Simon W. Parlin.

The American trotter; a treatise on his origin, history and development online

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A Treatise on His Origin, History and Development



Editor of American Horse Breeder

With a Preface by


Pubihled by



Tvyo Copies iteceiycici

APR 24 iyU5

COPY li. '

copteight 1905
By American Hoeisb Bebbdbb Publishinq Go.


77 KUbr Street, Boston, Mass.


Ohapthe I.


Byerley Turk. — Darley Arabian. — Godolphln Arabiaa —
Bald Galloway. — ^Xmported Messenger. — Imported
Wildair, — Imported Diomed. — Other Imported
Stallions 11-43

Chapter II.

Boston Blue. — Screwdriver. — Top Gallant. — Whale-
bone. — Dutchman. — Lady Suffolk, and Others 44-61

Chaptbe III.


Mambrino and Old Abdallah. — Rysdyk's Hambleton-
ian. — Electioneer. — George Wilkes. — Happy
Mediiun. — Alexander's Abdallah. — Volunteer. —
Harold. — Dictator. — ^Aberdeen. — Egbert. — Strath-
more. — Other Sons of Rysdyk's Hambleton-
ian 62-106


Chapter IV.

Lady Thorn (2. IS 1-4). — Herr's Mambrino Patchen. —
Woodford Mambrino. — Mambrino King. — Alma
Mater. — Princeps. — Pancoast. — Fisk's Mambrino
Chief Jr.— Clark Chief.— Ericsson 106-120

Chapter V.

Henry Clay. — Cassius M. Clay. — Geo. M. Patchen
(2.23 1-2). — Neaves' Cassius M. Clay Jr. — The
Moor.— Sayre's Harry Clay (2.29).— Other Clay
Stallions 121-139

Chapter VI.

Justin Morgan. — Sherman Morgan. — Vermont Black
Hawk.— Ethan Allen (2.25 1-2).— Daniel Lambert.
—General Knox 140-192

Chapter VII.


Seely's American Star. — The Champion Family. —
Scobey's Champion. — Gooding's Champion. —
Charley B. (2.25).— The Benton Family.— Alex-
ander's Norman. — Blackwood 74. — Swigert. —
The Royal George Family. — Thomas Jefferson
(2.23) 193-210



Chapter VITT.


Pilot.— Pilot Jr.— Bayard (2.31 3-4).— Tattler (2.26). —
Daughters of Pilot Jr.— Nutwood (2.18-3-4).—
Midnight. — ^Waterwitch. — ^Tackey. — Wilson's Blue
Bull. — ^Whitehall. — ^Rhode Island. — Gov. Sprague
(2.201-2). — Blanco. — Tom Rolfe (2.33 1-2).—
Young Rolfe. — Pocahontas Boy. — Pocahontas
Sam 211-242

Chapter IX.

Narragansett Pacers. — The Hal Family. — Kittrell's
Tom Hal. — Gibson's Tom Hal Jr. — Brown Hal
(2.12 1-2) 243-251

Chapter X.

Their Relative Value as Factors in Trotting Speed. —

Notable Examples 252-270

Chapter XI.

Blood Lines of Noted Winners. — Top Gallant. — Screw-
driver. — Whalebone. — Dutchman. — Lady Suffolk.
— Flora Temple. — Dexter. — Goldsmith Maid. —
Rarus. — St. Julien. — Jay-Eye-See. — Maud S. —
Sunol. — Nancy Hanks. — Alix. — The Abbot. — Cres-
ceus.— Lou Dillon 271-290



Chapter XII.


(Pages 291-298.)

Chapter XIII.


(Pages 299-313.)



Portrait of the Author, Frontispiece. — Lou Dillon. — ^RyBdyk's
Hambletonian. — George Wilkes. — Electioneer. — ^Alix.
— Robert McGregor. — Cresceus. — Happy Medium. —
Nancy Hanks. — Mambrino Patchen. — Maud S. — Harold.
— ^Lady Thorn. — Gov. Sprague. — Sunol. — Daniel Lam-
bert. —Miss Russell. — Gen. Knox. — Dictator. — Ethan
Allen. — Palo Alto. — ^Brown Hal. — Hamburg.



Letter from Hark Comstock.

