Oscar Wilde.

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

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errors were eliminated, it is now in order to take a glance at the
methods pursued at the great Woodburn Farm, founded by R.
A. Alexander in Kentucky. These were the two earliest estab-
lishments, of any prominence, for breeding the trotter, in the
whole country. The one was the northern center of the interest
and the other the southern, and they together may be considered
as representative of both sections. Mr. Alexander, I think, was
reared and educated in Scotland, and there inherited a large
estate. Upon coming into this inheritance he determined to
transfer his interests to Kentucky, where he bought up a cluster
of farms and shaped them for the purpose of building up a mam-
moth establishment for the breeding of all varieties of domestic
animals of the highest type and excellence. I think his fancy
ran more to Short Horn cattle than to any other line of breed-
ing, probably because he knew more about the value and merit of
the different tribes of that breed than he did of any other variety.
The founding of an establishment so immense, and for the grand
purpose of the breeding and improving the varieties of domestic
animals, was the agricultural sensation of the period, and every-


body, from one end of the land to the other, soon knew of and.
applauded the great enterprise. There had been great enter-
prises on similar lines before, and there have been even greater
ones since, bnt Mr. Alexander's Woodburn Farm, of Kentucky,
may always be looked upon as the real pioneer in stock breeding
on a large and methodical scale, and without limit as to re-
sources. A university education in Scotland, with all its train-
ing in the refinements of logical distinctions, did not bring to
Mr. Alexander a knowledge of the pedigrees of Kentucky horses,
nor did it train him in the detection of the tricks of Kentucky
horse dealers, and thus as a purchaser of his breeding stock he
was looked upon by the "sharps" as a fat goose, ready to be
plucked. After these "sharj)s" had secured their pluckings,
Mr. Alexander called in a professional pedigreeist to put the
lines of the blood he had purchased in order and print a cata-
logue. This "professional" was not a pedigree tracer, for he
never traced anything in his life, but a pedigree maher, and
wherever he thought that anything was needed he added it,
whether true or not, and it went to the world in that form. This,
is more conspicuously true in the department of trotting pedi-
grees, as will appear below. Thus the acts of an incapable and
dishonest employee were given the indorsement of an honorable
and eminent name; falsehoods were made to appear as truths;,
counterfeits were put in circulation that are still circulating as.
genuine coin, with many people. Under the circumstances, Mr.
Alexander could hardly be blamed, for, knowing nothing of such
matters of his own knowledge, he employed what he supposed
was the best authority then to be found. For my own part,
when I came to register the Woodburn stock, I was ready ta
accept as true whatever I found in the catalogue, believing that
Mr. Alexander was incapable of publishing to the world a misrep-
resentation. In this estimate of his character I was right, and
I have never changed my opinion on that point, but when I came
to examine the structure of his catalogue I found there was rot-
ten wood all through it. A few examples that have been care-
fully investigated will serve to show the value of the work done
by the "pedigree maker" for Mr. Alexander.

Pilot Jr. was a gray horse, foaled 1844, was got by Old 'Pacing
Pilot and attained the distinction of being the head of a well-
known family of trotters. He was foaled 1844, bred by Angereau
G-ray, and owned a number of years by Glasgow & Heinsohn, of


Louisville, Kentucky. He was kept a number of years about
Lexington, Kentucky, by Dr. Herr, Mr. Bradley, and perhaps
others, and always advertised as "by Pilot (the pacer), dam
Nancy Poj)e, grandam Nancy Taylor." Nobody then ever pre-
tended to know what horse was the sire of either Nancy Pope or
Nancy Taylor. He was then owned by the parties who afterward
sold him to Mr. Alexander, and it is evident they did not then
know anything about the sires of these mares. Mr. Alexander
bought him in 185<S, and immediately his "pedigree maker"
furnished the sires of these two mares; Nancy Pope was given as
by Havoc, son of Sir Charles, and Nancy Taylor as by imported
Alfred. The controversy about this pedigree was long and
sharp, the one side, headed by the modern management at Wood-
burn, as usual laboring to sustain the infallibility of the Wood-
burn catalogues, and the other to reach the exact truth, what-
ever it might be. The Board of Censors of the National Breeders'
Association sent out a call for information on certain abstract
points and finally reached a decision as follows: (1) That Havoc,
the reputed sire of Nancy Pope, the dam of Pilot Jr., died in
1828. (3) That Nancy Pope was not foaled till 1833. (3) That
the breeding of Nancy Taylor, the dam of Nancy Pope, was un-
kjiown. These dates were fixed by undoubted evidence, and, as
afterward developed, another might have been added with equal
authenticity. Imported Alfred, the reputed sire of Nancy Tay-
lor, was not imj)orted till several years after Nancy Taylor was
foaled, and thus it Avas clearly shown by the absolutely insupera-
ble difficulties of dates that both the sires inserted in the pedi-
gree were nothing more than very stupid fictions.

