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AT URBANA CHAMPAIGN
ilLlNOlS HISTORICAL SURVEY
'^"^ ^ l"^ -^Mr \^^
Mighty Horse Market
Leroy Marsh Sales Barn
Memories of A Horseman
1843 — 1929
Charlie Plank and Emil
Main Street in 1880
Lcroy Marsli atid His Sales Barn
It yuu walk down Mam Strcol and slo}) any man who was a boy in
Galesburg at tlie turn of the century and say to liim "Do you remember
the Horse and Mule barn?" his eyes will li^ht up and lie will say. "I
should say so. 1 used to \A'Ay hookey from school to watch them ex-
ercise those horses." Or "I used to loiter around the barn watching Mr.
Marsh, waitinii' for him to take a dime out of the ear of one of the boys
hanjiiuii around, oi- ])eihaps if it was hot weather throw a handful of
climes in fhe street for the barefooted, overalled boys to scramble for.
Sometimes in the hot dusty weather he would pick up the hose and
squirt th(> boys when they scrambled. He always sat in front of the barn
with his cane which he used to point wdth or to poke a small boy with."
Or perhaps the answer would be. "I'll say I do." Mr. Marsh took me ilown-
town and bought me a pair of shoes because he said he was tired of seeing
me run around barefooted."
"It is a fine day for the race," Mr. Marsh would say. The new- boy
asked properly and excitedly. "What race?" "Why the human race."
And the admiring laugh burst out. It was understood by all his friends
and acciuaintances that this joke was always funny. Or perhaps he
might greet you with "Better keep your eyes open today." "Why?" "Why,
so that you can see."
Or perhaps the talk will turn to Cliarlie Plank, the great auction-
eer, and his generosity to his friends. One boy remembers how because
he was an orphan Charlie w^ould give him oOc or $1.00 and he would
spend part of it for dinner at Mrs. Swanson's restaurant next to the
barn, feeling his 9 year old importance to be mingling with the other
Charlie Plank had come to Galesburg from Gloversville, N.Y., with
a load of horses to sell in VMl. On auction day he found Mr. Marsh
worried — no auctioneer. Charlie said, "I don't know too much about it.
Imt I think I could sell for you." Mr. Marsh said, "Go ahead," and when
Chailie left town that day he went with a promise to come back the
next week to take the job of auctioneei-. His services as an auctioneer
were so much in demand that he traveled a circuit between Galesburg.
Chicago and St. Louis selling on a set day of the week at each place.
^Ir. Plank was never married but he too was fond of small boys and
very good to them. In 1918 he adopted Emil, a 15 year old Swedish lad
who had come to this country alone, and was a devoted father to him.
SoPHRONiA Alden Marsh — 1812 - 1858
Alta Marsh Phillips
Alden Maush — 1870 - 1S96
Philena Bell ]\Iarsh
Lcruy Marsh was born in 1843 on a farm just south of tlie phice
where Lake Bracken now is, the farm his father had settled on in 1834.
There he was born and there he brought his bride, Philena Bell, and there
their two children, Alden and Alta, later Mrs. Fred Phillips, were born.
When he moved to Galesburg about 1880, he kept the farm, until the
jianic of 1S9() forced him to dispose of it as well as his other assets.
Leroy could remember a time, when, as a small bo3\ he saw a great
camp of Indians within a quarter mile of the Marsh home, seven hund-
rerl of tliem being moved west by the govornmont. He coulfl remember.
as a boy of fifteen, coming to Galesburg foi' the great political meeting.
He remembered the great crowd, mostly coming by ]unil)er wagon or
horseback, a few in wagons drawn by the farm oxen, oxen which the
farmers used for breaking the prairie and for plowing.
He remembered \hv debaters, the short, proud, fiery Douglas, the
lanky, (juiet Lincoln, wlio took time to talk fo little boys along the pa-
rade route. When he shook hands witli Leroy. he gave him a quarter. "1
wish I had kept it," said Leroy, fifty years later.
As a young man lie was interested in horses and he.tian tradinji as
a boy. By 1861 he had a small market tor the local trade on the home
place. A good farm horse could be bought for $2o.(K) to $5(3.00 per
head. Hut with the outbreak of the Civil War. the govermnent sent
men out to buy horses for the cavalry and for th(> artillery and the
prices began to go up imtil they were better than $100. ()(J pvr head. The
war depleted the stock of draft horses to such an extent that after the
w'ar prices skyrocketed to $200.00 per head and more. Since Mr. Marsh
was a good judge of horses and a shrewd l)uyer. his business kept ex-
panding imtil he decided to leave the farm and move to a more cent-
ral location where the transportation was good and there were plenty
of accomodations for tlu l)uyers. In 1877 he moved to (lalesburg where
his Galesburg sales barn was located at Cherry and Waters Streets.
It was a wooden structure which he had moved from the old fair
grounds where it had been used as a floral hall. At this time all rhe
horses which were not ridden or let] in from the country were shipped
by the Burlington Kailroad and led from the stockyards in strings of 8
or more to the sales barn where they were stabled, shod and cared for
until the sales day. They were walked and trotted up and down on
Waters Street daily to keep them in top sha])e for the sale. The men
who led the horses from the yards rode lead ponies. Each one would lead
several head, tied tail to halter, one behind the other. That is one of the
sights that the small boys, now old m(Mi. remember.
In 1887 the Santa Fe railroad came through C lalesburg and many of
the horses were shipped by Santa Fe thereafter. They were run up the
steep loading chute into the cars, until finally a special loading platform
was built. After that, it was easier to handle them.
In the early days of the sale barn, the horses were sold on Waters
Street. ,Tim O'Connor was the auctioneer, Ed Lynch the ringmaster. An
old lumber wagon was used for a platform and everyone passing by
would pause to see how the bidding was going. After the big fire of
1912 the same platform w^as used in the street again until the new^ barn
The greatest market was in good sturdy work horses. Every farm-
er wanted the best he could afford, and was apt to spend more money
decorating his horse than his wife. One woman at 7"> l)ought herself
the set of dishes she had always wanted but never had because dishes
were an extravagance though the best harness and the best horses were
none too good for the men in the family.
Poor old worn out plugs were sold for slaughter. In those days dogs
had table scraps and some farmers fed horse meat to their hogs. So for
$5.00 or $10.00 the farmer acquired the poor old horse, had him slaugh-
tered, sold the hide and put the carcass in the hog lot where it was
eaten, bones and all.
Many remeniber the old barn. First, next to Waters Street was the
office, then the stables, then the sales ring, the blacksmith's shop, the
restaurant. Ahnost always buyers or sellers wouifl be loitering around
the office discussing- last Saturday's sale or speculating on next Satur-
day's sale. Sometimes an unsuspecting buyer would join the group sit-
ting around gossiping with their chairs tipped back anrl their feet on
any handy table or desk, and get the trick chair, which had rollers on the
back legs so that when that man tipped back he was in for a surprise.
They remember the high board fence which enclosed the land l^ack
of the barn to Broad Street. They remember that there were often west-
ern horses there, familiarly known as coyotes. Sometimes some of the
men would put on a show on Suiulays. kind of a rcdeo, with roping and
trick riding. On a trip West a few years ago seme Galesburg ])eople ran
into a couple of old cowboys who used to bring those "coyotes" to Gales-
burg. In the same enclosure Bill Corn, a tall, powerfully built negro,
could be seen breaking horses, perhaps a pair that William Coffman had
raised on his farm in Maquon Township, and sold to the Galesburg fire
Chester Little and his son, Edgar, went to work for the barn about
1913. Mrs. Little remembers how kind the men at the barn were to
them after her husband's death a few years later. They took uj) a purse
as was customary in cases like this. One shipper who had always wanted
Chester to take care of his horses insisted that he owed him money and
sent her a generous check. Edgar remembers Joe Hayes, Jed Pratt, Tom
Hilton, Ed Reed. Glen Sharp and John Broderick. foreman while he
was working at the barn.
Looking North From The Square
Lots of people reincinlKM- old John, tlic tiy-hoi-sc. wlio used to be
hitched with a horse about to be tried out. Often a seller had a hoi'se
who needed an old hand to steady him down, and many a spirited
young- animal was sold hitched in doul)le harness with John. There liad
been an earlier John, a leatl horse, who knew his way from the stable to
the stock yards so well that he hardly needed a rider and couldn't be
kept tied because he could untie any knot. One day lie untied himself
and iiot into some green corn and foundered in spite of tiie frantic ef-
forts of All'. -Marsh and the stable men to save him.
For over 30 years Ernest l^mhorst 1(m1 t!i(> horses in the sales ring,
but if you go down in the stock yards to look for him don't ask for
Ernest, ask for Ky, because that is how he has always been known, (".leu
Sharp also works there. Many a horse he led IVoni the stock yards to
the barn and many a brass check he received, a check which would be
redeemed for 50c on ])ayday. After the Santa Fe came througli in 1^^7
the ])icture changed somewhat and many of llu^ horses wei'e lun up
loading chutes to the cars in tiie shipping sheds between CluMiy and
Prairie Streets on Waters Street.
There was a tall, colored man named Sherrard Barber who dnn-e
the horses to the exercise cart, testing their wind. Up and down Waters
Street Barl)er would trot and gallop them, little boys watching athniring-
ly. xVcross the street, at a safe distance, the girls watched, too. knowing
that over there it was a man's world.
For a while Mr. Marsh owned a farm on Xoith Seminary Street,
just opposite the place where the Reseai-ch Hospital is now. Some of
the men remember going out there to help put uj) hay which was al-
ways hauled to the barn. The hayracks were driven out in front of the
barn on Cherry Street, the hay loader lifted t'he hay uj) to the great
loft above the stables and there it was ready to throw down into the
mangers. In the old barn the planks had shrunk so that there were wide
cracks between the boards. Mr. Marsh and Mr. Gatton. the drujijiist,
used to match coins by throwin<>; dollars up high in the air and catch-
ing them. Once in a while one of the dollars they threw would go up be-
tween the cracks so naturally the loft was the favorite hiding place for
small boys. With the new barn that sport was over.
Once tw^o Galesburg buyers. Sprin-
ger and Willard. went to France to
buy a load of Percherons and Bel-
gians. When they I'eturned from Le-
Havre they brought George Leroy
with them to help them with the
horses. George had a hard time learn-
ing the English language and many
tricks were played on him. When he \vent to work at Marsh's barn, if
he wanted to know how to say "Good Morning", one of the jokers would
probably teach him to say ''Go To Hell". However, he had a natural
charm and dignity and became very popular with his fellow workers and
the visiting horsemen. "He was a brilliant young man with a lot of
personality. You might say he was dynamic", says Fred Dunbar. Every-
one called him Frenchy. In 1907 J.R. Justice went on a buying tri]) to
France and took Frenchy with hhn to help him so he had a good visit
wiih his family. Frenchy made more money in tips than wages. He
loved to dress the horses up with rosettes and specially braided bi'idles
of different colors, and to curry their tails and manes so that they were
shining. The sellers realized that this helped their sales and they w(Me
generous in their tipping. Frenchy 's boy, Oscar, used to sell j^opcorn.
chewing gum and cigars to the horsemen, and made quite a good thing
of it. Ben Swanson, the foreman of the barn, lived in the first house
south and Mrs. Swanson decided to open a restaurant. She was a won-
derful cook and it became a popular place to eat. So popidar that the
men took to dropping in and buying their cigars in there so Oscai's bus-
Oscar L(M'()y was wtji-kiiiii in tlie Ijotfliiiji ])laiil next lo the haiii
when one tlay lie noticed smoke coiniiij>; from ihe liijih lol't. His first
thoiijiht was of his father. "Pa! Pa!" he called. "Fiie! Fire!" Frenchy
came rumiiii^ and tried to ii:et in and save as many horses as he could.
Some of them he hrouuht out and tied to telegraph j)()les. hut many of
t'hem broke away and piisIkmI hack into ilie fire as jjanickcd liorses will
do. One Oalesburti woman. wIkmi askeil what she remembered about
the barn, said "T will ncxcr foruct the screaminji' of these horses till my
dyin,ii; day." Oscar was on the roof of the bottlinji; buildinj;- tryinii to
wet if down with the hosc^ to keep fhe fii'e from spreadinji when Dr. Wil-
liam O'Keilly Bi'adley (the mayor and the family doctor) cam(> i)y.
"Oscar" he yelled. "Get down. C^uit wastinii; water. We need all our water
pressure for the fire''.
After the fire the barn was rebuilt and made as nearly firei)r()of
as possible. The new buildiuiis were sanitary brick structures. The hard-
wood double stables were whitewashed every week and contimiously dis-
infected to avoid disease.
The busmess continued to expand. The war in lunope increased
the demand for horses to such an extent that l)usiness boomed, liven
after the war it held up amazin<j;ly well. Just before he retired, Mr.
^laish <;ave an interview to a reporter in which lie said, "While auto-
jnobiles and motor trucks have displaced horses to some extent, the de-
mand is still sood and healthy and nothinji; will entirely fill the ])lace
of ilic horse. Since the European war has taken so many horses out of
this country the business of horse production offers unusually ^ood
opportunities (o the man who succeeds in meetinji market demands
successfully and it would a]i))eai" to be s^od judjiuient on the ])art of
the farmers to raise more horses especially of the better classes."
In 1920 Leroy Marsh was seriously hint by a i unaway motorcycle
and his health bejian to fail. So he sold out the business to the Gales-
burg Horse and Mule Gompany. Death came to him in l\V2\) at the
age of 86. Few men who have lived in Galesburg are remembered so af-
fectionately by so many.
Fred Dunbar and his favorite horse. Baby Doll
In 1895 a boy named Fred Dunbar came from the country lo work
for ^Ii'. Marsli. When he was 7 years of age, his mother, who had l)oen
deserted by his father, left Illinois in a covered wajioii with iiim and his
three liitle sisters. They went to Nebraska. Th(> waiioii was always
parked by the side of the house or in the orchard. Mrs. i)uiil)ar sup-
ported her four little children by family washin<i;. Says Fred. "There was
no law in those days to compel children to j>o to school, so I talked her
out of it until I was \'.]. I stai'tcd in the first readei'. Six wcM'ks lalei-. l)ack
into the covered wa.non and iiit'o the State of Kansas. wIumh^ ni\' nu)ther
had relatives. I never finished the first reader". In ISO'J tlu>y came back
to Galesburg and a few years later Fred went to wovk for .Mr. JNlarsh
for 50c per day.
Fred has been described by those who worke<l with him as a fire-
cracker. His memory of those days is as fresh as ev(M- so that the rest
of the storv had bet'ter be in his words.
Memories of u4 Horseiiiaii
Leroy Marsh was horn in 1S43 in the vioinity of Knoxvillc Illinois —
he died in 1920. In ISlil. by chance he met an army sergeant, who was
buying horses ior the Union Army in Abingdon, Illinois. Mr. Marsh
helped him lo buy 18 horses and then Mr. Marsh, with some help, led
them to Peoiia, Illinois, where they were shipped by boat. He continued
helping the U.S. Government until the war was over.
In 1872 he conceived the idea of starting a weekly Horse Market,
the first one in the United States. The National Stock Yards in East St.
Louis was anxious to have him come there. Chicago Union Stock Yards
was mterested, but Mr. Marsh's choice was Galesburg, and he located
on the southwest corner of Cherry and Waters Streets. For his office he
purchased the floral hall from the Race Track, which had gone out of
business that was located east of where the Cottage Hospital is now.
