The Horse of America in His Derivation, History, and Development by Wallace

in his
Derivation, History, and Development.




With Maps and Illustrations.

Founder of “Wallace’s American Trotting Register,” “Wallace’s Monthly,”
“Wallace’s Year Book,” etc.



Entered according to act of Congress, by
in the year 1897, at Washington, D. C.



The study of the Horse, from the first glimmerings of history, sacred and profane, and tracing him from his original home through his migrations until all the peoples of the globe had received their initial supply, may not be a new idea, but it is certainly a new undertaking. Horse Books without number have been written, mostly in the century just closing, but in the history of the horse they are all alike—merely reproductions of what had been printed before. So far as my knowledge goes, therefore, this volume is the first attempt, in any language, to determine the original habitat of the horse and to trace him, historically, in his distribution.

The facts presented touching the introduction of the horse into Egypt, and two thousand years later into Arabia, as well as the plebeian blood from which the English race horse has derived his great speed, will be a shock to the nerves of the romanticists of the old world as well as the new. Taking the facts of history and well-known experiences together, my readers can determine for themselves whether the claims for the superiority of Arabian blood is not pure fiction. For my own part I cannot recognize any blood in all horsedom as “royal blood” except that which is found in the veins of the horse that “has gone out and done it,” either himself or in his progeny.

In our own country there has always remained a blank in horse history that nobody has attempted to supply. This blank embraced a century of racing of which we of the present generation have been entirely ignorant. Believing that a correct knowledge of the horse of the Colonial period, in his size, gait, qualities and capacities was absolutely essential to an intelligent comprehension of the[iv] phenomena presented on our trotting and running courses of the present day, I have not hesitated to bestow on this new feature of the work great labor and research. In this I have felt a special satisfaction in the fact that while the field is old in dates, this is the first time it has ever been traversed and considered.

In the chapters which follow, many historical questions are treated at such length as their relative importance seems to demand, embracing the different families that have contributed to the building up of the breed of trotters; and the question of how the trotting horse is bred is carefully considered in the light of all past experiences and brought down to the close of 1896. These chapters will not surprise the old readers of the Wallace’s Monthly, for they will here meet with many thoughts that will not be new to them, but they will find them more fully elaborated, in more orderly form, and brought down to the latest experiences.

It is not the purpose of this book to furnish statistical tables covering the great mass of trotting experiences, nor to consider the mysteries of the trainer’s art that have been so ably discussed by experienced and skillful men. But the real and only purpose is to place upon record the results of years devoted to historical research, at home and abroad; to dispel the illusions and humbugs that have clustered about the horse for many centuries; and to consider with some minuteness, which of necessity cannot be impersonal, the great industrial revolution that has been wrought in horse-breeding, and all growing out of a little unpretentious treatise written twenty-five years ago, which contained nothing more striking than a little bit of science and a little bit of sense intelligently commingled. The battle between the principles of this treatise and selfish prejudices and mental sterility, was long and bitter, but the truth prevailed, and in the production of the Driving Horse the teachings of that little paper have placed our country first among all the nations of the earth.


New York: 40 West 93d Street.

September 1, 1897

General View of the Field Traversed 1-23
No indications that the horse was originally wild—The steppes of High Asia and Arabia not tenable as his original home—Color not sufficient evidence —Impossibility of horses existing in Arabia in a wild state—No horses in Arabia until 356 A.D.—Large forces of Armenian, Median and Cappadocian cavalry employed more than one thousand seven hundred years B.C.—A breed of white race horses—Special adaptability of the Armenian country to the horse—Armenia a horse-exporting country before the Prophet Ezekiel—Devotion of the Armenian people to agricultural and pastoral pursuits through a period of four thousand years—All the evidences point to ancient Armenia as the center from which the horse was distributed 24-35
First evidences of horses in Egypt about 1700 B.C.—Supported by Egyptian records and history—The Patriarch Job had no horses—Solomon’s great cavalry force organized—Arabia as described by Strabo at the beginning of our era—No horses then in Arabia—Constantius sends two hundred Cappadocian horses into Arabia A.D. 356—Arabia the last country to be supplied with horses—The ancient Phœnician merchants and their colonies—Hannibal’s cavalry forces in the Punic Wars—Distant ramifications of Phœnician trade and colonization—Commerce reached as far as Britain and the Baltic—Probable source of Britain’s earliest horses 36-50
The Arabian, the horse of romance—The horse naturally foreign to Arabia —Superiority of the camel for all Arabian needs—Scarcity of horses in Arabia in Mohammed’s time—Various preposterous traditions of Arab horsemanship—The Prophet’s mythical mares—Mohammed not in any sense a horseman—Early English Arabians—the Markham Arabian—The alleged Royal Mares—The Darley Arabian—The Godolphin Arabian—The Prince of Wales’ Arabian race horses—Mr. Blunt’s pilgrimage to the Euphrates—His purchases of so-called Arabians—Deyr[vi] as a great horse market where everything is thoroughbred—Failure of Mr. Blunt’s experiments—Various Arabian horses brought to America —Horses sent to our Presidents—Disastrous experiments of A. Keene Richards—Tendency of Arab romancing from Ben Hur 51-66
The real origin of the English race horse in confusion—Full list of the “foundation stock” as given by Mr. Weatherby one hundred years ago—The list complete and embraces all of any note—Admiral Rous’ extravaganza—Godolphin Arabian’s origin wholly unknown—His history—Successful search for his true portrait—Stubbs’ picture a caricature—The true portrait alone supplies all that is known of his origin and blood 67-78
England supplied with horses before the Christian era—Bred for different purposes—Markham on the speed of early native horses—Duke of Newcastle on Arabians—His choice of blood to propagate—Size of early English horses—Difficulties about pedigrees in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Early accumulations very trashy—The Galloways and Irish Hobbies—Discrepancies in size—The old saddle stock—The pacers wiped out—Partial revision of the English Stud Book 79-89
Antiquity of American racing—First race course at Hempstead Plain, 1665—Racing in Virginia, 1677—Conditions of early races—Early so-called Arabian importations—The marvelous tradition of Lindsay’s “Arabian”—English race horses first imported about 1750—The old colonial stock as a basis—First American turf literature—Skinner’s American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, 1829—Cadwallader R. Colden’s Sporting Magazine, short-lived but valuable—The original Spirit of the Times—Porter’s Spirit of the Times—Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, 1859—Edgar’s Stud Book—Wallace’s Stud Book—Bruce’s Stud Book—Their history, methods and value—Summing up results, showing that success has followed breeding to individuals and families that could run and not to individuals and families that could not run, whatever their blood 90-107
Hardships of the colonists—First importations of horses—Racing prevalent in the seventeenth century—Exportations and then importations prohibited—Organized horse racing commenced 1677 and became very general—In 1704 there were many wild horses in Virginia and they were hunted as game—The Chincoteague ponies accounted for—Jones on life in Virginia, 1720—Fast early pacers, Galloways and Irish Hobbies—English race horses imported—Moreton’s Traveler probably the first—Quarter racing prevailed on the Carolina border—Average[vii] size and habits of action clearly established—The native pacer thrown in the shade by the imported runner—An Englishman’s prejudices 108-119
Settlement of New Amsterdam—Horses from Curaçoa—Prices of Dutch and English horses—Van der Donck’s description and size of horses—Horses to be branded—Stallions under fourteen hands not to run at large—Esopus horse—Surrender to the English, 1664—First organized racing—Dutch horses capable of improvement in speed—First advertised Subscription Plate—First restriction, contestants must “be bred in America”—Great racing and heavy betting—First importations of English running horses—Half-breds to the front—True foundation of American pedigrees—Half-bushel of dollars on a side—Resolutions of the Continental Congress against racing—Withdrawal of Mr. James De Lancey—Pacing and trotting contests everywhere—Rip Van Dam’s horse and his cost 120-127
First importations to Boston and to Salem—Importations from Holland brought high prices—They were not pacers and not over fourteen hands—In 1640 horses were exported to the West Indies—First American newspaper and first horse advertisement—Average sizes—The different gaits—Connecticut, first plantation, 1636—Post horses provided for by law—All horses branded—Sizes and Gaits—An Englishman’s experience with pacers—Lindsay’s Arabian—Rhode Island, Founded by Roger Williams, 1636—No direct importations ever made—Horses largely exported to other colonies 1690—Possibly some to Canada—Pacing races a common amusement—Prohibited, 1749—Size of the Narragansetts compared with the Virginians 128-134
Penn’s arrival in 1682—Horse racing prohibited—Franklin’s newspaper—Conestoga horses—Sizes and gaits—Swedish origin—Acrelius’ statement—New Jersey—Branding—Increase of size—Racing, Pacing and Trotting restricted—Maryland—Racing and Pacing restricted 1747—Stallions of under size to be shot—North Carolina—First settler refugees—South Carolina—Size and gait in 1744—Challenges—No running blood in the colony, 1744—General view 135-141
Settlement and capture of Port Royal—Early plantations—First French horses brought over 1665—Possibly illicit trading—Sire of “Old Tippoo”—His history—“Scape Goat” and his descendants—Horses of the Maritime Provinces 142-153
The mechanism of the different gaits—The Elgin Marbles—Britain becomes a Roman province—Pacers in the time of the Romans—Bronze horses of Venice—Fitz Stephen, the Monk of Canterbury—Evidence of the Great Seals—What Blundeville says—What Gervaise Markham says—What the Duke of Newcastle says—The amble and the pace one and the same—At the close of Elizabeth’s reign—The Galloways and Hobbies—Extinction of the pacer—The original pacer probably from the North—Polydore Virgil’s evidence—Samuel Purchas’ evidence—The process of wiping out the pacer—King James set the fashion—All foreign horses called “Arabians”—The foreigners larger and handsomer—Good roads and wheeled vehicles dispensed with the pacer—Result of prompting Mr. Euren—Mr. Youatt’s blunder—Other English gentlemen not convinced there ever were any pacers 154-171
Regulations against stallions at large—American pacers taken to the West Indies—Narragansett pacers; many foolish and groundless theories about their origin—Dr. McSparran on the speed of the pacer—Mr. Updike’s testimony—Mr. Hazard and Mr. Enoch Lewis—Exchanging meetings with Virginia—Watson’s Annals—Matlack and Acrelius—Rip Van Dam’s horse—Cooper’s evidence—Cause of disappearance—Banished to the frontier—First intimation that the pace and the trot were essentially one gait—How it was received—Analysis of the two gaits—Pelham, Highland Maid, Jay-Eye-See, Blue Bull—The pacer forces himself into publicity—Higher rate of speed—Pacing races very early—Quietly and easily developed—Comes to his speed quickly—His present eminence not permanent—The gamblers carried him there—Will he return to his former obscurity? 172-189
The saddle gaits come only from the pacer—Saddle gaits cultivated three hundred years ago—Markham on the saddle gaits—The military seat the best—The unity of the pace and trot—Gaits analyzed—Saddle Horse Register—Saddle horse progenitors—Denmark not a thoroughbred horse 190-195
The romances of fifty years ago—Was the horse indigenous to this country?—The theories of the paleontologists not satisfactory—Pedigrees of over two millions of years too long—Outlines of horses on prehistoric ruins, evidently modern—The linguistic test among the oldest tribes of Indians fails to discover any word for “Horse”—The horses abandoned west of the Mississippi by the followers of De Soto about 1541 were the progenitors of the wild horses of the plains 196-204
Messenger the greatest of all trotting progenitors—Record of pedigrees in English Stud Book—Pedigrees made from unreliable sources—Messenger’s right male line examined—Flying Childers’ “mile in a minute”—Blaze short of being thoroughbred—Sampson, a good race horse—His size; short in his breeding—Engineer short also—Mambrino was a race horse with at least two pacing crosses; distinguished as a progenitor of coach horses and fast trotters—Messenger’s dam cannot be traced nor identified—Among all the horses claiming to be thoroughbred he is the only one that founded a family of trotters—This fact conceded by eminent writers in attempting to find others 205-221
Messenger’s racing in England—His breeder unknown—Popular uncertainty about the circumstances and date of his importation—The matter settled by his first advertisement—Uncertainty as to his importer—Description of Messenger by David W. Jones, of Long Island—Careful consensus of descriptions by many who had seen Messenger—His great and lasting popularity as a stock horse—Places and prices of his services for twenty years—Death and burial 222-231
Hambletonian (Bishop’s) pedigree not beyond doubt—Cadwallader R. Colden’s review of it—Ran successfully—Taken to Granville, N. Y.—Some of his descendants—Mambrino, large and coarse in appearance—Failure as a runner—Good natural trotter—His most famous sons were Abdallah, Almack, and Mambrino Paymaster—Winthrop or Maine Messenger and his pedigree and history—Engineer and the tricks of his owners—Certainly a son of Messenger—Commander—Bush Messenger, pedigree and description—Noted as the sire of coach horses and trotters—Potomac—Tippoo Saib—Sir Solomon—Ogden Messenger, dam thoroughbred—Mambrino (Grey)—Black Messenger—Whynot, Saratoga, Nestor, Delight—Mount Holly, Plato, Dover Messenger, Coriander, Fagdown, Bright Phœbus, Slasher, Shaftsbury, Hotspur, Hutchinson Messenger and Cooper’s Messenger—Abuse of the name “Messenger.” 232-254
History of Abdallah—Characteristics of his dam, Amazonia—Speculations as to her blood—Description of Abdallah—Almack, progenitor of the Champion line—Mambrino Paymaster, sire of Mambrino Chief—History and pedigree—Mambrino Messenger—Harris’ Hambletonian—Judson’s Hambletonian—Andrus’ Hambletonian, sire of the famous Princess, Happy Medium’s dam 255-266
The greatest progenitor in Horse History—Mr. Kellogg’s description, and comments thereupon—An analysis of Hambletonian, structurally considered—His carriage and action—As a three-year-old trotter—Details of his stud service—Statistics of the Hambletonian family—History and ancestry of his dam, the Charles Kent Mare—Her grandson, Green’s Bashaw, and his dam 267-283
Different opinions as to relative merits of Hambletonian’s greater sons—George Wilkes, his history and pedigree—His performing descendants—History and description of Electioneer—His family—Alexander’s Abdallah and his two greatest sons, Almont and Belmont—Dictator—Harold—Happy Medium and his dam—Jay Gould—Strathmore—Egbert—Aberdeen—Masterlode—Sweepstakes—Governor Sprague, grandson of Hambletonian 284-314
Description and history of Mambrino Chief—The pioneer trotting stallion of Kentucky—Matched against Pilot Jr.—His best sons—Mambrino Patchen, his opportunities and family—Woodford Mambrino, a notable trotter and sire—Princeps—Mambrino Pilot—Clark Chief—Fisk’s Mambrino Chief Jr.—Ericsson 315-320
The imported Barb, Grand Bashaw—Young Bashaw, an inferior individual —His greatest son, Andrew Jackson—His dam a trotter and pacer—His history—His noted son, Kemble Jackson—Long Island Black Hawk—Henry Clay, founder of the Clay family—Cassius M. Clay—The various horses named Cassius M. Clay—George M. Patchen—His great turf career—George M. Patchen Jr.—Harry Clay—The Moor, and his son Sultan’s family 321-337
Seely’s American Star—His fictitious pedigree—Breeding really unknown—A trotter of some merit—His stud career—His daughters noted brood mares—Conklin’s American Star—Old Pacing Pilot—History and probable origin—Pilot Jr.—Pedigree—Training and races—Prepotency—Family statistics summarized—Grinnell’s Champion, son of Almack—His sons and performing descendants—Alexander’s Norman and his sire, the Morse Horse—Swigert and Blackwood 338-351
Blue Bull, the once leading sire—His lineage and history—His family rank—The Cadmus family—Pocahontas—Smuggler—Tom Rolfe—Young Rolfe and Nelson—The Tom Hal Family—The various Tom Hals—Brown Hal—The Kentucky Hunters—Flora Temple—Edwin Forrest—The Drew Horse and his descendants—The Hiatogas 352-365
Characteristics of the Morgans—History of the original Morgan—The fabled pedigree—The true Briton theory—Justin Morgan’s breeding hopelessly unknown—Sherman Morgan—Black Hawk—His disputed paternity—His dam called a Narragansett—Ethan Allen—His great beauty, speed, and popularity—The Flying Morgan claim baseless—His dam of unknown blood—His great race with Dexter—Daniel Lambert, the only successful sire of the Black Hawk line 366-389
Orloffs, the only foreign trotters of merit—Count Alexis Orloff, founder of the breed—Origin of the Orloff—Count Orloff began breeding in 1770—Smetanka, Polkan, and Polkan’s son, Barss, really the first Orloff trotting sire—The Russian pacers—Their great speed—Imported Bellfounder—His history and characteristics—Got little speed—His descendants—The English Hackney—Not a breed, but a mere type—The old Norfolk trotters—Hackney experiments in America—Superiority of the trotting-bred horse demonstrated in show ring contests 390-408
Tendency to misrepresentation—The Bald Galloway and Darley Arabian—Godolphin Arabian—Early experiences with trotting pedigrees—Mr. Backman’s honest methods—Shanghai Mary—Capt. Rynders and Widow Machree—Woodburn Farm and its pedigree methods—Victimized by “horse sharps” and pedigree makers—Alleged pedigree of Pilot Jr. conclusively overthrown—Pedigrees of Edwin Forrest, Norman, Bay Chief and Black Rose—Maud S. pedigree exhaustively considered—Captain John W. Russell never owned the mare Maria Russell—The deadly parallel columns settle it 409-431
How Belle of Wabash got her pedigree—Specimen of pedigree making in that day and locality—Search for the dam of Thomas Jefferson—True origin and history of Belle of Wabash—Facts about the old-time gelding Prince—The truth about Waxy, the grandam of Sunol—Remarkable attempts to make a pedigree out of nothing—How “Jim”[xii] Eoff worked a “tenderfoot”—Pedigree of American Eclipse—Pedigree of Boston—Tom Bowling and Aaron Pennington—Chenery’s Grey Eagle—Pedigree of George Wilkes in doubt 432-455
Early trotting and pacing races—Strains of blood in the first known trotters—The lesson of Maud S.—The genesis of trotting horse literature—The simple study of inheritance—The different forms of heredity—The famous quagga story not sustained—Illustrations in dogs—Heredity of acquired characters and instincts—Development of successive generations necessary—Unequaled collections of statistics—Acquired injuries and unsoundness transmitted 456-479
Trotting speed first supposed to be an accident—Then, that it came from the runner—William Wheelan’s views—Test of powers of endurance—The term “thoroughbred” much abused—Definition of “thoroughbred”—How trotters may be made “thoroughly bred”—How to study pedigrees—Reward offered for the production of a thoroughbred horse that was a natural pacer—The trotter more lasting than the runner—The dam of Palo Alto—Arion as a two-year-old—Only three stallions have been able to get trotters from running-bred mares—“Structural incongruity”—The pacer and trotter inseparable—How to save the trot and reduce the ratio of pacers—Development a necessity—Table proving this proposition—The “tin cup” policy a failure—Woodburn at the wrong end of the procession 480-507
Breeding the trotter intelligently an industry of modern development—Plethora of turf papers, and their timidity of the truth—The accepted theories, old and new—Failure of the “thoroughbred blood in the trotter” idea—“Thoroughbred foundations,” and the Register—“Like begets like,” the great central truth—Long-continued efforts to breed trotters from runners—New York the original source of supply of trotting blood to all the States—Kentucky’s beginning in breeding trotters—R. A. Alexander, and the founding of Woodburn—The “infallibility” of Woodburn pedigrees—Refusal to enter fictitious crosses in the Register and the results—The genesis and history of the standard—Its objects, effects, and influence—Establishing the breed of trotters—The Kentucky or “Pinafore” standard—Its purposes analyzed—The “Breeders’ Trotting Stud Book” and how it was compiled—Failure and collapse of the Kentucky project—Another unsuccessful attempt to capture the Register—How honest administration of the Register made enemies—The National Breeders’ Association and the Chicago Convention—Detailed history of the sale and transfer of the Register, the events that led up to it, and the results—Personal satisfaction and benefits from the transfer, and the years of rest and congenial study in preparing this book—The end 508-546
By a Friend of the Author.
Mr. Wallace’s early life and education—Removal to Iowa, 1845—Secretary Iowa State Board of Agriculture—Begins work, 1856, on “Wallace’s American Stud Book,” published 1867—Method of gathering pedigrees—Trotting Supplement—Abandons Stud Book, 1870, and devotes exclusive attention to trotting literature—“American Trotting Register,” Vol. I., published in 1871—Vol. II. follows in 1874—The valuable essay on breeding the forerunner of present ideas—Standard adopted 1879—Its history—Battles for control of the “Register”—Wallace’s Monthly founded 1875—Its character, purposes, history, writers, and artists—“Wallace’s Year Book” founded 1885—Great popularity and value—Transfer of the Wallace publications, and their degeneration 547-559

Portrait of the Author Frontispiece.
Map of Armenia, Cappadocia, Syria, etc. To face page 24
Map of Phœnician Colonies and the Mediterranean ” ” 36
Godolphin Arabian, True Portrait In one view ” ” 67
Godolphin Arabian, Distorted
Star Pointer, the Champion Pacer (1:59¼) ” ” 155
John R. Gentry, Pacer (2:00½) ” ” 173
Alix, the Present Champion Trotter (2:03¼) ” ” 255
Hambletonian (Rysdyk’s) ” ” 267
George Wilkes, Son of Hambletonian ” ” 284
Electioneer, Son of Hambletonian ” ” 289
Abdallah (Alexander’s), Son of Hambletonian ” ” 294
Nancy Hanks, by Happy Medium (2:04) ” ” 306
Ethan Allen, by Vermont Black Hawk ” ” 381
Note.—Nine of the above engravings have been reproduced, by permission, from the Portfolio issued by The Horse Review.



General View of the Field Traversed.

In undertaking to fulfill a promise made years ago, to write a history of the American Trotting Horse and his ancestors, I am met with the inquiry: What were his ancestors and whence did they come? To say that the American Trotter, the phenomenal horse of this century, is descended from a certain horse imported from England in 1788, does not fully meet the requirements of the truth, for there are other and very distinctive elements embodied in his inheritance that are not indebted to that particular imported horse. In searching for these undefined elements, I have found myself in the fields of antiquity, reaching out step by step, further and further, until the utmost boundaries of all history, sacred and profane, were clearly in view. There I found a field that was especially attractive because it was a new field, and the relations of the peoples of the earliest ages to their horses had never been investigated nor discussed. Having no engagements nor necessities to hurry me, the careful exploration of this hitherto unknown territory has afforded me very great enjoyment.

As the result of these investigations, the breadth and scope of this volume will be greatly widened, touching upon the originals of most of the lighter types of horses, and many of the idols of the imagination will be demolished. The objective point is the history of the Trotting Horse, but before reaching that point we must consider the beginnings of, practically, nearly all the varieties of horses in the world. The assistance that I may be able to gain from modern writers will be very limited, and restricted[4] Haicus, the great grandson of Japheth, became the ruler of his people. Descending from him, in the direct male line, there were five or six long reigns before the dynasty was overthrown by the Assyrians. They were largely an agricultural people, and the ancient historians have told us they were famous for the great numbers and fine quality of the horses they produced. The market for their horses, the prophet Ezekiel tells us, was in the great commercial city of Tyre, whence they were carried “in the ships of Tarshish” by the Phœnician merchants to all portions of the known world. Having here reached back to the Noachic period and country, with all that this implies, I will leave the problem, with the more extended consideration that will be given it in the chapter on the general distribution of horses in all parts of the commercial world.

Horsemen of average intelligence and writers on the horse, oftentimes much below average intelligence in horse matters, all seem to unite on the Arabian horse as their fetish, when in fact they know nothing about him. The songs of the poets and the stories of the novelists have taken the place, in the minds of the people of all nations, of solid history and sober experience. When a story writer wishes to depict an athletic and daring hero, he never fails to mount him upon an “Arab steed,” when some blood-curdling adventures are to be disclosed. When Admiral Rous, the great racing authority in England, announced some years ago, that the English race horse was purely descended from the horses of Arabia Deserta, without one drop of plebeian blood, all England believed him, and this rash and groundless dictum has served all writers as conclusive evidence ever since. Now, it is not probable that more than two or at most three per cent. of the blood of the English race horse as he stands to-day is Arabian blood. The greatness and value of the Arabian horse is purely mythical. He has been tested hundreds of times, both on the course and in the stud, and in every single instance he has proved a failure. This is what all history and experience teach. There are but few horses bred in Arabia and there are, comparatively, but few there now. From the time of their first introduction into Yemen—Arabia Felix—up to the time of Mohammed, about two hundred and seventy years, they were still very scarce. Mohammed was not a horseman nor a horse breeder, nor is it known that he ever mounted a horse but once, and then he had but two in his army. When he made his first pilgrimage to Mecca he rode[5] a camel; and when he went the second time in triumph, mounted on a camel, he made the requisite number of circuits round the holy place, then dismounted and broke the idols that had been set up there. Then came the triumphant shout of his followers; “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” Since then, this cry has rung over a thousand battlefields, and as I write it is still heard in the homes of the slaughtered Armenians. From a great, warlike, and conquering people, the followers of Mohammed have degenerated into an aggregation of robbers and murderers of defenseless Christians. Since the days of Mohammed, horses no doubt have increased in numbers, but all modern travelers express their surprise at the small numbers they see. The horse is an expensive luxury in Arabia, and none but the rich can afford to keep him. He fills no economic place in the domestic life of the Arab, for he is never used for any purpose except display and robbery. Nobody is able to own a horse but the sheiks and a few wealthy men. Nobody would think of mounting a horse for a journey, be it long or short. The camel fills the place of the horse, the cow and a flock of sheep, all in one, and surely the Arabs are right in saying, “Job’s beast is a monument of God’s mercy.” It is very evident that nearly all the horses said to have been brought from Arabia never saw Arabia. As an illustration of the uncertainty of what a man is getting when he thinks he is buying an Arabian, in the Orient, I will give, in some detail the experiences of Mr. Wilfrid S. Blunt, a wealthy Englishman who had an ambition to regenerate the English race horse by bringing in fresh infusions of Arabian blood. He went to Arabia to buy the best, but he didn’t go into Arabia to find it. He skirted along through the border land where agriculture and civilization prevailed, while away off to the south the wild tribes roamed over the desert, and to the north, not far away, was the land of abundance that had been famous for more than three thousand years for the great numbers and excellence of the horses bred there. Here on the banks of the Euphrates Mr. Blunt found the town of Deyr, and he soon discovered it was a famous horse market. The inhabitants were the only people he met with who seemed to understand and appreciate the value of pedigrees, and there were no horses in the town but “thoroughbreds.” Here Mr. Blunt made nearly all his purchases which amounted to eighteen mares and two stallions “at reasonable prices.” As will be seen in the extracts from his book,[6] he was strikingly solicitous that the friends at home should have no doubt about the quality of the stock he purchased being all “thoroughbred.” No doubt he realized the awkwardness of the location as not the right one in which to secure “thoroughbred” Arabians and hence the vigorous indorsement of the honesty of the “slick and experienced” dealers as honest men and true descendants of the Bedouins of the desert. In this “he doth protest too much” and thus suggests that while the pedigrees came from the tribes of the desert to the South, it might be possible that the horses came from the farmers who bred them to the North. However this may have been, the whole enterprise turned out to be a flat failure, and after a number of years spent in begging for popular support, the whole collection was dispersed under the hammer of the auctioneer, not realizing a tithing of the cost.

While it is not necessary that I should express any opinion as to whether Mr. Blunt was deceived in the breeding of the animals which he brought home, I will make brief allusion to an American experience which is more fully considered elsewhere. Some forty or more years ago Mr. A. Keene Richards, a breeder of race horses in Kentucky, became impressed with the idea that the way to improve the race horse of America was to introduce direct infusions of the blood of Arabia. He did not hesitate, but he started to Arabia and brought home some horses and mares and put them to breeding. The pure bloods could not run at all and the half-breeds were too slow to make the semblance of a contest with Kentucky-bred colts. He concluded that he had been cheated by the rascally Arabs in the blood they put upon him. He then determined to go back and get the right blood, and as a counselor he took with him the famous horse painter, Troye, who was thoroughly up on anatomy and structure. They went into the very heart of Arabia and spent many weeks among the different tribes of the desert. They had greatly the advantage of Mr. Blunt or any other amateur, for they were experienced horsemen and knew just what they were doing. When they were ready to start home they believed they had found and secured the very best horses that Arabia had produced. When the produce of this second importation were old enough to run it was found that they were no better than the first lot, and thus all the bright dreams of enthusiasm were dissipated. Thus was demonstrated for the thousandth time that the blood of even the best[7] and purest Arabian horse is a detriment and hindrance rather than a benefit to the modern race horse. Mr. Richards, with all his practical knowledge and experience, was no more successful than the amateur, Mr. Blunt. The blood which Mr. Richards brought home was, no doubt, purer and more fashionable, as estimated in the desert, than that brought home by Mr. Blunt, but when tested by modern advancement it was no better.

A careful study of the chapter on the English Race Horse will present to the minds of all my intelligent readers the consideration of several points to which they will be slow in yielding assent. These points run up squarely against the preconceived opinions and prejudices of two centuries, and these preconceived opinions and prejudices are well-nigh universal. The first point upon which the public intelligence has gone wrong is in the general belief that horse-racing had its origin in the seventeenth century, when Charles II. was restored to his throne. The truth is we have accounts of racing by contemporaneous historians in the twelfth century, and indeed, we might say from the time of the Romans in Britain. To go back four centuries, however, is far enough to answer our present purpose. After selecting, breeding, and racing four hundred years we must conclude that the English had some pretty good race horses. This is fully verified by the writers at the close of Queen Elizabeth’s reign as well as at the beginning of Charles II.’s. They had native English horses that were able to beat all the imported exotics, including the Arabian owned by King James. We must, therefore, conclude that the race horse was not created by Charles II., but that racing was simply revived by him, after the restrictions of Cromwell’s time, and that the old English blood was the basis of that revival. The importations of so many exotics in his reign were simply so many reinforcements of the old English racing blood.

The next point to which exception will be taken is the conclusion reached as to the character and influence of the exotics that were introduced in the reign of Charles II. These exotics have been designated in a general way, by the phrase “foundation stock,” which has been introduced more out of deference to the popular understanding than to its legitimate and true meaning. For the real “foundation stock” we must look away back in the centuries, long before Charles was born. The analysis of the data furnished by Mr. Weatherby as “foundation[8] stock” clearly shows that the Turks predominated in numbers, but, possibly, the Barbs in influence. The Arabian element, in both numbers and influence, seems to be practically nil, and this is the “gist of my offending.” The one great horse—Godolphin Arabian—exerted a greater and more lasting influence upon the English race horse than any other of his century and probably than all the others of his century, and his blood is wholly unknown. Fortunately, a few years ago I was able to unearth his portrait and prove it a true portrait, and in that picture we must look for his lineage. He was a horse of great substance and strength on short legs, with no resemblance whatever to a race horse. About fifty years after his death Mr. Stubbs, the artist, who prided himself upon representing the character of a horse rather than his shape, came across this picture, from which he made an “ideal” copy of what he thought the horse should have been, which is a veritable monstrosity. These two pictures will appear together in their proper places, where they can be leisurely studied, and the honest and the dishonest compared.

The American race horse is the lineal descendent of the English race horse, and like his ancestor he is very largely dependent upon the “native blood” for his existence as a breed. The first English race horse was imported into Virginia about 1750, and he there met a class of saddle mares that had been selected, bred, trained, and raced at all distances up to four-mile heats, for nearly a hundred years. These mares were the real maternal foundation stock upon which the American race horse was established, as a breed. The phrase “native blood” is here used as applying to the animals and their descendants, that were brought over from England at and soon after the plantation of the American colonies. Up to the time of the Revolution there were but few racing mares brought over—as many as you could count on your fingers—but they must have been marvelously prolific, for thirty or forty filly foals each would hardly have accommodated all the animals with pedigrees tracing to them. Quite a number of our greatest race horses and sires of forty or fifty years ago traced to some one of these mares through links that were wholly fictitious. Indeed, from the period of the Revolution, and even before that, down to our own time, the pernicious and dishonest habit of adding fictitious crosses beyond the second or third dam became the rule in the old American families, and an animal with a strictly[9] honest pedigree was the exception. In spreading abroad these dishonest fictions as true pedigrees, the press—perhaps not venally, but ignorantly—was made the active agent. Whenever a rogue could get a pedigree into print, however absurd, nothing could prevent its spread as the truth. The early sporting and breeding press was not in the hands of men remarkable for conscience and still less remarkable for knowledge. But the worst of all was the “professional pedigree maker” who knew so many things that he never knew, and stopped at nothing. In all this dirty work of manufacturing pedigrees there is a very striking resemblance between the awkward efforts of the early English and the early American pedigree maker. This whole topic of the ignorance of the press and the dishonesty of the pedigree makers will be considered fully in its proper place. Fortunately, although still far from perfect, the methods and care in the preservation of the true lineage of the race horse in our own day have been greatly improved. The many efforts to improve the American race horse by introducing fresh infusions of Saracenic blood will receive due attention, especially as they have nearly all been made within the newspaper period, and their uniform and complete failure will not be new to American horsemen.

When we reach the horses of the colonial period, we are in a field that never has been explored and cannot be expected to yield a very rich harvest. Here and there I have been able to pick up a detached paragraph from some contemporaneous writer, and occasionally a record, or an advertisement, from which, in most cases, I have been able to construct a fair and truthful outline and description of the horses of the different colonies, down to the Revolutionary war. The collection of the material has required great patience and great labor, but it has not been an irksome task, for many things have been brought to light of great interest to the student of horse history. The knowledge of the colonial horse in his character and action, that may be gathered from the chapters devoted to his description and history, I flatter myself, will not only be interesting as something new, but will throw a strong light on the lineage of the two-minute trotter and pacer.

The colonists of Virginia were subjected for a number of years to great suffering, privation, and want. They were badly selected and many of them were improvident and never trained to habits of industry and thrift. There were quite too many “penniless[10] gentlemen’s sons” among them, who had been sent out with the hope that the change might improve their habits and their morals. They were too proud to work, and when they were driven to it by necessity they didn’t know how. After suffering untold hardships for a succession of years, those that survived learned to adapt themselves to their environment and to make their own way in the world. Their first supply of domestic animals were all consumed as food, embracing horses, cattle, swine, and goats, and everything had thus been consumed except one venerable female swine, as reported by a board of examiners. Their second supply of horses, cattle, swine, and goats was more carefully guarded, and from them in greater part came the countless denizens of the barnyard.

There were several shipments of horses at different times, by the proprietors in London, down till about 1620 and possibly later, but they do not seem to have increased very rapidly, for in 1646 all the horses in the colony were estimated at about two hundred of both sexes. This estimate was probably too low, for ten years after this the exportation of mares was forbidden by legislative enactment, and eleven years later this restriction was removed, and both sexes could then be exported. From this legislation and from writers who visited the colony we learn that horses were very plenty, and they are described as of excellent quality, hardy and strong, but under size. It was the custom in Virginia, and indeed in all the other colonies at that period and for long afterward, to brand their young horses and turn them out to hustle for their own living. They increased with wonderful rapidity and great numbers became as wild and as wary of the habitation and sight of man as the deer of the forest. About the close of the seventeenth century the chasing and capture of wild horses in Virginia became a legitimate and not always an unprofitable sport, for an animal caught without a brand became the unquestioned property of his captor. It is a noteworthy fact that off the coast of Virginia the island of Chincoteague has been occupied for probably two hundred years by large bands of wild horses. They are still there, and not till within the last few decades have there been any efforts made to domesticate some selections from them. They are of all colors, but quite uniform in size, not averaging much over thirteen hands, with clean limbs, and many of them are pacers. There is only one way to account for them in that location, and that is, that they were originally a[11] band of Virginia wild horses that wandered or was chased out onto this sandy peninsula, and while there some great storm set the mysterious ocean currents at work and cut off their retreat by converting a peninsula into an island, and there they have lived and multiplied ever since.

The colonial horses of Virginia were of all colors and all very small in size, as we would class them in our day. An examination of a great many advertisements of “Strayed,” “Taken up,” etc., of the period of about 1750, clearly establishes the fact that at that time the average height was a small fraction over thirteen hands and one inch. More were described as just thirteen hands than any other size, and they were nearly all between thirteen and fourteen. From this same advertising source I was able to glean conclusive evidence as to their habits of action, and found that just two-thirds of them were natural pacers and one-third natural trotters. Thus for more than a hundred years they had retained the peculiarities of their English ancestors in the reign of James I., in color, size, and gait. This in no way differs from the description of the Chincoteague Island ponies of to-day. As early as 1686 a law was enacted that all stallions less than thirteen and a half hands high found running at large should be forfeited; but this, like Henry VIII.’s laws in the same direction, had failed to increase the average size of the horses. From the indomitable passion for horse-racing which prevailed universally among the colonists, we may safely conclude that some animals were carefully selected and coupled with a view to the speed of the progeny, both at the gallop and at the pace, but the great mass were allowed to roam at large, and under such conditions no variety or tribe of horses has ever improved in size, or indeed in any other quality.

The early horses of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, afterward New York, were brought from Utrecht in Holland. As we would look at them to-day, they were small, but they were larger and better, and brought higher prices than the English horses of the Eastern colonies or than the Swedish on the West. It was conceded, however, that for the saddle they were not so good as the New England horses, and hence it may be inferred that they were not pacers. It is very evident, however, that the two breeds were soon mixed, as the saddle was then the universal means of travel, whether for long or short distances. During the time of the Revolutionary war a large accumulation of data[12] bearing on the size and action of the horses of that period goes to show that the average size had then increased to fourteen hands and one inch, and in gait fifteen both paced and trotted, nine trotted only, and seven paced only. It is not pretended that these data represent the horses of the early colonial period, but only of the period above indicated. Strains of larger breeds had been introduced, but the little New England pacer had made his mark on the habits of action.

In 1665, the next year after the Dutch had surrendered the country to the English, Governor Nicolls established a race-course on Hempstead Plains and offered prizes for the fleetest runners, and his successors kept up annual meetings on that course for many years. This was the first official and regularly organized race-course that we have any trace of in this country. These meetings seem to have been well supported from the very first by both town and country, and as the people were then practically all Dutch, it is a fair inference that the horses engaged in the races were Dutch horses. This was before the English race horse had reached the character of a breed, and a hundred years before the first of that breed was imported into New York. From this beginning many tracks were constructed or improvised in and about the city, upon which racing at all forms and at all gaits has been carried on to the present day. When honestly conducted the sport has always been favorably received by reputable people; but at successive periods it has degenerated into a mere carnival of gambling that placed it under a ban.

The horses of the New England colonies fill a very important place in the horse history of the country. This is especially true of a remarkable tribe of swift pacers, produced in Rhode Island and known throughout the whole country as the “Narragansett Pacers.” To the description of these a special chapter will be devoted. The first horses imported into New England reached Boston harbor in 1629 and were sent direct from England by the proprietary company in London. The same year a small consignment reached Salem. The next year about sixty head were shipped to the plantation, but many of them were lost on the voyage. In 1635 two Dutch ships landed at Salem with twenty-seven mares and three stallions, and were sold there at remunerative prices. Other shipments followed, no doubt, that have not been noted. In 1640 the colonists seem to have been supplied with all the horses they needed, for that year they shipped a[13] cargo of eighty head to the Barbadoes. From these importations into Boston and Salem, all the New England colonists received their supplies. The field specially gleaned to determine the size and gaits of the Massachusetts horses covered the years 1756-59, from which it appears that the average height was then fourteen hands and one inch; and as to gait, just three-fourths were pacers and one-fourth trotters. In comparing this average size with the Virginians of the same period we find that the Massachusetts horses were about one hand higher, which would indicate the influence of the early Dutch blood. Besides this we must make some allowance for a possible different habit of estimating size.

When the plantation was made at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1636, the planters brought their horses and other domestic animals with them. In 1653 the General Court, at New Haven, made provision for keeping public saddle horses for hire, and all horses had to be branded. After passing over a period of more than a hundred and twenty years we find that in 1776 the average size of the Connecticut horse was thirteen hands and three inches, thus ranging below the other New England colonies. At that period it is found that the ratio of pacers and trotters was as fifteen pacers, or trotters and pacers, to four that trotted only. The very interesting experience of two English travelers, mounted on Connecticut pacers, in 1769, and their enthusiasm about their superlative qualities, will be found in its place.

The colony of Rhode Island was planted in 1636 by Roger Williams and his followers, and eleven years later they obtained their charter. Their supply of horses came wholly from the colony of Massachusetts, and in a short time the new plantation became greatly distinguished for the superiority and speed of its pacers. From the official report of the colony for 1690, we learn that horses constituted their leading item of exports, and that they were shipping horses to all the colonies of the seaboard. At that early day the fame of the Narragansett pacer extended through all the English colonies, and probably also through the French plantations on the St. Lawrence. All trade with Canada was strictly prohibited, but in the then condition of the borders how could such regulation be enforced, if a Frenchman, with a bale of peltry, wanted to exchange it for a Narragansett? Freed from the Puritan restrictions of New England, of that day, the Rhode Islanders developed the speed of their pacers by racing[14] them, and thus the best and fastest of all New England were collected there. In 1768 the average height of the Narragansetts was fourteen hands and one inch, which shows them to have been about three and a quarter inches higher than the Virginia horses of the same period. They were not all pacers, for out of thirty-five there were eight that did not pace, and some others that both trotted and paced. A full account of these famous pacers will be found in the chapter on the Colonial Horse History of New England, and that on The American Pacer and his Relations to the American Trotter.

William Penn did not visit his princely gift from Charles II. until 1682, and it was then under the government of the Duke of York. In giving a description of things as he found them he remarks: “The horses are not very handsome, but good,” and this is all he says of them. Knowing that Pennsylvania, in the early part of this century, produced larger and heavier horses, than any other portion of the country, it was a great surprise to me to find the undoubted proof that a hundred years earlier she had produced the smallest and the lightest horses of any of the colonies. In the first half of the last century the average size of the horses of Eastern Pennsylvania was thirteen hands one and a quarter inches, and they were remarkably uniform in size. This was one-quarter inch below the average of the Virginians. Of the twenty-eight animals examined as to gait, twenty-four of them were natural pacers, three both paced and trotted, and a single one trotted only. Finding these two facts of uniformity of size and uniformity of gait together, we are prepared for another fact that follows, viz., in Philadelphia the pacers were more popular and fashionable than in any other city, so far as we can learn, and they were selected with great care and bred for their speed, and that speed was highly tested on the race-course. They were breeding for speed without much regard to size, and hence the uniformity.

It has not been discovered that the colonists of New Jersey made any direct importations of horses from England. Their original supplies were obtained from New York on the one side and Pennsylvania on the other. From these sources, therefore, we can form a correct estimate of the size and gaits of the Jersey horses, without going into particular investigation. The only object, then, in referring to this colony is to prove that before 1748 all kinds of racing had become so common in the colony as[15] to be a nuisance. Consequently the legislative authority passed an act in 1748 for the suppression of “Running, Pacing and Trotting Races.” This was in strict harmony with the well-known condition of things in Philadelphia and vicinity very early in the century. If there had been no pacing races there would have been no legislation suppressing them.

The horses of the colony of Maryland would necessarily partake of the characteristics of Virginia and Pennsylvania, from which she probably received her supply. There seems to be no evidence of direct importation. This colony was really the first, in point of time, to legislate for the suppression of pacing races. In 1747, one year before New Jersey, an act was passed forbidding pacing races in certain locations at certain times, and the avowed object was the protection of the Friends in holding their yearly meetings. Here, then, we have historic evidence that the three colonies of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Virginia had frequent pacing races, and legislative evidence that Maryland and New Jersey had quite too many pacing races, early in the last century. It follows, then, that the other colonies indulged their sporting fancies in pacing races also.

The colonies of North and South Carolina obtained their supply of horses from Virginia, and they possessed the same characteristics as the parent stock. The first permanent settlement in North Carolina was in 1653, but before this it had become the refuge of Quakers and others fleeing from the proscriptions that prevailed in Virginia against all who did not conform to the English church. South Carolina received her charter in 1663, at a time when horses were beginning to run wild in Virginia. In 1747 thirty horses were advertised in which the size was given, and the average is within a small fraction of thirteen and a half hands high, and in this number two were given as fifteen hands, which was a very large horse for that day. The gait is given in only twelve cases—ten of which were pacers, one paced and trotted, and one trotted only.

The chapter on the “Early Horse History of Canada” is very brief. It was not till the year 1665 that the first horses were brought over from France, and as they came from ancient Picardy, right across the Channel from England, it is reasonable to assume that they partook of the same characteristics as the English horses, and that many of them were pacers. Another theory of the origin of the Canadian pacer is the probability of clandestine trading[16] with the New Englanders. Among the many impossible stories about the breeding of Old Tippoo, the greatest sire of Canada, the truth seems to come to the surface at last, and there can be no reasonable doubt that he was got by “Scape Goat.” However much or little dependence can be placed upon many of the claims of fast pacing stallions coming from Canada, it must be conceded that some of these claims seem to be well founded, and that the pacing element has been greatly strengthened by blood from the other side of the border.

The most striking fact in the history of the pacing habit of action is its great antiquity. The average Englishman of to-day and the average American of twenty years ago have been united in insisting with the greatest vehemence that the pace is not a natural but an acquired gait, resulting from some injury or malformation. One of the great leaders on that side of the discussion called it “structural incongruity” arising from the breeding of the “thoroughbred” horse on the “slab-sided” mares of the West and South, and thought the idea was unanswerable, but never cited any instances to prove it. Now, the truth is, the earliest unquestioned evidence we have that horses paced is that furnished by the chisel of Phidias when he sculptured the horses on the frieze of the Parthenon at Athens, and that is two thousand three hundred and thirty-three years old. From the period when the sons of Japheth turned their attention to horse-breeding on the fruitful plains and valleys in the regions of the mountains of Ararat down to this culmination of Greek art, I have not been able to find any contemporaneous evidence of the existence of the lateral habit of action; but as we know it existed more than two thousand years ago, we are justified in concluding that among the original bands of horses, in their original habitat, pacers as well as trotters abounded. From the erection of the Parthenon in Athens, the occupation of Britain by the Romans, and through all the centuries down to the plantation of the colonies in this country, we have mountains of indisputable evidence of the antiquity of the pacer. In its place this topic will be quite fully discussed.

The relation which the pacer bears to the American Trotting Horse has for twenty-five years been a topic of much senseless discussion. In the historical sketch which served as an introduction to the first volume of the “American Trotting Register,” the attention of the breeding public was first called to this question,[17] in a form that was somewhat tentative, and much less didactic than my judgment suggested, but it served as an introduction to the study of the question which it foreshadowed. From this initial paragraph grew the discussion that has been going on ever since, much of which has been the merest jargon. The essential oneness of the trot and the pace has been clearly demonstrated by thousands of experiences. The trotting inheritance that produces the fast trotter also produces the fast pacer; and the pacing inheritance that produces the fast pacer also produces the fast trotter. The trotting-bred John R. Gentry, with his pacing record of a mile in two minutes and one-half a second, is but a single instance of very many of the same character. The fastest harness racers in the world are the pacers, and it seems to make no difference whether the inheritance of speed comes from the trotter or the pacer. The subject of the pacer in his diversified historical relations to the American trotter will be found in different portions of this work, and all tending to show the significant fact that he is again rapidly attaining the position of honor among the equine race which he maintained for so many centuries in the far-distant past.

Early in this century the American Saddle Horse, the real saddle horse of all time, past and present, began to vanish from sight. Improved roads and wheeled vehicles superseded him, in great measure, long before the days of railroads. For business and travel he was the sole dependence of our forefathers for two hundred years, and in point of health it is a great misfortune that he has gone so completely out of use. The horse that cannot take the “saddle gaits” and carry his rider without discomfort or fatigue is not a saddle horse. Springing up and down at every revolution of the horse is not riding for pleasure, but to avoid punishment and a torpid liver. In the chapter devoted to his description, origin, and breeding, it will be clearly shown that he is indebted to his pacing ancestry of the past centuries for his saddle gaits. As the mere matter of great speed cuts no figure in the qualifications of a saddle horse there is a wide field here for the production of style and beauty in the breeder’s art. The aims of a goodly number of intelligent breeders are now moving in this direction, and with the foundations so well laid as they now are, we can look forward to a grand superstructure. As the breeder of speed at the trot goes to the horse that can do it himself, and as the breeder of speed at the gallop goes to the horse that can[18] beat all the others, so the breeder of the saddler will go to the handsomest and best of all his tribe, and when we reach the horse that is perfect in symmetry, style, quality, and disposition, he will be a saddle horse and no questions will be asked about what particular combinations of blood he may possess. He will be strictly eclectic, with the one exception of the inheritance of gait, and he will be the result of wise choosing in his size and structure, and of skillful handling in his disposition and manners.

The Wild Horse of the plains and pampas of North and South America was at one time an object of great interest and curiosity with all our people. No schoolboy of sixty or seventy years ago knew any lesson in his geography so well as the one which pictured and described the millions of wild horses that roamed over the Western plains. In the field of imagination and exaggerated fiction he was a fairly good second to the Arabian—both arrant humbugs, at least so far as their merits have been tested. In the past, the question has sometimes been asked, tentatively, whether the horse may not have been indigenous on this continent? The paleontologists have undertaken to answer this question in the affirmative and have produced the bones of what they call the horse to prove it. This “horse” is scant fifteen inches high and he has three, four or five toes on each foot. These toes resemble “claws” more than anything else. They tell us these little animals flourished over two millions of years before man was placed on the earth, and that they are now found imbedded in the solid rock, say two hundred feet below the general surface. The outline drawing of horses on works supposed to have been erected by a prehistoric and lost race, and also the linguistic question as to whether any of the oldest Indian tribes had any word representing the horse, will be fully considered, with that presented by the paleontologists, in the chapter devoted to the Wild Horse. Too much prominence has been given to the horses of Cortez in his conquest of Mexico, as the progenitors of the American wild horse. He had very few horses in his command, and it is very doubtful whether any of them escaped the slaughter of battle and found a home in the wilderness. The horses in the army of the unfortunate Ferdinand De Soto, that were abandoned on the confines of Texas, after his death, became the progenitors of all the wild horses of North America.

The remarkable pre-eminence to which Messenger attained as the founder of a great race of trotters, in his own right and by[19] his own power, and more especially as he was the only English-imported running horse that ever showed any tendency whatever in that direction, the study of Messenger’s lineage becomes a question of very great interest and value to all students of trotting history. His sire, Mambrino, was a great race horse, and was distinguished above all others of his generation, or indeed of any other generation, before or since, as the progenitor of a tribe of coach horses of great excellence and value. In addition to this, the evidence seems to be conclusive that he had a natural and undeveloped trotting step that far surpassed that of all other running horses of his day. His sire, Engineer, was notoriously short on the side of his dam, and his grandsire, Sampson, was a half-breed of great size and bone, and ran some winning races, in the best of company, for that day.

The history of Messenger himself is still clouded in mystery, and the blood he inherited from his dam remains hopelessly unknown. The identity of his importer and owner has never been established, which of itself throws a suspicion upon the pedigree that is said to have come with him. He ran several races at Newmarket, England, and proved himself a second or third-rate race horse. The racing records there show that he was by Mambrino, and that is all that is known about his inheritance. He left a few tolerably good race horses, for their time, but he filled the country with the best road and driving horses that the horsemen of this country had ever known. A chapter each to Messenger’s ancestors and to himself will be found in their proper places in this volume. The twenty years of Messenger’s life and service in this country fell in a period of indifference to all kinds of racing except running. The English race horse was then the popular idol, and it is not known that any of his sons or daughters were ever trained to trot. Neither can it now be certainly determined that any of them were disposed to pace, but if we may judge of the habits of action of his immediate progeny by what we know of succeeding generations, we can hardly doubt that there were pacers among them. As the custom then was, and as it so remained for at least half a century later, all pacers were hidden away from public sight, as they were supposed to furnish evidence of ignoble breeding.

The chapter on “The Sons of Messenger” will be long, but it will be of exceeding interest. They constitute the connecting link that brings together the peculiar trotting instincts of the[20] sire and develops them in their own progeny. Several of them were not only trained to run, but did run successfully. It is not known that any of his sons was ever trained to trot, but it is known from contemporaneous evidence that several of them were fast natural trotters, notably Bishop’s Hambletonian, Bush Messenger, Winthrop Messenger, Mambrino, etc., all of which will be considered in their proper place. When we reach the second remove from Messenger we begin to enter into the full fruition of all the promises, and in considering such animals as Abdallah, Almack, Mambrino Paymaster, Harris’ Hambletonian, etc., we begin to feel that we are well within the trotting latitudes, for this remove began to found families and tribes that attracted the attention of all intelligent breeders.

In the next remove from Messenger we strike the most famous of all trotting progenitors in Rysdyk’s Hambletonian. At one time there was an active and determined difference of opinion among breeders as to which of three horses, Hambletonian, Ethan Allen, or Mambrino Chief, would in the end prove to be the most successful sire. This controversy may not be remembered by the younger of the present generation of horsemen, but it was bitter and uncompromising, and it presents a lesson so important that it may be here referred to. The adherents of Ethan Allen argued that as he was handsomer, that his gait was the very perfection of trotting action, and that he was incomparably faster than either of the other two, he must of necessity prove the most successful in begetting trotters. The adherents of Mambrino Chief used the same argument, with the exception of beauty and style, and dwelt strongly on the fact that he was a faster horse than Hambletonian, and would consequently get faster offspring. Both these arguments were good, so far as they went, but they lacked completeness and hence were not sound. Neither Ethan Allen nor Mambrino Chief had a dam, and so far as we know the inheritance of both was restricted to the male side of the house. Development of speed is a valuable and real qualification in any sire, but all experience goes to show that it is only a help to an inheritance. Hambletonian was not much developed, but it is conceded on all hands that he could show a 2:40 gait at any time and that his action was very perfect. He was got by a grandson of Messenger, whose dam, Amazonia, was one of the fastest mares of her generation, whatever her blood may have been. Abdallah got more and faster trotters than any other grandson of Messenger,[21] and his daughters were very famous as the producers of trotters. Hambletonian’s dam, the Kent Mare, was by imported Bellfounder, a horse that got no trotters practically, but this mare was the fastest four-year-old of her time, and that because she was out of a very fast mare, One Eye, that was a double granddaughter of Messenger. That is, One Eye was by Hambletonian, the son of Messenger, and out of Silvertail, a daughter of Messenger. This double Messenger mare was unknown to the trotting turf, but she was well known throughout Orange County as a remarkably fast trotter. Hence Hambletonian not only possessed more Messenger blood than any horse of his generation, but that blood came to him through developed trotters, and he had a right to surpass all competitors, especially the two that were, at one time, the most prominent.

Several of the sons of Hambletonian, as shown by the tabular statistics which will be introduced, became greater than their sire, not only in getting trotters from their own loins, but in transmitting the trotting instinct to their descendants. The growth and spread of this family is far and away beyond any precedent that can be cited in any age or country, and is simply marvelous. It is said that fully ninety per cent. of the fast trotters now on the turf have more or less of the blood of Hambletonian in their veins, and I think it is a safe conclusion to say that no intelligent breeder in all the country is trying to produce trotters without it. All the other tribes are dropping out of sight, and at the present ratio of rise and fall it will be but a few years till every trotter on the turf will be credited in some degree to the one really great progenitor, Hambletonian. The other tribes will not be blotted out nor will their merits be lost, but absorbed into the mightier tribe.

Such families as the Bashaws, the Clays, the Black Hawks, the Mambrino Chiefs, the Pilots, the American Stars, the Blue Bulls, etc., will be fully considered through several chapters, according to their strength and merit. As these families have not been able to hold their own in the rush to the front, and as they seem to be falling further to the rear in the number and quality of their performers each succeeding year, we may as well begin to designate them as “the minor families.” Their inheritance was feeble and unsatisfactory, and more or less sporadic, and we never had any right to expect a brilliant and permanent success from such beginnings.


As the investigation of disputed, spurious and fraudulent pedigrees was a prime necessity in order to reach safe and honest grounds upon which to build up a breed of trotters, much of my time through all my editorial life was devoted to this kind of investigation. From the first page of the first volume of the “Register” I was deeply impressed with the importance of having all pedigrees absolutely correct, and this impression grew into a vital conviction that without this a breed of trotters never could be established. I soon found that I had accepted from some breeders of the very highest respectability a goodly number of pedigrees that were thoroughly rotten in their extensions. This taught me that I must study the moral fiber of breeders critically, as well as their pedigrees, and that from the highest to the lowest. Some men are honest from principle and because it is right to be honest, while others are honest because “honesty is the best policy.” Some men are dishonest because of ignorance, others because they were born cheats, but the most dangerous of all rogues is the man who will utter a false pedigree and then prove it by trained witnesses who, for half a dollar, can remember whatever is necessary and forget whatever might be against their employer’s interest. By this kind of evidence a man can prove anything. Not very long ago a man proved that a certain mare came out of a certain other mare, and when that was shown to be impossible he turned round and proved (?) that she was out of another mare, and there was just as much truth in the one as the other, and not a single word of truth in either. So long as there are men in the world there will be rogues among them, but the intelligence of the public in breeding matters has so greatly advanced that many an honest man would begin to doubt his own sanity if he were even to think of breeding in lines that he was once ready to fight for as the only right and successful way to breed. The brainless advocacy of “more running blood in the trotter,” was substantially the basis of the whole brood of dishonest pedigrees, against which it became my duty to wage war; but to-day no intelligent man in all the land can be found to advocate any such balderdash unless it be in the foolish support of thoughtless opinions previously expressed.

The subject of “How the Trotting Horse is Bred,” is a most interesting one because it is entirely new in animal economy and is distinctively American. The initial thought that opened the door to the practical and scientific consideration of the subject[23] was the happy conception, in the spring of 1872, of the little phrase, “Trotting Instinct.” Following this with the definition of the word “instinct” as being “the sum of inherited habits,” the term expressed in two words and the definition of it in five words, put the whole subject in a form that was easily comprehensible and flashed upon the mind as thoroughly practical. This little phrase, with its definition, when once comprehended, is a very complete epitome of all that has been taught and all that has been learned of the art of breeding the trotter. It not only embraces, but requires, the trotting inheritance as the only starting point, which must be strengthened and the instinct intensified by the development of the speed of succeeding generations. It stood some years at the parting of the ways between intelligence and ignorance, between enlightened judgment and stupid prejudice, between honesty and dishonesty, but now it is accepted, in practice, as the universal law from one end of the land to the other. Thus, we have not only added millions to the wealth of the country, but without any outside assistance or instruction we have produced a horse that by way of pre-eminence, throughout the world, is justly entitled to be designated, “The Horse of America.”


No indications that the horse was originally wild—The steppes of High Asia and Arabia not tenable as his original home—Color not sufficient evidence —Impossibility of horses existing in Arabia in a wild state—No horses in Arabia until 356 a.d.—Large forces of Armenian, Median, and Cappadocian cavalry employed more than one thousand seven hundred years b.c.—A breed of white race horses—Special adaptability of the Armenian country to the horse—Armenia a horse-exporting country before the Prophet Ezekiel—Devotion of the Armenian people to agricultural and pastoral pursuits through a period of four thousand years—All the evidences point to ancient Armenia as the center from which the horse was distributed.

In undertaking to consider and determine what particular portion of the earth was the original habitat of the horse, we must not forget that we are in a field that antedates all history, both sacred and profane. When we have gone back to the very first dawnings of historical records we are still far short of the period in which initial light can be reached. In profane history, with more or less safety, we can get back to a point about seventeen hundred years before the Christian era; and in sacred history about two hundred years less. At both of these dates the horses referred to were not in a feral state, but were the companions and servants of man.

There have been two separate theories advanced which demand some attention, because of the eminence and learning of the men who have advanced them. The first is that the original habitat of the horse was on the steppes of High Asia, east and north of the Caspian and the Black Sea. The only argument I have ever seen advanced in support of this theory is based upon the great number of wild horses that are found in that part of the world, and that so many of them are of a dun color. From the frequency of the recurrence of the dun color another theory has sprung up to the effect that the original color of the horse was[25] dun, and hence it is argued that when the dun color appears in our own day it must be taken as evidence that the original color of the horse was dun. This reasoning is very far from being conclusive, for there are dun horses and dun tribes in all breeds, just as there are greys, and the color is just as liable to be transmitted as any other color. In the last century there were many dun horses in England, and at least one of that color was advertised very widely as “the Dun Arabian,” probably a foreign horse, but it is hardly possible that he was an Arabian. It was then the custom of the country to call all foreign horses “Arabians,” no difference from what part of the world they came. It has been stated on what seemed to be good authority that a dun horse once won the Derby, but whether the color may result from line breeding or from atavistic tendencies, the argument advanced does not seem to have any weight in it for the purpose intended.

Transcriber’s Note: the map can be clicked for a larger version.


ABOUT 1200 B.C.

Another argument in favor of the wild and unknown regions east and north of the Caspian as the habitat of the horse has been urged with much more power and effect. It has been accepted and reiterated by so many learned men, one after another, that I doubted the wisdom of attempting to overthrow it, until I found the spot in which it was fatally weak. This view of the question seems to rest upon the fact that the successive hosts of Barbarians that overran Europe in the early centuries of the Christian era brought their horses, as well as their flocks and herds, with them, and it is assumed that these horses were the first brought into Europe. This involves a total misconception of dates; not of a few years merely, but of many centuries. All of Europe, including Britain, and all of Northern Africa, were abundantly supplied with horses, probably a thousand years before the first destructive wave of Barbarians touched Europe. Linguistic and ethnological facts clearly prove that those people came from Asia, and possibly from a part of Asia where there were horses running wild, but that does not prove that they came from the original habitat of the horse. With no dates, either definite or approximate, to support this theory, and with no specific portion of the earth fixed upon as the general locality from which they came, it resolves itself into a mere speculation with nothing to support it, except the fact that different writers have been copying it from one another, without throwing any additional light upon it, for a number of generations.

The most remarkable and at the same time the most untenable[26] of all the claims that have been urged about the horse is that he was indigenous in Arabia. We can tolerate any number of foolish claims set up to show that the Arabian horse is superior to all others, for such assertions can be tested and disproved, as they have been a thousand times, but the claim that Arabia was the original habitat of the horse is so utterly preposterous, and yet so widely advocated by writers and others who know nothing about it, that we must consider it with some brief deliberation. When the maimed and crippled horses of De Soto were turned loose and abandoned on the plains of Texas, they had all around them the means of an abundant and healthy subsistence, and they multiplied and grew into an innumerable host that made the earth tremble when they moved in great masses. Under the same favorable conditions of water and pasture, the same results followed on the pampas of South America. Upon the early settlement of Virginia, as well probably as in some of the other colonies, and within two hundred years, many of the horses of the colonists strayed away, became wild and remained so, propagating and increasing for generations, and until the growing numbers of their former masters captured or exterminated them. The varied herbage of the forest and its grassy swales, and streams of pure water everywhere, made Virginia a paradise for the horse in his feral state.

Buffon, the French naturalist of a hundred and fifty years ago, notices the theory of the wild horses of Arabia, but he is careful not to commit himself nor indorse it in any form. In Vol. I., p. 237, he says: “According to Mannol, the Arabian horses are descended from the wild horses in the deserts of Arabia, of which, in ancient times, large studs were formed,” etc. In going further, to find where Mannol got his information, it appears that somebody, with an unpronounceable name that I have forgotten, told him so. Major Upton, a very intelligent but very credulous modern writer on what he saw and learned in the desert, says he never heard of this story of wild horses in Arabia, and pronounces it a “fallacy.” When we consider that Arabia never was conquered and the reason why, although Rome, at the very culmination of her power, followed by Assyria and Egypt, all failed of their purpose without meeting an enemy in battle, we must accept the fact that nature had interposed a barrier that military power could not surmount. The barrenness and aridity of the desert has always protected the Arabs against the most powerful[27] armies of the mightiest nations. Now, to maintain that wild horses could not only live, but flourish and increase, in a country where there was not enough edible herbage on a thousand acres to keep a grasshopper alive, and not a running stream of water within five hundred miles, requires a measure of mental sterility that can be found nowhere but among a few of the writers on the Arabian horse. Of all the curiosities in which the literature of the Arabian horse abounds and in the multitudinous efforts to give him the primacy among horses, there seems to be nothing quite so absurd as this story about his being indigenous to the desert. Animals in a wild state are never found except in countries and districts where the conditions surrounding provide them with food and water. How long would a band of strong, healthy horses live if turned loose to seek their own subsistence in the desert of Arabia? Of all the countries on the face of the globe there is no one where the horse is so completely dependent upon, the care and support of his master as Arabia.

Fortunately, we are not left for data to unwritten traditions two thousand years old, nor to the fervid imaginations of a race of cutthroats and thieves of the very lowest order of civilization, but we can turn, with full confidence, to authentic contemporaneous history, from which we can settle this question, at once and for all time. Strabo, the great Greek geographer and philosopher, flourished in the reign of Augustus, at the very beginning of the Christian era. He describes Arabia just as we know it to-day, for all countries have changed in their boundaries and government except Arabia. He describes the people as chiefly nomadic, and as breeders of camels. The most remarkable thing in this description is the fact, found in his great work, Vol. III., p. 190, that they had no horses at that time. The exact language used in this statement will be found in the next chapter of this work. The question now arises, If there were no horses in Arabia at the beginning of the Christian era, when and how did they become possessed of them? Fortunately, again, written history supplies the answer to this question. In my next chapter will be found, quoted at some length, the circumstances bearing on this question. In brief, the facts are as follows: Philostorgius, a distinguished Greek theologian, wrote an ecclesiastical history in the fifth century which is no longer extant. Photius, at one time Patriarch of Constantinople, in the ninth century wrote an epitome of the work by Philostorgius and to this epitome we are[28] indebted for the facts we here relate. Constantius, at the time of which Philostorgius wrote, was on the throne of the Eastern empire, and was exceedingly zealous in spreading and strengthening the Christian religion. He learned that the prince of Arabia Felix (that part of Arabia which we will designate by its modern name Yemen) was strongly disposed to come out with his people and embrace Christianity. Constantius thereupon determined to encourage both prince and people in the movement they were contemplating, and he sent them a grand embassy with many valuable presents, the most noted of which were two hundred “well-bred Cappadocian horses.” The embassy was completely successful, and Theopholis, who had been made a bishop and placed at the head of it, remained there several years. This was in the year 356 of the Christian era, and is the first intimation we have in all history of horses in Arabia. These are the facts, so far as any facts are known, upon the consideration of which I am not able to assent to the claim that either High Asia or Arabia was the original habitat of the horse.

I have been surprised at the number of coincidences that seem to point to ancient Armenia as the first habitation of the horse. This country at one time was a very powerful kingdom, extending from the mountains of Caucasus on the north to Media or Assyria on the south, and from the Caspian Sea on the east to the Euphrates on the west, and at one time even to the Mediterranean. It was intersected by several ranges of mountains and not only gave rise to the Euphrates and the Tigris, but to a number of smaller rivers. It was well watered everywhere, and produced in great abundance all varieties of herbage, cereals, and fruits. It was originally called Ararat by the Hebrews, probably after a range of mountains about central to the territory embraced, and because Noah’s Ark rested somewhere “on the mountains of Ararat.” It is also called Togarmah in Scripture, after Torgom, son of Gomer, who was the son of Japheth, the son of Noah. Japheth seems to have been the oldest son of Noah, and he chose this fruitful region as the future home of his descendants. The Rev. Michael Chamich, a native Armenian, went back into the old Armenian records, translated the language as originally used, and wrote a history of the country from its first settlement; and this history has been Englished by Johannes Adval, another native Armenian, and published in Calcutta in 1827. This work seems to be worthy of credence, and it clearly[29] establishes the lineal descent of the governing family back to Japheth, the son of Noah. The order of succession as the head of the tribe continues through several generations unbroken, from father to son. Gomer, the son of Japheth, was succeeded by his son Togarmah, then followed Haicus, Armenac, Aramais, Amassia, Gelam, Harma, Aram, Arah, who was slain in battle, his son Cardus (at twelve years old), Anushaven, who died without issue and was succeeded by Paret, who reigned fifty years and during his reign the patriarch Joseph died in Egypt, B.C. 1635. These princes all had long reigns. Haicus was the first of the line to assume the title of king, and he was greatly distinguished for extending the boundaries of his kingdom. Gelam extended his borders to the Caspian. Aram was fifty-eight years on the throne, during which time he had a war with the Medes, and also with the Cappadocians, in both of which he had a large force of cavalry in the field. This was about seventeen hundred years before the Christian era, and is the first mention of cavalry that I have found in history, either sacred or profane. In both these wars his cavalry was met by the cavalry of the enemy, equal to or greater than his in numbers. How long before this troops may have been mounted on horses it is impossible to say, but from the numbers so used at that period of the world by the neighboring nations and tribes, as the Medes, the Cappadocians, etc., it is fair to conclude that the horse had then been an important factor in all military movements for many generations. When we consider two opposing armies, each provided with divisions of five thousand cavalry, the period being about B.C. 1700, with no dates beyond that are known as relating to the horse, we are shut up to our own reasoning as to the number of centuries that may have been required to produce these great numbers. It must have been at least one century, or it may have been three or four, and this would carry us back to the head of the house of Japheth.

If we accept Egyptian chronology, which still lacks much of being reliable, one of the Pharaohs, named Thutmosis I., invaded Syria, passing up through Palestine till he reached the latitude of Aleppo, and then turned eastward and crossed the Euphrates. His campaign was successful; he fought many battles and returned laden with spoils, especially horses and chariots of war. This was before the Israelites reached the promised land, and before Joshua’s battle with the “Northern kings,” in which they had[30] “horsemen and chariots very many,” and which is the earliest Scriptural instance in which horses were employed in battle.

The territory embracing the ancient countries of Eastern Asia Minor, bounded on the north by the Black Sea and the Caucasian mountains, on the south by the thirty-seventh degree of north latitude, and extending to the Caspian Sea, has always been remarkable for the variety, value, and abundance of its agricultural products. Many of the very early historians have noted the fact that each one of the countries embraced in this territory was distinguished for the excellence and numbers of horses produced, and they appear in about the following order, namely, Armenia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Media. The last-named country embraced what is now the northern part of Persia, and as between the “Medes” and the “Persians” there is no little confusion in the public mind, as sometimes one was on top and sometimes the other. Then, to add to the confusion, the Assyrians came in, occupying the same country and the same capitals. For our present purposes it is not necessary to enter into the consideration of these successive dynasties. The Medes were comparatively newcomers, and as they were a great military people their prominence in horse history resulted more from the spoils of war and the tribute in horses that they collected from their neighbors than from their own production. Kitto says that in the time of the Persian empire the plain of Nissæum was celebrated for its horses and horse races. This plain was near the city of Nissæa, around which were fine pasture lands, producing excellent clover. The horses were “entirely white” (probably grey) and of extraordinary height and beauty, as well as speed. They constituted part of the luxury of the great, and a tribute in kind was paid from them to the monarch, who, like all Eastern sovereigns, used to delight in equestrian display. Some idea of the opulence of the country may be had when it is known that, independently of imposts rendered in money, Media (then the undermost dog), paid a yearly tribute of not less than three thousand horses, four thousand mules, and nearly one hundred thousand sheep. The races, once celebrated through the world, seem to exist no more.

When Darius the Mede had extended his empire over the whole of Western Asia and Egypt, he exacted heavy tribute in horses from all subjugated provinces. This was about 520 B.C., and antedated the racing referred to above. In all parts of his[31] extended empire he built roads and established lines of couriers, mounted on fleet horses, that there might be no delay in receiving at his capital and sending out again intelligence of what was transpiring in any part of his dominions. For this service the best and fleetest horses were required, and the only guide we have to determine how these horses were selected we find in the fact that the tribute collected from the little kingdom of Cilicia, formerly a part of Cappadocia, was, in addition to a stated sum of money, one white horse for every day in the year. It is possible that these white Cilician horses may have been the progenitors of the white (grey) race horses spoken of in Media.

In describing the general fruitfulness of Cappadocia, Strabo says: “Cappadocia was also rich in herds and flocks, but more particularly celebrated for its breed of horses.” Strabo speaks of this as a leading characteristic of the country and doubtless it had held pre-eminence in this respect for generations before he wrote. Three hundred and fifty-six years later, when Constantius was selecting his presents of horses for the prince and people of Yemen, in Arabia, he knew just where to look, in all his dominions, for the best of their kind, and selected two hundred “well-bred” ones for Arabia. Sir R. Wilson, in discussing the quality of the Russian cavalry horses about 1810, had evidently heard of this Cappadocian origin of the Arabian horse, but, unfortunately, he got all the parties badly mixed in his reference. He makes Constantine instead of Constantius the donor of three hundred Cappadocian horses, instead of two hundred, and they are given to one of the African princes, instead of to an Arabian prince. The African traveler, Bruce, found some excellent horses in Nubia, Africa, and from their high quality and unusually large size he seems to have jumped to the conclusion that these were the descendants of the three hundred from Constantine.

After glancing over all the different countries in this great zone as defined above, and extending from the Bosphorus to the Caspian Sea, one cannot fail to be impressed with its special adaptation to the production and sustenance of all varieties of domestic animals, in their greatest perfection. Here the country seems to have been made for the horse, and the horse for the country. Here was a country suited to his nativity, and here we find records of his existence centuries earlier than in any other country. The wild ass flourished in this country, but I have not been able to find any evidence or indication that the horse was[32] not always the companion and servant of man. Wherever he is found in a feral state reasons that are amply satisfactory are never wanting to account for that state. Ancient historians have specially noted each of the principal countries embraced in this zone for the superiority and numbers of its horses, but no one has made any allusion to wild horses, nor suggested that there may have been a time when their ancestors were wild.

Now, as we have designated a long and wide region of Western Asia, embracing a number of different nationalities and governments, as the probable original habitat of the horse, can we go further and designate the particular nationality or government in which was his original home and from which he was distributed to adjoining nations or peoples? In answer to this question, we cannot present any dates of record earlier than about 1700 B.C., and this date will apply as well to Media and Cappadocia as to Armenia. We must, therefore, consider it in the light of other facts and circumstances, not dependent upon specific dates. In the first place, and taking the Mosaic account of the deluge as the starting point, “the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat.” This is the original name of a country, intersected by a mountain range, and that range took its name from the country in which it was found. “Mount Ararat” was simply a very high peak in that range. The distinction should be observed here between “the mountains of Ararat” and “Mount Ararat.” In the second place, it is clearly established by all history that near the base of this mountain range Japheth and his descendants had their homes. His son Gomer was highly distinguished in his day, and his grandson, Togarmah, son of Gomer, became a powerful chief. To such prominence did he rise in the affairs of his age that for centuries after his day his country was called “Togarmah.” Hence we have the three names, Ararat, Togarmah and Armenia applied in sacred and profane history to the same country that we are now considering.

During the continuance of the dynasty of King Haic or Haicus, the son of Togarmah, the Armenians became a very prosperous and powerful people. They did not seem to be an aggressive or warlike people, although their boundaries were greatly extended, but a thrifty agricultural and industrious people. Breeding and marketing horses seem to have been their leading employments. In the twenty-seventh chapter of the Prophet Ezekiel he gives a catalogue of the different peoples trading with the great[33] Phœnician merchants and the products of their countries, in which they traded. This catalogue was written five hundred and fifty-eight years before the Christian era, and is very remarkable for its extent and completeness. It not only shows what the Phœnicians carried away to the West, in their “Ships of Tarshish,” but also what they brought back for distribution among their customers in Western Asia. I will quote, from the revised version, two or three of the classes of articles enumerated, embracing both import and export trade. Of foreign imports he says: “Tarshish” (Spain and beyond) “was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded for thy wares.” Of articles for export he says: “They of the house of Togarmah traded for thy wares with horses and war-horses and mules.” “Togarmah” here means “Armenia,” and this is the only instance in which horses are mentioned in the catalogue. I will give another quotation, not because it is conclusive in itself, but because it is confirmatory of Strabo’s statement that there were no horses in Arabia in his day. He says: “Arabia and all the princes of Kedar, they were the merchants of thy hand; in lambs, and rams, and goats, in these were they thy merchants.” Other products from more southern portions of Arabia are enumerated, but no horses. This is the initial step toward the general distribution of horses, by the Phœnician merchants, which will be developed in the next chapter.

In speaking of Media (Vol. II., p. 265), Strabo says: “The country is peculiarly adapted, as well as Armenia, to the breeding of horses.” Of one district not far from the Caspian he remarks: “Here, it is said, fifty thousand mares were pastured in the time of the Persians, and were the king’s stud. The Nessæan horses, the best and the largest in the king’s province, were of this breed, according to some writers, but according to others they were from Armenia.” Again he says: “Cappadocia paid to the Persians, yearly, in addition to a tribute in silver, one thousand five hundred horses, two thousand mules, and fifty thousand sheep, and the Medes contributed nearly double this amount.”

Of Armenia he says, p. 271: “The country is so well adapted, being nothing inferior in this respect to Media, for breeding horses that the race of Nessæan horses, which the king of Persia used,[34] is found here also; the satrap of Armenia used to send annually to the king of Persia twenty thousand young horses.”

The Nessæan horses, so famous for their speed, were the “thoroughbreds” of their day, and there can hardly be a doubt they originated in Armenia, and, just like our own “thoroughbreds,” they were essentially the result of careful selection through a series of generations, and of breeding only from animals possessing the desired qualifications in the highest degree. In the earlier days of racing in Media, it appears that white was the fashionable color, but I am disposed to think that grey, growing white with age, was the color intended to be expressed by the writers of that period. The “albino” color is abnormal and supposed to indicate tenderness and lack of stamina.

There is one fact, in considering this question, to which I have probably not given sufficient prominence and weight. So far as the records go, the three countries of Armenia, Cappadocia, and Media are synchronous in having mounted troops in their armies seventeen hundred years before the Christian era. We must, therefore, consider the conditions of these countries antecedent to the period of 1700 b.c. Of Cappadocia we know absolutely nothing historically until it was conquered by Cyrus, king of Persia, about 588 b.c. Of Media the earliest knowledge we have of a historical character does not go back further than about 842 b.c. It should be observed that I here speak of “historical” knowledge and not of uncertain traditions of many centuries earlier. Both of these nations with their distinctive nationalities have, long since, been wiped off the surface of the earth.

When we reach Armenia, we reach a people with a most remarkable history, extending back for more than four thousand years. This history, although not wholly free from criticism or doubt, seems to be honestly written and worthy of a liberal measure of confidence. That the children of Japheth should have settled at the foot of the mountains of Ararat strikes every one as a very natural event, but that their descendants should still be there, through all the triumphs and oppressions of four thousand years, is one of the most stupendous facts in the history of the world. From the very first we know of them they seem to have been an agricultural people, strongly attached to their native soil. When they ruled over the land from the Caspian to the Mediterranean, they built no great cities, but adhered steadfastly to the rural pursuits of their fathers, and this, probably,[35] was the chief cause of their weakness. Their wealth and sources of wealth were chiefly in their horses, and these they sold to the merchants of Sidon and Tyre, who carried them to all the nations of Europe and Africa, commencing with Egypt, and supplying all wants as far as Spain and Morocco, and beyond, probably, as far as Britain. The Phœnician merchants were the first to open commercial transactions with Europe and Africa, and they were in control of the commerce of the world long before King Solomon entered into commercial partnership with Hiram, king of Tyre. Armenia had horses to sell long before they had horses in Egypt, and Phœnicia had ships and enterprise to carry them there. There is a fitting of interests here that seems to point to Armenia as the great original source of supply, and as the original habitat of the horse.


First evidences of horses in Egypt about 1700 B.C.—Supported by Egyptian records and history—The Patriarch Job had no horses—Solomon’s great cavalry force organized—Arabia as described by Strabo at the beginning of our era—No horses then in Arabia—Constantius sends two hundred Cappadocian horses into Arabia a.d. 356—Arabia the last country to be supplied with horses—The ancient Phœnician merchants and their colonies —Hannibal’s cavalry forces in the Punic Wars—Distant ramifications of Phœnician trade and colonization—Commerce reached as far as Britain and the Baltic—Probable source of Britain’s earliest horses.

Having considered the different theories or opinions as to the original habitat of the horse and the means and facilities by which distribution to the different portions of the earth may have been effected, I have omitted land migration, which will be self-evident to all as an important factor in the problem. It is now in order, therefore, to consider such dates and facts as are pertinent and may be gleaned from history, sacred and profane.

Transcriber’s Note: the map can be clicked for a larger version.


ABOUT 1200 B.C.

When Abraham, with Sarah his wife, visited Egypt about 1920 B.C., the Pharaoh for her sake bestowed upon him many gifts: “Sheep and oxen and he asses and men servants and maid servants and she asses and camels.” Among these great gifts there were no horses, evidently because Egypt had no horses at that time. There is no mention nor reference to horses in Egypt till Joseph became prime minister two hundred years later, when there were a few horses, and they were traded or sold to Joseph by their owners in exchange for food, not in droves, but as individuals. These scriptural facts in the experiences of Abraham and Joseph seem to be circumstantially sustained by the discoveries of those learned Egyptologists who, in late years and with the spade in their hands, have resurrected so much of history that had been buried for thousands of years. It was during the reign of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, that Abraham and Joseph were in Egypt, and in order to approximate the time when horses were first introduced, we must glance at a few facts in connection with[37] what is known of the Hyksos. Some have claimed they were from Chaldea, some from Northern Syria and Asia Minor, and some again from Phœnicia, and it is one of the strangest things in history that a great nation should be overthrown and held in subjection for over five hundred years and nobody know who did it. Then again, it is equally incomprehensible that any nation should have subdued Egypt and held it in bondage so long and yet never have claimed the honor of having done so. Still another mystery remains that never has been solved, and that is, what became of the Shepherds and their followers when they were driven out? At the period of the conquest the governing class was rent by factions and under a weak and tyrannical king. The Delta and the Valley of the Nile were crowded with slaves, many of them of Asiatic origin. The elevated plains and mountain sides were covered with fierce and intractable nomads, all of Asiatic origin, tending their flocks. Some brave and skillful shepherd organized the shepherds and the slaves and at their head swept down upon the government with a power that was so mighty as to be irresistible. Manetho, the great Egyptian historian of more than two thousand years ago, thus describes the event: “Under this king, then, I know not wherefore, the god caused to blow upon us a baleful wind, and in the face of all probability bands from the East, people of ignoble race, came upon us unawares, attacked the country and subdued it easily and without fighting.” In remarking upon this same event Professor Maspero, who stands at the very head of the Egyptologists, says: “It is possible that they (the shepherds) owed this rapid victory to the presence in their armies of a factor hitherto unknown to the Africans—the war chariot—and before the horse and his driver the Egyptians gave way in a body.” In view of the direct declaration of Manetho that the question of the succession was settled “without fighting,” the mere suggestion of an unsustained “possibility” from Maspero that the result may have been determined by the war chariots cannot be accepted. All the authorities agree that the horse was introduced into Egypt at some period during the rule of the Shepherd Kings, but there is absolutely no evidence that this was at the beginning or anywhere near the beginning of that rule.

No records or delineations of the horse have been found in any of the temples or tombs of Egypt prior to the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty, which was probably about the year 1570 B.C.[38] and contemporaneous with the birth of Moses. If the Shepherd Kings left behind them any records or delineations of the horse it would be quite natural for the true kingly line to destroy and erase every vestige of whatever would revive a memory to them so bitter and hateful. But the absence of all traces of horses under the seventeenth dynasty of the Shepherds does not prove that there was none, for we have direct proof in Joseph’s case that they were there one hundred and fifty-six years, and in Jacob’s burial one hundred and nineteen years before the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty.

The question as to the time when they procured their horses having now been approximately settled, the inquiry naturally follows as to where they came from? In answering this question there seems to be no hesitation or doubt. They came from Northern Syria, which embraces not only the northeastern coast of the Mediterranean, including Phœnicia, but the countries north and east of it trading there, which means the great horse-breeding countries of Armenia and Cappadocia. Being largely engaged in the Egyptian trade for many centuries, it is probable the Phœnician merchants were the principal agents in supplying them. In speaking of the horse in Egypt, Prof. Maspero says: “The horse when once introduced into Egypt soon became fairly adapted to its environment. It retained both its height and size, keeping the convex forehead—which gave the head a slightly curved profile—the slender neck, the narrow hind-quarters, the lean and sinewy legs and the long, flowing tail which had characterized it in its native country. The climate, however, was enervating, and constant care had to be taken, by the introduction of new blood from Syria, to prevent the breed from deteriorating. The Pharaohs kept studs of horses in the principal cities of the Nile valley, and the great feudal lords, following their example, vied with each other in the possession of numerous breeding stables.”

There are some facts here that are worthy of special emphasis: (1) There were no horses in Egypt till the period of the Shepherd Kings, i. e., about the time of Joseph. (2) All Egyptologists down to the present day agree that the supply of Egyptian horses was procured from Northern Syria. (3) The Egyptians and the Arabians were adjoining nations in constant, friendly intercourse, exchanging the products of their respective countries, and yet there is no shadow of an intimation that the Arabians had then[39] ever owned a horse. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, not only from what is written, but from what is implied, that the Arabians at about the period of 1600 b.c. had no horses. Northern Syria, as the source of Egyptian supply, points directly to Armenia, adjoining on the east, as the original source. When Strabo wrote at the beginning of the Christian era that there were no horses in Arabia at that time, he would still have been within the bounds of the truth if he had said there had been none there for more the sixteen hundred years before his day. All these considerations confirm the history that has come down to us from Philostorgius.

As early as the dynasties of the Shepherd Kings and while the Israelites were still in Egyptian bondage, the Phœnician merchants had accumulated great wealth and great power and were literally the masters of the seas. The Phœnicians were a commercial and maritime people and the Egyptians were, in fact, dependent upon them for all their foreign supplies. These conditions leave hardly a doubt that Egypt’s first supply of horses came through the Phœnicians. But upon the establishment of the eighteenth dynasty under the old Thebans, the spirit of war and conquest revived, and under Thutmosis I. and Thutmosis III., notably, numerous and successful campaigns were made against Northern Syria and then extending eastward across the Euphrates into the borders of Armenia and Assyria. And from the number of horses and chariots captured in battle and collected as tribute, the careful student cannot avoid the conclusion that this kind of spoil was the chief incentive to the various campaigns. “Besides the usual species,” Maspero informs us, “powerful stallions were imported from Northern Syria, which were known by the Semitic name of Abiri, the strong.” This is the first mention in history of an improved type of horse noted for his strength.

Whatever may have been the precise period in which the Patriarch Job lived, he was the author of the grandest panegyric on the war-horse that ever was written. Yet it seems strange that he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she asses, but did not own a horse. To draw his picture of the war-horse he must have seen him in action, on the field, and it is not improbable in his younger days he witnessed, or possibly participated in, some great battle between the Babylonians and the Persians, north of the latitude and country in which he lived. It is now generally conceded,[40] I think, among learned men that the “land of Uz” was in the southeastern portion of Arabia Deserta, bordering on the Persian Gulf, where the horse is a useless luxury. Job was a very rich man, he certainly did not lack in admiration of the horse, and if he had thought that horses would add to his comfort and enjoyment he could easily have obtained them from the great herds in the north. But the camel is the great beast of service and utility in Arabia; it was so in Job’s time, it is so to-day, and it always will be so because it is suited to the environment.

When Joshua was subduing the tribes of Canaan, b.c. 1450, he found that the Phœnicians had several well-fortified cities and did not attack them, but he encountered a combination of “Northern Kings” with a vast army and “with horses and chariots very many.” His victory was complete, and he houghed their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

Jabin, called the King of Canaan, in the time of the Judges, had his kingdom on the northern border of Palestine and east of Phœnicia, at the southern extension of Mount Lebanon. Sisera, one of the greatest commanders of the time, B.C. 1285, commanded his army and he had nine hundred chariots of iron, but the victory of the Israelites was complete.

In the year b.c. 1056, David pursued some of the tribes of Western Arabia that had made a raid on Southern Palestine and carried away many captives and much spoil. He overtook them with his own followers and subdued them, and none escaped except four hundred young men who fled on camels. He recovered all the captives and brought back all the flocks and herds, but there were no horses among them. About the same time, historians inform us, the tribes of Eastern Arabia were paying their tribute to the Assyrians in camels and asses, while the northern countries were paying theirs in horses and money.

The Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon b.c. 992, to learn of his wisdom and “to prove him with hard questions.” Her kingdom was in that part of southeastern Arabia now called Yemen, bordering on the Red Sea. Her journey was a very long one and she “came with a very great train of camels that bare spices and very much gold and precious stones.” It will be observed that there were no horses in this “very great train.” It will be observed further, from the incidents above related, that whenever the Israelites met their neighbors north of them, whether in peace or war, they met horses with them; and whenever they met[41] their neighbors south of them, they were mounted only on camels.

When the dominions of Solomon had become vastly extended, embracing numbers of tributary kingdoms, as well as nomadic tribes, and when his ships had gathered in untold riches from all parts of the world, he found it prudent to reorganize his army for the defense of his kingdom and his wealth, and on a scale commensurate with the dangers that might arise from a combination of the jealous and envious neighbors with whom he was surrounded. Among the northern kingdoms of that day it had been often demonstrated in battle that the effective force of an army must be estimated by its strength in horsemen and chariots of war. Solomon, therefore, bought horses and chariots from Egypt, and horses from all lands that had them for sale. It is probable that the superiority of the Egyptian chariots was the special reason for buying them in that country, as he paid six hundred shekels of silver for the chariots and one hundred and fifty for the horses to bring them home. The reorganized army consisted of one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, and they were quartered in the different large cities in his dominions. In the interval of seven hundred and twenty-eight years that had elapsed since Joseph was Prime Minister, and horses introduced in Egypt, they had greatly multiplied. When Solomon died and his kingdom was divided into two hostile camps, Hiram, King of Tyre, his lifelong friend and associate, became virtually his successor to the trade of the world.

The great Greek geographer, Strabo, traveled and wrote in the reign of Augustus, and died a.d. 24. For descriptions of all countries of that period and their industries and productions, he has been quoted for eighteen hundred years as the best if not the only authority. Writing as he did, at the very initial point of the Christian era, he gives us a landmark that fixes itself in the mind. He gives a brief, but quite satisfactory, description of Arabia, in which he notes the general topography and boundaries as they are understood to-day; and then he enters, somewhat, into the climate, productions of the soil, character and industries of the people, etc. Of one part of the country he speaks of the inhabitants as breeders of camels, and of another, that is more productive, he remarks: “The general fertility of the country is very great; among other products there is in particular an abundant supply of honey. Except horses, there are numerous[42] herds of animals, asses and swine, birds also of every kind, except geese and the gallinaceous tribes.”

Here we have from the very highest authority the pivotal fact that there were no horses in Arabia at the commencement of the Christian era. This does not rest upon argument, nor is it a deduction from some condition of things that might have existed; but it is a distinct declaration of what Strabo saw with his own eyes and wrote down when he saw it. It must, therefore, stand as an undisputed fact, until some reputable authority is brought forward to contradict it. This description from Strabo applies to that rich portion of Arabia, bordering on the Red Sea along its full length. With the fact established, circumstantially and historically, that there were no horses in Arabia at the beginning of the Christian era, it now remains to consider how and when they were first introduced in that country.

Philostorgius, a distinguished Greek theologian, born a.d. 425, as related in the preceding chapter, wrote an ecclesiastical history, which is no longer extant, but fortunately Photius, at one time patriarch of the Eastern church, born a.d. 853, prepared an epitome of it. This epitome of Philostorgius comes down to a.d. 425, and is to be found in the Lenox Library of this city, bound up in the same volume with Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History. I will here quote literally from this epitome so much as is pertinent to the question before us. Constantius was then on the throne of the Eastern Empire, and labored for the promotion of the Christian religion.

“Constantius sent ambassadors to those who were formerly called Sabæans, but are now known as Homeritæ, a tribe descended from Abraham, by Keturah. As to the territory which they inhabit, it is called by the Greeks Magna Arabia and Arabia Felix, and extends to the most distant part of the ocean. Its metropolis is Saba, the city from which the Queen of Sheba went forth to see Solomon…. Constantius, accordingly, sent ambassadors to them to come over to the Christian religion…. Constantius, wishing to array the embassy with peculiar splendor, put on board their ships two hundred well-bred horses from Cappadocia, and sent them, with many other gifts…. The embassy turned out successfully, for the prince of the nation, by sincere conviction, came over to the true religion.”

Other facts might be quoted from this epitome, showing that Theopholis was made a bishop and placed at the head of this embassy and that he remained in Arabia Felix several years, prosecuting[43] his work successfully. It might also be quoted to show that the people of the cities of Yemen (Arabia Felix) were, at that day, well advanced in civilization and refinement, and that wealth and luxury abounded on all sides. Their lands, from the sea to the desert, were wonderfully productive, and their people lived in the cities and on their farms, but few leading a nomadic life. In later generations this part of the country, which is in Arabia Felix, has been called Yemen, and I believe it is universally conceded among the Arab tribes and by writers who have studied the subject that the best horses come from Yemen.

Taking the administration of Joseph as indicating the time when the first horses were introduced into Egypt, about B.C. 1720, and the actual date when Constantius sent the first into Arabia, a.d. 356, we find that Egypt led Arabia by two thousand and seventy-six years. And yet numbers of men have written great pretentious books on the horse, in which they tell us that the Egyptians got their horses from the Arabians; while others equally pretentious and voluminous tell us the Arabians got their horses from the Egyptians; and neither class probably ever gave the labor of an honest hour to settle this question. The one is over two thousand years out of the way, and still they know just as much about it as the other knows. They are both equally ignorant and equally dishonest, for they simply copied, as their own, what somebody had said before them.

It is conceded on all hands and by all men who have gone beneath the mere surface, that the literature of the ages furnishes no evidence that there were horses in Arabia before the fourth or fifth century of our era. General Tweedie, by far the ablest writer on the Arabian horse that we have examined, concedes the pertinency and force of the absence of all literary evidence, until the fifth century is reached, and as a reply he says: “The several Roman invasions of Arabia, in the reigns of Augustus, Trajan, and Severus, must have left foreign horses behind them.” This is, in fact, conceding the accuracy of Strabo’s representations and that there were no horses in Arabia at the beginning of the Christian era. The truth of the historical allusion is that the Romans never overran nor conquered Arabia. They could skirmish around the border and capture a few towns or cities, but the death-dealing desert was too much for them. Trajan at last made it a Roman province by his proclamation, and not by his sword, and for the excellent reason that “the game was not worth[44] the candle.” What a strange fact it is that Arabia, instead of the first, should have been the last country in all the old world to be supplied with horses!

It is very difficult to comprehend or even imagine the changes that may be wrought in a thousand years by a strong, enterprising, and aggressive people, colonized in a rich country occupied by semi-barbarians and savages. This was the condition in Northern Africa, when the Phœnician colonies were planted there, a thousand years before the Christian era. The colony at Utica in Algeria was planted about eleven hundred years before the Christian era, which was contemporaneous with the reign of Saul as king of Israel. The colony of Carthage, that afterward contested with Rome for universal dominion, was planted in the same country, about two hundred years later, and was contemporaneous with Jehu. The whole southern shore of the Mediterranean was dotted with Phœnician colonies, from Egypt westward.

The oldest of the Phœnician colonies so far from home was probably Gades, now called Cadiz, on the Atlantic coast of Spain and outside of the Pillars of Hercules. This colony was planted about fifteen hundred years B.C. and was contemporaneous with Moses and the forty years’ journeying of the Israelites in the wilderness. The more recent scholarship seems to have developed the fact that still north of Gades and extending from the mouth of the Guadelete to that of the Guadiana, there was a very large and flourishing colony planted by the Phœnicians, possessing within itself many of the requisites and functions of statehood, and that this was the ancient “Tarshish” of scripture. This plantation became a secondary Tyre, and the “ships of Tarshish” not only made their voyages back and forth through the length of the Mediterranean, but extended them northward, up the European coast and to Britain, and southward along the African coast for a great distance, establishing trading posts wherever the products of a country promised profitable exchange.

The planting of colonies in that age, even for the one ostensible purpose of trade, involved more than the mere erection of a “trading post” at some selected harbor. A strong and well-equipped and well-trained military force had to be employed to protect and defend them. The Phœnicians were great traders, and at the same time they were excellent fighters. Their numerous colonies on both shores of the Mediterranean required a[45] strong military force that was made up very largely of slaves and the nomadic tribes of the country, but always commanded by prominent and influential Phœnicians. It is impossible to tell what the very early experiences of the colonists may have been with regard to horses; nor do we know whether they found horses already there when they arrived at their new plantations. My belief is, however, that they were not only the first to carry horses to Egypt, but they were the first to carry them to the western extremities of the Mediterranean. It will be remembered that the early trade of the Armenians with the Phœnician merchants was not only in horses, but in horsemen, and it is probable that these “horsemen” were slaves, expert and skillful in managing the horse. It has been said by historians that certain classes of their ships were ornamented with a carved horse’s head, at the prow; and it has been inferred that the ships so designated were specially constructed and fitted up for the safe carrying of horses. It is true that in the course of the centuries horses may have found their way from Egypt westward to Algeria, and by crossing the Bosphorus they might have found their way from Asia Minor to Spain, but it is also true that from small beginnings at the plantation of the colonies there was ample time for them to increase to almost countless herds before the period when the colonists became a mighty military power in the earth.

Historians tell us that the military establishment of the city of Carthage alone, when on a peace footing, consisted of three hundred elephants, four thousand horses and forty thousand foot soldiers. When Hannibal started out to fight Rome, in the second Punic war, say b.c. 218, he had with him eighty thousand footmen and twelve thousand horsemen; and he left thirty-two thousand soldiers at home to guard his Spanish and his African dominions. With a proportional division of the home troops, he then had about seventeen thousand mounted men in his army. These were not war levies, but hardened and trained soldiers, and it is, therefore, not remarkable that he held nearly the whole of Spain in subjection, and practically all of Northwestern Africa. Polybius, the soldier historian, tells us that “his Numidian cavalry formed the strongest part of his army, and to their quick evolutions, their sudden retreat, and their rapid return to the charge, may be attributed the success of Hannibal in his great victories.” At an earlier period, we learn that in the organization of the Phœnician armies the numerous nomadic tribes were[46] placed on their flanks, and wheeled about on unsaddled horses guided by a bridle of rushes.

At a very remote period there were two tribes in the interior of Spain, the Celtæ and Iberi, that were greatly distinguished for their love of independence and their bravery in defending it. The antiquarians have failed to give us any information as to what they were or whence they came. They were contemporaneous with some of the early colonies of the Phœnicians. Their tactics in battle seemed to have been to break the enemy’s ranks by a charge as cavalry, and to then dismount and fight on foot. They united as one people and called themselves Celtiberi. Where they got their horses, or whether they had them before the Phœnicians arrived, are questions that cannot be answered.

