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"Let us keep the feast not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wicked 
ness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Paul to Corinthians, v.9. 


Of St. Louis, Missouri, U. S. A. 





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St. Louis, Mo. 


From JOHN BUNYAN'S Apology for his BOOK, taken from an edition of PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, 
printed in 1775. As John died in 1688, these lines are probably 200 years old, and we must 
give them a chance to survive till A.D. 2084. 

More than twenty things, which I set down , 
This done, I twenty more had in my Crown ; 
And they again began to multiply 
Like Sparks that from the Coals of Fire do fly. 
Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast, 
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last 
Should prove ad infinitum. * * * * 
***** Yet I did not think 
To show to all the World my Pen and Ink 
In such a Mode ; I only thought to make 
I knew not what: Nor did I undertake 
To please my neighbour ; no, not I ; 
I did it my own self to gratify. 

1 Thus I set Pen to Paper with Delight, 
And quickly had my Thoughts in Black and* White. 
For having now my Method by the End, 
Still as I pull'd, it came ; and so I penn'd 
It down ; until it came at last to be 
For Length and Breadth the Bigness which you sw, 

Well, when I had thus put my Ends together 
I showed them others, that I might see whether 
They would condemn them, or them justify : 
And some said, let them live ; some, let them die ; 
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so ; 
Some said it might do Good; others said No. 
Now I was in a btreight, and did not see 
Which was the best Thing to be done by me ; 
At last I thought, since ye are thus divided, 
I print it will, and so the Case decided. 

For, thought I, some I see would have it done, 
Though others in that Channel do not run: 
To prove, then, who advised for the best, 
Thus I Bought fit to put it to the Test." 




Ben. Franklin, Sol. Smith and Horace Greeley have written of them 
selves and their times. So have Arago, Lamartine, and many others. 
Abler men than I, no doubt ; but, because Jupiter is a great planet, do we 
say the little star shall not twinkle ? And why, then, may not I, too, write 
modestly of myself and my times ? 

As it would make the book too big for any writer to tell all the truth 
about himself, I need not tell distasteful things. It is therefore a safe busi 
ness to write a Memoir, as anything one would rather not tell can be left 
out ; and if I think of any dubious things in my own life, I can pass them 
over. Great slices of the actual life of any man must be thrown, aside, 
whether he or another tells the tale; but if the reader hankers after the 
untold, thinking it might be savory with peccadillos or the like, let him 
imagine the void filled with his own shortcomings, and he need not care to 
feast on those of men no better than himself. 

Noah Webster (whose blue-backed spelling-book is remembered with 
lingering affection from childhood) defines a Memoir to be " a history com 
posed from personal experience and memory ; a history lacking method and 
completeness." This definition was made for me, as what I aim to write, 
while autobiographical to some extent, and reminiscent, will be apt to lack 
method and completeness. Still, though my little dish may not be very 
nutritive or high-flavored, it may yet have the spice of variety, and, like 
the famous ragout of Theroii Bamum's old City Hotel, may turn out to be 
the best dish of the kind to be found anywhere. 


As I am of sad and melancholy temperament, it may happen that a 
streak of something like humor may now and then get into my work, as 
the naughty gray gets into Madame's hair, but I shall keep all such out 
as well as I can. 

I trust not to be too egotistical ; but egotism in print is not always offen 
sive. On the contrary, it is sometimes very pleasant, and we give our 
hearts to the writer, even while he gossips only of himself. He may, in 
deed, be only doing what we would like to do for ourselves, if we could do 
it as well. It is egotism in talk that wearies and offends. We cannot put 
the talker on a shelf when tired of his chatter. 

Necessarily I must write of myself, but will treat of so many other per 
sons and so many things, that my personality will be only a string to hang 
pearls on, as I shall write mainly of what I have seen, read, or heard, rather 
than of my own sayings and doings. There may not always be pearls on 
the string, and the men and things may at times be more like the dried 
apples hung up of old by the chimney, or the red peppers festooning the 
adobe houses in New Mexico ; but the apples and peppers are good enough 
when properly served up. 

I am not prompted to write by vanity or inordinate self-appreciation. 
Unfortunately, I have always been lacking in vanity and self-esteem, which 
are qualities essential to the best use of the faculties. Conceit and confi 
dence in one's self are convertible terms, and self-reliance is the parent of 

Washington Irving, in his fiction of Diedrich Knickerbocker so like 
truth that he doubtless believed the story while telling it begins at the 
creation of the world, but I shall not go back so far, as it may be granted 
that this was a very passable world even before I came into it, but has 
grown amazingly since. Nor shall I weary the reader with tedious ances 
tral details. Let it suffice that my forefathers were among the first fami 
lies of Pennsylvania, in old Cumberland county, having found it convenient 
to leave the British Isles after the rebellion of 1745. Good people in their 
way, those forefathers, but on the losing side in politics, and hence had to 
come over the salt sea. They were rebels again in 1776, but were trans 
muted into patriots by winning the fight. But behold how one's fate may 
be influenced by circumstances entirely beyond his control ! If the Stuart 
heir had won his crown, those forefathers of mine might never have come 
over the sea, and I might never have been born at all, or born a foreigner. 

As events turned out, I was born in Pennsylvania, on the tenth day of 
July, Anno Domini 1817. 

Tradition holds that I was a remarkable child. Everybody within hear 
ing remarked on my infant utterance, crude as it was. I could out-scream 
any child in the State. "The Grossest baby in the Commonwealth," they 
said of me, and li&ened me to Napoleon Bonaparte, who from all accounts 
was one of the most petulant and disagreeable children that ever lived. 
His parents, however, loved and admired him, and mine loved and admired 


me. But here the parallel between N. B. and myself seems to end. There 
has been little other parity in our careers. He grew up in a time of turmoil, 
and had a chance to fight his way to the Consulate and Empire. I grew up 
in a quiet time, when there was no chance to pick up a crown at the point of 
one's sword. 

N. Bonaparte is, I think, the most illustrious character in profane his 
tory ; and in some respects the most detestable. He did wonders, but with 
all his genius he lacked good sense, or he would never have marched to 
Moscow. That Russian campaign began his ruin. But in common life men 
are constantly marching to Moscow prosperous for a time, and then peril 
ing all on some big enterprise, that fails at last and ruins them. Commerce, 
manufactures, mines, and even politics, are full of these Napoleons, who 
bravely march on, and perish. The world often gains by their ventures, 
but they must abdicate and go into exile all the same. On his lone isle in 
the South Sea Napoleon dictated a skeleton Memoir. I write a truthful one 
from unmerited exile in the sad solitude of crowds. 

My first recollection is of a wrong suffered. My loving mother spanked 
me for throwing into the fire one of my socks, and as I was really not 
guilty, this unjust punishment filled my little heart with agony. 

My next recollection is of a horrible dream, when, in the silence of the 
night, the room was filled with the "bears" which I had been assured 
would " eat" me if I was not "good," just as those bears in the Bible ate 
the little bad boys who mocked Elisha. Each foot seemed to be as big as 
my body ; I could not move or cry out, and expected every moment to be 

My next recollection is of an effort in science. I asked my father how 
fire was made, and he replied " by flint and steel." There the investiga 
tion ended. I knew fire was made by flint and steel, but what these were I 
did not find out till some time afterwards. 

Thus my three earliest recollections are of a wrong suffered, a dream of 
horror, and a fruitless pursuit of knowledge. False testimony brought the 
injustice. The dream was the action of imagination, excited by the sad 
fate of the naughty boys who perished for saying " go up, thou baldhead." 
I had almost wept for those little boys. My failure in science was my 
father's fault; he ought to have replied more fully to my question, as with 
due encouragement I might have become a philosopher. Children wish to 
learn, and their education goes on to advantage long before they go to 

I cannot recollect much of my first school. There was a shallow pond 
near it, and one winter day the boys were sliding across it on ice so thin 
that it bent under us. At length it broke, and I went down to my armpits. 
I was nearly frozen when I got home, where I was " warmed up" as they 
called it, with a whipping. This I thought unfair. I felt the honest 
resentment of an injured boy, and determined to go on the ice again, thick 
or thin, the very first opportunity. 


All I remember clearly of this school is that we had for reading books 
the "Introduction to the English Reader," the " English Reader," and the 
"Sequel to the English Reader " all containing pieces suited to the differ 
ent classes. One of my favorite pieces was that beginning 

" Pity the sorrows of a poor old man, 
Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door: " 

and I always had before me in imagination the figure of that old man. 
How deeply I felt his woes ! He was a real old man to me, and I longed to 
actually see him in his rags and tatters, and give him something. The 
sympathy for the needy excited so long ago is hardly worn out even now, 
yet the old man of the poem was possibly not real, but only a fancy man all 
the time. 

A poem rehearsing the dispute of three travelers about the color of the 
chameleon interested us so much, that we hunted along the fences, hoping 
to find chameleons, and ascertain their color for ourselves. The "Three 
Warnings" (by Mrs. Thrale, Dr. Johnson's friend and patron) was also a 
favorite. It is a pretty little poem, with a moral : 

" On neighbor Dodson's wedding day, 
Death called aside the jocund groom 
With him into another room 
And looking grave, ' You must,' said he, 
Quit your sweet bride and come with me.' " 

But Mr. Dodson, just married as he was, did not like to go, and begged 
off finally getting a promise from Death that he would give him three 
warnings before calling again. Years passed, and Dodson was happy. At 
length Death called, when the old man, surprised by the visit, told him he 
had not had the promised warnings. Death inquired the state of Mr. D.'s 
health, when it appeared that he had an ailing in his legs, his hearing was 
defective, and his eyes were failing ; whereupon Death says to him : 

" ' If you are lame, and deaf, and blind, 
You've had your three sufficient warnings, 
So come along, no more we'll part,' 
He said, and touched him with his dart." 

I do not know what kind of poetry or verses they read in schools now-a- 
days, but I doubt if they have anything better liked by the pupils, or 
indeed of more intrinsic value, than the pieces in the old books which we 
had and enjoyed before the advent of the book agent. 

My next school was in a log cabin, with a door 011 one side and a window 
on the other. The window was made by cutting out a log, fixing a frame 
in the opening, and pasting greased paper over it as a substitute for glass ; 
and along the window, inside, a smooth board was the writing desk. We 
made our " pot-hooks and hangers" oil the old-fashioned fools-cap paper, 
with untrimmed edges and unruled surfaces, that we ruled ourselves, using 
lead pencils made by pounding bullets into the required shape. Our pens 


were genuine goose quills, and it was a matter of no little pride with the 
" master " that he could make and mend a pen skillfully. I do not remem 
ber the name of that master, but he may have been of kin to the one who 
taught in the " Deserted Village," as told by Dr. Goldsmith, for in the 
families where he boarded round, as well as among his pupils, 

" The wonder grew, 
That one small head could carry all he knew." 

Our studies at those primitive schools were reading, writing and arith 
metic. To read aloud well, to write a fair round hand, and to " cypher 
through the book," were accomplishments. I could read passing well, but 
fell behind in writing and cyphering. My gift of reading aloud so well may 
have been hereditary, as my good father, even before I was born, and while 
he was yet quite a young man, had great local repute for his excellent read 
ing of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. 

A later school was taught by a lady, but all I recollect of it is, that com 
ing in late one afternoon, I found the pupils all posed by the question : 
" Who was the father of Zebedee's children?" None could tell, and when 
the question was put to me I gained much credit by the hap-hazard reply, 
that I supposed it was Mr. Zebedee himself. But I have never had any 
adequate means of verifying the correctness of this answer. 

There were no common schools in Pennsylvania then. Tuition had to be 
paid for by the " quarter," and in some rural districts the teachers "boarded 
round," a week or two at a time in the homes of the pupils, as part of their 
compensation. My dear old friend and neighbor, Professor J. L. Tracy, 
who in his youthful days taught school in that state, has often told me of 
his varied and piquant experiences when he boarded round among his 
patrons. The good professor (who in his time did so much to advance 
education in Missouri) was in later years ever busy giving pleasure and 
instruction with his pen ; but the grass now grows over his resting place. 
Only a year before he was taken from us, a distant correspondent having 
inquired what manner of man he was, whose writings were so pleasant 
and profitable, the reply was given by me in verse, not unpleasing to my 
valued friend : 


My friend, the Professor, a worthy good fellow, 
Like an over-ripe apple, is somewhat too mellow ; 
Yet still he gets round rather lively 'mongst men, 
For one counting up nearly three -score and ten. 

Only give him a pencil, and spread a blank page, 
You'll get vigor of youth with the wisdom of age; 
And Addison, Goldsmith, or Irving, I think, 
Never let better English flow out with their ink. 


This genial old stager, with heart undenled 
No statesman e'er wiser, and simpler no child- 
Looks over all nature, all science, all art, 
And tastefully culls for our use the best part. 

Though ever deserving of Fortune's good will, 
He's left in old age with a pocket to fill ; 
And his days that ought rightly to pass without toil, 
Are given to labor " to make the pot boil." 

Still, onward he plods, bearing gaily his load, 
That does not get lighter, though down hill the road; 
And as friend or as neighbor for all has a smile 
The true-hearted man in a world full of guile. 

From about eleven to thirteen years of age I attended the town academy, 
" footing it " three miles from the farm. The academy, with its belfry cov 
ered with bright tin, was regarded as the shining light of the region, and 
pupils came even from adjoining counties. The principal and his wife were 
the faculty, and the advanced scholars acted as monitors ; so it was a kind 
of self-propelling normal school, as the State did not tax the people to edu 
cate any one for a profession, whether fitted for it by nature or not. 

Like hundreds of others, I look back and see that I must have been an 
idle student, and wasted my time. I could learn rapidly enough, but could 
as readily forget ; and though the higher branches were taught in the acad 
emy, even Latin, Greek and mathematics, yet I never got beyond geography 
and grammar. I was pretty well acquainted with Lindley Murray, and got 
some idea of natural philosophy by hearing the class recite,, but the recita 
tions in history were a bore. As to spelling, I was usually at the head of 
the class, seeming to have a natural gift for spelling, which, like my gift for 
reading aloud, may have been hereditary, as my father was in his younger 
days a printer. 

It is the happy belief of the present day that the means of education are 
beyond all precedent ; but as far back as I can remember there were abun 
dant means for all who had the gift and determination to learn ; and I 
might have been an accomplished scholar if I had been blessed with talents, 
industry and perseverance to improve my opportunities. I think, too, they 
must have had good schools where Goldsmith, Addison, Pope, et al., were 
taught. My parents wished me to continue at school, but I chose rather to 
quit at the age of thirteen, and work on the farm. But, though schooling 
had stopped, my education still went on, an'd after the age of fifty-three 
years the learning of the farm came into practical and beneficial use, in such 
manner as to justify the supposition that a special providence may have led 
me to quit the academy. A very useful episode of an unpretentious career, 
affecting large interests, could not have occurred if I had kept on at school, 
instead of working on the farm. I will tell of this in due time, and show 
how it was that events of much importance might have never taken place, 
if I had staid at school as my parents wished. " Kismet " says the Mussel- 
man, meaning DESTINY. 




My native place, Lewistown, having over 4,000 people now, is in the 
charming valley of the Juniata, in the centre of the great State of Pennsyl 
vania. Although not a " City," but an old-fashioned " Borough," with its 
"Burgesses," and without any City Counselor or Marshal, or a big tax 
fund, it is yet more than a Centenarian, however deficient in the modern 
improvements of municipal management. The first house was built in 
1755; the county organization dates from 1789. It is a brisk town for 
honest business, but so slow in some respects that they have never had 
any defaulting treasurers, and I think the county has not had a trial for 
murder in sixty years, nor any robbery worth naming in all that time. 

Penn's purchase notwithstanding, they used to have Indian troubles in 
that region, and thrilling narratives of the perils and sufferings met and 
endured by the pioneers might have been written, if pen and paper had not 
been rather scarce. Tales of brave adventure and of savage deeds were told 
round firesides three score years ago, by the ancient people to whom the 
arrow, tomahawk and scalping knife had been realities. 

From a very remote day a trail for pack-horses from Philadelphia to 
Pittsburgh, along the Juniata and over the Alleghenies, had been used in 
carrying supplies to the people west of the mountains ; and many a bar of 
iron, bent to rest on the pack-saddle, was taken over to the waters of the 
Ohio, and perhaps even reached St. Louis, then an innocent village, with 
unlocked doors, and fiddles played without notes. Early in the century the 
trail was changed to a wagon road. 

When I was old enough to run with a little kite, my bare feet were hurt 
on the sharp stones of the new " turnpike" through the town. On this 
road teams of six horses, often with bells on their hames, drew large cov 
ered wagons, laden with merchandise for the "backwoods," which meant 
western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and parts beyond; a rather indefinite term 
for a region then more distant, in the time required to reach it, than Old 


Mexico is now. The wagons had but little return freight, but what they 
had, if the drivers replied truly to inquiring boys, was mostly " ginseng and 
feathers." Ginseng, a plant with a small taper root, and a taste resembling 
that of liquorice, was gathered in western Pennsylvania, and I believe ex 
ported to China. My friend Mr. Murtfeldt tells me that the dry ginseng 
root is worth its weight in gold ; but this must be the price in China, or it 
would have been dug up for currency in the flush times when gold was 180 
above paper par. Fisk would have sold " short," and settled with ginseng, 
making a fair profit on the tinware traded for it. The drivers were proba 
bly quizzing the boys, and must have had furs and peltries in their wagons, 
to make even a moderate load for teams of Conestoga horses, then common 
in Pennsylvania, and in build, weight and power fully equal to the Norman 
stock imported of late years. Our old inter-state commerce needed no 
regulation by any Mr. Reagan in Congress, or by any state board of com 
missioners, but was very much facilitated by our new turnpike road, 
notable as the first highway of the kind in that part of Pennsylvania. 

A very dim recollection floats through my brain of a two-horse vehicle, 
which must have carried mails and passengers, before the turnpike road 
was made ; but after that great highway, as it was then considered, came 
into use, four-horse coaches appeared, and their drivers, in the estimation of 
the boys, were the greatest men of earth, with their lofty seats and their 
long whip-lashes. I pity the modern boys, who never see men as great as 
our old stage drivers. To children of a larger growth, the stage, its driver, 
and passengers, were objects of interest, as shown by the gatherings at the 
tavern door to greet their arrival. 

But do you know, My Dear Lady, how they cooked at the old tavern ? 
Not in a " Charter Oak," or a " Superior," or a " Brilliant," or in any thing 
else like a modern cooking stove. None such were then in existence. 
Count Rumford originated the cooking stove in 1795, but it had not reached 
our secluded valley. The cooking of our tavern was done at a liberal wood 
fire, in the ample kitchen hearth, with pot, and skillet, and frying pan, and 
dutch-oven, and \vaffle-irons, and griddle, together with the " tin kitchen " 
for roasting the beef, or turkey, or saddle of venison. Such roast turkey as 
you never saw, my young friend, and cannot have, from the oven of a com 
mon cooking stove or a hotel range. The tin kitchen was a half-cylinder, 
placed horizontally before the fire, with an iron rod to impale the turkey. 
Sometimes a turkey would be hung up by a string before the fire to roast, 
when on court days two turkeys were needed for dinner. Bread and pies 
were baked in a brick oven, like the old-fashioned ovens used by public- 
bakers. The only stoves then in use among our people were the " ten- 
plate" and the "Franklin;" the latter set into the fire-place, and both 
used only for heating. The stoves, as also the pots and other like things, 
were all cast at the iron-smelting furnaces; no foundries having then been 
established in the interior. The chauges during sixty years in household 
and kitchen arrangements are great, but as a rule the cooking has not 


improved. On this point, Prof. John H. Tice, the philosopher of Chelten 
ham, suspends his meteorological studies, or his regulation of the weather, 
long enough to write : 

"Those whose remembrance runs back half a century, when cooking 
stoves began to come into use, will recall the fact that their sainted moth 
ers, while lavish in praises of the handiness, convenience and general per 
formance of the innovation, uniformly made one objection to it, namely, 
that in baking and roasting it did not come up to the old standard. All 
persons who have passed the meridian of life recall with zest the fine and 
delicious flavor of the tender beef, pork, lamb, turkey, etc., roasted before 
the open fire, and hence their own experience can bear testimony to the 
reality of the maternal objection." 

Prof. Tice then tells us that Mr. Giles F. Filley, of St. Louis, has lately 
made a scientific discovery, and applies it to cooking stoves with most grati 
fying results, both as to saving of fuel and cooking and baking. As Mr. 
Filley has been making stoves for about a third of a century, anything to 
which he gives sanction ought to be reliable, and hence I note his discov 
ery. He had observed that the iron door closing the feed hole of his cupola 
became very hot and soon burned out. This was costly, and he conceived 
the idea of using a wire screen to protect the workmen from the heat. The 
screen arrested the heat, but to his surprise did not itself become heated, as 
the iron door did. Here was something new, but was mainly valued as 
saving expense in renewals of the door. Some time after the use of the 
screen began, several of the rival stove-makers having vaunted the merits 
of their oven doors, fitting very closely, and even made double, with non 
conducting material between the plates, Mr. Filley began to insist that 
instead of greater heat in the stove oven, some means of modifying the 
temperature was required ; and he decided to try the effect of wire gauze 
doors on a Charter Oak oven. The experiment indicated that by using the 
gauze, baking and cooking could be done with less wood or coal. But the 
most striking result is, that the gauze doors to the oven, Mr. Filley says r 
enable our womankind to bake and roast with all the old time perfection. 
Granting this, I can hardly master the reasons why the stove does better 
work ; but if forced to give an explanation I would say : 1st, That in 212 
degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer the limit to which water can be 
heated, unless confined, as in a steam boiler nature has apparently 
given us a measure of the heat required in cooking our food, as we see in 
the boiling process ; 2d, That if in baking or roasting we go beyond this 
measure, as in a stove oven with close iron doors, we may have a tempera 
ture not only unnecessary but injurious; 3d, That the gauze doors, which 
modify the heat in the oven of the stove, keep it at about the measure of 
heat received by the turkey in the old tin kitchen ; and, 4th, That with 
the close iron doors the heat in the oven may rise much beyond 212 degrees, 
even to 400 or 600 degrees, and by hardening the outside of the turkey or 
loaf may interfere with the proper roastiug or baking. Such would be iny 


theory, and if the facts do not agree with it, some one of the learned scien 
tists may provide a better. 

I am not, however, so certain of my theory in regard to the effects of the 
gauze doors of the cooking-stove, as I was in Cincinnati during the Com 
mercial Convention of 1870, in regard to " sour mash/' To help along 
a resolution in the interest of the Kansas Pacific Railway, I indulged in 
courtesies to some of the delegates, and observing two or three of the gentle 
men about to take what are called " ponies," I remarked that nature, in the 
fermented juice of the grape, seemed to have kindly indicated the propor 
tion of alcohol which it was safe to have in any liquid going into the stom 
ach, and that il straight" potations were likely to be injurious. 

" You observe, gentlemen, that this sour mash contains probably 50 per 
cent, of alcohol. Now, I dilute it with water ti 11 the proportion of alcohol 
in the glass is only about 15 per cent., and therefore " 

I was talking learnedly, and as my guests were politely attentive even 
holding their ponies in check I might have elucidated further but for the 
pursy old Teuton behind the bar, who broke in 

"Dot ish goot haw, haw! dot ish goot now; but you dinks, Doctor, 
maybe Jnot put water enough in dem wiskeys ?' ' 

A question so pertinent from a Cincinnati vender of anything capable of 
adulteration would spoil any discourse ; but my theory is sound. As a 
beverage, whiskey and water or "grog," as it used to be called, after old 
Admiral Grogram of the British navy is safer than plain whiskey; but if 
anyone says that water is better than either, I will not gainsay him. Less 
than sixty years ago the laborers on public works were regularly served 
with "jiggers" of whiskey several times a day ; but we are past all that. 
We now know that alcohol is not essential to labor. Not a drop of distilled 
liquors, or even beer, was permitted by Col. James Andrews at the South 
Pass Jetties during the four years of their construction. Here is a better 
temperance lecture than Gough could deliver, so far as the necessity of stim- 
lants is concerned. 

The Commercial Convention at Cincinnati was held only thirteen years 
ago. Col. Caleb G. Forshey, representing Texas, had resolutions to pass in 
favor of " translatitudinal," or north and south, railroads. My resolutions 
were in favor of a railroad to the Pacific on the 32d or 35th parallel of lati 
tude. Caleb and myself were regarded by many in the Convention as harm 
less enthusiasts, but they kindly let our resolutions pass. Look on a map 
now, and see how far our "visionary" projects are already outrun by 
realities ! 

If Count Rumford (born plain Benjamin Thompson at Woburn, Massa 
chusetts, in 1753, and Counted in Bavaria for eminent public services) could 
visit St. Louis now, it would do his old eyes good to see the perfection to 
which the cooking-stove, which he was the first to suggest and contrive, has 
been brought. The emulation of makers is constantly originating what are 
alleged to be improvements in the stove itself as well as in the utensils used 


upon it. Bridge, Beach & Co. with their "Superior," and Buck & Co. with 
their " Brilliant," will claim to equal if not surpass even the Excelsior Com 
pany's " Charter Oak," while other makers will kindly advise you to avoid 
all three and take theirs. 

But one thing puzzles me. With all our improvements in cooking-stoves, 
ranges, and other domestic machinery, My Dear Young Lady, you seem less 
fond of the kitchen than your grandmother, whom I remember as a girl 
fully your equal in beauty, and possibly your superior in useful education. 
She did not disdain the knowledge that enabled her to make your grand 
father's home a model for its victuals, virtue, and happiness. As a little boy, 
I used to think it nice to see her in the kitchen, helping your great-grand 
mother, and not turning in scorn even from the skillet or griddle. On wash 
days I have seen her actually dipping her pretty hands in the suds, and it 
is no secret that she was always particular to iron her own things. The 
other little boys saw her, too, and we often said to each other that when we 
got to be big men, we would get girls for wives knowing as much as she. 
I wish a book had been printed about your grandmother, and about her 
mother too, as it might be of use to some girls now-a-days, who know so 
much about everything but the essentials of a comfortable home. It is 
funny, too, to think of, that your grandmother, who could cook a good din 
ner at the old fireplace, if necessary , had the only piano in town, except Mrs. 
Lawyer Anderson's (whose hair was so red), and was the first I ever heard 
playing on that instrument. Very different it was, with its spindle-legs, 
from the pianos we have now ; but when the time came that folks in our 
town (fifty years ago) spoke only of the "limbs" of the chicken on the table, 
and it was indecorous to say u legs," the two pianos were dressed in panta 
lets, as a proper concession to the delicacy of the age. 

The late sage of the St. Louis bar, John F. Darby, in his book of reminis 
cences, said of Giles F. Filley, that he is a man "whose conduct would enti 
tle him to honor and respect in any age or any country." I concur. Mr. 
Filley's life is a lesson. Born in Bloomfield, Connecticut, in 1815, he came 
to St. Louis in 1834, and became apprentice to his brother, Oliver D., to learn 
the tinsmith trade; the sterling O. D. Filley, hater of shams, and whether 
in the Mayor's seat, or in the "shop " from which it was so hard to tempt 
him, valued most by those who best knew him. Serving out his time, Giles 
was taken into partnership by O. D., and was afterwards, for a few years, 
engaged in the crockery business. But it was his destiny to be a manufac 
turer rather than a trader, and, having sold his crockery interest, he started 
the stove-making establishment which has since become the extensive 
works of the Excelsior Manufacturing Company of St. Louis; whose pro 
duct since its organization has been over a million stoves, of which over 
four hundred thousand have been the cooking- stove named "Charter 
Oak." (I never knew what Longfellow meant in his poem, nor why any 
concern should be called "Excelsior," merely because a fellow with a 
flag went up a mountain and perished ; doing no good to anybody, un- 


less a foolhardy climb is a pattern to be imitated instead of an example 
to deter.) 

With a clear head and indomitable will, and ever liberal and just to 
all in his service, Mr. Filley has managed his affairs in his own way, and 
has been successful. I suppose he has enough and to spare; but he is 
entitled to indulge in reflections of a higher order than those arising from 
even a splendid business career and the gaining of a competence. The 
tale is brief, but I think it can be told of no other business man, past or 

A friend, whose paper Mr. Filley had endorsed, was unfortunate. The 
amount involved was over a million dollars. Mr. Filley might have com 
promised for a percentage on the dollar ; he might have given up all his 
estate to the creditors ; or he might have hidden a part, given up the rest, 
and gone free. But he did neither. With daring and stubborn integrity, 
and with courage and fortitude, beside which all heroism on the battle 
field is dwarfed to insignificance, he said in substance to the creditors : 
" I can only pay part now, but give me time and I will pay the last dollar 
of the claim. 7 ' 

He did pay. The amount, principal, interest and charges, footed up over 
thirteen hundred thousand dollars. 

Comment can add no strength to the tale ; but my book will live through 
the ages to perpetuate this record of Giles Franklin Filley, unexampled, I 
believe, in the annals of business men. Long years hence, I trust the youth 
who reads this chapter may feel inspired to emulate the integrity of Mr. 
Filley, if he cannot equal his illustrious achievement ; and the remotest 
descendant of this plain St. Louis mechanic may refer with pride to his 

Whether the wire-gauze is better to modify the heat than valves in the 
stove doors, is a question of science and art for the philosophers and 
cooks. I am dubious. Since 1845, we have used the Bridge make of stoves 
our first a "ten-plate," with holes in the top for tea-kettle and pots; 
and, curiously enough, as the stoves have improved, we have at times had 
more trouble to get the raw materials than to have them converted into 
eatable victuals. I am therefore only amused by the rivalry of the stove- 
makers, who seem to have got up to the last notch of improvement ; 
while the kitchen folks have so far fallen oft that "cooking schools" are 
thought necessary. In the unenlightened old times (before Carlisle and 
Emerson were famous, ) every home had a good cooking school in its kitchen ; 
bu there is now danger that the "lost arts " will soon include that of pre 
paring food for the table. The St. Louis stove-maker who shall provide a 
cast-iron cook, zinc-lined and copper-fastened, (so as to assure electrical 
action, supposed to be the essence of life,) will have an immortal Whit- 
tington cat, and will enjoy the death-bed of the rich. 




The tavern to which onr stages drew up so proudly was no " hail- 
fellow- well-met " hostelry, where you could venture on any indecorum. 
Mr. Patton was a gentleman of the old school, as the phrase runs, with 
manners matching in grace and stateliness the sterling worth of his charac 
ter. The hostess was a mate worthy of her lord. If their son Benjamin, 
the learned judge, yet survives in Ohio as I trust he does, hale and hearty 
as when we met in Washington six years ago let him tell his grandchil 
dren that if they can equal the virtues of their great-grand-parents they 
need do no better. The ladies in Baltimore, grand-daughters of the digni 
fied host, mated as they are with the proudest lineage of Maryland, need 
never blush for their own. But can we any more take our ease in our inn? 
Midst the hurry and rush I often look back to the old tavern, so grand in 
my childhood, and envy the guests who had the chance of improving in 
manners by those of their host. The old building yet stands, but never 
more will a landlord, with the air and dignity of a Chatham, hand out the 
leather slippers and place the boot-jack ; and nevermore will Uncle Billy 
Tazwell, itinerant barber, come around with his pot of water, and his soap 
and razors and scissors, to display his skill on the sojourners. The modes 
and the manners are as obsolete as knee-breeches. 

The old customs faded away as tomatoes came into use. Cultivated for 
ornament as "love apples," so called for some unknown reason, as they 
did not influence love in any way and were not needed for that in our valley 
they were at length discovered to be edible ; but, like oysters, we had to 
learn to eat them ; and oh how the tale would go round among the folks, 
that other folks had tried them ! They were the town talk, as were the 
first oysters, brought up in the shell from Philadelphia, by Major Peacock, 
favored by the stage drivers, with whom he was not close at nipping time. 
But the tomatoes made their way and got on all tables. Soon the school- 


master no longer punished a refractory pupil by making him eat a raw 
tomato. Soon the bow-and-arrow boys 110 longer enforced the same penalty 
on the urchin who missed the target. And by the time tomatoes had fairly 
established themselves, other innovations came, and the sweet seclusion in 
which the people had been so happy was lost forever. 

The civil engineers came up the Jtmiata Valley, and it seemed as if the 
whole outside world was about to break in on us. I was nine years old, and 
with other boys wanted to have a look at them. We had heard Indians 
talked of from infancy, and expected to see the "Ingineers" in scant 
raiment, and with tomahawks and scalping knives. We organized an ex 
ploring expedition to Jack's Creek, a mile and more away, and found some 
gentlemen in caps and short coats, with high boots outside their trousers, 
and also tents, and brass mysteries on three legs. Novel enough, but not 
as we had imagined, and boyhood's fancy was exploded. Forty-nine years 
later, in 1875, speaking of this first sight of civil engineers, in a circle of the 
profession at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, met as an Advisory 
Board on the Jetties, one gentleman spoke up " I was in that party, as a 
rodman." It was the first service in the field of William Milnor Roberts. 

They were surveying for the "canawl." Our exports, mainly "wheat 
and whiskey," had been sent to market in arks and keelboats, floated down 
the Jimiata into the Susquehanna, and thence to tide water. The arks 
were rude structures, similar to the flatboats of the Ohio, but sharp at both 
ends, and were never brought back. The keelboats returned, pushed up 
stream by poles, against the ends of which the boatmen placed their shoul 
ders, and then by walking from stem to stern, literally propelled the boat 
by the use of their legs. Some of the first models of steamboats exhibited 
at Philadelphia (in the days of Fitch and Bumsey, before Fulton was 
heard of), had pushing sticks at their sides similar to the old Juniata keel- 
boats. Fulton did not invent the steamboat. He put into practical use the 
ideas of others. Give him his due, but let us not forget Fitch, Rumsey, 
Evans, and other " visionaries." Even the Spaniard at Barcelona, so long 
before them all, should not be forgotten. 

The cargoes brought up the Juniata comprised groceries, hardware, gen 
eral merchandise, and gypsum the latter for use as a fertilizer on corn and 
clover. To push a boat up our little river with poles was transportation 
under difficulties, but bore no comparison in toil and hardship with the up 
stream navigation of the Mississippi and Missouri, in early days. Laclede 
and Chouteau, .Lewis and Clark, Campbell, Ashley, Sublette, and their 
associates, were heroes of energy and perseverance, and seem to have been 
special creations, intended or predestined for the rugged work they did. 

The advent of the engineers was a great event in our town and valley, 
but belief in the " canawl " was by no means universal. " It will break up 
the bell-teams, and ruin the taverns ; " and upon the whole it was rather to 
be regarded as an invention of the evil one. This feeling did not wear away 
till expenditures on the work put more money afloat than had ever been 


known before; and then prejudice yielded to interest. Money is a capital 
teacher, and nobody was ruined after all. 

Pennsylvania, with a population of only 1,049,458 in 1820 and only reach 
ing to 1,348,233 in 1830, had entered on a scheme of public works which 
ultimately cost about forty millions of dollars, and many tax-payers were 
seriously alarmed. But the debt is now, I believe, pretty well wiped out, 
and the benefits of the bold policy remain. The little episode, more than 
forty years ago, of default for a time in the payment of interest a lapse 
which elicited the caustic letters of Rev. Sidney Smith is now forgotten. 
At this day, the states need not run in debt for public works. Corpora 
tions build them for us, and we escape the taxes for construction, but are 
happily left free to growl at the manner in which they are operated, 
while our transportation charges are less for the service rendered than 
those of any other people on earth. 

It was In its day a great work, that canal up the Juniata, and when one 
looks back to it, the profession of civil engineering is seen to have achieved 
triumphs. There were great engineers fifty or sixty years ago, as fully 
equal to the problems then to be solved as our great engineers are to the 
problems to be solved now. The viaduct at the Relay House on the Balti 
more & Ohio Railroad, built fifty years ago, is for symmetry and strength 
unsurpassed by any modern work in stone, and is a noble monument to 
Benjamin H. Latrobe, the engineer. At Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there is 
a wooden bridge built by Theodore Burr in 1812, which has been in use for 
wagons and foot passengers ever since, and whose wooden arches may be 
studied by engineers now with advantage. A stone bridge of two arches 
over the creek at my native town, is older than I am, and will last longer. 

But our canal, which began on the Susquehanna, could not be made 
continuous to Pittsburgh. The Alleghenies intervened, and from Holli- 
daysburg on the east flank of the mountains to Johnstown on the west, the 
Portage Railroad of thirty-six miles was built ; the pioneer mountain road 
of the world on any line of travel. The rise from its east end to the summit 
was over 1300 feet, and over 1100 feet from its west end. To surmount this 
elevation it had inclined planes, from lower to higher levels, and up and 
down these the cars were moved by stationary engines and long cables. 
Some years after the road came into use, loaded canal boats were taken up 
on cars and carried from one side of the mountain to the other, as Mr. Eads 
will take up loaded ships and carry them by rail from the Gulf of Mexico 
to the Pacific Ocean. 

The Tehuantepec Ship Railroad will be a parody on our old Allegheny 
Portage road, but a parody much grander in its composition than the origi 
nal piece. The building of it is only a question of genius and money. The 
world does not question the genius of Mr. Eads, and I have faith that he 
will get the money ; and when the road is completed, the world will wonder 
at its simplicity and ease of operation. It will also wonder at the stupidity 
of a Congress that could not understand or appreciate a work so grand, so 


desirable, and so distinctly American. With money enough provided, I 
have no doubt Mr. Eads could build a bridge across the British Channel, if 
John Bull would let him; but John's dread of "French invasion" is so 
great that he is afraid of the tunnel under the sea, and the proposal of a 
bridge would be a red flag in the arena. " It wouldn't do, you know." 

I have noted the advent of the stages and their drivers when our turn 
pike road came into use; but what is human glory after all? The canal 
came, with packet boats for passengers, and where was the glory of the 
stage driver then ? 

" Gone, like the snowflake in the silver fountain, 
Or as the daylight fades o'er vale and mountain." 

For the boat captain outshone any driver that had ever held rein, or 
sounded his brass horn as he swept proudly round on a high trot to the 
tavern door. The stages still ran, and carried mails, for boats could not run 
in winter ; but the charm had gone out of the driver. No more the expect 
ant gatherings at the tavern portal ; they were down at the canal, to greet 
the packet. And when the boat came gliding into the lock, and her cap 
tain, fearless on her bloodless deck, gave the sonorous order " Snub her ! " 
what was Wellington at Waterloo to him ! 

And in sooth not to be despised were those canal packets : kitchen at 
the stern table from end to end of the cabin three square meals and at 
night a double tier of shelves on each side for beds : what was all this but 
comfort and luxury, if not grandeur, even less than forty years ago ? Eat 
ing, sleeping, and the journey still going on ! What are the dining cars 
and the sleeping cars of that ubiquitous George M. Pullman, but a bold 
faced plagiarism after all ? And George M. never owns to it, that he has 
copied the old packets. True, his cars are elegant and sumptuous, and roll 
along faster than the serene packets ; but you can't go on deck to sit on 
the trunks, sing in the moonlight, or duck your head at the cry of "low 
bridge ! " Nor can you have some youthful Garfield, incipient President, 
driving your locomotive, as you might have had driving the team on the 
towpath. Nor can you enjoy, and study, and analyze the scenery from car 
windows, at forty miles an hour, as you could from the quietly gliding 

And then our rival packet lines, the " Pioneer " and the " Good Intent ; " 
what ardent emulation, with three horses to each boat, tandem on the 
towpath ! Noble ambition to excel ! And when Henry Clay came along 
on his way to Washington, what a chance for the village orator to speak at 
him, and all of us to hear him in response, ' as we sailed ' from one set of 
locks to another ! No hurried hand-shake on a platform, or speech from the 
tail of a car (with the engine bell petulant) can reach the sublime in trip or 
atory. Only the calm interior of the canal packet or the steamboat cabin 
can assure us this. And oh, the generous pride we felt, when our own 
orator, Lawyer Fisher (who had written the "Life of Charles Ball, a Black 


Man," 110 1 inferior in many points to even Uncle Tom's Cabin) made the 
best speech on the whole line, though I can only recall one sentence ad 
dressed to Mr. Clay : " Sir, your fame is as broad and as deathless as the 
winds of heaven ! " Mr. Fisher closed with this comprehensive sentence. 
Altogether it was a superb piece of oratory, and Mr. Clay looked as if he 
had never heard the like before. 

The packet along the Juniata is gone forever. The old canal itself, once 
the pride of a commonwealth, was, when I last saw Unreduced to the base 
uses of a few sluggish freight boats, and is possibly now abandoned. The 
State sold it to a soulless corporation. But peace to thy ashes, Captain 
Jacob Libhart ! In thy day thou wert an exemplar. Easy it is to be royal on 
a throne ; but to be royal on a packet boat ; to sit a prince at head of table : 
to tread the deck, every inch a king ! Such wert thou, oh Jacob, Captain of 
the Daisy Diller! Can ever Pullman conductor equal thee? Compared 
with the cabin or deck of a packet, what is the aisle of a car? 

The work of making the canal brought to the quiet town and valley an 
irruption of "outside barbarians" engineers, contractors, laborers, and 
others. The most distinctive character and greatest curiosity was the Cath 
olic Priest. There were so many "navvies," that the coming of the Priest 
was an advantage to the community as well as to the people under his care. 
He was a blessing all round. But a Catholic Priest was a new thing, and 
when he appeared in the streets, mild and humble as he seemed, he was 
gazed at by all as a curiosity, and by some, perhaps, as a sort of monster. 
Many of our people had never seen a Priest, and could not easily under 
stand that he might possibly be on the road to salvation as well as them 
selves. The Priest was perhaps a bigot, but those who looked askance at 
him were his peers in bigotry. For there used to be bigots, long ago, when 
people were earnest in their faith. But Father Mullaly quietly did his 
work, and got up his little chapel, with the cross on its peak. It is there 
yet ; and if the Priest or his chapel ever wrought harm, I have not heard 
of it. 

Religious toleration had not been the strong point of our home people. 
Intensely in earnest, as a quiet and thoughtful people are apt to be, they 
held godliness to be the one thing needful ; but they did not always realize 
that others, not of their line of faith, might have and enjoy it, and might, 
by the grace of the Most High, even be of the "elect." A more liberal 
spirit is abroad now, but holiness has not gained. The Priest is no longer 
a curiosity or a dragon. But sincerity and earnestness in religious matters 
do not seem to increase as intolerance dies out. 

Another new character was the Yankee clock peddler. I am not sure 
but it may have been Sam Slick himself, Judge Haliburton's friend, who 
drove up to the farm gate, asked to stay the night, and after supper showed 
us a gaily painted wooden clock one he " didn't care to sell," as he wanted 
it for a sample ; but he could go back to the warehouse and get another, if 
need be. We had an eight-day clock in a tall oaken case, that had been in 


the family for unknown years, having, I think, come over the sea in 1745 ; 
but something was wrong with it, and standing still as it did (Father neg 
lecting to have it repaired), its hands only pointed to the right time twice 
in twenty-four hours, and then not reliably. Mr. Slick opened the case and 
looked in, but shook his head. He might try to repair the clock, he said, as 
it had no doubt been a first-rate goer in its day, but in fact he only under 
stood wooden clocks, and if one of these did not work just right he could 
easily whittle a wheel or two into shape. But he was "skeery" about 
meddling with the brass wheels, and " didn't calculate to get the hang on 
'em, and might make it wuss, or suthin V Then he opened the new clock, 
and showed the family all the little wooden wheels, greatly to the edifica 
tion of the children ; and finally thought he could leave it till he came round 
again, when if we "act'lly wanted it," he would let it stay for twenty-five 
dollars. Of course the clock remained, and kept the time as well as it could. 
But I am not unhappy in the reflection that the Priest is a fixture in my 
native town, and that the peddler of wooden clocks at twenty-five dollars 
each is gone forever. 

We had a mark on the porch, and when the shadow of a particular post 
reached it, we knew it meant noon ; and it was neighborhood opinion that if 
our old clock had been sufficiently repaired to keep full time in cloudy 
weather, we might have got along without paying out so much money for a 
new one, and setting an example of extravagance to the rural folks about 
us. For the "Squire," as Father was called, having bought a Yankee 
clock, every farmer in the township must have one, and everybody won 
dered how they had got along all their lives without the "time o' day." 
Fortunately the sun still gave us the shadow of the post to regulate the 
new clock by. 

The " red rock section " of the canal, near our farm, required a great deal 
of blasting. Holes were drilled by hand, coarse blasting powder was poured 
in, a copper rod was inserted, and clay " tamped " in till the hole was filled. 
The copper rod was then drawn out, and fine powder poured in for priming. 
The slow-match was a strip of brown paper the traditional brown paper of 
which the "parcels " in the old English novels was made, and which w r as 
used for wrappers in stores before the days of bags. The strip had been 
soaked in a solution of saltpetre. When adjusted to the priming, the work 
man would touch a coal of fire to one end of it and get out of the way. 

No safety-fuse then ; no steam or atmospheric drills ; 110 nitre-glycerine, 
giant powder, dynamite, "lithofracteur," or other villainous compounds. 
The large-hearted Sylvester H. Laflin, philanthropy incarnate, (busy as the 
bee, but diffusing sweets as he gathers them), had not yet appeared. Queer 
destiny, that one whose goodness lights with steady beam the business 
circles of St. Louis, and whose personal record is a continuous glow of excel 
lence, a magazine of virtues, should head the list of dealers in things that 
only do their service by a flash and explosion, leaving wrecks behind, or 
seeding death ahead. 


But all Laflin's fuses and powders, all Judy's fireworks, can never equal 
to me the long line of blasts put off at the red-rock section of our old canal 
the night before Christmas (the workingmen's welcome to the day), more 
than fifty years ago; when all the farm boys declared, in Pennsyl-vania 
vernacular, that it was " better nor a circus," which was saying a great 
deal. Yet our old-time mode of drilling and blasting was slow, compared 
with modern work. We were only one step advanced from the mining 
process, when fire was built against the rock to make it break out easily 
or, as a high-tony writer in a magazine would say, in Johnsonian phrase, 
facilitate its fracture. 

Christmas day, 1854, was (sinfully) spent in writing the prospectus of a 
copper mining company ; the profits to be counted by the figure 1, and cy 
phers at will ; but we could soon count without the figure 1, using only the 
cyphers. In that prospectus (Whitney's ' Metallic Wreath of the United 
States,' for authority) I said : 

" The Eselschacht, at Kuttemburg, in Bohemia, a mine now abandoned, 
reached the depth of 3,778 feet. At Rorerbuhel, there were, in tne sixteenth 
century, excavations to the depth f 3,107 feet, and the plans of the works 
are yet preserved. These excavations appear the more wonderful, as they 
were made before the introduction of gunpowder." 

Since 1854, the workings of the Comstock lode, in Nevada, have gone to 
depths exceeding 3,000 feet ; but the old Kuttemburg mine, if truly re 
ported, is still the deepest mine in the world ; its depth being only about 
200 feet less than the height of Vesuvius. Comparing this depth with the 
height of the loftiest structures ever erected by man, the Pyramid of Cheops 
and the Strasburg Cathedral the proportions are found to be about eight 
to one. (The Tower of Babel may have been higher than the Pyramid and 
the Cathedral, but we have no measurements.) The Artesian bore at the 
St. Louis Insane Asylum (4,380 feet) is the deepest hole in the ground ever 
made, and, like the Tower in the plain of Shinar, and the Washington 
Monument, it is not yet finished. If the globe is a hollow sphere, as held 
by John Cleve Symmes with an entrance to the interior at each pole and 
if, in the interior, there is a lake of "fire and brimstone," where, as Burns 
has it, " they'll roast ye like a herring," we can brag on the old County 
Court of St. Louis, which got nearer to it than anybody else since Koran's 




I have been writing of times sixty, fifty, forty years ago. Yet what 
changes ! The great Pennsylvania Railroad, exemplar for the world, with 
its two, three, or four tracks, and more rails iii many parts of it than Eads 
will have in his great Ship Railway ; with its utmost perfection of equip 
ments, except as lacking useless ornament and its army of operatives, dis 
ciplined to more than military exactness now bears through the Juniata 
valley and over the Alleghanies a commerce of people and things infinitely 
beyond any estimate that any sane man could have conceived sixty years 
ago. The population of the United States is about five times what it was 
then, but the domestic commerce of the country has augmented in a ratio 
much greater, and the census, as I will show in a future chapter, does not 
now measure the forces of the people as it once did. 

In those childhood days, when the pack-horse and his trail were not yet 
forgotten by the elders, and the heavy wains rolled westward to the inspir 
ing music of the bell-teams, few of our people knew anything of railroads or 
locomotives, and nearly all were slow of belief in them, or at least they never 
expected to see them. As a highway to penetrate all regions, to stretch 
across continents, to carry things almost as cheaply as they could float, and 
to whirl people along by day and by night cheaper than they could walk, 
and on the average as safely and to make fortunes for the directors and 
managers the Railroad, even amongst the most enlightened, was not even 
dreamed of. 

Yet railways were very old things, the first line of wooden rails for coal 
wagons from the mines to the water-side having been laid by "Master Beau 
mont," near Newcastle, England, in 1630. Roger North describes these 
roads and rolling-stock in 1676 : " Rails of timber from the colliery down to 
the river exactly straight and parallel, and carts made with four rowlets fit- 


ting these rails, whereby the carriage is so easy that one horse will draw 
fo-ur or five chaldrons of coals." A century later, Arthur Young writes : 
" The coal-wagon roads from the pits to the water are great works, carried 
over all sorts of irregularities of ground so far as the distance of nine or ten 
miles." At the time of the Scotch rebellion in 1745, a railway existed from 
Tranent coal pits to the harbor of Cockenzie, " and a portion of the line had 
the honor of being selected as a position for Gen. Cope's command at the bat 
tle of Prestonpans." Some of my forefathers may have been unwise enough 
to be in that battle on the weaker side and so had to run over to Ireland. 

These wooden tracks were the germ of our modern railway ; although the 
people of Egypt and Baalbec may have had similar ways on which to move 
the great stones of pyramids and temples. The first iron rails (cast-iron 
plates) are supposed to have been laid down in England as early as 1738. In 
1776, John Curr laid a cast-iron railway near Sheffield, but the miners got 
up a riot and destroyed it, and Mr. Curr had to hide in the woods three days 
to escape their fury ! Benjamim Outrain laid rails in 1800, and hence our 
term " tram-roads," called after the tail-part of Benjamin's family name. 

Solomon de Cans, who was shut up in the Bicetre of Paris for his supposed 
madness, is believed to have been the first to conceive the idea of employing 
steam for moving carriages on laud as well as ships at sea. No record is 
more sad than that of de Cans. Marian de Lorme, in a latter dated Paris, 
1641, describes a visit paid to this celebrated mad-house in. company with 
the English Marquis of Worcester. "A frightful face appeared behind some 
immense bars, and a hoarse voice exclaimed, ' I am not mad ! I am not mad ! 
I have made a discovery that would enrich the country that adopted it.' 
'What has he discovered?' asked our guide. 'Oh,' replied the keeper, 
' something trifling enough ; you would never guess it ; it is the use of the 
steam of boiling water. This man is named Solomon de Caus ; he came from 
Normandy, four years ago, to present to the king a statement of the wonder 
ful effects that might be produced from his invention. To listen to him you 
would imagine that with steam you could navigate ships, move carriages 
in fact, there is no end to the miracles which he insists could be performed. 
The Cardinal sent the madman away without listening to him. Solomon de 
Caus, far from being discouraged, followed the Cardinal wherever he went, 
who, tired of finding him forever in his path, and annoyed at his folly, shut 
him up in the Bicetre. He has even written a book about it.' " The Mar 
quis of Worcester studied the book, and portions of it are embodied in his 
" Century of Inventions." 

Savary, Watt, Symington, and other Englishmen, in the last century, 
entertained the idea of steam-carriages, but did not reduce it to practice. 
The first model of a steam-carriage of which there is any account, was con 
structed in France by a Frenchman named Cugnot, in 1763. He afterwards 
built an engine on the same plan ; but when set in motion it projected itself 
onward with such force that it knocked down a stone wall, and, its power 
being considered too great for ordinary use, it was stowed away in the Arse- 


nal Museum at Paris. Oliver Evans, the American inventor, in 1772 invented 
a steam-carriage *to travel on common roads, but for lack of funds was not 
able to put it into operation. 

The first English model of a steam-carriage was made in 1784 by William 
Murdoch. It was on the high-pressure principle, and ran on three wheels. 
It was very diminutive, standing little more than a foot high, and the boiler 
was heated by a spirit lamp. One night Murdoch determined to try the 
working of his model locomotive, and for this purpose chose the walk lead-, 
ing to the church about a mile from the town. The walk was narrow and 
bounded by hedges on either side. It was a dark night, and Murdoch set out 
alone to try his experiment. Having lit his lamp, the water began to boil, 
and off started the engine with the inventor after it. He soon heard distant 
shouts of despair, and, on following up the machine, found that the cries 
for assistance proceeded from the worthy pastor of the parish, who, going 
towards the town, was met on this lonely road by the hissing and fiery 
little monster, which he subsequently declared he had taken to be the Evil 
One in proper person. No steps were taken by Murdoch to embody his idea 
of a locomotive carriage in a more practical form. 

In 1802 Richard Trevethick and Andrew Vivian, of Cornwall, took out a 
patent for "methods of improving the construction of steam-engines, and 
the application thereof for driving carriages, and for other purposes." They 
built a steam-carriage, and it is said that "this was the first successful high- 
pressure engine constructed on the principle of moving a piston by the elas 
ticity of steam against the pressure of the atmosphere"; but this only applies 
to England. Oliver Evans, at Philadelphia, had previously built and oper 
ated a high-pressure engine. The steam-carriage of Trevethick and Vivian, 
the first ever constructed for actual use on common roads, was, on the whole, 
tolerably successful, and the makers determined to exhibit it in London. 
Coleridge relates that "while the vehicle was proceeding along the road at 
the top of its speed, Vivian descried ahead of them a closed toll-gate, and 
called out to Trevethick, who was behind, to slacken speed ; but the mo 
mentum was so great that the carriage proceeded some distance, coming 
dead up, however, just on the right side of the gate, which was opened like 
lightning by the toll-keeper. 'What have us got to pay here?' asked Vivian. 
The poor tollman, trembling in every limb and his teeth chattering, essayed 

a reply : ' Na-na-na-na' l What have us got to pay, I say ?' ' No-noth- 

nothing to pay ! Dear Mr. Devil, do drive on as fast as you can ! nothing 
to pay !' " The carriage was exhibited in London, but never came into use 
ful service. 

In 1804 Trevethick constructed a locomotive for use on railroads, and it 
succeeded in dragging after it several wagons at the rate of five miles an 
hour, but it proved a practical failure. To get rid of the waste steam it was 
discharged into the smokestack through a pipe at right-angles. "Trevethick 
was here hovering on the verge of a great discovery," but he was not aware 
of the action of the waste steam in contributing to increase the draft, as in 


1815 he patented fanners to urge the fire. Yet his locomotive, "although 
unfitted for actual work, was a highly meritorious production, and its inven 
tion may be said to constitute an important link in the mechanism of the 

In Trevethick's day an imaginary difficulty tended to retard the adoption 
of the locomotive. This was the supposition that the " bite" of the smooth 
wheels on the rail would not be sufficient to enable the engine to draw a 
heavy load ; and his engine had projections or knobs on the wheels, which 
of course caused great jolting of the machine. In 1811 Mr. Blenkinsop, of 
Leeds, took out a patent for a racked or toothed rail, laid along one side of 
the road, into which a toothed wheel of his engine worked. Engines on this 
plan began running on the railway from the coal mines to Leeds, three and 
a half miles, in 1812, and continued for some years to be one of the principal 
curiosities of the neighborhood. This was the first instance of the regular 
employment of locomotive power for commercial purposes. 

In 1812 a locomotive, made by Chapman, was tried near Newcastle, to 
drag itself along by a chain stretched from one end of the road to the other, 
and passed once around a grooved barrel-wheel under the engine. It was soon 
abandoned. Another remarkable expedient was adopted by Mr. Brunton, 
in Derbyshire, who, in 1813, patented his "Mechanical Traveler," to go upon 
legs, working alternately like those of a horse ! These, and other similar 
contrivances, projected about the same time, show that invention was ac 
tively at work, and that many minds were laboring to solve the important 
problem of locomotive traction upon railways. 

In 3813, at the Wylam colliery, owned by Mr. Blacket, experiments 
were made to test the adhesion of smooth wheels on smooth rails. Wm. T. 
Waters, of Toronto, Ontario, states in a late publication* that his grand 
father, Thomas Waters, "late of Gateshead-on-Tyne," is entitled "to the 
honor of the construction of the first traction locomotive." It was built 
mostly "at his works at Gateshead, with the assistance of his son, Thomas 
Waters, Jr., and a man named Hudspeth, who were the only three men that 
ever touched the machine or engine." This engine, Mr. Waters says, "was 
made to the order of Wm. Hedley, viewer of Wylam colliery, who, with my 
grandfather's assistance, invented traction." " It is eight miles to Wylam 
colliery from Gateshead, and my uncle, then a lad of 18, made a trolley with 
a crank [the first handcar?] on which he and Hudspeth used to go to New- 
burn at night or at the end of the week, and also to take material and tools 
to their work. Wm. Hedley and my grandfather thought an engine might 
be made to pull the wagons instead of horses (having seen the trolley), and 
the trial of the first traction engine began. To determine this point [the 
adhesion of smooth wheels] Hedley had a carriage constructed, placed upon 
the railroad, and loaded with iron ; two, four, and six loaded wagons were 
attached to it ; the carriage itself was moved by men at four handles. Hed- 

* See letter of Wm. T. Waters in " Railway Age," Chicago, March 22, 1883. 


ley took notes of the weight of carriage and iron, and of the loaded wagons, 
and when the wheels revolved without drawing the wagons. The weights 
were repeatedly varied, but with the same relative results. This experi 
ment, which was on a large scale, my uncle, Thomas Waters, had previously 
tried on a small scale. But tubes out of the colliery were used before that, 
on a road of smaller gauge, in Mr. Blacket's grounds, to obtain privacy. 
After that, Mr. Hedley ordered my grandfather. Thomas Waters, to con 
struct an engine. How could Stephenson be the father of the locomotive? 
I would not detract one tittle of the celebrity of Mr. Stephenson in making 
certain improvements. Now, it has often been asserted that Stephenson 
made the first engine, and by some others that Hedley made it, but the 
truth is this : Hedley perfected traction ; Thomas Waters, Jr., invented 
and made the first trolley and crank ; and Thomas Waters [the grandfather 
of William T. of Toronto] made the first engine, to the order of Hedley, 
for Blacket to use at Wylam colliery." Mr. Blacket opened his purse for 
these experiments at Wylam, as Lord Ravensford did for Stephenson at Kil- 

In 1814 George Stephenson's first locomotive was placed on the railway 
of the Killingsworth colliery. After a year's use, it was found that the cost 
of hauling by horses and by steam was about equal. Mr. Stephenson then 
turned the escaping steam into the chimney through a pipe curved upward, 
and the power of the engine was at once more than doubled ; combustion 
was stimulated, the capacity of the boiler to generate steam was greatly in 
creased, and the effective power of the engine augmented in the same pro 
portion. This experiment gave life to the locomotive. It was followed by 
the multitubular boiler and the coupled driving-wheels. Mr. Stepheiison's 
engines continued for seven or eight years at work on the Killingsworth coal 
road without attracting any general attention in England. Mr. William T. 
Waters claims that a second locomotive, built by his grandfather in 1814, 
had " a return-tube in the boiler, and also had the exhaust-pipe carried into 
the chimney and upturned therein." I have never before seen any denial of 
Stephenson's right to the credit of this vital feature of the locomotive. 

It is no wonder that little was known of railroads or locomotives in our 
quiet region along the Juniata sixty years ago. It was only in 1823 that the 
act of Parliament for the Stockton & Darlington railroad, in England, was 
passed a road projected by the quaker, Edward Pease, and laid out by 
George Stephenson the first railroad in the world for general commercial 
purposes, and opened for traffic in 1825. In that year the civil engineers 
were preparing to invade our Juniata valley, and the Stockton & Darlington 
railway began a revolution in the habits of the human race which is already 
more wonderful than any other on record. 

The first railroads in the United States were built to carry gravel, stone, 
anthracite coal, and other heavy materials. All were short. One was built 
on Beacon Hill in Boston, in 1807 ; one in Delaware county, Pennsylvania, in 
1809 ; and one at Bear Creek Furnace, Armstrong county, Pa., in 1818. The 


tracks were composed of wooden rails. Other short roads, similarly con 
structed, were built in various places. Prior to 1809, Oliver Evans, of Phila 
delphia, urged repeatedly in public addresses the construction of a passen 
ger railroad from Philadelphia to New York, and in that year attempted to 
form a company for this purpose. In 1812 Col. John Stevens, of Hoboken, 
New Jersey, published a pamphlet recommending the building of a passen 
ger railroad from Albany to Lake Erie, but his suggestions were not heeded. 
In April, 1823, the State of New York chartered the Delaware & Hudson 
Canal Company to construct a canal and railroad from the coal fields in 
Pennsylvania to the Hudson river at Rondout ; the railroad, 16 miles long, 
from Honesdale to Carbondale, to carry coal, was completed in 1829. In 

1826, the Quincy railroad, in Massachusetts, 4 miles long, was built to haul 
granite to the port of Neponset; the rails of wood, strapped with iron. In 

1827, the Mauch Chunk railroad, 9 miles long, was built in Pennsylvania to 
connect coal mines with the Lehigh river ; the gauge was 3 feet 7 inches, and 
the wooden rails were faced with iron. In 1826, the State of New York char 
tered the Mohawk & Hudson railroad, for freight and passengers, from Al 
bany to Scheiiectady, 47 miles ; work was not begun till 1830, and the road 
was opened for travel in September, 1831. 

On February 28, 1827, the State of Maryland chartered the Baltimore & 
Ohio railroad. Work was begun July 4, 1828, and in 1829 the track was fin 
ished 6 miles, and "cars were put upon it for the accommodation of the offi 
cers, and to gratify the curious by a ride." This was the first road in the 
United States that was opened for the conveyance of passengers ; it was 
finished to Ellicot's Mills, 13 miles, in 1830. The Washington branch was 
opened to Bladensburg in July, and to Washington in August, 1834. 

The Charleston & Hamburg railroac^ in South Carolina, was chartered in 
December, 1827. A locomotive was placed on it in 1830. The road was com 
pleted in September, 1833, a distance of 135 miles ; at that time it was the 
longest continuous line of railroad in the world. The rails used on the 
Charleston and on the Albany road were of wood, with flat bar-iron nailed 
on them. The track of th e Baltimore & Ohio consisted of cedar cross-pieces 
and string-pieces of yellow pine 12 to 24 feet long and 6 inches square, with 
iron bars on them. The flanges of the wheels were on the outside. After 
some miles of this kind of road had been made, long granite slabs were sub 
stituted for the cedar cross-pieces and pine stringers. "Iron strips were laid 
for miles and miles on stone curbs." Before the road had been finished to 
Point of Rocks, in 1832, " wrought-iron rails of the English mode" had been 
laid on part of the line. 

About this time various patterns of rolled iron rails were in use in Eng 
land. The first of these was the fish-bellied, invented and patented in 1820, 
and which fitted into cast iron chairs. The larger part of the Stockton and 
Darlington road, thirty-seven miles long, was laid with rolled rails of this 
pattern, weighing twenty-eight pounds to the yard. On the Liverpool and 
Manchester road, " the rails used w r ere made of forged iron, in lengths 


of fifteen feet, and weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds each." 

The Clarence rail was au English improvement ; it rested 011 chairs, but 
did not have the fish belly, its upper and lower surfaces being parallel. 
These rails were used on the Allegheny Portage road, in Pennsylvania, 
finished in 1833. On a part of the Philadelphia and Columbia road, opened 
in 1834, flat rails were laid either on granite blocks or wooden string pieces, 
but the larger part of the track had Clarence rails. On the Boston and 
Lowell road, completed in 1835, stone cross-ties were at first laid, some of 
which were in use as late as 1852. On one track of this road the H rail was 
laid ; this rail rested on chairs, and had a web similar to that of the T rail. 

Many years elapsed after the first railroad was built before any other 
than flat rails were made in America. All the heavy rails were imported 
from England. Up to 1843 there were 110 facilities for the manufacture of 
heavy iron rails, to supply the wants of the 4,185 miles of American rail 
road existing at the beginning of 1844, and of a few hundred additional 
miles then projected. The first heavy rails were rolled in 1844, of the U 
pattern, at the Mount Savage Iron Works in Maryland. The first T rails 
made in America were rolled at the Montour Mill at Danville, Pennsylva 
nia, in 1845. 

The T rail, now universally used on American railroads, is generally 
supposed to be of English origin ; but it was invented by Robert L. Stevens, 
of Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1830, and was first laid on the Camden and 
Ainboy railroad. It did not come into general use until after 1845. The 
first made of these rails were only sixteen feet in length. The first rails 
thirty feet in length were made at the Cambria Iron Works at Johnstown, 
Pennsylvania, in 1856, but there being no demand for them they were used 
on the tracks of that company at tkeir works. The first thirty foot rails 
rolled on order, were made at the Montour Works in 1859. The first sixty 
foot, or double length rails, were rolled at the Edgar Thompson steel works, 
Pennsylvania, in 1875 ; and that company, in 1876, exhibited a steel rail at 
the Centennial Exhibition one hundred and twenty feet in length, weighing 
sixty-two pounds to the yard. The rail mills in the United States have 
now a capacity of three million tons of iron and steel rails per annum. 
More than nine tenths of the rails rolled in 1882 were of steel. 

The first locomotive, the "Stourbridge Lion," did not touch American 
soil till I was twelve years old. At a convivial meeting in 1855, Major Hora 
tio Allen, engineer of the Erie Railroad, described in a speech the first trip 
made by a locomotive on this continent : 

" Where was it? And who awakened its energies and directed its move 
ments ? It was in the year 1829, on the banks of the Lackawaxen, at the 
commencement of the railroad connecting the canal of the Delaware and 
Hudson Company with their coal mines and he who addresses you was the 
only person on that locomotive. The road had been built in the summer, 
the structure was of hemlock timber, of large dimensions, notched in caps 
placed far apart. The timber had cracked and warped from exposure to the 


sun. After about three hundred feet of straight line the road crossed the 
Lackawaxeii creek on trestle work about thirty feet high, with a curve of 
three hundred and fifty to four hundred feet radius. The impression was 
very general that this iron monster would either break down the road, or 
leave the track at the curve and plunge into the creek. My reply was, that 
it was too late to consider the probability of such occurrences ; there was no 
other course but to have a trial of the strange animal, which had been 
brought here [from England] at great expense ; but that it was not neces 
sary that more than one should be involved in its fate ; that I would take 
the first ride alone, and the time would come when I should look back to 
the incident with great interest. As I placed my hand on the throttle 
valve, I was undecided whether I would move slowly, or with a fair degree 
of speed, but believing that the road would prove safe, and preferring, if we 
did go down to go handsomely, and without any evidence of timidity, I 
started with considerable velocity, passed the curve over the creek safely, 
and was soon out of hearing of the cheers of the vast assemblage. At the 
end of two or three miles I reversed the valve, and returned without acci- 
dent to the place of starting, having thus made the first railroad trip by 
"locomotive in the western hemisphere." 

Pioneer of wonders, good Major Allen ! Unconscious of the great future ; 
for if I had told thee, then, that in fifty- four years there would be more 
than 110,000 miles of railroad in the United States, and 250,000 in the world, 
derision would have curled thy shaven lip ! 

As late as 1829, two distinguished engineers, Mr. Walker and Mr. Ras- 
trick, solemnly advised the use of stationary engines, instead of locomotives, 
on the Liverpool and Manchester railroad, then nearly completed ; but 
Stephenson insisted on the locomotive, and at a competitive trial in October, 
1829 (for a prize of 500 pounds), the Rocket ran at the rate of twenty-five 
miles an hour, and settled the question. In 1830 the road was opened with 

Peter Cooper built the first locomotive made in America, the "Torn 
Thumb," and ran it on the Baltimore and Ohio road in August, 1830. It 
was a small affair, rather a working model than an engine for service, and 
Mr. Cooper was his own engineer. To make a tubular boiler he used gun 
barrels. "The Best Friend of Charleston," the first American locomotive 
for actual service, was built at the West Point foundry in New York City, 
and put to use on the Charleston and Hamburg railroad in South Caro 
lina, in 1830. 

The idea of hauling cars by horses was not given up for some years after 
the first railroads were constructed in the United States. I think horses or 
mules were used for a time on the Pennsylvania state road from Philadel 
phia to Columbia. On most of the levels of the Allegheny Portage railroad 
the cars were drawn by horses. In 1837, when I first saw it, this road had 
but one locomotive. 

Another old time idea was, that railroads should be used like common 


roads, and every citizen be at liberty to put on his own cars, just as he could 
put his wagons on a turnpike road, and pay tolls. Very crude and absurd 
it all seems now; but the Pennsylvania state road, from Philadelphia to 
Columbia, was for a number of years operated simply as a highway for 
vehicles of transportation owned by individuals. The "Commonwealth 1 ' 
furnished the track and all motive power, but the cars were private prop 
erty, and tolls were paid for the use of the track and hauling the cars. 
Langhable enough, now, is it not? But it was a very serious matter then, 
especially as the " Superintendent of Motive Power " was a state officer, and 
belonging of course to the political party in power, was always chargeid by 
the party not in power with stealing all he could. In course of time the 
cars came to be owned by companies, and individual owners disappeared ; 
but I have forgotten at what time the State undertook to provide both cars 
and engines, and to charge freights on the goods instead of tolls for use of 
track and hauling. Years ago the road passed from the ownership of the 
State to that of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. A prolific source of 
partisan corruption was closed up, but the interest of party contests fell off 
sadly. Patriotism waned as profit fled. 

As our first railroad had, generally, only the "flat rail" bars of iron 
spiked on stringers of wood or stone they were very imperfect, but were a 
great deal better than none ; and I feel no shame to confess that we were 
very proud of them. No great speed was made or expected. Accidents 
were not unknown ; but there was one peril which we escape on the T rail. 
Sometimes the end of a flat rail would turn upward, pierce the car bottom, 
disturb the passengers, and be decidedly unpleasant, if it did not destroy 
life or limb, or throw the car from the track. These intruding rail-ends 
were called "snakeheads." 

The cars first in use were small affairs. The "burden cars," as freight 
cars were called forty-five years ago, were boxes, a little longer than their 
width, and had a wheel at each corner. Three or four tons made a load for 
one of them. Cars and engines have been in course of improvement ever 
since the first were put on the track ; but the locomotive, with all its varied 
improvements, and its greater weight and power, is in essentials steam 
blast, tubular boiler, and connecting rods the same as when George Steph- 
enson's Rocket, in September, 1830, ran thirty miles an hour 011 the Liver 
pool and Manchester railroad, astonished the Duke of Wellington and 
killed Mr. Huskisson. 

There were no telegraphs for a number of years after railroads were in 
use ; but the managers nevertheless ran their trains, and we got along. The 
world can do without a great many things it has never enjoyed. I do not 
remember what the speed was on our railroads in early days, but probably 
about fifteen miles an hour as a maximum for passenger trains. On the 
Baltimore and Ohio branch to Washington, in 1841 and 1842 (when I had not 
yet risen above political life), we sometimes made twenty miles an. hour, 
passing a mile post every three minuses by the watch ; but I think this was 


above the average, and was a special blessing vouchsafed to the office seek 
ers, enabling the expectants to reach the capital quickly, and the dis 
appointed to get home before their borrowed money had all run out. 

The Telegraph, tried and enjoyed, in 1844 as a curiosity, between Wash 
ington and Baltimore, was opened for general business April 1, 1845. But 
I need not here write of the Telegraph, or more of our magnificent railroad 
system; for if fully described this year, their extension and expansion 
would require a supplementary description next. When Napoleon's Army 
was marching past the pyramids, he said to his soldiers, in immortal bom 
bast, " Forty Centuries look down upon you!" I never kneMt what he 
meant. I hardly think the dead centuries look down on any body. But let 
them look at our railroads if they can. 


Old kings of Egypt squandered life and limb 
Their grand, mysterious Pyramids compiling ; 

The stately sepulchre, the monarch's whim, 
The victor's trophy piling. 

But what are those dead monumeiits to-day ? 

Stupendous stones, telling of wondrous labors t 
Compared with them how grand our iron way, 

Making remote men neighbors ! 

Sleep on, old king ! nor heed the vapor scream, 

Start not from cold sarcophagus in panic ; 
Rest, mummy monarch ! ignorant of steam, 

And modern world's mechanic. 

Eloquent your Pyramids of wasted toil 

Our roads of progress, culture and facility ; 
Monuments the one of human wrong and spoil> 

The other of utility ! 

No lofty Pyramid, no Karnac's fane, 

No Sphynx, no Memnon, calls up emulation ; 
We rather turn to where your flooded plain 

May teach us irrigation. 

Sleep on, old king! why wake up now to find; 

Your vaunted glory treated as prepost'rous? 
GEORGE STEPHENSON, in service to mankind, 

We rank above SESOSTEIS ! 

His day is past, the monarch of the Nile- 
Gone are his vassel kings, and tribute votive ; 

Yet was his courtier, with a fawning smile, 
Moved by a ioco-motive ! 







The picturesque and ever beautiful valley of the Juniata, to be famous in 
story and song when written, had no railroad for a dozen years after I had 
left it. In my younger days people could t)e amazingly happy without rail 
roads, or telegraphs, or photographs, or sundry other things now by use 
made essential to comfort. They could be happy with only flint-lock guns. 
The percussion cap and lock were invented about 1822, but new tilings 
made their way slowly into the interior, and I first heard of the new gun- 
lock in 1826. My uncle told of a percussion lock he had seen on a gun in 
Baltimore, where he had been to sell iron and buy " store goods." He was 
an " Iron-Master," and had the Hanover Works in old Bedford county, in 
the "cove" below McConnelsburg, near the Maryland line a serious, quiet, 
tall gentleman, who could lean over to the right, rest his left elbow on his 
ribs, and, with a long flint-lock rifle balanced on his extended hand, take off 
a squirrel's head at eighty yards. He was a little proud of his skill, too ; 
and when the workmen practiced at " shooting-mark," he would walk over 
to the ground about the time they got through, borrow a rifle from some 
one and win the turkey, though he never claimed it. Impressed with the 
value of the percussion lock, he was quite effusive in his description of it 
to the hands and lost caste sadly. They could respect his general probity 
and his markmanship, but not his heretical notions about gun-locks, as they 
took no stock in new-fangled things. Crack shots as they all were with 
flint-locks, they cared for nothing better than their fathers had, but "only 
wished they could have a fellow there with one of those new contrivances"; 
they would soon ll show him how to shoot." 

This notice of gun-locks is put here in order that the younger readers 
may understand a phrase once used by Henry Clay when his party had lost 


an election: " Pick your flints and try it again!" The innocent youth of 
the present day, raised on percussion locks, fixed ammunition, and breech 
loaders, cannot understand the record of our great and glorious country if 
they do not know what flint-locks were. Let them think of George Wash 
ington, of Daniel Boone, of Andrew Jackson and his ' 'Hunters of Kentucky" 
at New Orleans, and all the flights of the American eagle before percussion 
locks were known ! Then let them disparage our old flint-locks if they can. 

The people were fond of shooting in old Bedford county long ago, but, 
while they insisted on fair play in a fist fight, they were yet so sadly lacking 
in "chivalry" and so low down in civilization that they did not shoot each 
other. About 1840 my brother David, then a law student in Bedford town, 
w r as sent toa remote township to attend an "arbitration"; for in those primi 
tive times the parties in cases of dispute would often agree to " leave it out 
to men." Of course there was a gathering of rural folks, and rifle practice, 
with the common result of " driving the nail"; and after they "had all taken 
a shot and bragged a little on their skill, David remarked that he " didn't 
consider that sort of thing shooting at all." 

" Well, Mr. Lawyer, what do you call shootin' ? And what's better nor 
drivin' the nail?" 

"I'll tell you what shooting is. Anyone can drive the nail. No judg 
ment required for that. Hold steady, sight at the nail, pull trigger, and 
there you are. But to put the bullet so close to the nail as just to leave paper 
enough to hold up the mark that's shooting." 

And then he was about to mount his horse, when the man who had be 
fore spoken, and who had just reloaded his gun, handed it to him with the 
request that he would show them "how to do that sort of shootin'." A piece 
of paper the size of a dollar was tacked to a fence-post 80 yards distant ; he 
slowly raised the gun (intending, if he missed the post, to say that he could 
only rely on his own rifle) and blazed away. To the astonishment of all, and 
most of himself, he made the very shot he had described, and was famous at 
once ; but as he rode homeward he made up his mind never again to shoot 
in Blackleg township. The young lawyer was named David after a plain 
neighbor of the family, and not after the sovereign upon whom Rev. E. Car 
ter Hutchinson, nearly forty years ago, preached in St. Louis one of his terse, 
vigorous, and instructive sermons, taking for text the phrase, "David was a 
man after God's own heart." I listened to that sermon with much interest, 
as there were passages in the life of David that had always seemed to me a 
little irregular, to say the least, and I was curious to know how he would 
treat them. The Rector of St. George's Church, who never preached a dull 
or stale sermon, touched charmingly on the youth of David, and his cele 
brated duel with Goliath, and then traced his career as he rose higher and 
higher his conduct as a warrior, and as a judge in Israel giving him the 
exalted character to which he is no doubt justly entitled ; and when I was 
about to conclude that the dark spots were to be passed over without even a 
sweep of the whitewash brush, the Rector said, in his forcible and impres- 


sive way, "In the matter of Uriah the Hittite, David must stand on the 
same platform with other sinners !" Not another word ; and there, oh sin 
ners, David stands among you yet ! 

A splendid fellow he was, that brother of mine: among the very first to 
mount the castle top at Chapultepec, when Scott's army captured the City 
of Mexico; but fated to perish at last under Blunt, in 1862, on the Kansas 
border. And all the rest but one are gone ; of eleven boys, only two of us 
left. Only two, and one an old fogy, myself; probably the only man who 
laments the flint-locks, or thinks the invention of the percussion lock has 
had more evil than good results. There is said to be in the Tower of Lon 
don the model of a revolving pistol two or three hundred years old. It 
came to nothing. The revolver could only work with the percussion lock, 
happily not then invented. But at length it came into use, and in due se 
quence came Colt (or rather Maxwell, said to have prompted Colt) with the 
murderous weapon. But suppose there had been no percussion lock, no 
Colt or Maxwell, and no revolver ; would there be the same killing spirit 
abroad ? Would our record be stained with countless homicides ? Would 
human life be so cheap ? Would laws be needed against concealed weap 
ons ? Would labor be taxed as it is for expenses of jails and criminal 
courts ? Would Judge Lynch hold his summary court as often as he does? 

To moralize or grumble is fruitless. The facts of science and art cannot 
be changed. Chemistry, donor, in the last eighty years, of so many good 
things for the useful arts, gave us the fulminate for the percussion cap, and 
we must bear the consequences. Chemistry also gave us (about fifty years 
ago) the friction match a great convenience for good uses, and also for 
bad ; a gift of inestimable value to the incendiary. Even the nibbling of a 
rat may burn your store or dwelling, which he never could have done with 
the old " tinder-box," and its pine splints touched at the end with brim 
stone. Millions of property and some lives have been destroyed by the 
friction matches; and we might have been a richer people and fully as 
happy if we had kept on lighting our fires with " flint and steel." I antici 
pate the pert and pertinent query >" what are you going to do about it?" 
And I answer nothing. 

In a regular autobiography, the writer must go from point to point 
seriately ; but in a Memoir like this he may hop round like a sparrow and 
pick up anything he likes. So I now go back to the age of five or six years, 
when I first saw a furnace smelting iron ores. My uncle was then at Free 
dom Iron Works, near my native town, and having no children, he and my 
aunt often had me to stay at their home. He had a furnace and a forge 
driven by water power ; for in that day, the steam engine, now so common, 
was unknown in our valley, and indeed in many parts of Pennsylvania. It 
was only twenty-five years or so since Trevethick in England, and Oliver 
Evans in Philadelphia, had shown what high-pressure steam could do, thus 
supplementing the work of Watt, and providing for the future locomotive, 
of which all of them had dreamed dreams. If any of our home people 


believed in the steam engine at all, they did so on " evidence of things not 
seen ; " but. water power was abundant, and steam was not needed. 

My uncle's furnace made about six tons of pig metal in twenty-four 
hours. The blast was made in two large wooden tubs, in which wooden 
pistons were alternately pushed down by earns on the shaft of a water- 
wheel, and drawn up by balance beams, with weights on their ends ; and 
the blast from each tub went through its own pipe to the one tuyere of the 
furnace. The reservoir tub, for both pipes to blow into, and thus equalize 
the blast and let it be delivered in a single pipe to the furnace, had not been 
invented. The tuyere was of clay, kept in shape by the "founder," who 
.with a long-handled spatula would plaster it with fresh clay when needed. 
The blast pipes were partly of wood, and I think hoi; blast had not been 
dreamed of. Yet our furnace was on a level with the best of that date. 

I suppose the first iron smelting furnace west of the Mississippi, near 
Caledonia, Missouri, had blast apparatus similar to that of my uncle's fur 
nace. I have not been able to get the name of its builder or the date of its 
erection, probably sixty years ago. A few years past, I saw the primitive 
machinery of a furnace and forge driven by water power, at the Maramec 
Iron Works of Mr. James, in Crawford county, Missouri, where a remark 
able spring, worth a trip from St. Louis to see, has power for large opera 
tions. The early iron men, who built the furnace near Caledonia, and the 
works at the head of the Maramec, brought equal courage and skill to these 
useful enterprises. The first furnace at the Iron Mountain of Missouri, 
built by James Harrison in 1842, had a steam engine and iron blast appar 
atus, as had also the Pilot Knob Works, built by Lewis V. Bogy and 
Conrad C. Ziegler, a few years later. Wm. James, Sr., Samuel Massey, 
James Harrison, Lewis V. Bogy, Conrad C. Ziegler, and the (to me) un 
known builder of the Caledonia furnace, are entitled to be held in remem 
brance as pioneers of iron for all of the continent west of the great river. 
Some of them perhaps had in boyhood no better school house than the one 
t have noted, with greased paper for window glass ; but all were men of 
sterling abilities. Harrison had a wonderful capacity for affairs. Bogy 
was educated at the academy in Kaskaskia, and while a student registered 
his intention to reach the Senate of the United States, and in later life 
intention became fact. 

The old wooden blast tubs have had their day, and are only interesting 
as having helped to make iron for us when we had nothing better. Away 
at the Freedom Iron Works in Pennsylvania, where I first saw the tubs, 
with the balance beams alternately bowing over them as if alive, and when 
the pistons were drawn up the " clup, clup, clup " of the valves inside puz 
zling my boy brain, what did I see on my last visit? Immense iron 
blowers driven by ponderous steam engines, and Bessemer " converters," 
and enormous iron rollers, and other remorseless contrivances, to turn out 
long steel rails, and locomotive tires, and other great products. And the 
works are not called " Freedom " any more ; which is perhaps well enough, 


owned as they are by a great corporation, and the " hands " no longer the 
same as those who were happy under my good uncle, unknowing of strikes, 
and free as the deer often brought down with their flint-lock rifles. But 
the corporation is not niggard in providing homes for the workmen. It has 
long rows of dwellings for their use, and possibly the people are as happy 
as in the long ago, though in a different way. 

The works are now called " Logan," after the famous Miiigo chief, whose 
home was three miles off", at the head of the picturesque gorge called 
"Jack's Narrows," where the tumbling Kishaioquillas creek makes its 
way through Jack's Mountain, grinding the best axes in the world at 
Mann's factory as it rushes on. Logan, the chief, was an honest man, and 
a helpful friend to the early settlers. He was a native gentleman, and val 
ued his honor. Thus, when he and Judge Brown had been shooting mark 
at a dollar a shot, and the Chief had lost five shots, he at once brought out 
five deerskins in payment; and when the Judge \vished to refuse taking them 
on the ground that the shooting had been for sport and not for gain, Logan 
insisted, asserting that he should have required payment if he had won, 
and so was in honor bound to pay when he had lost. The punctilious Chief 
no doubt belonged to one of the first families of the Mingoes. When game 
began to grow scarce, Logan moved to a new home on the Ohio river, had 
all his family murdered by white men, took a fearful revenge, and made (as 
reported by Jefferson) one of the most pathetic speeches in any tongue. 

I would like to have two pictures : one of the Freedom works as they 
were sixty years ago (including the old mansion where I had my first ear 
ache, which my aunt cured by a roasted onion) ; and one of the Logan 
works as they are now. Such pictures would forcibly illustrate the prog 
ress of iron making and manufacture in three score years, greater than the 
most sanguine imagination could have bodied forth. 

In nearly all parts of Pennsylvania there are now furnaces making five, 
ten, or fifteen times as many tons of iron per day as could be made by any 
furnace of my childhood days. And great rolling machinery has taken the 
place of the forge hammers that used to shape the bar iron and plowshares. 
There were then no rolls to draw out the iron, and no steam hammers for 
heavy forging. Cort, in England, had introduced puddling, but it had not 
reached our quiet region, where we wrought out so much bar-iron and so 
many plowshares to be carried westward over the Alleghenies, and some 
even to the Mississippi at St. Louis, where Henry Shaw dealt in Juniata 
iron sixty years ago. 

No we still had the old forge-hammers, thrown up by arms on a water- 
wheel shaft, against a spring beam, and corning down with force to lick 
into shape the glowing " bloom" on the anvil. Unless you have seen it 
when young you cannot understand what a grand sight it was to boyhood's 
eager eyes: the ponderous but unwearied hammer with its measured 
strokes and the stalwart hammerman, active as a prize-fighter, skipping 
about in front of it and with his big tongs dexterously turning the iron on 


the anvil, and proud of bringing it to the desired shape. No you have 
never seen it, and have never felt your little but then honest breast swell 
ing with ambition to be a hammerman I And when work went on in 'the 
dead waist and middle of the night,' the sound of the hammer floating over 
the valley and echoing from the neighboring hills, and mingling with the 
voices of the stream what music more delightful ever crept into the 
drowsy ear ? 

It was a slow way to make iron compared with present modes, but the 
old iron was excellent, and the world had all it needed or wished. It w r ants 
a great deal more now, even in proportion to population. Our fifty and more 
million people need a great deal more iron to the million than our ten mil 
lions did when I was a boy. Railways, iron ships, steam-engines, and ma 
chinery in forms innumerable and almost incomprehensible, multiply the 
demands for iron and steel, and will continue to multiply them. But with 
blast furnaces in the United States able to make 8,000,000 tons of pig-iron a 
year, and Bessemer-works to make 3,000,000 tons of steel, demands will not 
outrun supplies. Prof. Liebig said that the civilization of a nation is meas 
ured by the SOAP consumed. I think the degree of power can be fairly 
measured by the iron produced. Counting (for ease of figuring) 2,000 pounds 
to the ton, the iron production in Uncle Sam's domain stands for the years 
noted : 




Iron in Tuns. 

Iron in Pounds. 

Share to each Person. 





15.00 pounds. 































The decreased production of 1820 as compared with 1810 was owing to a 
general break-up of industries after the last war with Great Britain, of 
which the present younger generation knows little, and can hardly find out 
anything. Starting with 1830, which may be considered the starting year 
of railroads, when the value of the locomotive was no longer doubted, we see 
that in the half century the iron production per capita rose from 25 to 133 
pounds ; or more than five times as many pounds to each person in 1880 as 
in 1830. This great increase did not go into big guns to kill people, but into 
railroads, ships, boats, engines, and machinery of all kinds to produce 
wealth, diffuse comfort, and (if people would only be good) to promote 


All iron in my early days was made with charcoal as fuel. It is only a 
little over forty years since the smelting of iron ores with mineral fuel began 
in America ; and it began in Pennsylvania, always noted for her production 
of iron, and for demanding the " protection" of her great industry. Most 
estimable patriots the Pennsylvaniaus are, and devoted to the metal most 
useful of all ; but I scout the tale, set afloat by the envious, that the people 
of the " Keystone State," as they delight to call their Commonwealth, be 
lieve the Celestial streets to be paved with pig-iron instead of gold ; nor do 
I credit the assertion of the unregenerate, that every Peimsylvanian so for 
tunate in the hereafter as to tread the golden streets, longs even there for a 
tariff on iron to promote domestic production ! No no. When a true Penn- 
sylvanian enters Paradise, he gives up (I do verily believe) the " tariff on 
iron," but probably never before. 

Our production of iron is a measure of power that statesmen will take 
note of; but all men in high places are not statesmen. Too many are like 
the amateur operator in "futures" of the grain market. 

' Were you a bull or a bear?" his friend inquired. 

" I was neither. I was an ass." 

What I did to urge forward the smelting of iron ores by the use of anthra 
cite coal, cannot be told. Editors of newspapers may imagine it. If I had 
files I could show that "we" did not spare effort to circulate information in 
regard to mineral fuel elsewhere, and to encourage its use in Pennsylvania, 
forty-four or forty-five years ago. But what matters all this ? Newspaper 
fellows don't expect credit for all the good they do in this world. 




That tariff on iron ! I first heard of it more than fifty-five years ago, in 
the Presidential contest of 1828. It has been a topic for discussion ever since, 
but whether from lack of statesmanship or other cause, I am not required 
to decide. I was then at my uncle's iron works in Bedford county. He was 
strongly in favor of the tariff, and talked of it on week-days to his visitors 
and the hands; but the latter were mostly "Jackson men," and voted 
against my uncle's side at elections. On Sundays the tariff was laid aside ; 
and the subjects of Predestination, Free-will, Foreknowledge, Omniscience, 
Fixed Fate, and Sins of Omission and Commission, were then up for discus 
sion, as secular topics were not suited to the sanctity of the sabbath, although 
it was "a work of necessity" for the furnace to run. 

Pious Presbyterians they were, my uncle and aunt, but their mansion 
"the big house," as it was called among the hands opened as hospitably to 
the Methodist Circuit Rider as to the Presbyterian Minister, and their secta 
rian horses had equal stalls and fodder. Elaborate discussions of religious 
questions often took place, the preachers of course participating, but all con 
ducted with courtesy and dignity, though frequently enlivened by wit and 
humor worth preserving, but lost forever as the moments fled, like so many 
good things that you may have said, My Dear Reader. That anybody ever 
changed the opinion of anybody else, or yielded a shred of his own, I do not 
aver ; but they talked and argued very earnestly, and with a fullness of in 
formation on religious history, creeds, doctrines, and sectarian distinctions, 
not likely to be displayed in any home circle now, and that would be incom 
prehensible in many. In remote neighborhoods like our " cove," people did 


not then enjoy the advantage of daily newspapers, full of murders, fires, sui 
cides, accidents, outrages, and horrors of all kinds, for family delectation. 
Books were scarce, and there was little periodical literature. Hence for in 
tellectual entertainment they read the Bible and "Commentaries" on it, and 
thought and talked of the mysteries of Creation, God's Providence, Adam's 
fall, Salvation by Atonement, the doctrine of " Election," the power of Sav 
ing Grace, and cognate subjects; not forgetting to give the Pope and his peo 
ple a rap now and then. 

Truly, I think my uncle and aunt were Christians in thought and deed. 
Blessed with faith and hope (of which Col. Ingersoll would rob poor human 
ity), they had no more doubt of the truth as they believed it to be, than they 
had of the stream in the cove, and the mountains on its sides. Righteous 
they were in all things ; and I am sure that even the tariff on iron was de 
sired by my uncle as much for the benefit of the laborers, and of other iron 
workers, as of himself. They had at heart the welfare of the folks about 
them. My aunt had her Sunday school for the children of the work people, 
taught the Bible class herself, and distributed tracts as regularly as the 
sacred day came round. Not only did she visit the mothers at their homes, 
to see that all went well with them, but had them to come up, one after 
another, to spend an afternoon in her own "sitting-room," in order to instruct 
them in needlework and other economies, and raise their thoughts to a 
higher plane by improving conversation. If any were in distress, she was 
the Lady Bountiful ; and in cases of sickness would carefully administer 
sage and elder-blossom tea, and other potent remedies. Memory fondly 
lingers in retrospect of her good works. At the great iron establishments we 
have now, such as the Logan in Pennsylvania and the Vulcan in Missouri, 
there is no one like my revered aunt, who died but a few years ago, past 
eighty, after a life of unselfish goodness. No more the owner knows per 
sonally his " operatives," as my uncle did the "hands" at his furnace and 
forge. No more the lady of " the big house" illustrates in her daily life the 
best teachings of her religion, and lives only to confer blessings. The great 
corporation an incident and necessity of our changed conditions has no 
separate soul, no wife, no Lady Bountiful ; no eye to recognize the grimy 
toiler, and no heart to soften in tenderness toward him. 

Yet the aggregate soul of the great corporation is not dead to the humani 
ties. Railroads have hospitals for the "weary, wounded, sick and sore," of 
their lines. The Cambrai Iron Works of Pennsylvania, covering by various 
departments three miles in length of territory in the western flank of the Al- 
leghanies, and giving employment to ten thousand persons, have most com 
plete arrangements for their intellectual as well as material wants a concert 
room, a lecture hall, a course of free-hand drawing, of mechanical drawing, 
and of geology and mining engineering ; no one is discharged except for 
cause ; the disabled and infirm are taken care of, and there are no strikes. 
Pullman's name is perpetuated in a little city built by his car company, that 
does for the comfort, safety, cleanliness and culture of his employees, what 


his cars do for the convenience, comfort, and luxury of travellers. I have 
faith that the aggregate and corporate soul, although not capable of eternal 
salvation, is not entirely beyond the reach of humane impulses ; especially 
as self-interest goes hand in hand with righteousness, so far as ample minis 
tration to the welfare of those in their service is concerned. Day by day 
stronger minds are needed to manage the great enterprises ; and the capa 
city to run a long line of railroad, or a manufacturing concern covering acres 
of ground and employing thousands of hands, must in time solve the prob 
lem of binding the servants of the corporation to its interests by making its 
welfare and prosperity the surest pledge of their own. It is a very simple 
problem ; but greed is often blind, and only wakes up to great truths after 
its head has been thumped a little. 

How much good my aunt really did among her people, I was too young 
to judge. Perhaps their self-respect was elevated by her teachings, and 
their occasional association with one of her rank and character. Such ought 
to have been the result. But human nature is not angelic. Mrs. Sarah 
Jones, the wife of a forgemaii, was on her way to the mansion one afternoon, 
when I overheard one of her neighbors saying to another, " There goes Sal 
Jones up to the big house to rub against quality!" But possibly the one 
sneering thus had not yet herself been up to the big house, and a rub against 
quality may subsequently have smoothed down her asperities, when envy 
no longer inflamed. 

The owner of iron works in Pennsylvania fifty or sixty years ago was 
often the most important figure in a wide district, and held a position some 
what patriarchal. Neighboring farmers found a market for their products 
at his works, and at times their teams were employed in hauling ore or coal. 
Naturally enough the Iron Master, his family and clerks, superior to most 
of the people near them in education, culture, and manners, ranked as "qua 
lity." For there were patricians and plebeians in those "good old times." 
Judges, lawyers, doctors, and the principal "storekeepers," constituted in 
the towns a sort of aristocracy, and held themselves rather above the com 
monalty, made up of mechanics, the lesser shopkeepers, and so on. The lines 
were not very distinctly drawn, but they existed, and the social boundaries 
were not often stepped over. Farmers of the old families and owners of 
grist-mills in the country were "quality" if their intellectual development 
and personal deportment warranted. Solid worth, however, always had its 
due respect ; and when Fred. Holman had got rich in Philadelphia, and 
paid our native town a visit, he was recognized as a gentleman, although his 
good old mother had sold cakes and beer and taffy to raise means for his 
schooling not malt and hop beer like that made by Joseph Dysant at 
the big spring, but "small beer," made with molasses and other harmless 
things a most refreshing beverage, now obsolete. The Pennsylvanians 
used to have a great deal to say about the " aristocracy " of the Southern 
planters, but I think there was as much of the caste feeling in their own 
State as elsewhere. Nor did position depend on pecuniary circumstances. 


Families of but moderate means often balanced their poverty by their pride, 
and never thought of themselves as less than the social equals of 'any. It 
was not a pride offensive or injurious to anybody high or low, but only a 
feeling that they were of right ladies and gentlemen, above mean things, 
and with a record entitling them to top seats so long as they behaved them 

Beyond the Bible, the Commentaries on it, the Psalm and Hymn books, 
and the book of Common Prayer, our literature was not extensive. I 
remember the Waverley Novels, Thaddeus of Warsaw, and the Children 
of the Abbey, as books that I heard talked of long, long ago ; and Scott's 
poems were read and Burns' songs were sung by the fireside. Montgomery 
and Campbell were also popular ; and everybody read Rasselas, the Vicar 
of Wakefield, and the Deserted Village. Pope and Young were much en 
joyed by the elderly folks. Milton was held in high regard, but, I think, 
not much read, nor is he now. Moore was tolerated, but Byron was consid 
ered wicked. Shakespeare's works and a few of the better plays of later 
authors were not unknown. It would do me good to hear the songs of Burns 
again as I used to hear them in our home circles. Many of the people were 
of Scotch-Irish descent, and their hearts warmed to the minstrelsy of the 
plowman poet. The Almanac was an important annual ; in some quarters 
it ranked next to the Bible, and was about as safe a weather-prophet as 
any since. 

While I was in Bedford county my uncle tried an experiment in Pneu 
matics. He had built a new furnace up the creek from his old works, at the 
base of a swell affording easy approach to its top (there being no machinery 
then to hoist the ore and fuel) ; but the waterfall was a thousand feet or 
more away, and the question was, whether to put the water-wheel at the 
furnace, and carry the water to it in a costly forebay, or to put the wheel 
and blast apparatus at the fall, and carry the blast. This would be a ques 
tion easily settled now, but the science of Pneumatics has advanced since 
1827. My uncle reasoned that if a pipe would carry air forty feet, it would 
carry it a thousand feet, or more; and although the "Founder," or chief 
man in operating the furnace, had no faith in the plan, yet the pipes were 
laid and the machinery started. It operated beautifully. The blast not only 
reached the furnace, but was more regular in its pressure than any known 
before ; and other Iron Masters came over from the other side of the moun 
tains to see the new arrangement. I was not a little proud of that experi 
ment, as its grand success restored to my uncle among the hands some of 
the credit he had lost the year before by his heresy in regard to gun-locks, 
and we all thought him a man of wonderful knowledge. 