His business grew fast and by 1895 he was receiving 15 carloads of horses
per week. At that time Mr. Marsh ran into financial trouble through a
partner who like many others at the time was trying to get rich by
speculating on the grain exchange. The next year in 1896 we had that
terrible depression, which completely put him out of business and he
was financially broke. I was 21 years old at the time and was working
for Mr. Marsh. For months he walked the street a broken-hearted man.
One morning while he and I were standing on the sidewalk at the corner
a man drove uj) with his horse and buggy. He was Judge Alfred Craig,
of the Bank (jf Galesburg, and he said, "Leroy what are you doing?" Mr.
^larsh replied, "I am not doing anything." Mi'. Craig replied, "Yt)u're
too valuable a man not to be doing anything — here's a check book." The
same day Captain James L. Burkhalter. President of the Farmers k.
Mechanics Bank, came down and said to Mr. Marsh. "You should buy
this corner back — it can be bought for S4000.00" and Mr. Marsh saicl,
"I haven't got any money." Mr. Burkhalter said, "Come up to the bank
tomorrow and we will let you have it". So you see only for the efforts
of these two men and these two banks. Galesburg would never have had
her "mighty horse market". From 189(5 to 1920 ]\Ir. Marsh's business
grew rapidly, because of his honest icpulation and his horsemanship
it grew fast. As soon as the word spread across the nation that Mi-. Marsh
was back in business the horses came from everywhere in the central
west, and the smaller dealers at Richmond, Mrginia; Philadeli)hia, P(Min-
sylvania; Boston. Mass.; New York City; Syracuse and Buffalo de-
penderi on Mr. Marsh for their weekly supi)ly. Mr. Marsh was known
in every state in the union, as well as England. Germany and France.
In one auction day in 1017 there were 1027 horses sold at Mr. Marsh's
barn. By this time he had expanded his location west to Broad Street.
By 1910, Mr. Marsh was receiving 25 carloads of horses a week and
the same number of 25 cars would be shipped out — making a total car-
load business for the two railroads of 50 cars per week. P^'ive hundred
horses per week had to have 500 new halters. Each horse had to have
two shoes on his front feet, which made a total of 1,000 horse shoes
per week. From 7 to 10 blacksmiths were busy the week around making
the shoes. Five hundred horses per week consumed about all the hay
and straw raised in the adjacent counties. Mr. Marsh employed 25 reg-
ular men. and he always had 40 to 50 extra men for Friday and Satur-
day. The hotels and restaurants of Galesburg looked forward to those
weekly sales. Every sale was equal to the present day conventions. On
some occasions the horses had to move fast. By ordering 14 express cars
which hekl 28 horses each, the Burlington Railroad would give him a
special train with a sleeper attached for the horsemen's convenience.
Their first stop after leaving Galesburg would be Buffalo. New York —
their next stop would be their final destination. By ordering 16 freight cars
holding 20 horses each, the Santa Fe would give them a special: first
stop. Buffalo, New York — second stop their destination. The horse and
mule business was not a staple article. It was a case of good judgment
and a judge of the markets. If a buyer coming in sold his horses for less
than he gave, he was soon out of business. At the peak time of the year,
when horses were in demand, with their famous auctioneer, Mr. Charlie
Plank, they would sell one horse per minute. The hor.se sale ran into a
great volume of money. The yearly sales sometimes averaged a gross
between 3 and 4 million dollars.
From 1895 to 1900 all horses that arrived over the Biudington had
to be led from where the Burlington stockyards is now down to Gherry
and Waters Streets. Most trains arriving in here at night somethnes
kept 8 or 10 men busy leading the horses all night. Then when they were
.sold they had to be led back out there, that is if they went over the
(\B.cV:Q. About 1905 the Burlington Railroad decided to help Mr. Marsh
out. They buill him a private loading and unloading chute at the ex-
treme end of South Glierry Street, and tiiat made a shorter distance. The
Santa Fe Railroad built him a private loading and unloading chute on
the northeast corner of Gherry and Waters Streets. In leading these
horses from the G.B.ttQ. stockyards to Mr. IMarsh's barn, each man led
four horses and for that he got 50c for each lead and the same was paid
for leachng them back to the stockyards after the sale. But the men who
did the leading of the horses and the regular men that worked around
Mr. Marsh's horse barn did not depend on that exactly for their living.
It was the habit of the seller and the buyer to tip these men that they
Santa Fe Depot — 1881
depended on. If a man shipped in a load whoever took care of him would
get a tip of $5.00 from the seller and with some exceptions would get
a $5.00 tip from the man who bought them per car. The horsemen, both
coming in and going out, were good tippers, and the people who lal)ored
there knew it. That made help around the barn plentiful.
A horse ring is usually called an auction ring. It is always inside of
the larger building where horses are kept, so as to protect the buyer and
seller winter and summer from the weather. An auction ring is sinii)ly
a space where horses are sold. They usually average in size about 80 feet
square. On one side of the ring there is what is called an auction block
built up high where the auctioneer can look all over the horses and over
the crowd. They usually have bleachers where 100 to 200 people can sit
but they are never buyers. The buyers who buy the horses come down
close to where they can hear how the horses are being sold. At the li'jhl
of the auctioneer are always t*wo bookkeepers. One marks down \\\c
price and who bouglit the horse. The other one makes notations as to
how the horse is being sold or represented. Now if tlie horse is correctly
represented the man who buys him is supposed to kwp him. But if lie
finds something on him which was not mentioned in the ring, tlieii he
has the right to reject him, and the horse comes back to be resold. Now
the ringmaster, better known as ringman, has the responsibility to see
that this does not hapi)en. In case of any dispute at the time of the sale,
the rinjiinan is supposed to look at his age. look him over and tell the
bookkeeper just how he is to be sold, regardless of the man that owns him
who is up in the box who would rather have his horse sold with as little
blemishes as possible. There is a lot of work to being a ringman. There is
a lot of advantages too. In the sale of 400 to 500 horses a week, he gets
the benefit of learning more about horses, and when he goes to the
country he is better prepared to spend his own money in the horse bus-
iness. When a horse is sold and then has to come back and be resold, it
is the ringman's job to tell why he is back, what the trouble was. be
sure that the bookkeeper this time gets it down and the horse is sold on
his merits and will not be back again. In all horse and mule markets the
ringman plays a very hnportant part. It is up to him to please the sel-
ler and the buyer. All arguments of soundness and the way the horse
was being sold is up to him in the ring. And while horses were being
sold, perhaps at the rate of one per minute, he had to work fast in order
to please them all.
Xow as to the specifications and the qualifications of the different
kinds of horses. Yes. it was a big business. In 1912 U.S. Census showed
tliat there were 40 million horses and mules in the Ignited States. Each
farmer kept an average of 7 work horses. He raised some colts to re-
place them when they got old or if he should happen to sell them to a
horse buyer. In 1914 Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany tried to conquer the
world and World War I started. All equipment had to be drawn by
horses or mules and the buyers came here from England, France, Italy
and Belgium, and they bought all the horses at the different markets in
the United States that filled their specifications. The horse business
was conducted by classifications. During World War I the English paid
$18'). 00 each for horses to pull cannons. Those horses were known by
the horsemen as English gunners. The French bought a different type of
horse and paid $165.00 each. They were classified as French gunners.
The Italians paid $150.00 each and their type was known as Italian
gunners and the Belgians likewise. It was in those palmy days that Mr.
