Woodbury, March 20, -- It happened the night Col. Joshua Howell and his wife gave their at their home on Fancy Hill in honor of the members of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, in the winter of 1796.
It was customary for one of the New Jersey members of the club to give a dinner the evening before a hunt, and about 40 members and several of their wives assembled on this evening.
The members were gathered in the large reception room previous to the dinner, listening to a report from J. Morris, who was then secretary of the club. The report contained an announcement of the recent death of a Negro named Natt, who had been a private servant for Morris and also for many years held the title of Knight of the Whip of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club.
Natt had served the club faithfully for many years and was well liked by all the members. Bandy legged, venerable and gray of pate, this African sportsman was master and commander of a noble family of dogs owned by the club. He was allowed 50 pounds per annum, a house in Gloucester and a horse. His assistant for many years was Jack Still, who also received liberal wages at the cost of the club.
It was Natt who named the dogs and trained them to respond to their names. Among the dogs were Mingo, Piper, Drummer, Rover, Countess, Dido, Slouch, Ringwood, Tippler, Driver, Tuneall, Bumper, Sweetlips, June, Dutchess, Venus, Singwell, Dony, Droner, Toper, Bowler, and Beelman.
A resolution of sympathy for Natt had just been ordered spread on the minutes when a visitor was announced. He gave the name of Jonas Cattell and asked for the job of guide and whipper-in of the hounds.
master of the hounds, who tutored any of the members in riding and fox
hunting, was instructed to interview the new applicant. After the
Ross reported he felt Jonas should be given a trial at the hunt next
and if satisfactory he should be given the job.
Jonas was a big man standing one inch more than six feet tall, athletic in form, bony and muscular, and appearing to be endowed with uncommon strength and activity. He lived with his family a few miles outside Woodbury.
When he appeared the next day for work his equipment was no less extraordinary — a red flannel shirt, a course suit of homespun domestic linen, over which was thrown a dowless hunting shirt; on his busy head a woolen cap, a pair of water-proof coarse shoes, and leggins secured above the hips as a protector against brushes or briars.
He was accoutred as a complete hunter, with his favorite gun in hand, and Captain Ross, after looking him over, presented him with a tomahawk, which Ross carried in his belt as a valued present for the 20 years he served the club.
Jonas soon proved to be a valued member of the club, always at his post, whether at setting out with the company, leading off, at fault, or at the death. He was soon made master whipper-in , and also an honorary member of the club for his services as a guide.
No matter however circuitous or distant the chase and always on foot, Jonas was on hand on every emergency long before half of the riders in general would make their appearance.
He never liked to ride a horse; in fact he was prejudiced against horsemanship as far as he was concerned himself. On one occasion one of the members bought and presented him with a horse for the hunt, but he had not jolted many miles before he became disgusted and left the horse in the middle of a road, following the hunt on foot as was his usual custom.
Jonas in his earlier days seemed altogether tireless, or at least apparently never fatigued, when the riders, horses and hounds were jaded after a tiresome hunt. It is true he didn’t go over the same quantity of ground because of his accurate knowledge as a guide as to the course taken by the fox, along with knowing all of the short cuts in Gloucester county.
Jonas seldom failed after a survey of the ground, and most of the hounds would follow after his heels. He possessed an eagle eye, in fact the members nicknamed him "Old Eagle Eye", which stuck to him until after the club disbanded. He never failed to make good even on the leaf-covered soil of the forest.
So confident were the members in Jonas’ ability at walking that they often arranged matches and bet on him. On one occasion at the age of 50, Jonas was backed in speed and bottom against an Indian runner. Jonas was to walk while the Indian ran from Mt Holly to Woodbury, a distance of 22 miles. Considerable betting was done by the members on Jonas in this match and he entered Woodbury 200 yards ahead of the Indian . He won by knowing more short cuts than the redskin.
On another occasion a purse of $200. Was subscribed and staked in a bet that Jonas would go on foot from Woodbury to Cape Island, (present day Cape May) 80 miles away, in one day, deliver a letter and return the next day with an answer. Jonas performed the feat without the least distress and was ready to repeat the same week if requested on a bet.
Jonas was a great lover of the hounds, true and staunch to them, and they were to him. Like them, he would "never give up the ship."
It was in 1816. An old Red Rover was started from cover and soon lost the hounds. Disappointed and low spirited from hunger, fatigue and failure, the hunters took up their march and returned to the Gloucester Inn, at Gloucester, with a broken pack. On checkup it was found that Jonas and two hounds were missing.
At early dawn the next day the two missing hounds arrived at the kennel, their necks entwined with the severed brush of an old Red Reynard.
Jonas and the trusty pair of hounds had continued the chase until 11 P.M. by moonlight through the swamp and thicket, field and wood, until they had overtaken Mr. Fox hiding. Jonas secured the fine fur coat as his share of the recompense for such arduous service and decorated his two trusted companions with the divided brush. The skin brought less than $3 when Jonas sold it.
On another hunt, Jonas followed the pack out on the frozen Delaware River on foot. The fox was overtaken before it reached the Pennsylvania shore while the hunters had to remain on this shore and watch the performance of Jonas and the hounds.
Jonas was singular about his food. His breakfast on the morning of a hunt consisted of eggs and raw meat. His drink consisted of coffee, tea, milk, or pure water, he never drank liquor except on special celebration. For toasts he drank a little beer or cider.
In 1818 the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club disbanded. Jonas had served it 20 years. As late as 1829 he was still hunting and trapping along with one of his sons, who was a chip off the old block.
"Old Eagle Eye" Jonas Cattell still live in South Jersey.