The reader smiles, perhaps, at my good uncle for not knowing that the 
blast could be carried ; but let us remember that in those days there had 
been no drilling of tunnels through the Alps, or even in gold or silver mines, 
by the use of compressed air ; no transmission of packages in tubes ; no 
atmospheric motors on railways ; no sinking of piles or piers a hundred feet 


under water, as at the St. Louis Bridge, imitated by Rcebling, without 
acknowledgment, at Brooklyn ; and no scheme of a tunnel under the British 
Channel, only possible by the use of carried air. Brunei's costly experi 
ments with air-tubes on the Great Western Railway in England were not 
tried till 1845. Lord Cochrane did not patent his air-lock till 1831 ; William 
Bush put forth his views in 1841 ; and Pfaunmuller's plans for the Mayence 
bridge were only developed in 1850. In truth, we now know a great deal 
more than my uncle did, and he knew more than George Washington, for 
George had never seen a percussion gun-lock. We now know that if we 
had Niagara utilized (as it will be some day), it could be made to generate 
enough electric force to light up almost the whole State of New York, and 
have power enough left, with adequate "compressors," to drive all the en 
gines in Buffalo, and dispense with steam. When in the future some enter 
prising Buffalofer gets a patent on all these things, he must buy up all my 
"Notes," or they will throw him out of Court when he claims Royalty. 

The blacksmith also tried an experiment, in projectile force. A stove-plate 
had been broken, and, as a new plate could not conveniently be got, it was 
important to mend the old one. Castings were then quite coarse, as all were- 
made at the furnace, and how to drill holes in the plate was the question ; but 
if the holes could be drilled a strip of iron could be riveted on to hold the pieces 
together. Having no drill, for tools were not as plenty as in modern shops, 
Mr. Alexander, the smith, marked the pieces of the plate with dots of chalk 
where the holes were wanted, set them up one at a time, and with his rifle 
at a rest shot through each of them. The- holes were clear and distinct, the 
stove-plate was soon restored to duty, and Mr. Alexander took high rank as 
a knowing and handy man. He was talked about even on the other side of 
the mountains, as far away as Loudon, in Franklin county, where they had 
a tilt-hammer to draw nail-rods, and where Thomas A. Scott was born. 
The principle involved in Mr. Alexander's exploit was the same as that now 
applied to the projectile designed to penetrate a ship's armor, and some 
cannon-ball maker may have heard of our smith's success with the stove- 
plate ; but Mr. Alexander had never heard of armored ships, as none had 
then been thought of. He may have heard some one say, that you can shoot 
a tallow candle through an inch-board if the powder charge is right. With 
all a boy's interest and wonder, I witnessed that unique feat of drilling, 
which I doubt not was the first of its kind, and may possibly have been 
the last. 

I ought to have been happy at my uncle's, but do not think I was. Pleas 
ures I had, but boys are sometimes not gifted to enjoy the serenity of hap 
piness. My pleasaiitest hours, I think, were those in which I wandered off 
alone, up the mountain side to the coaling grounds, where the colliers told 
me how to manage the mounds they called "pits"; or down the creek to the 
quarry, where the fossil shells in the blue limestone excited my wonder, 
and puzzled my juvenile philosophy. It seemed. strange that the Creator 
could have spared time in the six days of world-making to put all these curi- 


ous forms in the rocks ; but I thought it very kind of him to finish off the 
rocks in layers, so easily taken out for building houses, as well as for use 
as flux in the furnace. I would often lay aside my fishing-rod and muse 
at the quarry, trying to think it all out ; but I never took any of the other 
boys into my confidence. I felt that the rude urchins could not under 
stand the rocks, or the impression they made on me ; and it would have 
seemed profanation to let them know the inquisitive awe with which I re 
garded the wonderful contents of the quarry. It is long since I have learned 
how philosophers account for the shells in the limestone, and for the 
length of the " days " in which the world was created ; but I can never for 
get my first studies in Geology at the old stone quarry, and I fear that I 
have never since been quite so near to the Creator as when musing there as 
if in his very presence. 

The boy's troubles ! My little water-wheels and tilt-hammers in the run 
would not always work well, and sometimes the rain would come in the 
night and sweep them away. My kites would fly, but I never could get a 
long enough string. I wanted to shoot, but had no gun. Don't tell me that 
the boy of nine or ten years finds life all sunshine. His wants outrun his 
means as certainly as in maturer life. I could swim w r ith any boy of niy 
years, but others could catch more fish though I could wade along the 
shores of the dam and get as many leeches on my bare legs as the best of 
them. I could go tolerably well in a foot-race, but I went down as a wrest 
ler. With the bow and arrow I could hit as near the mark as any ; and I 
was the first to find out that the tap of a pin at one end of a saw-log could be 
heard by a boy with his ear against the other end an experiment in acous 
tics that even attracted the attention of the schoolmaster. But I was a poor 
fighter and disliked the " code, "which required a boy, if challenged, to 
fight, or else lose caste as absurdly as among grown men. Tom Mills chal 
lenged me to a fist-fight, and I had not courage to refuse. He was a better 
fighter than I, and I had to "holler enough." In fact, I had too much, and 
have disliked fighting ever since. 

When I look back so far it seems at times as if the boy fishing for trout 
that so rarely came to land, or feeling proud of the leeches on his ankles, or 
trying to fight Tom Mills, or wandering up the mountain to where the char 
coal was made, or musing over the shells at the quarry, was not ME, but 
some other boy, and I am almost sorry that the boy WAS me, as he appears 
not to have amounted to much. Yet he had a tender heart ; for on butcher- 
ing-day in the fall, w r hen a yard full of cattle and a pen of hogs were killed, 
as usual at that season (the forge being stopped, and all hands aiding to 
slaughter and dress the animals), he soon tired of the sport of blowing up 
bladders and bursting them to enjoy the noise, and began to pity the poor 
dumb brutes destined to death ; and when the last ox, having seen his com 
panions one by one driven to the gate and shot down, came up of his own 
accord to the fatal spot, and quietly awaited the swift bullet in his forehead, 
the boy could bear it no longer, but went to his aunt in tears, declaring 


between sobs that he would never, never eat another piece of beef as long 
as he lived ! 

Yes in writing of long-gone scenes and events, identity seems at times 
merged into some-one else ; but a gleam of sunshine on the landscape, the 
flitting of a cloud-shadow along a hillside, the purling of a rivulet, the note 
of a familiar bird, or the whites of the leaves as they tnrn up in the summer 
breeze, foretelling a shower, as we used to believe all just as they gleamed, 
and flitted, and purled, and sang, and turned up to the summer air, in early 
days may illuminate old memories, and bring me back at once to the exqui 
site identity of boyhood, and then I am sure that the boy was never anyone 
but ME after all, and I try to think as well of him as I honestly can. 

My excellent aunt read aloud in a manner seldom equaled, and had fault 
less taste in selections. She was almost as fond of one little sketch of events 
that occurred a long time ago, as she was of the CV, the CVII, and the 
CXV Psalms, which she read every Sunday evening, when we had no min 
ister or circuit-rider visiting us. As some of my readers may possibly never 
have read the little sketch, I quote it for their benefit : 

"A certain man named: Ananias, and Sapphira his wife, sold a possession 
and kept back part of the price (his wife also being privy to it), and brought 
a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, 
why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back 
part of the price of the land ? While it remained, was it not thine own ? 
And after it was sold was it not in thine own power ? Why hast thou con 
ceived this thing in thine heart ? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto 
God. And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and gave up the ghost. 
And great fear came upon all them that heard these things. And the young 
men arose, wound him up, and carried him out and buried him. And it 
was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what 
was done, came in. And Peter said unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the 
land for so much ? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto 
her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the spirit of the Lord ? 
behold the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, 
and shall carry thee out. Then she fell down straightway at his feet and 
yielded up the ghost. And the young men came in, and found her dead, 
and, carrying her forth, buried her beside her husband. And great fear 
come upon all the church and upon as many as heard these things." 

My aunt would sometimes let me read the Psalms aloud, and also the 
little sketch; and, while I felt sorry for Ananias and Sapphira, I would 
wonder why the Jackson men were not stricken down, who said so many 
bad things of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. I thought, too, of Eve 
giving Adam the apple, and I thought the case of Ananias was a kind of 
set-off, as no doubt he contrived the deceit, and got poor Sapphira into 





The first harvesting I ever saw was on the slope of a hill on Judge Ed- 
miston's farm, where some men were reaping with sickles, now gone out of 
use entirely, I believe. The cradle was then in use, too, and it was an 
inspiring sight to see four or five muscular cradlers leaning to their work, 
and swinging their cradles in unison deftly dropping the cut grain behind 
them for the rakers and binders who followed. Animation and suggestion 
of utility were blended in the scene. It was the poetry of rural work in 
motion, and very proud of their skill were those cradlers. The man who 
could hold the lead was a sort of hero, while the ambition of others to equal 
him had the pleasant result of helping on the work. My good father 
always applauded the efforts of the emulous and smiled on the strife for 
excellence, as it brought down his wheat and rye the more rapidly. 

Harvesting meant some hard work, but not a little jollity and enjoyment. 
It was a jocund season; there was often much merriment, and many a 
meagre joke was greeted with fat laughter. The world was bounded north 
and south by mountains, and though it was open at both ends, few of the 
people ever got out of the valley. But we had innocent gaiety enough. 
When at last their bodies were laid to rest, their souls mostly went up 
wards ; for Thomas Paine was unknown, and there was no Col. Ingersoll to 
rob them of hope and give nothing in return. 

In the present age of " Prohibition," the reader may be shocked to learn 
that in the harvest fields of central Pennsylvania three-score years ago, the 
use of whiskey was almost universal. Neighborhood distilleries furnished 
a limpid liquor obtained from rye, and the general rule was for each farmer 
to get " a bar'l o' whiskey for harvest." The fluid was sometimes colored 
by putting toasted dried peaches into the barrel, but it was still in a very 
raw condition, though free of deadly drugs. 


Once in my life I got drunk. I was but a child, and having strolled to 
the harvest field, was told to stay in the shade of the tree, where the whis 
key jug and water pail were sheltered from the sun. Having seen the men 
pouring from the jug into the tin cup and drinking, I wondered what it was 
that was so good they smacked their lips after partaking of it. So, after 
they left, I poured and sipped. The result was a " solitary drunk." I think 
there was no exhilaration at all, but dreadful nausea, and a very sick 
but unconscious child was carried home to sleep himself sober. Whether 
or not there was any moral deduced from this occurrence by the use of a 
switch I do not recollect, but probably there was, for it was not customary 
then to spoil the child by sparing the rod. I have ever since been opposed 
to the use of whiskey in harvest, and that little indulgence in grog has 
lasted me more than sixty years, as I have never been carried home from 
that day to this. 

Although whiskey was so liberally used in those old days, I cannot re 
collect that there was much drunkenness. Certainly the results of whiskey 
drinking were not of violent character, as I cannot recall any murders or 
serious affrays during my boyhood. This may have been owing to the 
purity of the liquor. Fist-fights were expected on the 4th of July, on " mus 
ter day," when the militia paraded, and at elections, but no deadly weapons 
were used, and the combatants were usually good friends again when sober. 
The fights grew out of ambition to be the best man of the neighborhood, 
rather than animosity, and homicide was then so rare that a single murder 
would convulse with horror the entire commonwealth. 

Even in my boyhood the question came up, whether harvesting might 
be done without whiskey, and the notion spread that it was worth while to 
try the experiment. One farmer after another substituted buttermilk, 
switchell (water with molasses in it and a dash of vinegar) and other harm 
less beverages. That was before the day of the "pledge," but the experi 
ment succeeded. 

Farmers of the present day may wonder how the crops could be gathered 
without improved mowing and reaping machines. But our fields were not 
large, and I think there was never any hay or grain lost for want of harvest 
hands and implements. Many mechanics and others from the towns took 
to the fields, as the daily wage was tempting (even if paid in grain) and 
they liked the fun and jollity of the harvest season. Everybody knows how 
wonderfully harvest machines operate now, and they are needed on the 
great prairie farms. Dalrymple could hardly save his wheat on that big 
farm in Dakota with the sickle and cradle, but he might use the heading 
machines, described by Pliny as used in Gaul at the date of the Roman con 
quest. This was the prototype of the headers used in Californiaonly in 
the Gaul machine " the cart went before the horse," as the machine was 
pushed by an ox in shafts. 

Most farmers in our region, as in other parts of Pennsylvania, had barns 
large enough to hold all their hay and grain, and if barn room was short, 


they would carefully stack it, with generally a thatch cap to shield it from 
rains. The cap rested on four posts, and could be raised up as the stack 
grew in height. Nothing better has ever been contrived for out-door stor 
age of grain in sheaf. The barns all had plank thrashing floors, on which 
the wheat was " tramped out " by horses, and many a weary ride round and 
round the barn floor I have had to endure, sometimes nearly frozen, as this 
work was mostly done in the winter season ; but boys then went through 
such experiences, and did not know enough to complain. It was an igno 
rant age, and we did not recognize hardship even when undergoing it. I 
used to try to stand up on the horse, like the men in the circus, but could 
not manage it well, and at last concluded that I was not born for success in 
*' the ring," nor have I figured to advantage in any " ring " in all the long 
years since. My circus pranks, trying sometimes to play clown, used so to 
disgust our trusty old farm hand, Hughy Ramsey, that a picture of his face, 
with its wrinkled expression of con tempt for all circuses and clown-imita 
tors, would beat anything Cruikshank ever designed. 

Instead of burning our wheat straw, as western farmers do, we had long 
racks in the barnyard filled with it for the cattle to eat at will. They 
thought it worth eating and did not starve. The racks were generally 
made of rails crossing each other, resting on a pole, with their ends in the 
ground. We always had abundance of manure to haul out at the proper 

Rye was thrashed with flails, now gone out of use, and the straw was 
often used for thatching. It made good roofs for barns, outhouses, stack- 
caps and sheds. Rye straw was also cut short and mixed wet with rye 
meal (chopped rye we called it) for horse feed in summer. We also used 
oats for horses, but rarely corn, except in cold weather, and then fed in the 
ear. We had a notion it was too " heating " for summer use. 

The thrashing machine (invented by a lawyer, Menzies, in Scotland, 1750, 
and run by water power) was coming into use in central Pennsylvania more 
than fifty years ago, but in a modest way. A drum or cylinder with spikes 
sticking out "like quills upon the fretful porcupine" (as Mr. Shakspeare 
has it) revolving in a case also having spikes in it, was our first machine, in 
w r hich a sheaf at a time could be fed. It was driven by horse power. The 
straw and chaff were flung out on the barn floor, and thrown out of the way 
by men with forks ; and the winnowing was done in a fan mill turned by 
hand. Whether " tramped out," or thrashed by the machine, we were very 
careful in cleaning our wheat, as it was a matter of pride to have it weigh 
always upwards of 60 pounds to the measured bushel. When very young, 
I saw a primitive horse-power threshing "machine" a conical shaped log 
from the largest tree to be had, with wooden pegs projecting from its sur 
face ; the small end held by a ring on a post in the middle of the floor, and 
a horse at the large end to pull it around on the grain. I think it was not 
patented, but while I could not point out the farm where I saw this rare 
machine, I can show the pretty little vale where the farm is situated. An- 


other tmpatented machine of those days was a revolving hay-rake, invented 
by Mr. John Shaw, an intelligent gentleman in the neighborhood, but who, 
for some unknown reason, did not apply for a patent. It was constructed 
precisely as the first wooden revolving hay-rakes, which came into use some 
years later, and which perhaps yielded some one a fortune, who may have 
seen Mr. Shaw's rake and got a patent on it. 

Jethro Wood's cast iron plows made their appearance in the Juniata val 
ley, about the time I gave up school and went regularly to work on the 
farm ; but our old-fashioned plow, with its iron share, edged with steel, its 
"coulter" of the same metals, and its wooden or cast-iron moldboard, was 
our great reliance, especially in rough ground or in sod. Thomas Jefferson 
(a gentleman of some note a hundred years ago, fated to be much spoken of 
for putting in shape the daily talk of the times as the Declaration of Inde 
pendence, although he did much greater things, and who died synchronously 
with John Adams on the Fourth of July, about the time the engineers began 
to survey for our "canawl") is said to have been the firs tto trace mathema 
tically the curves which the moldboard of a plow ought to have. Perhaps 
he was, for he was a philosopher, and could even teach the stone-cutters at 
work on his pet, the University of Virginia, how to handle their tools and 
shape the material. But Arthur Long, who made plows in my native town, 
had a surer way of getting the curves, by noting where the moldboard 
clogged or scoured, and modifying it accordingly till perfectionjwas attained. 
This was science, if science be, as once said Prof. Swallow, the eminent and 
unrewarded geologist of Missouri, "the essence of human experience." But 
we had no plows fixed to ride on ; no sulky cultivators, or other contrivances 
for easy tilling. We literally followed the plow, and likewise trudged after 
the harrow. 

Often have I been amused of late years by discussions in agricultural 
papers on rotation of crops, the use of "plaster" as a fertilizer, the benefit of 
clover, and so on all matters of course in my native county when I was a 
boy. We "rotated" as regularly as the seasons came round; we had our 
luxuriant fields of clover, and the estimation in which plaster (gypsum) was 
held is attested by the fact that it was brought up the Juniata river in keel- 
boats pushed by poles, long before the canal was made. We farmed better 
sixty years ago than the people in some parts of the country do now ; but 
there is no use in telling the conceited moderns this, as they would not 
believe it. 

One old-time custom of farm-life is happily, for the youngsters, at least, 
known no longer. Sole and upper leather, and tanned calfskin (the latter 
for the women's shoes) were provided, and the shoemaker came round once 
a year to make up our foot-gear. If he came late, woe to the boys. There 
was no help for us ; but if the farm-boy nowadays should find his feet in 
the condition ours were sometimes in as the cold weather got ahead of the 
shoemaker, the pseudo-philanthropists would howl over him and he would 
perhaps howl, too. But we were used to it. 


It is a modern belief that our farm-life, half a century ago, was fearfully 
laborious. As we kept sheep for wool as well as for mutton, and also flax 
for its fibre, and were not yet past the spinning-wheel and hand-loom pe 
riod, woman's work was constant, and sometimes tolerably hard ; but it 
was always cheerfully performed. It was also customary in Pennsylvania 
for the women folks to do the milking, as the Yankees had not yet set the 
example of " pailing the keows." It would seem as if the old-time women 
had a hard life ; but women now give a great deal of time and labor to things 
unknown in the ancient and simpler days ; and I think our old-time women 
enjoyed, perhaps, as much leisure as their rural sisters do now. The men 
did not regard farm-life as unduly toilsome. Among the boys it was a mat 
ter of ambition to turn a good furrow, and among the men to mow neatly 
and cradle skillfully, and, in short, to do all their work well. We had our 
aspirations in the line of duty, and the pride in our calling that sweetens 

We had our pleasures, too, all the sweeter for the usefulness of our lives. 
We went to " meeting" on Sundays, and saw, and were seen. Each young 
buck was proud of his horse, and the proudest of all was the one whose 
stirrup-leathers were the longest in proportion to the length of his legs, and 
who could ride a prancing steed with only the toe of his boot on the stirrup- 
iron as proud as a fine lady at Saratoga with a long-tailed gown. In fall 
and winter the weekly singing schools, the merry sleighing parties, and 
other innocent recreations, were joyous enough to compensate for many days 
of toil. The "apple-butter boilings," when we met at farm-houses, pared 
and cut apples, stirred the boiling material in the big copper kettle hung in 
the wide chimney, and played plays, and got chaste kisses from the pretty 
girls what could unsophisticated and moral youth want more? 

Among the rural folks there was less caste than in the towns, and more 
social equality. The divisions were rather sectarian than social, especially 
as regarded the Dunkards, who kept to themselves, speaking the Dutch lan 
guage dialectically, and making everything count on their farms ; the men 
with hooks and eyes on their coats instead of buttons, and wearing their 
beards long, though shaving the upper lip; and the women in " short- 
gowns and petticoats" (jackets to the waistand blue skirts), with white caps 
on their heads and straw bonnets with low crowns, and the broad brims 
drawn down at each side : a most worthy people ; not given to lawsuits, but 
helping each other, and never in the poorhouse. I think Joseph Kocha- 
nour's folks in Lancaster county were Dunkards ; but when Joseph moved 
his family to Mifliin, having bought a farm joining ours, he had laid aside 
all external signs of the peculiar people, and was "one of the world's men.'' 
We neighbored with them, and, soon after their arrival, Mother, having one 
of those quilting parties so much enjoyed by farmers' wives and daughters, 
I was sent to invite Mrs. Kochauour to come over and spend the afternoon, 
and get acquainted with the farmer-ladies present. I did not see Mrs. K., 
but on my return was very proud of my mimicry ; for when I repeated, with 


proper accent, what Joseph had said, "I not dinks she goes ofer ; she's too 
onhandy"! and all the quilters went off into ecstacies of laughter, I thought 
Mr. Kochanour must be the funniest man alive, and myself the best mimic ; 
and I began to think myself funny, too, when I sent them all off again in 
another peal of merriment by simply saying, " If she don't know how to 
quilt, she might take a needle and thread, and learn!" Never a quilting- 
frame had such exuberant hilarity around it ; and it was long after there 
had been an increase in the Kochanour family before I was old enough to 
guess how the fun had come in, and why Mr. Kochanour's odd phrase pro 
voked so much laughter. 

In November, 1833, turned of 16 (having from the age of 14 been edging 
into the pleasures of adolescence), I was at an apple- butter party on the 
night of the great meteoric shower, when thousands of stars were appa 
rently darting towards the earth and more following. We were all badly 
scared. The world that seemed so good and nice, when possibly doomed 
might be coming to an end, for all we knew.: some prayed, and others (not 
in good practice) earnestly tried to. But with all our fright, and the final 
day of earth possibly dawning, we still, with sublime presence of mind in 
the midst of appalling peril, stirred the big kettle, and did not lose the 

The display of "shooting-stars" in 1833 was the most remarkable on 
record. The American Journal of Science gave an account of it, but it has 
never been accounted for. The meteors, the Journal says, "began to attract 
notice by their frequency as early as 9 o'clock P.M., November 12, the exhi 
bition being strikingly brilliant about 11 o'clock ; but most splendid of all 
about 4 o'clock, and continued with little intermission till darkness merged 
into daylight. A few fire-balls were seen even after the sun had risen. The 
entire extent of the exhibition is not known, but it covered no inconsidera 
ble portion of the earth's surface. Everywhere in the United States the 
first appearance was that of fireworks of the most imposing grandeur, cov 
ering the entire vault of heaven with myriads of fire-balls resembling sky 
rockets. On a more attentive inspection, the meteors exhibited three 
distinct varieties : the first consisting of phosphorescent lines apparently 
described by a point ; the second, of large fire-balls that at intervals darted 
along the sky, leaving numerous trails, which occasionally remained in view 
for a number of seconds, and in some cases for half an hour or more ; the 
third, of undefined luminous bodies, which continued stationary for a long 
time. The meteors all seemed to emanate from one and the same point. 
They set out at different distances from this point, and proceeded with im 
mense velocity." 

Many more particulars are given in the Journal's account of the " shoot 
ing stars," but I have given enough to convey some idea of the wonderful 
spectacle which we rustics were fortunate enough to witness. No wonder 
we were scared. Nothing equal to it had ever been seen or heard of. We 
could not possibly know what it meant, and I do not know yet ; but most 


if not all, of those who witnessed it when I did, at the lone farm-house by 
the side of the turnpike, where they now dig sand out of the ridge and carry 
it two miles on wire ropes to the railroad for the use of glass-works at Pitts- 
burg, are gone from earth, and up to the stars, as I trust. But, I repeat, in 
the midst of what might have been " the wreck of matter and the crush of 
worlds," we saved the apple-butter, and I look back to the saving of that 
apple-butter as a heroic achievement. 


November's evening, calm and clear, 
No token gives of peril near ; 
November's night, with brilliant sky 
Her stars and planets fixed on high 
Tells naught of changes coming on, 
With strange and dread phenomenon. 
And jocund youth and smiling age 
In sportive toil alert engage ; 
With nimble fingers deftly pare 
The aromatic apples there ; 
And in the chimney's wide expanse 
The bubbles in the kettle dance; 
While turn about, as chance may fall, 
We stir the butter, each and all. 
The scene is joyous, bright, and gay, 
As lads and lasses join in play. 

But lo ! what dire portent appears 
To chill our hearts with sudden fears 
To check life's current in the vein 
To paralyze the startled brain? 

The stars, unfastened from on high, 
Promiscuous fall from out the sky, 
And fiery balls terrific roll 
From zenith off to either pole. 
Some wandering Sun in upper air 
Seems shattered into pellets there; 
Like incandescent hail they fall, 
And doomed is our terrestrial ball. 

O fearful scene! In dire dismay 

Some pray, and others try to pray 

As if a jealous God we please 

By bending unaccustomed knees ; 

And some, in trembling accents, say, 

"Can this can this be Judgment-day?" 


The tardy hours of fear and fright 
Wear on as slowly wanes the night ; 
And still the fearsome, fiery shower 
New terror brings from hour to hour. 
With myriad burning missiles hurled, 
Lost ! lost ! this unregenerate world ! 

At length, joy ! the night is past 

And welcome dawn is here at las,t. 

With daylight comes new courage, where 

So late were terror and despair. 

Like spirits only bold at night, 

The vagrant stars all shun the light ; 

The Sun his regal sway resumes, 

With radiant beam the day illumes % 

Into his molten breast has drawn 

The meteors all that fled at dawn. 




Working on the farm I was useful, especially with horses. In earlier 
days I had gone to mill with a bag on a horse, as Henry Clay did when a 
boy in Virginia ; for which exploit, when we ran him unsuccessfully for 
President, we bragged of him as the " mill-boy of the Slashes"; but when 
promoted to drive two horses (neck-yokes at the end of the pole and check- 
lines having been introduced by Yankee immigrants), I took several bags in 
a wagon. Dull's mill was an old fashioned affair, driven by water ; but I 
think our bread was sweeter than any now made with patent flour. About 
the time I began to go to mill with the wagon, the plan of making flour with 
rollers instead of stones was invented in Switzerland, but it did not come 
into prominence till 1839, when roller mills were built at Budapesth, in 
Hungary. Within the last twenty years this mode of reducing wheat to 
flour has been adopted in American mills as a "new process," and patented, 
of course ; but the pretty flour produced is not likely to leave as many old 
men and women sixty years hence as we have now. 

I never could split rails as Abraham could, nor cut cord-wood like Ulys 
ses ; but I hauled wood to town to sell, and having risen a peg as a teamster 
I had a better team than Ulysses when he hauled wood to St. Louis from 
his Gravois clearing, as I had four horses and he had only two. I do not 
wonder that he gave up the wood business, and proposed to act as county 
surveyor. I only wonder at the stupidity that could not understand or 


value the applicant. But Ulysses was himself in fault, as he had too much 
modesty, which is often fatal to advancement. In view of the positions he 
has since occupied, he is as modest and unassuming yet as he needs to be. 

I rather enjoyed some kinds of work. The consciousness of achievement 
is pleasurable, and my days went by not unhappily. There was abundant 
exercise for all the mind I had in the details of farm life the growth and 
maturity of the crops, the changes of the seasons, and the curious pheno 
mena of the weather which always gave us rain on our clover hay. What 
with "gigging fish" at night, lighted by a pine-knot fire on the canoe ena 
bling us to see the game at the pebbly bottom of the river, together with the 
diversions mentioned in the preceding chapter, and trying to skate in win 
ter, I had all the recreation I cared for ; and I might have remained on the 
farm as an " honest farmer," devoting my energies to agriculture both as a 
science and an art, and possibly might have risen to be a Professor in some 
Agricultural College (supposing a practical farmer ever to get into such a 
position), if I had not unfortunately read the life of Benjamin Franklin. 

That was the Serpent in the Garden. 

I did not much relish Franklin's maxims about money-getting, so attrac 
tively set forth in his Poor Richard's Almanac, as I thought them rather 
sordid and mean, our folks having always had high notions of generosity, 
liberality, benevolence, and all that sort of thing, so much more praised than 
practiced; but the important and suggestive fact was, that B. Franklin, 
starting in life A PRINTER, had become a distinguished man. The fever of 
ambition began to pulsate : I must be a printer too, and achieve distinction ! 
I knew that there had been hundreds and thousands of printers, from Gut- 
tenberg down, my own excellent father among them, and but one Franklin; 
but they had possibly not tried hard enough to equal him, and might have 
lacked talent and ambition. At all events, a printer I must be, and father 
went to the town (his own birth-place as well as mine) and bought the old 
" Gazette," which he had started in 1811 and sold in 1814 ; so that after an 
interval of nineteen years he again became its owner, in order that I might 
learn " the art, trade and mystery" (as the old Indentures of Apprentices 
termed it) of printing. 

Writing this for printers, let me say that the Gazette office would not 
rank high now-a-days : old and worn types, and an old Ramage press, 
mostly of wood, with a stone bed, a screw to send down the wooden platen, 
and requiring two pulls of the " devil 's-tail" to print one side of the little 
paper. Very primitive, indeed, that old press ; but I reflected that it was 
as good a press as ever Franklin had. When very young I had seen the 
types inked by beating them with two balls or cushions on handles, as in 
Franklin's day, and had admired the dexterity displayed in handling the 
balls, the inker having his ambition to excel, like anybody else ; but the "art 
preservative of all arts," as we used to fondly style it, had so for progressed 
in 1833, that the ink was put on with a roller made of glue and molasses, 
melted together and molded round a core of wood. Inking the types with a 


roller was about the only change in the art as known in our Gazette office 
since Franklin had given it up, except that the use of the long s had been 
discontinued. Printing-presses to be run by steam were coming into use in 
cities, but muscular power sufficed in the villages. 

Father was editor, residing on the farm, three miles up the valley. I 
began at once to set type, and, like Franklin, drank only cold water. I also 
determined to imitate him in setting up something "out of my head" as soon 
as possible. I tried to think out something "original," but nothing pre 
sented itself, and I decided to turn into verse a funny thing I had seen in the 
Almanac. A little piece had amused me in prose, as the funny things in the 
Almanac always did, and I thought it would look well as poetry. So I set 
it up in type, and here it is my first publication : 


"Say, Johnny, where's my razor now? 

I want it here to use it." 
"I've had it openin' oysters, Dad." 

"You rascal did you 'buse it?" 
"No!" " Rub it on a brickbat then, 

And what I tell you, mind it 
If you ever use it so again, 

I'm blowed if you sha'n't grind it ! " 

Happy the time of life when a thing like this can amuse ; but few writers 
can present a first publication so brief, so dramatic, and without a waste 
word ; an epic with all the unities, and the climax at the close. In this effort 
I went beyond Franklin, who wrote out his first verses with a pen ; and 
when one or two of our exchanges came in with my piece copied, I felt all 
the warm and delightful glow of successful authorship ! True, Sir James 
Mackintosh, in his Life of Sir Thomas More, says, " the greatest facility of 
versification may exist without a spark of genius"; but I had not then read 
Mackintosh, and thought my verses a little uncommon, as I still think they 
were. But paraphrasing did not satisfy, and I soon after set up in type a 
poem entirely original, as the intelligent reader would acknowledge if I 
could give it in full. It had four verses, but I can only recall the first two 
lines and the title On Time : 

U O Time! why dost thou hasten on, 
And still pursue thy trackless way?" 

A posing question, to be sure ; but Ivan Maclvor, the jour, printer (who 
played the key-bugle of evenings), disputed the assumption that Time 
" hastens," and said it was going at the same old pace it had started with ; 
or at least since the day of Ptolemy there had been no change ; and he also 
denied the "trackless way," for "the way of Time," he insisted, "can be 
followed by the wrecks, like the caravan-way across the African desert, 
marked by the bones of perished animals." What a savage critic he was! 


But if all young writers should be handled as severely as Ivan handled me, 
few would dare to write at all. To show rne how to write usefully he set up 
a poem of his own, of which I remember four lines : 

"An hundred years hence what a change will be made 
In politics, morals, religion, and trade! 
In statesmen who wrangle, or ride on the fence, 
How things will be altered an hundred years hence ! " 

Half of the hundred years (lacking less than one) are gone, and the 
changes are greater than even the Scotch fancy of Maclvor could have pic 
tured. They will be still greater in the last half of the term. We cannot 
forecast them, if we may judge from the past ; for nobody fifty years ago, 
however expansive his imagination, had any adequate conception of the 
future then impending. Possibly some cosmical influences, of which we are 
unconscious, have been operating on the human mind to stimulate the rapid 
advancement in all arts and sciences, except the art and science of being 
good and happy. As to extra-mundane agencies, let some philosopher trace 
if he can the connection between the meteoric phenomena of 1833 and the 
development of electro-magnetism, basing his inquiries on the fact, that 
about the time of the great display of "shooting stars" Professor Joseph 
Henry was bringing to perfection his electro-magnetic discoveries, with 
his wire-coils and magnets, which enabled Professor Samuel F. B. Morse to 
bring into use the " Electro-magnetic Telegraph"! The master-minds of 
both these men were for years working towards the same result, and the 
name of Henry should ever be associated with that of Morse. 

At harvest time Father said he would stay at home, and we could drop 
one number of the Gazette ; but I got up the types for all that, and he wrote 
a paragraph of excuse for lack of editorial. I sent him proofs and he let me 
issue the paper. I had set up a communication assailing several politicians 
of the Democratic party, and commenting roughly on some local occur 
rences. He supposed it to have been handed in by some partisan of our side, 
and while he thought it too bitter and personal for good taste, concluded to 
let it appear. It raised a hubbub, and everybody wanted to know who had 
written it, but could not find out. It was generally credited to James T. 
Hale, a young lawyer of fine abilities, afterwards in Congress. The sensa 
tion created was immensely flattering to me, as well as the supposition that 
Lawyer Hale had written the article which I had in the Franklin manner 
"set up in type out of my own head." Never have I had anything in print 
that gave me more pleasure ; but why Franklin should have bragged of set 
ting up his ideas in type without first writing them down I am at a loss to 
imagine, as thought can as safely be put into words at the printer's case as 
at the desk. 

During the winter of 1834-5 Henry K. Strong, editor of the Intelligencer 
at Harrisburg, was warmly urging the selection of General William Henry 
Harrison as the best Whig candidate for the Presidency ; but few or no 


papers were then joining with him. I wanted Father to come out in the 
Gazette for Harrison, but he was too cautious, although, having been him 
self a soldier in the war of 1812, he had a high opinion of the General. 
Finally, in May, 1835, while the editor was corn-planting, I got up an edi 
torial, a column long, taking ground for Harrison, and carried the proofs 
out to the farm. He hesitated feared that it might not be prudent just 
yet but would be in early next day and consult party friends. I walked 
demurely back to the office, and by breakfast next morning had the paper 
on the streets. Our party friends were all pleased, and when my good father 
got to town he was warmly congratulated on the step he had taken, but 
he never once told how he had taken it. After the Gazette had come out, 
papers in all parts of the State, and in other States, gave their voices for 
Harrison, and four years later he was nominated. Human events are so 
varied and complicated that effects cannot sometimes be with certainty 
traced back to their causes, and hence, while my editorial in the Gazette 
may have caused the nomination of Harrison, it would be impossible at 
this date to prove the fact, but I am sure no one can prove that it did NOT 
effect it. 

My editorial interferences, and my general "perversity," as my good and 
indulgent father called it, began to be too much for him to endure, and in 
August, 1835, he gave me the paper. I was eighteen years old, and when 
my full name was printed at the head of the Gazette as "Editor and Pro 
prietor," it seemed rather strange that the world had got along so far with 
out much aid from me, which it would surely need in the future. It was the 
only time in my life that I exercised much power of imagination, and I fan 
cied myself a much more important personage than I really was. 

The Gazette was a small affair, and I could only raise money for a couple 
of bundles of paper at a time, enough for one issue, but these I brought from 
the warehouse on a wheel-barrow, just as Franklin used to wheel his paper 
in Philadelphia, to show that he was a hard worker and not above his busi 
ness. I had never told anyone that Franklin was my model ; but Mr. Frank 
McCoy, the genial proprietor of the warehouse one of those quiet but know 
ing men who see into things would say very pleasantly as I moved off 
with my wheel-barrow, " Go ahead, my boy ; that's the way Dr. Franklin 
did. Never forget Dr. Franklin !" And I never did forget him. 

Eighteen years old and an editor helping to shape the destinies ! It 
was grand to be so early in life one of the arbiters of the world's fate. But 
when once sounding my trumpet a little at home, I was cooled down by the 
remark of Father, "Nonsense! I was only eighteen when I started the 
paper in 1811." As I write this, he still reads the weekly issue of the Ga 
zette, in his ninety-first year the oldest man on the continent to read a 
paper founded by himself, nearly three-quarters of a century ago. 

Considering my imperfect education and deplorable ignorance of almost 
everything the humblest editor of a village journal ought to know, I got 
along tolerably well with the newspaper. The few patrons were, I suppose, 


easily satisfied, and I heard no complaints. On the contrary, it was the 
general opinion that I got out quite a spicy sheet, and the way the Gazette 
bandied epithets (and what Father, who was always a gentleman, styled 
blackguardism) with the rival paper of the town, elicited genuine admira 
tion. Very paltry it all looks now in the retrospect, yet it is some consola 
tion to remember that the Gazette was about on the level of other ''country 
papers" in Pennsylvania at the time. 

It is not very creditable to the old Commonwealth that in those days the 
newspapers in the States westward, the "back-woods," were as a rule 
larger, better printed, and better edited than the Pennsylvania papers, out 
side of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. I can only account for this by suppos 
ing that most of the active, intelligent and enterprising young men had gone 
west, or that the western people were more liberal in the support given to 
their papers than the people of Pennsylvania. 

THE PRESS generally has greatly improved in the last fifty years, not 
only in mechanical execution and multitudinous issues, but also in w r hat 
may be regarded as its morale. The tone is higher. There A less personal 
abuse ; less vituperation, detraction and calumny. Vile enough many pa 
pers are yet, no doubt, but for genuine blackguardism to use Father's 
favorite term the papers about the time of my accession to the editorial 
chair are entitled to the stakes. I refer only to the editorial tone. So far as 
"news " and varieties of crime are concerned, the papers of the early days 
were spotless compared with those of the present. The year 1835, in which 
I became an editor, is notable as that in which the u penny papers " in New 
York first began to compete successfully with the " six-penny dailies," as 
the Courier & Enquirer, Journal of Commerce, and other large papers were 
styled. The New York Sun and New York Herald both date from that 
year. James Gordon Bennett, Senior, was a man of rare qualities for the 
work he undertook, and all the power of the big dailies could not put him 
down or squelch his Herald. He may be regarded as the founder of cheap 
daily papers, but he never played polo, or got fuddled. 

The great papers fifty years ago were journals of OPINION as well as fact. 
We have no such journals now ; no PARTY ORGAN leading or driving the 
democrats or republicans. Then the Washington City Globe, Richmond 
Enquirer, Richmond Whig, New York Courier & Enquirer, Boston Post, 
Boston Atlas, Albany Argus and Albany Evening Journal dictated opin 
ions and policy to their respective parties. The National Intelligencer at 
Washington, always courteous and dignified, had a circle of readers who 
thought only as the editors told them to think. Gales & Seaton and Fran 
cis P. Blair at Washington, Thomas Ritchie and James H. Pleasants at 
Richmond, James Watson Webb at New York, Thurlow Weed at Albany, 
and Charles Green and Charles Buckingham at Boston, and even Isaac Hill 
with the New Hampshire Patriot at Concord, and Gideon Welles, with his 
Hartford Times, were all noted men, and each had more power over the 


public mind than any individual editor now. Horace Greeley in later years 
secured an immense circulation for the New York Tribune, but as an indi 
vidual was regarded rather with affection and esteem than deference. 

The special papers, devoted to separate branches of manufactures or com 
merce, to medicine, law, mining, milling, the drug trade, hardware, stoves, 
and so on, have almost entirely grown up in the last fifty years. Bick- 
nell's Reporter and Counterfeit Detector was an old-time financial paper, 
not much needed now to describe counterfeit notes. Hunt's Magazine, 
edited by Freeman Hunt, an able monthly publication, used to tell us all 
about great commercial and financial questions. But after Bennett began 
his financial articles in the Herald, other dailies followed, and people could 
not wait for weekly or monthly issues. The Public, edited by W. M. Gros- 
venor at New York, now undertakes, I believe, to treat comprehensively of 
commerce and finance. But individual bankers, merchants, manufacturers, 
railroad managers, and speculators of all kinds, now assume to do a great 
deal of their own thinking, and value journals for facts rather than for sug 
gestions and opinions. The " editor " is fast becoming a caterer rather than 
a counselor. 

It is a queer and generally unknown fact, that the first railroad journal 
ever issued was published at Rogers ville, Tennessee, 1830-31. Clinton Arm 
strong was then publishing a religious monthly magazine, of Calvanistic 
character, and in addition issued weekly for one year the Railroad Advo 
cate, telling its readers all about railroads, so far as then known, and urging 
their construction. John A. McKinney, of Rogersville, was a believer in 
rapid transit by rail, and in an address, published in Mr. Armstrong's Ad 
vocate, told the folks in butternut jeans, that if they had a railroad a man 
might breakfast in Knoxville and dine in Abingdon ! In 1845 Clinton Ann- 
strong removed to St. Louis county, Missouri, to the well-known homestead 
of the family near Kirkwood, where his sons yet reside. My brother, Major 
Wm. P. Elliott, who, as Commissary of Gen. Morgan, once paid a hasty visit 
to some points in Ohio, and was for several months hospitably entertained 
in one of the State edifices at Columbus, and afterwards in a National man 
sion called Fort Delaware, some ten years ago was a railroad magnate and 
operated the Rogersville and Jefferson road in Tennessee. He never recov 
ered from disease contracted at Fort Delaware, and was summoned to his rest 
in 1878, lamented by all who had ever known him. He was a man of pecu 
liar ability, and with a memory so retentive, that, having once lost a batch 
of his accounts as Commissary covering several months, he was able to 
make duplicates embracing every item. In youth he spent some time in a 
drug store at Utica, New York, where, as he once told me, he paid $2.50 to 
Roscoe Conkling for legal services, the first fee R. C. ever received ! Fancy 
the elegant and dignified ex-Senator taking a $2.50 fee now ! Clinton Arm 
strong was no doubt a descendant of the Armstrongs, neighbors of the El 
liotts, on the Scottish border, a hundred and fifty to two hundred years ago; 


and possibly his ancestors and mine may in unruly times have jointly looked 
after the "dumb, driven cattle" of their southron neighbors. .They had a 
pretty name for the trade " cattle-lifting." 

The great dailies of the cities care no longer to be party organs. They are 
too independent. Forty or fifty years ago, anyone with a few hundreds or a 
few thousands could start a newspaper, could run it at small cost, and might 
imagine himself an Atlas with a little world of his own to hold up. Few or 
no reporters were needed, and there were no telegraph outlays. Now it 
takes hundreds of thousands to establish a daily paper ; its current outlays 
are enormous ; and it either loses or makes an immense amount of money. 
When well on its feet, it cares little for competition, thinks the public can 
not do without it, and is proud of its freedom from party shackles. It may 
even be insolent, if it pleases, in its treatment of its own party; but what 
can the party do ? 

I remember nothing of great public importance as occurring while I pub 
lished the Gazette, but as illustrating the religious views and feelings of 
that day, I may state that some broad claims and plans of extending their 
church had been put forth by zealous Roman Catholics, and the Protestant 
mind in some quarters had taken alarm. Imagination, no doubt, magnified 
the danger of Romish aggression. A series of articles was published in the 
Gazette, from the pen of a distinguished Presbyterian minister, showing con 
clusively that (in his opinion) the Roman Catholics were surely taking this 
great country, and in a few years would rule it absolutely, leaving us poor 
Protestants hardly the coats on our backs ! Among other fearful things, the 
readers were assured that the Mississippi Valley was the chosen scene of Ro 
mish domination, and that even then, in the city of St. Louis, if a wandering 
Protestant happened to encounter a Catholic Priest in the street, and did not 
at once take off his hat, it would be unceremoniously knocked off, and very 
likely his head get a thump in addition, as a lesson in good manners and 
deference to the Clergy. The minister had been a lawyer of renown, but 
had given up lucre for the service of his Divine Master, and in his ably 
written communications expressed the sincere convictions of himself and 
thousands of others. 

Eight years after I was in the city of St. Louis, and met a Catholic Priest 
on the sidewalk, near the cathedral. As we drew near to each other, I 
took off my hat to him, and the Priest took off his hat to me! I have never 
known any man to be disturbed for not taking off his hat on a like occasion ; 
and now, instead of any religious denomination interfering in any way with 
the freedom of others, we have the spectacle of avowed unbelievers holding 
their infidel meetings undisturbed ; and we seem to have all the liberty in 
spiritual matters that we need for the good of either soul or body. 

The Presbyterian minister, sincere and earnest in all good works, exag 
gerated the danger of Romish domination and the lamentable consequences 
to ensue. Nearly fifty full years have gone, and yet here we are, not domin 
ated injuriously by anybody, or, to all appearance, likely to be. For many 


years a son of the good minister has been a worthy and prominent citizen of 
St. Louis, largely engaged in her commerce, and with a proud record of 
beneficent labors in great enterprises. Never yet came his hat off, except 
voluntarily, as a gentleman's hat should, to a Catholic Priest or any other 
Dominie ; and I trust that he will agree with me, that if this great country 
shall survive till ruined by Romish domination, it will live long and pros 
per. But the views and fears given to the public in my old Gazette were 
held and entertained fifty years ago by many good and honest people, sin 
cerely anxious for the religious welfare of the country. Bigots you may 
consider them, but they were also earnest patriots. Always anxious for the 
right, they would have been glad to save every immortal soul, but, like all 
who are true to their convictions, would have preferred to save them pre 
cisely as they were saving their own. 

The wretched old types and awkward old press of the Gazette (although 
a connecting link with Franklin) were a constant source of irritation and 
unhappiness. The rival establishment had a newer and better outfit, and 
issued a better looking paper. I had no means to get new materials, and 
hence began to long for a change. "Put plenty of brains in the paper," 
Father said, " and itwill look well enough, no matter how it's printed"; but 
this advice, for obvious reasons, was hard to follow. 





Thirty miles northward, in the shiretown of an adjoining county, a 
" newspaper office " was for sale, with a full assortment of good type, and a 
Washington press, with an iron bed and iron platen, and by toggle-joint 
pressure printing the entire side of the "Patriot" at one pull; the estab 
lishment contrasting most advantageously with the old "Gazette," mere 
relic as the latter was of Franklin's day. By the stage, winding upward 
on one side of intervening mountains and downward on the other, like 
a miniature of the famous "grade" in California, down which Hank 
whirled Horace Greeley, I made the journey to Bellefonte, inspired by 
novel scenes, and. indulging day-dreams of life in the world outside of my 
native valley. I bought the concern. The price was one thousand dollars, 
all on credit, as the paper was held by a junto of politicians. 

" A prophet is not without honor save in his own country," and I looked 
forward to a career of success, among people who had not known me as a 
boy and would only know me as a man. I expected to enjoy that better 
appreciation among strangers, which consoles the migrating youth for affec 
tions he may have left behind him. This change of base occurred early in 
1836. I worked steadily in my new location ; discussed current topics care 
fully; wrote for the paper an occasional letter from Washington, as "our 
own correspondent;" printed all Judge Burnside's articles on the Bald 
Eagle Navigation; tried a feeble joke once in a while; had every week a 
very original poem from the schoolmaster, generally in very blank verse ; 
and upon the whole, got out a paper that satisfied the good-natured patrons, 
and of which I was then by no means ashamed. The poems of the school 
master were regarded as gems, but were rather lugubrious, treating of sor- 


row, disappointment, affliction, and so on, all of which, however, his vivid 
imagination pictured as blessings in disguise. 

For some months my life was as pleasant as I perhaps had a right to 
expect. Bellefoiite was noted for its cultivated society as well as for the 
rare charms of its location and surroundings; and while the beauty and 
magnificence of the valley and mountain scenery delighted the eye of taste, 
the heart was refreshed by the sweet communion of elegant social life. The 
forty-six years which have fled since I last looked on the decorous town 
may have wrought changes in its home life, but the loveliness of the land 
scape and the sublimity of the mountains must remain. 

A little reversal of foreign trade, which occurred in 1836, may be worth 
noting. So great was the scarcity or so high the price of flour in the 
United States, that supplies were imported. This was about as queer an 
occurrence as the importation of potatoes early in 1882. Prolonged dry 
weather in 1881 had cut short the potato crop, and hence the importations ; 
but I do not remember why the importation of flour took place forty-six 
years before. It may have been caused by a short crop of wheat the year 
previous, or by the expanded currency of state banks inflating prices in 
1836, previous to the collapse of 1837. 

During 1836 a prominent topic in politics was the " expunging resolu 
tion " in the Senate at Washington. Some time previously the Senate had 
passed resolutions censuring President Jackson for having ordered Roger 
B. Taney, then Secretary of the Treasury (1833), to cease depositing the 
government moneys in the old United States Bank. Senator Ben ton subse 
quently offered a resolution to expunge the resolutions of censure from the 
records of the Senate, and he persevered till his resolution was finally 
passed in March, 1837, and " black lines " were drawn across the face of the 
Senate journal. It was in urging his expunging resolution that Benton 
used the phrase so often quoted " Solitary and alone, amidst the jeers and 
taunts of my enemies, I set this ball in motion," and for years the Whig 
humorists thought it great fun to put the Missouri Senator in caricatures as 
an ill-odorous insect rolling its ball. 

The Whigs cried aloud against "the mutilation of the record." as we 
called it. We thought, or said, that the expunging action presaged dire 
calamities, and we mourned our lost native land. But things have gone on 
as if no expunging had ever occurred, and the whole matter is nearly for 
gotten. Even Benton himself will, I suppose, be in time forgotten, as so 
many other strong men have been, and must be; but I suppose it is a sort 
of consolation to small men to know that they may possibly rank with 
statesmen at last, when the memory of them all will be " dissipated in the 
cold umbrage of oblivion." 

The Senate, I think, erred in undertaking to censure President Jackson. 
The makers of the Constitution did not intend that one branch of the gov 
ernment should asperse or scold at another. Once begun, such action 
might lead to interminable squabbles a sort of prize fight between the 


President and the Senate, to see which could hit hardest. If the Presi 
dent goes wrong the remedy is in impeachment, and not in any spasmodic 
action of the Senate. But Ben ton's expunging resolution was unjustifiable. 
It was at best only putting the opinions of one set of Senators against that 
of a previous set, and it left a precedent of tampering with the record that 
might become pernicious. By a simple and innocuous resolution the Senate 
of 1836-7 could have expressed its dissent from the action of the censuring 
Senate, and this is in effect all that Benton's expunging resolution did. I 
have here put in a few words the gist of tli^e arguments on both sides of the 
censuring and expunging questions, wearily debated in the Senate. All 
beyond what I have said is mere amplification. Yet, while I can compress 
a dozen speeches into a few lines, I have never been a Senator, nor even a 
candidate for the office. 

Several families of Quakers had their beautiful homes in Bellefonte when 
I printed the "Patriot." They were wealthy ; some owned iron works ; all 
lived serene lives, and wore shad-belly coats. I esteemed the Quakers very 
highly ; I thought it would be nice to be like them or at least to have a 
Quaker coat. So I had one made a very serviceable summer coat, of brown 
Holland, with maroon binding and claret-colored buttons, the skirts having 
the orthodox curve. But the first time I wore it (and I might have been 
guilty of something a great deal worse, as I was only nineteen), I heard an 
unregenerate boy in the street calling to his playmates as I passed : 

" Lookee there, boys ! there goes the strange bird in the Almanac !" 

What the strange bird in the Almanac was, I had no idea ; but I laid 
aside the shad-belly coat, and did not try the Quaker costume any more. 
The boy may have come to a bad end for all I know. 

Yes I really liked the Quakers. They were kind, hospitable, and I 
think the cheerfullest and politest people I was ever among. But, then, 
they were all well-to-do or rich, and I have a theory that it must come easy 
to be kind, and hospitable, and cheerful, and polite, when one has plenty of 
money. I would like to test this theory ; for, after all, the decisions of 
experience are safer to rely on than mere theory, however reasonable it may 
appear. A friend assures me that there are rich folks in the world who are 
neither kind, nor hospitable, nor cheerful, nor polite; who are not even 
just. These, he says, are the ones who are to find it harder to get into the 
kingdom of Heaven than it was for the camel to get through the little gate 
at Jerusalem called "the eye of the needle;" but oh, Col. Ingersoll ! oh, 
Brother Beecher ! what is to be done with such, if you deny us our old- 
fashioned place of punishment? 

There were in Pennsylvania long ago some breeds of people who seemed 
to justify the belief in " blue blood ;" families in which talents and high 
principles were apparently a matter of course ; a kind of natural aristoc 
racy, respected by every body, and in their manners affable without appear 
ance of patronage, and polite without servility. But the vicissitudes of 
life have scattered them ; properties have been divided or lost through mis- 


fortunes, and many of the old and substantial families will soon be only a 
memory. The Millikens, the Potters, the Maclays, the Irvines, the Curtins, 
the Halls, the Petrikens, the Harrisses, the Valentines, and many others ; 
who will know in a few years that they ever existed ? Who is left to remem 
ber the elder Judge Burnside, irreproachable as a man, eminent as a judge? 
Or his son and successor as judge, James Burnside, worthy of his lineage 
who perished by a sad accident at the very street corner where long years 
before my printing .office stood? Andrew Curtin, whilom Governor of the 
State, whom I remember as the graceful and lofty young man, when he and 
James Burnside, his compeer, were on the same day, 1836, admitted to the 
bar (the elder Judge Burnside presiding), must be an old man now, and 
has doubtless had some of the warnings given to the uxorious Mr. Dodson 
as told in my first chapter. And James and Henry Petriken, in sober lore' 
or caustic wit, or genial humor, what successors have they? Well, we 
must pass away. If we should all stay, this world would become too 
learned, too witty, and too wise. 

Pleasant as the town was, the editor of the Patriot was not happy. The 
business was not prosperous, and as the winter wore away I seemed to be 
going deeper and deeper into debt. The indebtedness for the purchase of 
the paper gave me no concern, as the vendors did not wish to be repaid 
preferring to hold in their hands the means of controlling the journal if 
necessary. It was the bill for paper and other supplies that troubled me. 

I owed Zekiud & Repplier two hundred dollars! This debt had grown 
week by week, and grew more terrible the more I brooded over it. I could 
see no way to make the business more remunerative. I seemed to lack the 
gift that would enable me to get other people's cash out of their pockets into 
mine; for alas! while our family has always been held to have in it no 
small share of genius, it has unfortunately been the genius for distribution 
rather than acquisition. 

I was losing hope and trust. " Oh, the twin sisters of hopefulness and 
trustfulness ! " says Dr. J. G. Holland, in the story of Arthur Bonnicastle 

II what power have they to strengthen weary feet, to sweeten sleep, to make 
the earth green and the heaven blue, to cheat misfortune of its bitterness, 
and to quench even the poison of death itself!" Yes hopefulness and 
trustfulness ! The man born with these has an enduring patrimony that 
he cannot fritter away. They are only another name for patience self-con 
fidence, faith and fortitude. 

The dreadful debt! I became morbid cowardly, if you will. It was 
weakness to fret over possible losses of creditors that might never occur. 
Doubtless I ought to have had courage to go on my way, and let others take 
care of themselves. This is the safe " business " rule. The story will never 
be stale of the debtor who told his friend he had spent a sleepless night, 
walking the floor, thinking of the note coming due that he could not pay ; 
and his friend replied "You (blank) fool let the holder of the note lose 
sleep and walk !" But I was not created for this philosophy. As to eour- 


age in the debtor, it is the child of hope and confidence, and I lacked these 
strengthening cordials. How many thousands have suffered and do suffer, 
as I did, under imaginary evils greater than the real ones ! Some try to 
drown their cares in drink ; some try the sad remedy of suicide ; and some 
abscond. It is an ugly word to use, but truth is truth, and I was born away 
back so near the time of George Washington that I can only be truthful, 
and must tell the tale truly : I determined to abscond 

Do I blush to write this? By no means. I rather enjoy the confession 
of an error. It has a pleasing odor of eccentricity about it. 


(St. Louis Democrat, January 1, 1863.) 

Gliding along the way, 

Like the shades of passing Time, 
THE CARRIER comes, in dawning gray, 

With news from every clime. 
Daily from land and sea! 

Herald from near and far! 
News of living peace hath he, 

And news of deadly war. 

With his " map of busy life," 
Unroll'd in matin hour 

Its lakes of vice and pools of strife, 
And seas of mighty power! 

Its plains of virtue fair- 
Its mounts of goodly love, 

Something of all in earth or air, 
Beneath us, or above ! 

' Tis a wondrous map he bears 

A cosmographic chart! 
Stored with worlds of costly wares, 

In science, labor, art! 
From the planets, in the sky, 

To the stars that light the stage, 
He brings you, as he passes by, 

A cosmos in a page. 




Wm. Lake drove the Northwestern stage from Bellefonte. On a bright 
Monday morning in March, 1837, a little colloquy took place between Mr. 
Lake and myself in front of the old blue limestone hotel of Gen. Evan 
Miles, where I boarded. 

"Bill, when you drive round just look into the hall, if you please, and 
bring along a little trunk and black leather valise you'll see there." 

" Goin' to skeete ?" inquired Mr. Lake, and I replied with a look that he 
seemed to understand. 

" Gal?" he inquired further. 

"No it's no gal. Other things. But keep quiet. You'll overtake me." 

" All right but what in thunder is it if it aint a gal ?" 

"Hard times." 

This is all we said. I sauntered along, and when I had passed the vil 
lage of Milesburg, a short distance down the creek, Mr. Lake overtook me 
and reined up his team ; giving me a wink to signify that all was safe so far, 
as he seemed to chuckle over his own share in the enterprise. The stage 
had only two passengers; gentlemen who had come in on the Southern 
stage Saturday night, and rested at the hotel over Sunday, as the custom 
was; for the world was not in a hurry then, and we did not need to travel 
on the Sabbath in order to live. One of the travelers was John Wilson 
Farrelly, a lawyer of Meadville, who suffered from asthma, and at the hotel 
had surprised good Mother Miles very much by sleeping in a chair, and 
smoking cigars in waking intervals. 


Not yet had the sage of Chappaqua uttered his immortal exhortation 
" Go west, young- man " yet westward I was going, I did not know where, 
nor care a great deal any where away from Zekind & Repplier ! though it 
is only just to those gentlemen to say that they had never annoyed me with 
their little bill, and I might have paid a goodly share of it in printing and 
advertising if I had been wide enough awake in business matters ; but they 
are all probably dead now, and can have no earthly knowledge of this post 
mortem justice to their forbearance. 

I might have left all this out, but I prefer to tell it, as I write for youth 
as well as age, and when I cannot be a pattern I may be a warning ; for all 
young men with newspapers ought to be advised not to imitate my flight 
from debt, but to face the dragon, and dun their debtors more diligently 
than I did mine. Very absurd it was to leave as I did, as I left accounts 
largely in excess of what I owed, and by perseverance might in a few 
months have paid all bills. I could give a very peculiar and good reason for 
my dread of debt, but its philosophy might be too deep for the average 
reader, and I dislike to puzzle any body. 

I learned afterwards that my friend Mr. Lake was not the only one who 
thought it possible that the better sex might have been concerned in my 
sudden departure. On learning of my escapade, my fond parents were 
terribly exercised, and feared the worst ; but when my good father hurried 
over the mountains to look into my affairs (although told on the way at 
Coverly's tavern by the old Major that it was "no doubt a bad case"), he 
was much relieved to find that he had only to settle the debts and arrange 
the bills for collection; and the regret expressed over my silly freak by 
Judge Burnside and other people of high degree was so pleasing to him that 
I fear he did not denounce my conduct as heartily as it deserved. There 
had, however, been nothing worse than folly; no heart was left aching 
because of wrong from me. No fond trust had been abused ; and even now 
the reflection that no confidence had been betrayed has a great deal more 
honey than gall in it. 

'Tis pitiful, sure, the victory 

The strong gains o'er the weak ; 
And 1 wish not on my crest to see 

The rose from a blighted cheek. 
I envy not the ruthless man 

The triumph of his art, 
For I'd face the devil rather than 

The ghost of a broken heart ! 

Major Coverly's ease of manner might have suggested a probable descent 
from Sir Roger de Coverly, but the old Knight would have been shocked at 
the long-bow drawn by Mine Host of the capacious inn on the mountain 
side, overlooking the attractive landscape of Penn's Valley. When a Phila 
delphia gentleman, detained an hour by repairs to the coach, pointed to 
Potter's mills and inquired what those large buildings were, "My mills," 


replied the Major ; " Potter is now running them for me." Farm after farm 
in the valley was his, but occupied at present by Dr. Wilson, or Sheriff 
Ward, or 'Squire M'Connachy, or some one else. Mr. Jacob Lex, the Phila- 
delphian, on his arrival at Bellefonte, during the dinner to which Judge 
Burnside invited him, expressed his wonder at the eccentricity which could 
induce any gentleman of such immense wealth as Major Coverly possessed 
to keep a roadside tavern ; but he was of course soon set right by the indig 
nant but amused jurist. 

" The infernal old braggart," said the Judge " he ought to be indicted ; 
but we have no statute to reach him ; and the common law, which would 
punish a poor woman as a common scold, has never punished a man as a 
common liar." 

On the Judge's next trip over the mountain, to hold court at Lewistown, 
he had no sooner reached Coverly's than he began a tirade for the Major's 
edification, denouncing him as the Munchausen of the age, and declaring 
that he would by his disreputable habit of blowing bring Centre county into 

"Now, hold on Judge, if you please," responded the Major "don't be 
a tyrant out of Court, however much you order the lawyers around in it. 
Can't you let a man be rich in imagination once in a while ? I've felt better 
ever since I owned Potter's Mills, and all the best farms in the valley, just 
for the benfit of Mr. Lex, and to pass the time pleasantly ; and if you knew, 
Judge, how much good it does poor man to tell a harmless lie, I don't think 
you'd make such an unreasonable fuss about it ! " 

Our stage soon left the "turnpike" and entered on the earthen road 
towards Erie. The ground was soft with the March thaw, and through 
valleys and over hills we toiled, day and night, jaded and dull, traversing 
varied but cheerless landscapes, till we at length reached the Allegheny 
river " fernenst " the town of Franklin. I recollect but little of the journey, 
except that in order to relieve the asthma, Mr. Farrelly had to smoke cigars 
almost constantly ; and that I had one of those personal experiences which 
can never be repeated. After supper one evening, at a wayside inn, forget- 
ing Franklin's thrifty maxims, I bought a cigar and smoked it, while the 
driver was hitching up his team. It was my first cigar, and must have been 
one of remarkable potency ; for its effects were so powerful that I did not 
smoke again for nearly seven years. They gathered me up, limp enough, 
and carried me on, when the motion of the stage soon brought the natural 
relief, and the intolerable nausea passed off. Cherishing the memory of 
that cigar, and of my own relaxed muscular organization while under its 
influence, I see no reason to doubt the statement that a wet plug of tobacco 
placed on the stomach of the sufferer is an efficient remedy for lock-jaw, and 
I think it is at least worth a trial. 

In 1837, most of the region between Bellefonte, on a tributary of the Sus- 
quehanna, and Franklin on the Allegheny, was but sparsely peopled, with 
few common roads in bad condition, and no railroads. Valleys and hills, 


now penetrated by railroads, and vocal with the clangor of machinery, were 
then untamed wilderness, only marked by the path of the hunter, and the 
trails of his quadruped game. Nobody had " struck oil " then in western 
Pennsylvania; though petroleum (called "Seneca Oil" from the Indians 
who had their homes near the springs in New York, where it issued from 
the depths), was widely known and valued as a liniment for man and beast. 
The Mexican Mustang Liniment of Dr. A. G. Bragg, and the Volcanic Oil 
Liniment of Dr. J. H. McLean both enterprising citizens of St. Louis, and 
the latter yet with us owed their virtue to ingredients not materially dif 
ferent from the old time Seneca Oil, and hence my unbounded faith in them, 
ever justified by results. In truth, one of these liniments had merits not 
generally known. My friend Dr. McLean used to present me occasionally 
with a bottle, as I always liked to have it in the house, and I wondered 
why it disappeared so rapidly, but made no inquiries, supposing it had 
evaporated, or that the neighbors had borrowed our bottle instead of getting 
one of their own. At length the mystery was explained. A varnisher was 
putting in order the furniture of my office in St. Louis, using a varnish of 
his own preparation, which he was very proud of, and wanted me to try. 
I carried the bottle home and arranged to have the contents applied to 
the furniture. A fter two or three days I inquired of the womankind how 
they liked the new varnish. "It does very well," was the reply, "but, 
really, it's hardly as good as the liniment !" If any one wonders how it is 
that chairs and tables that I got from Charles Marlow or Geisel & Vogel, 
nearly forty years ago, are yet in daily service with sound limbs and bodies, 
I can only give the credit to careful housekeeping, and the free use of Dr. 
McLean's Volcanic Oil Liniment. 

When our stage reached the Allegheny river, I stopped at a tavern that 
I can only recall as a large wooden edifice on the bluff, commanding a view 
of the stream and valley for miles ; but I have a distinct memory of the 
plentiful supper, mainly composed of bacon and pancakes. An earthenware 
bowl on the table had in it something that looked very much like old-fash 
ioned soft soap, and as I began to do justice to the pancakes with a travel 
er's appetite, wondering what the contents of the bowl could be. the hostess 
kmdly inquired 

" Mister, don't you never take no sweetenin' on your pancakes?" 


" Looks like you don't seem to take no sweetenin'. Thar's a plenty of it, 
and more in the camp." 

" Oh, yes ah yes I see; this is 

"'Lasses, Mister. Laws-a-massy, don't you know 'lasses? Sugar-tree 
'lasses, better nor any store 'lasses you ever seen, I reckon. Jest you try ef 
they aint !" 

And then and there I had my first taste of the fresh and aromatic syrup 
from the sugar maple. New as it was to me, it went delightfully with the 
pancakes, and it enabled me, years after, to comprehend some of the reasons 


why the Indians, who had been pushed westward so far, looked so wistfully 
back to their old homes where they had left "the graves of their kindred " 
and their sugar maples. 

My purse was light, but the river was before me, with an occasional raft 
of boards and shingles floating down it. I knew that in obedience to a pro 
pitious ordinance of nature the stream ran to Pittsburgh, and it seemed to 
invite me to that point. The decision was obvious : I must go down the 
river on a raft. It was a cold enough journey, but \ve tied up at night, and 
I got a little sleep in cabins ashore, after the jolly raftsmen were done 
dancing. I was on waters flowing to the Mississippi river ; but little did I 
then think that I should ever write a line or do an act to aid in deepening 
the channel at its mouth ! True, I was demonstrating, in practice, my esti 
mate of " cheap transportation," as I was floating free on the raft ; but I had 
no thought beyond, and if any Mother Shipman had told me that I should 
ever be instrumental in enabling Capt. George H. Rea's barge line to sur 
vive and flourish, and carry its millions of bushels of grain from St. Louis to 
New Orleans, I should have scouted the prophecy ! No more did James B. 
Eads, then only completing his seventeenth year, anticipate his diving-bell 
boats and ironclad war vessels on the big river, his stupendous bridge across 
it, or his mastery over its currents and shoals. I try to imagine him the 
modest, earnest, industrious youth patient and persistent in duty all un 
conscious of the wonderful intellectual power he was destined to exercise. 
Happy order it is, that we should forget so much of our past, and know so 
little of our future! If we could see in youth the big things we are to 
achieve in maturity, who could bear to wait all those years to get at them? 
It is hard enough to have at last done them, and then perhaps be left with 
out either compensation or acknowledgment. 

Pittsburgh what a magnificent city it was ! The first large place I had 
seen, I was impressed as a boy is apt to be when he sees a big town for the 
first time, its long streets and tall buildings contrasting with those of his 
home village. But I had little leisure for admiration, as an empty pocket 
admonished me to be stirring. A merchant owed me a small account for 
advertising, and my gratification at his prompt payment was mingled with 
the reflection that if the debtors of the Patriot at home had only paid as 
promptly I need never have trembled at thought of Zekind & Repplier! 
For months I had forgotten Franklin as a model, but thought of him again 
as I trod the boulder-paved streets of the " Birmingham of America," as the 
Pittsburghers called their city ; but I had no roll of bread under my arm, or 
I might have been as fortunate as Benjamin in getting employment. 

Strolling about Pittsburgh, the steamboats at the wharf, grander than 
the grandest packets on our canal (but with no captain to peer Captain Lib- 
hart) attracted my attention ; especially one large new boat, the most impos 
ing of all, "a floating palace," as described in the original rhetoric of the 
city papers, and distinguished by a blue silk flag floating from a pole fast 
ened to the corner of the pilot house. The flag had a single silvery star on 


it, " the lone star of Texas," then claiming to be an independent Republic. 
There had been a big fight the year before, at San Jacinto, where the Tex- 
ans had routed the Mexican army and captured Santa Anna, the General- 
in-Chief; but Mexico was not yet entirely satisfied to let her wayward 
province go in peace, and there might be more fighting for all any one 
could tell. Hence the display of the lone star flag, and I learned from a 
printed handbill that men were being enrolled as emigrants to Texas. The 
United States of America being at peace with Mexico, they could not go as 
soldiers, but everybody knew they could fight after arrival if necessary. 

The first day I only looked at the flag, and made inquiries ; but not yet 
having secured what jour, printers call a " situation," and my cash running 
low enough to warrant me a member of the craft in full communion, I began 
to think of emigrating to Texas ; especially as the emigrants were to be 
carried " free," at the cost cf the Texas government. Next morning I went 
on board the "Constellation," as the boat was called (although the only 
star about her was the single one on the flag) , and was charmed by the 
splendor of her long cabin, with its rich carpets, its grand piano, and the 
ground-glass doors of the staterooms, which let in the light but not the 
vision. It would, I justly thought, be delightful to sail down to New Or 
leans on this magnificent steamer, with waiters in white aprons, and ele 
gant ladies playing the grand piano ; and I felt almost grateful to the Pitts 
burgh editor who had invented the felicitous phrase "floating palace" 
to embellish his description of her. Yes I would go to Texas ! 

Having taken my best clothes from the little trunk, I was not unprepos 
sessing in appearance, I suppose, for when I modestly accosted Captain 
Johnson, and inquired for the person in charge of Texas emigration, he 
promptly replied 

" Oh, yes I'll take great pleasure in presenting you to Col. Behren- 

I was accordingly introduced at once to that distinguished warrior, as I 
took him to be a man of some forty-five years, five feet nine in stature, 
costumed in a sort of undress uniform, and with a full beard and wondrous 
mustaehios altogether a most formidable looking son of Mars. 

" Ach ! mine goot yunk frient !" said the Colonel "so yes I be glat to 
see you ! Ach ! you will emigrade you go mit us to de beautiful Dexass !" 

I replied that such was my intention, and that I was ready to come on 
board at once. 

" Ach ! dat is goot ! De quick younk mans I likes. Ach ! we was all 
time quick in de Broosian armay. Dat was de armay ! Ach ! we must be 
like Old Fritz, here, dere, all where. Ach ! yes and de armay is goot, too, 
in Dexass." 

" But, Col. Behrenbeck, I understand we go as emigrants, and not as 

" Ach ! yes my yunk frient dat is so. We go not as droops. De Presi 
dent allow not dat. But emigrand ach ! yes dat is it. You go emigrand 


you will have big land catties horses sheeps ! Ach ! yes you be rich 
man in Dexass." 

" The war with Mexico is pretty much over, I suppose, Col. Behren- 

"Ach! de war! Bah! dat is nottings. Ach! Mexico not is more 
as dat !" 

And he flung the stump of his cigar over the rail. 

" Then," I continued, "it isn't likely there'll be any more fighting?" 

" Fight ? Ach ! der tevful no, no ! Not mooch fight. But if de Mex 
icans come ach ! we fight. Den you be in de armay. Ach ! yes you be 
Capifcm, you be Coionel, you be General in Dexass." 

With prospects so alluring, what youth rising twenty years would not 
have emigrated to Texas ? especially in the superb cabin of the Constella 
tion ? " to furnish which," the editor of the Pittsburgh.daily had told us, 
"Captain Johnson summoned Aladdin's obedient genii, and ordered the 
splendid and gorgeous decorations, equally chaste and magnificent, to be 
lavished without regard to cost." A few ladies were already on board, and 
more gentlemen ; nice people as need be ; and I doubted not the gentlemen 
were emigrants, and possibly some of the ladies too.. Yes ; emigration to 
Texas was just the thing, and no question but we would all get acquainted 
after starting, and be as sociable as on the canal packets. 

When I had paid my bill at the hotel, and had only " four bits " left- 
western lingo then for half a dollar I took the little trunk on my shoulder 
and the valise in my hand, intending to carry them to the boat. As I bade 
farewell to the clerk, I thought what a pity it was that so nice a young man 
should be doomed to waste his life behind a counter in a Pittsburg hotel, 
and not have a chance to make his fortune and be a great General in Texas ! 
Soon tiring of my load, I got a drayman to take my things to the wharf for 
a "bit," so that I had just "three bits," or 37 cents, when I reached the 
Constellation, on my adventurous way to " the land of the wild hyacinth," 
as some poetical editor had cal]ed it. 







Leaving my trunk and valise at the shore end of the Constellation's 
plank (rather exultant that I was to begin my steamboat experience on the 
largest and finest boat that had ever, as the editor told us, "embellished 
with her seductive presence the busy wharves of Pittsburgh ''), I stepped 
up to Captain Johnson and politely told him that I was going to Texas, and 
would be much obliged if he would have my things brought on board. 

" I suppose the staterooms are not all taken are they, Captain ?" 

"No ah you're going with Col. Behrenbeck?" 

"Yes of course. I told him so." 

" You ah you intend to go in the cabin ?" 

" Why, yes I suppose so. The Texas government paysdon't it?" 

" Oh, yes ah you know if you're to be in the cabin there's an extra 


1 ' Why yes you see ah the emigrants, you know they go as deck 

I did not know what the deck was, but I had not seen any people on the 
roof, which I supposed to be the deck, and so I asked 

" Well, Captain, where are the deck passengers?" 

"They're aft, below; but you had better pay extra, and come in the 
cabin. Col. Behrenbeck is of course in the cabin, and you'll find it pleas- 

" No I'll go with the emigrants," I bravely replied, and did my best to 
look as if I had plenty of cash to go in the cabin if I wanted to. 

I soon had my baggage back to where the deck passengers were, and the 


reader, if he knows what a steamboat " deck " was forty-six years ago, may 
try to picture to himself the situation, on the first of April, 1837. A more 
ill-looking set of scallawags than the fellows on deck as Texas emigrants 
can hardly be imagined, and I have often wondered since that I trusted 
myself among them. But I understood at once the tender hesitation of 
good Capt. Johnson, in telling me that I must pay extra for a place in the 
cabin, or go on deck. My dream of a felicitous float down to New Orleans 
in the sumptuous cabin of the Constellation was rudely dispelled. 

The boat, when finally ready, left in the night, and in the morning I 
went up stairs to see Col. Behrenbeck. I told him I had supposed I was to 
go in the cabin, but that I would not back out, although I had never asso 
ciated with low fellows like his Texas emigrants, nor been used to life as 
rough as that on the deck of a steamboat. 

"Ach! my goot yunk frient dat is so," said the warrior; " but it is 
nottings no, it is nottings ! Ach ! you soon tink not of all dat. And, 
now see I myself make you officer. Ach ! yes you be Commissaire ; 
you will go to de Steward for de ration for all de men. Yes I make you 
officer. Ach ! yes you be now Capifrm Commissaire Capifom /" 

While my promotion was yet fresh we reached Wheeling. Our flag was 
up, and a man as guard with a Prussian sabre at his shoulder, and the long 
scabbard trailing the hurricane deck, paced in front of it. As Col. Behren 
beck and myself stepped on shore for a brief look at the lone star flag from 
the wharf, a well-dressed young man of some twenty-three years accosted 
him to enquire about Texas emigration, of which he had seen a notice in the 
papers. His name, he said, was George Washington Morris, and he had 
been clerking in village stores, but wanted a chance for better fortune. 

"Here is de Commissaire Capitan, my yunk gentlemans," Col. Behren 
beck said to him. "Ach! he tell you all. Yes you be good camarade 
you and de Capita^. Ach ! yes you will be emigrand too, my goot frient ! 
You will come mit us to de beautiful Dexass !" 

Morris was charmed with the prospect, as I briefly painted it in a few 
bold strokes ; telling him that such a fine-looking fellow would be sure 
to marry rich and make his fortune generally, to say nothing of military 
fame if the war continued, and diplomatic distinction after its close. So he 
came aboard, with high hopes (and a big trunk), prepared to endure the 
discomfort of a deck passage for the sake of wealth and glory in the future. 
We fellowshipped, occupied a bunk together, and tried to keep each other 
warm on the voyage ; for by an unusual freak the weather had brought four 
inches of snow to greet our arrival at Wheeling, on the fourth of April, and 
the nights were unusually cold. 

Arrived at Cincinnati, Col. Behrenbeck paraded his motley troop, and we 
marched up to the Broadway House, to pay our respects to a Texan General, 
whose name I have forgotten. It was a very formal call. Col. Behrenbeck 
and the General made effusive speeches, complimentary, first of each other, 
then of us, as emigrants to replenish Texas, and to fight her battles. The 


General was young to hold a rank so high. His manners were polished and 
dignified, and he bore himself quite proudly, with a pair of large gilt spurs 
on his heels, and his head thrust through a poncho of as many colors as 
Joseph's'coat, and which draped gracefully from his shoulders. Altogether, 
he and our Colonel were a picturesque pair ; but the tout ensemble of the 
troop of emigrants, as we marched the streets of Cincinnati, who could 
portray ? Only a photograph and we had not even Daguerreotypes then 
could have done us justice. No lesser artist than the Sun could hnve pain ted 
us, and even he could hardly have delineated the villainous countenances 
of some of our ragamuffins. But possibly I am too severe on the emigrants. 
None of them did anything bad on the voyage, though some of them looked 
as if they ought to have stolen something or killed somebody, in order to 
keep their acts in character with their faces. 

While we laid at Cincinnati, our men were called on to help in coaling, 
at which Morris had charge of them, and I mounted guard. As the day 
was mild, I wore my brown Holland shadbelly coat, with the maroon bind 
ing and claret-colored buttons. With the sabre at my shoulder, and the 
long scabbard trailing, I gravely paced the deck in front of the lone star 
flag, regardless alike of curious eyes and irreverent comments. There was 
no lack of spectators, but they were fairly non-plussed by the coat till 
Morris told them it was the regulation uniform of a commissary captain in 
the Texan army. 

At length we neared Louisville, and the city could be seen in the dis 
tance. Sheltered from the fresh breeze by one of the chimneys, I was seated 
on the roof, contriving how best to get ashore and abandon the voyage, of 
which I was heartily tired, when Morris came up and seated himself 
beside me. 

" See here," said Morris, " that's Louisville down there." 

" Yes, I know. Looks low down to the water, don't it?" 

" Nice place though, they say." 

" Well, yes I reckon it is. Good paper there : Prentice's Journal." 

" See here ; this is a tolerably (blank) hard trip ; (blank) if it isn't." 

"Think so?" 

"Yes; (blank) if I don't." 

" Oh, well it will soon be over. Ship from New Orleans to Texas. Col. 
Behrenbeck told me." 

" (Blank) Col. Behrenbeck ! I say, look here ; it's too (blank) hard to 
stand, this kind of thing, for fellows like us." 

" Pshaw ! soldiers must bear hardship." 

" (Blank) it ! we're not soldiers, and I don't intend to be. And I tell 
you what you keep mum ; but I believe I'll give it up at Louisville." 

" What, Morris ! you'll not desert?" 

" Desert be (blank) ! I'm going ashore any way." 

After sufficient but rather feeble remonstrance against the proposed 
desertion, I at length permitted Morris to convince me that we ought to 


look out for ourselves, and that Louisville was just the place to do it. With 
apparent reluctance I agreed to join him in what I had previously decided 
to do for myself. Nor did I feel any compunction, as Col. Behrenbeck's 
handbill had held out allurements not justified by the facts. The free 
passage was by no means what I had understood it was to be ; and besides, 
although I was already dubbed Capifcm, I yet had serious doubts if I would 
ever be " a Coronet or a General in Dexass !" 

The Constellation had tied up at Louisville, and after an early supper 
Morris and I had gone ashore. We were attracted by a theatre poster 
advertising the play of Rob Roy. I did not know anything about Mr. 
Roy, nor did Morris, neither of us having ever read his adventures as given 
by Sir Walter ; nor had either of us ever been in a city theatre. We both 
wanted to see a theatre, but the trouble was how to get in. As I had spent 
my remaining three " bits " at Wheeling and Cincinnati, my case was des 
perate ; but Morris had two silver half dollars left, and Mr. Roy might be 
seen for these. Great emergencies develope expedients. I gave my friend 
a silver-plated pencil case for one of the coins, and, our hearts alight with 
expectation, in we went. 

Oh, what a splendid theatre, and what glorious acting ! What a brave 
fellow Mr. Rob Roy was Rob Roy McGregor ! And his furious and vengeful 
wife Helen McGregor ! how she drew our sympathy despite her violence ! 
Details are forgotten, but I remember the general effect on the unsophis 
ticated mind of youth thrilling, overpowering, fusing me into the very 
characters on the stage! And as to Baillie Nichol Jarvie " My Con 
science !" can I ever forget him ? I had seen the Thespians in my native 
town, when Joseph Cogley, our genial fellow-citizen, played Tony Lumpkin 
with touches of humor that Dr. Goldsmith had never dreamed of and I 
had myself on one occasion, when a strolling troupe came along and one of 
the utility lads fell sick, played Diggory in Family Jars, filling up with my 
own invention when I forgot the text ; but what was all this, in a village 
hall, to the magnificent Louisville Theatre ? Alas ! and alas ! it was almost 
equal, this night with Rob Roy, to my first circus ! And alas ! again, what 
a pity it is that we can only enjoy a first circus and a first theatre once in all 
our lives ! 

Returning to the Constellation, Morris gave the pencil case I had sold 
him, and I gave a pocket knife, to the vigilant watchman of the boat to help 
us ashore, by bringing the yawl alongside the after guard and taking our 
baggage to the wharf. Once on land, we managed to carry our things up 
to the Louisville Hotel, left them on the sidewalk for the porter to bring in, 
registered our names, and engaged board at ten dollars a week each, with 
fire in the room on cool days. 

Early next day I got a " situation " as jour, printer in the office of James 
Birney Marshall, who published a daily newspaper, and also the Western 
Magazine, a monthly, edited by Wm. D. Gallagher. I at once went back to 
the hotel, frankly told the manager my case, and on a promise to pay my 


bill for the lodging and breakfast I had enjoyed, got my trunk and valise. 
Then I took board near the printing office at two dollars and a half a week. 
I detail these little incidents to show that I was more fortunate than my 
friend Morris, who could get no employment, and after a few days called on 
me for a little talk. 

" See here," he began, " I want you to do me a favor." 

" Well, what can I do for you ?" 

"I want to borrow that valise of yours for two or three days. I've an 
uncle over in Indiana that I have'nt seen for a long time, and he's well off, 
and might help me if I go to see him." 

" But how will you pay your bill at the hotel?" 

" Oh, that will be all right. I'll leave my trunk till I get back." 

Are there ever premonitions ? Do we ever really feel a future event ? I 
ask this, because a thought flashed through my mind that if I should lend 
Morris that vaiise it would never be returned. But I might be doing a 
young man inj ustice, and I at once decided to let him have it. not only in 
obedience to the golden rule, to do as I would wish to be done by, but also to 
see if he would ever bring it back. He has not yet brought it back, and 
considering that two score and six years of the greatest activity in the 
world's history have elapsed, I begin to fear that he never will ; nor can I 
agree with my friend, Mr. George I. Barnett, now at my elbow, that Morris 
may possibly be going round with that valise in his hand looking for the 
owner. Fortunately for the city of St. Louis, which he has adorned with 
so many buildings at once substantial, chaste and elegant, George I. is 
more reliable as an architect than as a counsellor in regard to lent luggage. 
Before I left Louisville, some weeks after this experiment in lending the 
valise began, I called at the Louisville Hotel to inquire if Morris had 
returned. No, he had not returned. Did they know where he was? No, 
but they would like to know. (Seemed friendly to a poor young man.) 
Had he taken his trunk ? No, he had not taken his trunk. Then he would 
likely soon be back ? No, they thought not, as he had carried away all its 
contents piecemeal before leaving. This all happened so long ago that the 
trunk may have been taken away before now, and Morris may be still 
visiting his uncle over in Indiana, though that relative must by this time 
be quite an old man. 

The Constellation remained at Louisville three or four days. On the 
second day some of the emigrants having seen me at the window of the 
printing office, Col. Behrenbeck sent a polite message requesting me to call 
and bid him good bye, if I did not intend to go on to " de beautiful Dexass." 
When I went to the boat I found the brave Colonel " very much sorries " 
that I had abandoned the brilliant prospect of fortune and fame ; but if I 
was determined to throw away my chances, he wanted six dollars for my 
passage from Pittsburgh. 

"All right, Col. Behrenbeck," I replied; "but I have no money. Mr. 
Marshall will, may be, lend me enough. I'll go up and ask him." 


" Ach yes dat is goot ! I sends two mens. Den you comes back mil 

" No, sir. I'll not go under guard. I pledge you my honor to return 
with the money." 

" Ach ! yes my yunk Men t yes but it is not goot honors to go off de 
boat in de night ! No dat not goot honors !" 

The Colonel had me at disadvantage, as it really did not look well, 
that desertion, especially for a Commissary Captain. But I persisted that 
I would not go guarded, and was becoming excited and worried as the dis 
cussion went on, when a gentleman from Pittsburgh, whose name I have 
forgotten, interfered, and said he would guarantee my return ; an act of 
practical Christianity and genuine kindness that has always been fresh in 
memory, and has often prompted me to resolve in favor of doing likewise. 
Mr. Marshall responded in like Christian manner, although I was only a 
wandering printer and a stranger. No doubt both gentlemen enjoyed 
pleasant reflections, as the memory one can retain of good deeds done to 
others costs nothing to keep up, and is a clear gain in the way of daily en 

The price of my "free passage" was paid, and I saw the last of Col. 
Behrenbeck, his big mustachios, and his select batch of emigrants, who left 
in the morning for " de beautiful Dexass." The next year, 1838, Memucah 
Hunt appeared at Washington City as an envoy very extraordinary from 
the Republic of Texas, with a proposal from that land of great expectations 
to become a part of the United States. As Texas maintained her independ 
ence, and after waiting about as long as Jacob, worked for a wife that he 
was cheated out of, actually became a State of the Union, merging her 
" lone star " in our splendid constellation (as if the name of our steamboat 
had been prophetic), I really cannot see that my somewhat inglorious 
desertion at Louisville had any serious effect on her welfare. 

The only public event that I remember as taking place during my 
sojourn in Louisville, was the suspension of specie payments in May, 1837. 
" The banks has busted !" was the general phrase on the street, and an 
immense open air meeting was held in the evening, which was addressed 
by Thomas F. Marshall ; but what Mr. Marshall said, and what the meet 
ing did, if anything, I do not remember. I only recollect the manner in 
which the orator seemed to sway at his will the people before him; and 
while with our modern money the growing younkers of Uncle Sam's familj" 
are likely to escape the inconveniences of such a " revulsion " as we had in 
1837, they lose the enthusing and enchanting "stump-speaking" we used 
to enjoy. But such oratory was then as new to me as the suspension of 
specie payments itself. I had heard good speeches in Pennsylvania 
methodical, logical, argumentative, convincing; but none with the glow 
and brilliancy pervading the speech of "Tom Marshall." I thought it 
must be delightful to be an orator, and by the wagging of the tongue con 
vulse a mass of men with laughter, or melt them in tears, or rouse their 


indignant passions. But I feared that I had not the gifts needed for suc 
cess. Some imagination I had, but I lacked memory and mental disci 
pline ; and I was already becoming sensible of the great mistake I had made 
when I insisted on being a printer. 

No doubt I was a sprightly boy, but a sprightly boy is not the one to be 
put in a village printing office. Put your slow, plodding boy there a very 
safe kind of boy and he will improve. The sprightly boy, whose mind 
needs discipline, will read all that comes to hand and probably remember 
very little ; get a smattering of everything and be profound in nothing. 
Such was too much my own case ; and hence, while I felt that I might ac 
quire the manner of a good speaker, I decided that I would probably fail in 
matter, not only perhaps from defective reasoning powers, but also from 
lack of that retentive memory which is necessary to retain the facts needed 
for every effective discourse. With more vanity and self-esteem, however, 
I would probably have tried to train myself for oratory, and might have 
had a fair measure of success. But if I could not be an orator and utter my 
own speeches, why not utter those of others? Why not go on the stage, be 
an actor, and play orator ? Ever since I had played Diggory in Family Jars 
I had dreamed at times that I might possibly train myself for the stage ; 
and after hearing Mr. Marshall, I resolved to offer myself as an apprentice- 
actor to the manager of the Louisville Theatre. I had not decided whether 
to take tragedy or comedy, but supposed I might possibly be equal to either, 
and would select after a trial of both ! 

Mr. Parsons was the manager of the Theatre, and received me with 
Christian kindness, apparently wearing his religion with his every-day 
clothes, looked at me with melancholy eyes, in a far-away fashion, as if his 
thoughts were elsewhere, and let me detail my pretensions, hopes and ex 
pectations. Then he spoke, in substance : 

" My young friend, you can, I think, be an actor. Some characters you 
will probably be able to fill at once, and others as you gain experience. 
There will always be something that you can do, and no doubt do it well ; 
but let me advise you don't do it. If you can live at anything else, keep off 
the stage. The actor's profession is laborious, its compensation uncertain, 
its temptations groat. Give to law, to medicine, to commerce or manufac 
tures the same unending labor which alone can command success on the 
stage worth having, and you will be prosperous and happy. Very few 
actors rise above mediocrity, and these would have risen in any other pro 
fession. The great majority lead lives of labor, care, privation, and often 
positive unhappiness. Few are ever able to provide adequately for their 
declining years. No let me earnestly advise you to keep off the stage." 

The harm Mr. Parsons did to me or to the stage, in keeping me off it, 
who can tell? I might have risen to the zenith, a blazing star, and be 
blazing there yet, for all any one can prove now. I felt that I could do 
reasonably well in the profession ; but his evidently sincere advice, so 
solemnly given, decided me to give up all thought of an actor's career. I 


have often since thought that Mr. Parsons may have been at the time con 
templating his own retirement from theatrical life, and his entry into the 
sacred ministry, as he afterwards became a preacher of the Methodist Epis 
copal Church, and was for a time pastor of the old "Centenary," in St. 
Louis. I never doubted that he was a good man possibly one of the 
" elect." 

But there was another character in Louisville decidedly not of the " elect." 
That was Ormsby, a jour, printer. The versifying spell had come on me, one 
Sunday, as I strolled to the fields outside of the city to see Nature in her 
Kentucky raiment, and I had written a piece for Mr. Marshall's paper. If 
the reader is familiar with British literature of half a century and more ago, 
he will remember that the poet James Montgomery, when in jail for print 
ing some offensive matter in his paper (which would not, however, be pun 
ishable now, I think), wrote a piece headed "Verses to a Robin Redbreast, 
who Visits the Window of my Prison every Day"; of which piece I tran 
scribe the first verse : 

"Welcome, pretty little stranger 

Welcome to my lone retreat; 
Here, secure from every danger, 

Hop about, and chirp, and eat. 
Robin, how I envy thee, 
Happy child of Liberty!" 

As I had not then read all the standard British poets, I knew nothing of 
this Redbreast poetry, or in fact anything else of Montgomery's, except the 
pieces Mother used to recite to us at home (as mothers did in the old days), 
and the selections we had reader declaimed at school, such as "Night is 
the Time for Rest," and so 011 ; from which facts the reader will see that I 
had 110 suspicion of having been anticipated by J. M. when I composed my 
"Lines to a Redbreast," in six or eight verses, with longer lines by all odds 
than Montgomery's piece, and a great many words in proportion to the ideas. 
The first verse (all I recollect) ran copiously : 

Come hither, thou songster, come hither and sing- 
Come sit 011 my finger, I pray; 

Though I like to behold thee so gay on the wing, 

As joyous and playful as zephyr of spring, 
And bright as the opening day, 

Yet dearer, oh dearer, the pleasure, Redbreast, 

Of having thee here in my keeping to rest! 

They were very innocent verses, and meant no harm even to the bird 
(which, I believe, don't sing in Kentucky) ; but the odious Ormsby, with 
malice prepense, went to the trouble of pasting dozens of printed slips of the 
Lines to a Redbreast on the walls of the printing office, as a means of bring 
ing the piece into ridicule. He was not sure that I was the author, but 
thought I was, and the display on the walls was intended to annoy me. It 
was a wonderful bit of wickedness for a jour, printer to be engaged in, as 


the craft is notable for its intelligence, gentlemanly manners, and practical 
Christianity ; but the case is worth recording as a strong proof that the old- 
fashioned doctrine of predestination may be reliable, and any one doomed to 
the place of torment need not be suprised to find Ormsby there. 

James Birney Marshall was very kind to me. He offered to provide ma 
terials for a paper at Warsaw, Kentucky, and give me an interest if I would 
take charge of it ; and afterwards, when a committee of gentlemen from Pa- 
ducah came to Louisville to get materials and an editor for a paper there, he 
recommended me strongly, and advised me to go. And all this, too, know 
ing that I had deserted from Col. Behrenbeck's troop of Texan emigrants, 
and had written Lines to a Redbreast. 

But I was nostalgic (or, as we said before the country got so rich and 
learned, " homesick 7 ';) and although I worked hard all the week, and on 
Sundays would go out in the fields to enjoy the unwritten music of Nature, 
which never has a false note, or would saunter along the steamboat canal to 
Portland, to muse on the grist and woolen-mills, and furnaces and forges 
that might be run by the stupendous water-power of the Ohio Falls, yet I 
began to long to "go home." I wanted to go back to Pennsylvania, not, I 
think, entirely from affection for relatives or friends, and not at all from fear 
of not being able to provide for myself, but because of a bump on my head I 
I refer to the phrenological bump of " locality." 

Between 1830 and 1840 Phrenology was widely discussed, and Professor 
Fowler had been through Pennsylvania (I think, in 1834 or 1835) lecturing 
on the new Science, and examining heads, in order to tell the owners what 
their bumps indicated as to talents and disposition. He said I had the bump 
of "locality" large, indicating a pronen^ss to note and remember the physi 
cal features of Nature, and to become attached to particular places and sur 
roundings. In this he was entirely correct, as also in regard to my bump of 
"caution, " which he said was prominent, and which to my certain know 
ledge has always influenced me to do my best to keep out of danger. My 
bump of " causality," he said, denoted fair reasoning powers, and "ideality" 
some fondness for poetry and sentiment, while my "amativeness" gave assur 
ance that my heart would always pulsate earnestly in devotion to the supe 
rior sex. But " combativeness" was below par, and, in connection with my 
large "caution," showed that I was probably not intended by nature to be a 
great fighter. I sympathize with the hastening moderns, who have none of 
the phrenological entertainment we ancients used to have. Phrenology is 
indeed a very pretty science, and a Professor going round feeling heads is 
sure to shed abroad a great deal of satisfaction, as he inevitably finds on 
every head some bumps that it pleases the owner to know are there. 

Large steamboats were often at Portland "FOB ST. Louis," but it was 
not my kismet then to visit the Future Great City, which even so long ago 
had high repute as a place of unmeasured possibilities. No I would get 
back to Pennsylvania. 




A modest little steamboat, with sleeping-berths at the sides of her cabin, 
paddled us in a few days from Louisville to Pittsburgh, and soon the canal 
packet carried me to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. There I saw my first loco 
motive (the only one they had), used to draw the cars on the line "of the Por 
tage Railroad between Johnstown and the first inclined plane. It was my 
first trip over that part of the Alleghenies, and had those charms of novelty 
which we can enjoy but once. As tlje greatest engineering work in railroad 
ing accomplished up to that time, the Allegheny Portage Railroad was then 
the distinguished and impressive achievement of all internal improvement 
in America. The inclined planes were each half a mile or more in length, 
and the passage up or down (the cars being drawn up or let down by long 
cables) had the gentle excitement arising from a sense of possible peril, and 
the passengers were always sure of a feeling of relief when all were passed. 
I am not sure that the transit by the old Portage road was not more pleas 
urable than the present speedier movement over the mountains. The ascent 
or descent of a plane was an achievement, and we had, besides, ample time 
to enjoy the mountain scenery, which was thought to be very grand, if not 
sublime or magnificent, before it became customary to take a run through 
the Alps or a glance at the Rocky Mountains. We get only glimpses of the 
Alleghenies now, as we are whirled around curves or along tangents at the 
rate of a mile in a minute and a half. 

" This railroad is the great feature of our journey," said one of the pas 
sengers, and this remark at once brought to me a ludicrous association of 
ideas ; for in a moment imagination carried me to the old farm-house, and I 
was in one of the small rooms in the "lean- to," as when a boy, with an old 
comic picture-book, containing the head of a man with a nose of unusual size, 


and beneath the portrait these punning lines, which I think even Dr. John 
son would have conceded to have some merit : 


" Knows he, who never took a pinch, 

Nosey ! the pleasure thence which flows? 
Knows he the tittillating joys 

That my nose knows? 
Oh, Nose! I am as proud of thee 

As any mountain of its snows! 
I gaze on thee, and feel the pride 

A Roman knows ! " 

I gazed on the mountain railroad, and felt the pride, not of a Roman, but 
of a Pennsylvania]! ; for had we not good right, forty-six years ago, to be 
proud of our public works, then unequaled in the western hemisphere, and 
the Portage Railroad unequaled in the world? De Witt Clinton's great 
Erie Canal (honor to his name) reached the Lakes by a continuous water- 
line, and the State of New York had not, like our own peerless Common 
wealth, carried a highway for commerce over the towering Allegheiiies. 
Pennsylvania, in stupendous works to advance civilization by promoting 
cheap and speedy transit, was unrivaled. 