Leroy Marsh, in 1917, sold 1027 horses at his mighty Galesburg Horse
sale. Xow horses are sometimes born with defects, such as ringbone,
sidebone. spasms, curbs and jacks or mooneyed. A mooneyed horse is
the way that the horsemen described infected eyes. When the moon
is out his eyes are good. In the dark of the moon they cloud over and
sooner or later they do not open and the horse goes blind. Other horses
have defects from injuries. Maybe when they are 2 years. 3 years, 4 years
or after he starts to work. Now the country horse buyer has to know
those blemishes and if he buys and does not buy accordingly, when he
gets to market he will lose money. But the most of them are familiar
with the blemishes, but it seems that some of those buyers have a failing
memory. When they get to market where they are selling one horse per
minute they forget or they don't care and they call ''five years old and
sound". They are only wasting their time. The buyer has one hour at
noon to look over his horse and if he has been misrepresented he is re-
jected and the next buyer is more careful.
Xow about the breed of these different horses. Well, it goes away
back to the mustangs in Texas. But the English were the first people to
export horses to America and they were the Shire horses. A lot of hair
on their legs, a strip down their face and we Americans didn't know any
different. Later over came the Clydesdale from Scotland. They were
hairy legged, too, but they had white legs and a strip down their face;
pretty in the show ring at night, but neither of them were durable. But
about 1912 the Belgians started to export their best horses to America
for breeding purposes. They were a wonderful horse. In color they were
always strawberry roans, blue roans or sorrel with white manes and
tails. The American people were very fond of them. But after World
War I our boys came home. They had heard about the tractor, the iron
horse. They could plow their fields fast, drive in in the evening, step off
the tractor and walk into the house for dinner. With horses they would
have a 5 horse hitch to harness and unharness, to feed, and to water.
The country was very prosperous after World War I and the people de-
cided that they would liave tractors and trucks.
Now to give you an idea of the extent of the horse business in its palmy
days around the turn of the century. The city of New York worked
1800 horses daily to pull its street cars. Before the days of artificial ice,
when the ice had to be hauled from the rivers or the lakes and put in
storage bins and covered with tanbark, the Knickerbocker Ice Comjmny
with headquarters in Boston, branch offices in New York City. Phila-
delphia, Cincinnati, and Newark, New Jersey, worked 10,000 horses.
They bought 2000 horses every year for replacements. They were l^ought
in Galesburg. These horses were called ice horses. Now I remember once
when a large coal company in Pennsylvania used horses under the ground
to pull their coal to the shaft. One company had 800 horses under the
ground and had their stables down there. Their horses would woigli as
much as 1800 lbs. They had to be low-headed and strong. Once a year
they brought them up for a vacation for two weeks. But the light af-
fected their eyes and when taken back down those deep shafts so many
of them went blind that they discontinued and never brouglit them up
any more except in case of death. Those horses were called miners. Now-
just stop to think of all the fire equipment in the United States being
drawn by horses. They had to be a long-legged horse with liigh spiiif.
They were called fire horses. Now in all the big cities at that time they
had the mounted police. I remember when ( 'hicago luid 2()()() mounted
police. Those horses were called police horses. Now up as late as 1920
the large cities in the United States all pulled their street sweeping
Galesburg Fire Department
eqiii]:)ment with horses. I remember when Chicago owned 4000 horses
that they used for sweeping the streets. Those horses were called sweep-
ers. The large dairy farms in the big cities used lots of horses. I remem-
ber when a big dairy in Chicago would buy nothing but a l)lack horse
and rhey worked 800 every day delivering milk. They were called milk
ihorses. Now, as funny as this may seem, in my day there was a horse
called the celery horse. There was a large colony of Finlanders in Michi-
gan that raised nothing but celery and when they wanted horses we
called them celery horses. Now again there is the apple horse. The large
apple raisers in the State of New York used to pull their equipment
under the trees to spray the trees. They had to be low-headed and
small and they were known as apple horses. Now up in tlie rugged tim-
ber of the State of Maine and Wisconsin where the stumps are thick
and the trees are many, they had to have large horses that were stout in
every way and we called them log horses. Now up in the State of Maine
there is one county 400 miles long and 25 miles wide. It is known as
Rustic County. They grow nothing but potatoes, and the rocks which
are usually the size of potatoes hold the moisture for the potatoes and
that is why there are no eyes in the potatoes from the State of ]\Iaine.
You can ])eel them with your hands like you would an apple. They
were great buyers of good horses. And the horseman said, "That is a
pair of i)otato horses." Now the buyer that goes to the country should
know all of this in order to buy horses that qualify for these different
jobs; otherwise, he might come in — we will say — "like a fur coat in the
spring of the year".
Telling the age of horses. With all due respect to veterinarians or
horse doctors as they used to be called. I have never met one yet that
could tell the age of a horse. It must be that they don't teach that in
veterinary colleges; but, however, it is very important. Because, if you
are selling a horse to be 8 years old at auction and the man who buys
him looks in his mouth and finds him to be 9 or 10. he just won't keep
him. Now when a horse is born he has 16 baby teeth. 8 above and 8
below. That floesn't include his jaw te(>lh or giindcis, as they are ofl(Mi
called. When ihc horse is 2 years old hv still has tlie 1() baby teeth. S
above and 8 below. A short tiin(> before his third birthday, he will shcMJ
2 teeth above and 2 below, and 4 horse teeth a])i)eai-. Tiien the buyer
knows he is 3 years old. .lust before his 4lli binliday. he sheds 4 more
baby teeth. 2 above and 2 below, and then the bu\-ei- knows he is 4 years
old. .Ills! b(4"ore his n\h })irthday hv sheds 4 iwovc baby lecnli, 2 above
and 2 below. Then the buycn- knows he is ') y(>ai's old. And from then on
all teeth have what is called a little cuj), which is a black streak in \hv
loj) of the tooth. At (i years old, all cups are jierfect. At 7 years old the
cup leaves the 2 cenlcr Icctti above and 2 center teeth below. At S years
old all cups begin 1o fade away. At i) years old ho onl\- has a cup in each
corner tooth. Ai 10 years old he has no cups left, and is called smooth
mouthed. Then aftei- that h(^ isn't worth so inuch as the average horse only
lives lO hv 12 years old. Now this ai)i)lies io woik horses only. Saddle
hoi'ses, show horses and i)oiiies live lonj2;er because they are l^etter fed and
have better care and don't work so much. Now this does not apply to
horses raised in Montana, Wyoniinji, Nebraska. Kansas, Colorado or
Oklahoma wIumv there is sand in the e;rass which deteriorates their teeth.
The mouth of those horses always shows that' they are 1 to 2 years older
than they really are. It seems as if this way of knowing was worked out
by the older horsemen and was handed down to the younger buyers
which kept on handing it down. If is something that you don't learn
The word ''horse-trader" was always offensive to the iiorsemen. In
other words, they considered it a phony. To give you an idea of what
a horse-trader is, they originated in England and moved to the United
States. The Egyptians followed it for awhile then it spread into a big-
ger business. Before the roads were concrete, byroads were gravel, there
was plenty of grazing. The horse-traders lived in their covered wagons
and they started out with 4 or 5 phony horses. We often callerl them
counterfeits. They camped along the road, always near a farm house.
►Sometimes a farmer has a no-good horse that he can't sell, even to a
horse buyer. So he looks at the horse-trader's horses and decides that one
of them is surely better then the one that he has got. So he says to the
horse-trader "How will you trade?" Well, the real horse-trader lives on
boot money. So he says, 'T will take $10.00 to boot." So the farmer
wants to get rid of his no-good horse so he trades and gives $10.00 to
boot. And the horse-trader moves on. Sooner or later the farmer will find
out that the horse he got was not as good as the one he traded. So
really that is w^hat a horse-trader consists of. I have been introduced to
some very fine people and when they learned my business, they said, "Oh,
you are a horse-trader." Then you have to explain the difference.
