The era of the Wild West produced many unique and colorful characters.
Frontiersmen like Daniel Boone and Wild Bill Hickock hold a particular
fascination for the American public. As William Oliver Stevens wrote, they were
“the last of that vanished generation of Americans, the men of the long rifle,
the coon-skin cap and the fringed buckskin, who wrested a living for themselves
out of the wilderness and opened pathways for their descendants to follow.”
One frontiersman who is all but forgotten went by the name of Laroy. A
hunter, trapper, and pioneer, Laroy was born in 1827 in Coudersport,
Pennsylvania. He grew up in poverty and never attended school. As soon as he
could, he left home and began his career as a frontiersman. His explorations
spanned the wilderness of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and as far as Wisconsin.
During his travels, he taught himself to read and write, and he began keeping a
diary of his adventures.
However, Laroy always returned to his hometown, where he lived on a simple
farm at the edge of the forest. In most respects, Laroy was like any other
frontiersman of his time. But there was one difference-Laroy was psychic.
A Dreaming Prophet
Laroy had what his neighbors called “second sight,” and was well known
for his uncanny ability to forecast the weather, find lost people and objects,
and know precisely where to find good game for hunting. When asked how he always
seemed to know exactly what was going to happen, Laroy would usually reply that
he had dreamed the event before it happened.
Laroy’s abilities garnered him considerable fame. Robert Lyman, a later
resident of Coudersport, collected Laroy’s diaries. Lyman remembered the
stories his father, who knew Laroy, used to tell about the frontiersman. “His
dreams were the talk of the town and they always appeared to materialize in
exact detail. They were a part of his life and so commonplace that he usually
failed to record them in his diary.”
Despite this, there are dozens of entries in Laroy’s diaries in which he
specifically mentions having a precognitive dream. In 1854, Laroy had the
following dream: “I dreamt of a two horned beast. The horns were small and
turned in at first but soon spread out and became fearful. A warning for me as I
Years later, this warning would be grimly remembered.
Weatherman and Trapper
Most of Laroy’s dreams came true the day following the dream. One of
Laroy’s best talents was predicting the weather. Although most frontiersmen
learned to forecast the weather by various mundane factors such as temperature,
wind, humidity, and season, Laroy claimed that he obtained his information from
On March 3, 1855, Laroy dreamed that there would be a thunderstorm. As he
wrote in his diary. “It was made known to me that it would thunder, unlikely
in early March. I asked Orange if he would think it curious if it would thunder.
He said he would, or something to that effect.”
Two days later, there was a huge and unexpected thunderstorm.
Whenever possible, he used this ability to help his neighbors. On May 30,
1868, he wrote, “Went to church this morning. I told the people we had the
promise of better weather. I saw the weather for a week ahead just as plain as
could be, and it looked good.”
The most common type of precognitive dream for Laroy was one that helped him
in his hunting forays. He always returned from his hunts with the finest kill,
and he humbly reported that his dreams told him where to go for the best
He even used his dreams to discover which of his traps had captured game. On
March 28, 1859, Laroy wrote, “Dreamt I had caught a wolf. So I went to my
traps up our creek. Caught a coon, an eagle, a martin and a wolf.”
On July 22, 1859, Laroy wrote, “I dreamt I killed a big buck after shooting
twice. I told the boys: Otis, Frank, Harris, George and John. We went a
hounding. I started my dog and shot an old buck near Mike’s place. Shot
On March 2, 1868, he wrote, “I dreamt of seeing millions of pigeons.” One
month later, the town was besieged by a massive flock of pigeons. Writes Laroy,
“Thousands of pigeons have been flying over lately, so Milton and I took the
New York men out to get some of them. We went out into the pigeon woods. Found
their city on the ridge. I shot 60, Milton 41 and the New York men shot some.”
On July 16, 1879, Laroy wrote, “Staid [sic] on Pine Creek last night. I
dreamed that I had caught three eels on the hooks I set last night, and so I
did. I told Frank about it, and he went and got them. He got three.”