Yes the Allegheny Portage Railroad had its day of glory. But some 
thirty years ago the Pennsylvania Railroad Companysoulless corporation! 
came like a Vandal into the mountains and rudely snatched the diadem 
from its brow ! That Company, flush of money, and caring nothing for 
memories or sentiment, brought into use their continuous grades over the 
mountains, and our dear old Portage road, with its grand inclined planes, 
its long and faithful cables, and its ponderous stationary engines (which 
had been, I think, without equals on the continent), was thrown aside for 
ever ! Iconoclastic corporation ! it hurled our idols to destruction ! 

And what gave they in return ? One long tunnel, where you can see 
nothing but the lights of your car as it creeps through the invisible dark ; 
and out in the daylight the "Horseshoe Curve," which is pointed out to you 
as the proper thing for travelers to admire and wonder at ! I agree that the 
Horseshoe Curve is a very nice Curve, as the tracks climb up along one side 
of a gorge, swing round at its head on a short radius, and climb higher and 
higher on the other side till lost round the high point in the westward dis 
tance ; and the other train, so high above, coming down on the other side of 
the gorge as ours pants upward on this, is a very pretty object on a moun 
tain slope. All this we freely concede, and even own to it that the locating 
engineer has put the Curve in exactly the right place for such a Curve to 
be; and we will go further and insist that the mountain was evidently 
shaped by Nature with no other purpose than to provide a location for the 
Horse-shoe Curve. 

But lo ! this once famous Horse-Shoe Curve is no longer a special won- 


der. The Mule-Shoe Curve at the Veta Pass 011 the Denver aud Rio Grande 
Railroad in Colorado is in the engineering skill and constructive daring 
diplayed, a much more wonderful achievement than the Pennsylvania 
curve ; five or six times as high above sea level, and with its track in many 
parts cut out of the almost vertical face of the rock, along precipices where 
you are giddy if you look down from the window of the narrow gauge car, 
and in the midst of mountains compared with which the Alleghenies are 
but insignificant hills ! And away in Peru they have a railroad built by a 
California?! (Henry Meigs his name) with still more stupendous works than 
the Pennsylvania road, or the Colorado road ; climbing, if I recollect rightly, 
three or four thousand feet higher above sea level than even the line over 
the Veta Pass, and spanning gorges apparently bottomless, in the midst of 
a wilderness of mountains, surpassing in height and sublimity those of Col 
orado as far as the Colorado mountains surpass those of Pennsylvania ! 
No no : the Horse-shoe Curve, which thirty years ago usurped the admira 
tion and the wonder theretofore bestowed on the Allegheny Portage Rail 
road, has come to condign retribution, and holds its prestige 110 longer, save 
for the untraveled and unknowing, and for those genuine Pennsylvaiiians 
who adhere to the ancient faith, repelling with scorn the averment that any 
part of earth equals in anything their own glorious old Commonwealth ! 
To them comparisons are indeed odious, and hence I spare mention (except 
sotto voce in your ear, My Friend,) of the Central Pacific Railroad sur 
mounting the Sierra Nevada, and eclipsing any Allegheny road that can 
possibly be built ; and I forbear allusion (except in confidence, and not to be 
divulged in my dear native State) to the tunnels perforating the Alps, or 
those cork-screw tracks underground, which in the Alps and also on C. P. 
Huntingdon's Southern Pacific Railroad at Tehachapa, wind their occult 
way upward, like the coils of a serpent, lapping over their own lines, and 
each emerging into day-light (as I have little doubt the great original of all 
serpent forms emerged into Mother Eve's orchard) hundreds of feet above 
the level of the spot where it disappeared in the mountain side. I am obli 
vious of all these ; for why disparage, by uncivil contrasts, the local wonders 
in which the people of the good old State take so much pride and enjoy so 
much pleasure ? 

Sad indeed it is that our old Pennsylvania wonders are doomed to the 
chill umbrage of later achievements ; but the truth cannot pass away that 
Pennsylvania was the intelligent and courageous leader in building rail 
roads oil and over mountains ; and the memory of her enlightened and skill 
ful engineers should be cherished while her valleys and mountains remain, 
even though their great works be superseded by later achievements, due to 
the advancement of art and science, and the power of accumulated capital. 
William Milnor Roberts, whose recent death in Brazil is lamented by the 
profession and all who knew him, executed, if he did not design, the Alle 
gheny Portage Railroad, having begun his field labors as one of the first 


body of engineers who ascended the valley of the Juniata, surveying the 
line of the old canal ; and in a professional career of more than half a cen 
tury, whether on canals or railroads, bridges or tunnels, rivers or harbors, 
proved himself equal to every demand upon his abilities, leaving his 
mark upon many of the greatest works of both continents of America. He 
was associated with Mr. Eads in solving the difficult problems of the unri 
valled St. Louis Bridge ; was selected by President Grant in 1874 as one of 
the Mixed Commission of Engineers to determine the best mode of im 
proving the Mouth of the Mississippi, and at the request of Mr. Eads served 
as a member of the Advissory Board of Engineers on the South Pass Jetties. 
Chosen by Dom Pedro from the world's circle of engineers to act as Chief 
Engineer of the Brazilian Empire, his eyes were closed in the scene of his 
latest labors. John Bogart, the accomplished Secretary of the American 
Society of Civil Engineers, will give the literature of the Profession a 
Memoir of this remarkable man, who was at once an honor to his calling 
and to our native land. For myself, I mourn the loss of a personal friend 
and correspondent ; a man of many virtues and no vices ; distinguished by 
ability in his works, and beloved for his moral worth. No more his com 
pendious and suggestive letters from under the Southern Cross ; soon, how 
ever to be needed no more, as we will all be gone to th^ inevitable, of which 
Montgomery tells us : 

" There is a calm for those who weep, 
A rest for weary pilgrims found; 
They softly lie and sweetly sleep, 
Low in the ground." 

At length I was home again on the farm. It was the same old familiar 
farm, but the lane where I used to put the white-faced colt to his speed was 
strangely shortened, and the fields had all contracted their dimensions. 
The river, too, seemed absurdly shrunken, and could hardly be the same 
river I had always known. The streets of Lewistown had scarce half the 
length they had a year and a half before, and the houses had lost in height 
and dignity. The ridge behind the farm, so recently almost a mountain, 
was but a hill that a child might climb. Illusions all, and the change only 
in my own more experienced vision. Involuntarily the mind compared the 
well-known objects with those of greater length and width and height to 
which it had during absence been accustomed ; just as in subsequent years, 
after I had seen the Rocky Mountains, the Alleghanies were dwarfed to 
respectable hills. 

But what was I to get at? To what employment devote myself? 
Father suggested the law ; I could borrow books from a lawyer in town and 
read at home. He would provide food, raiment, shelter. It was a kind, lib 
eral offer. But the legal profession in Pennsylvania was then jealous of its 
dignity, and did not readily admit new comers. They must be as nearly as 
possible qualified for the duties of the profession before entering it, and to 
this end must study three years. This seemed to me a long time, and besides 


I distrusted my own abilities. My pitiful lack of vanity and self-esteem, 
those most important elements of character for youth to be blessed with, 
caused me to doubt even my fitness for the law ! Nor did I care to resume 
Franklin's trade, in which I had made so little advance towards distinc 
tion. So I decided to discard all ambitious thoughts and come down to work 
not beyond my abilities. I would be a farmer. 

Well I farmed, but not long. Somehow the work did not seem to be as 
easy and pleasant as it was four years before. The first day I plowed in a 
stony field, and the plow handles jarred rudely against my hands and hurt 
them. They felt sore at night. The next day I changed work, and hauled 
some rails to make a piece of new fence. The third day I was about to begin 
building the fence, when on consulting the almanac it was found to be the 
wrong time to set fence corners, as we were in the dark of the moon, and it 
would have been little short of insanity to make fence. We had faith in 
the Almanac, and it was well known that if the corners of a " worm fence " 
are set in the dark of the moon they will settle into the ground, but if set in 
the light of the moon will remain on the surface. Hence the importance of 
conforming to lunar conditions. In. planting, the same care is requisite. 
Things which mature their products above ground, such as wheat, corn, peas, 
beans, pumpkins, etc., must always be planted in the light of the moon, to 
make a good yield ; while potatoes, parsnips, beets, artichokes, and things 
of like habits, which make underground, must be planted in the dark of the 
moon, or your labor will be lost. Nothing could be more simple or more 
rational in its way than our faith in the influence of the moon ; and we had 
better fences and better crops, paying always due regard to the moon, and 
planting by the " signs " of the Almanac (which always concurred with a 
good time to put in seed) than the fences and crops of the farmers in the 
same region now, who in their stupidity do not value the Almanac, and 
work along in a hap-hazard sort of way without any reference to the moon 
at all. 

The moon not being in the right phase for fence building I took my plow 
to a field free of stones, where nothing would cause it to jar and hurt my 
hands. But as I trudged the furrow back arid forth, I began to doubt 
whether farming was after all the best calling for me to get a living at, and 
by noon doubt was pretty well resolved into certainty. When about to 
begin the afternoon's work, and with lagging legs continue to trudge after 
the noble instrument which the Emperor of China goes into the field once a 
year to hold for an hour, in order to shed dignity on Agriculture as the 
foundation industry an impression came upon me that there was a letter 
for me in the post-office. I had not been thinking of or expecting any letter, 
but the conviction was strong and definite that the letter (which I seemed 
to actually see) was there in the pigeon-hole, and that I ought to go or send 
and get it. My brother David, then at home, cheerfully agreed to go for the 
letter; but I was so much occupied in imagining who it could be from that I 
followed the plow like an automaton and forgot even the fatigue which had 


in the forenoon prompted my revolt against farm life. To account for the 
singular impression and conviction in regard to the letter scientifically, I 
might suggest that it was possibly due to unconscious clairvoyance. There 
had about that time been a great deal said and printed on the subject of 
animal magnetism, though not so much of clairvoyance as at a later date ; 
and many amateur Mesmers were practicing the art of putting people to 
sleep by the joint exertion of manipulation and will power. So, in account 
ing for an unaccountable occurrence, I may suggest that there was then In 
action so much of what the French savants call " Odic Force," that the 
earth and air had become conductors or transmitters of it, and that a man of 
positive character and strong will, having written a letter that he wished 
to have responded to promptly, might have exercised (even unconsciously 
an Odic influence which reached the intended recipient of his epistle in 
advance of the regular mail. If this explanation seems more difficult to 
comprehend that the matter explained, it must be borne in mind that such 
is often the case when " scientists " undertake to account by theories for 
unexplainable facts. Nothing is more stubborn than facts, and it is some 
times impossible to reconcile them with the most plausible and reasonable 
theories ever invented. 

But whatever the proper solution of the mystery may be, the fact was, 
that the letter was there in the pigeon-hole. It was from Theophilus Fenn, 
editor of the Harrisburg Telegraph, stating that he had heard of my return 
to civilization from the wild west, and inviting me to take editorial charge 
of his paper for a few weeks while he would visit relatives in Connecticut. 
A greater surprise can hardly be imagined, and I handed it to Father for 
his perusal. 

" I I absolutely !" laughing heartily " I I absolutely !" 

" Well," I inquired " what are you laughing at?" 

" I'm laughing at Feiiu. I've always thought him a blackguard in his 
paper, but I never thought him a fool. I I absolutely !" 

"I don't see why you think him a fool. I see nothing wrong in the 

"Of course he's a fool, to think you could edit the Telegraph. It's ab 
surd. A chap like you, editing a paper at the capital of the Commonwealth ! 
I never heard the like. I I absolutely !" 

" Well, I can try, I suppose." 

" Now, that's egregious nonsense. You'd fail, and regret it all your life. 
Don't be perverse, but begin the study of the law at once." 

This was good advice, like his former advice to " put plenty of brains " in 
the old Gazette ; but it seemed almost as hard to follow, as the three years 
of study required for admission to the bar seemed an interminable time. So 
I told him I would go, if I had passage money, and after a good deal of dis 
cussion he gave a hesitating assent, and arrangements were made for my 
departure. But my good father had not the serene confidence in my future 


which Dr. Primrose had in that of his son Moses, when he set off to sell the 
horse at the fair. 

That I should have run away from Bellefonte in March, then enlist in 
Pittsburgh as a Texas emigrant, and after deserting at Louisville and spend 
ing some weeks there as a jour, printer, should in Jvne be summoned from 
the farm to undertake the editorship of the central state organ of the party, 
was certainly a strange series of events ; and when I reflect 011 the concate 
nation of circumstances I am inclined to believe that parts at least of Baron 
Munchausen's wonderful narrations may have been truer than we used to 
consider them. On the 21st day of June, 1837, 1 arrived in Harrisburg with 
" three bits," or 37 cents in my pocket, exactly the sum I had on the memo 
rable first of April when I boarded the Constellation at Pittsburgh as an 
emigrant to Texas ; but why Pittsburgh should have an h at the end of it, 
and Harrisburg get along very well without it, I have never been able to 
find out. 

As to hard money, the coin rating at 12J cents was an "eleven-penny 
bit " in Pennsylvania, or by usage a " levvy," while it was a bit in the west 
and south. The coin rating at 6 cents was with us a u five-penny bit," 
reduced by usage to "fippeny bit," or for short a "fip," while in New 
Orleans and the west it was a " picayune," and so far as I know is the only 
coin that ever gave a name to a daily newspaper. The " New Orleans Pica 
yune" was named after the coin it was first sold for, and was the pioneer 
in cheap journals in the south ; though Kendall, Holbrook and the two 
Fields (Matthew C. and Joseph M.) got out a paper well worth a " bit." 
The journal they started so well is alive and vigorous yet, though sold for a 
half dime, or "nickel;" but the name would hardly do as the "New 
Orleans Nickel." 




On my arrival in Harrisburg Mr. Fenn left. His principal instruction 
to me as hia substitute was, never to explain or defend anything, but to 
persistently assail the other party. " Never let them get you on the defen 
sive, but always carry the war into Africa," were his parting words. As I 
was not well versed in classical literature, I did not know what carrying 
the war Into Africa meant, or understand the allusion contained in the 
expression, but thought it intended to signify that our political foes were 
like ignorant barbarians and ought to be pitched into. In due time the 
Telegraph, a weekly, came out, and but a few days had elapsed when I 
received a letter from Mr. Fenn, who was among his folks at Weathersfield, 
complimenting me very highly on the spirit and ability with which I was 
conducting his journal. My selections pleased him, and he was delighted, 
he wrote, with the freshness, boldness and vigor displayed in my editorials, 
and hoped I would continue to charge upon the " locofocos " as we called 
the democrats, all sorts of iniquities. Our system of conducting political 
warfare was indeed beautifully simple, consisting mainly of charges, 
whether true or not, hurled at the opposite party, with occasional gross 
aspersions of individuals. 

The main subject of dispute between the two parties was the manage 
ment of the United States Treasury. The democrats had brought forward 
their scheme of an "Independent Treasury : " to collect and disburse all 
public moneys in gold and sil ver coin ; to use no bank paper in govern 
ment transactions ; and to keep all public treasure in depositories or " sub- 
treasuries," organized, directed and controlled by officers of the United 


States. It was the Treasury system that has since been so many years in 
successful operation. But- the whigs assailed the scheme with all the 
strength and bitterness we could command. It is not worth while to re 
state any of our arguments and assumptions, except to say in general terms, 
that we held up the Independent Treasury scheme as designed to enrich 
the officeholders and make them independent of the people ! And I remem 
ber that one of my articles in the Telegraph with the flaring head "GOLD 
was considered to have in this striking title an epitome of the whole case, 
to say nothing of the force and vigor with which the body of the article 
discussed the great question ! In the elegant language of modern youth, 
" It was bully, you bet ! An' don't you forget it ! " 

We did not at any time spare the federal officeholders, but poured on 
them floods of abuse, in all the terms of obloquy at our command ; and 
strangers reading our whig journals would have supposed the United States, 
under the presidency of Mr. Van Buren, to be in the grasp of the most 
shameless scoundrels on earth. Nor were the democratic editors backward 
in replies. If they did not return in full all they received, they at least 
gave us the best they had, and with a will as earnest and as little restrained 
by scruples of conscience as our own. If I might for once use slang I would 
say " it was dog eat dog ; " and I could be amused, if I did not feel emotions 
of disgust, when I look back at our venomous controversies, especially in 
the Pennsylvania papers. I wonder now that a higher and better order of 
discussion was not demanded by the people. There was certainly but little 
of statesmanship, and less of dignity, in our treatment of the great interests 
of the country, or of our own State. But I knew no better. I was only an 
uneducated, uncultivated, country-bred youth of twenty years, called by a 
curious chance to the editorial charge of a paper at the seat of the state 
government. If I could enjoy the self-esteem others are gifted with, I 
might reflect with self-exaltation on the fact that I was able to sustain myself 
at all. 

During my six summer weeks of service as Mr Fenn's proxy, my days 
were given to the editorial office and my evenings mainly spent in " gal 
lanting young ladies," as the phrase ran then ; taking twilight walks with 
a bevy of charmers along the beautiful banks of the Susquehanna, which 
not being a navigable stream except for rafts of lumber in freshets, had 
shores undesecrated by commerce. Sometimes we went skifting on the 
water, when the girls would sing the good old meaningful and sentimental 
songs, with a new one by Arthur T. Lea, a young lieutenant in the army 
beginning : 

" Come gaze on us now with the moon, love, 
And list to our voices in tune, love, 
Oh, haste thee, arise now, for soon, love, 

We'll be borne by the swift stream away 1 


O'er us the bright stars are peeping, 
Around us the night winds are sweeping, 
The waves 011 the dark shore are leaping 
As lit by the moon's silver ray!" 

As we were not hypercritical, we enjoyed this song immensely, although 
the Susquehanua, in low water, was not swift, nor the shores dark when a 
good moon was beaming, nor the night winds sweeping very strongly when 
we went skifting. We generally closed our evenings at the modest ice 
cream parlors of Mrs. Burbeck, where my week's wage disappeared in a 
pleasant and refreshing way. All very foolish, perhaps, My Aged Friend, 
but very innocent, and very delightful to a youth of twenty ; and I admit 
that it was not " business," nor likely to promote one's pecuniary success, 
even though it tended to cherish the finer sentiments and smooth the 
manners. It was not copying Dr. Franklin at all. 

I noticed one day, directly across the street, the skill and rapidity with 
which a young carpenter was re-shingling a building. He seemed to 
pick up the right shingle to fit every time, and it was hardly in place 
before the nails were through it, and another in hand. I soon after made 
his acquaintance at the Hope Fire Company's engine house, on joining the 
company, and we were both on a committee which recommended the estab 
lishment of water works by using a steam engine to force water from the 
river to Capitol hill, instead of a canal as previously suggested by 'Squire 
Ayres and Lawyer Krause. Our recommendation was adopted by the 
" Burgesses," and the system is in use yet. The carpenter had been study 
ing law in the evenings (when I was enjoying the society of young ladies) 
and during the next winter was legislative correspondent of the Phila 
delphia Inquirer, Jasper Harding's paper, then edited by Robert Morris, a 
descendant, I think, of the old Revolutionary Treasurer. Starting as a 
lawyer, my carpenter crony became in time Clerk of the State House of 
of Representatives, Member of Congress, Governor by appointment of a 
Territory, Governor by election of a State, Senator in Congress, and Cabinet 
Minister. He always put the right shingle in the right place, and drove the 
nail promptly. His name is Alexander Ramsey. 

Mr. Ramsey is what is called a "self-made man," having had few 
advantages in schools, and no powerful friends (except his ability to " talk 
Dutch " in Dauphin county) to start him in life, but having to start himself 
and gain his friends as he went along. But all men who achieve distinc 
tion are "self-made." Some are aided by friends or circumstances, and 
thus find the ladder ready to their hands ; but they must nevertheless grasp 
the rungs and exert their own powers in order to climb. Others must con 
struct their own ladders, and then work their way up. The ladder was 
ready for William Pitt, but his own labors gave him position at the top. 
No ladder was provided for James B. Eads, but he hustled round, made 
a very tall one for himself, and has climbed to the uppermost rung. Some 


who are born with ladders all ready never try to climb. Thousands, born 
ladderless, vainly construct and climb, but never get above the first rung, 
if they get to that. I have often had a short ladder raised, and got up a 
few rungs, just high enough to look about me a little, when snap would 
go the rung and down I would come. I am now too old ever to do much 
climbing, but if by some unusual good fortune I should get an opportunity 
to " catch on " again, I shall pull the ladder up after me to show how often 
I have had to mend the broken rungs. 

One evening during my proxy editorship I entered the parlor of Kelker's 
old-fashioned hotel across the street to visit Miss Hose, the beautiful 
daughter of the host, and found eight other young ladies present, among 
them two sisters whom I then saw for the first time. Seated across the 
room from me, they were in a group of gir]s, chatting pleasantly, the tallest 
of the two sisters apparently leading the conversation. As I looked at 
them the distinct thought presented itself " that tallest girl will make a 
good wife for somebody some day." I was not looking out for girls that 
would make good wives ; nor was I then very well qualified to judge of the 
probabilities; and I never could account for that prophetic thought, the 
like of which had never occurred to me respecting any other young lady. 
If a premonition, or a mere chance guess, it was an amazingly correst esti 
mate, as proved by events not then dreamed of. 

On Mr. Fenn's return my occupation as proxy editor ceased, and I 
quietly took my ' case ' as a jour, printer. Pennsylvania was then having 
her Colonial Records printed, and the quaint language and curious details 
of the old councils, (followed with great particularity, abbreviations and 
all, in the pages we were ' setting up,') were entertaining enough to pay 
us for the bother we often had with the queer types used to reproduce the 
Records, which we were printing from the first days of the Provincial Gov 
ernment. Many passages showed that the elders of the Commonwealth 
had been but men, with passions, envies, and jealousies like our own; 
and when Henry Guiter saia to us "Boys, don't you think the old Colo 
nials were mighty small potatoes, considering the freshness of the soil?" 
we responded with unanimous assent, and declared with great originality 
and force, that " human nature is much the same at all times and every 
where." But it was some comfort to know that the State could trace her 
history authentically from the beginning, and in doing so give the jour, 
printers a * job ' during the vacation of the legislature. Then we told each 
other that the Americans were the only great people on earth who can tell 
their own story from the start a remark I afterwards found in Graham's 
History of the United States. 

As the summer wore away I began to feel ambitious to have again a 
paper of my own, and was negotiating with George W. Phillips for the 
Carlisle Herald. Having visited that quiet and genteel old town to look at 
the " office," I went to college for the first time in my life ; that is, I called 


at Dickinson College (named after old John, of Revolutionary memory) to 
see a Mend from Lewistovvn, about my own age, a student there. I only 
remained half an hour, and did not even see the President of the College, 
the eloquent Dr. Durbin ; but I learned a lesson in finance, not yet forgotten, 
as my friend borrowed twenty dollars that I had saved of my wages as a 
jour, printer, and has not yet paid it back. Returning to Harrisburg, in 
tending to buy the Herald on credit, I called to consult Thomas H. Burrowes, 
Secretary of the Commonwealth, on the subject, when he told me not to 
leave the seat of government, and I should be put in as editor of the Intel 
ligencer, the other whig organ of Governor Ritner's administration. This 
arrangement was made, and during the winter I was editor and legislative 
reporter at a salary of fifteen dollars a week. The papers of Harrisburg 
were then published tri.weekly or semi-weekly (I forget which) during the 
sessions of the Legislature, and weekly during the rest of the year; but 
the salaries, like the merits of the papers, did not reach high figures. 

To Mr. Burrowes the Pennsylvanians owe the systematic organization 
of their Common School system, during the term of Joseph Ritner as Gov 
ernor, from 1835 to 1838. Thomas had a strong mind which had been well 
cultivated, and as he was both fond and proud of the schools, he labored 
with remarkable energy and industry to promote their success ; giving at 
the same time a large share of attention to the party measures intended to 
secure Mr. Ritner's reelection. Granting that the school system is a good 
thing, the people of the state ought to hold in honor the memory of Mr. 
Burrowes ; but he will soon be forgotten, as we have so many men who are 
really great that we cannot remember them all. As poor wandering Fitz- 
patrick, with unsettled mind, on happening to enter one of the Harrisburg 
churches during a funeral service, and finding the seats all full, said in a 
tone of sadness " There's too many of us here !" 

I am under singular obligations to Thomas H. Burrowes. Unknown to 
himself, he was my preceptor in rhetoric. Not that I knew what rhetoric 
was, for I believe I did not know the meaning of the word till 1839, when I 
chanced to take up Blair's Lectures 011 Rhetoric, in the State Library, and 
was greatly pleased to find that I had been writing in accordance with his 
precepts without having known of their existence. I had admired the 
clear, forcible and elegant style of Mr. Burrowes, and had tried to write in 
the same effective and attractive manner. They have made new books on 
rhetoric since, but I am not sure that the student has gained by them. I 
never think of rhetoric now, but just write on as what I suppose to be ideas 
present themselves, solicitous only to dress them in the scantiest possible 
drapery of words, but happy as a boy blowing soap bubbles when I chance 
to hit on what Professor Waterhouse, of St. Louis, who writes so well, 
would style " unexpected felicity of phrase." 

It was queer that a raw youth of twenty should have been considered fit 
for the positions I was placed in, and queer, too, that I should myself always 


have had a sort of * inner consciousness ' that I was not fit for them. I 
would wonder sometimes, in musing moods, if all was leal, and not a fan 
tastic and unsubstantial series of fancied events, and it would seem as if it 
was not me, but some double of myself, who was figuring there as an editor, 
without complaint or objection from any one. And not less queer it was, 
that I never had any feeling of elation or self-consequence, so natural to 
youth, and that all the sense of importance which I enjoyed when my name 
was first at the head of the old Gazette as editor and proprietor had faded 
out. I rather looked upon myself as the most insignificant figure of the 
pageant, that could be dropped out at any time and never missed ; and after 
all, this may be a safe way to look at things even now. Yet in my editorial 
identity I was pretty well up to the level of those about me, however inade 
quately my other identity appreciated myself. Three or four years later I 
wrote a story for Graham's Magazine, then a prominent Monthly, turning 
on the doctrine of Metempsychosis, or Transmigration of Souls, but it had 
never occurred to me that in their migrations two souls might have hap 
pened to get into my one body : a big soul for the editor, and a little soul 
or the depreciative critic ! 


(St. Louis Revielle, 1845.) 

Sit! Sit! Sit! 

From matin hour till twilight gloom, 
He's a fixture there in his dusky room! 

Away the moments flit, 
And the world outside, with joyous din, 
Moves gaily on but the world within 

Is labor, and toil, and care ! 
No turn knows he in the weary day 
But the turn that shows the pivot's play 

As he turns his easy chair ! 

Write ! Write ! Write ! 
Though fancy soar on a tired wing 
She must still her tribute celestial bring, 

Nor own a weary flight ! 
And reason's powers and memory's store 
Must prove their strength, and bring the lore 

Antique, and sage, and mystic; 
For these to the uttermost thought and particle 
Must go in to-morrow's " leading article" 

Argument wit statistic ! 





In August 1837, I enjoyed my first railroad "excursion;" the opening of 
the Cumberland Valley Railroad from Harrisburg to Chambers burg. A 
car load of gentlemen (with manly selfishness, never thinking that ladies 
might also take pleasure in a trip of the kind) went from Harrisburg to 
honor the occasion, and we had a collation and speeches at Chambersburg. 
Except the few miles from Johnston to the first inclined plane on the Alle 
gheny Portage Railroad, where I saw my first locomotive, as I returned 
from my trip to the west, this excursion was memorable to me as my first 
railroad ride by steam. The track of the C. V. R.R., as we would initial 
the name now for lack of time to speak it in full, was laid with the flat rail ; 
but even that sort of railroad was highly valued among people who had 
never had any better. Thaddeus Stevens was of the party a man whose 
face in repose reminded one of the pen portrait of Napoleon by the Irish 
orator Phillips, "grand, gloomy and peculiar," but whose voice was music 
in all cadences, and whose countenance could in animation express all in 
tensities of emotion or passion. Seated near him, I said 

"A ride in the cars is very pleasant, I think, Mr. Stevens." 

" It is very exhilarating, sir ; very exhilarating !" 

That was the word exhilarating the word I had wanted when I crossed 
the Alleghenies on the Portage railroad. I had felt but not uttered it. 
Exhilarating ! Yes railroading was a novelty then, and it was an event in 
one's life to be drawn by a locomotive. Then the youth of twenty, riding 
behind the " iron horse " for the first time had sensations of which those 
who are used to the rail from childhood can have no conception. The rail 
road and the locomotive, of which he had heard so much, and which 


seemed such far-off things, now realized at last ! Tt^ere was rapture in the 
thought, with a tinge of awe when we actually started. And when, on 
that excursion jubilant all we were whirled along the prolific Cumber 
land Valley, making at least fifteen miles an hour, what word in all the 
dictionary but the one so aptly used by Mr. Stevens would apply ? Yet it 
was not new ; for since I wrote the foregoing sentence I have turned to the 
life of Oliver Evans, and find this prediction made by him at Philadelphia 
about the beginning of the century: " The time will come when people 
will travel in stages moved by steam engines from one city to another almost 
as fast as birds can fly, fifteen or twenty miles an hour. Passing through 
the air with such velocity, changing scenes in such rapid succession will be 
the most exhilarating exercise." Alas for Oliver ! If money had been sup 
plied he would have given the world the locomotive at least a quarter of a 
century before it came into general use. But capital could not comprehend. 

I only remember one other person, in addition to Thaddeus Stevens, as in 
our excursion party, and he, like Thaddeus, a. character of. history to last 
a generation or two. This was GeneraLSimon Cameron ; in his boyhood, an 
apprentice to Hamilton, the Harrisburg printer. Simon was a " self-made " 
man, who not only provided his own ladder and climbed it, but also helped 
to provide the ladders of many others. At the collation in Chambersburg, 
Gen. Cameron, at the close of a brief speech, gave the toast: 

" Credit the magic word that turns everything to gold." 

Gen. Cameron was a democrat, but he did not believe with President 
Jackson, that "all who trade on borrowed capital ought to break." He 
was the Cashier of the Middletown Bank ; lent money to foster industries, 
and did not want the borrowers" to break, and break his bank. He under 
stood finance, I think, better than President Jackson ; but Gen. Cameron 
himself has not always been understood. He has always exercised a large 
influence in Pennsylvania, not because he corruptly bought up and bribed 
any one, as his enemies have charged, but because he did more kind and 
generous acts, and helped more struggling men in their business careers, 
than any other man in the state. 

Thaddeus Stevens began his political life as an "Anti-Mason," and in 
1837 and for some years following, was the most prominent figure in Penn 
sylvania politics. Some twenty years later he was sent to Congress, and 
was the acknowledged leader of the House, but did not gain the national 
reputation which he would have commanded if he had entered Congress 
earlier in life. 

It can hardly be realized now, that a political party could be organized 
on the single plank of hostility to Free Masonry. Yet such was the case. 
Beginning in the interior of New York, after the alleged murder by Masons 
of William Morgan, for disclosing the secrets of the order, the party became 
powerful in New England, New York and Pennsylvania ; but never had 
much strength west or south of these states. After a few years of bitter 
political controversies, dividing friends and neighbors, and engendering 


personal hatreds, the " Antimasonic " was merged into the whig party, 
and is now scarcely remembered, or known to have existed. Yet many 
strong men, from whom broader views were to have been expected, seated 
themselves on this narrow plank, and even floated into power on it. Mr. 
Stevens was the leader in Pennsylvania, and the party elected the Gover 
nor, Joseph Ritner, in 1835. It all seems to have been extremely absurd 
an " antimasonic party !" but who is the Canute to check the tide of folly ? 

As a member of the state Legislature, Mr. Stevens was very efficient in 
the passage of acts to establish the Common Schools of Pennsylvania. He 
was an orator of much power ; persuasive or denunciatory as occasion de 
manded. I remember one of his triumphs, altho' the bill was finally lost. 
It was a bill to establish a " School of Arts," and in the afternoon session, 
Mr. Stevens having spoken for an hour or two, the bill was passed by a 
vote nearly unanimous. Hard-headed old democrats, even, had been swept 
along by the flood of argument, illustration and pathos. But a night of 
reflection brought a reconsideration next day, and the bill was voted down 
by as large a majority as had passed it. This loss of the bill was a splendid 
compliment to the orator, proving that his eloquence had carried it on the 
previous day. 

Having apparently no taste for social life, Mr. Stevens sought diversion 
at the gaming table. He often spent an evening at the faro bank, and 
whether winner or loser, gave no evidence of elation or depression. He was 
a gambler entirely for recreation ; would enter, seat himself at the table, 
win or lose till weary of the play, and then leave without a word perhaps 
to any one. He never married, and had LIO home life. 

Mr. Stevens was not a chatty man. He used few words in conversation, 
but they were always apt. His expressions were terse, and often bitter ; 
but, I opine, it was from habit rather than malice, that he so often spoke 
daggers. I recall no injury done by him to any one, save in party contests ; 
but as a party man he had no toleration, and his hatred of the other party 
was intense. When a democratic partisan, a young lawyer in Carlisle, had 
in a temporary aberration, destroyed himself, and some one asked Mr. Ste 
vens if he had heard that Mr. Burnhep " had blown out his brains," the 
reply was 

" All a mistake, sir all a mistake he shot a hole through his head !" 

Congress having failed to renew the charter of the National Bank, appli 
cation was made by its President, Nicholas Biddle, to the Legislature of 
Pennsylvania ; and in 1836 a charter was granted to the " United States Bank 
of Pennsylvania." Some democratic Legislators who voted for this charter 
were repudiated by their party as having sold themselves to the Bank. 
Charles B. Penrose, a Senator, and Jesse R. Burden, a representative, were 
the most prominent of these recreant democrats, and both, discarded by the 
democrats, became prominent whigs. Stevens, Penrose and Burden con 
stituted a trio most offensive to all pure and virtuous democratic nostrils. 

I do not really know whether or not Mr. Biddle bought Mr. Penrose and 


Mr. Burden. I never saw him buying anybody. But without at all aver- 
ing that these gentlemen were corrupt, I wish to enter my protest against 
the self-sufficiency of the present day, in regard to corruption in politics. 
Our good old times are treated as if we had had no corruption at all, and as 
if all political knavery had been held in reserve to illuminate the past 
quarter of a century. This is very unfair, and shows a lamentable igno 
rance of the past. Let us have no more such disparagement. In propor 
tion to population and to the square mile, we had, fifty and more years 
ago, I think, as full a measure of knavery in politics as there is now, with 
all the modern improvements ; and hence I am rather optimistic in regard 
the future of the country. 

In Pennsylvania the public works canals and railroads then owned 
and managed by the state, were a source of corruption, favoritism, and 
party bitterness. Many men fattened on the spoils ; and no one disputed 
the truth of the phrase attributed to William L. Marcy, " to the victors 
belong the spoils." The strife between the "ins " and the "outs" was 
fierce beyond -any thing we now witness. Hence our party contests had a 
double measure of bitterness arising from both national and state interests. 

No man only forty years old can easily conceive a fair idea of the con 
troversies we had in the past over questions connected with the United 
States Bank, the independent treasury, and the State banks all now hap 
pily settled, or at least may practically be so considered. The question of a 
national bank like the old one will, I think, never be revived. The great 
" balance wheel," as we used to call it, is not needed ; and besides, experi 
ence is against it. Mr. Biddle's old United States Bank was continued 
under the State charter of 1836, but as a balance wheel it proved to be a 
signal failure. It ran so fast, that it not only deranged all the machinery of 
finance, but whirled so rapidly that it was burst in pieces by centrifugal 
force, scattering ruin all around. The present systems of which the inde 
pendent treasury was initiated by the old democrats, more than forty years 
ago, and the national bank system, the more recent work of the republicans 
only need, I think, to be let alone ; or at* least, if the bank system should 
need a little amendment at any time, we are not likely to have any fierce 
party squabble over it, or over the silver coinage, or any other financial 
question. The present generation may esteem themselves fortunate to have 
so many troublesome questions out of party politics. In the independent 
treasury, and in the national bank system, both democrats and republicans 
builded wiser than they knew. 

Another question, that of internal improvements by the federal govern 
ment, is happily at rest. No one desires now to step over bounds to which 
even a "strict construction" democrat may safely venture. But we dis 
puted vigorously on this topic in the olden time. 

The tariff is left for discussion, and will probably remain ; but it is not 
likely there will be strict division of parties on it ; and bitter partisan con 
flicts in regard to it need not, I think, be apprehended. Legislation on 


inter-state commerce, and on the propriety of discouraging immigration, 
may come up at an early day for discussion, but I doubt if parties will 
divide on these subjects. 

The slavery question, just coming into party contests in Pennsylvania, 
forty-six years ago with the whigs leaning to the abolition side and the demo 
crats to the other is disposed of forever. I remember that the first mob I 
ever heard of was a mob in Pennsylvania interfering with an anti-slavery 
orator. In Philadelphia, in 1838, a hall was burned by a mob because some 
abolitionists were holding a convention in it. These mobs, together with 
the action of southern men in trying to exclude from Congress petitions for 
the abolition of slavery in the District of C jlumbia, tended greatly to spread 
tho anti-slavery feeling in the middle and northern states. At least, in 
Pennsylvania, we did not like to have the right of petition interfered with. 
We had a right, we thought, to send petitions to Congress for any thing we 
fancied, and if we petitioned for impracticable things, that was our own 
affair. If Congress could at its pleasure refuse to receive one kind of peti 
tion, it might refuse to receive another, and we did not choose to have the 
men in the capitol deciding on the kind of prayer the people might offer. 
Not that we cared particularly to pray, but we insisted on our right to pray 
in a way to suit ourselves, if we felt like it ; and if the southern members of 
Congress had understood human nature, and had let in all petitions with 
out objection, and given them respectful reference (oven if left to sleep in 
pigeon holes), there would not have been so many sent. One fact in our 
history I have never seen noted, namely, that the anti-tariff or free trade 
doctrines of the south stimulated the growth of abolitionism in Pennsylva 
nia. If the south had held on to the protective tariff doctrines of 1816, 
Pennsylvania would, I think, never have tolerated any anti-slavery preach 
ing or manifestations within her borders. When the south struck at " the 
tariff" Pennsylvania felt the dagger, drew out the bloody weapon, and 
struck back. 

I have adverted to all these matters to show how happy the present 
voting folks ought to feel, in escaping so many of the controversies which 
agitated the country but a few years ago. So many questions are settled, 
that there does not in reality seem to be much matter of principle left to 
divide parties ; but the newspapers have ample work in telling us of thou 
sands of things unknown in my younger days, and when topics of science, 
art, progress, fashion, and events by wire and cable from all parts of the 
world fail, they can easily fill up with suicides, outrages, murder, base ball, 
and the pilgrimages of the President, who must learn what the country is 
after he has reached the highest office in it 




Governor Bitner having, in March 1838, refused to appoint a man of my 
choice judge of one of the counties, I lost my temper, and throwing up my 
' situation ' as editor of the Intelligencer at fifteen dollars a week, left 
Harrisburg forever. Never more would I enter that pleasant town ; never 
more would I look on the beautiful valley, or the broad river with its green 
islands, or the blue mountains enclosing the lovely landscape, unsurpassed 
by any I have elsewhere beheld in much wandering ; and never more would 
I stroll out on a summer evening to enjoy the view from Prospeet Hill, 
where Prof. J. H. Ingraham, author of "Lafitte, or the Pirate of the Gulf," 
taught me how to enjoy all the beauty of distant scenery, by stooping the 
head and looking backward (Madam can look under her arm), when the 
inverted organs of vision find charms not realized with the head erect. 
Nevermore nevermore. 

Up the Juniata to my native town, there to think and plan for the future. 
The Lyceum had a meeting the night after my arrival, and having been 
one of its founders, I was received with kindly greetings by Judge Banks, 
its President, and in response to his welcome made a speech. The topics 
have faded from memory, but I recollect that I put into my address the best 
imitation I could evoke of the fervor Tom Marshall had manifested in his 
speech to the multitude at Louisville after the suspension of specie pay 
ments, and that I reproduced all of his gesticulation that I could call to 
mind. It was a plagiarism of the Kentucky orator's manner, and I proba 
bly descanted on the home affections, the unparalled beauty of the Juniata 
scenery, the greatness of Pennsylvania, and other topics not unpleasing to 
the audience ; and I may have quoted from Montgomery's poem of the West 
Indies the passage : 


" There is a land of every land the pride, 
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside ; 
Where brighter suns dispense serener light, 
And milder moons emparadise the night; 
A land of beauty, virtue, valor, truth, 
Time-tutored age, and love-exalted youth." 

I must have quoted these lines, which, when we recited them at the 
Academy under Mr. Hickok's supervision, had always seemed to have been 
written for our region, and almost convinced us that the writer must have 
been along there before writing them. Any way, my little speech set every 
body to wondering at my improved oratory, and I was applauded to the 
echo. It was the best speech, no doubt, ever made in the Lyceum, though 
I can never prove the fact, for of all who were then present I am probably 
the sole survivor. But after the speech was delivered I thought of so many 
things that I might have said and did not say, that the glow of utterance 
merged into a chill, and again I decided that I was not jit by nature for an 

In the scenes of boyhood's trials and pleasures I spent about three weeks, 
musing over the little events that had been so great when they occurred ; 
but there was little of the dolcefar niente, or " sweet to do nothing " in it all. 
The habit of being employed was so fixed that idleness was more tiresome 
than work, and I must again be in a wider and busier world. I went back 
to Harrisburg ; my " nevermore " had lasted less than a month ! This may 
look like fickleness and vascillation ; but, My Dear Madam, it was eminent 
constancy. I was in love ! 

When a fine lady asked George Stephenson what is the most powerful 
thing in the world, he replied that it is the eye of a woman for the man 
who loves her ; for if she looks on him with affection, and he should stray 
to the uttermost ends of the earth, her look will bring him back ! But 
George, practical as he was at his steam engine when a young man at the 
colliery working at odd times repairing shoes to pay for schooling was 
yet full of the sentiment and romance often pervading work-a-day natures. 
He was in love with Fanny Henderson, and having mended her shoes, car. 
ried them in his pocket a day or two for the pleasure of taking them out 
now and then to look at and admire ; and after he became the great engineer 
of railroads and builder of locomotives, and had long ago been married to 
Fanny and had shed tears not unmanly at her grave, he was never, I believe, 
ashamed of the homage he had paid her by slyly kissing the little shoes ; 
and I own that I can hardly think the worse of him for it, as I have as 
great toleration for the man who is honestly in love, as I have detestation 
for any one who undervalues or disparages the worth of the sex to which 
his unfortunate mother belonged. 

On my return to Harrisburg I met James Clarke, a jour, printer, who 
had been appointed Secretary of the new Territory of Iowa, then recently 
cut off from Wisconsin, and now a great domain of wealth and culture. 
Mr. Clarke was on his way westward, and wished me to join him and "grow 


up with the country." But such was not my kismet, as the Musselman 
calls destiny, which I am at times half inclined to believe in. The time had 
not come for me to tread the exuberant soil of Iowa, and I was not to tread 
it on the eastern but on the western border. In after years I was domiciled 
for a time within her desired boundaries, and was able to do the prospective 
state some unrewarded service; but I could not "go West" with Mr. 
Clarke, valued as his friendship was. The pioneer spirit, deadened by my 
experience with Col. Behrenbeck, had not been re-developed, and the local 
attraction was too strong. I must remain in Harrisburg, and in April, hav 
ing entered into a partnership with Colin McCurdy, a fellow printer and one 
of nature's gentlemen, we bought the Intelligencer. 

I WAS IN LOVE, and had vague ideas of marriage but with youth's 
unknowing of the felicity crowning a well-assorted union, which, all 
unmeriting, it was my after future to enjoy ; and never thinking that ever 
husband would write so tenderly and touchingly as did Ik Marvel, when 
(barring the harsh word) he said years after and seemingly for me, and 
better than I could have put my own experience into words : 

"The mother is as beautiful as ever, and far more dear to me; for 
gratitude has been adding, year by year, to love. There have been times 
when a harsh word of mine uttered in the fatigues of business, has touched 
her ; and I have seen that soft eye fill with tears, and I have upbraided 
myself for causing her one pang. But such she does not remember, or 
remembers only to cover with her gentle forgiveness." 

IN LOVE. That was all. But how it came about, who can tell ? It was 
in the autumn of 1837. Since June, life had gone pleasantly. I had spent 
many delightful evenings in the society of young ladies, not in love with 
any, but rendering homage to all. Attentions were shown to each, with 
verses in albums (then in vogue), and courteous phrases, and all the little 
flatteries which men are apt to suppose women fonder of than they are. 
But nothing serious, even wdth Ann of Locust Grove, or Margaretta of 
Carlisle, both of whom were charming and greatly admired. All of us 
floating along, careless bubbles on the stream, unfearing any cataract or 
whirlpool in its course. But who knows his fate ? As I strolled one evening 
up the one-sided street, with the cosy dwellings on the right, and the serene 
Susquehanna and its sleeping islands on the left, and over all the Indian 
summer haze, softening all outlines as if for the pencil of a Claude Lorraine, 
a young lady stepped from the door-sill to the little porch and struck me ! 

Not a physical blow unfeminine with tiny hand, or even playful and 
coquettish fan ; but a psychical lightning stroke, not rending but thrilling, 
and causing the heart to glow like the carbon of electric light, but with 
incandescence that did not consume. She it was of whom when first in her 
presence I had the prophetic thought, so amply realized as time rolled 
on, that she "would make a good wife for somebody some day ;" though I 
had not the faintest throb of what is called love at first sight. And there 
she was. as never before. Often had she stepped as lightly to the porch ; 


often had her cheerful and winning smile greeted me. But now a charm 
ineffable ! Never so beautiful never the smile so sweet. My love had 
come, as it comes only once in a man's life, however often he may be fond 
and faithful. But it was all too sudden, too new, then to be uttered ; and a 
moon of time elapsed before the venture was dared. 

Needless all the tale to tell 

The trembling accents that declare 
How, bound and fettered by her spell, 

But happy in the chains I wear, 
I'll ever, ever love her well; 
And how the timoi'ous words implore 

Her kindly thought, and beg her then 
Not to disdain for evermore, 

The heart that cannot love again. 
And how the startled maid replies 

"You jest!" not crediting the tale; 
And how the lustre of her eyes 
Tells like her blush, the great surprise; 

And how no pleadings can avail 
For more than time to think it o'er; 

Arid how, content to gain ev'n this, 

Nor daring yet a lover's kiss, 
But, hope all brighter than before, 

I dream, and dream of future bliss. 
And needless is it to renew 

The old, old story, now and here, 
How Love responsive slowly grew, 
And how, in sooth, at length I knew 

Wordless the tale I long'd to hear. 
For not in utterance alone 4 

But by expressive silence may 
The wish'd response be surely known; 
And clasp we then our own our own- 
Till life shall reach its latest day! 

The winter wore away, with a shadowy future of wedded life, some time, 
as Hope told us, to be realized; but suddenly came my quarrel with the 
Governor in March, and my departure, as already told, never more to 
return. Going as I was for endless time and to undetermined lands, it was 
best, I thought, to release each other ; and when the propriety of this was 
suggested, the reply was neither unkind nor reproachful, yet had a simple 
dignity in harmony with her well -poised character : " I did not propose the 
engagement." Returned in April, the wanderer found it by no means as 
easy to renew the bonds of mutual promise as it had been to cancel them, 
and not till May-day, at a little party out at Mrs. Hannah's grove, could 
opportunity be gained to propose a renewal of the covenant. With the 
blood-red sap of a native plant, on a torn paper from the lunch basket, were 
traced the words of repentance and the prayer for pardon ; and a smile of 
forgiveness and of reconciliation made happy the self-accusing but repent 
ant swain. It was as romantic as an invented scene, but entirely real for 
blessings on a life. On the fortieth anniversary of that auspicious May-day 


these verses were written for one who merited poetry of a higher order, but 
who wished for no lines more truthful : 


The first of May oh happy day! 

The clay when we went pleasuring; 
When youthful sports and youthful glee 

The joyous hours were measuring. 

The first of May oh happy day ! 

It gave me back my dearie then; 
And troth was pledged for life to last, 

By those who could not part again. 

The first of May oh happy day ! 

What mem'ries round it ever cling! 
For love as ardent now as then 

Each day new rapture still can bring. 

The first of May oh happy day! 

The day we learn'd how fond we were; 
And each return still finds as fresh 

As then, the love we whispered then. 

The first of May oh happy day! 

The day when we went pleasuring; 
Through forty years our hearts then join'd 

Have cups of bliss been measuring. 

On the twenty-first day of June, 1838, when I lacked nineteen days of 
twenty-one years, and exactly one year from the day of my arrival in Har- 
risburg, the early hours witnessed a wedding breakfast preceding a quiet 
ceremony, and after the Rector, Rev. Nathan Stem, had pronounced them 
husband and wife, the wedded pair, with a little trunk of the bride's clothes 
(not called "trousseau " then) strapped on the one-horse buggy, left the door 
of her parents' residence on their way to the home of her mate's parents and 
relatives; the old dog, " Drummer" giving a farewell bark as if he under 
stood the occasion to be joyous, in spite of the solemn scene he had wondered 
at in the parlor, and had half a notion to interrupt ; and " Rosinante," the 
old gray horse, trotting off as gaily as if he felt the inspiration of a happy 
future for his master. Not greatly different from the scene, when George 
Stephenson, with Fanny on a pillion behind him clasping his waist, and 
the bridesman and bridesmaid on another horse, started across the country 
on their little tour. It was long, long ago, that our buggy and the little 
trunk moved from the door, as the traditional old shoe was thrown after us 
for luck's sake ; but the unpretentious spectacle of the twain thus beginning 
their joint life-journey, with the bridesman (not called "best man" then, 
as if in derogation of the happy Benedict) and the one bridesmaid, in 
another buggy, going only up to Duncan's Island, there to dine and then 
return, was in harmony with the simple but gentle manners of people 
undamaged by wealth and idleness, and caring only for the essentials of 
refined and useful lives. The little trunk contained all of " trousseau " that 


a bride then needed ; and as to the groom, (if memory is not at fault,) most 
of his belongings in the way of raiment, were probably carried on his 

The journey along the Susquehanna river, and then along the Juniata, 
through scenes where nature has lavished so much beauty that art, save in 
the simple adornments of the farm and in the village and the highway, 
would seem an intrusion, was not enjoyed any the less because of having 
in it so little of factitious splendor or pageantry ; and the memory of it was 
never tainted by regret that it had occurred. On the twenty-first day of 
June, 1878, forty full and eventful years after the ceremony and journey 
which began the best part of his life, it was the privilege of the husband, 
who never ceased to be the lover, to dedicate to his companion of the long- 
ago journey, some verses which may be unusual in real life or literature, 
but which have at least the one merit of absolute truthfulness : 


Lizzie and I are One, and One we mean to be^ 
Seeing it's forty years since she joined hands with me; 
And this honeymoon of ours I'm sure 'twill never set, 
For as it shone so long ago 'tis shining on us yet. 

We then were link'd together, for better or for worse; 

She took me for a blessing I might have proved a curse; 

Perhaps I've not been either, but luck was on my side, 

For Lizzie has been a blessing since the day she was a bride. 

I carry here her picture in a pocket near my heart, 
And never truer angel face was drawn by human art; 
They may not think it beautiful, but never do I see 
In throngs of charming women a face so dear to me. 

And BOW as I look on it I'm back at the happy day, 
When Lizzie and I, united, were smiling along the way; 
Not pompous was the journey, yet all" the world had part, 
For each was truly all the world to th' other's loving heart. 

Our wedding jaunt it was, and my proudest day of life, 
For it led to the loving old folks to show my precious wife; 
And as Old Gray jogged onward, all earth and air and sky 
Were naught to me, for heaven was there in Lizzie's beaming eye. 

It seemed as if all nature, in summer's richest dress, 
Was thus arrayed in sympathy with our happiness; 
And even wayside posies look'd up as if to say- 
God made us to shed fragrance on the holy marriage day. 

And she with sense superior detected in the air 

The odor of each blossom, and knew 'twas blooming there; 

And oft Old Gray was halted, in each elapsing hour, 

That I, responsive to her wish, might cull the wilding flower. 

The woods and fields and mountain sides for her had wealth untold 
A silver flood the river ran, the sun cast rays of gold; 
With soul reflned she saw and felt ten thousand glories there, 
Whilst I well, I could only see my bride so wondr-us fair. 


Ah me! it was a tour of joy, an episode of bliss 
With earnest faith in every pulse hope fervent as a kiss; 
And ever as the day wore on, I seem'd to love her more, 
But now, with forty years agone, we love as ne'er before. 

Childhood hath claim'd maternal care that never was denied, 
As the gentle, tender mother took the place of blushing bride; 
And all who grew around us with love reward her care, 
And think there's none so kind and wise as Mother sitting there. 

The years have sped, and good and ill have met us on the way, 
But jointly we've kept moving on, as on the joining day; 
And still for better or for worse life's lessons we have conn'd, 
But never dream'd of learning how to break the joining bond. 

Yes Lizzie and I are One, and Two we'll never be, 

Till death an arrow launches at Lizzie or at me; 

And though our heads are frosted, and the frosty locks are thin, 

Our hearts, like winter fires, are glowing warm within. 

The man who has never been happily married has not known the more 
exalted felicities of life. No companionship so sweet and so perfect as 
that of a wedded pair, who forget self in each other, and whose tastes and 
wishes so blend as time cements their union, that they are 110 longer twain 
but one in feeling and wish. Even adversity may find solace in the melan 
choly pleasure of doing all we can to alleviate the distresses of a suffering 
mate. He is less than man and false to his race, who has never aspired to 
enjoy the pure friendship, the unselfish devotion, and the chaste love of 

In the early days of December, 1878, the fatal arrow sped, and in Oak 
Hill Cemetery, not distant from our Elm Lodge, the home in Kirkwood she 
for more than a score of years adorned and blessed, the marble with chiseled 
foliage and flowers, chaste in ornamentation as her own refined taste would 
have chosen, now marks the resting place of all that was mortal of a most 
estimable wife and mother. For forty and a half years, lacking fifteen days, 
we together strolled along the pathway of life, mostly among flowers, but 
with sometimes a thorn or a brier. Time mitigates sorrow, but only en 
hances reverence for perfection of character. Always serene, never once for 
a moment did her cheerfulness or patience or fortitude fail ; never a word in 
anger ; never a duty neglected ; never an unkind act. Shortly after her 
release from the ties of earth her eldest daughter, in a letter to me, ex 
pressed the satisfaction she felt in reflecting that her mother's life had been 
peaceful and happy, and that in her declining years she had the cheer and 
solace of every attention and service that love could render ; closing the 
letter with this golden sentence : " Few families of children can say, as we 
can, that they never heard an unkind word between their parents." 




For intense bitterness and violent denunciations of each party by the 
other, the contest of 1838 in Pennsylvania has probably never been equalled, 
even in that state. Had each party been composed of men as vile and un 
principled as they were painted by their adversaries, the Commonwealth 
could not have endured. Joseph Ritner, the incumbent, was the whig can 
didate for re-election to the office of governor, and David R. Porter was the 
democratic candidate. According to the Democrats, Ritner was an igno 
rant simpleton, the tool of knaves. The whigs denounced Porter as an 
unprincipled scoundrel. Neither picture was at all true to the original. 
Ritner was a plain man, of good sense, and well-informed on state and 
national affairs. Porter was a man of stronger mind and broader informa 
tion. Both were honest, as men go, but each had to shut his eyes to much 
in the conduct of his partisans that was not of assured propriety, as the 
object was to get votes, honestly if convenient, but at all events to get them. 
It is only just to the whigs to state that we did our best to abuse Mr. Porter 
more shamefully than the democrats did Mr. Ritner, but I was never sure 
that we succeeded. The contest for the legislature was not less bitter than 
that for governor ; not because any important questions of national or state 
policy were to be decided by it, but because of the patronage to be distrib 
uted in the management of the ''public works" of the state, which still 
owned the canal and railroads. 

But with our best efforts, and the unscrupulous use of all the patronage 
at the command of the state government, the whigs could not re-elect Mr- 
Ritner. The unregenerate and incorrigible democrats, who actually sneered 
at our asserted honesty, had too many votes. The slavery question helped 


to defeat us. In one of Governor Bltner's messages, very ably written, and 
supposed to have been from the pen of Mr. Burrowes, Secretary of the Com 
monwealth, the democrats, who had opposed all agitation of the slavery 
question, had been charged with "bending the knee to the dark spirit of 
slavery" a pretty figure of speech, whatever it meant; and to this the 
democrats replied that they were only acting up to the constitution, and 
recognizing the rights under it of the southern people, while the whigs were 
meddling with matters that did not at all concern the people of Pennsyl 
vania. This argument of the democrats had much influence, as they blended 
it with the retort, that the only spirit to which they ever bent a knee was 
" the spirit of the constitution." 

While we used the state patronage with all possible vigor and effect, the 
democrats had against us the patronage of the federal government, and thus 
left our party but little advantage, so far as the use of public moneys was 
concerned. David B. Porter was elected governor, and we had to submit. 
There was no way to upset the election, and in the ensuing January he 
would be inaugurated ; but I think Stevens, Penrose, Burden and others 
would have strained a point to keep him out, even after his election, if they 
could have found any point to strain. They were heroic politicians, with 
courage for anything practicable. 

I forget how the majorities stood in the Senate and House, but think the 
latter depended on the delegation from Philadelphia county, and this dele 
gation of seven members our party leaders resolved to secure. We had no 
tissue ballots, or flimsy contrivances of that kind, but had w a simpler pro 
cess. The judges of election were whigs, and the certificates of election 
would seat in the House the men to whom they might be given. They were 
accordingly given to the whig candidates. It was a beautiful arrangement, 
extremely simple and apparently effective. The only weak point was, that 
the democrats had cast more votes at the election than the whigs. Still, 
certificates are good things, and if those who ought to get them, and do not 
get them, will only keep quiet, the sitting members can have a good time. 

But the pestiferous democrats of Philadelphia county (not then absorbed 
as part of the city) would not keep quiet. On the contrary, they declared 
that they would not submit to be cheated out of the election, and intended 
their seven men to have the seats to which they had been chosen. The 
whigs shook the election certificates in their democratic faces, but they 
said, profanely but positively, that they did not care a (blank) for all the 
certificates ever issued ; and indulged in random talk about the " rights of 
the majority." 

This was the origin of the BUCKSHOT WAR, " all of which I saw, and 
part of which I was." 

It was early in December, 1838. The day fixed for the meeting of the 
Legislature found the borough of Harrisburg unusually populous. A very 
considerable part of the people of Philadelphia county had escorted to the 
seat of government the men claimed to have been elected to the House, but 


to whom certificates had been denied. As a rule, these visitors were not 
attractive looking citizens. The whigs were decorous and rather cleanly 
people, and we regarded the " unterrified " democrats as a mob. We spoke 
of them (among ourselves) as " rabble," and " dirty locofocos," but that did 
not seem to decrease their numbers, and to put it mildly, they looked formi 

I forget the order of events, but remember that the sessions of the House 
had a large crowd of spectators in the lobbies, and that the democratic 
members from all parts of the state tried to protest against the admission 
of our seven whigs from Philadelphia county, all certificated as they were. 
But their credentials were regular in form, and our men were seated, in 
spite of earnest objections founded on the unimportant fact that their oppo 
nents had received most votes ; whereupon the democrats appeared to be in 
bad humor, and used language that would not look well in print. 

There was of course intense excitement, and I think on our side some 
alarm, as our partisans had not, like the democrats, gathered in crowds 
at the capital, but left us to the protection of our own virtue. The governor, 
it was said, was badly scared, but the report may have been untrue ; 
although he at once wrote to President Van Buren at Washington, demand 
ing United States troops to stand by " the constitution and the laws ;" and 
also called on a regiment of volunteer soldiery of the city of Philadelphia to 
repair at once to Harrisburg, each man with one hundred rounds of car 
tridges made up of " buckshot and ball;" an order which gave the war its 

All this time the democrats were declaring themselves to be the most 
peaceable citizens ever seen on earth, who only wanted their " rights," and 
intended to have them at all hazards " (blank) old Ritner !" but they 
would violate no law ! No they only wanted the men who had received 
most votes at the election to be seated in the House. 

It was a raw, drizzly, chilling December day. The volunteer regiment 
from Philadelphia had not arrived, though understood to be preparing to 
come. Mr. Van Buren had flatly refused to send us any help, intimating 
that the governor had not presented a case to justify action by the Presi 
dent of the United States. The previous night had been one of suspense, if 
not peril, and the governor had not slept well. All these strange demo 
crats, some of whom were evidently rough fellows, might not be as peaceful 
as they held themselves out to be, or as Tom McElwee, a u locofoco " repre 
sentative from Bedford, said they were. Precautions ought to be taken. 
The state arsenal and the arms in it were entirely without any guard but 
the custodian, Papa Emerson, turned of three-score ; and suppose the mob 
and rabble should seize the arsenal and all the arms what then? This 
was a fearful thought, and the word went round in whispers that the 
arsenal ought to be guarded. 

Sam Rutherford, a captain of militia that never paraded, was thirsty for 
glory, if not gore, and volunteered to be one of the guard. Others volun- 


teered, and undef the inspiration of exalted patriotism, so did I. Alto 
gether, fourteen of us hunted up Papa Emerson, and about 9 o'clock a. m. 
slipped into the arsenal one at a time. But as soon as it got noised abroad 
that the arsenal was guarded, the peaceable democrats became indignant. 
To put a guard of whigs over the public arms implied that the law-abiding 
democrats intended to interfere with the state property ; and this was an 
imputation to be resented. They soon began to collect in squads near the 
building, conferring with each other, and supposing we might have two or 
three hundred men inside, were afraid to venture very close. As their 
numbers increased they became bolder, and when about two hundred had 
assembled, began to call out to us to " come out of there," using a variety of 
expressions not polite. 

Meantime, inside, we wandered about the large upper halls of the build 
ing, where bright rows of war-like muskets with bayonets on were disposed 
in racks between the windows, and looked formidable. We glanced out, 
and there seemed to be a thousand men at least. Then we counted the 
windows, twenty in number, and only about sixteen feet from the ground. 
Suppose the "mob" should get twenty ladders what then? As we had 
only fourteen-twentieths (|) of a man to a window 

It was frightful. And below were the big double-doors at the foot of the 
broad stairway. Suppose the foe should break in? We must barricade, 
and some large boxes of books were at once dragged from one of the storage 
rooms and placed against the doors, so that the assailants could not push 
them open if the wooden bar across them should give way. As the air was 
chilly, we felt a little grateful warmth from tugging at and lifting the 
heavy boxes. 

The "locofocos" outside were howling, in response to speeches by 
McElwee and others, and did not mind the drizzling rain. As the case 
grew more and more serious, Sam Rutherford began to drill us, and we 
dropped our muskets at " order arms " as heavily as we could, in a sort of 
Chinese effort to scare off the enemy. But they did not seem to scare at all. 
On the contrary, they howled more fiercely and drew closer. McElwee was 
furious at the enormity of a " mob," as he styled us, seizing the state arms. 
The people the unwashed democracy "must restore order !" 

Once in a while I looked out of one of the western windows, and could 
see my modest dwelling, where dinner was on the table at 1 o'clock. Un- 
heroically, I wished I was there, and even fancied I could sniff the odor of 
roast beef. 

After drilling awhile, we determined to load ever so many muskets, and 
thus multiply ourselves, but on looking for ammunition could find none. 
We saw Papa Emerson outside, advising the enemy to "go away, now," 
and called him. He came in at the small door, and we demanded car 
tridges, powder, ball every thing ; but he had nothing. Then we asked 
for flints to put in the musket locks, but he had none. This was the last 


straw, and broke the camel's back ! Captain Rutherford said with scorn 

" Not even flints !" 

" Here we are," said I, solemnly" volunteers to defend state property- 
risking our lives and no ammunition not even flints for empty guns !" 

"Flints, thunder!" said William Hood, a fat clerk in the state depart 
ment" Wayne took Stony Point without flints !" 

Papa Emerson at length gave us the victory (?) by his diplomatic ability. 
He parleyed from the window with McElwee, and as the rain was increas 
ing, the besiegers agreed to retire if the garrison would evacuate the honors 
of war to be equally divided. As we went down stairs, there was Hood, 
pointing to the big doors 

" You had 'em well barricaded, boys, seem' they swing out /" 

The drizzly siege and the gallant defense of the arsenal constituted the 
first engagement of the Buckshot War. About 3 o'clock I got to my roast 
beef dinner. 

It was the same evening I think that Alex. Ramsey and myself were 
seated at our reporter's table in the Senate, which was holding a night ses 
sion An acrimonious debate was going on. The lobbies were full of demo 
crats, and many of ese were "full" of whisky. There were some ill- 
mannered yells from "the people," which the Senate officers could not 
check, and Ramsey an L were jesting about the ULruly conduct of the visi 
tors, when as if by one impulse the mob clambered over the rail and invaded 
the Senate. They had caught sight of Stevens, Penrose and Burden stand 
ing at the corner of the Speaker's chair, and dashed towards them ; but 
these gentlemen disappeared into the wash room, and when the furious 
Philadelphia county voters reached it, no one was there. The three whig 
leaders had jumped from a rear window and disappeared in the darkness. 
The Senate did not adjourn ; it simply melted away. 

This was the second engagement of the Buckshot War " bloodless as 
yet" but if the three gentlemen had been caught the result might have 
been serious. Neither of them lacked courage, but sometimes "the better 
part of valor is discretion." 

The volunteer regiment arrived, camped on the bleak hill in front of the 
capitol, and swore privately at everybody concerned in the disturbance. 
After two or three days, our unpleasant visitors having mostly left, the 
chilled volunteer soldiers were ordered home, and all was quiet on the Sus- 
quehanna ; the House having, after a brief inquiry, disregarded the whig 
election certificates and admitted the seven democrats from Philadelphia 
county, on the sole ground of having received a majority of votes. 

The bloodless Buckshot War was ended, and what might have been a 
respectable tragedy had turned out only a first-class farce. But one lesson 
taught by it all is, that in the long run it is best not to cheat at elections, or 
to count in candidates who have not received the most votes. Subsequently 
some of the mob leaders were indicted, but Governor Porter had appointed 


his brother James M., Judge of Dauphin county, and under his rulings the 
defendants got off scathless. We abused the Judge to our hearts' content 
in the whig papers, but he survived, and was afterwards Secretary of War 
for a while under President Tyler. < 

There has been more serious war in America, but nothing before or since 
has equalled the Buckshot War for ludicrous incidents (to which I do not 
pretend to do justice), and at the same time possibilities of great calamities. 
It was a wonder that so much animosity and excitement could pervade a 
crowded town for several days, without the loss of life or limb ; but literally 
nobody was hurt. An ending so happy to scenes so perilous could not occur 
now, as we are handier with the revolver, which was then hardly known. 
And what a queer military history mine has been : a gallant defender in 
1838 of a state arsenal, without even flints for the old-fashioned musket 
locks, and in 1846 one of an army to conquer a foreign province without 
firing a gun of which I will tell the true tale in due season ! 






David R. Porter was inaugurated Governor of Pennsylvania in January, 
1839. During the session he sent to the Legislature several messages on 
state affairs, forcibly written, and containing pertinent and useful sugges 
tions. I have long since known that he was a wise chief magistrate, but 
did not then so regard him, as it was not the habit of party men in old 
times to see or acknowledge anything good in the men or measures of their 
political adversaries. In one of his messages, January 26, 1839, the gover 
nor spoke of the importance to the people of Pennsylvania of a continuous 
railroad to the city of St. Louis, and this suggestion was so far beyond the 
bounds of our vision that it was regarded as wild and extravagant. In all 
of the year 1839 there were only 1,920 miles of railroad in the United States, 
mainly east of the Alleghenies. There were some scattered enterprises in 
11 the west," meaning the country between the Mississippi and the Alleghe 
nies, but no systems or long lines even projected. In 1838 a locomotive, 
built by Grosvernor, Ketchum & Co., of Paterson, New Jersey, was brought 
up the Mississippi, landed from the steamboat Chariton at Meredosia on the 
Illinois river, and placed on a track in Illinois by George P. Plant, the 
Chief Engineer of the road, afterwards one of the most valued citizens of 
St. Louis. The first rail of the " Northern Cross Railroad," as it was called, 
was laid May 9, 1838, the locomotive arrived September 6, and November 8 
was put on the rails, of which eight miles were laid, and made a trip to the 
end of the track and return, having on it Governor Duncan of Illinois, 


Murray McConnell, state commissioner, James Dunlap and Thomas T. Jan 
uary, contractors, and Charles Collins and Miron Leslie of St. Louis, invited 
guests. Except probably an engine or two on the short Pontchartrain rail 
road to the lake from New Orleans, this was I think the first locomotive in 
the Mississippi Valley ; and of all the gentlemen who took the first ride on 
it, I think only Mr. January, a resident of St. Louis county, survives. The 
enterprising, far-sighted and unappreciated Charles Collins, and the genial 
Miron Leslie, were long since taken, and only Collins street in St. Louis 
saves the name of one of them from oblivion. George P. Plant was one of 
those rare men whom one does not know whether most to esteem, respect 
or love ; and few of those who now glance at his portrait in the St. Louis 
Merchants Exchange have any conception of his penetrating good sense, 
broad information, just decisions, and solid moral worth, which were so 
highly estimated by those who knew him. 

Considering how undeveloped our railroad system was forty years ago, and 
how imperfectly its future was appreciated, it is not strange that Governor 
Porter's suggestion of a railroad from Pennsylvania to St. Louis was re 
garded as a matter not unfit for ridicule ; and it was my sad fate to cast a 
little pebble of fun at it. The day before the meeting of the Legislature in 
January 1840, the paper of which I was the editor appeared with what pur 
ported to be the governor's annual message, introduced editorially as fol 

" Our Ariel having been for some days hovering about the Executive 
Chamber, has furnished us with the following transcript of the message of 
the governor, which we hasten to lay before our readers in advance of the 
regular delivery. We are certain the public will appreciate our extraordi 
nary exertions to give the earliest cabinet copy of this important state 
paper. We are even before the official journals." 

Then follow thirteen columns of close print, with official tables from the 
departments, and all the outside marks ot' a genuine state paper; and an 
edition was sent to Philadelphia for sale there. The first paragraph read : 

"The natural course of time will in a week from to-morrow bring the 
anniversary of the day on which my inauguration as Governor of the Com 
monwealth of Pennsylvania opened a new era in her history. Coming into 
power as I did under peculiar, and in the opinion of many of my fellow- 
citizens, suspicious circumstances, you will not consider a reference to my 
own personal feelings and views in bad taste. Although a year has not 
elapsed since I assumed the arduous duties of my present station or, as 
some would more poetically express it, since I entered the green fields of 
power and place yet I have had ample experience of the embarrassments, 
toils and anxieties incident to the high and dignified functions which, as 
Chief Magistrate of a great Commonwealth, I am called upon to exercise ; 
and I can assure you that the station I now occupy is full of cares and an 
noyances. Anxious, however, as I always have been to serve the public 
not so much for the paltry emoluments attached to the office as for the good 


of the people I have endeavored to bear all my burdens with becoming 
fortitude, resignation, and devotion to the public service ; and I am certain, 
gentlemen, that you and your constituents will duly appreciate my sacri 
fices of time, ease and labor, and my excellent management of public affairs, 
when the gubernatorial election of 1841 shall afford you an opportunity to 
honor me by a re-election to the position I now occupy and adorn." 

By the time the innocent reader in 1840 had got through this paragraph, 
he began to think it rather queer talk from a governor, but if a good demo 
crat, he concluded it was all right, and read on. The second paragraph 
ran : 

"It affords me infinite pleasure to be able to assure the representatives 
of the people that the crops of the past season have been abundant, and 
that Providence continues to visit His blessings upon a wicked and perverse 
world. But my well known hostility towards any union of Church and 
State, and the reflection that it might be looked upon as hypocritical, forbid 
any recommendation by me of a general thanksgiving. The same reasons 
prevented my yielding last autumn to the solicitations of some of my friends, 
that I should proclaim a day of feasting and thanksgiving to be observed 
throughout the Commonwealth. I am also happy to inform you that a 
reduction in the price of flour has taken place, extremely advantageous to 
the interests of the purchasers of that article, but unhappily adverse to the 
interests of the sellers for which reason I would recommend some legisla 
tive action having in view the reconciliation of these antagonistic interests ; 
so that the seller and purchaser may both profit by the fluctuations of trade, 
instead of one of them being exposed to loss, as is now the case, by every 
ripple on the bosom of the commerce in flour. I feel satisfied that the 
accomplishment of this desirable desideratum will crown my executive and 
your legislative career with glory." 

This paragraph generally brought out the opinion that the governor 
"must be a (blank) fool," even from faithful democrats; and the perusal 
could go but a little way further before the fictitious character of the state 
paper was detected, and then the reader was apt to take more pleasure in 
the joke than he could possibly have got out of a real document. The para 
graph on the railroad to St. Louis was brief but funny when first printed : 

"During the last session of the legislature, in a special message, I took 
occasion to recommend the construction of a continuous railroad to St. Louis 
in the state of Missouri. As there are few spectacles more sublime than the 
voluntary retraction of an erroneous opinion by a public officer, 1 have 
determined to present that spectacle to the world. I therefore withdraw 
my former recommendation, and in its stead recommend a continuous rail 
road to the Republic of Texas. This is done because more of our party 
friends are traveling in the latter direction." 

For the reader to appreciate the point of the last two sentences he must 
remember, if he ever knew, that previous to 1840 some defaulting federal 
officers belonging to the democratic party were said to have taken refuge in 


Texas, which had been for a long time regarded as a sort of sanctuary for 
rogues of all kinds. The pretended message continued to hit off party 
events and acts of state and federal politicians in a way to amuse cotempo- 
raries. Its closing paragraph was a decided hit, as Governor Porter's real 
message, delivered next day, was about double the length of any ever before 
delivered : 

"This paper has already grown to a length somewhat unwieldy. Do 
not understand me, however, as censuring long messages. On the contrary, 
I highly applaud the evident improvement in this matter of late years. 
But we have not yet reached perfection, as improvement in the length of 
state papers will not have reached its culminating point until the annual 
message shall be of such length that the whole year previous to iis advent 
will be occupied by the governor in its preparation, and the whole year 
subsequent by the people in its perusal." 

Barring a few sentences which did injustice to individuals, not surpris 
ing when party animosity was red-hot, I could read over that sham mess 
age with satisfaction if I had time to spare for reading a production which 
did not depend on uncouth spelling or absurd exaggeration for its attrac 
tions ; but even in Pennsylvania few of its allusions or points would now be 
understood. The humor was throughout of the most genial character, and 
the ludicrous light in which persons and things were uumaliciously placed, 
was entertaining at the time; but of all the persons mentioned in the ficti 
tious message possibly not half a dozen are living, and I can only think of 

Although it was not in January, 1840, considered at all out of place in 
Pennsylvania to fire off a squib of ridicule at the governor's project of a con 
tinuous line of railroad to St. Louis, yet so rapid was the progress of ideas 
that only five years later (in 1845) Asa Whitney, starting from Lake Michi 
gan, crossed Wisconsin, Iowa and part of what is now Dakota to a point 
on the Missouri river above the present site of Yank ton, exploring the line 
for a railroad to the Pacific, of which he was then the most prominent advo 
cate ; the first public suggestion of a Pacific railroad, so far as I am informed, 
having been made in a published letter of John H. Plumbe, in 1833 or '35, he 
then residing at Dubuque, Iowa. In March, 1849, Thomas Allen, then in 
the Legislature of Missouri, procured the passage of an act incorporating 
the " Pacific Railroad," the first act of the kind ever passed ; and in October, 
1849, not ten years after the date of my sham governor's message, a national 
convention was held at St. Louis to urge a continental railroad. 

As to Texas, we of Pennsylvania regarded that Republic in 1840 as a far- 
off region of turbulent adventurers and worse characters ; and we little 
dreamed that in less than twenty-two years, the United States, after the 
reluctant admittance of " the lone star state " into the Union (against many 
vigorous and violent protests, mainly from the people of the northern 
states), would be fighting to keep her in ! My suggestion of a railroad to 
Texas was thought wild and absurd enough to be funny as a jibe at the 


governor ; but if I bad suggested, even in frolicsome fun, a continuous rail 
road into the Republic of Mexico now doubly realized by the lines of the 
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and of the Texas and Pacific at El Paso, 
and by the Gould Southwestern System at Laredo the idea would have 
seemed too intolerably absurd even for a fictitious governor's message, and 
my effort to amuse would have been regarded as depending for its humor, 
like some writings of recent times, on distortion of facts and able-bodied 
exaggeration. If I had gone further and foretold the number of lines across 
the continent to be materialized in 1883, and had predicted that the public 
mind would receive with even gravity Hinton Rowan Helper's book advo 
cating a scheme of continuous rails from Hudson Bay to Patagonia and 
which is day by day in course of realization by lines in our own west as 
well as in Mexico they would have shut me up in a state mansion, harder 
to get out of than the arsenal during the Buckshot War ! The interesting 
facts so happily grouped, and the broad views presented in the sterling 
prize essay of Major F. F. Hilder, of St. Louis, as well as in the other essays, 
and in the phenominal poem of Mr. F. D. Carpenter (in which rhyme and 
reason effervesce and sparkle) advocating the " Three Americas Railway," 
all contained in the book of Mr. Helper, a citizen of St. Louis, whose hobby 
snuffs the odor of industry, progress and civilization from afar would have 
been thrust aside forty-three years ago as the vagaries of disordered brains. 
But " nous avons changd tout cela," as Napoleon said we have changed all 

The Republic of Texas, whose lone star I had ingloriously abandoned at 
Louisville in 1837 (the odium of desertion palliated somewhat by payment 
to Col. Behrenbeck of six dollars for deck passage from Pittsburgh), became 
one of the United States in 1845, by statesmanship akin to that which had 
forty-two years before acquired Louisiana. The acquisition of Texas, like 
that of Louisiana, was distasteful to many people east of the Alleghenies, 
who feared the "aggression " of another part of the country. Some of them 
even denied our ability to manage an extended empire under our form of 
government; and if I had time and space I could entertain and perhaps 
amuse the reader by giving extracts from the utterances of great leaders of 
opinion north of the M. and D. line, now proved to have been lacking in 
practical wisdom. We are now posterity, as well in regard to the acquisi 
tion of Texas as of Louisiana, and we appreciate the policy which gave us 
the domain we had (3,025,600 square miles), before Mr. Seward in a heroic 
effort to imitate anterior statesmanship in kind at least if he could not in 
degree purchased Alaska. I liked the idea of getting Alaska, not only 
because it gave us territorial reach to a meridian of longitude as far west of 
San Francisco as New York is east of that city, but also because I supposed 
that all womankind (Heaven bless 'em !) would at last have sealskin 
sacques ; not then knowing that there is only one kind of seal, the Callo- 
rhinus ursinus, that is fur-bearing, and that as only 100,000 males a year can 
be taken, for fear of their extinction, there are not enough skins to go round ! 


The Phoca vitulina, or hair seal, is of no use for my lady's mantle ; and the 
Eumetopias, or sea lion, does not count at all ; while the Odobcenus obesus, 
or walrus, could have been got at without buying the Bering sea from the 
Czar. Hence, although Alaska has 577,000 square miles of area, and Texas 
only 275,000, yet I am forced to conclude that the men who acquired Texas 
made a better bargain for us than Mr. Seward in purchasing Alaska. With 
her fertile soil ; her population already two millions, and room for ten mil 
lions more ; her six thousand and more miles of railroad, daily increasing ; 
her large school fund in the treasury, and in reserve more than fifty million 
dollars worth of land, making a greater educational endowment than any 
other country ever had it seems to me that Texas was worth welcoming, 
as I thought when she came to us, and that those who had opposed her 
reception did wisely in resolving to keep her in. 

While my governor's message had humor, it could not have more than 
temporary attention. Better subjects are needed for great or permanent 
success in any work of humor. My topics were of narrow and transient 
interest, and only familiar to the politicians of the state. Cervantes in Don 
Quixotte chose a subject with which all civilized Europe was familiar, and 
the sentiments ascribed to his hero could be appreciated in other lands as 
well as in Spain. A published hoax to be successful for more than a few 
days must embrace something of general interest and importance, or else 
the best humor may be wasted. The most successful thing of this kind in 
English literature was I think the great " Moon Hoax" in 1835, and even 
that was soon dropped out of current memory, and has possibly not been 
preserved. The article was from the pen of Richard Adams Locke, a "jour 
nalist," and appeared in the New York Sun. It was an admirably written 
account of discoveries in the moon by Sir John Herschell, at the Cape of 
Good Hope, where he had gone with his new telescope, understood to have 
greater power than any previously constructed. All laymen were taken in 
by it, and the " scientists " were much exercised over it, many believing- it, 
and others uncertain whether or not to credit the wonderful tale. With the 
utmost particularity the details were given of the erection and operation of 
the telescope, and of the amazing discoveries, but I remember of the latter 
only the man-bat vespertilio homo which was alleged to have been dis 
tinctly seen by Sir John, thus proving the moon to have animal life upon it ! 
Mr. Locke's fiction could give no one serious pain, was extremely amusing, 
and tended to put the reader on actual investigation into the science of 
astronomy. It taught astronomy just as Irving's Diedrich Knickerbocker 
taught the true history of the settlement and early growth of New York, by 
exciting a desire for genuine information on subjects so humorously treated. 

To those familiar with the works of the authors, some of whose produc 
tions were parodied by James and Horace Smith of London about sixty years 
ago, in the " Rejected Addresses," those remarkable parodies were a rare 
treat. The Drury Lane Theatre had been rebuilt after its destruction by 
fire, and the Smiths published what purported to be the unsuccessful pieces 


which had competed for the prize given for a poem to be spoken on the 
night of the first performance, and hence the name of " Rejected Addresses." 
Byron, Scott and Campbell, and other famous poets, were parodied so hap 
pily that Sir Walter is reported to have said, when he read the imitation of 
the battle in Marmion (as embodied in describing the exploits of the firemen 
at the burning theatre) that he certainly must have written the piece him 
self, but had really forgotten when and where ! The poem of Marmion says : 

"Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on! 
Were the last words of Marmion." 

The graphic description of the burning theatre in the parody commemorate 
the Chief of the Firemen : 

" What are they fear'd on? Zounds! Odd rot 'em 
Were the last words of Higginbottom." 

It is questionable if the public taste has not so far changed I almost 
said deteriorated that humor like that of Irving, or the Smiths, or Richard 
Adams Locke, would be unpalatable now, and for this reason (if for no 
other) I have decided not to write like Irving, or the Smiths, or Locke. 
Hence, as I have no gift for exaggeration, distortion of facts, burlesque, or 
drollery, enabling me to caricature men and things and women, for the 
amusement of readers, without reference to the increase of their knowledge, 
the bettering of their morals, or the improvement of their manners I can 
only expect my "Notes " to be regarded as a legal tender because of their 
plain and simple truth to nature and actual life. 




In December, 1839, a national convention of the whig party was held in 
Harrisburg, and nominated William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, for President 
and John Tyler, of Virginia, for Vice-President. I remember little of the 
convention except that James Barbour, of Virginia, presided, and that 
Horace Greeley was there as a reporter for his paper. On the chair 
Mr. Barbour made a glowing speech, which Horace reported verbatim, but 
of which I was able to catch only the strongest sentences. As an illustra 
tion of how too many words may spoil a printed speech, I would like, if I 
had them, to present both reports. That of Horace was weak and tedious 
compared with mine. I had caught all the points and best sentences, and 
these made a discourse so compact and effective that the newspapers printed 
my report as an example of wonderfully terse and vigorous oratory. It had 
only the sharp thunder-claps, but Horace had put in all the rumblings. A 
man of most unusual appearance was Horace then the milkiest-looking 
person I ever saw, but good material in him for koumiss and he was 
already recognized as a man of much intellectual power. 

Soon after the nomination of Harrison and Tyler (Mr, Van Buren, the 
President, being a candidate for reelection), an editor in Baltimore was 
the unconscious instrument in starting the most remarkable party displays 
or absurdities, if you please ever witnessed on the continent. In Decem 
ber, the Baltimore Republican, a Democratic paper, said of Gen. Harrison : 

" Give him a barrel of hard cider and a pension of two thousand a year, 
and, our word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days in a log cabin by 
the side of a ' sea coal ' fire and study moral philosophy." 


There was nothing- gross or very abusive in this sentence, but it very 
possibly carried the election. The whig- papers were at once full of right 
eous indignation. It was monstrous that a "vile locofoco paper" should 
speak so contemptuously of our candidate, the son of a signer of the Decla 
ration of Independence ; the wise governor of the northwest territory ; the 
successful general who never lost a battle ; the hero of Tippecanoe, whose 
martial deeds had saved the entire northwest from the Indian tomahawk 
and scalping knife ; the soldier, scholar and Christian gentleman, exemp 
lar of all the virtues, quiet on his farm at North Bend, Ohio! 

In January, Mr. Thomas Elder, a gentleman of three score in years, and 
a big score in the bank of which he was president, sent a request for me to 
visit him one evening at his mansion, fronting the Susquehanna river, the 
same wherein Gen. Simon Cameron now enjoys his otium cum dignitate; a 
house of blue limestone, and of historic interest, built by John Harris, the 
founder of Harrisburg, who was in 1720 tied to a mulberry tree near the 
front door to be burnt alive by a party of playful Indians, and was rescued 
by some friendly braves who crossed the river for that purpose. Mr. Elder 
had noted the slur on Gen. Harrison by the Baltimore paper, and thought 
we ought to make use of it ; build a cabin, or something of that kind, which 
would appeal to the eye of the multitude. He was a shrewd old gentleman, 
Mr. Elder was, who had excellent Madeira, and well knew that passion and 
prejudice, properly aroused and directed, would do about as well as princi 
ple and reason in a party contest. 

We talked the matter over, and while we sipped our wine and gravely 
assured each other that the treatment of the old hero by the Baltimore 
editor was intolerable, I had my pencil at work, sketching an imaginary 
log-cabin with a coon-skin tacked on it, an outside chimney of sticks and 
mud, a wood-pile consisting of a log with an ax stuck in it, and other acces 
sories ; and on taking leave told him I would try to put his idea into opera 
tion. At home I completed my sketch much to the amusement of the 
family, who had no very exalted notion of my skill as an artist. Next day I 
had a carriage painter confidentially at work on a transparency. 

On the 20th of January we had a mass meeting at Harrisburg to ratify 
the nominations. As soon as the chairman took his seat I addressed him, 
stating that our grand old hero, the soldier and statesman, had been in 
sulted most infamously by the Baltimore Republican, and concluded by 
moving for a committee of seven to bring into the meeting " the best repre 
sentation to be got of Gen. Harrison's log cabin." (Carried by acclama 
tion.) When our committee reentered, Sam Clark bearing aloft the lighted 
transparency, with the log cabin on one side, and flags and mottoes on the 

" At once there rose so wild a yell, 
As all the fiends from heaven who fell 
Had pealed the banner-cry of hell," 

as Sir Walter puts it ; and Mr. Frederick Fraley, a senator from Philadel- 


phia, then addressing the meeting, did not know, as he trembled in his 
Quaker shoes, but what another Buckshot War was breaking out, till he 
turned and saw the glowing transparency, when he caught the idea at once, 
and descanted so eloquently on the virtues and charms of Harrison's plain 
and unpretentious life that never an orator in gold spectacles equaled him. 
Senator Fraley rose to the occasion and seemed to draw it up with him, and 
for an hour kept the great meeting in a frenzy of enthusiasm. Shrewd Mr. 
Elder's idea had borne fruit at once. Twenty-eight years later, when the 
National Board of Trade was organized at Philadelphia, Mr. Fraley was 
made president of it, and it afforded me much pleasure to reciprocate by his 
nomination to that office the compliment he had so handsomely paid my 
transparency in 1840. 

On the 22d of February a state mass convention assembled at Columbus, 
Ohio, at which log cabins on wheels appeared in the grand procession. If 
Sir Walter Scott was justified in collecting the Minstrelsy of the Scottish 
Border, I may be permitted to conserve one of the songs of the Columbus 
convention, as the singing part of the odd campaign began then and 
there. The Clark county delegation had a log cabin 011 wheels, and as they 
passed along the streets, sang from the inside and roof the first, as I think, 
of the numerous songs of 1840. It ran to the tune of "Highland Laddie:" 


Oh, where, tell me where, was your Buckeye Cabin made? 

Oh, where, tell me where, was your Buckeye Cabin made? 

'Twas built among the merry boys who wield the plow and spade, * 

Where the log cabins stand in the bonnie Buckeye shade. 

Oh, what, tell me what, is to be your cabin's fate? 
Oh, what, tell me what, is to be your cabin's fate? 
We'll wheel it to the Capitol, and place it there in state, 
For a token and a sign of the bonnie Buckeye State. 

Oh, why, tell me why, does your Buckeye Cabin go? 
Oh, why, tell me why, does your Buckeye Cabin go? 
It goes against the spoilsmen, for well its builders know 
It was Harrison who fought for the cabins long ago. 

Oh, what, tell me what, then, will little Martin do? 

Oh, what, tell me what, then, will little Martin do? 

He'll "follow in the footsteps" of Price and Swartwout, too, 

While the log cabins' ring with old Tippecanoe. 

Oh, who fell before him in battle tell me who? 
Oh, who fell before him in battle tell me who? 
He drove the savage legions, and British armies too, 
At the Kapids, and the Thames, and old Tippecanoe. 

By whom, tell me whom, will the battle next be won? 
By whom, tell me whom, will the battle next be won? 
The spoilers and leg treasurers will soon begin to run, 
And the " log cabin candidate " will march to Washington. 


A cotemporary account says of this song : il The cabin was surrounded 
by a dense mass of people, and calls were loud for a repetition of this song. 
Again and again was it repeated, until many caught the words of the verses 
and sang them over for the benefit of those who could not get within hear 
ing distance. The musical propensity spread rapidly among the crowd. 
Songs were written, printed and in the hands of hundreds in a short time. 
Everybody was singing." 

After the convention had dispersed one of the home-bred poets, who 
have always been numerous in Ohio, published a descriptive ballad, of 
which I have been so fortunate as to get a copy. It runs to the old tune of 
"Rosin the Bow." 


I'll tell you about a convention 
Which has made the Vanjacks all look blue; 

It has lately been held in Columbus 
To honor Old Tippecanoe. . 

From the East and the West came in thousands, 
And the South and the North poured in, too, 

As if heaven and earth were all moving 
In favor of Tippecanoe. 

There were steamboats and forts and log cabins, 
And a beautiful Cleveland brig, too; 

All drawn on wheels, too, by horses- 
Hurrah for Old Tippecanoe! 

Farm-wagons, canoes and stage-coaches, 

And carriages, also, a few, 
Came up there all flll'd to o'erflowing 

With sons of Old Tippecanoe. 

The air was all filled with bright banners, 

Red, white, purple, green and true blue, 
With inscriptions and mottoes upon them, 

All about our Old Tippecanoe. 

On the first day the sun shone with splendor, 

On the next the rain fell and wind blew, 
But none of us cared for the weather, 

True soldiers of Tippecanoe. 

We marched through the streets of Columbus, 

And bravely we tramped the mud through, 
To show to the silk-stocking gentiy 

How we'd stick to Old Tippecanoe. 

And the ladies they flocked to the windows 

In numbers I say not a few, 
And held out their star-spangled banners 

In honor of Tippecanoe. 

They called us rag-barons and dandies, 

And only a ruffle -shirt ci - ew ; 
But they see now the bone and the sinew 

All go for Old Tippecanoe! 


This ballad, giving- so graphic an account of the display and so forcible a 
demonstration of the fervid spirit which animated the crowds at Columbus, 
became popular, especially in Ohio, and, as the tune was easily caught, was 
sung on all occasions. At whig meetings hundreds or thousands of voices 
would roar out the chorus in a way to "make the welkin ring," if it ever 
rings to a partisan song. Only imagine the chorus 

AJl go for Old Tippecanoe! 
All go for Old Tippecanoe! 
But they see now the bone and the sinew 
All go for Old Tippecanoe! 

In preserving this ballad as part of the history of the furore of 1840, I 
regret that I cannot give the notes of the old tune for the benefit of those 
who have never heard it. If I could they would be tempted to try their 
sweet voices on the old ballad. 

A very popular and effective song, which was sung in every state, and 
always with fervent enthusiasm, was written by the late Major Alexis 
Mudd, of Missouri, then, I believe, not out of his teens. Major Mudd was 
we]l known as a merchant of St. Louis, and a gallant officer of the Union 
army. The song was entitled the 


Come all you log cabin boys, we're goin' to have a raisin', 

We've got a job on hand that we think will be pleasin': 

We'll turn out and build Old Tip a new cabin, 

And we'll finish it off with chinkin.' and daubin'. 

We want all the log cabin boys in the nation 

To be on the ground when we lay the foundation, 

And we'll make all the office-holders think it's amazin 

The fun we'll have at Old Tippecanoes raisin'. 

On the thirtieth day of next October 
"We'll take some hard cider, but we'll all keep sober; 
We'll shoulder our axes and cut down the timber 
And have our cabin done by the second of December. 
We'll have it well chink'd and we'll have on the cover 
Of good soiind clapboards and the weight poles over, 
And a good wide chimney for the fire to blaze in; 
So come on, boys, to Old Tippecanoe's raisin'. 

Ohio will find the house log timber 

And Old Virginia, as you'll remember, 

Will find the timber for the clapboards and ciiinkin'. 

'Twill all be the first rate stuff I'm thinkin'. 

And when we want to daub it, it happens very lucky, 

That we've got the best Clay in Old Kentucky; 

For there's no other state has such good Clays in 

To make the mortar for Old Tippecanoe's raisin'. 

For the hauling of the logs we'll call on Pennsylvania, 
For their Conestoga teams will pull as well as any, 
And the Yankees and York State and all of the others 
Will come and help us lift like so many brothers. 


The Hoosiers and the Suckers and the Wolverine farmers, 
They all know how to carry up the corners; 
And every one's a good enough carpenter and mason 
To do a little work at Old Tippecanoe's raisin'. 

We'll cut out a window and have a wide door in; 

We'll lay a good loft and a first-rate floor in; 

We'll fix it all complete for Old Tip to see his friends in; 

And we know that the latch -string will never have its ends in. 

And the fourth day of March Old Tip will move in it, 

And then little Martin will have to shin it; 

So hurrah boys there's no two ways in 

The fun we'll have at Old Tippecanoe's raisin'. 

A song to the tune of " A Fine Old English Gentleman" was rather a 
parlor ditty than one for the denser atmosphere of the popular assemblies, 
but was heard everywhere. I quote a verse : 

"And when he'd served his country in Senate and on field, 
The honors that awaited him most freely did he yield; 
He turned him to his home again and sought a farmer's to 
For though he'd.fill'd the offices he never took the spoil, 
Like a fine true hearted gentleman 
All of the olden time." 

There was one very spirited song, of which I regret to have only the^ 
chorus, that forty-three years do not enable me to forget. I seem to feel 
even yet the pulsations of the great meetings, as the Van, Van, Van, would 
ring out like strokes on a smith's anvil : 

" Tippecanoe and Tyler too, 
Tippecanoe and Tyler too ! 

And with them we'll beat little Van, Van, Van, 
And with them we'll beat little Van 
Oh, Van is a used-up man!" 

The songs were not elegant. The fastidious might even say, with Benton, 
that they were " doggerel ballads made for the occasion." Not a great deal 
of argument, or wit, or humor in them, but they had one grand merit, not 
always found in literary compositions, they were exactly suited to their 
purpose. The critic who demands elegance of diction, grandeur of thought, 
or precision of rhyme or numbers, will turn with repugnance from the songs 
of 1840; but let him reflect that they were not written up to the level of 
critical perfection, but to the taste and capacity of those who were to sing 
and enjoy them. The plain language, homely allusions and cant flings at 
our adversaries were sweet morsels to the Whig palate, and we " waxed fat 
and kicked " as we strained our throats in vocal efforts never before equaled. 

Peter the Hermit, I suppose, had not much more elegance, or argument, 
or sense in his exhortations than we had in our songs ; but his followers 
never cared. All they wanted was to press on toward Jerusalem, even if 
they had to pillage their way. All we wanted was to carry the election. 
Peter had his crusade against the Saracens to possess the Holy Sepulchre. 


We had our cabinade against the "office-holders" to possess the Govern 

Apart from some attempts to show that the Democratic policy was dis 
astrous to the interests of labor, and through that to all other interests, there 
was on our side but little of argument used in the campaign. The Demo 
crats had unwisely assailed Gen. Harrison's military record, and to these 
aspersions we could reply with truth and triumph. But as to the principles 
of government and great measures of administration our party did not need 
much argument, nor care for it. As a rule we simply assailed Mr. Van 
Buren and his administration, charging all sorts of misdemeanors and cor 
ruption. An elaborate speech in Congress by Charles Ogle, of Pennsylvania, 
on the cost of furnishing the President's dwelling, rang out like the tocsin to 
a Paris mob ; and furious was our wrath that the poeple's money was thus 
lavished on the splendors of the White House ! The President's 'gold spoons,' 
described by the eloquent Congressman, were more terrible than a death's 
head and cross-bones to a child in the twilight, and Mr. Ogle's vaunt that 
his constituents, the people of the Somerset mountains, were "the frosty 
sons of thunder," whatever he meant by that, was more effective in gaming 
votes than a ponderous argument from Daniel Webster. 

Log cabins were every where ; in parlor pictures; in shop windows; 
worked in jewelry ; hung to watch chains ; displayed on harness, and worn 
pendant from ears of patriotic dames and damsels. Everywhere save in the 
pulpit, which I believe escaped. As to the matter of " hard cider," no sta 
tistics were kept of the gallons of vinegar consumed, but they were probably 
enough to have pickled the cucumbers from a million-acre patch ! Wa 
reveled in " hard cider," and I think its antibilious tendency may have 
sweetened our temper; for with all our virtuous indignation against the 
Democratic " spoilsmen," we surely had the most jolly time ever known in 
a season of party contest. 

Great was our victory. The multitude, for good or ill, with reason or 
without, decreed a change of rulers ; and Mr. Van Buren's administration 
was swept away. But as I have grown older I have not rested, as I once did, 
in the wisdom of the change; and as I have looked back on the log cabins, 
coon skins and hard cider, the songs, the flags, the torches, and the wild 
hurrah, irresistible as a Kansas tornado, I have felt a growing respect for 
good old Peter the Hermit, Walter the Penniless, and their crusading follow 
ers. Only Peter and Walter did not reach the city of their desires, and we, 
more fortunate, did reach that of ours. They never got to Jerusalem, but 
we got to Washington. 