I am sometimes asked how one becomes a horse })uyer. It is some-
thnes simple. I started without money with the backing of Leroy Marsh.
My first experience was — one day he signed a blank check and took me
to the T) o'clock train and told me to get off at Rio. Illinois, to see a Mr.
iMooney Almgreen — he had a horse for sale. He told me that Mr. Aim-
green wanted .l!;l25.00 for his horse, and for me to stay all night with him,
get off as much as I could and ride the horse back the next day. The
Ahngreen family were outstanding people — very nice in every way. So
I watched him milk his cows, his wife had a wonderful dinner and he
put nje in a big feather bed for the night. He. knowing that I did not
have any money, asked me how I was going to pay for the horse. Then
I made the mistake of my life — I showed him ]\Ir. Marsh's check already
signed. Then I told him I could not give him more than $115.00 and
he said, "No, no." Then I offered him $120.00 and he said. "No". Then
he said, "All you got to do is fill r)ut the check, it is already signed." So
fill it out I did, and that is where I met my Waterloo. It was Friday
morning and I took the entire day leading the horse 12 miles. I watered
him every 20 minutes that night and curried him often. The next day
was the sale — I led him in — I held up his head — and it is ringing in my
ears yet today — I heard the auctioneer say "$117.50. Sold to Ed Lynch."
Then I knew I would have to go back to work in the barn for $8.00 per
week. The next day Air. Marsh said. "Your horse lost $7.50, plus $2.00
feed, $1.50 for shoes and $.40 for a new halter. Half of that is your loss."
And I said. "Well. I will work it out." So he let me work one week.
The next week Mr. Alarsh signed five checks and sent me to Ma-
comb, Illinois. I wont down on a Sunday evening. He gave me the
jiame of a man down there who would help me. I contacted the man
on a Monday morning. And after riding with him all day Alonday I
found out that he was a disreputable, phony horse trader, who had
been cheating the farmers around that community with counterfeit
horses for many years. But I noticed that we were not welcome, even
in the farmers' barn yard. He had something mean to say about e\'ery
farmer as we were leaving. When night came I didn't owe him anything
because I was to give him $1.00 per horse and I hadn't bought any. I
told him I didn't need him the next day. In those days livery staljles
were like garages are today. Some good^ — some bad. But as I walked
around the town that evening. I walked into the Lee Rexroat livery
barn. I could see that Air. Rexroat was a distinguished citizen. I spoke
to him about going to the country the next day. and he said hc' could go.
So on Tuesday morning we started out. The atmosphere was different.
Every farmer seemed happy to meet him. And when he introduced me,
then I knew I was in good company. We bought three horses that day
and filled out three checks. The next day being Wednesday, we bought
two horses and that consumed all my checks. I ordered each horse de-
livered Thursday morning to Air. Rexroat 's barn in Alacomb. The next
morning early I went to the Burlington Railroad freight house to see
what it was going to cost to get my five horses to Galesburg. I was sur-
prised to know the price would be $35.00. I just coul(hrt see where I
could get that much money above what I gave. So the horses were all in
by noon, then I made the decision that I would lead them to Galesburg.
They were all nice big fat horses, none of (Ikmu broke to ride. So I jiifked
out a gentleman, tied one to his tail, another one lo the otiier's tail, an-
othei- one to the other's tail and the fourtli one to iiis tail. I borrowed
a bridle from Air. Rexroat. I had no saddle. Now you nnist remember it
takes a fa.st horse to walk four miles per hour. And wiicn 1 mounted my
horse, well, he did nothing vicious, he just didn't care to walk fast with
me on his back. So I leaped to the ground and by leading he came right
along. This was the year 1902 and I was 27 years old. didn't mind a
little walk. It is 15 miles from Alacomb to Bushnell. 1 got there just
at dark. I had taken thoiii to Mr. .loliii Roach's livery burn. He was an
outstaiidiiisi citizen and came np every Saturday to the Clalesbur^ sale
and l)()u,iiiit small mules and small horses for the St. Louis market. I
asked him if I could keep my horses all night and he said "Yes". So I
])ul them in his barn, watered them, bedded them down and he helped
me feed them. Then I went across to a little restaurant and f2;ot a lunch.
About 8 o'clock that' evenin<i I came back to his barn and he came there
to close it up for the niiiht. I told him that I would like to jiay for the
keep of my horses now because I would be leaving; early in the morninu".
"He said ''There will be no charjic Fred, and I will see you in (lales-
burg; Saturday, and we will wail and see if they make money". Then I
asked him if I could sleep on a lounge in his office and he said "Yes",
which I (hd. About 5 o'clock in the morning. I watered my horses, fed
them a little and tied them together again and started for Clalesburg,
But the 15 miles had put blisters on my heels and my feet were sore.
So I tried riding again. But that horse wouldn't walk fast enough so I
got off and walked. During the day I watered them several times but
didn't wait for any fliimer. About 7 in the evening, this was Friday. I ar-
rived in Galesburg. I bedded my horses down, fed them good and went
UD to my home where I lived on the corner of Monroe and Fremont.
Aftei" washing up and resting U]) T came right l)ack down to the barn
and stayed with them until midnight. There were several buyers in town,
mostly from Chicago. Men like Frank Hanley, Ed Lynch, Mark Shubert,
^Villie Xewgas and Pat Hunter. I showed them my horses the next
morning and to my surprise they didn't ask me what I wanted for them
and they didn't offer to buy any and that was very discouraging to me.
Nine o'clock came — time for the auction. There w^ere about 40 horses
ahead of me for the sale. The bidding to me seemed to be very slow.
So I pickerl out one horse that I was sure I had bought cheap and put
him first on the auction block. He w^as a nice seal brown horse, cost
S140.00. And I gave the man all he asked for him. But there was that
great auctioneer in the box. Charlie Plank. If \hvvv was a dull, slow
auction he never tipped his mitt. He looked over the crowd, h(> took the
bids here, there and everywhere and no one could tell whetlier he really
had them or not. And when my first horse arrived for sale, nnd I de-
cribed him ns being sound, Mr.' Plank said $150.00— -SKiO.OO— $ 165.00—
$175.00— $185.00— $190.00" and then looked down to me and said "do
you want him sold". I was shocked — I said "Yes". And he was sold for
$190.00. That gave me as much courage as anything that had ever iiap-
pened up t'o tliis time in the horse bu.siness corncerning me. And the next
four he just took them the same way and run away witli the l)idding,
confused the buyers and sold them. That night late. Mr. George Dimmit,
the head bookkeeper at that time, said he had my bill figured up and
after deducting the commission, feed, shoeing, new halters, he said "Your
horses made $81.00". Just then IMr. Marsh stepped in the office and he
said "Fred, you know I am your partner. T furnish the money". Mr.
Marsh said. "We will split the profit aiul no doubt some day you
will have a loss and 1 will lose one-half of it". I said "I don't intend to
have any losses". And he said "That is the way it will be". That continued
for a couple of years. Finally, I had saved about $700.00 of my own profit
and I had it deposited in the Second National Bank of Galesburg. where
the First National Bank is today. Mr. Pete Brown was the President. He
was the fathor of the late Curtis Brown of Galesburg. And he always
seemed to be interested in what T was doing. So at this time I sat down
and told him that my horses sometimes were making as much as $100.00
or 8200.00 per week and T didn't think the use of Mr. Marsh's money
was worth t'hat nnich. And he agreed witli me. \\v said "How much have
you got here on deposit?" and I told him about $700.00. And he said
"Fred, just check direct on us and we will take care of your checks until
after your horses are sold". And from tlicn on I dithi't have to tell Mr.
Mar.sh or anyone else what my horses cost, il was then none of their
business. And very soon I got to buying carload lots, which is IZO head.
And the Good Loi<l must have had his arm around my sli(>idd(>r U.v it
was more than 10 years before I had a load ihal lost more than $')0.00.