Edwin Forrest seems to have held second phice in the list of
stallions in the Woodburn Stud at that period, and the remote
extensions of his pedigree were also fictitious. His grandam
was represented to be by Duroc, the famous son of imported
Diomed, and his great-grandam by imported Messenger. The
first two crosses were technically inacurately stated, but the
second two, as given here, were purely fictitious.

Norman, the third stallion in the catalogue, had his sire cor-
rectly given as the Morse Horse, but his dam was given as by
Jersey Highlander and his grandam as by Bishop's Hamble-
tonian, son of Messenger, both of which were wholly fictitious.
His dam was by a horse called Magnum Bonum, a representative
of a family of that name, and that is all that is known of his


pedigree. A full showing of this pedigree will be found in the
'•Trotting Register," Vol. III.

Bay Chief was a bay son of Mambrino Chief, with a bald face,
and was often called Bald Chief. He was the sensational trotter
of the whole Mambrino Chief family, and I believe it is true that
when four years old he showed a half-mile on Mr. Alexander's
track in 1:08 and repeated in 1:08|^. In the catalogue he is
given as foaled in 1859, got by Mambrino Chief, dam by Keokuk,
son of imj)orted Truffle; grandam a thoroughbred mare by Stara-
boul Arabian. As this was found in Mr. Alexander's catalogue
I took it for granted it must be true, but I never had heard of a
running horse called Keokuk before, and I kept hunting for ever
so many years without finding hide nor hair of him, until 1885,
when the whole mystery was developed. Mr. Richard Johnson,
of Scott County, Kentucky, had business interests in Keokuk,
Iowa, in the early fifties, probably locating land warrants, and he
bought a pair of mares in Keokuk to travel over the prairies, and
when he was through with his work lis brought the team home
with him to Scott County. He knew nothing whatever of the
breeding of those mares, but they were a good pair of drivers
and one of them was quite a smart roadster that he called "Old
Keokuk." He bred this mare, Keokuk, in 1858 to Mambrino
Chief, and in 1859 she produced the colt called Bay Chief. In
1862 he was bred to some sixteen or eighteen mares, and the fall
of that year Mr. Alexander bought the colt at public auction,
paying one thousand dollars for him. He was taken to Wood-
burn, put in training and never covered any more mares. In the
spring of 1865 he was killed in a raid of Southern troops upon
the horse stock at Woodburn. (For further particulars of this
little sketch the reader is referred to Wallace's Montlily for 1885,
page 285.) To fix up a pedigree for the material side of this
colt Avas no easy matter, but Mr. Alexander's "pedigree maker"
proved himself fully equal to the occasion. There was the nasty
name Keokuk fastened to the old mare, and it would stick as
ti^ht as wax to the end of her days, coming from a region where
there was no drop of running blood; so he made a "thorough-
bred" horse, right on the spot, and gave him the name of Keokuk,
which would account for the name of the mare, and pronounced
him a son of imported Truffle. To supply a "thoroughbred"
grandam was comparatively easy, for Mr. Johnson had long been
a resident of Scott County, and the horse Stamboul had been kept


in that county, hence there could be no doubt tluit she was a
"thoroughbred" daughter of that horse. With this review of
the misfoi'tunes of Mr. Alexander in placing the arrangement
and, I might say, care of his pedigrees, in dishonest hands, we
will pass whatever may remain of his early stallions, and take a
glance at some of the pedigrees of his brood mares.

Black Rose proved to be one of the best brood mares ever
owned at Woodburn. I am told she was a pacer, and certainly
all that is known of her blood was pacing blood. She was sought
after and procured by Mr. Alexander because she had produced
several trotters, and it can be read all through his purchases for
the trotting stud, that he had undoubting confidence in the
theory that trotters must come from trotters. When this mare
first appeared in the Woodburn catalogue no dam was given to
her, but meantime the "pedigree maker" had come around, and
the next year she was fitted out with the folloAving, in fine style.