There was one great act, or rather non-act of injustice a heinous sin of 
omission on the part of the whigs. Never, by word or deed, by resolution 
or contribution, did we recognize our obligations to the editor of the Balti 
more Republican, whose one disparaging sentence directed against our can 
didate was, unwittingly on that editor's part, the spark that set us all 
ablaze. My blush of shame must do for his monument. 







For years I kept the original log cabin transparency, the first used in 
the remarkable political contest of 1840. Its suggestive delineations, if not 
its artistic charms, had electrified the mass meeting and inspired Senator 
Fraley ; and I might have kept it yet, but the angel of the house having 
rummaged it out of the closet, wanted to burn it as "rubbish," heedless of 
all historic associations, whereupon I utilized it as an oil-cloth shade to the 
kitchen loft window. It is gone now, and I have no material relic of the 
unique party struggle ; but among the memories of that season of songs and 
speeches, none is pleasanter than that of Frederic Fraley, of Philadelphia, 
the urbane, enlightened, sagacious, Christian gentleman, whoso every act 
seemed in response to the injunction stretched along the head of my old 
Gazette : "Let all the ends thou aimst at be thy Country's, thy God's, and 
Truth's." Wonderfully restful is communion with such men, in whom you 
trust intuitively, and no more think of their deceiving you than you do of 
cheating yourself. 

The contest of 1840 soon became too uproarious for gentlemen of Mr. 
Fraley's refined taste, and orators of a different class held the rostrum. 
Among these practical hard hitters, evoked by the turmoil, none did better 
work than " the Buckeye Blacksmith," whose name I would hand down to 
future ages if I did not "disremember " it. He left his bellows and anvil 
in Ohio to emit stirring blasts and strike hard blows for Harrison and 
Tyler. Illiterate but earnest, he moved the masses at his will. There was 
a large measure of this unpolished but effective oratory, from men unknown 
before, whose homely phrases and quaint illustrations were in harmony 


with the occasions, and as charming to their hearers as ever Bunyan's 
wonderful narrative was to his pious readers. Dennis Kearneys they were, 
but without his coarseness and bitterness. They were full of enthusiasm, 
and enthusiasm is always eloquent. Their like will probably never be 
heard again. But all our speakers were not of this order. Some men of the 
highest culture did not disdain at times to "go down to the people," as a 
fine old Virginia gentleman would have phrased it. 

A young men's national convention met at Baltimore in May, 1840 ; an 
immense assemblage. "The avalanche of the people is here," said McMa- 
han, a Baltimore evening orator, from Reverdy Johnson's balcony in Monu 
ment Square ; and we were so full of patriotic fervor that we never thought 
to inquire what he meant, but thought it a stupendous figure of speech. 
On the grounds at Camden, next day, Daniel Webster, Preston of South 
Carolina, Thomas Allen, then of Washington City, and others of high posi 
tion, addressed the people. But in a few weeks we needed less of argument 
and more of humor and of straight hits from the shoulder at the "office 
holders " than orators of this class could give us. 

There was much friendly curiosity at this Baltimore gathering to see 
and hear Thomas Allen, then editor of the Madisonian, which had been 
started at Washington in 1837, under the auspices of democrats opposed to 
Mr. Van Buren's policy, especially in regard to the plan of an Independent 
Treasury. " Conservatives " these dissenting democrats called themselves, 
and they wanted an editor. Thomas Allen's father had given him an ex 
cellent education and an opportunity to study law, and then said to him : 
" Tom, I'll give you twenty dollars, and you can go and make your for 
tune." Thomas left the old Allen home at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and 
settled in New York city, where he soon became known by some magazine 
articles and contributions to the daily press. By one of those chances which 
are fortunate for all, and which furnish a ready-made ladder for aspiring 
talent, the " Conservatives " hit upon Thomas Allen to edit their new paper 
at Washington. Conducted with extraordinary ability, it was at once 
recognized as the leading and powerful organ of democrats opposed to Mr. 
Van Buren's re-election, and was received by the whigs as a journal of 
phenomenal excellence. In two years Mr. Allen had a national reputation. 
No editor ever acquired fame and influence so rapidly. 

But Mr. Allen was not greatly successful as an orator at Baltimore. I 
remember well the then youthful and modest speaker. In faultless diction 
he gave us good sense and sound argument, but his manner lacked warmth, 
and however choice the phrase or forcible the reasoning, neither voice nor 
delivery suited that tumultuous crowd, which listened with chilled respect 
even to Daniel Webster, but responded with wild enthusiasm to the fervid 
declamation of William C. Preston. No Mr. Allen did not attract the 
applause as a speaker which we all knew him to merit as an editor, and it 
affords me a kind of satisfaction to say this ; for why should one man, 
even as able as Thomas Allen, have all the gifts? He could afford to leave 


oratory to Tom Marshall, or Preston, or Henry Clay. His allotted work 
differed from theirs, and if less conspicuous or less ornamental, was not 
less useful to his country and times. 

Mf. Allen retained the Madisonian till after the death of Gen. Harrison 
had brought in Mr. Tyler as President. He was not to remain at Washing 
ton. It was his destiny to do the great work of his life west of the great 
river, and after more than forty years of active usefulness in the Mississippi 
Valley, he died with the harness on as a representative in Congress from 
St. Louis. 

In taking charge of the Madisonian, Thomas Allen "struck while the 
iron was hot," but the iron was there to be struck, all the same, or his 
talents would have been useless. But for the call to Washington by the 
factious democrats, he might have remained a lawyer in New York, making 
money, no doubt, for his eminent abilities would have commanded success, 
but doing no great or distinctive work. He found at Washington an oppor 
tunity never before or since presented to any one as an editor there. The 
people were in the mood to receive his paper with favor, and the men he 
was acting with could give him public printing. All circumstances con 
curred to assure his success. His talents, culture, and broad information 
had a propitious field, and his New England training fitted him to work it 
for all it was worth. No one ever gained reputation and money so rapidly 
as an editor at Washington, and no one ever will. Like circumstances will 
never again occur. The government now does its own printing, and no 
journal can be issued at Washington to command the attention and respect 
accorded to the Madisonian. If Thomas Allen enjoyed Fortune's favors, 
he proved himself worthy of them. But was there no "luck" in it all? 
Suppose the dissenting democrats had not dissented ? 

Men seem to "have greatness thrust upon them," as I believe Shakes 
peare says. The time is auspicious for a certain thing to be done ; and some 
one gains wealth and fame by doing it. John Jacob Astor did not come to 
America with any design to enter the fur trade. Delay of a ship by ice in 
the Delaware brought him into contact with a countryman who suggested 
furs and peltries. At first John Jacob did not see all the advantages, but 
soon his acute vision took in the possibilities of the trade, and with rare 
courage and sagacity he turned them to account; not only sending his 
cargoes abroad, but converting their proceeds into return cargoes of teas 
and other merchandise for the home market, and thus often more than 
doubling his ventures. His capital rapidly grew beyond the needs of his 
trade, but the low prices of real estate in New York invited the investment 
of his profits. He became a millionaire, aiid hardly missed the great losses 
which heuffered in his venture at Astoria, mainly because of the neglect 
and pusillanimity of the federal government. An able man John Jacob 
was, unquestionably, a statesman in some of his views as well as a shrewd 
trader in furs and peltries, but the iron was heated to his hand. He had 
only to strike. But never since he entered it has the fur trade presented 


such chances for fortunes as then. Let any young German born at Wahl- 
dorf on the Rhine try it now, and see how he will coine out. 

Or let the most industrious, energetic, penurious, persevering and 
miserly Philadelphian, native or adopted, undertake to act over Stephen 
Girard's career, and he will fail, even with two good eyes, and Stephen had 
only one. Careers suit occasions, and cannot be duplicated at will ; but the 
career of the first Philadelphia millionaire is of value in teaching that in 
dustry, economy and patience are worthy of observance, even if all the 
posthumous glory of a big marble college for orphans cannot offset the 
shame of unkindness to one's kith and kin, although the offender partially 
atoned for his laches by voluntary devotion to the destitute and deserted 
sick during pestilence. Enigmatical Stephen repudiated his poor rela 
tions, and risked his life for strangers in the agonies and despair of yellow 
fever ! 

Alex. T. Stewart ordained the building of a city and cathedral on Long 
Island, as his monument possibly. But if his errant corpse could have been 
laid beneath the sod, I doubt if a single honest tear, save from his widow, 
lonely and childless in her palace, would have bedewed the grass on it. He 
was born with a soul "not above buttons," and educated himself in buttons 
and the raiment they belong to just at the right time to begin his career. 
With a few wise maxims to govern his conduct (known to many but prac 
ticed by few), he persevered, because perseverance was constant profit; 
prudently enlarged his operations as he gained strength ; skilfully com 
bined all elements of power as a dealer in dry-goods, and made himself a 
millionaire, gaining a fortune never perhaps equaled in any other one man's 
trade. The condition of the country and its commerce enabled him to do all 
this. As Mr. Lincoln might have said, the hole was open, and Alex. T. 
was the peg made to fit it. But let any young Irishman now, however 
keen or persevering, try to duplicate his career, and what will he amount 
to? "With ten times Stewart's ability the copyist could not have one-tenth 
his success. Kuch careers, like that of Washington, cannot be repeated. 

With all his aptness in gaining wealth, Alex. T. Stewart was denied the 
privilege of doing good. Even his great building for a working woman's 
home was a costly failure. The working women could not afford to live in 
it. With only nominal charges it could be of use to but few, as but few 
would have their work near enough to be able to make it their home. He 
dealt with working women's interests as he did with his bales and boxes. 
He had combined large operations in merchandise and concentrated goods 
of almost infinite variety in one large establishment ; and he thought the 
poor working women could be combined in his one big edifice, and have 
there a home. But they did not combine and concentrate worth |i cent. If 
he had spent the money in a number of lesser buildings, placed in scattered 
localities, so as to be near where the working women are at work, he would 
have been a benefactor ; and such buildings, named Stewart Home Num 
ber 1, Number 2, and so on, would have been each a monument better than 


a statue in Westminster Abbey. I never had a statue in tne Abbey ; but 
to perpetuate nay name, would prefer a Working Woman's Home such as I 
have suggested before all the statues ever made ; and if Mr. Stewart had 
established them, the grateful women, if need had arisen, would have vol 
untarily kept guard over his uneasy bones. 

Since the foregoing was written, a New York magazine has had an arti 
cle taking much the same view as I have presented of Mr. Stewart's big 
failure in benevolence. It appeared a few weeks after I had put in ink my 
thoughts on the subject. This might be a case of Odic Influence, but I 
think not, as I had the same opinion of Mr. Stewart's big project when it 
was first announced, and I do not think that my thoughts have ever been 
intense enough to reach all the way to New York, and have the necessary 
force left to get into a magazine editor's head, especially as the good Dr. 
Holland had departed this life. Pity it is, that some editor did not suggest 
to Mr. Stewart at the time he began his one big edifice to put the money 
in a number of smaller ones, as the man, though rich in cash and proper 
ties, wasTeally poor in the knowledge of how to do good, and to have his 
name remembered gratefully. The chance is open now for Mr. Gould or 
Mr. Vanderbilt. 

All I have said about Astor, Girard and Stewart is of value, because the 
careers of these men, and that of Thomas Allen, illustrate the fact that 
circumstances devolpe men by affording scope for the exercise of their pow 
ers. Opportunity is fortune. The gifted see it, seize it, and succeed. But 
man does not make opportunities, and we do not all know how to profit by 

When I was in Washington City in the spring of 1841, after the inaugu 
ration crowd had partly scattered, I thought it the politest place on earth. 
We were rather a plain people in Pennsylvania ; civil, kindly, and polite in 
our modest way, but by 110 means noted for unusual elegance of manner or 
extraordinary courtesy to strangers, that we did not know something about. 
Imagine my wonderment, then, when I found myself treated with the most 
surprising courtesy on the streets of Washington. Ladies would smile, and 
with a charming inclination of each pretty head, greet me as we passed on 
the avenue, and even give me a gentle salute from carriage windows as they 
whirled along. Gentlemen would raise their hats and bow, even across the 
street if not too wide. Of course I was on my mettle, and as George Wash 
ington was particular that not even an American of African descent should 
excel him in politeness, so I scrupulously returned all these polite saluta 
tions, bowed, and lifted my best hat till the fur began to wear off the brim. 
I was totally unconscious of any reason why so much attention should be 
lavished on a modest stranger, and felt like writing an essay on the charm 
ing manners of the Capital, and their high moral and refining tendencies, 
when I chanced to meet a gentleman on the avenue whom I knew by sight 
to be Col. Abert, Chief of Topographical Engineers, and. shaking my hand 
cordially he said : 


" Allow me to tell you how much I enjoyed the leading editorial in your 
paper to-day. You treated the subject very ably, very ably indeed. Your 
views of the finance question seem to me very sound." 

I thanked him heartily, and we separated. But what could it all mean? 
I had a paper, but it was at Harrisburg, and could not have been read in 
Washington that morning. After a few minutes' thought all was clear. 
The word finance was the clew. The Madisonian had an article on that 
subject, and Col. Abert had supposed he was speaking to Thomas Allen! 
All the rest who had been so polite to a stranger had made the same 

I was not personally acquainted with Mr. Allen then, nor can I recollect 
when we were first known to each other ; but I remember a meeting in 
1850 when we both made speeches. Coming in the saddle from the Stanton 
Copper Mine in Franklin county, seventy miles west of St. Louis, intending 
to reach Manchester and lodge at Col. Berry's inn, where the table was 
always so bountiful and the old-fashioned cooking so good, I found at 
North's store (Gray's Summit now) a gathering of farmers who had met to 
consider the railroad question. Thomas Allen was there, to explain what 
was meant by the act he had induced the Legislature to pass a year before 
incorporating the Pacific Railroad. Our meeting under Mr. North's locust 
trees ought to have been Daguerreotyped for the Historical Society, or 
painted by Bingham, as one of the very first popular assemblies to take 
practical steps towards the actual building of a railway, ultimately to reach 
the Pacific ocean. We were initiating the work of railroad building west of 
the Mississippi ; and I am sure no plain and modest orators ever had a more 
attentive audience. Of Mr. Allen's speech I only recollect his demonstra 
tion to the auditors that after the railroad from St. Louis should be built, 
they could not afford to ride or drive to the city even with their own 
horses or teams, and in fact could not afford to walk. The use of a horse or 
a team would be worth more than the railroad fare; nor could a man, if his 
wages were only seventy-five cents a day, afford the time, food and shoe- 
leather consumed in walking. No orator ever presented a newer argument 
than this was to Mr. Allen's hearers, although Stepenson had used it some 
thirty years before. My own discourse was mainly on the necessity of 
associated strength to accomplish any great result, the argument illus 
trated by the fact that even a steamboat was mostly too big a thing for one 
man, and had several combined in the ownership ; and as a railroad was a 
much bigger thing than a steamboat it must necessarily depend 011 asso 
ciated " effort, and hence everybody ought to help. Never were speeches 
better received, or better suited to the occasion. Our arguments were ele 
mentary but convincing, and every man left the meeting satisfied that he 
was bound to ride to St. Louis on that railroad when completed, and that 
every one of his neighbors ought to take stock and help to build it. 

Mr. Allen and I spent the night at the farm house of Williamson Rogers, 
forty miles from St. Louis on the old Springfield road, where travelers had 


" enter tainment," and not only enjoyed excellent food for the body, but 
had the mind refreshed by the domestic graces of a well ordered family. In 
the olden days of Missouri there were many families like that of Mr. Rogers, 
of Rev. Jacob Clark at Sullivan, and the Harrisons on the Gasconade, in 
which intelligence and refinement were as pleasant as they were apt to be 
unexpected to a city man in those remote localities ; and no doubt there are 
many worthy successors in those parts yet. I was much entertained during 
the evening with Mr. Allen's account of his early life, his persistent labor, 
and his resolve to surmount all obstacles. There was 110 egotism in it all, 
as we talked of our emergence into manhood's world as if discussing the 
struggles, trials and hopes of third persons. Seventeen years later, in 1867, 
finding ourselves at Altoona on the same train for St. Louis, he told me of 
his purchase of the Iron Mountain Railroad, then only eighty miles long, 
and of his intention to extend it southwestward to Little Rock and beyond. 
He had means, he said, to live a life of leisure, and had tried to do so; 
" but I can't stand it," he continued, "I must have occupation for all my 
energies, and I shall find it in extending the railroad.'' He had work 
enough in this enterprise, but the rails reached Texarkana, and now con 
nect St. Louis with Mexico in one direction and with California in another. 

If Thomas Allen, had done no more than give to St. Louis the first fire 
proof hotel in the world, the bust placed there as a memento by admiring 
and lamenting friends might well grace its hall. The grand edifice whose 
absolute security against destruction by fire enables its guests to sleep in 
greater safety than in their own homes, may seem unimportant in compari 
son with the extension of the railroad system west of the great river, due so 
largely to his pioneer and persistent efforts. Yet the Southern Hotel is not 
to be estimated simply as a secure and sumptuous resting place for the 
sojoumer, but as a pattern in hotel construction which the traveling part of 
the community will in time require to be followed in all large buildings for 
like uses. It is a permanent lesson in common sense architecture taught in 
St. Louis for the first time in the world. 

The achievements of Thomas Allen cannot be taken out of the history of 
the Mississippi Valley without tearing from the record some of its most 
illustrious pages. Inscriptions on his tomb at the historic family home in 
Pittsfield may fade, and even his native place may forget him, but the 
benefits to the continent of his forty years of labor in the Mississippi Val 
ley will cease only with our civilization. His monuments are in our iron 
highways, and in the intellectual progress due to the influence of a far- 
reaching and comprehensive mind, master at once of the minutest details, 
and capable of the largest combinations. 




Having elected Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison President of the United 
States, the whigs and those who acted with us true patriots all behaved 
with exemplary consistency. We had clamored against Mr. Van Buren's 
office-holders ; had denounced them as unfit and dishonest. In tones of 
alarmed and indignant patriotism, both in speech and song, we had re 
hearsed their enormities. By their iniquities the ' spoilsmen ' had brought 
disaster and ruin to the country. From all platforms we had declared that 
they must be turned out, and we were consistent in holding to this declara 

We understood civil-service reform. Never complicating it with exam 
ining boards, or puerile questions to applicants on pretence of ascertaining 
their fitness, we had none of the nonsense grown up since. Our equitable 
and infallible rule was to turn out the old incumbents. No other measure 
so potent to reform the civil service. 

" The good old rule, the simple plan 

Sufficed for as: that they should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can." 

There would necessarily be vacancies ; but we relied confidently on the 
devotion of our party. The country should not suffer ; the High Bird of 
Liberty should not lose a feather. Nay, so ardent our patriotism, that 
there were actually more men willing to serve than offices to fill. Mr. 
Lincoln was perplexed, he said, when he " had more pegs than holes to put 
them in ;" but we had gone through all that twenty years before. 

Inauguration day came, March 4, 1841. Never had Washington City 
held so much patriotism, in so many packages all animate and as ready 


for sacrifice as little Isaac on the altar, or more so. McMahon, the tall Bal 
timore lawyer, who had in his speech at the great convention said " the 
avalanche of the people is here," might have repeated it and have added 
pure, too, in all motives as the mountain snow, perhaps. Pennsylvania 
avenue then, if I am right in recollection, the only paved street, for Aleck 
Shepherd was not yet boss seemed well named, as we noted with pride 
the swarms from the good old Commonwealth. All other states, too, and 
even territories, had their faithful men. No tattered crowd of unabluted 
pilgrims ever infested Mecca more intent to kiss the black stone of the 
Kaaba and be saved, than our patriots were to shake the President's hand 
and serve the country. New as the scenes were to the arrazed Washing- 
tonians they were newer still to us, as our first opportunity with our own 
President ; and never Joshua's army enjoyed a raid on the heathen as we 
enjoyed the raid on the high and low places of the capital. The history in 
detail of those days has never been written ; but you need not tell me of 
modern patriotism as compared with ours, or of your trumpery civil-service 
reform these latter days. 

Our President was solemnly sworn in. His inaugural address was all 
right, as it fell on greedy ears and soon fluttered in print. Its private his 
tory became known later. Our dear "Old Tip" as we still without in 
tended disrespect fondly styled him had been all his life a close student of 
ancient history, and was apt, pen in hand, to draw freely for illustration on 
Greece and Rome. The sages and heroes of antiquity were his models and* 
familiars. They had enlivened his retired life at North Bend, and he could 
not easily part with old friends. As first prepared, his inaugural was 
stuffed as full of antique characters as the property room of a theatre of old 
helmets, shields and battle axes. But this did not suit the taste of Daniel 
Webster, who was to be Secretary of State, and who liked the rhetoric of 
state papers to be as limpid and clear as the streams wherein he fished for 
trout. Dan'l insisted on revising the address, and, as he afterwards honestly 
confessed, slaughtered sages enough to make a senate, and in cold blood 
murdering all the Roman consuls but one. " It was the remark of a Roman 
consul," said the inaugural address, and we firmly believed it ; but Dan'l 
had cut out all other classics. I never forgave him. I always wanted a 
condensed edition of Plutarch with those other seniors, and Old Tip's inau 
gural would have been just the thing if Dan'l had let it alone. 

Few better men than Gen. Harrison ever lived. He had no thought but 
for his country and his kind. There have been other presidents as honest, 
possibly, as kind-hearted and as true to their country, but they were not 
more than his peers. Not for lack of talent, acquirements or judgment, but 
because of his age and his good nature, he was sadly out of place as Presi 
dent. His genuine kindness of heart bade him listen to all comers if possi 
ble, and he wished to satisfy everybody. He could hardly get time to eat 
or sleep. The routine duties world have taxed him enough, but these were 
insignificant in comparison with the labors thrown on him by the patriots. 


Exercise in youth and earlier manhood develops and strengthens the 
muscles, but after three score the excessive use of any one of the limbs of 
tlie human body may be paralyzing in its effects, or at least impair the 
vigor of the limb, in a manner to render it unfit for its customary uses. The 
hand-shaking which the President had been submitting to and really 
delighting in, good old gentleman that he was began to have its natural 
effect. Hand and arm would evidently soon fail ; but fortunately, while the 
new cabinet had under grave consideration the propriety of advising the 
President officially to withhold his hand from the cordial shakers lest its 
use should be entirely lost, the peril was happily averted. The impending 
danger of a manual paralysis got noised abroad among the patriots, and 
created much alarm, lest the President, by losing the use of his right limb, 
might be unable to set his signature to the expected appointments. A 
meeting of patriots was at once held, or the matter was whispered round I 
don't remember clearly which and by general consent it was decided to 
stop tugging at the President's hand, and save it to sign the commissions. 

The only two visitors at Washington who did not want office were Mr. 
Joseph Milliken of Pennsylvania and myself ; or, at least I have no recol 
lection of any others. Mr. Milliken had a favorite for the Lewistown post- 
office ; not that the office had been badly managed, but entirely for the sake 
of civil-service reform. I wanted Mr. Andrew J. Jones, a true patriot, and 
liberal giver to party funds, appointed postmaster at Harrisburg; not that 
the office was not well conducted, or that Mr. James Peacock, the incum 
bent, was not a very respectable gentleman, and in all respects trust 
worthy ; but solely for the sake of consistency, as we had told the people 
that true reform could only be effected by turning out all ' locofocos." Al 
though Mr. Milliken and myself did not care to serve the public ourselves, 
we were yet very anxious to have the men of our choice appointed, and 
were in excellent spirits when fortunate enough to reach the President's 
room to present our papers. 

"Gentlemen," said the old hero, "I must beg you to excuse me this 
morning. I cannot possibly take time to talk with you now," waving his 
hand over the piles of papers on his table, " but do me the favor to come 
and dine with me at 4 o'clock." 

Nothing could be kinder than his manner, and as we bowed ourselves 
out, our pride in this unexpected invitation was only equalled by our solici 
tude as to the etiquette of the dinner. How were we to behave? How 
would plain men like us get through the unaccustomed ceremonies of the 
White House? We had neither of us been in the habit of dining with pres 
idents, and proper behavior was a serious matter. We could only decide 
to go slow, watch the turns of events and do as we should see others do. It 
was a great honor to dine with the President, and a great thing to have so 
excellent an opportunity to talk over the appointments. We would encoun 
ter the hazard of blunders in etiquette for the chance of quietly arranging 
post-office matters. He had said that he could not talk with us when we 


called, but we must dine with him, and this could only mean that every 
thing should be arranged nicely at dinner. 

"It was a great surprise," I remarked, "but it's a great honor, too, and 
I guess we'll fix things." 

" Yes, to be sure, to be sure," replied my friend ; " but we must be care 
ful, you know." 

"Of course it wont do to make any blunders. We must not be in too 
much of a hurry." 

"No ; and besides, we must be sure to let him bring up our matters him 
self. That's the rule, they say. We must let him lead the conversation." 

Having thus arranged that we would do no discredit to the good breed 
ing of Pennsylvania by any unbecoming behavior on this important occa 
sion, we presented ourselves in due season and had our dinner. It was a 
very good dinner, and to our surprise and gratification there was but little 
formality, and more cheerfulness than we had expected. There were only 
half a dozen other guests, and the President led the conversation in a man 
ner so genial and pleasant that everybody was charmed. But not a word 
about offices or appointments ! 

Leaving the table the President led the way to the south front of the 
mansion for a stroll in the grounds. It was one of Washington's balmy 
spring days, and after a few turns on the walks we came to a halt, and 
standing in a half circle were entertained with anecdote and reminiscence 
of his varied and eventful life by the nation's honored head. It was all 
very delightful, as with the utmost grace and polish of manner he seemed 
to be addressing each of us, and was certainly giving pleasure and instruc 
tion to all. But not a word about politics or civil-service reform ! 

In due time Mr. Milliken and I took leave and walked down the avenue. 

"Well, what do you think of it, my boy?" he asked as we passed the old 
state department. 

" I think we have had the honor of dining with the President, and that 
I am a little ahead of you, Mr. Milliken." 

" How so? He didn't say a word about the Harrisburg post-office." 

" No ; but I have dined with two presidents, and you with only one." 

" What do you mean? When did you ever dine at the White House 

" Never ; but I dined to-day with the President of the United States and 
the President of the Lewistown Bank." 

And so ended our dinner at the White House. Neither of us ever saw 
the good President again. I do not recollect what was done with the Lew 
istown post-office, but I know that Mr. Jones had to continue selling dry 
goods, and some one else had the office at Harrisburg. 

Five years ago I met at Washington Mr. James E. Harvey, who had 
been at our Baltimore convention and was one of the " young men," reuni 
ted at Washington in 1841 at the inauguration, on which occasion he made 
a speech with the ' palmetto tree 'in it and a great deal about South Caro- 


lina ; and Collins Lee of Baltimore charmed us with a glowing eulogy on 
ourselves as representative young Americans, with Fort McHenry, Francis 
S. Key and the ' Star Spangled Banner > all thrown in with thrilling effect. 
But I verily believe that of all that assembly of ardent young patriots I 
was the only one so derelict as not to desire an official position to serve the 
country. Mr Harvey and I renewed our acquaintance after the long inter 
val, during which he had been for a long time minister to Portugal, or 
somewhere else, and, as we drifted into reminiscences, I told him of the 
dinner at the White House. 

"I understand it all," said Mr. Harvey. " It was a way he had. If not 
convenient at once to attend to a gentleman he was sure to invite him to 
dinner or breakfast, and sometimes he had so many guests that there was 
hardly tableware enough to go round." 

Thus the roses fade. For thirty-seven years I had nursed the pleasant 
and prideful memory, come weal or come woe, that Mr. Joseph Milliken 
and myself had enjoyed the honor of a special invitation to dine with the 
President of the United States ; but, after all, as Mr. Harvey explained the 
old hero's habit, it was only ' a way he had.' I have never dined with a 
President since, and never will. 

Gen. Harrison had enjoyed good health and was a brave man. With his 
wonted courage he faced the assailant office-seekers. They took chances at 
him as skirmishers if he attempted a walk, fronted him in line if he looked 
from a window, and charged on him in column to his inner chambers. It 
was fearful odds. They were legion and he but one. His attitude seemed 
to say, as did Fitz James to Roderick Dim : 

"Come one, come all! this rock shall fly 
From its firm base as soon as I !" 

But they were too many for him. Work and worry, with a severe cold, 
prostrated him, and the worn frame could not rally. He had fought Indi 
ans and survived, but the savage onslaught of hungry patriots was fatal, 
and he was President only a month. He passed away on the 4th of April, 
sincerely lamented. We had much true and unselfih love for the good old 
man. There was great attraction in his frank, honest, kindly character. 

Besides, he was the fountain of patronage, and our faithful patriots had 
each selected a spot to dip his ladle into one of the streams. Now all was 
changed. John Tyler was the fountain, and nobody could tell where the 
streams would run, or what chance he would have for a dip. 




Gen. Jackson said in his Farewell Address, on retirement from the Presi 
dency " I leave this great people prosperous and happy." Such was my 
own condition from 1838 till the summer of 1841. McCurdy and I had en 
joyed an occasional chance at the State Treasury, in the way of public 
printing, and the prospect of wealth seemed to shed on our pathway the 
only lustre that makes it clear and delectable, so far as material interests 
reach, however happy otherwise. We had bought a corner lot, and had a 
three-story and basement building in process of erection, with cast-iron sills 
and lintels, the first ever used in Harrisburg. It was the Intelligencer 
Block, for a printing house and other uses. The state administration was 
against us, but this enabled us to make our paper lively with attacks on it, 
and an occasional sop of patronage from the Legislature kept us in good 
condition. We were wonderfully patriotic, as the manner was then, and 
having elected Gen. Harrison President, the future was as brilliant as an 
aurora borealis, and a great deal easier to reach. 

So promising were our affairs that I had intervals of serious reflection on 
the question of what to do with all my riches when attained. Like the 
maid with the milk pail, whose musings are narrated in Webster's spelling 
book, I wanted to dispense judiciously, and do all the good possible. The 
manner in which people of wealth commonly dispose of their means had 
never entirely satisfied my judgment, and believing myself to have rare 
gifts for disbursement, I intended to be a model of munificence and pro 


A steady worker, I cared little for holidays, but as a matter of public 
spirit, belonged to the Hope Fire Company and to the Dauphin Guards. 
The Guards believed themselves to be the crack company of the state, out 
side of Philadelphia. In the fall of 1839 we visited that city, and drilled up 
to the best. Captain Fritz recognized the Guards as the peer of his own 
famous company, and as they escorted us through the streets, with John 
son's black band (splendid free Americans of African descent and reliable 
color), the Philadelphians stood on their scoured sidewalks in admiration, 
and not a few of the white window shutters were open, with angelic faces 
looking out. Captain Fritz gave us an entertainment at his armory ; not the 
lavish and tedious banquet of present times (costing enough to found a wid 
ow's home, where relations of some attending might one day be glad to find 
shelter), but a ' collation ' made up of cold meats, bread and butter, oysters, 
coffee, et cetera the latter effervescent and exhilarating. And then our 
speeches brief and pointed, impromptu, sharp as the bayonets and bright 
as the polished barrels on our muskets ! Amused and almost grieved I am 
at a now-a-days banquet an assemblage of patient men, with 'menu' 
(Jupiter !) and tardy waiters, lagging away an hour before the popping and 
speeches begin ; and thinking all this enjoyment ! As for the speeches, 
often prosy, and musty with desk odor, they may do for instruction, per 
haps, but for a lively evening spare us ! 

Dr. E. W. Roberts was the Captain of our Guards, and when we marched 
through the streets at home, firing by platoons or by company as if a single 
gun spoke ; bit our cartridges and reloaded as we marched on, to bravely 
fire again on the next block, so that no wife, sweetheart or mother should 
miss the display who could hear without admiration a flint-lock musket, 
or measure the pride of those who so deftly handled the ramrods? A tear 
to thy memory, Captain Roberts ! eminent physician, and only not a hero 
for lack of a chance in a peaceful time. 

Edwin Roberts, nephew of the Captain, was our apprentice in Harris- 
burg, and in after years, floating westward, cast anchor in Jerseyville, over 
in the state so upright on the map, but whose French-Indian name is by 
many smart people pronounced as if its last syllable were noise, when the 
correct vocal termination is noy ; and there he published the State Argus. 
In 1848 I wrote some sketches of " Detached Service " between Bent's Fort 
and Santa Fe, to illuminate the columns of the Argus, and those sketches, 
I think, contained the first mention in any public journal of the coal in the 
Raton Mountain, on the border of Colorado and New Mexico. Here are 
some extracts to show how one's thoughts could run on possibilities so long 

" We entered the little valley leading up the mountain (Oct., 1846). The 
valley is very narrow and its curves very serpentine, though the general 
direction is nearly straight. We passed a splendid bed of coal. I suppose 
there is no coal of this variety of better quality. It may be that this coal 
is not so strong and that a given quantity would not generate so great a 


volume of steam as anthracite and other varieties, though of this I am not 
certain. But for some purposes it must be the best all. For burning in a 
grate it is unequalled. It ignites readily, burns freely, with a clear, bright 
flame, and seems to emit no smoke at all. It is remarkably clear from 
' dirt,' and you may handle any quantity of it without soiling your fingers. 
As the army marched to Santa Fe I procured a lump, and wrapping it in 
part of my overcoat, strapped at the saddle bow, I carried it several miles 
to the next camp, without leaving the least mark on the coat. At our camp 
fire I tried its burning qualities, and found that I could ignite a small lump, 
and after it began to blaze, could carry it about like a candle, the flame not 
going out. 

" The vein where I saw it is at the opposite side of the little valley from 
the road. I observed it as the command passed, and rode over to it. Capt. 
Johnson, U. S. Army, who was aid to Gen. Kearney, informed me that he 
had discovered the same vein in another place, where it was a solid vein of 
beautiful coal thirty feet in thickness ! The vein I visited must be at least 
twenty, and perhaps thirty feet thick. The coal lies in regular strata, and 
breaks out in square blocks. 

" But how useless this splendid vein of coal ! It is almost lost time to 
describe it, except as a geological feature of a distant region. Some men, 
not having what they consider their proper positions in the business com 
munity or in general society, are only remarked for the little good they do. 
This bed of coal, so extensive, so beautiful, is of no use whatever because it 
has not a PROPER LOCATION. If I had it near St. Louis, I would bid fare 
well to Blackstone, Chitty, Kent, Story, and all such gentlemen ; and, on 
account of the quality of the coal, wouldn't pay any attention even to COKE ! 
(T hope to be forgiven for this pun.) 

" Now, if there were any probability any possibility of a RAILROAD 
ever being made across the Raton in that neighborhood, how interesting 
would that coal mine become ! But in the nature of things, people say, this 
seems to be out of the question ; and there it must repose forever, one of the 
richest deposits of the world, ' of no use to any one,' not even the 'owner.' 
I am not sure that there is any individual owner. It is said that the firm of 
Bent & St. Vrain have a grant from Gov. Armijo, formerly of New Mexico, 
covering all the land from the Taos Mountains to the Arkansas, thousands 
on thousands of acres, and embracing this bed of coal. But I would like to 
know what they can ' realize ' from it. 

"The amiable Mr. ASA WHITNEY, projector of the grand railroad to 
the Pacific, will be pleased to hear of this immense coal deposit. It will 
seem an earnest to him that there are other deposits further north, near the 
proposed line of his road. But he does not need this assurance. The fact 
of inexhaustible beds of coal lying on the eastern side of the Rocky Moun 
tain Range, is too well established to require further confirmation. What 
the ' prospect ' for coal is on the western side of the Range, in any direction 
which a railroad, if made, would be likely to take, I am not informed. 


"Perhaps you think, Reader, that this vein of coal is out of place, thus 
running through a sketch of ' detached service?' But I wish, as I go along, 
to give some account of the geology of the regions passed. This is informa 
tion. Now, amuse yourself by conjecturing why this bed of coal was put 
away out there, when we could have used it to so much better advantage if 
near St. Louis. Can you tell ? 

" Well you can't. But all eyes are now turned westward. The Pacific 
Coast Oregon, California the Sandwich Islands and China, are all now 
seen to be to the WEST of us. We reflect on their immense populations, and 
on the increased trade that we should have, particularly with the Islands 
and China, if we had but a short and speedy means of communication, capa 
ble of accommodating that trade. Everybody, then, wants a RAILROAD TO 
THE PACIFIC, but many fear that it is impracticable. But suppose the road 
made and the coal away up along the mountain side used on ^wouldn't 
you think, after all, that the coal was put there for a wise purpose?" 

Thus diffidently, thirty-five years ago, did I forecast the railroad. Bos 
ton capital and pluck have made my supposed railroad a reality. The 
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe track is laid up the little valley described 
by me in 1848, and crosses under the summit of the Raton by a long tunnel, 
7,000 feet above sea level. It runs by ' the coal away up along the mountain 
side,' the coal is 'used on it,' and it continues on to the Pacific ocean, as 
pictured in my day dream and published in the Jerseyville State Argus. 
It was only a dream with me then, but even if I had felt sure of the remark 
able work since accomplished, I should not have dared to say so, lest con 
tempt and ridicule should be visited on my sketches of ' Detached Service.' 

The Intelligencer was not per se profitable, but like other Harrisburg 
papers it gave us a position from which to handle our nets in fishing for 
jobs of state printing. We lived an easy life, but had few relaxations. As 
to dissipation, we did not care for it, and the only hard drinking we did was 
done during the log cabin election campaign of 1840, when we drank hard 
cider, or vinegar under that patriotic name. We were not well enough off 
to indulge our taste, if we had any, for costly works of art, or other stylish 
things, and in the way of turnout, never got beyond the buggy and the 
venerable Old Gray already mentioned in these chapters. To please his 
excellent wife, M' Curdy, in the summer of 1841, had a hankering to have 
his portrait painted ; but I had little thought for counterfeit presentments 
of any kind. A few Daguereotypes were then taken in Philadelphia, but 
the new art had not reached the interior. There was only one artist of any 
kind in Harrisburg, John Landis, who had taught himself to paint what he 
regarded as portraits, and who had in a printed Autobiography assured his 
readers that he ' wr.s born a poet, a painter, and a man of genius.' Learn 
ing that Landis was painting M'Curdy, I visited his studio to see how he 
was progressing, but found he had not yet begun the picture. Loitering 
there among his 'works,' I recognized a likeness of our neighbor, Mr. 
Fitch, who kept the best livery stable at the seat of government. 


" That's Fitch, John," I said to Mr. Landis " ftrst-rate likeness." 

" Yes," he replied, "the portrait is very good, but I'm afraid he don't 
mean to take it. Been done three weeks and he don't come for it." 

"That's too bad, John ; too bad to lose your labor that way." 

"Oh, well it's not all lost. You see, I'll just turn the face round the 
other way, and it'll do for M'Curdy !" 

As M'Curdy and Fitch were both ' hatchet-faced ' men, Mr. Landis in a 
short time had a new face on the canvas, but M'Curdy insisted that the 
whole figure must be repainted, and when I again called on the artist I 
found him hard at work on the coat sleeves. 

" Why, John," I said, " I thought you had only to put a new face to the 

"Yes, that was all it needed ; but now M'Curdy says he won't wear Tom 
Fitch's old clothes, and I have to make them all new again." 

Envy is perhaps sometimes pardonable, and I envied John Landis the 
serene confidence he felt in his own powers. Wretched daubs as his paint 
ings were, to him they were gems, equal to anything by Angelo or Titian. 
To himself he was the 'poet, painter and man of genius.' In this belief he 
wrought, and no doubt did better work than he could have done but for his 
vanity and self-confidence. These inestimable elements of character have 
carried many a small man into a big place, while ' modest merit ' awaited 
the recognition that never came. Yes, My Lovely Lass, after you and 
Charley are some years married, and your boys gather round you, teach 
them deference to age, respect for womanhood, and unflinching truth and 
honesty, but never humility in any presence but that of their Creator. 

Mr. Landis was perhaps a fool, but not of the kind of whom we say ' one 
fool makes many.' His fancies were harmless. He was a lone man, but 
gifted to enjoy the consciousness of powers which no one else could dis 
cover ; a hermit in the crowd ; and perhaps his loneliness was a sort of wis 
dom, although the world cares little for the man apart, simpleton or sage. 

' Men think in herds,' some one has said, intending a sneer, but only by 
this concurrence of thought and will are great measures of usefulness accom 
plished. A herd of barons laid Magna Charta before King John at Runny- 
mede, and compelled him to sign the parchment. A herd of rebels became 
patriots by wresting thirteen colonies from King George. 

If men in herds commit follies, we need not wonder ; for as each separate 
member may think rightly or wrongly, so may the herd. If one man may 
become insane, or fanatical, any number may be affected in like manner, 
and we may all go crazy together. The imagination of each is liable to be 
inflamed by anything that inflames the imagination of others, and hence 
the spectacle of a whole community going mad on any subject may be 
deplorable, but is not to be wondered at. Cynical folks think ' mankind is a 
great fool' and sometimes add 'with a little knave in him top;' but we 
manage to keep together in communities, and nobody can prove that any 
other planet has better or more sensible people than our own. 


The tulip mania, in Holland, that reached its utmost heat and intensity 
in 1636, may be lamented as a spectacle of folly, with some infusion of 
knavery, but was especially wonderful rather for the kind than the degree 
of madness. For a whole people to go crazy over a plant with only the 
color of its flower to recommend it, seems extremely absurd. A mania for 
pinks, violets, or any odorous flower, would seem less unreasonable, but a 
mania for tulips ! One may almost regard it as a special Providence, teach 
ing the Dutch the art of bulb-propagation, in order that they might, nearly 
two hundred and fifty years later, supply other countries with tulips, hya 
cinths, and lillies, as they do now. It was possibly the l sporting ' of the 
tulip, in producing varieties from seed, that led to the gambling in the 
bulbs, some of which were sold for five or six thousand florins each. Or if 
the Dutch burghers were in the habit of wearing as many pairs of breeches 
at once, as Irving tells us the burghers of ' New Amsterdam ' wore, it may 
be that the multiplex coverings of the tulips touched their affections by 
suggesting a resemblance to the many coverings on their own persons. 

If plain people are disposed to look with disgust at some of the scenes on 
modern Exchanges, where stock gambling prevails (while the faithful faro 
dealer is punished as a criminal), let us remember that so great was the 
demand in Holland in 1636 for tulips of rare species, that regular marts for 
the sale of the bulbs were established in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other 
cities, and that ' bulls ' and ' bears y speculated on the rise and fall of tho 
tulip market as actively as our modern wolves and lambs at a New York 
stock board. The people, we are told, 'rushed to the tulip marts like flies 
around a honey pot.' The passion for tulips was to last forever, and the 
wealthy in all parts of the world, it was supposed, would pay whatever 
prices were demanded. The riches of Europe were to concentrate on the 
shores of the Zuyder Zee. Nobles, citizens, farmers, all classes, even to the 
old-clothes women, dabbled in tulips. Property was turned into bulbs. 
Foreigners were smitten with the frenzy, and money poured into Holland. 

At first confidence was high, and profits good ; but at length prices 
began to fall, and never rose again. Hundreds of people who had doubted 
if there was such a thing as poverty in the world, found themselves with a 
few bulbs that nobody would buy. A cry of distress arose, and each accused 
his neighbor. Some had enriched themselves, and invested in English or 
other funds, but many were ruined. Merchants and nobles alike went 
down. Parties who had contracted for bulbs refused to take them, and the 
holders appealed to the government, but it could only suggest compromise. 
No court would enforce the contracts. The judges ruled that tulip debts 
were gambling debts ; and this seems to be good law yet, in grain and pork 
wagers, over here where we never go crazy about tulips. 

Tulips sold at fancy prices in Scotland as late as the close of the seven 
teenth century. Their value declined from that time till 1759 ; but in 1800 a 
common price in England was fifteen guineas for a single bulb. In 1835 a 
bulb called Fanny Kemble was sold at auction in London for seventy-five 


pounds, and a gardener at Chelsea had in his catalogue a tulip priced at 
two hundred pounds. This condensed account of the tulip mania will 
benefit those who may not have ready access to books, and may not know 
how much greater fools than we there have been even in sober Holland, 
sturdy England and thrifty Scotland. 

About 1719 John Law started the French after fortune, and they went 
crazy ; but there was some basis for expectation of material wealth at the 
bottom of his 'Mississippi Scheme.' The same may be said of the ' South 
Sea Bubble' immediately following in England, based on the hope of dis 
tant commerce in useful articles. Hence the Hollanders remain entitled to 
the credit of having indulged the most absurd craze known to civil history. 

These references to the long past are a prelude to the mania we had in 
Pennsylvania, and also in other states, two hundred years after the culmi 
nation of the tulip frenzy in Holland. But our lapse from common sense 
had a supposed possibility of usefulness in it, as we went crazy in a small 
way on silk culture. For some years the silk fever had been spreading and 
growing hotter and hotter, reaching its quickest pulse from 1837 to 1842 ; not 
manifested so much in the actual hatching and feeding of silk worms, or 
the reeling of fibre from cocoons, as in the growing and especially the pur 
chasing of mulberry trees. Worms to produce silk must eat, and of all the 
productions of nature the Morus Mullicaulis was the tree to furnish the 
food. It was the new tree of knowledge, that was to shelter us all under its 
benignant foliage, in the paradise of incalculable profits, and no flaming 
sword could keep us out of that Eden. Shrewd propagators, all apparently 
confident of the future prosperity of silk, grew the trees by hundreds of 
thousands, and found ready sale to vermiculous people, who had worms to 
feed and visions of endless wealth. The family without a plantation of 
Morus Multicaulis was the family without a patch of ground or money to 
buy the trees. No class was excluded from the magic circle, in which 
wealth was to rise up and bless us as if by incantation. Mechanics, labor- 
era, professionals, all classes, sinners and saints, were alike intent on giving 
our dear country a new industry and enriching themselves. But none could 
get trees on credit, or in barter for other ' truck,' as cash was ready for all 
that could be grown. 

Exact calculations were made and published of the growth in a season of 
each twig on a Morus tree, the number and size of the leaves it would pro 
duce, tne precise time it would take a worm of given age to consume a leaf 
of given dimensions, and how much the worm would grow while eating the 
leaf, with an estimate made up from the length and diameter of the worm of 
the exact number of yards of silk it would be sure to spin for its cocoon ; and 
these calculations, having as we were assured been carefully revised by an 
eminent mathematician in the Franklin Institue, were unquestionably reli 
able. Everybody was deep in arboriculture and vermeology ; and what we 
did not know about mulberry trees for feeding silk worms was not worth 
knowing ; and what we did not know about worms, and ' the diet of worms,' 


and cocoons, and reeling of fibre, and weaving of silk and satin could not be 

Among their party war cries and assaults on political adversaries, the 
newspapers, then as now inspired by the highest intelligence and patriot 
ism, crowded in foliated essays on the Morus tree, and vermiculous para 
graphs telling how to feed and care for l the worm that never dies till its 
life is spun into a thread of silk,' together with* touching tributes to family 
industry, and young ladies with worms, and leaves to nourish them. An 
era of amazing prosperity was opening, or was in fact begun, and fabrics of 
silk were to become so abundant and cheap that not only would we com 
mand the markets of the world, but at home the commonalty even would 
all wear silk, and the gentry and nabobs, for distinction, might dress in 
cotton and wool, or if they chose (despite climatic objections) go back to fig 

A national silk convention was held in Harrisburg, John S. Skinner, a 
famous agricultural editor of Baltimore, the most prominent personage. 
There was no real silk ready for wear, but cocoons, and worms, and mul 
berry trees, and leaves were displayed in profusion, as insignia of national 
grandeur and individual opulence, to be realized ; but the national grand 
eur did not ensue from all the productive material displayed, and the 
opulence was limited to the men who sold the trees. We had, however, 
done our whole duty, and judged by its fruits in the pockets of the growers, 
the Morus Multicaulis was a bountiful tree, although I have not seen it or 
scarcely heard of it for forty years ; and now Prof. C. V. Blley tells us that 
the Madura aurantiaca, or Osage Orange, is the tree for silk, as we can feed 
the worms from the clippings of our hedges. Still, I have rather pleasant 
memories of the silk mania ; for while M'Curdy and I had no trees, worms 
or cocoons, we yet made a nice profit printing the doings of the national 
silk convention, which the stupid world has forgotten. The only regret I 
have in connection with our silk fever is, that in illustrious absurdity the 
tulip-dealing Dutchmen of two hundred years before remain immeasurably 
ahead of us. If it had been the sprightly Frenchmen (who played the fool 
so admirably in the days of John Law), we might rest content; but for 
Americans to be outdone in folly by the phlegmatic Hollander is intolerable, 

It does not appear that stock companies were formed during the tulip 
mania in Holland, or the Mississippi foolery in France; but in England 
during the excitement over the South Sea shares, bubble companies were 
formed by dozens, and shares sold for a great variety of enterprises ; among 
others, one * for carrying on a great undertaking, but nobody to know what it 
is !' Shares were actually sold in this company, but the nature of the great 
undertaking was never divulged. The English can at any time beat the 
Americans in manias and joint stock companies. The railroad craze in 
1848, when Mr. Hudson figured as the 'Railroad King,' has never been 
equalled on this side of the water. 




John Tyler, the Vice President, was at his farm on the James river 
below Richmond, when President Harrison died, April 4, 1841. It was 
known that the President was very ill, and might at any moment be called 
away ; but a proper delicacy kept Mr. Tyler from the capital. He would 
not seem to be waiting to step into a dead President's shoes ; and while 
hopes of the old hero's recovery became weaker, no one at Washington felt 
authorized to send for the Vice President. There was consequently an 
' interregnum,' as Ben ton styles it, until a messenger, sent by the cabinet, 
could bring Mr. Tyler from his Virginia home. The example of decorum 
then set by the Vice President was observed in the case of Vice President 
Arthur, but the much-abused 'Captain Tyler,' as Botts of Virginia called 
him, is entitled to the credit of the precedent. 

The government was for several days absolutely without an official 
head, and it was then a matter of surprise to some persons that a govern 
ment could go on headless, as if nothing had occurred ; but it has often 
since been without its head at Washington. The only serious damage from 
our interregnum, was that suffered by the office-seeking patriots. Delay 
was to them disaster. Board bills ran on, and money ran out. They de 
plored the sad condition of the country, deprived of their services; and 
besides, who could tell, now that 'Old Tip.' was gone, whether or not this 
abstract Virginian who had been put on the ticket in a hap-hazard way, 
by a convention that issued no platform, would turn out a reliable ' Tyler 

As if its parts, like those of the solar system, moved harmoniously, in 
obedience to some occult law, the government went quietly on ; and the 
democratic incumbents of office seemed provokingly well satisfied to take 


their chances under the accidental President. They apparently felt no 
anxiety for the government or the country, and did not chafe in the least 
under a delay intolerable to the expectant patriots. It is truly a wonderful 
organization, that national-federal government of ours. A study of it for 
half a century has only the effect of augmenting our respect and homage 
for the men who framed it ; and, happily, one requisite thought by them to 
be essential to its safety, is found by experience to be of less consequence 
than they believed. It does not appear to be at all necessary for the people 
to choose their ablest men to administer it. Like a Swiss toy, we can make 
a President of timber too soft for many uses of daily life. Our accidental 
Presidents, and others not superior to them, have with good advisers gotten 
on well enough, if we look only to the general management of public affairs, 
without reference to the distribution of patronage. 

President Harrison had in March issued a Proclamation convening Con 
gress 31st May. Some days after his accession to the place that we had not 
thought of his filling, Mr. Tyler issued an addrees to the people as a kind of 
inaugural, telling them that he would carry out Gen. Harrison's views as 
well as he could; and when Congress met he sent in a formal message. 
But there was distrust. It was feared that Tyler was not a reliable * whig. ? 
Confusion and some dismay pervaded the camp of the patriots. The distri 
bution of offices did not go on fast enough for the zealous, nor with wisdom 
in selections to satisfy the judicious. 

Mr. Clay was not in a pleasant mood. Vexed that Gen. Harrison should 
have been the whig nominee for President instead of himself, and uncon 
scious of the fact that he probably could not have been elected, as Harrison 
was, by log cabins, hard cider, coonskins and songs, he was disposed to be 
troublesome, especially as his opinions of what the country needed were 
likely to clash with those of Mr. Tyler. As soon as Congress met, the great 
Senator presented a set of propositions, setting forth what he thought Con 
gress ought to do. As Benton says, ' The President had addressed a message 
to Congress ; Mr. Clay virtually delivered another.' The first thing to be 
done, according to Mr. Clay, was to repeal the Independent Treasury act, 
which had become a law in June, 1840 ; and the next thing was to create a 
new United States Bank. 

The bill to repeal the Treasury act was at once passed. The whigs made 
good their promises. But the democrats re-enacted it under President Polk, 
in 1846, and nobody of any party would now disturb it. 

Mr. Tyler's message had contained some rather vague phrases about the 
kind of ' fiscal agent' he thought necessary, and the bank bill was passed, 
only to be returned with his veto. Then came the storm. The whigs gen 
erally were exasperated ; but the democrats were in excellent humor. 

At boarding houses in Washington now meals are served in restaurant 
style, each guest coming in when he pleases ; but in the good old times it 
was the custom for all to come at once, and with the hostess presiding at 
head of table, a boarding house dinner was like a family gathering, and had 


none of the features of present modes. Generally the guests were all demo 
crats or all whigs, as party feeling ran too high for mixtures to be agree 
able. Mrs. Van Koble's, on 4 street, was a whig house. No democrat 
would have been comfortable there. Our felicitations over the repeal of the 
Treasury act would have been discord to democratic ears, and our plans 
for the future could not have been discussed in their presence. No more 
would a whig have been comfortable at a democratic boarding house in 
those patriotic days, when if all politicians were not honest, they were at 
least intensely in earnest. 

The bank veto had come in, and we had all met at dinner. Perfect lady 
that she was, Mrs. Van Koble had on her usual smile, as she directed the 
trained servants. But there was no other smile in the room, unless among 
the sable waiters, who cared no more for John Tyler and his vetoes than 
they did for the northwest passage. A general frown rested on all brows. 
Mostly whig members of Congress, the boarders were exasperated by the 
veto. They wanted the bank, and wanted Mr. Clay sustained. But hungry 
men must eat, and for a time it was a very quiet dinner ; the calm before the 
storm. Soon, however, appetite was appeased, and then the pent up fury 
broke out. Denunciations of Mr. Tyler would start at one end, like the 
rattle of musketry, and run to the other end of the table, with an occasional 
explosion from some pursy old whig like Foot of Vermont, coming in as 
the boom of artillery ; and so it went on for an hour, as we cracked our nuts 
and sipped our coffee. They were all determined to show Mr. Tyler that 
they, and not he, were the power to rule this great country. 

Too young to keep quiet, T spoke also. I had been six years an editor, 
was one still, and thought I had rights. I told them they seemed to forget 
that the bank question was not before the people in 1840 ; that we studiously 
and purposely ignored it; that the party was not pledged to establish a 
bank, and that Mr. Tyler was never held up to the people as in favor of it. 
He was bound by no pledge to sign a bank bill. " You intend," I said, " to 
quarrel with the President. The democrats will court him, and try to use 
him. You will throw away the remaining three years and six months of 
his term. They will get the benefit of it, and then throw him aside." I 
had my say, but nothing came of it. No one gave up his opinion for mine. 

The democrats in considerable numbers called at the White House in the 
evening to congratulate the President on his veto ; while the whigs at the 
capital were caucussing, and denouncing ' Captain Tyler.' It was a memo 
rable night, and Mr. Clay, in the Senate next day, pictured with much 
humor the visit of the democratic Senators to the President, with Mr. 
Buchanan as spokesman, and Ben ton as one of the callers. The two Sena 
tors denied having been at the White House at all, and Mr. Buchanan 
retorted with sprightly delineations of the whigs in angry caucus at the 
eastern end of the avenue. It was a good-natured debate on the surface, 
but on the whig side there was a bitter feeling beneath ; and the breach 
between Mr. Tyler and the whigs became wider as time went on, while the 


democrats quietly got their ladles ready for a dip into the stream of patron 

Mr. Webster sustained President Tyler, and did not quit the cabinet ; 
but was the only very prominent whig in office who stood by him. Thomas 
Allen, in the Madisonian, supported the administration, but at the earliest 
opportunity sold out the paper to John B. Jones, and Jones became the 

My predictions at the dinner on veto day were realized. The whigs 
threw away the administration and the democrats picked it up. Mr. Clay 
and his friends were in the wrong, as I thought, and I gave the support of 
my newspaper to the President's veto. 

When I got home to Harrisburg, I called on Frederick K. Boas, a lawyer 
with whom I had entered my name as a student, and ascertained that I 
might apply for license to practice law as soon as I could qualify myself. 
Three years had nearly elapsed since I constructively became a student, 
and I was all right on the record, though I had read no law. I had the 
anchor to windward, and if the storm came it might hold. 

The whigs were almost unanimously against Mr. Tyler, and the course 
of our paper, honestly directed as it was, might lose us the state senate 
printing, and that would complicate our personal affairs. 

"Mr. M'Curdy," I said to my partner, "I want to modify the contract 
for that building of ours." 

11 What for? They are going on all right ; will be ready for the roof in a 

Yes I know three stories and basement, with shingle roof." 


"That might do if things were going on as expected ; but the death of 
President Harrison has changed everything. 

" But we can't stop it now." 

"I don't want to stop it. On the contrary, I want to put on another 
story, and roof it with zinc." 

"Gee-whillikins!" he exclaimed (his way of swearing), "what do you 
want to do that for? What do you want with more room ?" 

" I don't want more room. I only want to put up a building to be proud 
of the only four-story building in town, except Wilson's Hotel." 

" But we don't need it." 

" Yes we do. If we get the senate printing next winter, we are all right. 
If we don't get it, the sheriff will sell that building, J will go away, and 
I want a tip-top building to look at as partly my own work, if I ever visit 
the place in after years !" 

M'Curdy was a sanguine man ; thought we would get the senate print 
ing, and come out with plenty of cash. It was therefore not difficult to get 
his consent to modify the building contract. The fourth story was put on, 
and a zinc roof covered the Intelligencer Block, which, with its cast-iron 


sills and lintels, was one of the best buildings then at the capital of the 

When the senate met we were tabooed. So far as sixteen whig senators 
were concerned, no ' Tyler man ' could get a spoon into that porridge pot. 
Sixteen democratic senators would only vote for straight democrats. All 
depended on the thirty-third man a whig who did not care for Clay or 
Tyler, but who, as the husband of a grand-daughter of a cousin of my grand 
mother, felt a sort of family affection for me. This gentleman would vote 
for M'Curdy or for me, or for any one we preferred, only stipulating that 
the candidate should be able to do the work, and be trustworthy. Boas & 
Copelnnd, the democratic candidates, could do the work, and we thought 
them very trustworthy, as they were to give us a share of the profits if 
elected. We assured our senatorial friend that they were excellent gentle 
men to vote for, and like a respectable and true-hearted family connexion 
as he was, he voted for them. M'Curdy and I got the promised dividend, 
which did not, however, save our perilled fortunes ; and I have only told 
this tale to show that state patronage was as greedily sought long ago as it 
is now, and that we did not scruple even to trade a senator's vote for it. 

Mr. Tyler had an excellent plan. We were to have a new party, with 
him at the head. He wanted to concentrate the honest men of both parties 
into one grand patriotic combination, that would sweep all others out of the 
way, and on a sort of tidal wave bear him into the Presidency at the elec 
tion of 1844. He was beautifully sincere in this, and believed that the best 
interests of the country depended 011 his success. But excellent as his plan 
was, it had one serious drawback : it was impracticable. The John Tyler 
party germinated feebly, but its growth did not equal that of a hill of beans, 
planted in the dark of the moon. Still, his flatterers, who wanted office, 
kept up his faith, and at times he was sanguine that he would be able to 
save the country. When Henry S. Spackman, an eloquent state senator 
from Philadelphia, called on the President in the fall of 1842, Mr. Tyler 
was looking forward to a nomination even by the next whig national con 

" I'll demonstrate it to you, Mr. Spackman," he said, taking a pencil and 
drawing a triangle at the top of a sheet of paper. 

"That, you see, is the Baltimore Convention do you not?" 

Mr. Spackman said he saw. The President then drew a triangle half 
way down the sheet on the right side. 

" That," said he, " is Daniel Webster." 

Then, drawing another triangle on the left side 

"That is Henry Clay, Mr. Spackman. You perceive," he continued, 
placing his pencil at the upper triangle "here I am." Then, pencil in 
hand " I go into the Baltimore Convention, and at one stroke I cut off the 
heads of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay !" 

And as he spoke, his pencil swept from the upper triangle, with a curve 
through both lower ones, as a demonstration not to be disputed. 


" That is perfectly clear and satisfactory, is it not, Mr. Spackman ?" 
" Perfectly," replied Mr. S. ; "but I confess, Mr. President, I never saw 
the matter exactly in that light before !" 

With all his weakness for a Tyler party, and his hope of an election by 
the people, the President neglected none of the great duties of his office, and 
his administration wore along as successfully as if he had never doubted 
the fidelity of a Clay whig, or pinned his faith to a smiling and slippery 
democrat. John Tyler was an honest man and pleasant gentleman. In 
social life, none more urbane and agreeable in conversation, or more solicit 
ous for the happiness of 'all about him. The informal evenings at the 
White House were extremely enjoyable, and no one could see him in the 
unrestraint of his home without feeling that his many virtues outweighed 
his few foibles. But not till the close of his term did he realize that ap 
pointing a few friendly democrats to office, mixed with the faithful Tyler 
whigs, would not build up a separate political party with him at its head. 
The service done by Mr. Tyler to the financial interests of the country by 
his bank veto has never been appreciated. 




After some six or eight weeks of diligent study I thought myself ready 
in the fall of 1842 to be admitted to the bar. The full term of three years of 
study had been constructively completed, and short as the time of actual 
devotion to legal lore may seem, I decided to submit to examination. I had 
absorbed Blackstone, Kent, Story and Greenleaf ; and there used to be a 
great deal of law and equity in this quartet. Many of the definitions and 
maxims had been committed to memory the law latin of the latter having 
as fresh a relish for me as if direct from Cicero and thus I had a goodly 
store of elements on hand. Besides, it was a matter of course that Col. 
John Boberts, as the oldest member of the bar, would be at the head of the 
examining committee, and it was well known that if the student could get 
the venerable senior started in a discussion of ' the difference between a 
vested and contingent remainder,' or of 'the rule in Shelley's case,' he 
would probably get through without having to answer a great many ques 

There were four to be examined : Joseph Allison, since for many years a 
judge in .Philadelphia ; Richard McAllister, a lawyer in Washington ; David 
Fleming, of whom I have lost sight; and myself., We met early, and 
arranged with Capt. Hale, mine host of the tavern, to enter with oysters 
and champagne about 9.30, true time, but to have the hands of his watch 
and the office clock suitably regulated. When the committee had assem 
bled, four as modest and decorous young gentlemen as need be were ready 
for the ordeal. With different questions to each in succession the examina 
tion went on until we got the senior of the committee into ' vested and con- 


tingent remainders,' and from that into 'the rule in Shelley's case;' and 
then the examination seemed to be reversed, as the students were all so 
desirous to have abstruse points cleared up that Col. Roberts was occupied 
in giving us explanations instead of putting questions, when Capt. Hale 
appeared with the table cloth on his arm and two waiters behind him with 
trays. The student's protested that he had come too early by an hour. 

" Half-past ten, gentlemen, was the order." 

" Yes, but it's not half-past ten. Can't be more than naif-past nine.'' 

"Beg your pardon, gentlemen, but it's half-past ten by the office clock, 
and by the watch too." 

And so it was, but not by the watch of Col. Roberts, the only one in the 
room as it happened except Capt. Hale's ; and the question arose whether 
the trays should be sent out again, as the students suggested; but Col. 
Roberts thought it possible that his watch might have lost time, and the 
committee decided that the examination could be finished after the refresh 
ments were disposed of. Seated at the social board the seniors thawed out 
very readily, and entertained us with stories and anecdotes full of point and 
humor for a couple of hours, but forgot to resume the examination. 

Next day Col. Roberts with much earnestness and gravity reported to 
the Court that his brethren of the committee and himself had never exam 
ined students who had read the law more intelligently, or with a better 
appreciation of the high duties of the noble profession to which they 
aspired, than the four young gentlemen then in the presence of His Honor ; 
that it had been a positive pleasure to his brethren and himself to find 
how diligently and uuderstandingly they had devoted themselves to the 
task of acquiring the knowledge essential to the discharge of their duties as 
members of the bar, to which he begged leave to move the Court that they 
be at once admitted ; with the further remark, if His Honor would pardon 
him, that if students were always as well qualified by diligent study and 
just appreciation of their duties as these had proved themselves to be, ser 
vice on examining committees would no longer be regarded as an irksome 
duty, but would be looked forward to with pleasurable anticipations by the 
maturer members of the bar. 

No students were ever admitted to the bar of Dauphin county with more 
eclat than we, and in good truth we were as well read and as well qualified 
to practice law as young lawyers generally are ; none of whom are really fit 
to be trusted with anybody's cause until they have had experience in some 
body else's. A lawyer's apprentice ought to have an opportunity to handle 
the tools of the trade under the eye of his master, and thus acquire skill in 
practice before he undertakes to carry on the business for himself. 

Having disposed of the good will and other chattel property of the Intel 
ligencer, I put up a sign, Attorney at Law, and sat during the winter in a 
dingy office, diligent in abstract study, and waiting for business that seemed 
in no hurry to come. The ennui that besets an expectant young lawyer was 
borne with what patience I could command, but the tediousness of the life 


was absolutely toilsome. Sammy Wood's guests in the solitary cells of that 
noted stone edifice in Philadelphia, the Eastern Penitentiary, had in their 
separate confinement almost as cheerful a life as I in my lawyer-den. 
Many successful jurists have endured this probation, which is at times 
intolerably depressing; and I had not only the heart-sickness of hope 
deferred to bear, but in addition the torture of self-distrust. The young 
lawyers waiting for their first cases have ever since had my sympathy, but 
they do not in general suffer from self-depreciation ; w^hile so diffident was I 
of my own capacity, so absurdly modest in my estimate of myself, and 
therefore so positively unsuited for the profession, that if a client had actu 
ally come I should have been scared, and might possibly have escaped out 
of the back door while he entered the front. But weeks and weeks went 
by, and yet no client to scare me, when who should appear but my brother, 
David Stewart Elliott, on a visit. We talked over the prospect, he as confi 
dent as Micawber (not then however known to us) and as sanguine as Mul 
berry Sellers of later years, but I was in gloomy mood, and after some rather 
serious references to financial matters and urgent needs, exclaimed with 
much honesty and a good deal of warmth : 

" Confound it, Davie, I know no law !" 

" Necessity never does/' he quietly replied, and followed up this witty 
response good enough for the British classics with the practical ques 

"Why don't you go to Washington and get an office?" 

"Well," I replied, "I've always liked to say, with Judge Burnside, 
' thank Heaven I'm above office,' and I'd like to feel so yet." 

" All stuff! Judge Burnside is well off and can talk big if he wants to; 
but that don't suit you. Captain Tyler '11 give you an office if you ask 

Perhaps he would ; but what a lower depth ! Yet, after all, as I pond 
ered on it why not? Clients might come too slowly ; and you can't hurry 
them or drive them in. You can't stand at the door as if you kept an old 
do' shop, and hail them with old law * as good as new, and cheaper as any 
in town;' for the Profession had then so much dignity it hardly tolerated an 
advertisement in the newspaper. Then why not come down to an * office? 7 
I might as well try Washington for a while. The sheriff of Dauphin 
county, vigorous officer that he was, had everything going on right for the 
sale in due time of the Intelligencer Block four stories and basement, cast- 
iron sills and lintels, and zinc roof and I could come back some future day 
and look at it with pride as one of the best buildings in town, and partly 
my own creation. 

Having lost heavily by an honest and unselfish support of Mr. Tyler's 
administration, I had 'claims;' but for many reasons, and among them its 
uncertain tenure, I had no inclination for office. Intelligent gentlemen 
held clerkships at Washington, and led what appeared like easy lives, with 
ample time for intellectual and social pleasures ; but few if any ever laid up 


a dollar ; and each might at any moment be thrown on the world, with no 
profession or business, and perhaps unfitted by office life to enter upon any. 
To saunter up to a pleasant room and go through the forms of work a few 
hours each day, was a very nice life even on moderate pay ; but the failure 
of an appropriation, a whim of the appointing power, or that fearful 
calamity a change of party in the administration might wither a livli- 
hood as suddenly as Jonah's gourd. If a man could live at anything else, I 
had always thought, let him not take office at Washington. I had hoped 
never to be brought to a fate so full of deteriorating ease and inevitable 

The faithful and competent of the clerks at Washington have a hard life. 
There is no appreciation of their labors. The more ably a clerk prepares 
papers for the head of a bureau or department to sign, the more credit 
gained by the head, and that is all. No one ever thinks of the laborious 
and perhaps ' seedy ' gentleman whose full and fertile mind sheds golden 
lustre upon his chief but none on himself. Even the able and instructive 
work of Joseph Kimmo, as Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, is hardly known 
or I fear adequately appreciated ; and I think he has in past years written 
much that gave others repute, but in which he was never known at all. 
The same routine obtained at Washington forty years ago. Mr. Potts and 
Mr. Mix virtually managed the Indian Bureau, under Papa Crawford, and 
managed judiciously when not overruled by him ; but they got no credit if 
things went well, and did not escape censure if they went ill. 

I have no idea how much practical Christianity there is among the clerks 
at Washington now, but there must have been a goodly share of it in old 
times, as in all my experience I never met with anything but courtesy and 
proper attention. If others have been less fortunate, perhaps they were 
themselves in fault. Always treating the clerks as gentlemen, they always 
proved themselves such to me. There is a little rule that ought to be 
regarded as the essence of gentility : always do to others as you would have 
them do to you. 

They had no lady clerks at Washington when I was reduced to think of 
taking office, and since their introduction it has not been my lot to have 
had business in the departments. Hence I have had no adeqaute opportu 
nities to judge how well they perform their duties ; but I suppose in general 
as well as the gentlemen, and in some cases better. They chew less tobacco 
and read fewer newspapers, and unsound as the opinion may seem, I think 
they indulge less in gossip or idle talk. This is, however, a wicked world, 
and while ladies are clerks in the departments, there will be more or less of 
scandal. Women are themselves cruel to each other, and on slight grounds 
will look with evil eye on their sisters. As to the men the topic needs no 
discussion. But I have faith in the natural goodness and purity of women 
when treated with due respect. It is very rare that a woman is leader in 
wrong doing of any kind. I have seen a great deal of the world, but have 
never had the honor to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Potiphar, and I do 


not think she is a clerk at Washington. I am tolerably sure that Joseph is 
not there. 

Arrived in Washington, Mrs. Turton, the lady of the boarding house, 
introduced me to the whole table at dinner, as was the custom, and with a 
general bow I was at home. All very polite: Col. G. Worthington Snethen, 
Mr. Henry Drayton, the ladies, and even the unshorn and threadbare Pole, 
Polowogski, who wanted to lecture on China, and who, when he could get a 
chance, would give us in broken English and uncouth accent all the points 
against Christianity that Thomas Paine has in his Age of Reason, and which 
have since been paraded in more elegant phrase by Col. Robert G. Inger- 
soll. Very polite and friendly all, and contrasting broadly with the modern 
restaurant fashion of Washington boarding houses, where they have sepa 
rate tables and a lot of little dishes, from which the solitary stranger picks 
up a meal as best he can, and lives up t* Dr. Tanner's rule not to weary the 
stomach by overloading. 

All polite, social, interesting. Had I just arrived in the city ? Yes 
just in on morning train. Was it my first visit to Washington? By no 
means had often been in the city, and liked it much. Did I contemplate a 
long visit? Could not tell ; it depended on the appointing power, and that 
is sometimes uncertain. Ah yes was I taking part in the political move 
ments ? Not much was rather tired of party squabbles ; had suffered seri 
ous losses, and as a last resort, concluded to take office. Ah ! yes. 

They were intensely amused. The idea of any one coming there to take 
office, as if it was a matter of course to get it, was irresistibly funny, and 
sorely tried their good breeding. Some of them had been applying for 
months, and had not succeeded. A hearty laugh would have done them 
infinite good, but politeness forbade. They quietly and furtively smiled to 
each other, and actually enjoyed my fresh presence among them, as much 
as they could a basket of roses in January. It seemed so innocent in me to 
expect just to put out my ungloved hand and pluck the tempting and golden 
fruit, so long beyond their reach even on tip-toe, and it did me good to 
afford them the pleasure of a novel sensation so easily. As a rare visitor I 
ranked next to the comet. 

In the evening I called at the White House. The President ' received r 
informally then every evening, there not being so many people to crowd in 
as we have now ; but of course it was not etiquette on such occasions to talk 
of appointments, unless the topic was introduced by him. He was very 
kind in his inquiries about my health, which I assured him was excellent, 
and hoped would not suffer if he should detain me in Washington. He 
asked me if I intended to transfer my editorial labors to the capital, where 
upon I told him as pleasantly as I could that they had come to a compulsory 
halt, through the bitter hostility of his enemies ; but added rather heroi 
cally that I would ' rather be poor and honest than rich and false to prin 


" My dear sir," said the President, "if you care to serve the government 
in office, just find a vacant place and I will see that you go into it." 

This was very satisfactory. At breakfast next morning I mentioned 
that I would like to find a vacancy in some department, as I felt sure I 
could get into it ; but none knew of any, and seemed rather to doubt that 
they ever existed. They had been looking for vacancies to be filled by 
themselves. By 9 o'clock I was on a still hunt through the departments, 
and happened on an old friend, a clerk in the Third Auditor's bureau, who 
knew of a place in it to be vacated on the ensuing first of April. I went at 
once to the White House and by 12 o'clock had a written order from the 
President to Mr. Peter Hagner, Third Auditor of the Treasury, to put me 
into the place designated. Before 2 o'clock all was settled, and I was 
changed from a briefless lawyer into a prospective 'officeholder' at twelve 
hundred dollars a year. 

Amazement and a shade of incredulity sat on all faces at dinner, when 
in response to polite inquiries as to how I was getting on, I told them mat 
ters were arranged for a little twelve hundred dollar place in the Treasury. 
Even kindly Mrs. Turton looked as if she feared I was drawing the long 
bow, and the Pole, Polowogski, said "I must dinks dot is fast worrick !" 
looking at the others as if he did not quite credit the tale. Col. Snethen 
and Mr. Dray ton, with their usual politeness, tendered congratulations, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Jones hinted that they would esteem it a great favor if I 
would aid them in their search for a berth, as they had been six months 
looking for some one's shoes that Mr. J. might step into. But upon the 
whole I thought the boarders did not seem quite so much amused as when 
I first came and stated my willingness to take office. 

St. Patrick's Day (1843) gave us fifteen inches of snow, due possibly to 
the long-tailed comet then on exhibition free of charge, as the heavenly 
wonders always are. I sat quietly indoors, wrote letters, read a novel, and 
listened to Mr. Drayton's music. But I was not happy, as I did not like 
the prospect of a clerk's life in Washington, with all its temptations and 
uncertainties. Next day I called on my old friend, Mr. Potts, chief clerk of 
the Indian Bureau, and inquired if there was any part of the Indian rack 
where one could get a nibble of treasury fodder. 

"Not a place vacant," replied my good friend, "except a little sub- 
agency at Council Bluffs, $750 salary." 

"What is a sub-agency, Mr. Potts?" 

" An agency, except in title, salary, and mode of appointment. Same 
duties as those of an Agent, who gets $1,500. The Council Bluffs sub- 
agency is east of the Missouri river, and disburse^ over $40,000 a year. The 
bond is $20,000. The Secretary of War appoints the sub-agents the Presi 
dent appoints the agents." 

"Why called ' sub ' if not under an agent ?" 

" My dear fellow, you must ask the gentlemen who make the laws. We 
only execute them." 


"Mr. Potts, ought I to take this sub-agency instead of a clerkship here 
at $1,200?" 

"With my experience, if I were you yes. It may lead to something. 
A clerkship here seldom leads to anything but disaster or the grave." * 

I decided to 'go west.' I had a vague idea that something might come 
of it. 

James M. Porter, a democrat of distinction, who had been judge at Har~ 
risburg, and had been abused in the Intelligencer as soundly as his brother, 
the Governor, had recently come in as Secretary of War, under Mr. Tyler's 
plan of conciliating and attracting the democracy. When I called on him 
we smiled as we shook hands, and the Secretary laughed outright when I 
alluded to the strange conjunction of him and myself there at Washington 
in the same political camp. True, the Tyler party was a rather small party, 
but all the more funny that Judge Porter should be in it. But he was a 
man of fine talents, and of a practical turn, and came down to business at 

" Well, now, what can I do for you?" he inquired. 

"Not much, Mr. Secretary. I am for the Indian service, and there is 
only one little hole to creep in at." 

"Have I the appointment?" 

" You have, sir, and I wish it was a bigger opening." 

II Well, whatever it is, I'll have the commission made out at once, if you 
say so. But call and see me again before you leave." 

When we were all again at dinner in a family way, so much more social 
than present arrangements, I remarked that I had decided, after all, to 
decline that place in Mr. Hagner's bureau. 

"So?" inquired the Pole. 

"Indeed?" from Col. Sneth'en. 

" Possible ? nothing wrong I hope," from good Mrs. Turton. 

" Well, I don't altogether like it. If I go into office here I'll never be fit 
for anything else. I've decided not to take the place." 

Positive incredulity struggled with politeness in every face. Their looks 
said I had been romancing, and had never had a promise of the $1,200 clerk 
ship at all. Still, it might have been, and they inquired who was to wear 
the shoes when vacant. I did not know ; had not yet notified Mr. Hagner 
or the President that I declined. Who would I recommend? No one; 
could not take so great a liberty ; and besides, if I pushed away the pap 
from myself, it was not likely the authorities would let me dictate who 
should hold the spoon. 

It was abnormal conduct, to refuse even a twelve hundred dollar clerk 
ship ; and n^ver having been done before, they could not understand it. 
Polowogski said he would rather be ' dot clarrick ' than ' make lecture on 
China.' Col. Snethen inquired if I intended to resume editorial labor? 

" By no means. I'll go to the far west, I believe. I've accepted a com 
mission in the Indian service." 


Oh ! ah ! But I think they were relieved somewhat in learning that a 
reckless young fellow, who could decline one office, when offices were so 
scarce, and pick up another in the same day, would soon leave the city. It 
was too tantalizing to have a chap like that in the house. They were still, 
however, polite and pleasant as usual, and as the snow had gone off rapidly 
we all went up after dark to the corner of the President's grounds to lean 
on the board fence and look at the comet and its wonderful tail. 

A salary of $750 ; annual disbursements over $40,000 cash ; a bond of 
$20,000. Such was the consistency of the Indian bureau. It looked as if an 
1 Indian Sub-agent ' was expected to steal enough in some way to make his 
pay correspond to his responsibilities. I note these matters as among the 
numerous absurdities which used to distinguish the Indian bureau. But 
the bond must be given, and I at once wrote to Pennsylvania and had it 
arranged. Here I might stop, but having written to one gentleman upon 
whom 1 had no claim whatever, personal or political, I wish to note his 
answer, as an instance of disinterested kindness, which, though not availed 
of, has never been forgotten. He replied that he was on many bonds, and 
had lost heavily by 'going bail,' as it was styled in Pennsylvania, and said 
frankly that he would rather not incur any new responsibilities ; but con 
cluded a long and friendly letter, which I have yet, with the sentence : " If 
you determine on reflection to accept the post, and my name is absolutely 
necessary to enable you to retain it, I will go on the bond." The man who 
thus wrote, from unselfish generosity and kindness, seeking no return, was 
General Simon Cameron. To state the facts is eulogy enough. It was by 
such helpful acts that General Cameron acquired his large influence in 
Pennsylvania. How often those he befriended were ungrateful is not 
known, but in many cases it was proved that gratitude is not always what 
the cynic styled it ' a lively sense of favors to be received.' 

The whole system of requiring personal sureties to back the integrity of 
a public officer is wrong. A default brings ruin or embarrassment to the 
generous, kind-hearted friends of the defaulter. Better that the entire com 
munity should bear the loss than a few large-hearted men. Punish the 
derelict officer severely enough, and fear of punishment may be a restraint 
in cases where honor might fail. Many good and competent men are now 
debarred from offices they would worthily fill, because they cannot or will 
not try to give the required bond. Or let the government compel the custo 
dians of its moneys or property to pay the premium for the assurance of 
their fidelity in the mode now adopted by some of the railroad companies 
and banks. 

My bond filed and commission in hand, I was ready to leave Washing 
ton, and at dinner an early departure was announced. All p,t the table 
politely expressed their concern at the loss of my society, but I doubted if 
any but Mrs. Turton and the seedy Pole felt much if any regret. Neither 
of those wanted office, and my preposterous conduct in playing with ap 
pointments as if they were pawns on a chessboard, to be taken or not at 


pleasure, did not reflect on their ill success, as it did perhaps on that of Mr. 
Jones and others. Besides, Polowogski was a 'poor devil,' as the phrase 
goes, and had a sort of spaniel regard for me, as I had strained a point to be 
civil to him, although his views on religious subjects were not agreeable. 
He seemed grateful for courtesy that cost me little, but his unorthodox 
arguments left me in the condition of a well-raised citizen, for Col. Ingersoll 
to try his hand on forty years later if he should ever feel like it. Mrs. Tur- 
ton's regret arose partly from that genuine kindness of which good women 
are always capable, and partly from her interest as one of a class whose lot 
in life is never too happy. I was a paying boarder, and such were always 
valued (where so many were apt to be waiting for office J in the delightful 
temporary homes we had in old times at Washington. 

When I called in the evening to take leave of the President I found him 
in a serene and happy mood, and even his two sons, Eobert and John, 
seemed to have laid aside for the moment the load of responsibility gener 
ally borne by them. Several old friends of Mr. Tyler were in the room, and 
they had been enjoying anecdotes and reminiscences of less anxious days. 
Having stated that I had called to bid him adieu 

"Why, how is this?" he responded. "My order to Mr. Hagner was 

' So it was, Mr. President, and properly honored ; but I found a vacant 
place in the west under the Indian Bureau, and preferred that to a position 

" You have decided wisely, however well pleased we should have been to 
have you remain here. The west is better than Washington for a man at 
your age, and you have my best wishes.'' 

"Ah, yes," said Judge Rowan, of Kentucky, u you may possibly settle 
in St. Louis. It is a fine place a place with a great future." 

And then he took snuff from a silver box, and gave me some, which 
made me sneeze, although, even then, St. Louis was by no means ' a place 
to be sneezed at.' 

I never saw the good-hearted, well-meaning, cordial John Tyler again. 
He has passed into history, and his weaknesses are forgotten. Let him be 
thought of only as a sincere well-wisher of his country. His administra 
tion brought no evils on it. If it had only Fremont's explorations to be 
remembered by, it should have at least one white stone. I have been 
assured that if Mr. Tyler's time had lasted a few weeks longer, an inchoate 
treaty with Mexico would have been completed, and the war averted. 

In all Washington City I could find no one to tell me how I could get to 
Council Bluffs. The Indian Bureau only knew that once a year the steam 
boat of the Fur Company went up the Missouri, and came down again, but 
it would be gone before rny arrival at St. Louis. The map had a dot marked 
'Lexington' on the river the most westerly point named, and I concluded 
there would be a steamboat to that place at least, and thence I would get 
up by some means or other. St. Louis must be rather a smart place, no 


doubt. We had exchanged with the Missouri Republican quite a respect 
able paper, we thought, for a place so far out of the world. At length I fell 
in with Dr. Silas Reed, Surveyor General of Missouri, who assured me that 
St. Louis was * a wonderful city, growing very rapidly, and destined to be 
the starting point of a railroad to the Pacific ocean.' But who could credit 
these western men, whose views always seemed to us in the east so bold and 
extravagant? From their talk one might suppose they were the metropoli 
tans, and we the provincials. Dr. Reed told me I could get up the Missouri 
by steamboats in regular trade far away above Lexington, and probably all 
the way to my sub-agency ; but I was on my guard against exaggeration, 
and the most I could believe was that I might possibly get to Fort Leaven- 
worth. Kansas City will hardly credit me, but she was really not thought 
of forty years ago. Independence and Westport were small towns, in the 
exact geographical centre of the United States, according to Gilpin. 

"Is everything satisfactory?" inquired Judge Porter, when I called to 
say farewell. 

11 Perfectly, Mr. Secretary. I start for the west to-morrow." 

"Too impatient. Something better would have opened up if you had 

"Could not do it, sir. The Washington atmosphere is too heavy with 
anxieties of the needy. It seemed uncharitable to stand in their way. One 
feels more like a Christian, taking a place nobody else wants." 

We parted, never to meet again. Judge Porter was an able man, but 
went to Washington too late to become widely known. He would now be 
forgotten but for Mrs. Jesse Benton Fremont. When, in 1843, Fremont 
started on his second expedition, his wife remained in St. Louis and for 
warded his letters.. An order came from the Secretary of War directing 
Fremont not to take with him a howitzer from Fort Leavenworth, but 
Jesse thought such an order would do more good in her desk than in the 
hands of John C., and it did not get beyond St. Louis. The explorer took 
his gun. 






Going going-g once, twice, three-e-e GONE ! 

This was the peroration of Peter Wonderly's speech, as Sheriff's auc 
tioneer in Harris burg. He had orated about the Intelligencer Block four 
stories and basement cast-iron sills and lintels and zinc roof. It was 
'gone,' he said; but on my return from Washington, a public officer, there 
it stood, a monument of enterprise, lost through political honesty, and 
probably the only edifice ever lost in that way. Like the Tower of Babel, 
it's fate was exceptional. But I had little time to indulge the pride of 
having aided to get up one of the best buildings in the borough, as I must 
hasten westward, expanded as I was already in anticipation of what Bryant 

" The gardens of the desert, the unshorn fields, 

Boundless yet beautiful, for which the speech of England hath no name 

The prairies." 

and soon everything was arranged but my title. There was but one way to 
fix this, and I called on Governor Porter. 

" Going west, I understand ?" he remarked. 

" Yes, Your Excellency," I replied, using the address of those polite old 
times. " I thought it better than life in Washington." 

"Great country, sir. Not at all understood among our people; but if 
they knew what opportunities it presents to industry and enterprise, too 
many might be tempted to emigrate." 

" The Pennsylvanians are a home-loving people, Your Excellency. I 
leave with regret, but may gain by the step." 


" No doubt you will ; but can I aid you in any way?" 

"Only by a Commission, Your Excellency. Out west men are apt to 
address each other as Captain, Major, or Colonel, and I would like to have 
a right to my title." 

11 Well, you shall have it. I'll commission you as my Aid-de-Camp." 

This serious matter was settled. The Secretary was to mail the commis 
sion to Lewistown, where I would stop a day for farewells. Two days 
later, as we were all at the canal lock to greet the packet, who should be on 
the deck but the Governor himself. 

"Good morning, Colonel," he said, as I approached to salute him, and 
added in undertones, u the commission is in the mail." 

But the honor of my position as Governor's Aid did not appear to be 
rated very highly, as Tyler men, however politically honest, were supposed 
to be rather scampish. It was the same sort of feeling that even insulted 
Webster in New England, because he refused to follow Mr. Clay's lead in 
hostility to Tyler's administration, on account of the bank veto. 

On the canal to Hollidaysburg, then over the Alleghenies on the Port 
age Railroad, and I was soon again in Pittsburgh ; but not, as six years 
before, a wandering printer seeking a ' situation.' I was now an officer of 
the United States, and a Colonel of the State, bearing my blushing honors 

How delightful was the voyage down the Ohio compared with the deck 
passage as a Texas emigrant in 1837! The Ohio and the Mississippi were 
both in flood, and in six days we had paddled 1,200 miles from Pittsburgh 
to St. Louis ; a very rapid passage then, though we think one day a long 
time for the passage by rail now. We made a stop, too, at Cincinnati, where 
some of the passengers went to Walnut Hills, then forest I believe ; but I 
do not remember much of the * Queen City,' as she then with reason called 
herself. Her population of 46,388 in 1840 grew to 115,436 in I860, when she 
was ' the largest inland city in the United States,' and in the number of her 
people was only excelled by Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore 
and New Orleans. Necessarily, in 1843 she was doing an immense busi 
ness ; killing more hogs than any other city in the world. Chicago is now 
the chief swine city, and has robbed Cincinnati of her prestige, but cannot 
rob her of her astronomical repute, as the first city in the United States to 
establish an Observatory. The labors of Prof. O. M. Mitchell in astronomi 
cal science have shed lustre 011 the name of Cincinnati. But even in mat 
ters as grave as the study of the stars and planets, one must guard against 
the vagaries of fancy, and I have never been able to credit the report of 
discoveries in the moon by the Cincinnati telescope, as given by the St. 
Louis Reveille in 1845, in a letter from Cincinnati : 

" It is very well known to all that the Lunarians have very long nights, 
corresponding in length to what we call the dark of the moon. There must 
necessarily be great demand for lamps, and nature seems to have well pro 
vided for this in the abundance of that valuable animal, the hog. They 


appear to have discovered the art of converting the entire hog into some 
such inflammable material as stearine; for along the dark edges of the 
moon, as it begins to show itself, the whole hog can frequently be seen, 
stuck up on end, resting on his nose and fore feet, and made to burn by 
lighting his tail; evidently intended for something like our street lamps." 

When this fling at Cincinnati's Observatory (imitated from Locke's 
moon hoax) was made, lard oil was in common use for lamps, having super 
seded sperm oil. An alcoholic preparation called spirit gas was manufac 
tured in St. Louis by Stephen Ridgley, to be burnt in lamps, with tin tubes 
for wicks two inches long. This fluid was superseded by veritable coal oil, 
distilled from bituminous coal, and the coal oil has been superseded by the 
petroleum provided by nature. Sixty years ago, each family in Pennsylva 
nia made its own tallow candles, and spermaceti candles were also used 
sparingly. Stearine candles, made in factories, succeeded those of tallow. 
Flat iron lamps, holding lard, with a cotton or tow wick at one end, were in 
common use in kitchens, and many a school boy studied his lesson by their 
light during President Jackson's administration. From this iron lamp, 
very like those used by the old Romans, up to the electric lights, is a long 
step, but nothing in art or science is surprising now. If we can store up 
electricity for use when wanted, we need only to utilize the winds or waters 
to store up elastic force for our engines, in order to illuminate every place. 
Sticking types in a printing office with tallow candles, fifty years ago, 
seems now almost incredible, even to those who did it. 

Very little do I remember of that speedy voyage from Pittsburgh to St. 
Louis. I have only the general memory of rapid progress, constant enjoy 
ment of novel scenes, the majestic rivers, and the sweet singers. These 
were two young ladies from New England, Miss Caroline and Miss Emeline 
Frisbee, who with their brother Joseph were on their way to join relations 
in Illinois. How delightfully they sang and how pleasant to listen ! Addi- 
son's noble psalm, beginning 

" The spacious firmament on high, 
And all the blue etherial sky," 

as rendered by them, was an Oratorio in itself ; and the song of the bells 

"Hark! 'tis the sound of the village bells! 
How pleasantly they strike on the ear 
And how merrily they ring!" 

seems yet at times to be borne in faint echoes to the ear. They are elderly 
ladies now, but I trust their hearts are young enough to enjoy their own 
music or at least the memory of it, as I do. 

Arrived at St. Louis May 13, 1843, 1 found myself in a CITY, just of age, 
having been raised to that dignity twenty-one years before (1822) when her 
population was probably about 2,000, as it only got up to 4,377 in 1830. She 
grew to 16,467 by 1840, and in 1843 had probably 25,000 people, as she rose to 
77,680 by 1850. The entire state of Missouri, including St. Louis, had by the 


census of 1840 only a population of 383,702, but was rapidly increasing. The 
immigrants were mostly from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and 
among them many 'Americans of African descent,' held as chattels, but 
generally as happy as the white part of the family, and often as well 

Col. David D. Mitchell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, 
received me cordially, and at once introduced me to the Fur Company (P. 
Chouteau, jr., & Co.), Robert Campbell, Kenneth Mackenzie, and Messrs. 
J. and E. Walsh, all more or less concerned in the Indian trade ; and we 
had a round of pleasant visits. The Indian trade was then a large busi 
ness, ramifying through the Rocky Mountains, and I found the gentlemen 
engaged in it very different from the ' Indian traders f of my untutored 
fancy. Pierre Chouteau, Joseph A. Sire, John B. Sarpy, Edward Walsh, 
Robert Campbell, Kenneth Mackenzie, and others whom I met for the first 
time, were all gentlemen of that exquisite politeness which puts a stranger 
at ease. Ignorant as I was of Indian matters, they seemed unconscious of 
my lack of knowledge, and in a few hours managed to convey a great many 
facts without appearing to act as instructors. I was very grateful for their 
high toned courtesy. 

I had inquired of Col. Mitchell how to reach my pos-t at Council Bluffs, 
and the reply was 

" You can take boat to Blacksnake Hills, and from there you will easily 
get a wagon for baggage, and horses if you like the saddle." 

"How about the taverns to stop at, Colonel?" 

"My dear fellow if you get settlers' cabins to sleep in you'll do well ; 
and if not, you can lie in the wagon or bivouac." 

I soon learned that Blacksnake Hills meant Monsieur Joseph Robidoux's 
trading post away above Fort Leaven worth, and in the 'Platte Purchase,' 
of which I then heard for the first time. It seemed all a new world to me, 
but if I might judge from the manners of the St. Louis gentlemen, not 
likely to be an unpleasant one. There was, however, one little matter that 
I can only note as a let-down. I was ' Major ' everywhere ! That was the 
title universally given by courtesy to Indian agents, and my parchment 
and broad seal title of Colonel, conferred so graciously by the Governor of 
Pennsylvania, was ignored, and has never been of any use to me since. 

The good steamboat, John Aull, whereof John J. Roe, was Master, 
swung off and started. She was to have gone two days before, but all who 
were in St. Louis thirty or forty years ago, when the river front presented a 
scene of activity and a fleet of steamboats elsewhere unequalled, can tell 
you that a start on the advertised day often meant one or two days later. 
There were no regular ' Lines ' then. Each boat was an independent 
cruiser, and it was better economy to lie in port and feed her passengers 
than to paddle off on a long voyage with less than a full cargo. 

Bravely the John Aull breasted the rapid current of the Missouri, then 
in flood, and in a week we were at the end of her voyage. She had a long 


hill to climb, as at Blacksnake Hills we were nearly three hundred feet 
higher above sea level than at St. Louis, the slope of the river being about 
eight inches to the mile. But Capt. John J. Roe had grown up on a steam 
boat, and would have tried the John Aull at an angle of forty-five degrees 
if necessary. No thought then of pork-packing, and the other big enter 
prises in which he was at a later date so conspicuous and so useful, till 
arrested by death in the fulness of activity and business. The sudden 
cessation of life was regarded as due to one of those decrees of Providence 
which we say are inscrutable ; but I think it was the result of too intense 
work in his varied affairs. 

Now that I think of it, I once lost ten dollars by Capt. Roe and Col. 
Thomas Richeson, in 1868, when the former was President of the Merchants 
Exchange. A delegate to the National Board of Trade, to meet for organi 
zation at Philadelphia, suddenly announced his inability to attend. At 
Col. Richeson's suggestion, Capt. Roe called on me to fill the vacancy, 
which I agreed to do, never supposing but what the derelict member would 
pay expenses which he never did. The jaunt cost me $110, but I had $100 
worth of enjoyment. The delegation consisted of Thomas Allen, George P. 
Plant, Henry T. Blow, Adolphus Meier, E. O. Stanard, and myself and 
leaving myself out, I think an abler delegation never left St. Louis for 
any purpose. The Philadelphians, with hospitality that Royalty never 
equaled, took tfhe whole Board a three days' excursion through the coal 
region of Pennsylvania. I was thus only loser to the amount of $10, and 
this Col. Richeson will no doubt pay, when I call on him at the White Lead 
and Oil Works of the Collier Company in St. Louis ; a great establishment, 
originated long years ago by Dr. Silas Reed, and brought to fruition by that 
most estimable gentleman and thorough business man, Henry T. Blow; 
taken from us in 1875 in the prime of his usefulness. For the last thirty 
years under the management of Co!. Richeson, this factory, which was the 
first of its kind west of the Mississippi, and has paid more money to west 
ern farmers and lead miners than any other one concern, has grown to 
immense proportions, but the complicated business moves on with the pre 
cision of an Elgin watch. Col. Richeson puts into his work what Father 
advised me to put into my old Gazette, ' brains,' yet has found time to serve 
the public as President of the Exchange, and in positions of municipal and 
financial trust. Still, he is so little progressive in business matters that he 
has never got beyond the old saw that ' honesty is the best policy.' 

The factory now gets its flaxseed and castor beans mostly by rail. In 
old times these were dangerous cargo on a boat, as the German emigrant 
family that came up the river thirty years ago could testify ; for seeing a 
torn sack of nice-looking beans, they innocently put a fair measure of them 
into their pot of soup, and soon became convinced that the cholera had 
broken out afresh. The old folks are dead, but the lessons of childhood are 
lasting, and the son on his farm in Missouri is likely to reply, if any one 


says ' beans ' to him, as did the old solder of the regular army when asked 
to re-enlist ' Not another (blank) infernal bean !' 

Among the John Aull's passengers \vere E. M. Samuel, J. T. V. Thomp 
son; and M. Arthur, very prominent citizens of Clay county ; and we talked 
of the development and prospects of western Missouri. Listening eagerly 
to all they said, I soon found how little the people east of the Alleghe- 
nies then knew of our own country. Like a young robin with its mouth 
open in the nest, I swallowed everything, and soon began to learn some 
thing of what ' the west ' really was. But I had my say on the subject of 
railroads, and advanced the opinion that the time would come when a rail 
road would be built from St. Louis to the west line of the state. They 
agreed it would be a good thing to have, as navigation of the Missouri could 
not go on in winter ; but we all thought it would be a long time before we 
should see the railroad built. Only eight years later it was actually begun ! 
The gentlemen I f have named did much to promote the development of 
western Missouri. The commercial house of E. M. Samuel & Sons continues 
to exist in St. Louis (composed of the sons, Webster M. and Edward E. 
Samuel), and sustains the high character attained during the life of its 

The only towns I remember as having seen on that first trip up the Mis 
souri are Lexington and Glasgow, and these appear in memory only as 
sloping clay banks, with hogsheads of tobacco and bales of hemp, and 
laughing negroes with wagons bringing in more. Both were places of much 
active business, and there must have been lots of merchandise and furni 
ture of immigants put off from the numerous boats then on the river; but 
the tobacco and hemp were new things to a raw Pennsylvanian, and made 
an enduring impression. If I wore a born painter, as John Landis was, I 
could make a picture that would do for both of the old hemp and tobacco 
towns. Missouri was then profiting largely by the full-handed immigrants 
as well as by the products of her soil. Her people expended little for sup 
plies from abroad, compared with the value of their exports, and St. Louis 
was financially the solidest city of her size in America ; and the same phrase 
describes her very well yet. 

