What did a 19th-century turkey drive look like?

I’ve been reading a lot about historical turkey farming lately (long story) and I keep running across mentions of the seasonal turkey drives that brought the birds from the farm to the big-city markets. Unfortunately, the descriptions can be frustratingly vague–for example, the drovers apparently carried “long poles” to help corral the turkeys, but what does “long” mean in that context? I don’t know.

Does anybody know where I can find photographs or illustrations of turkey drives, particularly those in England between 1780 and 1915?

Apparently there exists an 1853 painting by the Dutch-inspired French artist Eugene Le Poitevin called “The Turkey Drover”. I can’t find an image of it but I bet you’d like to see it!

I have asked some people who may know and will get back to you if they come up with something.

No John Wayne movies on the subject? The iconic American Turkeyboys, driving their flocks across the prairie?


Half way down the page…


This is one of those things you initially think is one of those “spaghetti trees of Italy” pranks, but apparently it’s real. I can’t even imagine.

'taint just the cowboys who have spurs on that drive…

From The Oregon Trail by David Dary:

Unfortunately, no illustrations.

Git along, little tommies!

Am I the only one picturing a cross between Benjamin Franklin and Ben Carwright riding a pony while herdin turkeys?

The most noteworthy aspect is not “what did one look like” but rather, “what did one sound like?” And it sounded like this:


I wrote a paper like that in middle school…the assignment was to write about Thanksgiving from the Turkey’s perspective.

I had a backup version that I handed in after the teacher saw the first one. :slight_smile: