Oscar Wilde.

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

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old. liandled her one year and sold her to Mr. J. J. Alexander,
of Montezuma, of the same county (Parke), in 1856. Mr. Alex-
ander still owned her in 1860 when she trotted in Louisville, and
after his death Williams, his trainer, married his widow and still
controlled the mare. Mr. Romaine failed to give the name of


the breeder of the mare, which will be explained further on.
Soon after he wrote, April 26, 1880, he removed to Nebraska
and I have not heard from him since. In 1857 she was trained
for Mr. Alexander by John Williams on Stroue's track at Kock-
ville, Indiana, the county seat of Parke County. In 1860 she
was entered by Williams in several races at Indianapolis and at
other points, and made a record of 2:40. About 1865, or perhaps
a year or two earlier, she became the property of George C.
Stevens. In his catalogue for 1868 she is entered merely as "Old
Belle," and he knew nothing of her origin or history till I gave
it to him, along with the humbug pedigree that I had copied
from the entries at the Louisville ten-mile race.

Through the kindness of Mr. Puett I received the following
letter from Mr. Henry C. Brown, a very reputable business man
and a grain dealer in Kockville, Parke County, Indiana. This
letter from Mr. Browu has in it such evidence of candor and in-
telligence that I will here insert it entire:

" Dear Sir : In reply to your inquiry of tlie 23d ult., as to what I know of
tlje 'origin and history of tlie mare called Belle of Wabash,' I will give you
the following facts :

" In the year 1855, or '56, I am not positive which, this mare, when a three-
year-old, was purchased by Cyrus Romaine, then a resident of this county, of
an old farmer in Clay County, this State, paying $85 for her. This farmer
lived at that time about a mile and a half north of Brazil, the present county-
seat of Clay County.

" As to this farmer's name, neither myself nor Romaine can tell. He was
an old man at that time, and undoubtedly has gone to his reward long ago.
Neither do we know miyt/dng at all about the pedigree of the mare.

" There is no person living, so far as I or Romaine know, that can tell any-
thing about her ancestors, and in my opinion it would be impossible, at this
late day, to find any one in Clay County that could give us any information in
regard to her.

" The country around Brazil at that time was almost a wilderness; now the
city is spread out, and covers, no doubt, the farm where the mare was foaied.
Clay County is now the center of the Indiana coal-fis-lds, and, of course, the
entire face of the country about there is changed wonderfully since 1856; con-
sequently it would be almost if not quite impossible to find the exact location.

" After keeping the mare eight or nine months, Romaine sold her to John
Alexander, of Montezuma, this county, for $160. Alexander soon after com-
menced training her, and in about one year I think he, or his trainer, John
Williams, took her to Kentucky, and entered her there in some kind of races,
fciince then you know her history much better than I do.

" At the time Romaine bought the mare he and I were trading in stock to-
gether, boarding at the same house and sleeping in the same bed. I mention,
this onlv that you may understand that I know what I am writing about.


" I am truly sorry that I cannot give you tbe true pedigree of the mare, but
it cannot be done. TLere is no man liere or anyvvbere else tbat can tell you
anytbing more tban I bave stated berein.

"You will nn doubt tbink tbat tbere is considerable of superfluous matter
in tbis letter, but I do not see bow I could tell you wbat I wanted to in fewer

" Everytbing stated berein is truth, and, if necessary, 1 am willing to make
affidavit to tbe same at any time. Very truly yours,

"Henry C. Brown."

Mr. Eomaino's representation amounted to nothing definite or
satisfactory about the pedigree of Belle of Wabash, because he
failed to give the name and location of her breeder, but Mr.
Brown's letter clears this all up on the grounds that Mr. Komaine
Teally did not know the breeder's name. Whatever her sire and
whatever her dam, we may feel sure they were not trotting-bred,
although she was a trotter. We are left, therefore, to conclude
that, as in a thousand other cases, this mare was a pacing-bred
trotter. The one point that is vital is settled by Mr. Brown, as
he was with Mr. Romaine when he bought the mare and knew
all about the transaction. He cannot remember the breeder's
name, but he locates him as "living a mile and a half north of
Brazil," and that it is now all cut up into residence and mining
lots. This seems to fix the location of the breeder beyond all
doubt. This old man seems to have been a pioneer in a very
poor county and still a comparative wilderness when this transac-
tion took place. At that time the coal fields had not been
touched, and it is wholly beyond belief that he took his unknown
old mare out of his own county, across the adjoining county of
Parke and into Vermilion County, wherever in it Mr. Weisiger
lived, to have her bred to his part-bred stallion Bassinger. And
then when he came to sell the foal at three years old for $85,
when horses were high, can we believe he would do so with-
out ever mentioning how the filly was bred? The chain of
ownership is complete, as she passed from her unnamed breeder
to Mr. Eomaine, from him to Mr. Alexander, in whose hands
she did her trotting, and then to Mr. Williams, and there is no
place for the Louisville humbug pedigree to come in. She got
her bogus pedigree at the same time and in the same way that
Magowan and Gipsy Queen got theirs, and there was not a single
shadow of truth in any one of them. The tenacity with which
some people hold on to a "thoroughbred" origin for their trot-
ters when the evidence is all against them has long been a mys-


tery to honest folks, who are able to look at things as they are;
but it is not difficult to understand the phenomenon when we
analyze the reasons for it. First, the owner is anxious to hold
on to all he can possibly claim in the way of ai'istocratic descent
with the hope that it may help his sales; and second, there are
always a few "featherheads " with golden pockets ready to buy
that kind of stuif, because they have never gone far enough in
horse history to be able to kick themselves loose from the swad-
dling clothes of their infantile prejudices.

Pkhstce. — The chestnut gelding Prince was one of the great
trotters in the early "fifties." He was pitted against Hero, the
pacing son of Harris' Hambletonian, Lantern and others. As
usual at that time he was given a thoroughbred pedigree, which
I was then led to accept, without really knowing anything about
his origin. He was represented to have been bred in Kentucky,
and owned by R. Ten Broeck of that State. Then would natu-
rally follow a thoroughbred pedigree coming from that State, and
nobody doubted it for a long time. He was represented to be by
Woodpecker, son of Bertrand; dam by imported Sarpedon;
grandam said to be thoroughbred. When he started in his ten-
mile race against Hero, William T. Porter said he was by Wood-
pecker, and out of that grew the pedigree above. In the old
Spirit of the Times, of October 11, 1856, there is a short com-
munication signed "Hiram," in which is the only circumstantial
account of the origin of Prince that I have ever seen. It is im-
plied by the writer that he was bred by a Mr. Dey, of Chautauqua
County, New York, for he says he was got by "an old chestnut
horse called Duroc, from Long Island," and came of the Dey
Mare. It seems that Dey sold the colt to a young man named
Worden, and he was first known as "the Worden colt." He was
then sold to Manley Griswold, and from Griswold to Daniel Van-
vliet, who sold him in Buffalo to Bennett & Jones {or Thomas),
for one thousand dollars, and they sold him to William AVhelan,
of Long Island, for fifteen hundred dollars. "Hiram" carries
the history of the horse no further, as he had then placed
him in the hands of the great artists of the trotting world.
Of his sire, "Old Duroc," he says he was taken from Long Island
to Villenova, in Chautauqua (^^ounty, by a merchant of that
place, named George Hopkins, and after getting about twenty
colts he died. Among these twenty we find Prince and another
afterward known as the Walker Horse, which achieved a high local


reputation as a sire of trotters and I have frequently met with his
cross in the pedigrees of good animals. This showing is not abso-
lutely complete, but it is infinitely better than any other that
has ever been given to the public.

Waxy, the grandam of Sunol. When the two-year-old filly
Sunol in 1888 came out and trotted a mile in 2:18, it fairly took
one's breath away, and the first question on every tongue was,
"How is she bred?" She was represented to be by Electioneer,
out of Waxanaby General Benton, and she out of Waxy by Lexing-
ton, and "thoroughbred." When asked who bred her and how it
was known that Waxy was by Lexington,^ the answer came back
that the breeder was not known — that she had been taken across
the plains by a man who died on the way. The search then
commenced for the breeder of Waxy and the identification of her
dam. As the search progressed there were some very curious
things developed. When it started in the spring it was a year-
ling stallion colt, and when it reached California, in the fall, it
was a two-year-old filly. More than this, it was shown by in-
dubitable proofs, such as they were, that she had two dams, and
then shown that she had no dam at all. With such a Kentucky
muddle on hand there was an excellent opportunity for a con-
troversy that might possibly become somewhat heated. This con-
troversy is famous in the history of the exposures of untruthful
pedigrees, and I will give a brief outline of it, with some speci-
mens of the evidence adduced to sustain it.