Mr. 8. W. Parlin, Editor American Horse Breeder:

I am glad to learn that your historical letters on
the American trotter, which have appeared in the
American Horse Breeder, are to be j)ublished in book
form. Yon are now among the earliest of those who
remain living, as student of and writer upon the
trotting horse. With the exceptions of Joseph Cairn
Simpson and myself I recall no others, now using the
pen upon the subject of light harness race horse, who
were your contemporaries as writers upon that subject
prior to the Civil War, in which as citizen and sol-
dier you ably did your duty to the Union.

Before we began writing, D. C. Linslev and Henry
William Herbert (Frank Forrester) left good work in
book form. William T. Porter stamped his individ-
uality upon the old Spirit of the Times. I read all of
these but never knew them. George Wilkes to some
extent, but more particularly Charles J. Foster (Pri-
vateer), did great work as editors of the later Spirit.
The latter edited Hiram Woodruff's book. Dr. Ell
wood Harvey contributed many thoughtful letters.
S. T. Harris wrote ably and brilliantly, and such cor-
respondents as "Larkin" (John L. Cassidy), "Sulky,"


"Long Islander" (Hon. David W. Jones), "Broad
Church" (Thomas Atchison), Joseph Cairn Simpson,
Thomas C. Patterson, Thomas B. Merry (Hidalgo),
"Ranger" (T. P. Ochiltree), "Potomac" (Alex. Pres-
ton), "Albion" (J. R. Hubbard), and others contrib-
uted great value and entertainment, and you and I
had now and then a word to say. I am not sure but
John H. Wallace occasionally contributed. He cer-
tainly wrote some before the war on matters pertain-
ing to his duties as secretary of an agricultural society
in Iowa, but it was not until later that he became
authoritative on matters of pedigree.

After the war the Turf, Field and Farm was start-
ed. This brought into greater prominence its editor-
in-chief, Sanders D. Bruce, the compiler of the Ameri-
can thoroughbred stud book; his brother, Benj. G.
Bruce (Neptunus), who afterwards edited a sporting
Journal in Kentucky; and assistant editor, Hamilton
Busbey. Much later, perhaps in 1876, Wilkes sold a
controlling interest in the Spirit of the Times to E.
A. Buck, who brought onto his staff Walter T. Chester
("GriflSn"), who afterwards joined the Turf, Field and
Farm, and published valuable stastistical works. An-
other writer on the Spirit staff at this time was W.
S.Vosburgh ("Vigilant"), the most graceful, instruc-
tive and entertaining writer on the thoroughbred since
Charles J. Foster, but little interested in the trotter.
He now holds the important office of official handicap-
per to the Jockey Club.

For two or three years prior to the sale of the
Spirit it was well edited by J. H. Sanders, founder
of that flourishing livestock journal, The Breeder's


Gazette, of Chicago. Eev. W. H. H. Murray wrote in
the later Spirit and left a book, The Perfect Horse.
Before this Cyrus Lukens had commenced to write. I
don't remember just when he began, but pretty far
back for so young a man. The Western horse papers
had meantime started in with vigor, supported by very
able pens. They brought forward "Yarrum," "Trot-
wood," "Volunteer," "Veritas," H. T. White, editor of
John Splan's book; H. D. McKinney ("Mambrino"),
but these cannot all be classed among old timers.

Wallace started his monthly magazine in 1875,
into which he threw his aggressive personality and ulti-
mately drew about him a number of very able disciples
and preachers of his doctrines. Of these Leslie E.
McLeod was a particularly forceful writer, terse in ex-
pression and so like his chief in style that it was some-
times diflScult to discern which pen wrote the edi-
torial. He also edited Charles Marvin's book on The
Trotting Horse. Judge Halsey ("Iconoclast") sprung
from this school, though not from the office, and wrote
well from the standpoint of its dogmas. Similarly J.
W. Thompson of Maine compiled a book of pedigrees
of Maine-bred horses and conducted a paper, The
Maine Horse Breeders Monthly. Rev. T. A. Hendrick
("Aurelius") was another Wallacean advocate of abil-
ity. H. T. Helm was not of that school, but wrote
in the Monthly and afterwards left an excellent book,
W. H. Marrett ("Vision") wrote for the Monthly and
the Breeder.