The Visigoths, or western Goths, overran Northern Italy, settled in Southern France and eventually passed over into Spain, where they established a dynasty that lasted over two centuries and until it was overthrown by the Saracens, a.d. 711. Roderick, the king of the Visigoths, went out to battle with the Saracens, arrayed in his most showy apparel, and mounted on his splendid chariot, made of ivory and set with precious stones. As the battle progressed he saw what he had good reason to believe was treachery on the part of one wing of his army and he alighted from his chariot, mounted his horse called Orelia and rode away while his soldiers were being butchered. He was the last of the Gothic dynasty. There had been a battle between the navies of the Saracens and the Goths, a.d. 680, fifty-one years earlier, in which the fleet of the Saracens had been entirely destroyed, and at that time the Saracens occupied the whole of the southern shore of the Mediterranean. The word “Moors,” as often used to designate the people of Northern Africa, is not well chosen, for it really belongs to but one of many different tribes of different names. The term “Saracen” anciently meant only an Arab born, but since the middle ages it has come to mean any and all adherents to the Mohammedan religion, in the usage of Christian people, and is particularly apposite when speaking of a number of tribes engaged in a common cause.

The people of Northern Africa were not negroes as we understand the word, but a mixture of different races. When the Phœnicians settled among them they were nomadic barbarians, possessing a country of great riches without knowing it. Under the tuition of their new masters they made great advances in[47] many of the arts of peace and in all the arts of war. The Phœnician blood was liberally commingled with that of the natives. The blood carried the brains, and hence the beautiful structures that came from their hands and heads. No purely bred nomad ever could have conceived or constructed the Alhambra. The Phœnicians were refined and educated idolaters, as refinement and education were understood in their day, while the native people were literally barbarians.

The then recent and rapid spread of Mohammedanism among all the people of Northern Africa is, on its surface, one of the most remarkable facts in history. As a religion it served to unite, under the banner of the Crescent, all who accepted it, and guaranteed to all who fell in its defense immediate admission to paradise. All who did not accept it were enemies and only fit to perish by the sword of the Saracen. The founder of this religion died A.D. 632, and seventy-nine years afterward his followers, in Northern Africa alone, won their great victory over the Gothic dynasty of Spain. When once on Spanish soil they appeared to take root there and held possession of a large part of Spain for nearly nine hundred years.

Now that I have traversed the field of Spain and Northern Africa, from the first dawnings of history down to the beginning of the seventeenth century, in order to gather in all that history reveals touching the introduction and propagation of the horse in those regions, we are ready to summarize the facts that we have gleaned. At the periods of six hundred (when Carthage became independent of the mother country), four hundred, and two hundred years before the Christian era, there is undoubted evidence, over and over again, that Spain and Northern Africa were abundantly supplied with horses. Then, how is it possible that the hordes of Barbarians from Asia could have supplied these countries with horses, when they did not arrive there until several centuries after the supply is established to have existed? Take, if you please, the shortest of the periods suggested above, when Hannibal’s cavalry almost annihilated a great Roman army, two hundred and sixteen years before the Christian era. This was five hundred and seventy-two years before Arabia had any horses; and how can “the blind leaders of the blind” supply Hannibal’s cavalry with Arabian blood? When the people of Northern Africa, west of Egypt, fought their way into Spain it is not known that there was a single Arabian soldier nor a single[48] Arabian horse in the whole army. They were all called Arabians, however, and that pretense has existed ever since.

The Phœnicians were the most remarkable people of all the early ages and indeed of any age. They belonged to the Aramaic or Semitic race; they settled in Canaan long before the days of Abraham and attained their greatest prosperity in the days of Solomon, when his fleets and those of his friend Hiram, King of Tyre, controlled and monopolized the commerce of the world. More than five hundred years before this alliance, however, they had established commercial relations with all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, and their ships were trading in the ports of every country from Egypt to the Pillars of Hercules and far beyond. There seems to be no doubt that they carried tin from Britain and amber from the Baltic, and, of course, they had to bring something to exchange for what they carried away. What did they bring? As amber did not enter into the necessary arts it is not probable the trade was very large, but tin was required by many nations in their everyday life, especially the Egyptians, who had no foreign commerce and were thus dependent upon the Phœnician merchants. We may conclude, therefore, that the trade in tin was large, and as there was no Phœnician colony in extreme southwestern Britain, the foreign traders would bring just what the Britons most needed. If they were already in possession of horses they would not need that kind of exchange, but if they were not in possession of horses, that would be just the kind of exchange they would want, and probably this was the source from which they obtained their supply. The question, however, of how or when our British ancestors obtained their first supply of horses has never been positively answered. That they had them in great abundance at the beginning of the Christian era is fully established by the experience of the Romans when they captured Britain. From their great numbers and the skill displayed in their management in battle, it cannot be doubted that they were there for many generations before the Roman armies came in contact with them. Many theories have been advanced as to how the horse may have reached Britain, but no one of them rests on so reasonable a basis of probability as that of the Phœnician traders. If from this source, which I am strongly disposed to believe was the true source, it must have been during the maritime supremacy of the Phœnicians and their colonies, and this would place the date several centuries before[49] the Christian era. If we were able to reconstruct the original line of the migration of the early English horses, we would, probably, first find them in “the land of Togarmah” starting to market at Tyre, where they were exchanged for supplies needed in Armenia. There they were put on board one of the great “ships of Tarshish,” and when they next touched the land it was at one of the ports at the southwestern portion of England, where they were exchanged for tin and other products of the mines.

In addition to the argument furnished by this known course of trade between nations and peoples, in prehistoric times, we have an additional one in the natural perpetuation of racial qualities, extending through many centuries. In reply to some questions submitted to a friend of mine who was born in Western Persia, educated in this country, and then returned to the land of his nativity, I have replies to my questions bearing date of July, 1896. He is located at Oroomiah, not far from the modern line between Persia and Turkey, and in what may be considered the very center of ancient Armenia. He is not skilled in horse lore, but he uses horses a great deal and is a very intelligent observer. He says that the Persian horses have been greatly overrated and that the country is full of very ordinary horses. He says that they are all colors, with bays probably predominating. There is a great variety of mixed greys, shading into white, and a few that are dappled. Then there are chestnuts, sorrels, “mouse-color” (duns), and not many blacks. They are small, as a rule, and a harness of small size from this country has to be cut down for them. From this I infer that they are generally under fourteen hands. On the whole the horses are nicely shaped, have slender, clean limbs, small ears, and carry the head and tail well up. As a rule they are great stumblers. With regard to gaits he says that stress is laid on a rapid walk—a half walk and half trot. In this country we would call it the “running walk” that may be kept up for days in succession. In speaking of the pace, my correspondent says: “There are some horses trained to pace, while some pick it up naturally, that is, are born pacers. The greater number are natural pacers. Now and then one will find a rapid pacer, but commonly the pace is a five or six miles an hour gait. There are some that single-foot naturally, and from birth.”

He then says horses are not bred with any care. They are turned loose in herds and the breeding is such as would naturally occur.

It will be observed that my Persian friend speaks of the different[50] colors “of grey, shading into white,” which suggests a possible descent from the famous breed of white Nissæan horses kept by the great Darius and other Medo-Persian monarchs for racing purposes. But the striking feature in this description of the horses of Persia, or more properly, of ancient Armenia, of this day, is the fact that they are of the same size and color and habits of action as the horses of Britain when first visited by the Romans, as well as when they were more minutely described twelve hundred years later, and as they were at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and as they still were at the middle of the eighteenth century. As evidence on these points reference is made to the chapters on horses of the colonial period that will follow in their place. In ancient Armenia, as with all pastoral people of the early ages, horses were turned out to run in herds and literally left to Mr. Darwin’s law of “natural selection and the survival of the fittest.” So it was in Britain to a great extent, until the eighteenth century, and so it was in the American colonies until fifty years later; hence the same types and characteristics prevailed and were perpetuated in all these countries.

It is sad to contemplate the present debased and semi-barbarous condition of the descendants of a great people who for centuries stood first among all the nations of the earth in commercial enterprise, in learning, and in the arts. The banishment of the Saracens from Spain in the beginning of the seventeenth century of our era was in fact the banishment of the descendants of the Phœnicians who first colonized Spain. The architectural structures which they left behind them, and which for their marvelous beauty have challenged the admiration of the world, were not the work of nomads and barbarians. They were the flashes of the old Phœnician taste and genius as exemplified by the descendants of the men whom Hiram sent to construct and decorate the buildings of Solomon. The Alhambra and some other structures in Spain are all that we have to remind us of the genius, and grandeur of Phœnicia. Whatever may have been the character and attainments of the descendants of the colonists at the time, the change from idolatry to Islamism was a bad one. Wherever, throughout the world, the teachings of the “Prophet” have been accepted, whole nations have become intolerant, murderous and brutalized, and the modern Phœnicians are no exception. They have now lost their identity in the follies and crimes of Islamism and we can have no sympathy for them.


The Arabian, the horse of romance—The horse naturally foreign to Arabia— Superiority of the camel for all Arabian needs—Scarcity of horses in Arabia in Mohammed’s time—Various preposterous traditions of Arab horsemanship—The Prophet’s mythical mares—Mohammed not in any sense a horseman—Early English Arabians—the Markham Arabian—The alleged Royal Mares—The Darley Arabian—The Godolphin Arabian—The Prince of Wales’ Arabian race horses—Mr. Blunt’s pilgrimage to the Euphrates—His purchases of so-called Arabians—Deyr as a great horse market where everything is thoroughbred—Failure of Mr. Blunt’s experiments—Various Arabian horses brought to America—Horses sent to our Presidents—Disastrous experiments of A. Keene Richards—Tendency of Arab romancing from Ben Hur.

Admiration always leads to exaggeration. This is true in most of the relations of life, but in our admiration of the horse it becomes greatly intensified, so greatly indeed that in magnifying his excellent qualities we find ourselves telling downright falsehoods about him before we know it. This “amiable weakness,” as we might call it, is true of our everyday life and our everyday horses; but when we come to the horse that is the universal ideal of perfection, everybody seems to lay aside all the restraints of truth in extolling the superiority of his qualities. The “Arabian horse” is the ideal horse of all the world. He is the “gold standard” in all horsedom, with the one important distinction that the one is real and the other is mythical. Not one so-called horseman in a million ever saw a genuine Arabian horse, nor any of the descendants of one; and in all the discussions of the past three hundred and fifty years it has never been shown in a single instance that a horse from Arabia, with an authenticated pedigree and tracing as such, has ever been of any value, either as a race horse or as a progenitor of race horses. The superior qualities of “the Arabian horse,” like the superior qualities of “The Arabian Nights,” are purely works of the imagination. There is just as much truth in the stories of Sindbad the Sailor and[52] Aladdin’s Lamp as there is in most of the literature relating to the Arabian horse.

I am fully satisfied that these views of the Arabian horse will not meet with a ready acceptance by the vast majority of the horsemen of this or any other country, but my reasons for presenting them will become apparent as the discussion progresses. They smash too many idols and dispel too many chimeras of the brain to be readily accepted. It takes the average man a long time to get clear of the prejudices in which he was born, and the first question that will be asked by the doubter is, “Why could not Arabia have supported a race of indigenous wild horses, as well as any other country?” Because the horse, wild or tame, has never learned to dig a well forty feet deep, nor to draw water after it is dug. Neither has he learned to lay up a store in time of plenty against a time of famine. The horse could not live in Arabia without the care of man. And, second, “Why were all the civilized and semi-civilized nations west of Asia supplied with horses a thousand years before Arabia, when so near the original habitat of the horse?” It is the first law of our nature to supply ourselves with what we need. The camel always has been a necessity to the Arab, not only to carry him and his burdens, but to furnish nourishment and sustenance to him and his family. The camel is adapted to the country and the country to the camel, and no other created animal can fill that place. He is, literally, “the ship of the desert.” The horse in Arabia is a luxury that can be indulged in only by the rich; hence his ownership is practically restricted to the chiefs of tribes. He is never used except for display and war. Palgrave, in speaking specially of the Nejd tribe, says: “A horse is by no means an article of everyday possession, or of ordinary or working use. No genuine Arab would ever dream of mounting his horse for a mere peaceful journey, whether for a short or a long distance.”

When we consider the immeasurable superiority of the camel to the horse in meeting the wants and necessities of the Arab, we will not be surprised at the immense herds of the former and the small numbers of the latter that are bred and reared in that country. A camel can go four days without water, and under stress, it is said, a good one can cover the distance of two hundred miles in twenty-four hours. The camel and the country are suited to each other, while the horse is an exotic, and has no part in any industrial interest except raiding and robbery. My[53] attention was first called to this unexpected smallness in the numbers of Arabian horses in the seventh century, two hundred and sixty years after the introduction of the original stock from Cappadocia. The flight of Mohammed from his enemies in Mecca to Medina took place a.d. 622. There, setting up as a Prophet, and as holding communications with Heaven, he soon gathered around him a number who believed in his divine inspiration. Understanding the habits and instincts of his followers, he soon found he must give them something to do. He called them about him, mounted a camel, and at their head he was successful in plundering two or three caravans, which greatly enraged his old enemies at Mecca. Whether the anger of his enemies was kindled anew because some of the plunder belonged in Mecca, or whether he merely deprived the Meccans of the opportunity of doing the plundering themselves, the historian fails to make clear. Whichever may have been the underlying reason, it led to war. In the first campaign of the Meccans and in the first battle fought, they far outnumbered the followers of the Prophet. There were some camels in Mohammed’s train, but no horses. He did not lead the battle himself, but remained in his tent and promised his followers that all who fell in battle would be forthwith admitted into Paradise. They believed the promise, as millions and millions have believed it since; it inspired them with a recklessness of life, and they were completely victorious. The result of this victory was the capture of one hundred and fifteen camels and fourteen horses, besides the entire camp of the enemy. In the battle of the next year (a.d. 625) between the same parties, the forces were much increased on both sides. Sir William Muir, the historian, informs us that Mohammed had but two horses in his army, one of which he mounted himself and took command of his forces. This battle was not decisive. In subsequent raids he captured many enemies and traded his female captives for horses with the surrounding tribes, so far as he was able to obtain them. The next year he had an army of three thousand men and thirty-six horses, while the enemy had an army of three thousand men, of whom two hundred were cavalry, but there was no fighting. The fame of Mohammed as a successful and relentless pillager and destroyer had now spread far and wide, and as a means of escape the chiefs of the larger portion of the tribes of Arabia hastened to tender their allegiance and obey his commands. From this forward, therefore, we must[54] consider Mohammed as the representative of the whole of Arabia, in both its religious and military power. The next year his old enemies, the citizens of Mecca, surrendered the sacred city to him without a blow, and thus Islamism became a mighty power in the world.

It is evident from many sources other than the history of Mohammed that horses have always been a very sparse production in Arabia. Burckhardt, the famous traveler in the East, journeyed very extensively in Arabia about 1814, and he gives the result of his observations on this point of numbers as follows: “In all the journey from Mecca to Medina, between the mountains and the sea, a distance of at least two hundred and sixty miles, I do not believe that two hundred horses could be found, and the same proportion of numbers may be remarked all along the Red Sea.” This is in strict conformity with the observations of other writers, the reasons for which have already been given.

Time out of mind, everybody has heard of the insuperable difficulty of prevailing upon an Arab to part with his genuine, high-caste mare for either love or money. He will expatiate, as the story goes, upon “the beauty and graces of his mare as the light of his household and the joy and playmate of his children, and above all as she is royally bred he cannot, as a good Moslem, disobey the injunctions of the Prophet not to sell such mares, but to keep them forever that their descendants may enrich the children of the faithful to all generations.” If you ask him more particularly about her lines of descent, he will give you fifty or a hundred generations and land you safely on the name of the particular one of the five mares of the Prophet from which she is descended. To illustrate the sham of all this Major Upton’s experience, in purchasing horses in Arabia for the East India service, may be cited. It is evident the major understands his dealers and they understand him. He says: “In the desert we never heard of Mohammed’s mares, nor was his name ever mentioned in any way as connected with the Arabian horse.” He says there is no restriction nor difficulty in buying as many mares as you want, in any part of Arabia. This disposes of the tricky pretenses of the Arab horse dealer when he is negotiating a sale to a man without Arabian experience.

Some modern writers make mention of a tradition that still prevails among some tribes as to the origin of the Arabian horse, and it is to the effect that their best horses came originally from[55] Yemen. This tradition is met with in Arabia Deserta, a long way from Arabia Felix, of which Yemen is a portion. While this tradition is of no possible value as evidence, it is suggestive of what might be unearthed in that strange country. The people were not nomadic, but agricultural and commercial, and the cities were rich. The people were well advanced in the arts and comforts of civilized life, and in their cities they had many beautiful temples and palaces. Such a people would of necessity produce learned men who would leave records of their national history behind them, and especially that of such an event as the conversion of the whole people to Christianity. Possibly the researches of scholarly men may yet bring to light more of the facts connected with the embassy from the Emperor Constantius and the introduction of the Cappadocian horses into Yemen, as related in the preceding chapters.

There are many other traditions, so called, that are burnished up and brought out whenever the crafty dealer finds he has a Richards from America, or a Blunt from England, with his mind already made up that all the best horses of the world have come from Arabia. To such a customer, with his mind already at high tension in search for the longest pedigree and the purest blood, the dealer casts his hook in something like the form following:

“When King Solomon had completed the temple he turned his attention to supplying his army with horses and chariots. He searched every nation that had horses for sale and would have none but the very best that the world could produce. He spent much of his time in admiring his beautiful horses, and one day he was so thoroughly absorbed that the hour of prayer passed without his observing it. He felt that this neglect to pray at the proper time was a great sin, and that his horses had led him into it. He did not hesitate longer, but he at once ordered all his horses to be turned loose to the public. Some of my ancestors succeeded in securing six of these mares, and from these six mares all the good horses of Arabia are descended.”

Other dealers are a little more modest in their claims for the antiquity of the pedigrees of their horses, and generously knock off about sixteen hundred years, being content to trace to the mares of the Prophet instead of the mares of Solomon. This still leaves them with a pedigree only about twelve hundred years long, which beats our modern romancers in making stud books. In order to test and select the mares that were worthy of becoming[56] the dams of the best horses, as the story goes, the Prophet shut up a herd of mares, in plain sight of water, and kept them there till they were almost famished with thirst; and then at a signal they were all released at once, and when rushing headlong to the water the trumpet sounds, and notwithstanding their sufferings they turn and align themselves up in military order. In this test of obedience and discipline, it is said, only five of the mares obeyed the signal (some say only three) and thus the mares that obeyed, notwithstanding their sufferings, became justly entitled to the distinctive and honored name of “The Prophet’s Mares.” Another story is told of the particular markings which, in the Prophet’s estimation, indicated the best horses. By one authority he always selected a black horse with a white “forehead,” and some white mark or marks on his upper lip. Another authority says he always chose a bay horse with a bald face and four white legs, and so we might go on till we had embraced every color and every combination of marks, and we would then find that each “authority” had a horse to sell corresponding with the Prophet’s preferences. Now the fact is that Mohammed was neither a horseman nor a horse breeder, and the whole tenor of history goes to show that he neither knew nor cared very much about horses. In his first pilgrimage to Mecca, after the battles referred to above, the privilege for which was secured by negotiation, a hundred horsemen, it is said, were started and kept one day’s journey in advance of the main body of pilgrims. The great numbers following Mohammed on this pilgrimage admonished his old enemies of Mecca of the futility of attempting to resist his power longer, and they fled from the city during the continuance of the ceremonies. A year or two later he summoned all the tribes of Northern and Eastern Arabia to follow him again to Mecca, and they had too lively a sense of their own safety to disobey. Due time was given for preparation, the rendezvous was at Medina, and a vast host from all Northern and Western Arabia congregated there for a purpose that might be to fight, or it might be to pray. Mohammed mounted his camel and the word was passed, “On to Mecca.” As against such a multitude the Meccans saw that resistance was hopeless, and the city was surrendered without either side striking a blow. Arrayed in great splendor and mounted on his camel, the Prophet made the requisite number of circuits round the holy place and then entered and ordered all the idols that had been set up there to be destroyed,[57] and his followers then shouted, “Allah is Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet!” Thus he became master of all Arabia—and woe to the Christian or the Jew who stood in his way. Two years afterward he died, and there is nothing in his life or history to indicate that he ever owned a horse or that he ever mounted one, except on a single occasion. In the ten short years of his public life he had something more important on hand than to determine how to breed horses.

In studying the Arabian horse in the light of what he has done and what he has failed to do, we are indebted to English writers for little snatches of experiences extending back for a period of about two hundred and fifty years. The earliest English writer who has had anything to say about the Arabian horse was the Duke of Newcastle, who seems to have known a great deal about the various types and breeds of horses of his day. During the period of the Commonwealth it appears he devoted his time, in the Netherlands, to training horses in the manege of that day. From his experience in this employment he became an expert in the form, structure, and docility of the different kinds of horses that he handled. When Charles II. was brought back and placed upon the throne, the duke also came to his own, and being a personal friend of the king he became his counselor and adviser in all matters relating to the improvement of the horses of the realm. In 1667 the duke published his famous book upon the horse, in which he speaks right out on any and every question that he touches. There can be no doubt that he knew more about horses and horse history than any man of his day. In speaking of the Arabian horse he says: “I never saw but one of these horses, which Mr. John Markham, a merchant, brought over, and said he was a right Arabian. He was a bay, but a little horse, and no rarity for shape, for I have seen many English horses far finer. Mr. Markham sold him to King James for five hundred pounds, and being trained up for a course (race), when he came to run every horse beat him.”

It is generally held that this Markham Arabian was the first of that breed ever brought to England, and this seems to be established by the fact that historians antedating his arrival make no mention of any Arabian horse before this one, and those following always speak of this horse as the first. In speaking of the powers of endurance of the Arabian horse, the duke says: “They talk they will ride fourscore miles in a day and never draw the[58] bridle. When I was young I could have bought a nag for ten pounds that would have done as much very easily.” The duke’s masterful knowledge of the subject, as well as his special official relations to the king, gave him control of whatever was done or attempted in the direction of improving the racing stock of England. Tradition informs us that “King Charles II. sent abroad the master of the horse to procure a number of foreign horses and mares for breeding, and the mares brought over by him (as also many of their produce) have since been called Royal Mares.” It is very doubtful whether any such importation was ever made. The question has been discussed, from time to time and even recently, but nobody has ever yet discovered who was “Master of the Horse,” to what country he was sent or what the character of the mares he brought home, or where he got them. The fair presumption is that these “Royal Mares” were myths and that they were created merely for the purpose of putting a finish on certain very uncertain pedigrees, just as a trotting-horse man would finish a pedigree that he knew nothing about by saying, “out of a thoroughbred mare.” As a matter of course it has always been assumed that these “Royal Mares” were of distinctively pure Arabian blood. But, if we admit that such an importation was really made, we must consider that it was made under the direction and control of the Duke of Newcastle, the king’s mentor in all horse affairs, and this is sufficient proof that there was no Arabian blood about the “Royal Mares.” As the size of the English race horse and especially his weight of bone commenced to increase soon after this time, it strikes me as probable that this was the wise and guiding motive of the duke in making his selections of the “Royal Mares.”

When we come down a little nearer to our own times and step across the border from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, we are still in the realm of traditions, and many of them very preposterous. The deceptions practiced in nomenclature were so common as to be well-nigh universal. Everybody who owned a foreign horse must have “Arabian” attached to his name. To illustrate this evil and the misleading effects flowing from it, I will give two instances of the most famous horses in all English history. The Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian stand pre-eminent and before all others as progenitors of the English race horse. The former of these two was purchased at Aleppo, in Asia Minor, and brought to England in 1711, by Mr. Darley of[59] Yorkshire who secured him through a brother in trade in that region. He was the sire of Flying Childers and many others, and his blood carried from generation to generation. Aleppo is in Northern Syria and far distant from Arabia. At one time it was embraced in Armenia Minor, the original home of the horse, and adjoined Cappadocia and Cilicia, all famous for the excellence of their horse stock more than two thousand years before there was a single horse in Arabia. Upon the restoration of the ancient Theban line of Pharaohs in Egypt, at the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty, no time was lost by Thutmosis I. in leading a great army into Northern Syria for no other purpose that is apparent except to replenish and reinvigorate the horse stock of Egypt, from the region of Aleppo and further east, for this is the region from which they had secured their original stock. His successors pursued the same course, year after year, and the number of horses and chariots captured in battle, as well as the number of mares sent as tribute by the frightened people, were duly recorded in the annals of their achievements. If the Darley Arabian, so called, bore any relationship whatever to the Arabian horse, it can only be established by tracing him back to some one of the animals in Cappadocia that the Emperor Constantius sent to Arabia in the year A.D. 356. A writer of the seventeenth century, Dr. Alexander Bursell, in speaking of Aleppo, says: “Formerly this part of the country was famous for fine horses; and though many good ones are still bred here, it may be said they are much degenerated.” This is the observation of an intelligent man, written and published in 1756, about forty years after Mr. Darley’s horse was brought from there.

The other illustration is that of Godolphin Arabian. As a progenitor of race horses this was the greatest horse of his century, or indeed of any other century in the history of the English race horse. He died in 1753, and absolutely nothing is known of his origin or his early history. The story is generally accepted, and I suppose is true, that he was bought out of a cart in Paris, as an act of humanity, by a Mr. Coke, taken to London, presented to Mr. Williams, the keeper of a coffee-house, and passed from him to Lord Godolphin, who kept him till he died. The story that he was presented to Louis XV. by the Bey of Tunis in 1731 has never been verified in any manner, and breaks down on the vital point of date. Some intelligent Englishmen insist that he must have been an Arabian, while others insist that he must have been a[60] Barb, while no man knows whether he was either one or the other. With the most prominent horses of the nation and of their century thus used to mislead the public mind as to their lineage, what are we to expect from the great ruck of the obscure and less prominent? But, as a more elaborate and methodical discussion of this topic will be found in the chapter on the English and American Race Horse, we will now turn our attention to the actual experiences with the Arabians in recent times.

When we come down to the present century we get into the era of newspapers that really begun to give the news, and thus educate their readers, not very authentically, but circumstantially, in what was passing in the world in every department of knowledge and enterprise. Under these wide sources of information, a few authentic experiences will serve to illustrate the true status of the Arabian horse and his influence, or lack of influence, on English and American horses. More than twenty years ago the Prince of Wales made a royal progress through Her Majesty’s dominions in the East. The enthusiasm was unbounded and he was loaded down with many valuable presents, among them several elegant, high-caste Arabian horses. It appears that some of these horses had already won reputation and money on the turf, and were considered the very best that could be found in the East. On their arrival they were greatly admired and praised, especially by the sporting friends of the prince, who seemed to have no doubt, nor did they conceal their opinions, that they could beat any horses in all England. This was a conclusion that a great many racing men, with longer memories, could not accept, and after a good deal of diplomacy a match was finally concluded between the prince’s best horse and an old horse that was third or fourth-class, in his prime, but was unsound and liable to break down any time he was extended. The prince was popular, had many supporters, and much money was pending. The old horse was patched up as well as possible, the day came, the race was started, and the old cripple was so much faster than the Arab that his managers had the hardest work in the world to prevent him from running clear away and disgracing the prince. This account of the race I had from one of the most eminent and successful trainers that England has produced. He witnessed the race and knew all the facts concerning it. Notwithstanding the popularity of the prince and the universal feeling of loyalty toward him, it was a long time before his Arabs ceased to be a laughing-stock among horsemen.


Some sixteen or eighteen years ago, an English gentleman of wealth and intelligence—Mr. Wilfrid S. Blunt—got it into his head that the way to improve the English race horse was to secure fresh infusions of pure Arabian blood. He was industrious in propagating his fad, in an amateurish way, through the columns of the English newspapers, evincing great zeal and a great lack of knowledge of the hundreds of experiments in the same direction and in the history of his own country that had proved disastrous. But he had a will of his own and a bank account that enabled him to carry out his views to their own realization. In the autumn of 1877 he made up a pleasant family party, consisting of his wife, Lady Anne, and two of her lady friends and started for Arabia, with the full determination to find the best and to buy nothing that was not of the purest and best lineage that could be found in all that country. Fortunately, Lady Anne carefully noted down everything that transpired in their journeyings and after the return wrote a very pleasant and readable book, understood to have been edited by her husband in some of its features. The title of the book—“The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates”—did not strike me pleasantly, for I never knew that any of the numerous Bedouin tribes were to be found on the Euphrates. But my purpose is not to criticise either the book or its title, but to follow the party over its itinerary and discover just where Mr. Blunt found the blood he was looking for, and upon what evidence he accepted it as “the best blood.” With this view I will carefully give his own language, so far as it applies to the point in view.

His first purchase was at Aleppo, where he got a mare he named Hagar, as he says, “for a very moderate sum.” “She was of the Kehilan-Ajuz breed.” “When purchased she was in very poor condition, having just gone through the severe training of a campaign.” “She was bred by the Gommussa, the most able of the horse-breeding tribes, had passed from them to the Roala, and had now been captured and ridden some two hundred miles, in hot haste, for sale to Aleppo.” “We never met anything in our travels that could compete with her over a distance, and she has often run down foxes and even hares, without assistance, carrying thirteen stone on her back.” This was the first experience of the English “tenderfoot” among Syrian horsethieves. According to his own showing, he bought her from the fellow who had stolen her and had ridden her two hundred miles to escape, and he accepted what the thief told about the breeding of[62] the mare as true. The thief knew just what Mr. Blunt wanted and he shaped the pedigree and tracing to suit the purchaser. Mr. Blunt had no knowledge of this mare’s breeding, nor where she came from; still, her blood was to become one of the great influences in renovating the English race horse. This incident is of no importance, in itself, except as it illustrates the universal conditions under which amateurs buy horses in the Orient.

Upon leaving Aleppo, the party traveled eastward till they struck the Euphrates and then down the right bank of that river. The first town of any importance was Deyr, on the river, and just across was ancient Mesopotamia. They were still in the border land between the productive north and the desert south, with the Syrian desert between them and the Arabian desert. All this region is occupied with a mixture of races, employed in varied pursuits, with but a feeble trace of tribal authority, as all are under the direct government of the Sultan of Turkey.

“Deyr is well-known,” Mr. Blunt says, “as a horse market, and is, perhaps, the only town north of the Jebel Shammar where the inhabitants have any general knowledge of the blood and breeding of the beasts they possess. The townsmen, indeed, are but a single step removed from the Bedouins, their undoubted ancestors. They usually purchase their colts as yearlings either from the Gomussa, or some of the Sabaa tribes, and having broken them thoroughly, sell them at three years old to the Aleppo merchants. They occasionally, too, have mares left with them, in partnership, by the Anazah, and from these they breed according to the strictest desert rules. It is, therefore, for a stranger, by far the best market for thoroughbreds in Asia, and you may get some of the best blood at Deyr that can be found anywhere, besides having a guarantee of its authenticity, impossible, under ordinary circumstances, to get at Damascus or Aleppo. There are, I may say, no horses at Deyr but thoroughbreds.”

He made some purchases at Deyr and then they pursued their journey down the river, and at the most convenient point he crossed over to Bagdad, on the Tigris. Here he inspected the stud of the Turkish pasha, but the prices were high and he seemed to lack confidence in the purity of their breeding. Whatever the cause, he made no purchases, and soon started on his journey up the Tigris. Upon reaching Sherghat on the Tigris, he turned westward, and crossing ancient Mesopotamia, he was again at Deyr, where he seems to have made more purchases, and then started, in a southwesterly direction, with eighteen mares and two stallions for Damascus and the coast. This closed the search of Arabia for Arabian horses of the highest caste and purest blood,[63] without really being in Arabia, and this is all that can be said of “The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates”—without having seen a real Bedouin.

No doubt Mr. Blunt thinks he is right in his high appreciation of the town of Deyr as a horse market; that it is “the best market for thoroughbreds in Asia;” and that “there are no horses in Deyr but thoroughbreds,” or he would not have bought his horses there. Dealing in horses seems to be the principal business of the people, they are all well informed on the best and purest strains of blood, according to Mr. Blunt, and all their own horses are thoroughbred. Truly an ideal market, an ideal people, and ideal horses, just suited to the needs of enthusiastic amateurs like Mr. Blunt. This remarkable horse town is located on the border between the rich grain fields and luxuriant meadows on the north, and the comparatively barren deserts of the south. On the north the country has been famous for thousands of years for the great numbers and excellence of the horses produced, and they are still produced of excellent form and quality, and are sold at very low prices. On the south is the land of the camel, and but few horses and those few held at high prices, and the simple term “Arabian horse” always brings them purchasers. Here, then, we find that Deyr is the very paradise of horse traders—a tribe, wherever we find them on the face of the earth, distinguished for elasticity of conscience. The north furnishes the horses and the south furnishes the pedigrees, and no wonder the Deyrites had nothing but “thoroughbreds” when Mr. Blunt came along. In the line of their business and from their southern neighbors, they had picked up enough “Arabian horse talk” to satisfy all inexperienced buyers that they knew all about the value of the different strains of Arabian blood, and could supply them from their own studs, at very reasonable prices. And thus Mr. Blunt brought home to England eighteen “Arabian” mares and two stallions, without any satisfactory evidence that they ever had seen Arabia. In this enthusiastic venture, resulting in utter failure, there is one alleviating fact that Mr. Blunt can call to mind, and that is that his horses were just as good for the purpose of improving the English race horse as any others that have been brought from the Orient in the past hundred years. Whatever their blood, whether genuine or counterfeit Arabians, they have all alike been failures, and all alike good for nothing.

Early in the history of our own government it became not an[64] unusual thing for the Sultan of Turkey, the Emperor of Morocco, or some other potentate of the Saracenic races, to present to the President two horses, and as they were presents from royalty to what they esteemed royalty, they were necessarily of the highest caste and of the greatest value of any horses in all their dominions. It is probable that Mr. Jefferson was the first president to receive these royal gifts, and under the requirements of the constitution and without any disrespect to the donor, he ordered them to be sold to the highest bidder, and turned the money into the treasury. Several of the presidents received these presents of horses, and without knowing the fact, I will presume disposed of them the same way. In the case of President Lincoln, Mr. Seward seemed to be more highly favored and the sultan sent the horses to him. Through the State Agricultural Society, Mr. Seward presented his royal presents to the State of New York. My recollection is not very distinct, but my impression is that Mr. Van Buren had disposed of his in the same way. When General Grant received his, he was not in public office and hence they became his personal property. A number of the first of these importations, together with some others that were brought from Arabia, individually and by private persons, were, in the early part of the century, carried into the South, which was then the “race-horse region,” but the breeders there very soon discovered that in breeding from them they were taking a backward instead of a forward step. Their progeny could neither run nor trot, and as they were too small for the ordinary uses of the farmer and planter, they were almost unanimously rejected, with nothing left but the ignorant “fad” that was embodied in the name “Arabian.”

The most notable example of the folly of attempting to regenerate the American race horse by the introduction of the “blood of the desert” is furnished in the sad experience of the late A. Keene Richards, of Kentucky. He inherited a large estate, and when he came into possession he proved himself an intelligent and successful breeder, and ran the colts of his own breeding, with a full share of winnings. He was not a spendthrift nor a gambler, but he was not content with mediocrity in sharing triumphs with his neighbors, for he was ambitious to beat, them all. He soon had his head full of such horses as the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian, and he argued if that blood founded the English race horse, he would go to Arabia and get it,[65] and it could not fail to regenerate the American race horse. He did not stop to inquire whether either of his great ideals might have had a drop of Arabian blood in his veins, but he started for Arabia at once. He brought home a few stallions and felt sure he was on the eve of the greatest triumph of his life. When the half-Arab produce of his strong and elegantly bred race mares were old enough to run the jockey club allowed the half-breeds seven pounds the advantage in weight and they were beaten. The club then allowed them fourteen pounds and they were again beaten; and finally the allowance was raised to twenty-one pounds, and they were still in the rear rank. Under these humiliating defeats a careful man would have hesitated before he went further, but he at once jumped to the conclusion that his defeat was not in the fact that Arab blood could not run fast enough to win, but in the fact, as he supposed, that the rascally Arabs had sold him blood that was not Arab blood. In a short time he was off for Arabia again, taking with him as companion and adviser the distinguished animal painter, Troye, who had a long and successful experience as a delineator of race horses and knew all about the anatomy of the horse. They spent several months among the different tribes, and in order to get “inside of the ring,” as it were, they ate with the Arabs, slept with the Arabs, and worshiped with the Arabs, as Mr. Richards told me himself. They came home full of the highest expectations, bringing several mares as well as stallions with them, and fully assured that every one was of the highest caste and the best form for racing that could be found on all the plains of the desert. After the foals of this importation were old enough to start in the stakes, they were given the same advantages in weight as before, and they proved no better than the first lot. Poor Mr. Richards was crushed in spirits, not only by the vanishing of his air castles, but by the importunacy of his creditors. In his heroic, but misguided, efforts to improve the American race horse by infusions of pure Arabian blood, he involved his once handsome estate, and he died hopelessly insolvent. He had bred a number of pure Arabs of several generations, but the abundant feed and luxuriant blue grass of Kentucky did not increase their size, for when they came under the auctioneer’s hammer they were but little “tackeys,” and they brought only the price of little “tackeys.”

The number of horses brought to this country, whether as gifts to statesmen or as private ventures, and called “Arabians,”[66] is not very large, and it is safe to say that not one in ten of them ever saw Arabia. They came from Turkey or some of the Barbary States. But in the case of Mr. Richards there can be no doubt that he made his selections in Arabia itself. Those selections having been made personally and with care and skill, we are bound to accept them as genuine Arabians. When we find, therefore, that having been tested they are no better than the horses brought from Turkey or from Africa, we must conclude that the whole scheme is mere moonshine, and that Arabian blood as a means of improvement has failed to develop the value that enthusiasts and dreamers have claimed for it since “time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.” Practical and thinking men always judge of the value of a breed of horses from what the representatives of that breed can do or what they fail to do. The emotional and unpractical are always looking for an ideal horse, and the poets and story writers are always furnishing them one. Where a horse figures in a story he is uniformly endowed with an almost supernatural intelligence and sense. To finish up the ideal horse, he always traces back to the “Courser of the Desert.” If his triumph is in a flight of speed, he distances all competitors because he is a pure Arabian. The story of “Ben Hur,” written by General Lew Wallace, furnishes a fitting illustration of this tendency of the public mind. The story of the chariot race at Antioch is a masterpiece of most exciting ingenuity, and one of the finest specimens of word painting in the English language. The irascible old sheik is quite overdrawn, but the judgment and skill of Ben Hur cannot be surpassed. As a matter of course, the team of black Arabians was bound to win. Every bright schoolboy in the country has read the story, and he has joined in the triumph of the black Arabians. The wide interest in the chariot race seemed to demand its pictorial delineation, and soon the public was gratified with a large and elegant etching, which hangs before me as I write. The only trouble about this excellent work of the imagination and the team of black Arabians is that there were no horses in Arabia till about three hundred and fifty years after the date of this supposed scene. We must let the poets sing and the novelists work out their plots, but it is well to pay some attention to the facts and experiences of history.


A true portrait taken from life by D. Murrier, painter to H. R. H. the Duke of Cumberland.


A distorted copy by Mr. Stubbs who never saw the horse, and changed to express the idea of fleetness.


The real origin of the English race horse in confusion—Full list of the “foundation stock” as given by Mr. Weatherby one hundred years ago—The list complete and embraces all of any note—Admiral Rous’ extravaganza—Godolphin Arabian’s origin wholly unknown—His history—Successful search for his true portrait—Stubbs’ picture a caricature—The true portrait alone supplies all that is known of his origin and blood.

The English Race Horse is the great central figure of all the horse literature of the past two hundred years. Much has been claimed for him and much has been written about him, in a haphazard way, by people who know but little of the subject. A few men of independent and real thought have written on this subject, but they have devoted their attention to the comparing of family with family or individual with individual. Of the books that have been written by brainless people on the English horse there is no end, and they are generally mere repetitions, without giving credit, of what somebody has said before. Among all the books that have been written on this subject I have never yet found one that even pretended to make a serious attempt at discovering the real origin of the English Race Horse. They all seem to agree with Admiral Rous that he is purely descended from the Arabian horse, and without one drop of the blood of the indigenous English horse. The average writer for the two past centuries has been content with just this much knowledge, and he wants nothing more. Occasionally it is modestly suggested in some magazine article that this exclusively Arabian origin may not be true, and I am glad to note that these suggestions are becoming more frequent of late years. It has been claimed that the pure Arabian origin of the race horse “is as solid as a pyramid,” all of which may be accepted—but, unfortunately for the claimant, the “pyramid” is standing on its apex, and when the facts breathe upon it, as gently as a zephyr, it will topple over. The most convenient and the most authoritative collection[68] of facts relating to the earliest exotic horses that were brought in is to be found in the English Stud Book itself, and as but few of my readers have access to this work, I will copy that portion of it entire, as it appears in the first volume, and the edition of 1803. In the edition of 1808 the list was reprinted with four additional animals and some verbal changes, which, when important, will be noted.


1. The Helmsley Turk was an old Duke of Buckingham’s and got Bustler, etc.

2. Place’s White Turk was the property of Mr. Place, studmaster to Oliver Cromwell, when Protector, and was the sire of Wormwood Commoner, and the great grandams of Windham, Grey Ramsden and Cartouch.

3. Royal Mares: King Charles the Second sent abroad the master of the horse, to procure a number of foreign horses and mares for breeding, and the mares brought over by him (as also many of their produce) have since been called Royal Mares.

4. Dodsworth, though foaled in England, was a natural Barb. His dam, a Barb mare, was imported in the time of Charles the Second, and was called a Royal Mare. She was sold by the studmaster, after the king’s death, for forty guineas, at twenty years old, when in foal (by the Helmsley Turk) with Vixen, dam of the Old Child Mare.

5. The Stradling or Lister Turk was brought into England by the Duke of Berwick, from the siege of Buda, in the reign of James the Second. He got Snake, the D. of Kingston’s Brisk and Piping Peg, Coneyskins, the dam of Hip, and the grandam of Bolton Sweepstakes.

6. The Byerly Turk was Captain Byerly’s charger in Ireland, in King William’s wars (1869, etc.). He did not cover many bred mares, but was the sire of D. of Kingston’s Sprite, who was thought nearly as good as Leedes; the D. of Rutland’s Black Hearty and Archer, and the D. of Devonshire’s Basto, Ld. Bristol’s Grasshopper, and Ld. Godolphin’s Byerly Gelding, all in good forms: Halloway’s Jigg, a middling horse; and Knightley’s Mare, in a very good form.

7. Greyhound. The cover of this foal was in Barbary, after which both his sire and dam were purchased, and brought into England by Mr. Marshall. He was got by King William’s White Barb Chillaby, out of Slugey, a natural Barb Mare. Greyhound got the D. of Wharton’s Othello, said to have beat Chanter easily in a trial, giving him a stone, but who, falling lame, ran only one match in public, against a bad horse; he also got Panton’s Whitefoot, a very good horse; Osmyn, a very fleet horse and in good form for his size; the D. of Wharton’s Rake, a middling horse; Ld. Halifax’s Sampson, Goliah and Favorite, pretty good 12-stone Plate horses; Desdemona, and other good mares, and several ordinary Plate horses, who ran in the North where he was a common stallion and covered many of the best mares.

8. The D’Arcy White Turk was the sire of Old Hautboy, Grey Royal, Cannon, etc.


9. The D’Arcy Yellow Turk was the sire of Spanker, Brimmer, and the great-great-grandam of Cartouch.

10. The Marshall or Selaby Turk was the property of Mr. Marshall’s brother, studmaster to King William, Queen Anne, and King George the first. He got the Curwen Old Spot, the dam of Windham, the dam of Derby Ticklepitcher, and great-grandam of Bolton Sloven and Fearnought.

11. Curwen’s Bay Barb was a present to Louis the Fourteenth from Muley Ishmael, King of Morocco, and was brought into England by Mr. Curwen, who being in France when Count Byram and Count Thoulouse (two natural sons of Louis the Fourteenth) were, the former, master of the horse, and the latter an admiral, he procured of them two Barb horses, both of which proved excellent stallions, and were well known by the names of the Curwen Bay Barb and the Thoulouse Barb. Curwen’s Bay Barb got Mixbury and Tantivy, both very excellent formed Galloways. The first of them was only thirteen hands two inches high, and yet there were not more than two horses of his time that could beat him at light weights. Brocklesby, Little George, Yellow Jack, Bay Jack, Monkey, Dangerfield, Hip, Peacock, and Flatface, the first two in good forms, the rest middling; two Mixburys, full brothers to the first Mixbury, middling Galloways; Long Meg, Brocklesby Betty, and Creeping Molly, extraordinarily high-formed mares; Whiteneck, Mistake, Sparkler, and Lightfoot, very good mares, and several middling Galloways, who ran for Plates in the North. He got two full sisters to Mixbury, one of which bred Partner, Little Scar, Soreheels and the dam of Crab; the other was the dam of Quiet, Silver Eye and Hazard. He did not cover many mares except Mr. Curwen’s and Mr. Pelham’s.

12. The Thoulouse Barb became afterward the property of Sir J. Parsons and was the sire of Bagpiper, Blacklegs, Mr. Panton’s Molly, and the dam of Cinnamon.

13. Darley’s Arabian was brought over by a brother of Mr. Darley, of Yorkshire, who, being an agent in merchandise abroad, became member of a hunting club, by which means he acquired interest to procure this horse. He was the sire of Childers, and also got Almanzor, a very good horse; a white-legged horse of the D. of Somerset’s, full brother to Almanzor, and thought to be as good, but meeting with an accident, he never ran in public; Cupid and Brisk, good horses; Dædalus, a very swift horse; Dart, Shipjack, Maica and Aleppo, good Plate horses, though out of bad mares; Ld. Lonsdale’s Mare in very good form, and Ld. Tracy’s Mare in a good one for Plates. He covered very few mares except Mr. Darley’s, who had very few well-bred mares besides Almanzor’s Dam.

14. Sir J. William’s Turk (more commonly called the Honeywood Arabian) got Mr. Honeywood’s two True Blues; the elder of them was the best Plate horse in England, for four or five years; the younger was in very high form and got the Rumford Gelding, and Ld. Onslow’s Grey Horse, middling horses out of road mares. It is not known that this Turk covered any bred mares except the dam of the two True Blues.

15. The Belgrade Turk was taken at the siege of Belgrade, by Gen. Merci, and sent by him to the Prince de Craon, from whom he was a present to the Prince of Lorraine. He was afterward purchased by Sir Marmaduke Wyvill, and died in his possession about 1740.


16. Croft’s Bay Barb was got by Chillaby, out of the Moonah Barb Mare.

17. The Godolphin Arabian was imported by Mr. Coke, at whose death he became (together with Cade, Regulus, etc., then young) the property of Ld. Godolphin. His first employment was that of a teaser to Hobgoblin, who, refusing to cover Roxana, she was put to the Arabian, and from that cover produced Lath, the first of his get. He was also sire of Cade, Regulus, Blank, etc., and what is considered very remarkable, as well as a strong proof of his excellence as a stallion, there is not a superior horse now on the turf without a cross of the Godolphin Arabian, neither has there been for several years past. He was a brown bay, with no white, except on the off heel behind, and about fifteen hands high (a picture of him is in the library at Gog Magog, Cambridgeshire). It is not known to what particular race of the Arab breed, indeed it has been asserted that he was a Barb. He died at Gog Magog in 1753, in or about the 29th year of his age. The story of his playfellow, the black cat, must not be omitted here, especially as an erroneous account has got abroad, copied from the first introduction to the present work. Instead of his grieving for the loss of the cat she survived him, though but for a short time; she sat upon him after he was dead in the building erected for him, and followed him to the place where he was buried under a gateway near the running stable; sat upon him there till he was buried, then went away, and never was seen again, till found dead in the hayloft.

18. The Cullen Arabian was brought over by Mr. Nosco and was sire of Mr. Warren’s Camillus, Ld. Orford’s Matron, Mr. Gorges’ Sour Face, the dam of Regulator, etc., etc.

19. The Coomb Arabian (sometimes called the Pigot Arabian and sometimes the Bolingbroke Grey Arabian) was the sire of Methodist, the dam of Crop, etc., etc.

20. The Compton Barb, more commonly called the Sedley Arabian, was sire of Coquette, Greyling, etc.

(Additions in 1808 Edition.)

21. King James the First bought an Arabian of Mr. Markham, a merchant, for 500gs., said (but with little probability) to have been the first of the breed ever seen in England. The Duke of Newcastle says, in his treatise on Horsemanship, that he had seen the above Arabian, and describes him as a small bay horse, and not of very excellent shape.

23. Bloody Buttocks; nothing further can be traced from the papers of the late Mr. Crofts than that he was a grey Arabian, with a red mark on his hip, from whence he derived his name.

23. The Vernon Arabian was a small chestnut horse. He covered at Highflyer Hall, and was the sire of Alert, etc. Alert had good speed for a short distance.

24 & 25. The Wellesley Grey, and Chestnut Arabians (so called) were brought from the East, but evidently not Arabians. The former was a horse of good shape, with the size and substance of an English hunter.

This list of twenty-seven different animals, which for the sake of convenience I have numbered, was presented to the public[71] more than a hundred years ago by Mr. Weatherby, the highest of all English authorities, as the foundation stock from which the English race horse was propagated. The uniform omission of dates of importations, etc., discloses the fact that the compiler had no accurate knowledge of the animals or their history, and that he was dependent largely upon very uncertain traditions for his information. It must not be understood that the animals in this list were contemporaneous, or that the list embraces all the foreign animals that were brought in, but only those that were recognized as of value in founding the breed.

To understand just what we have to consider, I will place here, in juxtaposition to the above list, the remark of Admiral Rous, at one time the great race-horse authority of England, which expresses the popular opinion as to the origin of the race horse, that is practically universally held in all lands. The admiral says: “The British race horse is a pure Eastern exotic whose pedigree may be traced two thousand years, the true son of Arabia Deserta, without a drop of English blood.” To reach the approximate truth on the issue here made, and to puncture this extravaganza is the work now before us.

Numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, were Turks, and to these we may add Mr. Darley’s horse, known as the Darley Arabian, number 13, for he was brought from Aleppo in Turkey, far removed from Arabia, and famous for the great numbers and excellence of its horses many centuries before Arabia had any horses. To carry horses, for sale, from the deserts of Arabia, where they are scarce, to the region of Aleppo, where they are very plenty, and of the highest quality, would be simply “carrying coals to Newcastle.” We may therefore safely conclude that the ten horses here enumerated were Turks.

Numbers 4, 7, 11, 12, 16, 20 were Barbs, as they are named in the list. It is a surprise to me that these six horses should be designated as “Barbs,” for it has been the usage of many generations to call these horses “Arabians.” As late as 1819 the Dey of Algiers sent several Algerine horses as a present to the Prince Regent of England, and they were always spoken of as “Arabians.”

Numbers 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 are all unsatisfactory as to their origin. Number 17—Lord Godolphin’s horse—is wholly unknown as to his blood elements, and further on his history will be considered. Number 18 “was brought over,” but from whence nobody knows. Number 19 is in the same condition, and[72] not one of his different owners has been able to tell us anything about his origin. Number 21 was, possibly, an Arabian, but the Duke of Newcastle, who knew the horse well, seems to have doubted his genuineness on account of his inferiority. However this may have been, he preceded other importations so many years that it is not known that he ever sired a colt, and as a progenitor we may as well strike him out. Number 22 seems to be in darkness, and all efforts to find his origin having failed he may as well be classed as unknown. Number 23 is furnished with no evidence that he was entitled to be classed as an Arabian. Numbers 24 and 25 were confessedly not genuine.

This reduces the analysis to its lowest form and shows that in the original foundation stock, including Mr. Darley’s horse (13), there were ten Turks and six Barbs that can be accepted with reasonable certainty. This leaves eight so-called “Arabians,” from which we must eliminate numbers 17, 21, 24, 25, leaving numbers 18, 19, 22, 23, without any evidence whatever that they were Arabians except in name. From these four rather obscure animals, therefore, according to the Rous dictum, the English race horse must have derived every drop of his blood; and yet there is not a scintilla of evidence either direct or inferential that any one of them, or the ancestors of any one of them, ever saw Arabia. From the custom of calling every horse from abroad an “Arabian,” that has prevailed in England for more than two hundred years, it is fair to conclude that there was no Arabian blood in the foundation stock. It was the blood of the Turks and the Barbs, commingled with that of the native blood that had been bred to race for centuries, that furnished the foundation of the modern English and American race horse.

Blood in the race horse is an imperative necessity, but it must be blood that has been carefully selected from winners, and raced for generations, or it is of no value as an element of speed. If the English race horse had been a strictly pure exotic from Arabia Deserta, as Admiral Rous maintained, he would have been of no value either as a race horse or the progenitor of race horses, without many generations of careful selection and development of speed.

The Godolphin Arabian was altogether the greatest horse of his century. He flourished during most of the reign of King George II., but the horsemen of the world, even Englishmen themselves, know far more about him than they do about the[73] reign of that monarch. Still, nobody knows anything of his birthplace, his origin or his blood. He was to the English race horse what Rysdyk’s Hambletonian has been to the American trotter. Neither of them was ever in a race, but each of them stood immeasurably superior to all others of his day as a progenitor of speed, at his own gait. From the latter we had reason to expect speed because we knew he inherited speed, but from the former we had no reason to expect anything, for we knew nothing of what he inherited until he proved his inheritance by what he transmitted to his progeny. Some of the principal semi-tragic incidents, so far as known in the early life of Godolphin Arabian, were seized upon by the great novelist Eugene Sue, and out of them grew a “horse novel” from his gifted pen. The horse was foaled about 1724, was brought to England from France about 1730, and died at Magog Hills, 1753. There seems to be a substantial agreement among those who had the best opportunities to know that the horse was employed on the streets of Paris as a common drudge in a cart and driven by a brutal master. A Mr. Coke, who is represented to have been a Quaker, was in Paris on business and he happened to witness the brutality of the ruffian who was this horse’s master in trying to make him draw a load of wood up a steep acclivity on to a new bridge, which the horse after repeated trials and clubbings was unable to accomplish. To relieve the poor brute from his sufferings, Mr. Coke’s feelings of humanity asserted themselves, and he stepped forward and bought the horse on the spot and had him released from the cart. Mr. Coke, it is said, brought the horse to London and presented him to Mr. Williams, the proprietor of a famous coffee-house, and Mr. Williams presented him to Earl Godolphin.

In September, 1829, Mr. John S. Skinner commenced the publication of the first horse magazine that ever appeared in this country, and in the first number there appeared a steel engraving purporting to be executed by the famous Stubbs and to represent the great horse, Godolphin Arabian. Not many years afterward I came into possession of a copy of this publication from the beginning, and the sight of this picture always impressed me as the most ludicrous abortion of the likeness of a horse that could be conceived of. The neck was absolutely longer than the body, the legs were about strong enough for a sheep, and all over it lacked strength of both muscle and bone to a most absurd extent. When this picture appeared in London, some years before, it was[74] laughed at by all artists as well as by all men who knew anything about the shape of a horse, as a monstrosity, and it was received in the same spirit on this side of the water; but it bore the name of a great artist and that was sufficient to secure the approbation of the unthinking and the unknowing. The only key to the origin of the horse, the only pedigree that can be given, must be found written in his own structure of bone and muscle and brain. A true delineation, therefore, of his form and shape became a matter of the highest moment, not merely to satisfy the curiosity of the curious, but as a study of the true sources of his wonderful prepotency.

Sixty-five years ago a correspondent of Mr. Skinner’s magazine, referred to above, and a descendant of Mr. Samuel Galloway of Maryland, spoke of an oil painting of Godolphin Arabian that had hung in the hall at Tulip Hill from the days of his childhood as still hanging there, and said that it was wholly unlike the Stubbs engraving. Mr. Galloway was one of Maryland’s land barons, an enthusiastic horse breeder, and a successful horse racer. He was educated at Cambridge, I think; and if so, no doubt he saw Godolphin Arabian many times before he died, for he was within four or five miles of him, and his sporting instincts could not fail to take him to see so great a horse when so near at hand. As he was a young man of great wealth and great ambitions, it is quite probable he was on terms of friendly acquaintance, if not intimacy, with Lord Godolphin, and thus secured the oil painting from that distinguished friend himself. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the picture still bears the coat of arms of Lord Godolphin.

To reach and secure this picture, or at least a faithful copy of it, became an object of continuous effort that was never intermitted for more than twenty years. At last, in the spring of 1877, one of the correspondents of Wallace’s Monthly, Prof. M. C. Ellzey, of Blacksburg, Virginia, wrote me that the picture was then the property of Dr. J. H. Murray (whose wife was a lineal descendant of Mr. Galloway) of Cedar Park, adjoining Tulip Hill, West River, Maryland, and that he would have the picture sent to me. In a few days it arrived, and when my eyes rested upon it, it was like the feast of a lifetime; for there was all that could ever be known of the greatest horse of his century. The painting was in a state of excellent preservation and the coat of arms of Lord Godolphin was plainly traceable. The horse is shown[75] from his right side, in his rough, paddock condition, with his right hind foot a little advanced, and his head low and without any animation or excitement. The standpoint of the artist is a little forward of the shoulders, and he must have been a tall man or the horse must have been a low horse, or perhaps both, for he sees over the horse and portrays the fine spring of muscle over the loin, on the opposite side of the vertebra. From the position of the artist the drawing is slightly foreshortened, and this, together with the advance of his right hind foot, intensifies the droop of the rump, to some degree, in the outline. From the proportions, as shown in the painting, I would conclude he was below fourteen and a half hands high rather than above it. His head is striking and unusually large for an animal of his size, with remarkable width between the eyes, and without a star to lighten it up. His ear is not fine, and it droops backward as he stands, as if half-asleep. His mane is sparse and in disorder. His throat-latch is very good, and the windpipe large and well developed. The neck is of a fair length for a horse of his blocky formation, and there is nothing unusual about it except its great depth at the collar place. The slope of the shoulder is very marked and shows his ability to carry his head in the air when he wished to do so, but the shoulder itself is coarse and angular to an unusual degree. His withers rise very abruptly and there is great perpendicular depth through the carcass at this point. His back is remarkably short and the spread and arch of his loins is simply magnificent. But the point of superlative excellence is in the remarkable development of power in his quarters. His limbs, instead of being “spider legs,” are unusually strong for an animal of his size; indeed, they might be considered coarse for any horse that was pretended to be a race horse. His tail is of the usual weight and somewhat wavy. With the addition that there is a little white at the coronet of the right hind foot, and not forgetting his friend and companion the cat, I have made a somewhat detailed description of what is represented in the painting. Several artists examined the picture, and they pronounced it the work of an artist of ability and experience. The signature “D. M. pinxt” was carefully examined, but no one was able to throw any light upon the name represented by the initial letters “D. M.”

While this painting contained within itself evidence of its great value as a likeness of its subject, it lacked confirmation[76] as “true to the life;” and nothing could supply this lack but to find a portrait of the same horse, painted by another artist, and then if the two agreed, the proof would be fully satisfying to the understanding. A little over a hundred years ago Lord Francis Godolphin Osborne, Duke of Leeds, and heir to Lord Godolphin, wrote Sir Charles Bunbury, a great race-horse man, that he had a painting of Godolphin Arabian, by Wootton, at Gog Magog Hills. Over sixty years ago an American gentleman wrote to Mr. Skinner’s magazine that he had seen a painting of Godolphin Arabian hanging in Houghton Hall, Norfolk. In 1878 my physician told me I must quit work for awhile, and that I had better visit the great Exposition at Paris that year. I was anxious to see the Fair, but I was a great deal more anxious to see those two paintings of Godolphin Arabian, if they were still in existence. Gog Magog Hills is a quaint old place, and the origin and meaning of its name is lost in a very remote antiquity. As it has not been the residence of its owners for more than a hundred years, it is much neglected. The people in charge were very obliging, and I was immediately admitted to the view of Wootton’s painting of Godolphin Arabian. The first glance was a complete vindication of the truthfulness of the Maryland painting as a true likeness in every important feature of the outline and proportions. The canvas is about four and a half by four feet, inclosed in a massive frame. After studying it and comparing it, point by point for more than an hour, with a copy of the Maryland painting, it became evident they were not painted by the same hand, although the horse had the same position in both pictures, with the exception that the right hind foot was thrown backward in the Wootton painting instead of forward, and thus gave a less abrupt droop of the rump. The head was precisely the same shape, but in the large painting the articulations were less distinct and expressive.

After a little peregrination through Norfolk, studying the “Norfolk Trotter” as then called, but since called “Hackney,” on his “native heath,” I reached Houghton Hall, in Norfolk. This grand old place was built over a hundred and sixty years ago by the famous Sir Robert Walpole, and at that time it was considered the most splendid structure, as a gentleman’s country seat, in all England. For many years it has been the property of the Marquis of Cholmondeley, but is not often occupied as a residence. Here too, I was lucky, for upon my entrance to the[77] picture gallery, about the first object upon which my eye rested was the painting of the Godolphin Arabian, and the first impression was that there must be “spooks” around, for that seemed certainly the Maryland picture I was looking at. I had it taken down and removed to a good light, and there the whole mystery was removed. It is difficult to compare two peas. All you can say about them is that they were just alike, and that is all I can say about the Galloway picture in Maryland and the Houghton Hall picture in England. The paintings were the same size, and the pigments used were of precisely the same shades of color and quality. The colors were peculiar in the fact that the artist had used no varnish nor oil that would leave a shiny appearance. The Houghton Hall picture had a black, glossy margin all around it of about five inches in width on which the names of the most noted of his progeny were inscribed in gold letters, and at the bottom was this inscription: “The original picture taken at The Hills, by D. Murrier, painter to H. R. H. the Duke of Cumberland.” This explained the modest signature attached to the Maryland picture, which was a replica of the original. “The Hills” is the local designation of “Gog Magog Hills.” The word “original” not only implies that the picture was made from life, but that one or more replicas were made at the same time.

Here, then, in this picture, we have all that we know or probably ever will know of the origin and pedigree of this horse. It does not tell us what he was, but it does tell us in the most clear and unmistakable language what he was not. There is no feature nor element in his make-up that does not say that he was neither an Arabian nor a Barb. He was a stout, strong-boned, heavily muscled, short-legged horse. In his form and shape he was very far removed from an ideal progenitor of race horses, but he was that progenitor all the same. About forty years after his death Mr. Stubbs, who never saw the horse, brought out a painting of him which all artists laughed at as the picture of an impossible horse. This picture, however, was engraved on steel and became the standard representation of Godolphin Arabian, in England, till this day. Both these pictures are here given, and a comparison of many points makes it evident that Stubbs copied from the original of Murrier or from the painting by Wootton, which was probably also a copy of Murrier, and he followed his copy just as closely as he could while converting a big-boned, stout saddle horse into a long-necked, spindle-shanked race horse.[78] By actual measurement the neck is longer than the body, but it is not necessary to point out the Stubbs absurdities, as they are apparent to every eye. It was simply an awkward and dishonest attempt to express in his form and shape such a pedigree as a great racing sire should have had. In these two pictures we have the real and the imaginary—the honest and the dishonest.

The search for this picture and then for its verification was a labor of many years. I never expected to find the horse’s origin, but the discovery of his likeness seemed to be in the bounds of a possibility that was finally realized. Murrier’s picture, as a mere work of art, is of no mean value. It contains within itself undoubted evidence that it is a true picture of a horse, and it is shown circumstantially that this horse was the great “unknown and untraced founder” of the English race horse, with nothing of the race horse in his appearance.

The name of this horse has been a misnomer ever since the day he fell into the hands of Lord Godolphin, and it has misled a multitude of men to their financial hurt. Of late years the more intelligent class of writers, instead of calling him an “Arabian” call him a “Barb,” but there is just as much propriety in using one name as the other, and not a scintilla of authority for using either. Whatever may have been his origin, his marvelous structural combination of propelling power supplied what was wanting in the English stock of his day, and gave him success. Since then thousands of Arabians and Barbs have been tried and all of them have failed.


England supplied with horses before the Christian era—Bred for different purposes—Markham on the speed of early native horses—Duke of Newcastle on Arabians—His choice of blood to propagate—Size of early English horses—Difficulties about pedigrees in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Early accumulations very trashy—The Galloways and Irish Hobbies—Discrepancies in size—The old saddle stock—The pacers wiped out—Partial revision of the English Stud Book.

Britain was fully supplied with horses when first invaded by the Romans, but as there is no history beyond that period we are only groping in the dark when we attempt to discover when or whence this supply was procured. The most reasonable theory is that the first supply came from the Phœnician merchants, when they were trading for tin in the southwestern part of Britain. If this theory be correct, the trading between the Phœnicians and the Britons could hardly have been later than the fourth century before the Christian era, and it is more probable that it was several centuries earlier. This topic, however, has been considered in a preceding chapter. Another theory is that when the tides of migration struck the Atlantic, in the higher latitudes, there was a natural deflection toward the warmer countries of the south, the people carrying their horses with them. But from the primitive condition of the arts and of maritime affairs among the Norsemen of that very early period, and from the insular position of Britain, it seems to me that to reach it with horses, the most probable source of supply was from that great nation whose “ships of Tarshish” had been trading to all lands more than a thousand years before the Christian era. But, laying all theories aside, there are some facts and dates that we know, and the particular one to which I wish here to call attention is the historical record that when the Romans first visited Britain they found an abundant supply of horses; and this was about four hundred years before Arabia received her supply from the Emperor Constantius.


From the time of the Romans in Britain, horse-racing has been a popular and favorite amusement of our ancestors, and from that time horses have been bred for special purposes. The “Great Horse,” as he was called, was bred for war, parade, and show, and was large enough and strong enough to carry a knight in armor. The smaller horses were bred for the race or the chase, others for the saddle on account of their easy, gliding motion, and the comfort of the rider, while others, again, were stout of back and limb and able to carry burdens. In regard to the speed of the horses bred for that purpose, Mr. Gervase Markham, the second Englishman who undertook to write a book on the horse, has given us some very interesting and valuable information. He brought out his work in the latter part of the sixteenth century, and it passed through several “enlarged and improved” editions. In the edition of 1606 he says:

“For swiftness what nation has brought forth the horse which excelled the English? When the best Barbaries that ever were in their prime, I saw them overcome by a black Hobbie, of Salisbury, and yet that black Hobbie was overcome by a horse called Valentine, which Valentine neither in hunting nor running was ever equalled, yet was a plain English horse, both by syre and dam.”

From this we must conclude that some horses from the Barbary States had been brought over previous to 1606, which doubtless antedated the arrival of King James’ Arabian. This is the horse known as the Markham Arabian, and is in the above list of foundation stallions. In speaking of the Arabian horses as a breed, the Duke of Newcastle remarks as follows upon this particular representative of that breed:

“I never saw but one of these horses, which Mr. John Markham, a merchant, brought over and said he was a right Arabian. He was a bay, but a little horse, and no rarity for shape, for I have seen many English horses far finer. Mr. Markham sold him to King James for five hundred pounds, and being trained up for a course (race), when he came to run every horse beat him.”

The duke then goes on to speak of the staying qualities of the Arabians:

“They talk they will ride fourscore miles in a day and never draw the bridle. When I was young I could have bought a nag for ten pounds that would have done as much very easily.”


These remarks are repeated here because they are specially pertinent in this connection.

It will be conceded by every one who has any knowledge of the horse history of this period that the Duke of Newcastle was the best-informed man of his generation on all subjects connected with the history and breeding of the horse. His preference for blood was in the following order: The Barb, the Turk, the Spaniard, the Neapolitan, and the handsomest of the English stock. It will be observed that in this classification the Arabian has no place.

From these illustrations, to which other similar ones might be added, it seems to be evident that the native English stock did not lack speed so much as they lacked quality, finish, and beauty. Perhaps size should be included in this enumeration. They had been bred and trained to run for centuries, and they were as stout and fleet as the exotics, but they lacked the qualifications of beauty and style. The foreigners possessed what the natives lacked, and more than all they furnished both the climatic and the blood outcross that were needed to re-invigorate the native character. It was the custom of the people in the seventeenth century to let their horses of both sexes roam at will through forests and glades, and in this way the average size had been reduced and the law of Henry VIII. (prohibiting the running at large of stallions under a certain size) had become a nullity. At the time of the restoration of Charles II. (1660) the average size of the traveling stock of England was very small—perhaps not over thirteen hands high—and then commenced the serious work of increasing the size and improving the speed of the light horse stock, under the direction and influence of the Duke of Newcastle. The introduction of the new blood would give vigor to the stock, but as that blood was the blood of Turks and Barbs, probably but little if any larger than the native stock, the mystery still remains unsolved. In about one hundred years from that time the average size of the race horse had been brought up from less than fourteen to about fifteen hands. This increase of size cannot be accounted for on any other grounds than the introduction of the blood of some larger breed. We cannot conceive of this being the blood of the old Flanders stock that had been brought over centuries before; hence I am strongly of the opinion that the duke knew just what he was doing when he brought in a lot of stallions and mares (the latter called the[82] “Royal Mares”) without telling anybody what they were or where they came from. This view is strengthened by the fact that none of the descendants of these mares, for several generations, ever made a mark upon the turf. If we reject this theory of the “Royal Mares,” we are then forced to the conclusion that the increase of size came chiefly from the large cold-blooded mares of the native stock. The fleet running families of the natives were small, and the imported Turks and Barbs were but little if any larger; hence, if we accept the evidence of our own senses and study the great variations in height, we cannot reject the conclusion that these variations had their origin in the size of the original elements entering into the formation of the breed.

What was the extent of the influence of the speed of the old English race horse upon the new race horse that sprang up in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? This is a question that has not been very much discussed, but every intelligent and thinking man has given it more or less thought. Britain was not rapid in the progress of civilization and refinement, but through all the centuries of her history she had her race horses and she ran them. There can be no doubt that many of these native horses could outrun and outlast the best of the exotics that were brought in. None of those exotics, so far as we know, could run and win. Their value, then, was measured, not by what they could do themselves, but by what their progeny could do; and that progeny, at the foundation, carried half the blood of the old tribes. There were no racing calendars in the seventeenth century and none till the second decade of the eighteenth, and during all that time the blood of every man’s horse would, naturally, be fashionable blood. When the racing calendars were established they were a partial check upon untruthful representations, but this check only extended to the sire of the animal, and was then not always trustworthy. This left the whole maternal side open to all kinds of misrepresentation, and as the Anglo-Saxon race is fond of liberty, every man exercised the liberty of making his pedigrees to suit himself. Thus, through advertisements, sale papers, etc., great multitudes of fictitious pedigrees, all shaped on fashionable lines, gained currency and were propagated from owner to owner, from generation to generation. On this point I speak from the personal knowledge of a long lifetime in connection with such affairs in our own country, and I take it for granted that our English ancestors were no[83] better and no worse than we are ourselves. This was the condition of things in England for about one hundred and fifty years, and when Mr. Weatherby was at work on the Stud Book he was overflowed with a flood of those bald-headed fictions, concocted by generations long past, and nobody could disprove them. In this way a large portion of the accumulated rubbish of past generations found its way into the English Stud Book and there it stands to-day, serving only to misguide the seeker after truth.

The earliest records of English racing commence with the year 1709, and at Newmarket 1716. There have been several racing calendars published at different times, but probably the best and most convenient for office use is the Racing Register published by Bailey Bros., commencing with the first and now filling several large volumes. In the early days very few of the winners even had any pedigree, but after the lapse of about fifty years we find it the rule to insert the sire of all winners, although there were still some exceptions. Under this usage it became possible in the course of time to establish the leading facts on the paternal side, and thus the work of the stud-book compiler was greatly facilitated. Those racing calendars, although intended merely to serve the convenience of men who bet their money, caring nothing for blood, served the more permanent and valuable purpose of fixing the paternal lines in the genealogy of the English race horse.

In 1786 Mr. William Pick, of York, England, published “A Careful Collection of all the Pedigrees it was then Possible to Obtain,” thus antedating Mr. Weatherby’s “Introduction” by five years. In 1785 Mr. Pick had commenced the publication of a racing calendar called “The Sportsman and Breeder’s Vade Mecum,” which was continued a good many years. These little annual volumes were well received, and they were the forerunners of Pick’s Turf Register, the first volume of which was brought out in 1703. This was the same year that the first volume of Weatherby’s Stud Book appeared, and there was a sharp rivalry between the two authors, not merely as two men, but as representing two divisions of the country. Mr. Pick was a Yorkshire man and Mr. Weatherby was a Londoner. Yorkshire claimed to be the “race-horse region” of England, and the Southrons were ready to fight rather than concede that claim. This rivalry survived two or three generations of racing men, and it is a question[84] whether it has yet subsided. In the north Pick was the authority and in the south, Weatherby.

These two men worked on different plans, and each had its advantages. Pick limited his labors to the great animals of the past, and took them up in chronological order, giving a brief sketch of the history and performances of each. This plan required space, and when he had completed his first volume of five hundred and twenty-eight pages he had only reached the close of 1763. The second volume, bringing the work down to the close of 1772, made its appearance in 1805. Mr. Pick did not live to continue the work, and it fell into the hands of Mr. R. Johnson, who brought out the third volume in 1822, which continued the chronological order to the close of 1782. After the lapse of forty-five years, namely 1867, the fourth volume appeared under Mr. Johnson’s name, bringing the work to the close of 1792, and I am not aware that the work has been continued. These four volumes contained much that cannot be found elsewhere, and are very valuable.

When we come to study these assemblages of impossible things put together and called pedigrees, we begin to realize the absolute rottenness of the alleged pedigrees of that whole early period. Take, for instance, the case of the horse called the Bald Galloway. He bore this name because he had a bald face, and was of the Galloway breed. This Galloway breed took its name from the old Province of Galloway, in the southwestern part of Scotland. They were small, active horses and were famous for many generations as a breed of pacers. It has been said that the last pacers in Great Britain were found in Galloway. This horse, Bald Galloway, was foaled some time about 1708 and was famous as a fast race horse till he trained off at five years old. I think there is no doubt about his being a genuine Galloway, and if so how could he have a pedigree all of foreign blood and ending in a “Royal Mare?” This Galloway horse was the sire of the famous Roxana, that produced Lath and his full brother Cade, that made the early reputation of the great Godolphin Arabian. I will ask my readers to refer to the Curwen Bay Barb, No. 11, near the commencement of this chapter. This was one of the very best of all the Barbs imported, and his origin and history are given with unusual fullness, as well as an enumeration of the best of his get. In examining this enumeration it will be seen that a good number of his best foals were out of Galloway mares and[85] are called “Galloways.” Brocklesby Betty was one of the great mares of her day, and the Stud Book says that “as a runner, she was thought to be the superior of any horse or mare of her time.” She was foaled 1711, was got by Curwen Bay Barb and out of Mr. Leedes’ Hobby Mare. She was a brood mare before she was trained, and her performances were soon after the establishment of the Racing Calendars, which show her great superiority. The “Hobbies” were a breed of Irish pacing horses that had been noted for more than a hundred years, on both sides of the Irish channel, as saddle horses, hunters, and runners. The theory that these “Irish Hobbies” were descended from the horses on board one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, that was wrecked on the Irish coast, is purely fanciful, for they were known as a breed long before the Spanish Armada was projected. The Hobbies were larger and better formed, as a rule, than the Galloways, and more highly esteemed. These illustrations of the influence and power of indigenous blood in the formation of the breed, known throughout the world as the English race horse might be extended indefinitely, but let these suffice. With the “Galloways” and the “Hobbies,” well known to our ancestors two hundred years ago as established breeds or tribes of horses, we cannot avoid the conclusion that they were very prodigal of fancy and very economical of truth when they attempted to clothe Bald Galloway, Leedes’ Hobby, etc., in foreign pedigrees to make them fashionable. Aside from the matters of evidence here introduced going to show the composite material entering into the constitution, structure and instincts of the race horse as he is today, there is another that plays a very prominent part in the combination. When we see a race horse fourteen hands high, and another of equally pure blood standing beside him seventeen hands high, we naturally wonder, and ask, Why this difference in size? The Turk, the Barb, the Hobby, the Galloway, and indeed all the old English racing stock, were very small, scarcely averaging fourteen hands. After we have made every allowance for a salubrious climate and a generous and unstinted dietary we must concede a gradual increase of growth, but these things fail to account for a difference of twelve inches in the height of two horses bred in the same lines for untold generations. The conclusion seems to be inevitable that there were big horses as well as little ones in the original combination of ancestors. From these diverse sources of his inheritance, it becomes plain to the[86] mind of every one that the English race horse is thoroughly composite in the blood he inherits, and it is beyond the powers of analysis to determine whether one element did more than another in making him the fastest running horse in the world.

While it might be forcibly, if not conclusively, argued that the native English horse had in him all the elements necessary to the development of a breed of race horses as great as the breed of our own day, there is one fact ever present to the senses which goes to show that the influence of exotic blood was very wide and very powerful in controlling the action of the race horse. The popular and prevailing pacing action of the Hobbies, the Galloways, and other hunting, racing and saddle tribes was completely wiped out more than a hundred years ago. Any attempt to account for this revolution in the gait of the English horse as a fancy of fashion, or on the introduction of wheeled vehicles, fails to satisfy the understanding. In the first half of the seventeenth century pacers were popular, common, and abounded everywhere. In the second half of the eighteenth century not one could be found in all Britain, “from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s House.” Of all the facts that are known and established in the history of the English horse, the wiping out of the pacer is the most striking and significant. This exterminating process was not limited to the families that were intended for hunting or racing purposes, but extended to all types and breeds of English horses. The little English pacers that had been the favorites of kings and princes and nobles for so many centuries were submerged in the streams of Saracenic blood that flowed in upon them, and their only legitimate descendants left upon the face of the earth found homes in the American colonies. Their blood is one of the principal elements in the foundation of the English race horse, but the “lateral action” in his progeny was esteemed a bar-sinister on the escutcheon of the stallion, and it was sought to be covered up with something more fashionable in name. The old saddle horses of England were not all pacers, although that habit of action was very general among them, and in some families it was more uniform and confirmed than in others, and my authority for this conclusion will be found in the detailed account of the horses brought from England to the American colonies early in the seventeenth century. It is evident that from the day the blood of the Saracenic horse was brought in contact with that of the indigenous saddle horse, they[87] were antagonistic, if in nothing more, certainly in the habit of action. The one never moved in the lateral action and the other very generally adopted that form of progression because it was his inheritance. What might have been the result if left to the laws of “natural selection,” it would be impossible to decide; but with the dictates of profit to the master, the mandates of fashion, and above all the accepted teachings of the Duke of Newcastle, the little pacer had no “friends at court,” and all he could do was to get out of the way, with his lateral action. In our own country and under the observation of everybody the pacer shows great tenacity to his long-inherited habit of action, and although buried in non-pacing blood, as supposed, for two or three generations, the pace is liable to appear again, at any time. So it was, doubtless in English experiences, but as the revolution was not retarded by the development of pacing speed, in one hundred years from the restoration, in 1660, there was no longer a pacer on British soil.

When the first Mr. Weatherby assumed the task of making and keeping a registry of English race horses, he seems to have had only a very faint conception of the magnitude of the undertaking. The first volume of his “General Stud Book” was published in 1803, and when it appeared it was found to contain so many things that were not true that the necessary work of revision and excision reduced its contents fearfully. In these eliminations he started in with a free hand, as is shown by comparison with later editions, but soon found that his book was disappearing very rapidly, and not much of it would be left, if he did not stay his hand. At this point he seems to have adopted some new rule, unfortunately, either of evidence or of date, probably the latter, for his work discloses the fact that he declined all responsibility for pedigrees as they came to him, of an earlier period than about 1780. Beyond that date nearly all the crude and impossible things of fiction were allowed to remain and are thus propagated as true, down to our own day. There was one rule, however, adopted very early in the management of this compilation that saved it from degeneracy, and that was the difficulty of getting into it. In all its history, from the beginning, it has been a kind of “close corporation,” and the animals in the volume of the last year are almost uniformly descended from the animals to be found in the first volume. The application of this rule, no doubt, worked an injustice in very many cases,[88] but it made the English race horse a BREED, pre-eminent above all other horses for his unequaled speed as a running horse. This general rule restricting admissions to the descendants of such as had places in preceding volumes seems to have been followed and maintained with a good share of rigidity, by the different generations of the Weatherby family, in whose hands the compilation still remains. Whatever may have been the ratio of fables and forgeries in the first volume, they were there compacted and neither the Weatherbys nor the breeders have been much annoyed with them since. The plan of the Stud Book itself is very unsatisfactory to the careful student, for the reason that it admits of no details of breeder, owner, etc., that are of vital importance in tracing and identifying an unknown or disputed pedigree. While the plan is very desirable and effective in placing the produce of mares underneath the dams, it is very defective in relation to breeders, and subsequent owners. Unless the identity of the animal can be traced and established by the records, the pedigree is always doubtful. But notwithstanding the unsatisfactory plan of its construction, it has been honestly compiled, and we may safely accept its contents, back as far as the beginning of the nineteenth century, when Mr. Weatherby began his work; but when we reach the period of the eighteenth century, facts, fables and frauds are so inextricably mixed that whatever we accept must be cum grano salis. Beyond that period Mr. Weatherby furnishes nothing but the wildest fancies and traditions shaped up by those contributing them with a view to lengthen a pedigree and a price accordingly. All that we can ever know of the horses of that period we must gather from the little snatches dropped by contemporaneous historians.

In establishing his “General Stud Book,” Mr. Weatherby’s work may be compared to the building of an embankment around a great field which contained all the race horses of the realm. They were of all colors, all markings and all sizes, except the monster cart horse and the diminutive Shetland. They had all raced or possessed blood that had raced, and they all had pedigrees of various lengths and various degrees of reliability. They all walked and trotted and galloped, and there was not a pacer among them, for the last pacer had disappeared from England probably fifty years before this. The antagonism of the Saracenic horse had triumphed, and that antagonism was bred in the blood[89] and bone of every animal in the field. They were placed there to be inter-bred and to produce race horses. Every one of the thousand owners was anxious to produce a great winner, and he was left to the exercise of his own fancy and judgment as to what cross would be most likely to prove successful, and to vindicate his superior intelligence. With, all experimenting outside of the breed practically barred, the instincts of the breed ripened and intensified until its representatives are able to beat the fleetest in the world at the gallop, but they could neither walk fast nor trot fast. It is doubtful whether any person in the world has ever seen a true-bred race horse that could trot a mile in four minutes. At this gait they show no aptness nor speed whatever. By breeding to fit the modern methods of racing, the speed of the race horse has been greatly increased, for short distances, but his stamina and endurance no longer command admiration as in former generations.

In the latter half of the last century there were a good many excellent trotters in England, but the further we get away from the blood of the old English pacer, the fewer the trotters we find, until at last there are none at all. It seems to be true of all countries that where there are no pacers there are no trotters. It was not the purpose nor wish of the English people to banish the trotter, but when the pacer was banished the trotter soon followed him.


Antiquity of American racing—First race course at Hempstead Plain, 1665— Racing in Virginia, 1677—Conditions of early races—Early so-called Arabian importations—The marvelous tradition of Lindsay’s “Arabian”— English race horses first imported about 1750—The old colonial stock as a basis—First American turf literature—Skinner’s American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, 1829—Cadwallader R. Colden’s Sporting Magazine short-lived but valuable—The original Spirit of the Times—Porter’s Spirit of the Times—Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, 1859—Edgar’s Stud Book —Wallace’s Stud Book—Bruce’s Stud Book—Their history, methods, and value—Summing up results, showing that success has followed breeding to individuals and families that could run and not to individuals and families that could not run, whatever their blood.

Horses were kept for running, and horse racing was a common amusement in some of the American Colonies for about a hundred years before the first English race horses were imported. This embraces a century of horse history that, hitherto, has been practically unexplored and unknown. For the details of what I have been able to glean of this neglected and unknown century my readers are referred to the chapters on the different colonies. The first racing in this country of which we have any historical knowledge was organized by Governor Nicolls. In 1664 the Dutch surrendered the province of New Netherlands to the English, and the next autumn, 1665, the new race course at Hempstead Plains was inaugurated by the new governor of the colony. This course was named Newmarket, after the famous English course, and Governor Nicolls’ successors continued to offer purses on this course for many years, and after a time there were two regular meetings held there, spring and autumn. Owing to the distance of this course from the city, other courses, near at hand, were soon constructed and racing of all kinds and at all gaits held high carnival. The principal prizes were called “Subscription Purses,” the distance almost invariably two miles, and the weight carried ten stone. The horses that ran were known[91] as “Dutch horses,” and were descended from the original stock brought from Utrecht, in Holland. They were larger than the English horses, and brought better prices, although the latter were esteemed more highly for their saddle gaits. I think the Dutch horses, originally, had no natural pacers among them, but for the pleasures and uses of the saddle they were inter-bred with the English horses and the mixed blood soon produced many pacers. It is probable also that this mixture increased the speed of the whole tribe. Thus racing continued with but few interruptions and without any known changes in the rules or conditions governing performances, except that after fifty years or more the weight to be carried was reduced from ten stone to eight stone. In the year 1751, which was eighty-six years after Governor Nicolls had established the Newmarket course on Long Island, we find the following significant condition inserted in the terms of entrance to the races, for the first time: “Free to any horse, mare, or gelding bred in America.” The simple meaning of this new condition was to “head off” the scheme of some “sharp” fellows who were, probably, then on the ocean with two or three English race horses, with which they expected to “gobble up” whatever stakes or purses came within their reach.

The first record we have of racing in Virginia is to be found in the court records of Henrico County, in the year 1677—twelve years after the establishment of racing in New York. For fuller particulars of this, the reader is referred to the chapter on that colony. The Virginians were a horse-racing people from the start, and it is impossible to tell how long before racing first commenced, but probably just as soon as any two neighbors met, each owning a horse, a few hundred pounds of tobacco were put up the next day, to make it interesting, in determining which was the faster. This racing feeling was not confined to neighbors nor to neighborhoods, but it pervaded the whole colony, and the people of every county had their annual and semi-annual meetings, which everybody attended. Their methods of handicapping will strike the present generation as somewhat peculiar. In their advertisements of the meetings, such language as the following was very common: “Sized horses to carry one hundred and forty pounds and Galloways to be allowed weight for inches.” From this we learn that the tribe of little Scotch pacers were still to the fore on this side of the water and that they[92] were just as fleet as the larger horses, provided the weight was graduated to their inches. There was one feature in these race meetings that will be a surprise to many of my readers, as it was to myself, and that is the fact that at most of these meetings there was one four-mile race. Smaller prizes were run for by horses classed as to size, and it may be noted that there was one class “not exceeding thirteen hands.” At these meetings the distance never seems to have been less than one mile, while on the southern border of the colony and in North Carolina, quarter racing was very popular and very common from the earliest dates, and it was kept up through the greater part of the eighteenth century. For a fuller account of the racing of those early days the reader is referred to the chapter on Virginia.

In this old English, Irish and Scottish blood, full of the pacing element, which we may now call “native” blood, we have the real foundation upon which the English race horse was bred and from which has come the approximate if not the complete equal of the highest type of the English horse, in both speed and stamina. The English and the American race horse came from the same source and possess the same blood, with this trifling distinction—the native mares in England were bred to horses of exotic, Saracenic origin, while the native mares of America were bred to the descendants of that native-exotic combination. Hence, with the original maternal ancestry of the same blood, the combined and improved English descendant of that blood became the paternal ancestor of the American race horse. We must not forget that this “paternal ancestor” had been the result of crossing and recrossing, selecting, breeding and developing for nearly a hundred years, and that he was, therefore, a far better horse and far more prepotent as a sire than the produce of the first cross made under the direction of the Duke of Newcastle. We must not ignore the fact that while there were many stallions brought over in the early days there were also a few mares, but they were so few in number that their influence was hardly appreciable in the new breed to be established. Saracenic blood was touched very sparingly in the colonial days, as even the names of not more than three or four have been preserved in history. The only one of that period fully identified was named Bashaw and was kept on Long Island about the year 1768. Like all the others, he was called an Arabian, but according to the showing of his advertisement he was bred by the Emperor of[93] Morocco, and was not an Arabian. Of the later period and coming down to about 1860 there are twenty-five or thirty that have been called “Arabians.” Near the head of the list stands one called “Arab Barb” or “Black Arabian Barb.” He was claimed to be an imported Barb from Algiers, and was seventeen hands high, “and coarse in proportion.” Many other so-called “importers” were equally absurd and dishonest in their claims, but there horses all passed as genuine “Arabians.” Out of the whole number called “Arabians” not more than five or six seem to have had a shadow of right to the name, and these exceptions were practically restricted to the animals imported by Mr. A. Keene Richards, of Kentucky. That each and all of these exceptions were irredeemable failures is a fact well known to all intelligent horsemen. This motley crew of “Arabian” importations came from all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, except Arabia, were all called “Arabians,” and they were all flat disappointments both as race horses and as producers of race horses.

Out of this list of thirty-five or forty so-called Arabian horses, there is one that requires special mention, not only because a correction may be made in his history, but because I have frequently spoken of him as the only Arabian that had left any mark upon the horse stock of the country. Lindsay’s Arabian, as he was called, was a grey horse and represented to be over fifteen hands high. The story is that he was a Barb and had been presented to the commander of a British man-of-war, when a colt, by the ruler of one of the Barbary States, as an expression of gratitude to the captain for having saved the life of his son. The captain sailed away for a South American port, and while lying there he took his present ashore to let him have a little exercise. The colt was given the free range of a lumber-yard, as the story goes, and in his playfulness a pile of lumber fell upon him and broke three of his legs. The British officer was greatly grieved at his loss and proposed to put the colt out of misery by knocking him on the head. There happened to be an American trading vessel in port and the skipper “allowed if he had that critter on his vessel he could save him.” The officer at once gave him to the skipper and told him his history. Yankee ingenuity and thrift soon got him aboard the trader and he was swung up and his legs properly bandaged. The surgical treatment was good, the bones knit, and in due time the vessel arrived at New London,[94] and the colt was taken to the vicinity of Hartford. Just where this story originated it is not possible now to say, nor do I know that it ever had currency in Connecticut, but it was certainly rehearsed and probably believed in Maryland. He was owned by Colonel Wyllis of Hartford, and was advertised in 1770 under the single name of Ranger, and described as “a fine English stallion of the Barbary breed, bred in England.” From this it would appear that nothing was then known of his romantic history. As a part of his Maryland history it was said that General Washington’s attention had been attracted to a body of Connecticut cavalry by the excellence of their horses, and at his instance Captain Lindsay bought Ranger, because he was the sire of many of those horses, and took him to Maryland, where he was ever afterward known as “Lindsay’s Arabian.” The story of the indorsement of Washington made an excellent stallion card, and it is not necessary that we should inquire into it too closely, for the dates might raise a question. The horse passed from Colonel Wyllis to James Howard, of Windham, and was advertised by him as “The Imported Arabian Horse called The Ranger to stand at his stable the season of 1778.” Hence we must conclude that he was not taken to the South before the season of 1779, or possibly later. Then, as now, to catch the popular fancy, North and South, the horse is no longer an “English stallion of the Barbary breed” but an “Imported Arabian Horse.” His cross was well esteemed in his day, and it has held its place in the estimation of all the experienced horsemen as a good cross in an old pedigree. We now see that he was bred in England, that he was got by a Barb horse or the son of a Barb horse, and that it is not probable there was a single drop of Arabian blood in his veins. This little sketch will serve to illustrate the methods, general and particular, that were invariably used to place a fictitious value upon the so-called imported “Arabians.” In no other department of human knowledge has there been such a universal and persistent habit of misrepresenting the truth of history as in matters relating to the horse. It seems to have been, and still is, a kind of psychical contagion that has been generating dishonesty and a habit of lying in the minds of the great body of horsemen for the past two hundred and fifty years. If a horse is brought from Turkey, or Syria, or Egypt, or Spain, or Morocco, or any of the Barbary States, he is at once called an “Arabian.” This is worse than a misnomer, for it is an essential[95] untruth, and its universal use does not redeem it from its essence of deception and fraud. It must be conceded, however, that this deception may have sprung from bad teaching and ignorance rather than from a depraved moral sense, for many people, as well as the poets and the novelists, may have concluded that as the nations named above got their religion from Arabia, so they got their horse stock from the same country, and thus the horses brought from Turkey, or Syria, or Egypt, or Spain, or Morocco, or any of the Barbary States, are descendants of the Arabian horse and thus entitled to the name “Arabian.” This seems to be the only theory upon which this universal misrepresentation can be palliated. Let us repeat a sentence or two here, to show what history reveals on this point. Strabo says there were no horses in Arabia at the beginning of the Christian era. Philostorgius says that in the year 356, two hundred “well-bred” Cappadocian horses were sent as a present to the prince of Yemen, by the Emperor Constantius. These were the first horses in Arabia. In the days of Mohammed horses were exceedingly scarce in Arabia, and they have remained so to the present time. The horse is an expensive exotic in Arabia, as he is never used for any domestic purpose, nor for any other purpose except robbery or display. For all domestic and commercial uses the camel is far better. All the countries named above were abundantly supplied with horses, at least eight hundred or a thousand years before there were any horses in Arabia. The Moslems got their religion from Arabia, but not their horses. This topic is more fully discussed in the chapter on the Arabian horse.

The importation of English race horses to this side of the water commenced about the year 1750, and that being the middle of the last century it is easy to remember the date when the line was drawn between the old and the new elements appearing on the race course. The following six animals were brought over within a year or two of that date—Monkey, Traveller, Dabster, Childers, Badger, and Janus. A few others might be named, but some at least are mythical. Of those here named, Traveller was the great horse. Janus became the progenitor of a tribe of very fast quarter horses, and although he did not found that tribe, which had been in existence for a hundred years on the border line between Virginia and North Carolina, he doubtless improved it. Monkey was twenty-two years old when he came[96] and did not live long. The whole number imported into all the colonies before the war of the Revolution counts up to about fifty, and some of these are practically unknown, and a few of them were wholly fictitious. Maryland, I think, was first in the field of importations, and then followed Virginia, New York, and North Carolina. Possibly the very earliest importations were made in South Carolina, but there is not much evidence that those importations were utilized to any extent for racing purposes, and hence we know but little of the doings of that colony till a later date. There were not more than about twenty mares of English race-horse blood imported, in the quarter of a century preceding the Revolution, into all the colonies. As many of these animals of both sexes were stolen or destroyed during the war, we can approximate with some degree of certainty the great reduction in this producing force by the time the war ended and importations again commenced.

Now, we have before us the old colonial running stock that had been tested in many a battle and found able to cover the distance of two to four miles, and we have also the new running stock that had never been asked to go any further, but we have no actual, authentic and reliable knowledge of the comparative speed of the two classes. There were no stop watches nor records of time kept in those days. This much only we know, that prizes were offered for “half-breds” for a few years, but when it was found that some of the half-breds could run just as fast and as far as some of the whole-breds, this class of prizes was withdrawn. Then commenced the manufacture of fraudulent pedigrees, for, it was argued, “How could an American horse beat an English horse unless he had English blood and plenty of it?” Hence, when a horse won that fact was taken as proof that he was full bred, and no time was lost in investing him with a first-class, pure-bred pedigree. This was a little onerous on the few imported mares that were known and named, as in the case of imported Mary Gray, for she had to produce eleven filly foals by imported Jolly Roger in order to accommodate her numerous progeny, as alleged, and how many more claims were made of the same pedigree it would be very difficult to estimate. When it began to appear a little awkward to require Mary Gray to have, on paper, more than eleven filly foals by Jolly Roger, it was soon, discovered that it was less perplexing and at the same time less liable to be “cornered” by saying “dam an imported English[97] mare.” No doubt there was a great deal of sharp practice, to say nothing of cheating and lying, about horse matters in Colonial times, but those little venialities were only the blossoms indicating the mature fruits of deceptions and frauds that were to follow when pedigrees would be considered an element of value in the running horse, and when every man would have the power, in fact, to make and print his pedigrees to suit himself. This brings us to a very brief consideration of what has been done in the direction of correcting the frauds of the past and preventing them in the future.

The period of fable and of falsehood in the genealogy of the American race horse seems to have commenced not long after the first importations of English race horses. In the first generations from the imported English horse and the native mare, it was rather difficult for a man to fix up a pedigree for his half-bred colt that would show him to be full bred, but after forty, fifty, or sixty years had elapsed the events became misty, and then every man exercised the right to make his own pedigrees to suit his own fancy. This seems to have been the condition of things for many years, and while there were a few honest men who would stick to the truth, the great majority either made their pedigrees to suit themselves or employed some “expert” to make them for them. The confusion which ensued was most perplexing, and the slipshod manner in which editors and writers on the horse did their work was most discouraging. Whatever was found in print on a crossroads blacksmith shop door was taken as authentic, because it was in print.

In 1829 Mr. John S. Skinner, of Baltimore, Maryland, commenced the publication of a monthly magazine, entitled “The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine,” and as it really “filled a long-felt want,” it received a very encouraging support. As its name indicated its field, it at once became the authority on sporting events and the receptacle of a great amount of valuable correspondence on the horses of the day, as well as the earlier race horses. Mr. Skinner was industrious in collecting material for his magazine, but unfortunately he published whatever was sent to him relating to the horse, and just as it was sent. If a communication was well written, no difference how many errors of fact it might contain, it never seemed to occur to Mr. Skinner to use his blue pencil. Pedigrees were sent in, amounting to many thousands, during his ownership, with fictitious and untruthful[98] remote extensions, and published without any possibility of tracing the different crosses to a known or responsible source or name. Here was the opportunity of a lifetime to “fix up” the pedigrees of stallions to suit the public demand and the fees sought by their owners, send them to Mr. Skinner, and have them duly spread before the public in all their dishonest finery. The early volumes are very rich in the accumulations of pedigrees, such as they are, and hence very valuable. The magazine received less and less attention from its proprietor each succeeding year and finally it was transferred to the Spirit of the Times, of New York, and died after an existence of some fifteen years.

