Family Accounts - Descendants of Anna Rosine Fetterman & Heinrich Gernhardt

Clara Walton Cruse (5)
b. October 14, 1856

Daughter of Sarah Kelley Garnhart (4) and William Cruse, Clara married Burton William Gleason on March 26, 1902.

In the following account, Jeremiah writes of a visit he had made to the home of Sarah Kelley Garnhart and William Cruse: “I had read of persons who had tamed wild birds without making captives of them, but had never witnessed a sight so novel. Having read in Darwin’s journal of the Voyage of the Beagle, of the extreme tameness of the birds on the Galapagos Archipelago, where they had not yet learned to know and fear man as a dangerous animal, and where the great naturalist said a gun was almost useless, as he pushed a hawk off the branch of a tree with the muzzle of one, there was no doubt in my mind that birds would be as tame everywhere if never molested, and that their confidence and friendship could be enjoyed if never deceived and harmed. Having already heard that Miss Clara Cruse had wonderful success in taming the wild birds of different species that sojourned during the summer months about the farm and in the adjacent woods, without making prisoners of them, and only by her adroitness and gentleness, I soon asked for some demonstration of her forte and method of making friends of the winged migrants. She explained that she had of late rather neglected her feathered friends, and was apprehensive that her effort to entertain me with their help might not be very satisfactory. She provided herself with some bread crumbs, then led the way out into the yard and began calling, as if she were trying to assemble some of her esteemed neighbors. I was soon gratified to see a little bird come and light on a picket fence quite near her, as if inclined to come to her. She continued calling, and in a few moments more several others followed. By and by she reached out her hand, and soon, to my surprise and delight, one of the twittering little creatures lit on it and fearlessly began to pick up the crumbs she held in it. Directly another came and perched on her shoulder, and others came near, as if strongly inclined to come to her, but evidently feeling somewhat uneasy for some reason that I did not understand, possibly because a stranger was on the scene, or they may have been disturbed by seeing one of the cats about, or they did not altogether, under the circumstances, trust their of late somewhat neglected friend, or the birds that responded may not have been the friends who knew her best. But whatever the cause of their timidity, I saw enough to satisfy me that all I had heard and read was true. By kindness and gentleness Miss Clara was able to win, and had, year after year, won the confidence of the free and wild birds so that they would light on her hand, her head and shoulders, and when she gently raised her hand to her face they would pick the crumbs of bread out of her mouth. The secret of all this lay entirely in her power of kindness and patience, of never betraying the confidence once gained, of never frightening them, and of never disappointing them when she invited them to come and get a meal. The birds simply learned to love and trust her, just as she loved and trusted the birds. I have often recalled and spoken of the unusual and beautiful sight of the tamed free birds I witnessed on this visit, and am well satisfied that if we would one and all be as kind, gentle and patient with the feathered tribes, they would in time become domesticated and have no fear or the Lords of Creation. But that equivocal ‘if'’! I hope every boy who has some of the blood of Heinrich and Rosine in his veins is being taught to spare the birds. (But don't spare the mischievous and destructive English Sparrows)” (from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, pp. 144-146).

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