Gurney O. Gue came to light in the Monthly office
and has served the trotter well as a journalist and
as a compiler of pedigrees, which I understand are to


appear in book form. He is now at the head of the
harness horse department of the New York Herald,
and that reminds me of noble old Jo. Elliott, sporting
editor of that great paper, '\years and years ago."
But I must not get down to the more recent writers.
They are numerous and able and not a few of them
are brilliant. Few subjects are as well supported to-
day by philosophical and literary talent as the trotting
horse. But I am not going to flatter the youngsters
up to their real deserts. Their vanity needs no stim-
ulation now. When they reach your years and mine,
and centuT'ies look shorter to them, doubtless they
will be able to bear becomingly a reasonable degree
of praise; if it be bestowed upon them. Suffice it
that, when we "old boys" have dropped out, the forge
will not grow cold for want of strong young blood
at the bellows. You and I may call ourselves oM
timers when it is remembered that we have both had
discussions through the press with nearly all of the
writers excepting the very earliest.

Now that I have paved the way I want to speak in
high praise of your career as a writer upon horse
topics, horse history and the philoso{)hy of breeding.
Your contributions to the presc; have ever been tem-
])ered with logical reasonableness and fortified with
M great degree of accuracy. Even in response to cap-
tious criticism you have always maintained an atti
tude of surprising courtesy, of which I wish I could
have been a closer imitator, and which I commend as
an example to many younger members of the guild.
Satire, vmircasm aud ridicule are not argument. Thev


are the resort of the weak when standing upon un-
certain ground. I do not deny that they take with
the thoughtless and superficial. For that reason they
often do great harm and retard progress, but they do
not stop it. Ultimately the true merits of the ques
tion are recognized. When a man who aspires to a
reputation for philosophical argument, drops logic
and resorts to ridicule, it is a pretty sure sign that he
is beaten and knows it, but wants to conceal it. I
have never seen you driven into that corner.

I can scarcely have missed reading much that you
ever wrote. The channels of such literature prior to
the seventies were few. We writers subscribed to
them all, and we knew of each other, whether person-
ally acquainted or not. It must have been about 1870
that you dropped floating correspondence and assumed
a trotting horse corner in the American Cultivator of
Boston, published by our mutual friend, George B.
James, who in time was encouraged to establish the
American Horse Breeder. This you have edited from
its commencement in about 1882. I do not think I
have missed a dozen numbers of either paper since you
became identified with them. There are many able
journals identified with the trotting horse which I
have read and which I continue to read with great
profit and satisfaction. It is no reflection upon any
of the others to say that, imbued as my mind has ever
been with the breeding subject as its paramount theme,
The Breeder, edited by you up to the significance of its
title, has for a long time been my favorite horse


Perhaps one reason why your editorial pages have
held my interest is that in general we have been
in accord in our views upon the breeding subject.
Many younger writers are against us in that we place
so great a value upon blood that is far back in the
pedigrees of modern great horses. A view has been
exaggerated among them that handling and develop-
ment per 86 have changed the innate character of the
horses that are now successful on the tracks and
that the same treatment from generation to genera-
tion would have made them the same as they now are,
even if their ancestors a dozen removes back had all
been cart horses instead of some of them having been

Never was there a greater fallacy. Handling points
out where the right qualities have descended by in-
heritance, and facilitates logical selection for breed-
ing purposes. If it does an atom more than that
in relation to heredity it at most does very little more,
and that little cannot be philosophically proved.
Starting with a race of milk-white cats, so established
as to breed true to that color, you may dye the kittens
jet black, and keep them dyed for twenty generations,
bred exclusively within the stock, and at the end ofi
that time not a kitten will be born black from theiri
jet-dyed parents. Doubtless a dark breed may be es-
tablished from a light breed by careful selection and
copulation, but not by manipulation. The inherent
element must be wrought upon ; not the acquired ones.
The breeder who thinks that Diomed, and pyramids of
his blood, count for nothing when found in a race
horse of today, whether runner or trotter, is simply


throwing the laws of heredity to the winds. You can
take material from an ore-bed and make steel of it,
and you can take material from a elay-bed and make
brick of it, but you cannot, in a hundred years, take
unmixed that which came from the clay-bed and make
steel of it. Manipulation cannot make something out
of nothing nor create improved forms from a material
that does not first partake of the essential base upon
which those improved forms depend.