Mr. Cadwallader R. Colden, of New York, commenced the publication of another sporting magazine, that was of very great merit, and did much to correct some of the errors that abounded in Mr. Skinner’s publication. In the controversies which naturally sprang up he had greatly the advantage of his adversary, for he knew horse history and Mr. Skinner did not. Mr. Colden was a man of marked ability, and over the signature of “An Old Turfman” he made himself famous as a writer. He hated a fraud and wherever he saw one he did not hesitate to hit it. His publication was a large and expensive one, racing was then under the periodical interdict of public opinion, and after about two or three years, and greatly to the loss and misfortune of the truths of horse history, the publication was discontinued. The weekly press had no representative in the field of “horse literature and sporting subjects” until early in the thirties, when the Spirit of the Times was founded by William T. Porter. The conception of a weekly paper devoted to all kinds of sports, such as hunting, fishing, racing, gaming, etc., was not only new in this country, but it was brilliant. Mr. Porter was not only a gentleman in his appearance and manners, but he had fine social qualities and was a writer of ability and polish. Such a personage would naturally gather about him friends and correspondents that were congenial, and very soon The Spirit of the Times became noted as the organ of a great body of educated men who loved sport and enjoyed wit. It was the only publication of its kind on the continent, and it soon obtained a very wide circulation. Mr. Porter knew very little of horses, either theoretically or practically, but he was a ready adapter and wrote some fine descriptions of famous racing contests. His habits were sportive rather than industrious, hence he left nothing behind him of value to his friends[99] or to the world except the mere fact that he was the founder of the first sporting paper in this country. In course of time the paper with all its belongings became the property of John Richards, the former pressman, and Mr. Porter had to look for a living wherever he could find it. Mr. George Wilkes then took him under his wing, and started a new sporting paper called Porter’s Spirit of the Times. The use of this name carried with it the support of a good many friends, but as he was not able to write anything, practically, for the new paper, from its very commencement in September, 1856, it failed to yield any support to Mr. Porter, and not much to Mr. Wilkes and his partners. Litigation arose and Mr. Wilkes finally withdrew from Porter’s Spirit of the Times, and started Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times in September, 1859. We then had three sporting papers all claiming to be the original and only legitimate Spirit of the Times. Among their readers they were distinguished as the Old Spirit, Porter’s Spirit, and Wilkes’ Spirit. The circulation of the Old Spirit was largely in the Southern States, and the war destroyed it, in 1861. Porter’s Spirit having but little money and still less brains, died about the same time. This left Mr. Wilkes in open possession of the field, and his remarkably trenchant articles on the conduct of the war gave Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times a very wide circulation, even among those who cared nothing for sporting matters. At the same time he was fortunate in securing the services of Mr. Charles J. Foster, an able writer on horse subjects, and a very industrious and capable man in managing and discussing affairs connected with the horse. Some years later, Mr. Wilkes dropped his own name from the title of his paper, and not long afterward he added twenty-five or thirty years to its age by changing the numbers so as to cover the period of the original Spirit of the Times founded by William T. Porter. The old sporting publications, one and all, maintained the view, so far as they ever had any view to maintain, that all that was of any value in the American horse, for whatever purpose, had come down to us from the Arabian through the English race horse. Their value, therefore, consists wholly in the naked statistics which they contain.

The first attempt made in this country, in the direction of publishing a stud book of American race horses, was the product of Patrick Nesbitt Edgar, an eccentric and apparently not well-balanced[100] Irishman, who was a resident of North Carolina. This book, which purported to be a “first” volume, was very remarkable in many respects, two or three of which I will enumerate. The prevailing absence of dates and all means by which the truth or falsity of a pedigree could be determined; the astounding number of crosses given, even to the immediate descendants of imported sires; the multitude of animals never heard of before nor since, with pedigrees extended a dozen crosses; the absence of many animals that everybody had heard of. This book had been in print about thirty years before I ever saw it, and the first impression it made on my mind was that the author was “clean daft.” At the same time, through all his work there was a “method in his madness,” going to show the care he had taken to exclude or suppress any little fact that might lead to detection and exposure. As an illustration of his methods I will take the following pedigree, at random, as given by him and copied, literally, by Mr. Bruce, following the particular form of the latter:

CENTAUR, b. h. foaled 1767, bred by ——; owned in Virginia, got by imported Stirling (Evans’) (foaled 1762).

1st dam by imp. Aristotle (imported 1764).

2d dam by imp. Dotterel.

3d dam by imp. David (imported 1763).

4th dam by imp. Ranter (imported 1762).

5th dam by imp. Othello (imported 1755).

6th dam by imp. Childers (imported 1761).

7th dam an imported, thoroughbred mare.

Now, what do we know about this pedigree that has been indorsed and published, just as here stated, by two stud-book makers? They do not pretend to know by whom he was bred, nor do they know in what part of Virginia he was owned, but they assume to know perfectly well each cross in his pedigree and that his seventh dam was an imported, thoroughbred mare. The dates of importations in parentheses in the foregoing have been placed there by myself for the sake of the exhibit. The horse Dotterel, the original of that name and by the same reputed sire, never left England, and it is probable this Dotterel is mythical. Now, let us analyze this pedigree by the aid of the searchlight of dates. Ranter, imported 1762, might have had a filly to his credit in 1763. This filly at two years old might have been bred to David and produced a filly in 1766. This filly at two[101] years old might have been bred to Dotterel and produced a filly in 1769. This filly at two years old might have been bred to Aristotle and produced a filly in 1772. This filly, at two years old, might have bred to Evans’ Stirling (or Starling), and produced the colt Centaur in 1775—but he was foaled in 1767. Not once in a million times would this succession of possibilities occur, but if they did occur in this case the pedigree of Centaur still remains absolutely impossible, for four generations of horses cannot be crowded into five years. This exhibit fairly illustrates the character of Mr. Edgar’s work, and being right on the border line between the “native” race horse and the modern “thoroughbred” we see just how they compressed the breeding of eight generations into the space of fifteen or sixteen years. If we were to compare the English with the American methods of manufacturing pedigrees, it would be hard to determine which was the more shamefully dishonest. Mr. Edgar was fiercely dissatisfied with the indifference of horsemen to his enterprise, and with the lack of support which they rendered him. He went forward with his second volume and professed to have completed it, but announced that it should never be put in type until the horsemen of the country should assist and support him. In the event of their failing to do so he threatened to sink his manuscript twenty feet deep in the center of the Dismal Swamp, where no mortal would ever find it. The second volume never appeared, and it is to be hoped he carried out his threat.

For the second attempt at compiling a stud book of American Race Horses I must, myself, plead guilty. Some time in the “fifties” I came into possession of a number of volumes of the “old” Spirit of the Times, Skinner’s American Turf Register, three or four volumes of the “English Stud Book” and a large number of volumes of the English Sporting Magazine. As I was then dabbling slightly around the edges of “horse literature,” I found this little nucleus of a library very convenient, but very unsatisfactory in answering questions that came to me, and which an official position seemed to require that I should be able to answer. When asked for the pedigrees of other domestic animals I could take down the Herd Books of the different leading breeds and give precise information, but when asked about the pedigree of a horse, unless he was greatly distinguished as a racer, days of solid labor might be expended on the one question and then not discover the information sought. It was, perhaps, ten years after[102] this time before I ever saw or heard of the misbegotten and foolish compilation of pedigrees made by Edgar. For some years this labor of compilation was prosecuted at odd hours, for my own personal use and satisfaction, and without the remotest purpose of ever publishing a stud book. As I plodded my way along, finding what I supposed to be a fact here and another there, and often conflicting, I found myself invariably accepting what was longest as a pedigree, as this feature seemed to be evidence not only of completeness, but of truthfulness at the same time. As my gleanings grew in volume my interest in what I was doing became more absorbing and intense, and when I had completed the search of every page and paragraph of my published sources of information, up to the close of the year 1839, I found I had enough matter for a large volume. About this time I came into possession of a copy of “Edgar’s Stud Book”—and I was greatly perplexed to know what to do with it. The copyright was dead and it contained a good many unimportant and utterly unknown things that I had not met with in all my gleanings. Under these circumstances and considering the fact that it abounded in the crudest uncertainties, to call them by no harsher name, I concluded to use his work in all cases where I did not have a pedigree from other sources, to cut off all imaginary extensions and to insert his name, in every case, as the source of information and responsibility. The work then went to press and the first volume of “Wallace’s American Stud Book” made its appearance in 1871. The time and labor expended on the first volume made me quite familiar with the leading performers of the several generations embraced therein, and the work on the second volume went forward with more ease and rapidity, and in 1871 I had completed the gleaning of all publications relating to the race horse, up to the close of 1870.

This second volume, being about the size of the first, was completed and put in due form for the compositor, but never was published. The reason why it was never published may not be without interest to the student of horse genealogy, and I will, in a few words, state that reason. Side by side with the progress of the second volume of the runners, I was carrying forward a careful investigation of the lineage of the early trotters and their progenitors. As there were no trotting records giving pedigrees, I was compelled to go back to the breeders as the only source of reliable information. When I obtained this from intelligent and[103] reputable people I accepted the information and stood by it as the truth; and when I came to compare it with the representations of pedigree made in advertisements of some stallion scion of the family, the truth began to dawn upon me that advertisements, whether in newspapers or on crossroads blacksmith-shop doors, with scarcely an exception, were made up of statements that were utterly false and fictitious. They were made up for the single purpose of securing patronage, and generally traced in different directions to famous and well-known horses. The fictitious extensions of stallion advertisements have served as the basis for the fictitious extensions of families and tribes. When I came to compare the extensions of trotting pedigrees with running pedigrees, I could not discover that the one was any more or less reliable than the other. They rested on precisely the same basis of stallion pedigrees, and no difference whether they appeared in Mr. Skinner’s Turf Register or in a big poster, there was no censorship, and they were both in type—and whatever was in type was generally supposed to be worthy of belief. In one respect the pedigrees of running horses are more reliable than the early advertisements of trotting horses, particularly with those that raced, for they were required to give the sire and dam when they were entered in races, and a failure to comply with this rule was penalized. The sires, therefore, are generally right, but unfortunately the rule did not require the dam to be named and definitely specified, hence any one of a dozen unnamed mares by a given horse could be represented in after years as the dam of that particular horse. Here commenced the trouble in the unnamed and untraced mares that never have been nor ever can be identified. On a careful and sorrowful review of my work of many years I found that I had been working on a wrong basis from the start. Instead of discovering and arranging a great many valuable truths, as I supposed, I had devoted years to perpetuating thousands and thousands of fictions in these unknown, unnamed, and unidentified dams. This is the reason the second volume of “Wallace’s American Stud Book” never was published. The only benefit I ever derived from the work was in its educational aspects. The work made me familiar with the early running-horse history of this country and of England, and taught me what so many horsemen should learn—that a truth is always better than a lie. The more carefully and thoroughly I went into the origin, lineage and history of what we[104] may call the modern race horse, the more evident it became to my mind that the great mass of the running horses of our own generation are carrying, in their pedigrees, the frauds and fictions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to say nothing of the innumerable deceptions and tricks of our own century. To accept and propagate these untruths is simply to, in a manner, indorse them, and an attempt to eliminate them would invoke the clamors of a continent. Hence, more than twenty years ago, I washed my hands of all responsibility for the pedigrees of English race horses, and turned my attention to establishing the lineage of the American trotter, on sure foundations, and building him up into a breed.

The third attempt at compiling the pedigrees of running-bred horses was made by Mr. Sanders D. Bruce, of New York, and as it followed Edgar and Wallace, it was made up chiefly of what he found in these works. The conscienceless fictions of Edgar were accepted without hesitation or remorse, and the central aim seemed to be to make every pedigree as long as possible, whether true or false. No fictitious stallion advertisement was ever too absurd to serve as a basis for the pedigrees of all his kindred. Mr. Bruce accepted everything and rejected nothing, and it is not probable he ever investigated a pedigree in his life. His rule of action seems to have been to please his customers, and to scrupulously avoid all public discussions of pedigrees. This was the politic course to pursue, for any attempt to defend the monstrosities it contained would have wiped it out of existence very quickly. Bruce’s Stud Book seems to have been supported by a few individuals, from the beginning, as a kind of eleemosynary institution, and it is not likely it will ever rise above that condition.

The substantial correctness of the generations extending back for a period of sixty or eighty years, and in some cases even a little further, is a very valuable contribution to our store of knowledge in this department of industry, but, unfortunately, the generations beyond those that may be classed as recent very largely rest upon foundations that are fictitious and fraudulent.

These fictions and frauds are so general and common in the remote extensions on the female side of the pedigree that when we find a string of ten or perhaps twenty dams and not one[105] of them named, known or identified until we strike the twenty-first, and she described as “thoroughbred, imported mare,” we know that this is the work of the professional “pedigree maker,” and not more than once in a hundred times will we be mistaken. This is alike true of both English and American pedigrees of race horses. The modern crosses are comparatively honest, but the remote extensions, through the maternal lines, in both countries are chiefly the products of a venal imagination.

There are some foundation truths in the history and development of the English and American race horse—for they are both one in blood—to which I must briefly advert before dismissing this topic. In announcing the conclusions which I have reached, I am fully conscious that I will come in contact with preconceived opinions that have been very prevalent, if not universal, for at least two centuries.

1. There were race horses in England that had been racing and breeding for centuries before the first Saracenic horse was brought there, and it was not an uncommon thing for the native to beat the exotic, when he first arrived. There had been racing in America, by what we will call the native stock—but they were all English and Dutch—for about one hundred years before the first English race horse reached this country.

2. These horses had been selected with care and bred for centuries with more or less intelligence, with the single purpose of increasing their speed. During those centuries there were not so many writers on biology, heredity, etc., as we have now, but the old aphorism, “Like begets like”—a complete epitome of all science on this subject—was just as well known and as universally believed a thousand years ago as it is to-day. We may, therefore, safely conclude that at the close of the sixteenth century there were many native English horses, descended from lines and tribes that had been selected, raced and bred for generations, that were fully the equals of the best of the exotics, that were brought in about that time.

3. The native stock of England at the close of the sixteenth century, was the stock from which the American colonies received their first supplies, except the few brought from Utrecht, in Holland, to the Dutch Colonists in New York. When brought across the Atlantic, especially in Virginia, no time was lost in continuing their development as race horses, which was carried forward[106] for nearly one hundred years before the first English race horse was imported for their improvement. Their regular racing was at all distances, up to four miles.

4. On this basis of the native English blood, common to both countries, the breed of English and American race horses was built up. The foreign elements brought into England were chiefly from the Barbary States and from Turkey. This exotic blood certainly had a very marked effect upon the horse stock of Britain, but it cannot be said, with certainty, that it increased the speed of the race horse. All the experiences of the past hundred years with these foreign strains have gone to show that instead of increasing the speed they have retarded it.

5. The list of the foundation stock of the English race horse as given by Mr. Weatherby, in the first volume of the English Stud Book, and reproduced in the preceding chapter, is worthy of very careful study, especially by those who seem to think that the English race horse is descended, without admixture, from the Arabian horse. The striking feature of that list is the overwhelming preponderance of other blood than the Arabian, even if we accept all that is called Arabian as genuine. Mr. Darley’s horse, called an Arabian, and Lord Godolphin’s horse, called an Arabian, count for more than all the others put together, in the make-up of the English race horse. Mr. Darley’s horse came from a region remote from Arabia and where a thousand good horses are bred for one in Arabia, and should be called a Turk. Lord Godolphin’s horse—“the great unknown”—will ever remain unknown. He seems to have been traced to France, and, after studying his portraiture, it is probable he was a French horse.

6. Taking this list of foundation stock and viewing it from the standpoint of the greatest lenity and liberality that a sound and careful judgment can accord, we find that the inheritance of Arabian blood in the veins of the English race horse, if there was any such inheritance at all, was strictly infinitesimal. This historical fact in the foundation of the race horse, showing the inutility of Arabian blood, whether genuine or spurious, has been fully confirmed in great multitudes of trials, in both nations, during the past hundred years. In no case has it been a benefit, but always a detriment.

7. The race horse has been bred through centuries for the single purpose of speed. Through all his generations he has[107] been the product of the brains, judgment and skill of his successive masters. Parents were selected that could go out and win the prizes from their fellows. The next generation was not only the product of running parents, but parents that were from running families. Thus grew up the pedigree of the race horse under the direction of thought and judgment. Pedigrees are practical things and full of winners, and in no sense made more valuable by having some supposed “Arabian” cross away back ten generations, that never ran in his life.


Hardships of the colonists—First importations of horses—Racing prevalent in the seventeenth century—Exportation and then importations prohibited—Organized horse racing commenced 1677 and became very general—In 1704 there were many wild horses in Virginia and they were hunted as game—The Chincoteague ponies accounted for—Jones on life in Virginia, 1720—Fast early pacers, Galloways and Irish Hobbies—English race horses imported—Moreton’s Traveler probably the first—Quarter racing prevailed on the Carolina border—Average size and habits of action clearly established—The native pacer thrown in the shade by the imported runner—An Englishman’s prejudices.

The colony of Virginia, settled at Jamestown, May 13, 1607, was subjected to a succession of dissensions, privations and disasters extending through a number of years. The elements of which this first plantation was composed were heterogeneous, and many of them wholly unsuited to battle with the hardships and privations of the wilderness. A very large proportion of the adventurers were mere idlers at home, descended from good but impecunious families, and had never done an honest day’s work in their lives. Too proud to labor even if they had known how, hunger and rags soon made them the most unhappy and discontented of mortals. The governmental affairs of the colony fell into confusion, like the people forming it, and we have no official record of what was done for a number of years. All that is known today of what transpired in the early years of the colony has been gleaned from the personal correspondence of actors in the many strifes that came so near destroying them all. These letters are, generally, so strongly imbued with partisan feeling that there seems to be no room left to tell us anything about the industrial growth of the colony, either in planting or breeding. The excerpts, therefore, relating to the early horses of Virginia which I have been able to gather from a great many sources, will fall far short of being complete, but I think they will serve as a basis upon which to form an intelligent estimate of the Virginia[109] horses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and as to the nineteenth, the newspapers will furnish everything what is needed.

It is evident that the fleet of three vessels which took out to Virginia the first adventurers took also some horses and mares with them; for the governor and council, who went out the next year, in reporting the condition of the colonists to the home company, under date of July 7, 1610, use this language:

“Our people, together with the Indians, had, the last winter, destroyed and killed up all our hogs, inasmuch as of five or six hundred, as it is supposed, there was not above one sow that we can hear of left alive, not a hen or a chick in the fort, and our horses and mares they had eaten with the first.”

From a letter written by M. Gabriel Archer, who arrived in Virginia August 31, 1609, we gather the following facts:

“From Woolwich, the fifteenth day of May, 1609, seven sail weighed anchor and came to Plymouth the twentieth day, where George Somers, with two small vessels, consorted with us. There we took into The Blessing, being the ship wherein I went, six mares and two horses, and the fleet layed in some necessaries belonging to the action; in which business we spent time till the 2d of June, and then set sail to sea, but crossed by South West winds, we put into Falmouth, and there stayed until the 8th of June, then gate out.”

Now, as The Blessing was probably about the average size of the rest of the fleet, I think it is reasonable to conclude that each of the other vessels took some horses also. In a report of a voyage to Virginia, dated November 13, 1611, we find the following statement: “They have brought to this colony one hundred cows, two hundred pigs, one hundred goats, and seventeen horses and mares.” In 1614 the Virginians made a raid on Port Royal, in what was then called New France, and carried off to Virginia, among other captures, a number of horses, mares and colts. A second raid in the same quarter seems to have resulted in carrying off wheat, horses, clothing, working tools, etc.

Mr. Harmor, writing in 1614, in his “True Discourse on the Present State of Virginia,” says: “The colony is already furnished with two hundred neat cattle, infinite hogs in herds all over the woods, some mares, horses and colts, poultry, great store, etc.”

In 1894, in the Public Records Office in London, I found that the Virginia Company had sent out four mares, February, 1619, on The Falcon. And further, I found a kind of summary of[110] what the company had done in the past toward populating and supplying the colonists with live stock. It is stated that they had sent twelve ships, taking out one thousand two hundred and sixty-one persons, making the total number in Virginia at that date about two thousand four hundred. The exportations include five hundred cattle, with some horses and goats, and an infinite number of swine. In 1620 the company ordered twenty mares to be sent over, at a cost, delivered, of fifteen pounds each. From the price of horses in England at that day, I would infer that somebody was making money out of the colonists.

In a little work published in London, 1646, entitled “A Perfect Description of Virginia,” the author says that “There are in Virginia, of an excellent raise (race), about two hundred horses and mares.” It is evident that this statement is a mere estimate, and I am disposed to think it a very wild estimate from what follows in a very few years. It is true that horses do not propagate and increase as fast as any other variety of domestic animals, but under the circumstances every effort would be made to increase the stock, and from what follows, I think my criticism will be sustained.

In the legislation of the colony we find no mention of horses, till the year 1657, when the exportation of mares was prohibited. Eleven years after this (1668) this restriction was removed and the exportation of both mares and horses permitted. The very next year, 1669, the importation of more horses was prohibited by legislative enactment. From this it would seem that there were already too many horses in the colony, or possibly some horse breeder had begun to realize that there were better horses in some of the other colonies that were finding a market in Virginia, and they thus sought “protection” for their own stock.

This prohibition could not have been aimed at the mother country, for the prices obtained would not justify the cost and risk of a sea voyage. We must, therefore, conclude that it was intended to shut out the New England colonies, which were already shipping horses to all the settlements on the seaboard, as well as to some of the West India Islands. In this we see at what an early date commenced the interchange of commodities among the colonies. As early as 1647 the Dutch authorities at New Amsterdam authorized Isaac Allerton to sell twenty or twenty-five horses to Virginia.

The court records of Henrico County, Virginia, for the year 1677[111] contain three distinct trials growing out of horse races for that year. In one case the contest was for three hundred pounds of tobacco; in another the winner was to take both horses; in the third the amount at issue does not appear. From the readiness at sharp practice and from the cunning dodges to get clear of paying a bet it is very evident that the principals and the witnesses were well up in all the tricks of racing as it was practiced at that early day. How long before 1677 racing was practiced in Virginia I have no means of determining, but the next year and the next, continuing to the end of that century, the records of the court speak for themselves. In these trials I find the names of Thomas Jefferson, Jr., grandfather of President Jefferson, and also the name of Benjamin Harrison, the ancestor of two presidents, although they were not principals in any of the cases.

In Beverley’s History of Virginia, published in London, 1705, at section ninety-four, we have the following:

“There is yet another kind of sport, which the young people take great delight in, and that is the hunting of wild horses; which they pursue, sometimes with dogs and sometimes without. You must know they have many horses foaled in the woods of the uplands, that never were in hand and are as shy as any savage creature. These having no mark upon them belong to him that first takes him. However, the captor commonly purchases these horses very dear, by spoiling better in the pursuit, in which case he has little to make himself amends, besides the pleasure of the chase. And very often this is all he has for it, for the wild horses are so swift that ’tis difficult to catch them; and when they are taken ’tis odds but their grease is melted, or else being old they are so sullen that they can’t be tamed.”

In the number of Wallace’s Monthly for September, 1877, p. 684, will be found a very interesting article from the pen of the late Dr. Elwood Harvey, on “The Chincoteague Ponies,” that have from time immemorial occupied, in a wild state, the islands of Chincoteague and Assoteague off the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland. The traditions relating to their origin are very hazy and improbable, and the most reasonable one, because it is within the range of possibilities, is that a Spanish ship was wrecked off this part of the coast and the original ponies were on board and swam ashore. It is well established that they have occupied the islands for more than a hundred years. They are about thirteen hands high, uniform in shape and resemble each other except in color, for all colors prevail. Some of them pace a little, and they have rather light manes and tails, and no superabundance of hair on the fetlocks. Now, the horses of[112] Virginia, at the period of which Mr. Beverley writes, and of which I will have something further to say as we progress, were but little if any larger than these semi-wild inhabitants of the islands; they were of all colors and many of them paced. As it is well known that the action of the ocean, so unaccountable to all human ken, one year builds up a dike connecting islands with the mainland, and the next year, perhaps, washes it out again, we can thus easily understand how a herd of these semi-wild animals may have been caught and kept there. In this way, it seems to me, the origin of the Chincoteague ponies may be easily and rationally accounted for, without any shadow of violence to the clearest reasoning. Mr. Hugh Jones, who, in many directions, seems to have been a closer observer of the life of the colonists than any of the other tourists whose writings we have examined, wrote a little work entitled “The Present State of Virginia,” which was published in London, 1724, expressing himself as follows, on page 48:

“The common planters, leading easy lives, don’t much admire labor or any manly exercise except horse-racing, nor diversion except cock-fighting, in which some greatly delight. This easy way of living, and the heat of the summers, make some very lazy, who are then said to be climate struck. The saddle horses, although not very large, are hardy, strong, and fleet; and will pace naturally and pleasantly at a prodigious rate. They are such lovers of riding that almost every ordinary person keeps a horse, and I have known some spend the morning in ranging several miles in the woods to find and catch their horses only to ride two or three miles to church, to the courthouse or to a horse race, where they generally appoint to meet on business, and are more certain of finding those they want to speak or deal with than at their home.”

Mr. Jones here places us in close contact with the character and habits of the people of that day, as well as with the character and qualifications of their horses. It is not to be inferred, I think, that all their horses were pacers, but that all their saddle horses were pacers there can be little doubt. This is the first intimation we have from Virginia that some of their pacers were very fast, and when Mr. Jones says “they could pace naturally and pleasantly at a prodigious rate,” he means that the speed was marvelous, wonderful, astonishing. This “prodigious rate,” in a good measure, balances Dr. McSparran’s account of the Narragansett, which he had seen go a mile “in a little over two minutes and a good deal less than three,” and gives strength to the statement of Mr. Lewis, that when a boy he had ridden in pacing[113] matches and return matches between the Rhode Islanders and the Virginians.

In the Virginia Gazette, under date of January 11, 1739, we find the following advertisement, to which we invite special attention, as it brings out some facts which, inferentially, throw a great deal of light upon horse racing, up to that period:

“This is to give notice that there will be run for at Mr. Joseph Seawall’s, in Gloucester County, on the first Tuesday in April next, a Purse of Thirty Pistoles, by any horse, mare or gelding; all sized horses to carry 140 lbs. and Galloways to be allowed weight for inches, to pay one Pistole entrance, if a subscriber, and two if not, and the entrance money to go to the second horse, etc. And on the day following, on the same course, there will be a Saddle, Bridle and Housing, of five pounds value, to be run for by any horse, mare or gelding that never won a prize of that value, four miles, before. Each horse to pay five shillings entrance and that to go to the horse that comes in second. And on the day following there is to be run for, by horses not exceeding thirteen hands, a hunting saddle, bridle and whip. Each horse to pay two shillings and sixpence at entrance, to be given to the horse that comes in second. Happy is he that can get the highest rider.”

The first point suggested by this advertisement is that there were no distinctions made except by size, and that, at this date, 1739, there were no English race horses then in Virginia. The second point is that there was such a thing as “horse size” but what size this was I have not been able to discover. The third point is that Galloways were allowed weight for inches. They were evidently below “horse size.” But they were expected to enter for the big purse of the meeting, and they must, therefore, have ranked as good race horses; but what did they mean by “Galloway?” This is the only instance in which I have met the term in Virginian history, although it is well known in general horse lore. “Galloway” is an old name of a territorial division of Scotland, embracing Wigtonshire, part of Ayrshire, etc., in the southwestern part of that country, and was at one time famous for the excellence of its pacers, and it is probable they were to be found there after the influx of eastern blood had driven the pacer from all other portions of Great Britain. The Irish Hobbie, always undersized, was a famous race horse, as well as a pacer, many generations before the period now under consideration. The name “Galloway” is only known in history and is not to be found on any modern map. I have learned by many experiences that the name is very generally believed to be Irish and is confounded with “Galway,” an Irish county. It is[114] known that an Irish gentleman shipped many cattle to the colony, and it is quite possible that he shipped horses also, and if this reasoning be right, these “Galloways” may have been Irish “Hobbies.” It will be observed, also, that the distance to be run is not definitely stated, but it is fairly to be concluded that the race of the second day was to be four miles, and none of them less than one mile, and that in heats. Races of four-mile heats were very common long before the first English race horse was imported.

We here have a stock of horses that the people of Virginia have bred and ridden and raced for a hundred years, and we know comparatively nothing about them. They seem to have been specially adapted to the saddle, but they could run four miles, or they could run a quarter of a mile, like an arrow from a bow. They were not a breed, although selecting and crossing and interbreeding for a hundred years would make them quite homogeneous. There is a romantic interest attaching to these little horses, for we have reached the middle of the eighteenth century, and all the successive idols of this race-loving people are about to be dethroned by their own act, and their homage transferred to a stranger—a larger and finer animal and faster over a distance of ground. Whatever of glory and honor, to say nothing of money, that was to be achieved from this time forward was to be ascribed to the newly arrived English race horse. But the truth should not be concealed that this old stock furnished half the foundation, in a vast majority of cases, for the triumphs of future generations of the Virginia race horse, and the same may be said of the old English stock upon which the eastern blood was engrafted. About the middle of the eighteenth century the line was drawn, and there was thereafter developed the engrafting of the new upon the old. In 1751-52, Moreton’s imported Traveller was there, and he was the only English race horse advertised that year. There may have been two or three others, but they had not made themselves known to the public, and I very much doubt whether there was any other. A very few years later there were many others, and some of them of great celebrity.

Mr. J. F. D. Smith made an extended tour of the colonies, especially of Virginia, before the Revolutionary war, and he suffered some of the inconveniences growing out of the rising hostility to the mother country. In speaking of quarter racing, he says:


“In the southern part of the colony and in North Carolina, they are much attached to Quarter Racing, which is always a match between two horses to run one quarter of a mile, straight out, being merely an exertion of speed; and they have a breed that perform it with astonishing velocity, beating every other for that distance with great ease, but they have no bottom. However, I am confident that there is not a horse in England, nor perhaps in the whole world, that can excel them in rapid speed; and these likewise make excellent saddle horses for the road.”

It will be observed that Mr. Smith speaks of these heavily muscled horses as a breed, which expression, I suppose, is intended to be used in a restricted sense. In the many generations of horses that would necessarily succeed each other in a century, in the hands of a people so devotedly fond of racing, it is merely an exercise of common sense, among barbarous as well as civilized people all over the world, to “breed to the winner.” In this way, and without any infusion of outside blood, there would be improvement in the strength and fleetness of all animals bred for the quarter path. He remarks further that “these likewise make excellent saddle horses for the road.” In that day nothing was accepted as a “saddle horse” that could not take the pacing gait and its various modifications. This was true of Virginians of that day, and it is still true of their descendants who have built up new States further west.

In the early days, as already intimated, it was the habit of Virginians to brand their horses and then turn out all not in daily use to “hustle” for their own living. As a matter of course these animals would often stray long distances away, and not a few never were found. In due time, legislation provided for the recovery of estrays, embracing all kinds of domestic animals as well as negro slaves. Fortunately this enables me to reach what may be considered “original data,” in determining the size and habits of action of the early Virginian horses. As the field of my examination, I have taken the Virginia Gazette, for the years 1751 and 1752, published at Williamsburgh, and in these volumes I find a great many advertisements of “Strayed or Stolen” animals scattered through the pages; and in the second especially a great many “Taken Up” advertisements appear. In a very large proportion of these notices, perhaps a majority of them, all the description that is given is the color, sex and brand, with occasionally some natural mark. As a matter of course these are of no value for the object in view. In some cases the size is given without the gait, and in others the gait is given without the size,[116] in a few both size and gait are given. The range of size is from one of fifteen hands down to one of twelve hands, with more of thirteen hands than any other size, either above or below. The true average of the whole number is a little over thirteen hands and one inch, and none of them are called ponies. As further evidence of the small size of the colonial Virginia horses we find that in 1686 the legislature of Virginia passed an act providing for the forfeiture of all stallions under thirteen and a half hands high found running at large. It provided that any person might take up such stallion and carry him before a justice of the peace, and if he measured less than thirteen and a half hands, the justice was required to certify to the measurement and the facts, and the horse passed legally to his new owner.

As to the gaits I find just twice as many pacers as trotters. Double-gaited animals, of which there were a few, I have here classed with the pacers. That many of these little fellows were very stout and tough is fully demonstrated by the fact that they could run heats of four miles with a hundred and forty pounds on their backs. This closes the first epoch in the history of the Virginia horse. The fleet and compact little horse of thirteen to fourteen hands had had his day, and he was now about to be overshadowed by a greater in speed and a greater in stature. Much of the blood of the little fellow that could run four miles and pace “at a prodigious rate,” was commingled with the blood of the English race horse, but whatever its triumphs, the lately arrived “foreigner” took the credit. A man would have been pronounced “clean daft” if at that time he had dreamed that one hundred and forty years later the blood of this little pacer would stand at the head of the great trotting interest of the world. The tough little fellow has retained his qualities through all the generations in which he has been neglected, despised and forgotten, until he was taken up twenty odd years ago, and now the names and achievements of the great pacers are as familiar to the whole American people as ever were the name of the greatest running horses. It is not known how long he continued to be a factor in the racing affairs of Virginia, but probably not later than about 1760.

From about 1750 to 1770 seems to have been a period of great prosperity in Virginia and, notwithstanding the general improvidence of the times, many of the large landholders and planters were getting rich from their fine crops of tobacco and their[117] negroes. This prosperity manifested itself strongly in the direction of the popular sport of horse racing and improving the size, quality, and fleetness of the running horse. England had then been selecting, importing Eastern blood, and “breeding to the winner” for a hundred years, with more or less intelligence and success, while the colonists had rested content with the descendants of the first importations from the mother country. Doubtless progress had been made here too, but it was as the progress of a poor man against another with great wealth and backed by the encouragements of royalty. The English horse could then run clear away from the Saracenic horse, his so-called progenitor, and he was very much larger than that “progenitor.” We can understand how the speed might be increased by its development in a series of generations and by always breeding to the fastest, but the increase of size can hardly be accounted for as the result of climatic causes—but we are getting away from the thought before us. When the Virginia planter found he had a handsome balance in London, subject to his draft, he at once ordered his factor to send him over the best racing stallion he could find. The action of one planter stirred up half a dozen others who felt they could not afford to be behind in the matter of improvement, but more especially that they could not afford to be behind in the finish at the fall and spring race meetings of the future. These importations went on continuously for about twelve years, and until they were interrupted by the excited relations and feelings between the colonies and the mother country and the preparations for the War of the Revolution, which was then imminent. After the close of the Revolution a perfect avalanche of race horses was poured upon us, some of which were good, but a great majority of them were never heard of after their arrival, on the race course or elsewhere. But up to the close of the century they had not succeeded in exterminating the pacer—the saddle horse of a hundred generations.

As a specimen of how absurdly a man can talk and even write on subjects of which he knows nothing, I cannot refrain from giving the following from what an Englishman had to say in 1796 about the horses and horsemanship of Virginia:

“The horses in common use in Virginia are all of a light description, chiefly adapted for the saddle; some of them are handsome, but are for the most part spoiled by the false gaits which they are taught. The Virginians are wretched horsemen, as indeed are all the Americans I have met with, excepting[118] some few in the neighborhood of New York. They ride with their toes just under the horse’s nose, and their stirrup straps left extremely long, and the saddle being put three or four inches on the mane. As for the management of the reins, it is what they have no conception of. A trot is odious to them, and they express the utmost astonishment at a person who can like that uneasy gait, as they call it. The favorite gaits which all their horses are taught are a pace and a wrack. In the first the animal moves his two feet on one side at the same time and gets on with a sort of a shuffling motion, being unable to spring from the ground on these two feet, as in a trot. We should call this an unnatural gait, as none of our horses would ever move in that manner without a rider; but the Americans insist upon it that it is otherwise, because many of their colts pace as soon as born. These kind of horses are called “natural pacers” and it is a matter of the utmost difficulty to make them move in any other manner. But it is not one horse in five hundred that would pace without being taught.”

There can hardly be a doubt that our English friend in his “Travels Through the States” noted and wrote down just what he thought he saw, and when he saw anything that he never had seen in England, he was ready to either deny its existence altogether or to insist that there was some mistake about it. Poor man, he could not understand how there could be anything outside of England that could not be found in England. His vision, mental and physical, seems to have been restricted to the shores of his own island home, and he was probably a descendant of a very good man we once heard of. As you sail up the Firth of Clyde you pass an island of three or four miles in extent, called Cumbrae. At the head of ecclesiastical affairs in the island was a very pious man, some generations back, and every Sunday morning he prayed that the Lord would bless the “kingdom of Cumbrae and the adjacent islands of Great Britain and Ireland.” The author of “Travels Through the States” was evidently one of the very numerous descendants of this good man, as they are scattered all over England, and as I am a strong believer in the laws of heredity, I can hardly avoid this conclusion. Indeed, some of the numerous tribe, tracing their genealogy through many generations back to “The kingdom of Cumbrae,” have found their way across the water, and at another place I will pay my respects to them. But to return to our traveler: there can be no doubt about his never having seen a pacer in England, for the last one had disappeared before his day, unless an occasional one might have been found in the old province of Galloway, in the southern part of Scotland. If he had known[119] the history of the horses of his own country he would have known that from the time of King John down to that of James I., the pacer was the most popular and fashionable horse in England, and that the nobility and gentry used no other kind for the saddle. He was always of “a mean stature,” but he was compact, hardy and strong, and could carry his burden a long journey in a day with great ease and comfort to his rider. In the reign of Elizabeth, he was kept separate from others, and bred as a breed on account of his easy, gliding motion, which he transmitted to his progeny. At the time of the plantation of the English colonies in this country the pacers were very numerous, and as they were just the type of horse suited to wilderness life, a very large proportion of those selected were pacers. The pacers our traveler saw in Virginia were the lineal descendants of the original English stock brought over by the adventurers, and the awkward riding charged upon the Virginians, with some evident exaggerations, was wisely and sensibly adapted to the action of the horses they were riding. The criticism of the long stirrups is wholly unjust, as they are just the right length for the “military” seat, and nobody in this country when mounted on a real saddle horse would ever think of taking any other. The Englishman, when mounted on his “bonesetter,” is compelled to have his stirrups short so that he can rise and fall with every revolution the horse makes on the trot to save himself from being shaken to death. This up and down, up and down, tilt-hammer seat, if it can be called “a seat” at all, is one of the most ungraceful things, especially for a lady, that can be conceived of in all the displays of good and bad equestrianism. The English have been compelled to adopt it because they have no trained saddle horses, and a lot of brainless imitators about our American cities have followed them because “it is English, you know.” If the English had pacers and horses trained to the “saddle gaits,” they never would have anything else, and the tilt-hammer “seat” would disappear from Rotten Row and everywhere else.


Settlement of New Amsterdam—Horses from Curaçoa—Prices of Dutch and English horses—Van der Donck’s description and size of horses—Horses to be branded—Stallions under fourteen hands not to run at large—Esopus horse—Surrender to the English, 1664—First organized racing—Dutch horses capable of improvement in speed—First advertised Subscription Plate—First restriction, contestants must “be bred in America”—Great racing and heavy betting—First importations of English running horses—Half-breds to the front—True foundation of American pedigrees—Half bushel of dollars on a side—Resolutions of the Continental Congress against racing—Withdrawal of Mr. James De Lancey—Pacing and trotting contests everywhere—Rip Van Dam’s horse and his cost.

For several years after Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the employ of the Dutch, discovered the harbor of New York and the great river which took his name, in the year 1609, there is uncertainty and doubt as to the nature of the settlement. For a time it seems to have been merely a trading post, occupied only by those in the employment of the company that owned it, and without many of the elements requisite to make up a permanent colony. At Fort Orange (Albany) and at Esopus (Kingston), the conditions were the same as at New Amsterdam, as New York was then named. The first party of immigrants that seemed to have the elements of permanent colonization about it arrived in 1625, and consisted of six families and several single men, making in all forty-five persons, with furniture, utensils, etc., and one hundred and three head of cattle. Doubtless some of these “cattle” were horses, and the general instead of the specific term was used in enumerating them. Very little is known of the early horse history of the New Netherlands, as the whole region was then named; there can be no doubt, however, that they increased and multiplied. Sometime, probably about 1643, a cargo or two of horses were brought up from Curaçoa and Azuba, in the Dutch West Indies, but the climatic change was too great for them, and they did not do well, being specially subject to diseases[121] from which the Dutch horses seemed to have complete immunity. In 1647, Isaac Allerton, as agent, was authorized to sell twenty or twenty-five of these horses to Virginia, and whether the authorities were able thus to get clear of a bad investment does not appear from the existing records. In a report to the home company, made in 1650, I find the following prices were given at that time: A young mare with second foal, one hundred and fifty florins; stallion, four or five years old, one hundred and thirty florins; milch cow, one hundred florins. The same report makes a comparison by giving the prices of New England horses, as follows: A good mare one hundred to one hundred and twenty florins; stallion, one hundred florins; milch cow, sixty to seventy florins. Neither horses nor cows were then allowed to be shipped out of the province without permission of the council.

Adrien Van der Donck wrote a description of New Netherlands which was published 1656, in which he speaks of the horse stock as follows:

“The horses are of the proper breed for husbandry, having been brought from Utrecht for that purpose; and this stock has not diminished in size or quality. There are also horses of the English breed which are lighter, not so good for agricultural use, but fit for the saddle. These do not cost as much as the Netherlands breed and are easily obtained.”

From a large number of facts collected for the years 1777 and 1778 the horses then averaged about fourteen hands and one inch, and when compared with earlier data it is evident they had increased in height. In the gaits of those advertised, fifteen both paced and trotted, nine trotted only, and seven paced only. As this was in the period of the Revolution, and right in the center of hostilities, some allowance should be made for horses from other colonies.

The people of this colony, like those of all the others, branded their horses and turned them out to seek their own living in the summer season, and this resulted in many losses, and oftentimes in much bad feeling. The Dutch were not accustomed, in the “old country,” to building fences around their crops high enough and strong enough to keep out all the droves and herds of animals running at large. In the line of improvement and increase of size in their horses, they provided that all stallions running at large, of two years and nine months old, must be fourteen hands high or be castrated. This law was in force in 1734, and no doubt[122] was effective. Among the many laws for the suppression of vice of different kinds, I find one prohibiting horse racing on Sunday, and from this we might infer that it was not forbidden on other days of the week.

In old newspapers, advertisements, etc., we sometimes come across “Esopus Horses, Esopus Mares,” and, for years, I was not able to tell what this term meant. The locality of Kingston was originally called Esopus, and in that neighborhood there were several farmers who bred horses largely, at an early day in the history of the colony, and the locality became famous for the character and quality of the horses produced there. They were of the best and purest Dutch blood, and for what we would call “all-purpose horses” their fame was very wide in that day. Hence I infer that the term “Esopus” was used to indicate what was considered the best type of Dutch horses. There is danger of going astray in the meaning of the term “Dutch horses,” as in later times it was applied to the great, massive draft horses of Pennsylvania. They were better “for agricultural purposes,” as Van der Donck puts it, than the Connecticut horses, because they were larger and stronger, but they were sprightly and active and some of them could run very well. They had a fine reputation in the adjoining colonies.

New Amsterdam, and consequently all the plantations in New Netherlands, surrendered to Colonel Nicolls, commanding the British forces, August 27, 1664. Colonel Nicolls remained as governor of the colony three or four years and until he was succeeded by Governor Lovelace. Among his early official acts, Governor Nicolls laid out a race course on Hempstead Plains, and named it Newmarket, after the famous course in England. No engineering or grading was necessary, as nature had already made a perfect course without stick or stone or other obstruction. The first race was run 1665, and although it was a long distance from the city, the presence of the governor gave the occasion prestige and there was a great gathering of the gentry from town, and the farmers of Long Island. These meetings were kept up annually by the appointment of succeeding governors, and after a time they were held twice a year, spring and fall. There are some very important facts about these races that are not known and probably never will be known, namely, who were the nominators and what breed of horses were entered in these contests. With these two essential facts left out the value of the information[123] is greatly impaired. As it is known, however, that there were but two breeds or types of horses that could have been engaged in these contests, it becomes a matter of interest to reach a conclusion as to which were the victors. Mr. John Austin Stevens has done some very excellent work on this part of the horse history of New York, but I cannot agree with him in his characterization of the Dutch horses as being Flemish. They did not come from Flanders, but from Utrecht. They were not great unwieldy brutes, such as we would associate with Flanders, but hardy, compact animals that could make their way in the wilderness. Although larger, it does not follow that they could not run as fast or even faster than the New England ponies. All breeds of horses were very much smaller two hundred years ago than they are now. These races were instituted, evidently, for the improvement of the breed of horses in the colony, and the great majority of these horses were the descendants of the original stock brought from Utrecht. We must, therefore, conclude that they were not slow, heavy, unwieldy animals with no action, as the language of Mr. Stevens would seem to imply, but capable of improvement in the direction of speed. No doubt there were very many New England horses in the colony, “lighter and better adapted to the saddle,” but neither the interests nor the pride of the old Dutch settlers would have permitted them to support racing for a period of more than eighty years, unless the early Utrecht blood was represented. Besides this, the weights carried, one hundred and forty pounds, and the distance, generally two-mile heats, were conditions that were strongly against the New Englanders, even if they were lighter of foot. With these two breeds in the field, we may accept it as an inevitable sequence that the superior qualities of the one would very soon be engrafted on the other, and by this process of breeding, a better type would be produced than either of the originals. This first step was only a prelude to the next, and that again to the next, until the common, plain lesson was thoroughly learned, that if a running horse was wanted the way to get him was to breed to a running horse that had proved he was a running horse. The improvement became very wide and general, and occasionally an animal was produced with such phenomenal speed that he was barred from stakes and purses. On this foundation, and this alone, the running turf was built up and continued for about[124] eighty years, with occasional intervals, when the gamblers made it so nasty that no decent people would go near it.

The first subscription plate race of which we have any trace is to be found in the New York Gazette, of September 27, 1736, of which the advertisement is given below. The course indicated is believed to have been on the Church Farm, west of Broadway, and not far from where the Astor House now stands. There is no account of what horses won, and all we know is just what is in the advertisement.

“On Wednesday, the 13th of October next, will be run for, on the course at New York, a plate of twenty pounds’ value, by any horse, mare or gelding, carrying ten stone (saddle and bridle included), the best of three heats, two miles each heat. Horses intended to run for the plate are to be entered the day before the race, with Francis Child, on Fresh Water Hill, paying a half pistole each, or at the post on the day of running, paying a pistole. And the next day being the 14th, will be run for, on the same course, by all or any of the horses that started for the twenty-pound plate (the winning horse excepted) the entrance money, on the conditions above. Proper judges will be named to determine any disputes that may arise. All persons on horseback or in chairs, coming into the field (the subscribers and winning horse only excepted) are to pay sixpence each to the owner of the grounds.”

Passing on to 1747 we find a duplication of the foregoing for the plate race of that year, with some variations. Entries are restricted to animals that never won a plate before “on this island,” and a horse named Parrot is not permitted to compete. This race was advertised to take place on the Church Farm. The next that I will notice is the advertisement of this same stake for 1751, when the weight was reduced to eight stone, and in addition to the usual exclusion of previous winners, we have for the first time a restriction of the entries to animals “bred in America.” At the May meeting at Hempstead Plains, the year following, 1752, the entries are again restricted to animals “bred in America.” From this, then, we are able to fix the precise period when English Race Horses were first brought to this colony. At this time there were two or three other courses on Manhattan Island, besides several noted speeding grounds on the roads and elsewhere, for the trotters and the pacers, of which no advertisements appear, and consequently no notice was taken by the newspaper press.

From about 1760 up to the time when the Revolutionary struggle began to engross and absorb all thought and all action, racing[125] received a tremendous impetus, not only in this colony but in others. Ten or twelve years before this a very few rich men in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina commenced importing English running-bred horses with great success, and Mr. James De Lancey and other rich men of this colony were only a year or two behind them. This fancy grew and spread until a great many breeders and planters of the richer class had imported stock of their own, while their less wealthy neighbors were well supplied with half-breds. These half-breds were, for a short time, classed by themselves and purses were offered and run for, restricted to this class. After experimenting with animals bred in this way it was found that not a few of them were able to hold their own in any company. Mr. Morris’ mare Strumpet was only half-bred, but she was able to beat many of the imported animals, as well as the full-breds that started against her. From this it would appear that breeding for speed for a hundred years had produced results in this country as well as in England. These experiments led many owners of old-fashioned stock to try it, and right there is where thousands and thousands of our best old American pedigrees end. The decade from 1750 to 1760 witnessed a complete transformation from the old methods to the new, from the old blood to the new, and more than all from the old managers to the new. During the next decade, from 1760 to 1770, the new blood came out in great strength, and the saturnalia of horse racing grew more and more furious. Purses of a hundred dollars, as in the olden time, sprang up to ten times that sum, and matches were made for sums that were fabulous in that day. One match, between Mr. Delaney of Maryland and Mr. De Lancey of New York, specified the consideration on each side as a half bushel of silver Mexican dollars, and the Marylander had the satisfaction of carrying home a bushel of silver dollars. The great struggle, in New York, for supremacy on the turf was between the De Lancey family and the Morris family. These two families had been bitter political rivals for years, and when they met on the turf it was for “blood.” The De Lanceys were Tories and the Morrises were Whigs, and this intensified the feeling that had so long existed between them. When the Continental Congress adopted that remarkable resolution, advising the people to abstain from horse racing, cock fighting, gambling and some other more slight offenses, on the grounds of “economy,” in view of the approaching conflict with the mother country, the effect was[126] thrilling and electrical. Every man who loved his home and his country obeyed it. True, as I have said, it was drawn in the form of advice and in the interests of “economy,” but there was but one great evil, one great prodigality at which it was aimed, and that was the gambling connected with horse racing. It was well aimed and struck the bull’s eye. It came in the midst of preparations for the greatest race meetings ever then projected, but everything was dropped and there it lay through all the years of the bloody struggle and until peace again smiled upon a land of free men. Before avowed hostilities commenced, Mr. James De Lancey, one of the first and largest importers and breeders of his day, sold out every animal of the horse kind that he possessed and retired to England. Thus, as the colonial period drew to its close, the brave little colonial horse that had weathered the storms of a hundred winters and carried his master in safety and comfort through all that time, is superseded by another race, and no one has ever attempted to write even so much as his epitaph.

As the contests of speed considered, up to this point, have all been at the running gait, I must not close my review of this colony without giving some attention to the pacers and the trotters. At these gaits all sources of information are almost hopelessly barren of facts and incidents. We know that the running horses of the colonial period were the saddle horses of the country, and we know that the best and most fashionable saddle horses were pacers. When we connect these two facts and place them alongside of the pacing and trotting experiences of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we have no difficulty in reaching the safe conclusion that the same conditions would produce the same results as in those two States. Pacing and trotting contests were just as frequent and as exciting in this colony as in any other, but they were sustained chiefly by road-house keepers and butchers, and were never advertised. Matches were made one hour and decided on the road in the next. In the “Annals of New York,” compiled and published in 1832, by John F. Watson, we find the following curious, but very valuable, scrap of horse history:

“Some twenty or thirty years before the Revolution, the steeds most prized for the saddle were pacers, since so odious deemed. To this end the breed was propagated with much care. The Narragansett pacers of Rhode Island were in such repute that they were sent for, at much trouble and expense, by some few[127] who were choice in their selections. It may amuse the present generation to peruse the history of one such horse, spoken of in the letter of Rip Van Dam of New York, in the year of 1711, which I have seen. He states the fact of the trouble he had taken to procure him such a horse. He was shipped from Rhode Island in a sloop, from which he jumped overboard when under sail, and swam ashore to his former home. Having been brought back he arrived in New York, in thirteen days’ passage, much reduced in flesh and spirit. He cost thirty-two pounds and his freight fifty shillings. This writer, Rip Van Dam, was a great personage, he having been president of the Council in 1731, and on the death of Governor Montgomery that year, he was governor, ex-officio, of New York. His mural monument is now to be seen in St. Paul’s Church.”

As New England saddle horses were only worth forty dollars in 1650, and this horse cost more than four times as much, when horses were more plentiful, we must conclude that he was a fine specimen of the breed, and was, probably, bought for stock purposes. The date of this transaction is a significant fact that should not be forgotten, as 1711 is the same year in which the first of the two great founders of the English race horse, Darley Arabian, was brought to England.


First importations to Boston and to Salem—Importations from Holland brought high prices—They were not pacers and not over fourteen hands—In 1640 horses were exported to the West Indies—First American newspaper and first horse advertisement—Average sizes—The different gaits—Connecticut, first plantation, 1636—Post horses provided for by law—All horses branded—Sizes and Gaits—An Englishman’s experience with pacers—Lindsay’s Arabian—Rhode Island, Founded by Roger Williams, 1636—No direct importations ever made—Horses largely exported to other colonies 1690—Possibly some to Canada—Pacing races a common amusement—Prohibited 1749—Size of the Narragansetts compared with the Virginians.

In 1629 the London founders of the plantation of Massachusetts Bay sent out six vessels laden with emigrants, horses, cattle, goats, etc. These vessels brought some twenty-five head of mares and stallions, that were valued at six pounds each and all owned by the company in London, except three mares from Leicester, that were owned by private parties. At that time there seems to have been some rivalry between Boston and Salem as a shipping point, but this fleet came to Boston harbor. This same year (1629) Salem seems to have had six or seven mares and one stallion, besides forty cows, and forty goats. From this it might be safely inferred that a part of this fleet put into Salem harbor, or that there may have been another and somewhat earlier shipment of which we have no details. Salem was really founded in 1626, and the settlement at Charlestown, Boston, dates from the same year. The next year about sixty head were shipped to the plantation, but many were lost during the voyage, of both horses and cattle. Several other shipments followed, but nothing worthy of special note, till 1635, when two Dutch ships arrived at Salem with twenty-seven mares, valued at thirty-four pounds each, and three stallions. Some writers have spoken of these mares as “Flanders mares,” but I have not been able to find any evidence or even indication that this might have been[129] the fact. The records show they were Dutch ships, and that on a given day they sailed out of the Texel, a Dutch port, far away from Flanders. I think, therefore, we are safe in concluding they were “Dutch mares,” and they should be so designated. Just about this period they were bringing Dutch horses from Utrecht, in Holland, to the Dutch colony at New Amsterdam, and it was well known in Holland as well as in New England that the Dutch horses brought much better prices in New England than the English importations. It is probable, further, that these Dutch traders were looking out for a choice of markets, as between New England and New Netherlands. These mares were valued at thirty-five pounds each, the record says, but we are not informed as to the price that was really paid for them. There is a very wide discrepancy between the figure at which these mares were “valued” and the cost of the mares that were brought from England. The English company charged the colony six pounds each for the horses sent from there, and ten pounds freight.

I have labored assiduously to get at such data as would afford a safe basis upon which to determine the size and other qualities of these Dutch horses. They were larger than the English horses of that period and they were more muscular, with greater weight of bone. They were, doubtless, better adapted to the various offices of the “general purpose” horse than their English contemporaries, in every respect, except the saddle. There is no distinctive evidence that they were pacers or could go any of the saddle gaits, in their own right. It is probably safe to conclude that the original importations would not average more than fourteen and a half hands high, and very likely the exact truth, if it could be reached, would place them below that figure rather than above it. The process of reducing the size commenced as soon as they arrived: for the English horses had saddle qualities which the Dutch did not possess, and everybody wanted a saddle horse. Still the Dutch blood was highly prized, and a hundred and fifty years afterward it was no uncommon thing, especially in the valley of the Connecticut, to meet with the advertisements of stallions seeking patronage on the strength of “Dutch blood.” This, for a time, was a puzzle to me, but as we consider the horse interests of the region of the Hudson and the Mohawk Valley extending eastward and that of eastern Massachusetts extending westward along with the current of emigration, it is not difficult to understand how the blood of the Dutch horse should have become[130] so generally diffused. On the one hand we had the much-desired saddle qualities, and on the other we had the much-desired increase of size without deterioration in appearance. Thus owners were accommodated and the horse stock of the country was improved by the interbreeding of the two nationalities. It is not necessary to further particularize different importations. It is sufficient to say that they were very numerous, and the multiplying of the stock was carried forward with vigor and success. Five years later—1640—the colonists not only had all the horses they needed, but they shipped a cargo of eighty head to Barbadoes. From the colony of Massachusetts Bay all the plantations of New England secured their foundation stock of horses, hence they are here considered collectively.

The people of the Plymouth plantation were very slow in providing themselves with horses, and it was not till after 1632 that they had any. It is hard to conceive of a colony like that of Massachusetts Bay living and flourishing for a period of, say, eighty years without a newspaper, and yet such is the fact. The Boston News-Letter, the first newspaper, so called, in this country, was established May 29, 1704, and it lived many years. The early colonial newspapers, from one end of the land to the other, were anything and everything but newspapers, as we understand the meaning of the title in our day. If a boy fell off a building in London and broke his leg, six weeks before, it was liable to appear as an item of “news” in the local American newspaper, but if the same accident happened the week before, in a neighboring town, it was never mentioned. The name “newspaper” attached to such publications was a fraud.

The following is a copy of the first horse advertisement ever published in this country, and for that reason it is worthy of preservation. It was taken from the Boston News-Letter of November 19, 1705:

“Strayed from Mr. John Wilson of Braintree, at Mr. Havens’ in Kingston, in Narragansett, about a fortnight ago, a sorrel mare, low stature, four white feet, a white face, shod all round, her near ear tore, has a long white tail and mane. Whoever will give any intelligence of her … will be sufficiently rewarded.”

As this was in the period when the Narragansett pacers had reached their greatest fame, we might argue that this mare had been sent down to Kingston from Braintree, Massachusetts, to be wintered[131] and to be bred in the spring to some famous horse in Kingston, the very center of the horse-breeding interests of that day.

Under the date of June 17, 1706, I find a bay horse advertised as “strayed or stolen: fourteen hands high, hardly possible to make him gallop,” and October 28, 1706, a black gelding “fourteen hands high, paces, trots, and gallops.” Then in the years 1731 and 1732 I find a “black mare fourteen and three-quarter hands, trots and paces;” a “black horse twelve hands,” no gait given; “black gelding, fourteen hands, races, trots, and gallops;” “bay horse large, good pacer;” “roan mare, fourteen hands, paces and trots.” But the field which I specially gleaned was for the years 1756-59, where I found the average height was fourteen hands one inch, the data including eight pacers and two trotters. This, I think, may be taken as fairly representative of the size and habit of action of Massachusetts horses in the first half of the eighteenth century.

In 1636 the first plantation was made in Connecticut at Hartford by the Rev. Thomas Hooker and over a hundred of his congregation with him. They left nothing behind, but brought all their domestic animals to their new home. I have not been able to discover just how many horses they brought with them, but in a few decades they had a great abundance and to spare. In 1653 the General Court at New Haven made provision for keeping public saddle horses for hire and fixed the rate of charges for their use. It also prohibited the sale of horses outside of the colony. In 1658 all horses, young and old, had to be branded by an officer appointed for that purpose, and it required several years of legislation before the system of branding, selling and recording could be so perfected as to prevent dishonesty and frauds. In 1674 an act was passed providing and enjoining that all colts entire and stallions running at large, under thirteen hands high, should be gelded. This law also required a good deal of amending before it could be made to work smoothly. The size of the Connecticut horses about the time of the Revolution was an average of thirteen hands three inches, thus ranging below the other New England colonies. In 1778 horse racing was prohibited under the penalty of forfeiture of the horse and a fine of forty shillings. In 1776 a careful compilation of the gaits of the horses of that period, embracing nineteen individuals, taken as they came, showed that fifteen were pacers, or pacers and trotters,[132] and four were trotters only. As an evidence of the quality of the Connecticut pacers, take the following passage from a little volume published 1769, in England, entitled “A Voyage to North America,” by G. Taylor, Sheffield, England, 1768-69:

“After dinner at New London, Conn., Mr. Williams and I took post horses, with a guide to New Haven. Their horses are, in general of less size than ours, but extremely stout and hardy. A man will ride the same horse a hundred miles a day, for several days together, in a journey of five or eight hundred miles, perhaps, and the horse is never cleaned. They naturally pace, though in no graceful or easy manner, but with such swiftness and for so long a continuance as must seem incredible to those who have not proved it by experience.”

This is a very different view of the pacer from that expressed by another Englishman who visited Virginia in 1796. He had never seen a pacer before and he was wholly unwilling to believe his host when he assured him it was a natural gait and that many colts paced from the day they were foaled. This, to the mind of the Englishman could not be true, he says, “for none of our horses ever move in that manner.” (See Virginia, pp. 117-118).

The most noted horse ever owned in Connecticut, at least in colonial days, was the horse named and known in later times as Lindsay’s Arabian. When I was younger I accepted the marvelous story of the origin and early history of this horse, of which a brief account is given in the chapter on the “American Race Horse,” to which reference is here made. This acceptance on my part of the romantic story was largely superinduced by a statement made by a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, that he had examined the animal when he was old and found on three of his legs undoubted physical evidence that they had at one time been broken. This appeared in a reputable publication, but when compared with some other facts in the history of the horse that are known, there can hardly be a doubt that the examination by the justice was a fiction. When I began to realize that the marvelous story was a mere fiction my “wrath waxed hot” against the people of “the land of steady habits,” to say nothing of “wooden nutmegs,” until Mr. O. W. Cook made it very plain that the people of Connecticut never had heard of the remarkable story. (See Wallace’s Monthly, Vol. VI., p. 251). Thus it became evident that the whole story had been fabricated in Maryland and was a kind of “green goods” method for catching the unwary. These are my apologies to the general public[133] and especially to the Connecticut public for supposing them guilty of any such fraud. The naked truth of the matter is, that while this horse may have been imported from England, his public advertisements clearly indicate that his owners knew nothing of his blood or early history.

The colony of Rhode Island was planted by Roger Williams and his followers in 1636, and the first patent giving it a legal existence was obtained 1647. It was an offshoot from Massachusetts and a protest against the intolerance of that colony in religious affairs. For several years I made renewed and persistent efforts to discover whether in the early colonial period Rhode Island had ever imported any horses from foreign countries, and after exhausting every source of recorded information, I have not been able to find a single intimation of such importation. It is evident, therefore, that the famous Narragansett pacer is simply the result of carefully selecting and breeding from the best and the fastest of the descendants of the English pacers, to be found everywhere in the colony of Massachusetts. The superiority of the Narragansett pacer over all others of his kind seemed to suggest the probability that he must have possessed blood that was superior to all others, and to supply this “want,” a Rhode Islander advanced the claim that his grandfather had imported the original stock from Spain. Unfortunately for this “claim” there were two difficulties in the way of accepting it. First, there were no pacers in Spain, and second, the Narragansett pacers were famous for their speed and value before the grandfather was born, or at least before he was out of his swaddling clothes.

The horse interests of Rhode Island seem to have been active and successful from the very founding of the colony, and the fame of her pacers extended to all the American colonies at a very early day. When the authorities made their report to the Board of Trade at London, in 1690, showing what they had produced and where and how they had disposed of their surplus, they place horses at the head of their products and state that they are shipped to all the English colonies on the American coast. This statement is sustained by corresponding facts that are known in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Trading with the French colonies in Canada was rigorously prohibited, but it is quite probable that many a good pacing horse found his way to the St. Lawrence in exchange for pelts and furs. But,[134] as the Narragansett and the pacer generally will be fully considered in another part of this volume, the reader is referred to the chapters wholly devoted to those topics.

That racing was a common amusement of the people of Rhode Island is fully established by the very best of contemporaneous evidence, and by the silver plate prizes won, that are said to be still in existence in some of the old families. Attempts have been made to laugh this statement out of court, on the grounds that Rhode Island was a Puritan colony, and such a thing as a horse race would not be tolerated for a single day. This attempt shows a great deal more smartness than knowledge, for Rhode Island was not a Puritan colony, as that term is generally understood, but had for its very foundation opposition to the spirit of intolerance that prevailed in all the other New England colonies. But, what is still more conclusive, the legislature of the colony in 1749 enacted a law prohibiting all racing, under a penalty of forfeiture of the horse and a fine of one hundred dollars. As in other colonies not in New England racing and betting had become so common that the moral sense of the people rose up and abolished it. If there had been no racing there would have been no law to wipe it out.

When the Rev. Dr. McSparran, of Rhode Island, made a trip in Virginia and rode the Virginia pacers some hundreds of miles, early in the last century, he seems to have observed them closely and spoke very highly of them, but he said they were not so large and strong as the Narragansetts, nor so easy and gliding in their action. It might be suggested that this opinion was the natural result of esteeming one’s own as better than those of a neighbor, but he was certainly right in the matter of size. In 1768 the Rhode Island horses averaged fourteen hands one inch, while the Virginia horses averaged (1750-52) thirteen hands one and three-quarter inches, making a difference of three and one-quarter inches in height. In the matter of gait they were not all natural pacers, for out of thirty-five there were eight that did not pace, and some of the others both paced and trotted. From this it may be inferred that breeders, in order to increase the size, had incorporated more or less of the blood of the early Dutch importations.


Penn’s arrival in 1682—Horse racing prohibited—Franklin’s newspaper—Conestoga horses—Sizes and gaits—Swedish origin—Acrelius’ statement. New Jersey—Branding—Increase of size—Racing, Pacing, and Trotting restricted—Maryland—Racing and pacing restricted 1747—Stallions of under size to be shot. North Carolina—First settlers refugees—South Carolina—Size and gait in 1744—Challenges—No running blood in the colony 1744—General view.

When William Penn arrived on this side of the water (1682) and took possession of his princely gift from Charles II., he found the eastern border of his new province already occupied, though sparsely, by an industrious and enterprising people. The old Swedish colonists as well as a sprinkling of Englishmen and other nationalities had been there for a good many years, and were beginning to get the necessaries as well as the comforts of life about them. For their numbers, they had a fair supply of horses, cattle, sheep, and swine; and the growing of cereals and fruits of all kinds showed encouraging progress, with the promise of plenty. The new proprietor was gladly welcomed and his rule proved kindly and beneficent. In a letter to Lord Ormonde, after his arrival, Mr. Penn, in describing the condition of things in his new colony, says: “The horses are not very handsome, but good.” The public affairs of Penn’s grant, before his arrival, had been administered in the name of the Duke of York, from about the time New Amsterdam had surrendered to the English, and hence we find sundry regulations with regard to the horse in force before that event.

The first of these, having the efficacy of law, was in the year 1676, requiring all horses to be branded, and officers appointed to do the branding and keep a record of the fact. Besides the individual brands, each town had its own brand that had to be applied, and by this double marking it was supposed that strays[136] could be identified with certainty. Another provision was that no mares should be exported to Virginia or Barbadoes or other foreign plantations. Again, every owner was supposed to keep a certain number of horses at home, for daily use, and he was allowed to keep twice that number running at large. In 1682 no stone horse under thirteen and one-half hands high was allowed to run at large. This was afterward changed to thirteen hands. In 1724 this law was revised and re-enacted so that colts “of comely proportions” and not more than one year and a half old, if thirteen hands high, might run at large; but if older than eighteen months they must be fourteen hands high or suffer the penalty, which was castration. In 1750 horse racing of all kinds was prohibited, under a severe penalty.

In that grand old repository of ancient, curious, and valuable things relating to colonial affairs, the New York Historical Society, to which I am greatly indebted, I found a file of the Pennsylvania Gazette, commencing with the year 1729, published by “B. Franklin, printer.” In that day the term “editor” or “reporter” was not known in the vocabulary of any well-regulated newspaper office, and for anything of a local character you had to look in the advertising columns. To these I resorted, as usual, and they presented results that were a great surprise to me. Pennsylvania has long been famous for the production of great massive draft horses, and before the days of railroads just suited, with six or eight of them in a team, for the transportation of freights from the seaboard to the Ohio River. This was a great business at the beginning of this century and for forty or fifty years afterward. The fame of those great teams, the great wagons and the great loads they hauled over the mountains, spread far and wide, and as a special designation that went with them they were called Conestoga horses, and the wagons were called Conestoga wagons, named after a creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where many large horses were bred. There was no particular line of blood to be followed, for a large horse bred west of the mountains was just as certainly a Conestoga as though he had been bred in Lancaster County. The Conestoga was simply the horse that was best suited for a big team with an enormous load, and he varied in size from sixteen and one-half to eighteen hands in height and from one thousand six hundred to one thousand nine hundred pounds in weight. These measurements he reached by breeding for the one purpose of strength and[137] weight. It is safe to conclude that in the latter part of the last century breeding animals of large size were brought over the water, for we can hardly conceive of their being descended from the little pacers preceding them only fifty or sixty years.

The Pennsylvania horses of the first half of the last century were remarkably uniform in size, and from a large number of cases in which the size is given I find the exact average was thirteen hands one and one-quarter inches. Of the twenty-eight animals in which the habit of action is given, twenty-four were pacers, three both paced and trotted, and just one is given as a natural trotter. Here we have two very striking facts—the low stature and the uniformity of the pacing gait. These horses average a quarter of an inch below the Virginians, the next lowest, and a higher ratio of pacers than in any other colony. There must have been some reason or reasons for this, and I will suggest two which strike me as probably effective in producing these results. The earliest settlers in Southeastern Pennsylvania were the Swedes. They brought their horses with them from the Old World, and they were undoubtedly pacers, but I have no means of determining anything about their size. This may be an important factor in determining the uniformity of the gait, as well as the diminutive size. The other consideration that I will present is the fact that the pacer was more fashionable in and about Philadelphia, then the leading city of the continent, than in any other section or portion of the colonies. It is a fact that seems to be fully established, that early in the last century the breeding of pacing horses was carried on in the region of Philadelphia, with much spirit and intelligence, and that pacing stallions for public service were carefully selected for their shapeliness and speed. It is also a fact that all horses that could not pace were, in the public estimation, classed as basely bred.

The Swedes and Finns planted a colony on the west bank of the Delaware in 1638, and as they were an industrious and thrifty people they prospered and extended their plantation up the river as far as Philadelphia. This territory was then claimed by the Dutch of New Netherlands, and they overcame the Swedes in 1655, and ten years later they in turn had to surrender to the English. Of the early Swedes, the Rev. Acrelius wrote and published, in the Swedish language, a very valuable account of his people. In speaking of their horses he says: “The horses are real ponies and are seldom over sixteen hands high[138] [evidently a misprint and should read “thirteen” instead of “sixteen”]. He who has a good riding horse never employs him for draft; which is also the less necessary, as journeys are for the most part made on horseback. It must be the result of this, more than of any particular breed in the horses, that the country excels in fast horses, so that horse races are often made for very high stakes.” Such horses often sold for sixty dollars in our modern money. The question of the pacers of Philadelphia will be considered more at length in the chapters devoted to the history of the pacer.

New Jersey is not known to have made any direct importations of horses from the old country. Lying between New York on the east and Pennsylvania on the west, she had abundant opportunity to get her supply of horses from her neighbors on either side, to say nothing of the overflow from Virginia about 1669. Like all the other colonies, as early as 1668 her horses were ordered to be branded and then suffered to roam at large and find their own living. Not much attention seems to have been given to the idea of improvement in the size and quality of the stock till 1731, when it was provided by law that all colts of eighteen months old, running at large and under fourteen hands high, should be gelded. I have not made any attempt to get at the exact average size of the Jersey horses, nor to ascertain the ratio of pacers among them, for we know the environments and the sources of supply, and in knowing these we know just what the Jersey horses were—a large majority of them were pacers and they were not over fourteen hands high.

The statutes of this colony, enacted 1748, furnished the first real evidence of record, with one exception, going to show that pacing and trotting races, as well as running races, were the common amusement of the people in the first half of the last century. They were so common, indeed, that the legislative authorities declared them a nuisance and restricted them to certain days in the year. That this was not a “moral spasm,” as some might call it, that had seized the legislative authorities of that particular year, is evident from the fact that, afterward and from time to time, this statute was amended, and always in the direction of greater restrictions and greater severity. This is sufficient evidence that the moral sense of the community sustained the lawmakers in pronouncing it a nuisance, to be abated. It is not probable that pacing and trotting races were any more common[139] or more demoralizing in New Jersey than in some of the other colonies, but they seem to have been content with fulminating against “horse racing” without specifying the different gaits at which the horses might go in the race. Until this old colonial statute was discovered, it was not possible to prove by contemporaneous evidence that there had been any pacing or trotting races before the first decade of the present century. This, however, adds to their antiquity more than a hundred years.

Maryland was really the first in point of time to legislate for the suppression of pacing, as well as running races, but the old statute, enacted in 1747, was not discovered till very recently. This proves that pacing races were very common in Maryland one hundred and sixty years ago, but it says nothing about trotting races. It will be observed that in the New Jersey statute the different kinds of racing are placed in this order: “Racing, pacing and trotting,” and I take this to mean the order of their prominence. Applying this method to Maryland, it may be inferred that trotting races were infrequent and practically unknown, and hence not enumerated as offensive. Taking these two cases together, I think we are justified in concluding that the pacer antedated and preceded the trotter in all turf sports. No doubt he was faster then than the trotter, and he has maintained his superiority, in that respect at least, to this day. Maryland was a great racing colony and it was afterward a great racing State. This statute did not sweep over the whole colony, but applied only to the race course at Newmarket, and Anne Arundel and Talbot counties. As I understand the matter, this statute was enacted specially at the request of the Society of Friends, and for the protection of their yearly meetings.

With Pennsylvania on the one side and Virginia on the other, it is not necessary to spend any time on the sizes and gaits of the horses of Maryland, for they were simply duplicates of those in the two colonies with which they were in constant intercourse and trade. In the matter of undersized stallions running at large Maryland was more in earnest and more savage than any of the other colonies. For, by an act of Legislature, passed 1715, it was provided that any person finding an entire colt eighteen months old, or an unbroken stoned horse, running at large, no difference what his size, might shoot him upon the spot.

North Carolina was first permanently settled by a colony from Virginia, led by Roger Green, July, 1653. For some years previous[140] to this it had been the refuge of Quakers and others fleeing from the persecutions and proscriptions that prevailed in Virginia at that time, against all who did not conform to the ritual of the English church. These refugees and colonists took their horses and all they had with them, and as this was but a few years before there was an overproduction of horses in Virginia, and great droves were running wild without an owner, we may conclude they cost but little and that they spread rapidly in the new colony. As we thus know whence they came, we necessarily know what they were in size and gait, and we need not trace them any further.

South Carolina received her colonial charter in 1663, and the earliest newspaper that I have found was for the year 1744, from the advertisements in which I have extracted the following data as to size and gait. In the first four and the last four months of the South Carolina Gazette for 1744 I find thirty horses advertised as strayed or stolen, in which the size is given, and they average within a small fraction of an inch of thirteen and one-half hands, and of this number three are given as fifteen hands, which was considered, in that day, a large horse. Out of this number the gait is given in only twelve cases, ten of which were pacers, one paced and trotted, and one trotted only. The foundation horse stock of South Carolina was obtained chiefly, if not wholly, from Virginia, and the practice of branding and turning out, to roam at large, prevailed everywhere.

In the issues of the Gazette for this year (1744) I find but one advertisement of a stallion for public service, and he is called the “famous racing horse named Roger,” and is advertised as a great, race horse, but there is no attempt to give a pedigree or to claim that he possessed any blood that was not the inheritance of all others. Another advertisement is a lengthy challenge from Joseph Butler to run his gelding Chestnut against any horse, mare or gelding for five hundred or one thousand pounds “inch and weight,” the lowest horse carrying thirteen stone. No mention or reference is made to his blood, and from these two facts we may reasonably infer that at that time there were no strains of blood, known to the Carolinians, specially bred to run. The distance to be run is not definitely mentioned, but it was on a road from one point to another, and I suppose it was about two and a half, or possibly three miles. This was three years before the first English race horse was imported into Virginia. It has[141] been represented that an old gentleman, whose name is forgotten, imported into South Carolina a number of English race horses at a period long anterior to this, but that claim has never been in a shape that placed it above very grave suspicion and doubt; and the claim accompanying it, in the way of apology, that the old man would never allow any of his horses to race, did not improve its credibility. From the advertisements just referred to, it seems evident that there was no distinctively English running blood in the colony till after this date.

This review of the horses of the colonial period embraces all that I have been able to glean of the character, qualifications, size and habit of action of the earliest importations and their descendants. Their diminutive size will be a surprise to my readers as it has been to me, and the overwhelming ratio of pacers to trotters will be a still greater surprise. The importance of increasing the size by judicious selections of the largest seems to have been ever present to the minds of the colonists, but not much could be accomplished in that direction, under the system prevalent everywhere of roaming at large. The little pacers were great saddle horses, and down to the days of good roads and wheeled vehicles they were deemed indispensable. That there were race horses among them at the running, pacing and trotting gaits there is indisputable evidence, covering about a hundred years of the colonial period, but there is no record of the rate of speed. The pacer was the favorite and fashionable horse of that period, and after something has been said about the Canadian horse we will take up his history and treat it with that fullness its importance demands.


Settlement and capture of Port Royal—Early plantations—First French horses brought over 1665—Possibly illicit trading—Sire of “Old Tippoo”—His history—“Scape Goat” and his descendants—Horses of the Maritime Provinces.

Before taking up the two provinces of the Dominion—Quebec and Ontario—to which reference is made in this volume as “Canada,” there is an incident in the history of Nova Scotia, full of sadness, that I cannot pass over without mention. The French made a settlement here in 1602, and named the country New France. The settlement to which I refer was at Port Royal, afterward named Annapolis by the English. This seems to have been a thrifty and flourishing little plantation, far removed from all outside associations, except the savages of the forests, with whom they lived in peace. The first horses brought to North America were owned and bred by the people of Port Royal. In November, 1613, Captain Argall, of Virginia, organized a plundering expedition, and having learned of the defenseless condition of Port Royal from Captain John Smith, he sailed up there with two or three ships, captured the place and carried away horses, cattle, sheep, wheat, farming utensils, and indeed everything their ships would carry, and then sailed away to Virginia. This raid was without authority or orders, but it was winked at by the officials, and forthwith a second raid was made by Argall, and all that had been left in the first was carried away in the second, as well as some of the inhabitants.

The pacer of Canada, generally believed to be of French origin, has long been an object of diligent investigation, without reaching any satisfactory results. Again and again I have gone over the first half-century of the history of the French plantations on the St. Lawrence; examining everything in the English language that held out any hope of throwing light upon the question, but nothing was revealed. The trouble was that my search[143] stopped a little short of the date when the first horses arrived. The management of the affairs of the plantations on the St. Lawrence being in a company located in France, there was a lack of vigor, not much growth, and still less profits to the projectors of the colony. The energies of the people seemed to be directed almost wholly to collecting and trading in peltry instead of building up a commonwealth from the productions of the soil. For half a century these primitive people lived without horses. Their farms, if they could be called farms, all had a frontage on the water, running back in narrow strips to the highlands. They did their plowing with cattle and their canoes supplied the place of the saddle horse, the family carriage and the lumber wagon to carry the scanty surplus of their little farms to market. At last the company in France, holding direction and control, got out of the way, and the king of France assumed direct authority over the affairs of the plantation. On June 30, 1665, the Marquis de Tracy arrived at Quebec, as viceroy, with a numerous suite of retainers and a regiment of French soldiers. Two months later a large fleet arrived bringing many colonists, embracing artisans, farmers, peasants, etc., with their families, and a good number of horses, the first that had ever been seen on the St. Lawrence. There is a tradition that a horse had been sent over to the governor in 1642, but it is probable he was lost on the voyage, as the older people of the colony had no recollection or knowledge of any such animal. These colonists came from the ancient province of Picardy, not now to be found on the modern maps of France, but it lay on the English Channel in the extreme northwest of France. As it is expressly stated that these colonists came from Picardy, it is fair to conclude that the horses came from that portion of the kingdom also. At this period in history there had been no wars between France and England for many years, and commercial as well as social intercourse had long been cultivated between the people on both sides of the channel. We know but little of the early horse history of France, but in our own time we know that France has been largely benefited by the diffusion of the English blood among her horse stock, so we may conclude that if a man in Kent had a horse that a man in Picardy wanted, he very soon got him in the way of legitimate trade. I think, therefore, it is safe to conclude that the horse stock of Northwestern France and the horse stock of England were very much the same in appearance, action[144] and blood. On this basis of reasoning, which involves no improbabilities, we may conclude that the same proportion of the horses from Picardy were natural pacers.

There is another theory, giving the Canadian pacer an Anglo-American origin, that commends itself to the unbiased judgment with even greater force than the one just suggested. Various writers have talked about the “French characteristics” of the Canadian pacer, and all that, when probably not one of them ever saw a horse that he knew to be French. The early pacers—the pacing-bred pacers—all have more or less strongly marked resemblances, especially in conformation, and it makes no difference whether they come from Canada or whether their habitat has been south of Mason and Dixon’s line for two hundred and fifty years. When we look at a pacer, therefore, we may as well be honest and say we don’t know whether he resembles the horses that reached the St. Lawrence in 1665, or those that reached Massachusetts Bay in 1629. The theory that the French Canadians got the foundation of their pacing stock from the New England colonies rests upon two well-known facts. First, the colonies had a great abundance of such horses for sale; and second, they were within reach of and purchasable by the Canadians. To these two facts rendering the theory possible, we have others which render it probable. The jealous restrictions sought to be imposed on both the English and French colonists by the home governments of both people strongly indicate that there was no small amount of illicit trading, and this trading, in the very nature of things, must have been between the English and French. Toward the close of the seventeenth century the English colonies, especially Rhode Island, had far more horses than they needed for home use, and they did a thriving business in exporting them to different parts. These were just the kind of horses the Canadians needed for their wild life in the wilderness; they were cheaper than they could be brought from France; the water way of Lake Champlain was convenient; pelts and furs were a desirable commodity of exchange, and there was no cordon of customs officers to keep the willing traders apart. Of these theories we consider the second the more probable of the two, and if we accept it we reach the conclusion that the so-called “French” Canadian pacer is merely a descendant of the old English pacer brought over by the early New England colonists. Objection has been presented to this theory, on the grounds that[145] the powerful confederation of the Six Nations Indians interposed an insurmountable barrier to all trade, whether legitimate or illicit, between the Canadians and the colonists of New England. This objection is certainly conclusive as applied to the different periods of hostilities, but the hostilities were not continuous. During both the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries there were periods of years at a stretch when there were no hostilities, and when there was nothing to prevent the Canadian and the Yankee from coming together and exchanging what they each had that the other wanted. The border abounds in traditions of the incidents connected with this illicit trading, but we need not go to the border in the wilderness to learn that the desire to “beat the customs” is almost universal. We can see it manifested every day at the docks in New York, when a steamer arrives from abroad. The fine lady, with her gloves and lots of other lingerie that she has been contriving all the way across how best to keep from the sight of the officer, is no better and no worse than the “Canuck,” who in a retired place at midnight trades his peltry to the Yankee for his horse. If the Canadian pacer did not have his origin in New England it was not because he could not be carried across the border.

When we enter upon the consideration of the actual performers descended from the original Canadian stock, we find both pacers and trotters of speed and merit, but in attempting to trace them to their particular ancestors we find ourselves in a labyrinth from which there seems to be no deliverance. In the midst of this darkness I am glad to be able to say there is a ray of light that illumines much that has been obscure. The greatest progenitor of trotters and pacers that Canada has produced, “Old Tippoo,” has been fully identified in his true origin, and he has been well named “The Messenger of Canada.” He seemed to be known all over Canada as the greatest of their trotting and pacing sires, and many attempts were made through several years to give his pedigree, but in all these attempts there were elements of weakness and in many of them very bald absurdities.

When the roan gelding Tacony made his record of 2:27, away back in 1853, the performance was looked upon as something that would not be surpassed in a generation at least. Then when Toronto Chief made his saddle record of 2:24½, ten or twelve years later, and it was found that he and Tacony were both descended from a Canadian horse called Tippoo, the inquiry became[146] quite active as to what Tippoo was, and all kinds of imaginable stories were told about him. In the search for the history and breeding of the horse Tippoo, extending through more than twenty years, many curious and some impossible things were developed, and as these old “fads” may come as new discoveries in future generations, I will mention two or three of them here. The first of these untruthful statements to assume tangible form was to the effect that Tippoo was imported from England, and that he was got there by Nesthall’s Messenger. I never could tell how or where this story originated, but it first appeared in the pedigree given to Toronto Chief when he went into the stud on Long Island. This was settled by the facts, expressed in very few words, that the horse was not imported, but bred in Canada, and that there was no such horse in England as “Nesthall’s Messenger.”

The next representation came from an old horseman, Mr. V. Sheldon, of Canton, New York, a very intelligent and careful correspondent, who had given much labor to the question. He had learned from different sources, that were satisfactory to his mind, that a Mr. Howard, a traveling preacher, had ridden a mare from Lowville, New York, over into Canada; that this mare was in foal “by a very noted horse that stood at Lowville;” that when the mare became too heavy for his use under the saddle he sold her to Isaac Morden, and that the foal she dropped was the famous Tippoo. The name of the “very famous horse that stood at Lowville” was not remembered, but as Ogden’s Messenger was there at that time—1816-17—the conclusion followed that he was the horse. This representation was far from complete, but as there was nothing unreasonable about it, and nothing known to be untrue, I accepted it for a time, awaiting further light.

The third representation came from Mr. Lewis T. Leavens, of Bloomfield, Ontario, who was born 1792, and was, therefore, old enough to have had some personal knowledge of the horse. But whether his knowledge was personal or only traditional cannot now be made to appear. He says that Tippoo was got by a horse called Escape, and I will ask the reader to note this name “Escape” as we progress. He says that “when Escape was on the ocean, the vessel encountered a severe gale, and the horse had to be thrown overboard, and he was picked up the ninth day off the coast of Newfoundland, on a bar, eating rushes.” This silly and ridiculous story had been told and possibly believed by[147] some fools more than a hundred years before the dates here implied by Mr. Leavens. It is probable it was first told as a joke, by some wag in Rhode Island, when asked about the origin of the Narragansett pacers. He replied that the original Narragansett “was caught swimming in mid-ocean, when a ship came along, lassoed him, pulled him on board, and landed him safely in Narragansett Bay.” The vitality of the joke probably had its origin in the experience of Rip Van Dam, when in 1711 he went up to Narragansett for a flying pacer, which is related in another part of this volume. Mr. Leavens speaks of the Rev. Erastus as the owner of the dam, and the breeder of the horse; but he says the horse did not come into possession of Isaac Morden till he was six or eight years old. The date of his death is fixed by Mr. Leavens in 1835, and while he is more definite than our information from other sources, all agree he died from a kick about that year.

The next representation that seems to be worthy of noticing is a communication that appeared in the New York Sportsman, written by somebody who signs himself “Dick.” Whether “Dick” is in earnest and believes what he writes, or whether he is merely trying to “sell” somebody, we will leave for him to decide. He seems to depend upon Mr. Morden, at one time the owner of the horse, as the source of his information. “Dick” says the sire of Tippoo was imported into New York in 1811, and was called Fleetwood. Why did he not tell us by whom the horse Fleetwood was imported? If there was a man in New York in 1811 so big a fool as to import an English stallion at great expense, and then send him up to the wilderness of Canada where there was neither money nor mares, his name should be handed down as a historical curiosity. The whole story is a “fake.”

In January, 1883, I received from the Hon. J. P. Wiser, of Prescott, Ontario, the following letter, which he had just received from the writer:

Wellington, December 27, 1882.

As the origin of the Tippoo horses seems to be a mystery to you I will tell you. Erastus Howard was a traveling preacher in those days, and he traveled on horseback. He bought in Kingston a dark chestnut mare and bred her to a horse called “The Scape Goat,” brought from Narragansett Bay, in Rhode Island. The horse was a large brown horse, and could rack (pace) faster than he could run. The colt was coal black and large, and was sold to Mr. Wilcox, who named him Tippoo Sultan. His gait was like the “Scape” some, but soon squared off to a trot, and the way he could go was dreadful. In June, 1836, he broke his leg and was lost.

Wilson Serls.


This short letter was a great surprise, for never before had I heard of Mr. Serls. Through the kindness of Mr. Wiser he had entered the discussion, evidently without knowing anything about what representations had been made by others. His short, crisp sentences seemed to be an epitome of a history of this horse, which he might be able to give. It will be observed that the traveling preacher, Erastus Howard, is still in the foreground, and that Mr. Leavens’ “Escape” and Mr. Serls’ “Scape Goat” are evidently one and the same horse, and thus these two men practically confirm each other, so far as the identity of the horse is concerned. No time was lost in preparing a series of questions to be submitted to Mr. Serls, embracing the sources of his information, for although well advanced in years he certainly could not have had personal knowledge of what he testified. These questions not only covered the minute points in the history of the matter, but they were so framed as to test the accuracy and honesty of his memory. In due time they came back fully and satisfactorily answered, and as these answers embrace many things that my readers care nothing about I will condense them into narrative form.

Mr. Serls derived his information from his uncle, Stephen Niles, the brother of his mother. In 1798 Stephen Niles took a band of horses to Prince Edward County, and stopped with an uncle of his who was then a member of the provincial parliament, living on the Bay of Quinte. His uncle prevailed upon him to settle there. In 1800 he was married, and bought a farm of two hundred acres four miles west of Wellington, where he lived many years, and the place is still known as Niles’ Corners. He was an orthodox Quaker in his religious belief, and for a number of years he was one of the bench of magistrates for Prince Edward County. When the War of 1812 broke out he was employed by the British forces in procuring hay and grain for the mounted troops. In 1858 he died, leaving an honorable name behind him.

At the close of the war the military authorities sold off a large number of horses to the highest bidder, and Mr. Niles was present when the traveling preacher, Erastus Howard, bid off a dark chestnut mare for ninety-three dollars, at Kingston. This mare afterward became the dam of the famous Tippoo, and as a matter of course nothing can ever be known of her breeding. In 1816 a man from Rhode Island, whose name is not definitely remembered, but believed to be Williams, traveled the horse Scape Goat[149] through Prince Edward County, and he stopped one day and night in each week at the house of Stephen Niles, and during that season Mr. Howard bred his chestnut mare to this horse, and, as already said, the produce was Tippoo. This black colt passed into the hands of Mr. Wilcox, who gave him his name, and he afterward passed through several other hands before he reached Mr. Morden about 1826, and he died ten years later from the effects of a kick. As the horse Scape Goat was brought from Narragansett Bay, and as he was a remarkably fast pacer, there can be no mistake in calling him a “Narragansett Pacer.” He was considerably larger than the average of that tribe, but this does not vitiate his title to a place in that family. It seems he was only kept in Prince Edward County the one season, and his owner, not being satisfied with the extent of his earnings, took him back to Rhode Island. Thus, the horse that has been proudly designated as “Canada’s Messenger,” was the son of a Narragansett pacer. In his younger days, Tippoo paced like his sire, but as he grew older the trotting gait was more fully developed.

It is safe to say that the immediate progeny of Tippoo were numerous, and it is safe to say that some of them, either as trotters or pacers, were fast for their day, but it must be confessed that we know very little about the way they were bred. One son was called Sportsman, but nothing is known of his dam and very little of the horse himself beyond the fact that he was the sire of the roan gelding Tacony, that trotted some great races about 1853, and made a record of 2:27. This horse had a son called Young Sportsman, that was more widely known as “the Sager Horse,” and his horse became the sire of the trotting mare Clara, or Crazy Jane, as she was at one time called, that made a record of 2:27 in 1867. Beyond these two representatives of the Sportsman line, I have not been able to go. It has been claimed that another son of Tippoo, called Wild Deer, was the sire of the Sager Horse, but it does not seem to be well sustained. There was a son called Wild Deer, and several others that have been mentioned by turf writers, but no particulars of any value have been given.

Warrior, or Black Warrior, as he is sometimes called, was a brown horse and not a black, as his latter name would imply. He was a son of old Tippoo and his dam was a black mare owned and ridden by an officer in an English regiment, known as the[150] First Royals. She was a black mare and after she was sold out of the service she was called “Black Warrior,” and this name was transmitted to her son. This mare was for a long time represented as the dam of Royal George, but she was the dam of his sire. This horse was bred at Belleville, Ontario, and about 1840 a certain Mr. Johnston was moving from Belleville to Michigan. He had this horse with him, which, becoming lame on the way, he traded to a Mr. Barnes, living about twenty miles south of London, Ontario. He was a valuable horse and left many very useful animals. Many of his get were pacers, and he was kept by Mr. Barnes till he died.

Royal George was a brown-bay horse, foaled about 1842, and was got by Warrior, son of Tippoo. His dam was the off one of a pair of bay mares taken to that vicinity from Middlebury, Vermont, by a Mr. Billington. This mare got her foot in a log bridge and the injury made her a comparative cripple for life. Being thus unfitted for road work, Mr. Billington sold or traded her to Mr. Barnes. She was bred to Warrior and produced Royal George. It is said by those who knew both animals, that this mare was a better trotter than Warrior, and from this springs the argument that Royal George had a trotting inheritance from his dam as well as from his sire. To learn whence this inheritance came, I have labored assiduously for years without being able to technically determine it. The single fact that her sire in Vermont was known as “the Bristol Horse,” is beyond all doubt, but as Mr. Billington was not living when this search was commenced, it has not been possible to determine just what horse is meant by “Bristol Horse.” At one time Harris’ Hambletonian was known very widely as “Bristol Grey” or “Bristol Horse,” and this is the only horse in the records so designated. It may, therefore, be assumed as more than a probability that this was the sire of the dam of Royal George.

When three or four years old he was sold by Mr. Barnes to James Forshee, and he was known as “the Forshee Horse” for several years. He was sixteen hands high, not very handsome, but well formed, with plenty of substance and stamina, good action, and a first class “business” horse for anything that was wanted of him. In the stud, at low prices, he was largely patronized, and during the other months of the year he was employed in all kinds of drudgery. From Forshee he passed to Frank Munger, and from Munger to Mr. Doherty, of St. Catherines,[151] for four hundred dollars, and he gave him the name of Royal George, and kept him many years. In 1858 W. H. Ashford, of Lewiston, New York, bought him and kept him two or three years there and at Buffalo. He seems to have passed into Doherty’s hands again, and died at St. Catherine’s, December, 1862. It is not known that he ever had any training as a trotter except what he got from his owner on the road, and there is no tradition of his ever having been in a race but once, and that was on the ice at Hamilton, about 1852, against the famous State of Maine, for a considerable wager. In this contest he was the winner. His highest rate of speed was about 2:50 under the saddle. He was strongly disposed to pace, but when he got down to his work his gait was a square, mechanical trot. He left a numerous progeny with a heavy sprinkling of pacers among them; they were generally of fine size and very useful animals. Many of his sons were kept entire and that whole region of Ontario was filled up with Royal Georges, to say nothing of the large numbers that were brought across the border. He left one representative in the 2:30 list, and five sons that became sires of performers.

Toronto Chief was the best son of Royal George, according to the records. He was a brown horse, foaled 1850, and was bred by George Larue, of Middlesex County, Ontario. His dam was a small bay mare by a horse called Blackwood, and his grandam was by Prospect. The horse Blackwood “was bought of a Frenchman below Montreal in 1837,” and that is all that can be said of his blood. He was a horse of fine size and went with great courage. Toronto Chief passed through several hands before he reached his owner, A. Bathgate, of New York. He was a horse of great speed for his day, having a record of 2:31 in harness and 2:24¼ under saddle. He left three representatives in the 2:30 list, and among them the famous Thomas Jefferson, 2:23, with thirty-nine heats to his credit. Six of his sons became sires of trotters, and five of his daughters producers. Like all the other minor families, the Royal George family is surely being absorbed or submerged in trotting strains of more positive and uniform prepotency.

It is probably true that Old Columbus and Old St. Lawrence were both descended from the Tippoo family, as they were both bred in Canada and seemed to possess and transmit the same characteristics as the Royal Georges possessed, in conformation[152] and gait. Their descendants were not numerous, but so many of them were able to show such a rate of speed, either at the lateral or diagonal gait, that they left a distinct trace on the trotting stock of the United States. Old Pacing Pilot has always been classed as a Canadian, but no trace of his origin has ever been secured, and it is impossible at this day to give any definite information as to whether he was brought from Canada or not. Some forty or fifty years ago the “Canadian pacers” were so highly esteemed for their speed that very many horses were called “Canadians” that never saw Canada. The original Tom Hal was purchased in Philadelphia as early as 1828, and was always called a Canadian. He was the progenitor of the great pacing family still bearing his name, that is doubtless the most noted pacing family now in existence. Sam Hazzard, it is said, was brought from Canada about 1844, and left some noted descendants. Many others might be named, but as they never gained great celebrity, and as their origin is not fully established, I will leave the Canadians for future investigators.

The rich province of Ontario has always been, in all its ways, the most English section of the Canadian Confederation, and in nothing more than in horsemanship. True, it is now a great trotting region, but running is and always has been the sport of the rich and fashionable, and almost all the English horses imported in Canada have gone to Western Ontario. On the other hand, in the Maritime Provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island—running races have never been popular, except at Halifax, which is a great military station and socially and otherwise much influenced by its English army and navy residents. It is the only point in the provinces where running meetings are given or where the running horse is at all cherished. For generations the principal sport of the people of these provinces has been trotting and pacing races, winter and summer, for ice racing is very general and very popular, through Maritime as well as Western Canada, the numbers of great bays and wide rivers affording ample courses, everywhere, throughout the long winters. Though there is, through these provinces, a generous sprinkling of horses called French Canadian, it is a fact that when we write the horse history of Maine we have written that of the Maritime Canadian provinces. The best of the early trotting stock of these provinces came from Maine, and the most and the best of the old-time trotters of New Brunswick, Nova[153] Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were of tribes loosely described as Maine Messengers. For this there are ample geographical and natural reasons. That part of Quebec nearest them has never been rich in horses nor in anything else which the Provincials want, or in which they trade. The people of eastern New England are their natural trading neighbors, and the city of St. John, New Brunswick, especially in the past, the common market place; and almost all the earlier Maritime trotting sires trace through St. John to Maine, or some of the other New England States. It is a fact, too, that for generations enterprising horsemen, in the lower provinces, have been importing American trotting stallions for service, and to-day the trotting stock of these provinces is very thoroughly Americanized. While the exportation of horses, principally to Boston and Bangor, is one of the industries of Nova Scotia and of Prince Edward Island especially, almost without exception trotting and pacing stallions in use there are imported American horses, or the descendants of American trotting sires; while, as we have noted, the foundation stock came chiefly from Maine, and in very small degree from Ontario or Quebec. In either of the Maritime provinces it is a rarity to find a trotting horse that has not more or less of American blood.


The mechanism of the different gaits—The Elgin Marbles—Britain becomes a Roman province—Pacers in the time of the Romans—Bronze horses of Venice—Fitz Stephen, the Monk of Canterbury—Evidence of the Great Seals—What Blundeville says—What Gervaise Markham says—What the Duke of Newcastle says—The amble and the pace one and the same—At the close of Elizabeth’s reign—The Galloways and Hobbies—Extinction of the pacer—The original pacer probably from the North—Polydore Virgil’s evidence—Samuel Purchas’ evidence—The process of wiping out the pacer—King James set the fashion—All foreign horses called “Arabians”—The foreigners larger and handsomer—Good roads and wheeled vehicles dispensed with the pacer—Result of prompting Mr. Euren—Mr. Youatt’s blunder—Other English gentlemen not convinced there ever were any pacers.

In considering the antiquity and history of the pacing horse, it seems to be necessary that we should have a clear perception of the mechanism of the gait from which he takes his distinctive name and the relation which that mechanism bears to other gaits or means of progression. In the study of this mechanism we learn the combination by which we unlock the mystery that has puzzled so many breeders of the past and present generations. Some have maintained that the pace is a combination of the trot and the gallop, while a smaller number have maintained that the fast trot was a combination of the pace and the gallop. It is quite evident, as I will be able to show, that neither of these parties has ever given any careful attention and study to the mechanism of the different gaits. The most simple and least complicated method of illustrating this mechanism of movement is furnished in the human means of progression. At the walk, a man steps off with his left foot and the heel of that foot strikes the ground before the toe of the right foot leaves it. Then the right foot advances and strikes the ground before the toe of the left foot leaves it. This is the natural “heel and toe” walk, and the speed may be increased by quickening the step and extending the stride, so far as physical conformation will permit. Still[155] greater speed becomes a succession of bounds, the propelling foot leaving the ground before the advanced foot strikes it. This is running, the highest rate of speed attainable, and in every revolution, for a space, the whole body is in the air. In the action of the horse, with four legs, we find greater complication, which I will try to make clear.