" Black Rose.'bl. m., foaled about 1847 ; got by Tom Teenier ; dam by Can-
non's Whip ; g. d. by Robin Gray, son of imp. Royalist."

■The pedigree stood in this form a number of years, and proba-
bly would still be so standing had it not been that in trying to
learn something more about the sire, Tom Teemer, I received
some intimations that made me doubtful about the maternal side.
On a certain occasion I asked Mr. E. S. Veech, of Kentucky, what
he knew about it, and he replied that he had made a trip to
Clark County for no other purpose than to trace and investigate
the pedigree of Black Rose, and he was not able to get a single
syllable of information about her dam, any more than if she never
had a dam. Some time afterward I wrote to Mr, Brodhead,
manager at Woodburn, inquiring where tlie pedigree of Black
Rose as given and perpetuated in the Woodburn catalogues came
from and on what basis it rested. He replied promptly and
briefly that Mr. Veech had made a trip to Clark County in search
of this pedigree and the result of that search was what appeared
in the catalogue. These are the facts, substantially, as given
me by these two gentlemen, and this is the first time I have ever
given them to the public. I have, known Mr. Veech intimately
and trustingly for twenty-eight years and I know him to be em-
inently truthful. I have not known Mr. Brodhead so long, and if
he had not published the fraudulent extension of this pedigree
in his catalogues every year for more than ten years, before Mr.


Veech made his trip to Clark County, I might at least express
my sympathy with him in having so bad a memory. Mr. Brod-
head had nothing to do with either tlie original construction or
utterance of this fraud, for he was not then connected with the
management of Woodburn. My readers can employ their own
terms in characterizing, as it deserves, the fraudulent act of
manufacturing a pedigree out of whole cloth; and they can also
exercise their own ethical discrimination in determining whether
the man who executes the fraud is any worse than the man who
maintains and supports it after he knows it is fraudulent.

We pass on to Sally Kussell, the grandam of Maud S. It is
not a pleasant task to review an old controversy, whatever it
might bring to light; but a controversy which involves the true
lines of descent of so great a family as that of Maud S., Nutwood,
Lord Kussell, etc., is worth preserving for the enlightenment of
future generations. It all turns upon the breeding of Sally
Russell and the identity of her breeder. She was a little chest-
nut mare, represented to have been foaled 1850, got by Boston
and out of Maria Russell, by Rattler, and so on, claimed to be
thoroughbred. She was bought by Mr. Alexander from the fore-
man on Captain John W. Russell's farm, with the pedigree given
as above. The name of her breeder w^as not given to Mr. Alex-
ander, I think, but Bruce has it that her dam, Maria Russell, and
this mare Sally Russell were both bred by Benjamin Luckett. In
1863 this mare was offered, with others, to the highest bidder, at
Mr. Alexander's annual sale, being then thirteen years, old ac-
cording to the records of the establishment, and the auctioneer
was not able to coax a bid of ten dollars on her and she Avas led
out unsold. Five years later — 1868 — I attended the Woodburn
sale, and a little scrubby-looking old mare was brought into the
ring, represented to have been stinted to imported Australian,
and when this was announced a subdued whisper went round
the ring, "She'll never raise another foal." The auctioneer was
eloquent upon the value of the Australian blood on the Boston
blood, and the possibilities of the coming foal, but all to no pur-
pose, as the mare was led out of the ring the second time, with
no person willing to bid a dollar. I was astonished that such an
animal should have been put up at auction, for she had all the
appearance of being twenty-eight instead of eighteen. She died
that summer, apparently of old age, and I have no shadow of
doubt that she sank under the weight of years. On two separate


occasions great crowds of practical horsemen had, in this man-
ner, prochiimed that Mr. Alexander had been victimized in the
age of the mare, and fifteen years later I determined to settle the
question as to whether this judgment Avas right.

