Holt Collier, Black Confederate soldier, Master bear hunter,responsible for Prestident Theodore Roosevelt’s nickname “Teddy”



~ Holt Collier,  Black Confederate ~
~ Company I, 9th Texas Cavalry ~


Post War Photograph
Born 1846 ~ Mississippi
Died 1936 ~ Greenville, Mississippi
Collier was born a slave. He was in the keep of General Thomas Hinds, veteran of the Battle of New Orleans. When the War Between The States began, Collier’s master and his seventeen-year-old son, Collier’s childhood companion, left for the war to thwart the Northern aggressors. His master had forbade him to fight in the ranks of the Confederate service as he was too young. Collier disobeyed and stowed away on a riverboat, joining another Southern Patriot and his son in Memphis. Collier thereafter joined the 9th Texas Cavalry, serving in Company I throughout the war.At the Battle of Pittsburg Landing{Shiloh} he witnessed the death of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston. Collier’s biographer says that although there was a prohibition against blacks serving in uniform, Confederates made an exception for Collier because of his demonstrable skills. Weeks later he signed up with Company I of the 9th Cavalry Regiment (United States), fighting in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.During Reconstruction, Collier was accused and acquitted by a military tribunal in Vicksburg of the alleged murder of a white man, Captain James King. Collier left the state on the advice of William A. Percy of Greenville, going to Texas to work as a cowboy on the ranch of his former commander, Sullivan Ross, future Governor of Texas.Upon the murder of his former master, Collier returned to Greenville for his funeral and remained in Greenville for the rest of his life.He became a noted bear hunter, killing over 3,000 bears during his lifetime. So famous among big-game hunters was he that Major George M. Helm asked him to serve as President Theodore Roosevelt’s tracker during the President’s famous Mississippi bear hunt of 1902.

On that hunt, Collier and his tracking dogs cornered a large bear. Collier had bugled Roosevelt and the rest of his party to join in. Before Roosevelt arrived, the bear killed one of Collier’s tracking dogs. Collier ordinarily would have shot the bear immediately, but, wanting to keep the bear alive until the President arrived, he instead whacked the bear over the head with his rifle — bending its barrel. He finally lassoed the bear and tied it to a tree. When the President at last arrived, he famously refused to shoot the helpless bear, which another of his party eventually killed with a knife. The Washington Post and other newspapers publicized Roosevelt’s compassion for the animal. Some reports maintained, erroneously, that the bear had been a cub. The story eventually gave rise to the “Teddy Bear” phenomenon.

Collier served again as Roosevelt’s tracker during a Louisiana bear hunt of 1907. Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi is named in his honor. He died in 1936 and is buried in Greenville, Mississippi.


Copyright 2011 Jay Adkins Photography

holt hollier and teddy Roosevelt




Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge (First National Wildlife Refuge Named to Honor an African American)


Amber Breland

One of the newest National Wildlife Refuges in the central Mississippi Delta, Holt Collier NWR was established in 2004 along with Theodore Roosevelt NWR. This  2,033 acre refuge is located on Holt Collier’s historic hunting grounds near Darlove, Mississippi and is the first National Wildlife Refuge named to honor an African-American.

Born a native Mississippian in 1848 to a slave family, Holt Collier led an extraordinary life. He fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier and later became famous throughout Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas as a legendary bear hunter and sportsman. Although the Louisiana black bear is now on the endangered species list, during his lifetime black bears were plentiful.  His most famous bear hunt occurred in 1902 with President Theodore Roosevelt. This hunt led to the popular children’s toy, the teddy bear.

Located strategically in the Mississippi Flyway, the Holt Collier NWR provides habitat and resources for more than 250 species of songbirds at various times throughout the year. Approximately 1,100 acres have been reforested with native bottomland tree species that will produce a rich source of food for wildlife in 15 – 20 years. Additional lands will be reforested as they are acquired. These reforested lands will provide essential habitat for the threatened Louisiana Black bear, a common visitor to the Mississippi Delta region.

Recreational Opportunities

Current public use opportunities include hunting (deer archery and rabbit) and wildlife observation and photography. The refuge hopes to develop visitor use facilities to include infrastructure for wildlife observation, photography, and interpretation.  This may include improved road access as well as interpretive kiosks and signage.

For up-to-date information on hunting and other public use opportunities on Holt Collier NWR, please visit their official website.

Seasons Accessible

Your National Wildlife Refuges are open year-round during daylight hours. Contact refuge headquarters for more information.




Ro Ho

Ro Ho

I'm the owner and creator of this website! I appreciate each and every one of you for joining, viewing, and shopping on my website! If you have any questions, fell free to ask!

Leave a Reply