By Brown Hal, strictly pacing bred, record 1:59¼, 1897.

First, all horses walk, all horses pace or trot, and all horses gallop. The walk is easily analyzed, for it is slow and the movement of each limb can be followed by the eye. Each foot makes its own stroke upon the ground, and we count one, two, three, four in the revolution.

Second, at the gallop, which is a succession of leaps, each limb, as shown by the instantaneous photograph, performs its own function, whether in rising from the ground, flying through the air, or in striking the ground again. There is harmony in all, but there is no unity in any two or more of them, and when they strike the ground again you hear the impacts, one, two, three, four, in a cluster. The conventional drawing of the running horse in action is impossible in nature, and a wretched caricature of the action as it is. As in the walk, so in the run, we count four impacts in the revolution.

Third, at the pace the horse advances the two feet, on the same side, at the same time, and when they reach the ground again there is but one impact; then the two feet on the other side are advanced and strike in the same way. Thus, the rhythm of the action strikes the ear as that of the movement of an animal with two feet instead of four. In this there can be no mechanical mistake, for in the revolution of the four-legged pacing horse we count one, two, and in the revolution of the two-legged man we count one, two. The conclusion, therefore, seems to be inevitable that the two legs on the same side of the pacing horse act in perfect unison in performing the functions of one leg. At the trot the horse advances the two diagonal feet at the same time, and when they reach the ground again there is but one impact; then the two other diagonal feet are advanced and strike in the same way. Thus, the rhythm of the action strikes the ear as that of the movement of an animal with two feet instead of four. In this there can be no mechanical mistake, for in the revolution of the four-legged trotting horse we count one, two, and in the revolution of the two-legged man we count one, two. The conclusion, therefore, seems to be inevitable that the two[156] diagonal legs of the trotting horse act in perfect unison in performing the function of one leg. In the mechanism of the gait then that is midway between the walk and the gallop there is no difference in results, nor distinction in the economy of motion, except that the pacer uses the lateral legs as one, and the trotter the diagonal legs as one. In use, there is a vertical distinction, if that term should be allowed, between the gait of the pacer and the trotter. The action of the pacer is lower and more gliding which fits him for the saddle, while the action of the trotter is higher and more bounding which makes him more desirable as a harness horse. In the processes of inter-breeding to the fastest, this distinction, if it be a distinction, seems to be coming less real, or at least less observable.

While the essential oneness of the pace and the trot is indicated above from the mechanism and unity of the two gaits, there is a great mountain of evidence to be developed when we reach the consideration of breeding subjects, in which we will meet multitudes of fast trotters getting fast pacers, and fast pacers getting fast trotters; fast pacers changed over to fast trotters and fast trotters changed over to fast pacers, and the final evidence that speed at the one gait means speed at the other. Having briefly explained what a pacer is, it is now in order to take up the question of whence he came.

On the summit of the Acropolis, in Athens, stand the ruins of the Parthenon, a magnificent temple erected to the goddess Minerva. The building was commenced in the year B.C. 437, and was completed five years afterward. All the statuary was the work of the famous Phidias and his scholars, made from Pentelic marble. This noted building resisted all the ravages of time, and had, in turn, been converted into a Christian temple and a Turkish mosque. In 1676 it was still entire, but in 1687 Athens was besieged by the Venetians, and the Parthenon was hopelessly wrecked. As a ruin it became the prey of the Turks and all other devastators, and in order to save something of what remained of its precious works of art, Lord Elgin, about the year 1800, brought home to England some portions of the frieze of the temple, with other works of Phidias, in marble, sold them to the government, and they are preserved in the British Museum. This frieze is a most interesting subject to study, not only as a specimen of Greek art of the period of Pericles, but as a historic record of the type and action of the Greek horses of that day.[157] It consists of a series of white marble slabs, something over four feet wide, upon which are sculptured, in high relief, the heroes and defenders of Athens, mounted on horses, and some of these horses are pacing, while others are trotting and cantering. This is the first undoubted record we have of the pacer, and it is now over two thousand three hundred and thirty years old.

Britain became a Roman province in the reign of Claudius, in the first part of the first century of the Christian era, and it continued under the Roman yoke until a.d. 426, when the troops were withdrawn to help Valentinian against the Huns, and never returned. When Julius Cæsar first invaded Britain, in the year b.c. 55, he found the inhabitants fierce and warlike and abundantly supplied with horses and war chariots. These chariots were driven with great daring and skill, and the fact was thus demonstrated that this kind of warfare was not a new thing to the Britons, and that they were not to be easily subdued. The next year he returned again, but the second seems to have been no more successful than the first expedition. But little is known of the extent of territory overrun or the result of these invasions beyond the fact that no settlement was made then, and none till about ninety years afterward, when under the reign of Claudius, a strong military colony was planted there and Britain became a Roman province. During these centuries of bondage we know practically nothing of the lives of the slaves and but little of their masters, except the remnants of military works for aggression and defence, and the magnificent roads they constructed where-ever they moved their armies. In relation to their horses, I will make a few extracts from a work published about the beginning of this century, by Mr. John Lawrence, a man of great research and intelligence, besides of a wide acquaintance with the practical affairs of the horse, and, I may add, altogether the most reliable writer of his period. He says:

“In forming the paces, if the colt was not naturally of a proud and lofty action, like the Spanish or Persian horses, wooden rollers and weights were bound to their pastern joints, which gave them the habit of lifting up their feet. This method, also, was practiced in teaching them the ambulatura, or amble (pace), perhaps universally the common traveling pace of the Romans.

“That natural and most excellent pace, the trot, seems to have been very little prized or attended to by the ancients, and was, indeed, by the Romans held in a kind of contempt, or aversion, as is demonstrated by the terms which served to describe it. A trotting horse was called by them succussator, or shaker, and sometimes cruciator, or tormentor, which bad terms, it may be presumed,[158] were applied specially to those which in these days we dignify with the expressive appellation of ‘bone-setters.’”

The statuary of the early ages furnishes some excellent illustrations of the gait of the horse at that period of the world’s history. The four bronze horses on St. Mark’s in Venice are known throughout the world, and they are in the pacing attitude. The forefoot that is advanced is possibly a little too much elevated to strike the ground the same instant the hinder foot should strike it, but the whole action indicated is undoubtedly the lateral action. The date of these horses is lost in history, but it is supposed they were cast in Rome, about the beginning of the Christian era. Their capture in Rome and transfer to Constantinople, then their capture by the Venetians and transfer to Venice, next their capture by Napoleon and transfer to Paris, and then their restoration to Venice, are all matters of history.

William Stephanides, or Fitz Stephen, as he was called, a monk of Canterbury, was born in London, lived in the reigns of King Stephen, Henry II., and Richard I., and died 1191. He wrote a description of London in Latin, which was afterward translated by John Strype, and printed, from which I take the following extract:

“There is without one of the gates, immediately in the suburb, a certain smooth field (Smithfield) in name and reality. There every Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons and knights who are at the time resident in the city, as well as most of the citizens, flock thither either to look or to buy. It is pleasant to see the nags with their sleek and shining coats, smoothly ambling (pacing) along, raising and setting down, as it were, their feet on either side; in one part (of the field) are horses better adapted to the esquires; those whose pace is rougher, yet expeditious, lift up and set down, as it were, the two opposite fore and hind feet (trotting) together.”

After locating and describing the pacers in one part of the field and the trotters in another, Fitz Stephen goes on to take a look at the colts, then horses of burden, “strong and stout of limb,” and then their chargers in their galloping action. He next gives a very spirited description of the race, when the people raise a shout and all the other horses, cattle, etc., are cleared away, that the contestants may have an unobstructed field. It is a fact worthy of note that every English writer on the race horse, for the past century or two, has quoted a part of the above paragraph from Fitz Stephen as the first known and recorded instance of[159] racing in England, but left one of the most important parts out. Even Mr. Whyte, one of the most prominent of modern writers, in his “History of the British Turf,” seems to have followed some other writer, in the omission; or possibly, as he never had seen a pacer in England, he concluded that Fitz Stephen had only imagined that he saw, in one part of the field, horses moving at the lateral gait. In the paragraph quoted above, I have italicised that part of the description which English writers on turf subjects have omitted with remarkable uniformity.

This seems to have been the period in which the pacing horse reached the highest point in official and popular appreciation, at least since the days of the Roman occupation of Britain. In speaking of this period, Mr. Lawrence says: “All descriptions of saddle horses were taught to amble” (that did not amble naturally), “and that most excellent and useful gait, the trot, was almost entirely disused.” In addition to the evidence of Fitz Stephen, we have that furnished by the Great Seals of a succession of sovereigns commencing with Richard I., and continuing to Elizabeth. These seals represent a knight in armor, mounted on a pacing horse in action, and perhaps the most conspicuous, at least the clearest, impression that has come down to us is that of King John, used at Runnymede, when he yielded to the demands of his barons and granted the Magna Charta. This act secured the liberties of the Anglo-Saxon race for all time and in all climes.

Mr. Thomas Blundeville was, probably, the first writer on the horse who undertook to publish a book in the English language on that subject. This book, entitled “The Art of Riding,” was merely a translation from the Italian, with some brief observations on English horses added to it. The first edition, it is said, was published in London, 1558, the year that Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. The only edition which I have been able to find in the British Museum is that of 1580, in old English black letter. In quoting from the old authors of that period I will seek to avoid confusion by using the modern orthography. In speaking of the horses of his day he says:

“Some men would have a breed of great trotting horses meet for the war and to serve in the field. Some others again would have a breed of ambling horses of a mean stature for to journey and travel by the way. Some, again, would have a race of swift runners to run for wagers or to gallop the buck, or to serve for such like exercise for pleasure. But the plain countryman would have a breed only for draft or burthen.


“The Irish Hobbie is a pretty fine horse, having a good head and a body indifferently well proportioned, saving that many of them be slender and pin-buttocked. They are tender-mouthed, nimble, pleasant and apt to be taught, and for the most part they be amblers and thus very meet for the saddle and to travel by the way. Yea, and the Irishmen, both with darts and light spears, do use to skirmish with them in the field, and many of them do prove to that use very well, by means they be so light and swift.

“Let those mares that shall be put to the stallion be of a high stature, strongly made, large and fair, and have a trotting pace as the mares of Flanders and some of our own mares be. For it is not meet, for divers reasons, that horses of [service stallions] should amble. But if any man seeks to have a race of ambling horses, to travel by the way, then I would wish his stallion to be a fair jennet of Spain, or at least a bastard jennet, or else a fair Irish ambling Hobbie; and the mare to be also a bastard jennet, bred here within this realm, having an ambling pace, or else some other of our ambling mares, so that the mare be well proportioned. And if any man desires to have swift runners let him choose a horse of Barbary or a Turk to be his stallion, and let the mare, which shall be put unto him, be like of stature and making unto him, so nigh as may be, for most commonly, such sire and dam such colt.”

It is evident Mr. Blundeville was not much of a friend of the pacer, but as an honest writer he considers things as he finds them. Unfortunately he throws no light upon just what he means by the term “Spanish Jennet,” and a definition of that term, as used in the sixteenth century, would throw much light on passages from following writers in later periods. Everybody knows he was a small Spanish saddle horse, but nobody knows just what gait he took. To use Blundevilles own language, “The pace of the jennet of Spain is neither trot nor amble, but a comely kind of going like the Turke.”

Mr. Gervaise Markham published several revised and enlarged editions of his work on the horse, the last of which I have been able to examine being printed in London, 1607, the same year the colony was planted at Jamestown, Virginia. In this edition he devotes nine short chapters or paragraphs to the pacer. In quoting from him I will again use the modern methods of spelling. He says:

“First to speak of ambling in general. It is that smooth and easy pace which the labor and industry of an ingenious brain hath found out to relieve the aged, sick, impotent and diseased persons, to make women undertake journeying and so by their community to grace society; to make great men try the ease of travel, more willing to thrust themselves into the offices of the commonwealth, and to do the poor both relief and service. It makes them when necessity, or as the proverb is, “when the devil drives,” not to be vexed with the two torments, a troubled mind and a tormented body. To conclude, ambling[161] was found out for the general ease of the whole world, as long as there is either pleasure, commerce or trade amongst the people. Now for the manner of the motion and the difference betwixt it and trotting. It cannot be described more plainly than I have set down in my former treatise; which is that it is the taking up of both legs together upon one side and so carrying them smoothly along to set them down upon the ground even together, and in that motion he must lift and wind up his fore foot somewhat high from the ground, but his hinder foot he must no more than take from the ground, as it were, sweep it close to the earth. Now, by taking up both his legs together on one side, I mean he must take up his right fore foot and his right hinder foot. For, as in the contrary pace, when a horse trots he takes up his feet crosswise, as the left hinder foot and the right fore foot, etc.”

Mr. Markham, in his edition of 1607, then goes on in six or eight chapters acknowledging that many foals pace naturally, and to show how the foal may be trained to pace. His methods are very cruel, in many cases, and very crude throughout; but it clearly demonstrates the fact that in the sixteenth century the pace was a very general gait among English horses. In these chapters we find the toe weight first introduced as well as the trammels or hopples. The most striking fact brought out in these chapters is the discovery that more than three hundred years ago Englishmen were using the same devices to convert trotters into pacers that we are now using to convert pacers into trotters. He takes notice that Mr. Blundeville had advised those who wished to breed amblers to select a Spanish jennet or an Irish Hobbie, and objects to the former on the grounds that their paces are weak and uncertain. From this I conclude that the gait of the jennet, whatever it might have been, was not a habit of action fixed in the breed, and that its transmission was doubtful.

Mr. Markham then goes on further to explain the mechanism of the trot and the pace and incidentally introduces the rack or single-foot action, which, I think, is the first time I have found it in any English writer. He says:

“The nearer a horse taketh his limbs from the ground, the opener and evener and the shorter he treadeth, the better will be his pace, and the contrary declares much imperfection. If you buy a horse for pleasure the amble is the best, in which you observe that he moves both his legs on one side together neat with complete deliberation, for if he treads too short he is apt to stumble, if too large to cut and if shuffling or rowling he does it slovenly, and besides rids no ground. If your horse be designed for hunting, a racking pace is most expedient, which little differs from the amble, only is more active and nimble, whereby the horse observes due motion, but you must not force him too eagerly,[162] lest being in confusion he lose all knowledge of what you design him to, and so handle his legs confusedly. The gallop is requisite for race horses…. If he gallop round and raise his fore legs he is then said to gallop strongly, but not capable of much speed, and is fitter for the war than racing.”

In 1667 the Duke of Newcastle published his famous work on the horse under the title, “A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses, and Work them According to Nature and also To Perfect Nature by the Subtilty of Art which was Never Found Out, but by the Thrice Noble, High, and Puissant Prince, William Cavendish, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle, etc., etc.,” followed with twelve other titles and offices. The book was dedicated to “His Most Sacred Majesty, Charles the Second,” and is pretentious and magniloquent in its letter press and its make-up as it is in its title. In this work there is a great deal of bad English, some sense, and much nonsense, all mixed up with a strut of superiority that His Grace, no doubt, felt justified in enjoying after his long years of beggary in Antwerp. In giving the natural gaits of the horse he places the walk first, then the trot and next the amble, which he describes very minutely as follows:

“For an amble he removes both his legs of a side, as, for example, take the far side, he removes his fore leg and his hinder leg at one time, whilst the other two legs of the near side stand still; and when those legs are on the ground, which he first removed, at the same time they are upon the ground the other side, which is the nearer side, removes fore leg and hinder leg on that side, and the other legs of the far side stand still. Thus an amble removes both his legs of a side and every remove changes sides; two of a side in the air and two upon the ground at the same time. And this is a perfect amble.”

The duke seems to have been somewhat profuse in the use of words, and not very happy in his use of them, but after all we know just what he means. The description of the movement is that of the clean-cut pace, and our object in introducing it here is not only to show that the pace was then a well-known and natural gait in England, but also to show that the pace and the amble are one. In itself, the word “amble” is a better word than “pace,” for the latter is often used in referring to a rate of speed without regard to the particular gait taken by the horse, but in this country it is now universally understood to apply to the lateral motion, and it would not be wise at this day to attempt to change it. There is an undefined supposition in the mind of some people that the amble is something different from the pace,[163] that it is a slower and less pronounced gait, and hence we are often told a given horse did not pace, but “he ambled off.” In all that we have found in the writings of the past, and in all that I have seen with my own eyes, I have not been able to discover that there is any distinction between the amble and the pace. The only distinction is not in the gait itself, but in the fact that our ancestors, four hundred years ago, used the word “amble” to express precisely the same thing that their descendants now express by the word “pace.” The only sense in which the word “amble” is used among the horsemen of this country is to describe a kind of slow, incipient pace that many horses, both runners and trotters, show when recalled for a fresh start in scoring for a race. This probably indicates, whether in the case of a runner or a trotter, that somewhere, not very far removed, there is a pacing inheritance, and this incipient amble, as it is sometimes called, comes from that inheritance. It is also possible that it may arise from the excitement of the start and the confusion consequent upon the contest.

At the close of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, the pacing horse of England was at the highest point of his utility and fame. He was the horse for the race course, he was the horse for the hunting field, and he was the horse for the saddle. He was able to beat King James’ Arabian, and with the few Barbs that had then been brought in, the historian informs us, he was able to hold his own. There were two tribes of his congeners, the Galloway and the Irish Hobbie, the former from Southwestern Scotland and the north of England, and the latter from Ireland. These tribes were chiefly pacers, and not a few of them were distinguished as running horses. The Bald Galloway, as he was called, was a grand representative of his tribe. He was simply a native pony with a bald face, and he was a capital runner for his day, and a number of his get were distinguished runners. True, he is tricked out in the Stud Book with a pedigree, wholly fictitious, and that nobody ever heard of for a hundred years after he was foaled, but that did not prevent his daughter Roxana, when bred to Godolphin Arabian, from producing two of his greatest sons, Lath and Cade. This topic, however, has already been considered in the chapter on the English Race Horse. The Galloways were very famous as pacers in their day, and it seems they were about the last remnants of the pacing tribes to be found in England. It[164] seems, also, that long after they had ceased to be known on the other side their descendants were still known by the same designation in Virginia. From the history of the times, it appears that a wealthy Irish gentleman invested quite largely in shipping live stock to Virginia, and there can hardly be a doubt that his shipments included some of the Irish Hobbies.

While the opening of the seventeenth century witnessed the supremacy of the English pacer, in the uses and enjoyments of the lives of the people, during the whole course of its succeeding years he was battling for his existence, and at its close he was nearly extinct. At the close of Queen Anne’s reign there were still a few Galloways left, but in the early Georges there were no longer any survivors, and Great Britain was without a pacer in the whole realm. The extinction of a race of horses that had been the delight of the kings, queens, nobility, and gentry of a great nation for many centuries is, perhaps, without a precedent in the history of any civilized people, and the causes which produced this wonderful result are well worthy of careful study. In looking into these causes we must consider the facts as we find them.

As we have no guide, either historic, linguistic or ethnographic, by which we can certainly determine the blood of the original inhabitants of the British Isles, it is not remarkable that we should be in profound ignorance as to the blood of their horses. They were, doubtless, like their masters, of mixed origin, and through all the centuries their appearance would indicate that they have been bred and reared in a nomadic or semi-wild state, in which only the toughest and fleetest had survived. A good many years ago I met with a theory, advanced by somebody, that the original horse stock of Britain came from the North, but there were no reasons given to support it. I have no hesitation in accepting this theory, as far as it distinguishes between the North and the South, for some Northern countries produce vast numbers of natural pacers, as Russia, for instance, but I have never learned that any Southern country produced pacers. Certainly the shaft horse of the Russian drosky has been a flying pacer for generations, and great numbers of them are produced in Russia, especially in the eastern part of the empire. As these pacers are produced in a natural and semi-wild state, it must be conceded that habits of action have been inherited from their ancestors in the remote past. Historically, we know that the[165] Phœnicians, when they ruled the trade of the world, supplied the whole of the northern coast of Africa, from Egypt to Algiers, and the southern coast of Spain, with horses, about a thousand years before the Christian era. Now, the horses of those regions are the descendants of the original stock carried there by the Phœnicians, and we know their habit of action is not that of the pacer. Hence the conclusion that the English pacer came from the North and not from the South. In speaking of the difference in the gaits of Northern and Southern horses, Mr. John Lawrence specifies the horses of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc., and says: “They are round made, but with clean heads and limbs; their best pace is the trot (or pace), which indeed is the characteristic pace of the Northern, as the gallop is of the Southern horse.” Other writers speak of the trot (or pace) as common to Northern horses, but as not common to Southern horses. Now, as all Southern horses do trot, and as these writers could not fail to know that they trotted, at some rate of speed, we must construe their terms so as to be consistent with plain, common sense. There was something in the “trot” of the Northern horse altogether different from the “trot” of the Southern horse that rendered his habit of action more conspicuous, probably by his higher rate of speed, but still more probably by the peculiar mechanism of his lateral action. If we insert the word “pace” instead of the word “trot,” the meaning of these old writers becomes very plain and in harmony with other known facts. Neither does it militate against the theory that the inhabitants of Britain may have secured their original horse stock from the Phœnician merchants; but if they did, it seems quite evident that at a later date they supplemented their supply from the pacing element from the North.

At the close of the fifteenth century Polydore Virgil, an Italian ecclesiastic, came to England and wrote a descriptive history of the British Islands in Latin, which was published about 1509. Part of this history was very clumsily translated about the time the English language began to assume its present form in literature and learning. In speaking of the horses of the country, he seems to have been greatly surprised with the pacers, and treats them as a curiosity. He says: “A great company of their horses do not trot, but amble, and yet neither trotters nor amblers are strongest, as strength is not always incident to that which is most gentle or less courageous.” It will be observed[166] that these observations were made nearly four hundred years ago, and that the surprise of the Italian was not at merely seeing a few pacers which he had never seen in his own country, but that “the great company” of English horses were pacers. As I have here given an instance showing the surprise of an Italian at finding pacers, I will follow it with another showing the surprise of an Englishman at not finding any pacers. The chaplain of the Earl of Cumberland, on his several voyages of discovery in South America and the West India Islands, about 1596, made elaborate note of what he saw and learned of the new countries which the English then visited for the first time. These notes passed into the hands of that wonderfully prolific writer, or rather compiler, Samuel Purchas, from whose fourth volume, page 1171, the following paragraph is taken:

“And I wot not how that kind of beast [speaking of cattle] hath specially a liking to these Southerly parts of the world above their horses, none of which I have seen by much so tall and goodly as ordinarily they are in England; they were well made and well mettled, and good store there are of them, but methinks there are many things wanting in them which are ordinary in our English light horses. They are all trotters, nor do I remember that I have seen above one ambler, and that was a little fiddling nag. But it may be if there were better breeders they would have better and more useful increase, yet they are good enough for hackneys, to which use only almost they are employed.”

The surprise of the Englishman at finding no pacers in South America seems to have been as great as that of the Italian at finding so many of them in England, one hundred years earlier. These horses were strictly Spanish, and probably were descended from those brought from Palos in 1493 by Columbus, the first horses that ever crossed the Atlantic. The “one little fiddling nag” that showed some kind of a pacing gait may have been of English blood and captured from some English expedition, several of which were unfortunate; or his failure to trot may have been the result of an injury. It should not be forgotten that in that period every sea captain was out for what he could capture, and this was especially the case as between the English and the Spanish. These are the outlines of the principal points of evidence that the pacing habit of action came from the North and not from the South. That there were pacers in both Greece and Rome before the Christian era, and perhaps later, there can be no doubt, for they were both overrun and devastated again and again by the hordes of Northern Barbarians, bringing their flocks[167] and their herds and their families, as well as their horses, with them.

This question naturally suggests itself here: “If the English pacer had been the popular favorite of the English people for so many centuries, how did it come that he and his habit of action had been so completely wiped out in one century, the seventeenth?” This question might be answered in very few words, by saying the people thought they were getting something better to put in his place. In reaching this conclusion I will not pretend to say the judgment of the people was not right, that is, if they exercised any judgment in the case. “Jamie the Scotsman” when on the throne set the fashion in the direction of foreign blood by paying the enormous price of five hundred pounds for the Markham Arabian. The Duke of Newcastle, when he was young, had personally seen this horse, and while he thought he was a true Arabian, he described him as a very ordinary horse in his size and form, and an entire failure as a race horse. It seems that any average native pacer could outrun him, but he carried the badge of royalty, and that was sufficient to make him fashionable, as he was not only the king’s horse, but was himself a royal Arabian. The weak place in the character of James I., in addition to his intolerable pedantry, was his inordinate ambition to be considered the wisest sovereign who ever sat upon a throne since the days of Solomon. His courtiers, nobility, and all who approached him understood his weakness, and a little quiet praise of the great superiority of the Arabian blood in the horse, over all other breeds and varieties, was always grateful to the monarch, for he was the original discoverer and patentee of that blood. Then and there, in order to praise the wisdom of a foolish king, a foolish fashion grew into a foolish notion that has afflicted all England from that day to this. No humbug of either ancient or modern times has had so long a run and so wide a range as the miserable fallacy “that all excellence in the horse comes from the Arabian.” Notwithstanding the thousand tests that have been made and the thousand failures that have invariably followed, from the time of King James to the present day, there are still men writing books and magazine articles on the assumption that “all excellence in the horse comes from the Arabian,” without ever having devoted an honest hour to the study of the question as to whether this is a truth or a fallacy. This craze for Arabian blood was the primary cause of the[168] extinction of the pacer, and this craze was so strong in its influence that when a foreign horse was brought in, no difference from what country, if he were of the lighter type he was called an Arabian and so advertised in order to secure the patronage of breeders. Horses brought from the African coast were invariably classed as Arabians, notwithstanding they and their ancestors were in Africa more than a thousand years before there were any horses in Arabia; and the same may be said of Spain. But as this line of inquiry has already been considered in another chapter, I will get back to the immediate topic.

The process of breeding out the pacer did not commence in real earnest until the middle of the seventeenth century, when the Stuarts regained the sovereignty of Great Britain in the person of Charles II. Released from the restraints of Puritan rule, the Restoration brought with it a carnival of immorality and vice, for the court and the courtiers set the fashion and the people followed. As the breeding interest of the period of which we now speak has already been considered in the chapter on the English Race Horse, I will not further enlarge upon it. The light, or running and hunting, horses of England of that day were not all pacers, but they were all of the same type and the same blood, hence when I speak of the pacers I include their congeners. They were small—less than fourteen hands high—and not generally handsome and attractive. In general utility they were ahead of the importations, and doubtless many of them could run as fast and as far as the foreign horses, but the foreigners had the advantage in size, especially the Turks and the Neapolitans; besides this, they were more uniformly handsome and attractive in their form and carriage. It is also probable that the outcross from the strangers to invigorate the stock was needed and resulted in the increase of the size of the progeny. This latter suggestion is inferential and has been sustained by many similar experiences, but without this as a start it would be exceedingly difficult to account for the rapid increase in the height of the English race horse. It is certainly true that the chief aim of the English breeder of that day was to increase the size, without losing symmetry and style, and if he found that foreign upon native blood gave him a start in that direction, he was wise in the commingling. Another consideration, growing out of the rural economy of the people, doubtless had a very wide influence in the direction of wiping out the pacer, in this period of transition.[169] Long journeys in the saddle became less frequent, good roads began to appear and vehicles on wheels took the place of the saddler and the pack horse. To get greater weight and strength for this service, recourse was had to crosses with the larger and courser breeds, and through these channels have come the giants and the pigmies of the modern race course. Under the changed conditions of travel and transportation it is not remarkable that the people should have been willing to see their long-time favorites disappear, for it is known to every man of experience that the pace is not a desirable gait for harness work. No doubt the pacer is as strong as the trotter of the same size and make-up, but in his smooth, gliding motion there is a suggestion of weakness communicated to his driver that is never suggested by the bold, bounding trotter. The antagonism between the pacers and the new horses of Saracenic origin was irreconcilable and one or the other had to yield. As the management of the contest was in the hands of the master the result could be easily foreseen, for if one cross failed, another followed and then another, till the Saracenic blood was completely dominant in eliminating the lateral and implanting the diagonal action in its stead.

As no home-bred pacer, of any type or breed, has been seen in England for nearly two hundred years, it is not remarkable that Englishmen of good average intelligence, for the past two or three generations, have lived and died supposing they knew all about horses, and yet did not know there had ever been such a thing in England as a breed of pacing horses. When, some eighteen or twenty years ago, I called the attention of Mr. H. F. Euren, compiler of the Hackney Stud Book, to the early English pacers as a most inviting field in which to look for the origin of the “Norfolk Trotters,” he was surprised to learn that such horses had existed in England, but he went to work and gathered up many important facts that appear in the first volume of the Hackney compilation. Many of these facts, but in less detail, had already appeared, from time to time, in Wallace’s Monthly, but Mr. Euren’s was the first modern English publication to place them before English readers. From this prompting, Mr. Euren did well, but we must go back a little to see how this subject was treated by English writers of horse books, who wrote without any promptings from this side.

Mr. William Youatt was a voluminous writer on domestic animals, and at one time was looked upon as the highest authority[170] on the horse, both in England and in this country. He seems to have been a practitioner of veterinary surgery, and from the number of volumes which he published successfully, he must have been a man of ability and education. There can be no question that he knew a great deal—quite too much to know anything well. The first edition of his work on the horse was published in 1831, and soon after its appearance several publishing houses in this country seized upon it as very valuable, and each one of them soon had an edition of it before the public. It purports to have been written at the instance of “The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.” This declaration was a good thing, in a commercial view, and no doubt it did much in extending the circulation of the book. Without tarrying to note several minor historical blunders, I will go direct to one relating to the gait of the horse, which is now under consideration. In his fourth edition, page 535, he incidentally discusses the mechanism of the pace, and after speaking of the Elgin Marbles, to which I have referred at the beginning of this chapter, and after conceding that two of the four horses are not galloping but pacing, he says:

“Whether this was then the mode of trotting or not, it is certain that it is never seen to occur in nature in the present day; and, indeed, it appears quite inconsistent with the necessary balancing of the body, and was, therefore, more probably an error of the artist.”

This remark is simply amazing in an author who pretentiously undertakes to instruct his countrymen in the history of the horse when he knows nothing about that history. If he had gone back only twenty-two years, “Old John Lawrence,” in his splendid quarto, would have told him about the pacer. If he had gone back one hundred and sixty years, the Duke of Newcastle would have explained to him the complete and perfect mechanism of the pacing gait. If he had gone still further back and examined Gervaise Markham, Blundeville, Polydore Virgil, and Fitz Stephen the Monk, of the twelfth century, any and all of them would have explained to him the pacing habit of action and shown him that for many successive centuries the pacing horse was the popular and fashionable horse of the realm. If Mr. Youatt had lived to see John R. Gentry pace a mile in 2:00½; Robert J. in 2:01½, and dozens of others in less than 2:10, he might have changed his mind and concluded that it was possible, after all, for[171] a horse to travel at the lateral gait without toppling over. From Mr. Youatt and a few other modern English authors, most of our American writers on the horse have derived what little mental pabulum they thought they needed, and thus an error at the fountain has been carried into all the ramifications of our horse literature. Only two or three years ago a very intelligent gentleman, who had attained great eminence as a veterinary surgeon, especially for his knowledge and treatment of the horse’s foot, seriously and in good faith stoutly maintained that the pacing habit of action was merely the result of an abnormal condition of the foot, and that all pacers would trot just as soon as their feet were put in the right shape. We must not laugh at this wild notion, for it is really no worse than Mr. Youatt’s doubting whether it was possible for a horse to balance himself at the lateral motion. Neither gentleman seemed to know anything about the fact that it was a matter of inheritance, and that the lateral habit of action had come down by transmission through all the generations for a period of more than two thousand years. It is hardly necessary to say that the gentleman who was so confident that the pace was merely the result of the abnormal condition of the feet brought his notions about the pacer from across the water. He was an Anglo-American, and could make a pacer into a trotter in a jiffy, by using the paring-knife. He was an intelligent man and a skillful veterinarian, but there were no pacers in England and there should be none here. Toward the close of the chapter on The Colonial Horses of Virginia, will be found the observations of an English tourist in 1795-96 who is very certain that there is some mistake about the pacer, and will not be convinced there are any, unless they are artificially created. Having now completed what I had to say about the old English pacer, it is next in order to consider his descendants in this country and the relations they bear to the American trotter.


Regulations against stallions at large—American pacers taken to the West Indies—Narragansett pacers; many foolish and groundless theories about their origin—Dr. McSparran on the speed of the pacer—Mr. Updike’s testimony—Mr. Hazard and Mr. Enoch Lewis—Exchanging meetings with Virginia—Watson’s Annals—Matlack and Acrelius—Rip Van Dam’s horse—Cooper’s evidence—Cause of disappearance—Banished to the frontier—First intimation that the pace and the trot were essentially one gait—How it was received—Analysis of the two gaits—Pelham, Highland Maid, Jay-Eye-See, Blue Bull—The pacer forces himself into publicity—Higher rate of speed—Pacing races very early—Quietly and easily developed—Comes to his speed quickly—His present eminence not permanent—The gamblers carried him there—Will he return to his former obscurity?

In the several chapters devoted to “Colonial Horse History” will be found all the leading facts that I have been able to glean from the early sources of information. With the exceptions of the horses brought from Utrecht in Holland to New Amsterdam (New York), two shiploads that sailed out of the Zuider Zee and landed at Salem, Massachusetts, and those brought from Sweden by the colonists that settled on the Delaware, all the early importations came from England. As much the larger number of those from England and Sweden were pacers, the breeds and habits of action were soon mixed up, as those who had no pacers wanted pacers for the saddle, and those who wanted more size, regardless of the gait, were always ready to supply their want by an exchange of their saddle horses for more size. The Dutch horses were certainly something over fourteen hands and the English and Swedish horses were perhaps nearer thirteen than fourteen hands. The colonists from the first, and from one end of the land to the other, seem to have appreciated the importance of increasing the size and strength of their horse stock, and this was very hard to do under the conditions then prevailing of allowing their horses to roam at large. Hence, stringent regulations were[173] adopted in all the colonies against permitting immature entire colts and stallions under size to wander where they pleased. It is doubtful whether these regulations were any more effective than those of Henry VIII., for while there was some increase, it was hardly perceptible until after the close of the colonial days. The real increase did not commence till the farmers had provided themselves with facilities for keeping their breeding stock at home.


By Ashland Wilkes, pacing record 2:00½, 1896.

It is very evident from the statistics of size and gait, as given in the chapters referred to above, that our forefathers wisely selected the most compact, strong and hardy animals they could find in England as the type best adapted to fight their way against the hardships of a life in the wilderness of the new world. There have been some attempts, wholly fanciful and baseless, to trace importations from other countries, outside of those mentioned above, but all such attempts have proven wholly imaginary and worse than futile. In less than twenty years after the New England colonies received their first supply they commenced shipping horses by the cargo to Barbadoes and other West India Islands. This trade was cultivated, extended to all the islands, and continued during the remainder of the seventeenth and practically the whole of the eighteenth century. The pacers of the American colonies were exceedingly popular and sought after by the Spanish as well as the Dutch and English islands. Indeed, the planters of Cuba alone carried away at high prices nearly all the pacers that New England could produce. They knew nothing about pacers for the saddle until they had tried them and then they would have nothing else. These continuous raids of the Spaniards of the West Indies upon the pacers of New England, and Rhode Island especially, has been assigned, by the local historians of that State as one of the principal causes of the decadence and practically final disappearance of the Narragansett pacer from the seat of his triumphs and his fame. It is just to remark here, in passing, that if there had been pacers among the horses of Spain, the Spanish dependencies would have secured their supplies from the mother country and not have come to Rhode Island and paid fabulous prices for them.

As all the pacing traditions of this country to-day point to the horses of Narragansett Bay as the source from which our modern pacers have derived their speed, we must give some attention to the various theories that have been advanced as to the[174] origin of the Narragansett horse. In time past, and extending back to a period “whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” the horse world has been cursed with a class of men who have always been ready to invent and put in circulation the most marvelous and incredible stories about the origin of every remarkable horse that has appeared. Some of these wiseacres have maintained that the original Narragansett pacer was caught wild in the woods by the first settlers on Narragansett Bay, while others (and this seems to be of Canadian origin) have insisted that when being brought to this country a storm struck the ship and the horse was thrown overboard, and after nine days he was found off the coast of Newfoundland quietly eating rushes on a sand bar, where he was rescued and brought into Narragansett Bay. This story of the marine horse probably had its origin in the experiences of Rip Van Dam, which will be narrated further on. Another representation, coming this time from a very reputable source, has been made as to the origin of the Narragansett horse, and as many, no doubt, have accepted it as true, I must give it such consideration as its prominence demands. Mr. I. T. Hazard, a representative of the very old and prominent Hazard family of Rhode Island, in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Updike, makes the following statement:

“My grandfather, Governor Robinson, introduced the famous saddle horse, the Narragansett pacer, known in the last century over all the civilized parts of North America and the West Indies, from whence they have lately been introduced into England, as a ladies’ saddle horse, under the name of the Spanish Jennet. Governor Robinson imported the original from Andalusia, in Spain, and the raising of them for the West India market was one of the objects of the early planters of this country. My grandfather, Robert Hazard, raised about a hundred of them annually, and often loaded two vessels a year with them, and other products of his farm, which sailed direct from the South Ferry to the West Indies, where they were in great demand.”

This theory of the origin of the Narragansett came down to Mr. Hazard as a tradition, no doubt, but like a thousand other traditions it has nothing to sustain it. Opposed to it there are two clearly ascertained facts, either one of which is wholly fatal to it. In the first place, there were no pacers in Andalusia or any other part of Spain, and in the second place, these horses, according to official data, were the leading item of export from Rhode Island in 1680, and Governor Robinson was not born till about 1693. As impossibilities admit of no argument, I will not[175] add another word to this “Andalusian” origin tradition, except to say that a hundred years later, when the pacing dam of Sherman Morgan was taken from Cranston, Rhode Island, up into Vermont, she was called a “Spanish mare,” because Mr. Hazard had said the original Narragansett had come from Spain. The story of the descendants of the Narragansetts having been carried from the West Indies to England, and there introduced under the name of the Spanish Jennet as a lady’s saddle horse, is wholly imaginative. The Spanish Jennet, whatever its gait may have been, was well known in England many years before the first horse was brought to any of the American colonies. (See extracts from Blundeville and Markham in Chapter XII.)

After several years of fruitless search for some trace of the early importations of horses into the colony of Rhode Island, I have reached the conclusion that probably no such importations were ever made. The colony of Massachusetts Bay commenced importing horses and other live stock from England in 1629, and continued to do so for several years and until they were fully supplied, as stated above. In 1640 a shipload of horses were exported to the Barbadoes, and it was about this time that Rhode Island began to assume an organized existence. Her people were largely made up of refugees from the religious intolerance of the other New England colonies, and they brought their families and effects, including their horses, with them. The blood of the Narragansett pacer, therefore, was not different from the blood of the pacers of the other colonies, but the development of his speed by the establishment of a pacing course and the offering of valuable prizes, naturally brought the best and the fastest horses to this colony and from the best and fastest they built up a breed that became famous throughout all the inhabited portions of the Western Hemisphere. The race track, with the valuable prizes it offered and the emulation it aroused, was what did it. As the question of origin is thus settled in accordance with what is known of history and the natural order of things, and as the Narragansett is the great tribe representing the lateral action then and since, we must consider such details of history as have come down to us.

The Rev. James McSparran, D.D., was sent out by the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, to take charge of an Episcopal church that had been planted some years before in Rhode Island. He arrived in 1721, and lived till[176] 1759. He was an Irishman, and appears to have been somewhat haughty and irascible in his temperament and was disposed to find fault with the climate, the currency, the people, and pretty much everything he came in contact with. He was a man of observation, and during the thirty-eight years he spent in ministering to the spiritual wants of his flock, he was not unmindful of what was passing around him, and made many notes and reflections on the various phases of life as they presented themselves to his mind, and especially on the products and industries of the colony. These notes and observations he wrote out, and they were published in Dublin in 1753, under the title of “America Dissected.”

His writings do not discover that he was a man of very ardent piety, but he was honored as a good man while he lived, and was buried under the altar he had served so long. His duties sometimes called him away into Virginia, and, in speaking of the great distance of one parish from another, he uses the following language:

“To remedy this (the distance), as the whole province, between the mountains, two hundred miles up, and the sea, is all a champaign, and without stones, they have plenty of a small sort of horses, the best in the world, like the little Scotch Galloways; and ’tis no extraordinary journey to ride from sixty to seventy miles or more in a day. I have often, but upon larger pacing horses, rode fifty, nay, sixty miles a day, even here in New England, where the roads are rough, stony and uneven.”

The reverend gentleman seems to assume that his readers knew the Scotch Galloways were pacers, and with this explanation his observations are very plain. He makes no distinction between the Virginia horse and his congener of Rhode Island except that of size, in which the latter had the advantage. In speaking of the products of Rhode Island he says:

“The produce of this colony is principally butter and cheese, fat cattle, wool, and fine horses, which are exported to all parts of English America. They are remarkable for fleetness and swift pacing; and I have seen some of them pace a mile in a little more than two minutes, and a good deal less than three.”

When I first read this sentence in the reverend doctor’s book I confess I was not prepared to accept it in any other light than that of a wild enthusiast, who knew but little of the force of the language he used. To talk about horses pacing, a hundred and fifty years ago, in a little more than two minutes and a[177] good deal less than three, appeared to be simply monstrous. The language evidently means, according to all fair rules of construction, that the mile was performed nearer two minutes than three, or in other words, considerably below two minutes and thirty seconds. I doubt not my readers will hesitate, and perhaps refuse, to accept such a performance, just as I did myself till I had carefully weighed not only the character of the author of the statement, but the circumstances that seemed to support it. If the learned divine had known no more of the world and its ways than many of his profession, I would have concluded he was not a competent judge of speed; but he was a man of affairs, and knew perfectly well just what he was saying. The question naturally arises here as to what opportunities or facilities the doctor had for timing those pacers of a hundred and fifty years ago. In a note appended to the above extract by Mr. Updike, the editor of the work, I find the following:

“The breed of horses called Narragansett pacers, once so celebrated for fleetness, endurance and speed, has become extinct. These horses were highly valued for the saddle, and transported the rider with great pleasantness and sureness of foot. The pure bloods could not trot at all. Formerly they had pace-races. Little Neck Beach, in South Kingston, of one mile in length, was the race course. A silver tankard was the prize, and high bets were otherwise made on speed. Some of these prize tankards were remaining a few years ago. Traditions respecting the swiftness of these horses are almost incredible.”

The facts stated by Mr. Updike in this note are corroborated from other sources, and may be accepted as true. These were the opportunities and facilities the doctor had for holding his watch, and nobody will doubt they were sufficient to enable him to be a competent witness. In connection with this subject, and as another footnote, Mr. Updike introduces a letter from Mr. I. T. Hazard, which brings out another very curious fact in the history of the pacer. The Hazard family was very eminent in Rhode Island, and many of its members have occupied positions of high honor and responsibility for several generations. The date of the letter is not given, and we may infer it may have been written fifty years ago, or perhaps more. Mr. Hazard says:

“Within ten years one of my aged neighbors, Enoch Lewis, since deceased, informed me he had been to Virginia as one of the riding boys, to return a similar visit of the Virginians in that section, in a contest on the turf; and that such visits were common with the racing sportsmen of Narragansett and Virginia, when he was a boy. Like the old English country gentlemen, from[178] whom they were descended, they were a horse-racing, fox-hunting, feasting generation.”

This paragraph from Mr. Hazard’s pen has been the subject of very deliberate consideration. The first promptings of my judgment were to doubt and reject it, especially on account of the absence of date to the letter, and of the remote period in which Mr. Enoch Lewis must have visited Virginia. Another question, as to why we have not this information from any other source except Mr. Hazard, presented itself with no inconsiderable force. After viewing the matter in all its bearings I am forced to concede that it is likely to be true. These visits must have taken place before the Revolution, and from the construction we are able to place upon the dates, this was not impossible. It is a fact that I do not hesitate to announce that before the Revolution racing in all its forms was more universally indulged in as an amusement than it ever has been since. This was before the days of newspapers, and all we can possibly know of the sporting events of that period we must gather up from the detached fragments that have come down to us by tradition. There was a strong bond of sympathy and friendship between the followers of Dr. McSparran in Rhode Island, surrounded as they were by Puritans, and their co-religionists in Virginia. They were accustomed to maritime life, and had abundance of vessels fitted up for the shipment of horses and other live stock to foreign ports. To take a number of their fastest pacers on board one of their sloops and sail for Virginia would not have been considered much of an adventure. These visits were not only occasions of pleasure and festivity, with the incidental profits of winning purses and bets, but they were a most successful means of advertising the Narragansett pacer; and through these means alone the market was opened, as Dr. McSparran expresses it, in all parts of British America. When we consider the widespread fame of these Rhode Island horses, and that there were no other means by which they could have achieved it, except by their actual performances, we are forced to the conclusion that they were carried long distances, and in many directions, for purely sporting purposes. That these visits would result in the transfer of a good number of the best and fastest horses from Narragansett to Virginia would be a natural sequence, and thus, in after years, we might look for a strong infusion of Narragansett blood in the Virginian pacing-horse.


It appears to be a law of our civilization that each generation produces somebody who, out of pure love for the curious and forgotten, devotes the best years of his life to hunting up old things that have well-nigh slipped away from the memory of man. In this class Mr. John F. Watson stands conspicuous in what he has done for Philadelphia and New York. In 1830 he published a work entitled “Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania,” in two volumes, and among all the antiquated manners and habits that he again brings to our knowledge, he has something to say about the horse of an early day:

“The late very aged T. Matlack, Esq., was passionately fond of races in his youth. He told me of his remembrances about Race Street. In his early days the woods were in commons, having several straggling forest trees still remaining there, and the circular course ranging through those trees. He said all genteel horses were pacers. A trotting-horse was deemed a base breed. These Race Street races were mostly pace-races. His father and others kept pacing stallions for propagating the breed.”

Mr. Watson further remarks, on the same subject: “Thomas Bradford, Esq., in telling me of the recollections of the races, says he was told that the earliest races were scrub and pace-races on the ground now used as Race Street.”

The Rev. Israel Acrelius, for many years pastor of the Swedish church of Philadelphia, wrote a book early in the last century, under the title, “History of New Sweden,” which has been translated into English. In describing the country and people, in their habits and amusements, he thus speaks of the horse:

“The horses are real ponies, and are seldom found over thirteen hands high. He who has a good riding horse never employs him for draught, which is also the less necessary, as journeys, for the most part, are made on horseback. It must be the result of this, more than to any particular breed in the horses, that the country excels in fast horses, so that horse races are often made for very high stakes.”

It will be noted that Mr. Acrelius does not say that these races were pacing-races; but when his remark is taken in connection with what Mr. Matlack said about the pacers, and when it is considered that he is speaking of the speed of the saddle horses as such, we can easily understand his true meaning. In our turf history I supposed I was getting well back when I reached the great race between Galloway’s Selim and Old England, in 1767, but here we find that race was comparatively modern, and that the pacers antedated the gallopers by many, many years.


In 1832 Mr. Watson did the same service for New York that he had done for Philadelphia, and published his “Annals of New York,” in which we find the piece of horse history embodied in the extract printed on pages 126 and 127, to which the reader will please turn.

It is hardly possible to be mistaken in assuming that Rip Van Dam’s letter was written to some person in Philadelphia, and that Mr. Watson saw it there. I would give a great deal for the sight of it; and if it has been preserved in any of the public libraries of that city, either in type or in manuscript form, I have good hopes of yet inspecting it. In one point of view, it is of exceeding value, and that is its date. It is fully established by this letter that, as early as 1711, the Narragansetts were not only established as a breed or family, but that their fame was already widespread. This, of necessity, carries us back into the latter part of the seventeenth century, when their exceptional characteristics were first developed, or began to manifest themselves. In reaching that period we are so near the first importations of horses to the colonies that it is no violence to either history or good sense to conclude that the original Narragansett was one among the very earliest importations. This plays havoc with some Rhode Island traditions, as will be seen below; but with 1711 fixed as a point when the breed was famous, traditions must stand aside.

While on this matter of dates, it may not be unprofitable to compare the advent of the Narragansett with the well-known epochs in horse history. Every schoolboy knows that the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian, say twenty years after, were the great founders of the English race horse. The Narragansetts had reached the very highest pinnacle of fame before the Darley Arabian was foaled. Darley Arabian reached England about the same year that Rip Van Dam’s Narragansett jumped over the side of the sloop and swam ashore, and this was eighty years before there was an attempt at publishing an English stud book. When Janus and Othello, and Traveller, and Fearnaught, the great founders of the American race horse, first reached Virginia, they found the Narragansett pacer had been there more than a generation before. On the point of antiquity, therefore, the Narragansett is older than what we designate as the thoroughbred race horse, and if he has a lineal descendant living to-day the pacer has a longer line of speed inheritance, at his gait, than the galloper.


The only attempt at a description of this breed that I have met with is that given by Cooper, the novelist, in a footnote to “The Last of the Mohicans.” This note may be accepted as history, so far as it goes, and pretends to be history; but I am not prepared to admit that all the breed were sorrels. This color, no doubt, prevailed in those specimens that Mr. Cooper had seen or heard of, but I think all colors prevailed, as in other breeds. He says:

“In the State of Rhode Island there is a bay called Narragansett, so named for a strong tribe of Indians that formerly dwelt on its banks. Accident, or one of those unaccountable freaks which nature sometimes plays in the animal world, gave rise to a breed of horses which were once well known in America by the name of Narragansetts. They were small, commonly of the color called sorrel in America, and distinguished by their habit of pacing. Horses of this race were, and still are, in much request as saddle-horses, on account of their hardiness, and the ease of their movements. As they were also sure of foot, the Narragansetts were much sought for by females who were obliged to travel over the roots and holes in the new countries.”

Without having a minute description of so much as a single individual of the race, I can only infer, from general descriptions, as to what their family peculiarities of form and shape may have been. It is fully established that they were very compact and hardy horses, and that they were not large; perhaps averaging about fourteen and a quarter hands in height. I have met with no intimation that they were stylish or handsome, and we think it is safe to conclude that they were plain in their form, and low in their carriage. From my conceptions of the horse I think one of the better-shaped Canadian pacers, of fifteen hands or thereabouts, might be accepted as a fair representative of the Narragansett of a hundred and fifty years ago. He was fleet, hardy, docile, and sure-footed, but not beautiful, and it is reasonable to suppose that the lack of style and beauty was one of the leading causes of his becoming extinct in the land of his nativity.

In considering the causes which resulted in what we may call the dispersal of the Narragansett pacers, and their extinction in the seat of their early fame, we must be governed by what is reasonable and philosophical in the industrial interests of the people, rather than look for some great overwhelming disaster, like an earthquake, that ingulfed them in a night. In speaking of this dispersal, and the causes which led to it, Mr. Hazard says:


“One of the causes of the loss of that famous breed here was the great demand for them in Cuba, when that island began to cultivate sugar extensively. The planters became suddenly rich, and wanted the pacing-horse for themselves and their wives and daughters to ride, faster than we could supply them, and sent an agent to this country to purchase them on such terms as he could, but to purchase them at all events. I have heard my father say he knew the agent very well, and he made his home at the Rowland Brown House, at Tower Hill, where he commenced purchasing and shipping until all the good ones were sent off. He never let a good one escape him. This, and the fact that they were not so well adapted to draught as other horses, was the cause of their being neglected, and I believe the breed is now extinct in this section. My father described the motion of this horse as differing from others in that his backbone moved through the air in a straight line, without inclining the rider from side to side, as the common racker or pacer of the present day. Hence it was very easy; and being of great power of endurance, they would perform a journey of a hundred miles in a day, without injury to themselves or rider.”

We can understand very well how an enormous and unexpected demand from Cuba without restriction as to price, should reduce the numbers of the breed very materially. But it is a poor compliment to the intelligence and thrift of the good people of Narragansett to say that, because there was a lively demand, they killed the goose that laid the golden egg every day. It is a slander upon that Yankee smartness which is proverbial to conclude that they deprived themselves of the means of supplying a market that was making them all rich. We must, therefore, look for other causes that were more potent in producing, so marked a result.

After more than a hundred years of faithful service, of great popularity, and of profitable returns to their breeders, the little Narragansetts began to disappear, just as their ancestors had disappeared a century earlier. Rhode Island was no longer a frontier settlement, but had grown into a rich and prosperous State. Mere bridle paths through the woods had developed into broad, smooth highways, and wheeled vehicles had taken the place of the saddle. Under these changed conditions, the little pacer was no longer desirable or even tolerable as a harness horse, and he was supplanted by a larger and more stylish type of horse, better suited to the particular kind of work required of him. This was simply the “survival of the fittest,” considering the nature of the services required of the animal. The average height of the Narragansett was not over fourteen hands and one inch. His neck was not long, even for his size; he dropped[183] rapidly on the croup, and his carriage was low, with nothing of elegance or style in his appearance. His mane and tail were heavy, his hind legs were crooked, his limbs and feet were of the very best, but aside from his great speed and the smoothness of his movements under the saddle, there was nothing very desirable or attractive about him. In a contest with a type of the harness horse, at least one hand higher, of high carriage and elegant appearance, there could only be one result, and that soon decided.

As in England, so in this country, the blood of the running horse soon worked the extermination of the pacer; not because it was stronger in reproducing itself, perhaps, but because it had the skill and fancy of the breeder enlisted in selecting and mating so as to make the expunging process complete. Only a few years ago a pacing horse could hardly be found in any of the older settled portions of the country, especially where running blood had become fashionable. He was literally banished to the frontiers of Canada, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and especially in the latter two States, where his blood is still appreciated and preserved for the luxurious saddle gaits which it alone transmits. In many individual cases he has shown wonderful power in meeting and overcoming antagonistic elements, but with the tide of running blood all against him, it was only a question of time as to how soon he would be totally submerged.

It is only a quarter of a century ago that the first volume of “Wallace’s American Trotting Register” was published, and then began the great task of bringing order out of chaos. In a historical introduction to that work, I inserted the following:

“So many pacing horses have got fast trotters, so many pacing mares have produced fast trotters, and so many pacers have themselves become fast trotters, and little or nothing known of their breeding, that I confess to a degree of embarrassment, from which no philosophy relieves me. If the facts were limited to a few individual cases we could ignore the phenomena altogether, but, while they are by no means universal, they are too common and apparent to be thus easily disposed of. I am not aware that any writer has ever brought this question to the attention of the public; much less, attempted its discussion and explanation. Indeed, it is possible that the observations of others may not sustain me in the prominence given these phenomena, but all will concede there are some cases coming under this head that are unexplained, and perhaps unexplainable. It is probable trotters from this pacing origin, and that appear to trot, only because their progenitors paced, will not prove reliable producers of trotters. Such an animal being in a great degree phenomenal, should not be too highly prized in the stud, till he has proved himself a trotting sire as well as a trotter.”


This very comprehensive little paragraph, put modestly and tentatively rather than positively, contained a germ of thought that is to-day exerting a very wide influence. So far as my knowledge goes, this was the first time in which the public attention had ever been called to the intimate relations between speed at the pace and speed at the trot. Some laughed at it as not practical, others sneered at it as a theoretical abstraction, a few gave it some thought, while the writers who never think left it severely alone. It required the cumulative experiences of nearly ten years before horsemen generally began to think about it, and then ten more before the germ had matured itself in the minds of all intelligent men who were able to divest themselves of their earlier prejudices. The great primary truth now stands out in high relief that the pace and the trot are simply two forms of one and the same gait, that lies midway between the walk and the gallop. At last the truth, dimly foreshadowed in the paragraph above, is received and accepted, in some form or other, almost if not quite universally. This fact and its acceptance are now shown in all the recorded experiences of racing, and especially in the origin and habits of action of many of the heads of trotting and pacing families, to which the reader is referred.

At the beginning of Chapter XIII. I have labored to make plain the proposition that the pace and the trot are simply two forms of one and the same gait. This is evident from the fact that this gait, in one form or the other, is the intermediate link between the walk and the gallop, and this is true among nearly all quadrupeds. I have also there shown, and I think beyond cavil, that the mechanism of the pace and the trot is the same, and especially in the fact that in both forms two legs are used as one leg. That is, if the two legs on the same side move together, we call it the pace, and if the diagonal legs move together we call it the trot. The rhythm is the same and the sound is the same, and by the ear no man can tell whether the movement is at the lateral or diagonal motion. In all the varieties of steps that a horse may be taught, and in all the methods of progression that he may naturally adopt, there is no step or movement in which he uses two legs as one except in the pace or the trot. From the place, therefore, which these two forms of the gait hold, indifferently, in animal movement, between the walk and the gallop; from the unity of action and result in the use of the same mechanism, and from the wide disparity between the mechanism of[185] this gait and that of all other gaits in the action of the horse, we must conclude that the pace and the trot are one and the same gait.

Another evidence of the unity of the two forms of the trot is to be found in the great numbers of pacers that have been changed over to trotters and the astonishing readiness with which they took to the new form of action. To go back no further than the records sustain us, we find that the converted pacer Pelham was the first horse that ever trotted in 2:28. This was in 1849, and four years later the converted pacer Highland Maid trotted in 2:27. Twenty years later, Occident, another, trotted in 2:16¾. These were champions of their day, and when we come a little nearer we find that Maud S. was a pacer and Sunol was a pacer, although neither of them ever paced in public, and the fact that they ever paced at all was held as a kind of “home secret.” Since the days of Pelham, literally thousands of horses have been changed from pacers to trotters, and some hundreds have been changed from trotters to pacers successfully. Then there are quite a number, like Jay-Eye-See, 2:10 trotting and 2:06¼ pacing, that have made fast records at both gaits.

At one time the pacing horse Blue Bull stood at the head of all sires of trotters in this country, and it is not known or believed that he possessed a single drop of trotting blood. He was a very fast pacer and could do nothing else, and a large percentage of the mares bred to him were pacers, and practically all the others had more or less pacing blood, but his great roll of trotters in the 2:30 list was the wonder of all horsemen of that period. Certainly the average of the elements in his inheritance would place him very low in theory, but in practice he struck back to some ancestor that was strongly prepotent. The trouble in his case is practically the same as in all other pacing stallions—the inheritance traces back to a period more remote than any of the fast trotting stallions, but at intervals it has been neglected and not developed until it has become weak and uncertain from lack of use. The same may be said of the Copperbottoms, Corbeaus, Flaxtails, Hiatogas, Davy Crockets, Pilots, Rainbows, Redbucks, St. Clairs, Tippoos, and Tom Hals, as well as other heads of minor families that will be considered in their proper places.

The changes that have been wrought in the status of the pacer have been truly wonderful. Instead of being hidden away as an[186] outcast and a disgrace to the family, condemned to a life of inferiority and drudgery, he has been brought out and exhibited to the public as a son and heir and the equal of the best. In looking back over the trotting records of twenty years ago, any one will be surprised to observe that at all the leading meetings of the whole country there were no pacing contests. Occasionally at the minor and local meetings of the middle Western States, a pacing contest would be given for a small purse, in which local and obscure horses only would be engaged. Very naturally the owners of pacing horses protested against this practical exclusion of their favorites from the trotting meetings, and employed all their energies in begging for admission. When they began to be really clamorous the managers of trotting tracks argued that there could be no profit to them in opening pacing contests, for nobody cared about seeing a pacing match, that the entries would not fill, and especially that there would be no betting, that, consequently, the pool-sellers would have nothing to divide with the management. As the receipts for pool-selling and all other gambling privileges were making the track managers rich, they were very slow about admitting an untried element that might diminish their profits. But gradually and patiently the pacers worked their way into the exclusive circle, and when they appeared everybody, especially in the Eastern States, was surprised to see what excellent horses they were and the terrific speed they showed. Instead of the typical pacer, as formed in the popular mind, with the low head, bull neck, low croup, hairy legs, exuberant mane and tail, and generally “Canuck” all over, that would stop at the end of the first half-mile, here was an array of horses that in make-up and gameness would average just as well as the same number of trotters. This was a revelation to great multitudes of people, and from that time forward the pacer had a fair show, on his merits. For hundreds of years the pacer, with very few exceptions, has been able to show a little higher rate of speed than the trotter. When Flora Temple smashed all records in 1859 by trotting in 2:19¾, Pocahontas had drawn a wagon, five years earlier, in 2:17½; and when Maud S. trotted in 1885 in 2:08¾, this beat all laterals as well as diagonals, except Johnson, who the year before had paced in 2:06¼. In 1894 Alix trotted a mile in 2:03¾, which stands the best at this writing, but the same year Robert J. paced in 2:01½, and John R. Gentry in 2:00½ in 1896.


It is not my purpose here to undertake to discuss the reasons for the almost continuous supremacy of the pacer over the trotter, for there is no data from which I might frame a conclusion that would really “hold water.” At best, therefore, I can only suggest two or three thoughts. Speed at the pace is older, and has been longer in the process of development, than speed at the trot. In 1747 pacing races had then been fashionable in Maryland, and had been carried on in that colony time out of mind, but we have no trace of trotting races. One year later (1748) “running, pacing and trotting” races had become so numerous and so common in the colony of New Jersey that they were declared a nuisance and suppressed by the legislative authority. My impression from the language of the act is that it was aimed chiefly at the running and the pacing races, and that the trotters were not very numerous. It seems to be a reasonable conclusion that this racing mania in New Jersey took its rise about 1665, when Governor Nicolls established the Newmarket race course on Long Island, and if so, it had been growing in strength for over eighty years, and if we add the time from then till now we find that the speed of the pacer has been going on almost continuously for over two hundred years in our own country. There is another fact entering into the rural life of colonial times that must not be left out of consideration. The pacer was the universal saddle horse, and the trotter never was tolerated for that service. Every farmer’s son had his saddle horse, and when two of them met what so natural and common as to determine then and there which was the faster, if a little stretch of road offered? In these neighborhood rivalries, if not in actual racing, the instinct of speed at the pace was kept alive and developed, from generation to generation. If I am right in this little study of colonial life, we can understand that the inheritance of speed at the pace has come down to our own time through a great many generations of pacers, and hence the pace is the faster gait. There is one fact in our own experience that seems to sustain this with great force, and that is the small amount of “pounding” that the pacer requires in order to reach the full development of his powers. There is no need of driving a pacer to death in order to teach him how to pace, for he already knows how to pace, and all that is needed in the way of training is to get him into high condition. It may be possible that the lateral action is faster than the diagonal because it is less complicated,[188] but I can see no anatomical reason for this, as the two legs in both gaits act as one leg. The only difference I can see in practice is that the trotter has more up-and-down motion than the pacer; that is, he bounds in every revolution, describing a series of depressed curves with his back as he moves, while the pacer rises less from the ground with his hind feet and seems to glide instead of bound; in other words, there is less action thrown away by the pacer than the trotter, and this may arise from the more complex action in the diagonal than in the lateral motion.

The pacer has reached a higher acclivity than the trotter, but he is not so well assured in his footing. His present popularity and his upward flight are phenomenal, but the causes that have sent him there are abnormal and not lasting. In his best individualities he is simply a gambling machine when in the hands of unscrupulous men, to be manipulated in whatever direction he will make the most money. Racing, at whatever gait, is not necessarily demoralizing nor disreputable, but when it falls into the control of the “professionals” it becomes both. So long as it remains under the control of the breeders it is not only honorable and legitimate for them to develop and race their stock, but it is a necessary adjunct to their business, for they must thus bring their products before the public, if they expect to make their business pay. Breeders should not own race tracks, or if they do, they should have no part nor lot in the percentage uniformly paid for the gambling privilege.

The history of racing in this country teaches over and over again that whenever the breeding and racing interest falls into the control of gamblers, down goes the whole interest and honest men suffer with the rogues. The grasping track managers are to-day complaining loudly that they cannot afford to give trotting meetings unless they are allowed to bring in the pool-sellers and make them divide the “swag” with the track. Every attempt by legislatures to make gambling on races a felony outside the race track and a virtue inside is a most arrant humbug and most destructive in its results. It makes the race track a cesspool of every vice, and a stench in the nostrils of every honest man and decent woman. The moral sense of the people all over this country is being aroused, and if public gambling cannot be suppressed on horse races, then history will repeat itself and horse racing will be wiped out. The gamblers and their friends[189] will sneer at this as “puritanism,” but no difference about the name—it will come.

But, destructive and ruinous as gambling on races may be to the life and moral character of young men, as well as to the material interests of honest and reputable breeders, it hardly comes within my province to discuss it further in this place, and therefore I will return to the consideration of the pacer. As the historical periodicity is now looming in sight when the moral sense of the people will command the suppression of racing of every kind, the question becomes exceedingly pertinent as to what is to become of the pacer? He will no longer be of any value as a gambling machine, the days of the saddle horse are past as a means of travel, except by a few about the parks of the cities, and however uppish and handsome he may be, he is not and never will be a desirable driving horse in harness. We have already used sufficient of his blood to create the American Saddle Horse, and if the saddle horse shall produce “after his kind” we need no more infusions from the pure pacer. In the trotter his blood has leavened everything, and in some lines more than we desire or need. He has been a great source of trotting speed, and if, as I am inclined to believe, Messenger’s power to transmit trotting speed came from the old English pacer, then the pacer is the only source of that speed. Under the condition of things as here foreshadowed he will probably sink back into the obscurity from which he emerged twenty years ago.


The saddle gaits come only from the pacer—Saddle gaits cultivated three hundred years ago—Markham on the saddle gaits—The military seat the best—The unity of the pace and trot—Gaits analyzed—Saddle Horse Register—Saddle horse progenitors—Denmark not a thoroughbred horse.

In the preceding chapters the pacer has been considered from the standpoint of his antiquity, history, speed at the pace, and his contributions to speed at the trot. We now come to consider him as the founder of the best and most delightful type of saddle horses in the world. This estimate of his quality and value had a solid foundation in the judgment and habits of our ancestors at an early period in our history. When our patriotic forbears entered upon the struggle for independence, they were fully alive to the necessity of foreign sympathy and aid. For this purpose agents were sent abroad to enlist the good feelings and, if possible, secure co-operation of foreign governments, especially that of France. Mr. Silas Dean was sent to Paris, and in a communication to the secret committee of Congress, under date of November 28, 1776, he writes: “I wish I had here one of your best saddle horses, of the American or Rhode Island breed—a present of that kind would be money well laid out with a certain personage.” This was probably intended as a present to Marie Antoinette, or some other person having great influence at court. It further indicates that “the American or Rhode Island Saddle Horse” was at that period, in Mr. Dean’s opinion at least, the best in the world. (See Dean Papers, New York Historical Society, Vol. I., p. 377.)

To the man of average intelligence and candor on horse subjects it certainly is not necessary to enter upon an elaborate discussion to show that the saddle gaits come from the pacer, but a certain class of writers, who neither declare nor attempt to prove their position, constantly imply that the saddle gaits came from the “thoroughbred.” As it is better, therefore, to make everything[191] plain as we go along, I will very briefly consider this point. Twelve years ago, through Wallace’s Monthly, I presented the following questions to all gentlemen interested in saddle-horse affairs and acquainted with saddle-horse history: “Are all the tribes and families noted for their saddle qualities descended in whole or in part from pacing ancestry?” In order to cover the whole question, no difference from what standpoint it might be considered, I added the following: “Has any family or subfamily of saddle horses come from pure running ancestry and without any admixture of pacing blood?” To these questions Major Hord, then editor of the Spirit of the Farm, at Nashville, Tennessee, a gentleman of very wide and accurate knowledge on this subject, but strongly in favor of running blood, made the following response through his paper:

“We can only draw conclusions from established facts in reference to these questions, for we do not think they can be answered otherwise, as the original ancestry of our best saddle families is more or less clouded in obscurity. It is an established fact, demonstrated by experience, that in order to get a saddle horse, the quickest and most successful way is to get in the pacing blood; it matters not how good or bad the other blood may be, a strong dash of pacing blood will almost invariably improve the animal for saddle purposes, and never, under any circumstances, does a pacing cross detract from an animal’s qualities for the saddle. Judging from these facts, we conclude that all our saddle families are descended, at least in part, from pacing ancestry. On the other hand, all our best saddle families have a strong infusion of thoroughbred running blood. This blood, however, is valuable only for the courage, bone, and finish it gives the animal, for it imparts none of the saddle gaits; and while we have secured the best results in breeding the saddle horse by mixing the running and pacing blood, we have observed that too much running blood in the stallion detracts from his success as a sire of saddle stock. As a rule, no trainer’s skill can make a good saddle horse out of a thoroughbred runner, whereas if you mix two or more strong pacing crosses on top of the running blood, a child can gait the produce to the saddle. We have sometimes seen good saddle horses that were thoroughbreds, but have never seen a perfect one. Our observation and experience lead us to the conclusion that the natural saddle gaits come from the pacers, but to the runner we are indebted for the size, style, bone and finish of our saddle stock.”

In this reply, when the author says “all of our saddle families are descended, at least in part, from pacing ancestry,” and when he adds to this that “running blood imparts none of the saddle gaits,” he has answered both questions very fully and very satisfactorily. The argument that running blood gives bone and finish, and all that, is very well as a theory of breeding, but it[192] has nothing to do with the questions propounded. As all families of saddle horses have pacing blood, and as there is no family without it, it may be taken as settled that the saddle gaits come from the pacer.

I notice that at least one of the present saddle gaits was cultivated more than three hundred years ago. Mr. Gervaise Markham, a writer of the sixteenth century, and probably the second English author on the horse, says: “If you buy a horse for pleasure the amble is the best, in which you observe that he moves both his legs on one side together, neat with complete deliberation, for if he treads too short he is apt to stumble, if too large to cut and if shuffling or rowling he does it slovenly and besides rids no ground. If your horse be designed for hunting, a racking pace is most expedient, which little differs from the amble, only is more active and nimble, whereby the horse observes due motion, but you must not force him too eagerly, lest being in confusion he lose all knowledge of what you design him to, and so handle his legs carelessly.” The orthography of the work “rack” as used by Markham is “wrack,” and this is the only place I have met with it in any of the old authors. Webster defines the word “rack” as “a fast amble,” but Markham uses it in contradistinction from the amble. It is worthy of note here that the word “rack” is older than the word “pace,” in its use as designating the particular gait of the horse, and through all the centuries it has been retained. Of all the gaits that are subsidiary to the pace and derived from that gait, the rack is probably the most common, and in many sections of the country the pacer is called a racker. Racking is often designated as “single-footing,” and in this gait as well as in the running walk and fox trot, there are four distinct impacts in the revolution. It follows, then, that they are not susceptible of a very high rate of speed.

In all the services which the horse renders and in all the relations which he bears to his master, there is no relation in which they can be made to appear to such great mutual advantage as when the one animal is carrying the other on his back. There is no occasion on which a beautiful horse looks so well as when gracefully mounted and skillfully handled by a lady or gentleman. And, I will add, there is no occasion when a lady or gentleman, who is at home in the saddle, looks so well as when mounted on a beautiful and well-trained American horse. England[193] has no saddle horses, and never can have any till she secures American blood and adopts American methods. The shortening of the stirrups and the swinging up and down like a tilt-hammer is not, with our English friends, a matter of choice, but a necessity to avoid being jolted to death. Their very silly imitators, on this side, think they can’t afford to be out of the fashion, because “it’s English, you know.” For safety, true gentility, and comfort the military seat is the only seat, and if you have a horse upon which you can’t keep that seat without punishment, he is no saddle horse. If your doctor tells you that your liver needs shaking up, mount an English trotting horse, but if you ride for pleasure and fresh air, get a horse that is bred and trained to the saddle gaits. There is just as much difference between the two horses as the difference between a springless wagon on a cobble-stone pavement and a richly upholstered coach on the asphalt.

The American Saddle Horse has an origin as well as a history. His origin dates back thousands of years, and his history has been preserved in art and in letters since the beginning of the Christian era. For centuries he was the fashionable horse in England, and the only horse ridden by the nobility and gentry. Away back in the reign of Elizabeth it was not an uncommon thing to use hopples to teach and compel trotters to pace, just as in our day hopples are often used to teach and compel pacers to trot. In the early settlement of the American colonies pacers were far more numerous than trotters, and this continued to be the case till after the War of the Revolution. The great influx of running blood after that period practically banished the pacer to the western frontiers, where a remnant has been preserved for the uses of the saddle; and on account of his great speed and gameness he has again returned to popular favor in our own day.

The walk and the canter, or short gallop, are gaits that are common to all breeds and varieties of horses, but what are known as “the saddle gaits” are derived wholly from the pace and are therefore considered modifications or variations of the pace. In regions of country where the saddle horse is bred and developed these gaits are well known among horsemen and riders as the rack (single-footing), the running-walk, and the fox-trot. These gaits are not easily described so as to be understood without an example before the eye. The rack is the most easily explained so as to be comprehended, and it is sometimes called the slow[194] pace. In this movement the hind foot strikes the ground an instant before the fore foot on the same side, then the other two feet are moved and strike in the same way; thus there are four strokes in the revolution, in pairs. As each foot has its own stroke we see the appositeness of the phrase “single-footing.” The four strokes are in pairs, as one, two—three, four, and in many cases as the speed of the horse increases the interval between the strokes is lost and the horse is at a clean rapid pace. As a matter of course none of these gaits in which the horse makes four strokes instead of two in the revolution can be speedy. They are not developed nor cultivated for speed alone, but for the comfort and ease of the rider and the change from one to another for the rest and ease of the horse.

These “saddle gaits” are always derivatives from the pace, and I never have seen one that did not possess more or less pacing blood. A careful examination of the first and second volumes of “The National Saddle Horse Register” establishes this fact beyond all possible contradiction. This work is a very valuable contribution to the horse history of the country, but it is a misfortune that more care has not been taken in the exclusion of fictitious crosses in a great multitude of pedigrees. This trouble is specially apparent among the supposed breeding of many of the old stallions that are inserted as “Foundation Stock.” The tendency throughout seems to be to cover up and hide away the very blood to which we are indebted for the saddle horse, and to get in all the blood possible that is in direct antagonism to the foundation of the saddle gaits. It can be accepted as a fundamental truth in horse lore, that from the day the first English race horse was imported into this country to the present day, which covers a period of about one hundred and fifty years, nobody has ever seen, either in England or in this country, a thoroughbred horse that was a pacer. When the old race horse Denmark covered the pacing daughter of the pacer Cockspur, the pacing blood of the dam controlled the action and instincts of the colt, and in that colt we have the greatest of saddle-horse sires, known as Gaines’ Denmark.

As this horse Denmark was by far the greatest of all saddle-horse progenitors, and as his superiority has been widely attributed to his “thoroughbred” sire Denmark, the son of imported Hedgford, I have taken some pains to examine his pedigree. His sire was thoroughbred, his dam and grandam were[195] mongrels, and the remoter crosses were impossible fictions. The fact that he ran four miles cuts no figure as evidence of purity of blood, for horses were running four miles in this country before the first “thoroughbred” was born. Of the fourteen stallions that are inserted as “Foundation Stock,” it is unfortunate that the choice seems to be practically restricted to the State of Kentucky, while the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, to say nothing of Illinois, Missouri, etc., have produced numbers of families and tribes that are much more prominent and valuable from the true saddle-horse standpoint than some that appear in the select list of fourteen. It is doubtless true, however, that more attention has been paid to symmetry and style, and to the correct development and culture of the true saddle gaits, in Kentucky than in any of the other States. With such horses as Gaines’ Denmark, John Dillard, Tom Hal, Brinker’s Drennon, Texas, Peters’ Halcorn, and Copperbottom the list is all right, but the other half-dozen are mostly young and have hardly been heard of outside of their own immediate neighborhoods. It is a notable fact that old Pacing Pilot does not appear as the progenitor of a saddle family.

In considering the comparative merits of the leading foundation stallions we find that Denmark was not a success in any direction except as the sire of handsome and stylish saddle horses. John Dillard may not have been the equal of Denmark, in the elegance of his progeny, but he far surpassed him in his valuable relations to the trotter. His daughters became quite famous as the producers of trotters of a high order, and they have over twenty in the 2:30 list. The Tom Hals have developed phenomenal speed at the pace, and a great deal of it, interspersed with but few trotters.

Of late years many owners of the very best material for saddle stock have given their whole attention to the development of speed, either at the lateral or diagonal motion, because it has been deemed more profitable. In thus selecting, breeding and developing for extreme speed, the adaptation to saddle purposes has been lost or bred out. While it is true that some colts come into the world endowed with all the saddle gaits, it is also true that skill and patience are requisite in teaching the saddle horse good manners. There is no imaginable use to which the horse can be put where he will show his beautiful form and thorough education to so great advantage as under the saddle.


The romances of fifty years ago—Was the horse indigenous to this country?—The theories of the paleontologists not satisfactory—Pedigrees of over two millions of years too long—Outlines of horses on prehistoric ruins evidently modern—The linguistic test among the oldest tribes of Indians fails to discover any word for “Horse”—The horses abandoned west of the Mississippi by the followers of De Soto about 1541 were the progenitors of the wild horses of the plains.

Fifty years ago there was much that was romantic and mysterious in our conceptions of the real character and origin of the vast herds of wild horses that abounded on our Western plains, and the same remark applies to their congeners on the pampas of South America. The wild horse and the Indian opened up a most inviting field for the writers of romance, and current literature was flooded with “Wild Western” stories, with the horse and the Indian as the leading characters. We are now one generation, at least, this side of the time when stories of this kind are either sought or read, but we are not past the period when the origin or introduction of the horse on this continent may be considered with interest and profit. Before touching upon the wild horse, as known in our early history, however, it may be well to consider, briefly, the question as to whether he may not have been indigenous to this continent.

In our generation the spade has become a wonderful developer of the truths of ancient history. The buried and forgotten cities of the old world are being unearthed in Europe, Asia and Africa, and thousands of works of art and learning that had vanished from the face of the earth are again restored to the knowledge of the human race. In a kindred branch of investigation the geologists and paleontologists have been delving into the bowels of the earth—not to find what previous generations of men had left behind them, but to find what life was myriads of ages before man was placed on the earth. Out of the rocks they have,[197] literally, quarried many strange examples of animal life that lave been buried millions of years, and hundreds of feet below the present surface. Among these strange petrefactions that were thus buried when the earth was young, there is one that has been widely exploited as the “Primal Horse,” that is, the animal from which our present horse was finally evolved. There are three or four specimens of this petrefaction now on exhibition in this country, the first having been discovered by Professor Marsh, of Yale College, and now in the museum of that institution. Nearly twenty years ago Professor Huxley, the great English naturalist, delivered a lecture in this city on the Marsh petrefaction as his text, in which he told us that the “Primal Horse” had, originally, five toes on each foot, that after an indeterminate geological period he lost the two outside toes on the hind feet, and after another million years, more or less, he lost the outside toes of the fore feet, thus leaving him ready to go on developing the middle toe into the foot and hoof of the horse while the outside toes disappeared. In proof of this he offered the fact that horses of this day have splint bones on each side of the leg, under the knee, and these bones are the remnants of the outside toes. This was the explanation which the learned professor gave in disposing of the outside toes when there were but three toes on each foot, but he failed to explain what had become of the outside toes when there were five on each foot, and there his whole explanation toppled to the ground.

In the American Museum of Natural History, in this city, there is a very fine representative of this particular type of petrefactions. It is about fifteen inches high, with a head that is disproportionately large, and a tail that is long and slender, suggesting that of a leopard. On each fore foot this animal has four toes, or claws, as we might call them, and on each hind foot three claws. With these claws this little animal might dig in the ground, or he might climb a tree when necessary for either safety or food. Each one of these toes has its own distinct column of joints and bone extending to the knee, and there is no material difference in the size and strength of these different columns. Now, with three toes and three columns only, we can accept or reject, as we please, Professor Huxley’s method of getting the two superfluous ones out of sight by pointing to the splint bones on the leg of a modern horse and saying these are the remnants of the outside toes. But, in the meantime, neither[198] Mr. Huxley nor anybody else has told us what became of the outside toes and their columns in cases where there were five toes. It will not do to chuck these out of sight and say nothing about them; they must be accounted for or the theory fails. In the specimen now under examination the fore feet are each supplied with four toes, and each toe is supported by its own distinct column of bone. Here we meet with the same difficulty as in the case of five toes, for we have more material than the Huxley theory is able to provide for. This theory has been generally accepted among specialists, in this line of investigation, and they all point to the splint bones, as already stated, as the remnants of the two toes, adhering to the main column. This leaves the one superfluous toe wholly unprovided for, and thus the theory discredits itself and leaves the question in a shape that is entirely unsatisfactory and unacceptable to the understanding.

The teeth of this specimen, in their shape and arrangement, very strongly resemble the teeth of the horse. Upon this one fact is placed the chief reliance to sustain the claim that this was the “Primal Horse,” but this fact, when taken without the support of other facts, simply proves that the animal was herbivorous, subsisting on the same kind of food as the horse, but it does not prove that he was a horse. The teeth are an excellent starting point, and we admit their arrangement and resemblance to the teeth of the horse, but the rules of comparative anatomy, as well as common sense, require that at some other point or points there should be at least a suggestion of resemblance. In this case there is absolutely no resemblance, but a very marked and unmistakable divergence. The foot of this little animal, fifteen inches high, bears no more resemblance to the foot of the horse than the foot of the dog bears to the foot of the horse. Indeed, the foot of the specimen before us, whether provided with three, four or five claws, very strikingly resembles the foot of the dog. The arrangement of the different specimens of the feet, commencing with the smallest with four toes and ending with the perfect and full-grown foot of the horse as we know him, intended to illustrate the process of evolution, is a very interesting study, but when you have done with the last foot with claws and reach forward for the first foot with a hoof, you find there is an impassable gulf between them, over which the theory of Evolution has not been able to construct a bridge. But there is another consideration that is final and that cannot be overcome by any theory[199] whatever. According to the chronology widely accepted among geologists, this little animal was buried in the sand more than two millions of years ago, and in a grave more than a hundred feet below the general surface of the country in which he was found. In some great upheaval or cataclysm of the earth’s surface, this little animal, with all his contemporaries, perished, and there perished with him all possibility of propagating his race. It is only a waste of time, therefore, to speculate upon what a certain race of animals might have produced in our day, when they were all cut off two millions of years ago. With this disposition of the little animal with the variety of toes, quarried from the rocks and by courtesy here called the “Primal Horse,” we reach another prehistoric epoch in our inquiry, but much less remote than the one just considered.

From the incredible numbers of wild horses on our Western plains and on the pampas of South America, at a very early period in history, it became a question of some interest with many thinking men as to whether the horse was not indigenous on this continent. It is within the knowledge of everybody that this continent was inhabited by a mysterious and unknown race of people long before it was visited by Europeans. These mysterious people seem to have been driven out by the fierce and warlike savages who occupied the country at the time of its discovery, and even they knew nothing about the people who had preceded them. In very many localities the vanished people left behind them marks, numerous and unmistakable, that they had made considerable progress in the arts of civilized life. Writers have generally designated them as “the Mound Builders,” because they heaped great tumuli of earth over the graves of their distinguished dead, but the real “Mound Builders” did far more than this, for with immense labor they built great, strong defenses for their protection against their enemies. When we go further West and South, into the fertile valleys among the mountains, we find still later traces of these unknown people in the ruins of buildings and dwellings erected, with infinite labor, traces of irrigating canals, etc., but we still fail to come up with them, or any trace of their history. In that region ruins of this type are designated as “Aztec Ruins,” but this title puts us no further on the way of who the builders were. In 1877 a correspondent of a Colorado newspaper, who seemed to write intelligently and candidly, described some of those ruins which he[200] found in the valley of the Las Animas, in Southwestern Colorado. He speaks of a valley fifteen miles long and seven miles wide, on the Animas River, and says this valley was covered with dwellings built of stone, but he gives particular attention to a row of buildings built of sandstone laid in adobe mud. These buildings are about three hundred feet long and three hundred feet apart, as I understand the writer, and extend a distance of six thousand feet. The outside walls are four feet thick and the inside ones from one and a half to three feet thick; there are rooms still left and walls remaining that indicate a building four stories high. In some of the rooms there are writings that never have been deciphered, and in one of them there are drawings of tarantulas, centipedes, horses and men. The word “horses” riveted my attention, and connected with it there were several things to be considered. First, were the drawings really intended to represent horses? Second, if so might they not have been placed there long after the builders had disappeared and in recent years? Third, if placed there by the builders, what was their date, and were they before or after the introduction of the horse into Mexico by the Spaniards? The possibility of ever obtaining any satisfactory information about these drawings and their date seemed very remote, but after watching and waiting for about eighteen years, I have recently received two letters that settle the whole matter so far as these particular ruins are concerned.

Mr. Charles McLoyd, a very intelligent gentleman of Durango, Colorado, who has made a special study of the Cliff Dwellers and kindred subjects, in that part of the world, writing under date of January 10, 1895, says:

“I am unable to inform you in regard to the pictures on those particular ruins, but can say that in no other locality have I found pictures of horses or anything to indicate that these prehistoric races had any knowledge of the animal. If such pictures existed we would be unable to determine anything definite from them; or in other words, it would not show that the horse was on this continent before the Spaniards brought him, but rather that the people who constructed the buildings lived here after the Spaniards came. I have often seen pictures of horses on the walls of cañons, but there is no question but they were the work of the present Indians. We often find associated with them pictures of railroad trains, etc., that indicate that some of them are of very recent date. To sum the matter up, would say that, so far, there is no evidence that these races had any knowledge of the horse, or had ever seen the Spaniards.”

Mr. John A. Koontz, of Aztec, New Mexico, writes under[201] date of January 24, 1895. He knows all about the ruins in question, for he owns the land on which they are situated, and puts the whole matter very clearly, as follows:

“I know nothing of the drawings of horses and other animals on the walls of the ‘Aztec Ruins’ here that Mr. Wallace speaks of. I think the drawings were all in the imagination of the correspondent to whom Mr. Wallace refers. I have been familiar with the ruins for fourteen years and this is the first time I have ever heard of any drawings of horses on any of the walls. There are drawings on some rocks some miles from the ruins, but from their nature I have considered them the work of the modern Indians. These ruins were visited by a party of archeologists two years ago, who spent several weeks here, and made a survey, with maps and general drawings of the same. They decided that the main building had, originally, over seven hundred rooms.”

These letters are conclusive, so far as the region of the Las Animas is concerned, and with that region knocked out there is not enough left to justify further search for evidence that the prehistoric races had any knowledge of the horse. Nothing remained then but the linguistic test, and in 1885 I had such an opportunity for applying this test as may never occur again. This test formulated itself in my mind, in this shape: “Did any of the nations or tribes of the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent have a word in their language indicating a horse?” When in California I applied to Mr. Bancroft, the compiler and publisher of the great documentary history of the Pacific coast, who then had a large corps of skilled translators at work on his famous compilation, and submitted my question. He introduced me to his principal linguist, who knew not only Spanish, English and other modern languages, but also the language of the Indians of the coast, the mountains and the plains, of the period covered by the question. The question did not seem to be new to him, and he answered with the candor and conscientiousness of a man who knew what he was saying, that there was no word in any of the Indian tongues, ancient or modern, that represented the horse. This settled the question of the supposed prehistoric character and rank of the horse, and we are thus driven to accept the infinitesimally small number left behind by Cortez, Nunez and De Soto as the seed from which sprang the countless thousands of wild horses that for generations roamed the Western plains.

The story of the Conquest of Mexico is full of blood and cruelty, but as we have nothing to do with any part of the story[202] except so much of it as relates to the introduction of the horse to the continent of North America, it will require but small space to tell it. Cortez sailed from Cuba for Yucatan, February, 1519, with an army of six hundred and sixty-three men, two hundred Indians and sixteen horses. This wholly inadequate supply of cavalry was the weak place in his venture, but the horses could not be had in Cuba, without paying an incredible price. Those he was able to secure cost from four to five hundred pesos de oro each. The peso was the Spanish dollar. The expedition was nominally fitted out for Yucatan, but its real aim was the heart of Mexico. In his first fight with the Indians near the coast, men mounted on horses were feared by the natives as monstrous apparitions. This overwhelming fear of the horse may seem to some of my readers as overdone by the historian, but it seems to have been the common experience of all the different nations and tribes of Indians wherever the horse made his first appearance in battle. In the first battle two of the horses were killed, and in the second another was killed, and all that remained were more or less severely wounded. Cortez was afterward joined by Alvarado, at Vera Cruz, with twenty horses and one hundred and fifty men. In making his official reports directly to the home government in Spain instead of the governor of Cuba, Cortez gave mortal offense to that dignitary, and he sent out an armada under Narvaez to supersede Cortez and return him in chains to Cuba. This armada consisted of eighteen vessels, carrying nine hundred men, eighty of whom were cavalry. After some diplomacy, Cortez, feeling that with his little handful of men he was wholly unable to meet Narvaez, he did all he could to avoid a conflict. Each party knew the exact strength of the other, and as Narvaez began to threaten, Cortez determined to fight for his rights and his liberty. He then had but five men mounted, but he took advantage of the carelessness of his adversary, made a night attack in the midst of a tempest, and captured Narvaez and his whole army. The private soldiers of that day, like their commanders, had no idea or principle to fight for except for plunder, and they were always ready to attach themselves to the most successful robber. Cortez was their ideal leader, and at once he had a new army of devoted followers. He then had eighty-five mounted men, and he felt strong enough to hold and rule the great country he had conquered. Mexico was conquered in 1521, and the news of the vast amount of treasure captured brought a great[203] crowd of emigrants from Spain and from all her dominions. The Spaniards, like other nations of Southern Europe, kept their horses entire and whenever representatives of both sexes strayed away, reproduction would follow. As the country became more tranquil, and as the tide of European settlers kept pouring in, we can easily understand how the little bands of estrays should grow into larger bands and soon become as wild as though they had never seen a human being except to flee from him.

The explorer De Soto sailed for Florida in 1539, in search of gold. He had in his command five hundred and thirteen men, exclusive of sailors, and two hundred and thirty-seven horses, besides some for the purpose of bearing burdens, the number not given. In all his weary journey of three years he found the Indians active, hostile, and courageous fighters. In one of his first battles he lost twelve horses, and had seventy wounded. He pursued many phantoms in search of gold, in different directions, but his general course was westward and northwestward. He was the first European to discover the Mississippi River, not far from the mouth of the Arkansas, and there he was buried in the middle of the river, to prevent the Indians from discovering he was dead and from desecrating his remains. His followers then determined to push on westward to Mexico, and reached as far as the borders of Texas, probably, when they became discouraged with the magnitude of the difficulties that surrounded them, and determined to return and seek an outlet from the wilderness by water. On this last journey, west of the Mississippi, they suffered their greatest loss of horses. They had not been shod for more than a year, and a great many were lame and unable to travel. When the Spaniards had completed their boats and were ready to leave the scenes of their sufferings and disasters, they turned loose upon the bank of the river their four or five remaining horses, which manifested great excitement, running up and down the bank neighing for their masters, as they sailed away. This alarmed the Indians and they ran into the water for safety.

The Indians were afraid of the horses and the horses were afraid of the Indians. It seems to be a fact, observed in all the early intercourse of the Spaniards with the Indians, that universally they had a kind of superstitious awe of the horse as a superior being, and it is probably due to this awe that the Indians did not utterly destroy every horse that fell out of the ranks or that escaped in the wilderness. As I understand the history of[204] this terrible exploration, when the Spaniards crossed the Mississippi they had two hundred and fifty men and one hundred and fifty horses, and when they came back and were ready to sail they had but four or five horses left. It is fair, therefore, to conclude that the greater portion of these hundred and fifty head was scattered in the wilderness as they went out and as they returned. This provides a sufficient breeding basis for the countless multitudes of descendants, and places that nucleus in the right region to nourish them in a feral state.

While this exploration of De Soto seems to furnish a breeding basis of sufficient breadth to account for all the wild horses that have appeared on this continent, there is another consideration that we must not overlook, and that is the inborn tendency of the domestic horse to become wild when in wild associations. By turning to the chapter on the colony of Virginia you will see that there were many wild horses there at the beginning of the last century. On the frontiers, near the habitat of wild horses, they became a great nuisance to the settlers in “coaxing” away their domestic horses and making them as wild as the wildest. These accretions to their strength from the domestic horse have been going on for generations, and thus the wild horse became conglomerate in the elements of his blood, with the Spanish traits still predominant. Fifty or a hundred years ago the pens of many writers were employed in idealizing “The Wild Horse of the Desert.” He was made the leading figure in many a romance, and the hero of many a triumph. Tom Thumb, the great trotter that was taken to England, astonished all the world with his speed and his endurance, and, following the fashion of the day, he was represented to have been caught wild on the Western plains. For many years the wild horse was the “fad” of American writers, just as the Arabian was of English writers, and the writers on one side were just about as far from intelligence and truth as those on the other. When, forty years ago, great droves of the half-breeds, Mustangs, were brought from the plains to the border prairie States, seeking a market, the scales began to drop from the eyes of the worshipers of the wild horse. They were homely little brutes, and they were as tough as whit-leather. But the countless multitudes that roamed at will over their grazing grounds, making the earth tremble when they moved, have dwindled down to a few insignificant bands, and the whole glamour around the wild horse of the desert has vanished.


Messenger the greatest of all trotting progenitors—Record of pedigrees in English Stud Book—Pedigrees made from unreliable sources—Messenger’s right male line examined—Flying Guilders’ “mile in a minute”—Blaze short of being thoroughbred—Sampson, a good race horse—His size; short in his breeding—Engineer short also—Mambrino was a race horse with at least two pacing crosses: distinguished only as a progenitor of coach horses and fast trotters—Messenger’s dam cannot be traced nor identified— Among all the horses claiming to be thoroughbred he is the only one that founded a family of trotters—This fact conceded by eminent writers in attempting to find others.

Having completed a brief historical sketch of horse history from the beginning, and many events connected therewith, we are now ready to consider the American Trotting Horse, as the culmination of what has been written. Thus far we have met with much pretentious nonsense, claiming to be history and written by men who never gave the subject the study of an honest hour. The horse is honest enough, but the rule seems to be almost universal that whenever men commence to write about him they are guided by their imagination and not by the facts. As to what we are to meet in the coming chapters, I can only say that, unfortunately, “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The instinct to misrepresent has been transmitted, and I cannot promise that we will find any great moral improvement among the horsemen of our own country and generation.

For more than three-quarters of a century, and indeed from the first trotting experiences of this country that have been preserved, it has been the unanimous judgment of all who have given any thought or attention to the subject that the imported English horse, Messenger, was the great central source of trotting speed. As the years have rolled by this opinion has increased in strength until it has become an intelligent and demonstrated belief. When, forty years ago, a horse was found[206] able to trot a mile in two minutes and thirty seconds, the speed was deemed wholly phenomenal, but that speed has been increased, second by second, until we are now on the very brink of two minutes. In this process every second and fraction of a second that has been cut off has been so much additional proof of the universal belief that Messenger was the chief progenitor of the American trotter. He is not the only source of trotting speed, but he is the chief source. Whence he derived this distinctive power to transmit trotting speed will be made more clear as we proceed. His blood left no deep nor lasting impress upon the running horses of the country, and it is seldom we meet with any trace of it in the running horse of to-day, but it is prominent and conspicuous at the winning post of every trotting track on this continent. This will be made apparent when we come to consider the details and the merits of the mighty tribes and families that have descended from him.

Several years ago I promised to write a volume on “Messenger and his Descendants,” and I have often been reminded of that unfulfilled promise, which I will here try to redeem. When that promise was made I had written many things about Messenger, but since then I have secured very many valuable facts that, I think, will far more than compensate for the delay. There is still much that is unknown and much that is only partially known of the origin and history of Messenger and his ancestors, and in considering the questions that will arise as the discussion progresses, I will not submit to a slavish acceptance of whatever has come down in the shape of stallion advertisements, or as unsupported traditions, and then recorded as facts by people who knew nothing about them, and made no effort to know. I shall look for the facts that are known to be facts, or such evidence as is reasonable and commends itself to an unbiased judgment, and then reach such conclusions as right reason shall dictate. The pedigree of Messenger, or rather the pedigree of Messenger’s reputed grandam, appears in the English Stud Book in the editions of 1803 and 1827, in the following form:

Regulus Mare (Sister to Figurante). Her dam by Starling, out of Snap’s dam.
1769, b. f. by Herod (dam of Alert). Mr. Vernon.
1770, bl. c. Hyacinth, by Turf.
[207]1771, bl. c. Leviathan (aft. Mungo), by Marske. Lord Abingdon.
1773, — f. by Turf. Lord Grosvenor.
1774, — f. by Ditto (dam of Messenger).
1777, bl. f. by Dux.
1780, b. f. by Justice (dam of Equity).
1782, b. c. Vulcan, by Justice. Mr. Panton.
1783, b. c. Savage, by Sweetbriar. Mr. Bullock.
1784, b. f. Ariel, by Highflyer (dam of Mr. Hamilton’s Swindler, by Bagot).
This is all we have of the pedigree of Messenger as recorded in the English Stud Book, and this record, on its face, has a very suspicious appearance. Messenger had run some races at Newmarket and a place must be provided for him in the Stud Book. He always ran as a son of Mambrino, and there is no doubt this is correct, as it so appeared in the Racing Calendar, long before the days of the Stud Book. But nobody, either then or later, seemed to know anything about his dam. Toward the close of this chapter I will give an exhaustive review of the many troubles in which these two fillies by Turf seem to be involved.

Messenger was by Mambrino, he by Engineer, he by Sampson, he by Blaze, he by Flying Childers, and he by the Darley Arabian. We give the right male line here for the reason that there can be no doubt as to the accuracy of this line, for it has been preserved in contemporaneous racing records. The trouble, where any trouble exists, is all with the dams of these horses which at best are only matters of the most uncertain tradition. A writer in the Edinburgh Review for July, 1864, covers the whole ground when he says: “The early pedigrees (in the Stud Book) are but little to be relied upon, as they seem for the most part to have been taken from traditional accounts in the stable, from descriptions at the back of old pictures, and from advertisements, none of which had to pass muster at the Herald’s College.” This is in full accordance with our American experiences and it is entirely safe to say that the great body of our old American pedigrees, especially in their remote extensions, are more or less fictitious. The industry of producing great pedigrees out of little or nothing has long been pursued on both sides of the water, and it would be very difficult to determine which side had the better of it.

