Dakota Datebook

Kate the Bear

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On this date in 1874, the Bismarck Daily Tribune reported a young cinnamon bear named Kate was living aboard a Missouri River steamboat. Black Hills Indians had caught her the previous spring and given her to Major W. W. Bingham, but he deemed the cub unsafe as a playmate for his children. So young Kate ended up with Captain Marsh aboard his steamer Josephine. The article reported: “[The cub] is now very fat, large and playful, and appears completely tamed, so that it is very interesting to frolic with her and study her native traits as improved by civilization. There is a remarkable fondness between a large black dog and this bear, and they will scuffle and growl, pull hair and tumble each other around by the hour, all in perfect good humor. Kate delights to make believe that she is biting her keeper, but is very gentle about it, never tearing his clothes or using the strength of her savage jaws. She runs at liberty on the deck, and is about as fat, shaggy and saucy a cub as one will find, weighing probably about 175 pounds.”
By Merry Helm
Bismarck Daily Tribune. 23 Dec 1874. (Reprinted from Press and Dakotaian.)

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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