagon headed for a farm ‘back in God’s country,’ as Bud expressed it. While Mrs. Malone does not remember that terrible experience, she recalled that her father and mother often told her that the whole family was mighty sick and came very near to dying.

“All successful trappers, hunters and fishermen in all sections of the United States tell many tall stories – as many amateurs do also – and sometimes they are accused of ‘stretching the blanket’ when they really are telling the truth. Very often these folks are credited with stories they did not originate, and the stories grew less cre-dible with each reporting.

“One of the funniest stories told about Bud – who always claimed it had no basis in truth – was when he set out 100 traps one mile apart and visited them every morning before breakfast. That distance would require a walk of 200 miles in a short time before breakfast.

“Bud took the jibes that followed the telling of that story by others with good nature, but one day he was a witness in a civil case in Ashville when a lawyer said, ‘Oh yes, you are the man that visited 100 traps a mile apart before breakfast.’

Bud is said to have gone to town on that lawyer. He was a fast talker and the court had difficulty in quieting him. What Bud said on the witness stand is partly forgotten, but Bud convinced many spectators that he had been ‘lied’ about.

“Very often Bud would come to town with a big story and bring along proof in the way of hides or freshly-killed animals. One time, he came up with a story about catching a big catfish in the Coosa River that was a whale of a fish, but he had a 90-pound catfish to prove his story.

“When Bud died, he and his wife owned 400 acres of land in Ball Play. His son Homer later bought off the interests of the other heirs for the property.

“Bud Easterwood died on Feb. 22, 1939, in Riddles Bend at the age of 69. His wife Francis died some time later. Bud was an entertaining fellow and always was in a friendly mood.”

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