Philip Tome was a well-known Indian-language interpreter and hunter of northern Pennsylvania. Born in 1782, his family moved up the West Branch of the Susquehanna to Pine Creek in November 1791, when Philip was just nine years old. He noted that “at that time game such as bears, elk, deer and wild turkeys were very plenty” and that his two older brothers were old enough to hunt but the only gun in the family was an old musket “and that was out of order.” The family was visited by two neighbors in December who brought two guns and two dogs but no ammunition. Tome's father was able to supply lead shot and gunpowder, and within two days, they killed four deer and two large, fat bears, providing a quick supply of meat to sustain the family into the winter. (Tome 1854: 10-11)
In his own words, Tome explains that “in presenting the following incidents of my life to the public, I do not intend to claim for it beauty of expression for it is the production of one born in the wilderness; one who is more conversant with the howl of the wolf and panther and the whoop of the savage than the tones of oratory, as heard in civilized life. . . . Those in pursuit of the marvelous will not be disappointed.”
Tome published his hunting stories in the book Pioneer life, or thirty years a hunter (1854). Tome's stories are great hunting stories - there's enough detail to help us understand what living in the northern forests of Pennsylvania was like in the early 1800s, but there's also enough - well let's just say embellishment - to make it a good hunting story. Is it history? Well, not quite - his stories often lack the details needed to tie them to specific people, places and dates and it's not always clear if these were events he actually witnessed or if they were stories he'd heard, so their are crediblity issues. But as part of the oral history of the region they are invaluable. And marvelous!
A word of caution - Tome's stories are about the catching and killing of animals and may not be appropriate for more sensitive audiences.