Oscar Wilde.

Lady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest online

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was false. When grey horses in the second, third, or fourtli re-
move from the imported horse became old, it required but little
"diplomacy" to satisfy the public that they were true sous of
the original, and this became the custom.


messenger's descendants.

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' Hambletoniau — 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 genera-
tion." 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 distin-
guished 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 his-
tory 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 Mes-
senger, 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 Messen-
ger family. Among the supporters of this view Avere 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


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 appear-
ance, 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

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 x4.bdallah, April 27, 1830, to Mr. Isaac
Snediker, his breeder, Mr. John Tredwell, says: "And believe him
to be the very heat bred trotting stallion in this country, and be
it enough to know that his sire was Mambrino and his dam Ama-
zonia." 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: Ama-
zonia 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 |)ercentage 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

messenger's descendants. 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 inherit-
ance 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 nurnber of races to saddle and had won several of them in
less than three minutes along about 181G-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 noth-
ing 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

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


healthy coudition. His reputation as a great trotting sire was
very widely extended during his lifetime, but his lack of sym-
metry 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
Avill of his own, which he transmitted to his offspring very gener-
ally. 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 lie was four years old he
was not in tlie stud, and it is understood that Mr. Tredwell un-
dertook 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 atl thoughts of training were
soon abandoned. He never was in harness again until, in ex-
treme 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 Lex-
ington, Kentucky, where they made the season of 1840. Com-
modore was much the more attractive horse of the two, and did
a large business, Avhile 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 in-
human 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 stal-
lions and some of them lived to old age, but they were all failures
in the stud. His daughters, generally, proved to be most valua-
ble brood mares, producing speed to almost any and every cross.

messenger's descendants. 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 liorse 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 trot-
ters. I have no particular description of him at hand and noth-
ing 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 grand-
son of imported Baronet, as represented, but this is so indefinite
^s 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 recog-
nized 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 Haynor, 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 Hunting-
ton, 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 'Vorld's record" for colts of that age at that time. In
1846 he was purchased by William E. 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 some-
where between 1822 and 1826. He was got by Mambrino, son of
Messenger, and his dam was represented to be by imported Pay-


master. 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 l^e remark-
able 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 im-
paired 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 misrepre-
sentation, 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. There-
fore, 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.

messenger's descend a IS'TS. 261

He was not a sure foal-getter, but his stock proved to be of great
Talue. 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 lola 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 con-
nected 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 Avas owned by George
Tappan, near Jericho, Long Island. About 1833-4 he made
some seasons at Washington Hollow, Dutchess County. He was
^bout 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; greut-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 loca-
tion or history. This name, Mambrino Messenger, was borne by
several other horses of different degrees of affinity to the orig-

Hambletonian (Harris') (also known as Bristol Grey and


Remington Horse). — This was a grey horse, about sixteeli 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 Avorked 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 in-
sisted tliat his manner of going indicated the possibility of great
improvement, if he had been handled with that view. His oif-
spring 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
18G9 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 evi-
dence may be preserved I will here insert Mr. Tucker's letter

messenger's descekdaxts. 263

" MiLFORD, X. H., May 4tli, 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 ' Hiirris 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 Hamble-
tonian) 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 Decem-
ber. 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
Phoenix 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 nigli 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)."

1 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 Mes-
senger 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 Eemington, 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. Eemington 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 Avith
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

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 28 of 61)