The Case Eagle

The History of Old Abe

| May/June 2000

The following history was copied from the back cover of an old J. I. Case booklet. It was sent to us by George and Janet Kester, 1290 Elizabeth Street, Crete, Illinois 60417-2202, who thought other readers would enjoy it. 

The Case Eagle Old Abe is a well known industrial trade-mark throughout the main streets and country sides 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 Eagle Old Abe is far more than merely a trade-mark. 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 Chippe was, 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 noble 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 settlers and when the bird reached enough growth to at tempt to escape, McCann determined to sell him. The eagle was already magnificent in appearance and displaying much spirit.