And I might say from that t'imc on. no competitor, no commission man,
ever pushed me around or slowetl me down.
Neak Wataga — 1885
TiiE JIav AIakket ("edak am) >i.\i.mo.\>
The Free Kindergarten stands here now
Til rejiard to mules, they were once said to be the cheapest power
on earth. They were used to descend into the Grand Canyon. They never
made a mistake with a inoimt on their back. If one foot shi)i)e(l off, they
pulled it back. With a horse, if he lost his step, he would fall over. Mules
seemed to have the instinct of nature. They would never drink too much
when they were hungry. They took <>;ood care of themselves. Yes, the
mother of a mide is a female horse. The father a mammoth jack, or-
iginated from SjDain. I am not familiar with the ancestry of the Spanish
jack. I have heard it said that they originated from the zebra and the
mountain burro. However, the mule carried that instinct.
The southern people fully depended on the mules and the negroes for
raising their crops; cotton, tobacco, peanuts and rice. But in 1931. 1982
and 1933, during the depression, the southern people were in financially
bad shape. Then in 1934, the Federal Government gave them a cash loan
on their cotton and they needed mules and had the money to pay for
them. I heard that the market was extremely good at Atlanta, Georgia.
Not having too much experience in nmles, I went down to Stronghurst,
Illinois, aud bought 20 head — a carload — and consigned them to Raggs-
dale, Labor and Wheil. Mr. Raggsdale's father had succeeded himself as
mayor of the City of Atlanta, which had a population then of 300,000.
So you see the background was good. I shipped the mules and they made
$500.00 to $600.00 more than I expected. And that set me going. The
next week I went over to Aledo, Illinois, and bought a load and shipped
them to the same people and they brought much more than I expected.
Then I knew for sure that I was a good mule buyer. So I put every man
in the middle West to buying mules for me. In a short time I had 200
head — that is 10 carloads. I shipped them to Atlanta, Georgia. I made
arrangements with my banker in Galesburg and he was carrying me for
about $15,000.00 of the money. I boarded a train at Galesburg for Chi-
cago, got on the Dixie Flyer. This was in depression days, not many
people traveling. The first two hours I sat in the observation car alone,
with a big black cigar, and I imagined that I was surely a big shot. Later
I proceeded to the dining car and there was another man besides my-
self having dinner. All the time I was figuring what a big shot I would
be when I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. The next evening I did arrive
and checked in at the Robert E. Fulton Hotel. There were the buyers
standing around in the lobby, southern plantation buyers, they seemed
to be sad. I edged around, introduced myself and they were telling me
about the terrible (luarantine. I said "What (juarantine?" They said, "If
you have any mules coming you will know about it." The state of Geor-
gia had quarantined all the nmles in Atlanta and those that were com-
ing in, because of a diphtheria which I had never heard al)out. I heard
an Alabama man say, "I don't buy no nudes here, I'm going home."
Everyone was talking about going home. The clerk at the desk said,
"Yes, they stopped the sales last week," and all of this I don't know
when I shipped my mules. Well. I must have been the man who started
the eoffeebreak, because every 15 or 20 minutes I got a cup of cof-
fee. I got a room and a bed and I couldn't stay in it. The next morning
I said, "How do I get out to the stockyards?" The clerk said. "The street-
car goes right by the door — it starts at 5 A.M." I said. "How far is it?"
He .^aid. "About 6 miles." I was sure out there at 5 a.m. Here came a
car with a big sign on the side. It said 'Niggers Only'. They don't let
me on. I waited for the next car— another big sign said 'Niggers Only'.
I don't get on. Third car saifi 'Whites Only' — and I did get on. I ar-
rived at the stock yards. No one around but the night watchman. I told
him who I was, how many mules I had and could he please tell me where
they were. He said "Brother, your mules are down in the morgue." I
said "What do you mean — 'down in the morgue'?" He said "Mules
died here last week like flies. They had to stop the auction." I said. "Could
you go with me and show me where my mules are?" He said, "In about
1") minutes." So down we went. Now they were feeding my mules cot-
ton seed meal, which is just like flour and when those mules stuck their
noses in it and that cotton seed meal went over their heads I really didn't
recognize my own mules. They seemed to have gotten smaller. Eight or
nine o'clock came, officials came out and said we couldn't do a thing
until the State lifted the quarantine. So the feed was $1.00 per day per
mule — $200.00 per day for me — 7 days, $1400.00 feed. Freight expenses
ran $400.00 per car — $4000.00 freight. I sure did have a lot to overcome.
But on the 8th day they held a conference, and the quarantine was lifted.
Southern buyers were skeptical on bidding on mules that had been ex-
posed. I really knew that I was ruined for life. They told me to go take
some niggers and get 100 of my mules. I said "Open the gate and let them
all go." I figured if they got down there they would have to sell them.
But Mr. I. N. Raggsdale. the mayor of the city, came out at once and
said he had a couple of nephews who he was financing on some planta-
tions down in Virginia. One of them wanted 40 mules and the other want-
ed 50 mules and he bought them all from me — which helped me out a
great deal. Now it was the longest week I ever had away from home. I
wired my wife that the mules were quarantined. That old Galesburg
banker got nervous. His name was Merle Cline of the First National
Bank and he called my wife to find out what was delaying me. She told
him the mules were (luarantined, but he thought she said that I was
quarantined. Se he continued to call for about three days to know about
my li(>alth. But finally I got them sold and they only lost $300.00. I was
completely worn out, must have looked terrible when I arrived home. In
fact, it must have been bad — my own dog tried to ))it'e ]n(\ The next
morning I take my little Whippet car. which my wife had been using,
and start for the bank. I got about 6 blocks and ran out of gas. As you
know, women driving other people's cars never buy gas. I walked 6
blocks and got a quart, it started and I finally reached the bank. Mi'.
Cline was glad to see me and he thought my health had broke and I told
him "No, it was the mules/' and I have never tried to be a big shot since
It was on Wednesday about 10:00 A.M. The previous Saturday they
had their usual run of horses. 450 to 500 head. They were all sold with
the exception of 4 larjic horses, which were owned by Mr. Fred Oliver,
who resided in Galesburg at that time. He bought the horses at Osceola,
Iowa and shipped them here. He did not sell them because he figured
they would bring more the next week. The fire started across the street
from the Santa Fe passenger station, on the Northwest corner of Waters
and Broad. To make matters worse, straw which was used to bed the
horses was very scarce in Knox County and adjacent counties. The week
before he had bought 3 carloads of baled pine shavings from a lumber
yard in Chicago for that ])urpose. They made very good bedding but
were very flannnable. They were stored on the second floor of that build-
ing. Mr. George Leroy. one of the faithful help of Mr. Marsh, who had
been with him for more than 30 years, was consigned to that part of the
building. That morning as he passed through the building from Cherry
Street, which is a block long, lie met a gentleman who tipped him $5.00
for his good service the week before. He put it in his jacket pocket, hung
his jacket on a nail and proceeded to take care of those 4 horses. Immedi-
ately he heard a crackhng upstairs. He saw smoke and he ran to the of-
fice. which was on Chorry Street one block away, and told the bookkeep-
er to turn in the alarm. Then he rushed back to where he had hung his
jacket, but the flames had destroyed it. It seems as if when the fire got
into those shavings it set up a heat draft which (juickly spread to the
Cherry Street offices. The entire structure one block long on Waters
Street was totally destroyed.
On a Monday morning previous to the fire, I left for Aledo in ]\Iercer
County, Illinois, to buy a carload of horses for the next sale. I was go-
ing through the country by horse and buggy and about 12 o'clock on
Wcchiesday I was 10 miles north of Aledo when a lady came out of a farm
home and said. "Are you Mr. Dunbar?'! said. "Yes." She said. "We have
just heard over the telephone that Mr. Marsh's barn has been destroyed
by fire." I immediately turned around and headed for Aledo. It takes the
average horse about 2 hours to go 10 miles. I had IS horses bought,
needed 2 more for a load, but decided al thai time that I had enough.