Lest anyone disbelieve, Laroy had multiple witnesses to his amazing
abilities. On September 16, 1867, Laroy recorded in his diary that he shot and
killed a four-pronged buck. What he failed to record was how he was able to find
the animal. On that day, however, Laroy’s friend Albert had joined him on the
hunt. Before the hunt even began, Laroy announced that it would be successful
and proceeded to tell Albert exactly what would happen and when. Albert, of
course, knew of Laroy’s abilities as he had witnessed them on several
occasions. This experience, however, would remain vivid in his mind decades
Albert reported, “Laroy and I were over in the Black Forest looking at
timber. We staid [sic] at my lumber camp. While we were eating breakfast, Laroy
told me that it was going to be a good day for us as we would shoot a nice
four-point buck late in the afternoon just as the sun was sinking behind the
hills. He said that it had been shown to him, by a dream, just how it would be.
The buck would be found on a small knoll near a stream. The brush about him
would be broken, small trees would have strips of bark torn off, the ground
would be trampled and torn up. It was a place where two big bucks had struggled
in a fight. It all happened as Laroy had visioned.”
Some of the entries in Laroy’s diary hint at these types of dreams, but
don’t quite reveal how he got his information. For example one entry says
simply, “I told the boys this morning that we would shoot three bears
today.” Whenever Laroy made these announcements, they were invariably correct.
However, Laroy didn’t make a big deal out of his precognitive dreams, which he
considered a natural gift possessed by everyone.
Another witness to Laroy’s amazing hunting abilities was the elder Mr.
Lyman, whose son reported: “Before my father’s death in 1935, he told me
many stories of Laroy’s dreams such as this: Laroy was napping at his desk
with his head on his arms. He dreamed of a deer. He jumped up from his chair and
shouted to the farm help, ‘A buck is on the ridge. I have seen it coming to
the Trout Brook Crossing. Get the guns, hitch the horses, we must hurry!’ Away
they went at a gallop. Laroy reached the place just in time and shot the deer.
Within an hour the dream was dreamed, the hunt was made and the hunter was home
Wealth and Sorrow
Although Laroy often dreamed about the weather or upcoming hunts, his dreams
covered many other topics.
A few of Laroys’ dreams predicted that he would receive wealth. On March 4,
1857, he made the following entry: “I dreamt that a Rochester man came and
paid me some money. William came today and paid me $450.00.”
A similar entry predicted that Laroy would find what every frontiersman
dreamed of discovering-gold. “Staid [sic] at Boone, North Carolina, last
night. Remembered my curious dream about searching for ore and gold and how I
got ragged and had to cut off the threads and fringes from my clothes. Panned
out a little gold today, got four pieces.”
Not all of Laroy’s dreams predicted happy events. On occasion, he foresaw
tragedy. Consider the following sad entry, made on July 23, 1858: “Got up
early this morning. I dreamed that father was getting ready to die. I knew his
time had come. I went to the barn. Harris called to me from his house and said
father was a going. When I got there he was dead. We all felt solemn. We
realized we had lost a good father, one that was always honest, upright and
steadfast, one that always set us good examples. We felt that there will always
be a vacant place by the old fireside which none can fill.”
On another occasion, a dream warned him of a friend’s imminent and totally
unexpected death, compelling him to pay one last visit. On April 19, 1884, Laroy
wrote, “I dreamt about Laura and that I must go up there. I laid awake a long
time and thought about her. When I got up it seemed that I could not stay away.
Joe hitched up the colts and off we went, five of us. We found Laura better-they
said. She seemed quite well to what I expected. She talked to the very last
moment and died as she spoke her last words.”
Another more gruesome account comes again from Robert Lyman. “Another time
he told the neighbors he had dreamed where the body of a dead man could be
located that they had failed to find after several days search. A large group
went with him and found the body under some flood trash in a river.”
