The Onward Store is located where Highway 61 and Highway 1 meet in Sharkey County. Onward is a small Mississippi town. Onward became known because former President Theodore Roosevelt's famous bear hunt was held close to here in 1902. A historical marker next to the general store in Onward tells about the bear hunt.
Roosevelt's hunting guide was a famous Mississippi bear hunter named Holt Collier. This hunt was a late birthday gift for President Roosevelt from his friends. According to the story, Collier, in an effort to make the hunt a success, went out early on Friday, November 14, 1902 to scout for bears. Luck was with Collier and he trapped and tied up a 235-pound black bear. Collier sent his hunting friends to get Roosevelt for the kill. When Roosevelt arrived, he refused to kill a tied-up bear and the bear hunt was stopped. Local and national newspapers began to run political cartoons about the President refusing to kill the bear. The Cracker Jack Company and toy companies created stuffed bears called "teddy bears."
On Saturday, November 2, 202 in Onward, Mississippi, there was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's "Great Bear Hunt." Many of the events were held outside the Onward General store, which was built by Bernard Pearl. During this anniversary, many people visited the Onward General Store. The store has a glass display of many types of bears, Teddy glasses, and Teddy Rough Riders hats. Outside of the store were many booths and activities that related to Teddy Roosevelt and the bear hunt, as well as a baking booth with funnel cakes; a souvenir booth with t-shirts, caps, and pictures; an antique car show; and a Teddy Bear booth with antique and new bears, pins, magnets, posters. Copies of four Teddy Bear postage stamps were sold as magnets, pins, and postcards. "Rough Rider Roosevelt Bears"--handmade Mississippi bears with birth certificates--were sold. A teddy bear hunt with "gummy bears" was held for children, and a live "Teddy Bear" walked around outside the store. Click here to see pictures of this event.