Early in the spring of 1864 Mr. John P. Welch, an intelligent
man, trained to the profession of civil engineer, reached the blue
grass region of Kentucky for the purpose of securing and taking
across the plains a band of well-bred horses to California. In
this venture he was backed by Mr. John Anderson, a wealthy gen-
tleman of the latter State. Mr. Welch was successful in i^erfect-
ing his arrangements, and when on the very eve of starting he
sent forward a complete inventory of all the animals he had in
his baud and sent this inventory to the California Spirit of the
limes, in which paper it was published May 14, 1864, and is as

1. Bay mare, 6 years old, by imp. Sovereign, dam by Glencoe, g.d. Ann

2. Bay filly, 3 years, by Vandal, dam Miss Singleton by Old Denmark, g.d.
Bellamira by Monarch.

3. Bay filly, 2 years old, by Mambrino Chief, dam by Commodore.


4. Bay horse, 3 years old, by Mambrino Chief, dam by Gray Eaj?le.

5. Black colt. 2 years old, by Kt. of St. George, dam (dam of Capitola) by

6. Bay mare, 9 years old, by imp. Glencoe, dam by Rudolpb, g.d. Belle An-

7. Bay filly, 2 years old, by Revenue, dam Sally Morgan by Emancipation.

8. Chestnut filly, 4 years old, by Vandal, dam by Gray Eagle, g.d. Churchill.

9. Chestnut mare by Wagner (dam of No. 11).
1(/. Bay mare by Sovereign.

11. Black colt; 2 years old, by Kt. of St. George, dam No. 9, by Wagner.

12. Chestnut filly, 3 years old, by Jack Ganjble, dam Betty King by Boston.

13. Bay mare, 6 years old, by imp. Sovereign, dam by Mirabeau, g.d. Ara-

14. Captain Beard, b.s., 9 years old, by imp. Yorkshire, dam by imp. Glen-
coe, g.d. by imp. Leviathan, g.g.d. by Stockholder.

15. Gray mare by Gray Eagle, dam Mary Morris, by Medoc.

16. Hope, ch. m. by Glencoe, dam Susette by Aratus.

17. Bay mare by Sovereign, dam by Gray Eagle.

18. Chestnut filly, 2 years old, by Bob Johnson, dam by Brawner's Eclipse.

19. Chestnut filly, 3 years old, by Kt. of St. George, dam by Gray Eagle.

20. Bay colt, one year old, by Lexington, dam by Gray Eagle, g.d. Mary

21. Ch. c. 2 years old by Ringgold, dam Hope by Glencoe.
22 and 23. Pair 3:00 six-year-old trotting mares.

24. Black mare, trotter, 8 years old: time, 2:50.

25. Bay gelding, trotter, 5 years old; time, near 3;00.

26. Bay mare for show, but not to go.

From this inventory we must conclude that Mr. "Welch was a
careful and methodical man. He knew he had twenty-six animals
ready to start, and after he had written off the descriptions and
pedigrees of these twenty-six animals he verified his work by
numbering them from one to twenty-six inclusive, and then he
knew he had not omitted any one. This inventory is the basis of
the whole truth in this matter, and is the only evidence in the
wide world of what animals Mr. Welch started with to California.
As this is the vital and only starting point to reach the truth, I
trust my readers will examine it again carefully and see whether
it includes any filly or mare by Lexington, of any age. When
you ask any of these "more-running-blood-in-the-trotter" peo-
ple who took Waxy, the phantom daughter of Lexington, to
California, you will get an evasive answer, and when pressed
they will at last say, John P. Welch. Now, as to John P.
Welch, "he being dead yet speaketh." From his unknown grave
he tells these people they are trying to establish what is not true,


and with his ghostly finger points to the inventory and demands,
"Where is the Lexington filly in that list? You are trying to
displace the truth with a falsehood," and he drives this charge
home to the heart of each one of them.

Here we might close this case and leave it to the enlightened
judgment of all intelligent and honest people, for there is not
a scintilla of evidence that any two-year-old daughter of Lexing-
ton was taken to California in 18G4. Until this evidence is ad-
duced, no attempt to overthrow the contents of John P. Welch's
inventory has a single peg to stand on. But I am not yet done
with some of the peculiarities that have been developed in this
case, for long ago I learned in this pedigree business,

" That for ways that are dark,
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar."