You can blend different substances and different
bloods, thus uniting separate bases and obtain a sur-
prising variety of results of composite nature, many
of them capable of uses and accomplishments far be-
yond the reach of any one separate element of its com-
position. While unmixed clay can never be manipu-
lated into steel, it may by blending with other ele-
ments be made the basis of another metal — aluminum.
Nevertheless, to do this, there must have existed in
each contributive element of the compound an innate
essential quality placed there by nature as a basic
contribution to the blend, that is greater than any of
its separate parts. Diomed may not have trotted
much in his own right, but he, or his equivalent, is as
essential an element in a race horse of either kind to-
day as he was to our runners of 60 to 100 years ago
when his blood, often inbred, swept everything before
it; nor has it yet ceased to assert its power, as fre-
quently pointed out by the best analytical authorities
on the breeding of the modern American thorough-
bred. If Diomed's essential quality has been trans-
mitted to the present time in the running field, is there
reason to doubt that his blood affects, according to its


uature, the trotter of today that possesses multipli-
cations of it?

It has always been a gratification to me in reading
your articles to recognize that you have ever duly
appreciated the physical quality of the thoroughbred
— his organism — as a valuable adjunct in raising the
trotting breed to its present standard. I rejoice with
you and those other writers who have never yielded to
the tirade against this view led by the late compiler of
the 'Trotting Register. His deep-seated prejudices
against the thoroughbred and in favor of what he
called ''pacing blood" in my judgment totally disqual-
ified him as a candid and truthful renderer of pedi-
grees, during most of the time he was so employed.

I can foresee that your book will be of great value
in controverting many important instances falsely of
record, on account of this unfortunate bias of the for-
mer compiler of the Register. Your careful work in
searching and compiling evidence for the vindication
of the real, and the controversion of distorted, horse
history, has always commanded my respect and ad-
miration. Many a time I have laboriously gone back
through old files of The Breeder to re-read such mat-
ters from your pen. The convenience of having them
in book form will be a boon to

Yours fraternally,

Otherwise "Hark Comstoek."

New York, January, 1905.

The American Trotter.


America surpasses all other nations of the world in
many respects, but probably in none other more than in
the quality of its light-harness horse. The trotters and
pacers bred and raised here excel in speed those pro-
duced in any other quarter of the globe. This is due to
several causes, prominent among which are our parlor
tracks, light-harnesses, so fashioned and adjusted as to
allow the greatest freedom of action, light, easy-running
sulkies, which are the best in the world; the skill of
American trainers of trotting horses, and farriers, both
of whom are superior to those of any other nation in
training and balancing the trotter. The chief cause of
the superiority of our trotters, however, is undoubtedly
due to the excellent foundation for a trotting family
that was laid in this country by the English running
horse, imported Messenger, and the methods followed
by American breeders. As all the record-breaking trot-
ters in this country during the past forty years have
been descendants of imported Messenger, it must be
interesting and profitable to the young student of the


trotting breeding problem to learn something of the
origin, history and character of the ancestors of that
wonderful animal.

During the first quarter of the last century the fastest
trotters in the world were produced in England. They
were known there as Norfolk trotters. They could at
that time trot one mile or one hundred miles in less
time than any of the trotters that had ever been pro-
duced in this or any other country. It is stated upon
good authority that a mare called Nonpareil trotted 100
miles in nine hours and fifty-seven seconds, pulling a
vehicle called a match cart. This performance occurred
at least ten years before the American mare Fanny
Jenks trotted 100 miles in nine hours, thirty-eight
minutes and three seconds. Early in the thirties a
stallion named Norfolk Phenomenon, bred and raised in
England, trotted two miles in five minutes and four
seconds. The best time ever made for two miles by a
trotter in America previous to 1840 was five minutes
and eleven seconds, which is seven seconds slower than
the time of Norfolk Phenomenon. Both Nonpareil and
Norfolk Phenomenon were by Fireaway, a Norfolk
trotter, that was a direct descendant of Blaze, by Flying
Childers. The dam of Norfolk Phenomenon also traced
directly to Blaze through her sire.

The following chapters were written previous to the
issue of the Year Book of 1904, and the records of
horses, produce of stallions and mares and kindred
statistics, were compiled with reference to the returns
of 1903.


Chaptbb I.

Byerley Turk. — ^Darley Arabian. — (Jodolphin Arabian. — ^Bald
Galloway. — Imported Messenger. — Imported Wildair. —
Imported Diomed. — Other Imported Stallions.

