1881: The first tanner of Montana

After I had tanned the first bear hide, and gave six dollars in tanner pay to the butcher Kopp, I soon won popularity in the small town and some Americans called me “The First Tanner of Montana”. Many gave me bear hides for tanning. One hunter brought me a lion pelt which I laid over my saddle. It made the horse very uneasy, so it would walk the three miles back to the farm in its fastest pace.

One day I brought back the finished tanned bear hide to the saloon-keeper, which he really liked especially because of the soft tanning. So I took the six dollar tanner pay with a smile – in Germany this work is done for four to five Mark-. Suddenly the Saloon Keeper yelled: “I can pull the hair out of the hide!” Promptly I responded: “You can also pull hair out of your head – if you like”. Big laughter from the people present in the saloon rewarded this wise sentence. The saloon-keeper, however, lifted his hat and showed me his bold head with the words: “Try it please!” I had made an unintended but spot on joke, which would be laughed about frequently after that.

On the drive back from Bozeman to the farm Gottschalk loved to let the horses run quite fast. Starting on Main Street, before we even passed the last house, he yelled “Go Home” to his favorite horses – a Norman stallion with a strong physique and Nelly, an excellent swift-footed mare – and the wagon would travel down the road with a rapid speed. One day, the horses were going in a fast speed again in order to get ahead of another vehicle, we had to go up a steep slope, which we took galloping. The farmer shouted at the other driver sarcastically: “Are you going to camp here on the road?!”

translated by Julia Strehlau-Jacobs

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