Lost and Found
If necessity demanded it, Laroy used his abilities to locate missing persons
or lost objects. “I have heard many authentic accounts of his locating missing
persons or objects from dreams,” wrote Robert Lyman. “At one time, he was
offered a thousand dollar reward to find a certain boy lost in the woods. He
said it was foolish to search for the boy as he knew that he was not lost but
had run away. Laroy was right.”
In 1881, Laroy unaccountably lost his maps of the surrounding territories.
This hampered his ability to hunt and explore, but search as he might, he was
unable to locate the maps. It wasn’t until June 10, 1882 that Laroy solved the
mystery. Not surprisingly, the answer came in a dream. As Laroy wrote, “I
dreamt where my maps were and got up and found them there. I have been looking
for them for a year.”
Laroy’s dreams not only helped him, they healed him-and on one occasion
saved him from becoming lost in the wilderness. In September 1863, Laroy was
troubled by a persistent bronchial infection which would not go away. On
September 27, he had a dream in which he was given a cure for his illness.
“Have been sick for several days and had a bad cough. I dreamt I got some
blackberries and red raspberries and made syrup and it helped my cough. So I
went and did as I dreamed and sure enough it did help me at once.”
On December 29, 1873, Laroy was hunting when he became lost. He was used to
the wilderness and this had happened to him before. Normally, he would have no
choice but to spend the night in the wild. On this occasion, however, he had a
dream which showed him the way home. “Hunted alone today. Saw otter, fox and
deer but no signs of bear. I had a hard tramp. Went over hills, across hollows
and through laurel patches and windfalls. If it had not been for my dream I
would have laid out in the woods all night. I finally found my way back to
Fate Takes Its Cut>/p>
Laroy’s dreams predicted virtually every aspect of his life. Usually he was
able to act upon the information of his dreams and enact a happy outcome.
However, as we have seen, such was not always the case.
On December 30, 1885, Laroy made the following enigmatic entry in his diary.
“I was down to the store and talked with the boys about going a bear hunting.
I could not tell for certain whether I would go or not. It seems as though
something will happen so I cannot go. I am to let them know tomorrow night.”
The very next day, tragedy struck. As Laroy writes, “Charley was late in
doing the chores so I went to water and feed the bull. He jumped and pinned me
against the side of the barn. I hollered at him and he backed out and let me
loose. As I pitched out he gave me another boost. I could not get my breath for
a very long time. My clothes were ripped, left side gored, hip raked and several
ribs cracked and broken. I managed to walk to the house.”
Laroy was badly injured by the attack, and at age 64, he was no longer a
young man. It wasn’t until after the attack that Laroy recalled his dream of
more than 30 years before. As his diary reads, “I dreamed of a two-horned
beast. The horns were small and turned in at first but soon spread out and
became fearful. A warning for me as I take it.”
Unfortunately, Laroy didn’t recognize the warning until it was too late.
Laroy’s dreams came true to the tiniest detail, and were usually fulfilled the
day of the dream. But in the case of the bull attack, the dream took more than
30 years to come true.
Less than one year later, everyone realized just how true Laroy’s dream
was. On October 8, 1886, he was again attacked by the same bull. On this
occasion, his injuries were fatal. Laroy died in his home at the age of 65.
Laroy’s Amazing Record
Laroy left a remarkable legacy. His diaries, spanning more than 33 years,
provide an authentic glimpse into pioneer life in the mid-nineteenth century.
They also represent one of the earliest recordings of a dreamer who had
multiple, independently verified precognitive dreams. This alone makes Laroy’s
dreams historically significant. But when one thinks of how many people were
affected by Laroy and his dreams, their importance cannot be overestimated. They
covered the entire range from good to bad, from trivial to profound.
Laroy’s forthright honesty and amazing predictive powers earned him
tremendous respect for miles around. Although he was not as well-known as Wild
Bill Hickock or Daniel Boone, Laroy was a true frontiersman.