Not having any luck hunting for game? You might want to try the charm above, shared by a friend who found it rolled up and tucked into the stock of his grandfather’s century-old shotgun.
His grandfather was born in 1887. He lived in various communities in York County over his lifetime, including Jackson and West Manchester townships, Dallastown, Stoverstown and Bair Station. He worked in a paper mill, was in the cigar making business and was an auctioneer with his own auction room.
As in many York County families, game would have been a welcome supplement to their diet. And, like many other Pennsylvania Germans who belived in powwowing, a hopeful hunter might figure that a charm copied from The Long Lost Friend, a powwow book, would help put that dinner on the table.
This shotgun was probably made between 1890 and 1910 and could have been bought used by my friend’s grandfather, a believer in powwowing. If it wasn’t already charmed, he may have been the one to hide the scrap of paper away.
The charm reads:
“Ut nemo in sense tentat, descendre nemo.
At precedenti spectatur mantico tergo.”
What is the story behind the charm?
Even though whoever wrote it out copied the words exactly from The Long Lost Friend, another friend who translated it says spelling varies slightly from the original source, the satirist Persius (34-62 AD). It translates: “How is it that no one, absolutely no one, is introspective; but looks instead at the bundle on the back of the man ahead of him?”
In The Long Lost Friend, John George Hohman’s collection of pow-wows, the story of the charm is titled “The Talisman.” It tells that a hermit wrote the charm on a piece of paper for an old, lame huntsman who was worried about losing his job because he couldn’t furnish as much game to his master as a younger huntsman could. He was to put it in his gamebag whenever he went hunting and he would shoot something worthwhile. The hermit admonished him to not shoot more game than he needed. The hunter had good luck hunting the rest of his life and became know as one of the best in that country.
The connection between the story and the literal translation seems a little vague to me. Perhaps it means that the old hunter shouldn’t have been worrying about how much more game a younger hunter could shoot, but should instead concentrate on doing his best himself. Good advice coupled with positive thinking.
Click here to read the whole charm through Google Books.
Click here to read about going hunting by train.
Lots of squirrels in 1877.
York County pays fox bounties.
York man prominent powwow doctor.
Hex murder commited while stealing powwow book.