At this point the case bifurcates, one fork leading to the Grey
Eagle mare as the dam of W^axy, and the other to the Brawner's
Eclipse mare, and I think my language will not be wholly un-
parliamentary when I pronounce them both frauds. Mr. Levi S.
Gould, a worthy business man of Boston, whom I have always
esteemed as honest, was the first to dig up this whole matter in
the columns of the California Spirit of the Times, and the first to
give the above inventory to the public. He traveled thousands
of miles and claimed to have traced Waxy to tlie stable of her
breeder, Philip Swigert, of Frankfort, Kentucky. The full
account of his laborious trip was published in Wallace's Montldif
for March, 1889, p. 17. In the inventory he found one animal
got by Lexington, but this was a bay colt of 1863, and out of the
Grey Eagle mare, but he wanted a chestnut filly. After study-
ing the matter over, he concluded that this ''bay colt" was a
typographical error for "chestnut filly" and that this established
the pedigree of Waxy. He interviewed a number of people who
had known of, or had been in some way connected with, the
Welch venture, and they were all able to confirm his discovery of
the typographical error, and could recount to a nicety their dis-
tinct recollections of the sorrel filly by Lexington, out of the
Grey Eagle mare. These people seemed to possess the most as-
tonishing memories, and the color, breeding and age of a filly they
had not seen nor heard of for a quarter of a century all came
back to them with as much freshness as though the events had


occurred yesterday. Then there was a peculiar element in their
memories, for they could recall everything about this one filly
and nothing about any of the others. At last Mr. Gould reached
Mr. Brodhead, of Kentucky, where the "finishing touches" were
put upon the pedigree of Waxy. Mr. Satterwhite did not reach
Woodburn till after Mr. Gould had left, but that did not prevent
him from making a "statement" that exactly fitted the theory of
the pedigree as matured by Mr. Gould and Mr. Brodhead. He
had been Mr. Philip Swigert's foreman in 1864, and had a right
to know something of the transfer of some eight or ten head of
stock from Mr. Swigert to Mr. Welch in the spring of that year.
Satterwhite was quite too good a Avitness, as he disclosed his
cramming frightfully. He remembered "the light chestnut filly,
by Lexington and out of the Grey Eagle mare," with great dis-
tinctness and was sure she was foaled in 1863. In no single case
was he certain excej^t in the filly by Lexington, and in no single
case was he able to give the ages of the other young things cor-
rectly. After Satterwhite made his visit to Woodburn, Mr.
Brodhead wrote Mr. Gould as follows:

" SattervvLite says Dick Jackson was witli Welch. I tliink, with what you
have, the pedigree of Waxy is conclusively proved, and you can get your arti-
cle ready. The sooner it is published the better. I forwarded some letters
to you, and I hope they gave you additional information."

It will be remembered that Mr. Gould started out on the as-
sumption that, as there was but one animal in the inventory by
Lexington and that was a bay colt of 1863, that "colt," he argued,
was a typographical error, and instead of "bay colt" it should
read "sorrel filly." On this very uncertain basis he Avorked
throughout. On this basis he collected all his futile statements.
On this basis, and to lend a helping hand, Satterwhite testified;
iind on this basis Brodhead wrote, "With what you have, the
pedigree of Waxy is conclusively proved." Now that Mr. Brod-
head is satisfied and that Mr. Bruce promptly entered AVaxy in
his Stud Book as by Lexington and out of the Grey Eagle mare,
we must drop the whimsical idea of the "typographical error"
and consider whether the bay colt of 1863, by Lexington, did
really become a sorrel filly of 1862 Avhen he reached California a
fcAv months later.

1. The bay colt, No. 20, of the inventory, was the only animal
in the band by Lexington. He was a foal of 1863, and was a year
younger than any of the others.


2. In speaking of the losses, by deatli on the route, of some of
the more noted animals, Mr. Anderson enumerates the noted
stallion Caj)tain Beard, and a very fine yearling colt by Lexing-
ton, called Frank. Here perished the only foal by Lexington in
the band, and we may as well bury Mr. Gould's and Mr. Brod-
head's "typographical error" with him, for the colt kicked it to
death before he died.

3. When the band reached California there were several addi-
tions smuggled into it as being part of the originals from Ken-
tucky, and among these additions was the light chestnut filly that
has been since known as Waxy, given as a foal of 18G2, and got
by Lexington, dam unknown.

4. As Mr. Brodhead had proved conclusively, from the records
at Woodburn, that Mr. Swigert's Grey Eagle mare was barren in
1862, the "typographical error" parties found themselves placed
"between the devil and the deep sea."