Before attempting to analyze the pedigree of Messenger, or rather that of his dam, with which the chief difficulty lies, we will go back to the head of the male line and consider each successive generation. The Darley Arabian, one of the most distinguished of all the founders of the English thoroughbred horse,[208] was brought from Aleppo, about the year 1710. He did not cover many mares except those of his owner in Yorkshire, but he was very successful. Childers, commonly called Flying Childers, was foaled 1715. He was got by the Darley Arabian out of Betty Leeds, a distinguished lightweight runner, by Careless. Childers was the most distinguished race horse of his day, and the fabulous story of his having run a mile in a minute was circulated, believed and written about for generations. He ran a trial against Almanzor and Brown Betty over the round course at Newmarket (three miles, six furlongs and ninety-three yards) in six minutes and forty seconds, “and it was thought,” says the old record, “that he moved eighty-two feet and a half in a second of time, which is nearly at the rate of one mile in a minute.” This was the basis of the legend “A Mile in a Minute,” and it has lived till our own day, just as many a traditional pedigree has lived. If we accept the time as given by the old chroniclers, of which we have very grave doubts, Childers ran at the rate of one minute and forty-five seconds to the mile, and he covered a distance of fifty feet and about two inches to the second of time. The pedigree of Childers on the maternal side is one of the oldest in the Stud Book, and we are not aware that any charges have ever been made against its substantial authenticity.

Blaze, the son of Childers, was foaled 1733, and was out of a mare known as “The Confederate Filly,” by Grey Grantham; her dam was by the Duke of Rutland’s Black Barb, and her grandam was a mare of unknown breeding, called “Bright’s Roan.” Here the maternal line runs into the woods, but this is not the only defect in the pedigree, for the dam of Grey Grantham was also unknown. In order to give a clear idea of just how Blaze was bred, taking the Stud Book for our authority, we will here tabulate the pedigree for a few crosses.

Blaze (1733). { Childers { Darley Arabian

{ Betty Leeds { Careless.
{ Sister to Leeds.
{ Confederate Filly { Grey Grantham { Browlow Turk.
{ Blood unknown.
{ Daughter of { Black Barb.
{ Brights Roan, unknown.
Certainly this horse cannot be ranked as thoroughbred under any rule, English or American, that has ever been formulated. Only three generations away we find two animals of hopelessly[209] unknown breeding. Mr. Henry F. Euren, compiler of the English Hackney Stud Book, has given Blaze a new place in horse genealogy, and this new place affects the American trotter, remotely, outside of the line through Messenger. Mr. Lawrence, the best English authority on horse matters in the latter part of the last and the beginning of the present century, had maintained, confessedly on tradition only, that Old Shales, the great fountain head of the English trotters of a hundred years ago, was a son of Blank, by Godolphin Arabian. On this point Mr. Euren has got farther back and found earlier evidence in printed form that Blaze and not Blank was the sire of Old Shales. We combated this claim for a time, but in the introduction to his Stud Book he has made out a very good case, and we have hardly a doubt but that he is correct. In speaking of the breeding of Shales, and of his dam being a “strong common-bred mare,” he says: “It is of interest to examine the pedigree of the sire (Blaze) to determine whether yet stronger racing or pacing elements existed on that side.” After giving a tabulation of the pedigree he continues: “There would thus appear to have been a large proportion of English (native) blood in the dam of Blaze, though no one can say what was its character—whether running, trotting, or ambling.” In referring to the fact that Bellfounder was a descendant of Old Shales, the son of Blaze, Mr. Euren makes this practical application of the incident:

“The fact that in the seventh generation from Blaze, on each side, the reunion of the blood in Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, the sire of so many fast American trotting horses, should have proved to be of the most impressive character, would appear to warrant the conclusion that there was a strong latent trotting tendency in the near ancestors, on one, if not on both, sides of Blaze.”

These two points from a very high English authority—that Blaze was not thoroughbred and that he was the sire of Shales, a great trotting progenitor, must have due weight in reaching sound conclusions.

Sampson, the son of Blaze, was foaled 1745, and he has occupied a very prominent and at the same time unique place in running-horse history. He was not only a great race horse, at heavy weights, but he was considered phenomenal in his size and strength, and in his lack of the appearance of a race horse. Some of his measurements have come down to us, and as they are reliable data as to what was considered a remarkably large and[210] strong race horse a hundred and forty years ago, we will reproduce them here in order that the curious may compare them with the average race horse of this generation:

Height on the withers, 15 hands 2 inches; dimensions of fore leg from the hair of the hoof to middle of fetlock joint, 4 inches; from fetlock joint to bend of the knee, 11 inches; from bend of knee to elbow, 19 inches; round fore leg below knee, narrowest part, 8½ inches; round hind leg, narrowest part, 9 inches.

These measurements may not seem to merit any particular attention at this day, but a hundred and fifty years ago they were considered phenomenal in the race horse. But we are not left to the dry details of a certain number of inches and fractions of an inch upon which to base a just conception of the strength and substance of this horse. A number of historians have told us of the merriment among the grooms and jockeys when Sampson made his first appearance on the turf. The question was, “Has Mr. Robinson brought a coach horse here to run for the plate?” The laugh was on the other side at Malton that day, however, when the “coach horse,” carrying one hundred and forty pounds, won the plate in three heats. The distance was three miles, and Sampson was then five years old. At long distances and at high weights Sampson was a first-class race horse for his day. But, notwithstanding all this, we are told that his blood never became fashionable, for there was a widespread conviction that he was not running-bred on the side of his dam. The historians tell us that he transmitted his own coarseness and lack of the true running type in a marked degree, which was very evident in his grandson, Mambrino.

His pedigree has been questioned from the day of his first appearance to the present time, and we have made a very careful study of all the facts at our command. In the first edition of his Stud Book (1803) Mr. Weatherby gives his dam as by Hip; g. d. by Spark, son of Honeycomb Punch; g. g. d. by Snake and out of Lord D’Arcy’s Queen. This has not been materially changed in any of the subsequent editions, and we think it may be taken for granted that the horse was advertised under this pedigree. Mr. Weatherby commenced work on pedigrees in 1791, and avowedly accepted the best information he could get with regard to old pedigrees, regardless of the source. We are not aware that he ever investigated anything outside of his office work, or if he did he never gave the public the benefit of the details of his investigations.[211] John Lawrence commenced work on horse history long before Mr. Weatherby commenced as a compiler of pedigrees, and he was altogether the ablest writer of his day, or perhaps we might add, of any other day. He was a clear and independent thinker and a vigorous writer. In his “History of the Horse in all His Varieties and Uses,” on page 281, he thus discusses the question of Sampson’s pedigree:

“Nobody yet ever did, or ever could assert positively that Jigg was not thoroughbred, but the case is very different with respect to Sampson; since nobody in the sporting world, either of past or present days, ever supposed him so. Nor was the said world at all surprised at Robinson’s people furnishing their stallion with a good and true pedigree, a thing so much to their advantage. Having seen a number of Sampson’s immediate get, those in the Lord Marquis of Rockingham’s stud and others, and all of them, Bay Malton perhaps less than any other, in their heads, size and form, having the appearance of being a degree or two deficient in racing blood, I was convinced that the then universal opinion on that point was well grounded. I was (in 1778) an enthusiast, collecting materials for a book on the horse. It happened that I wanted a trusty and steady man for a particular service, and opportunely for the matter now under discussion, a Yorkshire man about threescore years of age was recommended to me, who had recently been employed in certain stables. I soon found that his early life had been spent in the running stables of the North, and that he had known Sampson, whence he was always afterward named by us ‘Old Sampson.’ He was very intelligent on the subject of racing stock and his report was as follows. He took the mare to Blaze, for the cover which produced Sampson, helped to bit and break the colt, rode him in exercise and afterward took him to Malton for his first start, where, before the race, he was ridiculed for bringing a great coach horse to contend against racers. On the sale of Sampson this man left the service of James Preston, Esq., and went with the colt into that of Mr. Robinson. His account of Sampson’s dam was that she appeared about three parts bred, a hunting figure and by report a daughter of Hip, which, however, could not be authenticated; and the fact was then notorious and not disputed in the Yorkshire stables…. Mr. Tattersall lately stowed me a portrait of Sampson in his flesh, in which this defect of blood appears far more obvious than in one which I had of him galloping.”

Again, in his great quarto work, issued 1809, Mr. Lawrence reiterates his belief that Sampson was not thoroughbred. He says:

“I am by no means disposed to retract my opinion concerning Robinson’s Sampson. Not only did the account of the groom appear to me to be entitled to credit, but the internal evidence of the horse’s having had in him a cross of common blood is sufficiently strong by the appearance both of the horse himself and of his stock; an idea in which every sportsman, I believe, who remembers Engineer, Mambrino and others will agree with me.”


Here then, we have the answer to the whole inquiry reduced to its simplest form. The groom who coupled the mare with Blaze from which came Sampson says the mare was called a Hip mare, but that her pedigree was really unknown. For the intelligence and honesty of this groom Mr. Lawrence does not hesitate to vouch, and he adds the common belief of all the Yorkshire sportsmen of that day, who knew the mare, that she was of unknown breeding. This evidence is further supplemented by the family characteristics of the stock descended from Sampson, to say nothing of the great lack of “blood” in the appearance of Sampson himself. As against this we have the dry, unsupported assertion of Mr. Weatherby, forty years after the event, and probably copied from an advertisement of the horse. In view of all this we must tabulate the pedigree of Sampson as follows:

Sampson (1745). { Blaze { Childers { Darley Arabian.
{ Betty Leeds.
{ Confederate Filly { Grey Grantham.
{ D. of Black Barb.
{ Called a Hip Mare (Unknown).

Engineer, son of Sampson, was a brown horse, foaled 1755, and was out of Miner’s dam, by Young Greyhound; grandam by Curwen’s Bay Barb, and the next dam unknown. This is all the pedigree that has ever been even claimed for this horse, and it falls far short of the rank of thoroughbred. That the eye may take it all in at a glance we will here put it into tabular form. There is a discrepancy of one year between Weatherby and Pick in the age of the horse, and we find Pick is right in giving his date as 1755.

Engineer (1755). { Sampson { Blaze { Childers.
{ Confederate Filly.
{ Unknown.

{ Miner’s dam { Young Greyhound { Greyhound.
{ Pet mare.
{ D. of Bay Barb {
{ Unknown.
Notwithstanding the absence of Eastern blood, Engineer was a race horse of above average ability, although not so good as another son of Sampson called Bay Malton. A few of his sons aside from Mambrino ran respectably, and his daughters were, at one time, highly prized as brood mares.


Mambrino, the son of Engineer, was a great strong-boned grey horse, bred by John Atkinson near Leeds in Yorkshire, and was foaled 1768. His dam was by Cade, son of the Godolphin Arabian; g. d. by Bolton Little John; g. g. d. Favorite by a son of Bald Galloway, etc. The Cade mare produced Dulcine, a noted performer, and the mare Favorite was a distinguished performer herself. The poverty of this pedigree is all on the side of the sire, as will be seen by a brief tabulation.

Mambrino (1768). { Engineer { Sampson { Blaze.
{ Unknown.
{ Miner’s dam { Young Greyhound.
{ D. of Bay Barb.
{ Daughter of { Cade { Godolphin Arabian.
{ Roxana.
{ Daughter of { Bolton Little John.
{ Favorite.
It is worthy of note here, as a curious fact, that Mambrino had two pacing crosses. Roxana, the dam of Cade, was by Bald Galloway and Favorite was by a son of Bald Galloway. This horse Bald Galloway was a distinguished representative of the famous old tribe of pacers known as the “Galloways,” from the province of Galloway in Southwestern Scotland.

Mambrino was not put upon the turf till he was five years old, and he proved himself a great race horse in the best company and for the largest class of stakes. He was on the turf most of the time for five or six years and until he was beaten by Woodpecker in 1779, in which race he broke down. He was beaten, but four times, and paid four forfeits. He went into the stud in the spring of 1777, although he ran after that, at 10gs. 10s. 6d. to cover thirty mares besides those of his owners. In 1779 he was again in the stud, in Cambridgeshire as before, at the same price; 1781 he covered at 50gs. 10. 6d.; 1784 at 15gs. 10. 6d.; 1785 at 25gs. 10s. 6d.; 1786 he dropped back to 15gs. 10s. 6d.

We give these prices to show the variations in the estimated value of his services. As a sire of race horses Mambrino was not successful. Some fifteen or twenty of his progeny ran more or less respectably, but none of them was at all comparable with himself. While he was a comparative failure as a racing sire there was another qualification in which he attained great eminence and distinction. In the second volume of Pick’s Turf Register, published 1805, on page 266, we find the following paragraph appended to the history there given of this horse:


“Mambrino was likewise sire of a great many excellent hunters and strong, useful road horses. And it has been said that from his blood the breed of horses for the coach was brought nearly to perfection.”

This paragraph, considering its date (1805), the authority from which it comes, and the peculiar circumstances which prompted its utterance, has a most striking significance. After years of familiarity with Mr. Pick’s works we can say freely that we never have been able to find any allusion or reference to the qualities of any horse portrayed by him other than his running qualities. This reference to the adaptabilities of the progeny of Mambrino stands alone. The “blood that brought the breed of coach horses nearly to perfection” must have been blood that gave the “breed” a long, slinging, road-devouring trot, as well as size and strength. The very same qualifications were observed and noted in the descendants of Mambrino in this country forty and fifty years ago, and at no time in our history have we had such unapproachable coach horses as the great-grandsons of Mambrino. What has been said, therefore, by Mr. Pick of the “coach-horse” qualities of the descendants of Mambrino in England has been fully realized and verified in his descendants, through Messenger, in this country.

The question here arises whether Mambrino ever showed any remarkable trotting action himself that would seem to justify this estimate of the trotting action of his descendants? Several writers, and among them Mr. Lawrence, have spoken of this peculiarity of Mambrino’s incidentally, but the most tangible account we have of it is furnished by an English writer to the Sporting Magazine, who dates his letter from the “Subscription Rooms, Tattersall’s, 1814.” These “subscription rooms” were the very focus of sporting events, and this writer seems to be unusually intelligent on this class of subjects. The object and point of his communication is to prove that no thoroughbred horse could be developed into a fast trotter. “Hence,” he says, “no thoroughbred was ever known capable of trotting sixteen miles within the hour, and only one stands on record as having trotted fifteen miles within one hour. That was Infidel, by Turk, who performed it in the North, carrying nine or ten stone. Several race horses have been supposed capable of trotting fourteen miles in one hour, and it is reported that the late Lord Grosvenor once offered to match Mambrino to do it for a thousand guineas.” Now this writer does not say that Lord Grosvenor[215] really made such an offer, but only that he was “reported” to have made it. This does not prove that the offer was formally made, but it does prove that Mambrino had a very remarkable trotting step or such a topic would not have been considered at Tattersall’s subscription rooms. As this writer seems to refer to Mambrino and Infidel only as exceptional horses for their trotting step among thoroughbreds, we may take it for granted that Mambrino was considered exceptional, in his day. It is not probable that he was ever trained an hour at the trot, and we must conclude, therefore, that whatever speed he showed was his natural and undeveloped gait. It will be observed that Mr. Pick’s paragraph was dated 1805, and the letter from the “subscription rooms” 1814, so that they could not have been mere reflections of theories advanced on this side of the Atlantic in relation to Messenger being a great source of trotting speed. These two facts were on record long before any “Messenger theories” were in existence, and those “theories” were formulated long before these two facts were known. The conclusions reached on both sides of the water are entirely harmonious, but they were reached in complete independence of each other.

Messenger, son of Mambrino, was a grey horse about fifteen hands two inches high, with strong, heavy bone and a generally coarse appearance for a horse represented to be thoroughbred. From the Racing Calendar, and not from the Stud Book, we learn that he was foaled 1780, and came out of a mare represented to be by Turf, and she out of a mare by Regulus, son of Godolphin Arabian, etc., as represented by Mr. Weatherby in his Stud Book. By looking back to the beginning of this chapter the form in which the entry appears in the Stud Book will be fully comprehended. The identity, history, and breeding of the dam of Messenger is the central point in this inquiry, and we must do our work carefully and thoroughly. From the form of the entry in the Stud Book, it will be understood that the breeder of each animal is supposed to appear opposite the foals of his own breeding, but this we have found in more than a thousand instances to be wholly imaginary on the part of the compiler. If the animal ran, the name of the party running him is far more apt to appear than the name of the breeder. It will be observed, also, that the Turf fillies of 1773 and 1774 appear without their color being known. These fillies seem to be put in there to partially fill the gap between 1771 and 1777. Mr. Pick says the dam[216] of Messenger was black, but he gives no account of her further than that. Whether Mr. Pick was indebted to Mr. Weatherby, or Weatherby to Pick, I cannot say, but they both give the pedigree just as we have given it in this country. I am not inquiring whether these authorities agree on this pedigree, but whether they knew anything about it, and whether there is such agreement in details between them as will support each other.

The first question that arises in every man’s mind is, whether there is any further trace of this Turf mare, the reputed dam of Messenger, in the Stud Book, by whom was she bred and owned, and by whom was Messenger bred? Pick says the Turf mare was bred by Lord Bolingbroke, and Weatherby says she was bred by Lord Grosvenor. To test the question whether either is right, I have gone through the English Stud Book, page by page, and pedigree by pedigree, wherever I found the name of Lord Bolingbroke, or Lord Grosvenor, to see if any trace of the Turf mare could be found. I found no shadow of trace. The certificate of pedigree that came across the ocean with Messenger represents him to have been bred by John Pratt, and Mr. Pick, or rather his successor, Mr. Johnson, says he was bred and owned by Mr. Bullock. These clear and explicit declarations gave new hopes of finding something of the Turf mare, and at it I went again, and searched every pedigree that had the name of Mr. Pratt or Mr. Bullock attached to it, with no better results than before. Now, Lord Bolingbroke, Lord Grosvenor, Mr. Pratt and Mr. Bullock were all breeders, and if any of them ever owned the dam of Messenger and bred from her, none of her produce was ever recorded or ever started in a race.

Thus, the more we search for the truth about Messenger and his origin, the more dense becomes the mystery. When we find an English authority that seems clear, we find another that contradicts him, and probably neither of them knows anything about it beyond uncertain tradition. When we consider these contradictions of authorities in connection with the fact that men were just as prone to lie and fix up a bogus pedigree a hundred years ago as they are to-day, and that stud-book makers were just as liable to be deceived then as now, we must conclude that there is room for very serious doubts as to whether Weatherby or Pick knew anything about the pedigree of Messenger, or by whom he was bred.

In pushing our inquiries still further in search of this mare,[217] we must consider somewhat in detail Mr. Weatherby’s methods and the degree of responsibility he assumed for the accuracy of his compilations. In 1791 he published what he called “An Introduction to a General Stud Book,” containing, as he says, “a small collection of pedigrees which he had extracted from racing calendars and sale papers, and arranged on a new plan.” In May, 1800, he issued a supplement to his “Introduction” bringing down the produce of mares to 1799. In 1803 he issued what we suppose is the first edition of the first volume of the Stud Book. The title-page reads, “The General Stud Book, containing pedigrees of race horses, etc., from the Restoration to the present time.” The imprint is, “Printed for James Weatherby, 7 Oxenden Street, etc., London, 1803.” The volume contains three hundred and eighty-four pages, while the edition of 1827 contains four hundred and forty-eight pages. There is no “Volume I.” on the title-page, nor is there any indication that this is a continuation or revision of any preceding work. It brings down the list of produce in many cases to and including 1803, but none later than that year, so there can be no mistake as to when it was issued.

I have been thus particular in identifying this first edition of the first volume of the English Stud Book, for it gives us an insight into the methods employed by Mr. Weatherby in the progress of his work. Upon a careful comparison of the editions of 1803 with 1827 extending through the letters A, B, and M, we find that he has thrown out more than ten per cent. of the entire families in the edition of 1803. By “entire families” I mean brood mares, with their lists of produce. In making these exclusions he seems to have confined himself to what may be considered the historic period, at that day, and did not go back further than about twenty years. Beyond that period everything was traditional, and he appears to have shrunk from all responsibility of attempting the exclusion of families. On and near the border line between these periods he seems to have taken the responsibility of cutting off a great many individuals of doubtful identity, even though the family was left to stand on its uncertain basis of tradition. I cannot say positively that the dam of Messenger and her sister were cut off with the multitude of others, but I can say that neither of them ever appeared again in the Stud Book. Other members of the family of the Regulus mare have places for their descendants in subsequent volumes,[218] from which I would infer that Mr. Weatherby considered her breeding all right, but the two fillies, one of them the dam of Messenger, have been treated as spurious and wholly omitted from the records. These are the facts relating to these two fillies claimed originally to be by Turf, and there can be no moral doubt that they were omitted or excluded because Mr. Weatherby deemed them unsustained and probably spurious.

In confirmation of the facts and circumstances already adduced, going to show that Messenger was not thoroughbred, we are now ready to consider one of the strongest arguments that can be advanced in support of that conclusion. This argument is founded on the laws of nature and is not dependent upon the mere writing down of uncertain traditions. Messenger possessed and transmitted qualities that no thoroughbred horse has ever transmitted, from the period when the breed of race horses was formed to the present day. It is practically conceded on all hands that Messenger, by his own power and by his own right, founded a family of trotting horses, and this fact will be fully demonstrated in coming chapters. It is equally plain and, with honest and intelligent people, it is accepted with equal readiness, that no thoroughbred horse has ever done this. This declaration has been much controverted, but always in a general way and without specifying any particular thoroughbred horse that had succeeded in establishing a family of trotters. In the progress of a discussion of this point with the late Charles J. Foster, a very clear and able writer, he was directly challenged, in a manner that could not be dodged, to name the thoroughbred horse outside of Messenger, that had accomplished this feat. Greatly to my surprise, and I might say, gratification, he came back at me with two of Messenger’s sons—Hambletonian and Mambrino. Thus he conceded the whole contention, for out of, literally, thousands he had to come back to two sons of Messenger.

In reply to an article in Wallace’s Monthly for December, 1887, going to show that Messenger was not a thoroughbred horse, Mr. Joseph Cairn Simpson, of California, an able man and a lifelong advocate of more running blood in the trotter, wrote a review of the article in question. After admitting the full force of the demonstration that Messenger was not a thoroughbred horse, there is one sentence to which Mr. Simpson cannot subscribe, and he quotes it as follows: “Complete and conclusive as these facts may be, there is still another fact equally complete and[219] still more convincing. Messenger possessed and transmitted qualities that no thoroughbred horse, in the experience of man, ever possessed and transmitted.” This was a declaration of Messenger as a progenitor against the whole world of thoroughbreds, and Mr. Simpson felt that he could not let it pass unchallenged, and after scratching about among the thousands of thoroughbreds without finding anything, like poor Mr. Foster, he “acknowledges the corn,” and comes back with Mambrino, the son of Messenger, without, seemingly, once realizing that he was proving my contention.

The theory that if any other English race horse had been in Messenger’s place and bred upon the same mares and had his progeny developed as Messenger’s were developed, he would have produced the same results, has always been very popular with the advocates of “more running blood in the trotter.” No doubt there are still some honest, but not well-informed people, who hold to this view merely because they have never heard of any other imported English horses that were contemporaneous with Messenger, and hence have concluded there were none. If Messenger had been all alone during the twenty years of his stud services, as this theory assumes, there might be some reason to doubt whether some other English race horses might not have done just as well in establishing a line or tribe of trotters. But was he alone? From the close of the Revolutionary War to the end of the last century was a period of great activity and enterprise in the way of importing running horses from Great Britain. The blood of Herod and English Eclipse was in the highest estimate, not only in the old but in the new world, and a great many distinguished horses were brought over possessing those favorite strains. During that period racing was carried on with just as much spirit and éclat on Long Island and the river counties of New York, New Jersey, and some of the eastern counties of Pennsylvania as it was in Virginia and South Carolina. Horses of the most fashionable lineage were sought after and patronized, not by a few great breeding establishments, but by the farmers generally, in all the region here designated. The following list of imported English race horses is made up of animals that were contemporaneous with Messenger, covering the same mares and the offspring subjected to precisely the same treatment and conditions. The list is limited to what may be called the trotting latitudes, and embraces such animals only as were brought into[220] New Jersey, New York and Eastern Pennsylvania. We will not only give their names, but the blood elements also, so that all can see that Messenger not only had competitors but competitors of the highest grade of running blood.

Admiral, by Florizel, son of King Herod.
Ancient Pistol, by Ancient Pistol, son of Snap.
Arrakooker, by Drone, son of King Herod.
Baronet, by Vertumnus, son of Eclipse.
Benjamin, by Ruler, son of Young Marske.
Creeper, by Tandem, son of Dainty Davy.
Deserter, by Lenox, son of Delpini, by Highflyer.
Dey of Algiers, Arabian.
Diomed (Tate’s), by Phenomenon, son of King Herod.
Driver, by Saltram, son of Eclipse.
Drone, by King Herod.
Dungannon (Young), by Dungannon.
Expedition, by Pegasus, son of Eclipse.
Express, by Postmaster, son of King Herod.
Exton, by Highflyer, son of King Herod.
Florizel, by Florizel, son of King Herod.
Grand Seignor, Arabian.
Highflyer (1782), by Highflyer.
Highflyer (1792), by Highflyer.
Highlander (Brown), by Paymaster.
Highlander (Gray), by Bordeaux.
Honest John, by Sir Peter Teazle.
Joseph, by Ormond, son of King Fergus.
King William, by King Herod.
King William, by Paymaster.
Light Infantry, by Eclipse.
Magnetic Needle, by Magnet.
Magnum Bonum, by Matchem.
Nimrod, by King Fergus.
North Star, by North Star, son of Matchem.
Paymaster, by Paymaster.
Prince Frederick, by Fortunio.
Punch, by King Herod.
Revenge, by Achilles.
Rodney, by Paymaster.
Royal George, by Jupiter, son of Eclipse.
Royalist, by Saltram.
Slender, by King Herod.
Sour Crout, by Highflyer.
Venetian, by Doge.
Yorkshire, by Jupiter, son of Eclipse.
Here we have forty-one imported English stallions, contemporaneous[221] with Messenger, occupying the same territory and covering the same mares that he covered. With the exceptions of two or three they were all ranked as not only thoroughbred, but they possessed the most fashionable and successful blood that England had then produced. A few of them were taken southward after a time, but the great body of them lived out their days here.

To this great array of imported English running horses we might add hundreds of their sons, and yet not find one that claimed to be thoroughbred that ever became a trotting progenitor or founded a family of trotters. Mr. Foster and Mr. Simpson, by far the two ablest writers on the wrong side of the question that this country has produced, with this list of forty English stallions before them from which to select their proof that Messenger was not the only progenitor of trotters, were at last compelled to take two of Messengers sons, as trotting progenitors, to prove that their sire was not a trotting progenitor. If the intellectual powers of these two gentlemen had enabled them to scratch ever so little beneath the glittering surface of the word “thoroughbred,” they would have saved themselves from this humiliating exhibition of absurdity.

What was true of Messenger’s contemporaries is equally true of all the strictly thoroughbred stallions that have lived on the earth from his day to the present. No one of them has ever founded a trotting family and no one of them has ever got a trotter out of a mare of his own kind. Out of the half-dozen instances on record where a thoroughbred horse has got a trotter there is no one instance in which the dam did not have a strong pacing or trotting inheritance. If we accept the known and recorded experiences of the past seventy years, in the trotting world, we find two great facts on every page of the record. First, Messenger left a family of trotters; second, no other thoroughbred horse did that. It follows, then, that if Messenger transmitted capacities different from those transmitted by thoroughbred horses, he must have had a different inheritance from thoroughbred horses, and if different, then that inheritance could not have been thoroughbred. From the facts we have developed in the history of his English ancestors; from the ten thousand demonstrations of his American descendants, and from the great laws which govern the transmission of special capacities, we are forced to the conclusion that Messenger was not a thoroughbred horse.


Messenger’s racing in England—His breeder unknown—Popular uncertainty about the circumstances and date of his importation—The matter settled by his first advertisement—Uncertainty as to his importer—Description of Messenger by David W. Jones, of Long Island—Careful consensus of descriptions by many who had seen Messenger—His great and lasting popularity as a stock horse—Places and prices of his services for twenty years—Death and burial.

Messenger made his first appearance on the turf in October, 1783, then three years old, and ran twice, successfully, that year. He continued on the turf till November, 1785, winning eight races, losing six and receiving forfeits in two. Most of his races were practically matches, and all were single dashes but one, in which he was beaten. Two of his winnings were less than a mile, five at the distance of a mile and a quarter, and one at two miles. These distances are approximate. He was beaten at two and a quarter miles, three, and three and a half miles. He never appeared in any great racing event, but seemed to be managed with a special view to picking up small prizes at short distances. His owner and manager, Mr. Bullock, was a very shrewd “professional” at Newmarket, he had quite a number of horses in the same stable with Messenger and some of them seem to have been selected always to run for the more valuable prizes. Considering the short distances he was able to run and the unimportant character of the contests in which he was engaged, we must conclude that Messenger was a very ordinary race horse.

It is not known by whom Messenger was bred. In his first advertisement in this country it is stated that he was bred by John Pratt, of Newmarket, but in the fourth volume of Pick’s “Turf Register,” continued by Johnson, it is stated explicitly that he “was bred by and the property of Mr. Bullock, of Newmarket.” Mr. John Pratt was a breeder as well as a racing man of some prominence, in his day, and the certificate of pedigree from him and purporting to have been issued by him was probably a fraud,[223] as he died May 8, 1785. This was while Messenger was still on the turf, and owned and controlled by Mr. Bullock for two years previous to this, still no mention is made of the fact, and Mr. Pratt is made to say that he sold him to the Prince of Wales, while all the evidence, which must necessarily be of a negative character, goes to show that the Prince of Wales never owned him. Mr. Pratt was a Yorkshire man, of Askrigg, in the North Riding, and although he died at Newmarket we have no trace of any of the family from which the dam of Messenger was said to have descended ever being in his possession. Besides this, it is not likely that the importer of Messenger got a certificate from him two years after his death.

The different representations that have been made about Messenger’s importation would fill a much larger space than would be profitable. About no horse has there been so much written, and about no horse has there been so little really known. His character and memory have never suffered defamation, for every writer was a eulogist of the most enthusiastic type, whether he knew anything of his hero or not. As a specimen of the admiration which he excited, it has been told a hundred times that when the horse came cavorting down the gangplank from the ship, with a groom hanging on to each side of his head, literally carrying them for some distance before he could be checked, an enthusiastic horseman shouted out, “There, in that horse a million dollars strikes American soil.” This story has been told so often, even in England, that no doubt many people believe the startling prophecy was really uttered. Indeed we have heard the name of the prophet, but as he was a distinguished New Yorker and as debarkation took place at Philadelphia, we never have been able to fully reconcile the actor with the occasion. The reputed prophecy, like the reputed pedigree, seems to have been an afterthought, but unlike the pedigree it proved true, whether uttered or not. Some said he was imported 1785, while others dribble along through the intermediate years till 1800 was fixed upon with great positiveness as the precise year. One of these gentlemen, we remember very well, was entirely confident he returned to England and was brought back again after a number of years. Less than twenty years ago the breeding world was favored with scores upon scores of this kind of teachers, not one of whom knew what he was talking about. The most surprising example of this kind of writing, however, is furnished by Mr. C.[224] W. Van Ranst, himself, who was part owner of the horse a number of years. In a communication published in Skinner’s “Turf Register,” 1831, he says Messenger was imported into New York in 1792, and in the same publication for 1834 he says he was imported into New York 1791. As the sequel will show, Mr. Van Ranst, although his owner, had no definite knowledge of the early history of the horse.

From some slight investigations I became satisfied, years before, that Messenger made his first appearance in this country at Philadelphia, and that he was imported into that city instead of New York. In that view all the writers of the whole country were opposed to me; but, as it became more and more evident that those writers were merely copying from one another and that none of them had ever made an honest search for the truth, I resolved to follow my own convictions and to commence there an investigation that would settle the matter one way or the other. In a few hours after reaching that city I found a file of the old Pennsylvania Packet, and in the number dated May 27, 1788, an advertisement of which the following is a true copy:


The capital, strong, full blooded, English stallion,


To cover mares this season at Alexander Clay’s, at the sign of the Black Horse, in Market Street, Philadelphia, at the very low price of three guineas each mare, and one dollar to the groom.

Messenger was bred by John Pratt, Esq., of Newmarket, who certifies the following pedigree. The grey horse Messenger was bred by me and sold to the Prince of Wales; he was got by Mambrino (who covered at twenty-five guineas a leap). His dam by Turf, his grandam by Regulus; this Regulus mare was sister to Figerant and was the dam of Leviathan. John Pratt.

The performance of Messenger has been so very great that there need only be a reference to the racing calendar of the years 1783, 1784 and 1785.

Any mare missing this season shall be served the next gratis, provided they continue the same properties, on paying the groom’s fees.

This is a literal copy of the first printed announcement of Messenger in this country, and there are two very striking features connected with it, namely, its bad grammar and the absence of the name of the importer and owner. The former we may attribute to the times, but to the latter I have been disposed to attach no trifling significance. It is a fact that till this day we have no direct information as to who imported this horse. The name “Benger” was developed indirectly as the man, but not[225] till years after the horse was dead, and probably the importer too, did I learn from an advertisement of a son of his that stood in Jersey that the importer’s name was “Thomas Benger.” In 1791 and for two years afterward he was advertised to stand at “Mount Benger, two miles from Bristol, Pennsylvania.” When I visited Bristol for the purpose of identifying “Mount Benger,” which I supposed was the country seat of the owner of Messenger, I was greatly surprised to find that none of the “oldest inhabitants” had ever heard of such a place, and when I was informed that there was no locality within half a dozen miles of Bristol where the ground rose to a hundred feet above the level of the Delaware River, the name “Mount Benger” assumed the character of an absurdity as well as a myth. From a very intelligent man of middle age, who had learned the blacksmith trade with his grandfather, I learned that he had often heard his grandfather speak of Messenger, and as having put the last set of shoes on him when he was taken away to New York the fall the yellow fever was so bad in Philadelphia. The tradition was still preserved in the family that Messenger reared up in crossing the river in a boat, and struck his groom on the head with one of those shoes, from the effects of which he died. As our informant was able to name two other horses, Governor and Babel, brought over by Mr. Benger, we were ready to accept his tradition that he lived at a point known in old times as “China Retreat,” two miles below Bristol on the Delaware. This point has been known later as “White Hall.”

After all traditions were exhausted, without yielding anything tangible or satisfactory, we turned with great confidence to the records of the county of Bucks, in which Mr. “Benger” had lived for a number of years. After a diligent and protracted search, embracing a number of years before and after his known residence in the county, we were not able to discover that any person by the name of “Benger” had ever owned a foot of real estate in the county or had been in any way publicly connected with its affairs or its administration. We had search made in Philadelphia with the same fruitless results. There is a faint tradition that Thomas Benger, if that was his name, was a fox-hunting Irish baronet, and if this was so, it is probable he returned to the old country about the time he sold Messenger in 1793. However this may be, the owner is forgotten, but his horse will live forever.


Among the many eulogies and word-paintings of Messenger, by writers who knew the horse personally, we select the following from the pen of the late David W. Jones, of Long Island, as the most striking and picturesque. He says:

“Having scanned in my boyhood the magnificent form and bearing of this noble old horse, and for more than half a century having drawn reins over his descendants, I have for a length of time felt it incumbent to furnish such facts and impressions, as, when considered with those of others, will give the younger portion of the present generation, as well as posterity, a fair knowledge of the general characteristics of the noblest Roman of them all. The first time I ever saw old Messenger my father sent me to the farm of Townsend Cock, Esq., of the County of Queens, L. I., where the horse was then standing, to receive his services. On my arrival at his harem, I found the groom, whom I knew, and he at once placed me with the mare a short distance from the stable, by the side of a barrier erected for security. Having at home heard frequent and long discussions in relation to the wonder I was now to behold, you may suppose I was all eyes. Presently the stalwart groom, James Lingham, with, at the extreme end of the bridle rein, all the blood of all the Howards, turned the angle of the stable and came in full view. The moment the old horse caught sight of the paragon of beauty I had brought to his embrace, he threw himself into an attitude, with the grandeur of which no other animal can compare, and at the same moment opened his mouth, and distending his nostrils, raised his exultant voice to such a pitch as gave unmistakable evidence of the capacity of his lungs and the size of his windpipe. Indeed, if his nostrils were as much larger than ordinary as my boyish vision pictured them, I can almost suppose that Mr. McMann with his little bay mare (Flora Temple), and sulky, could drive in at one, down the windpipe, turn under his immensely long arching loin and out at the other…. At that early day I was only impressed by those extraordinary developments; but in after years as I sit behind his offspring, they invariably remind me of what was then to my youthful judgment less apparent—the extraordinary strength of his loin, the length and beautiful molding of the buttock, the faultless shape of the crupper bone, giving an elegant set to his fine flowing tail, as well as the remarkable swell of his stifle, altogether forming a most perfect and powerful hind quarter.”

A good many years ago I made a special study of all that had been written about Messenger, and I was fortunate in being able to supplement this information by interviews with a few old gentlemen who knew the horse personally. Nearly all that generation of horsemen had passed away before I commenced this personal search for them. But a few then remained with excellent memories and with characters above suspicion or reproach. From these sources I gathered a great many incidents, facts and descriptions which I succeeded in harmonizing, to my own mind[227] at least, and thus was able, to compile a complete description of the horse at every point. That description was written out more than twenty years ago, and in presenting it now I will not change a single word. At the time it was written, as will be seen from its perusal, I had really no doubt the horse was thoroughbred. It will not be charged, therefore, that the coarse traits brought out in the description were influenced in any degree by a theory of his breeding:

“Messenger was a grey, that became lighter and flea-bitten with age. He was fifteen hands three inches high, and for a thoroughbred his appearance was coarse. He did not supply the mind with an idea of beauty, but he impressed upon it a conception of solidity and power. His head was large and bony, with a nose that had a decided Roman tendency, though not to a marked degree. His nostrils were unusually large and flexible, and when distended they were enormous. His eye was large, full, very dark and remarkably brilliant. In this particular he does not appear to have inherited the weakness of his great-grandsire, Sampson. His ear was larger than usual in the blood horse, but thin and tapering and always active and expressive. The windpipe was so unusually large and stood out so much as a distinct feature that it marred what otherwise would have been a gamelike throat-latch and setting on of the head. His neck was very short for a blood horse, but was not coarse and thick like a bull’s; neither did it rise into such an enormous crest as that of his sire. It was not a bad neck in any sense, but like Lexington’s of our own day, it was too short to be handsome. His mane and foretop were thin and light. His withers were low and round, which appears to have been a family characteristic in the male line, back for three generations at least. His shoulders were heavy and altogether too upright for our ideas of a race horse. His barrel was perfection itself, both for depth and rotundity. His loin was well arched, broad and strong. His hips and quarters were ‘incomparably superior to all others.’ The column of the vertebra being of unusual depth and strength, gave the setting on of the tail a distinctive, but elegant character. The tail was carried in fine style; like the mane, it was not in superabundant quantity, but there was no such scantiness as to detract from the beauty and grace of the animal. His stifles were well spread and swelling, but there appears to have been no unusual development at this point. From the stifle to the hock[228] and from the elbow to the knee, no writer that we can now recall has given us any description of either length or strength. We may, therefore, take it for granted that these points had no unusual development of muscle, but were in harmony with the general contour and make-up of a great strong horse. His hocks and knees were unusually large and bony, with all the members strong and clearly defined. The cannon bones were short and flat and the ligaments back of them were very large and braced a good way off, so that the leg was broad and flat. Mr. Jones says this part of the limb was of medium size, but other writers all agree that he had an unusual amount of bone at this point. Considering the whole style and character of the horse, and especially the character of his ancestors in the male line, and of Turf, the [reputed] sire of his dam, all of whom were distinguished for their quantity of bone, we are disposed to think Mr. Jones’ memory has not served him with entire accuracy in this particular. The conviction is reasonable and grows out of evidence that comes from every quarter, and we have no disposition to surrender it, that the bones of Messenger’s limbs were unusually large and strong for those of a thoroughbred. His pasterns and feet were all that could be desired, and as an evidence of the excellence and health of his underpinning several writers have put it on record that whether in the stable or on the show ground he never was known to mopingly rest one leg by standing on the other three, but was always prompt and upright. This is our conception of the form and appearance of the horse as we have reached it after a diligent and careful study of all that has been said by those who saw him while he lived. From this description it is a very easy matter to pick out the features which gave him his coarse and badly bred appearance. His big head, long ears, short neck, low withers, upright shoulders, large bones and, possibly, coarse hair, complete the catalogue. From these features the purity of his blood has been doubted and denounced, just as that of his sire, his grandsire and his great-grandsire had been denounced. The coarseness, the cart-horse appearance was in the family, but it did not seem to prevent some of them from beating some of the best that England produced in successive generations. There are many traditions that have been handed down to us concerning his temper, some of which, no doubt, have accumulated and gathered strength and ferocity in the years through which they have rolled. There[229] have been perhaps half a dozen stories about his killing his keepers, but we are not able to say whether any one of them is true. It is known with certainty, however, that he was willful and vicious and would tolerate no familiarity from strangers.”

The ownership of Messenger, after he was transferred from Philadelphia to New York, like his earlier history, seems to be very much muddled. Henry Astor, a New York butcher, certainly bought him in the fall of 1793, and located him at Philip Platt’s, four miles from Jamaica, on Long Island. In the spring of 1796 Mr. Cornelius W. Van Ranst bought one-third interest in him and removed him to Pine Plains in Dutchess County, New York, and, without specifying the time, he says he afterward purchased the remaining two-thirds, for which he paid two thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. There appears to have been some mistake about this, for in 1802 we find Henry Astor, of New York, conveying one-third interest in the horse to Benjamin B. Cooper, of Camden, New Jersey. Some other parties also claim to have owned an interest in the horse, and I heard that there was a lawsuit about him between Astor and Van Ranst. The latter claims to have owned an interest in him till the time of his death, in 1808. It is not known how much Mr. Astor paid for him when he bought him, nor have I any data from which to determine the probable market value of the horse except that Mr. Van Ranst says he paid two thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars for two-thirds of him. If we accept this as a basis, he must have been valued at about four thousand one hundred and twenty-five dollars. It is true, beyond doubt, that for several years he brought to his owners a net annual rental of one thousand dollars. This would indicate a very large patronage at very high prices for those times. For the twenty years of his stud services in this country, we find him located as follows:

1788, at Alexander Clay’s, Market Street, Philadelphia, at $15 the season and $1 to the groom, privilege of returning.

1789, at Thomas Clayton’s, Lombard Street, Philadelphia, at $10 the season and $1 to the groom.

1790, at Noah Hunt’s, in the Jersies, near Pennington, at $8.

1791, at “Mount Benger,” two miles from Bristol, Bucks Co., Pa., at $16.

1792, at the same place and the same price.

1793, at the same place and the same price.


1794, at Philip Platt’s, fifteen miles from New York and four from Jamaica, Long Island, at $25 the season.

1795, at the same place and the same price, when, as Mr. Van Ranst expressed it, “he took with our horsemen.”

1796, at Pine Plains, Dutchess County, N. Y., where he covered 106 mares at $30 the season.

1797, I have no advertisement for this year, but it is probable he was at the same place at the same price.

1798, at Pine Plains, as before, and the terms $30 for the season and $40 to insure.

1799, I have no definite trace of him this year, but there are some indications he was in West Jersey.

1800, for the spring season he is not located, but he made a fall season at John Stevens’ in Maidenhead, Hunterdon Co., N. J.

1801, at Goshen, Orange Co., N. Y., and I have seen the book account of expenses, etc., while he was there.

1802, at Cooper’s Ferry, opposite Philadelphia, Pa., but the price of services is not mentioned.

1803, at Townsend Cock’s, near Oyster Bay, Long Island, at $20 the season.

1804, at the same place and the same price.

1805, at Bishop Underhill’s, in Westchester Co., N. Y., fifteen miles from Harlem Bridge. Price reduced to $15.

1806, back again at Townsend Cock’s, and the terms fixed at $15 for the season, and $25 to insure.

1807, again at Bishop Underhill’s on the same terms as before, and this was the last of his twenty years’ stud services. It will be observed that the horse is located every year except two, and these locations are determined, not by tradition or hearsay, but by copies of his advertisements for each year. In giving the prices charged for his services I have given the value of the guinea or the pound as five dollars.

Messenger died January 28, 1808, in the stable of Townsend Cock, on Long Island, in his twenty-eighth year. This date has been as familiar to all intelligent horsemen for the last forty years as any prominent event in the history of the nation. The news of the death of the old patriarch spread with great rapidity, and soon the whole countryside was gathered to see the last of the king of horses and to assist at his burial. His grave was prepared at the foot of a chestnut-tree some distance in front of the house, and there he was deposited in his holiday clothing.[231] In response to the consciousness that a hero was there laid away forever a military organization was extemporized, and volley after volley by platoons was fired over his grave. Some of the young men and boys who witnessed and participated in the ceremonies of the occasion were still living twenty years ago, and as they related the incidents of the occasion to me, their recollections seemed to be as clear and bright as though the occurrence had been of yesterday.


Hambletonian (Bishop’s) pedigree not beyond doubt—Cadwallader R. Colden’s review of it—Ran successfully—Taken to Granville, N. Y.—Some of his descendants—Mambrino, large and coarse in appearance—Failure as a runner—Good natural trotter—His most famous sons were Abdallah, Almack and Mambrino Paymaster—Winthrop or Maine Messenger and his pedigree and history—Engineer and the tricks of his owners—Certainly a son of Messenger—Commander—Bush Messenger, pedigree and description—Noted as the sire of coach horses and trotters—Potomac—Tippoo Saib—Sir Solomon—Ogden Messenger, dam thoroughbred—Mambrino (Grey)—Black Messenger—Whynot, Saratoga, Nestor, Delight—Mount Holly, Plato, Dover Messenger, Coriander, Fagdown, Bright Phœbus, Slasher, Shaftsbury, Hotspur, Hutchinson Messenger and Cooper’s Messenger—Abuse of the name “Messenger.”

It is not my purpose to write a history of all the descendants of Messenger, for that would fill several volumes and would be simply writing over again the trotting and pacing records of the past twenty years. I will, therefore, limit the chapters on this topic to such of his descendants as have demonstrated the value and prominence of their blood, as a factor, in the make-up of the American Trotter. Naturally, the immediate progeny of Messenger will first demand consideration, and then will follow the succeeding generations that have written their own history in the official records of trotting and pacing. Completeness of description and space occupied will be determined, chiefly, by the prominence and historic value of the animal under review. In this scope and without following any chronological order, I will try to embrace all that is known that would be of value to the student of trotting-horse history.

Hambletonian (Bishop’s), originally called Hamiltonian.—This was a dark-bay horse about fifteen hands two inches high. He was bred by General Nathaniel Coles, of Dosoris, Long Island, and was foaled 1804. He was got by Messenger, his dam Pheasant (the Virginia Mare), said to be thoroughbred, by imp. Shark and grandam by imp. Medley. I first unearthed the pedigree[233] of this “Virginia Mare” in the advertisement of Hambletonian for 1814 when he was owned by Townsend Cock and standing that year at Goshen, New York. The “Old Turfman,” Cadwallader R. Colden, was thoroughly familiar with all turf subjects in the early years of this century, and was the best turf writer of his generation. He had no patience or tolerance with frauds in pedigrees and always exposed them without mercy. He stoutly maintains that the pedigree of the “Virginia Mare” was bogus, and, to use his own language, he says:

“When Hambletonian became a public stallion, his owners were in a dilemma; a pedigree was necessary, so to work they went, and, as many had done before and as many are doing now, made one; and in his handbills his dam was given as bred in Virginia, and got by imported Shark, with a train of maternal ancestors, with as much truth, and affording as much ability to trace it or discover the breeder of the dam, as though they had said hi, cockalorum jig.”

Mr. Colden goes into the pedigree of this mare and the non-racing character of her family at great length, and it cannot be denied that he has the whole argument. As a specimen of sharp and interesting turf writing of that period and from that pen, I must commend my readers to turn to this article, which will be found in Wallace’s Monthly, Vol. II., p. 67.

With the probabilities all against the truthfulness of the pedigree of the dam, as given, it is certainly true that he was a running horse and attained distinction in his day. I have no full list of his performances at hand, but the following may be taken as a fair summary of his principal achievements. He ran at Newmarket in the spring of 1807 (then three years old), one mile, beating General Coles’ colt Bright Phœbus, Mr. Terhune’s bay filly, and distancing two others. He also ran, two days after the above race, four heats of a mile each, beating Bright Phœbus again and distancing three others. In the fall of 1808 he ran five weeks successively, and the three last weeks he won three four-mile purses, running the distance in shorter time than it ever had been run in the State of New York. I must say here that these races were run on the then Harlem course, which was not a full mile in length.

While Hambletonian was on the turf, Tippoo Sultan, a grandson of Messenger, beat Bond’s First Consul in a famous four-mile race, and Mr. Bond determined that he would find a horse that would be able to lower Tippoo Sultan’s colors, and it was thought[234] there was nothing in the North able to do it except Miller’s Damsel, so he made a match for four thousand dollars a side on condition that Damsel should prove not to be in foal. But the mare proving to be in foal the match was off. He then took Hambletonian into his stable and offered to match him for the same amount against Tippoo Sultan, but he went amiss and the match was off. This incident is here introduced to show that whatever his real merits, Hambletonian had some reputation as a running horse. It was said that the secret of Mr. Colden’s hostility to the “Virginia Mare” and her descendants was because those descendants were always able to beat the descendants of his fashionably bred mare Matilda. Whatever the motive in exposing a pedigree that has never been fully established, there is one particular and that the most important of all particulars, in which Mr. Colden has done justice to Hambletonian. He says: “Hambletonian got some excellent roadsters, good trotters.”

There seems to be no description of this horse extant that is fully satisfactory. For some seasons he was in the hands of Mr. Daniel T. Cock, who in 1869 furnished me the following: “He was a dark bay, a little heavy about the head and neck, fifteen and a half hands high, and rather an upright shoulder. Back, loin and hind quarters as good as were ever put on a horse. Fore legs a little light, but hind legs strong and good—pretty straight. He was a beautiful saddle horse, notwithstanding his head and ear were a little coarse.” Other persons who had seen him have described him as “a great strong horse, with bone and substance enough to pull the plow or do any other kind of drudgery.” It has been said that he had a fine open trotting gait and that, in a cutter with old Isaac Bishop behind him, he was able to show the boys the road.

In 1807 he became the property of Townsend Cock, of Long Island, and he remained on the turf till 1810, when he was put in the stud. That and the following season he was at the stable of his owner; 1812 at Cornwall; 1813 at Fishkill; 1814 at Goshen; 1815-16 at Fishkill; 1817 at White Plains. In the winter of 1819 Mr. Cock sold him to Stephen and Smith Germond of Dutchess County, New York, and Isaac Bishop of Granville, New York. The latter was probably the real owner, and the horse then became known as “Bishop’s Hambletonian.” He made several seasons in the region of Granville and was back in Dutchess County 1823 and 1824. The next year he was at Granville—1825.[235] He made one season, at least, at Burlington, Vermont, and some seasons or parts of seasons at Poultney, Vermont. It is said he lived till 1834.

At Wallingford, Vermont, he was bred upon the “Munson Mare,” said to be a daughter of imported Messenger, and doubtless either by him or one of his earlier sons, and the produce was Harris’ Hambletonian, also known as “The Remington Horse” and Bristol Grey, and this son became the progenitor of a great tribe of trotters, known as the “Vermont Hambletonians,” some of which were very fast pacers, among them the famous Hero, the fastest of his generation. Another son of Mr. Bishop’s horse was the Judson Hambletonian, that was the sire of the Andrus horse, that got the famous Princess, that was pitted against Flora Temple. He was also bred on his half-sister, Silvertail, by Messenger, and produced One Eye, a very fast mare, the grandam of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, and I have always thought that this combination was the very cream of the pedigree of that great horse. He was also bred on a daughter of Mr. Coffin’s son of Messenger and produced Whalebone, that was the phenomenal long-distance trotter of his generation. His son, Sir Peter, out of an unknown mare, was also a famous old-time trotter. One of his daughters was bred to Coriander, son of Messenger, and the produce was Topgallant, the fastest horse of his time. These individual enumerations might be extended indefinitely, but I have given enough to show that he was not merely a progenitor of trotting speed in remote generations, but that speed came directly from his own loins. Another most significant fact is here brought to light, namely, that when bred back upon the blood of his own sire he achieved his greatest successes.

Mambrino.—This great son of Messenger was a bright bay with a star and one white ankle. He was fully sixteen hands high, with great length of body and generally of coarse appearance. He was foaled 1806, and was bred by Mr. Lewis Morris, of Westchester County, New York. His dam was by imported Sour Grout, out of a mare by imported Whirligig, and she out of the famous Miss Slammerkin, that is a well-known landmark reaching beyond the Revolution. The late William T. Porter, of the Spirit of the Times, stoutly maintained that Mambrino was not a thoroughbred horse, and his reasons seemed to rest wholly upon his coarse and cart-horse appearance. Technically, Mr.[236] Porter was right, but the trouble did not rest with the dam, as he seems to have supposed, for I have seen the original certificate of breeding in the handwriting of Mr. Morris, his breeder, and there is no slip on that side of the pedigree. Mr. Morris was a prominent breeder and racing man for many years and his character was without taint. The pedigree is a very long one and I would be very far from vouching for the truth of the remote extensions, but back to the mare by Cub, imported by Mr. De Lancey, who bred Miss Slammerkin, there can be no mistake.

In the spring of 1810, then four years old, he was purchased of his breeder by Major William Jones, of Queens County, Long Island, and in the autumn of that year he was trained and ran for the two-mile purse at the old Newmarket Course, Long Island, and it is said gave some evidence that he could run, but after that he was never trained nor started in a race, from which we may conclude he was not a race horse, or his owner, who bred and ran his horses, would have given him another trial.

In 1811 he was put in the stud and made the season at Huntington, Long Island, in charge of Ebenezer Gould. It is not known where he made the season of 1812, but probably in Orange or Dutchess County. The years 1813-14-15 he was in charge of my late highly esteemed and venerable correspondent, David W. Jones, on the borders of Queens and Suffolk counties, Long Island, where he covered about two hundred and fifty mares. In 1816 he was in one of the river counties, in 1817 at Fishkill, and 1818 at Townsend Cock’s, Long Island. In later years he changed hands many times, at from two hundred to two hundred and fifty dollars, and there is no published trace of him till we find that he made the seasons of 1825 and 1829 at Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County, and he died the property of Benjamin Germond, on the farm of Azariah Arnold in Dutchess County, about 1831.

He took his beautiful color from his dam and transmitted it with great uniformity. His general structure was after the Messenger model, especially in the large bones and joints of his limbs. His head was long and bony and his ears were large and somewhat heavy. He was too high on his legs and his general appearance was coarse, all of which he transmitted. In speaking of his offspring Mr. Jones remarks: “When young they were somewhat leggy and lathy, but spirited, stylish and slashing in action. When matured, he must indeed be fastidious who would[237] crave another.” With regard to his gait Mr. Jones uses the following very emphatic language: “I have been the breeder of some, and the owner of many good horses, and with the best opportunities of judging, having ridden him (he was never driven) many, many miles, I say, with entire confidence, he was the best natural trotter I ever threw a leg over. His walk was free, flinging and elastic; his trot clear, square and distinct, with a beautiful roll of the knee and great reach of the hind leg.” In the absence of actual training and timing, it is hardly possible to get better evidence that Mambrino was a natural trotter that might have been developed to a considerable rate of speed. It would be interesting to know just why the horse “never was driven.” Did he show an unconquerable aversion to harness, and did Abdallah inherit this aversion? This description of Mambrino’s gait was written in 1866, and the writer had spent a long lifetime in an intimate personal knowledge of many, or indeed most, of the best early trotters that this country had produced.

The only one of his immediate progeny that attained distinction as a trotter was the famous Betsey Baker. This mare was very prominent among the best of her day, and was able, on one occasion at least, to beat the great Topgallant, and in tandem with Grey Harry when she was old she trotted in 2:41¾-2:43¾. Others of his progeny were trotters of some merit, but none of them especially distinguished on the turf. His three sons, Abdallah, Almack and Mambrino Paymaster, are the bright links in the chain extending from Messenger to the two-minute trotter that will keep his memory green as long as there is a trotting horse on the earth. Abdallah at the head of the Hambletonians, Almack at the head of the Champions, and Mambrino Paymaster at the head of the Mambrino Chiefs embrace the major portion of the great trotters of this generation.

Winthrop, or Maine Messenger.—Perhaps no son of Messenger, not excepting Hambletonian and Mambrino, produced a more marked effect upon the stock of any part of the country than this horse did in the State of Maine. The impress he there made was not only remarkable at the time, but it is still felt and acknowledged in his descendants to this day. There have been many conflicting statements made to the public about him and his history, but I think I am now able to give, in authentic and reliable form, all that is really known of his origin and history. He was foaled about 1807 and was among the last colts by the[238] imported horse, but unfortunately we know nothing of the blood of his dam. Mr. Alvan Hayward, for many years a citizen of Kennebec County, Maine, but more recently of York, Livingston County, New York, says his dam possessed some imported blood; but as all his records and memoranda were burned up in 1845 he is not able to give the pedigree of the mare that produced him.

Mr. Hayward bought the horse about 1817 or 1818, in the village of Paris, Oneida County, New York, of a man by the name of Rice or Wright, but did not remember which. He took him to Winthrop, Maine, where he was first known as “Messenger,” then as “Kennebec Messenger,” or “Winthrop Messenger,” and when he became old, as “Old Messenger.” The earliest contemporaneous account I have of this horse is his advertisement for the season of 1819, which I copy from the Hallowell Gazette of May 12, of that year, and is as follows:


“The subscriber hereby recommends to the public and all who feel interested to improve in the breed of good and serviceable horses, the good horse Messenger, that stock so well known and approved of on Long Island, New York, and Pennsylvania. Said horse was raised on Long Island, and owned by Mr. Rylander, a gentleman who has taken the greatest pains to import the best breed of horses that came to his knowledge. Said horse is a silver grey, well proportioned, of a large size, and a good traveler. Gentlemen who are desirous of raising good horses will do well to call and see for themselves.

“The Messenger will stand for the most part of the time in the village at Withrop Mills.

Alvan Hayward.

“Winthrop, May 1st, 1819.”

From the foregoing it will be seen that the new element, brought out in the history of this horse is the statement that he was owned at one time by Mr. Rylander, of Long Island. There were two brothers of this name, and they imported a great many horses, but never before had I heard their names connected with Winthrop Messenger. This carries us back to a period in the history of the horse before he was taken to Oneida County.

Colonel Stanley, a prominent banker of Augusta, and at one time a leading horseman and stage proprietor, bought Messenger of his kinsman, Hayward, and owned him some seven years. He says the horse was brought to Maine as early as 1816, and that his Uncle Hayward had certificates that he was got by imported Messenger, out of a mare well-bred and part of imported blood.

In a communication from Mr. Sanford Howard, who had been[239] prominently connected with the breeding interests of the country for many years, the following description is given:

“I saw him several times, first in 1828. In the latter years of his life he stood mostly at Anson, on the Kennebec River, and I think died there about 1831 [he died at Dixfield]. He appeared like an old horse when I first saw him, older, perhaps, from being much afflicted with grease, which had become chronic, and at length had almost destroyed his hoofs; so that the last time I saw him he was nearly incapable of locomotion. His feet and legs looked like those of an elephant. This trouble was transmitted to his offspring through several generations (though not invariably so), and constituted, perhaps, in connection with, in many cases, a flat foot and low heels, their greatest defect.

“Mr. Hayward states, in concluding his letter, that he has no doubt the horse he took to Maine was got by imp. Messenger. The remark is probably elicited by intimations that he might have been gotten by a son of Messenger. I presume Mr. Hayward’s belief was well founded. As imported Messenger did not die until the 28th of January, 1808, there is no discrepancy between that event and the age of Mr. H.’s horse. At the same time I must admit that Maine Messenger hardly looked like a half-blood horse. He was pretty large, rather short-legged, thick-set, with heavy mane and tail, very hairy legs, long hair on his jaws, and was heavy coated (in winter) all over his body. These characteristics were sometimes accounted for by saying he was probably out of a Dutch mare, meaning such mares as the Dutch farmers of New York kept. I never heard of any claim being set up for his speed in trotting, and I presume he was never tried at running. He was strong and plucky, and the story was told at Winthrop that on an occasion when all the stallions of the neighborhood were brought out to be shown, they were put to a trot in sleighs for half a mile or so, and Messenger was beaten. Whereupon his owner proposed that the horses should each draw a sled with six men on it up to Winthrop hill, and be timed. It was done, and Messenger beat them all. I think the first of his offspring that became noted for fast trotting was a gelding called Lion, taken to Boston by a well-known horse dealer by the name of Hodges, of Hallowell, Maine. He was sold, I think, for four hundred dollars, which made quite a sensation among the Kennebec farmers who had any stock of the same sort. I do not recollect the rate of speed this horse showed, but a mile in three minutes was then considered wonderful, and probably this was about his rate. Other horses of the stock were soon brought out as fast travelers. I remember a friend of mine showing me some young horses he was training, and I rode with him after several of them. They were natural trotters, and would do nothing but trot, even under severe applications of the whip. But I think the second generation from Mr. Hayward’s horse were generally faster trotters than the first. They were also generally handsomer horses, not so rough looking. Nearly all the horses of this stock which have acquired a reputation in Massachusetts, New York, etc., as fast trotters, had not more than a quarter of the blood of the horse that Mr. Hayward took to Maine, and consequently had not more than an eighth of the blood of imported Messenger.

“The mares that produced these horses were of no particular blood. Various stallions had been kept in that section. Morgans from New Hampshire[240] and Vermont, with an occasional change to the French Canadians, and now and then a quarter or half bred horse from New York or New Jersey.”

This excellent communication from Mr. Howard is especially valuable, as the conclusions drawn by an accurate and competent observer from a personal acquaintance with the original horse and his progeny. There are some inferences, however, that may be drawn from Mr. Howard’s letter that would be unjust to this distinguished animal. His general coarse appearance, in connection with which Mr. H. says, “he hardly looked like a half bred horse,” was a prominent feature in the family. Mambrino, a very high-bred son of old Messenger, was very coarse, and the same remark was often made about him. The quantity and length of his coat in the winter of his old age are not conclusive against his pretensions to a large share of good and pure blood. They are the results oftentimes of neglect and ill health. It is somewhere stated that the famous Sir Archy before he died looked exceedingly shaggy, his hair being fully three inches long. Mr. Howard expresses the opinion that “the second generation from Mr. Hayward’s horse were generally faster trotters than the first.” In many instances this, no doubt, is true, for it would be altogether contrary to the uniform laws which govern these things if development and use did not strengthen and intensify the instinct to trot in successive generations. If Mr. Howard is right, and we do not doubt he is, the increased capacity did not grow out of the dilution of the blood, but out of the strengthening of the instinct by culture and use. At the time Mr. Howard made this remark he evidently did not know that the famous old-time trotters, Daniel D. Tompkins and Fanny Pullen, were both immediately from the loins of Winthrop Messenger. In their day these two were classed among the best and fastest trotters that the world had then produced. The facts that both these animals were the immediate progeny of Winthrop Messenger were never brought to light for many years, and all I will say about them now is that they do not rest on shadowy traditions or suppositions, but are fully and circumstantially established.

In a letter written by Mr. Hayward, May 12, 1852, in speaking of the useful and everyday qualities of this horse’s progeny, he used the following language:

“The stock produced by that horse I consider superior, as combining more properties useful in a horse than any other stock I have ever been acquainted[241] with, being good for draft, for carriage, for travel, for parade, or any place where horses are required. They had great bottom and strength, and were of hardy constitution. There are some horses in this town twenty-two years old, that were by a son of Winthrop Messenger, which I brought with me when I left Maine. They have always been accustomed to draw the plow and to perform other hard labor, and yet they have the appearance of young horses, and will now do more service than many horses of seven or eight years old.”

Among the several sons of imported Messenger whose names are conspicuous as the progenitors of great tribes of the most distinguished trotters I know of no one entitled to a higher place on the roll of fame, all things considered, than this one that went to Maine, and there laid a foundation that has made the State famous throughout the length and breadth of the land for the speed and stoutness of its trotting horses.

With such noted performers from his own loins as Fanny Pullen and Daniel. D. Tompkins, and in the next generation the famous Zachary Taylor, this horse made about the best showing of all the sons of Messenger, but as his line failed to produce a Rysdyk’s Hambletonian or a Mambrino Chief, it dropped to a place somewhat removed from the front of the procession.

Engineer was a grey horse, about sixteen hands high and very elegant in his form, style and proportions. The earliest account we have of him is in the spring of 1816, when he was advertised in The Long Island Star to stand at the stable of Daniel Seely, near Suffolk Court House, and at Jericho, in Queens County. He was in charge of Thomas Jackson, Jr., generally designated as “Long Tom.” He was then well advanced in years, but no attempt was made to give his age. Mr. Daniel T. Cock, in charge of Duroc and one or two other stallions, was then in sharp competition with Engineer, and he assures me he was a horse of large size, great share of bone and sinew, most elegant form, and a fine mover. His elegant appearance was so captivating that he was a very troublesome competitor.

The advertisement referred to contains the following very unsatisfactory paragraph relating to his pedigree, viz., “The manner he came into this country is such that I cannot give an account of his pedigree, but his courage and activity show the purity of his blood, which is much better than the empty sound of a long pedigree.” This was a most unexpected discovery, for I had always understood that Engineer was a son of Messenger and never had heard of this mystery before. It is here intimated[242] that the horse was imported, and the story that Jackson told was that he was brought from England to Canada by a British officer, and by some surreptitious means found his way from Canada to Long Island. What appears to be the real history of the horse, and the version accepted afterward by everybody on the island, will be found in the following extract from a letter written by David W. Jones, February 28, 1870. He says:

“I can well account for Mr. Cock’s recollections of the history of the first Engineer. Thomas Jackson and George Tappan, noted owners and keepers of stallions on Long Island and in the counties of Orange and Dutchess, in the course of their peregrinations met with a person in possession of this horse, who offered him for sale. Impressed with his fine appearance and pedigree, they at once entered into negotiations for his purchase, and finally obtained him at so low a price as to cause strong suspicions that he was not honestly in his vendor’s possession. They, however, determined to take the chances, and at once brought him to Long Island, their place of residence, and determined on what they deemed a harmless representation in regard to his history; for this they had several motives. First, Messenger stallions were then very numerous on Long Island; their blood coursed in the veins of nearly every brood mare. Secondly, imported stallions were much desired, and by a little added fiction they could give him considerable éclat, and thirdly, in case of his having been unjustly obtained this would afford the best means of disguise. Accordingly they represented him as having been imported from England to Canada and ridden in the army by Gen. Brock, who, in an engagement with our troops, was shot and killed. The horse, escaping into our lines, was secured by our soldiers and brought to the State of New York. On these representations they claimed to have purchased him. No pedigree, as I recollect, was attempted to be given, and though many doubted the truth of this statement, there was no evidence to controvert it. For a length of time this story was adhered to; but after several years, when all fears of difficulty had subsided, they acknowledged the deception. Mr. Tappan, who resided but a few miles from me, was a man of more than ordinary candor and fairness, for one of his position and employment. I knew him well, and occasionally rendered him a favor by preparing his horse bills. On one of these occasions, at my house, he gave a full and particular statement of the whole affair. Some of the details have escaped me, but the essential facts are distinctly recollected. The owner, with Engineer in possession, was met at some public place and the purchase completed, and this statement then made, ‘that he had become involved in debt, and that his creditor had begun a prosecution, with a view to levy on the horse, the only property he possessed, and he was determined not to lose all.’ This was certainly enough to arouse their suspicions with regard to his history. He declared the horse was bred and raised in Pennsylvania and that he was got by imported Messenger. Whether any further pedigree was given is not recollected. He was at this time (1814) a horse considerably advanced in years and perfectly white. Mr. Tappan also told me that he had afterward traced the horse, and was entirely satisfied of the former owner’s veracity. I will[243] not apologize for the length of this statement, being desirous of giving you all the information here possessed and probably all that can now be obtained.”

I am not aware that in the past sixty years any question has ever been raised as to the truth of the universally accepted statement that Engineer was a true son of Messenger, and I would not have disturbed it now, nor thought of doing so, had it not been for that remarkable advertisement discovered in the obscure Long Island paper. That was contemporaneous history, however, and it must either be explained or accepted. The question has been examined down to the bottom by one of the most conscientious and capable men of his generation, in this department of knowledge. His verdict has been accepted as the truth by all parties of that day, and I cannot reject it.

It is not known that any of his immediate progeny attained distinction on the trotting turf. Several of his sons bore his name in the stud and while their blood seemed to be helpful in the right direction, only one of them made any mark as a sire of speed, and that was the horse known as Lewis’ Engineer, the sire of the world beater, Lady Suffolk. Burdick’s Engineer, another son, was taken to Washington County, New York, and got the dam of the famous Princess, which produced the great Happy Medium. In all these instances there was commingling with other strains from Messenger.

Commander.—This was a grey horse, fully sixteen hands high and of massive proportions. He was a son of imported Messenger and out of a mare by imported Rockingham. This Rockingham was not a thoroughbred horse. Commander was bred in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and found his way to Long Island about 1812, where he was liberally patronized. His name frequently occurs among the remote crosses of good pedigrees, but his fame rests wholly on the progeny of his son, Young Commander, who was the sire of Screwdriver, Screws, Bull Calf and other good ones. This horse Young Commander was sometimes called “Bull” and sometimes “American Commander.”

Messenger, (Bush’s), generally known as Bush Messenger. This son of Messenger was bred by James Dearin, of Dutchess County, New York, and was foaled 1807. His dam was a Virginia mare, named Queen Ann, by Celer, son of imported Janus, and out of a mare by Skipwith’s Figure, son of imported Figure, and she out of a mare imported by Colonel Miland, of Virginia. This pedigree was not accepted without some misgivings, but as[244] it was possible and as it had been indorsed sixty years ago by Cadwallader R. Colden and published before that by Mr. Dearin, I am disposed to accept it as reliable.

He was sixteen hands high, a light grey, becoming white with age. He was excellent in form and probably the most handsome and attractive of all the sons of Messenger. The first public notice we have of him, he was advertised at the stable of his breeder, six miles south of Poughkeepsie, in 1813. Soon after this he became the property of Philo C. Bush, and this was the first horse, he says, that he ever owned. This Mr. Bush was a noted “character” in his day. From early manhood, through good and evil report, and until he died a very old man in poverty and want, he was a habitue of the race track. He knew all about race horses and their breeding, and he could prattle pedigrees from morning till night. Added to this knowledge which his life pursuits had placed in his possession, he was endowed with a most vivid imagination which was brought into the most active play whenever he found it necessary. To maintain his “reputation” it seemed to be a necessity that he should be able to extend all pedigrees laid before him and give the remote crosses, whether he knew anything about them or not. He was the author of the running pedigree given to the dam of Major Winfield—Edward Everett, son of Hambletonian—and on it money was won in a bet. An investigation of just two minutes disclosed the facts that by established and known dates the whole thing was utterly impossible. He was literally a very “racy” raconteur, but his reminiscences soon became tedious, notwithstanding their brilliancy, and it was always important to have a call to some business that cut off further entertainment from his répertoire.

Mr. Bush says he paid one thousand seven hundred and forty dollars and a silver watch for this horse, and with him he got an elegant suit of clothing that had belonged to imported Express. It is said that he never ran but one race and that was at Pine Plains, in which he distanced all his competitors in the first heat. In 1816 Mr. Bush kept him at Kinderhook; 1817 at Kinderhook and Schodack; 1818 at Kinderhook and Albany; 1819-20 at Utica. In the autumn of 1820 he was sold to Dr. Millington, of Crooked Lake, Herkimer County, and he was kept there 1821-22. He was then sold to Edward Reynolds, of East Bloomfield, where he was kept three or four years, after which he made one or more seasons at Le Roy, and he died at East Bloomfield in[245] July, 1829. This horse had probably more trotting speed than any of the other sons of Messenger. Mr. Bush assured me that he could trot very fast for a horse of that day, and when led by the side of another horse he could beat three minutes very easily, but as we have to take Mr. Bush’s assertions cum grano salis, we fortunately have very reliable testimony of contemporaneous date and from a source wholly disinterested. I have before me a letter written by Judge J. Porter, of East Bloomfield, dated June 4, 1828, in reply to inquiries from some correspondent about the horse, his terms, etc. He writes as follows:

“I should think he was a very swift trotter from what I have seen, and very sprightly and nearly white. He has got a great number of fine colts in this town which are three years old; and the probability of their drawing on the old horse’s business is the reason of his being removed to Le Roy and Batavia.”

Whether Judge Porter was a horseman or not he certainly reflected, in this remark which I have emphasized, the leading quality for which Bush Messenger was distinguished in that region and in that day.

Although he was certainly a very fast natural trotter, it is not known that he was ever trained an hour in his life, neither is it known that any fast or trained trotters ever came from his loins. This was the period of fast mail coaches running from Albany to Buffalo, and as the old proprietors of those great lines were pushed westward from State to State until they finally were driven across the Mississippi, I have many times heard them talk of the great slashing grey Messenger teams that would carry their coaches along at ten miles an hour, and lament that there were no such horses nowadays. There were other sons of Messenger and many grandsons, all known as “Messengers,” but as a progenitor of horses suited to the stage coach this particular one that broke his neck in trying to get out of his inclosure was the premier. He probably came nearer filling the place in this country that his grandsire filled in England—English Mambrino—than any other one of the tribe, for we can truly say of him, as Pick said of his grandsire, “from his blood the breed of horses for the coach was brought nearly to perfection.”

Potomac was a bright bay, fifteen and a half hands high, and was bred by Daniel Youngs, of Oyster Bay, Long Island. He was foaled 1796 and got by imported Messenger; dam by imported Figure; grandam by Bashaw. He was put on the turf in the[246] spring of 1799 and was a respectable race horse at short distances. He ran against and beat some of the best of his day. He was on the turf about three years. In the midst of his racing career he was purchased by Mr. Van Ranst for five hundred pounds. In 1802 he was owned by Major William Jones, of Cold Spring Harbor, and made some seasons there. In 1806 he was at New Windsor, Orange County, New York. In 1808 he was in charge of Thomas Jackson, at Rahway, New Jersey, and 1811 at Crosswicks, near Trenton, New Jersey. It is probable he died about this time, as we find no further trace of him. Most of his stock were bays, of good size, and very salable animals. Nothing can now be recalled that connects him with any of the trotting strains coming from his sire. He was not strictly running-bred on the side of his dam.

Tippoo Saib was a bay horse with one white foot and was fully sixteen hands high, with plenty of bone. He was foaled 1795, got by imported Messenger; dam Mr. Thompson’s imported mare by Northumberland; grandam by Snap, etc. His fine size and elegant pedigree made Tippoo Saib a very desirable horse to breed to, but for some cause he did not appear much on the turf. He ran a few races and went into the stud early, in the neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey, and in the following year was at Goshen, Fishkill, and Pine Plains, New York. My impression is he was then returned to West Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he was probably owned in his latter days. His sons Tippoo Sultan, Financier and others, acquired great fame on the turf. His connection with the trotting lines of descent is very distinct, but not very prominent.

Sir Solomon was got by imported Messenger; dam Camilla by Cephalus; grandam Camilla by imported Fearnought and out of imported Calista, etc. He was foaled about 1800, bred by General Gunn, of Georgia, who seems to have kept Camilla and perhaps others in the North for the purpose of breeding. The pedigree on the side of this dam is an excellent one and would seem to justify the owner in seeking to get the best crosses possible into his stud. When five years old he was sold to Mr. Bond, of Philadelphia, for two thousand dollars. His races were numerous and often successful, beating some of the best horses of his day, and among them the famous Miller’s Damsel, also by Messenger, over the Harlem Course in heats of four miles. Not much is known of his stud services, and he seems to have been kept[247] several years in Union County, New Jersey. He seems to have labored under the disadvantage of having a greater horse of the same name—Badger’s Sir Solomon by Tickle Toby—in competition with him, and thus the son of Tickle Toby would steal many a chaplet from the brow of his namesake, the son of Messenger.

Ogden Messenger was a grey horse, foaled 1806, got by imported Messenger; dam Katy Fisher, by imported Highflyer; grandam a mare imported by H. N. Cruger in 1786, by Cottager; great-grandam by Trentham; great-great-grandam by Henricus; great-great-great-grandam by Regulus. The pedigree of this dam is correct, and she was doubtless entitled to rank as thoroughbred. This horse was bred by Mr. Cruger, and at three years old was sold to David Ogden, and that summer he was pastured on the farm of Major William Jones, of Long Island, from whose books we have the foregoing facts. Mr. David W. Jones remarks: “I retain a perfect recollection of him. He was at that time a large overgrown colt, not particularly ugly nor exceedingly coarse, but having no special beauty nor finish. I cannot better describe him than to say he was a coarse pattern of a fine horse, with marked traits of his lineage.” Mr. Jones evidently saw him at his worst age and before he fully reached his maturity.

Judge Odgen, his owner, was a large landholder in St. Lawrence County, New York, and in the spring of 1810 he removed from New Jersey to an island of eight hundred acres in the St. Lawrence river, opposite the village of Haddington, and took the horse, then four years old, with him. It is not known that he ever ran a race for money, and it is not probable he ever did, for it was his owner’s aim and object to improve the stock of the country as well as his own, in which he was successful. After five or six years he was taken to Lowville in Lewis County, and made several seasons there in charge of Charles Bush, and from this fact he came to be known there, locally, as Bush Messenger. Thus it happened that there were two sons of imported Messenger in the State of New York at the same time, and both known as Bush Messenger, and to these we might add a grandson and a great-grandson in the State of Maine, and at later date both named “Bush Messenger.” It was at one time supposed that Mr. Ogden’s horse while at Lowville became the sire of the famous Tippoo of Canada that became the head of a very valuable tribe of trotters and pacers, but later developments showed[248] that this was a mistake. (He appears to have alternated in his services between Lewis and Jefferson counties, but whether weekly or yearly I cannot state. He was taken to Lowville as early as 1815 and was there five or six years.)

The facts about this horse have been developed from much correspondence with different parties, but more especially from Mr. V. Sheldon, of Canton, New York, and from Mr. P. F. Daniels, of Prescott, Ontario. Both men knew the horse personally, and Mr. Daniels was seventy-five years old when he wrote. He still had a very clear recollection of the horse in his appearance and style of action. In describing him he says: “He was peculiarly marked about his hocks and knees, having a series of dark rings about his limbs, continuing at intervals down to his hoofs, and many of his sons and daughters were marked the same way.” Having ridden him many times he says: “He; had a long flinging step and was a fast trotter. His action was high and not easy to the rider, and he could not widen behind as some of our modern trotters.”

When Mr. Daniels was a young man he was engaged in carrying the mail, and in March, 1821, he believes it was, Judge Ogden gave him an order to bring the horse home from Lewis County. He led him all the way behind his mail conveyance and delivered him safely to young Mr. Ogden, who gave him to an Irish groom named Daley, and Daley remarked he would soon make him look like another horse. That night he gave him an overfeed of corn and he died of colic. He was never advertised while at home and he was not very liberally patronized. The Freemans and the Archibalds, however, Mr. Daniels says, bred to him largely. His stock were good and many of them excellent, especially those descended through his sons Blossom and Freeman’s Messenger.

Mambrino (Grey).—This son of Messenger was foaled about 1800, his dam was by Pulaski, grandam by Wilkes; great-grandam by True Briton. He was bred by Benjamin C. Ridgeway, near Mount Holly, New Jersey. In 1807 he stood at Flemington under the name of Fox Hunter. He was purchased by Richard Isaac Cooper, who resold him to William Atkinson for about one thousand two hundred dollars. He was a flea-bitten grey, mane and tail white, handsome and stylish, about sixteen hands high, head medium size, and a good, well-formed horse at every point, except his feet, which were big and flat. He was probably never[249] harnessed and was a very popular stallion in Salem and adjoining counties for many years. Mr. Atkinson was a very prominent and influential member of the Society of Friends, and “Billy” Atkinson was always a welcome guest as he traveled through Salem, Gloucester, and Burlington counties with his horse, and his genial good humor made him as popular as his horse. He always claimed great speed for his horse; but owing to his position in the society he never could gratify his friends by showing it. When his offspring came into service they were not only performers of great merit on the road and the course, but they had bone and substance that fitted them for every kind of labor required of them. All the Quakers had Mambrinos and nothing else, after “Billy” Atkinson and his horse had been among them a few years. Some of his descendants attained to great local fame as trotters and some did well as runners. He was a very valuable horse and left a wonderfully numerous and valuable offspring.

Black Messenger.—Among all the progeny of Messenger, this is the only one that I can now recall that was black. He was bred by William Haselton, of Burlington County, New Jersey, and out of a mare highly prized in the Haselton family, but her blood cannot now be traced. He was foaled in 1801 and on the death of Mr. Haselton in 1804 he was sold to Charles or Richard Wilkins of Evesham, ten miles from Camden, New Jersey, who owned him till he died at an advanced age. As the birth of this horse is fixed by documentary evidence at 1801 it suggests that Messenger was kept in Burlington County, New Jersey, the unplaced season of 1800. Still as he was at Lawrenceville in the fall season of 1800 it is possible the mare was sent to him there. He was full sixteen hands high and possessed great muscular development and strength of bone. He was not handsome, but his figure and style were very commanding. In his day he was regarded as one of the best natural trotters ever in Burlington or Gloucester counties. This was not the claim of his owner merely, but the unprejudiced opinion of all the horsemen who knew him. His stock were very highly prized as horses suited to all purposes and especially for fast road work. Some of them were greatly distinguished locally as fast trotters, and among them was Nettle, the dam of the famous Dutchman, that was the greatest trotter of his day.

Whynot Messenger, Pizzant’s Messenger, Austin’s Messenger,[250] and Cousin’s Messenger were all sons of Messenger and got by him while he was in West Jersey, but as nothing has been developed concerning their maternal breeding nor the character of their progeny, I will pass them over with this bare record that such horses existed.

Saratoga.—This son of Messenger was a flea-bitten grey and was foaled about 1805. It is believed he was bred on Long Island, but nothing is known of the blood of his dam. He was driven in harness and did service in several counties in Pennsylvania, and was sold at auction in Philadelphia to James Dubois of Salem, New Jersey. He was a great, strong horse, and was kept at work on the farm of his owner, covering mares only as opportunity offered. He was a slashing trotter, but it was only when his owner was away from home and got an extra drink or two that anybody ever had an opportunity to see how fast he could go. A number of his progeny were fast trotters; among them a mare called Charlotte Gray that was the fastest of her day in all that region. Among his sons, one called Dove was greatly distinguished in the stud.

Nestor and Delight.—These were sons of Messenger, the former bred in Orange County, New York, in 1802, and was at Warwick in that county, 1807 in charge of Nehemiah Finn. The latter was bred in Westchester County in 1806, and made the season of 1827 at Warwick, New York, in charge of John G. Blauvelt, and is probably the horse that was more widely known as Blauvelt’s Messenger. The breeding of the dams of both these horses is very uncertain.

Mount Holly was a grey horse, fifteen and a half hands high. He was foaled about 1807 and was bred by Colonel Udell, of Long Island. His dam was by Bajazet, and his grandam was by Bashaw. Not much is known of him till he was well advanced in years and was taken to Dutchess County. Daniel T. Cock knew him well on the island, and he assured me he was a trotter in the true sense of the word. The late Mr. Daniel B. Haight, a horseman of excellent judgment and knowledge, knew him very well, and he describes him as of the true Messenger grey, and a smooth, well-finished horse all over. His offspring were smooth, handsome, and remarkably tough, and from their kindly tempers they were easily managed and made horses fit for any service. The most noted of his get were the famous trotters Paul Pry and Mr. Tredwell’s grey mare that went to England. His cross appears[251] in the pedigrees of many trotters and is very highly prized to this day. In the latter part of his life he was owned by Jacob Husted, of Washington Hollow, New York, and made several seasons there. His sight failed entirely as he grew old, and he died about 1835. With two such performers from his own loins as Paul Pry and the Tredwell mare, it cannot be doubted that he inherited and transmitted the true Messenger “trotting instinct,” and that without any assistance from the blood of his dam.

Plato was a large brown horse, fully sixteen hands high, and was a full brother to Bishop’s Hambletonian, being by Messenger, out of Pheasant. He was bred by General Coles, of Long Island, and was foaled 1802. As he matured the general judgment was that his limbs were too light for his body, and this is the only instance that I can recall where the get of Messenger failed at this vital point. He was trained and ran a few races, and from a trial with Miller’s Damsel General Coles said he was the best horse that ever ran against that famous mare. In a race against his half-brother, Sir Solomon, he won the first heat of four miles and broke down in the second, which finished him as a race horse. He was a larger and a handsomer horse than his full brother Hambletonian, but at no other point was he so good. When they stood in the same stable he was advertised at a lower price. He was a number of years in the stud on Long Island, New Jersey, and the river counties of New York, and after 1816 at Pine Plains there is no further trace of him. In his physical structure and doubtless, in his mental structure also, he took after his dam, and the only link now recalled coupling him with the trotter is the fact that he was the sire of the dam of Lewis’ Engineer, that was the sire of the great Lady Suffolk.

Dover Messenger was a grey horse, and was got by imported Messenger, but the blood of his dam and the year he was foaled are unknown. He was kept several seasons at South Dover, Dutchess County, New York, and left a very valuable progeny strongly endowed with the instinct to trot. He was taken to the town of Russia, in Herkimer County, where he died. There was a younger horse bearing practically the same name, a son of Mambrino Paymaster, with which this horse has often been confounded.

Coriander.—This son of Messenger was a bay horse, about fifteen and a half hands high; was foaled in Queens County, New[252] York, about 1796, and his dam was by Allen’s Brown Figure; grandam by Rainbow; great-grandam by Dauphin. He seems to have been kept on Long Island as long as he lived. His progeny was much like their sire, and Mr. D. W. Jones describes them as “clean, wiry, and brilliant. In their make-up there seemed nothing wasted and nothing wanted.” He ran some races, as did many of his get. He was bred upon one of the early daughters of Hambletonian, and she produced the great trotter “Old Topgallant,” the sensation of his period and one of the most famous of the very early trotters. One of the most remarkable facts in the history of this remarkable old gelding is that he ran some races before he was trained to trot.

Fagdown.—This son of Messenger was bred on the Jersey side of the Delaware, not far from Philadelphia, and was foaled, I think, in 1803. His dam was represented to be by Diomed, and if this be correct it must have been Tate’s imported Diomed that was imported into New Jersey and kept there a number of years. This was a bay horse and must not be confounded with the chestnut horse of the same name imported into Virginia. Fagdown became vicious and dangerous, and from this trait in his character he was generally called the “Man Eater.” He was kept in the region of Philadelphia and south of there for many years, and left a very numerous and very valuable progeny. They were noted for their superior qualities as road horses, and some of them were very fast, for their day. For a number of years no family of horses were so popular about Philadelphia as the Fagdowns. He had a son called Cropped Fagdown that was fast, and another son called Jersey Fagdown that trotted some races against the great Andrew Jackson. Another son, named after his sire, was bred in Northeastern Maryland, and was taken to Eastern Ohio in 1829, and he was kept in Columbiana, Mahoning, and Jefferson counties for at least ten years. He was never in a race nor never trained, but his Quaker patrons all insisted that when led by the side of another horse he could trot as fast as a pretty good horse could run. This grandson of Messenger was the sire of the grandam of Wapsie, the well-known trotter and sire of Iowa.

Bright Phœbus was foaled 1804, the same year as Hambletonian. He was out of the imported Pot-8-os mare, and his breeder, General Coles, of Long Island, sold him to Bond and Hughes, of Philadelphia. His most noted achievement was at[253] Washington, D. C., in 1808, when in a sweepstakes he more than distanced the great Sir Archy, by catching him when he had the distemper. His racing career was respectable, but not brilliant, and when that ended it is not known what became of him.

Slasher, Shaftsbury, Hotspur.—There was quite a famous brood mare owned somewhere in Jersey called Jenny Duter, or Jenny Oiter, as some authorities have it. She was got by True Briton; dam Quaker Lass by imported Juniper; grandam Molly Pacolet, by imported Pacolet, etc., tracing on six or eight more crosses that are all fudge. This mare was bred to Messenger about 1801, and produced Shaftsbury; her daughter by Liberty was bred to him about the same time and produced Slasher, and about the same time her granddaughter by Slender was also bred to him and produced Hotspur. These three sons of Messenger do not seem to have ever been trained, and very little of their history can be traced, except that they were kept as stallions in different parts of New Jersey. It is not known that their blood has had any influence upon the American trotting horse.

Messenger (Hutchinson’s).—This was a large grey horse, foaled in 1792, and bred by Mathias Hutchinson, of Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. His dam was by Hunt’s Grey Figure, son of imported Figure. He was kept in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1797, and it is probable that he was often represented as imported Messenger himself. I have no knowledge of this horse or his progeny beyond the mere facts here given.

Messenger (Cooper’s).—This son of imported Messenger was generally known as “Cooper’s Grey” and sometimes as Ringgold. He was sixteen hands high and was foaled about 1803. He was bred in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and was kept about Philadelphia, on both sides of the Delaware, till 1821, when he was sold by the administrators of Jacob Kirk, and it has been said he was taken to the Wabash by Amos Cooper. He ran some races when he was young, and was a horse of a good deal of local fame. He was liberally patronized in the stud and left valuable progeny. It has been suggested that probably he was the sire of Amazonia, the dam of Abdallah; but as there is nothing to support this suggestion except the mere matter of location, and as all that has ever been claimed for her paternity is that she was by “a son of Messenger,” we must not forget that there were plenty of other sons of Messenger in the same locality that might have been her sire.


The name “Messenger” was more sadly abused in its duplication in the closing of the last and the early decades of the present century than that of any other horse, or perhaps of all other horses of that period put together. Multitudes of his sons were called “Messenger,” and, in the next generation, multitudes of his grandsons gloried in the same cognomen, and thus generation after generation perpetuated it, in widening circles, till “confusion became worse confounded,” leaving the historian in helpless and hopeless ignorance as to what was true and what was false. When grey horses in the second, third, or fourth remove from the imported horse became old, it required but little “diplomacy” to satisfy the public that they were true sons of the original, and this became the custom.


By Patronage, record 2:03¾, the fastest to this date.


History of Abdallah—Characteristics of his dam, Amazonia—Speculations as to her blood—Description of Abdallah—Almack, progenitor of the Champion line—Mambrino Paymaster, sire of Mambrino Chief—History and pedigree—Mambrino Messenger—Harris’ Hambletonian—Judson’s Hambletonian—Andrus’ Hambletonian, sire of the famous Princess, Happy Medium’s dam.

Abdallah.—This grandson of Messenger has been popularly and justly designated as the “king of trotting sires of his generation.” He was bred by John Tredwell, of Queens County, Long Island, and was foaled 1823. His sire was Mambrino, son of Messenger, and his dam was Amazonia, one of the most distinguished trotters of her day. Concerning the breeding and origin of Amazonia there has been great diversity of opinion among horsemen and a great amount of controversy among writers. It is not my purpose to enter into a discussion of the questions raised on this point, but I would hardly be doing justice to history to pass it over unnoticed. I will, therefore, try to give a brief synopsis of the history and the arguments urged, and refer the reader to the first and second volumes of Wallace’s Monthly for a more extended consideration of the questions raised.

The first representation of her pedigree was that she was a daughter of imported Messenger, and the next was that she was by a son of Messenger. On the first claim, that she was by Messenger, no argument was possible, one way or the other, on account of dates; but against the second claim, that she was by a son of Messenger, the arguments were numerous and vehement. All these arguments were based wholly upon her coarse external conformation and the absence of all resemblance to the Messenger family. Among the supporters of this view were many of the most intelligent and trustworthy horsemen of the whole country. Indeed, the preponderance of intelligence as well as numbers seemed to be on that side. That she had “coarse, ragged hips,” that she had a “rat tail,” that she “had hair[256] enough on her legs to stuff a mattress,” that she was “a muddy sorrel,” etc., were all urged to prove that she was not by a son of Messenger. It is true that many entered into this controversy who never saw the mare and who knew nothing about her appearance, but there were others who knew her perfectly, among them my venerable friend David W. Jones, to whom we are all indebted for so many treasures from his storehouse of very valuable memories.

On the other side there were some little scraps of history, that at the vital point may have been history or may have been fiction. In the certificate of sale of Abdallah, April 27, 1830, to Mr. Isaac Snediker, his breeder, Mr. John Tredwell, says: “And believe him to be the very best bred trotting stallion in this country, and be it enough to know that his sire was Mambrino and his dam Amazonia.” It has been argued that it would be very inconsistent for a man of Mr. Tredwell’s standing to certify that Abdallah “was the very best bred trotting stallion in this country,” if he knew nothing of the blood of his dam, drawing the inference that he must have known and believed the representations of his nephew, B. T. Kissam, from whom he got Amazonia. The story of the original purchase of Amazonia by B. T. Kissam and given to me by his brother, Timothy T. Kissam, in 1870, is as follows: Amazonia was purchased by B. T. Kissam, a dry goods merchant of New York, when on an excursion of pleasure in the vicinity of Philadelphia about 1814. She was brought out of a team and was then four years old past, his attention having been called to her as an animal of much promise. He used her for his own driving a short time and sold her to his uncle, John Tredwell. “Amazonia was represented to my brother to have been a get of imported Messenger.”

Now, in considering whether this scrap of history is probably true, the geographical question has been urged with telling effect. Messenger had been kept a number of years on both sides of the Delaware, right on the way to Philadelphia, his fee had been above that of any other stallion, and a large percentage of his colts had been kept entire. In no part of the country, perhaps, were there so many sons of Messenger seeking public patronage. The geography and the chronology of the question, therefore, both sustain the probability of its truthfulness. Whether Mr. Kissam crossed the river at Trenton, or Burlington, or Camden he was right in the hotbed of the sons of Messenger. “If[257] Amazonia” it has been asked, “was as coarse and forbidding as represented in her appearance, what induced Mr. Kissam to buy her?” He wanted a carriage horse and he wanted one that could not only show good action, but one that had a right of inheritance to good action. He knew the Messengers and knew that beauty and style were not family traits in that tribe. Many of them were coarse, and possibly as coarse as Amazonia. Her very coarseness and lack of style is, under the circumstances, a strong argument that in choosing her Mr. Kissam had regard for her Messenger blood.

Another argument, resting on “the internal evidences,” has been urged with considerable force and it is very hard to answer it. Amazonia was a mare of tested and known speed. She was in a number of races to saddle and had won several of them in less than three minutes along about 1816-18, and when Major William Jones, in 1820, accepted the challenge to produce a horse that could trot a mile in three minutes for one thousand dollars, he knew very well what he was doing, for he had seen Amazonia do it a number of times. Her best time was about 2:54, which in that day was considered phenomenally fast. If we were to meet a running horse out on the plains that could run away from all others, we would naturally and justly conclude that he had some of the blood of the race horse in his veins. If we have a pacer and we learn he came from a section of the country where a certain tribe of pacers abounded, we would naturally conclude that he belonged to that tribe, especially if we knew there were no other pacers in that section. If we have a trotter that can go away from all other trotters, and we know that this trotter came from a section abounding in a family of trotters, and in nothing else that can trot, we naturally and justly conclude that this trotter came from some member of that family of trotters. This argument from the “internal evidences” seems almost axiomatic, and when taken in connection with the historical argument, unsatisfactory though it be, they together lay the foundation for a very strong probability that Amazonia was by a son of Messenger.

Abdallah was in color a beautiful bay, about fifteen and a half hands high, and there was a measure of coarseness about him that he could not well escape, as both his sire and dam were endowed with that undesirable quality. The one exception to this was in the character of his coat, which was very fine and glossy when in[258] healthy condition. His reputation as a great trotting sire was very widely extended during his lifetime, but his lack of symmetry and his “rat tail,” which he inherited from his dam, so impaired his acceptability with the public that he never was very largely patronized. Besides this he had an unconquerable will of his own, which he transmitted to his offspring very generally. This willfulness was not a desirable quality in a horse for drudgery, and hence most of his patrons were such as were seeking for gameness and speed. When he was four years old he was not in the stud, and it is understood that Mr. Tredwell undertook to break him thoroughly and train him that year. It is also understood that when put in harness he kicked everything to pieces within his reach and that all thoughts of training were soon abandoned. He never was in harness again until, in extreme old age, he was sold for five dollars to a fish peddler, and the peddler’s wagon was soon reduced to kindling wood.

He was kept at different points on Long Island, and one season in New Jersey, till the fall of 1839, when he, with Commodore, another son of Mambrino, was sold to Mr. John W. Hunt, of Lexington, Kentucky, where they made the season of 1840. Commodore was much the more attractive horse of the two, and did a large business, while Abdallah was almost wholly neglected, leaving only about half a dozen colts. Meantime his progeny on the island began to show their speed and their racing qualities; a company was formed and he was brought back from Kentucky and made the seasons of 1841 and 1842 at the Union Course, Long Island. He was at Goshen, New York, 1843, at Freehold, New Jersey, 1844 and 1845, at Chester, New York, 1846-47-48, at Bull’s Head, New York, 1849, and did nothing, then at the Union Course and Patchogue, Long Island, and was not off the island again. After the period of his usefulness was past his inhuman owners turned him out on a bleak, sandy beach on the Long Island shore, and there he starved to death in the piercing November winds, without a shelter or a friend.

Abdallah was the sire of Hambletonian, 10, the greatest of all trotting progenitors and greater than all others combined. This fact alone has made his name imperishable in the annals of the trotting horse. A number of his other sons were kept for stallions and some of them lived to old age, but they were all failures in the stud. His daughters, generally, proved to be most valuable brood mares, producing speed to almost any and every cross.[259] A pedigree tracing to an “Abdallah mare” has always enhanced the value of a family.

Almack.—Mr. John Tredwell bred his famous team of driving mares, Amazonia and Sophonisba, to Mambrino in the spring of 1822, and the next year they each produced a bay horse colt that he named Abdallah and Almack. Sophonisba, the dam of Almack, was a superior mare, but she was not fast enough for her mate. Almack, however, was a good horse and left some trotters. I have no particular description of him at hand and nothing can now be given of his history further than that some of his daughters produced well and that he seems to have been kept all his life on Long Island. His dam Sophonisba was got by a grandson of imported Baronet, as represented, but this is so indefinite as to be unsatisfactory and suspicious. As none of the Baronets could ever trot, even “a little bit,” it is evident that whatever trotting inheritance Almack possessed came to him from his sire. Aside from a number of his descendants that were recognized trotters of merit there was one in particular that established Almack as a progenitor of a great family of trotters. A son of his bred by George Raynor, of Huntington, Long Island, in 1842, and known as the “Raynor Colt,” out of Spirit by Engineer II., sire of Lady Suffolk, was led behind a sulky at a fair at Huntington, when he was eighteen months old, and he went so fast and showed such a magnificent way of doing it, that he was named “Champion” by William T. Porter, editor of the Spirit of the Times. At three years old he was driven a full mile in 3:05 and this was a “world’s record” for colts of that age at that time. In 1846 he was purchased by William R. Grinnell for two thousand six hundred dollars and taken to Cayuga County, where he founded a great tribe of trotters that is now known everywhere as the “Champion Family.” A fuller account of this horse will be found at another place in this volume.

