You Can Help!

Wild Wild West Image of Shanty Boys

1887- In the years of the river drives, media reports found their way into city newspaper print of the “Wild West” type activities as the shanty boys made their way through Bancroft on the annual spring log drives. Lawlessness, excessive alcohol consumption and vigilantly justice were presented as commonplace that local policing had trouble controlling. Folk heroes were created of the biggest and toughest brawlers of the various log drive companies ready to take on adversaries from competitors driving their own booms down the tributaries.

In 1887 two families, the McAllisters and Hontoons came right out of the Wild West from the California Gold Rush to Herschel Township and Baptiste Lake. Originally from southern Quebec in the St. Francis region a family of Hontoon brothers took off in the 1860s and 1870s to Bodie California in quest of gold and prosperity. In California they started in the mining, lumbering, ranching and rounding up wild horses and even the saloon and hotel business. A gun fight, which left one brother with an amputated leg and living amongst the Piute First Nations on the Nevada/California border, made for an interesting life in this tumultuous time in US history. With the decline of the gold rush, Leander Hontoon, his wife and 2 year old son Henry and his inlaws the John McAllisters, left California and took up land in the Baptiste area. They brought their mining and lumbering experience starting a sawmill and even staked mining claims near Baptiste. Their hunting and trapping prowess involved them with the local First Nations families and their ranching likely allowed them to pursue farming near Bird’s Creek.

1890- the era of hand hewn square timber river drive end and the beginning of the river drives of whole log drives initiated. Local saw mills to supply lumber needs of the local communities are initiated as mechanization changes