On a bright Sabbath morning, May 20, 1843, we arrived at Blacksnake 
Hills, the old Indian trading station of Monsieur Joseph Robidoux. By 
' we ' I mean my brother Joseph and myself. Joe was younger than I, and 
had come out from Pennsylvania to see the world, and I was showing it to 
him. Sabbath it was, but only in the almanac, and on the smiling prairies 
and picturesque bluffs on the Missouri side, as well as over the river in what 
was not yet ' bleeding Kansas,' but simply a paradise for future Adams and 
Eves in linsey or store clothes, and as yet unknowing of Russel, or Butter- 
field, or Ben. Holliday, and their overland ventures. But Sabbath failed 
on the John Aull. Capt. Roe may have lost his almanac, and was in so 
much of a hurry to get home for another, that in a few hours the boat was 
unloaded, and after taking on some hides, deerskins, and bales of hemp, 


from Mons. Robidoux's warehouse, turned her prow down stream. The 
warehouse was a building of stockade fashion, split logs set upright and 
roofed with clapboards, ' with the weight poles over,' as Maj. Alexis Mudd 
had it in his log cabin song. On its earthen floor were stored sugar, coffee, 
salt, and other merchandise, together with the household furniture and 
miscellaneous 'plunder 7 of the incoming settlers, and some barrels of that 
prime necessary of civilized frontier life, Bourbon whisky. 

Monsieur Robidoux's ample log house for dwelling and trade, built many 
years before, stood a short distance away on the gentle slope of a hill, with 
his little corn-cracking mill on a ' branch ' in the foreground ; and the active 
old gentleman himself w T as mounting his horse for a ride to the land office, 
to be opened next day at Plattsburg. He wanted to be on hand early to 
enter his quarter section, which it was said the people of Buchanan county 
intended to take from him for a county seat. They wanted to lay out a 
town and sell lots ; but so did Mons. Robidoux; and in September, 1843, the 
first sale of lots took place. With proper self-regard, he named the town 
after himself, ST. JOSEPH ; but I protest that I would not, untutored, have 
taken him for a Saint, although he was an intelligent and respectable gen 
tleman in his way. All this took place forty years and more ago, and I 
have seen multitudes of people since, but never another live Saint. 




Arranging at Blacksnake Hills for a wagon to follow on Tuesday with 
our baggage, and trusting it to entire strangers in a way that might not be 
safe now, Joe <md I walked five or six. miles to Jamestown, where there 
was a post office kept in a store, a tavern we could stop at, and a black 
smith shop constituting the rest of the town ; all obsolete now I suppose. 
I had a nice rifle, brought from Pennsylvania, as I had not known that 
Samuel Hawken or T. J. Albright could supply as good, or better, in St. 
Louis ; and I killed enough game on Monday to gain reputation with the 
landlord as a hunter, and to make a dinner for the guests of his house ; the 
game being two gray squirrels and a woodcock, and the guests brother Joe 
and myself. It was a quiet town. The people strung along the road were 
on their way to select ' claims 7 and lived in camp. Hundreds of excellent 
locations in the ' Platte Purchase ' were yet vacant, but were being rapidly 
taken up. 

The Platte Purchase had in it' about fifteen hundred thousand acres of 
as good country as ever laid open to sun and rain ; but few of our present 
Missourians know its history, or to whom the State is indebted for it. The 
old west line of the state of Missouri ran due north from the mouth of the 
Kansas river. In 1835 David B. Atchison suggested the acquisition for the 
state of Missouri of all the territory east of the Missouri river, and south of 
a prolongation of the north line of the state westward to the river ; and 
John M. Krum, of St. Louis (who had been a surveyor in his younger days), 
happening to be in western Missouri on legal business, assisted Mr. Atch 
ison in preparations to bring before Congress the project of extending 
the Missouri boundary. E. M. Samuel prepared a strong memorial to 
Congress in favor of the measure, to which himself, John Thornton and 


Andrew Hughes, all of Clay county, were the first signers ; and this me 
morial gave vitality to the project at Jefferson and Washington Cities. 
The movement resulted in the act of Congress of June 7, and of the Legis 
lature of Missouri of December 16, 1836 ; and the President of the United 
States, by his proclamation, declared the triangle between the old west 
line of the state and the Missouri river to be part of the state from March 
28, 1837. Such was the 'Platte Purchase.' The Missouri Senators and 
Members of Congress all sustained the measure, but the greatest credit was 
due to the amiable Senator, Dr. Lewis F. Linn. The voluntary and unpaid 
services of Mr. Atchison, Mr. Krum and Mr. Samuel in starting the 
movement that resulted in so great an acquisition to the state, entitle 
them to monuments at its cost. 

E. M. Samuel was widely known at an early day as a citizen of broad 
views and great public spirit ; qualities which are happily inherited by 
his son, Webster M. Samuel, so well known in the commerce and enter 
prises of St. Louis. 

With our baggage in an ox wagon and Joe and I afoot, our march 
towards Council Bluffs had so much of novelty in it that we were uncon 
scious of fatigue ; and we had settlers' houses to sleep in till we reached the 
north line of Missouri. The small streams had rude bridges, and the Nod- 
away and Neshnebotna ferries. The wagon would now and then almost 
stick fast in a prairie slough, but the driver had a repertoire of choice 
selections from the stars of his profession, and with a full measure of rugged 
profanity, and a big whip lash, managed to keep the cattle moving. 

The quiet tavern at Jamestown was the last hostelry between St. Louis 
and Japan. No Walker House then for Ann Eliza, his nineteenth wife, to 
hide in from Brigham Young at Salt Lake ; and no Palace Hotel at Yerba 
Buena, as the site of San Francisco was then called by the Mexican owners 
of California. Westward from Jamestown there was only the vast region 
of plains and mountains for the ''Course of Empire" to take its way 
across the continent. We were on the ' ragged edge ' of civilization ; but 
the settlers along our road nearly all * kept entertainment ' and we had 
fared well in houses with no doorlocks, though I remember no particulars 
of any of the hospitable homes except Ashley's, a few miles beyond 

Captain Ashley had a splendid claim, and was very proud of its fertile 
soil, its abundance of water, and its goodly proportions of prairie and tim 
ber. We rested a day, and of course the Captain and I had a good deal of 
talk, during which I took care to tell him something of what I knew about 
farming. In March, 1844, going northward, I stopped again, with a two- 
horse wagon driven by myself. It had wooden axle-trees and old style 
spindles, with linch pins, and in the morning I took a rail from the stable 
yard fence, and with a short stick of wood as a prop began to raise wheel 
after wheel to ' grease the wagon ' from a tar bucket hung on the coupling 
pole. Capt. Ashley came out to assist, but I thanked him and said I could 


get along very well by myself, as every teamster where I came from must 
be able to grease his own wagon. I had pieces of corn cobs stuck in the 
slots of the hubs to keep out the mud, and as I drew pin after pin, greased 
the spindles and slipped the wheels on again, putting in the linch pins and 
then the bits of corn cob in the slots, Capt. Ashley looked on the process as 
a revelation. At length he could hold in no longer 

" Major, I owe you a 'pology, and I'll come down like a squar man. 
When I see that tarpot on the wagon pole, I says to myself, who'd a 
thought it? For you see, when you was by here last spring, and talked 
about farmin', I says to myself, he's a bio win' dogon'd if I din't. But I 
give in. That tarpot is some, and them corn cobs jest gits me ! Dogon'd if 
I don't think you know somethin', after all." 

I only had the pleasure of stopping once with Capt. Ashley after this, 
but not even Horace Greeley himself could have outranked me there as a 

At length Joe and I reached Keg Creek, about where the town of Glen- 
wood, Iowa, now stands, and found it in flood. Two men with an ox team 
were there, carrying over their loading on trees felled across the narrow 
stream, having taken their wagon over piecemeal to load on the other side, 
and intending to swim the cattle. That was the way people had sometimes 
to do in a new country. Engaging these men to bring on our baggage, our 
team was sent back, and we undertook to walk to the camp of Capt. Bur- 
g win's company of dragoons. It was a long walk, if we had known which 
trail to take, but we got lost and had to lay out by a fire, sleepless, till 
morning, with wolves howling round us, and mosquitos innumerable. We 
thought the stream under the bluff was very properly called Mosquito 
Creek, and we learned later that a man who had once been stripped and tied 
to a tree on its banks had died from the poison of the pestiferous insects. It 
was strange to us to find mosquitos annoying so far north, as we had always 
supposed them to be most numerous in the south, but I have since learned 
by experience that out on the open and high plains of Dakota they are in 
some places abundant and troublesome, even distant from water courses or 

Wandering in the night through a burnt thicket before we decided to 
bivouac, I seemed to straddle every stiff stub near our course, and my 
trousers gave way, but my drawers were fortunately new and strong. With 
hands blackened from the burnt bushes, and faces in like condition from 
slaps at the mosquitos, we were in sorry plight when we reached Capt. 
Burgwin's camp about 8 o'clock next day ; and as an officer of the United 
States and a Colonel of Pennsylvania, all the dignity I could put on did not 
blind the soldiers to my picturesque condition. One of them went to 
announce the arrival of the new Indian agent, and as Capt. Burgwin ap 
proached I opened the way for his smothered laugh by laughing myself as 
I told our mishaps ; and the grin that the soldiers had been pretending not 
to know was on their faces broadened to a general smile all round. Never 


was an Indian agent, however well dressed, received at his post so merrily ; 
but I was soon in a pair of Lieutenant McCrate's trowsers, and we had 
breakfast, not unwelcome after a fast of nearly twenty-four hours. 

West and northwest, all was Indian laud, and expected to remain so, 
except far-off Oregon, to which emigration was beginning. As to the 
Rocky Mountain regions, they were so little known that Fremont had only 
in 1842 made his first exploration, and in 1843 was engaged in his second. 

Captain Burgwin's camp was in the little valley into which the City of 
Council Bluffs now extends itself. The ground of the camp is all in streets 
and city lots now. Within an hour after breakfast I had gone to the 
mouth of the little valley, and at the base of the bluff on the northern side 
had selected a site for a house, where I had a view of the broad prairie and 
the hills to the southwest and west beyond the river ; and there during the 
summer I built of cotton wood logs the first house ever erected in the city 
of Council Bluffs by a white man not connected by marriage with Indians. 
I am the u oldest Inhabitant " of that city, and in fact built the first white 
man's house, except the houses of the traders, in all Southwest Iowa. I do 
not know how far eastward it was from my house to the settled parts of 
Iowa, but probably about 150 miles. 

In that summer of 1843 I had the first prairie broken that ever was 
invaded by a white man's prairie plow in Southwest Iowa. I got a man to 
come up from Missouri and break twenty acres immediately in front of the 
little valley mentioned. He had five yoke of oxen, and a plow with a 
wooden moldboard three or four feet long, and a share made by a country 
blacksmith, to cut a width of about two feet. The field is all city now, the 
busiest j)art of Council Bluffs, but no corn is ever grown in Southwest Iowa 
to e> eel my crop of 1844. Intelligent cultivators will know what the soil 
and season were, when I state that in a garden at my house we had in 1844 
rhubarb pies from plants grown the same season from seed ; the leaf stalks 
having reached a length of ten inches, without manure or any unusual care 
in cultivation. 

It was truly wonderful corn, each stalk as thick as a fat woman's arm, 
and three or four large ears on it. I sold the crop to Reuben Hildreth, a 
white man in charge of the Indian mill on Mosquito Creek, but he said he 
had seen corn as good " up in Michigan." He had seen wonderful things 
in Michigan. One day in the winter of 1844-5 he was at my house when a 
blizzard was filling the air with dust from the naked sandbars of the river 
and ashes from the burnt prairie, and our conversation took in the high 

"Yes, Major," he said, "it blows here, but I've seen it worse up in 
Michigan, on the lake shore. One time I went out hunting, with a small 
haversack of grub, and at night laid down to sleep in a pine bush. In the 
morning I woke up in the top of a tall pine tree." 
"Blown up there, Reuben?" 


u No, sir. I had laid down in what I took for a bush, but the wind got 
up in the night and blowed the sand away, and there I was in a tree top." 

" How did you get down, Reuben ?" 

"I walked down." 

This sounded strong, but I said nothing. We sat quiet and smoked, as 
it was not a country to ask too many questions in. 

" You see, Major," Mr. Hildreth resumed, "I had my grub along, and I 
knowed the wind would change. So I just waited, and the next night, sure 
enough, the wind blowed the sand all back again, and I went on with my 
hunt. Yes, sir they do have wind up in Michigan." 

In the fall of 1843 I bought a Mackinaw boat from Peter A. Sarpy, whose 
trading house was at Belvue, on the western side of the Missouri. It had 
been built at the base of the Rocky Mountains, of boards cut out with a 
whip-saw, as was then the mode with the hardy successors in the distant 
Indian commerce of Ashley, Campbell, Sublette, and other men of courage 
and endurance. The boat had brought a cargo of furs, robes and pelts from 
the upper waters of the Missouri, and the goods having been sent to St. 
Louis by the steamboat which had brought up our supplies and annuities, 
the rude craft was for sale. It would do to float down to Weston, five miles 
above Fort Leaven worth, thirteen Indian boys that orders from Washington 
said must go to Col. Richard M. Johnson's Academy for civilizing Indians, 
at Georgetown, in Kentucky. Joe and I gathered up the boys, and with 
two experienced navigators, soon reached Weston where on the day after 
arrival we got a steamboat to St. Louis. 

The delay of one ' sleep ' enabled us to complete our outfit for a journey 
into a denser civilization, and to see Ben. Holliday. He was keeping a small 
drug shop in Weston, unconscious of the remarkable future in store for him; 
apparently contented in his eight by ten log shanty, dealing out drugs, 
cigars and tobacco, and possibly whisky too, for all I recollect ; not by any 
means as big a man then in finance or commerce as Jean Blancjour, the 
jeweler on the other corner. Ben's subsequent career as a mail carrier 
across the continent, and owner of steamers on the Pacific, is one of those 
phenomena that do not explain themselves, unless we credit the individual 
with superior abilities, only needing a proper field and opportunity for their 
exercise. Ben in his little drug shop at Weston, and Ulysses in the leather 
store at Galena, were neither of them above the level of ordinary men ; but 
opportunity roused their dormant powers. If California had not been 
acquired (by the unpensioned soldiers of the Mexican war), Ben. might have 
continued selling drugs and villainous cigars at Weston. If there had been 
no secession, Ulysses might still be selling material for boots and brogans. 
No better illustration than these two cases of what opportunity may do in 
the way of developing talent. 

Arrived at Louisville on our way to Col. Johnson's civilizing Academy, 
I called at the printing house of James Biriiey Marshall, and had a friendly 
chat with that excellent man, whose heart was fuller of ' the milk of human 


kindness,' I think, than ever his pocket was of cash. He was equally sur 
prised and gratified when he found that I had brought him a very large 
buffalo robe, handsomely embellished with paintings by aboriginal artists, 
as an evidence of my appreciation of his generous treatment when I was a 
jour, printer in his office six years before. This incident is only of value as 
showing that a little gratitude was possible among men even forty years 
ago, and as enabling me to say, that the memory of that gift has been worth 
to me in self-applause the price of a hundred buffalo robes. It is delightful 
to indulge in gratitude, as it costs nothing, and nurses one's self-love in a 
harmless way, besides having a tinge of singularity in it that seems to set 
one a little apart from the mass of mankind, and almost lifts him to the 
moral elevation of the better and more grateful sex. 

I have no recollection of what became of the Indian boys we took to 
Kentucky. The Academy was, I suppose, patronized by the government 
to help along Col. Johnson, who was the man who may have killed Tecum- 
seh, and had been Vice President of the United States, but missed a re 
election in 1840. Indian boys may have profited by the institution, but I 
never heard of any that did so. The folks at Washington have not yet 
learned that Indians can be brought to civilization better by having the 
children at work and at school in their own country. 

We \vent on to Pennsylvania, and I left Joe at our native town as I 
passed, impatient to reach little John D. and his mother. Joe had seen the 
world far away, and at once began to tell of it. The first day he told the 
exact truth of the ' great west ' so far as he had seen and understood it ; 
the busy towns, the cruising steamboats, the active and intelligent people, 
the broad prairies and exuberant soil, the spread of settlements, and so on. 

" Yes, Joe it's very easy to talk " was the usual commentary. 

It was all so far beyond their ideas that they could not believe more than 
half of his narrations, and on the second day, as he told me afterwards, he 
" just doubled up on them." 

"Why, Joe," said I, with elder brother gravity, "you ought to have 
given them the truth." 

" Well, so I did. They only got half the truth the first day, as they 
did'nt believe more than half of what I told them ; but when I doubled up 
on them, and they still believed only half, they got it as near right as 
people can who have never been away from home." 

A youth of manly bearing and rare talent, my brother Joseph, endowed 
with that good sense which gets on in the world ; but he passed away in 
the first bloom of manhood. Sad fatality, that the brightest of all should 
soonest fade. In that docorous village cemetery, on the bank of the beau 
tiful river, the summer birds sing gaily, heedless of the lost, as we pay our 
tribute of tears. With emotion that cannot be restrained we look on the 
marble placed there for the fond and faithful mother. Ranged on the one 
hand are the marbles for the sons she loved and cared for so well, and on 
the other is the unbroken sod, waiting for her mate of more than half a 
century, now numbering his fourscore years and ten. 




Returning westward in November, 1843, (little John D. and his mother 
along,) we had on the boat from Pittsburg Capt. B. L. E. Bonneville and 
his family the same intelligent and modest gentleman, whose adventures 
as an explorer and Indian trader have been so happily told by Washing 
ton Irving. As I had not then read Irving, I did not know the worth or 
rank of our traveling companion, and as he said nothing of his past history 
I did not learn that he had done so much lor Fremont to imitate or excel. 
Ranking as General Bonneville, he survived to know that a railroad had 
crossed the deserts where he had endured so many hardships and encoun 
tered so many perils. His name, with those of other adventurers of fifty 
or more years ago, ought to be inscribed on a monument at the Nation's 
cost in the midst of the continent, say in the National Park, on some divide 
where it would look at once on the waters flowing to the Atlantic and to 
the Pacific. 

Does the reader know how a renowned explorer was made ? When the 
whigs were fiercest in their assaults on President Tyler, and help from any 
quarter was desirable, Dr. Silas Reed suggested to the President to attempt 
the conciliation of Col. Benton (as an offset to Mr. Clay) by sending his 
son-in-law (who had run away with his daughter Jesse) on an exploring 
expedition to the Rocky Mountains. John Charles Fremont was then a 
Lieutenant in the Army, and Mr. Tyler, acting on Dr. Reed's suggestion, 
sent him out in 1842. Whatever the world has gained by Gen. Fremont's 
public services in exploration must be credited partly to Silas Reed and 
John Tyler, who made him an explorer, and partly to his excellent wife, 
who to her father's spunk and spirit, added the domestic virtues and intel 
lectual graces which adorn womanhood. 


Mrs. Butler was also on board our boat from Pittsburgh. I do not remem 
ber where she was from or where she was going, but only that she was an 
interesting widow lady of about three decades, and that on Sunday evening 
she regretted very much that there was no clergyman on board, but thought 
that as I had a grave and rather clerical appearance I might read some pas 
sages of Scripture for general edification. Now, reading Scripture on Sun 
day evenings in the cabins of steamboats had never been a habit of mine, but 
in sheer good nature and to pass the time profitably I complied, only to find 
that my selections were not happily made. Very innocently I began with 
the Song of Solomon, but had not proceeded very far before Mrs. Butler 
very politely signified that while she was much indebted for my compliance 
with her suggestion, perhaps the services might as well close, as nearly all 
the lady passengers appeared to have become sleepy and had left the cabin 
during the reading. I have never read the Scriptures aloud in a steamboat 
cabin since, lest I might again be unfortunate in the choice of the portions 
read. The Song of Solomon is a very poetic piece of sacred literature ; but 
if people will persist in misinterpreting allegorical or metaphorical passages, 
and suppose them to have occult meanings unsuiting them fpr utterance in 
a mixed company, in the cabin of a boat, the only safe rule for an amateur 
is not to read at all. Besides, I had to endure a gentle lecture on the pro 
prieties from one in authority after retirement to the stateroom. 

We spent the winter of 1843-4 in St. Louis, and took boarding at first in 
the then outskirts of the city, in the brick mansion owned by Mrs. John 
Perry, on the corner of Sixth and Locust streets. Luther M. Kennett was 
building the first marble-front ever in St. Louis on the next lot north, but 
folks generally thought it was rather far away from business, then mostly 
transacted on the Levee, Main and Second streets. From our windows we 
could look westward to a clump of forest trees at Eighteenth and St. Charles 
streets, and could see the camp of some Indians on a friendly visit to Col. 
Mitchell, the Superintendent Beyond the Indian camp were farms which 
have long since been entirely destroyed ruthlessly laid out in city lots, 
and now with dwellings, schools, churches, and swarms of civilized people, 
with all the virtues and possibly some of the vices of humanity. Only eight 
years after our sojourn at Sixth and Locust, I assisted to lay out blocks and 
lots on several good farms, nearly half a mile west of the Indian camp, and 
at a three days' auction, beginning September 10, 1851, we made nearly as 
much noise in what we called ' Stoddard Addition ' as Commodore Perry 
did in his famous battle on Lake Erie (the anniversary of which we had 
chosen for the sale), lots being knocked down to the Vandals present at 
from five to ten dollars a front foot, now going at two hundred or there 
away an increase in value of 50 per cent or more per annum of original 
cost. If present or future people ever think of the manner in which that 
addition was laid out, with its wide streets, deep lots and ample alleys, let 
them thank Hiram W. Leffingwell and myself. We had charge of the sur 
vey and insisted on having it right, although some of the owners of the 


property thought that 'front feet sell better than back feet,' and wanted 
short lots and all the front feet possible, regardless of the public interest. 
We made the subdivision to harmonize as well as possible with the older 
part of the city, and this was one of the services to St. Louis of Hiram and 
myself that we never blew our trumpets over, and nobody blew for us. 

Our next boarding house during the winter of '43-4 was on the corner of 
Elm and Second streets ; but Michael Sutter's Omnibus had not begun to 
toil through the mud. The genial Wilson Prim came walking up Second 
street in the morning from his cottage home, smoking his pipe with the 
serene composure of an honest gentleman, his profession as a lawyer ' to the 
contrary notwithstanding.' I had very little to do, and often strolled away 
up to Sixth or Seventh streets, where but few houses obstructed the view ; 
and I sometimes went even as far as Chouteau's Pond, and would look at 
the outside of the old stone mill (in which ten years later, I aided to start 
the first stone-sawing by steam in St. Louis), and would try to imagine 
what a nice cascade the water trickling over the mill-dam would make if 
there was only enough of it. Mr. Renshaw's lone mansion was at the 
corner of Ninth and Market streets, but there was little if any city growth 
beyond. As to Morgan street and Franklin avenue when I was told that 
I could get lots at Seventh or Eighth streets for seven or eight dollars a 
foot, I did not think it worth while to regret that I had no money to buy 
with. Once I wandered towards the north pole, and got as far as the old 
reservoir on Ashley street, and one fine day in February I drove out with 
little John D. and his mother, passing the Big Mound and actually crossing 
a far away stream called Rocky Branch ! 

The Astor House in New York was then the big hotel of the Atlantic 
slope, and the Planters House in St. Louis and the St. Charles Hotel in 
New Orleans were the grand hotels of the Mississippi Valley. Gales and 
Beaton, editors of the National Intelligencer, having requested me to note 
things worth telling of in their paper, I sent them a description of the 
Planters House, the hotel being of unusual size for the times. Mr. Stickney 
gave me the particulars very readily, but cared little whether his house got 
into the paper or not, as guests were plenty. He tendered hospitalities for 
' writing up ' his hotel, but I declined them, and the delights of his * para 
dise ' up the river I never had the opportunity of enjoying. I only heard of 
it in the early summer of 1855. Taking boat at Keokuk for St. Louis, I 
found Mr. Augustus Kerr on board, and after the greetings usual between 
fellow townsmen abroad, expressed my surprise at meeting him there. 

" Oh, I've been up at Stickney's place," he replied 

" I didn't know he had a place up the river." 

" But he has though. At Rock Island. A perfect paradise mint patch 
right at the door, and you can have a julep before breakfast, with the dew 
on it!" 

Byron says 'many are poets who have never penned their inspiration,' 
and Mr. Kerr was probably of this class. The idea of a mint julep 'with 


the dew on it,' has a poetic flavor, and the association of a mint patch and 
paradise is beyond anything in Bryant or Longfellow. 

During the winter I applied to His Honor Bryan Mullanphy, Judge of 
the St. Louis Circuit Court, for license to practice law. The eccentric char 
acter of this learned gentleman whose munificent bequest established the 
' Mullanphy Emigrant's Home,' that has given aid and comfort to so many 
poor wanderers is well known ; but my examination was a pleasant ordeal. 
After a few questions, readily answered by one who had for some weeks 
been diligently reading up in borrowed law books, the Judge said 

u You have a very particular memory, sir very particular and I shall 
grant your license with much pleasure." 

The license was dated January 5, 1844, but the ' particular memory ' was 
due in great measure to recent study of Brittoii A. Hill's law books. As to 
memory, let me advise you, My Young Friend, to cultivate your memory if 
you can. It is the better part of genius for many uses. Macauley's style is 
brilliant, because of illustrations at hand in his affluent memory. Mezzo- 
fanti's memory never lost a word or inflexion of a strange language, and, 
with his ready perception, made him the most remarkable linguist of all 
history. Particularly if you imagine yourself to possess the 'gift of the 
gab,' and want to shine as an orator, try to improve your memory. The 
inestimable faculty of Edwaid Everett, which enabled him to commit his 
polished sentences to memory, and utter them as if arising in his mind at 
the moment, made his fame. Even the great Daniel Webster carefully 
thought out beforehand what he wished to say on any important occasion, 
and never forgot his carefully forged thunder. To the impromptu speaker 
a well-stored memory is the ammunition belt, from which he can draw a 
fresh missile for every one fired off. 

Although Judge Mullanphy had authorized me to make a fortune at the 
law, I preferred to retain for a time my little Indian office, and on the 24th 
of February we took boat for Weston. There my farm learning, acquired 
after I had quit school at the age of thirteen, came into play. I fitted up a 
wagon (little John D.'s mother and Mrs. Scoggin making up the Osnaburg 
cover) and with two stout horses we started in March for a drive of about 
160 miles to Council Bluffs. 

The name of "Council Bluffs" on our side of the Missouri was a mis 
nomer, and it is improper yet, applied to the lively city up there, within the 
limits of which, in 1844, 1 solemnized the first civil marriage in all South west 
Iowa. Marriage in some form or other has gone on pretty much every 
where for a long time, and the heart of our miller, Keuben Hildreth, had 
been smitten by the charms of an Indian maiden in the family of Mr. 
Joseph Laframboise, my half-breed Interpreter, where she and his two 
wives did the housework. A young lady of decorum, Miss Labang was 
(although her name meant Pancake) and scorned the idea of an uncere 
monious marriage. Reuben would have been easily satisfied, but she 
well, marriage in the aboriginal mode might do for less decorous damsels, 


but not for her. Here, now, was a difficulty. The Priest had made us his 
annual visit in May, and about ten months would elapse before he would 
come again ; but Mr. Laframboise was equal to the occasion. He strolled 
over to the agency house 

"My Fadder," he said to me, dis bad business. Hard on Labang 
hard on Reub. Labang good girl Reub. good man. Want to marry want 
to marry bad. No Priest don't want to wait next year." 

" Well, Joseph, how can /help them?" 

" Dat's it, my Fadder. You see, dein traders calls you Major. All agent 
is Major. But Indian Fadder." 


"Dis way. Priest he Fadder too for 'ligion. You Fadder for business. 
Pay annuity look out for gov'ment look out for Indian traders too and 
fellers from de states. You big man over all dis country." 

" Well, Joseph, what has that to do with Labang and Reub?" 

"Dis what I say, Fadder. Little man down in states he marry people. 
What you call him Justice Peace. You bigger man like great Chief. 
You come my home Sunday night. Reub. be dere. Heap people too. Den 
you marry dem, same Justice Peace." 

So it was settled, and on Sunday evening, as Chief Magistrate of Potta- 
watamie Land, I performed the marriage ceremony and declared Mr. Hil- 
dreth and Miss Labang to be husband and wife, to their mutual satisfaction, 
and the gratification of Mr. Laframboise, who had invented the process. 
They may be husband and wife yet for all I know, and I have only men 
tioned the circumstance to put on record the first civil marriage (in the 
presence of spectators) in all southwest Iowa. As I returned homeward 
that happy summer night, the tall elms in the little valley, with their inter 
locking limbs high overhead and the moonlight streaming through, were 
silently teaching Gothic Architecture, presenting a series of arches equal to 
any that my friend John F. Mitchel could design, with all his skill as an 

The Council Bluffs of history, where Lewis and Clark held a solemn 
council with the Indians, nearly eighty years ago, while the world was 
struggling along without railroads or telegraphs, or even steamboats, are 
on the west side of the Missouri, above the point where the Boyer river 
enters on the east, and about fifteen miles from the site of the old 'Maha 
village. The village is oosolete, and on or near its site, the enterprising 
city of Omaha now 

Fronts the rude blizzard with the courage high 
That only knows to conquer or to die; 
The central spot of all this world so fair, 
For, starting thence, one can go anywhere! 

Our wagon journey was a novel experience to little John D.'s mother, 
but with that exquisite sense of propriety which always governs a good 
wife, she made herself at home in all the settlers' cabins we stopped at, and, 


town-bred though she was, bore with exemplary patience the discomfort 
and actual hardships. The nice little widow, Mrs. Scoggin, who was going 
along on a visit to her parents, was also patient and cheerful. As usual, 
the fortitude was on the side of the women, for as Joseph M. Field once 
wrote, 'it seems to be the lot of women to endure.' The fretting was thus 
left to me, and I did justice to the occasions, particularly the first night 
after we crossed the Missouri line. We had lodged at a border house, and 
had to camp at Keg Creek; for after a smart rain a blizzard came on at 
night that nearly upset our wagon ; three in a bed and little John D. extra. 
It was close packing in the wagon box, on a feather bed taken along for 
emergencies, John D. and his mother in the middle, and the widow on one 
outside and I on the other ; but what with the cold blizzard, and one of the 
horses, tied by a chain to a fore-wheel, trying to get back to the states, our 
sleep was not profound. Let me caution you, My Venturesome Friend, 
when you go on a wagon trip in the wilderness, with Madam and your 
three year old son, and a charming widow of good Kentucky stock, all in 
the same wagon, be sure you don't go in the blizzard season, or have a horse 
that pulls at the wheel you tie him to ; for ' tired nature's sweet restorer, 
balmy sleep ' is hardly possible under circumstances so adverse. 

But the blizzard fortunately blew itself out, and as we moved on next 
morning the brilliant sun which they have in that country, where the river 
is 960 feet above sea level, threw his inspiring beams over the prairie and 
gave us millions of diamonds where the rain had congealed on the dry 
weeds and grass. It was Saint Patrick's Day, 1844, and as I twisted my 
head round to explain to the widow, as a polite man should, how the good 
Saint had cleared Erin of snakes, but that the use of that sovereign remedy 
for their bites whisky had become so common in the green Isle that it 
was hardly given up yet, although the snakes had all disappeared centuries 
ago, John D.'s mother suggested that I had better look where the horses 
were going (as we were breaking a track across the prairie) and added the 
remark that she hoped we would soon get to some kind of a breakfast. 
More appropriate remarks were never made, but to this day I am not sure 
whether Mrs. Scoggin got a clear idea of snakes or not. 

About noon we reached Point-aux-Poules, and drove to the Interpreter's 
House ; not the one John Bunyaii tells of, but that of my old half-breed 
friend, Peerish LeClaire, whose bustling Indian wife, although her hair 
was streaked with gray, soon had us seated at a goodly spread of fried 
chicken, biscuit and coffee. As we had expected to arrive the day before, 
but had been detained by the storm, and had exhausted our lunch, we all 
thought it the best breakfast we had lately had a chance at. To me it was 
even better than the breakfast of the year before, with Capt. Burgwin, to 
the exact amount of the difference between two agreeable ladies and two 
pleasant gentlemen. 

John D.'s mother was much interested in the life of the pioneer women. 
Uving as they did in makeshift houses, with scanty furniture, poor raiment, 


constant toil, and at times with but limited supplies of food, the condition 
of the women excited her womanly sympathies, and really added to the 
material hardships of the journey. Traveling as we did nearly the entire 
length of the Platte Purchase, we saw the houses of the settlers and squat 
ters; the former intended to be permanent, the latter mostly temporary. 
We could tell the class he belonged to as soon as a man began to talk. The 
settler descanted on his intended 'betterments;' the squatter enlarged on 
the value of his ' claim,' which he was always ready to sell in order to move 
on. In each class the women's lot was hard ; that of the settler's wife to 
help raise money to pay the United States for the land ; that of the squat 
ter's wife to keep the home in shape till the claim could be sold, when she 
would be ready, with her lord, and the little tow-headed children, to endure 
again the inconveniences and hardships of seeking a new location. 

Neither story nor song has ever done justice to the women of the 
frontier. Their industry, patience, fortitude and endurance have been so 
wonderful, as only to be accounted for by the fact that they knew no better. 
Their manifestation of these qualities has often put to shame or ought to 
have done so the men associated with their lives. The great world knows 
little or nothing of the faithful sisterhood of pioneer women; but their 
obscure lives were often full of what in men would be called heroism ; and 
we owe to them in a great degree the spread of empire westward, ever since 
the matrons and maids were first led into the wilderness by Daniel Boone 
and his courageous comrades. There ought to be an obelisk erected taller 
than any on earth and dedicated to the pioneer women of America, who, 
ever since the landing of the Mayflower, have been the patient and slightly 
rewarded servitors of civilization. 


God bless you for comin'. Doctor nigh on to twenty mile; 
She's bin a-ravin' a little, and a-moanin' all the while. 
The fever, it come like a painter suddently, with a jump, 
And afore we know'd of the ailin' she was all of a burnin' lump. 

Yes corn and roughness a plenty I'll tend to the nag myself, 
And you'll find a nip in the corner, right thar on the middle shelf. 
Neighbors ? You'd better believe it ! Four mile and odd away, 
But mostly here by daylight -down some one draps in to stay. 

Kind ? Why bless you, Doctor, that word don't tell it right 
A-comin' so fur to see her, and stayin' the lonesome night. 
Yes women, as men looks at it, is sometimes light o' head, 
But they minds me more of angels, a-watching round her bed 

She's hed a hard road of it, Doctor, most allays up to the hub, 
A-spinnin', a-weavin' and sewin' a-washin' and cookin' o' grub. 
Besides the care of the childer, and raisin' the garden stuff- 
She allays sed it would kill her, and I think, now, 'twas most enough. 


I hev'n't meant to be triflin' and nobody calls me mean, 

But I doubt ef I've been as keerful of Sue as I mought hev bin. 

Away up thar on Pigeon, them times in Tennessee, 

No whar round Moccasin Crossin' was a par like Sue and me. 

But what with movin' and movin' a-squattin', and rnovin' on, 
A-makin' o' claims and a-sellin', nigh thirty year has gone. 
But I've hearn of a place to settle, whar they say the range is fine 
A plenty of timber and prairie, jest over the Indian line. 

Well now go in to see her God bless her, a-sufferin' thar 
And, Doctor, ef you kin cure her, lead home yon sorrel mar. 
She's bin a good woman, Doctor sho ! well, it wor a tear, 
For we wus young together, and bin yoked for thirty year. 




We were civilizing the Indians, and I had orders to get some plows to 
aid the process. When first located on their five million acres in Southwest 
Iowa about 2,500 acres to each Pottawatamie soul a very respectable gen 
tleman who had seen better days, Mr. Hardin, of the Kentucky Hardins, 
had been employed as a * Farmer ' to teach the Indians agriculture ; but no 
implements had ever been furnished, and his office had been abolished just 
before my time. With exquisite wisdom, equalled nowhere on earth unless 
in Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy, the Indian Bureau at Washington ordered 
plows to be provided more than a year after the ' Farmer ' who was to teach 
the Indians how to use them had been dismissed from office. 

Early in the winter I had called on Mr. Hudson E. Bridge, who dealt in 
stoves and also plows, as was then the custom stoves for fall trade and 
plows for spring ; and having contracted for thirty-five of his Carey-Jewett 
plows, all made to turn the furrow to the right 

"Mr. Bridge," I asked, could you furnish me a plow like these, only 
made to turn the furrow to the left ?" 

" I suppose we could ; but, really, nobody uses that kind of plow." 

" No matter for that. I was raised behind a lefthand plow, and would'nt 
have any other kind on the place, except to break prairie with oxen, so that 
the man to drive (and swear) may walk on the unbroken ground." 

Mr. Bridge evidently regarded me as a little odd, but made my plow with 
the rest. But so totally unfit was I for public office, that I purposely paid 
for my own plow out of my own pocket, instead of including it in the lot 
paid for by the government ; and this derogatory fact must have gotten to 
the lugs of the Indian Bureau : for the next fall I was required to get new 
sureties on my official bond, and in much tribulation came down to St. 


Louis, intending a visit to Pennsylvania to fix it up, when Col. David D. 
Mitchell, learning the facts, very kindly said he would "settle all that 
(blank) nonsense," by going on the bond himself; a kindness with a great 
deal of Christianity in it. 

Samuel Gaty had started in St. Louis the first foundry for general cast 
ings, and the first machine shop, west of the Mississippi fifty-five years 
ago ; and Hudson E. Bridge made the first stoves west of the Mississippi 
in 1837. Both were industrial pioneers, and their names ought to be on a 
roll of honor, as among our true nobility. The part taken by each in large 
enterprises benficial to St. Louis and the west, would if detailed fill a 

When our r plows were delivered at Council Bluffs in April by the Fur 
Company's boat on its way to the Mountains, the Indians detected the dif 
ference between theirs and mine, and supposed some ' great medicine ' was 
involved. They walked round my plow, looked at it on every side, and 
gabbled over it with many a ' Wah !-ty-yah!' which in a free translation 
may be rendered' What the deuce does all this mean !' 

About the first of May, Nahum Bent, an Ohio farmer of mature years 
who had settled on the Nodaway in Missouri, came up to get a permit to 
drive in a few cattle for sale to the Indians. I was using my new plow to 
stir the ground broken the year before, and Mr. Bent * lighted down ; for 
a chat. He had heard of lefthand plows, though he had never seen one ; 
but as I at once granted the desired permit he was polite enough to concede 
that my plow might after all do as well as if it turned the soil over the 
other way. 

" Certainly, Mr. Bent, but all depends on the planting. I must plant as 
soon as I can." 

"Well, yes I reckon it's about time." 

"Time? Why, if I don't get my seed in next week I must wait till 
about the first of June." 

' Going away, Major?" 

11 Not at all but don't you see ? It will be the dark of the moon week 
after next." 

" The dark of the moon ?" 

"To be sure ; and it will never do to plant corn then." 

" Why, Major, what has the moon got to do with it ?" 

" Every thing, Mr. Bent. A Pennsylvania farmer never plants corn in 
the dark of the moon, or potatoes in the light. They go by the Almanac 
altogether, and always use a lefthand plow." 

" Well well well if I ever heard of that before !" 

" True, though, and just wait till you see the corn I'll have, using a left- 
hand plow and planting in the light of the moon." 

Sure enough the field being where the fertility from the bluffs and the 
little valley had been deposited for centuries, and the prairie sod, broken the 
year before, well rotted the corn grew and eared out amazingly ; and when 


Mr. Bent came up to the annuity payment in the latter end of August, he 
was converted to the lefthand plow doctrine, and the absolute necessity of 
always planting- corn in the light of the moon. After the payment was over 
the Chiefs held a council to discuss the wonderful corn, and after being told 
that I had grown up among the best farmers in the world, who always used 
lefthand plows, and always planted things which make their product under 
ground in the dark, and things, like corn, which produce above ground, in 
the light of the moon, they went to their wigwams very much wiser than 
they came ; all of one mind, that if they ever had any ground broken it 
should be stirred with lefthand plows, and not a hill of corn should be 
planted save in the right phase of the moon. The sincerity of this resolve 
could not be doubted, as I believe they never attempted to use the right- 
hand plows I had bought of Mr. Bridge. 

Little John D.'s mother went back to Pennsylvania in September, taking 
that adorable child along. I was alone in my cottonwood mansion for the 
winter, going a quarter of a mile for meals ; and except for thoughts of 
loved ones far away it was one of the happiest winters of my life. There is 
a wonderful charm in solitude, and it is not strange that the ' mountain 
men, 7 as we used to call them, were so restless when returned to civilization. 
They were cramped by the restraints of orderly life, and missed the free air 
of the plains and mountains. It is so easy, so natural to deteriorate, that if 
there had been no ties of kindred, affection and duty, I might possibly have 
remained in the wilderness. True, my solitude was not very perfect. I had 
the traders to visit, the mill and smithshop to look after, and had excellent 
companions in books, which never intruded their chatter upon me, but only 
spoke when I wished them to do so. Our mail facilities had been greatly 
improved, for whereas, in 1843, Jamestown, our post office, was about 130 
miles distant, we had in 1844 an office at our very doc-r, as it seemed, down 
at the Nishnabotna Ferry, only about 60 miles away ; and there the mail 
arrived on horseback once a week if nothing happened to detain it, and 
brought letters at 25 cents each for postage. We paid for our letters on 
delivery, if the sender did not recklessly pay in advance. The regular rate 
of postage on letters for long distances was 25 cents for each sheet. Enve 
lopes had not come into use. We folded our letter so as to conceal the 
writing, and leave a blank space for the address. It looks hard 25 cents 
for a letter but we had never had them cheaper, and did not really know 
how wretched our fate was. 

My greatest enjoyment in solitude was vocal and instrumental music. 
My voice was powerful, and in its way excellent, but I had discovered that 
the ears of other persons were not so constituted as to enjoy it, and I could 
only sing to advantage when alone ; always excepting the happy days of 
the log cabin election campaign of 1840, when strength of lungs had due 
appreciation, and nobody was fastidious about tune or tone. The flute, too, 
was a great solace in my lone cabin, and I enjoyed my toots on it more than 
ever Paganini did his one-string performance on the fiddle. The Star Span- 


gled Banner, Yankee Doodle, Oft in the Stilly Night, and other tunes proper 
to heroic as well as sentimental verses, were rendered in a manner never 
excelled in originality, and with variations that would have astonished the 
composers if within hearing. That my music had power was proved one 
mild winter day, when I had stepped to the porch, and had just begun 
Yankee Doodle on the flute, a'nd as I turned my head round to look over to 
the 'Maha bluffs, a large gray wolf stood about twenty yards from the 
corner of the house, with his eyes fixed on me and his ears open to the 
stirring notes of the revolutionary tune. I played away, and the auditor 
listened for quite a while ; but I have never been able to decide whether he 
was arrested by genuine admiration or intense astonishment. 

Having visited St. Louis in the spring of 1845, to meet little John D., his 
mother and his aunt, and his wee sister that I had not yet seen all coming 
from Pennsylvania I had some leisure and took a trip on the Steamboat 
Hibernian, Capt. Miller, to that queer town, Galena, which Reub. Hildreth 
had described to me as " the most comical looking place ever seen any 
where.'' It was then a very lively town, had a large interior trade, and 
shipped lead and other products of the country. As I had two ruling 
infirmities to write for the journals and to regulate public affairs on paper 
I wrote up a log of our voyage for the St. Louis Reveille, and did justice 
to the captain of our boat, who thought it a rather tame business to navi 
gate the Upper Mississippi, but was proud to have once had a boat in the 
perilous Missouri. The navigation of the latter stream, he thought, had a 
dash of heroism in it. The constant peril, he said, developed the highest 
qualities of a Steamboat Captain. That so few accidents causing loss of life 
should occur, considering the number of boats then on the Missouri, was 
really remarkable, he said ; and in this I heartily concurred. Had I not 
been on boats commanded by Roe, Sire Throckmorton, Atchison, and their 
compeers ; and had I not been up in the pilot house with Joseph LaBarge, 
Elisha Fine, and other gentlemen of the wheel, who knew where every 
sand bar had ever been, and where the next one would form, and could 
almost call the snags by name? Had I not known Uncle Davy, and was I 
not on the boat once, with him at the wheel, coming down stream, heading 
straight for a sand bar ? Was I not sure something would happen, as I saw- 
but small chance to get through the bunch of snags off to the starboard of 
our course ? And did not something happen ? Did not Uncle Davy ' let her 
nose run right into the sand bar,' when, as he intended, her stern swung 
round, and she actually backed through the only passage practicable, but 
which could have been reached in no other way? Yes, I have seen skillful 
and heroic work with steamboats on the Missouri, but only Captains Joseph 
and John LaBarge and Joseph E. Gorman survive to attest my tale. 

There was a good deal of Mormon excitement in 1845, and as there were 
several Mormons on the Hibernian, the peculiarities of the * chosen people' 
were discussed. The ' spiritual wife ' system of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, 
was much commented on, but the Mormons denied that there was any such 


system at all ; and one lively dame of about three score and five declared 
that she did not believe a word of it "for I'm sure," she said, "Joseph 
never hinted any thing of the kind to me." The system has since matured 
into polygamy on a grand scale. 

In the way of aiding to regulate big matters not of personal concern to 
myself, I wrote in my ' Log ' and put in the St. Louis Reveille a paragraph 
on Iowa : 

" At Fort Madison and Burlington we found the recent rejection by the 
people of the Constitution of Iowa the most prominent subject of discussion. 
The Constitution was objected to by some on account of its radical features 
by some on account of the limit to the boundaries proposed by Congress by 
others on both these grounds and by others again on the narrow considera 
tion that they did not desire to assume the burden of a state government, 
but wished to depend on Uncle Sam a little longer. We found the politi 
cians exceedingly sore under the rejection, as it deranged all the little plans 
of ambition which they intended to put in operation under the State gov- 
.ernment. It was certainly an error in Congress to cut Iowa off from the 
Missouri river. The northern territory should have been selected for the 
shears. It seems to me that a good boundary could be obtained by starting 
at the mouth of the Des Moines river ; thence up the Mississippi to the 43rd 
parallel of latitude ; thence west along said parallel to the Little Sioux 
river ; thence down the Little Sioux river to the Missouri ; down the Mis 
souri to the northwest corner of this state (Missouri) ; thence along the 
north line of this state to the Des Moines river, and down that river to the 
place of beginning. This would give the state a large territory and con 
venient boundaries ; and if the question were to be decided by practical 
men, well acquainted with all the country included within these limits, they 
would be adopted unanimously." 

In a volunteer editorial written for the St. Louis Republican, and printed 
in that paper April 9, 1845, I had said : 

" It is known that Iowa is shorn of the limits claimed by her convention, 
by the act of Congress providing for her admission as a state. * * * An 
error has been committed by Congress in regard to the western boundary. 
Cutting her off from the Missouri river can answer no purpose of immediate 
good, nor do we see any ulterior advantage of general or local interest, to 
sustain the decision of Congress. The members of that body seem to have 
acted under a misapprehension of the character of the district cut off. It 
was supposed that by running the west line of Iowa on a longitudinal line 
considerably east of the Missouri a strip of country would be left bordering 
on the river of sufficient magnitude and resources to justify the organization 
of a new territory at an early day and ultimately a new state ; but such is 
not the fact. The country is sufficient, if the Indian title were extinguished, 
to afford, perhaps, three counties, but scarcely more. We base this opinion 
on the resources rather than the extent of the excluded district. Its soil is 
mainly of excellent quality, but the scarcity of timber and materials for 


building is so great as to preclude all idea of dense settlements ; rock is 
scarcer than timber, and. much of the country must remain open prairie for 
many years, as the constant burnings, which it is impossible to check, pre 
vent the growth of forests. If this country were included within the limits 
of Iowa, and the five million acres held by the Pottawatamie Indians, pur 
chased, (as we anticipate will soon be the case under the policy of the Indian 
Department,) the whole of it to the Little Sioux river would no doubt soon 
be settled to the extent of its capacity ; and the people of Iowa would thus 
have an outlet, as they ought to have, to the Missouri river, while the gen 
eral government would be saved the further expense of organizing a new 
territorial government over a country whose resources would not justify it." 

In my annual report as Indian Sub Agent for 1844, I had put a carefully 
written paragraph on the boundaries which the proposed state of Iowa 
ought to have, giving them as in the " Log of the Hibernian ; " but when I 
went to Washington in October, 1845, and got the printed documents, I 
found that Mr. T. Hartley Crawford, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, had 
stricken out this useful paragraph and all other matter in my report of any., 
value, and had only printed the customary sentimental bosh about Indians 
that all agents were expected to re-hash at least once a year. I had along 
my original manuscript report and at once copied the paragraph on Iowa 
and enclosed it in a letter to Stephen A. Douglas, then chairman of the 
Committee on Territories of the House of Representatives, telling him how 
the proposed state ought in my opinion to be bounded. 

Mr. Douglas saw at once that the Commissioner was wrong and that I 
was right. He acknowledged the receipt of my letter, with a request to call 
on him; and thus began an acquaintance that lasted till his early and 
lamented death. We had many interviews to discuss the region about 
Council Bluffs, and he assured me that I was the only man who had ever 
given him definite and practical information about the country in question. 
The result of it all was that he was able to present the case so strongly to 
his committee, that the bill was carried, and Iowa got her boundaries as I 
had sketched them in my emasculated report, and in the newspapers, except 
that the north line was put half a degree further up than I had proposed. 

Iowa might have gotten her boundary on the Missouri if I had never 
lived, or been in the Indian service, but she probably would not have gotten 
it so soon, and possibly might never have had it at all. She is indebted to- 
Stephen A. Douglas and myself, and as surviving partner, I have a right to- 
collect the debts due the firm. She owes us a twin statue of gold (join J em like 
Chang and Eng) an hundred feet high, and large in proportion ; but I would 
be satisfied to knock off ninety-nine feet, provided both the twins are cast 
rather chunky, and the heads modeled after that of Mr. Douglas. 

All this is not told as a toot of my own horn, but to show 1st, what 
Stephen and I did for Iowa ; 2nd, to remind the state, now so rich, of an 
honest debt she has never acknowledged ; and 3rd, to show how mistaken 
we may have been after all, looking to the general interests of the west.. 


The line of Iowa might well have been put on the divide between the Mis 
sissippi and Missouri rivers, with her north line half a degree above where 
it is now ; and the area thus given her would have made a splendid state. 
Another good state could have been made west of her, taking in some of the 
country on the other side of the Missouri ; and still another state could, in 
time, have been made in the plains beyond. These three states would have 
given us six votes in the Senate, instead of the four we now have from Iowa 
and Nebraska. 

But at the time, nobody valued rightly the region about Council Bluffs ; 
nobody anticipated the future of the Pottawatamie domain in Southwest 
Iowa, or of the wilderness over the river. Of the former I had written that 
its soil was excellent, but that the scarcity of timber and materials for build 
ing, (rock being scarcer even than timber,) was so great as "to preclude all 
idea of dense settlements." This was a correct enough view at the time, as 
no one looked forward to trains of cars bringing lumber across Iowa from 
Michigan, or up from Missouri or Arkansas. I had said that " much of the 
country must remain open prairie for many years, as the constant burnings, 
which It is impossible to check, prevent the growth of forests." In this sen 
tence the continuance, if not the origin, of the Iowa prairies was accounted 
for, though learned philosophers had undertaken to explain them by theo 
ries harder to comprehend than the prairies themselves. I had also, in this 
brief passage, back in 1845, substantially asserted the practicability of GROW 
ING FORESTS ON THE GREAT PLAINS, as unconscious then of my destiny to 
be a tree planter on them twenty-five years later, as Ben. Holliday at 
"Weston, and Grant at Gravois or Galena, ever were of the big work in store 
for each. 

Then all the country south of the 40th parallel of latitude, and west of 
Missouri and Arkansas, away down to Texas, was to be and remain a home 
for the Indians forever. That was the very word FOREVER. Douglas used 
it. We all used it. And not a solitary man in 1845 realized that it meant 
less than half a score of years. 

North of the 40th parallel of latitude, Mr. Douglas wanted a strip of 
country opened up from the Missouri westward, mainly for a wagon road 
along the Platte Valley for emigrants to Oregon. He had introduced a bill 
for that purpose, and in a letter to me said : " I am glad that we agree upon 
the policy and propriety of the Nebraska Territory, and shall be happy of 
the aid of your pen to obviate objections and place the subject properly 
before the country. The point to be kept prominently in view is, that it is 


that a mind even so comprehensive as that of Stephen A. Douglas, was in 
December, 1845, only exercised to provide a WAGON ROAD up the Platte or 
Nebraska river for overland travel. California was then Mexican territory, 
and his '' national highway " was intended only for Oregon. Unfortunately 
he was even in this too far in advance of others, and the bill failed. Had it 
become a law, the complications arising out of the ' Kansas-Nebraska bill ' 
of 1854 might never have disturbed the public peace. 




We were fortunate in the spring of 1845 to get up to the * Bluffs ' on the 
steamboat General Brooke, on her way to the Mountains, Capt. Joseph A. 
Sire in command ; the u we" being John D., his wee sister, his mother, his 
aunt, and myself. It was the same General Brooke that I had gone up the 
river on in November, 1844, Capt. Throckmorton on deck and Joseph E. 
Gorman in the office ; with dignitaries of the Missouri Legislature on board, 
and also some of those who had helped to make them. The latter were the 
Jupiters who flashed lightning on us daily, and forged editorial thunder 
bolts. We left the Jupiters, and the packages of legislative wisdom James 
H. Lucas, Willis L. Williams and others at Jefferson City, and I went on to 
Weston ; leaving Jno.W. Reid at Independence Landing, undreaming of Bra- 
zito, Sacramento, or Mexican cannon balls. Willis L. Williams attracted my 
hearty good will, his hobby being reform in the laws regarding the property 
rights of married women ; but I have forgotten whether he accomplished 
anything for them or not. Samuel Treat, now the grave Judge of the 
United States Court in St. Louis, had more thought then of slashing edi 
torials (not excelled now-a-days, My Young Friend,) than he had of judicial 
decisions, never to be overruled in any case of importance ; but fortunately 
for Jurisprudence the ' woolsack ' won him from the ' tripod ' if they ever 
had a ' tripod ' in Shadrack Penn's old St. Louis Reporter office. The cars 
now whirl the Legislators in a few hours from St. Louis to Jefferson ; but 
there are no journeys so pleasant and profitable, and with so much wit and 
wisdom abroad, as ours on the old General Brooke. The only weakness I 
ever knew of His Honor was, that he thought my doggerel ' Letter from an 
Ancient Mariner,' giving some account of the trip, worth reading. Perhaps 
I might trust the Court to overrule demurrers and give some of the verses ; 
but a few lines will suffice : 


" We had a CHAMBERS too, and took a KNAPP 

On board (I always spell it with a K.j 
A jovial party as you could entrap 

At such a time to start from home away ; 
'Twas quite a TREAT to have another chap 

Along his name I think you'll guess you may; 
Besides, as beautiful and lovely maid as 

Eye e'er hath seen, came on with other ladies." 

And so it ran on for a column. The piece was a,jeu d j esprit, well under 
stood at the time, and hence its appreciation by His Honor ; but the hits 
now touch only the empty air. Adam B. Chambers, long one of the editors 
of the Republican, departed this life nearly thirty years ago, and few are 
left who knew him or his personal worth and great public services. I only 
know of Judge Samuel Treat, Col. George Knapp, Capt. Joseph E. Gorman, 
and myself, as survivors of that voyage in November, 1844. 

[While reading proof of the foregoing paragraph, the sad intelligence 
came that Col. Knapp, who had gone abroad in the hope of benefit to his 
health, had died at sea on the homeward voyage, September 18, 1883. No 
eulogy of mine could add to the respect in which his memory is held in the 
Mississippi Valley.] 

Our trip in 1845, with Capt. Sire on deck, had no legislative wisdom on 
board, nor press-gang. The only writer for the public was the f!e facto 
Major and dejure Colonel, myself. But Captain Sire had a guest of distin 
guished lineage, on a tour to the Mountains. This was Monsieur le Comte 
d'Outrante, son of Fouch^, Bonaparte's Chief of Police ; but as I had not 
been personally acquainted with Fouche, and in fact knew nothing more of 
him than I had learned from Sir Walter's Life of General Bonaparte (as the 
British Government, with amazing absurdity, persisted in styling the Em 
peror,) I was only attracted to the Count by his genuine bonhommie and 
agreeable manners. His father's history and character had been by no 
means admirable ; but never have I travelled with a stranger more sedulous 
than the Count to promote every one's enjoyment ; and though Capt. Sire 
was careful, as we all were, always to address his high-rank passenger as 
'Monsieur le Comte,' yet nobody would have guessed from his deportment 
that he was anything more than an unassuming gentleman. 

We were about the mouth of Kaw River, one morning, when the Count 
addressed John D.'s mother and aunt 

" Ze Boogs, Mesdames you 'ave ze boogs ? eh ? non ? " 

" Books? " inquiringly from the matron. 

"Books, Monsieur le Comte?" from the aunt. 

" Oui yes Mesdames ze boogs. Nevaire Je I 'ave ze many boogs, 
like on zees boat. Non, non nevaire ! " 

" We have some, Monsieur le Comte. Ours are in the trunks, as we did 
not care to use them." 

"Ah oui yes in ze troonks. Zat ees so. Zees boogs will be in ze 
troonks diable ! " 


"Our books are in English, Monsieur le Comte, 1 ' continued John D.'s 
aunt. " You read English, I suppose? But if yours are French we could 
not read them ; but thank you very much ; very much indeed." 

"Ah! Ma'm'selle you me not comprend. It ees not as you zinks not 
zees," taking a small volume from his pocket " it is ze leetl' what you zay 
in ze chambre million oui million ! " 

Light broke suddenly on the minds of the puzzled ladies they looked at 
each other, and with one impulse whispered 

"Chinees! " 

That was our polite name in Pennsylvania for the insects which had 
annoyed the good count ; a name that has come down from the decorous 
days when piano legs were arrayed in pantalets, and no one would have 
risked the cold shoulder of good society so far as to say * bed bugs.' It was 
a fastidious age, but perhaps as safe as the present more ' free and easy ' 

The Count had evidently seen a great deal of the world, but never a 
stream like the Missouri, with its muddy current, snags and sawyers. The 
snags kept him in constant excitement. They looked fearful to unaccus 
tomed eyes, and every nest of them was an object of interest if not terror 
to the polite Frenchman. Of course we talked a great deal about snags, 
and the perils of navigation, and little John D., listening, was convinced 
that snags were dreadful things, though he had no very clear idea of what 
they were. 

"Oh, Mother ! Mother ! " he squalled, running out to the guard, where 
we were all admiring the grassy slopes of the prairies in the region of the 
Nemahas " she's got a snag ! she's got a snag ! " 

His mother and aunt hurried to the cabin, and found the daughter of 
Peerish Le Claire in convulsions on the floor, while the excited child kept 
up his exclamations " She's got a snag ! she's got a snag ! " The sufferer 
was a three-quarter Indian girl, who had been at the Convent of the 
Sacred Heart in St. Louis to be educated, and was returning home under 
the particular care of Capt. Sire. Handsome and graceful, and the daughter 
of a Chief, she was of course treated with politeness ; but being unfortu 
nately subject to epileptic attacks, the novelty and excitement of so much 
attention from the Captain and his distinguished guest had kept her in a 
nervous condition calculated to bring on the dreaded spasms. Hence the 
alarm of little John D., and the fearful cry which summoned assistance. 

Capt. Sire and the steward were soon at hand, and while they were try 
ing, with the help of the ladies, to restore the struggling girl, by the appli 
cation of a wet towel to her forehead, and other remedies, the amiable Count 
of Otranto (as his name ran in our vernacular), was doing his best to quiet 
the agitated boy. 

" It ees not ze snag, mon fils, zat 'ave troub' ze Ma'm'selle. Non, non, it 
ees not ze snag. Ze snag not in ze boat, mon enfant. Ze snag tout in ze 
riviere voila ! Nevaire ze snag troub' ze ladee ! " 


And when the excitement had quieted down, on Miss Le Claire's revival 
and retirement to her stateroom, and the Count and I were seated with our 
cigars on the guard, he said to me 

"It ees ver' terrib', Monsieur, when 1'enfaiit say ze snag ! Je 'ave fear 
he ees in ze boat. Mais, non non. It ees not ze snag zat make seek ze 
Ma'm'selle. Monsieur le Capitaine, he tell me ze snag not nevaire come in 
hee's boat!" 

The General Brooke landed us safely and went on her way up the long 
hill to the Yellowstone; but we never again saw the amiable Count, or 
heard how he got on with the ' boogs.' 

Our home in 1845 was at Point-aux-Poules, or Chicken Point, near the 
bank of the Missouri, opposite Belvue. I had sold my house at the base of 
the fantastic hills, where the modern city of Council Bluffs long since 
destroyed rny old cornfield, or what was left of it after the Mormons had 
departed. The Saints began to gather at the mouth of the little valley late 
in 1845, (as Illinois had got too hot for them,) and called the place Kanes- 
ville, or ' Winter Quarters,' as you can see in Mrs. Ann Eliza Young's book, 
written after she ran away from Brigham because he had a dozen and a half 
other wives in advance of herself. Fortunately for Iowa the Saints did not 
make a long stay on her fertile soil, but nearly all went on westward in 

Chicken Point, where the traders were located, was the most convenient 
place for the Agency, and I could buy a building cheap from Peter A. Sarpy. 
The only question was, whether it would stay till no longer needed. The 
Indians would probably leave in four or five years. 

" I must consider, Mr. Sarpy, whether the building will last long 

" Last, Major? It's good for twenty years. Every log sound." 

lt That's not the point. The question is, how soon will it go into the 

" Into the river ! What do you mean, Major ? " 

"Only this: the river is cutting in above, and may possibly take the 
building before the Indians go." 

But I concluded to buy. I had studied the action of the Missouri, and 
thought I could tell in advance what it would do. I was in a school of Civil 
Engineering, with the river as tutor and Hydraulics the branch taught. 
The current might cut away Chicken Point in three years, but probably not 
for five or six. I never knew whether the building finally went down with 
the caving bank, or was hauled away ; but the Missouri did its work and 
vindicated my prophecy. The funniest thing about the whole transaction 
was, that the Indian Bureau at Washington, with inscrutable wisdom, 
would never allow an agency house to be provided, until measures were 
in train to treat with the Indians for removal to another ' permanent 
home ! " 

There was great enjoyment in contemplating the Missouri. It was 


always in its soiled work-a-day clothes, as if it did not care for prince or 
potentate, but was only intent on accomplishing its task, which was, to 
tear down the bank 011 one side, and partly deposit the stuff on the other ; 
taking some of it further along, and constantly working to get all the sand 
and clay down towards the Gulf of Mexico. It never seemed at a loss or to 
have a doubt of its power, but had a self-satisfied and saucy air about it, 
indicating entire confidence in itself, and appearing to challenge the ability 
of any mortal man to control it. The swaggering old thing had, however, 
to do its work out-o'-doors, in view of everybody, and I soon began to learn 
the way it carried on, and why it was that Joseph La Barge, Elisha Fine, 
and the other practiced Hydraulic Engineers up in the pilot houses came to 
understand its moods and manners so thoroughly. And I never dreamed, 
while I was musing there on the river bank, or up with the pilots, that I 
was developing my little natural gift for hydraulic engineering, and culti 
vating a taste for the science, which was never adequately taught in schools 
or institutes, or made plain to all comprehensions, until the masterly expo 
sitions of Mr. Eads. Yet so it was. If John Tyler had not vetoed the bank 
bill, and if the Whigs in Pennsylvania had not thrown McCurdy and me 
overboard because we were honest, I never should have been in the Indian 
service at Council Bluffs, and might never have seen the Missouri, or writ 
ten enough about that stream and the Mississippi to make a book bigger 
than the pestiferous Life of Dr. Franklin, which fifty years ago seduced me 
from the vocation of an ' honest farmer.' 

I studied the habits of the Missouri identically those of the Mississippi 
from Wood river down, save in the more impetuous current of the former, 
sweeping and tumbling along as if enraged that its name was not extended 
to the Delta, by right of the fact that it is a longer and more adventurous 
stream than the branch in cleaner raiment that comes to meet it near Alton, 
and shrinks away to the eastern bank, overawed by the majesty of the flood 
from the distant mountains. More than three thousand miles of steamboat 
navigation from the junction of the Missouri and Mississippi up almost to 
the perpetual snows which nourish its infancy, tell us plainly enough that 
if Marquette had seen the Missouri first it would never have lost its name 
till it hnd reached salt water. Then 

Afar through trackless waste and solitude 
, The lone Missouri poured a turbid flood; 

Where all was wild, and primitive, and vast, 
And save a thunder peal, or hurtling blast, 

Or tramp of herd, or savage man all wild 
Awoke the silence, it for ages past 

Else slept un woke and Sabbath had not smiled 
To hear God's law proclaimed in temple undefiled. 

With proper measures to improve the navigation of the Missouri, and 
protect the lands on its borders, everybody would be surprised to see how 
soon the masterful stream would answer to the curb and rein ; and even a 


flood like that of 1844 would not seriously impair its condition. Some old 
engineering notions would be exploded, especially the venerable dogma 
that l sediment-bearing streams are the most difficult to control.' All you 
have to do is to learn what nature does, and then imitate her works. The 
result of all would be that five or six thousand tons of grain in barges could 
in one tow be taken from Omaha or Yankton to New Orleans, or better yet 
perhaps to Port Eads ; and the only trouble would be to find a market for it. 
East India wheat but the topic is not pleasant. 


(St. Louis Mevielle, March, 1845.) 

How deep how startling is the knell 

At midnight swelling, 
AS some lone chime of sacred hell 

The tale is tell ing, 
That all our hopes, loves, joys and friendship's here 

Have passed another year ! 

How mournful, too, the funeral toll 

In measured sound, 
That tells us some departed soul 

Hath judgment found, 
Some lov'd, fond parent, brother, sister, friend, 

Hath reached life's common end! 

Yet oh ! how doubly sad the trembling tale 

From ocean borne 
Of distant death alone ; and grief's low wail 

O'er those we mourn ! 
When one whom we (unknown) admiring, lov'd, 

Death's terrors all hath proved ! 

Oh grave ! how fearful do thy triumphs grow 

As beauty's bloom, 
And youth, and hope, and all that love may know, 

Sink to the tomb ! 
Yet death's last crowning triumph more appals 

The soul, when genius f alls ! 




One August day in 1843, a tall, slim gentleman made up to my lone 
cabin in the (now) city of Council Bluffs, where I sat on the porch with 
a sort of Alexander Selkirk feeling all over me and with a bow to the 
mane of his pony addressed me 

" The Agent, I presume?" 

There was something so refreshing in his manner, the grace of which 
Chesterfield himself could not have excelled, up there, that I was charmed, 
and actually got on my legs to return his salute and acknowledge my 
official rank. It was a conservative country, and folks generally did not 
get up from a good seat when they could help it ; but with all the suaviter 
in modo at command I invited the stranger to 'light down ;' and we were 
soon in lively chat. Beyond affairs of the Agency I have no remembrance 
of the topics discussed, but the sun was far down towards the 'Maha hills 
before he took leave. To meet a gentleman so full of information, wit, 
humor and sprightly anecdote in a city would have been a pleasure ; but 
the inspiration of his presence in the wilderness, breaking in on the dull 
musing of an idle hour, can only be appreciated by some old citizen of 
Indiana who knew Senator u Wash. Ewing." We became friends at once, 
and so continued till his death ; and of all the men I have known in half 
a century I have never met his superior in strong sense, wit, humor, fun, 
hard work, and telling a good story. We had much business together in 
Washington, at sundry times up to 1849, but in all his large operations 
with the Indians in regard to which I was one of his legal counsel 
never did I hear from his lips a word inconsistent with the character of an 
honest and high-toned business man. Such was the character of one of 
the gentlemen, who as ' Indian traders,' were often treated by the Indian 
bureau as if they were only designing scoundrels. His brother, Wm. G. 


Ewing, was in sterling worth a man of the same stamp, but was not given 
to the wit, humor, and funny narration that gave a charm to the leisure 
of George W. The ex-Secretary of the Navy, Richard W. Thompson, of 
Indiana, can bear witness to the unreasonable action in old times of the 
Indian bureau towards the gentlemen I have named, who were merchants 
on a large scale, having stores at many of the Indian agencies. There may 
be better conduct in the Indian bureau now ; but if Indian matters are man 
aged with common sense, and a due regard to the rights of the Indians 
under treaties, as well as the rights of the licensed merchants, the change 
has been great since the days of T. Hartley Crawford, and his successor, 
Wm. Medill, as Commissioners of Indian Affairs. I have mentioned Col. 
Ewing, because he aided in the treaty that finally gave the Pottawatamie 
country to the State of Iowa. 

In the summer of 1845, Major Thomas H. Harvey, Superintendent of 
Indian Affairs at St. Louis civil service reform having rotated Col. D. D. 
Mitchell out to make room for this gentleman came up to my domain to 
make a treaty with the Pottawatamies, and get them to move down and 
join their relations in Kansas. The Indians grunted, ' ugh'd,' and objected. 
On both sides fine speeches were made, but nothing came of the discussion, 
and Major Harvey had to go back without even the draft of a protocol, sat 
isfied that the Indians were not disposed to sell their five million acres. 

But hardly had the fragrance of the Superintendent's dignified presence 
exhaled from Chicken Point, before I noticed mysterious pow-wowing 
among the Chiefs. Unusual gravity sat on their bronzed faces, as pipes 
were handed round, and by signs rather than words something important 
was being discussed. Old Me-ah-mis, Chief of the scantily-clad gentlemen 
who had their wigwams on the head streams of the Nishnabotna, lingered 
at our village and had on an extra weight of decorum and dignity. Even 
the jolly Op-te-ke-shick, or Half-Day, our pompous and eloquent orator, 
who, when not engaged in grave matters of business, was bubbling over 
with fun, and sputtering Indian wit as merrily as a kettle of boiling shirts 
can sputter on washday, had neither joke nor smile for anybody, and would 
even pass little John D. without the customary " How !-Nic-ccw /" It was 
plain that something was in the air beside the usual odors of Chicken Point, 
but there was only one proper way for me to discover what it was : I must 

Soon it all came out. They had not been averse to a fair treaty, but the 
stately old Wah-bon-seh, with the snows of eighty winters on his head, 
had * dreamed ' that Major Harvey was but a little Father after all (six 
feet and over in his stockings though he was), and that the treaty could 
only be properly made with their Great Father at Washington. It was a 
wonderful revelation, especially as his dream had indicated the very Chiefs 
who were to be in the mission to the Capital himself among them ; and he 
had 'dreamed' again, after the departure of Major Harvey, that " Cose- 
non " was to go along with the chiefs as their guide, philosopher and friend. 


Then a remarkable 'dream' came into my noddle, coinciding in the 
most surprising manner with that of Wah-bon-seh, as to the Washington 
visit; and in a second 'dream' both having strangely enough occurred 
while I was wide awake it was clearly revealed that the Chiefs, out of 
the funds of the tribe, were to bear all expenses and pay me fifteen hun 
dred dollars to take care of them and their interests. A third ' dream ' 
resulted in a letter to Washington, placing my office at the disposal of the 
Secretary of War, as no longer needed. Ever since these apparently super 
nal revelations I have been disposed to regret that I was not born before the 
time of Mahomet, as I might have had a better Koran than his revealed to 
me, in broad daylight and with both eyes open. 

Great was Major Harvey's surprise when we arrived in St. Louis the 
Indians, little John D., and the rest of us. He was 'glad the Chiefs had 
come to make the treaty;' but Op-te-ke-shick, in a speech as luminous as 
one of Brother Beecher's, and quite as convincing, soon undeceived him ; 
and old Wah-bon-seh orated to the effect that they had no light up in their 
wigwams, but thought they would possibly be able to see the dawn of a 
new morning if they could look on the big face of their Great Father at 

Our voyage down on the Amaranth, Capt. George W. Atchison, had 
been pleasant, but I have forgotten the incidents, except that in a snaggy 
bend near Iowa Point the anchor was dropped, and after the boat had 
swung round, a hawser coiled on the capstan was made fast to a snag, and 
she was let down to safe water. The hawser was reeled off the capstan as 
successfully as we had expected to reel the silk off our cocoons in the Morus 
Multicaulis days ; when the two men, left at the snag with the yawl, cast 
off the line to be reeled on board, and we headed down stream again. It 
was all very simple, after we saw it done, and I mention this bit of steam- 
boating under difficulties to give an idea of the expedients necessary on 
occasions ' to get along' in bad parts of the river. Not meaning to dispar 
age the moderns, let me say that our steamboat Captains, Pilots and Clerks 
of thirty-five or forty years ago were not the rude and reckless characters 
many innocent people have supposed them to have been. Intent on their 
duties, they often had little time to entertain talking people, but I think 
there is no record anywhere of so many perils encountered with so few dis 
asters as in old days in the Missouri river. 

As a rule, our Captains made little pretensions to 'science,' except in 
taking people and things along safely ; and when the lady with the note 
book talked so learnedly (as a lady from the Atlantic slope ought), and hold 
ing up her glass at dinner was curious to know the reason why the Missouri 
water was considered so ' healthy,' the Captain's reply rather surprised me, 
as an original view of that fluid, and I was glad the lady noted it down as 
one of the remarkable facts of the great west, which I suppose went into her 
book of travels : 

" Madam," replied Captain E., with the grace and suavity proper to the 


host at head of table " the reason is well understood along the river. The 
sand in the water scours out the bowels, and the more one drinks of it the 
healthier he gets." . 

Soon little John D., his wee sister and the ladies whose pleasure it was to 
take care of those wonderful children, were in a St. Louis dwelling, and the 
Chiefs, Interpreters and myself took boat for Pittsburgh, there to take canal 
and railroad through Pennsylvania and round by Baltimore to Washing 
ton. As I was pressed for time in St. Louis, I could not get up to the reser 
voir on Ashley street, to see the great addition made to it, of which I had 
read in the Republican that it was actually ' ' one hundred feet each way by 
twelve feet deep," and was made of planks " caulked and pitched." St. 
Louis was growing so rapidly that this provision for increased water supply 
was actually necessary, and Peter Brooks was complimented very highly for 
his skill in making it. 

Never a more decorous party than my Indians on the steamboat, but not 
unsocial. Op-te-ke-shick would even try to talk English and crack jokes 
with the passengers ; and old Wah-bon-seh would tell, through the inter 
preter, how he got his name, when, as a young brave, he ' struck ' the sleep 
ing Osages. It was a nice little military history, and the snowy-headed old 
Indian felt as proud of his feat of arms as any general who ever commanded 

Phrenology and Mesmerism were much discussed in that age, and one 
evening in the ladies' cabin, as we paddled up the Ohio, there was a gen 
eral fumbling of heads for bumps ; a model head in plaster, with a chart on 
it, serving to indicate their position ; and much amusement resulted from 
the reading of character by the sense of touch, as the blind absorb litera 
ture. We next tried Mesmerism, or Animal Magnetism as it ought to be 
called, having been known long before Mesmer practised it ; and in due 
course it came my turn to make a trial. I had scarcely taken my seat in 
front of a lady passenger and begun the proper stare, and the prescribed 
holding of her hands, and the passes over her forehead and eyes, when the 
Chiefs, whose education had not taken in the ' great medicine ' of Mesmer, 
became interested in the unusual proceedings. The feeling of heads had 
puzzled them, as we were evidently not engaged (like their neighbors, the 
Ottoes across the Missouri) in any search for entomological specimens ; but 
the holding of hands, and staring, and pawing over the faces and arms of 
the ladies, might mean unknown calamities. Nearer and nearer they drew, 
intent to witness the catastrophe, when the subject, having gone into the 
Mesmeric sleep, I turned her face upward aud arranged her rigid arms as if 
in supplication, much to the astonishment if not alarm of my friends of the 

"Wah! ty yah!" exclaimed the sturdy Me-ah-mis, " Cose-non/ 
Che-moke-mon-quai !" 

Which reads, in a free translation " Hello ! what in thunder has our 
father been doing to the white woman !" 


The passage of the Alleghenies actually elicited two or three * ughs ' in 
acknowledgment of their wonders ; the Indians never having been among 
hills, except those of a prairie country, which one can only see by going 
down towards the streams. The little locomotives on the levels of the 
Portage Railroad were not regarded as of much consequence, as the travel 
ers had all seen steamboats, with wheels a world bigger than those of the 
locomotives, and they had learned that the mysterious force of steam could 
turn the big wheels in the water ; but the ropes of the inclined planes, 
moving apparently by their own volition and hauling us up the long hill, 
were ' great medicine ' ' ugh !' 

It was a great treat to my native town to stop a day. No live Indian 
had been seen in that valley for unknown years, possibly since Logan left ; 
and we had a * reception.' The whole town came to see us, and Andrew 
Parker Jacob, in all the freshness, hope and vigor of a young lawyer's life, 
made an address, to which Me-ah-mis replied. After the proper compli 
ments (for our Chiefs were all gentlemen), he said : 

" My Friends, we have come a long journey 011 our way to see our Great 
Father, the President. Our business is important. We have left our homes, 
our wives, and our little ones to attend to it personally. Our Great Father 
has promised that justice shall be done. He has said he will do something 
for us at the proper time. The proper time has never come yet. We are 
going to try to find out when it will come. When we learn that we will 
know more than we do now !" 

These words of Me-ah-mis tell the tale of a great deal of Indian dissat 
isfaction, which has in many cases cost the lives of innocent people. The 
proper time was never observed. As Indian agent, I found it impossible 
to have business between the Indians and the government carried on in a 
common sense way. Congress would not make in proper time the appropri- 
tions required by treaties ; and the Indian bureau delayed the annuities in 
goods and money. The unbroken rule was, that these would not arrive 
until after the date required by the promises of the United States. It was 
often exasperating to see the patient and simple Pottawatamies waiting for 
the ' payment,' when they ought to have been on their annual buffalo hunt 
to lay in a supply of meat for the winter. It was no doubt the destiny of 
the aborigines to fade away but their treatment by the government might 
as well have been honest and wise, and of course humane. 






Fuller's Hotel at Washington, now Willard's, afforded the Pottawat- 
amies ample quarters. Better housed than ever before, they took it all as a 
matter of course, but were not fussy guests, and had no use for the boot 
black. Some of our friends, the 'traders,' were in the city, of whom I 
remember Col. Geo. W. Ewing and Capt. Joseph A. Sire. The Indians 
were in debt to these gentlemen, and if a treaty was to be made, it was well 
enough for the rights of all to be looked after ; and the Chiefs were very 
much gratified to have their friends present, although the sapient Indian 
bureau regarded the merchants who had credited the members of the 
tribe as little better than thieves and robbers. 

Col. Ewing was especially useful to us, as he could 'talk Indian,' and 
help to interpret. When we went to see the ' Electro-Magnetic Telegraph,' 
as it was called, having been only six months in use for general business 
between Washington and Baltimore he aided to explain it, and made quite 
a speech to the Chiefs about the Great Spirit, the lightning, and Professor 
Morse. The Professor was then the Genius of the Century, although he 
may perhaps be almost forgotten ere its close. Congress, after weary beg 
ging, had aided him to get in operation the line from Washington to Balti 
more, and private enterprise (October 1845) was carrying it on, even to 
Philadelphia and New York ! But hardly anybody anticipated the extent 
to which the telegraph would come into use, and to ' put a girdle round the 
world ' by cables in the seas was not yet dreamed of. The first message 
ever sent by an electric telegraph line was the sentence "WHAT HATH 
GOD WROUGHT," transmitted from Washington to Baltimore, May 24, 
1844. This message was suggested by Miss Annie Ellsworth, a lass in her 
teens, who had been the first to inform Mr. Morse that his bill had passed 

The telegraph was 'great medicine' to the Chiefs. Years before they 
had learned why it was that a piece of paper, with marks on it, could con 
vey ideas and preserve them ; but this thing of stretching a wire on posts 


forty miles, sending along any thing one wanted to say, and having the 
reply in a minute, jotted down in mysterious dots and dashes on a strip of 
paper, was something akin to what the Great Spirit himself might be ex 
pected to do if he felt in the humor. They would not have been able to be 
lieve it all if they had not seen that Col. Ewing, Capt. Sire, and myself gave 
full credence ; and when old Wah-bon-seh had his name sent to Baltimore, 
and it came clicking back before he had time for more than three whiffs of 
his pipe, he expelled the last draught of smoke through his venerable nos 
trils, gave us a monstrous ' ugh! " and declared that he had seen so many 
wonders in his life that he must now be called Twilight, as it was not worth 
while ever to see any more. 

The Daguerreotype gallery of John Plumbe, near Brown's Hotel (now 
the Metropolitan), was a palace of wonders, not only to the Indians, but to 
many of our white fellow-mortals who had never yet been portrayed by the 
Daguerrean artist. It was only in 1839, six years before, that Monsieur Da- 
guerre had brought his process into public use, and the French government 
(perhaps as enlightened in some things as our own) had purchased it for the 
general benefit ; and making pictures by self-acting light was not by any 
means so universal as now, when we have the photograph and artotype ; 
and poor old Daguerre, who no doubt thought himself famous, is almost 
gone into oblivion. The New York Herald, in November 1845, had a Wash 
ington letter which said : 

"The greatest wonder of all to country folks are those who take other 
people off without touching them at all. Among them is the gentleman at 
Plumbe's Daguerrean gallery. He takes everybody off, from the President 
down to common folks. Here are John Tyler old, John Tyler young, and 
hundreds of others, all hanging up with their backs against the walls as 
natural and life-like as if they were living, breathing creatures. Pottawat- 
amies were there too. I saw them the other day, and never saw them look 
better than they do in plates ; (they're pretty good along side of a plate, if 
full enough). Among them is Wah-bon-seh, the old brave of whom Mc- 
Kenny, in his 'North American Indians,' gives us a striking portrait and 
an interesting biography. This old fellow's name means literally Dawn of 
Day, and he gained it by an exploit of his youth. He went solus on an ex 
pedition against the Osages, to avenge the death of a friend ; stole into their 
camp, tomahawked a dozen before the alarm was given, and then escaped 
just as the day was dawning. ' Wah-bon-seh ! ' he exclaimed, ' day a little ! ' 
and took that for his name. In the Black Hawk war he was very active on 
behalf of the whites. Shah-be-nay, another chief, is well portrayed. This 
man distinguished himself about the time the Black Hawk war broke out, 
by his expeditions to warn the inhabitants of Illinois of their danger. Half 
Day, the orator of the party, is a fine-looking Indian, and makes a capital 
picture. He is a jolly fellow, and says his picture would look much better 
with 'two white squaws,' one on each side. The Indians were much sur 
prised at the magnetic telegraph, but more at the Daguerreotype process. ' J 


The young reader will hardly know what the Daguerreotype was a 
picture taken on a metalic plate, before the art came in of taking pictures 
on prepared paper. Miss Lilly has only known of what we call the Photo 
graph, or its multiplier, the Artotype. But her greatest misfortune (and 
that of Adonis too) is that the advancement in Science and Art has in the 
last fifty years been so great, that there is nothing left to wonder at. Things 
which afforded us surprise and taxed our faculties in efforts to understand 
them, thus giving us the double pleasure of excited wonder and triumph 
over mystery, are now so common that Lilly and Adonis lose all the enjoy 
ment we had in old times over strange things ; and they can only go on 
telling each other the old, old story, which, they may thank their Creator, 
will ever be new to each generation. But as to the old Daguerreotype pro 
cess, I might say that it made a better picture than the photographic art 
can show, judging by my own likeness, taken in 1845 at Plumbe's gallery ; 
for I defy any Photographer to make as handsome a picture of me now ! 

The amount of cheap pleasure afforded by photography is incalculable. 
Adonis can have his Lilly's pretty face for his pocketbook at a cost so small 
as to be almost contemptible ; but only a little over forty years ago her 
painted miniature would have been too dear for his purse. Among the first 
cities of the world to enjoy the results of Daguerre's art was St. Louis, as a 
gallery was established by John H. Fitzgibbon in 1841, only two years after 
the French had made the process public. This excellent man went to his 
rest in 1882, but the St. Louis Photographer, a monthly journal founded by 
him, is continued under Mrs. Fitzgibbon, and is the exponent of photo 
graphic art for the great valley. 


Long years ago he drew 
The magic pictures by the sun's assistance; 

The art was then so curious and so new, 
We wonder'd it had come so great a distance, 

With such perfection and a touch so true. 

For scarce Daguerre had thrown 
His wond'rous process open to the nations, 

When here on Mississippi's banks 'twas known, 
By our Fitzgibbon's dext'rous ministrations, 

And portraits in our cabinets were shown 

My infant darlings then 
Were taken off with marvellous precision; 

Though long since women grown and men, 
I see them smiling in a happy vision, 

As if their childhood were all back again. 

Our Chiefs called on Senator Ben ton and had a talk. Mrs. Jessie Benton 
Fremont was present, and much pleased to meet frontier people who knew 
of her adventurous husband. Our half-breed interpreters, who had learned 


French from Canadian voyageurs before the Pottawatamies had left their 
homes near Chicago, were delighted with Madame's conversation in that 
language, and wondered that a lady could speak French so well, who had 
grown up so far away from where they had learned it. Senator Bentou 
had received us with as much courtesy as if we had been the entire diplo 
matic corps, and promised his aid in adjusting our affairs with the govern 

J. Knox Walker, President Folk's Secretary, had been formally advised 
that the Pottawatamie ambassadors would pay their respects to the Presi 
dent of the United States, at any hour to suit the convenience of their Great 
Father ; and soon an orderly brought us a gilt-edged note from Mr. Walker 
as instructed by the President, directing the next day and the hour of noon 
for the ceremony. Part of the night was spent in solemn council, and the 
next morning was devoted to personal adornment. LeClaire, Holliday and 
Beaubien, half-breeds, had come down to the white man's dress, but the 
Chiefs rejected with scorn the suggestion of any costume but that of the 
prairie. It had gotten out that the interview was to take place, and when 
we filed out from Fuller's and marched toward the White House, our con 
spicuous and somewhat picturesque procession had a crowd of spectators 
big enough to stamp us as the best show of the day. 

President Polk, Secretary of War Marcy, and Commissioner of Indian 
Affairs Medill, received us in a spacious apartment ; and we were also hon 
ored by the presence of several ladies. Op-te-ke-shick, or Half Day, ad 
dressed the President : 

" My Great Father : You see your red children, the Chief and Braves of 
the Pottawatamies. We are very glad to shake you by the hand. We have 
come a long way and our hearts beat lively when we see you." 

President Polk replied that he was very much pleased to meet his red 
children from the far west. 

" You have come," he continued, " a long distance to the seat of govern 
ment, and you consider the business which has brought you here of import 
ance. It shall be attended to. Full justice shall be done to you. The 
government desires to preserve relations of friendship and peace to all the 
Indian tribes, so that the hatchet between the red man and the white man 
may long remain buried." 

Having, like a skillful diplomatist, drawn out these professions and 
promises, Op-te-ke-shick proceeded to deliver the speech agreed on in our 
night council : 

" My Father : Your chiefs and braves here present respect the govern 
ment of the United States. All our people at home respect the government. 
The white man is our friend and we are his. We have always given you 
our land when you asked for it. We never refused you. Like good chil 
dren we always said yes. 

" Father : We have given you all our land about the Great Lakes. Look 
at it. Millions of white men can live on it. They are now on it. It is a 


great country, and it contains the bones of our grandfathers. It is ours no 
longer, but we love it still. When we look back to it our hearts are sad. 

" Father: You gave us a country on the Missouri, where we now are. 
Twelve winters ago at Chicago you told us it should be our home as long as 
the sun shines and water flows; that we should grow up there like the 
grass in the prairies ; and that all you had promised should be done for us 
there. We have not seen it. 

" Father : We love the country where we are. But you have asked us 
to go southwest of the Missouri. We do not know what to do. There is a 
cloud before us, and we look to you to remove it. We can depend on no one 
but you. 

"Father: If we stay where we are, we are told the white man's laws 
will be extended over us by the State of Iowa. We do not understand them. 

" Father : You are from the West. You know what your red children 
want. You can make us see clearly and make our hearts glad." 

The President made another speech and told us the Secretary of War 
would look into the case and see justice done. All the promises of the gov 
ernment, he said, should be kept ; and after everything should be arranged 
he would like to see us all again before starting home. Then we shook 
hands all 'round and marched back to Fuller's, where we discussed the 
President's speeches, which had afforded the Chiefs much satisfaction, ex 
cept the sentence about the hatchet. They had heard so much of the 
hatchet, which they had (figuratively) buried so many years before, that 
they were tired of it ; and besides, they had lived so long on the border of 
civilization, that they thought this hatchet talk, which might do for the 
wild fellows out on the plains, ought to be dropped. I was awfully tired 
of it too. I had taken a distaste to the mention of a hatchet in childhood, 
when it seemed to me so absurd to give little George Washington so much 
applause for simply telling the truth, which was a common thing in our 
family. When Father inquired what had become of the piece of buck 
skin which he intended for a patch on his riding clothes where the saddle 
had worn them, I never thought of anything else than just to tell him that 
I had taken it for the boys to cover their balls with ; but from what fol 
lowed right away after I have always doubted Mr. Weemes' pretty story of 
the way little George's father behaved to him about the cutting of the 
cherry tree. 

As Col. Ewing and I were taking our late oysters to sleep on, he said 

" Major, who are those fellows prowling through the corriders after our 
Indians ? Goggles ! yes, sir one of them with goggles on ! They pushed 
in at the President's to-day too. And there's old Sam Stambaugh what's 
he after ? He has enough to do to look after his Cherokees." 

" Don't be disturbed, Colonel. Its all right. Those fellows, as you call 
them, are the gentlemen to make an atmosphere." 

" An atmosphere? What the deuce is an atmosphere? " 

" Just wait, and you'll see." 


"Well, all I've got to say is don't lend them any money." 

u No fear of that. They're not after money." 

" Then what do they want, if not money? Everybody in Washington 
wants money." 

" Not of course. But wait and see." 

I would give him no explanation ; but when Father Ritchie's paper, the 
Union, official organ of Mr. Folk's administration, came out next morning 
with a two column editorial written by Col. Stambaugh, giving a graphic 
account of our call at the White House, and assuring everybody that justice 
must and should be done to the noble Pottawatamies, who had come all the 
way from Council Bluffs to get it ; and when, next day, the New York 
Herald and Philadelphia Ledger got in, the glowing letters about the ' red 
brethren,' their intelligent friend (giving me the proper title of Colonel), 
the great wrongs of the Indians, the splendid domain on the Missouri, 
which the government wanted to wheedle them out of, and so on, the way 
to make an ' atmosphere/ and the use to be made of it, became palpable to 
the apprehension of Col. Ewing. 

I was using the Press. We had paraded to visit Col. Benton, to see the 
telegraph, and the Daguerrean gallery, had inspected the curiosities of the 
Patent Office (where a suit of Washington's every-day clothes were pre 
served in a glass case), and had taken a look at the Capitol ; but only a few 
persons saw us after all, and only a limited public sentiment could be cre 
ated by all this marching and countermarching. Besides, how would the 
gazing public know what to think of us ? But the newspapers carried us 
everywhere, and told the people what views they ought to take of us ; and 
the public, as in duty bound, was on our side. There was a Pottawatomie 
atmosphere everywhere. It even reached the lungs of the dignified old 
National Intelligencer, which from its lofty position gave us an editorial 
puff. We were in all thoughts and on all tongues. Never before or since has 
an Indian delegation at Washington been so much talked about and so 
heartily sympathised with. 

"Major," said Capt. Sire to me, " if you pay for a single dozen of oysters, 
or a bottle of wine, while we are in Washington, I'll make it a personal 
matter, sir." 

Col. Ewing was highly amused, and acknowledged that my ' atmosphere' 
was just the thing to waft us onward in our treaty making enterprise ; and 
told me that when I should get back to St. Louis, and get out my * shingle ' 
as a lawyer, I must consider myself as engaged by the year as attorney for 
the firm of W. G. & G. W. Ewing. He even took back all he had said about 
the " goggles," and insisted on making the acquaintance of Dr. Wallace, of 
the New York Herald, who wore the glasses. 

The Press had been used but in that unsophisticated age not a dollar 
had been paid to any writer, as all were glad of the chance to write about 
Indians ; and not a line was printed that was not substantially true. From 
prudence as well as principle, the Indians and myself gave out only facts, 
and we had thus no dread of detection or exposure. 




Gen. Gibson and Maj. T. P. Andrews, of the army, were selected by 
President Polk to treat with us, and the important conference would begin 
next day. At night the corridors of Fuller's hotel reeked with smoke. 
Having gained a point we did not mean to lose it, and no step should be 
taken without due consideration. I only remember hazily the decisions of 
our grave council, but the main thing was, not to hastily commit ourselves. 
Wah-bon-seh was to open briefly, and conclude with the hope that if v;e 
should agree on a treaty it might be a wise one, as he did not expect ever to 
take part in making another. Peerish Le Claire, in Indian lingo, was to 
refer to some former treaties, the promises of which had not been kept by 
the government, and was to expatiate on the charms of the country about 
Chicago, where the frogs in the marshes sang more sweetly than birds in 
other parts a land of beauty, which they had ceded to the government for 
a mere trifle, although it had been their home so long that they had tradi 
tions of Pierrot, the first white man who ever set foot upon it, two hundred 
years before. He was to conclude with praises of the Platte country in Mis 
souri, once promised to them as their home l forever,' but from which they 
had in a short time been pushed up northward. Op-te-ke-shiek was to 
repeat, substantially, the speech made to the President, with expatiation 
on the beauty and value of their five million acres (so much desired by the 
people of Iowa as part of their prospective state), and was to magnify the 
reluctance of the Pottawatomies to give up so fine a country, with a sug 
gestion that their brethren in Kansas might come up there, if the govern 
ment wanted them all in one place, as there was room enough for every 
body. He was also to hint of shortcomings of the Indian bureau, and con 
clude with the assurance that his folks would all be perfectly happy in 
their present location, if their Great Father would only not forget his 


promises, and would stop troubling their ears with talk about moving 

Should the diplomats on the side of the government make any distinct 
proposal, the sturdy Me-ah-mis was to tell them that the Chiefs would 
retire to the great wigwam of Mr. Fuller to consider it, and would agree to 
it if it looked all right. As their friend and adviser, I was to say nothing, 
but observe closely, and if I should see any signs of sharp practice on the 
part of the commissioners, was to give a hint to Wah-bon-seh, who would 
adjourn the council. No lawyers in consultation over a difficult case ever 
arranged its management more carefully. 

It was a nice program, and we carried it out with tolerable success, but 
our councilings ran through several days. The incidents and their order 
have faded from memory, but I recollect clearly that the first offer for our 
five million acres, a domain six times the size of Rhode Island, was $250.000. 
This we declined, of course ; but I totally forget how it was that, after a 
few interviews, we got into a snarl, and a good deal of temper was dis 
played on both sides ; whereupon the negotiation was broken off in a huff 
all round. 

We were in the papers again insulted, they said, by the top-lofty com 
missioners ! The modest friend of the Indians had been roused to indigna 
tion ! The dignity of the Chiefs would not permit them longer to continue 
in a council where no respect was paid to their rights or feelings. Monstrous 
injustice unseemly attempt to wheedle the poor Indians, and, this failing, 
infamous browbeating! The word " bull-dosing " had not been invented, 
or it would no doubt have been used. Much to be regretted, they said, this 
rupture of the negotiation, on many accounts, and especially as the five 
million acres would suit so well as part of the new state of Iowa. The 
" atmosphere " was full of brimstone. 

We must take leave of the President, and go home. Again, in paint and 
feathers, we paraded up to the White House, all very wide awake, although 
most of the night before had been spent in assorting our thunderbolts, and 
selecting the best for use. Dr. Wallace, of the New York Herald, under 
date of November 21, 1845, gave an account of us : 

"The Pottowatamie delegation, under the care of their friend the Colonel, 
had another talk with the President to-day in the White House. They 
occupied several hours of the morning in arranging their toilet, and when 
they appeared, debouching from Fuller's hotel in Indian file, their costume 
presented a most singular admixture of savage and civilized fashions. Moc- 
cassins, buckskin gaiters, beads, medals, long flowing masses of a crimson 
sea-grass or hair, eagle's feathers, raven's wings, ear ornaments, fragments 
of bear skins, hung with numerous ".mall bells, and a profusion of paint of 
different colors, were strangely blended with frock coats, fur caps, turbans 
and ivory-headed walking sticks. Arrived at the President's, they were 
conducted to the reception room of their Great Father. A number of white 
citizens and strangers were present, some of them distinguished person- 


ages. The President came in, accompanied by Mr. Marcey, the Secretary of 
War, and Mr. J. Knox Walker, the Private Secretary of the Executive. 
* * * * Q n the west a side door was thrown open, and several beautiful 
female countenances contemplated the pow-wow. 

" The delegation all having shaken hands with the President and those 
about him, they were again seated, and after a moment's pause, Op-te-ke- 
shiek, or Half Day, the orator, stepped forward, shook hands with his Great 
Father and the Secretary of War, and stepping backward to an open space, 
motioned to M. B. Beaubien, a half-breed, and an intelligent man, to rise 
and interpret to the President the speech intended for his hearing. 

" But before we proceed to the speech, let us describe Half Day and his 
rig. Op-te-ke-shiek is a stout man, rather corpulent, of about five feet nine 
inches in height, with a full, broad open countenance, more expressive of a 
lively, gay and volatile temperament than of the usual inflexible stolidity 
of the Indian. He has a fine set of teeth, which, when he smiles, are exhib 
ited without reservation. His cheeks and temples were painted a bright 
vermillion, with a zigzag stripe of Prussian blue upon each side, which, from 
the contrast of the bright ground color of red, stood out in fine relief. His 
thick suit of black hair was docked all round, and combed over his brow 
from the crown. His crown was surmounted by a flaming top-knot of a red 
fibrous material, like hair, in the centre of which was a large eagle's feather 
fixed upon a pivot, and from which dangled a fantastically carved wooden 
skip-jack of about eight inches by two. He wore mocassins and buckskin 
leggins, and a civilized shirt, which, instead of tucking into his short buck 
skin breeches, he wore over them as a butcher wears his white apron. To 
crown this magnificent display of "finery, he had on a blue frock coat, and a 
black silk cravat tied loosely about his throat. His left hand rested on the 
large ivory head of a sword-cane, and his right was left free for action. His 
attitude was dignified and erect, the expression of his countenance stern 
and impressive, his voice clear, decisive and distinct his gestures chaste, 
appropriate, and almost an interpretation of his words ; his whole manner 
was elegant and admirable. 