'On reaching Aledo. I immediately went to the li()t(>l and i)ut in a call
for Mr. Marsh, not knowing that I really could get him. Hut a small
brick building to the south of the main structure facing on Cherry Street
housing the restaurant and the blacksmith's sho]) did not burn. So they
immediately transferred the telephone to the restaurant. In a few mo-
ments Mr. Marsh was on the line. I said, "Is it so that the hain.s have
})urned down?" He said, "Yes, Fred it's awful." I said. "I have IS large
horses bought and was going to ship them tomorrow. What shall I do?"
He said, "Go ahead and we will sell them out on Waters Street." So the
next (lay I shippcMl the horses and came to Galesbur*^. It sure was not
a very jiretty picture. Mr. Marsh had stopped all the horses that he
knew were coming-. But about 100 head came anyway. We were all wor-
ried as to who would buy them. But* some New England buyers had left
a few days before and arrived in Galesburg not knowino- of the fire. And
it was a very good sale. Not enough horses to fill the tlemand. As I re-
call, my horses made money. Then here was the picture — 25 regular men,
mostly family men, out of work; blacksmiths and bookkeepers out of
work: shijipers in the Mid-West witli no ])lace to go.
So Saturday evening after the sale, Mr. Joe Deets. who had moved
here from North Henderson in 1910, who was a good judge of horses,
and a gentleman, too, and later bought many carloads of horses here,
said to me, "What are we going to do? Mr. Marsh only has $7000.00 in-
surance and he cannot build with that." I said "Let's go up to the Union
Hotel (which is the Broadview Hotel now) and see Mr. J. R. Justice,
who was a buyer for Mr. Marsh for many years before he retired. Mr.
Deets explained the situation to IVIr. Justice and Mr. Justice said. "Don't
you think that we and the community could match the $7000.00 and may-
be he would rebuild?" Mr. Deets said, "I will give $250.00 to start it." Mr.
Justice said, "I will give $250.00." Then they said "How about you. Fred""'
I was not very heavy at the time, but I said, "I will give $250.00." Within
the week, the shippers into Galesburg, with the help of some Galesburg
businessmen, they matched the $7000.00. I say "they" because about all
I could do at that time was to raise my own $250.00. I went to the Sec-
ond Galesburg National Bank to Mr. P. F. Brown, the President, and
borrowed the money. He said to me. "Fred, do you think that is a good
invc.«tment?" I said. "Yes. A future investment." And it was, for me. for
the next forty years. Mr. ]\Iarsh (Uscontinued the sales for 4 weeks. He
first built the brick structure that the City of Galesburg tore down in
1937 for the city parking lot. I remember it cost §6200.00. Then he con-
tinued the construction straight through to Broad along Waters Street.
Most all men, women and children love horses and ponies, but they
are not all judges, and in as much as it was a fascinating business most
anyone might try his hand.
How well I remember a certain character, his name was Willy Waters.
He came from a little town called Cumberland, Iowa; it is at the end of
a Burlington branch railroad. He arrived one day in the month of June
with a load of large horses, which was unsuited to the market for that
time of year. They were like buying a fur coat in the spring. But Mr.
Waters was distinguished, he had a red vest, a derby hat on the side of
his head, a watch chain as big as your thumb. He did not consider Mr.
Marsli or the personnel of the horse market of much account. He checked
in at the best hotel and wanted to meet the Eastern buyers. One by one
he introduced himself. He called taxis when lie wanted to come to tlie
market, he called taxis when he wanted to rcluni to the hotel. He dined
them and lie wined them and they were ready foi- his reception. The
night' before the sale he gave them a large baiKiuct. aiul tlic next morning
he called 3 taxis at liis expense and brought tlicni all down to the mai'ket.
They had all been around and they knew how to handle characters of this
type. They patted him on the shoulder, lit his cigar, looked at his horses,
but they told him they would see them in the ring. He i-e])resented ev(M-y-
one at 5 years, 6 years, 7 years and sound. And he had a hot sale. At noon
he said to me "I should have been in this business long ago. My load is
making $400.00"'. Tiien he took them all to dinner. Then he brought them
all back. Then they looked over his horses and told him that he had mis-
represented them all. They rejected 18 head, and had a right to as he
was a bad judge of soundness when he bought them. But when he opened
his afternoon sale, he was an angry man. He changed from a gentleman
to a western cowboy. I said, "Now wait just a minute. You sold this pair
of horses as sound. This one has a spot in his eye. The other has side-
bone." He jumped down, looked at the eye, and said, "It ain't very big."
He felt of the sidebones and got back in the box and took the market
price. Every horse brought $25.00 to $30.00 less than they did in the
forenoon. In the evening he said to me, "This ain't much of a horse mar-
ket. I think they're a lot of crooks." He had never identified himself and
we assumed he was a big Iowa farmer. But to make matters worse, he
wired his banker at noon that his horses made $400.00. Two months
later, I was in Greenfield, Iowa, and I thought that I would go over to
Cumberland and see Mr. Waters. Maybe he would help me. I was in-
formed that he was down the road about half a mile. I went down there and
he was working for the road commissioner. He said he could not help me
and he didn't ever want to see a horse again. He said he was getting
SI. 50 per day and had a good job and would be the rest of his life pay-
ing the banker. I went uptown and bought 6 horses and went into the
only bank they had and the banker said to me, "One of our local men
here shij^ped a load of iiorses to your town not long ago and he never
knew that a load of horses could lose so much." I said, "Well, it's possible
that he bought iheni too high, or was not a good judge of soundness." So
I could see that the banker had financed him and was still holding the
sack. Two months later I was in Bridgewater. Iowa, buying a load of
horses and over came Willy Waters. I said. "Are you still working for the
road commissioner?" and he said. "No, he can go to hell, and that smart
banker can wait for his money." So you see it don't take long to get into
the horse business and it don't take long to get out.
Having been ringmaster for Mr. Marsh for 25 years, it gave me a
great opportunity to see different characters come and go.
As I recall to my mind another character in the horse business. It
was about 1910. one Saturday morning, sale day. when a young man
came in the front door on Cherry Street. He was well-dressed, very po-
lite and had a wonderful way of introducing himself. His name was Char-
lie Watts. Immediately I assumed that he wanted to buy some horses so
I started to walk and talk and show him different strings of horses. As
we passed through the large barn, he asked me what different horses
might bring. Then he would ask me what certain teams of horses might
bring, and when we got through to Broad Street I said to him. "I have
two carloads of horses over in the south barn, so let's go over there and
I will show them to you." When we arrived, I said, "Now let me bring
them out and show them to you and maybe I can sell you some." He
said, "Oh. no. Mr. Dunbar. I just came over here to get acquainted with
the market" and he asked me, "Is this a public market? Can anyone ship
horses here that wants to?" I said, "Oh yes". Then I said, "You can go
to the country, buy some horses, ship them here and we will give you a
square deal and get you every dollar that we can for them." He said. "Xow,
Mr. Dunbar, I am a married man. I have been working as a tenant farm-
er around the country near Fort ^ladison, Iowa. My wife inherited
$1800.00 and she wants me to go in business. So 1 thought I would get
acquainted with the market and maybe do so." I said. "$1800.00 won't
buy a carload." He then said, "I would just buy $1800.00 worth." I said,
So during the day, he was a busy man. He made actiuaintance witli
the Eastern buyers. He got in contact with the men who had horses for
sale. He was certainly dynamic. To look at him you would want to know
him. He was very clever. W'hen time came for the auction at 9:00 o'clock,
he was in the front line. When I had to stoj) a horse or a team of horses
to speak of their blemishes so llie b()()kkeei)er could wi-ite it down, the
buyers would rush into tlie liiig to see how bad the blemishes were. Mr.