Mambrino Paymaster (widely known in later years as Blind Paymaster).—This was a large, strong-boned, dark-bay horse, sixteen hands and an inch high. When young he was somewhat light and leggy, but with age he spread out and became a horse of substance. He was bred by Azariah Arnold, of the town of Washington, in Dutchess County, New York. There is some uncertainty about the year this horse was foaled, but it was somewhere between 1822 and 1826. He was got by Mambrino, son of Messenger, and his dam was represented to be by imported Paymaster.[260] The late Mr. Edwin Thorne made a statement a few years ago that in an interview with Azariah Arnold he said that he did not know or remember the horse that was the sire of the dam. At that time Mr. Arnold was very old, and doubtless his mental faculties very much impaired, so it would not be remarkable that he should have forgotten all about it. On the other hand, Nelson Haight, Daniel B. Haight, Seth P. Hopson, and others of like high character, maintain that Mr. Arnold, in his younger days, always represented the mare to be by Paymaster, and the name of the horse itself is very strong evidence that he did so represent it, and is a standing proclamation to that effect. There can be no possible doubt that in earlier life Mr. Arnold constantly represented this mare to be by Paymaster; neither can there be any reasonable doubt that when his faculties were impaired with age he told Mr. Thorne that he did not remember her pedigree. Mr. Arnold’s neighbors all agree that he was a man of unblemished character and incapable of a willful misrepresentation, when in possession of his faculties. Again, that this Paymaster cross was not only possible, but probable, is shown by the fact that imported Paymaster was kept by Ebenezer Haight, in the year 1807, in the same township with Azariah Arnold, and the years 1808 and 1809 in the same part of the county. Therefore, Mr. Thorne to the contrary notwithstanding, I have but little doubt that the Paymaster cross is correct.

He had a small star in his forehead and a little white on one hind foot. His back, loin and hips were altogether superior, and those who knew him best say they never saw his equal at these points. His head was large and bony, with an ear after the Mambrino model. His neck was of medium length and his shoulder good. His hind legs were quite crooked and too much cut in below the hock in front, giving the legs at that point a narrow and weak appearance; his hocks were large and at the curb place showed a fullness. His cannon bones, all round, were short for a horse of his size, and his feet were excellent. He was slow in maturing, but when he filled out he lost all that narrow, weedy appearance which characterized his colthood. He was not beautiful, but powerful.

About 1828 he was sold and taken to Binghamton, New York. Meantime his colts came forward and proved to be so valuable that Nelson and Daniel B. Haight and Gilbert Jones purchased and brought him back to Dutchess County about the year 1840.[261] He was not a sure foal-getter, but his stock proved to be of great value. When brought back from Broome County he was blind. He made one season on Long Island in charge of George Tappan; the other seasons till 1847 he was kept in Dutchess County in the neighborhood of his owners. In 1847 he was sold to Mr. Gilbert Holmes and taken to Vermont, where he died after getting one colt. Many of his sons were kept as stallions, but the most famous of his get were the mares Iola and Lady Moore, and last but not least, his famous son Mambrino Chief, the founder of a great family of trotters in Kentucky. His stock were probably more noted and more highly prized than that of any of the sons of Mambrino that stood in Dutchess County. As Abdallah was the link by which the greatest of all trotting families are connected with Messenger, so Mambrino Paymaster is the link through which the family easily entitled to second place reaches the same illustrious original.

Mambrino Jr. (Bone Swinger) was a beautiful bay horse, foaled 182-, got by Mambrino, son of Messenger; dam not traced. He was bred on Long Island and was owned by George Tappan, near Jericho, Long Island. About 1833-4 he made some seasons at Washington Hollow, Dutchess County. He was about fifteen hands three inches high and was considered more blood-like and handsome than most of his family. He was a strong breeder, giving most of his colts his own elegant color.

Mambrino Messenger (commonly known as the Burton Horse) was foaled about 1821. He was got by Mambrino, son of Messenger; dam by Coffin’s Messenger, son of Messenger; grandam by Black and All Black; great-grandam by Feather. He was bred by Abram Burton, of Washington Hollow, New York. He was a beautiful bay, about fifteen hands three inches high, and was the same age as Mambrino Paymaster, and they were rivals for a number of years, each having his friends and adherents. He was finer in the bone, having more finish and beauty than his rival, and what was still more effective with the public, he could out-trot him. Many of his offspring proved to be most excellent roadsters and some of them were fast. He was probably taken to Western New York, but I have not found any trace of his location or history. This name, Mambrino Messenger, was borne by several other horses of different degrees of affinity to the originals.

Hambletonian (Harris’) (also known as Bristol Grey and[262] Remington Horse).—This was a grey horse, about sixteen hands high, and possessed great strength and substance. When young he was an iron grey and probably pretty dark, but as he advanced in age he became lighter in color. His head was large and bony, with great width between the eyes. He was short in the back, with long hips, and the rise of the withers commenced far back, showing a fine, oblique shoulder. He was a horse of unusually large bone formation; his limbs were large, but flat and clean, with a heavy growth of hair at the fetlocks. He was of docile and kindly disposition and worked well either alone or with another. His gait was open and decided and at a walk his long slinging steps carried him over the ground unusually fast. His speed as a trotter was never developed, but his action at that gait was so free, open and square that those who knew him well have insisted that his manner of going indicated the possibility of great improvement, if he had been handled with that view. His offspring were slow in maturing, and for many years, indeed till toward the end of his life, he was not appreciated as a stallion. He was in constant competition with the little, plump, trim and trappy Morgans, and at three and four years old his long, lathy, plain colts cut but a sorry figure against the well formed and fully developed Morgans of their own age. With such a rivalry, sustained by the question of profit to the breeder by early sales, it is not remarkable that he should have been neglected, till it was clearly demonstrated that he transmitted the true Messenger trotting instinct in greater strength than any of his competitors.

He was bred by Isaac Munson, of Wallingford, Vermont; foaled 1823, got by Bishop’s Hambletonian, son of Messenger; dam the Munson mare that was brought from Boston, 1813. There never has been any question about the sire of this horse, but up to 1869 the representation made by Mr. Harris that his dam was an imported English mare was generally accepted as the truth. I was led to doubt this, and in December of that year I made a thorough search of the records of the custom-house in Boston, and found the claim was without any foundation whatever. Through the kindness of Mr. Henry D. Noble I was enabled to get beyond Mr. Harris, who really knew nothing about the mare, back to the Munson family, and to Mr. Joseph Tucker, the earliest and best authority living in 1870. In order that this evidence may be preserved I will here insert Mr. Tucker’s letter entire.


“Milford, N. H., May 4th, 1870.

“Mr. J. H. Wallace, Muscatine, Iowa.

“Dear Sir: Yours of 22d of April is duly received and contents noted. I was 24 years old when first acquainted with the dam of the ‘Harris Horse,’ so called, in the fall of 1813. Was then carrying on a farm, now owned by Wm. Randall, Esq., in this town, for Mr. Israel Munson, a commission merchant then doing business on India Street, and afterward on Central Wharf, Boston. I was in Boston in the fall of 1813, as above, and found the dam (of Hambletonian) and mate in Mr. Munson’s possession. He said they had been ‘leaders’ in a stage team, and they acted as if green about holding back, etc. He never said she was imported from England, neither did I hear such a story till two or three years ago. The dam was called ‘a Messenger.’ All the description I can give of her is that she was a strong, well-built, light dapple grey, and would weigh ten hundred, certain. The span was well matched. The nigh one (the dam) was more serviceable than the other. Led them all the way from Boston behind an ox team; kept them till the middle of April and then returned the pair to Boston. Mr. Munson drove them up, only stopping to dinner, when on his way to Vermont in August, 1814, and I didn’t see them again until December. I then drove them from Boston to Vermont, and used them a year on the Munson farm, on Otter Creek, in Wallingford. In June, 1815, I took them to Phœnix Horse (bay, black mane and tail, good looking and smart) in Clarendon Flats. Both stood and had foals the spring after I left Mr. Munson’s employ. The off mare was occasionally a little lame, I think in the off fore foot, when hard drove, but the nigh one was perfectly free from lameness or limping. I left Mr. Munson in the spring of 1816, and know nothing of mares afterward.

“Yours truly,

Joseph Tucker,

“(By Geo. W. Fox).”

I have given this letter entire, with the exception of a few closing sentences, that the public may be able to judge of its authenticity. That these mares were leaders in a stage team when Mr. Munson bought them is confirmed by members of the Munson family, and that the nigh mare was represented to be a Messenger at the time of the purchase I have not the least doubt. But whether she was really a Messenger is quite another question. All I can say is, it was possible in the nature of things; and the employment and qualities of the mare, together with the representations of Mr. Munson, appear to make it probable. During the mare’s lifetime I find she was spoken of in the Munson family and about Wallingford as “the imported Messenger mare” and in this phrase, no doubt, was the origin of the story that she was herself imported. When this phrase, through her son, reached the next outer circle, “imported Messenger mare” no longer meant a mare by imported Messenger, but an imported mare by Messenger.


At the point where Mr. Tucker’s knowledge of this mare ceases, fortunately Mr. Isaac B. Munson, of Wallingford, takes up the history and carries it forward, with great particularity, to the time of her death about 1826. She produced several foals by different horses, and while they were all valuable animals, the only one that is known to history is the subject of this sketch. When Hambletonian of Vermont was two years old Mr. Munson sold him to Samuel Edgerton and others, of Wallingford, and they kept him in the stud till about 1828, when they sold him to Mr. Eddy, of Bristol, Vermont, and in the hands of the Eddy family he was kept at Bristol, New Haven, and other points in and about Addison County till about 1835, when he was kept one or two years again in Wallingford and adjacent towns. About 1837 he was sold to Joshua Remington, of Huntington, Vermont, and was taken there. He stood in various parts of Chittenden County, and became well known as the “Remington Horse.” Unfortunately there is no guide to dates in these transfers and it is not known just how long Mr. Remington owned him. He next passed into the hands of Mr. Russell Harris, New Haven, Connecticut, and remained his till he died late in the year 1847.

The location of this horse was unfavorable either to a large or to a numerous progeny of trotters. He was surrounded with Morgan blood, trappy and stylish and fast growing in popularity on the supposition that they were trotters—a most valuable tribe as family horses, but none of them were able to trot fast without the introduction of trotting blood from the outside. He lived in a period antedating the real development of the trotter and the keeping of records of performances, and hence we must not judge of his merits as a trotting sire by comparing the list of his performers with lists of later generations. Green Mountain Maid was one of the best of her day and made a record of 2:28½ in 1853, and the same year the famous pacing gelding Hero made a record of 2:20½. Probably the best trotter from his loins was Sontag, with a wagon record in 1855 of 2:31. This mare was originally a pacer, and whether his dam was by imported Messenger or not we must conclude that the tendency to the lateral action was strong in his progeny. Lady Shannon, Trouble, Vermont, Modesty, and True John were all famous performers in their day. The last named was kept in the stud a few years and was known as the Hanchett Horse. He fell into the hands of Sim D. Hoagland, of this vicinity, became ugly and[265] was made a gelding. As a weight puller he had no equal in his day. His daughters became the dams of many noted producers and performers, and through the doubling of his blood and its predominating influence we have the famous General Knox and his tribe. But few of his sons were kept as stallions; among them the best known is Hambletonian, 814, known as the Parris Horse and the sire of the stout campaigner, Joker, 2:22½. Vermont Hambletonian (known as the Noble or Harrington Horse) was one of his best and best-bred sons. He died in 1865, leaving a valuable progeny.

Hambletonian (Judson’s) was a brown horse and resembled his sire very much in both size and form. He was foaled 1821, got by Bishop’s Hambletonian, son of Messenger; dam by Wells’ Magnum Bonum. This Magnum Bonum family abounded in that region, and it was a very good one, whatever the blood may have been. This horse was bred by Judge Underhill, of Dorset, Vermont, and sold, 1829, to Dr. Nathan Judson, of Pawlet, Vermont. He was kept in that region till he died about 1841. His progeny were very numerous and valuable.

Hambletonian (Andrus’) was a brown horse nearly sixteen hands high. He was a well formed and evenly balanced horse, all over, with an objectionable lack of bone just below the fore-knee. His head and ear were strongly after the Messenger model. I have never been able to determine just who bred him, and consequently his blood on the side of the dam is not fully established. He was foaled about 1840, got by Judson’s Hambletonian, and out of a mare which Mr. B. B. Sherman says was by old Magnum Bonum. He seems to have known this mare well and speaks of her as a very superior animal. This would indicate inbreeding to the Magnum Bonums, and as they were a light-limbed family we may account for this horse’s defects in that respect. He was owned a number of years by Mr. Andrus, of Pawlet, and passed into the hands of G. A. Austin, of Orwell, Vermont. In 1853-4 Mr. Austin sent him to Illinois, along with Drury’s Ethan Allen, Black Hawk Prophet, Morgan Tiger and some other stallions, in charge of Mr. Wetherbee, for sale. In 1854 they were removed to Muscatine, Iowa, and several of them sold there, among them the Andrus Horse. He was then stiff in his limbs, showing the effects of previous neglect and abuse. He died at Muscatine in 1857. His progeny there were defective in bone. I am told several of his daughters in Vermont have left[266] good stock there and thus perpetuated his name in the second and third generations. But his chief title to fame has been secured to him by his renowned daughter Princess, the dam of the great Happy Medium. In 1851 Mr. L. B. Adams, who then owned her, bred the Isaiah Wilcox mare, by Burdick’s Engineer, son of Engineer by Messenger, to Andrus’ Hambletonian, and, in a nutshell, the union of this great-grandson of Messenger with this great-granddaughter of Messenger produced Princess. This pedigree of Princess is incontrovertibly established and will be given in fuller detail in the history of her son, Happy Medium.


The greatest of all trotting progenitors and the most intensely inbred to Messenger.


The greatest progenitor in Horse History—Mr. Kellogg’s description, and comments thereon—An analysis of Hambletonian, structurally considered—His carriage and action—As a three-year-old trotter—Details of his stud service—Statistics of the Hambletonian family—History and ancestry of his dam, the Charles Kent Mare—Her grandson, Green’s Bashaw and his dam.

Hambletonian, 10.—It has been a matter of constant regret that in the compilation of the first volume of the Register I attached the name “Rysdyk’s” to this horse, and this misstep has served as a kind of apparent justification for very many men to seize upon the name “Hambletonian,” with their own name as a prefix. This has led to great confusion and annoyance to all that body of men who have anything to do with records and correct pedigrees. Fortunately, however, the evil has become so apparent that many writers are beginning to use the numbers, and we now very frequently hear men speak of “Hambletonian, 10,” as the true designation of this horse.

As no horse of any blood or period in this or any other country has excited an interest so universal, or represented such a vast sum of money in his offspring and descendants, I must try to give an account of him and his family—ancestors and descendants—as full and accurate as the materials at hand will enable me. He was a beautiful bay color, bred by Jonas Seely, of Sugar Loaf, Orange County, New York, foaled 1849, got by Abdallah; dam the Kent Mare, by imported Bellfounder; grandam One Eye, by Hambletonian, son of Messenger; great-grandam Silvertail, by imported Messenger; great-great-grandam Black Jin, breeding unknown. He was sold with his dam, when a suckling, to Mr. William M. Rysdyk, of Chester, in the same county, and he remained his till he died in March, 1876. He has been described by a great many writers, but the most minute and accurate description I have ever seen is from the pen of “Hark Comstock” (Peter C. Kellogg), which I will here present, and after it[268] note any point upon which my own judgment differs from his. It should be remembered that this description was made when the horse was breaking down with the weight of years:

Hambletonian, now twenty-six years old, is a rich deep mahogany bay, with black legs, the black extending very high up on the arms and stifles. His mane was originally black, and in his younger days very ornamental; rather light, like that of the blood-horse, and of medium length, never reaching below the lower line of the neck, but uniform throughout. His foretop was always light. At the present time not a vestige of either remains, they having gradually disappeared until crest and crown are bald. His tail is long and full. When we first knew him it was very full, but is also thinning with his advancing years. The hair of both was black as a raven’s wing, and entirely devoid of wave or curl. His marks are a very small star and two white ankles behind, but the coronets being dotted with black spots, the hoofs are mainly dark. Muzzle dark. Head large and bony, with profile inclining to the Roman order; jowl deep; jaws not as wide apart as in some of his descendants, yet not deficient. Eye very large and prominent, and countenance generally animated and expressive of good temper. We found him to measure 10½ inches across the face. Ear large, well set, and lively. Neck rather short and a little heavy at the throatlatch, but thin and clean at the crest. His shoulders are very oblique, deep and strong; withers low and broad; sway very short, and coupling smooth. The great fillets of muscle running back along the spine give extraordinary width and strength to the loin, which threatens to lose the closely-set hip in the wealth of its embrace. But it is back of here that we find lodged the immense and powerful machinery that, imparted to his sons and daughters, has ever placed them in the foremost ranks of trotters. His hip is long and croup high, with great length from hip-point to hock. Thighs and stifles swelling with the sinewy muscle, which extends well down into his large, clean, bony hocks, hung near the ground. Below these the leg is broad, flat, and clean, with the tendons well detached from the bone, and drops at a considerable angle with the upper part of the limb, giving the well-bent rather than the straight hock. Pasterns long, but strong and elastic, and let into hoofs that are perfection. In front his limbs in strength and muscular development comport with the rear formation. His chest is broad and prominent; his forelegs stand wide apart (perhaps in part the result of much covering), and he is deep through the heart; yet notwithstanding this, and the fact of his roundness of barrel, there is no appearance of heaviness or hampered action.

Taken at a glance, the impressive features of the horse are his immense substance, without a particle of coarseness or grossness. No horse we can recall has so great a volume of bone, with the same apparent firmness of texture and true blood-like quality. Though short-backed, he is very long underneath. Indeed, he is a horse of greater than apparent length. We found his measurement from breast to breeching, in a straight line, greater by four inches than his height at the withers—a very unusual excess. We also found him two inches higher over the rump than at the withers, and the whole rear, or propelling portion of the machinery, would upon measurement seem to have been molded for an animal two sizes larger than the one to which it is attached;[269] yet so beautifully is its connection effected with the whole that there is no disproportion apparent, either in the symmetry or the action of the horse. As an evidence of the immense reach which this admirable rear construction enables him to obtain, it is often noticed by visitors that in his favorite attitude, as he stands in his box, his off hind foot is thrown forward so far under him as to nearly touch the one in front of it—an attitude which few horses of his proportionate length could take without an apparent strain, yet which he assumes at perfect repose. When led out upon the ground his walk strikes one as being different from that of any other horse. It cannot be described further than to say that it shows a true and admirable adjustment of parts, and a perfect pliability and elasticity of mechanism that shows out through every movement. Many have noticed and endeavored to account in different ways for the peculiarity, some crediting it to the pliable pastern, others to surplus of knee and hock action, etc., but the fact is, there seems to be a suppleness of the whole conformation that delights to express itself in every movement and action of the horse. “In his box,” said a Kentucky horseman, who recently looked him over, “I thought him too massive to be active, but the moment he stepped out I saw that he was all action.”

There is so much in the foregoing description that is intelligent and just that I hardly feel like reviewing a single phrase. In judging of the conformation of a horse and determining whether it is good or bad, at different points, we must have in our mind some ideal standard, by which we mentally compare one thing with another. The popular conception of the perfect horse is the picture of the “Arabian,” painted by artists who never saw an Arabian horse. The next approach to perfection is the English race horse, but others may insist that the Clydesdale comes nearer perfection and that he should be the ideal with which the standard of comparison should be made. It is unfortunate that Mr. Kellogg should have described Hambletonian as possessing “immense substance, without a particle of coarseness, or grossness.” He had a remarkably coarse head in its size and outline, but this is greatly softened by saying “with a profile inclining to the Roman order.” The ideal muzzle of the English race horse is so fine that, figuratively speaking, he can drink out of a tin cup, but Hambletonian could not get his muzzle into a vessel of much smaller dimensions than a half-bushel measure. “Ear large, well set and lively.” This is true as to the size of the ears, but not correct, in my judgment, as to the setting on. As they habitually lopped backward when in repose, giving a sour and ill-tempered expression, I could not concede that they were “well set.” The hocks were good and clean, but the abrupt angle at that point was certainly a coarse feature. The[270] round meaty withers and the round meaty buttocks were both “coarse and gross” when looked at from the point of good breeding. His two great, meaty ends, connected with a long and perfect barrel, two or three sizes too small for the ends, showed such a marked disproportion that I often wondered at it. Not one of these criticisms is made in the sense of a criticism of Mr. Kellogg’s description, but merely as the expression of a different view on some points, and on those points not mentioned I most heartily agree with him. He has omitted to give the height of the horse for the reason that he had shrunken from his normal height just one inch. When at his best he measured fifteen hands one inch and a quarter. This shrinkage, in addition to the ordinary results of great age, is thus explained by Mr. Guy Miller, who knew him better than any other man except his owner. “His splendid fore hoofs had been ruined by an operation whereby the arch was lost and the horse during the remainder of his days stood on his frogs.” He was two inches higher on the hips than on the withers.

When the horse was led out his movements were so frictionless and faultless that he impressed me as the most wonderful horse that I had ever seen. He seemed as supple as a cat with the power of an elephant. As he walked he kept pushing those crooked hind legs away under him in a manner that gave him a motion peculiarly his own, and suggested the immense possibilities of his stride when opened out on a trot. Plain and indeed homely as he was he was a most interesting and instructive study whether in his box or taking his daily walks. The question has been asked a thousand times whether the speed of Hambletonian had been developed and how fast he could go. This question I considered very important, in a philosophical and breeding sense, and in starting in to investigate it I found two statements, one that the time made at the Union Course was honest and true, and the other that it was a “put up job” to make Mr. Rysdyk feel good, and that the time in fact was much slower than that announced. Each side had its advocates, and it did not take long to discover that the enemies of Mr. Rysdyk were all on one side and the more bitter their enmity the more blatant they were in denying the truth of the time given out for the performance. This party was headed by one “J. M.,” long distinguished, and will be long remembered in Orange County, for the virulence of[271] his dislike to Mr. Rysdyk, and as the most unreliable of all unreliable horsemen.

In the autumn of 1852 Mr. Rysdyk and Mr. Seely C. Roe, the owner of Roe’s Abdallah Chief, then four years old, concluded to exhibit their sons of Abdallah at the fair of the American Institute, in New York, and after the fair to take their colts, three and four years old respectively, for a light training for a few weeks. The programme was carried out, and after reaching the course they started the two colts together, and much to Mr. Roe’s surprise Hambletonian beat his colt in 3:03. In a short time Mr. Roe gave his colt another trial in 2:55½. A few days later Mr. Rysdyk drove his colt in 2:48. Believing then he had the making of the best trotter in the world and being thoroughly homesick, he packed up his traps and started for Orange County, and this was the first and the last training that Hambletonian ever had. When we consider the age of the colt and how few of that age had then ever reached that mark, the little then known by amateurs of the arts of training and driving, and the very limited preparation, we must conclude that this was a remarkably good performance.

Was it honestly made? Mr. Roe has been dead a good many years, but the next day after he returned from Long Island with Mr. Rysdyk he called at the house of his brother-in-law, David R. Feagles, a very responsible man, and in the course of the conversation he asked Mr. Feagles if he had heard the news? “No,” said Mr. Feagles, “what is it?” “Rysdyk’s colt trotted the Union Course in 2:48. I held my watch and I know it is true.” Mr. Roe was always steadfast and immovable in this declaration while he lived. Mr. W. H. Wood, the breeder of Abdallah Chief, says he told him the time was 2:48, and he had several times heard it disputed in Mr. Roe’s presence and he had always settled the dispute by giving the same fact. Mr. David R. Seely said he could not remember the time made, but he had heard the matter disputed, and Mr. Roe settled it by saying it was true, that he saw it and held the watch on him when he did it. These men were as reliable as any in Orange County and their statement of Mr. Roe’s assertions cannot be doubted. Considering the circumstances, it will occur to any mind that Mr. Roe was the very best witness to the truth of this performance that could be produced. He was not only disinterested, but in building up the reputation of a rival stallion he was testifying to his own hurt.


There are other evidences of Hambletonian’s development and speed, but nothing so definite as the foregoing. He was driven in double team sometimes with the great trotter Sir Walter. Mr. Kinner, at one time owner of Sir Walter and other good ones, a horseman of experience and knowledge of trotting affairs, assured me that Sir Walter had shown a trial at Centerville track to wagon in 2:32, and this was before he was driven double, occasionally, with Hambletonian; and that Hambletonian could out-foot Sir Walter for the first half-mile, but as the young horse was green and unseasoned, he could not keep up the clip to the finish. He did not hesitate to express the belief that the team could have trotted the mile in considerably less than 2:40. There is one fact in connection with the trial at Union Course that I have omitted in its proper place. Mr. Rysdyk was a remarkably careful man and always aimed to be inside of the truth rather than beyond it. He advertised his horse as having made the trial in 2:48½, as it is probable some of the watches gave that as the time, instead of 2:48 flat.

Like all the Abdallah family, Hambletonian matured early, and at three years was as well advanced as many colts a year older. His stud services commenced early. When two years old he was allowed to cover four mares without fee and he got three colts, one of which was afterward known as the famous Alexander’s Abdallah. When three years old he was offered for public patronage at twenty-five dollars to insure, and he covered seventeen mares and got thirteen colts. The next season, at the same price, he covered one hundred and one mares and got seventy-eight colts. The next season (1854), being then five years old, the price was advanced to thirty-five dollars, and he covered eighty-eight mares, getting sixty-three foals. The price remained at thirty-five dollars till 1863, when it was advanced to seventy-five dollars. At which price he covered one hundred and fifty mares. The next season the price was advanced to one hundred dollars, and he covered two hundred and seventeen mares, getting one hundred and forty-eight foals. In 1865 the price was advanced to three hundred dollars and one hundred and ninety-three mares were covered. In 1866 the price was put at five hundred dollars and one hundred and five mares were covered. At this price his services remained ever afterward—one hundred dollars down and the remainder when the mare proved in foal. In 1867 he covered seventy-seven mares and got[273] only forty-one foals. This large percentage of failure indicated beyond question that his procreative powers had been overtaxed and that there was a general letting down of his vital energies. In 1868 he was not allowed to cover any mares. In 1869 he again manifested his usual vigor and he covered twenty-one mares, getting fourteen foals. In 1870 he covered twenty-two mares and got thirteen foals. From this time forward his procreative powers dwindled, and in 1875, I think, he got but two foals, and died the following March.

It has been estimated that he got about one thousand three hundred foals, and for several years it was one of the amusing features of horse literature to see how many writers were able to demonstrate that as a progenitor of speed he was a failure. This item of one thousand three hundred foals was taken as the basis of computation, and then with the small number of forty trotters out of the one thousand three hundred, the percentage of trotters was very small. The next step was to find some unknown horse, generally a pacer, that had only two or three foals to his credit and one of them had made a record of 2:30, thus showing a much larger percentage than Hambletonian, and by that much he was a greater sire than Hambletonian. All this foolishness has now subsided in the face of the fact that the great mass of the trotters of today have more or less of his blood in their veins, and in a very short time that blood will abound in greater or less strength in every American trotter. The tables which here follows will make this fact evident to all who will study them.

[Prefatory to these tables and to the other statistics concerning the present rank of the trotting families given in the pages following, an explanatory paragraph is in order so that they may not be misunderstood. (1) They are based on the tables given in the Year Book for 1896, and I regret to say that these tables are so emasculated, incomplete, unsatisfactory and in many cases contradictory one of the other that it is literally impossible to compile from them statistics that may be accepted as absolutely correct and letter perfect. However, as this work is not intended as one for statistical reference, the tables being approximately correct serve my purpose, which is merely to show relatively and with substantial accuracy the standing of the sires and families embraced to the close of 1896. (2) By the term “standard performers” is meant horses that have acquired trotting records of 2:30 or better, or pacing records of 2:25 or better. The Year Book no longer gives a 2:30 pacing list, and it should be noted that pacers with records between 2:30 and 2:25 are not credited in these tables. (3) The tables are designed to show (a) the number of standard performers got by each sire named. (b) The number of his sons that are sires of standard performers. (c) The number of his daughters that are dams of[274] standard performers. (d) The number of standard performers produced by these sons and daughters, and finally, in the last column, the total number of standard performers produced in the two generations—i. e., by the sire himself, and by his sons and daughters. The dates of foaling and death are important in considering the opportunities of the families embraced.]

The first table following gives some idea of the supremacy of the Hambletonian family over all others. When we seek a rival to Hambletonian as a trotting progenitor we must do so among his sons; and by turning to the second table it will be noted that many of these outrank the founders of any and all the other great trotting families.


Name. Year foaled. Year died. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Total No. Standard performers in two generations.
Hambletonian 1849 1876 40 148 80 1665 1705
Blue Bull 1858 1880 60 47 77 211 271
Mambrino Chief 1844 1862 6 23 17 119 125
Ethan Allen 1849 1876 6 22 18 118 124
Pilot Jr. 1858 1865 8 6 18 72 80
George M. Patchen 1849 1864 4 15 4 70 74
Champion (807) 1853 1874 8 6 7 53 61
In this table Ethan Allen is given as the representative of his family in preference to his sire, Black Hawk, the real founder, for the reasons that he was a far greater horse, and makes a better showing than his sire, and further because he was a contemporary of Hambletonian. For exactly the same reasons George M. Patchen is given as the representative progenitor of the Clay line.

The next table demonstrates what the Hambletonian family has done in the second and third generations, and the relative standing of the leading sub-families of the greatest trotting line. It embraces separately every sire that has to his own credit and to the credit of his sons and daughters an aggregate of fifty or more standard performers, twenty-three in all, while the totals to the[275] credit of all the other sons of Hambletonian are grouped in the last line:


Name. Year foaled. Year died. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Total No. Standard performers in two generations.
George Wilkes 1856 1882 83 94 81 1801 1884
Electioneer 1868 1890 154 65 43 493 647
Happy Medium 1863 1888 92 51 47 272 364
Harold 1864 1893 44 43 45 248 292
Dictator 1863 1893 52 44 42 234 286
Volunteer 1854 1888 34 40 48 221 255
Strathmore 1866 1895 71 26 54 158 229
Abdallah (15) 1852 1865 5 14 29 199 204
Aberdeen 1866 1892 45 25 19 110 155
Egbert 1875 —— 75 25 18 74 149
Messenger Duroc. 1865 189- 23 24 41 125 148
Edward Everett 1855 1878 13 12 16 112 125
Administrator 1863 1892 14 20 44 93 107
Jay Gould 1864 1894 29 14 28 76 105
Victor Bismarck 1867 189- 31 13 13 64 95
Cuyler 1868 1894 15 15 36 74 89
Masterlode 1868 189- 28 17 16 57 85
Sweepstakes 1867 189- 35 4 20 39 74
Sentinel 1863 1873 8 9 14 57 65
Middletown 1860 1891 14 9 11 49 63
Squire Talmage 1866 1891 23 9 14 35 58
Dauntless 1867 189- 31 6 9 20 51
Echo 1866 189- 16 9 15 34 50
Other sons (125) —— —— 618 229 412 980 1600
This table shows what each horse himself produced, and how his blood is breeding on through his sons and daughters; and above all it demonstrates the stupendous fact that in three generations the Hambletonian family has produced upward of seven thousand standard performers, and all facts and all experience now beyond cavil justify what I ventured to declare in Wallace’s Monthly many years ago: “The Hambletonian line stands above all other lines and must survive because it is the fittest.”

The Charles Kent Mare, dam of Hambletonian, was a bay, fifteen and three-quarter hands high, with a star, left forward ankle roan, and left hind foot white. Her son was long and round, just the opposite of her sire. Hips rather coarse, and might[276] be considered a little ragged. Stifles very powerful and well-developed. Her hocks and legs were exactly represented in her son Hambletonian. Her neck was fine and bloodlike, but not long. Her head was good, and her eyes remarkably full and bright, showing considerable white. Her mane was long, but thin, and her tail was light. Her shoulders were well-sloped, her withers ran up high, and were thin. Jonas Seely, Sr., having given the old mare One Eye to his son Charles, she was sold to Josiah S. Jackson, of Oxford, Orange County. Mr. Jackson bred her to Bellfounder and the produce was the Kent mare. Although the Seely family owned the stock, originally and afterward, Mr. Jackson was really the breeder of this mare. Mr. Jonas Seely says she was got the year Bellfounder stood at Poughkeepsie (1831), but Mr. Rysdyk says she was got in 1832, when Bellfounder stood at Washingtonville. Mr. Jackson sold her at three years old to Peter Seely for three hundred dollars; Mr. Seely sold her soon after to Mr. Pray, of New York, for four hundred dollars; Mr. Pray sold her to William Chivis for five hundred dollars; and Mr. Chivis sold her to a gentleman, who was a banker in New York—name not remembered—to match another as a fast road team. This team ran away after a time, and she was injured, and became lame. Charles Kent, a butcher in New York, then bought her and bred her to Webber’s Tom Thumb, before he came to Orange County. At this juncture, on the earnest recommendation of Mr. Pray, who had tested the quality of three or four of the family, Mr. Jonas Seely—Jonas, second—bought the mare of Kent for one hundred and thirty-five dollars, and took her back to the old place, where she was bred and produced as follows:

1843. Brown filly Belle, by Webber’s Tom Thumb.
1845. Black gelding, by Webber’s Tom Thumb.
1846. Chestnut filly (died at 4 years old), by Abdallah.
1848. Brown filly (died at 4 years old), by Abdallah.
1849. Bay colt Hambletonian, by Abdallah (mare and colt sold to William M. Rysdyk, for $125).
1850. Brown filly (went to Maryland), by Young Patriot.
1851. Lost foal, by L. I. Black Hawk.
1852. Brown colt Tippoo Saib, by Brook’s Black Hawk.
1853. Chestnut colt (died young), by Fiddler.
1856. Brown gelding, by Plato.
1859. Bay colt, by Almack, son of Hambletonian.

In the preceding list there are but two fillies that lived to produce anything, and one of them is lost from sight. The produce of the first will be given below. The Patriot filly that went to Maryland was a brown, and of good size, but nothing further is known of her.

The Tom Thumb gelding of 1845 was in 1869 a good road horse, and was owned by George S. Conklin. He was showy and stylish without very much speed. Her fifth foal, Hambletonian, is known wherever the trotting horse is known.

This mare was a trotter of no ordinary merit. She was never in any races, so far as known, except they might have been of a private nature, but after she passed into the hands of Peter Seely her speed was pretty well developed. This is not only shown by the advance in her price from owner to owner, but it appears to be a well-established fact that when four years old Peter Seely had her at the Union Course, and he there gave her two trials to saddle, the first in 2:43 and the second in 2:41. For a time I was skeptical about these trials, but they seem to be beyond question. This is considerably faster than any other of the get of imported Bellfounder ever trotted in this country, and from this we may conclude that her inheritance from her dam was the great factor in her speed.

One Eye, the dam of the Kent mare, was a brown, about fifteen hands and an inch high, with two white feet and perhaps a little white in her face. With the taste Mr. Seely had of the Messenger blood in Silvertail he wanted more of it; and when Townsend Cock sent the famous Bishop’s Hambletonian to Goshen in 1814, Mr. Seely bred his daughter of Messenger to this son of Messenger and the produce was One Eye. I do not learn that this mare was handsome, but she was an animal of most remarkable courage and endurance. The load was never too heavy nor the road too long. Withal, she had a will of her own and was a little hard to manage unless she was worked constantly. One day when on her mettle she got an eye knocked out by accident, and, hence, her name; but the great quality of this mare was her remarkable trotting action. Those familiar with her gait, and entirely competent to judge, are enthusiastic in the opinion that no trotter of the present day ever surpassed, her in a grand open trotting step. If the patience and skill brought into use in developing the modern trotter had been expended on her, she doubtless would have surpassed all of her[278] day, not even excepting her near relation, old Topgallant. This mare illustrates a point of very great importance. She was got by a son of Messenger that was a running horse of merit and able to beat some of the best of his day, and her dam was a daughter of Messenger. The trotting action of neither sire nor dam had ever been developed, but when these two Messengers came together, the clean, open, unmistakable trotting gait was the result. Right at this point and in this mare, One Eye, we have the incipient cause of all Hambletonian’s greatness. This mare was bred by Jonas Seely, Sr.; given to his son Charles, who sold her to his brother-in-law, Josiah Jackson, of Oxford in Orange County. According the recollection of Mr. Rysdyk, who was entirely familiar with the Seely family and their affairs, she produced as follows:

1829. Bay gelding Crabstick, by Seagull.
1830. Bay gelding Pray Colt, by Seagull.
1831. Bay filly Young One Eye, by Edmund Seely’s horse Orphan Boy.
1833. Bay filly Kent Mare, by imp. Bellfounder. Sold to Mr. Pray.
1834. Bay filly; sold also to Mr. Pray, by imp. Bellfounder. Perhaps there was another foal that died.
The first of her foals, Crabstick, appears to have been well-named. His temper was anything but smooth and pleasant. He was sold early to Mr. Ebenezer Pray, of New York, and he soon evinced two traits of character that did not elevate him in the estimation of his owner. He would throw every one off that dared to mount him, and when they did get him under motion he was determined to pace and not trot. On a certain occasion Mr. Rysdyk visited Mr. Pray, and he was urged to try his skill in riding Crabstick and see if he could make him trot. The attempt was long-continued, and embraced up hill, down hill, and level work, but all to no purpose, as pace he would. At last Mr. Pray proposed to put him over rails and stakes, placed on the road at intervals of a good trotting stride, and see if that would make him quit moving one side at a time. Mr. Rysdyk went up the road and got under good headway, but just before he reached the rails the horse threw him. He was not much hurt, mounted again, and then commenced in earnest the fight for the mastery between the horse and his rider. The value of a neck was nothing when compared with the great question of who should conquer. The next attempt was successful, and he went over the rails flying. The intervals between them were then extended, and[279] he was kept at that most dangerous exercise till he would trot without rails, and until both horse and rider were completely exhausted. The horse was conquered, and although always willful and hard to manage, ever after, when called on to trot, he would do it. Mr. Pray sold him to Mr. Vanderbilt, and, although kept as a private driving horse, he was fast for his day, and could go in less than three minutes at any time.

Her next foal was sold also to Mr. Pray when five years old, and was known as the Pray Colt. He was marked just as his brother Crabstick, and, like him, was somewhat vicious and hard to manage.

The third foal, Young One Eye, was by Edmund Seely’s horse Orphan Boy, whose pedigree is not now known. One of her eyes was knocked out by Peter Seely, accidentally, when breaking her, just as her dam had lost an eye. She passed out of the hands of the Seely family and her subsequent history is unknown. If this mare ever produced anything, her history and that of her descendants would be of great interest and value.

The question at once suggests itself, Where did Crabstick get his pacing action? It could not have been from his sire, as he was a son of Duroc, so said, but it may have come from Seagull’s dam, as we know nothing of her breeding; or it may have come from old Black Jin, the dam of Silvertail. If from neither of these we must then conclude it came from Messenger himself, or rather, through him from some of his pacing ancestors. It is altogether probable that the strong infusion of pacing blood in Messenger’s veins was the real element that made him a trotting progenitor when every other imported English horse failed in that respect.

Silvertail, the great-grandam of Hambletonian, was a dark brown mare with white hind feet and a white face. She had a great many white hairs in her tail and hence she was called Silvertail. She was foaled in 1802 and was bred by Mr. Jonas Seely, Sr., of Sugar Loaf, Orange County, New York. She was got by imported Messenger in 1801, the year he stood at Goshen, New York. Her dam was a great, slashing black mare called “Jin” that Mr. Seely had used in his business many years, but her origin and breeding cannot now be found. She must have been a real good one or Mr. Seely would not have taken her to Messenger. In the summer of 1806, as was his custom, he was down at New York with a drove of cattle, and his son Jonas, then a lad of[280] eight or ten years old, went along to help drive the cattle and to see the city. He was detained two or three days longer than he expected and it was very important that he should reach home at a certain time. On the morning of that day he found himself in Hoboken, with his son, and no means of getting home except on Silvertail. So he took the boy up behind him and went home that day, seventy-five miles, by sundown. She was fully sixteen hands high and of very fine style. Her head, neck and ear were bloodlike, and her resolution and will were remarkable even in old age. Her step, at the trot, is not known to have been much developed, but she could gallop all day long. On several occasions she carried her master to Albany in a day. Besides the famous One Eye she produced several superior foals that brought high prices, in those days, but we have only the one line tracing to her as a producer. She died the property of Ebenezer Seely.

In searching for the particulars of this pedigree of Hambletonian and in tracing it back to old “Black Jin,” I was necessarily brought into contact with a great many people, some of whom were helpful and some were not. As a matter of course I met with the usual number who professed to “know it all,” but really knew nothing that was reliable. As the whole tracing was in the Seely family, the public may wish to know what kind of people they were. Jonas Seely, first, of Oxford in Orange County, was a large farmer in the last century and an extensive cattle feeder and drover. As there were no railroads or steam boats in those days, much of his time was given to driving cattle, either in collecting them from the interior or in taking them to market in New York. He had use for good horses and he had a fancy for the best. His business brought him into contact with the butchers of New York, and we find he sold many of his horses as well as his cattle to them. These same business relations were continued under his successor. He left a large family of sons who seemed to take to the horse as a duck takes to water. Jonas, second, was one of his younger sons and succeeded to his father’s business as well as to the homestead. He was born 1797 at Oxford, and his father removed to the farm at Sugar Loaf when he was a child. He was a thrifty and successful farmer. For a number of years he was engaged with his partner and lifelong friend, Ebenezer Pray, in buying and driving cattle from the West to the New York market. In June, 1882, he passed away and there ended an acquaintance and a friendship of nearly[281] thirty years. He was a strictly conscientious and truthful man, and died in the glorious hope of a devoted Christian. His first visit to New York, in 1806, the wonders he saw there, and especially the total eclipse that occurred while he was there, and how he watched it from the Bull’s Head tavern, through a piece of smoked glass, and the ride home the next day behind his father on Silvertail, and how he ran down many a hill to rest himself, and how tired he was when they reached home, are incidents that were all detailed to me with the interest and vigor of yesterday.

When One Eye was about fifteen years old the elder Jonas gave her or sold her to his son-in-law, Josiah Jackson, and in due time he bred her to imported Bellfounder and she produced the Charles Kent mare. Mr. Rysdyk thought the elder Jonas gave this mare to his son Charles and that Charles sold her to Mr. Jackson, which is not material. After the Kent mare had been battered about in New York for some years and finally crippled, Charles Kent, a butcher, bought her and bred her to Webber’s Tom Thumb, a Canadian horse that was quite a trotter. On one occasion when Jonas II. and Mr. Pray were down in the city, Kent wanted to sell the mare, and Mr. Pray urged Jonas very strongly to buy her and take her home for a brood mare. He concluded to do so if she were not too badly crippled, and they together went over on to the island to see her, when she came again into the Seely family. In 1848 he bred her to Abdallah, in 1849 she produced a bay colt, and in the autumn of that year he sold her with her colt to William M. Rysdyk, who had been employed on his farm for the year, for one hundred and twenty-five dollars, and this colt proved to be the great Hambletonian.

As it is now conceded, not only in this country, but throughout the world, that Hambletonian, as a trotting progenitor, is far and away the greatest horse that has ever been produced, a careful and true analysis of the blood elements entering into his inheritance is a most interesting and instructive lesson for all breeders. First we have the direct cross from Messenger himself in Silvertail; second, we have the cross from a son of Messenger on a daughter of Messenger in One Eye, making her equal to a daughter of Messenger in blood; third, we have the out-cross from Bellfounder, that was a total failure as a trotting progenitor, on this double granddaughter of Messenger, and the result is a trotter in the Kent mare and practically the only trotter[282] that Bellfounder ever got; fourth, we have the cross of a grandson and probably a double grandson of Messenger on this trotter, and the produce is Hambletonian himself. These crosses show a stronger concentration of Messenger blood than can be found in any horse of his generation.

Bashaw (Green’s).—This was a black horse, fifteen and a half hands high, bred by Jonas Seely, the breeder of Hambletonian; foaled 1855, and given when following his dam to his son-in-law, Colonel F. M. Cummins, of Muscatine, Iowa. He was got by Vernol’s Black Hawk, then known as the Drake colt, son of Long Island Black Hawk, and his dam was Belle, the first foal of the Charles Kent mare, that was out of One Eye. In the spring of 1857 he was sold to Joseph A. Green, of Muscatine, and he remained his till 1864. He had one white hind foot and a large, full star in his forehead. He was a smooth, handsome horse in every respect. His head, neck, ear and eye were all good, and free from coarseness. His back and loin had very few equals even among those that are called most perfect at these points. His hip was of great length, and in his buttock there was quite a resemblance on a reduced scale to his kinsman, Hambletonian. His limbs and feet both in shape and quality were admirable, and his disposition docile and kindly. In walking his gait was slinging, but loose jointed and slovenly, and he was therefore not a pleasant driving horse. But at the trot, whether going slow or fast, his style was very taking and his action remarkably perfect. While owned by Mr. Green he was handled by good, careful men, but they had no experience in developing and driving a trotter, and knew nothing about that kind of horsemanship. Under these circumstances many a horse would have been spoiled, but his gait was always perfect and his popularity as a trotter never waned. He never was started in what might be called regular races, but at State fairs and the principal county fairs he was always in demand and always won. He was, perhaps, the best natural trotter that I have ever seen. He was able to show about 2:28, but I think he never won a heat on a half-mile track in better than 2:31, and when sixteen years old he was able to win in 2:35. In 1864 Mr. Green sold him to some parties in St. Louis, Missouri, and they to Mr. Beckwith of Hartford, Connecticut, and while in his hands he was matched against Young Morrill, but went amiss and paid forfeit. He made the season of 1865 at Hartford. The following winter Mr. Green repurchased[283] him and he was returned to Muscatine, where he remained till January, 1877, when he was sold to George A. Young, of Leland, Illinois, and died January, 1880.

He left seventeen trotters in the 2:30 list; twenty-four sons that were the sires of fifty-nine standard performers, and thirty-four daughters that produced forty-four standard performers. As his sire never amounted to anything either as a trotter or a getter of trotters, it is fair to conclude that whatever merit he possessed was inherited from the same source that made Hambletonian greater than all others.

Belle, the dam of Bashaw, 50, was a brown mare about fifteen and three-quarter hands high, with tan muzzle and flanks and some white feet. She was rather short in the body and neck, but she was very stoutly built and had been a fine road mare. She was bred by Charles Kent, the butcher, and I think was following her dam when Mr. Jonas Seely bought her. She was foaled 1843 and was got by Tom Thumb, a Canadian horse, and a trotter that was brought into Orange County by William Webber and left excellent stock. Her dam was the Charles Kent mare, the dam of Hambletonian. She produced as follows:

1848. Bay gelding, by Abdallah.
1849. Bay filly Seely Abdallah, by Abdallah.
1851. Black colt Seely’s Black Hawk, by Long Island Black Hawk.
1853. Bay filly, (taken West) by Hambletonian.
1855. Black colt Green’s Bashaw, by Vernol’s Black Hawk.
1857. Bay filly by Black Hawk Prophet, son of Vermont Black Hawk, in Iowa. This filly was ringboned, and given away.
Nothing is now known of the gelding by Abdallah. The filly of 1849 by Abdallah, called Seely Abdallah, was owned by Mr. Charles Backman, and he had her produce for two or three generations.

The black colt by Long Island Black Hawk of 1851 was sold to Ebenezer Seely, and kept as a stallion. This Mr. Seely died in Chemung County, and the horse died there in the spring of 1859. The filly of 1853 by Hambletonian was one of a pair of Hambletonian fillies bought and taken to Iowa by Mr. Green in 1855. They developed a very fine rate of speed.


Different opinions as to relative merits of Hambletonian’s greater sons—George Wilkes, his history and pedigree—His performing descendants—History and description of Electioneer—His family—Alexander’s Abdallah and his two greatest sons, Almont and Belmont—Dictator—Harold—Happy Medium and his dam—Jay Gould—Strathmore—Egbert—Aberdeen—Masterlode—Sweepstakes—Governor Sprague, grandson of Hambletonian.

There is hardly a prominent sire by Hambletonian that has not been claimed by his admirers to have been the “greatest son” of the most renowned of trotting progenitors, and if a poll of the horsemen of the country could be taken to-day as to what horse was the greatest son of Hambletonian, probably a dozen names would be found to have thousands of supporters each. As with all questions that are largely matters of opinion, and that cannot be decided absolutely by figures, the relative rank of horses as progenitors must always remain open to disputation according as thinkers approach the subject from different points of view and of interest. I shall not enter into any discussion as to the relative merits of the great sons of Hambletonian with a purpose to reach any deduction as to which was or is the greatest; but shall refer the reader to the table given in the preceding chapter, and content myself with briefly giving the history of the more renowned sires of the Hambletonian line, with such statistics as may be necessary to gauge their rank as progenitors.


A Great Son of Hambletonian.

George Wilkes was one of the first of Hambletonian’s sons to attract attention, by his performances on the turf, to the value of his sire; and as a progenitor he must be accorded a place in the first rank of all trotting sires. This horse was bred by Colonel Harry Felter, Newburgh, New York, was foaled 1856, and was got by Hambletonian out of the fast road mare Dolly[285] Spanker. (This mare was afterward registered on what seemed excellent evidence as by Henry Clay, out of a daughter of Baker’s Highlander, but more recent investigation has thrown serious doubt upon this pedigree, the subject being fully discussed in the chapters in this work on “The Investigation of Pedigrees.”) After the travail that brought the little brown colt into the world, Dolly Spanker died, and the orphaned youngster, like Andrew Jackson, owed his life to woman’s kindly care. He was fed by the women of the farm on Jamaica rum and milk sweetened with sugar, and soon grew lusty, though he was always an undersized horse, never much, if any, exceeding fifteen hands in height, though he was so stoutly and compactly made that he gave the impression of being larger than he really was. He was of that order that has been paradoxically described as “a big little horse.” In color he was a very dark brown, and his flanks and muzzle shaded into a deep tan, or wine color. From a detailed description of him published in the Spirit of the Times in 1862, I extract the following:

“He is about 15.1, but all horse…. His traveling gear is just what it should be—muscular shoulders long strong arms, flat legs, splendid quarters, great length from hip to hock, and very fine back sinews. He stands higher behind than he does forward, a formation we like…. He is very wide between the jaws…. His coat is fine and glows like the rich dark tints of polished rosewood…. His temper is kind. We had the pleasure of seeing him at his work, and unless we are greatly mistaken he will make an amazingly good one. He has a long and easy way of going, striking well out behind and tucking his haunches well under him.”

Though from the fact that this writer stated that Wilkes “was as handsome as Ethan Allen,” we might suspect him of a tendency to “paint the lily,” it will be noted that this was written before the horse had any great reputation to speak of, and it may be accepted as a substantially correct description as far as it goes. In describing his action Charles J. Foster wrote that “his hind leg when straightened out in action as he went at his best pace reminded me of that of a duck swimming.” He was then the property of Z. E. Simmons, who had purchased him as a three-year-old for $3,000, and another horse.

George Wilkes, or Robert Fillingham, as he was first named, was a trotter from colthood. At four years old he was matched against Guy Miller, but his party paid forfeit, the reason therefor being afterward alleged that they found Fillingham possessed of so much speed that they decided to “lay for bigger[286] game.” The late Alden Goldsmith, a most competent judge, saw the colt trot at this time and then thought he was the fastest horse he had ever seen. He won a race in August of his five-year-old year, taking a record of 2:33, and the next year sprang into wide fame by defeating the then popular idol, Ethan Allen, in straight heats, over the Union Course, the fastest heat being in 2:24¾. In October of that year he started in harness against General Butler, under saddle. Though Butler was no match for George Wilkes in harness, with a saddle on his back, and Dan Mace in the saddle, he was almost unbeatable in his day, but it took him four heats to beat Wilkes, who forced him out in the first heat in 2:21½, a record he never after surpassed. Then William L. Simmons and John Morrissey matched Wilkes against Butler, two-mile heats to wagon, the latter having previously beaten the great George M. Patchen a heat in record-breaking time under similar conditions. In preparation for that match George Wilkes was sent a trial over the Centerville Course, concerning which there has been much discussion and probably much romance. Charles J. Foster wrote thus:

“It was a close, sultry day and the stallion was short of work…. He went the two-mile trial and I have no doubt it was faster than trotter ever had before, or has since, in any rig. But it ‘cooked his mutton,’ as the saying is, and for a long time he was George Wilkes no more.”

It is said that ever after this trial, whatever it may have been, George Wilkes was inclined to sulk in his races. He raced with fair success in 1863 and 1864, and at the beginning of 1865 was classed among the very best out. He was sent against Dexter and Lady Thorn, being beaten by both; but in 1866 he twice defeated Lady Thorn, the last time in a notable wagon race over Union Course in 2:27, 2:25, 2:26¾. Afterward in the same year Lady Thorn defeated Wilkes in four successive races, and she beat him again in their only meeting the following year, but in 1868 he defeated the mare in a hard-fought race, she winning the first and second heats and making the fourth heat dead. George Wilkes made his record of 2:22, October 13, 1868, over the Narragansett Course at Providence in a winning race with Rhode Island and Draco. He was kept on the turf with indifferent success until 1872, racing frequently against Lucy, Lady Thorn, and American Girl, all of whom outclassed him, at least in the afternoon of his racing career. Just how fast a trotter[287] George Wilkes was it is impossible definitely to determine, so many and varying have been the representations on that point. It has been claimed that he went a quarter in twenty-nine seconds to an eighty-five pound wagon. William L. Simmons some years ago stated that of his own knowledge George Wilkes trotted a mile and repeat as a six-year-old at the Centerville Course in 2:19¼, 2:18½, and that Sam McLaughlin drove him a half-mile to wagon over Union Course in 1:04½. These statements I give for what may be deemed their worth, contenting myself with the remark that it is safe to conclude that George Wilkes would have trotted well within the 2:20 mark, if he had been managed with a view to bringing out his highest racing capacity, instead of being handled solely for the purpose of smart betting and match-making manipulations.

George Wilkes was taken to Lexington, Kentucky, by William L. Simmons, his owner, in 1873, and in his declining years made a reputation so great in the stud that his brilliant turf career is almost forgotten. After having trotted against the best in the country for twelve successive years, proving his fitness in the fiery ordeal of turf contest, he, in the nine remaining years of his life, fulfilled the purpose of his being, and demonstrated the truth of heredity by getting trotters in plenty able to do and outdo what he had in his day done.

George Wilkes got a few foals before going to Kentucky, of which the most notable was May Bird, 2:21, the first trotter to bring him reputation as a sire. Of the others got in the North, Young Wilkes, 2:28¼, a sire of some reputation, and Wilkes Spirit, who also figures in the table of sires, are the only ones to earn places in the records. Early in the eighties George Wilkes began to assume high rank as a sire, May Bird, Kentucky Wilkes, Prospect Maid, So So, Joe Bunker and others bringing him into prominence. Every year added to his roll of honor and soon he was among the leaders. Blue Bull had surpassed Hambletonian in the number of trotters to his credit in the 2:30 list, but at the close of 1886 George Wilkes was even with the Indiana sire, in 1887 he passed him, and for some seasons led all sires of 2:30 performers. George Wilkes got seventy-two trotters and eleven pacers to acquire standard records, of which the most noted were Harry Wilkes, 2:13½, Guy Wilkes, 2:15¼, and Wilson, 2:16¼; and ninety-four of his sons and eighty-one of his daughters have produced, as shown in the table of Hambletonian’s sons, 1801[288] standard performers. The following table embraces the sons of George Wilkes that have twenty or more standard performers to their credit:


Name. Year foaled. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Total No. produced in two generations.
Red Wilkes, 2:40 1874 127 62 41 267 394
Onward, 2:25¼ 1875 120 64 32 275 395
Alcantara, 2:23 1876 98 29 15 115 213
Bourbon Wilkes 1875 67 14 12 45 112
Simmons, 2:28 1879 64 13 6 35 99
Wilton, 2:19¼ 1880 61 3 4 8 69
Jay Bird, 2:31¾ 1878 57 10 10 68 125
Alcyone, 2:27 1877 55 27 9 117 172
Guy Wilkes, 2:15¼ 1879 52 10 5 49 101
Ambassador, 2:21¼ 1875 48 8 3 33 81
Gambetta Wilkes, 2:26 1881 48 11 6 32 80
Baron Wilkes, 2:18 1882 47 6 7 18 65
Adrian Wilkes 1878 38 6 7 25 63
Wilkes Boy, 2:24½ 1880 37 2 3 8 45
Young Jim 1874 37 11 19 43 80
Brown Wilkes, 2:21¾ 1876 32 5 1 39 71
Young Wilkes, 2:28¼ 1868 29 6 3 12 41
Favorite Wilkes, 2:24½ 1877 23 7 6 21 44
Woodford Wilkes 1882 23 1 4 12 35
Wilkie Collins 1876 21 5 1 10 31
Lumps, 2:21 1875 20 3 10 16 36
The King, 2:29¼ 1874 20 —— —— —— 20
Jersey Wilkes 1881 20 —— 2 2 22
Among the other seventy-one producing sons of George Wilkes: that do not come within the scope of this table are many most promising sires of rapidly growing prominence, and indeed this family is branching out wonderfully in every direction. This family is an emphatically improving one. In extreme speed, in racing capacity, and in form the third Wilkes generation is better than either the second or first. Of trotters, such as Beuzetta, 2:06¾, Ralph Wilkes, 2:06¾, Hulda, 2:08½, Allerton, 2:09¼, the once sensational Axtell, 2:12, and many others of the first rank by sons of George Wilkes sustain this judgment. The pacing instinct is rampant in the Wilkes blood, as is attested by the fact that twenty-five per cent. of the performing get of George Wilkes’[289] sons are pacers, and frequently pacers of extreme speed, including such as Joe Patchen, 2:03, and Rubenstein, 2:05, while John R. Gentry, 2:00½, Online, 2:04, and Frank Agan, 2:03, are by grandsons of Wilkes. Like his sire, George Wilkes got many sons greater than himself—and after all that is the true test of greatness in a progenitor.


A Great Son of Hambletonian.

Electioneer has for some years led, far and away, all sires of trotters in the numbers of performers to his credit in both the 2:20 list and 2:30 list, and is generally conceded to have had no equal as a producer of early speed—that is, of colts and fillies that trotted fast at tender ages. In many respects this was the most remarkable horse of any age, for besides being phenomenally prolific in transmitting speed at the trot, and in getting early trotters, he possessed in a higher degree than any sire that has yet lived the ability to control running blood in the dam, and to impress his own instinct and action upon his progeny out of any and all kinds of mares. In speaking on his pet hobby of producing trotters from thoroughbred running mares, Governor Stanford once said to me: “None of my stallions but Electioneer can do it;” and of all the hundreds of stallions that have been mated with thoroughbred mares in the hope of getting a trotter of extreme speed, Electioneer alone was able to do it. Palo Alto, 2:08¼, is so far faster than any other trotting horse out of a thoroughbred dam—the one solitary instance on record of a half-bred trotter of extreme speed—that he is significant in one way, and one only, and that is as an evidence of the phenomenal prepotency of the blood of his sire in controlling instinct and action.

Electioneer was a dark bay horse, foaled May 2, 1868, bred by Charles Backman, at his Stonyford Stud, Orange County, New York. He was got by Hambletonian, out of Green Mountain Maid, by Harry Clay, 2:29, grandam the fast trotting mare Shanghai Mary, pedigree not established, but in all probability a daughter of Iron’s Cadmus, the sire of the famous old pacer and brood mare Pocahontas, 2:17½. (In Chapter XXIX., on the investigation of pedigrees, the history of Shanghai Mary is fully given.) Green Mountain Maid, the dam of Electioneer, has been called by Mr. Backman, and with justice, “the great mother of trotters.” In all she bore sixteen foals, fourteen of which were by the not remarkable horse Messenger Duroc. Electioneer was her second foal and the only one by Hambletonian. Of the other fifteen, nine have records of 2:30 and better, another has a record[290] of 2:31, another, Paul, was a very fast road horse, and two died young. Of her four sons kept entire, Electioneer, Mansfield, Antonio, and Lancelot, all are sires of trotters, and her daughters already figure as producers. The figures would seem to point to the daughter of Shanghai Mary and Harry Clay, 2:29, as perhaps the most wonderful of all great trotting brood mares. She was a brown mare, barely fifteen hands high, with a star and white hind ankles, and was finely formed, with an exceptionally beautifully outlined and expressive head. She had very superior trotting action, the trot being her fastest natural gait. A writer who made a very close study of her history said, on this point, in Wallace’s Monthly:

“Her education was limited to a single lesson when three years old; but previously she had been regularly developed on somewhat the same plan since adopted for early training at Palo Alto, and was probably one of the fastest trotters out of harness that ever lived.”

As a matter of fact Green Mountain Maid, while in no sense vicious, was so highly strung, wild and uncontrollable, that her training was abandoned with the “one lesson” referred to, and she never wore harness again.

Green Mountain Maid was a money producer as well as a speed producer. Mr. Backman paid four hundred and fifty dollars for her when she was carrying her first foal, and the writer above quoted states that up to that date (1889) Mr. Backman had received sixty-eight thousand eight hundred and thirty dollars for such of her progeny as he had then sold. This remarkable mare died June 6, 1888, and a fitting monument marks her grave by the banks of the Walkill.

At maturity Electioneer was of that shade of bay that many might call brown, and stood precisely fifteen and one-half hands at the wither and an inch higher measured at the quarter. Many of his get, notably Sunol, are pronouncedly higher behind than at the wither. In general conformation, Electioneer was a stout and muscular horse, standing on fairly short legs. His head was well proportioned, of fair size, and a model of intelligent beauty. The forehead was broad and brainy, the eyes large and softly expressive, and the profile regular, with just the faintest suggestion of concavity beneath the line of the eyes. Electioneer’s neck was a trifle too short for elegance of proportion, but not gross. His shoulder was good, the barrel round, of good[291] depth and proportionate in length and well ribbed, and the coupling simply faultless. The quarters were marvelous, and Mr. Marvin did not overstate the case when he said they were the best he had ever seen on any stallion. They were the very incarnation of driving power, and recalled Herbert Kittredge’s portrait of Hambletonian, except that there was nothing gross or meaty about the buttocks of Electioneer. They were the perfection of muscular endowment and development. The arms and gaskins, like the quarters, were full with muscle laid on muscle, and the legs and feet were naturally excellent. In the last years of his life he went over on his knees a bit, but that was not strange considering his age, and the fact that he had seen considerable track work. Indeed as long as he was at all vigorous he was daily exercised on the track, and in view of his great success in the stud, this fact has a special significance.

As a three-year-old Electioneer was worked some on the Stonyford farm track to wagon, and Mr. Backman, whose word is good enough authority for all who know him, stated that he showed a quarter to wagon in thirty-nine seconds in that year. Little else is known of his history at Stonyford. He was bred to a few, very few mares, and was evidently not greatly esteemed by Mr. Backman. In the autumn of 1876, ex-Governor Stanford, who was just establishing his great breeding farm, Palo Alto, in the Santa Clara Valley, California, visited Stonyford to purchase stock—principally brood mares. The governor was a great believer in what I may call horse-physiognomy, or to be more exact, he believed in the importance of the right psychical organization, what we commonly call brain force, in horses, and was attracted by the physical evidences thereof as indicated in the head. Electioneer pleased him in this regard, and in his general make-up, and when the governor’s purchase was completed Electioneer went along, being put in at twelve thousand five hundred dollars. He with the other Stonyford purchases arrived at Palo Alto Christmas Eve, 1876.

Though Electioneer never took a record, he was emphatically a developed horse. I do not know whether he was ever driven a full mile or not—Mr. Marvin never drove him one—but it has been stated that one of the other trainers drove him a mile in time somewhere between 2:20 and 2:25. However they may be, Mr. Marvin in his book settles the question as to his having been a fast, trained trotter. He says:


“Electioneer is the most natural trotter I have ever seen. He has free, abundant action; it is a perfect rolling action both in front and behind, and he has not the usual fault of the Hambletonians of going too wide behind. Certain writers have said that Electioneer could not trot, and have cited him as a stallion that was not a trotter yet got trotters…. I have driven, beside Electioneer, a quarter in thirty-five seconds…. He did this, too, hitched to a one hundred and twenty-five-pound wagon, with a two hundred and twenty-pound man, and not a professional driver, either, in the seat. In this rig he could carry Occident right up to his clip, and could always keep right with him; and it was no trick for the famous St. Clair gelding to go a quarter in thirty-four seconds. Without preparation you could take Electioneer out any day and drive him an eighth of a mile at a 2:20 gait. He always had his speed with him…. That Electioneer could have beaten 2:20 if given a regular preparation is with me a conviction about which no doubt exists.”

Mr. Marvin is a conservative and reliable man; he knew whereof he wrote, and his testimony must be accepted as conclusive both as to Electioneer’s having been a naturally fast trotter, and as to his having had his speed developed. Undeveloped horses do not trot quarters in thirty-five seconds.

When in 1880 Fred Crocker, one of the seven foals got by Electioneer in his first year’s service in California, astonished the world by trotting to a two-year-old record of 2:25¾, his sire became instantly famous, and that fame has increased rapidly and steadily from that day to this. It was not allowed for a moment to wane or lag. After Fred Crocker came an ever-surprising procession of young record breakers. In 1881 Hinda Rose made a yearling record of 2:36½, and Wildflower a two-year-old record of 2:21. In 1883 Hinda Rose lowered the three-year-old record to 2:19½, and Bonita the four-year-old record to 2:18¾. In 1886 Manzanita lowered the four-year-old record to 2:16; in 1887 Norlaine, granddaughter of Electioneer, lowered the yearling record to 2:31½; and in 1888 Sunol put the two-year-old record at 2:18, and the year following took a three-year-old record of 2:10½, the fastest to that date. Sunol captured the four-year-old record in 1889, and the world’s record, 2:08¼, in 1891, but what made this the brightest year in all the history of Palo Alto was that Arion lowered the two-year-old record to 2:10¾—the most remarkable of all trotting performances—Bell Bird the yearling record to 2:26¼, and Palo Alto the stallion record to 2:08¾. Electioneer has now to his credit one hundred and fifty-four standard performers, and in this and in the 2:20 list he has a long lead over all other sires. He died at Palo Alto, December[293] 3, 1890, and I am informed that his skeleton has been articulated and mounted for the museum of the Stanford University. The following table gives the sons of Electioneer that up to the close of 1896 had ten or more standard performers to their credit:


Name. Year foaled. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Total No. produced in two generations.
Saint Bell, 2:24½ 1882 47 1 —— 1 48
Sphinx, 2:20½ 1883 43 —— —— —— 43
Chimes, 2:30¾ 1884 32 3 —— 3 35
Anteeo, 2:16¼ 1879 28 5 3 12 40
Norval, 2:14¾ 1882 24 1 —— 1 25
Egotist, 2:22½ 1885 18 1 —— 1 19
Anteros 1882 16 —— 2 2 18
Elector (2170), 2:31 1879 16 —— —— —— 16
Albert W., 2:20 1878 15 1 —— 1 16
Eros, 2:29¼ 1879 14 3 —— 4 18
Antevolo, 2:19½ 1881 13 —— 1 11 14
*Bell Boy, 2:19¼ 1885 11 1 —— 1 12
Fallis, 2:23 1878 10 1 —— 3 13
Palo Alto, 2:08¾ 1882 10 —— —— —— 10
* Died at 5 years old.

In considering this table it is necessary to remember that the Electioneer family dates from 1878, and that no family of anything approaching so late a date makes a showing that will bear comparison with this. In considering the rank of families this question of age is always vital. Electioneer’s first crop of foals at Palo Alto—1878—numbered seven, and of these two are represented above, while another was the famous gelding Fred Crocker. The next numbered but twenty-one, and of these Eros, Elector, and Anteeo are in the table, and ten are in the 2:20 list. His third and fourth crops (1880 and 1881) numbered sixteen and twenty-three respectively, and the forty of 1882 was the greatest number he ever got in one year. I am informed that in all Electioneer got less than four hundred foals at Palo Alto; and that, since the first one saw light in 1878 this family should in eighteen years make the showing it has with nearly fifty per cent. of its members in the 2:30 list, and four hundred[294] and ninety-three of the second generation also there, is certainly remarkable. Electioneer has to his credit in the 2:15 list the following trotters: Arion, 2:07¾, Sunol, 2:08¼, Palo Alto, 2:08¾, Helena, 2:12½, Belleflower, 2:12¾, Utility, 2:13, Quality, 2:13¼, Conductor, 2:14¼, and Norval, 2:14¾, an “extreme speed list” greater than to the credit of any other sire, while among the get of his sons are such trotters as Azote, 2:04¾, Fantasy, 2:06, Little Albert, 2:10, Lynne Bel, 2:10½, Copeland, 2:11½, Athanio, 2:11¾, Cobwebs, 2:12, etc., etc. Sixty-five of his sons have sired four hundred and thirty-seven performers, and forty-three of his daughters have produced fifty-six performers. With all these facts kept in view the study of the above table will prove interesting and instructive in forming an estimate of the merit of Electioneer as a trotting progenitor.


A Great Son of Hambletonian.

Alexander’s Abdallah was the founder of one of the very greatest of the Hambletonian sub-families, and he stands in the records as a progenitor of the first rank. This was a stout bay horse, about fifteen and one-half hands high. Excepting a right white ankle he was a rich solid bay. The only reliable portrait in existence of this horse was a drawing by Herbert Kittredge, made from a photograph taken of Abdallah after he went to Kentucky. The picture of Abdallah published in this work is a faithful reproduction of the Kittredge portrait published in Wallace’s Monthly for March, 1881, and in the absence of any reliable detailed description of the horse this portrait must be taken as the best reflection we now have of his individuality. He was bred by Lewis J. Sutton, of Warwick, Orange County, New York, and was foaled 1852. Mr. Sutton had in 1851 a good road mare that he had got at Carl Young’s roadhouse in Third Avenue, New York. This mare, Katy Darling, had been quite a trotter, and had, it was said, won a match race on Union Course. Her reputation as a trotter and her fine form caused Mr. Sutton to buy her when, as he describes it, “she was standing on three legs,” in the hope of getting a foal from her. He took her home in March, 1851, and in August bred her to Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, then a two-year-old colt, and September 22, 1852, she produced the subject of this sketch. Two years later Mr. Sutton sold Katy Darling to James W. Benedict, of Warwick, from whom she was purchased by Hezekiah Hoyt, who took her to Muscatine, Iowa, where she produced a chestnut colt that was gelded, by Hector, son of La Tourrett’s Bellfounder.[295] This gelding was her only foal other than Alexander’s Abdallah, and Katy Darling died at Muscatine, the property of a Mr. Stewart. A search was long kept up for the pedigree of this mare, and for the full details of what is known of her history the reader is referred to the different volumes of Wallace’s Monthly. The conclusion from all the evidence found is that she was probably by a son of Andrew Jackson.

As a foal by his dam’s side Alexander’s Abdallah attracted much favorable attention by his fine trotting action, and his persistency in cavorting around at that gait. Among those who took great delight in watching the little fellow trot was Mr. Hezekiah Hoyt, and when the youngster was seventeen months old Mr. Hoyt, acting for, or in partnership with, Major Edsall, bought the colt for five hundred dollars, a fine price at that time. Major Edsall kept him until he was seven years old, and I am under the impression that he won some local races during that time, when he was known as Edsall’s Hambletonian. He was accorded a fairly liberal patronage in Orange County, and his progeny showed so well that Major Edsall sold him for three thousand dollars in 1859 to Joel F. Love and James Miller, of Cynthiana, Kentucky. The Hambletonian family was just then becoming popular, and the price paid indicates that this horse was already regarded by good judges as one of Hambletonian’s best sons. That he was regarded, moreover, as quite a trotter is indicated by the fact that at the close of his second season in Kentucky—1860—Mr. Miller matched him against Albion, a competing stallion, for two hundred and fifty dollars a side. The affair caused quite a sensation at the time, the Cynthiana horsemen going in crowds to Lexington to back Abdallah. The latter was driven by “Jim” Monroe, and Albion by Warren Peabody, and Abdallah won in the hollowest fashion, distancing Albion in 2:46. As youngsters Abdallah’s first progeny in Kentucky showed very well, and in the spring of 1863 he was purchased by R. A. Alexander, and made the seasons of 1863 and 1864 at Woodburn. On the evening of February 2, 1865, Marion’s band of Confederate guerrillas raided Woodburn and took away a number of horses, among them Alexander’s Abdallah and the then famous young trotter, Bay Chief, by Mambrino Chief. Marion mounted Bay Chief and, crossing the Kentucky River, the band encamped on the farm of a Mr. Bush, in a rough, hilly region, twelve miles from Woodburn. Here the next morning the Federal cavalry,[296] that were sent in pursuit after the raid, came up with the raiders, and after a sharp fight routed them. Marion, on Bay Chief, was a conspicuous mark for Federal bullets during the skirmish. Early in the fray Bay Chief was shot through the muzzle, through both thighs, and one hock. In this condition he carried his rider two miles in the retreat, when the horse was so weakened by loss of blood that a Federal cavalryman overtook them. His piece being empty, the soldier aimed a blow at Marion, but missing him, lost his balance, and fell from his horse. The guerrilla leader quickly saw his opportunity, jumped from Bay Chief, mounted the soldier’s horse, and escaped. Bay Chief died about ten days later, despite all efforts made to save him. Meanwhile, Alexander’s Abdallah had been found, safe and sound, by a Federal soldier in Mr. Bush’s stable. The soldier refused to give him up to Mr. Alexander’s men, and declared he would send him North and keep him until he got a large reward for his return. The horse was barefooted and in no condition for hard usage. And so they rode him off, and after going some forty or fifty miles he gave out, and they turned him loose on the road. He was found next day in a pitiable condition by the roadside, and brought back as far as Lawrenceburg on his way home, where he was taken with pneumonia and died a few days later.

Just how great a loss this was to the trotting breed was not realized until long after—until in fact Goldsmith Maid had conquered all before her, and made a record as a campaigner never equaled, and until his two great sons, Almont and Belmont, rose to pre-eminent places in the list of great sires. Other sons of this remarkable progenitor have taken rank as sires, and his daughters proved of the highest excellence as brood mares; but Almont and Belmont have each established such large, important, and popular sub-families that this work would be incomplete without some brief sketch of each.

Alexander’s Abdallah got Goldsmith Maid, 2:14, Rosalind, 2:21⅔, Thorndale, 2:22¼, Major Edsall, 2:29, and St. Elmo, 2:30. Fourteen of his sons have produced one hundred and fifty-five standard performers, and twenty-nine of his daughters have produced forty-four standard performers, among them being the noted campaigners, Favonia, 2:15, and Jerome Eddy, 2:16⅔, the latter also a successful sire. The following table gives the families of his most prominent sons:



Name. Year foaled. Year died. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Total No. produced in two generations.
Almont, 2:39¾ 1864 1884 37 95 72 609 646
Belmont 1864 1889 58 63 48 560 618
Hambletonian (Wood’s) 1858 1885 24 12 13 49 73
Major Edsall, 2:29 1859 1886 3 6 3 87 90
Thorndale, 2:22¼ 1865 1894 10 8 14 47 57
Jim Munro 1861 1882 8 5 17 38 46
Abdallah Pilot 1865 1881 3 1 1 17 20
Almont was bred at Woodburn Farm, was foaled 1864, and was by Alexander’s Abdallah out of Sally Anderson, by Mambrino Chief; grandam Kate, a wonderfully fast pacer by Pilot Jr. Colonel R. P. Pepper informed me that he knew Kate as well as any of his own horses, and that her speed at the pace was “simply terrific.” Kate, whose dam was called the Pope mare, pedigree unknown, had several foals, among them the “catch filly” that was the dam of Clay Pilot, sire of The Moor, that got the great brood mare Beautiful Bells, 2:29½, and Sultan, 2:24, the sire of the world-famous Stamboul, 2:07½. Thus the blood of this pacing Pilot Jr. mare figures in three great sub-families, the Almont family, the Beautiful Bells family, and the Sultan family. Almont was a beautiful cherry bay, very rich in shade, and without any white whatever. He was fifteen hands two and one-quarter inches high at the wither, somewhat higher behind, and stoutly and symmetrically made all over. He could not be called a handsome or highly finished horse, but he was emphatically a well-made one. He had very excellent feet and legs, and these he reproduced with great uniformity, as well as his very intelligent and even disposition. He was trained early at Woodburn, and, like his sire, started but once and distanced his competitor in 2:39¾, this being in his four-year-old form. He soon after showed 2:32 over the slow Woodburn track, and was sold to the late Colonel Richard West for eight thousand dollars and put in the stud. In 1874 the late General W. T. Withers, Lexington, Kentucky, bought him for fifteen thousand dollars, and a half[298] dozen of years later he was very generally regarded as the greatest of living sires, and his prestige made the name of Fairlawn Farm of world-wide renown, and made his owner rich. The fact that ninety-five of his sons have sired standard performers, a greater number of producing sons than is to the credit of any other horse, Hambletonian alone excepted, indicates the high rank Almont must be accorded as a progenitor. In considering his success it is well for breeders particularly to note that good judges considered Almont capable of showing a 2:20 gait any day, and that, like Electioneer, he always was daily given regular and ample track exercise. His gait has been described as bold and open, without an excess of knee action, but with immense display of power behind. Almont died of spasmodic colic, July 4, 1884, in the fullness of his fame, and at an age when, had he been more discreetly used in the stud, he should have been at his prime as a stock horse.

Almont was hardly a sensational horse in his day, the performance of Westmont at Chicago in 1884, when he paced a mile with running mate in 2:01¾, being the one sensational performance to the credit of his progeny. This lightning streak of pacing speed that so often crops out in the Almont family can be readily accounted for by the student of breeding. As has been noted, his grandam Kate, by Pilot Jr., was a phenomenally fast pacer, and, as we have indicated, her blood proved potent in more than one line. In addition to this there was a strong tendency to pace among the progeny of Alexander’s Abdallah. St. Elmo was first shown at fairs in Kentucky under saddle and as a pacer, and many others of Abdallah’s get were known to naturally pace. When we reflect that in Almont this Alexander’s Abdallah blood with its pacing predilection was united with the blood of the old lightning pacer, Kate, we need not be surprised at the great number of fast pacers that came from Almont and his sons. Belmont, too, has shown a tendency to get the pacing gait with great frequency, but not in such frequency or at such high rates as his son Nutwood. As there could not be traced any known pacing blood in Belmont’s dam, and as the fact that Alexander’s Abdallah transmitted an inclination to pace has been generally not known or ignored, some writers have been unable to understand why the Belmonts paced. He got pacers because he inherited that capacity from his sire, and Nutwood got more and faster pacers than Belmont, because in him the pacing inclination[299] inherited from Alexander’s Abdallah was reinforced by the strong pacing inheritance of his dam, Miss Russell, the granddaughter of Old Pacing Pilot.

As shown in the table of Alexander’s Abdallah’s sons, Almont got thirty-seven standard performers, ninety-five of his sons sired five hundred and three standard performers, and seventy-two of his daughters produced one hundred and six standard performers. His most successful sons are embraced in the following table:


Name. Year foaled. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Performers produced in two generations.
Almont Jr. (1829), 2:26 1872 44 7 20 39 83
Altamont, 2:26¾ 1875 39 7 1 10 49
Atlantic, 2:21 1878 24 6 12 22 46
Piedmont, 2:17¼ 1871 19 3 8 18 37
Almont Jr. (1764), 2:29 1871 19 11 11 51 70
King Almont, 2:21¼ 1874 14 —— 1 1 15
Pasacas, 2:43 1870 14 4 6 13 27
Almonarch, 2:24¾ 1875 13 2 3 7 20
Allie Gaines 1875 12 5 8 17 29
Harbinger 1879 10 1 2 3 13
*Allie West, 2:25 1870 7 4 10 24 31
Abdallah Mambrino 1870 13 1 11 24 37
* Died at 6 years old.

This line is justly regarded with growing favor as one of our very best and most productive sub-families, and one that is breeding on excellently, generation after generation.

Belmont was a bay horse of very superior form and finish, bred at Woodburn Farm, and foaled there in 1864. He was by Alexander’s Abdallah, out of Belle (that also produced McCurdy’s Hambletonian, 2:26½, and Bicara, the dam of Pancoast, 2:21¾) by Mambrino Chief; grandam Belle Lupe, by Brown’s Bellfounder. Belmont and Almont were of the same age, and, perhaps because of his finer appearance, Belmont seems to have been the preferred one at Woodburn, and was retained while Almont was sold. Though Belmont was a successful horse and established a great[300] family, no thinking man can contend that he was the equal of Almont as a sire, when all the circumstances are considered. Almont spent almost his entire stud career at Fairlawn, where there never were five mares worthy in blood to be in a great trotting stud, where there were scores of mares of all kinds of poor and freakish pedigrees, even to “Arabs,” and where none of the stock was ever trained. Belmont, on the other hand, was all his life at the head of the most famous, and, in his younger years, unquestionably the best collection of trotting brood mares in the world, and where a training department was always maintained. Remembering these conditions, and contemplating the statistics of the two families, it is interesting to speculate as to how the records would stand had Belmont been at Fairlawn, and Almont at Woodburn.


Name. Year foaled. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Performers produced in two generations.
Nutwood, 2:18¾ 1870 136 90 69 432 568
King Rene, 2:30½ 1875 35 17 16 55 90
Egmont 1873 34 13 11 38 72
Wedgewood, 2:19 1871 31 12 9 60 91
Vatican, 2:29¼ 1879 14 —— —— —— 14
Warlock 1880 12 —— —— —— 12
Monaco 1878 11 1 4 7 18
Waterloo, 2:19¼ 1882 10 —— 1 1 11
Meander, 2:26½ 1879 10 3 1 7 17
Mambritonian, 2:20½ 1883 10 —— —— —— 10
Herschell 1883 10 —— —— —— 10
Belmont, besides having the advantage of excellent individuality was also a trotter of no mean speed. He was driven a mile over the working track at Woodburn in 2:28½, and was, therefore, a quite well-developed trotter. He never appeared in public, and has, therefore, no public history. The most successful of his sons has been Nutwood, whose dam was Miss Russell, the dam of Maud S. This horse was himself a fast trotter in his day, taking a record of 2:18¾, and rose to great popularity and success in the stud. Daughters of Belmont, being nearly all out[301] of producing mares, are greatly and justly esteemed as brood mares. Belmont died at Woodburn November 15, 1889. Belmont got fifty-eight standard performers, sixty-three of his sons sired four hundred and eighty-nine standard performers, and forty-eight of his daughters produced seventy-one standard performers. The rank of his best sons is shown on the preceding page; all having ten or more in the list of standard performers being included in the table.

Volunteer stands pre-eminent among trotting sires as the one horse against not one of whose get the epithet “quitter” was, as far as I am aware, ever hurled. He did not get speed with remarkable uniformity, nor did his progeny develop speed early or rapidly. They required persistent training, but when speed was developed in a Volunteer you had with it every other quality of a resolute, enduring race horse. They were hardy, rugged, good-limbed horses, and uniformly possessed stamina and resolution in the highest degree. Volunteer had the advantage of being owned by Alden Goldsmith, an ambitious and experienced horseman, and the father of two of the most successful trainers of our day. The Volunteers had, therefore, every advantage that training could give, and his rise to fame was largely due to Mr. Goldsmith’s constantly developing and racing his progeny.

In 1853 Mr. Joseph Hetzel, Florida, Orange County, New York, bred the bay mare Lady Patriot to Hambletonian, 10, and Volunteer was foaled May 1, 1854. This mare, Lady Patriot, was by a horse called Young Patriot, and out of Mr. Lewis Hulse’s trotting mare, and that is all that is known of her pedigree. Her sire’s pedigree is wholly unknown. She produced a numerous family, among them being Sentinel, 2:29¾, and Green’s Hambletonian, brothers of Volunteer, and of some rank as sires, and Marksman, by Thorndale, that is also in the table of sires, while her daughter Heroine, sister to Volunteer, produced Shawmut, 2:26.

Volunteer was a bay horse, with a little white around the left hind coronet, fifteen hands three inches at the wither, and sixteen hands measured at the coupling. He has been considered by many good judges to have been the handsomest of all the sons of Hambletonian. He was a horse of superb form and of great elegance of carriage. With sufficient of muscle and substance, he was built on graceful, finished lines, with a beautiful head[302] loftily carried, a long and graceful neck, a body stout but finely molded, and all set off by a handsome mane and tail. His feet and legs were of superb quality, and despite his great age they were, it is said, without fault or blemish to the last. His temper and disposition were good, though he was very high-spirited, and in harness he was especially attractive. As a four-year-old Volunteer was sold to Mr. R. C. Underhill, of Brooklyn, after he had won a premium at the Orange County fair. In April, 1861, Mr. Underhill sent him to Tim T. Jackson, of Jamaica, Long Island, and in Wallace’s Monthly for December, 1880, Mr. Jackson gave his experiences with Volunteer, making among others this specific statement:

“I had him at Union Course one day, and met Mr. Alfred M. Tredwell there, and I got him to hold that watch on him. Had him in quite a heavy single-seated wagon, weighing probably one hundred and twenty-five or one hundred and thirty pounds. On the first trial he trotted in 2:33. I said to Mr. Tredwell that he could beat that, and he trotted the next mile in 2:31¼.”

He had previously been trained by William Whelan, at Union Course. It was June 26, 1862, while he was in Jackson’s hands, that Alden Goldsmith, in partnership with Edwin Thorne, purchased this horse, then called Hambletonian Jr., and he soon afterward became the sole property of Mr. Goldsmith. Mr. Rysdyk greatly resented his having been called Hambletonian Jr., and early regarded him as a possible rival of Hambletonian, and there was war from the start between the adherents of sire and son. The Civil War was just then at its height, and the patriotic and military spirit rampant, and Mr. Goldsmith aptly named his horse Volunteer. Mr. H. T. Helm, who wrote a very detailed history of Volunteer twenty years ago, credits him with having trotted in 2:36 to wagon at the Goshen Fair in the fall of 1862, beating Winfield, Grey Confidence and others. At Hartford, Connecticut, in August, 1867, he beat George M. Patchen Jr., in a single dash in 2:37. He was, like nearly all the other great sires, a developed trotter.

It is said that his early stud opportunities were so limited that at ten years old he had but eighteen living foals. The first of his get entered the 2:30 list in 1871, but from that time on his list rapidly grew, and the great campaigners Gloster, Alley, Driver, Bodine, Huntress, the great three-miler, and finally St. Julien, 2:11¼, then the fastest trotter in the world, so spread the[303] fame of Volunteer that when his sire died in 1876 he was regarded as the greatest living sire of trotters. In 1882 Mr. R. S. Veech, probably the most intelligent breeder in all Kentucky, while on a visit to New York, telegraphed Mr. Goldsmith to know whether it was worth while for him to visit Walnut Grove, with a view to buying Volunteer, and Mr. Goldsmith’s answer reveals the regard in which he held his horse. The pith of his admirably written letter was in this paragraph:

“While there is no person that would be more welcome at the farm than yourself, if the only object of your visit would be the purchase of Volunteer, then your trip would not be a profitable or successful one, as no breeder in Kentucky has money enough to buy him…. I have as high a regard for money as the most of men for the uses it may subserve, but there are certain things which money cannot buy, as the Teacher of old taught Simon the Samaritan.”

And so Volunteer remained at Walnut Grove, and “lagged superfluous on the stage” long after his owner had passed away, and died December 13, 1888, at the extraordinary age of thirty-four years, seven months and twelve days.

Volunteer sired thirty-four standard performers, and forty of his sons and forty-eight of his daughters produced an aggregate of two hundred and twenty-one standard performers. The most successful of his sons is the Michigan sire, Louis Napoleon, that was out of the Harry Clay mare, Hattie Wood, dam also of Victor Bismarck and Gazelle, 2:21. Louis Napoleon has twenty-seven in the standard list, and fourteen of his sons and twenty-two of his daughters are producers, his best son being Jerome Eddy, 2:16½, sire of Fanny Wilcox, 2:10¼, and twenty-seven other standard performers.

Dictator very early in his career attracted attention as the full brother to the famous Dexter, who was his senior by five years, and who was king of the trotting turf, and the most famous trotter in all the world just at the time when Dictator was merging from colthood to maturity. Dictator had thus from the very start the advantage of splendid stud opportunities. He was bred by Jonathan Hawkins, of Walden, Orange County, New York, and was foaled in 1863. He was got by Hambletonian out of the famous Clara, the dam of Dexter, 2:17¼, Alma, 2:28¾, Astoria, 2:29½, etc., by Seely’s American Star; grandam the McKinstry mare, breeding unknown, but that produced Shark with[304] a saddle record of 2:27¾. Dictator was a seal-brown horse with a white rear ankle, and stood scant fifteen hands and one inch. He was made on a small but a fine model, and was, all in all, a handsome little horse, and most of his get partook of his fine quality of structure, though many were unsound. Shortly after Dexter made his début on the turf, Dictator was bought by Mr. Harrison Durkee, a wealthy New York gentleman who had an extensive stock farm at Flushing, Long Island. The colt was then but eleven months old and was left at the Hawkins farm until two years old. Then he was sent to Mr. Alden Goldsmith’s place, at Washingtonville, to be broken, after which he was taken to Mr. Durkee’s farm. The colt was very fast, but the fame of Dexter was already wide, and, no great importance being attached to development of stallions in that day, he was considered of more value for breeding than for racing. He was worked considerably at Mr. Durkee’s farm, and Colonel John W. Conley and H. C. Woodnut, who at different times had charge of him, have both declared that they knew him to be one of the fastest trotters of his day. In 1874 Colonel Richard West sold Almont to General Withers, and to fill his place leased Dictator in the autumn of 1875, and he made the seasons of 1876 and 1877 at Colonel West’s Edgehill farm, Georgetown, Kentucky. Standing at a higher fee than Almont or George Wilkes, he attracted little outside patronage, and he was returned to Long Island. It has been stated that when at Colonel West’s, George Brasfield drove Dictator quarters as fast as thirty-four and one-half seconds. After his return to Flushing he sank from public notice until the appearance of Director as a great three-year-old in 1880. Then a couple of years later came the phenomenal Jay-Eye-See, and close after him Phallas, and with these three great trotters on the turf at once “the sire of Jay-Eye-See, 2:10, Phallas, 2:13¾, and Director, 2:17,” came again prominently before the public. In 1883 he was purchased by Major H. C. McDowell, and Messrs. David Bonner and A. A. Bonner, for a price that was said to have been twenty-five thousand dollars, and taken to Ashland farm at Lexington. Eventually he became the sole property of Major McDowell, and died May 25, 1893.

Dictator did not get speed uniformly. He was what might be called a sporadic sire, but those of his get that raced at all raced well. By far his best son as a producer is Director, 2:17, that was out of Dolly by Mambrino Chief, and is the sire of sixteen[305] trotters and pacers with records in the 2:20 list, including the champion trotting stallion Directum, 2:05¼, and the one-time champion pacing stallion, Direct, who after being practically crippled in trotting to a four-year-old record of 2:18¼, carrying great weights to keep him at that gait, was allowed to go at his natural gait and paced in 2:05½, and is already a very successful sire. Phallas, 2:13¾, of whom high hopes were entertained, and who had great opportunities, proved practically a failure in the stud, though his son Phallamont, out of an Almont mare, ranks with Direct as the best of Dictator’s grandsons. Dictator got fifty standard performers, forty-four of his sons have produced one hundred and seventy-three standard performers, and forty-two of his daughters have produced sixty-one standard performers.

Harold became very famous when Maud S. became queen of the turf with the then marvelous record of 2:08¾, a record that stood unequaled from 1885 till 1891. This horse was bred by Charles S. Dole, Crystal Lake, Illinois, by whom he was sold, in an exchange of horses, to Woodburn Farm, when he was a yearling. He was foaled in 1864, and his dam was Enchantress (the dam also of Black Maria and of Lakeland Abdallah), by Abdallah. It was long claimed that this mare’s dam was a daughter of imported Bellfounder, but investigation exploded this claim. Harold was a bay horse, without marks, just fifteen hands high, stoutly made but very homely of form. He had a finely made head, but otherwise he was exceedingly plain, and when Maud S. came out the late Benjamin Bruce, in the Kentucky Live Stock Record, expressed wonder that “that little bench-legged stud” could have gotten such a mare. Harold’s full brother, Lakeland Abdallah, was far superior to him individually, but ranks with Hetzel’s Hambletonian, the brother to Volunteer, and Kearsarge, by Volunteer out of Dexter’s dams, in the fore front of the well-bred failures in trotting history. Largely from his individuality Harold was never, even when Maud S. was in the heyday of her renown, a popular horse, and the figures given by the Woodburn management say that in his entire career he was bred to but five hundred and ninety-four mares, or an average of about twenty-five for each of his twenty-three seasons. With the exception of Maud S., Harold got nothing of the first class, but in the second generation the family holds better rank in respect to extreme speed production. Beuzetta, 2:06¾, Early Bird, 2:10, The Conqueror, 2:13, and the great[306] three-year-old Impetuous, 2:13, are out of daughters of Harold, while Kremlin, 2:07¾, Io, 2:13½, Rizpah, 2:13½, Russellmont, 2:12¾, and the great pacer Robert J., 2:01½, are among the produce of his sons, and the present queen of the trotting turf, Alix, 2:03¾, is out of a daughter of Attorney, by Harold. Harold died at Woodburn, October 6, 1893. This horse never trotted in public, but he was worked some for speed at Woodburn. As a six-year-old he is said to have trotted the farm track in 2:40½, in which mile it is stated he “grabbed a quarter” and was not worked again. He is the sire of forty-four standard performers, forty-three of his sons have produced one hundred and eighty-one standard performers, and forty-five of his daughters have produced sixty-seven standard performers.

Happy Medium was bred by R. P. Galloway, of Sufferen, New York, and was foaled 1863. He was by Hambletonian, out of the famous old campaigner Princess, 2:30, that trotted ten miles in 29:10¾ and two miles in 5:02, and was the great rival of Flora Temple, 2:19¾. Princess was a bay mare, foaled 1846, by Andrus’ Hambletonian, son of Judson’s Hambletonian, that was by Bishop’s Hambletonian, son of imported Messenger; and her dam was the Wilcox mare, by Burdick’s Engineer, son of Engineer, by imported Messenger. She campaigned from ocean to ocean, and her career is perhaps the most remarkable of the earlier trotting days. When young she was mixed gaited, alternately pacing and trotting, and was put to work hauling logs. Then her owner traded her for a second-hand wagon, and finally she reached the hands of D. M. Gage, of Chicago. He put her into training, and she trotted some indifferent races as Topsy, was sold, and taken across the plains to California. Here in 1858 she beat New York, taking her record of 2:30. Then she fell into the hands of the notorious “Jim” Eoff, and the next year was matched against the then crack trotter of California, Glencoe Chief, at ten miles to wagon. These were golden days on the coast, and this race was for the enormous stake of thirty-six thousand five hundred dollars. Princess won easily in 29:10¾, but the Glencoe Chief party being dissatisfied, another race was trotted the next day at the same distance for five thousand dollars, Princess again winning. There was after this nothing on the coast to race with Princess, and Eoff brought her to New York to try conclusions with Flora Temple. Her first race with Flora was at three-mile heats at Eclipse Course, Long Island, Flora[307] winning, but at two-mile heats a week later Princess won in 5:02, 5:05. In their subsequent races Flora turned the tables, though in a stubborn contest at two-mile heats Princess forced the then queen of the turf to make the long unbeaten record of 4:50½. She was then retired from the turf, and after passing through several hands became the property of R. F. Galloway, who in 1862 bred her to Hambletonian.


By Happy Medium, record 2:04.

Happy Medium was a bay horse, with star, snip, and two white rear ankles, fifteen hands two inches in height, and was a shapely, attractive horse, with excellent legs and feet. Some critics have found fault that he was light barreled, and perhaps with some degree of reason, but as a whole he was structurally much above the average of his time. As a four-year-old he started at the Goshen Fair and won, taking a record of 2:54, which he lowered to 2:51 in 1868. The next year, 1869, at Paterson, New Jersey, he distanced Guy Miller and Honesty in 2:34½, 2:32½, and these three performances, all winning ones, comprise his entire turf career. He was in 1871 purchased at a very large price—said to have been twenty-five thousand dollars—by Mr. Robert Steel, who placed him at the head of his Cedar Park Farm, at Philadelphia. In 1879 he was purchased by the late General W. T. Withers, and taken to his Fairlawn Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, where he remained until he died, January 25, 1888, at which time he had more 2:30 performers to his credit than any horse then living. The Happy Mediums developed speed easily and quickly, and were remarkable for the purity of their gait. The most famous of his get is the mare Nancy Hanks, that lowered the world’s record to 2:04 in 1892. The mares bred to Happy Medium never were as a whole of good breeding, and in his early stud career they were largely of inferior blood and quality. His fame has steadily grown, and with ninety-two standard performers to his credit, and his sons and daughters breeding on, the blood of Happy Medium is justly held in very high esteem as a positive speed-producing element. Fifty-one of his sons have produced two hundred and thirteen, and forty-seven of his daughters have produced fifty-nine standard performers.

Jay Gould was one of the most famous of all the sons of Hambletonian on the turf and the sensational trotting stallion of his day, and he now, in turn, takes a high place among producing sons of the great father of trotters. This horse was bred by the late Richard Sears, of Orange County, New York, was foaled 1864,[308] and was got by Hambletonian, out of Lady Sanford, by Seely’s American Star; grandam Old Sorrel, by Exton Eclipse; third dam by Lawrence’s Messenger Duroc, etc. At maturity Jay Gould was a handsome, blood-like horse, fifteen and one-half hands high, and a rich bay in color, with white hind ankles. With his dam he was sold while at her side to Charles H. Kerner, of New York, who soon after traded them to John Minchin, of Goshen, for the then well-known trotter Drift, Mr. Kerner also paying a fair sum in cash. Later the colt came into the hands of A. C. Green, of Fall River, and was by him named Judge Brigham. It is said that Mr. Green first learned that Judge Brigham was a fast trotter through his taking fright at a train one day in 1870 and running away with him at a trot. Whatever the facts as to this are, it was soon known that Mr. Green had a very fast trotter, and the next season (1871) he started for a five-thousand-dollar purse at Buffalo, among the other starters being the already famous Judge Fullerton. To the general astonishment, Judge Brigham “cut loose” in the second heat, winning it in 2:22, thus equaling the stallion record then held by George Wilkes, and placing to his credit the fastest heat ever up to that time trotted by a horse in his maiden race. He won the race handily, and was the sensation of the time. He was at once purchased for, I believe, the great price of thirty-five thousand dollars by the late world-famous financier, Jay Gould, H. N. Smith, and George C. Hall. Later Mr. Smith acquired Mr. Hall’s interest, and Mr. Kerner bought Mr. Gould’s, and finally, some years after, Mr. Smith, who had established Fashion Stud Farm, at Trenton, New Jersey, and owned the noted mares Goldsmith Maid, 2:14, Lady Thorn, 2:18¼, and Lucy, 2:18¼, became sole owner of Jay Gould, as Judge Brigham was renamed.