" He said in substance, that when last he talked to the President, it was 
in this same room ; that his talk was good ; that he had told them (the 
Indians) their rights should be respected, etc. They had been referred to 
the Secretary of War, and he had referred them to the two braves, (Messrs. 
Gibson and Andrews) but nothing had been done. They (the Indians) had 
been told that the lands which they now occupy in pursuance of the treaties 
of Chicago, were not intended for their permanent residence. They had 
been given to understand differently when they made those treaties. They 
had come a long way to lay their complaints before their Great Father. 
They could now only rely upon him. If they were disappointed they desired 
to be told so, that they might know how to act, or whether to remain any 
longer at the seat of government or not. 

"When Half Day had finished his speech, he walked up again to the 


President and the Secretary of War, and the few persons immediately about 
them, and laughing, shook hands with them, exclaiming as he passed from 
one to another, How de do? Ah ! hah ! Major, how de do? 

" The President replied that the government was bound to take care of 
all its red children, and that it would do so. (Here an exclamation 'Whoo- 
whoo!' of evident pleasure passed round the Indian line.) The President, 
however, said that the subject belonged to the Secretary of War and the 
Commissioners ; that this delegation had come voluntarily to the seat of 
government; but that it was his wish, notwithstanding, that they might 
yet go home entirely satisfied. 

" Half Day rejoined in a style even more determined and animated than 
at first, that they had come because the government was in their debt. He 
desired to know of the President, if they (the Indians) were in his debt, 
whether he would not go out to them or send a messenger to collect the 
money? The government had owed them for twelve years for the lands 
they had sold it. When this old bill was settled, it would be time enough 
to talk of a new contract. 

" A consultation ensued between Colonel Elliott for the tribe on the one 
part, and the president and the Secretary of War for the government on the 
other ; after which the President said that their may have been some mis 
understanding in the talk had with the two Commissioners, and that it was 
intended to give his red children another council on Monday next. 

" Half Day replied that during the President's consultation, he had also 
had a little consultation with his Chiefs. But the Commissioners at the 
last council had told them that the door was closed. 

" The President said that it should be opened again. At this, Half Day 
laughed heartily, and shortly thereafter, the delegation returned to their 
quarters at the hotel. The bearing of the President towards these poor 
people was kind and paternal. He endeavored to impress upon their minds 
that the government would not see them wronged that it was bound to 
protect them and would not fail to do it." 

This long extract refers to events which led to the early cession of 
the Pottawatamie lands in Iowa, and gives a graphic picture of my friend 
Half Day, one of the jolliest fellows I ever knew, and yet a man of excellent 
sense in his way. The correspondent does scant justice to his speeches, the 
points of which had all been agreed on the night before ; nor did the good 
scribe (with the goggles) catch the wink, the burly orator gave us as he 
came up laughing to shake hands all round. The wink meant that we had 
gained the object of our farewell call, which was, in fact, to re-open the 
negotiation, as the Chief's had no idea of going home without having accom 
plished anything, to be complained of by some of their people, and laughed 
at by others. The Chiefs who had rubbed against civilization, had a dread 
of ridicule directed against themselves, and like white men, only enjoyed it 
when others were the victims. 

The council re-opened. Never was Half Day so eloquent. He portrayed 


the magnificent domain in Northern Illinois, which at the wish of the gov 
ernment, the Pottawatamies had abandoned its rivers, its lakes, its game, 
its groves of cotton wood for the winter forage of their ponies its forests of 
sugar trees and the graves of their fathers for unknown generations all 
given to the white man. The Indians must go, they had been told ; but 
they were to have a home in Missouri 'forever.' How long did 'forever' 
last? Just as many winters as he had fingers on his hands ; for two years 
ago they had been told it was time to be taking down their lodges to move 
again. He would have liked to take off his moccasins and count on his 
toes ; but their Great Father only looked at their fingers. That was his 
'forever.' Their brethren down in Kansas had a ' forever ' too, but how 
long would it last, if he and his people were to go there ? It was a good 
country on the Missouri ; not as good as round Chicago, and on the Kan- 
kakee, but it would do. They liked it more and more. Many of them had 
log houses and little farms ; they had homes which they did not want to 
leave. Even the people of Me-ah-mis, on the Nishnabotna, had good wig 
wams, and were happy. If their Great Father wants them to go to Kansas, 
he must have put new hearts into the braves (Gibson and Andrews) sent 
to talk with them again. The Great Father has a big house to live in. 
He must be very rich. But the braves had acted as if he was poor. They 
had only offered a little sum for their five million acres, like giving a poor 
fellow the tail of a buffalo to keep him warm. He wanted a whole robe or 
nothing. He could not go home to his people and have only a buffalo tail 
to show for all their land. 

At a vast expense of oratory on both sides we went 011 day after day with 
our council, but the novelty was wearing off, and the public, I think, was 
getting a little tired of us, when we at length closed the contract at $650,000 for 
the Pottawatamie domain in Iowa ; just $600,000 more than first offered for 
it. A sort of protocol was signed, not as a final treaty, but to be executed 
as such at Council Bluffs, "when the grass grows " in the following spring. 
Our last council was a very solemn affair, but we separated in good humor, 
with the distinct understanding that the same Commissioners were to visit 
the Bluffs, in the spring, and the same friends of the Indians were to be 
present. The Chiefs particularly designated me as their friend and adviser, 
who must be there, as I could tell their people the Treaty was all right, and 
could see that it was executed according to the agreement already entered 

That night at Fuller's we ' dreamed ' again. My dream was to the effect 
that the Chiefs were to pay me three ' boxes/ in the spring, for going to 
their country to aid in completing the Treaty ; and the Chiefs dreamed that 
the arrangement was 'good.' A 'box' meant $1,000, as their cash annui 
ties were paid in silver, each box containing that sum. 

As I was to remain a few weeks in Washington, the delegation bade me 
farewell, and I have never seen any of them since. On their way home, a 
stage was upset in Ohio, and Wah-bon-seh was killed. Some of the others 


were hurt, but not fatally. The old Chief's bones (and there was not much 
else), were laid in the soil of Ohio, and may have fertilized the vegetation 
which has been nourishing some Buckeye boy for a future President. 

The days of Indian delegations to Washington, in paint and feathers, are 
past and gone, and hence I have given so full an account of our visit in 1845, 
as a record of earnest action never to be repeated. It was part of the pro 
cess of pushing the Indians further westward, to make room for what we 
consider a better order of human kind. Yet we had only faint notions of 
what was to come. If the reader will go back to that date, and consider 
what were the condition and prospects of the continent west and northwest 
from Council Bluffs to the Pacific, and contrast it with the present, he will 
see how far the reality of progress has outrun any possible anticipation. Or 
let him in imagination go back to Chicago in 1834, and sit in council with 
the Pottawatamies, then making the treaty by which they ceded to the 
United States their splendid domain of northern Illinois, and he will see 
that the world has no record of changes equal to those at the end of Lake 

During my stay in Washington, I boarded in the same house with Asa 
Whitney, then urging his grand scheme of a Pacific Railroad. He wanted 
to start from Lake Michigan, and run to the Pacific by way of the South 
Pass, and petitioned Congress for a grant of lands one hundred miles wide, 
afterwards reduced to sixty, to provide means to build the road. Through 
the press I co-operated with him in educating the public mind on the sub 
ject of a Pacific Railroad, on his or some other plan. Mr. Whitney was a 
most amiable, intelligent and interesting man, of views too broad and com 
prehensive to be readily appreciated by Congress or the people. But he 
did a good deal to create that enlightened public sentiment, which began in 
1862 to take practical shape in acts of Congress organizing the Union Pacific 
Railroad Company, but which had, years before, resulted in the incorpora 
tion of a Pacific Railroad in Missouri, and the actual beginning of its con 
struction in 1851. 

Mr. Whitney's efforts to start his Pacific Railroad no doubt led to the 
grant of lands to Illinois for the Central road, and to all the land grants 
which have followed greatly to the present benefit of the nation, notwith 
standing the frauds which have in some cases grown out of these measures. 
But Mr. Whitney himself is forgotten, and there is not even a station named 
for him on any of the great lines of continental railroads. 





Early in 1846 my sign 'Attorney-at-Law ' was up in St. Louis, whose bar 
had then old members of very high rank, and younger ones of unusual 
promise. Among the former were Edward Bates, Hamilton B. Gamble, 
Henry S. Geyer, Josiah Spalding, John F. Darby, Luke E. Lawless, and 
Trusten Polk. Among the latter were Britton A. Hill, Albert Todd, John 
M. Krum, Thomas B. Hudson, Thomas T. Gantt, and others who have since 
made their mark. I was appalled when I contemplated this array of talents, 
learning and experience, and could not well imagine myself coping with forces 
so great. Years before I had once been on business in the presence of Daniel 
Webster, when it almost seemed as if he could by a wave of his hand anni 
hilate me ; and the majesty of the St. Louis bar had a similar effect. I made 
few acquaintances ; but among the earliest of those with whom I had any 
intercourse was Brifcton A. Hill. This gentleman received the stranger with 
so much kindness that I often enjoyed his entertaining and instructive con 
versation ; and on one occasion he took me in a buggy down near the arsenal 
and offered me one-half share in a ten acre lot he was about to purchase in 
the City Commons, fronting on Carondelet avenue. The price was fifty dol 
lars an acre ; but I had no money. There was money subject to my order in 
the bank, but it belonged to the United States, and I was so simple, that I 
never once thought of using it for my own benefit; nor did Mr. Hill ever 
suggest this convenient appropriation of it. The purchase, I believe, 
resulted in large profit to my friend, but I lost my share of it because I 
did not know how to use public funds for private advantage. 

The volume published in recent years by Britton A. Hill, entitled ' LIB 
ERTY AND LAW,' is one of the remarkable books of the century. But its 
original and comprehensive views of society and government, will require 


time to be fully understood and appreciated. It is a grand effort towards 
the elevation of mankind ; but reforms intended to eradicate abuses hoary 
with age, and to bring about comparative perfection in society and govern 
ment, can only make their way by uprooting evils which have by usage 
become almost a part of human nature. To this achievement Mr. Hill has 
given his labor without care for other reward than the consciousness of hav 
ing done a service needed by the world. The volume is a marvellous com 
pendium of thought and suggestion. It should be in every library, and 
studied by all entrusted with municipal, state or federal legislation. Many 
of the recommendations are so practical, and the ends to be attained so 
desirable, that they should be adopted at once ; notably those in regard to 
the codification of state and national laws. 

My law office was in a second floor room opposite the old Court House, 
where I had Blackstone, Chitty, Story, Greenleaf, eight Missouri Reports 
(all then issued), the Bible and Shakspeare, as a law library. The carpet- 
less and dusky office, and scant outfit of book lore did not trouble me, but I 
was very dubious as to my fitness for civil practice, though I thought I 
might get on in the criminal court. I had a vague notion about that court 
something like the idea of Sol. Smith, when on one occasion he undertook 
the prosecuting attorney's duties during the absence of that officer. 

" I like this," he said to a friend, " better than the civil practice. There's 
no confounded filing things ! " 

My first caller was Bernard McNulty, the Irish baker. Mrs. Mary 
McMenamy had been arrested by City Marshal Dougherty with a stolen 
shawl on her shoulders, as she was boarding the ferry boat to cross the 
river, and McNulty had gone bail for her appearance in court. 

It was apparently a plain case for the prosecution. The shawl would 
be identified, and Mrs. McMenamy could not account for its possession. 
But the indictment had two counts one placing the value of the stolen 
article at more than ten dollars, and the other under that sum ; ten dollar 
stealing being felony, with penitentiary, and less than ten misdemeanor, 
with county jail. The Supreme Court, with that ineffable wisdom so often 
manifested by grave tribunals, had in one case ruled that felony and mis 
demeanor could not be joined in the same indictment ; and I moved the 
Court to " quash," on the ground of misjoinder of two offences. My personal 
friend, Thomas B. Hudson, one of the ablest criminal lawyers at the bar, 
told me there was nothing in the point ; and the prosecuting attorney, 
Miron Leslie, smiled pleasantly and said, in his good-natured way, that it 
was well enough for a young lawyer to make the " quash " motion, but that 
I would " take nothing by it." 

Law day came. The defendant was in the court room, and I quietly told 
her that when I began to fumble my left ear as if it was itchy, she must get 
away and over to her home in Illinois in the quickest possible time. Judge 
Manning was on ' the bench ' a chair with double cushions, enabling him 
to look over his desk, as nature had not been liberal in his stature. I had 


taken over my library, and had it on the desk in front of me, with the vol 
umes pointing at His Honor like a battery of cannon with their breeches 
depressed to get the range. Stating the point of misjoinder, I read the sole 
decision on which I relied, and was proceeding to enlarge on the importance 
of all possible guards to the rights and liberties of citizens, when the Judge 

" I'll hear from the other side." 

"If the Court please," waving my hand over the artillery " here are 
other authorities." 

" Not necessary. I'll hear from the other side." 

Mr. Leslie made a strong speech, full of good sense and sound argument, 
but it could not dispel the ruling of the Supreme Court. 

" This indictment is quashed," said His Honor. 

My left ear was itchy, and after fumbling it I looked round for Mrs. 
McMenamy, but she was not visible ; nor have I ever seen her since, or the 
promised fee of twenty dollars. 

The young lawyer may deduce two rules from this case : 1st, to get his 
fee in advance ; and 2nd, if there is but one point in his case, however flimsy, 
try it on. But if he simply wants to be a good citizen, he may possibly 
inquire if we have not placed so many guards round the rights, privileges 
and immunities of the criminal classes, that but few securities are left for 
those of honest folks. If Tallyrand ever said that language was invented 
to conceal thought, I think we could better say that many features of our 
modern jurisprudence seem to have been invented to shield scoundrels. It 
is thirty-seven years since Mrs. McMenamy slipped away, but in all that 
time I have never been able to see how that double-loaded indictment did 
her any injustice. She was guilty, but a technicality saved her. 

Very little business came, but I looked forward cheerfully to the Potta- 
watamie treaty. The ' boxes ' I was to get would be a good year's work, 
and I need not fret for even twenty dollar fees. As the spring opened, and 
went on expanding, I called daily at the Indian office, but Maj. Harvey had 
heard nothing of the treaty, nor had Mr. Haverty, the old clerk. April had 
gone and May was fast going, but still no news of the treaty ! 

Meantime, the battles between the armies of Mexico and of the United 
States had taken place in the disputed territory extending from the Nueces 
River in Texas to the Rio Grande, and Gen. Gaines husband of Myra Clarke 
Gaines, the lady of big lawsuits had called for volunteers from Missouri; 
and St. Louis had responded with her " Legion" of organized citizen soldiers, 
Col. Alton R. Easton in command. Col. John Knapp, and Capt. George W. 
West, who were officers in the Legion, will remember the patriotic spirit 
then prevalent, and the admiring throngs who visited their parade ground 
in the open country at Twelfth and Olive streets. We who were only spec 
tators thought the well-clad warriors, eight hundred strong, had a long 
march down Olive to the wharf; but they were choice spirits, and steamed 
gaily down stream on the Convoy, the largest steamboat ever on the river 


up to that date, and capable of carrying 1,500 tons. Cornelius K. Garrison, 
now an eminent citizen of New York, was owner and master, not then think 
ing of the Pacific Coast. The same enterprising spirit which prompted Mr. 
Garrison to build a steamboat larger than any other then on the western 
waters, led him at an early day to California, where his superior talents as 
a business man, gave him position and large rewards. In 1846 William C. 
Ralston was clerk on the Convoy or some other St. Louis boat, and you 
might have bought his interest in California for a very small sum, as no one, 
except possibly Fremont, had, before the Mexican war, looked forward to 
the acquisition of that country, then known only as a region of wild cattle, 
horses and hides. The subsequent career of Mr. Ralston, as a speculator 
and banker, was exceptionally brilliant and of great benefit to many inter 
ests on the Pacific side; but with all its Aladdin-like splendor, it ended 
sadly ; and under the shadow of misfortune he passed dubiously from his 
grand palace in San Francisco to the grave. They have even stricken his 
name from a mining camp in Arizona, and called it Shakspeare ! 

About the time rendered memorable by the departure of the Legion, im 
patient to enjoy the pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war, some 
where or somehow, a letter came from Senator Benton, stating that an 
armed force would be sent across the plains to New Mexico ; and soon an 
official order reached Col. Stephen W. Kearney at Fort Leavenworth, to get 
ready three hundred U. S. Dragoons and one thousand mounted volunteers 
for a march to Santa Fe and elsewhere something like the clearance of a 
ship 'to Cowes and a Market.' The decisive call on Missouri at length 
came, and the air was full of patriotism. 

The city and county of St. Louis, if I recollect rightly, were left out of 
the call ; but how can patriotic impulses be kept down ? Thomas B. Hud 
son began to organize a company, he as Captain and I as 1st Lieutenant. 
Hudson was not only a good lawyer but a natural orator, and for several 
nights the old Court House rang with militant eloquence. We soon had one 
hundred men in uniform and mounted the l Laclede Rangers ' and were 
mustered into the state service by Col. Robert Campbell. We paraded (as 
had the Legion) in the open country surrounding the brick edifices which 
Mr. Lucas had erected on Twelfth street, for a market if ever needed ; with 
no other buildings near except an unfinished row on Olive street. 

While our preparations for deadly war were going on, Capt. Hudson and 
his 1st Lieutenant had an invitation to the ' Empire,' a public house at Pine 
and Third streets. Samuel Treat, Esq. (now the honored Judge of the U. S. 
District Court), Col. Charles Keemle, Joseph M. Field (Miss Kate's father), 
and Peter W. Johnston, Esq., are all I can recollect as in the party. To 
testify their confidence in us and to stimulate our heroic souls, some of our 
friends had determined to present swords to Capt. Hudson and myself, and 
hence our meeting at the ' Empire.' Col. Keemle made a separate address 
to each, and presented the swords, and each in turn replied. The essence 
of our responses was, that those elegant swords, tokens of esteem and friend- 


ship, ' should never be dishonored 'and they never were. We put them 
carefully away at home before we left, and on our return we found them 
unsullied, as we had left them handsome parade swords for infantry, but 
not well suited for cavalry service. Dishonored? Never ! 

Not the least animosity had I felt towards the Mexicans, nor did I wish 
to kill anybody ; but as the war seemed to be taking so much of the Gov 
ernment's attention that the Pottawatamie treaty was probably overlooked 
and as, by volunteering I would acquire a sort of right to talk against war 
in the future I had decided that I might as well be one of the 'Army of the 
West,' which I had a notion would be recalled before we should get half 
way to Santa Fe. The narrow strip of country between the Nueces and the 
Rio Grande, which Texas had only conquered constructively, did not appear 
to be worth fighting for ; and I supposed the Government would occupy it 
with large armies, and then negotiate, as the cheapest way of acquiring 
title. I even imagined the St. Louis Legion marching up and down along 
the Bio Grande, scaring away any Mexican troops that might want to come 

But President Polk, who declared in his message that war existed * by 
the act of Mexico,' had views differing from mine, as I had not risen above 
plain common sense, and he had got up to statesmanship. The upshot was, 
that before the dispute was settled, millions on millions of wealth were 
wasted, thousands of good lives were sacrificed, unutterable distress brought 
to many homes, and a crop of veterans left to solicit in vain for pensions. 
Mr. Polk's policy, thanks to the soldiers, added to the national domain 
nearly all of what are now Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Cali 
fornia. We took them as 'indemnity for the past and security for the 
future ;' and then, in the Gadsden Purchase, we bought a strip to straighten 
our'southern boundary, just as we might have bought the land between the 
Nueces and Rio Grande, and had no war at all. But the general sentiment 
was, that the Mexicans were a half-barbarous set any way, and had no busi 
ness to send their greasy and ragged soldiers over the Rio Grande, into a ter 
ritory always owned by them but constructively conquered by the Texans, 
who were the advanced guard of our superior civilization ; and we taught 
the successors of Montezuma the infallible maxim that justice and right are 
always on the side of the strongest armies. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas 
Corwin, and a few others in Congress regarded the war as cruel and unjust, 
but once begun it had to go on. 

Our ' Laclede Rangers ' were a company to be proud of. So readily did 
they acquire skill in movement, that when the steamboat Pride of the West 
had taken position at the upper part of St. Louis, near Walsh's Mill, the 
horses and kits were taken on and secured in a time so short as to astonish 
some dragoon officers of the regular army, who happened to be on board. 
Michael McEnnis, late President of the St. Louis Merchants' Exchange, can 
vouch for the spirit and discipline displayed. The ladies had prepared a 
guidon for us, which Samuel Treat, Esq., presented in a sparkling and 


eloquent speech, and Capt. Hudson replied, telling how courageously we 
would carry it in battle. 

Receiving a salute and our commissions at Jefferson City, we paddled on, 
stopping to be admired at Boonville, Glasgow and other points ; and at 
length reached a nice landing-place, where the Kansans have since built a 
beautiful and prosperous city called Leavenworth. From there we marched 
to the Fort, guidon aloft, as we did not know what else to do with it. Col. 
Kearney received us as soldiers at once ; ordered the men to be shown quar 
ters, directed Capt. Alley to muster us into the service of the United States 
at daylight next morning ; invited Capt. Hudson and his Lieutenants to 
supper ; and in all respects behaved like a gallant commander and thought 
ful gentleman. 

Our Rangers were men of pluck and fortitude, but having taken dinner 
at noon on the boat, began towards evening to look round their naked quar 
ters in the barracks for supper. The quartermaster could give them no 
camp equipage, as they were not yet mustered into service. The commis 
sary was so tangled in red tape that it was impossible to issue a ration till 
muster was over next morning ; and he even turned a deaf ear to the wags 
among the ' boys/ who craved the privilege of smelling his empty pork bar 
rels. Hiram Rich, the sutler, had a scanty supply of crackers and cheese, 
and a varied assortment of liquid necessaries in bottles and casks ; but the 
Rangers were not flush of money, nor accustomed to the diet of the sutler's 
store. Like the whisperings of zephyrs, comment on the situation began, 
but gradually swelled to something like the mutterings of remote thunder ; 
and by the time the officers had risen from Col. Kearney's table, and bowed 
their adieus to host and hostess, there was some clamor at the company's 
quarters, which the 1st Sergeant, Alexander Patterson, was trying to quell 
by the assurance that it was " (blank) nonsense to be making a fuss, when 
it couldn't mend things." Sergeant Patterson met us near the Colonel's 
mansion and announced a new obligation 
" Captain Hudson, the devil's to pay ! " 
" Well, Sergeant, what's the matter? " 
" The men can't get any supper, and they don't like it." 
" That must be looked to. We'll see what can be done." 
Lieutenant La Beaume went with the Sergeant, and the Captain and I 
to the Commissary ; but no rations could be got. 

" This is a (blank) bad business," the Captain said to me privately. 
" What do you think we'd better do ? " 

" There's but one thing to be done, Capt. Hudson. We got up the com 
pany in St. Louis on your speeches. You must give 'em a blast about hard 
ship, patience, fortitude and all that sort of thing." 
It was the only advice possible, and was acted on. 

" The government," said the Captain to the Rangers "has done no more 
for your officers than for you ;" which was true, as it was Col. Kearney who 
had given us our suppers ; and-then in glowing phrases he pictured the hero- 


ism of war, the sublime achievements of patriotism the great things we 
would accomplish our pluck, discipline, fortitude our splendid march into 
the Fort with our guidon up, as emblematic of our march into the strong 
places of Mexico ! " Yes, we shall knock at the gates of Santa Fe, as Ethan 
Allen knocked at the gates of Ticonderoga, and to the question who's 
there? we shall reply open these gates in the name of the Great Jehovah 
and the Laclede Rangers ! " This was received with tremendous applause. 
" But suppose," he continued, " the fellows inside should call out are you 
the same Laclede Rangers who went whining round Fort Leavenworth in 
search of a supper ? " That settled them. The clamor subsided, and in ex 
cellent humor the brave Rangers went supperless to bed, rolled in their 
blankets on the floor. 

After muster next morning I met on the parade the Superintendent of 
Indian Affairs, Maj. Harvey, who had been up to Council Bluffs to complete 
the Pottawatamie treaty! After denying to me in St. Louis that he knew 
anything of the treaty, Maj. Harvey had gone to the Bluffs with Maj. An 
drews, who had not landed in St. Louis for fear I should see him, and they 
had completed the treaty, with the satisfaction of having escaped my 
presence at the negotiation. The Indians were deprived of the presence of 
the friend they relied on, and I lost a just compensation for honest services, 
having made $600,000 for the tribe. Years after I met my old Interpreter, 
Joseph Laframboise, with two or three others, in St. Louis, and when I 
told them how the officials had behaved to me, they expressed their gratifi 
cation that their trusted friend had not been unfaithful. I never knew 
where the faithless action towards me originated. In every proper way and 
in no other, I had done a good part to arrange the future of the tribe, and to 
serve the public in extending the boundary of Iowa to the Missouri river ; 
but official action that no man of common sense could have anticipated, 
deprived me of compensation, The French proverb says, * it is only the un 
expected that happens ' But I have done so much work that has never 
been adequately requited, that I may as well charge it all to destiny. 

The Pottawatamies went to Kansas, where a remnant may yet exist about 
St. Mary's, on the Kansas Pacific Railway. Their doom began with the 
treaty of 1834 at Chicago. 




The Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers (June, 1846), elected 
William A. Doniphan, Colonel, and Charles Ruff, Lieutenant Colonel. Wil 
liam Gilpin, a Mr. Hughes, and myself were candidates for Major. Each 
stood on the parade, and the voters formed lines for their choice. So there 
was no cheating. Gilpin had the longest string, and mine was next. If 
another vote should be taken, the Hughes men, all from the interior, might 
go to Gilpin, and elect him. As the Captain and Lieutenants of the Laclede 
Rangers, in new broad cloth uniforms, had been a little top-lofty in bearing 
towards the patriotic volunteers from the rural districts, it was not reason 
able to expect their votes, and in order not to be defeated, I declined a 
further trial, and Gilpin became Major. Too late I learned that if I had 
stood out, the Hughes men would have come over to me, and I would have 
been chosen ! The bump of ' caution ' lost me the rank of Major ; but the 
Regiment had in William Gilpin an excellent Major the same gentleman 
who has since been Governor of Colorado. A day or two after the election, 
Capt. John D. Stephenson arrived with a fine company from Franklin 
county, and the Rangers were detached by Col. Kearney, from Doniphan's 
Regiment, and attached to the 1st Regiment of U. 8. Dragoons. We were 
thus in a higher position, as we thought, than any other volunteer com 

Two full companies of artillery, each one hundred strong, with Richard 
H. Weightman and Waldemar Fischer as Captains, arrived at Fort Leaven- 
worth from St. Louis, under Merriwether Lewis Clarke as Major of the bat 
talion. St. Louis had thus three hundred Alexanders in uniform, each ready 
to conquer a world if he could only get the right kind of a chance. If any of 


the artillery survive, in addition to Charles Johnson of the Wabash railroad, 
I wish to say for them and their decendants, that a better battalion of men 
was seldom, if ever, assembled. Leonidas D. Walker was adjutant of the 
battalion, if I recollect rightly ; but with nearly all the other gallant gentle 
men under Major Clarke, he has long since paid the debt that none of us 
can defer or avoid. Weigh tman fell at Wilson's Creek in 1861. 

While at the Fort the Rangers were instructed in the * School of the 
Trooper ' by Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Smith, 1st Dragoons, U. S. Army. 
He was remarkably well suited to the task, not only by natural ability, 
technical culture, and experience in military life, but also because of quali 
ties the reader would hardly guess : his inexhaustible patience, and his 
apparent incapacity to appreciate ludicrous incidents. No dulness or blun 
ders on our part ever ruffled his temper, and none of our marvellous feats of 
horsemanship, on untrained steeds, and with unaccustomed weapons in our 
grasp, ever brought a smile. The exercises were mainly with sabres, and we 
at times dashed over the drill ground trot ! gallop ! charge ! with a reck 
less disregard of consequences, appalling to the lookers-on, especially when 
a horseman would sometimes be seen to plunge directly towards the de 
lighted spectators. We were doing the cavalry tactics, with variations 
more original than any in the books. But the toil of our amiable instructor 
was not lost. We could soon mount and ride with the best of Uncle Sam's 
Dragoons, and if we felt a little pride in comparing ourselves with the patri 
otic volunteers, we had by diligent practice and unknown hazards entitled 
ourselves to indulge it. General A. J. Smith, as he is now known in his St. 
Louis home, has been through so many scenes of more consequence, includ 
ing his efficient command of large forces between 1861 and 1865, that he has 
probably forgotten the little episode of his life that gave the Laclede 
Bangers, as we thought, the right to claim superiority as the best drilled 
mounted volunteers in the 'Army of the West.' 

We left Fort Leaven worth June 29, 1846 several other companies having 
gone before, and some to follow. We were on a march of hundreds of miles 
to Santa Fe, and where to beyond that point no one knew or cared. Very 
important consequences to the people of the United States have followed, 
but we had then no idea what the future was to be. No thought of any 
thing but success in everything we might undertake ever entered our heads. 
At times it seemed more like a pleasure jaunt than a serious march to invade 
a distant province of an enemy, whose strength could not be known. Reli 
able information of affairs in New Mexico was not to be had, and neither the 
authorities at Washington, nor Col. Kearney, knew what was in store for 
us. Every authentic tale differed from every other authentic tale, not so 
much from intended falsehood as from the different aspects in which the 
same conditions and events appeared to different minds. 

Life on the prairies had little novelty for me, except in military events 
and duties, as I had been on the frontier long enough to be familiar with 
out-door life. From old notes taken on the march, I might, if I had the 


ability required, write out a story of more diversity and interest than 
Irving's Crayon Miscellany ; but the day for prairie sketches has gone by, 
as every one can now go out in a Pullman car and see for himself. A cen 
tury hence, some future Sir Walter may work up long gone events into 
romance, but we are now too near the past and too busy. 

We were on the old Santa Fe trail, a broad and well marked natural high 
way, which had been surveyed under an act of Congress of 1824, and had 
since been the route of wagons employed in commerce with New Mexico, 
Chihuahua, and other parts of the Mexican Republic. As we neared the 
Arkansas river we encountered the buffalo, but our first sight numbered 
only three or four. Capt. Hudson, Lieutenant Emory (of the Engineers) 
and myself gave chase, but the deceiving animals, that looked so unwieldy 
and ran so fast, led us a long race before we got near enough for pistol prac 
tice, and even then they did not give up, or rather come down. As we 
moved up the Arkansas the number of buffalo was beyond computation, 
and we feasted on choice bits, which had the supreme relish that appetite 

It was at times a weary march up the long valley of the Arkansas, rising 
about seven feet to the mile, in a region then apparently a waste, but now 
with civilized people in its entire length, and having rapid and cheap transit 
by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The millions of buffalo 
are gone forever, and even the coyotes and prairie dogs will soon be extinct. 
Whatever the toils and enjoyments of our march, they can never be repeated, 
as the conditions are changed by invading civilization. We were, however, 
making history in a moderate way, and fulfilling destiny. The different 
companies, squadrons, commissary trains, traders' wagons, et cetera, were 
strung out many miles for convenience in marching and camping ; but the 
entire Army of the West was concentrated within cannon shot of Bent's 
Fort on the 1st of August, as designed by Col. Kearney. 

We had caught glimpses of Pike's Peak, the historic mountain of the 
great Rocky Mountain system the first of the family south of the Missouri 
to which * the speech of England,' as Bryant phrases it, had given a name. 
Major Zebulon Montgomery Pike, the intrepid and daring explorer, who was 
the first to carry the flag to that region, caught sight of the mountain top on 
the 15th of November, 1806, when, as recited in his journal, it "appeared 
like a small blue cloud." On the 17th he "marched at the usual hour, 
pushed with the idea of arriving at the mountains ; but found at night no 
visible difference from yesterday." Again on the 25th he " marched early 
with the expectation of ascending the mountain, but was only able to camp 
at its base." Major Pike and his men no doubt wondered that the march 
was so long to what seemed to be so near ; and many a toiling pilgrim in the 
days of golden dreams in 1859, heart sick with hope deferred, experienced 
the same wonder. 

But we now understand the remarkable transparency of the atmosphere 


so high above the level of tide water ; and we are no longer surprised that 
the old peak, so near to the vision, is yet so distant to the footstep. 

For nearly a dozen years the locomotive has raced back and forth in front 
of Pike's Peak, and there is even a signal station on its top ; but as serenely 
as in the long ago the old mountain lifts its snowy cope against the infinite 
blue. Tourists climb to the summit, nearly three times the height of Mount 
Washington, and over mountains on three sides, and plains on the fourth, 
enjoy a view that is beyond description. The towns, the farms, the ace- 
quias, even the railway itself, seem but toys at the mountain's foot. Man 
has invaded the wilderness and erected his temples ; but he and his works 
are dwarfed by the majestic surroundings ; and he cannot, if he would, im 
pair the grandeur and sublimity of the scene. Dr. James, attached to the 
exploring party of Col. S. H. Long, in 1820, ascended the peak, and he and 
his two men were no doubt "the first Americans, if not the first human 
beings, who ever stood upon the summit of this famous mountain." Col. 
Long named the mountain James' Peak ; but Fremont restored the name 
given it in honor of the first explorer, and it will be Pike's Peak forever. 
But even Major Pike was probably not the first American who saw the 
Peak ; for he states in his journal that he met in Santa Fe one James Purs- 
ley, from Bardstown, Kentucky, " the first American who ever penetrated 
the immense wilds of western Louisiana," and who, as a captive of the 
Indians, had been taken into the Pike's Peak region, and was, in fact, the 
first American to find gold in what is now the State of Colorado. Of late 
years the ascent of Pike's Peak is often accomplished, and even by those of 
the gentler but now somewhat aggressive sex, the first of whom planted her 
iiny foot on the mountain top in 1859. 

I could fill chapters with incidents of our march, but need only say that 
we heard at Bent's Fort of formidable enemies, somewhere between us and 
Santa Fe. We had not seen any, except a few unarmed Mexicans, on mules 
and burros, who had come out to the Arkansas to see what was going on, 
and had been told by the Colonel that if they would look at his mounted 
men, and Maj. Clarke's big guns, they could see that he had force enough 
to whip anything that should dare to meet him, and more were coming. 

We had traversed the charming prairies of Kansas, supposing them des 
tined to remain forever the pasture of the buffalo and the hunting ground 
of the Indian. We had been amused by the mirage, which often gave us 
fine views of illusive lakes, and transformed the bluffs along the Arkansas 
into castles and towers, or the edifices of magnificent cities. We had seen 
buffalo, antelope, prairie dogs, coyotes, owls and rattlesnakes. We had 
nearly "crossed the plains" in a month's ride, and had, as we thought, 
penetrated their mysteries. 

Yet, save Major Gilpin, I suppose that not one man in the Army of the 
West believed the great plains would ever be inhabited by civilized man, 
except perhaps a narrow strip along the west line of Missouri. Gilpin was 
regarded as a little enthusiastic (to use a mild term) on the subject of " the 


great grazing region," "the land of beef and wool," "the unbounded 
pastoral domain of the continent," as he was in the habit of phrasing it. 
He was equally enthusiastic about the mineral wealth of the Rocky Moun 
tains, not then discovered, but which he said must exist in "the rhomboid 
masses of upheaved rocks," the " domes of the continent," as he called them. 
Time has proved that Gilpin was right. 

in the fall of 1874 I passed our camp of the last days of July, 1846. I was 
on the south side of the Arkansas river. There were cattle and sheep, 
quietly grazing on the plains. There were dwellings of farmers and herds 
men. I had gone in less than thirty hours the distance which in 1846 con 
sumed thirty days. I was in the lively, bustling town of Las Animas, 

On 2nd August, 1846, the Army of the West moved forward on its march 
into New Mexico. We pursued the route now taken by the Atchison, To- 
peka and Santa Fe Railroad, which leaves the Arkansas at the same point 
we left it in 1846. Needless to tell how dry and dusty the road ; how brack 
ish the water of Timpas creek, or how scarce at the Willows, or the Hole in 
the Rock, or the Hole in the Prairie. Needless to tell. But in the march of 
four days to the camp on the Purgatory, I think the army in Flanders was 
outdone. " Our army swore terribly in Flanders," said Uncle Toby ; but he 
never heard the Army of the West. 

We crossed the Purgatory, or River of Souls Riode las Animas in Mexi 
canand camped on its bank, under the shadow of the Raton Mountain. 
Magnificent views of mountain and plain had almost beguiled us into for- 
getfulness of fatigue and annoyance on the march. In front was the Raton, 
with its precipitous cliffs and mesa-like top, and with its sentinel peak stand 
ing guard at its northern end. During one of our halts, Capt. Waldemar 
Fischer, of the St. Louis Artillery, ascended the peak, and Lieut. Emory 
named it after him. It is Fischer's Peak on maps. Those of our volunteers, 
and of the regulars with us, who in New and Old Mexico, and in California, 
perished in battle or by disease, are nearly all forgotten ; but the adopted 
citizen is immortal in geography. When he came down from the peak, he 
said to us : 

"Ah, gentlemens, I did find a little flower up dere, and did wish my 
goot wife could be dere; but I have him see in my pocket-book, and 
I send him in a letter, and den she say Oh, if only my Waldemar was 
here ! " 

To the right of our line of march was the Spanish range, with its twin 
peaks thrust up to the region of perpetual snow. To the left were the plains, 
diversified by ridge and mesa and butte, stretching away to indefinite dis 
tance, where you can hardly tell which is plain and which is sky. But we 
were not enthusiastic about scenery. We were thirsty ; and we enjoyed, as 
never before any fluid, the sparkling waters of the Rio de las Animas. It is 
a bold stream from the mountains, and enters the Arkansas near the town 
of Las Animas. 


It goes to meet the long river, where now the railroad meets them both. 
It was gay and sportive when we first saw it so long ago ; like a young 
spendthrift, with never a thought of care or labor. It tries to be gay and 
sportive yet, and starts out from its mountain home in the same perpetual 
frolic as of old. So free and joyous, as it emerges from the hills, you can 
hardly believe it is ever to be reduced to slavery. Yet such is its fate. 

They have put it to work in mills. They have made it water their fields. 
They have harnessed it up in divers ways to make it pull forward what 
they call the * car of civilization.' Our beautiful Rio is a servant and a 

Trinidad ! This is Mexican or Spanish for Trinity ; a name given to a 
town on the bank of the Rio de las Animas. It is a name suggesting holy 
thoughts, and possibly the Trinidaders are holy people. I was there in 
October, 1874, and again in November, going to and coming from New 
Mexico. I was a coach passenger, and only stopped for meals. It was a 
town of life and bustle, and great expectations. The very coach that carried 
me had a man whose purpose was to put an additional yoke on the little 
stream, and make it work a sash and door factory. A tyrant joining other 
tyrants to enslave the frolicsome river. But the railroad now runs past 
Trinidad, and has a town of its own, which I suppose does not help the old 
one any. 

How they do make the little river work ! All along they have acequias 
to lead it out on their lands, from above Trinidad to the canyon forty miles 
below. But its spirit they can't break ; for as soon as it gets into the friendly 
canyon it dashes on as joyous as ever, and more triumphant. Even as it 
works it goes purling and singing along, whenever it gets a chance. They 
catch it again below the canyon, and make it water their fields, even to the 
shores of the Arkansas. 

We were three days in crossing the Raton mountain in 1846, passing the 
coal vein already noted in these chapters. There is coal still nearer the 
town of Trinidad, which has thus both steam and water power for factories. 
Prof. Le Conte, of Philadelphia, thinks the coal of Cretaceous, and Dr. Hay- 
den of Tertiary age. Prof. Lesquereux concurs with Hayden. Whatever 
its age, it is of great value. It is a sort of bituminous lignite, and can be 
coked. With similar coal, immense iron and steel works are in operation at 
Pueblo, in Colorado. 

Our camp on the south side of the Raton was on a little branch of the 
Canadian river, that joins the Arkansas near Fort Smith. We were in a 
land unknown to the Great American public in 1846 ; and not very well 
known yet. To Col. Kearney's army, as we entered, it had charms of mys 
tery, and even a sort of shadowy grandeur, which can never be known 
again. Our long march across the plains having lost all pleasant novelty, 
had become a trifle monotonous ; but as we approached and passed the 
Raton, we had not only more diversified outlines in the landscape to cheer 
us, but also the livelier anticipation of scenes and events to be enjoyed 


within the month. Were we to fight, and if so how much ? Was the land 
anywhere populous, and if so how much ? Was it rich in gold and silver, 
and if so how much ? Were the people more civilized than savage, and if 
so how much ? Questions like these ran through our circles like the cate 
chism of life insurance. But they only nerved us for the coming fate, what 
ever it might be. We would take New Mexico. That was fixed. It was 
part of the land of Montezuma, and Capt. Hudson had said in his speeches 
that we would " revel in the halls of Montezuma," whatever that meant. 

The truth was, we were in New Mexico, but not in the peopled part of it. 
We were further in than Major Pike was in 1806, when the Mexicans took 
him prisoner as an intruder ; but all had been an open waste from the Mis 
souri, and we had not yet realized that we were pro tanto conquerors. What 
Col. Kearney's plans and thoughts were, as we went marching on, may have 
been known to Capt. Henry S. Turner, his adjutant, and to others at head 
quarters. The great mass of the army only knew that he was going ahead, 
and taking us along. For all we could tell, Armijo, the Governor of New 
Mexico, might meet us any day, and get the drubbing we were sworn to 
give him. Frank P. Blair, out in the wilds for his health, and William Bent 
our scouts could only reconnoitre a few miles in advance. 

On my coach trip in 1874, we passed the Raton both ways in the night ; 
but I had a daylight view of the old camp ground of the Canadian, and of 
the little plain where the dragoons and Laclede Rangers were put through a 
regimental drill by Capt. Sumner, and by desperate charges routed imaginary 
foes. Doniphan's regiment was near us, jealous enough to witness our fear 
ful plunges through the sage brush, and the unmerciful treading down of 
cactus and yucca. For all they knew we were practising for some extra- 
hazardous service, in which they were not to share, and would gather so 
many laurels there would be none left for them. 

As to jealousy in military circles, there is melancholy amusement in 
reading some of the Memoirs of the American Revolution, and to see how 
certain human nature is to have its way, even in the heroic epoch of a nation. 
Trumbull's Reminiscences and Graydon's Memoirs are in point. We learn 
that even in the days of heroes and sages, as we used to talk of them on the 
Fourth of July, there were petty jealousies abroad. Brave men thought it 
more honorable to abandon the colonial service than to wait a little for pro 
motion. Our brothers of Doniphan's Regiment did not in pique emulate 
examples to be found in Revolutionary history, nor think of so doing. They 
only vowed, in language somewhat emphatic, that no regular troops or St. 
Louis volunteers should do better work than the "country boys;" and in 
due time made the vow good at Brazito and Sacramento. In trulh, Doni- 
phan and his regiment were a hard lot to scare. They did not know what 
fear meant. Not pretty soldiers for show, perhaps, but first-class for ser 
vice. They afterwards marched a thousand or two miles into Mexico, not 
knowing what was before them, and nothing behind to fall back on. 

Trinidad in Colorado, is on the north side of the Raton, but some thirty 


miles before reaching it in 1874. on the coach road, I saw abundant evidences 
of eruptive action. The cretaceous and tertiary strata, generally horizontal 
in the plains, are disturbed in some localities near Trinidad, and in others 
apparently lifted up bodily, while over large areas they are concealed by 
later drift. The Raton mountain seems to have been heaved up in a mass, 
and part of its top is a wide mesa or table, with precipitous sides. The 
upper portion of the mountain, where the old road crossed, seven thousand 
five hundred feet above sea level, seems to be a heavy layer of trap or igne 
ous rock, generally supposed to have been poured out in a fluid condition 
from some tremendous volcano in the olden times. Northeast from Trinidad 
there is a profusion of lav i -like cobble stones in the gullies ; and thirty miles 
out in the plain there is a remarkable dyke of apparently plutonic rock, 
whose trend is in line with the two high cones known as the Spanish Peaks, 
which are said by Dr. Hay den to be of volcanic origin in long past ages. 

Quien sabc ? which is Spanish or Mexican for who knows ? Verily, I 
cannot undertake to account for the varied topography ; but I can enjoy the 
magnificent views from the Raton ; I can admire the twin peaks with their 
copes of snow even in midsummer ; I can rejoice to see the cattle, horses and 
sheep, the towns and farms, where all was unused nature in 1846 ; and I 
value as they merit, the coal and iron, and ores of precious metals in the 
recesses of the mountains ; but I cannot tell how the minerals got there. 

Yet why not have a theory ? I have been careful to speak of u eruptive 
action," and to use the term "volcanic" only when I give the ideas of 
others. I am not as a general thing sure about the volcanoes. It appears 
to me that if all the disturbances of strata and outpouring of trap or igneous 
rock, of which we have so many evidences in New Mexico, had been due 
generally to volcanic action, as usually understood, there would have been 
left numerous old craters and other marks by which we could locate the 
scenes of greatest activity. But there are few if any such old craters to be 
found, at least such as can be distinctly identified ; and I am therefore 
inclined to the belief that the disturbances of the earth's crust may have 
been the cause and not the consequence of the action classed as u volcanic" 
by most of those who have described the geological features. 

If we suppose the earth's crust to have contracted in cooling, and to have 
been ruptured by the tension because of the heated inner rrass not contract 
ing so rapidly as the cooling crust, we can readily understand how the shell 
could be broken, and how the fused matter of the interior could come up 
through fissures thus caused and flow over the surface ; and how the rent 
strata could be tilted up at various angles. This might be styled eruptive, 
but not strictly volcanic, action ; and it would I think suffice to produce the 
geological conditions found in New Mexico and adjacent regions. 

We find evidence, too, that the breaking of the crust, the uplifting 
of the sedimentary rocks, the protrusion of granitic masses, and the out 
pouring of lava and basalt over wide regions (and now seen capping hills 
and spread over broad mesas), probably took place while the old tertiary 


ocean covered that part of the continent ; and that the ocean remained long 
enough for its currents to further modify the surface during the succeeding 
glacial and drift periods. By a gradual up-swelling, the central plateau of 
the continent was subsequently lifted out of the water to perhaps its present 
elevation ; or the sinking of the classic Atlantis or some other continent 
unknown to history or fable, may have simply made room for the ocean to 
drain off. Quien sabc f 

The results of the tremendous commotions so long ago, when El Diavolo 
was at work, as an honest Mexican assured me, are seen in the numerous 
ranges of mountains which diversify New Mexico, and in the mineral veins 
and deposits so profusely scattered through them. For the benefit of civil 
ized man, the strata were turned topsy-turvy, and the veins and deposits 
of ores yielding iron, lead, copper, silver and gold were placed within our 
reach. In view of economic possibilities the geology of the country has for 
its student a practical as well as abstract interest. The great fact may be 
considered established, that JSew Mexico, as well as Colorado and Arizona, 
is passing rich in minerals, and that many localities give promise of good 
returns for exploitation. If lucre is really a filthy thing of which my experi 
ence does not enable me to judge perhaps, after all, El Diavolo, as my Mexi 
can friend said, may have had a hand in placing these enormous riches 
where they can be got at to possibly debase mankind. 

Our march in 1846, on half rations and no salt, was too rapid for much 
examination of thfc. country, and for one I had not knowledge enough to 
understand it. Iron ores and coal I knew at sight, but beyond these a rock 
was a rock, and nothing more, except some dykes near the Canadian look 
ing like artificial walls, some lava boulders near Rayado creek, and some 
petrified trunks of cedar trees on Bio Galisteo, twenty miles south of Santa 
Fe. But in twenty-eight years, from '46 to '74, I had been in some mines 
once having been amazingly rich in anticipation from a copper mine in Mis 
souri and I supposed myself to have learned some outlines of geology. So 
during my coach journey, I almost thought I knew it all. 

From the nether base of the Raton mountain by the old road to Las 
Vegas, as well as by the present railroad, we are for most of the distance in 
a broad valley, or plain, diversified by mesas and buttes, and intersected by 
shallow wadies, mostly with water flowing or in pools. In every direction, 
among the hills to the westward, or in the plain to the eastward, there is 
excellent grazing from one horizon to the other. In the hills west are coal 
veins, and in the mountain ranges, in which the Cimaron, Rayado and other 
streams originate, there are veins of gold quartz, while in the little valleys, 
hemmed in by the mountains, there are placer workings which are said to 
yield lavish returns. But I had no time in 1846 to look for mines, and in 
1874 had no money. I left all the vast wealth to others, and many are now 
in search of it. 




The Army of the West, August 13, 1846, marched into the broad plain 
and valley of the Moro, beyond the supposed volcanic hills near the Ocate, 
where the porous boulders of scoriae, as stated by Emory and repeated by 
Hayden, are so light as to be blown about by the winds. Our camp had 
been in the plain at the Santa Clara pools, near where Fort Union now 
stands. The Laclede Rangers were in advance, and we had not gone far 
when a hostile force was seen in the distance. The colonel halted us ; the 
glass was levelled: " Mexicans or Indians!" The enemy at last! We 
could all see them with the naked eye. The old mountaineer, Fitzpatrick, 
smiled quietly and said nothing. Lieut. Emory was ordered to take a 
dozen men and reconnoitre. While Sergt. Alex. Patterson, now a quiet 
citizen of Butler, Missouri, was selecting the braves, I asked permission of 
Capt. Thos. B. Hudson to volunteer, and we trotted off as rapidly as our 
jaded horses could carry us. It was exhiliraiing. 

A fight! A victory ! In imagination the St. Louis newspapers already 
had the bulletin, with big type at the top. Trot, trot, trot ! The enemy 
stood fast. We were glad they did not run and cheat us of our victory ; but 
when we charged down upon them, they turned out to be only a cedar-post 
corral ! What with the mirage, the weariness of our eyes from the long 
march over the plains and our desire for a fight, we had mistaken the harm 
less timbers for Mexican enemies. Fitzpatrick's eye, trained by long usage, 
had seen things as they were, but even with the field-glass, other eyes had 
been deceived. 

" Six miles," says Emory in his journal, u brought us to the first settle 
ment we had seen in seven hundred and seventy-five miles." There were 
only two houses at Moro creek, but they were the first we had seen since 


leaving the Missouri frontier. On my coach journey in 1874 I was never 
twenty miles from a house, settlement or town from the Arkansas to the 
Sapillo, and there I found ranches and farms in every direction through 
the wide reach of arable and pasture lands. The old town of Moro was not 
seen on our march. It is in the hills to the west, where a small valley has 
been under irrigation for perhaps a century ; but in the plain there is only 
the civilization introduced since the conquest. Greatly did I enjoy the 
coaching trip in 1874. It is so charming to visit a country which you have 
conquered in earlier days, when it had no people in it, and find happy 
homes and increasing population. I am touched with melancholy when 
I think of Csesar ; not so much because Brutus killed him, as because the 
poor -fellow never enjoyed the felicity of returning to Gaul after 28 years' 
absence to find broad regions full of people, where all was desolation when 
he conquered the country. 

Soon after the army moved from our camp on the Sapillo next day, under 
a brilliant sun, after a night of showers for what they call by a pleasant 
figure of speech the rainy season of New Mexico was upon us we were met 
by a messenger from Gov. Armijo, bearing a very formidable looking letter 
to Col. Kearney. It was a sensible straightforward document, says Emory, 
and if written by an Englishman or an American would have meant this : 
" You have notified me that you intend to take possession of the country I 
govern. The people have risen in my defence. If you take the country it 
will be because you are strongest in battle. I suggest to you to stop at Sa 
pillo, and I will march to Las Vegas. We will meet and negotiate on the 
plains between." 

If this was intended to scare the colonel, it failed ; but some caution was 
necessary, and so he very politely dismissed the messenger. " The road to 
Santa Fe is as free to you as to myself. Say to Gen. Armijo that I shall soon 
meet him, and that I hope it will be as friends." Precisely what this reply 
meant was not very clear, but it was probably drawn mild on account of 
the position of Maj. Philip St. George Cooke, some days before sent forward 
to Santa Fe with a flag and only a small escort, and who had not yet been 
heard from. In conquering a country it is proper to be a little on your 
guard when you get near the inhabited parts. Besides, we had heard that 
Armijo was preparing to resist us at Apache canyon, fifteen miles from 
Santa Fe a narrow gorge which he had fortified, but where the colonel 
knew it was not necessary to fight him, as the position could be turned by 
another road. 

In the afternoon we reached the valley of Gallinas creek, and camped in 
view of Las Vegas. It was an old town, built of adobes or sun-dried bricks, 
each particular house suggesting the idea of a brick-kiln ready for burning ; 
but we learned afterwards by experience that houses so constructed, with 
their earth covering for roofs, are delightfully cool in summer and warm in 
winter. The Spanish intruders who had come in about three centuries be 
fore, had modified the old Aztec multistorious domicil, and built as a rule 


only one-story, but I think did not lack wisdom in building of such cheap 
and durable materials. I doubt if a hundred houses in New Mexico have 
been damaged by fire since the advent of the dons. Only the scanty wood 
work can be burnt the walls are fire-proof. 

" Our camp," says Emory, "extended for a mile down the valley. On 
one side was the stream ; on the other the corn fields, with no hedge or 
fence intervening. What a tantalizing prospect for our hungry, jaded nags ! 
The water was free, but a chain of sentinels was posted to protect the corn, 
and strict orders given that it should not be disturbed/' Some idea of the 
discipline of Col. Kearney's army may be had from the fact that, although 
we had marched eight hundred miles, crossed the "Great American Desert," 
and were in the enemy's country, which we were conquering day by day 
yet not one plant or blade of corn was disturbed. Poor old Missouri! I 
look back on our forbearance that memorable night as the sublime heroism 
of self-denial. 

"At 12 o'clock last night," Emory notes August 15, "information was 
received that 600 men had collected at the pass, two miles distant, and 
would oppose our march. In the morning orders were given to prepare to 
meet the enemy. At 7 o'clock the army moved, and just as we made the 
road leading through the town, Maj. Swords, Lieut. Gilmer and Capt. 
Weightman joined us, and presented Col. Kearney with his commission as 
brigadier-general. They had heard we were to have a battle, and rode 
sixty miles during the night to be in it." 

It looks queer that men should ride so far in the dark just to get into a 
fight, but ride they did. The prospect of a battle seemed inspiring. On the 
14th the Rangers had six or seven men " on sick report," but 011 the morn 
ing of the 15th all were in the saddle, marching on to battle. Exhilaration 
pervaded the ranks as cartridge-boxes were filled for the conflict. The mas 
culine human creature seems to have a natural taste for " battle, murder and 
sudden death." Thank heaven for the feminine ! 

At 8 o'clock we took the town of Las Vegas, not by shooting off guns, but 
by quietly marching in. It is the historic town of Uncle Sam's domain, as 
the first on soil then foreign ever captured by his irresistible nephews. The 
general got on the roof of a house to swear in the alcalde and make an Ameri 
can citizen of him, in the bright sunshine and in view of all the people, while 
the unterrified soldiers sat on their horses in the plaza or public square, fear 
lessly looking on. The civil reader who has never seen war may possibly 
think it a small matter to take a town in that way, but I can assure him it 
is a very comfortable way for both takers and taken ; and the reduction of 
Las Vegas was an important occurrence, in view of the ceremonies in 
dulged in. 

The general made a good speech, well meant, but which, without any 
fault of his, turned out to be somewhat of a delusion if not a snare. A few 
passages may be quoted for the use of historical students : 


you by orders of my government to take possession of your country and ex 
tend over it the laws of the United States. * * * * We come amongst 
you as friends, not as enemies ; as protectors, not as conquerors. Hence 
forth I absolve you from all allegiance to the Mexican government, and 
from all obedience to Gov. Armijo. * * * * I shall not expect you to 
take up arms to fight your own people, who may oppose me ; but I now tell 
you that those who remain peaceably at home, attending to their crops and 
herds, shall be protected by me in their property, their persons and their 
religion, and not a pepper or an onion shall be taken by my troops without 
pay or by the consent of the owner. But listen ! He who promises to be 
quiet and is found in arms against me, I will hang." 

80 far, so good. By the American soldiers, as I can vouch for the ten 
months I remained in the country, the people were unmolested and the 
general's words were made good. We paid for everything, and I never heard 
of a case of theft or outrage. But he promised more : 

1 ' From the Mexican government you have never received protection 
The Apaches and Navajos come down from the mountains and carry off 
your sheep, and even your women, whenever they please. The government 
will correct all this. It will keep off the Indians, protect you in your per 
sons and property, and I repeat again, will protect you in your religion." 

These were brave words, authorized by orders from Washington, and 
believed by the general when uttered. So far as religion and the general 
treatment of Mexicans by the Americans is concerned, the promises have 
been fairly performed. But the protection against Indians, so solemnly 
promised, and the mention of which caused the Las Vegas alcalde to grin 
with satisfaction, has never been realized. The people of New Mexico never 
received the protection against the savages promised by Gen. Kearney. 
His pledges, made in good faith, were for more than a third of a century 
practically repudiated by the authorities at Washington. Yet the much- 
abused people of the territory remained loyal to a government that had not 
kept its pledges, and only a few manifested any hostile spirit from 1861 to 

The failure to control the Indians was not only a flagrant violation of 
good faith but did much to retard the growth of the territory. Ignorance, 
stupidity, conceit and red tape at Washington possibly with a little spice 
of fraud mixed in have caused many lives to be sacrified, and many homes 
to be desolated ; and at last the Indian evils will be finally cured, rather by 
the private purses that build railroads into the country, stock its pastures 
and open its mines, than by the government at Washington, which has never 
yet handled the Indian problem with common sense. 

Nor has the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, made with Mexico at the close,, 
of the wicked war with that country, been executed in New Mexico by our 
government. It provided that Mexicans who remained in the ceded country 
should have their possessions assured to them ; which meant that the own- 


ers of lands should hold their possessions without disturbance. It was sup 
posed that if the United States should claim any part of the territory as 
public domain the government would at its own cost find out what it might 
be entitled to, and in doing this necessarily ascertain the boundaries of pri 
vate estates. But Congress has required all claimants of lands under Spanish 
or Mexican laws to pay for the surveys, and after this injustice is submit 
ted to (by those who can't help themselves), the boundaries are reduced and 
the estates cut down to suit the whims or interests of the gentlemen who 
manage the General Land Office, and those in the capital who pass the acts. 
The result has been that Mexicans, whose families have had undisputed 
possession of lands for a century and more, have had no assurance that they 
could continue to hold an acre. The protection to property promised at Las 
Vegas failed, and land tenure has been in little better condition than in 
Turkey. Imbecility and dishonesty, instead of statesmanship, too often 
ruled on the Potomac. 

Las Vegas was not in 1874 the same town it was when we took it in 1846. 
The old Campo Santo or burial place, with its stone wall, was on the mesa 
as of yore, but fuller of dead humanity. The living town had also increased 
considerably in population, and was doing a large business in hides, wool 
and varied merchandise. It had many new buildings, some of large size ; 
and also public schools, and churches of several denominations. It had 
three newspapers, one of them a church journal. Daily coaches and wagon 
trains gave an air of life and bustle, as the town was the gateway to a large 
portion of the territory. All this, when the railroad was yet a dream of the 
hopeful and visionary, nine years ago. But now the Atchison, Topeka and 
Santa Fe Railroad is along there, and a new Las Vegas, apart from the 
quiet old town, has been built and flourishes. The hot springs, which were 
so useful in 1846-7, to cleanse a red flannel shirt of the living as well as life 
less results of long wear and contact with the natives, has now a grand hotel 
which would overawe Montezuma with its splendors, although named after 
him ; and, generally speaking, everything is new. The Boston man with 
his cash has been there, and the solitude in which Dr. De Camp had his 
army hospital thirty-six years ago is invaded by the railroad, the porter and 
the hotel clerk. 

As to the new city of Las Vegas, long may it wave ! The good dominie, 
Rt. Rev, G. K. Dunlop, so long our Rector in the parish of Grace Church, in 
Kirkwood, has his home there, as Bishop of New Mexico and Arizona. His 
presence will save it. 

After we had taken the old town, the Army of the West moved on to 
battle. The hostiles were said to be posted at El Puerto del Padre literally 
the door or gate of the priest where the remarkable strata of rocks, tilted 
-up to nearly a vertical position, bound the valley on the west, and have 
been cut through by a wet weather water course. While the general was 
engaged in transmuting the alcalde and his townsmen into free and happy 
American citizens, two companies of infantry or dismounted troopers had 


gone forward to cross the hills near the Puerto, their movement so timed 
that they would come on the field of battle just as the Rangers, dragoons and 
artillery would be routing the enemy, and could be of great use in helping 
to bury the dead. The main road approaches the Puerto close to and paral 
lel with the ridge, making a short turn to enter the pass ; and when within 
a quarter of a mile of the battle ground the command " trot ! march ! " was 
given then "gallop!" then "charge!" and with sabres flashing, we 
hurled ourselves at the foe the artillery of Maj. Clarke's battalion (St. 
Louis men) rumbling close behind us to do the heavy work. We were 
splendidly supported also by the soldiers on foot, who had crossed the sum 
mit and with reckless bravery were descending the inner slope of the hill as 
we thundered through the gorge. The cavalry drill at the Canadian, men 
tioned in a former chapter, was a sort of sham fight, and the charge of 
Emory, Patterson and myself with our dozen desperate heroes on the cedar 
corral had a sort of tittillating effect on the risibilities. But our work at 
the classic Puerto del Padre was in sober earnest, and I have never doubted 
that we should have covered ourselves with glory as well as dust but for 
one circumstance, inevitably fatal to military distinction which was that 
that there was no hostile force at the Puerto, and had not been probably 
since the days of Coronado, three hundred years before. 

Whether the general had really believed that our heroic march was to 
be resisted at that identical spot or only wanted to try our mettle we never 
knew, but we had proved our courage according to orders. During the rest 
of the day flankers were kept out, but no hostiles were discovered, and after 
a march of nineteen miles and capturing the town of Tucalote as we went 
along (where we met Maj. Cooke on his return), we went into camp at night 
to dream of bloodless victories, which after all are a pretty kind to gain 
when you are conquering a province. Neither Caesar nor Napoleon could 
have made a better fight under the circumstances than we did, nor could 
either ever gain a victory with less loss than ours at Puerto del Padre. 
Tourists to Las Vegas hot springs can take a horseback ride along the ridge 
to the battle ground, and can chip off all the bits of rock they want as me 
mentoes, but fortunately there are no grave-stones for the simpletons with 
more money than brains to mutilate. Uncle Sam is fortunate in having one 
battle ground in his domain where the senseless and selfish relic-hunters 
can do no harm. 




Having worried along on roads leading over sharp and rocky hills and 
through waste valleys, and taking the town of San Miguel as we marched 
on, conquering and to conquer, we camped on the 16th on the banks of the 
Pecos river, its red waters and flooded condition telling of rains in the moun 
tains to the west. On the evening of the 17th we made our camp at the vil 
lage of Pecos, near the ruins of Aztec structures and edifices of Spanish 
origin ; but no archaeological temptation could lure us from the important 
duties of eating and sleeping. Fortunately the village was too small for 
even a speech from the general or the usual swearing-in process (both re 
quired at Tucalote and San Miguel), and it was conquered not only without 
gunpowder, but also without promises or pledges. Jaded animals, with 
scant forage, and hungry men, fuller of vim than rations, made up the Army 
of the West, but we might go to sleep with the consciousness of duty per 
formed. We had made the longest march in American history, and had 
been victorious over all obstacles. 

Three of us having called at the alcalde's mansion of one story and two 
rooms, had a supper of green peas in mutton broth, relished as heartily as 
if the native earthen pot in which they were served had been scoured within 
the half year preceding. We had long before ceased to be fastidious in little 
matters of pots, pans or cookery, and we rather astonished our host and his 
senora by the manner in which the broth was dipped up by all from the 
same reservoir and swallowed, spoons and all. Pieces of tortilla (a thin 
cake) made the spoons, folded to contain some of the broth and peas, and 
the spoons and their contents went down together. It was a novel banquet, 
for which our host would only accept payment after one of us who could 
"habla" Spanish a little managed to make him understand that if he 
wished to be regarded as a good "Americano" he must take everything 
he could get his hands on, honestly of course. 


In the early hours of August 18, 1846, a day that ought to be memorable 
as the first in which an army under the high bird of liberty ever captured 
the chief city of an enemy's province, we were in motion' for a march of 
twenty-nine miles to Santa Fe. By ten o'clock the Rangers and dragoons 
had reached the eastern entrance of Apache canyon, and there waited in a 
park of fair grazing for the artillery and Doniphan's regiment to come up. 
The native potato was in bloom, and there were tubers about the size of 
small hickory nuts. The potato had never been cultivated in New Mexico, 
but for what reason I have forgotten, if I ever knew. A detail of twenty 
men under Lieut. Hammond, United States Army, sent forward at 3 o'clock 
A. M., had gone through the canyon and found the remains of Gov. Armijo's 
fortifications at its western end. They also found a spiked piece of ordnance 
which had been abandoned, and saw the tracks where others had been 
taken off afterward captured, unguarded, in the forest, by some of the St. 
Louis artillerists. With but a small force Gov. Armijo could have checked 
our easy progress, and perhaps stopped us altogether ; but if his men had 
not run away twenty-four hours before our arrival, we could have turned 
his position by going over the mesa from Pecos, and on to Santa Fe by way 
of Galisteo. 

The truth is, Gov. Armijo, if in earnest, was too late in trying to get 
ready for us. If he had met us at the pass at Raton a narrow valley with 
a railroad in it now and kept meeting us at other close passages, as well as 
annoying us and picking off our beef cattle and stragglers for which the 
advantages were all on the side of men knowing the country well, and accus 
tomed, as the Mexicans were, to scant rations our march, if we could have 
got along at all, would have been a succession of bloodier battles than that 
of El Puerto del Padre. The population of the territory was about 100,000, 
and if its fighting material had been well organized and under good leaders, 
the Army of the West would have had a record of greater hardships than 
half rations and no salt on its march of 312 miles from Bent's Fort to Santa 
Fe. But then, I suppose, if it had been necessary, we should have used 
more caution and have had more men. Our conquest, more difficult, would 
have been more highly valued. 

As soon as the different commands had gotten together after a heavy 
drag on roads softened by recent rains, we moved on through the canyon 
and over the hills beyond. By three o'clock the head of the column had 
reached a spot overlooking the doomed city; but its tail, like that of a 
comet, stretched out rather indefinitely. It was a heroic march on the part 
of the skeleton mules, horses and oxen, especially those attached to the 
11 flying artillery," as Maj. Clarke's command was gravely styled in official 
papers ; but the big guns came creeping into place at last, and the Rangers 
and dragoons then had the honor of marching into the city and through the 
principal streets in all the pride and dust of deadly war. The flag was run 
up on the palace, late the residence of Gov. Armijo, and the cannon on the 
hill thundered a national salute. 


Santa Fe, the ancient city, now growing more beautiful in her old age 
than she ever was in youth was captured ! The only gunpowder burned 
in the campaign was that in the cannon saluting the American Eagle, new 
lighted on her towers. Our victorious general occupied her palace, built of 
raw brick, as were those of Nineveh, and was the ruler of the province. 
Senor Armijo, the native governor, had gone to Old Mexico, whence I be 
lieve he never returned. Whether he or the central government of Mexico, 
or the people of the territory, should bear the blame, I know not, but cer 
tain it is, that a force much greater than the Army of the West would have 
beon needed to take the province, if proper resistance had been made. 

It was a night to be remembered, that of August 18, 1846. Having tra 
versed the principal streets and marched around tht plaza to salute the 
newly raised flag having glanced at the sinister countenances of some of 
the Mexican men, and looked kindly at the scared faces of the women, who 
thought the cannon were bombarding the town having, as a novel lesson 
in pastoral economy, noticed the pig tied by a lariat to graze in one of the 
corrals, and having in a, general way deported ourselves as magnanimous 
warriors and observing philosophers, the Eangers, sated with glory, but 
hungry, marched back to the position on the hill only to find that our 
wagons with rations and camp outfit had not arrived and were not ex 

The prospect for supper was gloomy, and the discussion of the situation 
by the Rangers was getting lively with short words of a Scriptural sound, 
used in a somewhat profane sense, when I was politely informed by the 
adjutant that I was officer of the guard for the night, with Maj. Philip St. 
George Cooke as officer of the day ; the guard to consist of fifty ravenous 
men who were to preserve order in the captured city. It was no doubt an 
honor, in a limited sense, to be in command of the guard in a foreign capital 
seized without a struggle after a daring march of nearly a thousand miles ; 
possessed without the shedding of a drop of blood or burning an ounce of 
powder till the star-spangled flag was hoisted over it ; and I have honestly 
tried to feel proud of the distinction and to enjoy the recollection of it as a 
creditable incident in a life not burdened with military events of much con 
sequence. But, alas, for fame and immortality ! When I was in Santa Fe 
for a week in November, 1874, the folks did not seem to care a bawbee about 
the " officer of the guard " in 1846, and in fact appeared hardly to know that 
the city had ever been captured at all ; but seemed rather to have a notion 
that it had been given up gratuitously. Alas, I say again. They are now 
celebrating the 333d anniversary of the occupation of the town by white 
men, but among the thousands gathered there few will know that the Army 
of the West ever existed, or that Uncle Sam owes to a few companies of Mis- 
sourians the possession of the ancient city. 

In taking Santa Fe we took New Mexico. I do not remember what its 
metes and bounds were then, including, as they did, Utah and Arizona, but 
let us look at it now. It lies south of Colorado, extending from the 37th 


down to the 32d parallel of latitude, and is in breadth from the 103d to the 
109th meridian, thus covering five degrees of latitude and six of longitude, 
and embracing an area of 121,000 square miles or more than 77,000,000 acres ; 
three times as large as Ohio, sixteen times as large as Rhode Island, nearly 
twice as large as all New England, and larger than New York and Penn 
sylvania combined. It has been estimated that at least 70,000,000 acres 
were unclaimed by individuals or towns when we took possession a domain 
of public lands twice the size of Illinois given to the United States by the 
Army of the West and yet, oh reader ! even you, with all your assorted 
kit of knowledge, possibly never before heard of our conquesting army ! 

The elevated table-land or plateau of the continent on which the swells 
and peaks of the Rocky Mountains are embossed stretches from British 
America into Old Mexico and embraces the territory of New Mexico ; but 
the Rocky Mountain chain is broken into separate and detached links, leav 
ing many wide valleys and broad plains in the prospective state. The aver 
age altitude in the southern portion of the territory is about 4,500 feet, and 
in. the northern perhaps 7,000. The streams of the western flank take their 
course to the Pacific, and those of the middle and eastern sections to the 
Gulf of Mexico. The principal rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos and Cana 
dian, whose waters seek the gulf, and the San Juan and Gila, which get to 
the Pacific by the Colorado of the West. The largest of the rivers, the Rio 
Grande, having its sources in Colorado, runs from north to south the whole 
length of the territory, and, while not navigable, is well called "the Nile of 
America," from its annual swelling, as well as from the constant fertility 
it maintains in irrigated lands. The valleys of the rivers mentioned and of 
many lesser streams have large areas of fertile soil, some of which has 
been under cultivation for more than three centuries, and is said to get bet 
ter by use, owing to the sediment in the irrigating waters. Wherever irri 
gation is available the toil of the cultivator is amply rewarded. On the 
uplands and mesas, and even high on the mountain slopes, the grass is of 
rare excellence and generally abundant. 

The climate of New Mexico is unsurpassed for salubrity. In the southern 
portion snow is almost unknown, and in the northern, except on the moun 
tains, it seldom lasts more than a few days at a time. The winters are mild 
and the summer temperature never oppressive. In regard to healthfulness 
New Mexico may be fairly considered one of the favored regions of the con 
tinent. Its death-rate from tubercular diseases is lower than that of any 
other part of America. Physicians say that no case of bronchial affection 
was ever brought to the territory that was not greatly improved or alto 
gether cured; and the same is true of asthma. "The country," said Dr. 
Kennan, Surgeon U. S. A., " is distant from either ocean ; it is entirely free 
from all causes of disease. The atmosphere is almost as dry as that of Egypt. 
The whole territory has always been astonishingly free from epidemic dis 
eases. There are not ten days in the whole year in which an invalid cannot 
take exercise in the open air." 


Wheat and other cereals, field and garden vegetables, and all fruits 
suited to the latitude are produced with little labor and of excellent quality. 
As to the grape, Humboldt regarded the region on the Rio Grande at El 
Paso .as the Andalusia of the Western hemisphere. For 200 miles north of 
that point, the soil, climate and atmospheric conditions in the valley of the 
river are similarly favorable to the fruit of the vine. 

Mining, with its abundant hopes, fallacious certainties, and capricious 
results, spreads over New Mexico a halo more brilliant in its hues than the 
summer sunset. In addition to mountains of iron ore, like that of the Han 
over mine and others near it, she 

Has in the depths of earth the fossil store 
That moves the engine, and the lamp is lighting ; 

And precious mines, where Ophir's wealth, or more, 
Is blessing men or blighting. 

Poor old Missourians ! We robbed Mexico of that grand province for the 
benefit of Uncle Sam, and yet he denies us pensions 




To give an idea of what the people of New Mexico were like when fresh 
conquered, and as seen at Galisteo, where I was sent the morning after the 
capture of Santa Fe (with all the horses and half of the Rangers, to graze 
the animals), I take a few lines from my old journal : 

" Visited Galisteo, which contains about 200 inhabitants. The houses 
are built of adobes, or sun-dried bricks, white-washed inside, and with flat 
roofs, as in Bible times, when people could go on 'the house tops.' The 
town is on a knoll in the valley, commanding an extensive view. Near it 
there is a range of 'volcanic (?) rock, thrown up by some great convulsion. 
Northeastward the ground is high, broken, and exhibiting many upheaved 
and dislocated strata. The waters from the mountains converge into streams 
and fertilize a depression in the valley, so that com (called mais, pronounced 
myse) can be raised sufficient for the scanty dishes of atole (mush) and tor 
tillas (thin cakes) used by the people. Some wheat also is raised ; tharshed 
by hand, winnowed by the breath, or by throwing into the air, ground 
between two stones by the women, and baked into very tolerable bread 
for hungry men. (Two women shall be grinding in a mill, the Bible says.) 
The cooking utensils are pots and bowls of earthenware, made by the Pueb 
lo Indians, and no doubt the manufacture of these utensils by the Pueblo 
(or village) Indians is a remnant of the former civilization of the Ancients 
of America. The cooking is done by boiling or stewing in these earthen 
vessels, or roasting on the coals. Tortillas are baked on a flat plate of iron, 
or griddle. The bread made of the ground wheat is baked in mud or clay 
ovens similar in structure to many in the States. Milk from goats and cows 


is much used. Cattle are not numerous at the village, but there are quite a 
number of goats and sheep. A kind of incipient cheese, or curds compressed 
by hand, is made in profusion, and is no doubt wholesome. The inhabitants 
at this season rarely sleep in their houses, but spread rheir mats or blankets 
before their doors and sleep in the open air. In day time their beds are 
folded up and used for seats inside the rooms. (People could take up their 
beds and walk in Bible days.) The kitchens have neat chimneys in the cor 
ners. The roofs are made with pine logs, corn husks on them, and earth 
over all, sufficient to turn all the rains of this climate. The best rooms have 
part of the floor usually covered with a woolen carpet, made in the village; 
several looms are seen under sheds in different parts of the town ; also spin 
ning wheels of rude construction. The village has a church, about 30 feet 
long by 20 wide, neatly white-washed inside; the walls are partly built 
of stone, and topped out with adobes. The door of the church is oppo 
site the pulpit, at one end, and a gallery over ik The windows of the houses 
are square or round openings, with wooden bars crossed, and shutters to 
close when necessary." 

Again: "Visited Galisteo this afternoon and had some further insight 
into the character and habits of the villagers. The people are rather filthy 
in their cooking and persons, and quite cooly pick off vermin in the presence 
of visitors ; this is true of the lower orders, the great mass of the people. 
Their clothing is principally cotton, from the States. The men wear a sort 
of loose leather breeches, open at the outer seam (with buttons), over their 
inside muslin trousers underneath. The arrival of Senor Pino, the owner 
of the village, reported, and a fandango spoken of for the evening." 

In grazing camps with the horses, and indulging in two or three visits to 
the capital fortunate enough to be there on the night of the General's 
grand soiree and ball in the palace time wore on till 12th of September, 
when I wasordered on " detached service." My subalterns, under Bob Far 
ley as chief, were teamsters. The troops were oxen. Instead of murderous 
cannons like Maj. Clarke's flying artillery, we had quartermaster's empty 
wagons. We were on a mission to Bent's Fort, 312 miles away, to bring in 
commissary stores. It was one of those trips in which an imaginative trav 
eler might take delight, as the actual happenings were not important 
enough to interfere with those invented to adorn his tale. True, the little 
Mexican boys at San Miguel were playing soldiers in the plaza, the six-year 
old captain dressed in a pair of moccasins and a string of beads, and his 
troop in similar costume, except the moccasins and beads. True, I killed a 
monstrous black bear at? the Canadian, by running my sabre down his throat, 
after having wounded him with one of the flint-lock pistols issued to us at 
Fort Leavenworth. True, after lying sleepless all night with tic doloreaux, 
indulging in a wakey dream of the splendid saddle cover the skin would 
make, I arose at day break to find it missing from where Fernando, my 
trusty mozo, had pegged it out on the ground to dry. True, my little bay 
horse, Pompey, was stolen by Indians at the Purgatory, and never paid for 


by Uncle Sam. True, sixteeayears after, in St. Louis, Gen. Frank P. Blair 
hailed me as the man who had killed a big grizzly bear with a sabre, and I 
had no chance to correct him. True, many other things happened in our 
dusty and wearisome pilgrimage, but hardly worth telling in a busy time, 
except that I had an opportunity of visiting the Pecos ruins, which were 
probably the first edifices I had ever seen more than two hundred years old. 
As old Pecos may soon disappear, now that the railroad is filling the terri 
tory with new life and industry, it is well to note the ruins as interesting 
relics of a past age. For all we know, some pushing yaiikee may haul off 
the old adobes to build a woolen mill, or a gold stamper, on the Pecos river, 
where so much power is running to waste. My old journal of Sept. 14, says : 

" Moved to Pecos and camped near the ruins. The Catholic church is 
still in a tolerable state of preservation. In some places the roof has fallen, 
but the walls are sound ; they are very thick and in this dry climate may 
last many years yet. The joists and other wood work are elaborately carved 
in a rude style. The hall of the church is 100 feet in depth to the chance^ 
which is 15 feet. The hall is about 30 feet wide and 40 feet high. There is 
a gallery on the side near th,e chancel and over the principal door. Adjoin 
ing the church are numerous rooms, apparently connected with it in former 
times, and some of them still in a good state of preservation. The entire 
ruins of old Pecos cover several acres, 'round which are traces of an old stone 
wall. About 250 yards from the church are numerous Aztec buildings, 
some of them three stories high ; one of the buildings has a number of small 
rooms which look as if they may have been dungeons. These last are relics 
of the Indians, who have only left the spot a few years, having lingered 
here, keeping a fire burning in a cave. It was, they said, the fire of Monte- 
zuma, which, on leaving, he had commanded them to keep burning till his 

I also copy from Emory's journal : 

" Pecos, once a fortified town, is built on a promontory or rock, somewhat 
in the shape of a foot. Here burned, until within seven years, the eternal 
fire of Montezuma, and the remains of the architecture exhibit in a promi 
nent manner, the engraftment of the Catholic church upon the ancient re 
ligion of the country. At one end of the short spur forming the terminus of 
the promontory, are the remains of the estufa [or vault where the sacred fire 
was kept burning], with all its parts distinct ; at the other are the remains 
of the Catholic church, both showing the distinctive marks and emblems of 
the two religions. The fires of the estufa sent their incense through the 
same altar from which was preached the doctrine of Christ. Two religions, 
so utterly different in theory, were here, as in all Mexico, blended in har 
monious practice until about a century since, when the town was sacked by 
a band of Indians. 

" Amidst the havoc and plunder of the city, the faithful Indian managed 
to keep his fire burning in the estufa ; and it was continued till a few years 
since, when the tribe became almost extinct. Their devotions rapidly dimin- 


ished their number until they became so few as to be unable to keep their 
immense estufa (forty feet in diameter) replenished, when they abandoned 
the place and joined a tribe of the original race over the mountains about 
sixty miles west. There it is said, to this day they keep up their fire, which 
has never yet been extinguished. The labor, watchfulness and exposure to 
heat consequent on this practice of their faith, is fast reducing this remnant 
of the Montezuma race, and a few years will, in all probability, see the last 
of this interesting people. The remains of the ancient [Spanish] church, 
with its crosses, its cells, its dark mysterious corners and niches, differ but 
little from those of the present day in New Mexico. The architecture of the 
of the Indian portion of this ruin presents peculiarities worthy of notice. 

"Both are constructed of the same materials: the walls of sun-dried 
brick, the rafters of well hewn timber, which could never have been hewn 
by the miserable little axes now used by the Mexicans, which resemble in 
shape and size the wedges used by our farmers for spliting rails. The cor 
nices and drops of the architrave in the modern church are elaborately 
carved with a knife." 

When I looked from the coach window at the ruins in 1874, they did not 
seem changed in the twenty-eight years which had intervened ; but I must 
confess, that when I saw them first, I was less impressed by them as me 
mentoes of two religions, of which one was almost extinct, than as exhibit 
ing the wonderfully lasting character of adobes, or sun-dried bricks, which 
had here been in part of the ruins exposed to the elements more than a cen- 
ury ; and in the Aztec portion, had probably breasted the storms before the 
advent of Coronado in 1540. In truth, no one knows how many centuries 
the ruins of the old Aztec edifice have existed. Old Pecos is very near the 
line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, and is nearer to St. Louis 
and Chicago than any other pre-historic city. 

After an absence of forty days, we were back in Santa Fe, and had the 
welcome due to a fine supply of subsistence stores. Gen. Kearney, with all 
the U. S. dragoons, had marched for California. An account of his march 
and battles is given in the journal of Gen. W. H.Emory (then Lieutenant of 
Topographical Engineers). The genial Capt. Ben. Moore, and the intelli 
gent, observing and cultivated Capt. Johnson. x>erished in a battle solely 
due to the absurd orders from Washington. 

Col. Doniphan was in command of the Province of New Mexico, but hav 
ing inarched to the country of the Navajos to treat with those Indians, Col. 
Sterling Price, of the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Volunteers, recently arrived, 
was in command at Santa Fe. Col. Doniphan's Regiment remained in "Rio 
Abajo," as the lower valley of the Rio Grande was called. 

In November, Col. Price ordered Lieut. -Col. D. D. Mitchell, of St. Louis, 
to take a special detail of 100 picked men, and open communication with 
Chihuahua. Capt. Hudson, Lieut. LaBeaume, and most of the Rangers 
went with Col. Mitchell. Col. Doniphan, with his regiment, marched south 
about the time Col. Mitchell did ; and 450 men of these commands, on Christ- 


mas Day, fought the battle of Brazito, a few miles north of El Paso, routing 
more than double their number of Mexicans, and capturing one cannon. Col. 
Weigh tman's company of Artillery from St. Louis, having joined Col. Doni- 
phan (Capt. Fischer's St. Louis Artillery remaining in Santa Fe), the rather 
motley army moved on towards Chihuahua, under orders to join Gen. Wool 
at that place ; the wise men at Washington having in the meantime ordered 
Geu. Wool to join Gen. Taylor, but failed in measures to advise Col. Doni- 
phan of the change ! 

These errant Missourians went marching on, not unconscious of peril, 
but defying it. A Mexican army very foolishly tried to stop them at a place 
called Sacramento, 15 miles from Chihuahua; but Doniphan and his men 
about 900 in all did not want to stop. There were about 4,500 Mexicans, 
infantry, cavalry and artillery, in a very strong position. The Missourians 
fought and conquered, with a loss of two killed : Samuel C. Owen, of Jack 
son county, and Lieut. Kirkpatrick, of Lafayette. Ten pieces of artillery 
were captured. The Mexican loss was heavy, 300 killed and many wounded ; 
but this was partly the fault of their commanders, who, as Doniphan's men 
said, knew nothing of arithmetic, but tried to stand against the Missouri 
ans with five men to one. Of course, the boys would jocularly argue, there 
were five chances for a Mexican to be killed against one for a Missourian. 
Besides, Maj. M. Lewis Clarke and Capt. Richard H. Weightman, with their 
artillery, behaved in violation of all rules wheeled up their howitzers to 
within sixty yards of the Mexican redoubts, and fired right into the poor 
fellows ; while Capt. John W. Reid went charging about with his squad of 
cavalry, to the imminent peril of every Mexican in his way ; and Colonel 
Mitchell, Capt. Hudson, Clay Taylor and everybody else were also taking 
advantage of the great numbers of the enemy to put all they could hors du 
combat, as the French politely term it. When there was no more water to 
swab Clay Taylor's cannon, a supply of moisture was provided ; but for the 
means used in this emergency I must refer to Maj. Clarke's official report in 
the archives at Washington. 

Col. Doniphan took possession of Chihuahua, and after a short rest his 
force, as described in his official report, " literally without horses, clothes 
or money; nothing but arms and a disposition to use them" again went 
marching on, and reached the camp of Gen. Taylor. At the grand reception 
given at St. Louis in July, 1847, to Col. Doniphan and his returned warriors, 
Senator Bentoii delivered a glowing address, from which I quote a few sen 
tences of historical interest : 

" Chihuahua gained, it became, like Santa Fe, not the terminating point 
of a long expedition, but the beginning point of a new one. Gen. Taylor 
was somewhere no one knew exactly where but some seven or eight hun 
dred miles toward the other side of Mexico. You had heard that he had 
been defeated that Buena Vista had not been a good prospect to him. Like 
good Americans, you did not believe a word of it ; but like good soldiers you 
thought it best to go and see. A volunteer party of fourteen, headed by 


Collins, of Boonville, undertook to penetrate to Saltillo, and to bring yon 
information of his condition. Amidst innumerable dangers they accomplish 
their purpose and re turn. You march. A vanguard of 100 men, under Lieut. 
Col. Mitchell, led the way. Then came the main body (if the name is not a 
burlesque on such a handfull) commanded by Col. Doniphan himself. The 
whole table land of Mexico, in all its breadth from east to west, was to be 
traversed. A numerous and hostile population in towns treacherous Co- 
manches in the mountains were to be passed. Everything was to be self- 
provided provisions, transportation, fresh horses for remounts, and even 
the means of victory and all without a military chest, or even an empty 
box in which government gold had ever reposed. All was accomplished. 
Mexican towns were passed in order and quiet plundering Comanches were 
punished means were obtained from traders to liquidate indispensable con 
tributions and the wants that could not be supplied were endured like 
soldiers of veteran service. * 

You arrived in Gen. Taylor's camp, ragged and rough, as we can well con 
ceive, and ready, as I can quickly show. You reported for duty ! you asked 
for service ! such as a march on San Luis de Potosi, Zacatecas, or the " halls 
of the Montezumas," or anything in that way that the General should have 
a mind to. If he was going on any excursion of that kind, all right. The 
"Ten Thousand" counted the voyage on the Black Sea, as well as the 
march from Babylon, and twenty centuries admit the validity of the count. 
The present age, and futurity, will include the " going out and coming in " 
of the Missouri volunteers, the water voyage as well as the land march ; and 
then the expedition of the One Thousand will exceed that of the Ten by 
some two thousand miles. 

"The last nine hundred miles of your land march from Chihuahua to 
Matamoras, you made in forty-five days, bringing seventeen pieces of artil 
lery, eleven of which were taken from the enemy at Brazito and Sacra 
mento. * * * You did the right thing at the right time, and what the 
government intended you to do, and without knowing its intentions." 

These remarks of Colonel Ben ton do no more than justice to the courage, 
endurance and fortitude of Doniphan and his men, on their long and peril 
ous march. They started from the heart of New Mexico for an unknown 
destination, and got there. Missourians should ever hold in honor the 
memory of the men in that expedition. But apart from its glory, there was 
no great result, except to show how large a scope of country could be con 
quered without strength enough following to hold it. 

We had been quiet in New Mexico, with some rumors of conspiracies, 
but nothing thought to be serious. Civil courts on the American plan had 
been established. Charles Bent had been appointed Governor, a man of 
excellent qualities, and popular with all classes. Col. Price was rather care 
less, I thought, as to the drilling and exercises of the few soldiers in Santa 
Fe *. but was vigilant as to the general affairs of the province. Volunteers, 


who had been lawyers at home, were trying to pick up fees in the practice 
of their profession. 

Suddenly, our life that had seemed a mere comedy, had a terrible element 
of tragedy thrust in. On the morning of the 19th of January, 1847, a large 
number of Pueblo Indians thought to be entirely peaceable assembled in 
one of the villages of the valley of Taos, and demanded of Stephen Lee (for 
merly of -St. Louis), who was sheriff of the county, the release of three 
Indians, notorious thieves, who were confined in the calaboose for stealing. 
Seeing no means of resistance, Lee was about to comply with this demand, 
and was in the act of taking off the irons from the prisoners, when Conrado 
Vigil, a Mexican, and the Prefecto, came in and objected, denouncing the 
prisoners as thieves and scoundrels. The Indians at once killed Vigil, and 
cut his body to pieces, severing the limbs from it; and then released the 
prisoners. Meantime Lee had gone to his house. 

Gov. Bent had gone to Taos on a visit, and was at his home in the vil* 
lage. The Indians went to the house of the governor, crowded in till they 
filled it ; told him that they did not intend to leave an American alive in 
New Mexico, and would kill him first. The Governor appealed to their 
honor and manhood, but they treated his appeal with derision, and some 
hegan to shoot him with arrows, taking fiendish care that the arrows should 
torture, not kill him. They shot him in the face and breast, and even 
tried to hit his eyes. Leaving him some time in this condition, they came 
back and shot him in the heart with guns, killing him. They took his 
scalp, stretched it on a board, and carried it in triumph through the streets. 
They had in the meantime killed Stephen Lee. Gen. Elliott Lee, of St. 
Louis, on a visit to his brother Stephen, fled to the house of the Priest, who 
concealed him under some wheat, so that the Indians did not find him for 
some time. When they discovered him, they took him out to kill him, but 
the priest interceded for him so strongly that they abandoned their purpose. 
Gen Lee remained at the Priest's house for some time, and every few days 
the Indians would take him out to kill him, but would desist on the inter 
ference of the Priest. He was finally saved from danger by the arrival of 
the troops. 

James White Leal, a private in the Laclede Bangers, who was on fur 
lough, and had been appointed Prosecuting Attorney for the Northern dis 
trict, suffered a horrible death. The Indians, soon after killing the 
Governor, seized Leal, stripped off all his clothes and made him walk 
through the streets, they singing, and amusing themselves by shooting 
arrows a little way into his body to torture him. Then taking him to the 
house, they shot arrows into his face, taking aim at his eyes, nose and 
mouth and then scalped him while yet alive. They left him in this 
miserable condition for some time, then returned and shot him with arrows 
till he died. 

The Indians went to the house of Judge Beaubien, it is thought, in search 
of Robert Carey, another private in the Rangers, who was on furlough, and 


had been appointed Clerk of the Court. A son of Judge Beaubien, an inter 
esting youth of about twenty years, who had been educated in the States 
and had just returned, was found in the house and murdered. It was 
thought the Indians supposed him to be Carey, who, in company with 
two other gentlemen, had started for Santa Fe the day before, all being 
quiet then, and no fear of an outbreak. Charles Town and several other 
Americans escaped from Taos after the tragedies began. 

Col. Price, on hearing of these terrible events, at once took energetic steps 
to punish the offenders ; but before the scattered commands (in camps where 
food could be had for the animals) could be concentrated in Santa Fe, the 
entire northern end of the province seemed to be in insurrection. Although 
it was midwinter, the troops were soon on the way, meeting and whipping 
the insurgents at La Canada, and also at El Embudo, and finally storming 
the Aztec buildings in the principal village. It was a campaign of fearful 
hardship and exposure, with scant provisions, without tents, bivouacking 
in the snow on bleak hill sides, and dragging cannons over bridle paths on 
the mountains where wheels had never gone. The vengeance taken was 
exemplary, and the insurgents sued for peace. Subsequently twelve or fif 
teen of the murderers were tried in the courts, and promptly executed. 
Many of the insurgents were killed in the battle of Taos, and some of the 
troops. We mourned the loss of Capt. Burgwin, a gentleman of fine talents 
and elevated character. 

About the time of the murders in Taos, some travellers on the road to the 
states, were murdered at the Moro river. The murderers fortified them 
selves in the old town of Moro, some miles west of the road. Capt. Henley, 
of Price's Begiment, attacked them with men from the grazing camps, but 
was himself killed in the action. Capt. Moran, of the same regiment, after 
wards drove them out of the town, and destroyed it. The town was after 
wards rebuilt, but there has been no fighting there since. 

But one opinion was held of the conduct of Col. Price after the troubles 
broke out. It was able, energetic and successful ; and his campaign to Taos 
was in every respect satisfactory to military and civilians. 





Look on the map at New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona ; and re 
flect on the industries, homes, talent, worth, and wickedness in that vast 
region ! Then, if you regard it as a valued part of the United States, with 
its immense pastoral, arable and mineral resources, give Missouri credit, as 
the main agent in its acquisition. Missourians took possession of New Mex 
ico and held it. All the rest followed in due sequence. We have never 
boasted of our achievements, but our acts gave an addition to the empire 
not easily estimated. 

An army of occupation, as ours was in New Mexico, is apt to have some 
amusements ; but with us, these were not of very high order. There were 
a few drinking shops in Santa Fe, but on the whole the army was sober. 
Gambling was an established amusement, before our advent, and went on 
as if it were a regular business. The New Mexican game of Monte, a kind 
of short-hand faro played with cards, was the favorite ; but there waa too 
little money afloat for high stakes. I have no recollection of any serious 
quarrels at any of the games, and think none such occurred. Considering 
our distance from home and all restraining influences, the fact that no shoot 
ing or cutting scrapes tarnished our record is creditable to the Army of the 
West and to the State of Missouri. 

Nearly every night there was a d^nce or " fandango," with a fiddle and 
guitar to supply the music. The Mexican musicians have few tunes, and 
those so nearly resemble each other that it did not matter much what they 


played, as the exercises could go on with zest and vigor. As the dance tunes 
were the same as those played on the same instruments in the church ser 
vices, the women folks (in New Mexico as elsewhere, the most regular 
church goers) were familiar with all; and if an "Americano" blundered in 
the dance his partner could easily set him right. The appearance of an 
officer in uniform generally brought a complimentary improvisation by the 
musicians in honor of him and partner, and he was expected to recognize it 
by a gift of at least " cuatro reales," or fifty cents. These impromptu songs 
were said by those who understood them to be often quite creditable to the 
"musicos." Quadrilles and Spanish or Mexican polkas and waltzes alter 
nated ; the latter graceful and pleasing. There was generally a supply of 
liquors and cakes to be had, and the lady dancer was apt to expect refresh 
ments at the cost of her partner when the set was ended. Good order was 
usual at these entertainments. The volunteers would sometimes swagger 
a little, but the Mexicans would preserve their good humor, enjoying them 
selves as if they were children. 

We had a theatre too. A large room in the palace had been granted by 
Governor Bent for the use of a Thespian Company, organized mainly by 
some of the Laclede Rangers, under the direction of the projector, Bernard 
McSorley, still a citizen of St. Louis. McSorley was stage manager, and 
star actor. Under his direction scenes were painted and the " sala" fitted 
up in a manner that would have made Sol. Smith leap for joy in his itiner 
ant days, when he sometimes had to use big potatoes for candlesticks in his 
row of tallow footlights. The play on the first night was Pizarro in Peru, 
or the Death of Holla, and was well sustained to a " crowded house." 
McSorley was a splendid Pizarro, and conquered the audience as if they 
were real Peruvians. Elvira was done by Edward W. Shands, and Cora by 
Wm. Jamieson, of the Rangers, both in appropriate female costume, doing 
their best to look the characters as well as act them. After the tragedy 
came negro minstrels, led by James W. Leal of the Rangers, who afterwards 
suffered so terrible a death in Taos. As we had at times to use unbolted 
flour, made from native wheat in the rude native mills, one of the conun 
drums was " Why are the volunteers like ladies' bustles ? "and the 
answer " 'case they're stuffed with bran ! " 

The Mexican ladies were much amused at the idea of a hombres " (men) 
acting feminine characters, and said it might do in the " Teatro," but would 
not answer so well in the " casa," or dwelling. 

Sick most of the time in torture from neuralgia and rheumatism una 
ble to march south with Doniphaii or north with Price, I passed a winter 
of discontent and misery. Once I was at death's door, but it did not open. 
Everybody expected me to die, but the idea of death in that distant land, 
was so repugnant that I would not entertain it. I would think of the loved 
ones in St. Louis and elsewhere, as if it were not possible to leave them, 
and, strangely enough, I did not think I would die. When I was reduced 
to the condition of a living skeleton so little flesh on my frame that the 


vertebrae seemed to cut through the skin, and I could hardly lie on double 
wool mattresses I smiled at the two doctors, Major Edmunson and his 
brother, holding a whispered conversation in the corner of the room, looking 
very grave, and shaking their heads. I thought that if they did not know 
what ailed me, I would try not to give them the chance of finding out by a 
post mortem examination. I had been kept under the influence of colchicuin 
by Dr. DeCamp, for neuralgia and rheumatism, and after he marched for Taos 
I had taken cold. The two Edmunsons, both good physicians, believed I 
had internal inflamation, and regarded the case as very serious, if not des 
perate. Their consultation ended by sending me a dose of medicine, and 
I finally got well. They had given me sixty grains of calomel. 