As the supposed age and breeding of Sally Russell has been
made to turn and rest upon the ownership of her dam, Maria
Russell, it is important that we should have the antecedent cir-
cumstances set out in the plainest possible manner. Captain
John A. Holton and Captain John W. Russell were farmers in
Kentucky, living a few miles apart, and I think they were both
river men at one time or another; certainly Russell was in com-
mand of a snag boat on the Ohio and Mississippi along about
183G-40. Like many other Kentucky farmers, they both bred a
few running horses, but not enough, singly, to justify the ex-
pense of separate training establishments, so they united their
strings in one stable, sharing the expense and dividing the
profits, if any, equally. The partnership did not extend to the
joint ownership of any of the horses, but simply to the losses or
profits of training and racing, and Major Benjamin Luckett was
in their employ as trainer.

Before going to work in earnest on this investigation, I learned
that Mr. Llewelyn Holton, a son of Captain John A. Holton,
still resided on the old farm and that he was old enough to know
all about the origin and history of Maria Russell, as well as the
other stock belonging to his father at that time. This was very
encouraging, but I wanted to know whether he was a man who
could be relied upon to tell the truth. On this point I addressed
an inquiry to the late Colonel R. P. Pepper, and his reply is as
follows: "Your letter of the 29th received. I regard L. Holton,
of this county, as a man of honor, integrity and intelligence, and
the peer of any gentleman of my acquaintance. In my opinion
any statement he will make upon any subject, as to his own
knowledge, will be accepted in this community as readily as that
of any gentleman in it. He is a man who sometimes gets on
sprees from intoxicating liquors, but I have never heard of it
affecting his intelligence, honor or integrity, and, as above
stated, his word will be accepted in this community at this time
as soon as the word of any gentleman in this county or commu-

With this very high indorsement I did not hesitate to send a
commissioner to interview Mr. Holton and get from him the


exact facts in the case, without any leading questions and with-
out any shading of the truth or bias on either side. What this
commissioner learned will be given further on.

Let us now turn to the other side and see how Mr. Brodhead
manages to get Maria Eassell into the ownership of Captain
John W. Eussell. Under date of April 30, 1883, he wrote to the
Tiii'f, Field and Farm as follows:

"A Colonel Shepherd, of the South — New Orleans, I think — gave or sold to
Captain J. W. Russell and Captain J. A. Holton a Stockholder mare, out of
Miranda, by Topgallant, etc. Tliisniare was called Miss Shepherd. Theyowned
and brfd this mare in partnership. Among the produce thus owned were
Maria Russell by Rattler, Mary Bell by Sea Gull, and Swiss Boy by imported
Swiss. Captain Russell sold his half of Swiss Boy to Mr. Taylor, son-in-law of
Ben Luckett, for $750. Maria Russell was owned and run as a partnership
mare by Holton and Russell, but was trained by Major Ben Luckett."

Then follows a lot of stuff, without any relevancy whatever,
going to show that Ben Luckett trained her at three years old,
but had no connection whatever with the family, all of which is
known to everybody, and then he again asserts that "in the divi-
sion of the partnership property, Maria Russell fell to Captain
Russell." The next dash that Mr. Brodhead makes is for a negro
seventy-five years old, who had been in the Russell family from
his birth, named Jesse Dillon. Jesse was no exception to his
race, or indeed to many of the white race, for whenever any in-
formation is wanted from them they are always ready to give it,
as they expect at least one half-dollar, and if they tel] the story
"'right up to what is wanted" they expect two. Jesse was sharp
enough to discover just what his interviewers were after, and he
was ready to supply "the long-felt want." Jesse was able to tell
just how the mare got her eye knocked out and just how he took
her to Blackburn's and had her brsd to Boston. In all this, in-
cluding the loss of the eye and tiie trip to Blackburn's, Jesse
may have had in his mind Captain Russell's one-eyed mare, Mary
Churchill, while his interviev.'ers were thinking about Maria
Russell. It is no uncommon thing for white people as well as
black, at seventy-five, to get names of forty or fifty years past

This is all of Mr. Brodhead's case so far as what he presents
has any relevancy to the point at issue, namely, the identity and
ownership of the mare Maria Russell. The pedigree was not
made at Woodburn; Mr. Alexander in this case as in many others


was simply the victim of the sharper. The only shadow of evi-
dence that has been presented that the pedigree might be true is
the evidence of a superannuated negro, Jesse Dillon. For the
Woodburn side of the case the reader is referred to Wallace's
Monthly for June, 1883, page 3G6. In replying to this case I will
try to summarize the different considerations as briefly as possi-

First. The case is opened with the assumption that Colonel
Shepherd presented the mare Miss Shepherd, by Stockholder, to
Captain J. W. Russell and Captain J. A. Holton. We might
laugh at this by asking which half he gave to Russell and which
half to Holton? This is merely constructing a' theory by which
the ownership of Russell might be maintained. It is safe to say
the mare was given to Holton and to Holton alone, and here is
the proof of it. There is a silver cup, now in possession of Mr.
Bowen, grandson of J. A. Holton, with this inscription: "J. A.
Holton, awarded by Franklyn Agricultural Society, 1836, for
filly Maria Russell." Where is Captain J. W. Russell's owner-
ship at that date?