The week following his Buffalo race Jay Gould defeated another strong field at Kalamazoo, Michigan; and in 1872 started four times, winning in all his races, lowering his record to 2:21¼, the then champion stallion record. He was kept in the stud in 1873, but being challenged on behalf of Bashaw Jr., the following year, was given a hurried fall preparation, and met his challenger at Baltimore. Bashaw Jr., broke down in the first heat, and Gould of course won an empty victory, but to satisfy the audience was driven a public trial in 2:19½. Meanwhile Smuggler had lowered the stallion record to 2:20, and Jay Gould was sent against it at Boston, trotting under unfavorable circumstances[309] in 2:20½ and 2:21½. This practically closed his turf career. He made a number of seasons at Fashion Farm, and in his later years at Walnut Hill Farm, near Lexington, Kentucky, and died of old age June 10, 1894. Jay Gould’s opportunities were never of the best. In his earlier years in the stud General Knox was more used at Fashion Farm than Jay Gould, and there was no training done at Fashion until 1886. Jay Gould is the sire of twenty-nine standard performers, the most noted of which is the great mare Pixley, 2:08¼. Fourteen of his sons have produced thirty standard performers, and twenty-eight of his daughters have produced forty-six performers, among the latter being the great pacer, Robert J., 2:01½, and such trotters as Poem, 2:11½, Colonel Kuser, 2:11¼, Mahogany, 2:12¼, Edgardo, 2:13¾, etc. His most noted producing daughter is Lucia, whose dam was the famous old trotting mare Lucy, 2:18¼, by George M. Patchen, 2:23½. Lucia is the dam of Edgardo, 2:13¾, Hurly Burly, 2:16¼, and several others in the 2:30 list, and her blood is breeding on through both her sons and daughters.

Strathmore, taking all things into consideration, must be rated among the very greatest sons of Hambletonian. He was a solid bay horse, of the substantial Hambletonian type, foaled 1866, bred by Aristides Welch at his Chestnut Hill farm, near Philadelphia, and was got by Hambletonian out of the quite famous trotting mare Lady Waltermire, by North American, and Lady Waltermire’s dam was said to have been by Harris’ Hambletonian. This North American sired Whitehall, that got the famous trotter Rhode Island, sire of the still more celebrated Governor Sprague, and in the section treating of the latter the reader will find particulars concerning North American. Lady Waltermire was a noted trotting mare in her day, and it has been claimed that she performed faster than 2:30, but I have never been able to substantiate this claim. When Strathmore was a three-year-old, in 1869, I visited Chestnut Hill. Mr. Welch then had three sons of Hambletonian, viz., William Welch, Rysdyk, and Strathmore, who was then called Goodwin Watson. The two former were led out to be shown, but when I inquired for Goodwin Watson, Mr. Welch’s reply was “Oh, he’s a pacer”—except that he used an adjective in connection with “pacer” that added emphasis, and betrayed some degree of regret, or indeed disgust. The fact that several of Strathmore’s sons have gotten many fast pacers need not be marveled at. I am not aware that[310] Strathmore was ever trained, and probably his pacing inclination furnishes the reason. When he was seven years old he was purchased by Colonel R. G. Stoner, of Paris, Kentucky, and named Strathmore, and up to this time, Colonel Stoner states, he had but three foals, one of which was afterward known as Chestnut Hill, 2:22½, the first of his get to earn a reputation. His first two seasons were made in Montgomery County, after which he was taken to Paris, in Bourbon County. Colonel Stoner states in one of his catalogues that Strathmore’s early opportunities in Kentucky were very inferior; that in 1877 and 1878 the service fees earned would not pay for his keep; that up to 1879 he never served a mare with a record or the dam of an animal with a record, and that it was not until Steinway trotted in 1878 as a two-year old in 2:31¾, and Santa Claus as a five-year-old in 2:18 in 1879 that any good mares came to Strathmore. At Colonel Stoner’s sale, February 9, 1886, Strathmore was sold for two thousand one hundred and fifty dollars to Rockhill & Bro., of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they owned him until his death, March 11, 1895. Strathmore has seventy-one in the standard list; twenty-six of his sons and fifty-four of his daughters have produced one hundred and fifty-eight standard performers.

Egbert is one of the youngest sons of Hambletonian, and has achieved very fair success in the stud. He is closely inbred to the Hambletonian, or rather the Abdallah blood, and is possibly the most notable instance of a successful sire being very closely inbred. Egbert was bred by Hon. J. H. Walker, Worcester, Massachusetts, and was foaled in 1875. He was sold at the sale of Mr. Walker’s horses at Worcester in the autumn of 1877, when he was purchased for the then great price for a two-year-old of three thousand four hundred and twenty-five dollars by H. J. Hendryx, of Michigan, a representative of Mr. Veech, of Kentucky, being a contending bidder. After the sale Mr. Hendryx sold the colt for four thousand dollars to George W. Raudenbush, of Reading, Pennsylvania, who I believe still owns him. In the spring of 1880 Egbert was taken by Colonel Richard West to his farm at Georgetown, Kentucky, and kept there a number of years, and indeed the greater part of his stud career has been in Kentucky. I am not aware that Egbert was ever trained. He is individually a superior horse, but is alleged to have an unkind disposition.

Egbert was got by Hambletonian out of Campdown, by Messenger[311] Duroc (son of Hambletonian); grandam Miss McLeod (dam of Lord Nelson, 2:26¼, and Polonius), by the Holbert Colt (son of Hambletonian); great-grandam May Fly, by Utter Horse, son of Hoyt’s Comet; great-great-grandam Virgo, sister to the dam of Messenger Duroc, by Roe’s Abdallah Chief, son of Abdallah, the sire of Hambletonian. The Holbert Colt, son of Hambletonian, was a pacer, and others in Egbert’s ancestry paced; and in commenting on his pedigree, from this point of view, at the time Colonel West took him to Kentucky, I remarked in Wallace’s Monthly, March, 1880: “Colonel West need not be surprised if he finds quite a number of Egbert’s offspring starting off at a pace.” The facts have borne out the prediction, as a glance at Egbert’s long list of fast pacers will show. Egbert is the sire of seventy-five standard performers, while twenty-five of his sons, and eighteen of his daughters have produced seventy-four standard performers.

Masterlode, that left a family of some merit in Michigan, was a mammoth bay, foaled 1868, got by Hambletonian out of Lady Irwin by Seeley’s American Star. He was a gigantic, coarse horse, and was certainly the largest horse that ever earned a reputation as a sire of trotters. It is said he was quite seventeen hands high and was built on a heavy mold even for his height. He was bred by James M. Mills, Orange County, New York, and passed to A. C. Fisk, Coldwater, Michigan, who owned him until his death in 1892. The most noted of his get was Belle F., 2:15¼, that was one of the very best campaigners out in 1886. He has twenty-eight to his credit in the list, and seventeen of his sons and sixteen of his daughters have produced in all fifty-seven standard performers.

Aberdeen shares with Dictator such honors as attach to the highest success of the “Hambletonian-Star cross” in the stud. This horse was bred by the notorious Captain Isaiah Rynders, at Passaic, New Jersey, and a full account of the investigation of the pedigree of his dam, the noted Widow Machree, 2:29, will be found in Chapter XXIX., on the investigation of pedigrees. Widow Machree was altogether the best trotter of the American Star family, and was especially noted for her gameness. Bred to Hambletonian, it was natural that she should produce a trotter, and Aberdeen was quite a trotter in his day. As a three-year-old he won a stake at Prospect Park, distancing his field in 2:46, and the statement has been published that he later in his career[312] trotted a slow New Jersey track in 2:24¼. This horse was foaled in 1866, and was a bay fifteen hands three inches high, and very stoutly, indeed coarsely made, and was of a dangerously vicious disposition. The good race mare Hattie Woodward, that made a record of 2:15½, first attracted attention to Aberdeen as a sire, and in 1881 he was purchased by General Withers and taken to Fairlawn, and before this his stud opportunities had been very limited. He died in 1892. By far the best of his get is the great mare Kentucky Union, that made a record of 2:07¼ in 1896. Aberdeen has forty in the standard list, fourteen of his sons have produced fifty-seven, and seventeen of his daughters have produced nineteen standard performers.

Sweepstakes must be classed among the successful sons of Hambletonian as a sire of trotters, though in the second generation his family have yet failed of great distinction, nor did Sweepstakes himself get extreme speed. This was a bay horse, foaled 1867, by Hambletonian out of Emma Mills, that also produced Mott’s Independent, by Seely’s American Star. He was bred by the late Harrison Mills, near Goshen, in Orange County, New York, and was never, I believe, trained. Indeed it has been stated that he never wore harness, and is perhaps the most remarkable example of a strictly undeveloped sire of trotters. The most noted of his get is the bay horse Captain Lyons, 2:17¼. Sweepstakes sired thirty-three trotters and two pacers that are standard performers, four sons have produced eight trotters and two pacers, and twenty of his daughters have produced twenty-five trotters and four pacers.

Governor Sprague is one of the few horses not descended in the male line from one of the great foundation progenitors, and that yet was a trotter of merit and the founder of a trotting family. His dam, however, was a producing daughter of Hambletonian, and this must be regarded as the probable source of his power, though his sire was a fine trotter for his day.

Back in the thirties a Frenchman living at Rouse’s Point, New York, near the Canadian boundary line, bred a pacing mare to a horse that was kept in the same stable with Sir Walter, thoroughbred son of Hickory, and the result was the horse known as North American, or the Bullock Horse. It was long claimed that North American was by Sir Walter, but the best authenticated version is given in Wallace’s Monthly, for 1880. This was the statement of a Mr. Ladd, said to be a reliable man, who[313] knew the Frenchman who bred North American. Ladd had formerly lived at Rouse’s Point, and kept a little hotel at Benson’s Landing on Lake Champlain. Ladd’s statement was that the Frenchman had a little pacing mare, from which he wanted to raise a foal, but would not pay more than three dollars for any horse’s service. Sir Walter’s fee was fifteen dollars, but in the same stable was a large stallion that was used to haul water from the lake to the hotel, and the Frenchman was permitted to have the service of this horse for three dollars, and this is the only reliable version I could ever obtain as to the pedigree of North American. Besides the line we are now considering, this horse got Lady Waltermire, the dam of the great Strathmore, and one of his daughters is the dam of two in the 2:30 list, and Vergennes Black Hawk came from another. North America was said to have been a natural trotter, and quite fast for a short distance. A son of his, named Whitehall, from the name of the place where he was bred, was taken to Ohio from New York about 1854 and there got the noted Rhode Island, 2:23½, the sire of Governor Sprague. Rhode Island was a brown horse, foaled about 1857, and his dam was by a black horse called Davy Crockett that was brought from Pennsylvania, and her dam was called Bald Hornet. This mare, Mag Taylor, was bred to Whitehall twice, one of her foals being Belle Rice, the dam of the stallion Harry Wilkes, sire of Rosalind Wilkes, 2:14¼, and the other was Rhode Island. This horse trotted many races, and at Fashion Course, New York, October 27, 1868, earned his record of 2:23½. He about this time passed into the hands of Sprague & Akers, and he died in 1875. At this time Governor Amasa Sprague had among his brood mares Belle Brandon, by Rysdyk’s Hambletonian out of a daughter of Young Bacchus. This was a bay mare, foaled in 1854 in Orange County, and was a fast trotter and a mare of great general excellence. She was driven as a mate to Sprague’s Hambletonian, and Mr. Sprague claimed that he had once driven her a mile in 2:29. Bred to Volunteer she produced Amy, 2:20¼, and to Rhode Island, produced in 1872, Governor Sprague, 2:20½.

Governor Sprague was a black horse, approximating fifteen hands two inches in height, and very substantially built. He is described as having been an exceedingly handsome horse, especially in action, his gait having been pure and beautiful. In 1873 he was sent to Kansas and trained, and so promising was he that he was that year sold to Higbee Brothers and Mr. Babcock,[314] of Canton, Illinois, for one thousand five hundred dollars. He was shown and known as a very fast four-year-old, trotting public exhibitions in about 2:22. With the exception of a three-year-old race at Earlville, Illinois, he did not start in a public race until July 20, 1876, when at Chicago he easily defeated a good field, and so promising and attractive did he seem that the late Jerome I. Case, of Racine, paid the great price of twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars for him. At Poughkeepsie, New York, that season he lowered his record to 2:20½, and a few more races ended his short but brilliant turf career. He died at Lexington, Kentucky, May 23, 1883, at the early age of eleven years. His stud career was therefore short, and this fact we must remember in estimating his rank as a sire. Kate Sprague, 2:18, and Linda Sprague, 2:19, were about the best of his immediate progeny, and Rounds’ Sprague, that has twenty trotters and pacers in the 2:30 list, some of them in better than 2:20, seems to be his most successful son. Governor Sprague has to his credit thirty-six trotters and two pacers with standard records, twenty-two of his sons have sired fifty-four trotters and fifteen pacers, and his daughters have produced twenty-three trotters and six pacers. There was nothing in the inheritance of Rhode Island to justify a supposition that he would transmit speed uniformly, and, like Smuggler, the speed-getting power with him was sporadic. But from his dam, Belle Brandon, Governor Sprague received the blood of Hambletonian through an individual that had speed herself and naturally produced speed; and this strain, combined with the blood of a horse that was good enough in his day to beat Lucy, American Girl and George Wilkes, gave Governor Sprague a right to be all that he was.


Description and history of Mambrino Chief—The pioneer trotting stallion of Kentucky—Matched against Pilot Jr.—His best sons—Mambrino Patchen, his opportunities and family—Woodford Mambrino, a notable trotter and sire—Princess—Mambrino Pilot—Other sons of Mambrino Chief.

Mambrino Chief was a dark bay or brown horse, got by Mambrino Paymaster, grandson of imported Messenger, and his dam was a large, coarse mare that was brought from the West in a drove, and absolutely nothing was known of her blood. The theory was once advanced in print that she must have been by Stevens’ Messenger Duroc, but I think it was never repeated. The basis of this theory was, that the horse referred to was large and coarse, with a long thigh bone, and as the mare was large and coarse, with a long thigh bone, she must have been a daughter of his. There are some obvious difficulties about accepting this “thigh-bone” pedigree. In the first place, the inventor of it never saw either the horse or the mare, and how could he have put his tapeline on their “thigh-bones” and thus ascertained they were of the same length? In the second place, it is not known, nor was it known to the inventor, that the horse ever had been within three hundred miles of the dam of this “daughter” of his. It is not much wonder that the “horse business” is hardly considered reputable when an educated man will advance such senseless gabble as the basis of a pedigree. This mare produced another colt called Goliah that developed some speed, but this was not the Goliah that was on the trotting turf.

Mambrino Chief was bred by Richard Eldridge, of Dutchess County, New York, and was owned by Warren Williams; in the spring of 1851 he passed into the hands of James M. Cockroft and G. T. Williams; was kept two or three seasons in Ulster County; trotted, under the saddle a trial in 2:36; sold to James B. Clay of Kentucky, in the winter of 1854, and then to Gray &[316] Jones, 1857, for five thousand and twenty dollars, and died 1861. Soon after his arrival in Kentucky he was matched to trot against Pilot Jr., and the match stirred up a great deal of interest among the breeders. He was so big and coarse and so far removed from the type of the running horse that very few believed he could show any speed at any gait, for the distance of a mile and repeat. He was placed in the hands of Dr. Herr, who had had some experience in handling trotters, for preparation. When the day came there was quite an assemblage to witness the race but the Pilot Jr. party came forward and paid forfeit. This was a sore disappointment to those who thought the big horse could not trot, and to satisfy them that he could trot and trot fast, Dr. Herr drove him to show his gait, and notwithstanding his quarter cracks he satisfied all that he really was a trotter. This was an auspicious opening of a successful career extending through the remaining six years of his life.

In the sense of success, Mambrino Chief was really the pioneer trotting stallion of Kentucky. True, “Old” Abdallah had been there fourteen years earlier, but he was in bad shape and breeders did not like him. He was very plain in his appearance and only left some half-dozen of foals behind him when he was brought back to Long Island. The breeders all turned to his stable companion, Commodore, that was more after the pattern of the running horse, and would not look at Abdallah. This Commodore filled the blue-grass fields with his foals, but none of them could trot. He was a son of Mambrino, by imported Messenger, and was an inbred Messenger, if his pedigree was right, but he was a failure as a trotting sire. Mr. Marcus Downing took his horse, Bay Messenger, there about the same time and he was a failure also, notwithstanding he was a grandson of imported Messenger. Both Commodore and Bay Messenger should have been trotting sires, but either one of two reasons was sufficient to prevent that consummation. First their blood and physical structure were all right, but the mental structure—the instinct to trot—was lacking; they inherited from some ancestor that could not and was not inclined to trot. Second, Kentuckians of that period knew nothing about trotters and they may have lacked in the requisite knowledge, skill and patience to develop them. It is true that old Pacing Pilot and some other pacing tribes were there that would occasionally throw a pacer with the diagonal motion, like Pilot Jr., but there was no other blood there that trotted before the[317] arrival of Mambrino Chief. This pacing element was a very valuable element upon which to build up the trotter, but unfortunately and wherever it was possible, a running pedigree was tacked on to the pacer, and thus, in the estimation of Kentuckians it was the running blood that did it.

The six years of his services in Kentucky gave sufficient time to establish his value as a trotting sire, but not sufficient to build up a large family. This limited period must be further restricted, in estimating his value, by the fact that the war broke out in 1861, at the very time when the larger part of his offspring were just at the right age for development. This important fact has been very generally overlooked when estimating the true value of this horse. The question has often been asked why this horse succeeded in Kentucky when he had not succeeded in the North? This is too broad a question to be considered in this historical sketch, but will be considered at another place in this volume. In passing it, some very intelligent writers have attributed it to what is called “the climatic outcross,” and there may be some real value in this point, but the great cause, aside from the new surroundings and expectations of his progeny, may be found in the fact that his own speed was never developed until the very eve of his transfer to Kentucky. His instinct to trot and to trot fast had remained dormant, practically, during the whole period of his Northern service, and when he reached Kentucky he was, in a sense, a new horse and conscious of his powers as a trotter. The salutary effects of development, at whatever gait, have been shown in ten thousand instances and will continue to be shown as long as the interests and ambitions of man shall prompt him to strive to surpass his neighbor.

At one time it was maintained right vehemently by the owners of the stock of Mambrino Chief, as well as some others, that as a stock horse he was not only equal but superior to Hambletonian. In 1867, when the battles were raging between Dexter and Lady Thorn, this view showed little abatement, and notwithstanding the gelding was beating the mare all the time, they still maintained that in the end she would be the conqueror. When Lady Thorn was seriously crippled and retired from the turf, there were many sad hearts in the Mambrino family and many wonderful stories were told, privately, of what Dan Mace had seen her do, and that he was keeping very quiet till an opportunity came to show the most wonderful flight of speed that the world had ever seen or[318] ever would see. With the shroud of what “might have been” about them, they were “of the same opinion still.”

Mambrino Chief left six in the 2:30 list; twenty-three sons that put ninety-five in the list and seventeen daughters that produced twenty-four trotters.


Name. Year foaled. Year died. Standard performers. Producing sons. Producing daughters. Standard performers produced by sons and daughters. Performers produced in two generations.
Mambrino Patchen 1862 1885 25 51 90 259 284
Woodford Mambrino, 2:21½ 1863 1879 13 23 24 172 185
Mambrino Pilot, 2:34¾ 1859 1885 9 17 15 71 80
Clark Chief 1861 1871 6 12 25 43 49
Ericsson, 2:30½ 1856 188- 6 4 15 25 31
Mambrino Chief Jr. (Fisk’s) 1861 189- 5 6 14 34 39
Mambrino Patchen was the best son of Mambrino Chief and was brother to Lady Thorn, 2:18¼. He was foaled 1862, after the death of his sire, and was bred by Levi T. Rodes. His dam was by Gano, a running-bred son of American Eclipse; his grandam was a pacing mare by a colt of Sir William, but what Sir William is not known; his great-grandam was an inveterate pacer and never was known to strike any other gait. Mambrino Patchen was so much smoother and handsomer than his sire, and was so much of a failure as a trotter, that a very strong conviction prevailed among the friends and neighbors of his owner that he was not a son of Mambrino Chief, nor a brother of Lady Thorn. To this story that he was a Denmark and not a Mambrino Chief I never have given any shadow of credence. The attempt of his owner, Dr. Herr, to make him a trotter was patient and persistent, extending through several years, but with all his skill and experience he failed. Nobody was ever able to “catch” him a mile, but it seems to have been conceded that he might go somewhere in the “forties.” While this persistent and long-continued training failed in its original purpose of giving the horse a record of reputable speed, there can be no doubt, under the law that governs, that this development did great good to the horse, as a progenitor[319] of trotters. The conditions being a handsome horse, with the banner constantly flying over him, “full brother to Lady Thorn,” an industrious and very capable owner, in the heart of the greatest breeding region in the whole country, it is easy to account for a very wide and lucrative patronage. Still, as a getter of speed he was not a great success, and as a getter of high speed he was a failure. With all the facilities for development, only twenty-five of his progeny have found a place in the 2:30 list, the fastest of which has a record of 2:20½. Of his sons, fifty-one are the sires of one hundred and twenty-six trotters, and of his daughters, ninety have produced one hundred and twenty-nine standard performers. He has proved himself a very great sire of brood mares, and when his daughters are bred to horses of stronger inheritance, they stand among the best.

Woodford Mambrino.—This son of Mambrino Chief was a large brown horse, foaled 1862. He was bred by Mr. Mason Henry, of Woodford County, Kentucky. His dam was also the dam of other trotters, was got by Woodford, son of Kosciusko, and her dam was a farm mare without any known breeding. Woodford was a large, strong horse used only for farm work, to which he was well suited. After spending a good deal of time and labor on his pedigree I am constrained to say that while he may have been a son of Kosciusko, his dam’s breeding is worse than unsatisfactory. Woodford Mambrino made a record of 2:21½, and placed thirteen of his get in the 2:30 list. He left twenty-three sons that were the sires of standard performers, and twenty-four daughters that produced twenty-seven standard performers. His son, Princeps, owned by Mr. R. S. Veech, of Indian Hill Farm, near Louisville, Kentucky, was in the stud far and away the best of his sons, and although he had no record of his own he placed in the list forty-four trotters and four pacers, many of them with fast records.

Mambrino Pilot was a very large and very coarse horse. He was a brown, got by Mambrino Chief, foaled 1859, dam Juliet, by Pilot Jr.; grandam by Webster, son of Medoc; great-grandam by Whip. He was bred by Thomas Hook, of Scott County, Kentucky, and after passing through the hands of Dr. Herr and others he was sold to C. P. Relf, of Philadelphia, and, I think, remained in his family till he died, 1885. He had a record to saddle of 2:27½. He put nine of his get into the 2:30 list, and seventeen[320] of his sons left fifty-one performers and fourteen of his daughters produced twenty performers.

Many others of the descendants of Mambrino Chief might be noticed, but it is not the purpose of this volume to dwell upon matters that are accessible in the current literature of the trotting horse. The foundations of breeds and the leading heads of tribes must command my labor. The table shows the rank of the other sons of Mambrino Chief that achieved any degree of success, and of these clearly the best was Clark Chief, that died at ten years old.


The imported Barb, Grand Bashaw—Young Bashaw, an inferior individual—His greatest son, Andrew Jackson—His dam a trotter and pacer—His history—His noted son, Kemble Jackson—Long Island Black Hawk—Henry Clay, founder of the Clay family—Cassius M. Clay—The various horses named Cassius M. Clay—George M. Patchen—His great turf career—George M. Patchen Jr.—Harry Clay—The Moor, and his son Sultan’s family.

This family is no longer prominent in trotting annals and its blood has been practically absorbed by other strains that have proved themselves more potent in transmitting and more uniform and more speedy in performing. The name “Bashaw Family” is a misnomer and it should never have been used, but as it has represented, for many years, the oldest line of developed speed, it seems a necessity to recognize it here. A branch of this family, designated as “The Clay Family” has perpetuated itself in some strength and will be considered in this chapter.

Grand Bashaw, the horse that gave this family its name, was imported from Tripoli by Richard B. Jones, who was the American consul at that port. Mr. Morgan was associated with him, and they imported at the same time two other Barbs, Grand Sultan and Saladin. Grand Bashaw was kept in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, several years; Grand Sultan was kept in New Salem, New Jersey, for a time, and Saladin was taken to North Carolina and afterward died in Georgia. From these three horses nothing has been left to the horse history of the country but one single attenuated line. Grand Bashaw was a black horse, fourteen hands and an inch high, with a star and a snip on his nose. He was kept all his life in the vicinity of Philadelphia, and died at Newtown, Pennsylvania, 1845.

Young Bashaw was a grey horse, about fifteen and one-quarter hands high, and is the only descendant of Grand Bashaw through which we can trace to that horse. He was foaled 1822 and was[322] bred by Thomas Logan, of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. His dam was Pearl, by Bond’s First Consul, a famous running horse, his grandam Fancy, by imported Messenger, and his great-grandam by imported Rockingham. This is the pedigree under which he was advertised, but it has never been authenticated in any of its crosses. Judging by the horse himself and his progeny there can hardly be a doubt that there was a Messenger cross in it, but just where cannot be determined.

He made his first season in Salem, New Jersey, 1826. He was then four years old and by no means handsome or attractive in his form. His head, ear and neck were his worst features; but in addition to these defects he was flat on the ribs and habitually carried his tail to one side. His limbs and feet were as good as ever were made, but his great redeeming quality was his trotting gait. When in Salem he was only a rough, partly developed, four-year-old colt, but he showed then a step and a rate of speed so remarkable as to induce a few to breed to him, notwithstanding his ungainly appearance. He did not cover more than a dozen mares that season, and all-told he got eight foals. Out of these eight, seven proved to be superior trotters for that day. Andrew Jackson was the best, but there was another that could go below 2:40. The common remark was, wherever he touched a mare of Messenger blood, there was sure to come a trotter. This was the general rule, but the best hit he ever made, probably, was when he covered Joseph Hancock’s black pacing mare and got Andrew Jackson.

In looking over his blood elements we can see nothing in his pedigree to justify these trotting qualities except the grandam, Fancy, by Messenger. First Consul was a great race horse, but neither he nor his descendants ever evinced a disposition to trot. The horse Rockingham was contemporaneous with Messenger and a constant rival while Messenger was about Philadelphia. He was not wholly running-bred, as he was by Towser, afterward called Counsellor, and out of a hunting mare. As a stock horse he was esteemed as only second to Messenger on the Delaware, where he stood many years.

The fame of Young Bashaw did not cease nor die out after the exploits of Andrew Jackson, Black Bashaw, Charlotte Temple, Washington and others from his own loins. The Clays, the Long Island Black Hawks and the Patchens have kept spreading it wider and wider until of late years we find that only the one[323] great Hambletonian family has overshadowed them all. Young Bashaw, after eleven years in the stud along the Delaware River, above and below Philadelphia, died at Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, June, 1837.

Andrew Jackson was the most noted son of Young Bashaw. He was a black horse, fifteen and a half hands high, with three white feet and a strip of white in his face. He was very well formed in every point and was strong, compact, short-legged and handsome. He was foaled 1827, and was bred by Joseph Hancock, of Salem, New Jersey. His dam was a strong, compact black mare that both trotted and paced, and was noted for her speed at the latter gait. This mare was brought in a drove from Ohio, in the spring of 1820 and on the twenty-first of June of that year she was sold to Mr. Hancock, of Salem, New Jersey, for one hundred dollars. He kept her a little over six years, and in the spring of 1826 bred her to Young Bashaw, and in the fall of that year sold her to Powell Carpenter; and soon after he sold her to Daniel Jeffreys, a brickmaker on the Germantown road, near Philadelphia. She was then in foal by Young Bashaw, and the next spring she dropped the colt that became famous as Andrew Jackson.

The incidents connected with the history of this mare are here given, perhaps in unnecessary detail, but as Andrew Jackson was very extensively advertised under a fraudulent pedigree from about 1834 till the time of his death, and as I had at one time accepted it as true, it is better that it should be made very plain, especially as I had been severely criticised for changing it. The correction made, as above, was founded on information received from two separate and distinct sources and both thoroughly reliable. The fraudulent pedigree of this mare represented her as “by Whynot, son of imported Messenger, and her dam by Messenger” himself. This was just such a pedigree as so great a horse should have had, but there was no truth in it. The attack was led by quite a large breeder in one of the prairie States, who had a number of animals remotely descended from Andrew Jackson. He did not even pretend to know anything at all about the truth of the matter, but simply urged most vehemently that the pedigree should be restored because it was old. The fact of the matter was the man wanted the old lie instead of the new truth maintained because it would help to sell his stock, which was the very object for which the lie was originally invented.

Daniel Jeffreys was very much addicted to trotting horses, and[324] when he bought the black mare that was then carrying Andrew Jackson he kept her for his own driving and named her “Charcoal Sal.” She was no doubt among the fastest of the road horses, but there is no record of her ever being in a race. How much Jeffreys drove Charcoal Sal that autumn cannot now be determined; probably too much for the physical, but not too much, for the mental, organization of the foal she was carrying.

About the break of day, one morning in the following April, somebody was passing Jeffreys’ brickyard (my recollection is, it was George Woodruff himself), and he heard a splashing in the water accumulated in one of the clay pits, and Charcoal Sal circling round in great distress. She had dropped her foal, and in its weak efforts to get on its feet, it had rolled into the pit. It was at once pulled out and the family aroused, and no time was lost in rubbing it dry and wrapping it in warm blankets. Some of the mare’s milk was poured into it from time to time, and toward noon it was so much revived and strengthened as to manifest a disposition to get on its feet. This was due, principally, to the womanly care and good nursing of Mrs. Jeffreys. But, when helped up, he appeared to have strength enough everywhere but in his pastern joints, and there he had no strength at all. In this condition the colt remained a day or two, a most pitiable and most helpless object, standing on its pasterns instead of its feet. One morning at the breakfast-table Mr. Jeffreys said he would give any of the boys a dollar if he would put that colt out of misery and bury it out of his sight. Mrs. Jeffreys, whose womanly feelings and sympathies were all enlisted, replied to her husband’s remark that “the boy who would kill that colt never could eat another mouthful at that table.” What a grand exhibition of true womanly instincts! Day by day her unremitting care was rewarded by seeing a little more strength gathering in the weak places, and at last her kind, motherly heart was gladdened by seeing him skip and play, a strong beautiful colt.

Mr. Jeffreys kept the colt till he was some five or six years old! and then sold him to John Weaver, whose residence was about half a mile from the old Hunting Park Course. He remained the property of Mr. Weaver till he died, September 19, 1843. In his stud services he was kept on both sides of the Delaware, in the region of Philadelphia, and made one season, perhaps two, on Long Island. As a trotter he stood as the first of all stallions of his day.


His first race took place October 19, 1832, over the Hunting Park Course for a purse of two hundred dollars for green horses, to saddle. He was entered under the name of “Brickmaker,” was ridden by George Woodruff (“Uncle George”), and beat Jersey Fagdown, son of Fagdown, by Messenger. Time 6:30, 6:23.

The next year he beat Jersey Fagdown again for the same purse and over the same course.

October, 1834, he again won the same purse, over the same course, at two miles to saddle, beating Sally Miller. Time 5:26, 5:25.

The next October, 1835, over the same course, the same conditions, he beat Lady Warrenton, by Abdallah, and Daniel D. Tompkins, by a son of Winthrop Messenger. Time 5:20, 5:19.

These performances have been extended far enough to give a just conception of his speed and his staying qualities. His races seem to have been pretty much all to saddle and two-mile heats. In that day most races were to saddle. George Woodruff told me he was on his back when he made Edwin Forrest trot in 2:31¼ to win, but whether it was in a race or a trial I cannot now recall. Mr. George Woodruff was an uncle of Hiram Woodruff and a very worthy man. To him I am indebted for all the details of the early life of Andrew Jackson, and they were of his own personal knowledge.

Kemble Jackson.—About the year 1853, of all the idols of the trotting-horse world, perhaps no one had so many worshipers as Kemble Jackson. In 1852 he was beaten by O’Blennis, three-mile heats in harness, and in April, 1853, he was beaten by both Green Mountain Maid and Lady Vernon, mile heats in harness, but in June following he achieved a great triumph. The race was on the Union Course and there was a vast concourse of people there to see it. The purse and stake was for four thousand dollars, three-mile heats to two hundred and fifty-pound wagons. The interest was very intense, as O’Blennis, Boston Girl, Pet, Iola and Honest John were in it. Each horse in the race made better time than he ever made before, and yet Kemble Jackson took the lead and maintained it from end to end, without a skip or a break. After the first heat even, the friends of O’Blennis would not hedge their money, for they had faith that the gallant son of Abdallah would win. The finish of the second heat was in the order above given. The time was 8:03, 8:04¾.[326] Faster time has since been made to wagon, but probably not with this weight and at this distance. As a weight-puller for three miles I believe he still remains the champion. He was a very strongly built chestnut horse, and was got by Andrew Jackson the last year of his life.

The pedigree of his dam was in confusion for a long time. Her name was Fanny Kemble. There were a number of running-bred mares named after that very popular actress, and everybody who had anything tracing to “Fanny Kemble” was sure that that particular mare was the dam of Kemble Jackson. In the first volume of the “Register” he is given as out of Fanny Kemble by Sir Archy, and in the second volume there was some fairly good evidence that he was out of Fanny Kemble by Hunt’s Eagle, tracing on through running lines. It is true he was out of a mare called Fanny Kemble, but neither of the two foregoing. Her blood was wholly unknown. The Hon. Ely Moore was a member of Congress, and when on his way to Washington in 1839 he saw a very fine, stout-looking mare hitched to a gig in the city of Baltimore. She was a chestnut and showed such ability to handle a great heavy gig with ease and rapidity that he bought her. He bought her for what she was herself and not for what her blood was. There was no evidence asked or given as to how she was bred. This mare produced several foals to Andrew Jackson, the youngest of which was Kemble Jackson. While he was still a colt, Mr. Moore presented him to his son-in-law, G. U. Reynolds, who still owned him when he died. Mr. Reynolds is an intelligent and very reputable man, and this is the history of the origin of Kemble Jackson as given to me in person by him. Mr. Moore paid two hundred and fifty dollars for this mare Fanny Kemble, and she was so handsome and so fast on the road that he considered her a very cheap mare. The company never was too hot nor the road too long for her.

Everybody has heard of “The Kemble Jackson Check” and nearly everybody, until within the last few years at least, has been using it without knowing just why or when it can be used with advantage. When in the hands of Hiram Woodruff, Kemble Jackson got into the habit of bringing his chin back against his breast, and in that shape Hiram could pull on him all day without getting control of him. In this dilemma, Mr. Reynolds suggested an overdraw check which might prevent the indulgence of this bad habit. Hiram took the suggestion, had[327] one made, and it was a success, in his case. In twenty-four days after the performance which made him a great name from one end of the land to the other he died of rupture. As he was only nine years old and as he was just beginning to be appreciated as a stallion the breeders of the country sustained a great loss. Up to this point in his history he had no reputation, had been little patronized and left but few of his progeny to perpetuate his name.

Long Island Black Hawk.—This son of Andrew Jackson was foaled 1837 and his dam was the distinguished trotter Sally Miller, by Tippoo Saib, son of Tippoo Saib by imported Messenger. This mare was bred in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and trotted as a three-year-old in 1828 on the Hunting Park Course, Philadelphia. She was distinguished in her day, beating many of the best, and was the first three-year-old trotter of which we have any account. She was finally owned on Long Island, but I have never been able to learn the name of her owner. Black Hawk trotted some famous races on Long Island, the most noted of which, perhaps, was his match with Jenny Lind in which he was to pull a two hundred and fifty-pound wagon, and the mare the usual weight. In this match he beat her in straight heats. Time 2:40, 2:38, 2:43. In 1849 he beat Cassius M. Clay, time 2:41, 2:38, 2:41. This horse was owned for a time by Jonas Hoover, of Germantown, Columbia County, New York, and was there called Andrew Jackson Jr., or Young Andrew Jackson. He made some seasons in Orange County, and died at Montgomery in that county July, 1850. His progeny were not numerous and but two of them from his own loins entered the 2:30 list. His son Jupiter put five in the 2:30 list; Andrew Jackson Jr., two; Mohawk, three; Nonpareil, two; Plow Boy, one; and Vernol’s Black Hawk, one; to which we may add the fact that this last named was the sire of the famous Iowa stallion, Green’s Bashaw. Although his life was not long and his stud career was probably up to the average, it cannot be said that he was a great progenitor of trotters.

Henry Clay, the nominal head of the tribe that has taken his name, was a black horse, foaled 1837, got by Andrew Jackson, son of Young Bashaw; and his dam was Surrey, or Lady Surrey, as she is sometimes called, a pacing mare that was brought from Surrey, New Hampshire, to New York, and was converted to a trotter, or possibly she may have been double-gaited from her[328] birth. It has been generally stated in years past that this mare was brought from Canada, and as there have been many disputes about her origin, I will try to give what authentic knowledge we have concerning her.

Mr. Peter W. Jones, one of the “old-time” horsemen and a very reliable man, said that David W. Gilmore, formerly a grocer at City Hall Place and Pearl Street, New York, bought a pacing mare, five years old, of Mark D. Perkins, of Mount Vernon, New Hampshire, which came from Surrey, New Hampshire, and hence her name “Lady Surrey.” Gilmore rode her to New York, with a young man named Lovejoy. He gave less than one hundred dollars for her. She was a superior saddle mare, and as Mr. Gilmore appreciated horseback riding he bought her for that purpose. Frank Gilmore, who was a deputy sheriff under Sheriff Orser, of New York, said that Lady Surrey was the mare his brother rode from New Hampshire, and after he sold her she turned out to be a trotter.

This is the story as told by Mr. Jones, and judging from its source I have no doubt it is substantially correct. This leaves us without any knowledge whatever of the blood of the mare, but only that she was both a pacer and a trotter. She was engaged in some races and was quite well known to the trotting men of that day, and she must have been a pretty good one to have been owned by such a horseman as George M. Patchen and by him bred to Andrew Jackson. It is said Surrey and Sally Miller were coupled with Andrew Jackson the same day; they both stood, and the one produced Henry Clay and the other Long Island Black Hawk.

While Henry Clay remained the property of his breeder he was trained and was looked upon as a promising young horse, but I have not been able to determine what rate of speed he was able to show. He certainly did not stand anywhere near the fastest, and he does not appear to have ever won a race, and perhaps never started in one. Still, he was esteemed as one of the best horses on Long Island and was liberally supported while there. When about eight years old he was sold for a fine price to General Wadsworth, of Livingston County, New York, and he was kept at various points in that part of the State till he died of old age and neglect in 1867. He came into the world when trotters were few and he lived till they were many. He left a numerous progeny, but as the sire of trotters he was a pronounced failure.[329] In examining the 2:30 list I find a single one of his get, before he left Long Island, with a single heat of even 2:30. And in examining the list of his get during the twenty-odd years of his life in Western New York, I find a single representative, with a single heat in even 2:30, and this one was out of a mare by old Champion, a very noted trotting progenitor. He left three sons that appear as sires: Andy Johnson, with three just inside of the 2:30 list, Henry Clay Jr., with a single one to his credit, and Cassius M. Clay, with one very fast one to his credit. This Cassius M. Clay was the sire of the famous George M. Patchen. Three of Henry Clay’s daughters produced six 2:30 trotters, and for a time it was held that the dam of the very famous George Wilkes was a daughter of his, but that claim has not been sustained by later developments.

The name and memory of the horse Henry Clay would have been perpetuated in horse history through an attenuated line of descendants, as a fairly good horse, though unsuccessful as a trotting progenitor, had his bones been left to rest and rot where they were buried. Unfortunately, about the time of his death, there sprang up a most voluble enthusiast whose special mission on earth seemed to be to extol the superlative greatness of Henry Clay, and the contemptible worthlessness of “Bill Rysdyk’s bull,” as he designated Hambletonian. He commenced pouring his endless contributions into the columns of the breeding press and writing interminable letters to as many prominent breeders as would receive them, and all about the Clay blood being the only blood from which the trotter could be bred. These effusions were written with some skill, abounding in great prodigality of fancy and still greater economy of truth. It was astonishing how many men believed what he said and how few understood that the “old man” was in it as a “business.” He had gathered up all the cheap sons of the old horse and wanted to sell them at a handsome advance, and for a time the game won.

To keep the interest from falling off and the Clay blood moving, he secured access to the purses of two wealthy gentlemen who were possessors and admirers of Clay blood, and the bones of the horse were taken up, mounted and set up, and presented to the United States National Museum at Washington, D. C. The bones are still there, and the inscription on the pedestal when last seen was as follows:


“The progenitor of the entire family of Clay Horses, and the foundation of the American Trotting Horse.”

Then follow the names of the two gentlemen who presented the bones to the Museum, but as a kindness to them their names are omitted. The first clause of the inscription is true, but the second is not true, and I very seriously doubt whether they ever authorized the second clause. Henry Clay was not the “foundation” of anything, except the airy fabric of a fortune for our enthusiast. The scheme as an advertising dodge was well worked, and the schemer could well exclaim, “Where now is Bill Rysdyk’s bull?” In the nature of things such shams cannot last; this one had its fleeting day, and in the end the sheriff sold its worthless accumulations.

Cassius M. Clay.—This son of Henry Clay was quite a large bay horse, taking his color and much of his shape from his dam. He was foaled 1843, and his dam, Jersey Kate, was the dam of the trotting horse John Anderson. Jersey Kate was a bay, about fifteen hands three inches high, with a clean, bony head, long neck, well set up, and when in driving condition was a little high on her legs. She was used in livery work, and when a good and fast driver was wanted, Jersey Kate was always in demand. In the same stable a pair of “Canuck” ponies were kept that were driven in a delivery wagon. They were duns with white manes and tails and about fourteen and one-half hands high, quick steppers with no speed. One of them slipped his halter one night and got Jersey Kate with foal. While she was carrying this foal she became the property of Mr. Z. B. Van Wyck’s father, and when she had dropped her colt and was put to farm work it was found that she was too rapid and spirited for his other horses, and he sold her to Joseph Oliver, of Brooklyn. The colt she dropped was weaned before the sale of the dam and remained in the family till he grew up. He was a grey, a little below fifteen hands, and as the boy, Z. B. Van Wyck, had broken and ridden him he got it into his head that he would make a trotter, so he bought him from his father for eighty dollars. He continued to improve and he sold him to Timothy T. Jackson and he to Charles Carman, who trotted him in many races. When Mr. Oliver, then owner of Jersey Kate, saw her “catch” colt by a “Canuck” pony able to beat many of the good ones on the island, he concluded to breed her to Mr.[331] Patchen’s horse, Henry Clay, and the produce was Cassius M. Clay. From her appearance, form, and especially her action, it was the universal opinion she was by Mambrino, son of Messenger, and it is probable she was, but in the absence of proof she must be classed as “breeding unknown.” Had it not been for the speed of little John Anderson, there would not have been any Cassius M. Clay.

When the colt grew up, Mr. Oliver, his breeder, sold him to Mr. George M. Patchen, of Brooklyn, and he became a very popular stallion. After the death of Kemble Jackson and Long Island Black Hawk he was considered the best trotting stallion on Long Island. He was in a good many races, some of which were reported, but more that were not, and as against stallions, he was with the fastest. In temper he was disposed to be vicious and had to be watched. In form he could not be considered beautiful, but powerful. When the artist was modeling the equestrian statue of Washington that stands in Union Square, he had a great search for a horse to serve as a model, and he selected Cassius M. Clay as the best representative of majesty and power that he could find. Although the bronze is of heroic size, it is, no doubt, a fair representation of the outline and structure of the horse. He died at Montgomery, Orange County, New York, July, 1854, in the same stable where Long Island Black Hawk had died four years before. The three great horses, Long Island Black Hawk, Kemble Jackson and Cassius M. Clay, died just as they entered on what should have been the period of their greatest usefulness, the first at the age of thirteen; the second at the age of nine; and the third at the age of eleven. If these horses had lived through the usual period of horse life, doubtless the records of performers would bear very different relations from what they do to-day, but the really great sire had not yet made his appearance.

Considering the short period Cassius M. Clay was in the stud he left a numerous progeny, but only one of them, George M. Patchen, achieved greatness on the turf. He placed thirty-four heats in 2:30 or better to his credit and made a record of 2:23½ in 1860, which was the fastest for any stallion of his day. This was the only one in the 2:30 list from the loins of Cassius M. Clay. Nine of his sons became the sires of eighteen trotters, and more than a dozen of his sons were named “Cassius M. Clay[332] Jr.” thus leading to great confusion and oftentimes uncertainty as to identity.

Cassius M. Clay Jr. (Neave’s).—This was a brown horse foaled 1848, got by Cassius M. Clay; dam by Chancellor, son of Mambrino; grandam by Engineer, sire of Lady Suffolk. He was bred by Charles Mitchell, of Manhasset, Long Island, owned by Joseph Godwin, New York; stood in Orange County, 1852, in Dutchess, 1853, and was taken to Cincinnati that fall. He was owned by Mr. Neave, made a few seasons, broke his leg in the hands of Mr. McKelvy, and had to be destroyed. Mr. Godwin represented this horse to me as very fast until four years old, when by an accident he was thrown into the Harlem River when hot and was stiff ever afterward. He put four of his get into the 2:30 list, and four of his sons got ten trotters and one pacer. His early death was esteemed a great loss, for he was better bred than most of the other sons of his sire.

Clay Pilot, by Cassius M. Clay (Neave’s), was out of a catch filly, whose dam was the famous Kate, the grandam of Almont. From the noted old trotting mare Belle of Wabash, whose history will be found in Chapter XXX. on the investigation of pedigrees, Clay Pilot got The Moor, himself a fast trotter and a successful sire. He died at ten years old, leaving among others the famous Beautiful Bells, 2:29½, that, mated with Electioneer, produced a remarkable family; and Sultan, 2:24, sire of the great Stamboul, 2:07½, and of thirty-eight other performers, and of thirteen producing sons and twenty producing daughters. The Moor founded an excellent family.

From a sister to Crabtree Bellfounder, by imported Bellfounder, Neave’s Cassius M. Clay got the black stallion Harry Clay, 2:29, that was quite a reputable trotter in his day, and left five standard performers, sixteen producing sons and twenty-three producing daughters, among the latter the famous Green Mountain Maid, the dam of Electioneer.

Cassius M. Clay Jr. (Strader’s).—This was a handsome brown horse, foaled 1852, by the original Cassius, and his dam was a black mare by Abdallah, that passed through the hands of A. Van Cortlandt and afterward became the property of Joseph Godwin; grandam by Lawrence’s Eclipse; great-grandam the Charles Hadley mare by imported Messenger. This pedigree has been questioned without assigning any reasons or facts, but as it came to me circumstantially and from unquestionable sources[333] I have no reason to doubt it. He was bred by Joseph H. Godwin, of New York, and foaled the property of Dr. Spaulding, of Greenupsburg, Kentucky. He made some seasons in the hands of Dr. Herr, of Lexington, Kentucky, was bought 1868 by R. S. Strader, and passed to General W. T. Withers, of Lexington, where he died 1882. He was engaged in several races and made a record of 2:35¼. He put four in the 2:30 list, and he left sixteen sons that were the sires of forty-six trotters and seven pacers. His daughters have produced well, thirty-four of them having produced forty-two trotters and seven pacers. This shows him to have been a better horse than his sire and better than any of the other sons of his sire.

George M. Patchen was a large bay horse, fully sixteen hands high and heavily proportioned. He was bred by H. F. Sickles, Monmouth County, New Jersey, for Richard F. Carman, of New York, the owner of his dam. He was got by the original Cassius M. Clay, and his dam was a light chestnut mare, owned and driven on the road by Mr. Carman. As the blood and origin of this mare was for many years unknown, it is necessary to go into some particulars concerning it. From 1835 two brothers, Thomas and Richard Tone, were contractors on the streets in the northern part of New York City. Two or three years afterward Richard bought or traded for a large, strong sorrel mare to work in one of their dirt carts. It was represented that she had lost a foal shortly before and she was thin in flesh and looked coarse. When she moved out of a walk she always went into a pace, and that seemed to be her natural gait. They kept this mare at work in the cart for several years and sometimes turned her out to pasture in a small field at the foot of “Break-neck” hill, adjoining a pasture owned by the Bradhurst family. One morning a two-year-old stallion colt, owned by Samuel Bradhurst, was found in the pasture with the big pacing mare. He had broken down the fence between the two pastures and gotten the big mare with foal. In due time she dropped a light chestnut filly, and when weaned, Thomas Tone bought this filly from his brother Richard, and at two years old commenced working her to his wagon. She had very severe treatment for so young an animal and went amiss, when Thomas sold her to James Scanlon, a blacksmith, and after a time he sold her to Richard F. Carman for a driving mare. Like her dam, when she started off she would pace, but after going some distance she would strike a trot and go very fast.[334] Mr. Carman paid one hundred dollars for her and he drove her beside another that he paid fifteen hundred for, and his fast daily drives from Carmanville down to the city soon tested the respective merits of the two mares. The hundred-dollar mare could outlast the other and had to help her along toward the end of the drive. In time she was foundered and permanently stiffened and that was the reason she was sent to Mr. Sickles to be bred.

We must now look after the two-year-old colt that was the sire of this mare. Robert L. Stevens, of Hoboken, owned the famous race mare, Betsey Ransom, and with others he bred from her the two fillies, Itasca and Frolic. In 1837 these two mares were owned by Samuel Bradhurst, who manifested a sporting disposition, very much against the wishes of his father. In 1837 he bred these two mares to imported Trustee, then standing at Union Course, Long Island, and the produce were Head’em and Fanny Ransom. It is not known what became of Fanny Ransom, but he continued to own Head’em for some years and ran him in 1841 at the Union Course and beat the imported colt Baronet, by Spencer. There seems to be no other trace of his running or his stud services. It was in 1840, therefore, that he jumped the fence and in 1841 that the dam of George M. Patchen was foaled. George Canavan, Mr. Bradhurst’s coachman, says there were no other foals of any description bred by Mr. Bradhurst. These facts were gleaned personally and separately from Tone and Canavan, and as they complement and sustain each other, they must be accepted as the best information extant on the breeding of this great horse. His dam was by Head’em, a son of Trustee, out of a mare by American Eclipse, a grandson of Messenger, and she was a pacer and a trotter. His grandam was a pacer of unknown breeding.

In 1851 he was purchased for four hundred dollars from Mr. Sickles by John Buckley, of Bordentown, New Jersey, and a few months afterward he sold a half interest in him to Dr. Longstreet, of the same place, and he remained their joint property till 1858, when Mr. Buckley sold his half interest to Mr. Joseph Hall, of Rochester, New York. He commenced his remarkable career on the turf in 1855 and it continued till 1863. In 1858 he was engaged in the first race that gave him a national reputation. This was against no less a celebrity than Ethan Allen, and he was distanced, leaving Ethan with a clear title to the stallion championship. In 1860 he turned the tables on his old rival and beat[335] him in straight heats in 2:25, 2:24, 2:29. The next week the contest was renewed and Patchen again won in straight heats, and this gave him the unchallenged right to the rank of the fastest trotting stallion in the world. His triumphs, however, were as wide as the trotting turf and not limited to sex. He was able to beat and did beat all the best but the indomitable little Flora Temple, and although he beat her twice, she was too fast for him and beat him many times. It is not my purpose to give a history of his achievements. It is sufficient to say he made a record of 2:23½, with thirty-four heats to his credit in 2:30 and less, and two miles in 4:51½.

It cannot be said that he was a very great success in the stud as we now measure success. Four of his get were able to enter the 2:30 list, and among them was the great Lucy, with her record of 2:18¼. Fifteen of his sons became the sires of sixty-two trotters and three pacers, and four of his daughters produced five trotters. It is hardly fair to compare the stud services of a horse of Patchen’s generation with many of the great sons of Hambletonian, but at the same time we must not forget that Patchen was foaled the same year as Hambletonian. On the first of May, 1864, when Dan Pfifer was preparing him for the racing season then about to open, he died of a rupture, just as his sire had died.

George M. Patchen Jr. (California Patchen) was a bay horse by the foregoing; dam Belle by Top Bellfounder, a grandson of imported Bellfounder, of which little is known. He was bred by Joseph Regan, Mount Holly, New Jersey, and taken to California 1862 by William Hendrickson; returned to New York 1866, sold to Messrs. Halstead, Poughkeepsie, 1867, and by them to W. A. Matthews in 1869, and taken to San Jose, California; then sold to P. A. Finnegan, of San Francisco, and died the property of J. B. Haggin, Sacramento, 1887. He was campaigned quite extensively during the years 1866 and 1867 in the East, and carried away a good share of the winnings from the best. His best record was 2:27. In the stud he was more successful than his sire, which may be accounted for by his more numerous progeny and his longer life. From his own loins he put ten trotters into the 2:30 list, and, although there was no Lucy among them, Wells Fargo made a record of 2:18¾; Sam Purdy, 2:20½; Vanderlyn, 2:21, etc., showing a better average than the get of his sire. Ten of his sons got twenty-three trotters[336] and two pacers, and eleven of his daughters produced twenty-five trotters and three pacers.

Several of the other sons of George M. Patchen left valuable and fast trotting progeny, and among them I will name Godfrey Patchen, with nine trotters to his credit and his descendants breeding on; Henry B. Patchen, with seven to his credit; Seneca Patchen, with sixteen trotters and one pacer to his credit, perhaps more than he is honestly entitled to; Wild Wagoner, with four to his credit; and Tom Patchen with three and his family transmitting speed.

In considering the founders of the Clay family, there are two or three important facts that should be kept in view, bearing upon the growth, or the decadence of the family. In a breeding sense this appears to be the longest line of developed speed that we have in any of our trotting families. While we know that there were developed trotters and pacers many years before Abdallah and Andrew Jackson were foaled, we are not able to connect them in lines of descent, generation after generation. As Andrew Jackson with his developed speed stands at the head of this line, the question naturally arises, Where did he get his ability to trot? The only answer we can give is, from the daughter of Messenger that was the grandam of his sire, and from the fast pacer, Charcoal Sal, that produced him. Even if we accept the pedigree of Young Bashaw, with his Messenger grandam, when we get to Andrew Jackson we are a long way from the Messenger source of trotting speed; hence, we must look to the pacing speed of his dam—Charcoal Sal from Ohio—as the more probable source.

Andrew Jackson was bred upon the converted pacer Surrey, and produced Henry Clay, then Henry Clay was bred upon Jersey Kate, of unknown blood, but a producer of trotting speed, and produced Cassius M. Clay. Then Cassius M. Clay was bred upon a mare “full of Messenger blood” and produced Strader’s Cassius M. Clay—the best of the Clay name by the record. Cassius M. Clay (the original) was also bred on “Dick Carman’s mare” and produced the famous George M. Patchen. This Carman mare was by a running-bred son of Trustee. She was both a pacer and a trotter and her dam was a natural pacer. George M. Patchen was bred on the Regan mare and produced California Patchen. This mare was, practically, of unknown breeding. California Patchen was bred on Whiskey[337] Jane and the produce was his best son, Sam Purdy. This mare Whiskey Jane was quite a trotter and she was undoubtedly pacing bred, but I will not here enter into the details of her origin.

We have here before us a condensed view of the trotting inheritance of the Clay and the Patchen families from Andrew Jackson to Sam Purdy, and its most remarkable feature is its poverty in recognized trotting blood. On the maternal side, the pacing habit of action seems to prevail in almost every succeeding generation. The second thought is that the tribe has not held its vantage ground of the first and the longest line of developed trotting speed. The third is that it has failed to transmit speed with uniformity, but rather sporadically. This may be accounted for by the general character and uncertainty of the maternal side, and suggests the question whether animals so bred can be relied upon to transmit with uniformity an inheritance received sporadically. From its place in the first rank as to time and popularity, this family has not been able to hold its own and it has declined to a place among the minor families of trotters and bids fair to be absorbed by tribes of stronger trotting inheritance.


Seely’s American Star—His fictitious pedigree—Breeding really unknown—A trotter of some merit—His stud career—His daughters noted brood mares— Conklin’s American Star—Old Pacing Pilot—History and probable origin —Pilot Jr.—Pedigree—Training and races—Prepotency—Family statistics summarized—Grinnell’s Champion, son of Almack—His sons and performing descendants—Alexander’s Norman and his sire, the Morse Horse— Swigert and Blackwood.

Of all the hundreds of difficult and obscure pedigrees that I have undertaken to investigate and straighten out, I have given more time, labor and money to that of Seely’s American Star than to any other horse. In 1867 I got his pedigree from a gentleman in Morris County, New Jersey, who claimed to have bred him, and this pedigree and the history accompanying it embracing several details that were interesting, I published it, at full length, in the Spirit of the Times. This represented the horse as a light chestnut about fifteen hands high, with star and snip and two white hind feet. He was represented to have been foaled 1837 and to be by a horse called American Star, son of Cock of the Rock, by Duroc; dam Sally Slouch by Henry, the race horse; grandam by imported Messenger. As there was no horse of that name, so far as I knew, by Cock of the Rock, but as there was one of that name by Duroc, I wrote to know whether this was not the breeding of the sire, and the answer came that it might have been so.

After the appearance of this pedigree in the “Register” I was greatly surprised that nobody believed it, and the more a horseman knew of the horse and his history the more positive he was that it was a mistake. Several years passed away, and while I kept insisting it was true, the unbelievers became more persistent than ever in their opposition to the pedigree. The consensus of the opinions of horsemen seemed to be that the horse was part “Canuck,” and this was the view held by his owner, Edmund Seely, as long as he lived. At last the following story came to[339] me from different responsible persons, all of whom were personally cognizant of the facts they related, as follows: On a certain occasion a street contractor had a force at work, grading with shovels and carts, near the foot of Twenty-third Street, I think, New York City. Among the cart horses there was a Canadian stallion and a frisky, high-strung bay mare that wouldn’t work kindly. One day during the noon hour, the “boys” for amusement brought this stallion and mare together and in due time the mare proved to be with foal, and she was sent over to Jersey the next spring. The foal she there dropped was Seely’s American Star. When I asked to whom the mare had been sent to be taken care of, the answer came back quickly naming the same man whom I had represented as the breeder. As the contractor had no use for the colt, as a matter of course, the keeper of the mare would take the colt for the keeping. There is nothing unnatural nor unreasonable in this story, and it bears a pretty strong resemblance to the way the dam of the famous George M. Patchen came into the world.

When the horse was four or five years old he began to show a fine trotting step and he was sold to John Blauvelt, of New York, for a driving horse. His feet not being strong, in the course of a year or two he developed a couple of quarter cracks and he was sent back to the man who raised him to be cured. In the winter of 1844-5 he was sold to Cyrus Dubois, of Ulster County, New York, who kept him in the stud the seasons of 1845, 1846 and 1847. His advertisement for the year 1847 reads as follows:

“American Star is a chestnut sorrel, eight years old on the 11th day of April, 1847, near 16 hands high, etc…. He was sired by the noted trotting horse Mingo, of Long Island, who was got by old Eclipse. American Star’s dam, Lady Clinton, the well-known trotting mare of New Jersey, was sired by Sir Henry.”

Here we have the third pedigree of this horse, and now the question arises, Where did this pedigree come from? Cyrus Dubois is dead, but a living brother of his says this is the pedigree that Cyrus brought with the horse from New Jersey. As this same quasi-breeder was the man who delivered the horse to Dubois, the statement of the living brother comes very near proving that the first and the third of the pedigrees here given were the work of the same man. Again, in 1844, this same quasi-breeder kept this horse at Warwick and New Milford, in Orange County, New York, and nobody in that region seems to have[340] ever heard of either of these pedigrees. And again, this quasi-breeder wrote me that after Edmund Seely had brought the horse to Goshen he went to see him, and after fully identifying him as the same horse he had bred he gave the pedigree to Mr. Seely as he had given it to me. If this be true it is a very strange thing that Mr. Seely never seemed to know anything about it, but persisted in giving the pedigree as by a Canadian horse and out of a mare by Henry. Upon the whole, I long ago concluded that my first and earliest correspondent on the question of American Star’s origin was unfortunate in having a mental organization that placed him “long” on the ideal, and “short” on the real.

His stud services may be summarized as follows: In 1844 he was kept at Warwick and New Milford, Orange County, New York. In 1845, 1846 and 1847 he was in Ulster County, and on the borders of Orange. In 1848 and 1849 he was at Hillsdale, Columbia County, New York. In 1850, 1851, 1852 and 1853 he was at Goshen and other points in Orange County. In 1854 he was at Elmira, New York. In 1855, it is said on good authority, he was kept ten miles below Hudson. Others say he was at Piermont, Rockland County, that year. In 1856 he was at Mendota, Illinois. In 1857, 1859 and 1860 he was again in Goshen. In February, 1861, he died at Goshen, the property of Theodore Dusenbury. In Orange County his service fee ranged from ten to twenty dollars, and at last twenty-five dollars, and he was liberally patronized. An unusually large percentage of his foals were fillies, and he was essentially a brood-mare sire from the start. Opinions differ very widely among horsemen as to his capacity for speed, some maintaining that he could trot in 2:35 while others insisted on placing him ten seconds slower. In trying to harmonize these conflicting views it is probably safe to conclude that, when fit, which seldom occurred in his whole life, his speed was about 2:40. He was always a cripple from defective feet and limbs, and his whole progeny were more or less subject to the same troubles.

He left four trotters that barely managed to get inside the 2:30 list and eight sons that put sixteen inside of the list. But his strong point was in the producing character of his daughters. Thirty-six of these daughters left forty-five of their produce inside of 2:30. The disparity in the producing power of the sexes in this family is very remarkable and, in a breeding sense, very instructive. In the light of what has been developed in this[341] family in the past fifty years, we are certainly ready to form a safe estimate of its value as a factor in the combination that goes to make up a breed of trotters. Star mares gave us a Dexter and a Nettie, and all the world thought that was the blood that was to live on and on in the new breed. But, while Hambletonian was able to get great trotters from Star mares, he was not able to get, through their attenuated trotting inheritance, sons that would be as great as himself. To his cover Star mares produced no such great sires as George Wilkes, Electioneer, Egbert, Happy Medium, and Strathmore. In the instances of Dictator and Aberdeen there was a reasonable measure of success, but all the others—and there were many of them—proved comparative failures. There is a lesson taught here that any one can interpret.

American Star (Conklin’s) was a chestnut horse, foaled 1851, and got by Seely’s American Star, and his dam has been variously represented, with nothing established as to her blood. He was bred by a Mr. Randall, of Orange County, and was among the first from his sire to attract attention. He came into the hands of E. K. Conklin when young, and was taken by him to Philadelphia, and was owned by him during his lifetime. He gave early promise of making a trotter, and from 1865 to 1868 he was on the turf, more or less, and left a record of 2:33. His stud services were confined to the region of Philadelphia till the year 1872, when he was taken back to Orange County and died there. Three of his get entered the 2:30 list; two of his sons got one trotter each and four or five of his daughters produced one each.

At one time the name “American Star” was very popular, and quite a number of stallions were so named that were bogus; but his son Magnolia put two in the 2:30 list; one son got three trotters, and three daughters produced five performers. His son Star of Catskill got two performers, and his son King Pharaoh got four pacers and all of them fast. The family has not grown strong either in numbers or in merit. It has been carried, so far, by the influences of stronger blood, and it seems destined to complete absorption and extinction in more potent strains.

Pilot, the head of the Pilot family, was a black pacing horse, and of later years he has been generally designated as “Old Pacing Pilot.” He was foaled about 1826, and nothing is known of his origin or his blood. From his make-up and appearance he was generally considered a Canadian, as was the custom at that time,[342] and I think I have used this term myself in referring to the horse, but there is really no foundation for crediting him to that source. The earliest information we have of him is from an unpublished source, to the effect that he was well known to certain sporting men about Covington, Kentucky. He next appears in New Orleans, hitched to a peddler’s cart, but really looking for a match as a green pacer. To promote this object, Major Dubois, a sporting man, was taken into the confidence of his owner, and it is said the horse showed him a mile in 2:26 with one hundred and sixty-five pounds on his back, and the major bought him for one thousand dollars. In 1832 Dubois sold him to Glasgow & Heinsohn, a livery stable firm of Louisville, Kentucky, and he remained the property of that firm till he died, about 1855. It has been asserted with some semblance of authority that he could trot as well as pace, but this seems to be wholly apocryphal, and on this point I am prepared to speak without hesitation or doubt. A large breeder in the vicinity of Louisville, whom I have learned to trust implicitly, through the intercourse of many years, has assured me repeatedly that he knew the horse and his master well, and that he had seen him very often, for years, that he would not trot, and that his master could not make him trot a step. On the occasion of a very deep fall of snow he was taken out to see whether that would not compel him to trot, and he went rolling and tumbling about with no more gait than a hobbled hog.

He left a numerous progeny, most of them pacers, with some trotters. We know but little of their merits, as at that period pacing and trotting races were carried on, generally, on guerrilla principles, and no records kept, except at a few of the more prominent occasions. His fastest pacer, probably, was Bear Grass, and there is a little history here that will be interesting further on. My late friend, Edmund Pearce, had always, from childhood, been a great admirer of the grand old saddle mare, Nancy Taylor. She had been bred to Old Pilot and produced a colt foal, which Mr. Pearce bought when young and named him Bear Grass. This was the first piece of horseflesh he ever owned, and he didn’t think he had ever owned a better one. He was amazingly fast, and could go away from all competitors, but unfortunately an accident befell him that ended his career before he reached maturity. Bear Grass had a half-sister called Nancy Pope, being the daughter of Nancy Taylor, that[343] was afterward bred to Old Pilot, and she produced the famous Pilot Jr., that was the fastest trotter from the loins of the old pacer. Pilot Jr. took the diagonal form of the trot from his dam and never paced. It is worthy of noting that Nancy Taylor and Nancy Pope—mother and daughter—produced old Pilot’s fastest pacer and fastest trotter.

Pilot Jr. (Alexander’s) was a grey horse, foaled 1844, “got by old Pacing Pilot; dam Nancy Pope, grandam Nancy Taylor.” This is the literal version of his pedigree as given by his first owners and as given by W. J. Bradley and others who had him in charge year after year in the region of Lexington, according to the different advertisements, and no change ever appeared till the horse was bought and taken to Woodburn Farm. Then, for the first time we learned that Nancy Pope was got by Havoc, thoroughbred son of Sir Charles, and that Nancy Taylor was got by Alfred, an imported horse. This was not the work of Mr. R. A. Alexander, an honorable man, but the work of the professional pedigree manufacturer, who exploited his inventive skill very widely through the early catalogues of that great establishment. As a matter of historic fact, Pilot Jr.’s dam was Nancy Pope, but nothing is known of her sire, and Nancy Pope was out of Nancy Taylor, about whose pedigree nothing whatever is known. But as the subject of Pilot Jr.’s pedigree is exhaustively treated in Chapter XXIX., the details need not be further dealt with here.

The training of Pilot Jr. commenced when he was five years old, and after the close of his stud seasons he was kept at it, in a moderate way, for several years, and it is said he never manifested any inclination to strike a pace. He was engaged in some races, and his advertisement claims he won several, giving the names of horses he had beaten, but the time made seems to be carefully avoided. He could probably trot in about 2:50 or a little better. He and all his family, so far as I can learn, were willful and hard to manage in their training, and were, therefore, in danger of becoming unreliable, but they were fast for their day, and dead game campaigners. There is one particular in which this horse seemed to surpass nearly all others and that was in his power to eliminate the running instinct and to plant the trotting instinct in his progeny from running-bred mares. It is doubtless true that many of those mares, so classed, were only running bred on paper; but the fact still remains, and it is[344] supported by a sufficient number of authentic instances, to justify the conclusion that his potency in this direction was remarkable.

During the troublous times of the war many of his early progeny were lost or destroyed, but from his own loins he put eight performers in the 2:30 list and others not far away. Six of his sons became the sires of forty-one performers, and eighteen of his daughters produced forty-one performers. Although the official records do not show that Pilot Jr. got any pacers, it is nevertheless true that he did get some very fast ones. But when we get past the period when the pacer was considered a bastard and kept out of sight, we meet with some astonishing facts. As an example, take Miss Russell, the greatest of all the Pilots. First, she produced a pacer that was changed to the diagonal instead of the lateral step, and then stood for years as the champion trotter of the world. Second, her son Nutwood has placed twenty pacers in the 2:30 list; her son Mambrino Russell has placed five there, and her son Lord Russell has placed five there. This brief and hasty exhibit of what the descendants of Miss Russell are doing seems to upset all the laws of heredity, provided always that her dam was a thoroughbred mare. The evidence that the breeding of this reputed “thoroughbred” mare is wholly unknown is considered in another part of this volume.

In a few odd instances, in the male lines of descent from Pilot Jr., the trotting and pacing instinct seem to be transmitted in stronger measure than in any of the other minor families, but the day of its submersion is not far distant. The survival of the fittest is the law of Nature.

Champion, the head of the Champion family, was a beautiful golden chestnut, sixteen hands high and without marks. He was bred by George Raynor, of Huntington, Long Island, and was foaled 1842. He was got by Almack, son of Mambrino, by Messenger; dam Spirit, by Engineer Second, son of Engineer, by Messenger, and sire of the famous Lady Suffolk. This is enough Messenger blood to please the most fastidious, but I think there was still more beyond the Engineer mare. When eighteen months old this colt showed phenomenal speed when led behind a sulky, and when three years old he was driven a full mile to harness in 3:05, a rate of speed which, at that time had never been equaled by a colt of that age. This made him “champion” as a three-year-old and William T. Porter named him Champion. After this performance Mr. John Sniffin, a merchant of Brooklyn, bought[345] him, and in June, 1846, Mr. William R. Grinnell paid two thousand six hundred dollars for him and took him to Cayuga County, New York. After keeping Champion in that county till the close of the season of 1849, Mr. Grinnell concluded to sell the horse, as in all that time he had not covered one hundred mares. Mr. Grinnell complained that the farmers did not appreciate the horse, and many of them failed to pay for his services. But the fault was not all on the part of the farmers, for the price, to them, was very high, and he was a very uncertain foal getter.

In April, 1850, he was sent to New York and kept in the stable of Mr. Van Cott, on the Harlem road. He had been very badly handled, and Mr. Van Cott says he had been abused and ill-treated, and when he came to his place he was as vicious and savage as a wild beast. The horse was kept there for sale, and in his daily exercise Mr. Van Cott says he could “show considerably better than 2:40 at any time.” In 1851 he was sent over to Jersey and kept for public use at a fee of fifty dollars, by Samuel Taylor, at Newmarket, Metuchen, Boundbrook and Millstone. After making three or four seasons in the region of Boundbrook, in the year 1854, Mr. Grinnell, who still owned him, sold him to Mr. James Harkness, of St. Louis, Missouri, for about seven hundred and fifty dollars. On reaching St. Louis he proved to be as dangerous as ever, and no man dared to go into his stall, except Mr. Harkness and one assistant. In 1858 Mr. Harkness sold him to Thomas T. Smith, of Independence, Missouri, for one thousand dollars. He was there stolen by “jayhawkers” and taken to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he made two seasons and died 1864. Although he lived to be old, he left comparatively few colts, but a large proportion of that few were of excellent quality and many of them trotters.

Champion (Scobey’s also known as King’s Champion) was the best son of Grinnell’s Champion, the son of Almack, and he came out of a mare called Bird, by Redbird, son of Billy Duroc. He was foaled 1849, and was bred by Jesse M. Davis, then of Cayuga County, New York, and sold to David King, of Northville, New York, and by him in 1861 to Mr. Kellogg, of Battle Creek, Michigan. He was repurchased by Messrs. Backus, Scobey and Burlew in August, 1865, and soon became the property of Mr. C. Scobey and died his in May, 1874. It has been claimed this horse had speed and a record of 2:42 in 1857, but I have no data to determine how fast he was. From his own loins he put eight performers[346] in the 2:30 list, two of which were phenomenally fast, although their records do not show it. Here I allude to Nettie Burlew and Sorrel Dapper, more generally known as “The Auburn Horse.” The latter was a long, leggy, light chestnut, with a tremendous stride, and Hiram Woodruff did not hesitate to say he was a faster horse than Dexter. This Champion was a sire of excellent quality, although but a few of his progeny were developed. He left six sons that were the sires of forty-four trotters, and seven daughters that produced nine performers.

Champion (Gooding’s) was a bright bay horse with black points, standing fifteen and three-quarter hands high. He was got by Scobey’s Champion, dam the trotting mare Cynthia, by Bartlett’s Turk, son of Weddle’s imported Turk; grandam Fanny, by Scobey’s Black Prince; great-grandam Bett, by Rockplanter, son of Duroc; great-great-grandam Kate, represented to be a Messenger mare. He was foaled 1853, and was bred by Almeron Ott, Cayuga County, New York, and traded to Mr. Stearns, from whom he passed to his late owners, T. W. and W. Gooding, Ontario County, New York. He died June, 1883. This horse was peddled about in Seneca County at a fee of five dollars, and had a very light patronage among the farmers. At last he was sold, with difficulty, at Canandaigua, for three hundred dollars to the Messrs. Gooding, and he brought them a handsome income as long as he lived. As his reputation as a sire of speed spread abroad, the quality of the mares brought to him improved, and among them were some with good trotting inheritance. Of his progeny, seventeen entered the 2:30 list, the fastest in 2:21, and they were good campaigners. It is a remarkable fact that only one of his sons proved himself a trotting sire, and he left but a single representative. On the female side of the house he was more successful, for six of his daughters produced seven performers.

Charley B. was a bay horse, sixteen hands high, and was bred by Charles Burlew, of Union Springs, New York. He was foaled 1869, and was got by Scobey’s Champion, son of Champion, by Almack, and proved himself the best son of his sire. He was out of a mare well known as “Old Jane” that was the dam of Myrtle with a record of 2:25½. Several pedigrees have been provided for this mare that did not prove reliable, and they were all careful to endow her with plenty of Messenger blood. After searching for the facts through some years, the only version of it[347] that seemed to be worthy of credence showed that her sire was a horse called Magnum Bonum and there it ended. In his racing career this horse was started sometimes under the name of “Lark.” He has six heats to his credit in 2:30 and better, and a record of 2:25. From his own loins he has twenty-two trotters in the 2:30 list. Considering the respectable number this horse shows in the 2:30 list, his great nervous energy, his vigorous constitution, and the number of years he was liberally patronized in the stud, it is a most notable fact that he has but two sons that are producers. Six of his daughters have produced. As a propagator of speed in the coming generations, this horse seems to be even a greater failure than his half-brother, Gooding’s Champion.

Night Hawk was a chestnut son of Grinnell’s Champion. He was bred by John S. Van Kirk, of Newark, New Jersey, and his dam was by Sherman’s Young Eclipse, son of American Eclipse. He was foaled 1855-6. In 1862 Mr. Van Kirk took him to Kalamazoo, Michigan, thence to Paw Paw in 1872, and in 1879 he was returned to Kalamazoo, owned by A. T. Tuthill. He was something of a trotter, and had a record of 2:36, under the name of Champion, when he was controlled by Mr. D. B. Hibbard, I think. He was shown at a State fair, held at Lansing, on a poor half-mile track, it is said, and trotted a mile in 2:31¼, and for this performance he received a piece of plate from the society testifying to this fact. He has but two representatives in the 2:30 list, and three of his sons have five trotters to their credit, while six of his daughters have produced seven performers. He lived to an old age.

The merits and demerits of this family are very marked. The head of it seems to have possessed great nerve force and an unmistakable instinct to trot, but he was irritable and vicious in his temper. Both these qualities—the desirable and the undesirable alike—he seems to have transmitted to his offspring. I have seen Gooding’s Champion, and he had the temper and disposition of his grandsire. It appears that the original Champion was a shy breeder, and I am disposed to think he inherited this infirmity from his sire, Almack, and whether the inability of his sons and grandsons to get sires of trotters may be accounted for from this cause would be a very difficult question to answer. There are several others of this family, East and West, that have single representatives in the 2:30 list, that I have not enumerated, but from the statistics, as they now stand, it seems probable that[348] whatever is good in this family will be swallowed up in other tribes that are more prepotent and positive in the trotting instinct.

Norman, or the Morse Horse.—This horse was originally named “Norman,” but in later years he was more generally and widely known as The Morse Horse. His family is not large, but some of his descendants have shown great speed and great racing qualities. His origin and breeding as given below have resulted from a wide and laborious correspondence, and, I think, can be accepted as trustworthy. He was bred by James McNitt, of Hartford, Washington County, New York, who was a large farmer and distiller. He was foaled 1834, got by European; dam Beck, by Harris’ Hambletonian; grandam Mozza, by Peacock, son of imported Messenger. He was fifteen and three-quarter hands high, a dark iron grey when young, and became white with age. He had plenty of bone, was handsome and a natural trotter. Something of the history of the animals entering into this pedigree is important and I will try to give it in as brief form as possible.

The breeder, Mr. McNitt, was in the habit of visiting Montreal at least once a year with the products of his farm and his distillery. On one occasion he brought back three horses with him, two “Canucks” and a very elegant grey horse that he called European, that was evidently somewhat advanced in years and was a little knee-sprung from the effects of hard driving. The two “Canucks” were fast trotters, but European could beat either of them. Mr. McNitt represented that this horse had been imported into Canada from Normandy in France and doubtless he believed it, but there were none of the French characteristics about him. He was purchased in Montreal about 1829 and died in Washington County about 1836. The dam and grandam of the Morse Horse were bred by Mr. Joseph T. Mills, of the town of Argyle, in Washington County. Beck, the dam, was a bright bay mare about sixteen hands high. At weaning time Mr. Mills sold her to Robert Stewart, of Greenwich, and at three years old he sold her to Mr. McNitt. She was got by Harris’ Hambletonian, when he was kept by John Williams, Jr. This is established quite satisfactorily and circumstantially. Mozza, the dam of Beck, was a chestnut mare, without marks, and was got by Peacock, a son of imported Messenger that was owned by Mr.[349] Emerson in Saratoga County and was afterward burned up in his stable. This son of Messenger, called Peacock, was entirely new to me when I was investigating this pedigree in 1876 and I was disposed to reject it, but Mr. Mills certainly had a horse of that name and he represented him to be a son of Messenger, and he probably was, but I do not know that he was so bred.

Mr. McNitt sold the colt at three years old to Martin Stover, who lived on his place, for eighty dollars; the next year Stover sold him to James Mills. In 1840 Mills sold him to Mr. Tefft and Zack Adams, and they sold him not long after to Philip Allen and Calvin Morse, of White Creek. Mr. Morse had him a number of years and when old sold him to Mr. Grant, and he died at Spiegletown in Renssalaer County, New York. He was a very perfect, natural trotter, and his speed was developed to some extent. In August, 1847 or 1848, Mr. Morse put him into the hands of John Case, of Saratoga Springs, the driver of Lady Moscow, to prepare him for the State Fair, at which he expected to meet the famous Black Hawk. Mr. J. L. D. Eyclesheimer, a very intelligent gentleman, formerly of the region of Saratoga, wrote that while the horse was in Case’s hands, he, with Mr. Morse, timed him a full mile in 2:40½. At the State Fair he was all out of fix and Black Hawk beat him in the second and third heats. He won the first heat in 2:52½. In the rivalries between stallions at agricultural fairs, however, is a very poor place to look for fair work and fair judgment, either from the stand or from the spectators.

General Taylor was a grey horse, foaled 1847, got by the Morse Horse, dam the trotting mare Flora, a New York road mare of unknown breeding. He was bred by the brothers Eyclesheimer, then of Pittstown, New York. He was taken to Janesville, Wisconsin, 1850, and thence to California, 1854, where he trotted thirty miles against time in one hour forty-seven minutes and fifty-nine seconds. He also beat New York a ten-mile race in 29:41½. This horse has no representative in the 2:30 list, but his blood has always been very highly esteemed in California for its speed, but more especially for its game qualities. Honest Ance was another son of the Morse Horse that did a great deal of racing in California, although he has no record in the 2:30 list. He was a chestnut gelding, and was managed by the notorious Jim Eoff, who was always ready to win or to lose as the money seemed to suggest.


Norman (Alexander’s) was a brown horse, foaled about 1846, got by the Morse Horse, son of European; dam one of a pair of brown mares purchased by John N. Slocum of Samuel Slocum, a Quaker of Leroy, Jefferson County, New York, and represented to be by Magnum Bonum. These mares passed to Mr. Russell, and from him to Titcomb & Waldron, who bred the better of the two to the Morse Horse, and the produce was Alexander’s Norman. This colt passed through several hands till he reached Henry L. Barker, of Clinton, New York, and about 1860, he sold him to the late R. A. Alexander, of Woodburn Farm, Kentucky. He died 1878. The original version of this pedigree, as put upon Mr. Alexander and advertised by him, as were many others, was wholly fictitious on the side of the dam. He was not retained long at Woodburn Farm. He does not seem to have been a uniform transmitter of speed, but when it did appear it was apt to be of a high order. He left but two representatives in the 2:30 list, Lula, 2:15, with fifty-six heats, and May Queen, 2:20, with twenty-five heats. He left four sons that became the sires of fifty-eight performers and thirteen daughters that produced nineteen performers. Such sons as Swigert and Blackwood speak well for his transmitting powers.

Swigert was a brown horse, foaled 1866, got by Alexander’s Norman, son of the Morse Horse; dam Blandina, by Mambrino Chief; grandam the Burch Mare, by Brown Pilot, son of Copper Bottom, pacer. He was bred at Woodburn Farm, Kentucky, and when young became the property of Richard Richards, of Racine, Wisconsin, where he remained many years and passed to F. J. Ayres, of Burlington, Wisconsin. As a prepotent sire this horse stands high in the list of great horses. This may be accounted for in great part by the speed-producing qualities which he inherited from his dam. I am not informed as to the amount of training he may have had, nor of the rate of speed he may have been able to show. He placed forty-four trotters and two pacers in the 2:30 list. Thirty-three of his sons became the sires of sixty-one trotters and fourteen pacers. Twenty-three of his daughters produced twenty-one trotters and six pacers. From the number of his sons that have already shown their ability to get trotters, it is fair to presume that his name will be perpetuated. He died in 1892.

Blackwood was a black horse, foaled 1866, got by Alexander’s Norman, son of the Morse Horse; dam by Mambrino Chief;[351] grandam a fast trotting dun mare, brought from Ohio, pedigree unknown. He was bred by D. Swigert, Spring Station, Kentucky, and foaled the property of Andrew Steele, of Scott County, Kentucky. At five years old he was sold to John W. Conley, and by him to Harrison Durkee, of New York, and was afterward owned at Ticonderoga, New York. He made a record of 2:31 when three years old, which, at that day, was considered phenomenal for a colt of that age. His opportunities in the stud were not of the best, but nine of his progeny entered the 2:30 list; eleven of his sons got twenty performers, and twenty-five of his daughters produced thirty-seven performers.


Blue Bull, the once leading sire—His lineage and history—His family rank— The Cadmus family—Pocahontas—Smuggler—Tom Rolfe—Young Rolfe and Nelson—The Tom Hal family—The various Tom Hals—Brown Hal—The Kentucky Hunters—Flora Temple—Edwin Forrest—The Drew Horse and his descendants—The Hiatogas.

Blue Bull, the real head of this family, was one of the most remarkable horses that this or any other country has produced. He was a light chestnut, just a little over fifteen hands high, with one hind pastern white and a star in his forehead. He was strongly built and his limbs were excellent, except perhaps a little light just below the knee. He was foaled 1858 and died July 11, 1880. He was bred by Elijah Stone, of Stone’s Crossing, Johnson County, Indiana. For a time he was owned by Lewis Loder and Daniel Dorrel, before he passed into the hands of James Wilson, of Rushville, Indiana, who kept him many years and whose property he died. At one time he stood at the head of the list of all trotting sires in the world, and yet he could not trot a step himself, but he could pace amazingly fast, and it was claimed he could pace a quarter in thirty seconds. He was the first and only horse that was ever able to snatch the scepter from the great Hambletonian family, but after a brief reign of a couple of years he had to surrender it again to that family, where, from present appearances, it is destined to remain.

The breeding of this horse is very obscure, and after we have told all that is known about it we will not have given very much information. He was got by a large dun pacing horse that was known as Pruden’s Blue Bull, and he by a blue roan horse known as Merring’s Blue Bull, or Ohio Farmer. The latter was taken to Butler County, Ohio, from Chester County, Pennsylvania, and it has been said, without confirmation, that he was of Chester Ball stock. He was a large, strong farm horse, a natural pacer, as were many of his progeny, and dun and roan colors were very prevalent among them. He died the property of Mr. Merring[353] about 1843. His son, Pruden’s Blue Bull, was of a dun color and a natural pacer, but his dam has never been traced. He was large, strong, rather coarse, and had some reputation as a fast pacer, for a horse of his size, and his color was quite prevalent among his progeny. He was bred in Butler County, Ohio, and about 1853 was taken to Boone County, Kentucky. In 1861 he became the property of G. B. Loder, of the same county, and in 1863 he traded him to James Pruden, of Elizabethtown, Ohio.

The pedigree of Wilson’s Blue Bull, the head of the family on the side of the dam, is equally unsatisfactory so far as the blood elements are concerned. We know that this dam was called Queen, that she was bred by Elijah Stone, and that she was got by a horse called Young Selim, but we know nothing about Young Selim. We also know that the dam of Queen was called Bet, and that Mr. Stone bought her of Mr. Sedan, and there all knowledge ends. Since the days of the great racing progenitor, Godolphin Arabian, of whose origin and blood nobody, living or dead, had a single shadow of knowledge, down to the day of Wilson’s Blue Bull, no horse equally obscure in his inheritance has ever been able to prove himself really great as a progenitor of speed.

In the days of Blue Bull’s rising fame, and indeed till his death, there was developed such a condition of muddled morals as one seldom meets with in a lifetime. Whenever a horse of unknown breeding, in any one of three or four States, began to show some speed, his owner at once called him a Blue Bull, and if he went fast enough to enter the 2:30 list, he was at once credited to Blue Bull by his friends, and they were all ready to fight for it. If the books of Blue Bull’s services did not show that the dam of the “unknown” had ever been within a hundred miles of that horse, it was all the worse for the books. With a large number of men interested financially in Blue Bull stock, ready to claim everything in sight and anxiously looking for something more to appear, it became a most laborious task to keep this class of frauds out of the records. Another cause of dissent and dissatisfaction among the “boomers” of Blue Bull blood was the final discovery of the breeder in Elijah Stone and that there was no “thoroughbred” blood in his veins. At that time a very large majority of the horsemen of the country honestly believed that all speed, whether at the pace or the trot, must come from the gallop. It was not the truth, therefore, that these people were[354] looking for, but something to support that ignorant and stupid theory.

A careful study of the statistics of this horse will teach a valuable lesson. He put fifty-six trotters into the 2:30 list, varying in speed from 2:30 to 2:17¼, and five of this number in 2:20 or better. He also got four pacers with records from 2:24½ to 2:16¼. It thus appears that this horse, without any known trotting blood, got fifty-four trotters to four pacers, which clearly shows that an inheritance of speed at the pace may be transmitted at the trot, as well as the pace. When we come to his progeny, we find that forty-seven of his sons have to their credit one hundred and four performers, making an average of a little more than two each. These sons are all past maturity and some of them dead of old age, and not one of them has ever reached mediocrity in merit as a sire. He left seventy-seven daughters that have produced one hundred and seven performers, and if we had time to trace out these performers we would find that they were generally by strains of blood stronger and better than the blood of Blue Bull. While, therefore, we can acknowledge Blue Bull’s greatness as a getter of speed from his own loins, we must acknowledge that his sons and daughters as the producers of speed are failures. It is possible that some representative of the tribe may spring up and restore the prestige of the family, but as the source is sporadic and as the country is filled up with trotting elements that are more prepotent, it is more likely to be swallowed up and lose its family identity.

Cadmus (known as Irons’ Cadmus) was the head of a very small family that occasionally developed phenomenal speed either at the pace or the trot. He was a chestnut horse nearly sixteen hands high, strong and active, with four white feet. He was foaled 1840 and was got by Cadmus, the thoroughbred son of American Eclipse, and was bred by Goldsmith Coffein, Red Lion, Warren County, Ohio. His dam was a chestnut pacing mare that Mr. Coffein got in a trade, from a traveler, and nothing was ever known of her breeding. A pedigree was shaped up for her that seemed to make her thoroughbred and her son took a prize on it once, as a thoroughbred, but it was wholly untrue. Mr. John Irons of the same county became joint owner in this horse, and he became widely known as “Irons’ Cadmus.” To close this partnership he was sold, 1850, and taken to Richmond, Indiana; then[355] to George Shepher, of Butler County, Ohio, and next to a company in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he made two seasons, and was sold to St. Louis, Missouri, and died without further service, in 1858. From birth he was double-gaited, inclining more to the pace than to the trot. From unskillful handling his gaits became mixed up so that it was never known whether he might have been able to show any speed or not.

Pocahontas, the pacer, was the most distinguished of his get, and if there were no others of merit from her sire this one alone would be sufficient to command a place in the volume. She was a large, strong chestnut mare with four white legs, a white face, and a splotch of white on her belly. She was bred by John C. Dine, of Butler County, Ohio, and was foaled 1847. Her dam was a very strong mare got by Probasco’s Big Shakespeare, a horse over sixteen hands and very heavily proportioned, a very valuable farm horse with good action, many of whose tribe were disposed to pace. The grandam was also a descendant of Valerius, that was brought to Ohio from New Jersey. Pocahontas passed through several hands at very low prices and was used for all kinds of heavy farming and hauling until she reached the hands of L. D. Woodmansee, when her speed began to be developed. She was soon matched against Ben Higdon, the fast pacing son of Abdallah, and beat him in 2:32. In December, 1853, she was taken to New Orleans, and beat several celebrities there early the next spring. Before her last race it was discovered she was in foal, and some two months afterward she dropped Tom Rolfe. In the autumn of 1854 she was brought to the Union Course, Long Island, and it was not till June, 1855, that her owners and managers could get a match with her. At last Hero, the famous son of Harris’ Hambletonian, met her for two thousand dollars, he to harness and she to wagon. In the first heat she distanced the gelding in 2:17½, and it was maintained by her driver that she could have gone at least five seconds faster, if it had been necessary. For racing purposes she was no longer of any value, for nothing would start against her. She was then sold and became a brood mare at Boston, Massachusetts, and produced the sires Tom Rolfe and Strideway, Pocahontas, 2:26¾, and the dams of May Morning, 2:30, and Nancy, 2:23½, thus ranking as a great brood mare.

Shanghai Mary, that has become so famous as the dam of Green Mountain Maid, one of the very greatest of all brood[356] mares, was probably a daughter of this same horse, Cadmus. This mare, Shanghai Mary, was a trotter of speed, not far from a 2:30 gait, and she won some races, but she was hot-headed and unreliable. Notwithstanding continuous searches, for years, her origin remained a profound mystery, until of recent date certain facts point to Mr. Coffein as her breeder and Cadmus as her sire. This has not been established historically, but when the circumstances are understood and taken in connection with the internal evidences, which are amazingly strong, and had been pointed out and applied to this sire long before the recent developments, there remains hardly a moral doubt that she was by Cadmus. The fact that this mare is the maternal grandam of Electioneer, the greatest of all trotting sires to date, makes her pedigree a matter of special interest, and for details of the various investigations the reader is referred to Wallace’s Monthly, and to Chapter XXIX. of this volume.

Pocahontas seems to have produced but five foals that reached maturity: 1855, Tom Rolfe, of which hereafter; 1859, Young Pocahontas, by Ethan Allen, a very fast trotter; 1860, May Queen, by Ethan Allen; 1861, May Day, by Miles Standish; 1863 bay colt Strideway, by Black Hawk Telegraph. This was a very fast and promising young horse, and doubtless would have stood among the fastest stallions of his day, but he died on the very eve of his public appearance on the trotting turf.

Tom Rolfe had a checkered existence from his conception. His dam, Pocahontas, was bred to Pugh’s Aratus, by Abraham Pierce, her then owner, May 10, 1853, and ten days afterward she was sold without her new owner’s knowing she had been bred. He was thus carried in his mother’s womb, during her training and through her racing campaign in New Orleans, until a little over two months of the time he was dropped. During most of this period those handling the mare did not know she had been bred, and hence the story that Tom was a “catch” colt. He was a bay, about fifteen hands two inches high, and came to his speed with very little handling. In private trials, it is said, he had frequently shown a mile in 2:23. While on exhibition in a small ring at Dayton, Ohio, he met with an accident, from which he was ever afterward a cripple. In this condition however, he afterward made a record in 2:33½. His sire, Pugh’s Aratus, was a large, handsome farm horse, sixteen hands two inches high, and weighing one thousand three hundred pounds. He was got by[357] Phares’ Aratus, out of a fast pacing mare. There is no evidence whatever going to show that Phares’ Aratus was a son of Aratus by Director. The type of the family did not indicate the possession of any running blood. Tom Rolfe put four trotters and three pacers, all with fast records, into the 2:30 list, and three of his sons left twenty-nine performers. In the latter years of his life he was sold by Mr. Woodmansee to Mr. Wesley P. Balch, of Boston, and died 1877.

Young Rolfe was the best son of Tom Rolfe. He was a bay, foaled 1876, and came out of Judith, by Draco, son of Young Morrill, and she out of Lady Balch, by Rising Sun. He was bred by Wesley P. Balch, passed to C. H. Nelson, of Maine, then back to John Sheppard of Boston, and died 1884, when only eight years old. He was one of the best horses of his day, as a race horse, and his early death was universally considered a great loss to the breeding interests of the country. He has to his credit nine representative trotters in the 2:30 list.

Nelson, the great son of Young Rolfe, was bred and owned by G. H. Nelson, Waterville, Maine. He is a bay horse, foaled 1882, and out of Gretchen, the daughter of Gideon, by Hambletonian, 10, and she out of the fast trotting mare Kate, by Vermont Black Hawk. This horse Gideon, the son of Hambletonian, was, like his sire, very strongly inbred to old Messenger, tracing through mares by Young Engineer and Young Commander, both grandsons of Messenger, to the William Hunter mare, that was by Messenger himself. When the pedigree of Nelson is compared with the pedigree of Hambletonian, according to the rules of arithmetic, it may be found to contain nearly or quite as much Messenger blood as Hambletonian possessed, but, unfortunately, we know nothing of the trotting capacity of the intervening mares. If we had a “One Eye” and a “Charles Kent Mare” coming next to the William Hunter mare, we would have much greater expectations. But, as it is, when we consider the superlative capacity of Nelson himself, with his record of 2:09, and his nineteen trotters and seven pacers already to his credit, it is probable he will found a large and valuable family.

Through his son Blanco, sire of Smuggler, we have another notable line to Irons’ Cadmus. Smuggler was in his day the champion trotting stallion, taking a record of 2:15¼ when owned by Colonel Russell, of Boston, and driven by Charles Marvin, who after long and painstaking efforts converted him from his[358] natural gait, the pace, to the trot. Wearing twenty-four ounces on each fore-foot to keep him at the trot, Smuggler defeated all the best horses of his day, including Goldsmith Maid. He was by Blanco, out of a pacing mare of unknown blood. As might have been expected, he failed to found a great family, though fourteen of his get are standard performers, and twelve of his sons and seventeen of his daughters have produced thirty-eight performers.

Tom Hal.—The original Tom Hal was taken to Kentucky, as early, probably, as 1824, and as was the custom in those days, he was called a Canadian, like all other pacing horses. The tradition is that Dr. Boswell got him in Philadelphia and rode him home to Lexington, Kentucky. Another statement is that he was taken to Kentucky by John T. Mason, and this statement appears in the advertisement of the horse for the year 1828. As the horse was in the hands of William L. Breckenridge that year, and as his advertisement was practically a contemporaneous record, we must give the preference to the Mason representation. He was a roan horse, as I understand, a little over fifteen hands high, stout and stylish. He was very smooth and pleasant in his gait and a very fast pacer. He was for some time in the hands of Captain West, of Georgetown, Kentucky, and then passed to Benjamin N. Shropshire, of Harrison County, and after some years he died his property.

Bald Stockings, also known as Lail’s Tom Hal, was a chestnut horse with a bald face and four white legs. He was foaled early in the “forties,” and was got by the original Tom Hal, and his dam was by Chinn’s Copperbottom. He was bred by Higgins Chinn, Harrison County, kept for a time by John Lucas, and owned by Mr. Lail, of the same county. He was one of the prominent links between the old and the new, and was a fast pacer.

Sorrel Tom was a son of Bald Stockings (Lail’s Tom Hal) and bore the same color and markings. He was bred and owned by John Shawhan, of Harrison County, Kentucky. His dam was a grey mare from Ohio, of unknown breeding. He was kept at Falmouth, Indiana, the seasons of 1857 and 1858, and was very widely known in that region as “Shawhan’s Tom Hal.” He was quite a large horse, and to take the description as given him, “he could pace like the wind.” He was then taken back to Kentucky, leaving a multitude of good colts behind him, among[359] them the famous pacing gelding, Hoosier Tom, 2:19½. One of his Indiana sons passed into the hands of William Gray, of Rush County, Indiana, and became known as Gray’s Tom Hal. Nothing is known of the dam of this horse. He was the sire of Little Gipsey, trotter, 2:22, and Limber Jack, pacer, 2:18½, besides six daughters that produced nine performers.

About 1863-4 Mr. Shropshire, Jr., a son of the owner of the original Tom Hal, brought a little roan Tom Hal horse to Rushville, Indiana, where he stood a number of years and was known as Shropshire’s Tom Hal. This horse was probably by Lail’s Tom Hal, as he was too young to be by the original of the name. He was a fast pacer, but nothing is known of his progeny or history. The locating of this Indiana branch of the family is of particular interest, for it shows a concentration of pacing blood that was doubtless a strong reinforcement to Blue Bull.

Tom Hal (Kittrell’s) was a large bay horse and a pacer, bought by Major M. B. Kittrell in 1850 of Simeon Kirtly, near Centerville, Bourbon County, Kentucky, and taken to Middle Tennessee. His sire was represented to have been a large pacing bay horse that was brought from Canada, thereby implying that he was the original of the name, brought to Kentucky. While it is possible that the original Mason horse may have been the sire of Major Kittrell’s horse, the size and color of that horse do not correspond with what has been accepted as facts. It is altogether more probable that the sire of the Tennessee horse was a son of the original Tom Hal, as the roan color seems to be strongly fixed in all branches of the family.

