Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

THE OAK MEADOWS SHEEP MASSACRE, Part 2

Morning Star, July 17, 1994, pg. 11

OAK MEADOWS SHEEP MASSACRE, PART 1

On Monday night, November 13, 1913, Mr. Behling heard dogs in the middle of the night, and went into the sheep pasture to try and protect his flock. Two "ravaging dogs," one black and white mongrel, and the other one brown, had gotten into the pasture and started "running" the sheep. When daylight came, the dogs were still there, and Albert Behling was able to shoot one of them dead, but the other mongrel had fled.

However, the damage had been done, for there Mr. Behling gazed upon a tragic scene. The dogs had chased his sheep under a fence into a "V" shaped ditch near the Kalamazoo River. The sheep had run there to escape the attacking dogs. The local paper reported, "Here the animals had jumped panic-stricken upon each other and nearly two hundred of them had been killed, most by being smothered by their mates, on the outside of the flock. They made a bloody heap ten sheep deep and thirty or forty feet long." In total, 192 sheep had been killed by just two dogs. An examination showed that only a few sheep were bitten by the dogs; rather, all died either through fright, or from being smothered.

The huge pile of dead sheep created an instant tourist attraction, as the gruesome occurrence made news across the state, even in the Detroit Newspaper. People came from miles around to view the dead carcasses. A local photographer took photographs of the scene, and manufactured post cards which were sold locally. From our Historical Notebook this wee we present two such postcards showing the dead Behling sheep.

It was determined that the owners of the dogs were: Joseph M. Brewer (1860-1950) of 811 W. Cass St., originally a Homer farmer; and Clarence H. Green (1888-1952) of 707 W. Cass St. Both men were local factory workers with limited incomes, and were unable to pay for the damages, which totalled $648. Because the two men were unable to pay, and the fact that the killings occurred within the Albion City limits, the City of Albion was ordered to pay for the damages.

The dead carcasses were sold to William Raby of Homer, who purchased 187 dead sheep at 35˘ each, for a total of $65.45 which was deducted from the city’s bill. Thus, Albert C. Behling was able to recover from his loss. The city was stuck witht he bill, and the problem of stray dogs was discussed in a local editorial entitled, "Sheep Killing Dogs." This editorial stated in part, "Two dogs, of the ‘just dog’ breed, with a market value of ‘0,’ sprang into prominence the other night by killing 192 sheep...The city should protect itself in some way against future loss of this kind. There are very few dogs that have the economic value of one spring lamb, and while we do not advocate the arrest and execution of all the canines of the city, the community would be better off with fewer dogs and more sheep."

When you drive past Oak Meadows today on W. Erie St., and view the tranquil setting with its homes and winding streets, remember that this was once the site of one of the largest sheep massacres in this state’s history, caused by two dogs whose owners had let them run loose.


The Sheep Massacre

Next: ALBION MALLEABLE FOUNDER WARREN S. KESSLER


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