The following is from “Mike Fink: the Last of the Boatmen” by Timothy Field (1829), from an eyewitness account. ~sekanblogger
Mike Fink was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He served as a boatman on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and their tributary streams, which occupation he pursued until this sort of men were thrown out of employment by the general use of steam boats. When the Ohio was too low for navigation, Mike spent most of his time in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh, killing squirrels with his rifle, and shooting at a target for beef at the frequent Saturday shooting matches and company musters of the militia. He soon became famous as “the best shot in the country”.
He became fond of strong drink, but claimed he was never overpowered by its influence. He could drink a gallon of it in twenty-four hours without the effect being perceivable. Mike made proclamation-“I am a salt river roarer; and I love the wimming, and how I’m chock-full of fight”. So he was in truth, for he had a chere amie in every port which he visited, and always had a circle of worshippers around him who would fight their deaths (as they called it) for him. Amongst these were two men, Carpenter and Talbot, Mike’s fast friends, and particular confidants. Each was a match for the other, in prowess, in fight, or skill in shooting, for Mike had diligently trained them to all these virtues and mysteries. His particular friend, Carpenter, was also, a great shot; and he and Mike used to fill a tin cup with whiskey, and place it on their heads by turns, and shoot at it with a rifle at the distance of seventy yards. It was always bored through, without injury to the one on whose head it was placed. This was often performed; and they liked the feat the better because it showed their confidence in each other. Continue reading