Tom Hal Jr. (Gibson’s) was a roan horse, foaled 1860. Got by Kittrell’s Tom Hal; dam (bred by John Leonard), by Adam’s Stump, pacer; grandam said to be by Cummings’ Whip, pacer. Bred by H. C. Saunders, Nashville, Tennessee; kept a number of years by T. D. Moore, Petersburg, Tennessee, afterward owned by Polk Bros. and Major Campbell Brown, of Springhill, Tennessee. Adams’ Stump was a roan horse and a fast pacer and he was not only the sire of Julia Johnson, the dam of this horse, but also of the dam of Bonesetter. He died of old age, July, 1890. The strong concentration of pacing blood in his veins gave him unusual power in transmitting his inherited habit of action. He put fourteen representatives in the 2:30 list, and what is unprecedented, they are all pacers.

Brown Hal is a brown horse, as his name indicates, foaled[360] 1879, got by Gibson’s Tom Hal; dam the pacing mare Lizzie, the dam of the pacer Little Brown Jug, by John Netherland, son of Henry Hal; grandam Blackie, by John Hal, son of John Eaton; great-grandam Old March, by Young Conqueror. Bred by R. H. Moore, Culleoka, Tennessee, passed to M. C. Campbell and Campbell Brown, Springhill, Tennessee. Here we have a still stronger intensification of the pacing instinct, for this horse not only has a pacing record himself of 2:12½, but he put twenty of his progeny into the standard list, and all of them pacers. It is not shown by the Year Book that either this horse or his sire has any trotters to his credit, but it can hardly be doubted that some of their progeny took naturally to the diagonal trot, and not showing encouraging speed, were never developed.

If the question were asked, “What is to result from this intensely pacing family?” it would be very difficult to frame a satisfactory answer. At present this family shows all the vigor of youth in its new development, but, judging by others that have come and gone, it too, in its turn, will be submerged in more prepotent strains, that will more nearly meet the wants of their masters. The pacer has been lifted from obscurity and made the equal of the trotter as a race horse; his blood has contributed to an unknown extent in giving speed to the trotter, but he must be as good a horse for all uses as the trotter, or nobody will want him.

Kentucky Hunter, the head of the family bearing this name that, at one time, was very prominent in Central New York, was foaled 1822, and was bred by Louis Sherrill of New Hartford, New York, and was got by Watkins’ Highlander. His dam was a mare bought from a couple of dealers who were passing through New Hartford with some six or seven horses for sale, and they represented this mare to have been brought from Kentucky. On this representation she was called “a Kentucky mare.” She was a fine saddle mare and for this reason she was used chiefly for that service. From her superiority as a saddler, I think it is safe to conclude she was a pacer and could go the saddle gaits. Kentucky Hunter was a chestnut horse, a little above medium size. Mr. Sherrill sold him when young to Messrs. Bagg and Goodrich who kept him two years and sold him to William Ferguson, of Oriskany Falls, New York, and Mr. Ferguson continued to own him till he died in 1838.

During the lifetime of this horse the pacing gait was considered[361] an evidence of bad breeding, and this prejudice has continued for many years. The saddle was going out of use and wheels were coming in. After Flora Temple electrified the trotting world, writers had a great deal to say of her origin and family, but no one ever intimated that her grandsire was a pacer. From sources that I have no reason to doubt, I have been informed he was not only a pacer, but a fast pacer. This habit of action was not popular with breeders, and Mr. Ferguson kept it concealed as much as possible. When the pacer, Oneida Chief, from his own loins, was beating Lady Suffolk, three miles in 7:44, to saddle, and many of the other cracks of that day, his sire was dead and nothing was then to be made by proclaiming from the housetops that Oneida Chief was by old Kentucky Hunter.

Very little is known of Watkins’ Highlander, the sire of this horse. He was brought to Whitestown, New York, 1821, by Julius Watkins, from Connecticut. Some of the older men who knew the horse insist that Mr. Watkins represented him to be by a son of imported Messenger, and out of Nancy Dawson by imported Brown Highlander. This is possible, indeed probable, but it is not established.

Bogus Hunter was one of the younger sons of Kentucky Hunter. He was a chestnut horse of good size and came out of a mare by Bogus. But little is known of this horse, and that little is rendered still more uncertain by the unreliable character of his owners, the Loomis brothers, of Sangerfield, New York. It is certain, however, that a horse owned by the Loomises and called by this name was the sire of the famous world beater, Flora Temple. This fact rests upon the testimony of Mr. Samuel Welch, a reputable and trustworthy man who owned the dam of Flora and had her coupled with this horse, under his own eye.

Edwin Forrest, the most prominent representative of this family, was a large and rather loosely made bay horse, foaled 1851, got by Young Bay Kentucky Hunter, son of Bay Kentucky Hunter, that was by the original Kentucky Hunter. His dam, Doll, bred by Mrs. Crane, of Whitestown, Oneida County, New York, was by Watkins’ Highlander; grandam a chestnut mare owned in the Crane family, by Black River Messenger, son of Ogden’s Messenger. The identification of this grandson of imported Messenger was secured after the appearance of the fifth volume of the “Register.” This same mare, Doll, the next year[362] produced Wamock’s Highland Messenger, that was taken to Kentucky, and was a valuable element in the road-horse blood of that State. Edwin Forrest was bred by Barnes Davis, Oneida, Madison County; owned two years by H. L. Barker, of Clinton, New York, sold to Marcus Downing, of Kentucky, by him to Woodburn Farm, and after a time he passed to a company at Keokuk, Iowa, and then to George W. Ferguson, of Marshalltown, Iowa, where he was burned up in 1874.

It has been said this horse was a pacer and converted to a trotter, but this does not seem to be sustained by the facts. He was shown as a three-year-old at the Oneida County Fair, and he was then a square natural trotter and was considered very fast, for he was fully able to distance all the other colts of his age. The story of his being a pacer probably grew out of the fact that there was a strong pacing strain in the family, as the original Kentucky Hunter was undoubtedly a pacer. Many of the Kentucky Hunters were speedy travelers and a few of them were fast. Black River Messenger was a horse of very wide local reputation for the superiority of his progeny as rapid travelers. The union of the Messenger blood with pacing blood produced excellent results in this, as well as in thousands of other cases. As was the common usage before the establishment of the “Trotting Register,” this horse was advertised with two fictitious crosses added to his pedigree—his grandam was given as by Duroc, and his great-grandam as by imported Messenger. Only two from his loins were able to enter the 2:30 list; six of his sons got seven performers and twelve of his daughters produced fifteen trotters.

Skenandoah (afterward called Kentucky Hunter) was a bay horse, foaled 1854, got by Brokenlegged Hunter, son of the original Kentucky Hunter; dam not clearly established. He was bred by Mr. Sykes, near Canastota, and passed through several hands to Henry Dewey, of Morrisville, New York, who trotted him in a number of races in Central New York and then took him to California, where he was kept in the stud a number of years under the name of Kentucky Hunter, and died there 1871. He got one trotter; one son that left two performers and seven daughters that left nine performers.

Drew Horse, commonly called “Old Drew,” was a brown bay horse, foaled 1842, and was about fifteen and one-quarter hands high and well-formed. He was bred, or rather raised, by Hiram[363] Drew, then of Exeter, Maine, who kept him all his life. The story of his supposed sire was one of those weakly devised fictions, so common in that day, and especially where the Canadian border could be made effective in rounding it out. To show that the mysterious colt that became the sire of Drew Horse was “thoroughbred,” the stereotyped “British Army officer” is made available, for the hundredth time, as having brought a mare from England in foal to a thoroughbred horse, the foal was dropped and at three years old he was traded by the aforesaid “officer” to the party that brought the colt to Maine. Unfortunately for the story, the party who made the trade and the story had a bad memory, and sometimes he located the trade at St. Johns and sometimes at Fredericton, New Brunswick. But the fiction served its generation and was not exposed till long after the Drew Horse was dead. The facts in the matter seem to be simply these: a stallion colt was running in a pasture adjoining Mr. Drew’s pasture, and that colt got over the fence, was found with Mr. Drew’s mare, and in due time she dropped the colt known as the “Drew Horse.” The fence-breaker was soon after made a gelding and sold, and nothing is known of him, either before or after this escapade. The dam of the Drew Horse was a bay mare about fifteen and one-half hands high, foaled about 1836, and bred by Mark Pease, of Jackson, Maine. Her sire was called Sir Henry and was represented to be by a son of American Eclipse, that was taken to Maine from Connecticut by Dr. Brewster and sold to General F. W. Lander. She was known as Grace Darling and afterward as Boston Girl. She was on the turf and was quite a trotter, and it is claimed she made a record of 2:37, and her dam was Lady Jane by Winthrop Messenger. While I don’t know what the inheritance of this horse was on the side of his sire, I do know that he had a trotting inheritance on the side of his dam. He lived till 1866 and then had to be destroyed on account of a broken leg.

This horse was never trained, and it is not known what he might have been able to do as a trotter. He put two of his sons in the 2:30 list, Dirigo and General McClellan. Of his sons, two put five trotters and three pacers in the list, and of his daughters left six representatives there. Besides these he left a number of others with records a little short of the limit of speed, and many without records that were fast and very game roadsters.

Dirigo, at first called George B. McClellan, under which name[364] he made his record, was the best son of Drew Horse. He was a brown horse, and in appearance much like his sire. He was foaled 1856 and came out of a mare that has not been traced, but was doubtless a pacing mare. He was bred by Horace McKinney, Monroe, Maine, and passed to David Quimby, of Corinna, Maine, and died 1884. He made his record of 2:29 in a single heat and never was on the track again. Four trotters and two pacers by him entered the 2:30 list. Two of his sons became the sires of three trotters, and five of his daughters each produced a performer. He left others with and without records that were fast and stylish drivers.

Hiram Drew, at first called Bay Morgan, was a son of Old Drew, and his dam was a small bay mare, owned near Bangor and said to be of Morgan blood. This horse was on the turf some years and was engaged in some locally important contests, but never was able to make himself standard either by his own or the performances of his progeny. His best performance, I believe, was 2:31½.

Winthrop was a bay horse, foaled 1864, got by Drew Horse; dam by the Eton Horse and grandam by Stone or Simpson’s Messenger. He was bred by E. J. Greene, Newport, Maine; taken to California 1870, and there owned by Judge W. E. Greens and L. E. Yates, of Stockton. It does not appear that he ever was trained, and consequently has no record. His opportunities, probably, were not very great, but whether or not, he was not successful in the stud. He left one trotter and one pacer and the dams of one trotter and one pacer.

This family never was large, and its popularity was up and down just as a few individuals might be successful or unsuccessful on the turf. To start with, it had a very weak inheritance of trotting instinct, and that weakness did not strengthen in succeeding generations. Of late years it has failed to maintain itself as a trotting family, and is now practically out of the reckoning of trotters.

Hiatoga, generally known as Rice’s Hiatoga, was a bay pacing horse and was bred in Rockingham County, Virginia, and taken to Fairfield County, Ohio, by Edward Rice, some time about 1836. He had the reputation of being a fast pacer, and was sold to William Shiruo, of the same county, and by him to William Munger, in whose possession he died. He was got by a horse[365] known in Virginia as Hiatoga, and also American Hiatoga, but nothing is known of the blood of his dam. Nothing is known of his speed or his progeny except through the two sons here given.

Hiatoga, generally designated as “Old Togue,” was got by Rice’s Hiatoga; dam by Thunderbolt, grandam by Black or Bold Rover. He was foaled 1843 and was bred by David W. Brown, of Perry County, Ohio; sold 1849 to John Joseph, Kirkersville, Ohio, where he made some seasons and was sold 1855 to Alvah Perry, Lancaster, where he remained till 1863, and was sold to Harvey Wilson, and two years later to William McDonald, Columbus, Ohio, where he died 1871. This horse left excellent stock and many of them fast pacers, but they never cut much figure on the turf.

Hiatoga (Hanley’s) was a bay pacing horse of good size and quality and was very popular as a sire. He was foaled 1849, got by Rice’s Hiatoga; dam an elegant bay mare sixteen hands high and represented to be of “Sir Peter and Eclipse blood.” This mare was formerly given as by Firetail, but the present rendering, whatever it may mean, comes from sources with opportunities to know. He was bred by John Bright, of Fairfield County, sold to Joseph Watt, and taken to Harrison County and then to Jefferson County, and sold to James Davis Tweed. He next passed through the hands of David Rittenhouse and Moses Hanley, of Hopedale, Ohio, and after three or four years in the stud Mr. Hanley sold him to David Rittenhouse, John Wiley and Samuel Hanley for two thousand five hundred dollars, and he died the property of Mr. Rittenhouse near Hopedale, Ohio, 1858. Two of his progeny entered the 2:30 list; three of his sons left thirteen performers, and three daughters produced five.

Hiatoga (Scott’s) was a bay pacer foaled 1858, got by Hanley’s Hiatoga; dam by Blind Tuckahoe (pacer); grandam by Consul. This horse was quite fast and paced under the name of Tuscarawas Chief. He was the best of the family and was bred and owned by Samuel Scott, East Springfield, Jefferson County, Ohio. He put five trotters and four pacers in the 2:30 list; seven of his sons and seventeen of his daughters were producers.

The Hiatoga family seems to have no trotting inheritance except from the pacer. It is a useful family and still has vitality.


Characteristics of the Morgans—History of the original Morgan—The fabled pedigree—The true Briton theory—Justin Morgan’s breeding hopelessly unknown—Sherman Morgan—Black Hawk—His disputed paternity—His dam called a Narragansett—Ethan Allen—His great beauty, speed and popularity—The Flying Morgan claim baseless—His dam of unknown blood—His great race with Dexter—Daniel Lambert, the only successful sire of the Black Hawk line.

Fifty years ago there was no family of horses so popular as the “Morgans.” They were carried into all parts of the country at high prices and they gave their purchasers general satisfaction. They were small, perhaps not averaging over fourteen and a half hands high, but compact, trappy movers and had most excellent dispositions. Many of them were ideal roadsters, where speed was not in great demand, for they were kindly, tractable and always on their courage. Many of them carried themselves in excellent style, and notwithstanding their diminutive size, it is not probable we will ever again see a better tribe of every-day, family horses. In all their outline and in every lineament they were the very opposite of the blood horse, and when bred on any strain outside of their own family, they almost universally failed to impress their own characteristics on their progeny. This failure I observed with deep regret more than forty years ago. The step could be extended and the speed increased by crossing with the long striders, but in securing this we lost the Morgan. In advance of their general distribution they had the misfortune to be heralded as great trotters, and in this respect, at least, they failed of meeting expectations. They went, largely, into the hands of inexperienced men, who knew nothing about how to cultivate speed, and the little, short, quick steps of their new trotters gave them all the sensations of going fast, without the danger incident to rapid traveling. In regard to the matter of speed, through the overzealous and not too conscientious[367] editors and others to say nothing of the advertisements of those who had them for sale, they suffered greatly by too much praise. The result is that the original type has been extinguished, and it is doubtful whether a fair specimen could be found, even among the mountains of New England. Next to the injury which the family sustained from the exaggerated claims of speed put forward by its too sanguine friends, there was another and even greater injury from the absurd and foolish claims made for his blood. It is impossible to make a thinking and sensible man believe that a little hairy-legged “nubbin” of a pony, weighing eight hundred and fifty pounds, hired for fifteen dollars a year to drag logs together in a clearing, at which employment he was a great success, had the blood of the race horse in his veins. This was always a stumbling block to my immature enthusiasm for the Morgan horse. From an experience of a great many years and from the developments of horse history during that time, I find the “stumbling block” no longer worries me, for it has rotted away and disappeared. Although the family has ceased to exist as a factor in current horse history, it had a history in the past; and, as a historian, I must consider its origin as well as the deeds it has accomplished or failed to accomplish.

Mr. Justin Morgan, the central figure in this investigation, was born in West Springfield, 1747, where he married and lived till 1788, when he removed to Randolph, Vermont, where he died, March, 1798. He was a reputable citizen, fairly well educated for his time, and taught school for a living. He owned a house and lot in his native town, where he kept a wayside house of entertainment, and during the early summer he usually had a stallion to keep on the shares. In the spring of 1785 he had charge of the horse True Briton, or Beautiful Bay, and I will here add that three years later, John Morgan, Jr., had charge of the same horse at Springfield, for the seasons of 1788 and 1789. This John Morgan, Jr., removed to Lima, New York, late in 1790 or early in 1791. Justin had sold his place in West Springfield to Abner Morgan, on long payments, and in the summer of 1795 he came back to West Springfield to collect some money that was due him, presumably on the price of his former home, but he failed to get money and took two colts instead. One was a three-year-old gelding and the other was a two-year-old bay colt, entire. He led the three-year-old with a halter and the two-year-old followed. The date of this visit to the old home is the[368] key to the main question to be settled, and it is fixed by Justin Morgan, Jr., then a lad of the right age to remember such things, and by Soloman Steele and Judge Griswold, who fix the date in the late summer of 1795. The horse was sold and resold and sold again, as a foal of 1793, and that date never left him till he died in 1821. I look upon this date as perfectly immovable, and every attempt that has been made to overthrow it has not been based on any reasonable evidence, nor prompted by a desire to get at the truth, but only to make a fictitious sire a possibility. This was the original Morgan Horse, and this date was thoroughly fixed by Linsley, without knowing that it upset the pedigree he had labored so hard to establish. After a lapse of fifty years an attempt was made to fix up a pedigree for the “Original Morgan Horse,” claiming that he was got by True Briton or Beautiful Bay—represented to be a great race horse, stolen from the great race horse man, Colonel De Lancey, in the Revolutionary War. I must, therefore, consider, briefly, this part of the fiction.

First—As a starting point in the pedigree, it is assumed that the race-horse in question was stolen, during the War of the Revolution, from James De Lancey, perhaps the largest and most widely known of all the colonial horsemen of that day. He was the first man to import race horses into this colony, and his name and the fame of his horses were discussed everywhere. He was very rich, in politics a Tory, and on the eve of hostilities he sold out every horse he owned, of whatever description, went back to England and never returned. This disposes of the false assumption that the sire of the original Morgan horse was stolen from him.

Second—There was another James De Lancey, cousin to the preceding, and not a rich man, who was colonel of a body of Tory cavalry operating in Westchester County from 1777 to the close of the war in 1782. It is not known whether he ever owned a race horse in his life, but it is certain he was a dashing fighter, and at the head of the cowboys he was known to the inhabitants of all that region. His name is not to be found anywhere in connection with horses. He bore, in full, the same name as the distinguished horseman, and was mistaken for him, although he was on the other side of the ocean.

Third—It is claimed that “one Smith” stole the horse in question from Colonel De Lancey and sold him to Mr. Ward, of Hartford, Connecticut, who kept him a few years and sold him[369] to Selah Norton, of the same place, and remained his till he died. Who was this “one Smith” and where did he belong? Where is the evidence that this “one Smith” stole a horse from Colonel De Lancey?

Fourth—In the New York Packet, then published at Fishkill, under date of October 19, 1780, we find the following: “Last week Lieutenant Wright Carpenter and two others went down to Colonel James De Lancey’s quarters and lay in wait for his appearance. He accordingly came and having tied his horse at the door, went into the house; upon which Carpenter seized the horse and mounted. When De Lancey discovered him, he immediately alarmed his men, who pursued him to White Plains, but in vain,” etc., etc. This Lieutenant Carpenter was a dashing young fellow and was promoted next month to the position of first lieutenant in Captain Lyons’ company, of the Second Regiment of New York Militia, of Westchester County, and still commanded by Colonel Thomas. This is the man who stole the horse, this is the contemporaneous evidence of it, and “one Smith” had nothing to do with it.

In these four points we have what may be considered the first chapter of this investigation and, as will be readily seen, each of them must be fatal to the pretentious claim that has been maintained for about a hundred years. Avoiding all circumlocution, I think it is safe to say that this so-called pedigree did not originate this side of Hartford. The Second Regiment of New York Militia, called “The Skinners,” was made up of Westchester County men, and as Colonel De Lancey had been sheriff of that county, everybody knew him and knew that he was not the race horse James. We must, therefore, look further on for the time when and the person by whom this pedigree was manufactured.

In 1784 this horse was advertised at Lanesboro, Massachusetts, under the name of Beautiful Bay, and no attempt was made to give a pedigree or origin of the horse.

In 1785 he was at West Springfield, Massachusetts, in charge of Justin Morgan, still called Beautiful Bay, and still no pedigree.

In 1788 and 1789 he was in charge of John Morgan, Jr., of Springfield, Massachusetts, and here, for the first time, he is designated as “the famous full-blooded English horse, called True Briton or Beautiful Bay,” but no pedigree is given.

In 1791 he was advertised at East Hartford, Connecticut, by[370] his owner, Selah Norton, and his pedigree is here given for the first time as follows: “True Briton, or Beautiful Bay, got by imported Traveler, dam De Lancey’s racer.” After advertising the horse for seven years without a pedigree, at last Mr. Selah Norton manufactures one and gives it over his own signature.

In 1793 he is again called Beautiful Bay, but no pedigree, at South Hadley, Massachusetts.

In 1794 and 1795 he was kept at Ashfield, Massachusetts, by Mr. Norton himself, and called Traveler, and his pedigree is again given in amended form as follows: “Sired by the famous old Traveler, imported from Ireland, dam Colonel De Lancey’s imported racer.”

This is the last trace we have of the horse Beautiful Bay, for that seems to be his honest name, and now I must ask some questions. These advertisements cover a period of eleven years and they are worthy of careful study. From 1784 to 1791 there is no attempt at giving any pedigree at all. With the exception of three seasons he seems to have been let, probably on shares, to different keepers, in different parts of the country. From first to last Selah Norton seems to have been his owner. If he had received the pedigree, and the romantic story of his theft, from “one Smith,” as claimed, is it conceivable that he would have concealed that story from the public when it would have added so much to the patronage of his horse? How does it come that not a single man having this stallion in charge, except Selah Norton himself, ever gave his pedigree? What prompted Selah Norton to withdraw the horse from public service, in Hartford, immediately after he first gave his pedigree? Was it because everybody there knew it was a fraud? When the horse was taken to South Hadley in 1793, why did his keeper there refuse to accept either the name True Briton or the new pedigree? It will be observed he was advertised there simply as Beautiful Bay and no pedigree given. The next two years we find him at Ashfield, Massachusetts, to which point it would seem his owner had removed from Hartford. For some reason that can be better imagined than explained, the names Beautiful Bay and True Briton are there dropped and he is rechristened as Traveler. To this change of name the old pedigree is attached, with a very important change in that also, as follows: “Sired by famous old Traveler, imported from Ireland, dam Colonel De Lancey’s imported racer.” These three words, “imported from Ireland,”[371] are very important in two particulars, for they not only knock out the “featherheads” who have been always maintaining that the imported Traveler meant Lloyd’s Traveler of New Jersey, son of Morton’s Traveler, that was imported from Yorkshire into Virginia about 1750, but it convicts Selah Norton of inventing this pedigree, for there was no such horse brought from Ireland. It is certainly unnecessary to say another word in illustration of Selah Norton’s character. When we study these advertisements it becomes as clear as the light of day that nobody believed him or the story that “one Smith” stole the horse from Colonel De Lancey. The crimes of horse stealing and desertion were exceedingly common during the period of the revolution and it is quite possible that “one Smith” may have stolen a horse out of somebody’s stable and sold him to Mr. Ward or Mr. Norton as the same horse that Lieutenant Carpenter stole from Colonel De Lancey, but neither “one Smith” nor “one Norton” knew anything more about his pedigree than he did about the man in the moon, and I will here end the second chapter of this investigation.

I am clearly of the opinion that Justin Morgan was an honest man and that he would not tell a lie, even if he knew it might accrue to his present and personal advantage. He was poor, feeble in health, and had hard scuffling to get along. As a means of livelihood, in part at least, it seems to have been his business for a good many years to keep stallions on shares for different owners. As late as 1795 he had a horse from Hartford, Connecticut, called Figure, to which we will refer later on. In 1788 he sold his little place in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and removed to Randolph, Vermont, where he died in March, 1798 In the autumn of 1795 he visited West Springfield again, for the purpose of collecting some money that was still due him there, probably some deferred payments of his former home, and as he was not able to get the money he took two horses in lieu thereof. One was a three-year-old gelding, and the other was a two-year-old bay colt, entire. He led the gelding beside the horse he was riding and the colt followed all the way. The evidence that fixes the date of this trip in the autumn of 1795 and the age of the colt that followed seems to me to be completely bomb-proof. This evidence not only embraces the recollections of Justin Morgan’s neighbors, but when he died the colt, in 1798, was sold by his administrators as a five-year-old. In all the[372] changes of ownership that took place through his life and at his death, in 1821, he was represented as foaled in 1793. He died from the effects of a kick that was neglected, and not from old age.

The only serious attempt that has been made to controvert the date of 1793 was that made in the name of John Morgan, of Lima, New York, in 1842, he being then eighty years old, in the Albany Cultivator. Unfortunately the editor fails to publish the letter he professes to have received from John Morgan and only gives his construction of it, which any child knows is no evidence at all. The editor represents him to say “that the two-year-old stud which he (Justin) took with him to Vermont was sired by a horse owned by Selah Norton, of East Hartford, Connecticut, called True Briton or Beautiful Bay.” Justin Morgan removed to Randolph, Vermont, in the spring of 1788, and this John Morgan removed to Lima, New York, about February, 1790. They were not brothers, but distant relatives. If John means to say that Justin “took with him” when he removed to Vermont a two-year-old son of Beautiful Bay, that colt must have been foaled in 1786, which would make him twelve years old instead of five when he was sold upon the death of his owner, and thirty-six years old instead of twenty-nine when he died from a kick. Now, if we concede that Justin did take with him a two-year-old son of Beautiful Bay, the dates render it impossible that he should have been the founder of the Morgan horse family and we have no trace of him whatever.

Another authority has very recently come to the front, and in order to avoid the difficulty of dates and still retain the possibility of the horse being by Beautiful Bay, insists that he was foaled 1789 and bred by Justin Morgan himself. Under this new light he was foaled in Vermont and didn’t have to travel there at all. He insists further that he named the horse Figure and kept him in the stud till his death in March, 1798, when the horse was sold and his name changed to Justin Morgan. It is true that Justin Morgan, still seeking to make a living, kept a stallion two or three years owned in Hartford, Connecticut, and advertised him as “the famous horse Figure, from Hartford.” Now, if this horse was foaled the property of Justin Morgan and owned by him as long as he lived, why should he advertise him as “from Hartford?” All these efforts to fix dates by shifting about so as to make it possible for the bogus stolen horse to come in as a sire,[373] have already received more attention than their importance demands and I will therefore call this the close of the third chapter.

There are several incidents connected with the life of the colt of 1793 that fixed his identity and age upon the recollections of the neighbors and friends of Justin Morgan. Solomon Steele, Evans, Rice and others who knew the colt well, all agree that the colt followed his companion and playmate from West Springfield to Randolph in the autumn of 1795 and that he was not then halter broken. They all agree that Evans hired him for fifteen dollars a year to draw logs in his clearing, in the place of a yoke of oxen. They all agree that Justin Morgan died in March, 1798, and that the colt was then sold as a five-year-old. The death was an immovable date fixer around which everything in connection with these events must be determined. And when the horse died in 1821 nobody had ever doubted that he was foaled 1793.

Justin Morgan, Jr., was in his tenth year when the colt was brought home, and he was twelve years old when his father died. In 1842 Justin Morgan, Jr., in a communication to the Albany Cultivator, says: “One was a three-year-old gelding colt, which he led; and the other a two-year-old stud colt, which followed all the way from Springfield. The said two-year-old colt was the same that has since been known all over New England by the name of the Morgan Horse. I know that my father always, while he lived, called him a Dutch horse. I have a perfect recollection of the horse when my father owned him and afterward, and well remember that my father always spoke of him as of the best blood.”

When he made these clean-cut and emphatic declarations Justin Morgan, Jr., was fifty-six years old, and it has been suggested that he was too young, at the time, to have remembered about the colt. This is a grave mistake, for farmer’s boys remember a thousand things better then than they ever do afterward. I don’t think that my own memory is remarkable, but today, at over three score and ten, I can, with the utmost distinctness, recall the names, color, markings, size, peculiarities and, in some cases, the history of most of the horses that were on the farm when I was eight years old. I can, therefore, have no hesitation in accepting Justin Morgan’s evidence on account of his youthfulness, at the time of which he speaks.

Did Justin Morgan know what he was saying when he “always, while he lived, called his horse a Dutch horse?” And did he[374] understand the historical meaning of his words when “he always spoke of him as of the best blood?” To answer these questions we must make some reference to history. The Dutch horses were a breed wholly distinct from the horses of the other colonies. The colony of New Netherlands (New York) received its supply from Utrecht, in Holland, commencing in 1624 and a few years following. In forty years they had so increased that the colony was well supplied. These horses were about fourteen hands and one inch high, which was about one hand higher than the horses supplied to the English colonies. They were not only higher, but they had more bone and muscle, and, I think, more shapely necks. In every respect they were better, except that they were not so good for the saddle, for the reason, as I think, that they were not pacers. The standard that determined their superiority was the higher prices at which they were bought and sold, over the New England horses, as shown by the official reports of the colony. When the colony passed under British rule, the first governor immediately established a race course on Hempstead Plains, Long Island, and there in 1665 the first organized race in this country took place. This was long before the English race horse had reached the character of a breed, and a round hundred years before the first representative of that breed reached New York. The horses that ran at Hempstead Plains were undoubtedly Dutch horses, for the inhabitants of New York and Long Island attended these annual meetings in great numbers, and as they were nearly all Dutch they would not have gone a stone’s throw to see an English horse run. These annual race meetings were kept up a great many years by the successive governors.

In 1635 two shiploads of Dutch horses, from the same quarter, chiefly mares, reached Salem, Massachusetts, and were sold at prices enormously high as compared with the prices of those sent from England to the same colony. These two shiploads added materially to the average size of the horses of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, as shown by statistics, as well as the other colonies getting their foundation stock from that source. We may safely conclude, I think, that some of the descendants of these shiploads were taken to the valley of the Connecticut when Hartford was planted, for we not infrequently meet with the term “Dutch horse” in the old prints of that valley. Besides this source the valley of the Hudson was full of them. They[375] retained their distinctive appellation till about the beginning of this century.

Mr. O. W. Cook, of Springfield, Massachusetts, did a great deal of fundamental investigation on the origin of this family, away back in 1878-9, etc., and I am under special obligations to him for being the first man to open my eyes to the great confidence game that has been played for a hundred years, and all originating in the fabulous story of “one Smith.” Among other important things he unearths an advertisement of Young Bulrock that was advertised to stand at Springfield, 1792, as follows: “Young Bulrock is a horse of the Dutch breed, of a large size, and a bright bay color, etc.” In speaking of his pedigree, Mr. Cook most pithily remarks: “In view of the three-fold concurrence of time and place and breed, it fits into the vacuum in the Morgan’s lineage as a fragment of pottery fits into its complement.” There was another horse advertised in Springfield that year, but he had neither name nor breed and in color he was gray. The advertisement of Young Bulrock fits in time, fits in color and fits in breed; and thus removes all reasonable doubt that he was the sire of the original Morgan horse. This is the reason why Justin Morgan “always, while he lived, called him a Dutch horse;” and the little scrap of history given above will show why he always spoke of him as “of the best blood.” He was right in the former and he was right in the latter declaration. It is not possible, at this day, to prove, technically, these matters of a hundred years ago, but after considering all the facts in the case, we must conclude that they are satisfying to the human understanding, and that Justin Morgan told the truth.

For the past fifty or sixty years the breeding of the original Morgan horse has been a subject of apparently unending controversy. The real facts concerning his origin, however, have never been brought to light and fully developed until within the last few years, and it is probable that nothing of material value will ever be added to the foregoing tracing. We have found from contemporaneous history that Lieutenant Wright Carpenter stole a horse from Colonel James De Lancey and was successful in carrying him into the camp of the patriots at Fishkill, and that is all we know about that particular horse. After the war was over it is stated that “one Smith” sold a horse to Mr. Ward, of Hartford, and represented that he had stolen the horse from Colonel De Lancey, and Mr. Ward sold that horse to Selah Norton,[376] who seems to have owned him as long as he lived. It must be accepted as true that Lieutenant Carpenter captured a horse from Colonel De Lancey, but we cannot accept it as true that this was the same horse owned by Norton. We must first know how and where “one Smith” got him. Norton had this horse and advertised him in different parts of the country for public service seven or eight years before the romance of his history and pedigree was given to the world. As this romance would have been a grand feature in an advertisement of a stallion, Mr. Norton was too slow in evolving it, and when he did bring it out nobody believed it. At that period many portions of New England abounded in stallions with bogus pedigrees and histories, and if we judge Norton by his acts in giving his horse three different names at different times and places, we must conclude he was ready to conceal or invent anything that would add to his horse’s popularity and patronage.

Sherman Morgan.—In his history of the Morgan Horse, Mr. Linsley names this and three or four other sons of the original, that were kept for stock purposes, but none of them seems to have attained any eminence, except Sherman. As he never made any pretensions to being a trotter, he would have been forgotten long ago, had it not been for the lucky circumstances that he was the sire of Black Hawk, and thus his name has been preserved. He was scant fourteen hands high, with heavy body on short legs, and carried his head well up. He was a chestnut and foaled about 1809. There has always been a doubt in the minds of many as to whether he was the sire of Black Hawk, but that question will be considered when we reach that horse. His dam was a very handsome mare, brought from Narragansett, a pacer, and a very desirable saddle mare. In the trotting “Register,” three representations are given as to the breeding of this mare, namely, that she was of the Spanish breed; that she was an imported English mare; and that she was brought from Virginia on account of her beauty and speed. The first claim seemed to have the best historical support, and besides this she was brought from Providence, Rhode Island, and was a very fine pacer. The theory was then prevalent that the Narragansett pacers were of the “Spanish breed.” The elimination of that foolish notion from the history of the pacers does not affect the plain statement that she was a Narragansett pacer. It is not known that this[377] mare ever produced anything else, either by the original Morgan or by any other horse.

Black Hawk.—As his name indicates, this horse was a jet black, and was something over fifteen hands high. He was foaled 1833, was got by Sherman Morgan, and was bred by Benjamin Kelly, of Durham, New Hampshire. As the question of his paternity has been the subject of a great deal of bitter controversy, continued through many years, and participated in by men of intelligence, on both sides, I must give the history, as I understand it. Mr. Kelly kept a tavern at Durham and Mr. Bellows, the owner of Sherman Morgan, made this house one of his points of stopping as he traveled his horse, in his circuit of the season. Along with Sherman he had another horse called Paddy, black as a raven, that did some service at seven dollars, while the price for Sherman was fourteen dollars. On one of his visits, Mr. Kelly’s black mare, called “Old Narragansett” was bred to Sherman and proved to be in foal. Not long after this Mr. Kelly sold the mare to Mr. Shade Twombly, living about two miles from Durham, and a part of the agreement was that if the mare should prove to be with foal, Mr. Twombly was to pay for the services of the horse. The next spring the mare dropped a fine black horse colt, and Mr. Twombly claimed the colt was by Paddy and not by Sherman, hence, he refused to pay fourteen dollars for the services of Sherman, but was willing to pay seven dollars for the services of Paddy. This resulted in a lawsuit in which it was proved that Sherman was the sire of the colt, and Mr. Twombly’s estate had to pay the money. The colt was kept by Mr. Twombly’s heirs, at pasture in Greenland, New Hampshire, till he was about two years old, when he was sold at auction to Albert Mathes, of Durham, for seventy dollars and from him he passed to Benjamin Thurston, of Lowell, for two hundred dollars. In Thurston’s hands he became quite noted, locally, as a trotter, and in 1844 he became the property of David Hill, of Bridport, Vermont, where he became altogether the most popular stallion in the United States, and died there November, 1856. He was the first horse to command one hundred dollars for his services; and many of the great mares of the country were sent to his embrace, among them the world-renowned Lady Suffolk, but unfortunately she failed to produce.

To understand why the fight against the Sherman Morgan paternity of this horse should have been so bitter and so persistent,[378] we must consider the condition of the horse interests in New England at that time. When Black Hawk came to the front the Morgans of the real Morgan type had already attained some degree of popularity and here came a horse overtopping them all, with no trace of the Morgan type about him. He and his family attracted the attention of purchasers and threw a shadow of doubt over the little punchy, hairy-legged fellows that knocked out many a sale. Besides this, it was a serious and real question in the minds of a great many honest and intelligent men, as to whether Sherman Morgan, so typical of his family, could possibly have been the sire of a horse so completely outside of the family, not only in appearance and formation, but in his ability to trot. In 1847 Black Hawk was pitted against the Morse Horse, mile heats, best two in three, at the Saratoga State Fair. He won the first heat in 2:50½ and the second in 2:43½. He was then fourteen years old and this was very fast, for a stallion of that period. It is but justice to say that the Morse Horse contingent claimed that Black Hawk was set back in the first heat for running and that the heat was given to the Morse Horse in 2:52½ and that the second and third heats were won by Black Hawk in 2:54½ and 2:56. Just what the truth is in this disagreement I am not able to determine. As we look at this horse, so distinct from all his tribe; and as we consider the very indistinct knowledge of the laws of generation as held by the masses in that day, we cannot wonder that the paternity was so vehemently disputed. Neither can we wonder, as his descendants pass in review before us, that this dispute has never been settled to the satisfaction of the contending parties. The old Morgan type never reappears in the descendants of this family.

But, we must not forget that we have considered only half of the inheritance of this horse. He had a dam as well as a sire. To that half of his pedigree we must now give some attention. The story of the “half-bred English mare, brought from New Brunswick” has had its day and we may as well lay it aside as a humbug. Mr. Allen W. Thomson, of Woodstock, Vermont, has brought out the facts with regard to this mare in a form that is very clear and satisfactory. In 1876 Mr. Thomson visited Albany for the purpose of examining everything that had been said in The Country Gentleman newspaper touching on the paternity of Black Hawk. In this search for the sire he would necessarily find many references to the dam and among these references he[379] was greatly surprised to find she had been described as “a pacing mare.” He goes on to say: “In our visit the same fall to Durham, Dover, Portsmouth and Greenland to learn more of her, we found a number that knew her when owned in Durham, and they said she was then known as the ‘Old Narragansett Mare.’ They said that Benjamin Kelly, deceased, brought the mare into Durham, that he had a son John L. living in Manchester, New Hampshire, and that he would know more about her, etc.” After learning that Mr. John L. Kelly was a very intelligent and responsible man, having been city marshal and mayor of Manchester, and known as “Honest John,” he wrote him and received the following reply:

“In answer to your inquiries about the dam of Black Hawk, I will give you my best recollections, aided somewhat by a diary which I kept at that time. I returned to Durham from a sea voyage in the fall of 1830. In the following spring I went to Boston with my father with a lot of horses. We stopped over night at Brown’s Hotel, at Haverhill, Mass., where we met a teamster from Portsmouth, N. H., with a team of four horses. In the hind span was a large gray horse and a dark bay mare. Among father’s horses was one which was a good match for the gray horse. The man noticed it and told father that the mare was too fast for the horse, was worth two of him for speed and bottom, yet he would trade with father for his gray horse. After a good deal of talk, with the aid of Mr. Brown, the trade was made and we drove the mare in the carriage to Boston, leading the others. We found her to be a splendid roadster, and as she was not in good condition to sell, we took her back to Durham. At this time she was chafed and bruised up very badly with the heavy harness, yet in a few months she came out of it, with no traces of it, except a few white spots on her back and breast. The teamster said she was a Narragansett mare. She would weigh 1,000 pounds. Father kept her as one of his stable horses. She was found to have great speed as a trotter, and father was always bragging about her. One day, late in the season, Israel Esty, of Dover, drove up to Durham with a trotter, and bantered father for a trot, mile heats on Madbury Plains, between Durham and Dover. I had great faith in the mare and pleaded with father to accept his offer, and he did, and fifty dollars was staked on the race. John Speed was father’s hostler at the time, and he commenced getting the mare ready for the race. He had only three weeks to do it in. At the time specified, a large collection of people from Dover and Durham collected to witness the race. Dr. Reuben Steele was one of the judges. The Esty horse won the first heat, the Kelly mare won the next two, distancing the horse in the last one. In the spring of 1832 John Bellows came to Durham with the old Sherman Morgan, and I persuaded father to have the mare bred to him. He did, as I saw the horse cover her. I was 21 in 1832; went to sea again that fall. My recollection of the dam of Black Hawk is she was a very fine pointed dark mare, with a nostril so large, when excited, that one could put his fist into it.

John L. Kelly.

“Manchester, N. H., August 25, 1876.”


The only “trip” in this letter is where Mr. Kelly speaks of the mare as “a dark bay,” but as the identity of the mare is fully maintained by other witnesses, this shade of color is not material and is, doubtless a slip of the pen. We don’t know she was a Narragansett mare, but we do know that she was called a Narragansett. It is wholly possible she may have been a bastard Narragansett, or she may have been called a Narragansett merely because she was a pacer. At that date there were still many descendants of the old Narragansetts to be found, of greater or less degree of purity in their breeding. Among Mr. Thomson’s gleanings from persons who knew the mare there are some bearing upon her color and gait that are in order at this point of our inquisition. Mr. John Bellows, the owner of Sherman Morgan, says: “She was a good-sized black mare, a fast trotter, with a swinging gait, and resembled in appearance the Messenger stock of horses.” The following description was gathered from several persons who knew the mare well and among them Mr. Wingate Twombly, son of her former owner. “She was a large, rangy mare, a little coarse and brawny, did not carry much flesh, might have weighed some over one thousand pounds and was a trifle over fifteen and one-half hands high. Head and ears rather large, neck long and straight, withers low and thin, medium mane and tail, had more hair on the fetlocks than her son, was called black a little way off, but close to one could see her grey hairs mingled with her coat and close to she was called a steel mixed. She had a white strip in her face and some say a little white on one hind foot. She was smart to go, but her gait was not a smooth, square trot. Some called it a sort of a pace, others that she single-footed. She went with her head low when trotting fast. One person said it was about a straight line from her back to her head when she was going fast.” She was called the Narragansett Mare when Mr. Kelly owned her. From other sources and from men who personally knew the mare and had ridden beside her, we have undoubted evidence that she was very fast, but all through there is some confusion about the character of her gait. Mr. Bellows, who ought to know something about the gait of a horse, says: “She was a fast trotter, with a swinging gait.” Now just what he means by the phrase “swinging gait” is hard to determine. Putting all these bits of evidence together, the reasonable conclusion seems to be that she was[381] double-gaited, and when speeded she would go from the trot to the pace or from the pace to the trot as the case might be.


Son of Vermont Black Hawk.

From this synopsis of all that has been developed in the blood lines of Black Hawk, there can be no longer any mystery about where he got the characteristics making him so intensely different from the representatives of the typical Morgan. His sire was out of a high-class Narragansett pacer, and his dam was probably a fast Narragansett pacer, thus giving him presumably seventy-five per cent. of Narragansett blood and twenty-five per cent. of Morgan blood. The fight that was made against him all his life, as not being a genuine Morgan, had its foundation in justice and truth. He was not a Morgan in either blood or character. He founded a very valuable line of trotters, something that no other branch of the Morgan family has ever accomplished, and of right his descendants should be designated as “the Black Hawk Family,” and not jumbled up with the heterogeneous mass of nondescripts still called “the Morgan Family.” Black Hawk’s gait was spluttery and uneven, rather than square and mechanical. A few of his progeny were very perfectly gaited, but a great many of them manifested their evil inheritance, which, together with unskillful handling, destroyed all possible value as trotters. He placed three in the 2:30 list; fourteen of his sons were sires of 2:30 performers, six of them with two or more, and two daughters produced 2:30 performers. He died November, 1856.

Ethan Allen, 43.—This was a handsome, bright bay horse, less than fifteen hands high, with three white feet and a star. He was foaled 1849, got by Black Hawk, 5; dam, a fast trotting grey mare of unknown pedigree. With a list of all the celebrated American horses before him, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the best informed horseman to select an animal that has been so great a favorite with the American people, and for so long a time, as the famous Ethan Allen. When four years old he gave the world a sensation by eclipsing everything that had appeared before him at that age; and again when he was eighteen years old he renewed and intensified the sensation by trotting in 2:15 with a running mate. These sensations of his youth and his old age, did much to give him a standing with the people; but his wonderful beauty and remarkable docility and kindness, with the elegance and ease of his action, made him the favorite of everybody. His trotting gait was recognized by the[382] best judges and experts as probably more perfect than that of any horse of his day. Others have gone faster singly, but no one has done it in greater perfection of motion. In his great flights of speed he was not bounding in the air, but down close to the ground, with a gliding motion that steals from quarter-pole to quarter-pole with inconceivable rapidity. He was bred by Joel W. Holcomb, of Ticonderoga, New York, and as the result of a practical joke he played, for the purpose of annoying his uncle, David Hill, the owner of Black Hawk, against whom he had some pique just at that time, many well-meaning and no doubt honest people once believed, and possibly still believe, that Ethan Allen was by Flying Morgan and not by Black Hawk. The fact that Ethan Allen was the same color as Flying Morgan and that there was some resemblance in size and style of action of the two horses, lent a strong suggestion to the joke as a truth. I am indebted to Mr. I. V. Baker, Jr., of Comstock’s Landing, S. B. Woodward, then of Ticonderoga, and B. H. Baldwin, of Whitehall, New York, for the details of the way the Flying Morgan story started, and need only say the narrator was an eye-witness to the whole affair. In the spring of 1852, in the barroom of S. B. Woodward’s hotel, at Ticonderoga, quite a number of the villagers being present, Mr. Joel W. Holcomb came in and said he was going to write a letter to R. M. Adams, of Burlington, Vermont, the owner of Flying Morgan, and he was going to have some fun with him; and, going to the desk in the room, he wrote, substantially as follows: “I don’t know but I have made all the reputation for David Hill and old Black Hawk that I care to. I am willing to have the credit go where it belongs, and desire to let yourself and the public know that my colt Ethan Allen is got by your horse Flying Morgan.”

“There,” he said, “you will see this in all the Vermont papers next week. Won’t Uncle David be mad?”

“What!” exclaimed some of his neighbors, after hearing it read, “you won’t put your name to such a falsehood as that? It’s a shame.”

“Well, well,” said Holcomb, “I’ll add a postscript.” And going to the desk he wrote below his signature, leaving a good wide space between his signature and the following words:

“Flying Morgan never covered the dam of Ethan Allen, never smelt of her and never saw her, consequently Ethan Allen was[383] not by Flying Morgan, but he can beat Flying Morgan or any other stallion in the State of Vermont.”

The next fall Mr. Adams visited many of the fairs with his horse and showed Holcomb’s letter, and, it is said, with the postscript torn off. Every man in Ticonderoga knew as well as Mr. Holcomb how Ethan Allen was bred, and this letter created much indignation. But Holcomb was a reckless man and cared for nothing more than what he called a good joke, and the more it hurt any one’s feelings the better it suited him.

This account of the “joke” was written down by Mr. Baker, at the dictation of Mr. Woodward, April 22, 1875, and I have implicit confidence in its substantial accuracy. It has been said that the reason Holcomb did this was out of ill feeling toward Mr. David Hill, the owner of Black Hawk, and Holcomb’s uncle, because he dunned him for payment of the horse’s services in getting Ethan Allen. One day at the Fashion Course, in the spring of 1867, as I was looking at Ethan while he was taking his daily exercise, either Mr. Holcomb or Mr. Roe, his partner—I knew them both by sight as the owners of Ethan Allen, but not well enough to distinguish one from the other, but I think it was Mr. Holcomb—came up to me and expressed a good deal of solicitude to know how I was registering the horse. He appeared gratified when I assured him I had no doubt he was a son of old Black Hawk and would so enter him. He remarked “that was right,” and said the Flying Morgan story originated in a practical joke and should not be permitted to go into history as a fact. This is the full history of the basis of the controversy, and certainly, to a reasonable man, it does not leave a single peg on which to hang a hope for the Flying Morgan story.

But, the paternity of Ethan Allen is not left to the uncertainties of recollection nor to be trifled with by practical jokers. The books of Black Hawk’s services show that the dam of Ethan Allen was bred to him on a certain day or days of the season of 1848, and was taken away believed to be in foal. This fact is conceded on all hands as wholly indisputable, but it is claimed that Flying Morgan was kept in Holcomb’s stable one night, after the mare returned from Bridport, and the two were there surreptitiously coupled. I have studied this claim in all its details, I have examined every detail minutely, and I do not hesitate to say there is not a single shadow of evidence to support the claim. In Vermont, as in Kentucky, there are many people who can remember[384] things that never occurred, but in the former State these people are at a great disadvantage, for they are not able to get so many to agree with and support their remarkable memories. The Vermonters are very far from being all honest, but they are very much disposed to make up their own minds, whether right or wrong.

In searching for the breeding of the little flea-bitten grey mare, “called a Messenger,” that produced Ethan Allen, I have not been sparing of either time or labor. I have assiduously followed every clew that presented itself, and waded through “sloppy” correspondence “knee deep,” but I never have been able to reach a single point that was relevant and tangible. From the first that is known of her at Hague, New York, her identity has been maintained by a spavin on one leg and one hip knocked down, and thus she has been traced through the hands of many owners till she reaches Mr. Holcomb, of Ticonderoga, New York. A pretence has been set up that she was by some Morgan horse, but this was only a wish of the originator, and not a fact founded on reasonable evidence. It is said she was quite a fast trotter, in her younger days, and that she could beat all the farmers’ horses against which she was started. That she had a trotting inheritance, and probably from Messenger, there can be no reasonable doubt.

Ethan Allen made his first appearance as a trotter at the Clinton County Fair, as a three-year-old, and made a record, over a very bad track, of 3:20-3:21. In May following, then four years old, at the Union Course, he beat Rose of Washington in 2:36-2:39-2:42. This was then the fastest time ever made by a four-year-old. He then retired to the stud and did not again appear till October, 1855, when, over the Cambridge Park Course, he beat Columbus, Sherman Black Hawk, and Stockbridge Chief for the stallion purse in 2:34½-2:37. Three of the contestants here were sons of Black Hawk. The next season he defeated Hiram Drew twice, to wagon, making a record of 2:32¾. October 15, 1858, at Boston, he beat Columbus Jr., and Hiram Drew, 2:37-2:35-2:33. The same month, on the Union Course, he beat George M. Patchen, to wagons, distancing him the first heat in 2:28. At the Union Course, Long Island, July 12, 1860, he beat Princess, distancing her the second heat in 2:29½-2:25½. This is his fastest record. He was frequently beaten by George M. Patchen, Flora Temple, etc., and it was thought by many that[385] he could not take up the weight and “hold the clip” for the full mile out. His most famous performance was made in 1867, and as I had the pleasure of witnessing it, from a very eligible position, I will here repeat the description as then made:

“On the 21st of June, 1867, on the Fashion Course, it was my good fortune to witness the crowning event of his life. Some three weeks before, with running mate, he had beaten Brown George and running mate, in very fast time, scoring one heat in 2:19. This made horsemen open their eyes, and there at once arose a difference of opinion, about the advantage to the trotter of having a runner hitched with him, to pull the weight. This resulted in a match for two thousand five hundred dollars to trot Ethan Allen and running mate against Dexter, who was then considered invincible. As the day approached the betting was about even; but the evening before the race, word came from the course that Ethan’s running mate had fallen lame and could not go, but they would try to get Brown George’s running mate, then in Connecticut, to take the place of the lame runner. As the horses were strangers to each other, it was justly concluded that the change gave Dexter a great advantage and the betting at once changed from even to two to one on Dexter. Long before noon the crowd began to assemble; the sporting men everywhere were shaking rolls of greenbacks over their heads, shouting “two to one on Dexter.” I met a friend from Chicago, who sometimes speculated a little, and when he told me he was betting two to one on Dexter, I took the liberty of advising him to be cautious, for I thought the team would win the race, and that its backers knew what they were doing. Before the hour arrived I secured a seat on the ladies’ stand, from which every foot of the course, and the countless multitudes of people, could be taken in at a glance. The vehicles in numbers were simply incalculable, and the multitudes were estimated at forty thousand people. Upon the arrival of the hour, the judges ascended the stand and rang up the horses, when the backers of the team came forward, explained the mishap that had befallen the runner, that they had Brown George’s mate on the ground, but, as he and Ethan had never been hitched together, they were unwilling to risk so large a sum, and closed the race by paying one thousand two hundred and fifty forfeit. When this announcement was made there was a general murmur that spread, step by step, through all that vast multitude. The betting fraternity[386] were just where they started and every spectator realized a feeling of disgust at the whole management. As soon as this had time to exert its intended effect upon the crowd, the backers of the team came forward again and expressed their unwillingness to have the people go away dissatisfied, and proposed a little match of two hundred and fifty a side, which was promptly accepted by the Dexter party; and when it was known there would be a race after all the shout of the multitudes was like the voice of many waters.

“This being a new race, the betting men had to commence de novo. The surroundings of the pool stands were packed with an eager and excited crowd, anxious to get on their money at two, and rather than miss, at three to one on Dexter. The work of the auctioneers was short, sharp and decisive, and the tickets were away up in the hundreds and oftentimes thousands. But the pool-stands did not seem to accommodate more than a small fraction of those anxious to invest, and in all directions in the surging crowd, hands were in the air, filled with rolls of greenbacks, and shouting “two to one on Dexter.” I was curious to note what became of these noisy offers, and I soon observed that a quiet-looking man came along, took all the party had to invest and then went quietly to another of the shouters, and then another and so on, till I think that every one who had money to invest, at that rate, was accommodated. The amount of money bet was enormous, no doubt aggregating a quarter of a million, in a few minutes.

“When the horses appeared on the track to warm up for the race, Dexter, driven by the accomplished reinsman Budd Doble, was greeted with a shout of applause. Soon the team appeared, and behind it sat the great master of trotting tactics, Dan Mace. His face, which has so often been a puzzle to thousands, had no mask over it on this occasion. It spoke only that intense earnestness that indicates the near approach of a supreme moment. The team was hitched to a light skeleton wagon; Ethan wore breeching, and beside him was a great strong race horse, fit to run for a man’s life. His traces were long enough to allow him to fully extend himself, but they were so much shorter than Ethan’s that he had to take the weight. Dexter drew the inside, and on the first trial they got the send off without either one having six inches the advantage. When they got the word, the flight of speed was absolutely terrific, so far beyond anything I had ever[387] witnessed in a trotting horse, that I felt the hair rising on my head. The running horse was next to me, and notwithstanding my elevation, Ethan was stretched out so near the ground that I could see nothing of him but his ears. I fully believed that, for several rods at this point, they were going at a two-minute gait.

“It was impossible that this terrible pace could be maintained long, and just before reaching the first turn Dexter’s head began to swim and the team passed him and took the track, reaching the first quarter-pole in thirty-two seconds, with Dexter three or four lengths behind. The same lightning speed was kept up through the second quarter, reaching the half-mile pole in 1:04, with Dexter still farther in the rear. Mace then took a pull on his team, and came home a winner by six or eight lengths, in 2:15. When this time was put on the blackboard, the response of the multitude was like the roar of the ocean. Although some distance away, through the second quarter of this heat I had a fair, unobstructed side view of the stallion and of his action, when going at the lightning rate of 2:08 to the mile. I could not observe that he received the slightest degree of propulsion from the running horse; and my conviction was then, and is now, that any such propulsion would have interfered with his own unapproachable action, and would have retarded rather than helped him. The most noticeable feature in his style of movement was the remarkable lowness to which he dropped his body and the straight, gliding line it maintained at that elevation.

“The team now had the inside, and in the first attempt they were started for the second heat, but they did not appear to me to be going so fast as in the first heat. Before they had gone many rods Ethan lost his stride and Dexter took the track at the very spot where he had lost it in the first heat. The team soon got to work, and near the beginning of the second quarter collared Dexter, but the stallion broke soon after and fell back, not yards, nor lengths, but rods before he caught. Incredible as it may seem, when he again got his feet, he put on such a burst of speed as to overhaul Dexter in the third quarter, when he broke again and Mace had to pull him nearly to a standstill before he recovered. Dexter was now a full distance ahead and the heat appeared to be his beyond all peradventure. I was watching the team in its troubles very closely and my idea of the distance lost was the result of a deliberate and careful estimate at the moment;[388] and the query in my mind then was whether the team could save its distance. At last the old horse struck his gait, and it was like a dart out of a catapult, or a ball from a rifle. The team not only saved its distance, but beat Dexter home five or six lengths in 2:16.

“In the third heat Mace had it all his own way throughout, coming home the winner of the race in 2:19. The backers of Dexter, up to the very last, placed great reliance on his well-known staying qualities; but the last heat showed that the terrible struggle told upon him more distressingly than upon the team. It is said by those who timed Dexter privately that he trotted the three heats in 2:17, 2:18, and 2:21. As an opinion, I will say that if ever there was an honest race trotted this was one, but there was such an exhibition of sharp diplomacy, of the “diamond cut diamond” order, as is seldom witnessed, even among the sharp practices of the turf. It is not probable that Ethan’s running mate fell amiss at all, the evening before, as represented; and if she did, it was not possible to send to Connecticut for another horse and have him there early in the morning as was pretended. This was a mere ruse put out to get the advantage of the long odds. The managers of the team knew just how the horses would work and knew they had speed enough to beat any horse on earth. When the race was called and they came forward and paid forfeit, it was merely to give the ‘two to one on Dexter’ money encouragement to come out. It did come out most vociferously and was all quietly taken. It was said John Morrissey was the manager in chief, and that his share of the winnings amounted to about forty thousand dollars.”

I have here given my personal impressions of this race, not because the performance was of any special value, as a test of speed, but because the time was then phenomenal, even with this kind of hitch, and as an illustration of what certain horses can do when relieved of all weight. This was among the first of the contests of this kind, and although some effort was made to introduce this plan by which a poor horse could beat a good one, it never has received much encouragement. With all his perfection of gait and wide popularity, extending from early life to old age, Ethan Allen was not a success as a progenitor of speed. He placed but six in the 2:30 list, and the best—Billy Barr—with a record of 2:23¾. He left but one son equal to himself as a sire, and several daughters that became the producers of single performers.[389] He was kept several seasons in Kansas and died there September, 1876.

Daniel Lambert, 102, was a chestnut horse, foaled 1858; got by Ethan Allen, 43; dam Fanny Cook, by Abdallah; grandam by Stockholm’s American Star, etc. His color was a light chestnut, and his mane and tail were of the yellow, flaxen shade. He was about fifteen hands high and long and light in the body, with no indications of Morgan blood about him unless it was in the kinkiness of his mane and tail. But why should he not resemble almost anything else than the little nondescript Morgan, when he had only one-sixteenth of his blood in his veins? He had more Messenger than Morgan blood, and according to the rules of arithmetic it is a misnomer to call him a Morgan. More than this, his dam was a daughter of the great Abdallah, far and away the greatest trotting sire of his generation. When we consider that he had four times as much of the blood of Abdallah as he had of the original Morgan, we can see the absurdity of sticking to the right male line after that line has been wiped out by other lines far more potential. Lambert was bred by Mr. John Porter of Ticonderoga, New York, and as a colt he showed great promise on the ice, and was thought to be the fastest and best of the get of Ethan Allen. He was known far and wide as the “Porter Colt,” and he was the popular heir to very great expectations. To have created so much enthusiasm he must have shown great speed for a youngster, and he is credited with a record of 2:42 as a three-year-old. As a sire of trotters he stood very high at one time and was even with Blue Bull in his number of representatives in the 2:30 list, but in the end the little “plebeian” pacer outstripped him a long way. Lambert put thirty-seven trotters into the 2:30 list, but when we come to study this list we are not very favorably impressed, for about one-third of the animals have but a single heat inside of the mark, with only five or six reputable campaigners and a single one—Comee—that ranked among the real good ones. Comee had seventy-one heats to his credit and a record of 2:21¼. Thirty-three of Daniel Lambert’s sons have put one hundred and thirty-six in the list, and forty-four of his daughters have produced seventy-four performers.


Orloffs the only foreign trotters of merit—Count Alexis Orloff, founder of the breed—Origin of the Orloff—Count Orloff began breeding in 1770—Smetanka, Polkan, and Polkan’s son, Barss, really the first Orloff trotting sire—The Russian pacers—Their great speed—Imported Bellfounder—His history and characteristics—Got little speed—His descendants—The English Hackney—Not a breed, but a mere type—The old Norfolk trotters—Hackney experiments in America—Superiority of the trotting-bred horse demonstrated in show-ring contests.

It may be a little outside of the field of our discussion to include the Orloff Trotter, but as a few of them have been brought to this country, and as that is the only organized and recognized breed of trotters in all the world beside our own, it seems to be necessary to give a brief synopsis of the origin and history of that breed, so far as we may be able. An additional and probably a more cogent reason for making this foreign detour is the fact that there are now many American trotters on the turf in Europe, and practically their only competitors, whether on the turf or in the breeding studs, are the Orloffs of Russia.

“Wallace’s American Trotting Register,” the first volume of which was issued in 1871, was an individual enterprise. Two years afterward the director-in-chief of the Russian Imperial Studs submitted a series of questions to different scientific gentlemen, whose studies were in the right direction, soliciting their views, on the practicability and advisability of establishing a governmental standard by which the Orloff trotters should be classed and officially registered. The report was favorable and the Russian trotting register was established under governmental direction. This was the second movement toward establishing a breed; not merely by writing a lot of names in a book, but by writing those names on the turf of two continents. A delegation from France once visited me to consult about establishing a Register in that country, and to learn how to commence such an enterprise. When I asked them what strains of blood they had that could[391] trot, they did not seem to know of any particular strains, or any one strain better than another, to serve as a foundation, but they were sure they had plenty of trotters. This was the first I ever had heard of French-bred trotters, and it was the last I ever heard of the French trotting register.

The stalwart Alexis Orloff took a very active part in making Catherine II. Empress of Russia—for which he was loaded with honors as well as lucrative offices. In the war with the Turks in 1772 he was given command of the Russian fleet, and with the assistance of the English fleet under Admiral Elphinstone, he achieved a great victory and captured the pasha in command of the Turkish fleet. Owing to some unusual kindness Count Orloff was able to extend to the captured Turkish commander, or his family, he presented the count with a pure white stallion, said to be a Barb, which he took home with him and placed in his stud of horses, that he had established but a short time before. Another story is that the count bought this white horse, which he called Smetanka, while he was in Greece and paid a large price for him. I am not able to say which representation is the more probable, and it is not material to our history, as there is no dispute about the identity of Smetanka as the nominal head of the Orloff breed of horses, and neither story gives any information about his blood. No doubt he was a Turk. Count Alexis commenced his breeding stud in 1770, and there appears to have been a good deal of system about it or else a large amount of very free guessing. When first established, the horse breeders say, it consisted of stallions and mares as follows: Arabs, 12 stallions, 10 mares; Turkish, 1 stallion, 2 mares; English, 20 stallions, 32 mares; Dutch, 1 stallion, 8 mares; Persian, 3 stallions, 2 mares; Danish, 1 stallion, 3 mares; Mecklenburg, 1 stallion, 5 mares. From this it will be seen that he had more English running blood than all the other varieties put together, and yet no trotters came from that source. From this great variety of composite material the count had free rein in his grand experiment of producing the type of horse that best pleased his fancy. As a matter of course the indiscriminate commingling of these different strains and types would produce a mongrel lot, from which a few superior animals might be selected, and doubtless were selected, for breeding purposes.

The different writers who have discussed the result of this experiment seem to agree, substantially, that two distinct types[392] were the result—the galloper for the saddle and the trotter for harness—but they assume what appears to me to be a very unreasonable conclusion that both these types were indebted to the super-excellence of Smetanka. The count was one of the most prominent sporting men of his day, an inveterate horse-racer and cock-fighter, and under this kind of management it is hardly credible that the twenty English thoroughbred stallions should have been put aside for the little white horse of positively unknown origin. But whatever may have been the predominating blood in the saddle department, it is certain that the trotter is lineally descended from Smetanka. He was bred on a Danish mare and produced Polkan (Volcan), without anything new or striking in his characteristics. Polkan was bred on a Dutch mare and produced Barss, and this was the first to manifest a disposition to extend himself to his utmost at the trot and to stick to it. Barss became a great favorite with his master; for, although stumbled upon, he was a new creation and is the real progenitor of all the horses that bear the name Orloff. His component elements are easily expressed. He had twenty-five per cent. of the blood of Smetanka; twenty-five per cent. of the blood of the Danish mare, and fifty per cent. of the blood of the Dutch mare, it seems to be reasonable to conclude, therefore, that the trotting instinct must be found in the unknown elements of the Dutch mare.

Some years ago Prof. —— (the name I cannot now recall), from the Imperial Agricultural College, near Moscow, Russia, paid me several visits for the purpose of gathering up what information he could obtain about the origin and history of the American Trotter. He was very intelligent and thorough in his methods of obtaining information, and each succeeding day he came back to me with a new series of questions hinging upon previous interviews, and all carefully prepared. These questions were so admirably shaped to reach the vital points of the subject that I became greatly interested in the man. When it came my turn to ask questions, my first one was, What was the origin and lineage of the Dutch mare that produced Barss? He replied, “Ah, the scientific men of Russia would give a great deal to be able to answer that question.” We both agreed, perfectly, that the living instinct of the trotter came from that mare, but he was not able to tell me anything of her history or habits of action. He told me there were many pacers in Russia and that the best ones[393] came from the province of Viatka and from the region of the Volga River.

As the true source from which the Russian trotters have drawn their ability to trot fast has not been developed nor determined by history, we must consider the problem in the light of the surrounding conditions, and possibly our American experiences may lead to its solution. In 1873 Prof. Von Mittendorf, at the request of the director-in-chief of the imperial stud, prepared a very able paper on the scientific questions involved in the establishment of a Government Register for the Orloff trotters. In this paper he discusses the pace and the trot as both original and natural gaits and insists that there are no outward indications in form or shape by which the animal, when at rest, can be decided to be a pacer or a trotter. In his own words he says:

“In answer to the question whether, from the form of a horse at rest, it can be ascertained what gait would be easiest assumed by it, viz., trotting or pacing, I must confess that I have never seen, read or heard of such marks, and, indeed, there never are any symptoms or signs of inclination for pacing in the proportions of any horse with the single negative exception, viz., that great speed in one-sided motion does not agree with a large frame, which is more adapted to leaping, and hence fast pacers are never found among large horses.”

This is the view as taken by a Russian scientist of the distinction, or rather lack of distinction, between the trotter and the pacer. I have not quoted this paragraph from Prof. Mittendorf because it contained anything new in the economy of breeding, but to prove that there were pacers in Russia and that their relation to the trotter was considered in the formation of the rules of admission to the Orloff trotting register. A very intelligent writer, evidently a Russian and one who knew what he was talking about, contributed an interesting article to the New York Sun of July 9, 1877, from which we get a clear and strong light on the practical side of the Russian pacer, and I will here again quote:

“Up to the middle of the last century horses in Russia were not scientifically bred; they ran wild in many parts of the country. Those caught on the steppes of the river Don, and in the wilderness of the district of Viatka, obtained early celebrity, which they still maintain. The Don horses are those famous Cossack steeds about which so much has been written of late. The Viatka horses, or Bitugues, as they are called are the genuine trotters of Russia. They are all pacers, equally remarkable for their speed and their endurance.[394] But since the Orloff breed has been introduced, the Bitugues have been excluded from all matches, on the ground that their pacing is not orthodox.

“It is with these Bitugues that the peculiar troika team, of which a specimen was shown in Fleetwood Park, on Saturday, originated. A fast, sturdy Bitugue is put in shafts, and a light running horse from the steppes harnessed on each side of him. A good Bitugue trots so fast that the wild steppe runners have to be whipped all the time to force them to keep up with him. The idea of putting an Orloff trotter in the place of a Bitugue is very queer, as no square trotter can equal the speed of those famous pacers of Viatka, and keep abreast with side runners.”

From these three several sources we learn a number of facts that may have a more or less important bearing upon the true origin of the Orloff trotter. (1) That there are now, and have been for generations past, plenty of pacers in Russia. (2) That these pacers have a common habitat, north and east of the Don. (3) That they are a very old race, running back in the centuries away beyond the knowledge of man or the records of history. (4) That they are a very fast and very enduring race, and that they have been trained for generations as the shaft horses of the troika and their speed so well developed as to require good running horses to keep abreast with them. (5) That they are of smaller size than the average and lack symmetry, and thus, notwithstanding their great speed and bottom, they and their blood are excluded from registration with the Orloffs. (6) That they are also excluded from competing for any prizes that may be offered, and no other reason is suggested than that they would be sure to win.

Russia and America both have pacers and they are both carrying forward the breeding and development of the trotter with great intelligence and success. No other nation has been able to make even a beginning in this field of animal economy except by the introduction of the foundation stock from one or other of these two countries. It may be taken as historically true, and as applying to every nation on the face of the earth, that where there are no pacers there are no trotters. Hundreds of unmistakable experiences in this country go to show that the pacer is a great source of trotting speed. At one time a pacing stallion of obscure pacing origin stood at the head of the list of all stallions as the sire of the greatest number of trotters with fast records. A great multitude of our fastest trotters at maturity were foaled pacers from trotting parents. It is no longer a matter[395] of wonder or surprise that with two animals from the same parents one of them should be a fast trotter and the other a fast pacer. Neither is it any longer remarkable that a fast trotter with a very fast record should turn around and make just as fast a record at the pace. The American people are just beginning to realize, in its full force, the declaration of more than twenty years ago; that the trot and the pace are simply two forms of the same gait, in the economy of motion. The only difference that has been observed as between two brothers, the one a pacer and the other a trotter, is that with the same skill in handling the pacer will come to his speed much quicker than the trotter, which is of itself a strong suggestion at least that the pace is the more natural and easier form of the one gait.

Now, in view of the fact that Smetanka was of Saracenic origin—a strain of blood that has always been antagonistic to the pacer, and never produced a pacer or a trotter; and in view of the fact that his grandson, Barss, is accepted as the first of all Orloff trotters; and in view of the further fact that in thousands of American experiences the trotter has come from the pacer, it seems to be a reasonable conclusion that the “Dutch Mare” that produced Barss had a strong pacing inheritance, and possibly had her speed fully developed, as the Bitugue in the count’s own team.

Among all the pleasures which Count Orloff derived from his experiments in breeding, whether of gamecocks, or race horses, or saddlers, or trotters, Barss was his greatest favorite because he was his highest achievement in the art of breeding. This judgment of his master has been confirmed in the experiences and history of all succeeding generations for a hundred years, and the name of Barss will be known through the coming centuries as the founder of a mighty breed of trotters. I once possessed a fine picture of Barss hitched to a sleigh and driven by his breeder, Count Orloff, himself; and I have seen it stated somewhere that this picture was a copy of a bronze statue erected to the memory of the Count Orloff and the greatest horse of Russia.

It has been stated by some writers, but with what measure of authority I do not know, that for about thirty years after the appearance of Barss his daughters were bred to English thoroughbreds, to Arabs, to Anglo-Arabs, and, indeed, to all the highly bred crosses that the great establishment was able to furnish, and there was no improvement in either the quality or[396] the speed of the produce. From this it is evident that the count and his managers were at that period entangled in the same foolish notions that befogged the minds of so many very worthy gentlemen in this country some years ago, viz., that the way to improve the trotter was to go to the runner—the horse that never could trot. This foolish notion, that never had a spark of reason in it, naturally and necessarily weakened the trotting instinct of the descendants of Barss, and would have wiped it all out if it had been followed persistently, and there would have been no Orloff trotters to-day.

After this narrow escape from the annihilation of much of the good that Barss had done, the management then began to look for the same blood and the same habit of action that the “Dutch Mare” transmitted to her son, and, with this element to the front, progression was resumed. Out of his great variety of forms and of strains of blood the count and his managers could pick and choose for the size, shape and forms they wanted, but they were not able to transfer with the size, shape and form the instincts and psychical nature of the horse. The count seems to have carried forward his great enterprise rather with a view to experimentation than its commercial possibilities. Smetanka lived but a year or two, and when he stumbled upon the production of Barss, a magnificent individual and a great trotter, his head seems to have been turned, as he evidently supposed that he could breed any kind of horse he wished to breed, and be able to do anything he wished him to do. At his death, in 1808, he left no male heir to succeed him, but he provided in his will that his stud should not be dispersed. It was kept intact till about 1845, when it was purchased by the government, and finally divided among a number of prominent breeders in different portions of the empire.

Without having any knowledge on the subject that is definite and specific, I am led to infer that the rules on registration and racing in Russia are a hindrance to the breeding and development of the trotter. As I understand it, no horse can be registered unless he is purely descended from Barss. And I understand further, that he must possess the same requirements in order to enter and start in a public race against the Orloffs. If it be true that these restrictions are really in existence and are enforced, we can understand why the American trotter is so far ahead of the Orloff in speed and in the markets of Europe. The[397] Orloff is restricted to certain lines of blood and is protected against competition from others that might beat him. The American is free from all restrictions of blood and gathers up all that is best and fastest. He neither asks nor accepts protection from any quarter, but throws down the glove to all comers.

Bellfounder was imported from England, July, 1822, by James Boott, of Boston, Mass. He was placed in the hands of Samuel Jaques, Jr.—a very shrewd manager who understood the use of printer’s ink and did not hesitate about employing it liberally. In his advertisement for 1823 he says: “This celebrated horse is a bright bay with black legs, standing fifteen hands high.” From this we are safe in concluding he was not more than fifteen hands, and from another contemporaneous source it is learned that he was a little below that measurement. On this point the recollections, or perhaps impressions, of Orange County horsemen are not very trustworthy, as one of them places his height at sixteen hands and others at fifteen and a half. His pedigree was given on the card which was distributed by his groom in the form following: “Got by old Bellfounder, out of Velocity by Haphazard, by Sir Peter out of Miss Hervey by Eclipse.” “Velocity trotted on the Norwich road in 1806, sixteen miles in one hour, and although she broke five times into a gallop, and as often turned round, she won her match.” Although after diligent search I have not been able to find this performance of Velocity, it may be true that a mare so named may have trotted as represented, but she was not a daughter of Haphazard. The dates make this utterly impossible, and Mr. Jaques was smart enough never to put this humbug pedigree in his elaborate advertisements that appeared in the leading agricultural papers of the country, year after year.

As the great mass of people of that day knew nothing and cared but little about pedigrees, the astute manager of the horse struck an expedient in the way of advertising that was very effective. He had a cut made of a horse trotting loose on the road, at the rate of a hurricane, and in the background was an entablature with the legend “Seventeen and a half miles an hour,” which anybody and everybody would interpret to mean that this was a record made by imported Bellfounder, and there he was doing it. This cut in reduced form went the rounds of the agricultural press, and in 1831 made its appearance in the[398] “Family Encyclopedia of Useful Knowledge.” This dodge was exceedingly effective, and as it appeared in a book it must be true. Thousands of people interpreted the picture to mean that imported Bellfounder had trotted seventeen and a half miles in an hour. Mr. Jaques did not say this in letters and figures, but he said it even more plainly in a picture. The basis of this deception is found in the advertisement itself, where, in speaking of the speed of old Bellfounder in England, he says: “His owner challenged to perform with him seventeen miles and a half in one hour, but it was not accepted.” Here we have a possible challenge of the sire transmuted into an actual performance of the son, for the sole purpose of securing public patronage.

There can be no doubt that this horse was a true representative of what was then known as the Norfolk Trotters and at this time designated as Hackneys or Cobs. Bellfounder was of a quiet, docile disposition, with a display of great nervous energy in his movements when aroused. His knee and hock action was high and showy, giving the impression of a great trotter, without much speed. At several points his form was measurably reproduced in Hambletonian, especially in his low, round withers and his great, meaty buttocks. In seeing these points so plainly developed in his idol it is not remarkable that Mr. Rysdyk should have placed too high an estimate on Bellfounder blood as a factor in the American trotting horse. If he had thoughtfully asked himself the question, What has Bellfounder blood done in its own right in the way of getting trotters? the illusion would have vanished.

Bellfounder was in the control of Mr. Jaques for six years, and never in my knowledge of trotting stallions have I known one so widely and successfully advertised. The name “Bellfounder” was heard and known everywhere. From 1829 to 1833, inclusive, he was under the control of Mr. T. T. Kissam, of Long Island. After that time he seems to have gone “a-begging” wherever there seemed to be a chance to earn his oats. At last, at Jamaica, Long Island, he died, having made twenty-one seasons in this country—one more than Messenger. The question was once raised as to where Hambletonian got his aversion to the chestnut color, and it was flippantly assigned to Bellfounder. The truth is, quite a number of Bellfounder’s get were chestnuts, perhaps as large a percentage as would naturally come from the average stallion.


It is the testimony of several gentlemen who were familiar with trotting affairs in the time of the Bellfounders, that a number of them were skillfully and persistently trained and none of them could trot faster than about 2:50. The one exception to this fact so widely established is the case of the dam of Hambletonian. After this filly passed into the hands of Peter Seely he gave some attention irregularly to the development of her speed, and before he sold her he gave her two trials to saddle on the Union Course and she trotted in 2:43 and 2:41. As she was then but four years old it is safe to conclude that she would have made a trotter, beyond all doubt. This is the only one, old or young, from the loins of Bellfounder that ever trotted so fast. I once put the question directly to Mr. Rysdyk as to whether the Kent Mare was as good and as fast as her dam, One Eye, and he promptly replied that One Eye was much the faster and greater mare. To this answer he added that One Eye, under the same circumstances, would have been the equal of Lady Thorn or any other that ever lived. This may account for the superiority of the Kent Mare over all the other Bellfounders, and it may account for the superiority of Hambletonian over all other stallions.

Bellfounder (Brown’s or Kissam’s), was a bay horse, foaled 1830, got by imported Bellfounder; dam Lady Alport, by Mambrino, son of Messenger; grandam by Tippoo, son of Messenger; great-grandam by imported Messenger. With such breeding he should have been a great horse. He was bred by Timothy T. Kissam, of Long Island, and sold along with a full brother one year younger, named Bellport, about 1834-5, to L. F. and A. B. Allen, of Buffalo, New York. Bellfounder was a bay horse, sixteen hands high, and Bellport was sixteen and one-half hands, but was poisoned and died at four years old. Bellfounder passed into the hands of some parties at Cleveland and then to Mr. Brown, of Columbus, Ohio, made most of his seasons in that portion of the State, and died September, 1860. This was altogether the most valuable son the imported horse left—indeed the only one that made any mark in the world. He was not much of a trotter and did not get trotters, but got colts that were excellent types of the coach horse, and for that purpose was very highly esteemed. Some of his sons and daughters, especially the latter, are met with sometimes in trotting records as having produced something that had more or less speed.

Conqueror was a bay gelding, foaled 1842, and got by La Tourrett’s[400] Bellfounder, a grandson of the imported horse, and out of Lady McClain by imported Bellfounder, and she out of Lady Webber by Mambrino, and she out of a mare brought from Dutchess County and represented to be a daughter of imported Messenger. This gelding had been pounded about in slow races for years and had the reputation of being a stayer. In 1853 a match was made with him to trot a hundred miles in nine hours. The race was started and the horse won in 8h. 55m. and 53s., and he died three or four days afterward. This is the only instance that I know of in which the advocates of Hackney blood can point to a trotting record made in this or indeed in any other country.

In closing the account of this family—for out of courtesy we have called it a “family”—we find we have nothing left but a name with nothing in it. The name that was more widely known than that of any other horse of his generation has now practically ceased from the earth, with nobody so poor as to do it reverence.

The type of horse now known as the “Hackney” is found chiefly in the shires bordering the northeastern coast of England—Norfolk, Lincoln and Yorkshire. The name now given is not only new but it is appropriate and applies to any one part of England as well as another, and applies to any one horse, suited to the general use of a Hack, as well as another, no difference what his blood or what his country. The name “Norfolk Trotter” fifty or a hundred years ago was often applied to horses of this type coming from that part of the country, but it did not follow that they were “trotters.” In the discussions of the association preceding the adoption of a name it was urged that the qualifying word “trotter” would imply the ability to trot fast, and as the material to be registered could not do this, it would subject the whole movement to ridicule and contempt. It was also urged that the name “Norfolk” would give that particular region an advantage over all other parts of England in the prospective sales of registered stock, and thus the old title was fully disposed of. When the name “cob” was suggested, it was conceded that it represented just what they had, but it was too common, as everybody in all England, rich and poor, had “cobs.” Then came the term “Hackney,” which meant the same kind of a horse as the cob, but as it was not in such universal use it was[401] adopted. On this point it must be admitted that it is an honest name.

The Hackney is a good horse for all the uses to which he is adapted. He is short on his legs and stout, with a good share of nervous energy. He is symmetrical, and, we might say, handsome, if we can use that word without any show of fine breeding, for he is far short of the ideal blood horse. But he is not a saddle horse, he is not a hunter, he is not a runner, and he is not a trotter. As against these desirable and useful qualifications, he has been bred and trained when in action to jerk up his limbs to the highest point anatomically possible, and put them down again with a thud at a point but little removed from where he started. In this showy, undesirable action he exhausts his nervous energy, pounding the earth without covering much of the distance. In this excessive knee action every element of easy, graceful and rapid progression is wanting. This fad will have its day and then along with the barbarous excision of the caudal appendage they will disappear together as they came, and we will know them no more forever.

There are two points in advocating the merits of the Hackney with which every Englishman is thoroughly familiar and which he will call to your attention on the slightest provocation: (1) Bellfounder was a Hackney and it was his blood that gave us the greatest trotting sire that the world has ever produced. This is the Englishman’s estimate of Bellfounder when he has a Hackney for sale, and especially if the prospective purchaser be an American. (2) He is descended from a long line of distinguished trotters. To the first of these reiterated and parrot-like claims an answer will be found in the chapter relating to that horse, where his twenty-one years of stud service have been carefully considered, and where he is shown to have been a monumental failure. In the second claim there is some truth and we must consider it very briefly.

Of all the elements entering into the families of horses locally and indefinitely called Norfolk Trotters, there were two that might be looked upon as the founders—Useful Cub and Shales—for they were more conspicuous and valuable than any others. Mr. John Lawrence was not only a practical horseman, but he was the most intelligent and reliable of all the writers on the horse in the latter part of the last century. He was the only one who gave any attention to the trotter and trotting affairs.[402] He says: “To old Shales and Useful Cub the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk are indebted for their fame in the production of capital Hackneys.” Useful Cub was bred by Thomas Jenkinson, of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, and was foaled about 1865-70, and was got by a Suffolk cart horse, doubtless a light weight, and his dam was by Golden Farmer, a son of the famous half-bred Sampson, that was the great-grandsire of Messenger and beat most of the best horses of his day. Mr. Lawrence knew Useful Cub well, and was beaten by him in Hyde Park. We have no details of this horse’s performances, but it seems to be conceded that he trotted fifteen, sixteen and seventeen miles in the hour. Old Shales, or Scott’s Shales, as he is sometimes called, is described by Lawrence as “the bastard son of Blank,” son of Godolphin Arabian, but Mr. Euren, the compiler of the Hackney Stud Book maintains that he was the son of Blaze and not the son of Blank. The reasons given for this change I do not remember, but they would have to be well founded before I could throw overboard the contemporaneous evidence of Mr. Lawrence. It will not do to say that Mr. Lawrence mistook the name Blaze for Blank and so wrote it by mistake, for he knew all about both horses. This distinction, however, is of but little practical value. The horses Shales and Useful Cub were both fast and successful trotters, in their day, and they both became distinguished sires of trotters. By this I do not mean that they were the sires of all the trotters, for there were many that were wholly unknown in their breeding.

Judging from the numbers of leading contests that were reported in the Sporting Magazine and other publications, we must conclude that trotting contests reached their height as well in numbers as in public interest about the last decade in the last century. The contests were all to saddle, on the road, and the leading ones were made under the watch and over a long distance of ground, specifying such or such a distance to be made inside of an hour. To form a correct estimate of the speed of those horses, I will copy one paragraph, entire, from the description given by Mr. Lawrence concerning his own mare Betty Bloss:

“My own brown mare, known by the name of Betty Bloss, was the slowest of all the capital trotters, but at five years old trotted fifteen miles in one hour, carrying fourteen stone, although fairly mistress of no more than ten. She afterward trotted sixteen miles within the hour, with ten stone, with much ease to herself and her rider. She was nearly broken down at four[403] years old, had bad feet, and, besides, too much blood for a trotter, having been got by Sir Hale’s Commoner, out of a three-part-bred daughter of Rattle, son of Snip.”

In this paragraph, from the best-informed man of his generation, it will be noted incidentally that the cry, “no more running blood in the trotter,” is not new, but more than a hundred years old. The best performances were about sixteen miles in the hour, but there was an occasional one that reached sixteen and a half. A black gelding called Archer was recognized as the fastest of that period, and on one occasion under a stop watch he trotted the second one of two miles in a little less than three minutes. From my gleanings I find but a single instance from which we might be able to approximate the money value of trotting horses of that day, and this is given as a phenomenal price, viz., Marshland Shales, a paternal grandson of the original Shales and out of a mare by Hue and Cry. He had beaten Reed’s Driver in a match of seventeen miles for 200 guineas. He was foaled 1802 and in 1812 he was sold at auction for 3,051 guineas—$15,255. He was a great horse, but this price was just as startling to Englishmen of that day as the $105,000 was in our own day, when Axtell was sold. This seems to have been the culmination of the “boom” in Norfolk Trotters, and from then till the present there has been a steady deterioration in the trotting step of the Norfolk horse. In the earlier part of this period of eighty or ninety years, possibly some exceptions may be found, but they are only individual exceptions and do not controvert the broad fact that must be apparent to all observers. They had been breeding and training their horses to strike their chins with their knees—the up-and-down motion—instead of getting away and covering some ground in their action. I have stood and watched scores of them in the show-ring, on their native heath, with their grooms at the ends of long lines running and yelling like wild Indians to rouse up their horses, and they called this training the trotters. When I privately expressed the wish that saddles might be put on a few of the best and the ring cleared so that the trotting action might be studied, I was very kindly and politely assured that they did not show their trotters that way in England. Thus with the taut check-rein, the long leading-line and the whoops of the groom they got the up-and-down action upon the perfection of which the prizes were awarded. This explained why the splendid[404] foundation of a breed had been lost by non-use and why England had produced no trotters in the past fifty or eighty years.

While our English cousins know they have no trotting horses of their own they seem to be exceedingly anxious, possibly for commercial reasons, to make it appear that the American trotting horse is the lineal descendant of the Norfolk Trotter. This effort is not restricted to the idle twaddle about Bellfounder, which everybody on this side of the Atlantic estimates at its true value, but it has taken an official and wider range, which, trifling though it be, my duty as a historian impels me to expose. Mr. Henry P. Euren, the compiler of the Hackney Stud Book, wrote to the Commissioner of Agriculture, at Washington, D. C., in 1888, taking exceptions to some conclusions reached in an article written by Mr. Leslie E. Macleod, in my office, on “The National Horse of America,” and published in the report of the Department of Agriculture for 1887; Mr. Euren claiming that the American trotting horse came originally from Norfolk, in England. In proof of this he says: “I beg to inclose you a cutting which confirms my idea.” And now for the “cutting” which he offers as proof:

“It appears from an Act of Parliament, passed December 6, 1748, in the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, America, that on and after the publication of this Act, all Norfolk pacing or trotting of horses for lucre or gain, or for any sum or sums of money at any time (excepting such times as are hereafter expressly provided for by this Act), shall be and are hereby declared public nuisances, provided always that at all fairs that are or may be held within this province, and that on the first working day after the three great festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, etc., etc.”

The act passed by the provincial legislature of the colony of New Jersey in 1748 embraced very stringent regulations against dice, lotteries, etc., as well as horse racing. It is divided into several sections, and at Section 4 we reach the provision against racing as follows:

“And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that after the publication of this Act, all horse racing, pacing or trotting of horses for lucre or gain, or for any sum or sums of money at any time (excepting such times as are hereafter expressly provided for and allowed by this Act), shall be and are hereby declared public nuisances, and shall be prosecuted as public nuisances, in manner hereinbefore directed. Provided always, and it is the true intent and meaning of this Act, that at all fairs that are or may be held within this province, and that on the first working day after the three grand festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, etc., etc.”


These quotations are sufficiently extended to afford an unmistakable comparison, and on their face evidence that cannot be doubted for one moment that they both purport to be copied from the same act of the Jersey Colonial legislature. In the official printed copy which is before me as I write, the mandate is against “all horse racing, pacing or trotting of horses for lucre or gain.” In Mr. Euren’s “cutting” the mandate is against “all Norfolk pacing or trotting of horses for lucre or gain,” etc. The substitution of the word “Norfolk” instead of “horse racing,” is in the nature of a forgery, and I cannot believe that Mr. Euren would be guilty of any such execrable piece of trickery. It must have been conceived and written by some horse sharp who was trying to sell a Hackney to an American with a pocket full of money, and after he had effected his sale he could mutter quietly, when at a safe distance from his victim, the couplet from “Hudibras:”

“The paltry story is untrue
And forged to cheat such gulls as you.”
Unfortunately, however, for Mr. Euren, he indorsed the trick, and not only indorsed it, but sent it to the Commissioner of Agriculture with the hope and possible expectation that it would receive public recognition and become part of the horse history of this country. Did he not know that somebody would be nosing round among the old laws and expose the dirty deception? But, on the basis that Mr. Euren was deceived by this wretched interpolation of a fraud into the law, could he not see that the date of the law—1748—was before old Shales or Useful Cub was foaled, and long before the very first “Norfolk trotter” was ever heard of either in Norfolk or in any other part of England?

The exposure of this foolish attempt, wherever it originated, to incorporate into an old New Jersey statute a fiction, or a forgery, as it may be called, carries with it a punishment that should be felt by the most unscrupulous of horse sharps; but when we find it unequivocally indorsed and given to the world as true by the compiler of the Hackney Stud Book, it destroys all confidence in the accuracy and reliability of that work. This is a misfortune that the friends of the Hackney in England as well as in this country must feel as a blow at the value of the whole interest. Opinions may change with new light, and opposing[406] conclusions may be honestly reached from different standpoints, but running against a fixed and certain date, as in this case, is like running against a two-edged sword.

In conclusion, the Hackney is merely the dear-bought and far-fetched fashion of the hour. A few years ago he was “something new in horses,” just as the modiste has “something new in dresses.” He was found in England, where there are no flies, without a tail, and as that was the fashion in England we must have horses in America without tails, notwithstanding the millions of torments they have to endure without the natural means of defense. As hack-a-bouts they are good horses, but their “churn-dasher” style of action will never become acceptable to the American people.

A few years since a quite persistent attempt, backed by unlimited wealth and all the prestige that metropolitan “fashion” and “society” could bestow, was made, particularly in New York, to create a Hackney “boom” in America. All that element in the social life of our great cities that affects a disdain for things distinctively American, and particularly for American horses, and that glories in the stultifying habit of aping things “English, ye know,” took up the Hackney fad with unbounded enthusiasm. As a park and road horse the American horse—the incomparable trotting-bred driver—was to be incontinently crowded out of the driveways, the markets and the shows. The National Horse Show Association, whose annual show at Madison Square Garden is the great social fête of the year in New York, lent all its powerful influence to forward the Hackney “boom,” which was, it must in fairness be said, consistent; for the miscalled National Horse Show has always catered more to foreign horses and foreign customs in horsemanship than to American horses and horsemen. Men of great wealth and prominence established extensive Hackney studs, imported famous prize-winning stallions and mares, and there was only one thing left to be done, and that was to convert the American people to the belief that the driving horse they had been breeding and developing with a special purpose and care—the fleetest and most versatile harness horse in the world—was inferior to an imported nondescript. In that attempt the Hackney advocates have failed in America as completely as did Mr. Blunt and others in England, when they sought to make racing men believe that the Arab was a better race horse than the English thoroughbred.


Perhaps nothing illustrates better what I have called the versatility of the trotter than this contest with the Hackney in the latter’s own especial field—if he may be said to have any. Of course there could be no contest between the horse of a special breed and the nondescript as a harness horse for speed or usefulness on the road, whether the distance were half a mile or a hundred miles; but in the show-ring the Hackney men claimed absolute pre-eminence for their “high-acting” horses. They did not dare contest with the trotter in the matter of road speed, so to have any contest at all the trotting horse men had to “carry the war into Africa.” This they have done with a vengeance. They have taken the pure-bred trotting horse, dressed him in the fashion dictated by the Hackney “faddists,” taught him the Hackney tricks, the preposterous Hackney action and all that, and have beaten the Hackneys not once but time and again right on their own ground, viz., at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. In almost all cases in classes where trotters have been admitted to compete with Hackneys, the former have carried off the honors within the past two years. Many notable instances might be cited, but one will suffice. At the National Horse Show, 1896, a class was offered for “half-bred Hackneys,” sires to be shown with four of their get. The Hackney end of the argument was upheld by Mr. A. J. Cassatt’s renowned prize-winner, imported Cadet, with four of his get. Against him was entered the well-known trotting sire Almont Jr., 2:26, with four of his get, and though the judges were gentlemen identified more or less with the Hackney interest, so superior in form, action and style were the four youngsters by the trotting sire that they carried away the honors from the chosen progeny of one of the most noted Hackney show horses in the world.

In the sale ring this verdict has been corroborated. The highest prices—the record figures—paid in the fashionable New York market for park horses, “high steppers,” or by whatever name the merely spectacular harness horse may from time to time be called, have been paid for trotting-bred horses: and in advertised sales of “Hackneys” it has become somewhat common to encounter half-trotting-bred and full-trotting-bred horses.

While no genuine American and horseman can without regret see a typical American horse mutilated and his action perverted in the manner required to bring him into “Hackney” classes at[408] the National Horse Show, or in the markets where New York society people buy their stub-tailed horses, it is some compensation to know that these experiments have demonstrated the superiority of the American-bred horse even in the field claimed as especially that of the Hackney. And the Hackney “fad” in America, while it lasted, accomplished a good end in so far as it directed the attention of American breeders more to the importance of form and style, and taught them that in their own trotting families they have the material from which may best be produced, in form and style and quality as well as in speed, pre-eminently the most excellent park horses in the world.


Tendency to misrepresentation—The Bald Galloway and Darley Arabian— Godolphin Arabian—Early experiences with trotting pedigrees—Mr. Backman’s honest methods—Shanghai Mary—Capt. Rynders and Widow Machree—Woodburn Farm and its pedigree methods—Victimized by “horse sharps” and pedigree makers—Alleged pedigree of Pilot Jr. conclusively overthrown—Pedigrees of Edwin Forrest, Norman, Bay Chief and Black Rose—Maud S.’s pedigree exhaustively considered—Captain John W. Russell never owned the mare Maria Russell—The deadly parallel columns settle it.

A few years more than forty have slipped away since I first began to give serious attention to the subject of horse history and to contribute an occasional article to the press on that subject. Among my very earliest observations, or I might say, experiences, was the realization of the fact that exaggeration as a habit of thought and utterance was practically universal among horsemen. Sometimes I have thought this tendency to the untrue resulted from the ammoniacal exhalations of the stable, but this thought is not a satisfactory solution, for some of the greatest liars about horses have never known anything about stables. Then, again, I have thought that a really skillful metaphysician might write a learned disquisition of the question and satisfy himself as to the cause of this moral delinquency, but nobody would be able to understand him when he had completed it. This wretched vice, so prevalent everywhere, was not restricted to the professional country “hoss jockey,” ready to “swap” with every man he met on the road, but it reached up to men of otherwise excellent character, and these men would “stretch the blanket” tremendously about the blood and other qualities of the horses they were selling. The only way we can account for an otherwise honest and truthful man exaggerating the merits and blood of his horses must be (1) in the fact that he has become attached to him and thinks him better than he is, or it may be (2) that he bought with a false pedigree and without examining[410] it, he assumes it is true and represents it accordingly. But underlying all this, the representation cannot be disproved, and (3) it may add to the market value of the horse.

This weakness of human nature, so pervasive of all interests connected with the horse, did not originate in this country, but came from the old world. We inherit it from our ancestors. “The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Take the case of the little bald-faced, pacing-bred horse known in the old records as “The Bald Galloway” and while it is not probable he had a single drop of Saracenic blood in his veins, he is fitted out with a grand pedigree, full of that blood. Although I have already referred to this horse as an exemplification of the dishonesty of the early records of English pedigrees, I will again look at it in a more specific manner. He was nothing more nor less than a little native horse, belonging to a tribe of noted pacers in the southwestern part of Scotland and in the northern part of England. These Galloways were probably the very last remnant of pacers to be found in Great Britain. He is represented in the books to have been by a horse called “St. Victor’s Barb;” dam by Whynot; grandam a Royal Mare. The Bald Galloway was foaled not later than 1708, and it was probably a few years earlier. His reputed sire, “St. Victor’s Barb,” is not to be found anywhere and was probably fictitious. His dam was represented to be by Whynot, and this horse was not foaled till 1744—thirty-six years after his grandson was foaled. The grandam is given as a “Royal Mare,” which in that day was a convenient way of rounding out a pedigree, just as we now attempt to round them out when we know nothing of the blood by saying “dam thoroughbred.” “The Bald Galloway” was one of the most successful stallions of his day, and yet he was nothing in the world but a good representative of the old pacing Galloways of that portion of Scotland then called Galloway. He was low in stature, but he was esteemed as one of the greatest and most valuable racing sires of his generation. One of his sons—the Carlisle Gelding—was still a race horse when he was eighteen years old.

“The Darley Arabian” was contemporaneous with the Bald Galloway, and they commenced service in England about the same year. It is said he was brought from Aleppo, in Syria, or, perhaps I had better say Asia Minor. Aleppo is but a short distance from the borders of ancient Cappadocia and Cilicia, countries[411] that were famous in history for the great numbers of fine horses that they produced far more than a thousand years before the first horse was taken to Arabia. This horse is called an “Arabian,” and in the brief record of his importation we have the same venerable “chestnut” served up to us that has served so many generations of speculators in “Arabian blood.” The record says that Mr. Darley had a brother who was an agent for merchandise abroad, who “became a member of a hunting club, by which means he acquired interest to procure this horse.” This “gag” has been played too often to give éclat to horses claimed to be brought from Arabia, in the past two hundred years, to have much effect on the minds of people who have any sense. That it required great social or political influence to induce the old Arab sheik to part with him, was intended merely to secure the attention of prospective customers to his superlative excellence in order to obtain their patronage. This horse probably never was within five hundred miles of the nearest part of Arabia, and to call him an Arabian is a misnomer wholly unjustifiable. He came from a country where horses were abundant and cheap on all sides, and of a quality far superior to any Arabian. He was simply a Turk, he was for sale, and it required no influence to buy him except the contents of the purchaser’s purse. This horse has always been classed as one of the two great founders of the English race horse. His progeny from well-bred mares were not numerous, and his greatest distinc