Excerpt From Samuel Moore's Memoirs



My youngest brother Vaud had ideas of his own.  He generally had them enforced but for once he failed, for some time he had wanted a goat that he could hitch up to a little wagon.  In fact he could see himself riding up and down the road—riding and driving the goat.

   One day a boy living about a mile and half from us told him he had a real goat and he had got tired of it.  He gave my brother a “big breeze” about the goat.  But he did not tell Vaud how many times he climbed into a tree and stayed for hours waiting for the goat to go away and how he stood up and ate his meals many a time for he didn’t feel like sitting down.  No, he didn’t mention these things because he wanted to get rid of the goat.  We found this out afterwards—and much more.  The goat had a real history before Vaud got it.  The word “butt” entered into its life a good many times.

   Vaud got a long rope and then he saddled a horse and was off to get his goat.  The owner was waiting for him and took Vaud out to the hog lot.  Vaud took his rope with him and the goat made a dive for him but he went over the fence and the goat struck the fence and struck it so hard that he broke two boards.  Vaud threw his rope down from the top of the fence and roped him.  Then he got on his horse and Wane Tucker opened the gate and out went Vaud, horse and goat.  Vaud had wrapped the rope around the horn of the saddle and up the road they went.  Too soon the goat caught up with the horse and butted him in the rear and up the road ran the horse.  When the rope tightened again, here would come the goat and give the horse another one.  When the goat got short of wind he stopped and Wane got an idea.  He ran to the barn, saddled his horse, and came up to the goat and threw his rope over the goat’s head.  Then he took one side of the road and Vaud the other and the goat in the center.  Each could hold the goat from butting the other.   They came up to our farm that way.  When he got it tied up Wane Tucker gave a great sigh and said, “That’s a load off my mind.”  I guess it was.

   Vaud fed it apples and grass out of his hand and petted him.  He thought he was going to rule this goat—he would be the master and get into the good graces of this bad billie goat.  Finally he thought he had him on good behavior.   He did lots of bragging about how he made a good goat out of him.

   In the meantime he had constructed a little wagon (without our help) with shafts on it.  All was ready for his try-out.  He got the goat all hitched up, ready to go when all at once the goat felt his harness on him and he resented it.  He jumped up stiff-legged and went “Bah, bah.”  He kept shaking his head and looked straight at Vaud.  Right then Vaud started to run across the barnyard for the corncrib with the goat after him, the wagon rattling.  When Vaud came to the corncrib he went up the side like a cat and just as he got out of the way—right then Vaud went out of the goat business, his air castles of big rides in his wagon gone forever—the goat’s head hit the corn crib.  Father was in the front shop using his axe.  He ran to Vaud’s rescue and raised the axe to hit the goat and he sure got to be good right there.  Father told us boys to take him down to the hog pasture and we did.  All went well until one day when father went away for the day.

    We all went fishing on the Old Spoon River and just left mother alone.  The goat jumped over the fence and came up to the house.  Then it walked around the long porch and looked in the windows.  Then it went out in full view of the house and got up on a small shed to watch mother.  If she ventured outside he would ready to jump off the roof and make at her.  He did this four times during the day, keeping her in the house all day, Mother said it was the longest day she ever out in all her life.  When we got home we got a club and roped him and tied him up.

   The next morning Dad said he would have to get rid of the billy goat so we boys went to town and found a place for him in the livery stable.  We reminded them of the saying the odor or scent of a billy goat was healthy for the horses.  It should be, as the odor would drive most anything away—why not horse diseases.  The liveryman actually fell for this line and we told him we would bring him down in the wagon to the livery stable.