During my illness, the Mexican ladies of the families I had become ac 
quainted with, not only sent me the wool mattresses to replace my buffalo 
robes, but sent little cookeries to tempt the invalid's appetite. I am grate 
ful yet for their disinterested kindness. John Ledyard, the remarkable 
traveller, (who was in Cook's expedition when the great circumnavigator 
was killed), has in one of his journals a passage that I quote for those who 
do not value the goodness of women : 

" I have observed among all nations that the women ornamented them 
selves more than the men ; that, wherever found, they are the same kind, 
civil, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are all inclined to be gay 
and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not hesitate like man, to per 
form a generous or hospitable action ; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor super 
cilious, but full of courtesy and fond of society ; industrious, economical, 
ingenuous ; more liable in general to err than man, but in general also more 
virtuous and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed 
myself in the language of decency and friendship to a woman, whether civ 
ilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. In wan 
dering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Swe 
den, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and 
the wide-spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet 
or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so ; and to add 
to this virtue, so worthy of the appelation of benevolence, these actions have 
been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that if I was dry, I drank 
the sweet draught, and if hungry, ate the coarse morsel with a double 

In April, Dr. DeCamp established a military hospital at the copious 
warm springs near Las Vegas. There is now a large hotel there, with bath 
houses, and all the accompaniments of a health and pleasure resort. It is 
a charming locality, but I will not describe it, as the railroad folks are tell 
ing the public all about it. Boston capital has enlivened the picturesque 
little valley, where we grazed the horses of the Bangers, thirty-seven years 

In the spring of 1847, many outrages had been committed by Indians on 
the plains, and even in the borders of New Mexico. Major Edmunson was 


sent out in May from Santa Fe, with seventy-five men a dozen Laclede 
Rangers among them to hunt Indians, and if possible recover stolen ani 
mals. In a deep canyon of the Canadian, we found the recently deserted 
camp of the enemy ; killing two or three of them, apparently left to watch 
us. While we were looking about for signs of Indians, we observed them 
gathering in considerable numbers on the high sides of the canyon, and 
they began to shoot down at us. 

The " boys " thought it was great fun. We were to have a fight at last, 
and would have big tales to tell when we got home. Nobody seemed to 
mind the thuds of the bullets in the sand at our feet, as none of them had 
happened to strike manor horse. But Major Edmunson did not think we 
were in a good place to fight, and started us up the hill and along a rough 
bench in the side of the canyon, to get a better position, or get out of the 
gorge. He thought it unwise to stay below, where the Indians could shoot 
down at us, and there was no certainty that our balls could reach up to 

We had not gone far till I did a wonderfully foolish thing. In total dis 
regard of all prudence, I mounted a rock and called on the u Laclede Rang 
ers " to stand by me, and we would have a fight right there. We did have 
it. Indians were following us, and we shot at them ; that is, the men did, 
as I had only a pistol and a sabre. Several men from other companies had 
stopped with us, and we had a lively time, the balls striking the rocks all 
about us, but mainly going over our heads. It has been told of George 
Washington, that he " liked to hear the music of bullets." I am not sure 
that he said so, but I know we heard the music, and, absurd as it now 
seems, we rather liked it. 

Major Edmunson had stopped at the bottom of the steep hill which we 
would have to go down, and his men were shooting at Indians on our left 
that we could not see. We thought they were shooting at our Indians, that 
we knew they could not hit from their position, and we called to them to 
come up, to]which they replied by calling to us to come down all in language 
adorned with expletives. So the fight went on for an indefinite time, and 
at length, as cartridges were getting scarce, I said to the men, " we had 
better vamos." 

It was a Mexican word, " vamos," that we had got in the habit of using, 
and meant the same as u puck-a-chee " in the lingo of the Kaw Indians ; 
that is, "get out of here quick." As we scrambled down the hill, (about 
as steep as the one Putnam went down) we found another body of Indians 
had got clear around us, and if we had not begun to " vamos" from our posi 
tion just when we did, we should have staid there. We also learned that 
the Indians on our left that the Major and his men had been shooting at, 
were not our Indians at all, but another set, trying to cut off" our further 
movements ; and that if Major Edmunson had not acted just as he did, none 
of us would ever have come out alive. 

As soon as we got to the bottom of the hill, we all started up the canyon 


hastily. Some men had lost their horses, and were mounted behind other 
men. Joe Bumbry was behind me. Haifa mile up the canyon, we crossed 
the stream to get up a slope to the table land, where the side of the canyon 
was not too precipitous for a passage out. The Indians were after us, and 
some of our men stopped on the rising ground beyond the creek, and shot 
over our heads at the Indians, who were coming up the canyon and were 
shooting at us, as we gathered at the creek and crossed. Two of the Rang 
ers, JohnEldridge and Martin Wash, were on one horse, and were hit by 
one buckshot, which touched the corner of Eldridge's eye and went into 
Wash's cheek and out at his neck. They had foolishly turned their horse 
to shoot back at the Indians, and might have been killed. As I came up to 
them Eldridge was lamenting a lost eye but I re-assured him. Wash was 
spitting blood, and said to me : 

" Lieutenant I be hanged if I don't think I'm shot somehow ! ' 

As we reached the crest, and began to emerge on the table-land, some of 
the Indians were just coming round to stop us, but were a minute too late, 
and disappeared. The roll was called and we had to regret the loss of one 
man from Callaway county. In the final charge up the hill, he was killed. 
The Indians were charging after us. 

Our haversacks of provisions, and some other property, were lost, and 
although night had come (the whole engagement lasted four or five hours), 
we started for the point where our wagons were to meet us ; but at length, 
tired out, laid down till daylight, and then soon reached camp. We ate and 
rested till afternoon, when a body of horsemen were seen in the distance, 
and a little howitzer was loaded and got ready for them. But they turned 
out to be Captain John C. Dent of the De Kalb Rangers, with a reinforce 

A council of war was held on a proposal to go back to the canyon ; four 
ayes and five noes. I voted no. We had neither provisions nor ammunition 
to continue the campaign. Besides, I had been in the canyon, and, on re 
flection, did not like it. I did not want to hear any more bullets singing. 
It was afterwards ascertained that the Indians had left the same night and 
gone a long march in another direction. They had greatly outnumbered us, 
and tlieir loss was estimated at forty killed. 

The most wonderful thing to me in the fight was, the entire absence of 
fear. In crossing the creek, a possible bullet in my back suggested the 
'thought, that after my body should be found people might impugn my 
courage ; but there was no other dread of that possible bullet. But at the 
council next day the scare that I ought naturally to have felt in the fight 
came on, and I was not at all sorry that with two wounded men, no provi 
sions, and no ammunition, my negative vote was a matter of duty as well 
as inclination. I have never been in a fight since, but have held bravery 
during battle in low estimation. If a man with a big bump of caution 
could be as cool and self-possessed as I was during our Indian fight, those 


with little bumps may easily be heroes. To deliberately go into battle re 
quires courage ; but once in, excitement seems to swallow up fear. 

Our term of enlistment having expired, the Rangers under my command 
(and myself also) were honorably discharged from the service of the United 
States, and on 13th June we started for ll home." We had all had enough 
of "war," though if there had been necessity we should have remained. 
The " boys " were as jubilant as on the day we started from Leavenworth a 
year before ; but none of us appreciated the importance of the work which 
the Army of the West had done, and the immense addition we had helped 
to make to the domain of the American Eagle. 

Often had the boys talked of home and the people there, and hoped they 
might once more hear the rain on a shingle roof, and see women with bon 
nets ! The earthen roofs of New Mexico had no music in them ; the rebosas 
worn over their heads by the women had become monotonous. Our march 
was enlivened by outbursts of song : 

1st Voice. " Listen to me listen to me ! 

What do you want to see, to see? 

All A woman under a bonnet 

A woman under a bonnet 
That's what we want to see, to see ! 
That's what we want to see ! 

1st Voice. " When to home you're drawing near, 
What do you want to hear, to hear? 

All. We want to hear, to hear again, 

On the shingle roof the blessed rain! 
That's what we want to hear, to hear 
That's what we want to hear ! " 

Mr. Solomon Houck, of Boonville, Missouri, was returning from Mexico 
with wagons and a number of loose mules. He would gladly transport our 
baggage in order to have us added to his guard, as the proceeds of his com 
mercial venture were in the wagons : several thousand dollars in silver. 
The coin was in packages of raw hide, which having been wet when the 
packages were made up, had shrunk tightly round the dollars in drying. 
Mr. Webb, also a "Santa Fe Trader," Mr. Fitzpatrick, and two or three 
other persons took advantage of Mr. Houck's train, and altogether we had 
a pleasant party. 

Coming down the Arkansas Valley, we had taken the " bluff road " at 
the Coon Creeks, and were on the look out for Indians. Early one morning, 
the alarm was given that a party of Indians was in the road some distance 
ahead of us. We could all see them plainly. Mr. Webb looked through his 
glass, and said one of them was mounted on a white horse. But there were 
only a dozen of them, and if they meant mischief, they would hardly show 
themselves in that way, unless to induce us to chase them, and get into an 


ambush, which we need not do. So we moved on, with a guard in advance 
and the wagons well brought together. We had gone but a short distance 
when our Indians disappeared, and a dozen crows flew away ! The mirage 
had magnified the crows to the size of men on horseback, and the white 
horse that Mr. Webb had seen with his glass, was the skull of a buffalo ! 

An hour later a party of five horsemen galloped towards us from a camp 
we could see away at the river, on our right. They had been sent to us by 
Capt. Love, U. S. A., to warn us of danger, as he had had a fight with In 
dians the day before, and some of his dragoons had been killed. Mr. Houck 
decided at once to march to Capt. Love's camp, spend the day, and go on in 
the night. When we got ready to start at dark, the bell was taken off the 
old mule, leader of the loose ones, as we feared the Indians might hear it. 
Hardly had we started, when all the loose mules, not hearing the accus 
tomed bell, began to bray ! 

We made our night march in safety ; marched all next day ; stopped at 
dark for supper, and then marched on again some miles to the point where 
the road leaves the Arkansas, and laid down to welcome sleep. We saw 
no Indians except some friendly Osages, on a buffalo hunt, in sight when 
we woke up. 

Now, as New Mexico was part of the United States, it would seem to a 
man not in office that the United States ought to have had a safe road to 
the province. Yet so wretchedly were affairs managed at Washington 
under all administrations, that murders and depredations were continued by 
the Indians on the plains from 1847 up to the time private capital had put a 
railroad in the Arkansas Valley ! It seemed that there was never capacity 
in the government to deal with the wild Indian question. 

In thirty days from Santa Fe, we were at Independence, and snug in 
Mr. Noland's hotel. In four days more we were in St. Louis. You can go 
to Santa Fe now from Independence in about thirty hours, but you can't 
come back as we did, " conquistadores." The old town is still the Capital 
of the Territory, but Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Socorro and other towns, are 
active and energetic rivals. 

After my return to St. Louis, I wore for a few days the mustache I had 
brought home with me, but I had to shave it off. No business man then 
wore a mustache, and I did not wish to be conspicuous. It was very rare to 
see any but shaven faces. But the custom of wearing the beard has become 
almost universal. Beards had become prevalent before 1861, and the times 
from that to 1865 were not calculated to restore the custom of close shaving. 
What this change in the mode of treating the hirsute growth on our faces 
may portend, I leave the philosophers to find out. I only state for the ben 
efit of historical students, the fact, that the almost universal wearing of 
mustaches in the United States did not begin till after the Army of the 
West had conquered New Mexico. 

St. Louis did not seem to have missed us, but kept on growing even 
making money by army contracts, while we were away off conquering prov- 


inces. Relatives and friends were glad to see us ; but we were too late for 
the ovation to Donpihan, and the Rangers who had come home with him. 
So we quietly subsided to private life. 

My law shop was opened again, and prospered in a moderate way. Not 
long after my return, I was engaged to defend Antoine DeHatre against 
an indictment] for assault with intent to kill. Antoine lived in the 
country, and in a family quarrel had struck his mother-in-law on the head 
with a piece of oak stuff split out in making clap-boards. The stick was 
described as about two inches square, more or less, and three or four feet 
long. It was a serious case, but some of the Rangers had told his uncle, 
Thomas Withington, that I was the lawyer to get him clear, and Mr. With- 
ington, like a sensible man, had given me as retainer a handsome fifty dol 
lar note of the old Bank of Missouri. 

This bad conduct of Antoine had happened before the newspapers had 
begun their despicable attempts to be witty and funny about mothers-in- 
law, (but with no jibes for sons-in-law or daughters-in-law) and there was 
much feeling against him. It seemed so wicked and cowardly to strike an 
elderly woman on the head with a piece of clap-board stuff, that any honest 
jury would almost strain a point to convict. But strong as the case was, 
the relations of the old lady were not satisfied to leave it simply to the Cir 
cuit Attorney, but had employed Captain Hudson to aid in the prosecution. 
At my suggestion, Major Uriel Wright, regarded as one of the finest orators 
at the bar, was called into the case on our side, and was to rank as leading 

In the case of Mary McMenamy, the offender got off on a technicality, 
but there was no such chance for Antoine. The only thing I could do was 
to undermine Capt. Hudson's oratory, and leave Maj. Wright to argue the 
oaken club into a harmless weapon, if he could. Accordingly, I began my 
speech to the jury very modestly, magnifying the power of Hudson's elo 
quence, and warning them against it. Then briefly giving an account of his 
address to the Rangers at Fort Leavenworth, when they were all hungry 
for supper, and he put them supperless to bed with a speech, I closed. 

" Such, gentlemen, is the man that will address you. It might seem 
irreverent to refer to the miraculous feeding of the multitude under the new 
dispensation, by one who was more than man ; but I may be permitted to 
say, that never has mortal man, since Moses and the Children of Israel fed 
on manna in the wilderness, achieved so wonderful a success in the commis 
sary line, as did Capt. Hudson at Fort Leavenworth ! " 

Court, jury and spectators saw the point and enjoyed it. I had the laugh 
on my side, and when Hudson addressed the jury, his most eloquent appeals 
only brought to their minds the ludicrous picture of the Rangers at Fort 
Leavenworth supping on his oratory. Antoine was acquitted. The young 
lawyer will think this success in the criminal court ought to have encour 
aged me. But I reflected that Mary McMenamy and Antoine DeHatre had 
both been guilty of the offences charged, and I had aided them to escape 


the due penalties. I began to feel like an accessory after the fact. It is a 
pretty theory, that everybody charged with crime shall have a fair trial ; 
but I began to ask myself the question, whether the trial ought not to be 
fair to the state as well as to the defendant ? In the cases mentioned I had 
not simply endeavored to see fair dealing between the state and the defend 
ants, but had tried to get them clear by any means at hand. Was I not 
clearly on the side of the criminal classes, and acting against society? 

Unfortunately, I was not like the celebrated criminal lawyer of Philadel 
phia, David Paul Brown, who never had any other than innocent clients. 
Mr. Brown could always persuade himself that the accused was guiltless ; 
hence the force of his eloquence was apt to carry the jury along, in spite of 
adverse facts. Not blessed with an imagination so powerful, conscience 
urged me to give up the law as soon as possible, and after two years of very 
fair success in the way of income, as my old fee book shows, I gave up 
the profession. 

Early in 1849 I made a business visit to Washington, and was at the in 
auguration of Zachary Taylor as President, on the 5th of March. Mr. Polk's 
term had expired March 4th, and Senator David R. Atchison, of Missouri, 
as presiding officer of the Senate, was president of the United States from 
12 o'clock Saturday night till Gen. Taylor was sworn in on Monday ; but 
our Missouri Senator did not claim the chance dignity. Col. D. D. Mitchell, 
of St. Louis, was tendered the Governorship of Minnesota Territory, then 
just organized, but declined. He only wished to be re-instated as Superin 
tendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis. A Mr. Pennington, of New Jersey, 
also refused the Governor's place. Alexander Ramsey, then of Pennsyl 
vania, was in Washington, and I suggested to him that he had better take 
the Minnesota Governorship, and "grow up with the country." I may have 
said "go west, young man," but think not. Mr. Ramsey took the place, 
and the entire west knows how ably he filled it. 

Most men would rather confess to wickedness than weakness. The 
former seems more heroic ; but I am only able to acknowledge the latter. 
While in Washington, at Taylor's inauguration, Col. Mitchell said to me 
that he would propose my appointment as Governor of Minnesota, and 
was very sure that I would be chosen, as he was very intimate with the 
President. With absurd modesty I declined. I never even thought, then, 
that Col. Mitchell, under whom I had served as Indian agent, might be a 
better judge than I of my qualifications. I have never read the " Con 
fessions " of Jean Jacques Rosseau, but doubt if he ever owned to declining 
as big an office as the governorship of Minnesota. Fortunately for the Ter 
ritory, Ramsey had faith in himself, and the Territory did not lose any 
thing, but probably gakied. It was all a matter of destiny. Some people 
are born to decline office. 




Hiram W. Leffingwell was born in Massachusetts in 1809. His father 
moved to northwestern Pennsylvania in 1818, as agent of the Holland Com 
pany, which had estates to sell in that region. Hiram, after a boyhood of 
farm work, a youth of school teaching, then a dip into the legal profession, 
followed by a trial of farming in northern Illinois hauling his wheat from 
Rock River to Chicago, and selling it for fifty cents a bushel finally opened 
in St. Louis the first Real Estate office west of the Mississippi, for the sale 
of lots, houses and lands on commission. Like Washington, he was a land 
surveyor, and connected this pursuit with his main calling. A man of san 
guine temperament, and of great energy and industry, he soon became an 
authority on matters relating to real property, and did much service to the 
public by his sound advice in regard to laying out "Additions " to the city. 
I had arranged a partnership with him to begin with the auction sales of 
lots in the spring of 1849. 

The firm of Leffingwell & Elliott had held but one sale, when the Asiatic 
cholera was declared to be epidemic. On the 17th of May, a large part of the 
business district of the city w r as destroyed by fire. By these calamities of 
pestilence and fire, the general business of the city was for a time almost 
entirely prostrated, and of course real estate would sell but slowly, when no 
one was sure from day to day whether he would ever need more land than 
enough to bury him. It had been previously the custom to toll church bells 
for funerals, but this was interdicted, as of injurious effect on the imagina 
tion of those touched by disease, as well as of those^n sound health. In this 
universal distress, we all tried to be cheerful, and to resist the pestilence by 
not fearing it, if possible. But it was a sad time, as out of a population of 
60,000 to 65,000 there were some 4,000 or 5,000 deaths from cholera alone. 
Business was dull, and I occupied some of my leisure in writing for the news- 


papers. Hence the " Song of the Cholera," in which the pestilence does not 
exaggerate its doings at the time : 


(St. Louis, 1S49.) 

Death Death Death ! 

Cold, and ghastly and grim ! 
He comes to claim, the living breath, 

And there's no denying him. 
He's the only monarch of earth 

Who rightly wears a crown- 
In palace hall, or by hovel's hearth, 

Ye are subjects all his own. 

Childhood, youth and age 

And manhood's proudest forms, 
Alike his blasting care engage 

He gives them all to worms. 
With a reckless, ruthless air 

He scatters his arrows round 
The old, the young, the strong, the fair, 

Are stricken to the ground. 

Ye humbly pray and fast 
Ye may all in sackcloth -mourn ; 

B-ut ye'll hear his trumpet's-fearful blast, 
And he'll latigh ye all to scorn ! 

By right divine doth he rule- 
He's a king by God's decree; 

And no art is taught in church or school 
To conquer such as he ! 

Amidst ye now I sport, 
For I bring his orders here ; 

And my master holds his awful court 
While ye tremble in your fear. 

Dethroned ye kings of earth? 
Ye might smile their fall to see ; 

But the king I serve is of higher birth- 
Can ye conquer such as he? 

The phrase " Dethroned ye kings of earth," was an allusion to the revo 
lutions of 1848 in Europe, where it seemed as if republican government was 
about to be generally established. 

Metallic caskets had not then come into use, and the Undertaker had 
usually a supply of wooden coffins in his shop, set up on end in the front 
part, where the passers-by could see them. The Soliloquy of the Under 
taker, as published in the Reveille, was true to the life, when it was liter 
ally the case that whole families were " all swept by death away." 



(St. Louis, 1849.) 

' Tis a lively, worky time- 
It's driving here and there 

Though the bells may toll no funeral chime, 
Yet trade is passing fair! 

From morning's early light, 
Ere others rise or dress, 

Till round us close the shades of night, 
The " orders " on me press ! 

(This coffin all in virgin white, 
For a maiden, should be drest.) 

Saw, and plane, and screw 
(This lumber's scarcely dry) 

Such a lucky hit, in a business view, 
Ne'er saw I yet not I ! 

" Business," I've heard men say, 
" Is business," in every line 

And it seems that I, in a humble way, 
Have a harvest, now, in mine. 

(Three times has " six " been out to day- 
Send this by number " nine") 

Why they want a plate of gold, 

To 'grave this name upon ! 
They might (if I may be so bold), 

Have us'd a silver one : 
But gilt 's the fashion now, I'm told, 

'Mongst people of the ton. 
Silk velvet, too, they'll have 

Around the lifeless clay ! 
(Good folks we carry to the grave, 

In tabby, every day !) 

Reports this morning tell 

That things are "rather worse" 
If the list continues thus to swell, 

I'll get another hearse. 
An order here for three ! 

I can hardly send them all : 
Of " ready made " we've none, you see, 

Lean'd up against the wall. 
Time was, when round they stood, 

Our " custom " to allure- 
Put up of every kind of wood, 

To suit each connoisseur ! 
(This goes to a filthy neighborhood, 

Where the vicious are, and poor.) 

'Tis a time men's souls to try, 
And women's hearts to melt; 

And I'm not ashamed to own ev'n I 
Some tenderness have felt. 

For once, with the big tear in mine eye, 
O'er a daughter, dead, I kuelt. 


Sure, 'tis a lovely thing, 

Around the dying bed, 
To see affection minist'ring 

Or weeping o'er the dead ! 
But scenes more fearful far 

I witness every day- 
No pen or pencil ever dare 

Their horrors all portray : 
When families in an hour are 

All swept by death away ! 

Myself almost could shed 

Some unaccustom'd tears, 
To think how many persons dead, 

Have 'taken of my biers ! 
Yet what would tears avail? 

'Tis better not to grieve ; 
For when the living bodies fail, 

A job to me they give 
'Midst parents', wives', and husbands' wail, 

They die, that I may live ! 

Screw, and plane, and saw, 

The hammer and the square ! 
A pestilence that owns no law, 

Is raging everywhere ! 
The huckster in the stall 

Ne'er thinks of trade forestall'd 
The doctor dreads a diff'rent " call," 

As he's to patients call'd 
And even those who bear the pall, 

Themselves are sore appall'd ! 

As a further illustration of what our community went through, the 
Meditations of the Sexton may be given. Survivors will recognize the truth 
of the remark, that "men put on a coat each day," rejoicing that it was not 
a shroud. 


(St. Louis, 1849.) 

My trade is brisk and gay 

What profits I shall win ! 
For I'm digging gold the livelong day. 

As I take the coffins in. 
Delve, and shovel, and fling, 

From morn till midnight gloom ! 
Death's angels all are on the wing, 

'Tis the Triumph of the Tomb ! 
And joyously I'll work and sing 

For the cry is" still they come ! " 


Station, wealth and rank 

What baubles they appear ! 
A thought of the grave, so cold and dank, 

Their vot'ry fills with fear- 
But the fresh clay mould gets a merry spank, 
And I feel like playing a school -day prank, 

As my spade I nourish here ! 

There that was a prattling child- 
No more than three years old : 

Why doth the mother stare so wild? 
Sure the boy is dead and cold ! 

If so sweet the little cherub smiled, 
Why wish it to grow old? 

But a mother's heart was ne'er beguil'd, 
By thought like this, I'm told. 

When thus in childhood's time, 

Their little frames decay- 
It shocks us not, as when manhood's prime 

Is torn by Death away. 
Here came one hearse last week, 

A father and his son ; 
Then my heart was full (but my heart was weak), 

To see such mischief done ; 
Of the man I heard the people speak, 

As a noble, honest one. 

Lower it gently, gently so ! 

And now on the coffin- lid 
Let the dust fall light, like flakes of snow, 

'Till all from sight is hid ! 
'Tis a fearful thing they say 

For a mourning mother's ear, 
To note the falling clods of clay 

O'er her infant's body here ; 
So I sometimes wish they'd keep away, 

And not come Aveeping near. 

Away on the hill, I see, 

Another train comes on ; 
(Thus crowd the victims here to me, 

E'er the last job's fully done !) 
'Tis a doleful time, they say, 

In the city's trembling crowd; 
And belles, their gew-gaws laid away, 

In pray'r and fast are bow'd, 
And men put on a coat each day, 

In joy 'tis not a shroud ! 


Hark ! 'tis a widow's wail, 

That laclens now the air ! 
But a little while 'tis a sad old tale 

The bride was so blithe and fair ! 
Yes to me they've brought him here 

(This corpse has a wond'rous heft), 
E'en my own old eye might drop a tear, 

To think of her bereft ; 
And ye,t, like a blessing it doth appear, 

There are no orphans left. 

Delve, and shovel, and fling 

The sceptre here's a spade ! 
(I'll wipe this tear away and sing) , 

As I drive my growing trade. 
No sympathy I'll feel 

No touch of sadness know 
A Sexton's heart should be made of steel, 

Too hard for other's woe ; 
For to him there's never Life so real, 

As when Death is all the go ! 

It is imposible to estimate the loss suffered by St. Louis from fire and 
pestilence in 1849 ; but the spirit of her people was not broken. Arrange 
ments were at once made to build up the burned district better than it was 
before, and this was in a short time accomplished. The loss by the " big 
fire" was possibly as great in proportion as that of Chicago in 1871, but I 
do not recollect that any "relief" was sent from other parts. We had 
even life and spirit enough left to look beyond our immediate interests, and 
concern ourselves with those of the world at large. Lifting ourselves above 
local calamities, we looked even to the Pacific Ocean, and to the far away 
Orient. It seems queer, that in a time of so much disaster, we should have 
had a thought to spare for such a thing as a railroad across the continent. 
We, however, not only thought of it, but acted. In May, Isaac H. Sturgeon 
(Still an honored and useful citizen) introduced resolutions which were 
passed by the City Council, calling a National Convention to meet in St 
Louis in October, to consider the subject of a PACIFIC RAILROAD. 

The Convention was largely attended, and did much to fix attention on 
the great project. Douglas made a strong speech ; Richard W. Thompson, 
of Indiana, delivered a splendid oration ; and the great Benton made one of 
his best efforts, closing as follows : 

" Let us beseech the national legislature to build the great road upon the 
great national line, which suits Europe and Asia the line which will find 
on our continent the bay 'of San Francisco at one end, St. Louis in the mid 
dle, the national metropolis and great commercial emporium at the other 
end the line which will be adorned with its crowning honor, the colossal 
statue of the great Columbus, whose design it accomplishes, hewn from the 
granite mass of a peak of the Rocky Mountains, overlooking the road the 


pedestal and the statue a part of the mountain, pointing with outstretched 
arm to the western horizon and saying to the flying passenger, there is the 
East there is India ! " 

Benton's attitude was grand, as he delivered this peroration ; but the 
statue of Columbus is not yet hewn ; and the statue of Benton himself, in 
the beautiful Lafayette Park of St. Louis, is looking down at a scroll, in 
stead of having his erect attitude and impressive presence, as he stretched 
out his arm at the close of one of the most brilliant speeches of his life. 

Our Pacific Railroad Convention, held amidst the debris of a most 
calamitous season, was one of the aids in educating the American people, 
but when, thirteen years later, Congress acted on the Pacific Railroad ques 
tion, the prevalence of civil war threw the line north of the latitude of St. 
Louis, and for years after its completion, this city was practically ignored 
by the very road which we had been most persistent in urging upon the 
attention of the country. 

Mr. Leffingwell was the first in St. Louis to collect plats of additions to 
the city, and other data needed in regard to locality and boundaries of landed 
property. Except the government land offices, there was no other real 
estate " bureau" in all the broad domain west of the Mississippi, less than 
thirty-five years ago ! 

In February, 1850, Leffingwell & Elliott published the " Real Estate Reg 
ister," with statistics and arguments in it, intended to show the present 
and prospective value of real estate in St. Louis and vicinity ; and this, I 
think, was the first publication of the kind ever issued anywhere in the 
world ; the first special paper that not only undertook to designate the par 
cels of real estate offered for sale, but to give reasons why they should be 
bought; to point out facts likely to affect the future growth of the country 
and of the city, and thus to recommend the property in the market. All 
the various and multitudinous publications issued since, by Railroad Com 
panies, Town Companies, Boards of Immigration, and other organizations, 
urging people to buy or occupy lands, are but successors of our Real Estate 
Register, issued only a third of a century ago ! As a pioneer in this sort of 
literature, I would feel sadly if I did not know that it would in time have 
grown up if I had never led off in it ; and my conscience acquits me of any 
share in the guilt of possible exaggerations in the millions of papers issued 
by other persons. We were also the first to use lithograph plats of land and 
lots for sale, west of the Mississippi. The facts stated in this paragraph are 
of value as showing that the great activity in land transactions in the "great 
west," only began about the middle of the century. 

The views given in our Real Estate Register of the position and prospects 
of St. Louis were somewhat rosy, but on the whole instructive, and not 
more sanguine than was natural under the circumstances. The future 
growth of the city was a little overestimated ; but in regard to the develop 
ment of the country by railroads, the increase of population and inanufac- 


tures in the west, and kindred topics, the sanguine views presented have 
by events been proved to have been altogether too moderate. 

A table of the population of the United States at each census from 1790 
was given in the Register, and some forecasts for the future, which I repro 
duce and compare with the actual census : 


1850 22,871,270 23,191,876 320,606 

1860 29,732,651 31,443,321 1,710,670 

1870 38,642,446 38,588,371 84,075 

1880 50,235,179 50,155,783 79,396 

The estimate for 1890 was 65,305,632, and for 1900 it was 84,879,451. The 
increase from 1880 to 1890 was assumed at 30 per cent, for the decade. At 25 
per cent, the population in 1890 would be 62,694,720. By reference to the 
appended table it will be seen that there is no extravagance in anticipating 
a ratio of increase of 25 to 27 per cent, from 1880 to 1890. 

Table showing the Population of the United States at each Census, and ratio 
of increase in each decade. 


1790 3,929,827 

1800 5,305,925 35.01 

1810 7,239,814 36.45 

1820 9,654,596 33.35 

1830 12,866,020 33.26 

1840 17,069,453 32.67 

1850 23,191,876 35.87 

1860 31,443,321 35.58 

1870 38,558,371 22.63 

1880 50,155,783 30.09 

At a ratio of 27 per cent, to 1890, we will have in that year a population 
of 63,697,844 ; and then with 25 per cent, to 1900, we will have at the close of 
the century, only 17 years hence, 79,622,305 people. Looking forward to this 
result, how petty and despicable do those legislators appear, who do not act 
up to the grand future ! And is it not true, that we* need statesmanship? 

Continuing the guess process, I figured up the population of the United 
States at about 250,000,000 in 1950. That number will not be realized, but I 
think the child is born who may see a population of 200,000,000. Then will 
come the test hopefully regarded in the old Real Estate Register : 

"We suppose that, with the improved means of transit and correspon 
dence to be expected as the nation grows older, such an empire might be 
governed under our present constitution with the same ease that the Em 
peror Nicholas rules a population of one-fifth the sum." 


As railroads and telegraphs were yet new in 1850, and we were just begin 
ning to use self-sealing envelopes, and had not yet attained to postage 
stamps, if I recollect aright, the reader will see that I was not wrong in 
looking forward to " improved means of transit and correspondence." 

Our large map of St. Louis as projected by Mr. Lefflngwell, was published 
in 1850. On a manuscript map in the office he drew a line for what he 
called a "Boulevard," to start at the upper end of the city and extend to 
its lower end. It was to be 120 feet wide. Jesse G. Lindell brought in a 
plat of his property near the present Fair Grounds, with the " Boulevard " 
marked on it, and we then named it Lindell Avenue. The County Court 
adopted the idea, but reduced the street to 80 feet in width, and it got the 
name of Grand Avenue. "It will be the greatest street in America some 
day," Mr. Lefflngwell used to prophesy, when it was first projected, with 
its width of 120 feet. 

I have in another place referred to the service done to St. Louis by Mr. 
Leffingwell and myself in laying out Stoddard Addition ; but in his grand 
est work I had no part. He was the father of Forest Park. He not only 
projected the park of 1,300 acres, but labored long and effectively to get it 
established ; and but for him it would not exist. This immense service to 
the present and the future, has never been adequately recognized by the 
community. The people enjoy the Park, and brag of it to strangers. The 
originator and creator of it may solace his old age by reflections on his good 
works for the public. 





Two scientific gentlemen of St. Louis, together with a practical smelter, 
had in 1849 gone into the business of making copper in the southern skirt of 
Franklin county, Missouri, at Gallagher's mill, where in early days John 
Stanton made gunpowder from the nitrous earth found in the large caves 
of that region; the habitations of numberless bats for unknown years. 
Archibald Gamble and Edward Bredell had a copper furnace at work in 
the neighborhood, but the two gentlemen of high science disdained a blast 
furnace. They would have a reverberatory , and their ores should be so pre 
pared and mixed with fluxes that the copper would come out absolutely 
pure. On the first trial the furnace chilled, but the smelter accounted for 
the mishap by the fact that the wind had changed to the north ; and experi 
enced furnace men will appreciate the situation. The wisdom of the enter 
prise will be fully comprehended by experienced miners, when they learn 
that the projectors did not intend to do any mining, but expected the farm 
ers to dig up copper ores and haul them to the furnace, as used to be done 
with lead ' mineral ' in Missouri. 

To make a fortune, I joined the adventurers, and some others joined. 
We in course of time built a new furnace like that of 'Gamble and Bredell 
(who had given up copper making about the time we had fairly begun), 
and we opened the Stanton Copper Mine, described in the state Geological 
Survey. We made some thirty thousand dollars worth of very good copper ; 
had a steam pump at the mine, and spent money enough in half a dozen 
years to merit success. 

Dr. John Laugh ton was interested with us at first, and after a few 
months he would come into the office in St. Louis to see how things were 
going on. 


" I want to see a dividend, " he would say " Gar, I want to see a divi 
dend ! Everything going out, and nothing coming in ! Gar, I want to see 
a dividend!" 

But he never saw it, nor did any of us ; and we did not even prove the 
mine worthless. We left a distinct vein or lode ' going down,' and if the 
water charges do not prove too great, the old mine may possibly yet be 
worked for copper. When the money had all run out, and the mine had 
stopped, we were just beginning to know (like many others who have gone 
a-mining) a great many things that we ought to have known before we 
began; but there were no books to teach them, and they could only be 
learned in the school of experience. So far as I was concerned, the money 
and time spent in copper mining in Missouri were not entirely lost, as the 
course of study induced aided in fitting me for duties of much usefulness 
on the western plains, to which destiny called me fifteen years later. 

" There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough- 
Hew them how we may !" 

A young lawyer of St. Louis had an industrial inspiration, and leased the 
Gallagher mill, which had a splendid water power, and an old fashioned 
saw. By infallible figures the two scientific gentlemen had proved that 
there was an immense fortune in hardwood lumber. With forests full of 
magnificent oaks, walnuts, etc., all he had to do was to keep the saw run 
ning. So many logs were good for so many feet of lumber, board measure, 
which at $ per 1,000 feet would amount to $ . Quod erat demon 
strandum. The logs came in, the mill cut them into first class lumber, and 
the two Doctors congratulated the enterprising young man. His fortune 
was sure. But alas ! as George Nuckolls remarked of his iron furnace, " it 
is hard to work up to the figures ! " Maj. Samuel Simmons, of St. Louis, 
will vouch that the saw-mill venture only failed, because of the awkward 
fact, discovered too late, that there was no possible market for the product. 

While in search of fortune in the copper mine, another grand vista of 
wealth opened. John Roques, or de Roques, an old farmer of Jefferson 
county, Missouri, believed himself heir to a great estate in France, but had 
no money to prosecute his claim. I traded some wild land for an interest in 
the estate, to be held equally by Mr. Leffingwell and myself; and for a share 
of our interest, Henry W. Williams (the first to achieve the systematic ex 
amination of land titles in St. Louis) agreed to have the claim established 
during a projected visit to Europe. Mr. Williams wrote us from Paris that 
the estate was beyond doubt a real thing, sure enough, three million francs, 
more or less, or near about six hundred thousand dollars ; and that John de 
Roques was clearly entitled to it, if he could get it ! A Parisian lawyer was 
of opinion that his chances were excellent. 

We were rich at last ! My share was about $75,000. One-third of this I 
at once devoted in imagination to entries of public lands for the support of 


a School of Mines, and the rest was to be carefully invested for personal 
income. Nothing could have resulted more happily ; for in addition to the 
actual cash to be coming in, we had the great satisfaction of being the only 
men who had ever gone in search of an estate in Europe and found it so 
soon ! But unfortunately for the School of Mines (which the State of Mis 
souri has since established) a second letter from Mr. Williams informed us 
that a preposterous Lieutenant de Roques, of a collateral branch (a miser 
able frog-eating Frenchman), was in actual possession of our estate, and 
wickedly held on to it, in contempt of all claims of his aged relative in Jef 
ferson county ! If steps to secure the inheritance had been taken early 
enough, our John de Roques would probably have been successful, but the 
time for action had expired long before I had traded eighty acres of Mare- 
mac hills to Amedee Valle for a share of it. Henry W. Williams is still the 
best authority on land titles in St. Louis, but has never since been rich on a 
foreign estate, and like mysslf, only thinks of the de Roques case with a sad 
smile, and the reflection that the world might have been better off if that 
French Lieutenant de Roques had never existed. 

Major Williams will remember a gala day in St. Louis, when he acted as 
one of the aids of Thornton Grimsley, Grand Marshal at the imposing cere 
mony of breaking ground for the Pacific Railroad. In the absence of the 
Governor of the State, Thomas Allen, the President of the road, made the 
opening speech, and presented the spade to Luther M. Kennett, mayor of 
FOR A RAILROAD. The various benevolent societies of St. Louis and a large 
number of the people were present. Joseph M. Field recited a spirited and 
appropriate poem ; and Edward Bates delivered one of those charming ad 
dresses that it seems to me nobody now-a-days can equal. The day when 
this first ground was broken was the beginning of a new era of industrial 
civilization between the Mississippi river and the Pacific Ocean. It was 

July 4th, Anno Domini 1851, 

and will hereafter be recalled as one of the historic days of our national 
career. The spot where that first ground was broken ought to be marked 
with a monument for all time. A third of a century has not elapsed, yet a 
century's work has been done, if measured by results as compared with the 
achievements of mankind before the days of railroads. The mind cannot 
grasp the material progress west of the Mississippi since July 4, 1851 ; never 
equaled or approximated since Noah landed on Ararat. 

Thomas Allen began the great work, by procuring the act of incorpora 
tion ; and when the corporators of the Pacific Railroad were first called 
together, John O'Fallon, James H. Lucas, and Daniel D. Page each sub 
scribed for $33,333.33J of the stock, making $100,000. The subscriptions are 
worthy of note as the financial beginning of railroad building west of the 

Among the early stockholders of the Missouri Pacific were Mr. Leffing- 


well and myself; but our investment, like those in the copper mine and 
the French estate, left only a memory of faded hopes. 

It may not seem credible, but is nevertheless true, that railroads were 
yet so new, only thirty-one years ago, that the community had to undergo 
a course of elementary instruction. In 1852, 1 wrote volunteer editorials for 
a St. Louis paper, giving in detail the reason why railroads were of public 
benefit and ought to be built ! Those old editorials might amuse an intelli 
gent reader now, yet they were sound in doctrine and pertinent in applica 
tion. The apparent absurdity is, that they should have been gravely put 
forth ; yet they were then needed to educate the public. 

Congress having granted lands in aid of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, 
the Legislature decided that the main line should run by Jefferson City, and 
that a branch from the west line of St. Louis county, should run to the 
southwest corner of the state; to which branch the lands were given, on 
condition that subscriptions of $500,000 stock, applicable to the branch, 
should be obtained. In 1854 I spent several weeks in the counties along the 
line of the Southwest Branch, making speeches to get county subscriptions 
to the stock, and thus secure the lauds to the branch. My speeches would 
read well now, if any one cared to study the philosophy of improved trans 
porting machinery, but the well-informed reader would think I took a great 
deal of trouble to tell what everybody knows, forgetting that they did not 
know it thirty years ago, and we had to teach them. In those speeches I 
insisted that the Southwest Branch was the proper line to be extended to 
the Pacific Ocean, and would in time reach it. In 1866 Congress, on motion 
of Senator B. Gratz Brown, granted a charter and lands to the Atlantic and 
Pacific Railroad Company, to build a road from Springfield, Missouri, by way 
of Albuquerque, to the Pacific. This road is now built 500 miles west from 
Albuquerque, and reaches the Pacific by a junction with the California 
Southern. The road is already extended a long distance west from Spring 
field, in the direction of Albuquerque, and my speeches of 1854 are virtually 
changed from prophecy to history ! The old Southwest Branch is now the 
St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, and its cars run through to the 

Ground was broken at Hannibal in 1852 for the Hannibal and St. Joseph 
Railroad. As was customary in that day, while railroads were yet novel 
ties, a large body of the people, and the Governor of the state, participated 
in the ceremonies. A boat load of St. Louis gentlemen had gone up. There 
was a barbecue, and we had patriotic speeches in the open air. Our return 
on the steamboat was hilarious, and we did full honor to the interesting 

In the same year a division of the Alton and Chicago railroad in Illinois 
was completed, from Alton to Springfield. The Mayor, Luther M. Kennett, 
and the City Council of St. Louis were invited to participate in the " open 
ing." Mr. Leffingwell, Stephen Ridgley, and a few other citizens decided 
to go on the boat to Alton, and try to get on the railroad by paying our way ; 


bnt the Superintendent, Edward Keating, on learning of our presence at 
once gracefully adopted us as his guests. At Springfield we found a large 
freight house full of tables with refreshments, solid and liquid, and Mayor 
Kennett replied in a most felicitous manner to the compliments paid by the 
welcoming speaker to St. Louis and to the " invited guests." Hardly had 
the applause following Mr. Kennett's speech subsided, when one of our 
volunteer party arose and expressed a wish " to make a few remarks on be 
half of the uninvited guests ! " This created much merriment, and the self- 
selected orator, then well posted on all industrial interests of Illinois and 
Missouri, and inspired by the occasion, made a capital speech, which was 
received in the most flattering manner. In that age, journeys on horseback 
had not been given up, and his comparison of the two states to a pair of sad 
dle-bags, the Illinois end stuffed with coal and the Missouri end with iron, 
"elicited thunders of applause," as the newspapers said. His prediction 
of the union of these minerals for the benefit of mankind has long since been 

The Alton and Chicago road was the first to run cars from the Mississippi 
river. In a year or two it reached Chicago, and we thought the time from 
St. Louis to New York wonderfully shortened, after Maj. B. F. Fifield had 
opened in St. Louis, in 1852, the first office west of the Mississippi for the 
sale of tickets. Major Fred. M. Colburn, who began as Maj. Fifield's assist 
ant, is in the business yet ; but it has grown to proportions never dreamed 
of when he first began to explain routes by rail and lake. From St. Louis 
to*New York in less than a week ! That was progress. 

The Chicago and Galena railroad was the first to reach the Mississippi 
from the east, and astonished everybody by the amount of business done. 
It aided greatly in the rapid settlement of Iowa, Minnesota, and Western 
Wisconsin, and gave an impulse to the peopling of the great Northwest that 
has been growing in force ever since, until now we are not surprised by 
events that no sane man would have dared to predict only thirty years ago. 

The North Missouri railroad was opened from St. Louis to St. Charles in 
1854, and we had, of course, a jollification in the ancient city on the Missouri 
river. The short line we then rejoiced over has grown till it now connects 
at Kansas City with two lines to the Pacific ; at Omaha with another ; and 
by its Iowa extension with a fourth continental road, the Northern Pacific. 
It is the western division of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific. In our 
merry meeting at St. Charles, to honor the infant's birth, we had no ade 
quate idea of the giant it was to become. All the greater is the debt to those 
who nursed and fostered it. The services of Rollins, Sturgeon, Bates, and 
other gentlemen to the state of Missouri, in the early days of the " North 
Missouri," deserve to be held in grateful remembrance ; but we move too 
rapidly to carry with us the memory of our public benefactors. Their con 
sciousness of duty performed must be their solace. 

A railroad ceremony now-a-days the last spike in a continental line, for 
example is an advertisement. The world is to know that Mr. Villard's 


road is ready for its dollars. But in our old time jollifications the sordid 
element had no place. We were simply rejoicing in the progress of art and 
science. I have but one regret as I look back : as a rule, we neglected to 
have the better sex present. I only remember one occasion, at Hermann, 
Missouri, with ladies gracing the feast. I only know of one occasion, when 
fair hands moved the first earth, in beginning a new line. This was at 
Macon, Missouri. An estimable St. Louis lady, Mrs. Isaac H. Sturgeon, 
honored the enterprise by her presence, and with spade in hand, broke 
ground for the old North Missouri extension to Iowa. 

The present generation can hardly comprehend our interests in railroads 
thirty years ago. Everybody, either as stockholder, or as taxpayer on 
county and other bonds, had a share in the burden of construction, and felt 
himself in reality a part owner. There were no strong corporations then to 
build new lines as feeders or branches ; no syndicates, or Vanderbilts, or 
Goulds. If any class of our people entertain any fear of railroad magnates, 
or powerful corporations, we have at least the consolation of knowing that 
the granting of town, county or state bonds, in aid of railroad construction, 
is well nigh done with forever. 

As to inter-state commerce, and fixing rates of freight on railroads by 
act of Congress, let us have no discriminations. If the growth of the 
country, since 1787, in area, population, morals, education, science and art, 
has had the curious effect of enlarging the powers delegated to the federal 
national government, as well as expanding the field of their application, let 
us all have a chance the shorts as well as the longs. I can assure Brother 
Reagan that the price of coal is, at times, intolerably high in St. Louis ; 
and if under the power granted "to regulate commerce * * among the 
several States " Congress can fix the railroad freights on cotton from Texas 
to St. Louis, which requires a long haul, why cannot the rates on coal from 
the Illinois mine be more easily regulated, as the haul is so much shorter ? 
Whether on cars or wagons, crossing the river on the big bridge, or on the 
ferries, the case requires attention. Are not Illinois and Missouri " several 
states," and big ones, too? Are not our imports of coal "commerce," and 
essential to comfort? Are not wagonmen and ferrymen very common car 
riers; coeval (except as regards steam) with the constitution? And, al 
though the bridge is rather an uncommon structure, are not the owners of 
the coal-cars common carriers, engaged in commerce among the several 
states? Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and the other old codgers if they could 
re- visit us might scorn the suggestion ; but while Congress has its hand 
in, could it not, in some way, lower the price of axle-grease, so as to reduce 
the coal. wagon rates? The Transfer Company , too if Brother Tan sey chooses 
to indulge in inter-state commerce why is it to be left out ? And the steam 
boats, barges, rafts and skiffs are they to be slighted ? No, no. Let us 
have no invidious distinctions. Let all the transporting machinery have 
the tender and beneficent care of the wise men in the capitol. 




It was in 1851, August or September, if I recollect rightly, that a party 
of gentlemen were ferried over the river from St. Louis, and in the sylvan 
shades about Cahokia Creek met two way-worn but cheerful pilgrims, who 
had on horseback crossed the State of Illinois from the classic shores of the 
Wabash, where the old Harrison mansion, dear to memory as once the resi 
dence of the hero of Tippecanoe, was yet standing in the city of Vincennes. 
These pilgrims were volunteers on a mission of public interest. They had 
believed that but few physical obstacles existed to prevent the easy build 
ing of a railroad from Vincennes to St. Louis, and had made the toilsome 
journey over the prairies, then but sparsely settled, to find confirmation of 
their belief. They knew that the line between Vincennes and Cincinnati 
was difficult but not impracticable, and if they could report an easy route 
from Vincennes to St. Louis, that fact would encourage the builders of the 
Cincinnati line, by presenting the prospect of an early extension to the Mis 
sissippi. They also wished to confer with the leading and solid men of St. 
Louis in regard to ways and means of building the road. 

There was another important matter : permission to cross Illinois with a 
railroad. That Commonwealth had then a "state policy," which meant 
that railroads should be so arranged as to build up cities within her own 
borders. Easy to get a charter to build a railroad terminating at Alton, for 
example; but a road to terminate opposite St. Louis, and thus of necessity 
help to build up a, foreign city that was quite another matter. 

Conforming to the customs of the time, we met the pilgrims with ice 
water and other refreshments for travel-worn men, and we had toasts and 


speeches under the trees. Their exploring journey had a blaze of enthusi 
asm at the end of it, and as some wind-work used to be essential to the start 
ing of any important enterprise, they had the satisfaction of knowing that a 
goodly share of it was done on that happy occasion. The scene is but dim 
in memory now, but I would rather have a true picture of that reception of 
the pilgrims in the kindly umbrage of the Cahokia trees (even without the 
toasts and speeches) than a dozen full-length pictures of William Penn in 
his grand historical act of purchasing the empire of Pennsylvania from the 
Indians, at his own figure, free of all competition. 

The two pilgrims were Judge Abner T. Ellis, of Vincennes, and Prof. O. 
M. Mitchell, of Cincinnati, and their reception on the other side of the river 
was the first public meeting, so far as I can recollect, ever held to aid in 
starting the line of rails across Illinois now known as the Ohio and Mis 
sissippi Railroad. I note the pilgrimage of these intelligent and excellent 
gentlemen as an interesting incident in the early history of railroad build 
ing, and to put on record for their descendants the fact that they were the 
first to take practical steps towards the building of the road. 

The people of Illinois soon gave up their restrictive policy, laid aside 
their Chinese pigtails and were ready to let anybody build railroads who 
had the money to do it, let them terminate where they might. A charter 
was granted to the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, work was begun and St. 
Louis had to help. At the suggestion of Isaac H. Sturgeon the City Council 
subscribed $500,000 to the stock of the company, and there were also many 
large private subscriptions. Soon after the city subscription Mr. Sturgeon, 
then a State Senator, effected the passage of an act of the Legislature author 
izing the county of St. Louis to subscribe $200,000. We all thus aided to 
begin work on what we very properly thought would be a great road, with 
its gauge of six feet, and leading to the opulent East. 

During the construction of the line the banking-house of Page & Bacon, 
having advanced heavily to the company, found themselves obliged to carry 
the entire load, but, with wonderful fortitude and perseverance under calami 
tous circumstances, they continued the work, completing the track to the 
Wabash. The completion was celebrated by an excursion from St. Louis to 
Vincennes, July 4, 1855. Again we had toasts and speeches, but on the 
shores of the Wabash, and not on those of Cahokia Creek, which we had left 
150 miles behind us. It was a grand occasion, not only as noting a great 
achievement against adverse influences, but as the inauguration of an East 
ern outlet by rail for St. Louis. 

In this grand work of connecting St. Louis directly with the eastern rail 
road system, one figure was conspicuous beyond all others Henry D. Bacon. 
With the co-operation of Daniel D. Page (one of the best citizens St. Louis 
ever had, and whose memory is held in honor), and of Thomas Brown, now 
cashier of the Bank of California, Mr. Bacon managed the financial con 
cerns of the railroad company, giving his great abilities to the work, inspir- 


ing all with confidence, and by his energy, faith and labor compelling 

Another very prominent figure was Daniel R. Garrison, who, in addition 
to other helpful work, devoted his personal energies " in the field" to the 
duty of getting the ties and rails in place, and making all things ready for 
the actual opening of the line for business. The services of Mr. Garrison 
were never appreciated by the public, for whose interests he labored so effi 
ciently, and, like the services of Mr. Page, Mr. Bacon and Mr. Brown, prob 
ably never will be. The world can't pause to think of men who acted a 
good part nearly thirty years ago. 

The good works of Henry D. Bacon for St. Louis were not limited to the 
Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. A church edifice costing $72,000 and a large 
subscription to the Mercantile Library Hall, essential to its construction, 
were among his benefactions. But these things are known only to a few old 
stagers. To the present people of St. Louis, Page and Bacon are almost as 
unknown as if they had never existed. For a score of years past the home 
of Mr. Bacon has been on the Pacific side, and there, as here, he seems to 
have lived for the general good. In August, 1881, "The Bacon Art and 
Library Building " was dedicated as part of the University of California, 
Mr. Bacon having contributed a large sum to the edifice, and also presented 
to the university his choice collection of works of art, sculptures and paint 
ings, and a library of several thousand volumes, comprising standard and 
miscellaneous works of high class. This Art Hall in California will pre 
serve the name of this eminent citizen. He ranks with the other men of 
grand ideas whose acts had made the history of California illustrious before 
she had completed her third decade. 

The principal orator at our celebration in Vincennes was Edward Bates. 
His statue is in Forest Park, placed there by personal friends ; but soon, 
when the visitor is told that is the statue of Mr. Bates, he will say : " Bates ! 
Who was he?" But Edward Bates did not work for immortality. Only for 
the welfare of all around him, and for his country. The growing generation 
are fortunate, perhaps, in never having heard any of his speeches, as they 
can all the better enjoy those they are likely to hear as time rolls on. John 
Hogan and Edward Wyman, both of whom had rendered efficient service 
to the enterprise, also enlivened us with the flashes of wit and humor, and 
the booms of solid wisdom that we used to enjoy in the old-time speeches, 
when we were not quite past the day of oral instruction to crowds, and 
speeches were worth listening to. The press is destroying popular oratory, 
as it is so hard for a speaker, winning as his manner may be, to say any 
thing new. 

Another railroad of much interest to St. Louis, had an opening celebra 
tion in 1855, not ending as happily as that of the Ohio and Mississippi. A 
division of the Pacific Railroad from Hermann to Jefferson City was sup 
posed to be ready for trains, and a grand celebration was to take place at 
the capital, November 1. A train of thirteen cars with a large party of the 


business men of St. Louis, and drawn by a locomotive built in St. Louis by 
Wm. Palm, had reached Gasconade River, where the trestle work intended 
for temporary use till the bridge could be completed, broke down, and more 
than half the train was hurled to the sloping bank of the stream, between 
the abutment and the first pier. I was in the middle car, seventh from 
front and rear. The train was going at the rate of twelve or fifteen miles an 
hour. There was a bump, a check to the motion, an exclamation from some 
one near " We're gone ! " And then a thought flashed through my mind, 
" How queer, after travelling so many thousand miles, that I should at last 
be killed on an excursion ! " Then a thought of those dear to me left with 
out their protector, and then a shudder lest some broken Learn or splinter 
should mangle or torture me. But, though death was present, perhaps cer 
tain, there was 110 fear of it, nor any of that inconceivably rapid review of 
past life said to present itself to the minds of persons drowning or being 
hanged, and I have since believed that dying is not the painful and dis 
tressing process we are apt to suppose it to be. The next thought was of 
water, suggested by the fizzing of the locomotive, which had reached to the 
first pier and fallen in the edge of the stream ; but a glance through the 
window rested on land. The flashes of thought I have noted must have 
been instantaneous.. Except the fizzing of the engine, there was a moment 
of dead silence, save the patter of the rain on the roof of the car, and then 
cries and groans to rend the heart. 

The car I was in had gone down after passing the abutment, and rested 
sloping to the left side on dry ground ; and another car lapped on the front 
half of ours, crushing to death fourteen persons, Dr. Bullard, Mr. Dayton, 
and others of the best citizens of St. Louis among the number. I had in the 
earlier part of the day occupied a seat forward of the middle of the car, and 
relinquished it to a friend who came on at Washington, Elisha B. Jeffries^ 
who was killed. My politeness led to his death. Hudson E. Bridge, then 
president of the road, was on the locomotive, as was also Thos. S. O'Sulli- 
van, the chief engineer, who had succeded James P. Kirkwood in that 
office. Mr. O'Sullivan was crushed beneath the locomotive; but Mr. 
Bridge escaped. Thirty-one persons in all were killed and a great many 

Having given large financial aid to the railroad, Mr. Bridge was much 
elated with the completion of the track to Jefferson City, and being -assured 
by the Chief Engineer that the trestle was entirely safe, had taken position 
on the locomotive to cross the Gasconade river. The engine tumbled back 
wards from the pier, and fell at least thirty feet. His preservation from 
death was not less fortunate for St. Louis and Missouri, than it was won 
derful in itself. It prolonged for twenty years his eminent usefulness. The 
name of Hudson E. Bridge has been read for nearly fifty years on more than 
a million stoves (which he was the first to make on the bank of the Mis 
sissippi), but comparatively few of those who are familiar with it, had the 
good fortune to know the man his refined taste, kindly manners, public 


spirit, liberality, intelligence, and sterling integrity. Having known him 
for the last thirty years of his life, my tribute to his memory is but the due 
of exalted worth. He has left to his descendants a record of excellence in all 
things. The modest foundry of 1837 has grown into the great establishment 
of the Bridge and Beach Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, but with all 
its extensive operations, its far-reaching trade, and its merited prosperity, 
it can achieve no higher honor than to transmit unsullied to its successors 
the name of its founder. 

After the crash, the first thing I did was to join others in trying to lift 
the roof of the car, in order to relieve those yet alive in the front end of it. 
The absurdity of our efforts, with another car resting diagonally across 
ours, did not suggest itself. There was only a sad feeling that we could for 
the time do nothing. Soon those of us unhurt got out through the windows. 
Strong arms were already at work to relieve the wounded, but many men 
were moving about with dazed looks, as if bereft of their senses. Ten cars 
had gone down, but the last three remained on the track, and many of their 
uninjured occupants at once devoted themselves to the sufferers. The 
shanties near were soon filled with men in agony, to some of whom death 
came as a relief. Judge Samuel Treat was requested to take command, and 
soon brought about some degree of order. To Capt. George W. West was 
assigned the duty of getting from the wreck of the baggage car whatever 
eatables could be rescued, and also stimulants for the wounded. 

The storm, which had begun with a drizzling rain early in the day, 
seemed to have reserved its fury for the catastrophe. Fierce blasts of 
wind and heavy dashes of rain, with lightning and thunder, added to the 
horrors of the scene, as darkness came on ; and imagination can scarcely 
picture a night more wretched than that of November 1, 1855, at the Gas 
conade river. 

Next day the dead and wounded were all put on a train of flat and box 
cars, and started towards St. Louis. The temporary bridge at Boauf Creek 
was considered unsafe, and the cars were pushed down by the engine to be 
crossed by hand. As the first car, with several wounded men in it, was 
about to go on the bridge, the flooded stream swept the insecure structure 
away. The train then went back to Miller's Landing, to wait for a boat. 
Another night of wretchedness, during which thirty-one rough coffins were 
made, and the bodies of the dead put in them. In the forenoon of Novem 
ber 3d, a ferry-boat from Washington arrived, the dead and wounded were 
put on board, and, together with the uninjured, soon reached Washington, 
and there took cars for St. Louis. When the history of remarkable rail 
road accidents shall be written, the Gasconade disaster will have a place 
in it. 

The Pacific Railroad did not reach the west line of the State till 1865. On 
the western stretch of the road the same abilities and energies which had in 
1855 been effectively exerted to push through the Ohio and Mississippi Bail- 
road were by some strange good fortune enlisted on behalf of the Missouri 


Pacific. Daniel R. Garrison, in the midst of difficulties and of the actual 
perils of a state of war which in these peaceful days can hardly be imagined, 
completed the road to Kansas city. A few years later Mr. Garrison sur 
mounted a great difficulty in a way entirely original. The gauge of the 
Missouri Pacific was five and a half feet, and the question was, how to 
change it without stopping the business of the road ? 

Columbus set the egg on end, and then everybody knew how to do it. 
Mr. Garrison's plan was so simple that we all wondered why we had not 
thought of it before. He changed the entire line and had it ready for the 
cars in twelve hours! Men were placed on the track, from end to end. to 
drive the inner row of spikes for the new gauge (one rail to be left undis 
turbed), and then early one morning the old inner spikes were drawn, simul 
taneously almost, along the whole line the rail was moved over and spiked 
in place ! It was done on the sixteenth of July, but the act was worthy of 
the Fourth. Engines and cars of the proper gauge having been provided, 
the road was again in operation with the loss of less than a day. Two hun 
dred and eighty-three miles of track had been reduced from a gauge of five 
feet six inches to the standard gauge of four feet eight and a half inches. 

I recollect no business man of St. Louis as opposed to the old gauge, ex 
cept myself. I held that George Stephenson's gauge would do all the busi 
ness, and that a wider track was only useless outlay in construction and 
operation. Denounced as an old fogy, I held on, and time proved me right. 
Curiously enough, the five feet six inch gauge had been adopted on the 
theory that no bridge would ever cross the Mississippi, and that we could, 
have a gauge of our own ! This only a third of a century ago. 

Subsequently the Ohio and Mississippi track, originally six feet, was 
changed in a day to the standard gauge. "Old Dan" (as we call him, 
through regard rather than irreverence, and because there is another 
"Dan," his nephew), had shown how the thing could be done. Brunei 
built the Great Western from London to Bristol with seven feet gauge. 
The New York and Erie and the Ohio and Mississippi tried six feet, but no 
one now wants a wider track than the standard, and thousands of miles of 
three-foot gauge are already built. So we are learning. Ask Gen. W. J. 
Palmer or Gov. A. C. Hunt, of the Denver and Bio Grande, or Col. J. W. 
Paramore, of the Texas and St. Louis road, heading for Laredo. Eads will, 
I suppose, have a gauge of twenty-five or thirty feet for his Tehuantepec 
Ship Railroad, but he wiU have more than two rails, and when his road is 
built and transporting 4,000-ton ships from sea to sea, we will all again 
think of Columbus and the egg. 

From the west bank of the Mississippi River opposite the Ohio, the 
Texas and St. Louis railroad extends through Missouri and Arkansas into 
Texas, a distance of seven hundred miles, with a gauge of three feet. With 
only $12,000 a mile of bonded debt, Col. Paramore, its President, claims that 
this road will be able to carry goods and people at less rates than standard 
gauge roads, with heavier indebtedness. This is matter for the roads to 


settle among themselves. I wish only to note the fact, that Col. Paramore 
has been exceptionally fortunate in one respect ; the Merchants' Exchange 
of St. Louis, by a public ' reception,' has recognized his services in building 
the Texas and St. Louis railroad. This unusual compliment may possibly 
be the beginning of a system of recognitions, by which those who do good 
work to benefit the general interests will find it pleasantly acknowledged. 
Mark Anthony said of Caesar 

" He hath brought many captives home to Rome, 
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill." 

But the people of St. Louis care more for cotton bales than for captives like 
those of the old Roman, and if Col. Paramore's road can bring the bales and 
help to fill the coffers, the honor awarded him will never be regretted. 

Let us get off these railroads and contemplate works of quieter character, 
and more ornamental, yet useful in their way. 

It was the season of growth and bloom, thirty years ago. A shower in 
the night had given us a summer morning so fresh, that the sun's heat was 
unheeded as we breathed the purified atmosphere. The gloom of our Real 
Estate office was cheered by thoughts of the flowers we should see in the 
gardens and by the wayside in our evening drive through the suburbs; for 
even the sickly plants in the city had an aspect of unusual vitality, as if 
they might yet open their rusty buds. 

A gentleman who had been engaged in active commerce in St. Louis from 
1819 till his retirement in 1840, came in with a bunch of roses in his hand. It 
was not rare to see him with flowers, and we knew that he had them in pro 
fusion at his pleasant residence in the midst of the beautiful tract bordering 
upon the King's Highway. He had given up commerce in goods, wares and 
merchandise, but had only changed , from the toil for gain to the cheerful 
labor of wise and tasteful disbursement. We knew that with industry as 
unwearied as that of the counting room, he was beautifying his rural home; 
but we had never thought of any purpose beyond the customary enjoyment 
of a retreat from the cares of an active business life. 

Looking at a map on the wall, he remarked, as if it were a mere common 
place announcement, that he intended to have a Botanical Garden, with 
proper accessories, free for citizens and strangers to visit; and that he had 
in view the donation of a tract of land to the city for a public park, on con. 
ditioii that it should be properly improved. If I recollect rightly, this was 
the first communication of his intention to any one. Mr. Leffingwell and 
myself were the oldest dealers in real estate in St. Louis, and although his 
plans were as yet immature, it was natural that he should advise us of what 
he had in contemplation as affecting the value of adjacent properties. There 
was no parade of generosity, or of unusual public spirit, but the statement 
was made as unpretentiously as if it involved nothing more than an ordi 
nary act of daily life. If a photograph had been taken as he stood there, 
thirty years ago, pointing with his cane to the map, disclosing his benevo- 


lent designs and indicating the broad acres to be donated, the picture would 
be worthy of a place in the Historical Society's gallery. 

The intelligent reader has already identified our visitor as Mr. HENRY 

Tower Grove Park, with its three hundred acres, to the improvement 
and embellishment of which the City of St. Louis has contributed only a 
sum comparatively insignificant with its colossal statues in bronze of Shak- 
speare and Humboldt, and its marble busts of Mozart and Rossini with its 
roads, walks, trees and flowers is the creation and gift of Henry Shaw to 
the people of St. Louis ; and not only for the land, statues, busts, and other 
adornments are they indebted to him, but also for years of care in the gen 
eral superintendence of the improvements, and for the knowledge and taste 
that money cannot command, but without which the Park that St. Louis is 
so proud of could not have existed in its present attractiveness. 

At the home of Mr. Shaw, the Botanical Garden, and its attached Library 
and Herbarium, have been growing for thirty years, and have afforded 
pleasure to hundreds of thousands of visitors. With its plant-houses and 
open grounds, which are a museum of living vegetation representing nearly 
all climes with its Herbarium of innumerable dried specimens, classified 
and arranged and its Library comprising all the literature worth noting of 
Botany and Horticulture the Garden and its accessories, in the opportuni 
ties afforded for the study of these allied sciences, are unequalled in the 
western hemisphere. An ample estate is understood to have been set apart 
for the support of the Garden through all time; and while Mr. Shaw has 
not disclosed his determination, he has, I doubt not, arranged to dispose of 
it in a manner harmonizing with the princely munificence which has brought 
it to its present condition. 

No corporation, or municipality, or government, on this side of the Atlan 
tic, has done so good a work as the unostentatious citizen of St. Louis ; and 
with my natural desire to have all debts paid if means can be found I 
have been puzzled to find out a recompense for Mr. Shaw, even though he 
has never asked or cared for it. 

If one has plenty it is an easy thing to give away part of it for some one 
else to enjoy and take care of; and I imagine it to be a sort of compulsory 
pleasure to bequeath an estate, which cannot trouble the giver after the be 
quest takes effect. But to gain by patient toil a fortune in trade, and then, 
instead of resting, deliberately go to work to plan and to execute, through 
long years, entirely for strangers to one's home, many of them naturally 
thankless, and for the folks we call posterity, that one can never know any 
thing about, this is a sacrifice of one's self away beyond the money outlay, 
and I don't see how we are to pay for it. 

For nearly the third of a century, Mr. Henry Shaw has been the self- 
dedicated servant and benefactor of the public thinking, and planning, 
and lavishing his means, without intermission or rest, in order that present 
and future generations should have pleasure and instruction. Let any one 


reflect on what he has gone through : the cares inseparable from the man 
agement of the properties ; the inability of city legislators for a time to com 
prehend his munificent gift of the park, thus delaying the improvement of 
it ; the stupidity of some of those employed to work out his plans ; throng 
after throng of visitors, entertained with urbanity and politeness evincing 
wonderful patience and fortitude ; the self-restraint required to preserve his 
temper when overrun by crowds, some of the persons composing them too 
ignorant to comprehend the replies to their own questions; and the ten 
thousand other annoyances not to be escaped by one in his position. Re 
flect on this, and say if such devotion can be adequately compensated ? 

The esteem, respect and gratitude of his cotemporaries the possible 
appreciation of posterity these are all we can give or promise. Any further 
reward must exist in his own consciousness of having lived effectively for 
the benefit of mankind. 

" No thought nor care for gain, 

No foolish wish for glory's gilded letter, 
Have bought these efforts of his heart and brain ; 

But only that the world might be the better, 
For one who has not spent his life in vain." 




It is not improper that I should tell how it came about that I once helped 
to get the Hoosac tunnel opened ! I credit the reader with knowing that 
this tunnel is a hole through the Hoosac Mountain, in Massachusetts, and 
has a railroad in it. To get at my agency in opening the tunnel, I must tell 
a roundabout story. Having in 1855 withdrawn from the real estate busi 
ness, and spent some months in editorial connection with a St. Louis news 
paper, I went east in the winter on business that left me ample time to make 
speeches, if I wished to do so. I did wish, as I thought I knew something, 
and could tell it. The St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, in January, 1856, 
unanimously endorsed me, thus : 

" Whereas it appears by several notices in the public journals that Mr. 
R. S. Elliott, a gentleman long and favorably known to the citizens of St. 
Louis, as an active, intelligent, and honorable member of this community, 
proposes to deliver in the Atlantic states a series of lectures on the west, 
embracing facts in regard to the physical geography, natural resources, 
economic relations, and progress in wealth, morals and refinement of our 
part of the country. Therefore, Resolved by the Chamber of Commerce of 
St. Louis, That we have every confidence in the ability and integrity of Mr. 
Elliott for the task he has undertaken, and we heartily commend him to the 
favorable regard of the people of the eastern cities." 

With this patent of nobility, I went to Philadelphia. My first audience 
had forty persons ; but I held them an hour, and concluded I was successful 
in talking figures. The Philadelphians, of their own motion, gave me at a 
second trial the Musical Fund Hall, and an audience of about 1,000 persons. 
The lecture (illustrated with an outline map), occupied nearly two hours, 
but was full of facts, and views new to the audience. 

In Boston, I had delivered a short lecture before the Mercantile Associa- 


tion, and was much surprised next day by Mr. E. Hasket Derby, an emi 
nent member of the Boston bar, calling on me at the Revere House, and 
proposing that I should deliver a lecture in the Hall of Representatives ! I 
told Mr. Derby that I could not thmk of taking so great a liberty as to 
request the use of the State House for anything I could say ; but he assured 
me that I need give myself no concern, as I would be invited to speak, and 
the Hall placed at my disposal. It was accordingly arranged that I should 
deliver the lecture ; and I was probably the first man from west of the Mis 
sissippi who ever made a speech in the Boston State House. The lecture 
was received in a manner highly gratifying, and was published in the Bos 
ton Post, then conducted by Col. Charles Green. 

A few extracts from that lecture of March, 20, 1856, may not be without 
value, as the reader can note the progress and growth of empire since that 
date. Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Nevada were then 
unknown ; and we have now five miles of railroad in the United States for 
every one we had then. Yet we seemed to have a big country, with a 
grand future; though if we look back over the twenty-seven years, and 
try to grasp what has been accomplished in that time, and then try to 
forecast what the next twenty-seven years will bring forth, imagination is 


" THE NORTHWEST. In the northwest let us include only the States of 
Michigan, "Wisconsin, and Iowa, and the Territory of Minnesota. There 
they lie, penetrated and washed by the greatest lakes and some of the great 
est rivers of the world. They have so many thousands of miles of lake and 
river navigation, leading to the ocean through both the St. Lawrence and 
the Mississippi, and the artificial avenues created by capital, science, and 
labor in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and other States, that it 
is only necessary to refer you to the map and the Gazeteer for the navigable 
resources of the Northwest. The area embraced in the three States and 
Territories, with an approximation to their population and number of miles 
of railroad at the present time, is in the following table : 

Square miles. Acres. Pop. fs56. Miles of R. 

Michigan 56,243 35,995,520 550,000 590 

Wisconsin 53,924 34,511,360 550,000 647 

Iowa 50,900 32,576,000 600,000 67 

Minnesota 83,000 53,120,000 60,0^0 00 

244,067 156,202,880 1,760,000 1,304 

u What a domain is there ! One hundred and fifty-six millions of acres ! 
Have you ever tried to measure the capacity for production, or even the mag 
nitude in area, of the region here presented ? The area of England, Scotland, 


Wales, and Ireland, according to the best authorities, is 121,000 square miles. 
The Northwest here spoken of is more than twice as great in area as the 
United Kingdom ; and, if Queen Victoria had no colonies, she would rule 
over a patch of earth smaller than Iowa and Minnesota j * * * * * 
The area of the New England States is about 63,000 square miles. Michi 
gan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota cover nearly four times as much of 
the earth's surface as all New England, and they would divide into thirty- 
one States as large as Massachusetts, and leave enough over for some modern 
Roger Williams to found a new State larger than Rhode Island. 

" These comparisons are made to bring as boldly as possible before you 
the extent of the Northwest. By comparing the size of your own section of' 
the Union with the Northwest you can realize the magnitude of the latter. 
If our entire Union were composed of thirty-one States no larger than Massa 
chusetts, and we had never been used to a larger Union, doubtless we should 
all regard it with pride. Yet the three States and one Territory of which 
I speak would make such a Union make in area, and, save in sea-going 
facilities, far exceed in capacity for producing wealth, thirty-one States 
like Massachusetts. If you will recollect, the population of all New Eng 
land in 1850, was only 2,357,324. The Northwest has, therefore, within about 
600,000 as many people as all New England had in 1850. In 1860 New Eng 
land will have, at the same per cent, of increase as in the decade ending in 
1850, about 2,900,000 people. In all of the year 1860 the three States and Min 
nesota will nearly if not quite rank side by side in population with New 
England ; they will certainly have at least as many people as all New Eng 
land had in 1850 ; but they will not have as many to the square mile. If 
settled as densely as New England was in 1850 about 42 to the square mile 
they would contain over nine millions of people. If as densely peopled as 
Massachusetts is now say 148 to the square mile they would contain a 
population of thirty-six millions. ***** That such a population is 
in time to occupy the broad and fertile acres of the Northwest, swarm in its 
cities, float on its waters, and dash along its railroads is equally certain. 
True, the area of that country has long been known. But its population has 
never been so great as to-day. In no previous year had it so many steam 
boats on its waters or miles of railroad in operation as now. Never had it 
so much fixed property ; never so much exchangeable wealth ; never so 
many common schools ; never so many higher institutions of learning ; 
never so many churches. It had never before so many firesides ; never so 
much productive machinery ; never so great an aggregate of comfort, con 
venience, elegance and luxury ; and never before so able a press. It was, 
consequently, never so deserving of attention. 

" CITIES OF THE NORTHWEST. Detroit, Milwaukee, and Superior City 
the latter at the very head of Lake Superior will be, I think, the princi 
pal cities on the lakes, in the region of which I speak. * * * * * 
Detroit had in June, 1855, a population of 40,375 and a valuation for taxation 
of $12,500,000. Milwaukee had in 1855, a population of 30,448, and a valuation 


corresponding. Here, then, in these two remote places were nearly half as 
many people as in the city of Boston. Their valuation is far, far below that 
of Boston, which is one of the most opulent cities in the world. Yet there 
was a time when even Boston was as poor as they ; and a time will come, 
when each of these cities will be equal to what Boston is now. They will 
probably never overtake Boston. The march after her will doubtless be like 
the march of Chicago after St. Louis as vain as an effort to reach the 

"THE CENTRAL WEST Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois! Do you realize 
what is going on there ? Fifty-five years ago there were not fifty-five 
thousand people in all that region, except the original owners of the soil, 
who have given way to the superior races. The Indians were there, but 
only 50,000 whites. Now let me present you a table of population in 1850, 
an estimate of the population now, the valuation by assessment, and the 
miles of railroad : 

States. Pop. 1850. Pop. 1856. Valuation. Railroads. 

Ohio 1,980,329 2,300,000 $860,877,354 2,725 

Indiana 988,416 1,250,000 310,000,000 1,789 

Illinois 851,470 1,350,000 230,000,000 2,215 

3,820,215 4,900,000 1,400,877,354 6,729 

" These States had in 1850 nearly a million and a half of people more than 
the six States of New England. They have now more than double the 
population of all New England in 1850. The census of 1860 will give them 
between five and a half and six millions double the entire population of 
the colonies when Massachusetts and Virginia were commencing the work 
of independence. Their actual valuation is not less than two thousand five 
hundred millions of dollars ; nay, citizens of those States will tell me I 
ought to put it up to at least three thousand millions. * * * * * 
The railroad figures in a table before me are from a Boston authority the 
Railway Times. I have no doubt of their correctness, if they are not too low. 
But you will see from another table which I have before me showing the 
progressive annual increase of the miles of railroad in the United States since 
1828 that the three States have nearly as many miles as the whole Union 
had in 1850 ; and it is an interesting fact that the State of Illinois has to-day 
more miles of railroad than the whole Union had in 1840. There are now 
23,242 miles of railroad in the United States. More than one-fourth of all 
the railroads in the United States is therefore in the three States of Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois. ****** 

" CITIES OF THE CENTRAL WEST. It would fatigue the ear for me to 
call over the names of all the cities numbering ten thousand people and up 
wards in the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. I can only advert to the 
principal cities of Illinois and Ohio. 

" THE CITY OF CHICAGO. The rapid growth of Chicago seems wonder- 


fill. In 1840 she had 4,500 people ; in 1855 she had a population of nearly 
85,000. Many worthy people stand amazed at this increase, yet it has 
nothing in it half so wonderful as the general increase of the country. 
Chicago could not help but grow rapidly, particularly after railroads had 
begun to penetrate towards her. ***** A few figures from the 
annual reports of the business of Chicago in 1855 will not be valueless, and 
may aid to convey an idea of what her people are doing : 

Total Receipts of Grain at Chicago for 1855. 

Wheat, bushels 7,535,098 

Corn " 8,532,377 

Oats " 2,947,188 

Rye " 68,086 

Barley " 201,895 

Flour into wheat, equal to 1,203,310 


This immense quantity of over 20,000,000 bushels of grain, received in 
one year at Chicago, was owing somewhat to the high prices of 1855, which 
drew grain from unusual distances to that market. But the settlement of 
the country tributary to Chicago is going on so rapidly, farms are being 
opened and extended so numerously and greatly that no one is justified in 
doubting that her grain trade will keep up to enormously high figures. 
Chicago does a large lumber, lath and shingle business. Thus she imported 
in 1855 

Lumber, feet , 306,553,467 

Laths, number 46,487,550 

Shingles, number ; 158,770,860 

" Most of these large supplies went into the country, to villages and cities 
of the interior, and are now in houses, stores, machine shops, fences, railroad 
buildings, churches, etc. But I must not dwell too long at Chicago. With 
over one hundred railroad trains arriving and departing daily, and some 
thousands of vessels on the lake and canal each year, one need not be sur 
prised by the extent of her commerce, nor will any one consider incredible 
the statement that the income of the railroads 'centering in Chicago,' 
amounted in 1855 to more than thirteen millions of dollars ! ' Four years 
ago,' says the Chicago Press, speaking of the miles of railroad in operation 
in the State of Illinois, ' there were only ninety-five.' Now there are over 
twenty-two hundred miles. ' The world,' as is well remarked by the Press, 
has never seen so much physical progress in so short a period.' 

"THE CITY OP CINCINNATI. With commercial interests entirely dif 
ferent from those of either Chicago or St. Louis ; situated in the heart of the 
great Ohio valley ; with artificial as well as natural avenues of commerce in 


nearly every direction ; with a population already (according to what they 
say in Cincinnati) numbering more than Boston ; with a well developed 
manufacturing industry, and rapidly extending her railroads through the 
great iron and coal region of Southern Ohio, to found along their lines new 
manufacturing cities, as well as to open for herself additional routes to the 
seaboard at Baltimore and Philadelphia, Cincinnati might well call on us 
for an hour of our time, and she would furnish materials in herself for a 
speech of an evening. Cincinnati, like Chicago, is the centre of her own 
system. The Ohio valley, by which we mean the area drained by the tribu 
taries of the Ohio river, is one of the most fertile on the globe. It is also 
rich in mineral wealth, coal, and iron. Manufacturing industry has already 
reached an almost wonderful extent and perfection in Cincinnati, considering 
that she is not three-score and ten years old. You may therefore expect 
Cincinnati to grow in the future almost as greatly as in the past. But details 
would only tire you. Let me impress upon you, however, that the growth of 
Chicago and St. Louis by no means implies the decline of Cincinnati. The 
latter has heretofore supplied many manufactured articles to the St. Louis 
market, which St. Louis now supplies for herself; yet the manufactures of 
Cincinnati are constantly increasing. * * * * * It is worthy of remark, 
too, that while Cincinnati has been increasing at so rapid a rate in popula- 
lation, capital, and diversified industry, the city of Louisville, in Kentucky, 
has gone up to 85,000, a population equal to that of Chicago, and is now in 
capital one of the richest cities in the Union. ***** 

"THE FAB WEST. I have included only the State of Missouri and the 
Territory of Kansas in this division. Even Nebraska I have left out, because 
there is not time to speak of her. Let us see what Missouri and Kansas are. 
If we assume that the fertile and productive part of Kansas, extending to 
the borders of the arid plains, embraces an area of 50,000 square miles, we 
shall not over-estimate her territory. Missouri has 67,300, square miles. 
Here, then, are 117,300 square miles lying west of the Mississippi, south of 
the State of Iowa, and north of the State of Arkansas, a country nearly 
double the area of New England, and about fifteen times as large as the 
State of Massachusetts. The soil throughout nearly its entire extent is so 
rich and productive that one may almost say there is not a barren acre. In 
both Missouri and Kansas coal beds exist of extent so vast that a thousand 
years cannot exhaust them. ***** The population of Missouri in 
1850 was 682,044. It is now, I think, not less than 850,000, and her valuation 
is $180,000,000. 

"THE CITY OF ST. Louis. The immense extent of river navigation, 
of which St. Louis is the principal point, has made her what she is a city 
of 125,000 people, with churches, schools, hotels, steamboats, newspapers, 
and other institutions of civilized life, which can only be appreciated on 
being seen. Her commercial houses are equal to any in the Union, not only 
in the intelligence and integrity of the merchants, but even in the edifices 
erected for commercial uses. Our paved and macadamized streets would 


more than reach from Boston to Providence. The gas pipes, street mains, 
laid down in the city of St. Louis would reach from Boston to Worcester. 
There are eighteen miles of public street sewers, exclusive of sidings. The 
wharf stretches a mile and a quarter on the Mississippi, is several hundred 
feet wide, and during the season of navigation is crowded with the products 
of every clime and soil. In 1855 there were 600,000 barrels of flour manu 
factured in St. Louis and over 400,000 received from other places, making a 
million barrels, and equalling the flour trade of Philadelphia. About 140,000 
bags of coffee were received in 1855, enough to make a string of coffee bags 
more than fifty miles in length. The hemp, tobacco, pork, lard, wheat, bale- 
rope, flour, coffee, sugar, and salt passing through the hands of St. Louis 
merchants in 1855 would, allowing the actual space occupied by each article, 
reach in one grand line from St. Louis to Boston. In 1834 the treaty was 
made with the Indians on the site of Chicago. In 1855 Chicago proved her 
self the largest primary grain port in the world, and her lumber trade 
exceeded that of either Albany or Bangor, the two greatest lumber marts in 
the Atlantic States. In 1840 St. Louis had 16,000 people ; in 1855 she had 
125,000. She added in fifteen years 109,000 to her population. In the same 
fifteen years Chicago added 80,000 to her population. So in fifteen years the 
addition to the population of these two Western cities was 189,000 ; or more 
people than Boston has collected together since she was founded, somewhat 
more than two centuries ago. With population and capital accumulating 
in the West, the arts of civilized life are all brought into active and extensive 
requisition ; and where farms are turned over in the smooth prairie, pre 
pared by nature for the plow, 1,000 acres in a field, and every acre yields a 
hundred fold to labor, the increase of fixed as well as exchangeable wealth 
soon passes the bounds of computation. The inventive genius of this coun 
try has of late years taxed itself to facilitate the operations of the farmer; 
and the labor-saving and people-multiplying machines for the farmer as 
well as the mechanic, where are they brought into most general requisi 
tion ? In the West, andthere will their results be felt. * * * * * 
The empire of which I have spoken Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minne 
sota, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas do you realize that it is 
as great an area as the whole Atlantic slope of the Union, from Maine to 
Florida, four times as great as the United Kingdom of Queen Victoria, and 
with elements of wealth in greater profusion and variety than any other 
region of equal area on earth ? And if we have struggled up to our present 
numbers and powers from such small beginnings ; if, starting on a basis of 
nothing but soil, climate, rivers, lakes, and mines, the West has within but 
half a century accomplished so much, what may we not anticipate in the 
future, starting from the present basis? ***** I know very well 
that the manufactures of Massachusetts were over two hundred millions of 
dollars in 1855, having more than doubled in the ten years from 1845. But 
the trade of the lakes has increased about eight hundred per cent, in that 
time. The population, commerce, and manufactures of St. Louis and Chi- 


cago have gone up several hundred per cent. The production and product 
ive facilities have, on an average, in the country I have spoken of, more than 
quadrupled in that time. The railroad system of the West, stretching thou 
sands of miles over her fertile soil, is almost entirely the creation of the last 
ten years. In 1845 you could not have gone from Boston by rail to the 
capital of any of the States I have been considering. Now you can go by 
rail from Boston (and by several routes too, part of the way) to the capital 
of any State I have named, and before 1860 to the capitals of Minnesota and 
Kansas too, most probably. You will therefore see that to double your 
manufactures in ten years is not keeping up with the country." 

When I said in the lecture that the march of Detroit and Milwaukee 
after Boston would doubtless " be like the march of Chicago after St. Louis 
as vain as an effort to reach the horizon," the figure of speech was as true 
as it was forcible. It now seems to have an element of the poetic in it ; but 
the fact is, St. Louis stopped to rest a little in 1861, and she is now after 

The reader may wish to know what this lecture had to do with the 
Hoosac Tunnel ? Only this : Mr. Derby was counsel for the Railroad, and 
the Company wanted " state aid " for the tunnel. My lecture presented a 
view of western growth and prospects more comprehensive than they had 
been accustomed to, and showed that it was worth while to reach such a 
country with a railroad, even through a mountain; and therefore, Mr. 
Derby thought, it was worth while to have a speech in the State House, in 
order to influence the Legislature to vote for the tunnel grant. I delivered 
the lecture. The tunnel was opened. Need I say more ? 




In the spring of 1856 I spent some weeks visiting river ports to aid in 
attracting public attention to the necessity and importance of improving 
the navigation of the Mississippi River and its great tributaries. The firm 
of Eads & Nelson, composed of James E. Eads and William S. Nelson, had 
boen for a dozen or more years engaged in the business of recovering boats 
and cargoes sunk by accident in the western rivers ; and having a large 
plant of wrecking and diving bell boats, suited to the removal of snags ? 
wrecks and other obstructions, were prepared to enter into a contract with 
the government to improve the navigation. The commerce on the rivers 
was very large, and the annual losses correspondingly great. 

Memorials for the improvement of the rivers were numerously signed by 
Chambers of Commerce, Merchants, Underwriters, Steamboatmen, and citi 
zens generally, in all the principal cities of the valley, and were presented 
to Congress. Mr. Eads and myself spent a couple of months in Washing 
ton, and succeeded in passing a bill through the House of Representatives, 
providing for the removal of snags, etc., by contract. Luther M. Kennett 
and John S. Phelps, then in Congress from Missouri, gave efficient aid in 
passing the bill, as both were men of superior abilities, having more than 
ordinary influence in the House ; and they both appreciated the practical 
views of Mr. Eads and the beneficial results to the public at which he aimed. 
The bill was not reached in the Senate ; though I think it could have been 
reached and probably passed, but for the neglect and indifference of Judah 
P. Benjamin, then a Senator from Louisiana ; since prominent in the coun 
cils of the " Confederate States," and after Appamatox, a lawyer of distinc 
tion over in London. 

The reader of to day will hardly be able to realize that in 1856 we had 
to argue the "constitutionality" of appropriations to the great rivers! 
The democratic party had declared in a platform that " the constltu- 


tion does not confer upon the General Government the power to commence 
and carry on a general system of internal improvement;" and Franklin 
Pierce, then President, had actually vetoed a bill to attempt the improve 
ment of the mouth of the Mississippi, and one to improve the St. Clair Flats 
in Michigan, both of which were passed over the veto. In July, Senator- 
Lewis Cass thought it necessary to make an elaborate speech in opposi 
tion to the views of President Pierce, and holding that the improvement of 
the national rivers and the harbors on the lakes was not entering upon " a 
general system of internal improvement," as meant by the platform. Even 
Stephen A. Douglas, though not doubting the constitutionality or expedi 
ency of appropriations for the improvement of the rivers, had in 1854 pro 
posed the collection of tonnage dues by the western states and their appli 
cation to rivers and harbors, because of the difficulty of getting the desired 
action of Congress. 

Our memorials had been carefully drawn to ask for nothing that was not 
clearly national and constitutional, even under the construction given to the 
constitution by Mr. Calhoun ; and in a pamphlet laid on tho desks of mem 
bers, the memorials were sustained by strong and just arguments. The 
effort of Messrs. Eads & Nelson had therefore the result of aiding to turn 
the public mind to the true doctrine on the subject of river improvements, 
then in dispute, but now universally recognized. Hence, though the bill 
failed, Mr. Eads and his friends (myself among them) did a public service 
in placing the necessity and propriety of improving the navigation of west 
ern rivers in a stronger light than ever before ; and in the course of years, 
the seeds sown in 1856 have borne fruit not only in the Des Moines Rapids 
Canal, but also on the river from St. Paul to its mouth. The episode of 1856 
has been overshadowed by much greater events in the life of Mr. Eads, but 
it was, nevertheless, an important part of a career of remarkable usefulness. 
It was the first suggestion that he could do a great work for the government, 
if opportunity were given him ; and if our bill had become a law, the results 
would have shown as distinctly as his recent achievement at the river's 
mouth, that he might be relied on to do all he proposed. 

Mr. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, wrote a long letter to Mr. 
Kennett against the " contract system " for removing obstructions to navi 
gation, assuming, without warrant either in facts or common justice, that 
the contractors would not try to earn their compensation, but only to cheat 
the government ! The way Mr. Davis figured it out, the proposal of Eads & 
Nelson was an attempt at one of the biggest swindles imaginable ; but as 
Mr. Kennett and Mr. Phelps had known these gentlemen for many years, 
the fulmination of the uneasy Secretary did not in the least moderate their 
support of the bill. If the reader could have the knowledge that Mr. Ken- 
iiett and I had in 1856 of all the parties and circumstances concerned, some 
passages from the letter of Mr. Davis might be given as a capital chapter 
of funny reading. But the Secretary also said some good things in his let 
ter, as for example : 


"Unless the improvement of western rivers is to be conducted under a 
general system, supported by adequate means for many consecutive years, 
only partial benefits can be expected to result." 

The foundation for this general system was laid by Mr. Eads twenty 
years later, when he suggested and urged the organization of the Mis 
sissippi River Commission, now in charge of the river ; but even at the date 
of Mr. Davis's letter, Mr. Eads was proposing to prosecute the improve 
ment of the navigation through " consecutive years." Mr. Davia con 
cluded : 

" I cannot hope that this [river improvement] can be attained by partial 
and occasional appropriations, even when expended by the most competent 
engineers, according to the best digested plans, but there is still less hope 
of its being attained by contracts, to be executed according to the concep 
tions of men whose previous pursuits give no assurance of ability to solve a 
problem in civil engineering than, which none is more difficult a problem 
which involves the control of mighty rivers flowing through alluvial val 
leys the volume of whose waters varies irregularly with every year and 
every season." 

This passage was directed at Eads & Nelson, and the suggestion that 
their "previous pursuits" gave no assurance of their ability to remove 
snags, sunken wrecks and other obstructions from river channels which 
was the only "problem in civil engineering " to be solved under the bill 
is exquisitely amusing, inasmuch as they had for years been engaged in a 
business which necessarily gave them a better knowledge of all river " prob 
lems " than could possibly be obtained in any other way. In 1874 when it 
was proposed to build jetties and give the commerce of the valley an open 
river mouth, the Chief of Engineers, Gen. Humphreys, advanced the same 
notion that Mr. Secretary Davis had put in his letter of 1856. to wit : that 
Mr. Eads did not know anything about the river ! 

At a Commercial Convention in 1878, at New Orleans, Mr. Davis renewed 
his suggestion of the difficulty of " controlling mighty rivers flowing through 
alluvial valleys ; " but it had already been demonstrated at the delta that 
this difficulty can be met and overcome. The works at the head of the 
passes were then, and are now, controlling the Mississippi where it is about 
two miles wide ; and if the plans of Mr. Eads are ever executed they will 
control the mighty river all the way up to Cairo or St. Louis. The old 
notion that sediment bearing rivers flowing through alluvial formations 
cannot be controlled, is exploded by facts at the South Pass of the Mississ 
ippi. In truth, such rivers are the only ones which can be compelled, under 
the laws which govern them, to aid in their own improvement, by digging 
their own channels and building up their own banks. 

Not designing to revive belligerent memories, I may note the strange 
upshot of events, when in 1861, only five years after Mr. Secretary of War 
Davis no doubt acting in good faith according to his lights rejected with 


contempt the aid of Mr. Eads in improving the rivers by contract, the same 
Mr. Eads was summoned to Washington City, to take a " contract " for the 
construction of gun-boats to operate against the Confederacy of which the 
same Mr. Davis was President! A curious turn of fate, and looks like 
retribution, but I do not think Mr. Eads ever regarded it in that light, or 
cherished any personal ill-feeling towards Mr. Davis on account of the lat- 
ter's action in 1856. 

The manner in which Mr. Eads executed the gun-boat contract was a 
remarkable commentary on the treatment he had received at the hands of 
the Secretary of War in 1856. The contract was signed at Washington 7th 
August, 1861, and Mr. Eads returned to St. Louis under an obligation to 
perform what most men regarded as a miracle. The engines to drive the 
first iron-clad fleet were yet to be built. The timber to form the hulls was 
yet growing in the forest, and the huge rollers and machinery that were to 
form their iron armor were not yet fitted for the work. The rapidity with 
which this great work was to be done made it necessary to employ every 
means and agency which the country afforded. The telegraph made the 
contractor ubiquitous. Knowing exactly what was to be done, and how to 
do it, his presence and energy inspired confidence at home, and he talked 
by lightning with foundries and machine shops wherever available. The 
country was electrified by his apparent audacity. Furnace fires blazed 
afresh ; foundries, factories and workshops were all life night and day ; saw 
mills were humming, and the green forest trees crowded into St. Louis in 
the shape of plank and timber ; the iron works of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh 
and other places were laid under contribution, and thousands of workers 
knew neither night nor Sunday till the great labor was accomplished. 
Seven of the boats were completed and ready for the armament of one 
hundred and seven large guns in the period of one hundred days. Never 
before or since was so large a contract executed in so short a time. Only a 
power of combination, almost miraculous, could have achieved the results. 

Mr. Benjamin had defeated our bill for river improvement, and I did not 
forgive him till 1866. In that year a confederate major called on me, and 
having spoken of President Davis, I suggested to him that the rank of Mr. 
D. had not been formally recognized. 

" Well, he was our President, at least till the confederacy dissolved, and 
I stuck to him till the last, as I was one of the guard in his flight." 

" And when did you quit ? " 

" Only when I saw that the government was gone to pieces. We had 
borne our hardships well, dark as the future was ; but when I found Mr. 
Benjamin one day on the march trading saddles with a private soldier, I 
concluded the cause was lost, and I gave it up." 

My resentment faded away, as I thought of the sufferings of Judah P. 
on horseback, and his acute sense of lost dignity, when dickering for that 




As Secretary of the Excelsior Insurance Company of St. Louis from 1865 
to the early months of 1870, I was in cargo as well as fire insurance ; classed 
with those men whose lives have the negative merit of doing little harm, if 
they do but little good. As usual, we got along without lawsuits. Few 
men have been so fortunate as I in escaping litigation. Since I have had a 
home in Missouri, not a dollar of all the millions collected in taxes, has gone 
to pay judges, juries or tipstaves for litigation of mine. Of the hundreds of 
deeds which I wrote when in the real estate business, not one has ever 
through its imperfections, brought any parties into court, or cost the tax 
payers any money. I tell this as an example to the young. There is as 
much good philosophy suggested as there is quiet humor shown in Diedrich 
Knickerbocker's statement, that one lawsuit which he lost nearly ruined 
him, and one which he gained completed the wreck of his fortune. 

In May, 1868, the Directors of the Company, on motion of A. K. Northrup, 
passed the following : 

"Whereas, cheap transportation of the products of the soil is not more 
important to the farmers than to the commercial cities of the west ; and in 
the opinion of practical men the grain of the vast and fertile regions drained 
by our great rivers can best reach the sea through those natural channels ; 
and whereas it is believed that iron vessels can be made as effective in the 
uses of peace as they have proved in war. Therefore, 

" Resolved, That the Excelsior Insurance Company will, at the St. Louis 
Fair of 1868, pay a premium of one hundred dollars for the best plan for the 
construction of iron barges and vessels suited to carry grain in bulk on the 
Mississippi River and tributaries." 

To this premium Logan D. Dameron and the Fair Association each added 


a like sum. The object of the premium was to draw attention to the sub 
ject of iron vessels, and this was accomplished. F. H. Morse, American Con 
sul in London, communicated a good deal of information in regard to iron 
vessels in use elsewhere, and shipbuilders on the Clyde and Thames sent 
interesting and instructive data. Barge on the brain was for a time epi 
demic, and whole fleets of iron vessels, with phenomenal cargoes, were daily 
launched from editorial and other pens. In May, 1869, James B. Eads, in a 
letter to a. National Commercial Convention in New Orleans, said : 

" I beg respectfully to call the attention of the Convention to the import 
ance of iron barges and iron steamers on the Mississippi river. As these 
vessels are being used in all parts of the world except in America, I would 
suggest that inquiry be set on foot by the Convention to discover why the 
grain growers and planters of this valley are not enjoying the advantages 
afforded by the introduction of such boats and barges upon the Mississippi. 
They are used on all the chief rivers in Europe and Asia, several streams of 
which countries are far more rapid and dangerous than the Mississippi. 
Numbers of them are being constructed in Great Britain for the rivers of 
India, for the Nile, the Danube, and indeed for streams in almost every 
quarter of the globe, save America. These vessels will carry from ten to 
fifteen per cent, more cargo than wooden hulls of equal size, strength and 
draught, and never have their carrying capacity lessened by being water 
soaked. They cannot be destroyed by fire, are made with water-tight com 
partments, and are almost absolutely proof against sinking." 

