What's Historic About Brookville, Pennsylvania?

Mountain Man McCool

Harry McCool was known throughout Jefferson County as "Mountain Man McCool" because of the lifestyle he chose. McCool was a large man who often dressed in a buckskin fringed coat adorned with skeleton jewelry.

He had a very firm set of opinions that he would share with almost anyone. He believed some things in this world just were not meant to be convenient. He fed his family on game he hunted or food he harvested. Grocery stores seldom saw him. He was employed as a woodsman for the Clear Creek State Park and as a road builder.

One of his favorite pastimes was hunting rattlesnakes. It was said he could tie one of the snakes in a knot with his bare hands.

In his book about western Pennsylvania, Lee Gutkind, a traveling writer, included a section on McCool. When he met McCool he made the mistake of confessing he had never been rattler hunting. With a laugh McCool took the writer into his home and opened a refrigerator. He took out a flat, covered, metal box. Gutkind was handed the pan and said he was never so surprised as when he opened the lid to find a coiled rattle snake inside. McCool was far too busy enjoying his joke to tell the city writer the snake was frozen.

To weeks later, the mountain man himself called Gutkind. His wife was very ill and had to be rushed to the Pittsburgh hospital for an emergency kidney operation.

Gutkind later wrote, "The man who could face down a bear, snare a dangerous rattler with his bare hands, cut timber from early morning to late into the night, drink a fifth of sourmash and chew a pouch of tobacco without hardly blinking an eye, was much too frightened to square off against city traffic.


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