Watts was right there. When they ran into one another, he would ex-
cuse himself and step back in the line. When noontime came, the I'liion
Hotel, which is now the Broadview, had a hack — you might call it a l)us.
It was drawn by a nice team of bay horses. The driver was a colored man
with a Union Hotel uniform on. He (hove in front of the barn every day
at 12 o'clock. It held 1(5 passengers. Free ride to the Union Hotel dining
room where they served a 50c dinner. The dining room was notel
Union Hotel — 1870
at the best between Chicago and Omaha. Only the Eastern buyers and
the big shots could afford the price as g o o d restaurants uptown
were serving a 25c meal. I noticed that Mr. Watts boarded the
bus with the buyers. When the bus came back at 1 :00 o'clock. Mr. Watts
was on the first line. He was doing his best to learn the business. In the
evening I cHdn't see him when he left Galesburg. But I learned from him
that he lived in Fort Madison, Iowa. The next day I left for the country.
The next Friday when I came home. Mr. Ralph Sharp, a bookkeeper
for many years, told me ^Ir. Watts was in with 15 head. He was over
in the restaurant getting his dinner. I walked over, he remembered me
with a friendly smile, and asked me to join him. I said. "No." I had
been to dinner. He said. "Wait. I want to show you my horses." We went
down and he started to tell me what they cost him. I said I wouldn't tell
anyone what his horses cost. If he bought them cheap, the buyers would
want them cheap. He said, "Well, you are the ringmaster and I think
you coulri help me more if I did tell you." I said. "All right." So he led
cut the first horse, a i)lack horse. He said, "Now he cost me $75.00". I
said. "How did you buy that horse for $75.00?" He said. 'That is all the
man asked me." And I said. "He will bring you $150.00." Boy. he was hap-
py. Then he led out a dapple gray horse. I said. "What did you pay for
this one?" He said "$85,00," I said. "How did you buy him for $85,00?"
He said. "That is all the man asked me," I said. "He will bring you $185.-
00." I never saw a man so happy. The rest of his horses were not so good
but these horses had not been hitched and ran up and down Waters
Street' for their work and good wind, So in a couple of hours, the barn
help hitched them and when they ran these two horses they were badly
windbroken. Then I said to Mr, Watts, "How did you buy those horses?"
He said "The farmers told me that they were sound as far as they knew."
And I said. "That releases them of any guarantee, so you will have to
take the loss," So the next day when he came into the sale, the black
horse, badly windbroken. brought $50.00. the gray horse, badly wind-
broken, brought $65.00, But being an outstanding young man. he stood
in the auction box and he did not misuse anyone. And Mr, Plank, the
Auctioneer, who was always a gentleman, put his arm on his shoulder
and said. "I don't belive you are having a very good sale." And with a
big lump in his throat he said. "No. I am not." We continued the sale
and late that afternoon I found him in the west barn sitting on a bale of
hay. And he said. "Mr, Dunbar. I have just about lost my shirt." And
then I said to him. "How did you come to go into this horse business?"
He said. "^ly grandfather had the best race horses in Iowa and we have
his picture and my wife and I both love horses." He said. "Mr. Dunbar,
how much do you think my horses will lose and how much expense will
T have here?" I said. "You will have about $50.00 freight from Fort Madi-
son, You will liave $45.00 commission. You ^ill have $22.50 shoes and
about $30.00 feed." He said. "When will I know?" I said. "The book-
keeper will make out the bill Monday, and you will get it and your
check Tuesday," He had a beautiful wristwatch which I had admired
during the day. He said. "My wife gave me that for Christmas, It cost
$15,00." He said. "I have 10 minutes before my train." So I opened the
gate on Broad Street and walked with him into the depot. He bought the
ticket and then he said, "You have done much to lielj) me." and he want-
ed to pay me. I said. "No, Mr. Marsh pays me." Now he had gotten liim-
self on the mailing list and every week he would get a market i-ejiort.
and instructions as to the kind of horses he shoukl buy. But a year or
more passed and I never heard anything from Charlie Watts. A little later
I had a layover of 4 hours in Fort Madison and I decided to look him
up. My first inquiry from a man said. "Only 3 blocks down \hv street.
little white house on the corner," The man said. "I think he is home as
he works nights in the Santa Fe Shops." So down I went. He remember-
ed me. was glad to see me, and introduced me to his wife. He had 3 little
children. He said, "You know, Mr, Dunbar, when I came from CJales-
burg I knew I would nevei- make a horseman and my wife said that I
should trade that wrist watch thai you Yikvd foi- au ahuiu cluck and uct
a job. And I did. I am with liie Santa Fe Raih'oad." That was my hist
contact with Charhe Watts.
I don't recall of only o of the big shippers that are living that once
consigned their horses to this market. They are Frank Meeker of Alexis;
Charlie Nelson of Rio; Sully Francis of Kewanee; Frank Huston of Wa-
taga and Dean Bowen of Sheridan, Iowa. In speaking of Mr, Bowen. he
was a young fellow, looked more like Hollywood than a horse buyer,
South Kellog Street south of Bank of Galesbitro
OF Orpheum Theatre
now the site
good naturcd aiul well liked, very choicy al)out his girl friends. A few-
years after the markets closed, he caine through and stopped to see me.
He said. "Fred. I am married and I got a boy 9 years old. My wife is 29
and I am 49 and we are getting along fine." Anfl on August 6, 1958, Mr.
Dean Bowen and family, after touring Canada and the New England
States and visiting Niagara Falls stopped here to see us and he had an-
other boy 5 years old. His name is John Bowen, named after his brother
Dean, who is President of the Bank of Sheridan, Iowa.
Now I know that this is my farewell interview and can conscien-
tiously say that if you would trace the history of I'ncle Tom and his
cabin from the jungles of Africa to his cabin door, no where would you
find anything in parallel to the grief, the troubles and the difficulties
that the average horseman had. So I say good-night and God Bless the
Bill IMathers, Bookkeeper
^^^^ TT^j^^n^OY MARSH 1929
'S!^^*'^ * v« ■>!
The idea of placing a stone marker at the site of the Marsh Sales
Barn was conceived by Mr. J. Orton Finley of Oneida. With the help of
Mr. J. K. Wasson and Mr. Fred Dunbar, this has been accomplished.
( ontril)utors to the Lcrov Marsh iiKMnoi-ial marker:
J. Orton Finley
J. K. Wasson
L. F. Meeker
Islea F. Deets
(in memory of James Barton)
S. F. Francis
Dr. J. W. Lucas
V. B. Laswell
In memory of M. W. Laswell
(in memory of George LeRoy)
McCreery Motor Co.
Emil B. Plank
(in memory of C. H. Plank)
In memory of Chris Fredericks
A. L. Doubet
Sig B. Nelson
In memory of William Houston
Mrs. Max Montgomery
(in memory of Fred Oliver)
I want to thank the following people for their help in furnishing information
Charles Nelson Glen Sharp S. F. Francis
L. F. Meeker Emil Plank Jack PhiUips
Islea Deets John Derer M. M. Marsh
Earnest Panhorst Joe Coe Leon Benson
Oscar Leroy Edgar Little Perry Sargent
Mrs. Max Montgomery
I also want to express my gratitude to Paul Monson, Herman Pfisterer, Rosemary
Berg, and Margaret Berggren, without whose cooperation this little book could not
have been ready in time for the dedication of the Marsh Memorial, and especially
to J. Orton Finley for his leadership in the move to perpetuate the memory of one
of Galesburg's great industries. — Cornelia Thompson