Of Confederate soldier, President Roosevelt, and “teddy bears”

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The governor and board of education proclaim April as Confederate History Month.

One of the most admired black Confederate veterans is Holt Collier, a Confederate soldier, sharpshooter and scout, and famous bear hunter. Collier is buried in Greenville, Miss., with a CSA veterans headstone near the Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge.

Born a servant of Howell Hinds in 1846 in a hunter’s paradise, Collier rode with Hinds on numerous outings, killing his first bear at the age of 10, and soon earned a reputation as an excellent hunter, marksman and horseman.

In 1861, Collier joined the Confederate States Army, serving throughout the War. At the personal request of Gen. Nathan B. Forrest, Collier became a sharpshooter and scout in the 9th Texas Confederate Cavalry, Company I.

Afterwards, Collier guided hunts for many celebrated hunters, including President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt in 1902.

Collier narrates, “The President said, ‘I must see a live bear the first day’. I told him he would if I had to tie one and bring it to him.”

The next morning, Collier’s dogs tracked an old bear for over three hours into a bayou, where the bear started drowning Collier’s dog, Jocko.

To rescue Jocko, yet keep the bear for the President, Collier leapt from his horse and lassoed the bear, tying him to a tree.

When Roosevelt refused to shoot the tied bear, the Washington Post published a cartoon about it and Collier’s 235 pound bear soon became the cuddly, popular “Teddy bear” toy.

Source: Holt Collier: His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts, and the Origin of the Teddy Bear (2002) by Minor Ferris Buchanan.

Roger K. Broxton, President