Mr. Eads followed this with many other strong reasons for the use of iron 
vessels a topic on which he had earned the right to speak by the actual 
building of iron gun-boats at St. Louis. The New Orleans Convention re 
solved, " that the building and employing of iron barges and steamboats in 
transporting produce and freights generally on the Mississippi river and its 
tributaries, is highly recommended as a sure means of lessening the cost of 
freights and insurance, and increasing the amount of transportation on our 

The letter of Mr. Eads was good backing for the movement of the Excel 
sior Insurance Company, but though the air was for a year or more as full 
of iron barges as ever the atmosphere of Utah was of grasshoppers, yet the 
barges did not actually get on the water ; and hence, while I can claim to 
have had a fair share in bringing on the discussion, I have to acknowledge 
that the results are not such as to justify much felicitation. The day will 
come, sooner or later, when iron or steel plates will take the place of plank. 
Wood is yearly getting scarcer, while Bessemer steel can be made at a less 
price than iron a few years ago. 

After 1865, the question of river improvement began to attract much atten 
tion. In February, 1867, a great river convention was held in St. Louis, and 
as it was still necessary to instruct the public, Mr. Eads, on behalf of the 
Merchants' Exchange, delivered an address to the Convention on the im- 


portance of improved waterways, treating the subject with practical wisdom 
and much beauty of illustration. The Convention was followed in due course 
by appropriations for the canal at Des Moines Rapids and the channel im 
provement at Rock Island. 

A great deal of attention was also directed to the mouth of the Missis 
sippi, for the improvement of which six hundred and sixty thousand dollars 
were appropriated in the years 1866-67-68-69 and '70. The U. S. Engineers 
built two dredge boats, the Essayons and the McAlester, but never suc 
ceeded in digging a channel to materially assist navigation. Professor Ed 
ward Fontaine visited St. Louis with a plan for building jetties at the 
mouth of the river, with Manico caissons crates of rod iron, made like 
crockery crates, and filled with stone ; but there were fatal objections to his 
plan, aside from its great cost. General M. Jeff. Thompson came up from 
New Orleans with a plan to carry ships over the bar : rubber bags were to 
be inflated with air under water, and thus lift up the vessel and float her in 
or out of the river. 

Meantime the " Grain Association" of St. Louis was organized, with the 
view of promoting foreign trade, by way of New Orleans. Some cargoes of 
grain (50(/,000 bushels) were shipped, which dispelled climatic objections, 
but the enterprise had started when prices were declining, and the finan 
cial result was unfortunate. Like the hardwood lumber of the Gallagher 
Mill, the grain had no adequate market, and the right kind of ships could 
not get to New Orleans to carry it away. At a meeting of the St. Louis 
Board of Trade (an organization to discuss matters of public interest), in 
April, 1869, I said : 

" It is hardly creditable that this Mississippi river, which we claim to be 
the most magnificent in the world, should be in such a condition that Mr. 
Higby, and the St. Louis Elevator Company, when they put an advertise 
ment in the Liverpool papers proposing consignments of grain from New 
Orleans, should be obliged to insert in that advertisement that vessels must 
not be sent which draw over seventeen feet of water. * * * The bar is 
still at the mouth of the river, and Mr. Higby's circular proves it. There 
have been five or six hundred thousand dollars expended since the war, and 
still there is only a channel of seventeen feet, as there was before the war 
and all through the war ; and I say that while all this effort is going on for 
a capital of one, two, or three hundred thousand dollars for buying grain 
and getting foreign agents to come here and purchase, it behooves us to look 
around and see if we can't get a greater depth of water at the delta." 

These remarks were followed by the statement that I had a plan to 
deepen the channel by dredging, and thought some deepening could be 
effected, but that some permanent works ought to be put at Southwest Pass 
to preserve the channel. Capt. Henry W. Smith, an experienced steamboat 
man, concurred in my views. Maj. W. S. Pope said there ought to be some 
sort of work at the river's mouth similar to that by which the Mississippi at 


St. Louis was thrown from the Illinois to the Missouri shore, so that the 
current should be forced into one channel. Lee R. Shryock, President of 
the Board, said the bar at the mouth of the river was " one of the greatest 
barriers to the commerce of St. Louis, and to get rid of it the great problem 
before the people of the valley." 

This was the first meeting of a popular character held in St. Louis to 
discuss the mouth of the Mississippi. I mention it to show what our com 
plaint was, and who were the volunteer doctors. The remedies proposed in 
rather a crude manner would have done some good, but were not up to 
what the case required, and we were a long way off thirty feet of water 
through the bar to the sea. Our meeting had the good effect of eliciting 
discussion ; but the New Orleans editors and correspondents assumed that 
we in St. Louis could know nothing about the river's mouth, and rather 
scouted our pretensions. In reply to a correspondent of the New Orleans 
Democrat, I wrote in May, 1869 : 

" I think the device for dredging the best yet suggested. As to perma 
nent works, I do not agree with either Professor Fontaine or yourself. I 
would not construct the works as he proposes ; nor do I agree that the bar 
is to extend into the gulf as rapidly as you state. The delta has already 
protruded so far into the gulf, that the accumulation at the river's mouth 
will not, I think, be in the future so great each year as in the past. We are 
getting into deeper water, and the gulf currents will carry more of the ma 
terial away. I think, therefore, that while the government is keeping open 
a channel by dredging, it would be well to have works going on, which will 
enable the river after a while to dredge itself." 

The assertion in this paragraph that the 4< gulf currents will carry more 
of the material away," has been amply verified at the South Pass jetties ; 
and the remark that works should be "going on, which will enable the 
river after a while to DREDGE ITSELF,'' was the first public suggestion of 
jetties, by any citizen of St. Louis, so far as I know. Many of our people at 
that time supposed the projected Fort St. Philip canal was the only avail 
able means of getting a good outlet to the gulf. The mind of Mr. Eads was 
then absorbed by the bridge, but if it had turned to the mouth of the river 
he would of course have said it ought to be improved by jetties. 

We were groping, but in the right direction ; I was a mere dreamer, but 
dreaming of things possible, and interpreting rightly the river's mouth, 
although I had not then seen it. I was not disturbed by the ridicule cast 
on Capt. Smith and myself by the New Orleans papers in 1869, and I now 
enjoy the recollection of it, as I look at the actual results at the South Pass 

Formerly the grain trade of St. Louis was mainly confined to local wants 
and the markets of the Southern states. But little grain was exported. 
Supplies came in sacks by the rivers, and were unloaded on the wharf. As 
railroads extended the volume of business increased and the mode of hand- 


ling changed. The first grain elevator at St. Louis was completed in 1865. 
L. J. Higby completed an elevator at New Orleans in 1868. Shipments of 
grain " in bulk " had begun. George H. Rea, Barton Able, Joab Lawrence, 
Conrad Fink, George D. Capen, and their associates, had in 1866 organized 
the Mississippi Valley Transportation Company, to run tow boats and 
barges south from St. Louis, carrying grain in bulk, and merchandise. It 
was an innovation in river craft, and the President, Capt. Rea, had a hard 
struggle to maintain it, as there was no good outlet at the mouth of the 
river, and the foreign grain trade grew slowly. But by indomitable per 
severance, the "barge line" has lived and grown until it has now, under 
the presidency of Mr. Henry C. Haarstick, thirteen powerful tow boats and 
ninety-eight barges, the latter capable of carrying on an average 1 ,400 tons 
each ! As a tow boat can on a good stage of water take down five barges, 
there may be 7,000 tons of grain in a single tow enough to load ten railroad 
trains of 700 tons each ! The Company has its own elevator at Belmont, be 
low the mouth of the Ohio, to which grain is taken by rail when ice in the 
river above Cairo suspends navigation from St. Louis ; and it also controls 
the elevators at New Orleans. The South Pass j etties now give a grand out 
let to the sea, and the river route regulates charges on shipments of grain 
from the west to the Atlantic side and to Europe. The saving to western 
agriculture is counted by millions of dollars yearly, and the annual grain 
trade of St. Louis has risen to nearly fifty million bushels. Are not the 
barge men benefactors ? 




Two interesting books had appeared, one entitled " Across the Conti 
nent," the other " Our New West," both from the pen of Samuel Bowles, 
editor of the Springfield Republican (Massachusetts). Mr. Bowles had 
made the overland trip to the Pacific before the railroad was completed, 
and told in a charming manner of the strange things he had seen and heard. 
In one of his volumes he had noted the rise of the water in the great Salt 
Lake of Utah, and stated that n*> explanation of the " phenomenon " had 
been given. That statement changed the course of my life. 

Queer, was it? Well, no; it was natural enough. In a letter to Mr. 
Bowles, written in December, 1869, I undertook to explain the Salt Lake 
phenomenon, reasoning to this effect : 

1st. That, before the advent of the Mormons, the valley in which Salt 
Lake is situated was (except the lake itself) a vast area of dry and arid sur 
face, the streams running in confined channels to the lake ; and that, after 
rainfall, the moisture of the surface-earth was rapidly evaporated and car 
ried by the winds out of the valley, leaving a heated atmosphere over the 
valley and the lake, rapidly absorbing part of the lake's waters, to be in 
turn carried away as vapor to be condensed elsewhere. 

2d. That, after the advent of the Mormons, their system of irrigation par 
tially changed the conditions, spreading water from the streams over large 
areas, to sink into the earth, from which it would be slowly evaporated, as 
well as from the organs of the vegetation due to the changed conditions ; 
and that this persistent evaporation would produce a condition of humidity 
in the atmosphere greater than existed previously. 

3d. That while the increased measure of atmospheric humidity might be 
imperceptible to the senses, or possibly not determinable by instruments, 
it might yet be sufficient to check evaporation from the lake, and thus pro 
mote the increase of its waters. 


4th. That the increased vegetation in the valley had the effect not only 
of increasing the atmospheric humidity, but also of modifying the tempera 
ture of the air, thus checking its tendency to ascend and rapidly carry its 
vapor out of the valley. 

Mr. Bowles must have been edified by this exposition, as he published 
my letter in his excellent paper. But was I right ? For fourteen years I 
have not learned whether the lake has so acted as to explode my theories. 
In order to see how near right I had been in the volunteer explanation to 
Mr. Bowles, I at once began to read all the books I could get that were 
likely to enlighten me, and among others I read George P. Marsh's book, 
" Man and Nature," which has many passages showing how human action 
has apparently modified climatic conditions, and mostly for the worse, in 
many parts of the earth's surface. By this course of inquiry my attention 
became directed to the great western plains, and to questions connected 
with their possible usefulness. 

The Union Pacific Railroad had already been built across the plains from 
Omaha to Ogden, connecting there with the Central Pacific Railroad of Cal 
ifornia. The Kansas Pacific Railway was in operation to Kit Carson, 150 
miles east of Denver, and would reach Denver in a few months. 

An examination of the reports of the civil engineers of the Kansas Pacific 
Railway satisfied me that they had underrated the value of the country 
along the road ; and in February, 1870, I published an article on the " Cli 
mate of the Plains," in which certain facts in regard to the seasons of rain 
fall were for the first time stated in the ptfblic journals. A condensation of 
that article is here given, the reader to consider himself perusing it in 1870, 
when its suggestions were new : 

" The progress of settlements in Kansas has already taken a large slice 
off" the * desert ' of our geographies, and has spread diversified agriculture 
over the borders of the buffalo range. Can the march be on to Denver ? In 
view of the fact that settlers are rapidly occupying the more favored parts 
of the public domain, and that the demand for lands will, at an early day, 
press closely on the supply, this is an interesting question, not to railway 
managers only, but to humanity. In thirty or forty years we shall have 
one hundred millions of people, and they must have homes. 

" The questions are not of soil but of climate. As a rule, the plains are 
not sterile ; they are only, comparatively speaking, arid. With rain enough, 
production is assured ; and the proportion of unproductive land would be 
less than is generally supposed. Hence it is worth while to inquire whether 
there is not a better supply of moisture than has been believed. One grand 
fact in regard to the rainfall over all the territory between Fort Leaven- 
worth and the mountains has heretofore attracted little or no attention. 
Prof. J. W. Foster's interesting work on the ' Mississippi Valley,' speaking 
of the 'moisture which fertilizes the continent,' says: 

" * The rains which water the Atlantic slope are equally distributed, the 



variations between thb four seasons being very slight. Those which water 
the Mississippi Valley are unequally distributed, those of spring and sum 
mer being greatly in excess ; a fact which has been overlooked by most me 
teorologists in reference to the geographical distribution of plants.' 

" Prof. Foster illustrates this distribution by a table, embracing New 
York, Ann Arbor, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Kiley, Fort Laramie, Fort 
Yuma, and San Francisco, and shows that as we pass westward from the 
Atlantic the inequality increases until we reach the Sierra Nevada. He 

" ' Contrasting the two stations, New York and Fort Laramie, it will be 
seen that on the seaboard about 45 per cent, of the yearly precipitation oc 
curs during the fall and winter, while on the plains only 25 per cent, occurs 
during that period ; and that, while on the seaboard the precipitation is 
nearly uniform during the four seasons, three-fourths of the precipitation 
on the plains occurs during the spring and summer months.' 

" The fact to which our attention is thus called involves millions >of 
wealth and an inestimable sum of human happiness. The excess of precipi 
tation in spring and summer will give thousands of farms to industrious 
settlers in regions where the total annual rainfall seems too limited for 
agriculture ; whereas, if the precipitation on the plains were as uniform 
throughout the year as on the seaboard, vast areas now filling up with intel 
ligent and enterprising people would be practically uninhabitable, unless 
artesian wells could be extensively used for irrigation, or by some miracu 
lous change the amount of annual precipitation could be greatly increased. 
As the rains are now distributed, the grasses and many of the cultivated 
annual plants enjoy a season of growth and vigor that brings themto per 

" The following table of stations in or near the latitude of St. Louis gives 
the precipitation in the different seasons : 











Washington City 






Cincinnati . . . 

12 14 


9 90 

11 25 

46 89 

St. Louis 






Fort Leavenworth 






Fort Hiley 






"This table shows that the rainfall of the four seasons at Washington 
varies less than an inch, and that the autumn and winter rains are slightly 
in excess of those of spring and summer. But when we get as far west as 
Cincinnati we find that 55.1 per cent, of the yearly rainfall occurs in the 


spring and summer, and only 44.9 in autumn and winter. Moving on west 
ward, we find the proportion and amount of spring and summer rains at 
the other stations in the table are as follows : 

"At St. Louis, 62.5 per cent, of the yearly fall, or 26.44 inches ; at Fort 
Leavenworth, 66.7 per cent, of the yearly fall, or 20.21 inches ; at Fort Riley, 
68.8 per cent of the yearly fall, or 15.00 inches ; showing a persistent and 
remarkable increase of the percentage in spring and summer as we go 

"The amount of annual precipitation becomes of less importance when 
we thus find the growing seasons so well supplied. The arrangement is 
worthy of admiration for its beauty, and of gratitude for its beneficence. Its 
results are, that, while the annual rainfall on the plains may not be enough 
to sustain arborescent vegetation in natural forests, it is yet enough, coming 
as it does in spring and summer, to nourish and mature the grasses and the 
annual plants of agriculture. The plains thus become habitable, and even 
without forests may have a future of population and plenty. But there is 
ground for the belief that success in tree growth, in artificial plantations, 
may be within our reach. 

" Forest growth on the plains of Kansas and Colorado, at the hand of 
man, may seem to many persons too remote, if not too chimerical, for prac 
tical men. ^But, to the same class of minds, the railway itself, and the won 
derful developments already witnessed, were impossibilities. Intelligent 
men know that the results already won on the sand dunes and plains of 
France, Germany, and other parts of Europe, as well as in Algeria, give 
assurance that a great deal may, in a comparatively short time, be done to 
clothe the ' desert ' and, perhaps, to modify its climate. 

"Turning to the table again, it appears that Fort Riley has three-fifths 
as much spring and summer rain as St. Louis, where we have, as a mean of 
the seasons, more than is needed. "Plant growth in the vicinity of Fort 
Riley is known to have the average success of any other productive region 
in the temperate zone. 

"It is to be regretted that no exact data is extant in regard to rainfall 
along the line of the Kansas railway between Fort Riley and Denver. We 
have no rain gauge record, nor even careful estimates ; nothing, in fact, 
more definite than the journals of Fremont in 1844. These journals, penned 
long before there was any thought of the railway taking its present line, 
leave on the mind no idea of rainless desolation, in summer, along the Smoky 
Hill river. On the contrary, the warmth of coloring in Fremont's pictures 
is in striking contrast to the sober drab in which the Naturalist of the rail 
way has painted the whole scene. Certainly, if the railway reports can be 
charged with any exaggeration, it comes in the unusual shape of deprecia 
tion rather than an overestimate of the country. 

" Further and more particular data are very desirable, but are hardly 
attainable in time to anticipate the advent of settlements. The railway 
pushes on during even the winter months. The same scanty precipitation 


that is in winter so favorable to live stock (with but scanty shelter) is also 
propitious to railroad building, and there will be settlements for pastoral 
industry, if not for tillage, scattered along the line from Sheridan to Denver 
before the rain gauge can have time to give the record of more than a sea~ 
son or two. 

"Meantime it is pleasant to reflect that the phenomena of Nature are 
daily becoming better understood. We at this day enjoy broader views 
than past generations of the use to be made of the Great Plains. Even the 
grand ideas of Wm. Gilpin in regard to the " American Pastoral Domain" 
are short of the value of that immense region between the west line of Mis 
souri and the mountains of Colorado. We now see and understand that a 
climate assuring the spring and summer growth of grass may enable us to 
grow the cereals without irrigation, although the annual fall of rain, stated 
apart from the reasons of its occurrence, seems inadequate to this result. 

" It may be replied to this that in New Mexico irrigation, as a rule, is 
essential. True ; but the conditions there are not the same as on the plains. 
New Mexico is traversed by mountain ranges, which attract the rains from 
her cultivated portions. The precipitation at Santa Fe is stated at 19.83 
inches for the year ; 2.83 inches in spring ; 8.90 in summer ; 6.02 in autumn, 
and 2.08 in winter. Spring and summer thus appear to have 59.0 per cent., 
and summer and autumn 75.2 per cent, of the yearly amount. But the 
spring rains of New Mexico are only about one -third of those at Fort 
Blley ; and the 8.90 inches of summer rain in New Mexico come principally 
in August, too late for the farmer. In spring alone Fort Kiley has four- 
tenths of the annual rainfall of New Mexico, and in spring and summer 
together nearly eight-tenths, or 15.06 inches for spring and summer, against 
10.89 inches in New Mexico for this period. Hence agriculture, in the latter 
region, where evaporation is more rapid than on the plains, must call irriga 
tion to its aid. The conditions are similar west of Fort Lyon, in the valleys 
of the Upper Arkansas and its tributaries. 

"It may be stated, as a fact, that experience, for one-third the distance 
from the Missouri river to Denver, justifies the expectation that wheat, corn 
oats, and other annual products of agriculture, brought to maturity by spring 
and summer rains, will be grown without irrigation, all the way from their 
present western limit in Kansas to the upper forks of the Smoky Hill river. 

"Within the influence of the mountains the precipitation is less than 
farther out on the plains ; and, therefore, as we ascend the slope of the foot 
hills the available streams must be used for irrigation. 

" The problem of constant water supply for domestic uses, for live stock, 
etc., on some parts of the plains, is not without difficulties. The railway 
will solve it, to some extent, in providing for its own necessities. 

"To many persons it may seem a bold proposition that the climate of 
Kansas will enable her to become one of our principal food producing states ; 
but its truth is being so rapidly demonstrated that closet theory is hardly 


in place. Facts are beginning to tell the tale with more effect than phil 

" In this connection the resemblance of Kansas to a part of the world as 
venerable for age as she is charming in youth, is worthy of notice. Some 
time since I called the attention of Gen. Palmer to the similarity in climate 
of the western plains to the great wheat producing region of Russia, drain 
ing into the'Black Sea. I find that the work of Prof. Foster recognizes in a 
very pointed manner this similarity. He has received from a gentleman in 
Chicago, whose early life was passed in that part of Europe, an elaborate 
paper on Southern Russia, showing that nearly 400,000 square miles of that 
region are suited to wheat growing. The Professor gives a description of 
the grain producing * steppes,' their soil, climate, tree-growth, and streams ; 
and it is remarkable how well that description applies to Western Kansas. 
The annual rainfall in the wheat region of Southern Russia is surprisingly 
like that of the plains, both in amount and seasons of occurrence ; and the 
similarity of the natural vegetation of the two regions is at once very re 
markable and very encouraging." 

In effect, this article on the climate of the plains asserted a discovery. 
It presented in a new aspect the vast region east of the mountains which 
had been reputed worthless, except for very limited grazing resources. If 
the assumptions of the article were only partially well founded, they opened 
a prospect of reducing to usefulness a portion at least of the " desert." But 
how were my theories to be tested ? 

In the spring of 1870, I visited Kit Carson, then the terminus of the rail 
way. At Salina, Kansas, 187 miles west of Kansas City, I was assured that 
all the country beyond was impracticable desert, as the " hot winds " pre 
vented any cultivation ; but I returned to St. Louis with a notion that 
something might be done on the plains to test if nofc prove their usefulness, 
and I proposed to the directors of the Kansas Pacific Railway that I would 
undertake the work of investigation and experiment. This was a big pro 
posal, especially in comparison with the salary attending its acceptance. It 
in fact meant, that I must be in some measure a geologist, a botanist, a 
farmer, a meteorologist, a horticulturist, and a philosopher general, in order 
to deal with all questions which might arise, and to test by experiment the 
capabilities of the country. Besides it was understood by my thrifty em 
ployers, that in my novel office as their " INDUSTRIAL AGENT " I must not 
hide the light of my opinions under any bushel, but should let the world 
know what was going on, as a means of advertising the road ! If I should 
fail in proving the wealth of the country, I could at least demonstrate that 
it had a railway in it ! No- such mission had ever been undertaken before, 
or probably ever will be again. 




In 1870, settlements extended to Saline county, Kansas, two hundred 
miles west of Kansas City, with a few scattered farms beyond, in Ellsworth 
county, near Fort Harker. The buffalo then pastured within sight of the 
fort, having their main summer range across the next two hundred and fifty 
miles of the railway ; and they were often so numerous near the track that 
passengers could shoot them from the cars. I decided to begin my experi 
ments in the buffalo range, and selected three stations for the little patches 
of a few acres each, which I gravely called " plantations." 


West from Kansas City. 

Above sea level. 


240 miles 

1 586 feet 


302 " 

2019 " 

Pond Creek 

422 ' ' ' 

3075 " 

The first essay in the buffalo pasture was not fortunate. With a large 
prairie plow, suited to Illinois or Missouri, and a hired team of oxen, a trial 
was made at Wilson in the solid soil of the Great Plains. Instead of break 
ing the sod we broke the plow ! Bos Americanus, in full view on the Smoky 
Hills, seemed to be regarding us with a languid interest, as if his ancestral 
acres were in no immediate danger from our operations. The prairie dogs 
eame out of their burrows and derisively yelped at us. That kind of plow, 
evidently, was too weak for the desert. 

Arranging to repair the plow, I decided to wait till the grade to Denver 
should be completed, and get mules owned by the Eailway Company, as 
with them the work could probably be done with less profanity on the part 
of the drivers than with hired oxen. In the meantime I could find occupa- 


tion in studying the country ; and this was by no means a profitless arrange 
ment. For, certainly, a man going out into the waste places to reform a 
continent, and teach everybody something that nobody ever knew before, 
might well be permitted to learn something himself to begin with ! 

The railroad operatives those useful men who were trusted with en 
gines and trains and people's lives, but who had placed no very exalted 
value on the plains for any other use than to grow buffalo beef had no 
confidence in my projected work, but thought it all " (blank) nonsense." I 
sometimes overheard their opinions, not complimentary to my views and 
projects, and of doubtful flavor as to myself, " I don't reckon that old chap 
believes anything will grow out here," one would say to his chum, "but 
like enough he has a nice berth, anyway!" They seemed to have as little 
faith in my integrity of intention as the Secretary of War, Mr. Davis, had in 
the integrity of the gentlemen who in 1856 proposed to improve the naviga 
tion of the Mississippi under contract. 

The General Superintendent of the Railway, Col. Adna Anderson, was 
in full harmony with me as to the necessity and propriety of my mission, 
and granted me all the facilities which the financial condition of the Com 
pany warranted. 

Passengers on the trains were decorous, but, I think, rather incredulous. 
They would look as if they thought my views would be very sound if I 
could only prove them by tests of climate and soil ; but the novelty of the 
enterprise attracted their good wishes. 

On the 1st of September, 1870, the Kansas Pacific Railway was completed 
from Kansas City and Leavenworth to Denver, having from Denver, by the 
Denver Pacific Railway, a connection through to the Union Pacific to Chey 
enne ; and our continental line was thus an accomplished fact. 

The opening of the Railway to the mountains was recognized by its 
President, Mr. John D. Perry, and by the directors, as an event of great 
importance to the American people as well as to the Railway Company ; 
and it was accordingly distinguished by a grand excursion from Kan 
sas City through to Denver and Cheyenne, in a train of nine new Pull 
man cars. This was the finest train of cars, Mr. Pullman said, that had 
up to that time ever been put together anywhere in the world. The 
unique pleasure trip, unequalled by any preceding railway jaunt, occu 
pied several days, including stage coach visits to Idaho Springs and George 
town, in Colorado, not then reached by rail. The excursionists were railroad 
magnates, cabinet ministers, members of Congress, state officers, profess 
ional gentlemen, editors and correspondents of public journals, merchants, 
manufacturers, and others ; an assortment seldom equalled of brains, cul 
ture and business experience. They saw buffaloes and antelopes, coyotes 
and prairie dogs, but I had no plowed ground or farms to show them, as I 
had not obtained the mules to draw the reconstructed plow. 

At length, on the 12th of September, the mules arrived at Pond Creek, 
near Fort Wallace,, together with two Irish laborers, to begin the important 


work of demonstrating the usefulness of the great plains. Never was so big 
a work begun with so little parade, or means so humble ; but Science and 
Labor (combined in the two Hibernians and myself) were united in the 
desert, and we sowed our experimental grains wheat, rye, and barley at 
Pond Creek, September 28th ; at Ellis, October 20th ; and at Wilson, Novem 
ber llth, 1870. This was the first seed of winter grains ever planted west of 
Ellsworth county, in Kansas. We sowed grass seeds too, and planted some 
seeds of trees. The work of redeeming the domain of the buffalo was begun. 
Forget not the date, Oh Learned and Wise Reader ! It was 1870. 

While at Pond Creek, in September, I wrote to Professor Joseph Henry, 
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, a letter that he published in the 
Annual Report of the Institute for 1870. I said to the distinguished meteor 
ologist, that I had been on the plains nearly all the time from early in May 
till September, and that there had been much dry weather, but not one day 
without clouds ; no day on which the sun would rise clear and roll along a 
cloudless canopy to the wst. There had always been humidity enough to 
form clouds at the proper height, and on many days they would be seen 
defining, by their flat bottoms, the exact line where the condensation 
became sufficient to render the vapor visible. The sun would be partially 
obscured only at intervals ; the condensation not being of a character materi 
ally to lessen the effect of his rays in giving us heat and light, until in the 
after part of the day, when appearances of a storm were apt to present them 
selves in some part of the heavens ; only, however, too often to pass away 
without giving us the desired shower. I concluded from all this that abun 
dant moisture had floated over the plains to have given us a great deal more 
rain than would have been desirable if it had been precipitated. Sometimes 
a storm would be seen to gather near the horizon, and we could see the rain 
pending from the clouds like a fringe, hanging apparently in mid-air, un 
able to reach the expectant earth. The rain stage of condensation had been 
reached above, but the descending shower was apparently revaporized, and 
thus arrested. 

In a moderately calm day for our calms were only moderate in that airy 
region I had observed little columns of dust to arise, generally scattered 
in all directions. These usually, if not always, coincided with mirage ; not 
that they appearedin the mirage, but coincided in the time of their appear 
ance. The mirage, however, very often appeared on days too windy for the 
little columns to be formed ; they being only whirlwinds rendered visible 
by the dust taken up. Within forty-eight hours after the little column 
phenomena, I had noticed that the wind was apt to be coming strongly from 
the northward, laden with a mist or scud that sometimes reached the dig 
nity of rain. I regarded the little columns as electrical in their origin. 
They could not be due to currents of air meeting and whirling round each 
other, as philosophers used to teach us, because there was little or no move 
ment of the atmosphere except in the columns themselves. The fact that 


storms occurred soon after their appearance sustained the supposition of 
their electrical origin. 

The changes of wind were often very sudden from southward, the pre 
vailing point in summer, to all points, but mainly to the north. Sometimes 
this change was observed during the progress of a rainstorm, and appeared 
to be due to a local or limited cyclone ; but the difference in temperature 
between the south and north winds seemed to forbid the cyclone theory. I 
could not understand how a circuit of a few hundred miles in the heated 
prairie should so cool a current of air that had only whirled by us a short 
time before. If we reject the cyclone theory, we must suppose parallel but 
opposite currents in streaks. 

On the 15th of July, a fine example of this sudden change of direction 
and temperature in the wind was witnessed. A storm arose, with lightning 
in the west, the southwest, and the northwest. The railway train was go 
ing eastward at the distance of about 325 miles from Kansas City. We were 
soon enveloped in the storm ; rain and wind &o strong from the north that 
the wheels of the cars could be felt grating their flanges on the south rail, 
and the rain drops, striking the end windows of the car, ran across in a true 
horizontal line. In a few minutes the temperature had fallen so low as to 
be uncomfortable ; but in a run of not over ten miles we were again in the 
warm winds usual at that season, and these, by contrast, seemed to be the 
hot winds sometimes experienced. These hot winds were not, so far as I 
had observed, apt to be constant in one place for any considerable length of 
time ; they would strike your face suddenly, and in perhaps a minute be 
gone. They seemed to run along in streaks, or ovenfulls, with the winds of 
ordinary (but rather high) temperature. They did not begin till in July as 
a general rule and were over by September 1st, or perhaps by August loth. 
Their origin I supposed to be, of course, in heated regions south or south 
west ; but their peculiar occurrence, so capricious and often so brief, I could 
not explain to myself satisfactorily. 

I had no rain-gauge, but had remarked that the season of 1870, after 
about the 15th of July, in those distant plains, had given us rain enough to 
make beautifully verdant the spots in the prairie burned off during the 
heated term early in July. From Kit Carson eastward the rains had been, 
perhaps, exceptionally abundant. All through the summer we had had 
dew occasionally, and it had been remarked that buffalo meat had been 
more difficult of preservation than formerly facts indicative of humidity in 
the atmosphere even when but little rainfall was witnessed. Turnips sown 
in August would have made a crop at Pond Creek, 422 miles west of Mis 
souri and about 3,200 feet above sea level. Facts such as these seemed to 
sustain the popular persuasion in Kansas that a climatic change was taking 
place, promoted by the spread of settlements westwardly ; breaking up por 
tions of the prairie soil ; covering the earth with plants that shaded the 
ground more than the short grasses, thus checking or modifying the heat 
from the earth's surface, &c. The fact was also noted, that, even where the 


prairie soil was not disturbed, the short buffalo-grass disappeared as the 
"frontier" extended westwardly, and its place was taken by grasses and 
other herbage of taller growth. That this change in the clothing of the 
plains, if sufficiently extensive, might have some modifying influence on 
the climate I did not dispute ; but whether the change had already spread 
over a large enough area, and whether the apparently or really wetter sea 
sons might not be only part of a cycle, were unsettled questions. 

The civil engineers of the railway (in 1870) believed that the rains and 
humidity of the plains had increased during the extension of railroads and 
telegraphs across them. If this was the case, it may have been, I said, that 
the mysterious electrical agencies, in which they seemed to have faith, but 
which they did not attempt to explain, had exercised a beneficial influence. 
What effect, if any, the digging and grading, the iron rails, the tension of 
steam in locomotives, the friction of metallic surfaces, the poles and wires, 
the action of batteries, &c., could possibly or probably have on the electrical 
conditions, as connected with the phenomena of precipitation, I did not un 
dertake to say. It may have been that wet seasons had merely happened 
to coincide with railroads and telegraphs. It was observed that the poles 
of the telegraph were quite frequently destroyed by lightning ; and it was 
probable that the lightning thus discharged in many places where before 
the erection of the telegraph it was not apt to do so, and perhaps would not 
reach the earth at all. 

In a communication to Dr. F. V. Hayden, U. S. Geologist, published in 
his Report for 1870, 1 wrote in December of that year as follows : 

" There are facts which sustain the popular notion of a climatic change 
[on the great plains] manifested in a more humid atmosphere, in greater 
rainfall, and a change of vegetation. It is certain that rains have increased ; 
this increase has coincided with the increase of settlements, railroads, and 
telegraphs. If influenced by them, the change of climate will go on ; if by 
" extramundane or cosmical influences not yet understood," as supposed by 
Mr. Lippincott, the change may be permanent, progressive, or retrograde. 
I think there are good grounds to believe that it will be progressive. 
Within the last fifteen years, in Western Missouri and Iowa and Eastern 
Kansas and Nebraska, a very large aggregate of surface has been broken up 
and holds more of the rains than formerly. During the same period modi 
fying influences have been put in motion in Montana, Utah, and Colorado. 
Very small areas of timbered lands west of the Missouri have been cleared ; 
not equal, perhaps, to the area of forest, orchards and vineyards planted. 
Hence it may be said that all the acts of man in this vast region have tend 
ed to produce conditions ameliorative of the climate. With extended settle 
ments on the Arkansas, Canadian and Red rivers to the south, as well as on 
the river system of the Kaw valley and on the Platte, the ameliorating con 
ditions will be extended in like degree; and it partakes more of sober reason 
than of wild fancy to suppose that a permanent and beneficial change of 
climate may be experienced. The appalling desolation of large portions of 


the earth's surface through the acts of man in destroying the forests [see 
Marsh's book, "Man' and Nature"] justifies the trust that the cultivation of 
taller herbage and trees in a region heretofore covered mainly by short 
grasses, may have a converse effect." 

N o one has ever to my knowledge questioned the soundness of the views 
presented in the letter to Prof. Henry or the communication to Dr. Hayden ; 
and in all the years since 1870 I have seen no reason to change or modify 
them. In January, 1871, in an address to the Farmers' Institute of the Kan 
sas Agricultural College, I said : 

" The project of growing trees in western Kansas without irrigation is 
regarded as impossible by those not well informed, and as difficult by those 
who have studied the conditions. With a climate comparatively arid, in a 
region swept by winds apt to be persistent and at times violent, the natural 
strength of the soil must be exerted under disadvantages. But similar dis 
advantages are to be found in distant regions, once covered with forest but 
now more desolate than any part of the plains. The hand of man has there 
destroyed. It is now proposed that the hand of man shall here restore, or 
create. The native vegetation and also the herbage that spriDgs up almost 
as if by spontaneous generation, in places where the earth is disturbed even 
by the wheel of a common wagon, afford much encouragement. The grasses, 
the thistles, the sunflowers, the blooming ipomea, the rugged cleome, are 
structures of vegetable tissue and fibre ; and the tree we wish to grow is 
only the same result of mysterious elaboration carried a few degrees further 
and manifested in the arborescent form. Hence the most unlettered ob 
server, finding the grasses yielding in the broken ground to the robust and 
woody stemmed plants, expounds the true philosophy in his frequent ques 
tion ' if grass and weeds grow so well, why not trees ? ' Nature has 
answered the question in the trees scattered over western Kansas. The 
domain is destitute of fonest; but the ash, the box elder, the cottonwood, 
the elm, the hackberry, the oak, the plum, the walnut, the willow and the 
cherry, all of which are found in western Kansas, and some persistent 
beyond the utmost bound of the state bear testimony to the possibility of 
tree growth over large areas. We may pass by the fossil wood imbedded 
in the strata in many parts of the plains as belonging to a past, though 
recent, geological era ; but the living trees suggest at once by their location 
the feasibility of extended forest growth and the reason of their scarcity. 
They arc usually found near water or in ground comparatively moist. 
They are always found where they are sheltered from fires. Their location 
teaches us that protection from fires must be assured. 

" Were it possible, by some magic process, to break up the entire surface 
of western Kansas to a depth of two feet, we should thereby begin to make 
a new climate. We should have a growth of taller herbage over the entire 
area ; less reflection of the sun's heat ; more humidity in the atmosphere ; 
more constancy in springs, pools and streams ; fewer violent storms ; more 
frequent showers ; and less caprice and fury in the winds. A single year 


would witness the advent of this changed vegetation and the beginning of 
this new climate. In three years the fires kept out there would be young 
trees in many places ; and in twenty years there would be fair young for 
ests. The question whether forest growth increases the actual amount of 
rainfall need not be discussed. A new climate does not need more absolute 
precipitation to make it a blessing, but more constant atmospheric humidity. 
That part of Kansas between Manhattan and Leavenworth, has more rain 
fall in inches than England ; yet the Kansas climate, compared with that of 
England, is arid. Cover the entire area with forest, and our climate, if not 
as humid as that of England, would be greatly changed. 

" Nor is the view presented of the possibility of forest growth in Kansas 
inconsistent with the conclusion of meteorologists, that our prairies and 
open plains are due to scanty precipitation. This is the cause ; not, how 
ever, because the absolute precipitation is not enough to sustain tree growth, 
but because it is not enough to protect it against destruction by fires. 
Throughout the prairie regions east of the 98th meridian, it is apparently 
the universal rule, that where fires are stopped, tree growth soon begins. 
Give us immunity from fires in western Kansas, and to a great extent the 
plains will clothe themselves with shrubs, and trees, even without a break 
ing up of the surface. 

" To redeem to civilized uses, and to cover with happy homes the im 
mense region west of the 98th meridian, a region of capabilities vastly 
greater than its past repute would wuggest is a work worthy of the age and 
of the nation. The United States, not only as .the great landed proprietor, 
but in the interest of humanity, ought to lead in the work, either by forests 
planted at the public cost, or by subsidies in money or lands to individuals 
or companies." 

The suggestion that the United States ought to aid forest culture Was 
realized within two years from the date of this address, by the passage of 
the Act of Congress granting lands to settlers on condition that a part 
should be planted with trees. In the same address I suggested that the 
military reservation at Fort Harker ought at once to be donated to the state 
of Kansas for a nursery to grow forest trees for the settlers to plant ; and 
that the Fort Biley reservation ought also, in time, to be given to the state 
for a grand University, in which forestry should be one of the branches 
taught ; but these ideas were too big to get into the heads of the Senators 
and Congressmen. 

The little columns of dust mentioned in the letter to Prof. Henry were in 
fact little tornadoes. They were the visible effects of causes (electricity and 
magnetism) indicated in a letter I wrote in 1871 to George P. Plant, of St. 
Louis, on the subject of signal stations on the plains. The meteorology of 
the great plains, I said, had never been studied from facts. It had been 
theorized on a great deal, and many pretty superstructures had been raised, 
only lacking good foundations to be perfect. Some of the storms originating 
in the plains take up their march to the sea, and of these I said : " When 


one of the grand rain or snow storms is on its march to the sea, its progress 
may be recorded and warnings given. The progress is generally at about 
the rate of twenty miles an hour. The Bureau can tell when it is at the 
west line of Missouri, and there will be twelve to fourteen hours to prepare 
for it in St. Louis." In the same letter I generalized somewhat for the 
benefit of the high science men : 

" Let us suppose the earth, with its present atmosphere, its diurnal rota 
tion, its annual motion, and its relation to the heavenly bodies, and with 
out any disturbing cause within itself ; ought not the winds to be regular 
in their course, as influenced by the heat of the sun, and the attraction of 
the spheres, changing with the seasons but ever uniform? Would not the 
heated air take up the waters and the cooler condense them in one uniform 
round, giving to each locality always the same clear atmosphere, or mist, or 
rain, or snow, at the same time each year, the recurring season having the 
wind from the same point and attended by the same conditions as in the 
year before? But may we not have in what we call ELECTRICITY and MAG 
NETISM something that interferes with what would, but for their existence, 
be the normal condition of the atmosphere ? Are they not the disturbing 
causes, probably influenced and acted on by the sun, perhaps by other 
bodies ; pervading the solid globe with their currents, and passing to and 
from and through the atmosphere? attracting and heating, and repelling 
and cooling its particles, and thus producing those disturbances which we 
call storms?" 




Lord Bacon, or William Shakspeare, wrote the plays ascribed to the lat 
ter, and said 

"The evil that men do live after them; 
The good is oft interred with their bones." 

But the good is sometimes lasting ; if not in the memories of men, yet in 
tangible results. Senator P. W. Hitchcock, of Nebraska, may be credited 
with perhaps the largest share in passing the act of Congress to promote 
tree-planting on the Western plains. Thousands of acres have been planted 
under that act. The Senator is dead, but the little groves are living. They 
may not preserve his name, but the good he did is not interred with his 
bones ; it lives after him. Having aided to get the timber-culture act, I do 
not agree with those who desire its repeal. No better use can be made of 
land in the plains than to let those have it who plant trees thereon. 

By the first of March, 1871, the two Hibernians and myself were again 
ready for work, and for three seasons this was our date to begin spring oper 
ations. The ground would on some days be frozen and not thaw till noon, 
but the fact that we could begin farm work at all so early in the season is 
important. Moving as we did from station to station, with our entire outfit 
of mules, wagon, plows, &c., our time in the planting season was fully 
occupied ; yet I managed in the early part of 1871 to write some twenty let 
ters to the Lawrence Journal on "Forest Trees for Kansas," and gave many 
hints of value to people of the State. The closing letter had a few passages 
intended simply for pleasantry : 

"Our Agricultural College gives me quite enough to do. Perhaps you 
have not known that we have such a thing out here, west of Brookville ! 
Well, we have; but fastidious people may not like the way our college is 


carried on. It is run with a team of mules, plows, harrows, hoes, rakes, 
spades, two men (students), and myself. Louis XIV. said: ' L^tat c'est 
moi! J (The state that is me !) Not from ostentation, but from necessity, 
Louis must be imitated : " The Faculty that is me !" The whole corps of 
professors is condensed in to one. We trust the labors may not make a corpse 
of that one. This college is both ' scientific ' and ' practical.' The * lectures' 
begin about five o'clock A.M. and are continued until dark, with intervals 
of recitation at meals. Instead of a blackboard we use a parallelogram of 
the black soil of Kansas ; and there we draw furrows, and sometimes infer 
ences. The ' students ' learn to draw rapidly, especially on pay-day. 

" The subjects of our 'lectures,' with practical examples, are: plowing, 
harrowing; dragging (the students persist in calling it); staking out straight 
lines ; opening furrows to plant trees in ; soaking and sprouting the seeds 
of trees ; putting the roots of trees in dope (high-science word for mud- 
puddle) ; planting trees, with pulverized earth well pressed among the 
roots ; earthing up and leaving a loose surface ; planting walnuts in such a 
manner that the expected 4 spongioles ' may have food ready, and the plu 
mule' get out to sun and air without trouble ; pruning the little trees so that 
their roots may not be called on to supply too many buds with moisture; 
turning the raw prairie sod on a few tree seeds, to see what they will do 
under such treatment ; sowing spring wheat and oats 7th March and hav 
ing them up now ; planting corn 10th March, having it coming up and nip 
ped by frost making quarter-inch ice llth April, but keeping alive below 
ground and sure to grow ; planting the prunings of poplar and willow, to 
see if cuttings will grow in the * desert'; sowing grass seeds, and so on. 

" We have settled one point which has troubled other agricultural col 
leges. We have the manual labor system in full force, and it does well. The 
' students ' having to do a thing, come to understand it, and they can do 
it next time without the preliminary lecture. We find that even the 
mules can be taught in this way ; for, having been at one kind of work, 
they become in some sort skilled in it. We also find that even the ' Facul 
ty ' may learn something daily by hard work. 

"We have a large class of perambulating students, the amateur class 
from passing cars, who lean their chins on the top rail of the fence while the 
train is watering, and absorb knowledge through the eye. No regular ' lec 
tures ' are delivered to this class, who do not, in fact, need them ; for they 
often kindly and generously volunteer to instruct us. Not being under pay, 
this class is not in favor of the manual labor plan. 

1 ' Our college grounds are high above sea level, and very broad the long 
way, reaching from Brookville to Denver. But we have thus far held our 
principal sessions only at Wilson, Ellis, and Pond Creek. Stretching out 
our college operations in this way gives us a variety of climate, and secures 
us a soil of unknown value. Another advantage is, that we cannot be said 
to bo merely treading in the beaten track. We are not acting out the sug 
gestions of the learned world, taken as a whole ; for many very learned peo- 


pie have deckled, from theory, that nothing could be done, where, in practice y 
we now have grains and grasses and trees growing. 

" As our operations necessarily demonstrate that there is value in a large 
portion of the public domain heretofore regarded as worthless, you may 
suppose that the United States, as the largest land owner, contributes to 
the expense. All a mistake. U. S. has not contributed one dollar. Nor has 
the State of Kansas. Nor has either been asked to do so. However benefi 
cial we hope to make our operations to Kansas as a State, we do not ask for 
her money. Our ' Faculty ' only suggests that she shall do justice to 

In the early summer of 1871, the Missouri State Board of Agriculture vis 
ited the mountains and critically examined my " farms " as they passed. 
On their return home, Henry T. Mudd, President, and Charles W. Murt- 
feldt, Secretary of the Board, addressed a formal letter to Robert E. Carr r 
then President of the Railway, on the subject of my experiments. I copy 
this disinterested testimony from competent witnesses : 

"Among all the evidences of growth and possibilities which we witnessed 
in the vigorous young State of Kansas, none gave us greater pleasure than 
the successful trials of trees, tree seeds, grains, and grasses, without irriga 
tion, made in the distant plains under the orders of your Company ; and as 
these trials are probably the first ever made by a private corporation to test 
the productive capacity of an immense area of lands, we deem it not im 
proper to make a brief reference to them. 

"The first farm, at Wilson, is in a part of the continent heretofore re 
garded as too arid in climate for production, unless by aid of irrigation ; yet 
we found wheat, rye, and barley, sown November 11, 1870, equal to if not 
beyond the average crop of any part of the Union. Spring wheat, oats, 
spring barley, Indian corn and Hungarian grass were promising well, and 
sorghum better than any the Board had seen this season. The transplanted 
trees, generally, had grown remarkably well, and would do no discredit to 
any part of the country. Trees from seeds planted in fall of 1870 and spring 
of 1871 were promising fairly. 

" At Ellis a hailstorm of unusual severity, which occurred on the first of 
June, had destroyed the grain and nearly all the seedling trees, and greatly 
damaged the transplanted trees ; but the wrecks showed that this planta 
tion had been in a condition similar to that at Wilson. 

" At Pond Creek, within a few miles of the west line of the State of Kan 
sas, and near the one hundred and second meridian of longitude, we found 
the forest trees doing nearly as well as at Wilson, and promising the entire 
success of several varieties. The rye at Pond Creek, sown on raw ground, 
would rate as a good crop in Missouri or Illinois ; and of the winter wheat 
and barley, the plants which had endured the winter were heading out 
finely. Rye may be regarded as a valuable crop to the west line of Kansas 


(without irrigation) ; and further trials of wheat and harley of the more 
hardy kinds, will in all probability prove to be entirely successful. 

"Upon the whole, the members of the Board were much impressed by 
the facts apparently established by the trials alluded to, that the great 
plains have capabilities of production greatly beyond the public estimate. 

" The rapid spread of settlements westward in Kansas, due to your rail 
way, suggests that a few years will unite the communities of Kansas and 
Colorado ; and, while it is manifest that live stock production must be the 
leading interest of the plains, the fact that grasses, grains and trees may 
surround the settler's home at a small outlay of labor, promises grand re 
sults in the future." 

An excursion of agricultural editors and writers passed over the road in 
August, 1871. Mr. M. L. Dunlap, of Champaign, Illinois, a well known 
agriculturist, wrote to the Chicago Tribune : 

" Can these pastoral plains be settled ? All say, ' Yes ; but it must be by 
the herdsman, who, like Jacob of old, may drive his herds from plain to 
plain, and lead a sort of nomadic life.' But there are elements that man 
will employ to make, in time, a material change in the whole aspect of 
the country. In their present condition, they are only valuable for pas 
turage. But Mr. R. S. Elliott, the Industrial Agent of the Kansas Pacific, 
has proved that trees may be grown on these plains without the aid of irri 
gation, at least if this year's experience proves anything. He has also 
shown that wheat, oats, barley, corn, and potatoes may be grown to a rea 
sonable extent." 

The correspondent of the Albany Country Gentleman wrote : 

" The Industrial Agent of the Railway is called the * Tree Planter of the 
Prairies.' He is reducing theory to practice ; is teaching the settlers on 
these wide plains that they can grow their own forests, can plant their own 
firewood and timber, and may reasonably hope to profit by their own labors, 
and not invest money and toil only for those who will come after them. Mr. 
Elliott possesses a vast amount of information on all subjects, and has proved 
to all the wisdom of his project, and no one who has seen his plantations can 
doubt the possibility of clothing these fertile prairies with forests of decidu 
ous and evergreen trees. His experiments in arboriculture and agriculture 
on these vast plains will give him an enduring monument. We owed much 
of the pleasure of our travel over the Kansas Pacific Railway to his agree 
able companionship, and shall ever remember him with pleasure, and bid 
him Godspeed in all his undertakings." 

The correspondent of the Germantown Telegraph said : 

" There is one point of the greatest interest. This is the capacity of the 
country for tree-growth. The Kansas Pacific Railroad has been instituting 


experiments under the charge of Mr. R. S. Elliott, which, so far as can be 
judged, have resulted in complete success. We examined his plantations 
at various points and can testify to the extraordinary growth of the young 
plants. Mr. Meehan, of your place, Josiah Hoopes, of West Chester, and 
Mr. Douglas, of Waukegan, 111., all freely stated that they had never seen 
such growth in the same time in their own localities. It is a subject of the 
greatest importance in these vast and treeless plains, and as it promises to 
be completely successful, will add vastly to the wealth of the country and 
the comfort of the millions who will some day fill these plains." 

Mr. Henry T. Williams, in a paper read before the N. Y. Farmers' Club, 

" Beyond the central portions of Kansas and Nebraska the country is so 
elevated, and so devoid of water or rain for irrigating purposes, that most 
agricultural writers have asserted, over and over again, it was useless to 
attempt any sort of tree-culture, for they could not possibly live in so uncon 
genial a soil and climate. Mr. R. S. Elliott, Industrial Agent of the Kansas 
Pacific Railway, had become convinced that tree-culture was a possibility, 
and therefore commenced in the most exposed localities, to prove that the 
plains did actually possess some encouraging signs of success in tree-growth, 
and to remove beyond further question the prejudices of those writers who 
know so little of the subject. The objects were twofold : First, to see if 
young trees taken from our ordinary commercial nurseries and transplanted 
here would thrive either with or without irrigation; and, second, to learn 
what varieties adapted themselves most readily to the situation, and made 
the most rapid and healthy growth. His facilities for the purpose were 
rather rude. His only force consisted of two laborers, who knew nothing of 
tree-planting ; the boyes of trees were opened at three different stations, 
and the trees had to be transported from place to place, and subjected to 
considerable handling, exposure, and delay, before all were finally planted. 
At each place the ground was broken up last September to the depth of six 
or eight inches, and again plowed over this spring, when the seeds of some 
trees were sown without special care, and the other young trees hastily 
planted. No artificial irrigation was resorted to, neither had there been 
much subsequent cultivation of the ground, from the beginning of spring 
down to the 1st of August. The ground was also not particularly advan 
tageous for the purpose, being a high, rolling prairie, very dry soil, covered 
with buffalo grass, and considerably exposed to the driving winds. This 
work was purposely done in a rude style such as a farmer would ordinarily 
practice. The seeds were sown broadcast on the plowed ground, harrowed 
in slightly, and left to take care of themselves. Enough has been done to 
satisfy any sanguine man that tree-culture upon the far Western prairies 
is no longer a doubt or a conjecture, but has a reasonable prospect of suc 
cess. The solution of these experiments is calculated to have an important 


bearing, not only on the agriculture of those sections, but also the climate, 
and may be looked upon as one of the most important discoveries of modern 

Bev. William Clift, of Mystic Bridge, Connecticut, wrote to Hearth and 

" This is the first year of these experiments, and we can not tell what 
may transpire in the future. But so far they are entirely successful, and 
there seems to be a good foundation for the belief of this eminently practical 
man, the Industrial Agent, that he will succeed in making trees grow and 
in raising crops along the whole line of this road." 

Extracts from the public journals, referring to the work on the plains, 
could be multiplied, but enough has been given to show how the results 
were regarded, and one more will suffice. Col. George T. Anthony, since 
Governor of Kansas, and* now one of the magnates of the Mexican Railroad 
from El Paso South, was then editor of the Kansas Farmer, and in Janu 
ary, 1873, thus spoke of experiments on the plains, and of myself : 

" The Kansas Pacific Company was the pioneer in this work. Possessed 
of a large tract of land in the western portion of this State, known as l The 
Plains,' they organized an intelligent course of experiments in grain, fruit 
and forest culture, some three years ago, which promises an early, definite 
and favorable settlement of the vexed question of its producing capability 
under cultivation. 'The Company was peculiarly fortunate in its selection 
of a man to take charge of this apparently unpromising work. It was put 
in charge of R. S. Elliott, of Missouri, who has brought to the work a singu 
lar fitness in practical common sense, and a mind fortified by much and 
varied reading. These columns have carried out many reports of his work, 
and not a few terse articles from his ready but careful pen." 

As Col. Anthony was a man of very positive character, and only wrote 
as he thought, his voluntary compliment was of value, rather as witnessing 
the importance of my work than as eulogy of myself. Appreciation is a 
good thing, and a man who thinks he has done well may be allowed to 
desire it. 

My report of 28th April, 1873, to the directors, gave a fair view of the 
conditions and prospects. As a part of the history of Kansas I condense it 
here. A few years hence, the bookworms in Kansas libraries will hardly 
be able to credit the tale that their state had to be shown by experiment to 
be worthy of attention, before people would risk settlement in it. The re 
port said : - 

"The operations have been on a moderate scale, yet there has been so 
great a variety of trees and plants tried, that nothing of value likely to suc 
ceed has been neglected. All the experiments have been without irrigation. 


Failures in many things were expected, yet the success has been such as to 
fully vindicate your wisdom in having trials made. 

" The field at Pond Creek is near the one hundred and second degree of 
longitude west from Greenwich, on the western border of the State of Kan 
sas, partly in the flat, and partly on the slope of the upland. If a test place 
were desired with the most unfavorable conditions, we have found it ; for 
I know of no spot in all the plains less promising ; and whatever success 
we have had in this field may be equalled anywhere on the line of your 
road. Pond Creek is in the midst of that immense grazing region, where 
the anomaly is presented of the most nutritious grasses on the most arid 
plains; the rich juices of the herbage being concentrated by the hot suns 
and drying airs of autumn, and thus cured into winter fodder for domestic 
animals, now beginning to take the place of the buffalo, elk and antelope. 
But as fire may destroy the range, and severe storms may occur as well as 
in Illinois or Missouri, some provision of winter food is desirable, especially 
for horses and sheep ; and the localities in which grass is spontaneously 
produced for hay being of limited extent, compared with the vast area of 
grazing grounds, the question whether grain and fodder could be grown 
without irrigation had peculiar interest. It has been satisfactorily answered 
by your experiments. The diploma, given last September by the Denver 
Fair Association to 'the Kansas Pacific Railway Company for best rye in 
grain and stalk, and best sorghum, millet and* Hungarian grass grown on 
the great plains without irrigation, 7 renders further reference to these plants 
unnecessary. With the ground broken to sufficient depth, I think alfalfa 
will be of value in that region, judging from trials in a small way. Corn 
was tried last year, but all, save a few hills, was destroyed by gophers. 
The hills which escaped were not hoed or otherwise cultivated ; yet, with 
the silk eaten off by grasshoppers, they still matured ears well filled with 
grains. Three years ago it was not supposed by the most sanguine that ears 
would fill at all in that locality, depending on the rainfall alone, and all we 
hoped was to grow the stalks and blades as fodder. 

" Spring wheat and oats in 1871 (not tried since) matured their grain on 
stalks of moderate length. The settler can sow them with advantage. Rye 
was excellent in stalk and very fair in grain, both in 1871 and 1872. Winter 
wheat has failed at Pond Creek, but will, it is believed, if sown early enough, 
succeed in average seasons. 

"From seed, with rude treatment, ailanthus, box-elder, black locust, 
honey locust, and Osage orange, grew fairly last season. But most of the 
little trees have perished from the unusual dryness of the fall and winter. 
With deep enough preparation of the ground, most of the seedlings of these 
and other trees would live, even through extreme winters, without protec 
tion. Of trees transplanted in 1871 and 1872, ash, box-elder, elm, honey 
locust, and Osage orange, have grown most vigorously, and all are hardy 
except the last, which suffers from extreme cold. Black walnut does not 
show much vigor ; and the poplars and willows, as also the silver maple, 


have almost entirely failed in. the flat, though the latter, in very exposed 
positions on the upland, has grown well, and endured the winter. It is an 
interesting fact that near the west line of Kansas some trees seemed to do 
better on the uplands than in the bottoms. The tenderness in winter of the 
Osage orange is of less consequence, since we have in the honey locust a 
vigorous and effective tree for hedges. Our trials indicate that this tree is 
at home in any locality, and grows well without irrigation, shoots last year 
in the Pond Creek field reaching a length of four and five feet.. To the trees 
already named the cotton-wood is, of course, to be added. Of evergreens, 
the Austrian and Scotch pines, and the red cedar, are possibly best for the 
extreme western regions of Kansas. 

" The wheat and rye at Ellis, mentioned in my last annual report (April 
30, 1872) as ' doing so well as to be the wonder of all observers,' matured in 
good condition. The wheat was pronounced by an experienced miller of St. 
Louis to be of a superior quality ; and the rye compared well with the rye of 
Illinois to which the premium was awarded at the St. Louir Fair. Wheat 
and rye, sown Aug. 27, 1872, promised well during the autumn, covering the 
ground with a brilliant carpet of green ; but there being no rainfall after 
the early days of September, the plants dried up. They did not winter-kill, 
in the usual acceptation of that term ; it was death from dryness. By this 
result we have only been put in the position of many farmers in Missouri 
and other States during the previous winter. I do not fear the average sea 
sons. I am unshaken in the faith that wheat and rye are crops to be relied 
on at Ellis. 

" Corn at Ellis where, in 1870, we did not expect that ears larger than 
nubbins would form or fill yielded so well that strangers could not under 
stand how its success had ever been doubted. Sorghum yielded abundance 
of seed, which might for many uses be substituted for other grains. 

" Hungarian grass, millet, and sorghum, grown as fodder, were of course 
successful. A small plot of alfalfa established itself, and the plants were 
among the first to show green leaves this spring. A trial is being made this 
season of blue-joint grass. I think it possible, if not probable, that this 
native plant of Kansas may turn out to be the best for artificial meadows on 
the plains. In course of time it will be likely to spread of itself all over the 
country about Ellis, as it has already east of Brookville ; but I have ob 
served that it is much more vigorous in plowed ground than in the hard soil 
of the prairies. Pumpkins, squashes, melons, beets, etc., all do well. Pea 
nuts are productive, and of unusual size. Castor beans grown at Ellis last 
year were of such quality that Col. Thos. Richeson of St. Louis (president of 
the Collier Oil Co.) pronounced them 'first-class,' equal to any received 
from Illinois. " 

" Trees from seed in 1872 box-elder, black locust, honey locust and Osage 
orange, were successful; the two first making growth of sixteen to thirty- 
six inches. Honey locust, growing from seed, is much damaged when 
small, by the blister beetle ; and gophers eat the roots of this tree and of 


the Lombardy poplar. The average size of the seedling trees at Ellis is 
equal to that of trees of the same kinds in the forest tree catalogues of Illi 
nois nurseries: Of deciduous trees transplanted in 1871 and 1872, at Ellis, 
ailantus, box-elder, catalpa, cottonwood, elm, honey locust, silver maple, 
Lombardy poplar, Osage orange, white poplar (Abele) and black walnut, all 
grow fairly, and some with much vigor. European larch is feeble, and the 
willows grow as bushes rather than trees. The ' white poplar ' of Wiscon 
sin (populus grandideniata) has been tried, but is not of value. In fact no 
tree of the poplar family is equal in value to the native cottonwood. Of 
evergreen trees so far tried, Austrian and Scotch pines and red cedar grow 
with a vigor that is very encouraging. Of these pines planted in 1871, a 
larger per centage is alive and growing than of the same trees planted at 
the same time in the experimental grounds in one of the industrial universi 
ties east of the Mississippi. The field at Ellis is so well known, and is so 
generally regarded as a full demonstration of all we have claimed for that 
region, if not more, that further remarks on it are not needed. The influx 
of settlers, influenced by what they see as the result of experiment, and the 
sales of large bodies of lands, constitute a better proof of success than any 
thing I could write. 

" At "Wilson, where all was waste prairie in 1870, and buffalo were yet in 
sight in 1872, we are so surrounded by settlements that detailed experiments 
have ceased. Looking back three years, and contrasting the condition then 
and now of the country west of Fort Harker, one can hardly realize that it 
is the same region. The faith which led you into the * desert ' with the 
plow as well as the locomotive, is abundantly justified by results visible to 
all. As the first spot in which experiments in tree-culture were begun on 
the plains, this station may be regarded with some interest. When groves, 
wind-breaks and small forests become more numerous over this now treeless 
region, Wilson may claim the title of pioneer in a great work. The progress 
of settlements westward in Kansas and eastward in Colorado has been so 
rapid since 1870, that the gap between those on the west and those on the 
east will be closed in perhaps one-fifth the time estimated three years ago. 
The nation is your debtor." 

At the date of this report everything was lovely, but during the summer 
an invasion of grasshoppers the flying kind, which high overhead glint in 
the sunshine like floating crystals damaged all the fields very seriously ; 
but enough trees and other growth survived to show the incoming settlers 
that even under adverse circumstances much could be done. 

My faith in the country about Ellis, three hundred miles west of Kansas 
City, as a wheat growing region, has been abundantly sustained by ship 
ments from that point and places west of it. My little ' plantation ' at Wil 
son caused the Wisconsin Colony to settle Russell county in 1871. The 
* plantation ' at Ellis led Sir George Grant to purchase in 1872 a large body 
of land, on which the English Colony at Victoria, beyond Russell, was 
established. An uninterrupted increase of settlement and production has 


gone on since, and most of the people out there now do not know that the 
value of the country was ever doubted. If I had never existed western 
Kansas would have been understood and made use of ; but my operations 
hastened events. 

During my experience as ' Industrial Agent ' the trains were sometimes 
in winter impeded by snow, but there was only one destructive storm along 
the line of the Kansas Pacific Railway. This was in November, 1871. I 
was at Wilson, where the storm began with rain, then turned to snow, and 
some cattle perished on the border of the settlements. Near Ellis, herds on 
the short buffalo grass, where the storm began with dry snow, stampeded, 
but none were lost for want of food. There was some loss of human life 
near Fort Hays. 


It's lonesome, eh? a herdin' steers away out on Saline? 
Well, stranger, no when weather's f a'r, but roughish when it's mean. 
You can't go foolin' round and keep five hundred steers all right- 
Jest try them broadhorns once yourself, some ugly stormy night. 

Stampede, eh? Well, I 'spect they do. You never seed it, eh? 
It aint what you've been usend to, for 'taint no nat'ral stray. 
Che hoop ! they're off, with tails sot straight, a-tearin' out o' sight; 
It's bad in daylight, but it's jest infernal after night. 

Ride round 'em, eh? an' head 'em back? Head back them Texas steera? 
Stranger, when you was made, was stuff a-runnin' short for ears? 
But then, you've had no show to 1'arn, jest comin' out this fall ; 
You're like them Yankee chaps that gits round here, and knows it all ! 

The storm, you say? Well, Friday last we had a little nmss ; 
Jest rain, an' wind, an' sleet, an' snow I reckon it couldn't be wuss. 
Come dark, them critters went" Old hoss," ses I" jest let 'em rar! 
Go humpin' to the Smoky now I 'spect you'll find us thar ! " 

It wasn't more'n forty mile, I guess, the way we run. 
I foller'd, eh? I went along ; you'll allus count me one. 
By daylight we was thar, you bet, in the valley by the bluff, 
An' through the fioatin' snow I seed we had 'em sure enough. 

Cold, stranger? Well, it wasn't warm; one o' them coolish days. 
Five men all froze to death was found an' brought'n into Hays; 
Besides a dozen more, with feet, an' hands, an' other parts, 
Used up an' only a little life a-creepin' round their hearts. 

Exposure, eh? You mean it's rough? I can't dispute your word; 
But then I'm not the sort o' man to flunk, an' lose my herd. 
I hired out to tend them steers. The pay? It aint so high ; 
But, stranger, you can bet your life, I'd herd 'em till I'd die! 

Their families? Well, it's like enough : I reckon they had kin; 
But \ve could only dig their graves, and lay them softly in. 
Us fellers well, I s'pose we're rough, but still we're human men; 
An' we'd be cryin' yet if 'twould bring back them boys again. 

Their lot was hard? Why bless your soul there aint no lot out thar 
Jest frozen'd graves in the prairie, for it's prairie every whar ! 
You mean it's hard to die that way? Well, stranger, so we thought : 
Five men a-dyin' in their boots; five men; an' nary a shot! 




The preceding record shows what my views and works were, and how 
well they have been sustained by events ; and it also vindicates the wisdom 
of those who employed me as Industrial Agent of the Kansas Pacific Rail 
way. The novel mission was as fully successful as I had ever hoped. As 
the pioneer in asserting through the public journals that for arable as well 
as pastoral uses the great plains had a value much greater than had been 
conceded by the general opinion, I wrote freely, but always in good faith ; 
and if every line published in regard to the climate, resources and possibili 
ties of the country could be put in one book, and the world could pause to 
read it, the railway directors under whom I acted need not blush for the 
result. Taken in connection with local developments, the book would prove 
not only that my assumptions in 1870 were correct, but that the public inter 
ests have greatly gained by their promulgation and by my work to demon 
strate their correctness. I may be forgotten in Kansas, but my marks are 

The industrial department of the Kansas Pacific was imitated on the 
Atchison, Topeka & Santa F6 Railroad by the enlistment, for a time, of 
Prof. S. T. Kelsey as " forester" on that line, and his energetic and judicious 
labors were of much service in promoting the spread of settlements in the 
Arkansas valley. 

The Texas & Pacific Railroad has been bringing the lands along its line 
into use by opening farms at the cost of the company, and testing soil and 
climate in doubtful localities, doing on a larger scale (because with greater 
means) what the Kansas Pacific began in 1870. It is found that even the 
Staked Plain, so long regarded as a mysterious region of supposed desola 
tion, can be made productive, and this railroad is now fast spreading popu 
lation over wide districts which, a few years ago, were not expected ever to 
be occupied by civilized people. 


The St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, already extended a long distance 
into the plains beyond Springfield, on its way to Albuquerque (and thence 
already open to the Pacific), will attract settlers to the region of the plains 
traversed by it, so recently occupied by the buffalo and the Comanches. 

Along these and other railroads south of the Arkansas river settlements 
will in some degree modify the conditions on the earth's surface, and their in 
fluence on the climate can only be of beneficial tendency. A time is rapidly 
coming when in all parts of the vast plains to the southwest, as well as on 
the plains of Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, there will be farm buildingSj 
towns, fields, orchards, and groves of forest trees, all having more or less 
effect on the atmospheric conditions ; and, so far as climatic modification is 
concerned, the progress of settlements can have only ameliorating influen 
ces. Railroad builders in general probably think little of these consequences 
of their own action, but it is to be overruled for the redemption of a large 
area of the continent. 

"God works in a mysterious way 
His wonders to perform"; 

and He can make good use even of the railroad builder as an instrument in 
a great work to provide homes for future generations. The process is going 
on over a very large region, and every encroachment of the " frontier" upon 
the open, arid plains, whether in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, or Dakota, is so 
much gained. The march is constant, and only in one direction into the 
"desert," and as the march continues e desert narrows its bounds. In a 
few years it will have disappeared. 

But the world knows little of the leaders in the work of redeeming the 
plains, and in truth the leaders themselves did not, in all likelihood, realize 
the grandeur of the work they were doing. It is, however, easy to look back 
from expanding results to those unpretentious citizens with whom their 
causes originated, and such retrospect only does justice to public benefactors 
and puts on record some facts that ought not to be lost. 

The original Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 contemplated one main conti 
nental line, from a point in the Platte valley at the hundredth meridian to 
the Pacific ocean, with a fork from the Missouri river at Omaha and one from 
Kansas City, and the fork first reaching the point of junction was to be enti 
tled to the continental franchise and subsidies. Vigorous men, with ample 
means, engaged in building the Omaha branch. Samuel Hallet and his 
associates undertook, with limited resources, to build the Kansas fork, but 
the powerful combination of the Omaha line were determined to secure the 
franchise and subsidies from the hundredth meridian west, and by hostile 
influences embarrassed the Kansas organization. The weaker line broke 
down, and the prostrate adventurers appealed to St. Louis for help. 

Mr. John D. Perry alone responded. He was at first the only capitalist 
of St. Louis who appreciated the merits of the enterprise, and solitary and 
alone advanced a large sum of money. The vitality of the Kansas line was 


preserved, and this action of Mr. Perry led to an organization to cherish and 
control the enterprise. His first associates were Carlos S. Greeley, Adol- 
phus Meier, Giles F. Filley, Wm. M. McPherson, Stephen M. Edgell, Robt. 
E. Carr, Sylvester H. Laflin, John How, James Archer and Thomas L. 
Price. George D. Hall and Daniel R. Garrison also gave material aid, the 
former at a later date serving as director. 

Such was the origin of the Kansas Pacific Railway Company. The 
names given are those of men to whom St. Louis and the entire West are 
largely indebted for the industrial development witnessed in Kansas, Col 
orado and elsewhere since 1865. They breathed new life into a dead enter 
prise, which, but for them, might have slept for years or passed into hostile 

The Kansas road was rapidly pushed to Fort Riley, but from that point, 
instead of running up the Republican valley to join the Omaha branch at 
the hundreth meridian according to the original design the directors 
boldly decided to strike up the Smoky Hill river to Denver, to make their 
connection with the main continental line at a point north of Denver, and 
also to bear southwest from some point on the Kansas line with a branch to 
San Diego and San Francisco. In lieu of a single road from Kansas City 
and Leavenworth to the hundredth meridian, their plan was to give the 
nation a direct line to Denver, with connection through to the Pacific by 
the Northern line, and also a second grand continental line far enough south 
to escape the winter asperities of the mountain region and to afford conveni" 
ent branches to New Orleans and other southern cities. 

In 1867 surveys were made under Gen. W. W. Wright from Fort Wal 
lace, near the west line of Kansas, to New Mexico. In 1868 the rails 
reached Sheridan, 405 miles from Kansas City, and the surveys were ex 
tended, under Gen. W. J. Palmer, to the Pacific, on the 35th and also the 
32d parallels of latitude. The directors John D. Perry, Adolphus Meier, 
Carlos S. Greeley, Wm. M. McPherson, Stephen M. Edgell, W. J. Palmer, 
Thomas L. Price, H. J. Jewett, W. H. Clement, Thomas A. Scott and John 
McManus, with Perry, Meier, Greeley, McPherson and Edgell acting as 
executive committee used all proper means to accomplish the large work 
projected, but the bond subsidy of the company only extended to Monu 
ment, 400 miles, and the adverse influences exerted by the Northern line 
were so powerful that Congress turned its deaf ear to the able arguments of 
the Kansas line, and could not be induced to grant further aid. The saga 
cious and comprehensive designs of the Kansas company, involving so much 
of national benefit and greatness, could not be carried out. Private capital 
had not yet witnessed the success of a continental railroad nor the progress 
of industrial development due to railroads in the plains and mountains. 
Hence, without government aid the work could not go on as planned. But 
had the grand ideas of Perry, Meier, Greeley and their associates been justly 
appreciated by Congress, the amount of the desired subsidies would have 
been almost entirely saved in reduced army expenses, Indian outrages 


would have been averted, and a great Southern line would have been in 
operation to the Pacific ten years earlier than ultimately realized ; and ten 
years gained in the development of New Mexico and Arizona, as well as in 
our overland intercourse with Old Mexico, would have been worth more 
than the entire cost of the road. 

As events turned out, the remarkably perfect and elaborate continental 
surveys made by Gen. Palmer, at the cost of the Kansas Pacific, demon 
strated so clearly the fitness of the routes on the 32d and 35th parallels that 
other combinations have since built railroads on them ; the Southern Pacific 
on one, and the Atlantic and Pacific on the other. This result is of immense 
present and prospective benefit to the nation, and, as realized at this early 
day, is measurably due to the far-reaching enterprise of a few modest citizens 
of St. Louis ; all of them unknown to fame, and certainly not caring to be 
known, but by their deeds entitled to the honors of history. 

New Orleans has her southern railroad lines to the Pacific, as well as the 
jetties at the mouth of the river, and St. Louis scarcely remembers the work 
done by her own people long ago in aid of measures which have resulted so 
fortunately for the Mardi Gras city. 

Other consequences grew out of the decision of the Kansas Pacific to 
strike westward from Fort Riley, instead of going up the Republican river. 
Gen. Palmer, after making his surveys across the continent, and in 1870 
superintending the completion of the Kansas track to Denver, found himself 
in a position to undertake the buildiug of that remarkable system of narrow 
gauge lines known as the Denver and Rio Grande, upon which work was 
commenced in 1871. The first passenger coaches were run a few miles in 
August of that year, on the first road of the kind for general business in the 
Western hemisphere. But little did any of us who were on that pleasant 
excursion foresee the amazing extension of the system to be realized in a 
dozen years. 

Not only by reaching Denver in 1870, and thus giving to Colorado direct 
connection with the whole railroad system of the country and opening her 
resources to the world, did the Kansas Pacific prepare the way for the origin 
of the Denver and Rio Grande and other mountain roads, but by the fact of 
having built over the then desolate plains from Monument to Denver, 240 
miles, without bond subsidy, it indirectly gave vitality to the Atchison, To- 
peka and Santa Fe railroad, whose history since 1870 is as wonderful as a 
romance. St. Louis courage taught Boston capital what great results might 
be accomplished, even without the aid of the bonds so lavishly granted by 
Congress to the Northern line. 

The direct branch of the Union Pacific from Julesburg to Denver, and the 
line of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy on the plains, are also remote 
consequences of the pioneer work of the Kansas Pacific, whose directors not 
only built their track to the mountains, and stimulated the development of 
their w r ealth, but also taught the value of the plains, having been the first 
to bestow attention on the industrial possibilities of the reputed "desert." 


What though the gentlemen of the Kansas Pacific builded wiser than 
they knew ? What though they have never regarded themselves as bene 
factors of their race and nation ? Their works will live after them, not in 
men's thoughts or memories, perhaps, but in the changes for the good of 
humanity, wrought by their aid and influence in plain and mountain. 

The thought of duty clone 
Of acts to benefits and blessings tending, 

Is sweeter than applause ignobly won ; 
And when their mortal term shall reach its ending, 

Let them rest sure a goodly race was run. 

What need have they for fame? 
They nobly wrought and did their chosen labor ; 

Let them depart in quiet, free of blame, 
Lamented briefly by a friend or neighbor, 

And on each marble an unsullied name. 

Theirs is no envied fate; 

Unblazoned in the lines of song or story, 
Their record is the welfare of the state ; 

A full, rich measure of the purest glory- 
That of the unknown great. 

When the Kansas Pacific had reached Denver in 1870, and by the Denver 
Pacific, as authorized by Congress, connected with the Union Pacific at Chey 
enne, it was entitled to interchange continental and other traffic with the 
latter road as a branch, but this right was repudiated by the Union Pacific. 
The consequence was that the Kansas road was deprived of its rightful and 
expected income, and when in 1873 the failure of Jay Cooke brought panic 
and ruin on the country, the Kansas company was unable to meet the inter 
est on its bonds. Its industrial department went under in the storm. No 
more tree planting on the plains ; no more trials of grains and grasses ; no 
more practical and instructive essays or speeches to benefit mankind. The 
continent must take care of itself. But, fortunately, enough had been done 
to start development in the wilderness, and my prediction, in a speech to 
the St. Louis Merchants' Exchange in 1870, that settlements in twenty-five 
years would be continuous from Kansas City to Denver, has been virtually 
realized in half the time. 

The bravery of Bonaparte has not been impugned because of his flight 
after Waterloo ; and if the directors of the Kansas Pacific were in some trepi 
dation when the company went to protest, in 1873, who shall fault them ? 
especially as a large floating debt, incurred mainly in completing the track 
to Denver, and which would have been paid by current income, if the Union 
Pacific had obeyed the law, was carried by them as individuals. But they 
stood up bravely in the midst of perils. The president, Mr. Robert E. Carr, 
went to Europe, called the foreign bondholders together, and -by a frank and 
full exposition of the whole case, gained their assent to an arrangement 
which rescued the property from impending sacrifice, protected the inter- 


ests of the stockholders, and ultimately saved the bondholders from loss. 
With the effective co-operation of Mr. Greeley and other directors in St. 
Louis and of Mr. D. M. Edgerton, the president achieved what may well be 
regarded as almost a financial miracle, and those who were waiting to buy 
the road at a forced sale were left without their prey. Subsequently cir 
cumstances occurred which relieved the directors of the load of floating 
debt, and the Kansas Pacific has since been consolidated with the Union 
Pacific. It is a pleasant reflection that the directors, who had risked so 
much in sustaining a grand and beneficial public enterprise, escaped all 
threatened perils, but the position into which their public spirit had brought 
them would never have been perilous if the Union Pacific had not persist 
ently repudiated its lawful obligations. 

The old Kansas Pacific directors find their estimate of gentlemen em 
ployed by them in various capacities handsomely justified by the subse 
quent careers of officers, agents and clerks. Col. Adna Anderson, their first 
general superintendent, is chief engineer of the Northern Pacific. Col. E. 
S. Bowen, who succeeded Col. Anderson in the Kansas Pacific, has for sev 
eral years been general superintendent of the Erie railway, and of course 
manages it well and makes it successful. Gen. W. J. Palmer, former chief 
engineer of the Kansas Pacific, is widely known in both hemispheres as the 
president of the Denver and Rio Grande railroad, three feet gauge and 1,650 
miles in operation. Col. Charles B. Lamborn, secretary of the old K. P., is 
land commissioner of the Northern Pacific, headquarters at St. Paul, and 
has charge of a greater body of lands than perhaps any one man ever before 
had the disposal of. Col. T. Fletcher Oakes, formerly general freight agent 
of the K. P., has since been general manager of the Oregon Navigation Com 
pany, and is now known from end to end of the Northern Pacific line as its 
efficient vice-president equally at home dispatching business in his New 
York office or traversing the wilds of Montana ; winning all hearts by his 
genial manners, gaming the confidence of all classes by justice in business 
transactions and by his remarkable executive ability hastening the comple 
tion of the track from sea to sea. Henry Villard, the president of the North 
ern Pacific, ten years ago did good service to the K. P. as financial agent. 
A. H. Calef, secretary of the Missouri Pacific, with office in New York, 
where he is known as one of the most reliable and trusted of Mr. Gould's 
assistants in the management of his vast interests, was cashier of the K. P. 
and is well known in St. Louis. Sylvester T. Smith, general superintendent 
of the present Kansas branches of the Union Pacific, was auditor of the old 
K. P., and ranks as one of the most competent and reliable railroad men in 
the West. John Muir, who was clerk in the freight department of the K. 
P., now holds the responsible position of general traffic manager of the 
Northern Pacific on the west coast. Lilburn G. McNair, a broker in St. 
Louis, entered the K. P. office as a messenger boy in 1870. Gerritt W. Vis, 
formerly president's secretary in the K. P. office, is a banker in Amsterdam, 
dealing in American securities. 


The Industrial Agent of the Kansas Pacific, after helping, from 1875 to 
1879, to get the mouth of the Mississippi opened by jetties (and since losing 
a possible million in the mines of Dakota), is now providing for the entertain 
ment of the world by writing up and printing his "Notes" to circulate 
at par. 

Capt. Hazerodt said, when Dr. Flick and Sheriff Cole wanted an 'ade 
compounded of the last lemon in his hotel in Ouster City, Black Hills : 

"No, gentlemen, I cannot let you hef dat lemon. I gif you my honor 
as a gentleman and an officer of de Prooshin army for fifteen years and 
a joostice of de peace of de city of Custer dat it is joost so ez I tell you : 
I must keep dat lemon for de exports coming in to-morrow to look at our 

It was "joost so" with the million possible, but not to be realized. 
Nature, perhaps, held it back for the "exports," but even they have not 
secured it. Of all things in nature, nothing can look so fair and prove so 
false as a great gold mine. A ledge 400 feet high and 100 wide, with gold in 
every cubic foot, but not enough to pay ! It may be rich in depth, but we 
did not get down in the ledge. We only got down on the surface finan 
cially. The market is depressed now, but as soon as it looks up a little we 
shall have a choice lot of experience to dispose of. 


The rosebud is wither' d yet, Lena, 'tis still 
The rosebud you gather'd for me on the hill. 
Its freshness and fragrance no longer may cheer, 
Yet, Lena, to me it will ever be dear. 

How gaily we climb'd and how cheerily stroll'd ! 
I forgot you were young you forgot I was old; 
And mingling our thoughts, as we gather'd the flowers, 
We forgot all the world in those sweet summer hours. 

Some days in one's life are to memory dear, 
When cares did not vex us, and lov'd ones were near; 
And such was the day when all joyous and free, 
You cull'd the sweet rosebud and gave it to me. 



There are three principal passes or mouths to the Mississippi river the 
Southwest Pass, the South Pass, and. Pass-a-Loutre. The first and last dis 
charge each about 45 per cent, of the river's volume, and South Pass 10 per 
cent. The depth on the bar of Pass-a-Loutre was about 12 feet, at South 
Pass 8 feet, and at Southwest Pass 15 feet. Near Pass-a-Loutre the old Balize 
village was situated a hundred and fifty years ago, and hence the mouth of 
the river is often spoken of as " The Balize." 

In the spring of 1873 an informal convention of members of Congress met 
in St. Louis. Resolutions, which, at the instance of Mr. Eads, had been 
adopted by the Merchants 7 Exchange, were presented by him to the conven 
tion ; one of them in favor of jetties at the mouth of the river, and another 
in favor of the improvement of the river generally. This was the first pub 
lic declaration of any organized body in favor of jetties at the mouth of the 

On the plains, in the summer of 1873, I wrote letters to the agricultural 
journals, asserting that the mouth of the Mississippi could be opened by 
jetties, and that such opening would be the most effective statute to regu 
late railroad freights to the seaboards on the products of western farms. I 
was unconsciously preparing the agricultural mind for the proposal of Mr. 
Eads to build the jetties, first made public in January, 1874. I was a cog in 
a big wheel, although I did not then know the fact. The letters helped to 
create the public sentiment in favor of jetties which ultimately carried the 
bill through Congress ; but a great deal of other work was necessary to its 

While in Washington on railroad business in 1874, 1 met Mr. Eads, and 
arranged to co-operate with him. So far as intellectual enjoyment was con 
cerned, no arrangement could have been happier. I had thought that I 
knew him before, but I found that he had a range of intellectual resources of 
which I had not conceived, and that his mind seemed to expand and grow 
as its forces were needed to surmount obstacles. I now look back on those 


labors with double satisfaction because of the great result of an open river 
mouth, to which they were instrumental, and of the current enjoyment of 
the task. 

Mr. Eads had in March, 1874, addressed to Senator Windom a masterly 
exposition of the river's action, predic;ing that the problem of securing a 
good outlet from the Mississippi to the Gulf would never be solved except 
by jetties. " That they will ultimately be resorted to," he said, " is as cer 
tain as that commerce and agriculture will increase in the valley." But 
official opinion was against him. A board of five Army Engineers (only 
one, Gen. Barnard, dissenting) had reported against the jetty system, and 
in favor of a ship canal from the river at Fort St. Philip to the gulf at Breton 
Bay ; and Gen. Humphreys, then Chief of the Engineer Corps, put.forth an 
elaborate essay against jetties, insisting that, if they were put at Southwest 
Pass, the bar would advance into the sea so rapidly that in order to main 
tain a channel of 28 feet the jetties must be prolonged at the rate of twelve 
hundred feet a year ! The entire Corps of Army Engineers was against any 
permission to Mr. Eads to improve the pass by jetties, even at his own risk ; 
and many civilians were also earnestly hostile. 

The controversy, in pamphlets and oral discussions before committees of 
Congress, was remarkably spirited, and engineering principles and assump 
tions were discussed with distinguished ability. The position of Mr. Eads, 
with his jetty project, was something like that of Stephenson and his rail 
roads before the committees of Parliament ; but every objection was met 
with effective argument. All, however, could not then carry the jetties, 
and in June, 1874, the bill appropriating $8,000,000 to begin the canal passed 
the House. 

Impressed by the arguments of Mr. Eads, the Senate rejected the canal 
bill ; and finally, at his suggestion, an act was passed for a mixed commis 
sion of government and civil engineers to report on the best mode of 1m- 
proving the river's mouth. In January, 1875, this commission reported in 
favor of the jetty system, but recommended the small South Pass for im 
provement instead of the great Southwest Pass. 

Notwithstanding this unfortunate selection of the South Pass by the 
commission, the friends of the jetty system in the House of Representatives 
adhered to the greater pass. Stanard, Stone, Wells, Clark, and other Mis 
souri members, were unceasingly active. The committee, after hearing Mr. 
Eads, reported the bill for the Southwest Pass as desired. Mr. Stanard had 
charge of it in the House, and handled it so ably that it passed without 
division. But the Senate, conforming to the commission's report, changed 
the bill to the South Pass, and in this shape it became a law March 3d, 1875. 
On his return to St. Louis, Mr. Eads, at a banquet given by the citizens in 
his honor, said of his proposed work : 

" Every atom that moves onward in the river, from the moment it leaves 
its home amid the crystal springs or mountain snows, throughout the fifteen 


hundred leagues of its devious pathway, until it is finally lost in the gulf, is 
controlled by laws as fixed and certain as those which direct the majestic 
march of the heavenly spheres. ^Every phenomenon and apparent eccen 
tricity of the river its scouring and depositing action, its caving banks, the 
formation of the bars at its mouth, the effect of the waves and tides of the 
sea upon its currents and deposits is controlled by laws as immutable as 
the Creator ; and the engineer needs only to be assured that he does not 
ignore the existence of any of these laws, to feel positively certain of the 
result he aims at. I therefore undertake the work with a faith based upon 
the ever-constant ordinances of God himself ; and, so certain as He will 
spare my life and faculties, I will give to the Mississippi River, through His 
grace and by the application of His laws, a deep, open, safe, and permanent 
outlet to the sea." 

The actual construction of the jetties was begun by the contractors, 
James Andrews & Co., in June, 1875, and continued until their completion. 
E. L. Corthell, Chief Assistant Engineer, in his History of the Jetties,* 
gives details of the difficulties, perils, and triumphs of the enterprise. The 
book has the interest of a romance combined with the solidity of truth. 

Having been persuaded that the Fort St. Philip canal was their only hope 
as an outlet to the gulf, the people of New Orleans were at first almost 
unanimously opposed to the jetty project. Mr. G. W. R. Bay ley , an eminent 
civil engineer, stood alone as an advocate of the jetty system. But when 
work was at length begun, New Orleans sustained it effectively. During 
the darkest days there was always some light in her financial circles. 
Joseph H. Oglesby was a conspicuous friend and supporter of the enterprise, 
as were also Samuel H. Kennedy, B. D. Wood, and other citizens of promi 
nence, who gave it large material aid. New Orleans now reaps a splendid 
harvest from seed sown by those of her enterprising and courageous busi 
ness men who participated in the work of opening her port. 

It would take a volume to do even partial justice to the genius and en 
ergy displayed by Mr. Eads in the engineering discussions, in providing 
financial means, in the modes of executing the work, and in securing the 
passage of two amendatory acts of Congress. The world will only know 
that he built the jetties, and proved the soundness of his views. It will 
never know the almost miraculous ability, the patience, fortitude, and per 
sistent labor needed and exerted to achieve success. 

Looking back to 1874, we see that the intervention of Mr. Eads with his 
jetty project saved the nation from the costly error of a ship canal, which 
would scarcely have been completed yet, and whose entrance from the gulf 
could hardly have been reached at all during storms. Since 1876 the jetty 
channel has been available for vessels of larger class than ever before entered 
the river, and since 1879 the commerce of the Mississippi Valley has had a 

* Published by John Wiley & Son, 15 Astor Place, New York, 1880. 


channel of thirty feet through the bar of South Pass to the sea. The only 
regret is that the jetty system was not applied, as proposed by Mr. Eads 
and his associates, at the great Southwest Pass instead of the lesser South 
Pass. Even through this Pass, where the natural depth was only eight feet 
on the bar, the jetties have given New Orleans a port entrance superior to 
that of New York ; but the present prosperity of our great Southern city, 
the development of her railroad system by capital attracted even from the 
Pacific slope, the great lines of ocean steamers, and the projected World's 
Fair of 1884, are. only a few of the consequences resulting, directly or indi 
rectly, from the works of Mr. Eads and those who co-operated with him. 

South Pass had not only a bar at its mouth, with only eight feet of water 
on it, but it had also a shoal in the main river, at its head, with only four 
teen feet. To get the water out of the pass into the sea was a simple prob 
lem compared with that of cutting through this shoal and securing a chan 
nel from the main river into the pass. The river at the head of the pass is 
about two miles wide, but the works readily accomplished their purpose, 
gave a deep channel, and have taught lessons in practical river engineering 
worth to the nation ten times the cost of the jetties. " There is no instance 
in the world," says Corthell, " where such a vast volume of water is placed 
under such absolute and permanent control by the engineer, by methods 
so economic and simple as those adopted at the head of the passes of the 
Mississippi. The works are composed almost wholly of light willows, with 
a large portion of the mattresses standing on edge, simply as screens to 
check the current and cause deposit. They constitute a remarkable illus 
tration of how completely the immense forces of Nature may be controlled 
by the wise use of the most inexpensive and unsubstantial materials, which 
Nature seemingly places within convenient reach of man for the very 

These works of the jetty builders, unique and unprecedented as they were, 
have shown how readily the majestic river can be mastered. The principles 
relied on by the Mississippi River Commission for the improvement of the 
navigation below Cairo, and the lowering of the flood line, are illustrated 
by the works of Mr. Eads at the head of South Pass. Compared with the 
means used, the results are the grandest ever achieved in hydraulic engi 
neering ; and the lessons they teach will not be forgotten. 

As the engineering problems come to be understood, the Mississippi river 
will, in time, be made to dig out its channel deep enough to carry its floods 
rapidly and harmlessly to the sea, commerce will have at all seasons an am 
ple pathway, and inundations will be unknown. Thirty thousand square 
miles of rich soil will be redeemed from overflowing waters, and all at a 
cost insignificant in comparison with the grand results. 

The United States will have a population of about sixty- three millions in 
1890, and eighty millions in 1900. The majority will be west of the Alle- 
ghenies. To say that we shall allow the great river to remain in its present 


imperfect and destructive condition, is to say that we do not understand the 
interests of the nation, or our own power. 

The South Pass Jetty Company was a financial corporation organized in 
St. Louis to aid the jetty enterprise. Julius S. Walsh, Web. M. Samuel, 
D. P. Rowland, and John C. Maude, of St. Louis, and Jacob Thompson, of 
Memphis, were Directors ; Mr. Walsh, President ; Mr. Samuel, Viee*-Presi- 
dent, and R. S. Elliott, Secretary. In 1878 a new Board was chosen : John 
Jackson, James Lupe, Mason G. Smith, Isaac Cook, and E. P. Curtis, of 
St. Louis; Mr. Jackson, President; Mr. Lupe, Vice-President, and Mr. 
Elliott, Secretary. The company fulfilled its purpose and was dissolved in 
1879, each stockholder having been repaid his investment with interest at 
10 per cent, per annum, and a stipulated profit. As the record stands, 
this company was essential to the construction of the jetties, and its mem 
bers are entitled to a place in history as aiders in the work of opening the 
river's mouth. 

G. W. R. Bayley, of New Orleans, whose professional ability ranked him 
in the first class of civil engineers, was an early advocate of the jetty system, 
and as Resident Engineer had general charge of the works until his death, 
in December, 1876. E. L. Corthell, who had been Chief Assistant (and is now 
Chief Engineer of the Tehuantepec Ship Railway), then took entire charge. 
He was ably seconded by Max E. Schmidt, whose talents and acquirements 
found ample scope in his varied duties. W. L. Webb, W. S. Morton, H. W. 
Parkhurst, F. A. Gladding, A. O. Wilson, and Willard Lawes, were Assist 
ant Engineers, and did faithful service. 

Having been an early business partner of Mr. Eads, and an efficient co- 
worker on the gunboats and the St. Louis Bridge, Capt. William S. Nelson 
brought his ripe experience and peculiar fitness to the aid of the jetties. 
When pestilence assailed the enterprise in 1878, the ever-faithful Nelson 
remained on duty till stricken, and was barely able to reach his St. Louis 
home to die. A better man, or truer friend, who has ever known ? 

Mr, Corthell, in his History of the Jetties, gives some names of "em 
ployes deserving honorable mention" as connected with the jetty works : 
W. L. Wright, Chief Clerk and Paymaster at Port Eads ; W. J. Karmer, 
Cashier and Agent at New Orleans ; Thomas T. Rubey, Captain of Steamer 
Grafton ; Geo. W. Adams, Captain of dredgeboat Bayley ; M. C. Tully, Mate 
of Bayley; John Eraser, Captain of tug Brearly ; F. C. Welschans, W. J. 
Matthews, and A. W. Wire, Telegraph Operators ; and James Keefe, Chaun- 
cey Hoadley, Wm. Tinsley, John Holland, H. C. Blanchard, George L. 
Mitchell, Joseph Greppin, Peter McGee, John McGee, Wm. Faber, John T. 
Heuston, and Spencer F. Rous, master mechanics, steam engineers, or fore 
men, entrusted with the various departments of pile-driving, mattress- 
making, &c. &c. It is a roll of honor; for all were faithful some, in the 
yellow fever season of 1878, even unto death. 



In the olden time it was the custom, in Theatres, to have a piece spoken 
before the Play and one after : the PROLOGUE and the EPILOGUE. 

The old time Prologue conciliated the Audience, and my first chapter, 
having captivated the Reader, may serve as a Prologue. I have, therefore, 
only to provide an Epilogue. 

The old time Epilogue was never, I believe, an apology for the Play, but 
rather a congratulation of the Audience upon their enjoyment of it; and 
hence, to be in harmony with the Old Stagers, I must congratulate the 
happy Readers of this Book upon their good fortune. 

Never having been in a Theatre where an Epilogue was spoken, I do not 
know how it was received, but have a notion that the audience paid little 
attention to it, and probably dispersed during its delivery. Having enjoyed 
the Play, they may not have cared for any added pleasure. Hence, if I ever 
discover that any of those so lucky as to have read this Book have failed to 
peruse its Epilogue, I shall think of the old Play, and will rest assured that 
the volume afforded them a full measure of enjoyment. As pleasure is 
hardly ever without some alloy, I shall imagine them lamenting the sad 
fate of those who may not have read it ; just as I have often been unhappy 
before a good fire in winter, because everybody else could not be as warm 
and comfortable. 

That this Book the best of its kind and the only one is to have an ex 
tensive sale, I do not permit myself to doubt. Although we never brag of 
ourselves, it is yet well known that the American people are superior to all 
others, and know a good thing when they see it. Still, it may be that the 
Book has not enough EGOTISM in it for popularity. The few friends who 
have seen the manuscript, have all declared that they liked the personal 
details best ! Nor is this so strange as it may seem. If a memoir of the 
private life of William Shakspeare could be discovered, we would read it 
with more avidity than the Plays which bear his name. David Copperfield 
is dearer to us when we imagine that Charles Dickens was in some degree 
painting his own likeness. The personal stories of your modestest neigh 
bors might have an interest greater than that of fictitious characters doing 
and suffering the same things. 

But, if I have failed in Egotism, I can reflect with pleasure that no man 
or woman will be made worse by this book. The cooing of the dove is not 


more harmless than these Notes, which may raise no one up to a higher 
moral plane, but will certainly drag no one down. 

Having in recent years been engaged in some works of general public 
benefit, on the Great Plains and at the mouth of the Great River, I have 
briefly told of them ; aiming rather to magnify the importance of the works 
than to boast of my own agency in their execution. There are men who 
would claim a larger measure of credit ; but the aggregate of human kind 
that we style the world, might not be more likely to pay. It is a self-suffi 
cing world ; accepts readily the best services rendered to it ; does not like to 
be importuned, and only pays when it feels in the humor. Besides, it owes 
more than it can pay. The honest, patient, faithful toilers, of whom no 
record is ever kept obscure, but great in their works are they not legion? 
How can the trump of Fame sound for us all? Think of the intolerable 
clamor ! 

Soon the ebb-tide will have swept us into the unfathomed sea; but while 
we linger on the shore, we may know that if we have done any good work 
it will not all perish, even if unrecognized or forgotten. The uninscribed 
monuments outnumber all others, and every man builds his own ; invisible 
to the finite vision, perhaps, but palpable to the Infinite. 

In one enduring Monument I can fairly claim a share. The Commerce 
of an Empire bows to it every day in the year, and it will outlast the mem 
ory of some Battlefields. It is at the mouth of the Mississippi. Corthell, 
who has himself a share, in closing his excellent History of this Monument, 
says truly: 

"In a score of centuries the SOUTH PASS JETTIES may be buried beneath 
" the vast deposits which the river floods will accumulate upon and even 
" beyond them as the delta advances into the gulf, and it may become ne- 
11 cessary for some generation in the distant future to repeat the work of 
" this; but the JETTY PRINCIPLE has been so clearly proven to be in per- 
" feet harmony with the laws of Nature, that either at the mouth of South 
" Pass, or some pass of the Mississippi river, Jetties will be maintained for- 
" ever. So long as the husbandman tills the soil of the great valley, so long 
" shall he find for his productions a natural highway to the world through 


CorthelFs book came to me in 1881 with this inscription : 

" Presented to Col. R. S. Elliott, Secretary of the South Pass Jetty Com- 
" pany one of my most earnest and effective co-workers in the Jetty enter- 
" prize by his sincere friend, 


My Dear Readers, good-bye! May you all be rich enough to enjoy the 
bliss of giving ! And may vou all be as lucky as I am ! if ever unhappy, 
only through misfortune ! 




DEC I 3 1967 

Book SIip-20m-3,'60(A9205s4)458 

Elliott, R.S. 

Notes taken in sixty 


E I Ifoii 

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