   Everything went all right until one day his chain became unhooked and out on the street went the goat.  He spied a tall woman crossing the street in front of him.  Well, Reader, you have seen in your lifetime, tall long-legged woman who switched and strutted.  She had it down to a science—the goat made for her.  She never saw him.  He aimed to give her a butt on the rear but he struck too low and hit her between the legs and she fell over his back, backwards.  She reached down and got a good hand-hold on each side of his belly in his long hair, with her legs on each side of his horns.  She was well balanced and up the street they went.  She was letting out the most unearthly screams and the goat was bleating and other people were screaming and trying to get out of their way.  Her dress was over his eyes so he could not see anything.  And the big skirt of those days flew back on both side and cover the goat completely.  They knocked people down, as he would run this way and that.  All one could see of this goat was short tail as he passed by.  It was like a funny paper or movie comedy of today.  (This happened over 60 years ago.)

   Finally after running over criers who he commits his moral fell off and then the fun really began as the goat got in some real charity work before some of the men and women could get away.  Yes, it was rather humiliating on the proud strutting dame.  But she was not alone.  By the time the billy goat got thru with her audience, she already had a reserved seat and watched the others.

   Dear Reader can you imagine a little town of 700 population—a main street and a quiet Saturday afternoon.  The business section constituting a block and a half.  This block and a half was full of people; many from the country; some retired men with long-tailed coats and half plug hats, really admiring themselves and many women and bussels and flowing sleeves.  The women in their bussels really had the advantage over the men on this day when the goat butted them. 

   These people were mostly trading when here came this goat with the women on his back, screaming.  Horses were hitched to hitching posts facing the walk.  They broke loose, upsetting buggies, wagons and teams—everything was big mix-up as the goat and the woman passed in front of them.  When the women fell off of the goat, he was good and mad and he went to the old stiff necks right.  Gosh! A boy that witnessed the whole scene said he never saw anything like it—women crying and men swearing—it was the real thing.  We felt like feeding the goat candy as he was doing so much charity work in such a short time.  There was a sore bunch—in more ways than one.

   The livery stable man caught the goat and the following morning a committee of no nonsense called on the liveryman and told him to get that goat out of town at once—and he did.  He gave it to a farmer that lived 20 miles south of town.  But they did not tell him about the goat’s butting record.

   The next I heard of this goat he got tired of a farm life so he wandered up the road and in about a mile he came to a country schoolhouse.  School had not been taken up yet and he spied the children out at play and made for them.  They all hit for the schoolhouse and right there he stood guard all day.  If one ventured out he was right after them.  He kept them in the schoolhouse until about five.  They could not get out to get water or anything else.

   They finally spied two women coming down the road driving a poor old horse.  The horse had its head down, walking along jogging it up and down.  The goat took this for a challenge.  He immediately made for the horse and butted it right in the forehead.  It almost knocked the horse down.  It ran backwards and up-set the buggy and threw the women over a little bank and hurt them badly.  The horse ran away and broke the buggy all to pieces.  While the goat was busy the horse, one of the children ran down to the owners of the goat and told him what happened.  He took his shotgun along and killed the goat as it made for him.  That was the end of one billy goat.  It happened that the teacher was my aunt’s sister.  At a family dinner she told about her experiences with the goat.

   I said we had the honor of owning that got once.  She said “Honor! I don’t see where that comes in.”

   I told her the goat’s full history—that he was repeater; he could butt them on the but.  She seem to think they got of lucky but she still stuck to it that she couldn’t see where the honor came in owning that terrible goat.

   I told her he was unusual as he was a “double” repeater; could stir up two kinds of stink wherever he was, and that he carried one with him.  Anyhow he proved himself to be a real goat.  All present at the dinner showed by the talk that I had the best of the argument.  All of us boys had to say to start trouble when in town was to yell “Goat, goat.” And then we had to “git!”  It had butted quite a lot of distinguished people and just to mention the name of the goat was enough to make them feel sore in more than one place—outside and in their minds.

   This is a story of one old billy goat.  I, as a boy could not condemn him.  I thought he did better that lots of people to make a mark in the world for himself—butted right into the talk of the town.  Oh, well, more than one person knew he had been in this old world by the way they felt about it.



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