| May/June 1978

The Case Eagle Old Abe is a well known industrial trademark throughout the main streets and countrysides of thousands of cities and hamlets in the United States and civilized countries the world over. King of the air, the eagle is an established symbol in American life and heritage. The Case EagleOld Abeis far more than merely a trademark. He is a character out of history, a bird with a personality and a story all his own.

The story begins in the early spring of 1861. In the wild north woods of Wisconsin, along the historic Flambeau River, the Chippewa Indians had just set out on their annual sugar-making pilgrimage.

Atop a great pine along the trail was a nest of mud and sticks, and in the nest, an eaglet. The Indians felled the tree and took the eaglet captive. The bird was still too young to fly. Chief Sky, leader of the Chippewas, carried the eaglet back to Jim Falls, Wisconsin, as a pet. There, Thunder of Bees, son of the Chief, bartered the bird for a bushel of corn to a settler named Daniel McCann. Remarking on the incident many years later, a poetic commentator wrote: 'And for this paltry sum was a nobel bird sold from freedom to captivity; from barbarism to civilization; from the murmur of pines to the crash of battle; from obscurity to fame.'

Growing eagles make poor pets even for the hardy children of pioneer settlersand when the bird reached enough growth to attempt escape, McCann determined to sell him. The eagle was already magnificent in appearance and displaying much spirit.

During those early days of the War Between the States, men were being recruited for service. Soldiers have a weakness for mascots, so McCann took his bargain bird directly to the nearest camp.

At Eau Claire, Company C of the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment was being organized under the command of Captain John E. Perkins. The men of the Company admired the bird, McCann made a sale for $2.50, and the Eau Claire outfit had a mascot. They dubbed the eagle 'Old Abe' after their commander-in-chief, Thereafter, eagle and Company were to make each other famous.