By Vernon Nagel
Did you know that there existed an active Nashville Rod & Gun club in the 1890s?
They owned a clubhouse on the Okaw River (now the Kaskaskia, north of Frogtown) on five acres with a ¼ mile riverfront.
John Gewe, a brick layer, who taught me the trade, was on of the later members. Many times when working side by side, he would relate stories of their hunting trips, one always stood out for me. One Friday afternoon, John and three of his buddies decided to go for a duck hunting weekend. So they rented a team of houses and wagons from the Livery Stable (now the theater) and took off. On the way, passing a farmer who’s chickens were feeding along the road when some one said, “looks like no one is home, lets catch a chicken for supper, then we don’t have to rely on getting some squirrels.” So they were trying to catch one when the farmer showed up, asked “what are you doing.” One answered, “we had a chicken with it’s feet tied up laying on the wagon, when it saw your hens, it broke loose and joined them.” So the farmer helped them catch one and said “you better take another one because one wont be enough for you four big guys.” When they arrived at the club houses, each had their job, clean chicken and cook supper, unhitch horses and feed, unload wagon. The horses were kept in a small two stall shed, under a huge walnut tree, so it would be shaded in the summer. It had a tin roof and sides to retard fire. Later that night a storm blew up, the gusty winds knocked some walnuts off. They hit the tin roof, spooked the horses which tore loose and headed back to town. The next morning when two young boys that worked at the diver stable came to work, the horses were standing at the gate. Seeing the straps broke, they knew what happened so on Sunday afternoon they rode them back to the club house, so there would be a ride back home. On the way back home they stopped by the farmer and told him the truth about the chicken, and gave him four dressed Mallard ducks.
When the club folded, in the 1950s, the Brown family bought it and I still had hunting rights (John’s wife was a Brown). I bought it from the Brown’s around 1960 and hunted ducks there until the drought of 1964, when all the brush ponds dried up the ducks didn’t stop. Then Carlyle Lake came along and that became their stop over. In the 1970s, the neighbor to the south sold all his timber to a logger. The next time I went down my walnut tree was gone. I faced the logger and we agreed to have a surveyor shoot a long, which showed the tree was mine and he paid me for the logs, but I’d rather have kept the tree. To support my memories, I cut a 5’’ think slab off of the stump, which measured 53’’ across at it’s widest point, turned it over, planed it smooth, sanded and varnished it, put legs under it and made a coffee table. Then I cut a 3’’ slab off the top that was left, it measured 25’’ across and made a foot stool out of it, both of which are still in use today. I sold it in the 80s and the cabin has since burned down.
The Nashville Rod And Gun Club