The memory of Old Abe the eagle of the 8th regiment is kept green at the Soldiers home by another eagle, “Fighting Joe Hooker,” whose eyes flashed as brightly and whose screams sometimes sounded like Old Abe when flying above the fighting regiment in time of war. The bird now at the home was captured by Joe Cabeen, a veteran soldier in 1869 in Bay View, and a year or two later was presented to the soldiers at the home.
The story of the capture and confinement of Joe is an interesting one. He is of the bald-headed variety and supposed to be about 15 years old. In the winter of 1869 he used to be seen soaring around the Town of Lake. The bird was too wary to be shot and for a long time eluded any endeavor to capture or kill him. One evening though, just as it was growing quite dark, the huge bird pounced upon a chicken in the farmyard of Mr. Cabeen and a moment later lighted on a branch of tree nearby and began to eat his victim. He seemingly did not notice the approach of the farmer with a big gun until too late and a moment later the big bird dropped to the ground with a broken wing, both barrels having been discharged at short range.
Then the fun began. The bird fought with his talons and his screams of rage could be heard half a mile away. Finally with the assistance of a hired man and a long rope, the bird was dragged to a barn and shut in. A big cage was made for him and he was put in it when weak from his broken wing. In time the wing grew strong again and with a long clothesline tied to his leg, Joe Hooker was let out of his cage.
His wings measured 7 feet from tip to tip. He never forgot Farmer Cabeen and would scream with rage and hate at his captor every time he approached the bird. One day a big Newfoundland dog got within reach of the eagle. Joe Hooker pounced on him and with his claws and powerful wings almost killed him.
At this time Forepaugh’s Circus was in Milwaukee and the bird was sold to the circus man for $10. That night their tent blew down, and they refused then to accept their purchase. Mr. Cabeen then offered the bird to Gen. Wooley the governor of the Soldiers’ Home and a short time after, in 1871, about a dozen of the old soldiers came in with an ambulance and took the eagle to the home where Joe Hooker has since remained.