Second. When S. D. Bruce was compiling his Stud Book, CajD-
tain John W. Russell had his thoroughbred stock entered there.
There were several brood mares with their produce under them,
but where were Maria Russell and her daughter Sally Russell?
They appear as the property of Ben Luckett, when everybody
knows he had nothing to do with them. As Captain Russell did
not have them entered when he was entering his other stock, I
must take it as prima facie evidence that he did not own them
at that time.

Third. It is now in imperishable evidence that John W. Rus-
sell did not own Maria Russell in 1836, and that he did not own
her at the time Bruce was compiling his Stud Book, and now
the question is, was there ever a time when he did own her? To
answer this question we must turn to Llewellyn Holton, the only
man then living who knew and had a right to know all about
the history of this mare. His statement is as follows:

"Forks of Elkhorn. May 24, 1883.
" This is to certify tliat my father, Captain John A. Holton, was, for a number
of years, interested with Captain John W. Russell in a number of thorough-
breds, and they raced them in partnership. When they dissolved and divided
the stock, I am positively certain that my father retained all the descendants
of the Stockholder mare — among them Maria Russell, and all her produce —


and I know to my certain knowledge tliat Captain Russell never owned or bad
in bis possession tbe inare Maria Russell, or any of ber produce ; and I furtber
know to my certain knowledge tbat said mare, Maria Russell; bad two good
eyes from tbe time of ber foaling until tbe day of ber deatb. It' my fatber
bred a mare to Boston in 1848, I incline to tbe opinion tbat it was a bay mare
called Limber, for tbe reason tbat sbe, Limber, was very uncertain, baving
missed several seasons. Tbere is one point, bowever, tbat I feel very certain
upon, and tbat is tbat neitber my fatber nor Captain Russell, during tbeir rac-
ing or breeding career, ever owned a Boston filly. As Boston was tbe most
famous borse of bis time, it is not at all possible tbat tLiere could bave been a
Boston colt or filly on my fatber's farm and I not knowing of tbe fact. I was
born in tbe old bomestead tbe 15tb of November, 1830, and bave resided eitber
tbere or adjoining all my life; tberefore I bad constant opportunity to know
all about my fatber's stock of borses. L. Holton.

" I bereby attest tbat tbe above is my fatber's signature. — J. A. Holton, son
of Llewellyn Holton."

Fourth. With the foregoing clear and decisive statement before
us, it is not necessary to determine whether the partnership be-
tween Holton and Russell embraced the joint ownership of the
racing stock or whether the running colts of the two farms were
brought together from year to year, and as a matter of economy
and profit, trained and raced as one stable. This latter view of
the question seems to be made plain. In his interview with Mr.
Holton my commissioner reported as follows: "The horses were
always trained by Captain Holton at his private track at the
Forks of Elkhorn. That he, Llewellyn Holton, always went
after the colts that were on the Eussell farm when the training
season commenced, and at the close of the racing campaign of
the year he always took those back that came from the Russell
stock, while those from Captain Helton's stock were kept 07i the
home farm. When the partnership between Captain Holton
and Captain Russell was dissolved, Mr. Llewellyn Holton is posi-
tively certain that Captain Russell retained his own stock and
Captain Holton his own, the latter consisting of the produce of
the Stockholder mare, among them Maria Russell, and all her
produce. And he is still more positively certain that neither the
mare, Maria Russell, nor any of her produce was ever in the
hands of Captain Russell." At the close of each season the
owners, respectively, took their own stock home till the next
spring, and after a series of years each owner took his own stock
home, and that was the end of the arrangement.

Fifth. In the summer of 1883 I met Mr. John W. Russell,
son of Captain Russell, at the house of Mr. R. S. Veech, near


Louisville, Kentucky, and we had some conversation on the

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 44 of 61)