Horse racing has been a popular sport for many
centuries. It was a favorite pastime with the Greeks
for at least 600 years before the Christian era. The
races in those early days were to chariots. It is a
matter of history, too, that the Romans raced horses
to chariots at least four hundred years before the birth
of Christ. It is uncertain when horse racing first
began in England. The English writer and practical
breeder of thoroughbred racing stock, William Day,
in his work entitled "The Horse, How to Breed
and Rear Him," has the following to say on this sub-
ject :

As for racing in England, the earliest record of it that I
can light upon is that given by Strutt, in his "Sports and
Pastimes of the People of England." Racing, or something
like it, was set going during the reign of Athelstan (which
extended from 925 to his death in 941, A. D.— Ed). We know
further that this king (Athelstan) received as a present from
Germany several running horses, evidently race horses. • • •
PItz Stephen, in his description of London, A. D. 1154, says:



Smithfield is a field where every Friday there is a celebrated
rendezvous of fine horses brought hither to be sold. He then
speaks of racing and adds that here it was first known in
England. The strong and fleet apparently were only allowed
to contend, as the common horses were ordered out of the
way, apparently for the purpose of clearing the course.

I presume they raced in those days for honor and the jockey
rode for applause, as no mention is made for stipulated fees
or gratuities to the riders. But soon after the twelfth century
racing was more common, and then they ran for stakes —
forty pounds of "redy goldie." The distance is stated three
miles, and the scene in the Metropolis transferred from
Smithfield to Hyde Park.

It is evident from the above that horse racing for
money has been practiced for at least eight hundred
years, and that horses have been carefully bred there for
racing purposes even longer than that. No records
were kept, and no regular accounts preserved, showing
how the horses finished, or the time they made, for
nearly six hundred years, or until about 1721. It mat-
ters little to practical breeders of the present day where
the horses that first appeared in England originated,
or the date that they first became established there. It
is a matter of history that when the noted Roman war-
rior, Julius Caesar, invaded that country about 54
years before the Christian era, horses strong enough
for cavalry purposes were quite numerous there, and
the quality was doubtless improved about that time by
crossing with the horses taken there by the Roman
army, and others sent there shortly afterwards by
Julius Caesar.

William Day remarks in his work quoted above that
at the beginning of the Christian era the horses of
that country were already mixed in blood with the



breed of four different nations, including Turks and
Arabians. The running horses from Germany, men-
tioned above, added another cross, which doubtless im-
proved the speed and racing qualities of the horse stock
of that country, for one equine historian has remarked
that: "The English horses after this appear to have
been prized on the continent." Several of the rulers of
England at different periods were evidently consid-
erably interested in turf sports and the improvement
of horse stock. It is stated that Edward III., who
occupied the throne from 1327 to 1377, imported fifty
Spanish horses during his reign. During the reign
of Henry VIII., who occupied the throne from 1510 to
1547, by an act of Parliament, no "stallions above the
age of two years not being fifteen hands high were
permitted to be put on any forest, chase, moor, heath,
common or waste in 26 counties of England, and the
whole of North Wales," the object being to increase
the size, usefulness and value of the horse stock in his

James I., who reigned in England from 1603 to 1625,
is given the distinction, by English turf writers, of
being the first to try the experiment of introducing an
Arabian stallion into England for the purpose of im-
proving the horse stock. This horse was bought from
an Arabian merchant named Markham, and was known
as Markham's Arabian. It is generally conceded by
equine historians that Markham's Arabian was a fail-
ure, both as a turf performer and a progenitor of such,
the effect of which was to create quite a strong preju-
dice against the Arabians.

Place's White Turk, that was taken to England not



long after Markham's Arabian, evidently proved quite
a valuable factor in the improvement of horse stock.
His name is found in the pedigrees of several animals
that became noted either as performers or as pro-
genitors of performers. James Rice, author of "His-
tory of the British Turf," says that at the time of the
reign of James I., "We had in England a native breed
of horses, stout but slow, of sterling merit, and of great
powers of endurance — great 'goodness,' as capacity of
staying was then termed; and these animals are the

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Online LibrarySimon W. ParlinThe American trotter; a treatise on his origin, history and development → online text (page 1 of 22)