This outside filly that had been smuggled into the band of
Kentuckians was advertised along with them, as a foal of 1862,
in the fall of 1864; she was sold as a foal of 1862; she was entered
in a sweepstake for three-year-olds as a foal of 1862; she was ex-
hibited at a horse show as a foal of 1862; she started to run the
only race she ever attempted as a foal of 1862, and proving her-
self utterly worthless as a race mare, she was given away on the
spot as a foal of 1862.

As the only representative of Lexington in the band was "the
yearling bay colt Frank," as shown by Mr. Anderson, the partner
of Mr. Welch; and as the records at Woodburn had clearly and
distinctly shown that Swigert's Grey Eagle mare was barren in
1862, the bottom was out of the conspiracy and it was abandoned.
There was a little fussing about the possibility that there might
have been a mistake and that Waxy might have been a foal of
1863 after all, but it amounted to nothing more than the en-
feebled squeak of an asthmatic mouse and then all was quiet.

Before passing to the other branch of the investigation, this
seems to be the proper place to speak of the incidents of the sale
and its sequences at the Fair Grounds at San Jose, January 3,
1865. There were some twelve or fifteen head, that had been
previously advertised, offered at public sale, and a number of
those were sold, all indeed in which this inquiry has any interest.
AVhen the stock arrived at San Jose, there was a good deal of
confusion, and it is just possible that some of them were not.


correctly placed. Tlie only discrepancy which I have found be-
tween Mr. Welch's inventory and the facts is in the color of the
filly No. 18, that appears in the inventory as a chestnut, but is
advertised and sold as a bay. This mistake in color is not infre-
quent in the spring of the year before the old coat is shed, and I
think it may be reasonably accounted for on this ground. James
L. Eoff, well known from ocean to ocean as the king of all "hors&
sharps," seems to have taken a good deal of interest in assorting
the animals and in, picking up scraps of information from the
boys who had come with them. At the same time he was an ex-
cellent judge of racing stock, and as silent as the grave to the vic-
tims whom he sought to mislead and then beat. In this way he
soon knew more about the breeding of the animals than those in
charge of them. Mr. William AVoodward seems to have been his-
friend (?) with plenty of money, but a perfect "tenderfoot" in
the mysteries of the race horse. No doubt he pointed out to Mr.
Woodward the so-called Lexington filly and advised him to buy
her, assuring him that he wanted her himself, but if he wanted
to take a little fly in racing he would not bid against him. The
sale came oif, and Eoif ran up the Eevenue filly, out of Sally
Morgan, to three hundred and twenty-five dollars and got her, it
is said, for Theodore Winters. When they came to the filly by
Bob Johnson, out of the mare by Brawner's Eclijise, Eotf bought
her at two hundred and fifty dollars for himself, and named
her Lilly Hitchcock. The next animal sold was the filly by Lex-
ington, dam unknown, and she was bought by William Wood-
ward at two hundred and fifty dollars, and he named her Waxy.
The sale was slimly attended and much of the stock was bid in
for the owner, Mr. John Anderson. That night the Avine flowed
very freely, as it was the initiation of the "tenderfoot," Mr.
Woodward, into the ranks of running-horse men. After they all
"got hot" (except Eotf), a sweepstakes was opened for the three^
fillies, Ada C. (the Revenue filly), Lilly Hitchcock and Waxy, at
two hundred and fifty dollars each, and Eoff was careful to see
that it was made "play or pay." The race was a dash of a mile
and a quarter, and it took place nearly twelve months after the
match was made. Eoff won easily with Lilly Hitchcock, and
AVaxy was so badly beaten that Woodward gave her away on the
spot and "swore off" ever owning another running horse. Thus
Eoff's cunning carried his plot through, without a break at any
point. From the hour he bought this filly he stoutly maintained


she was by Lexington and out of the Brawner's Eclipse mare.
She ran all her races under this pedigree and never was chal-
lenged, and if ever there was a mare in California bred in this
way, this is likely to be the mare. We can understand just how
he could have discovered where Waxy came from, and that she
never saw Kentucky, and on this knowledge he based the game
he played on poor Woodward,

After the failure to establish the claim that Waxy came out of
Philip Swigert's Grey Eagle mare and publicly confessing that
the evidence upon which Mr, Gould and Mr. Brodhead based
their conclusions was fallacious and the conclusions themselves
incorrect, the advocates of ''more running blood in the trotter"
pulled themselves together for another bout. What purported
to be an old document was dug up somewhere — indeed I am told
there were two of them dug up, one in Kentucky and the other
somewhere on the Pacific coast — purporting to be duplicates of an

Online LibraryOscar WildeLady Windermere's fan, and The importance of being Earnest → online text (page 46 of 61)