Montooth Horse Barn and Business


A HISTORY OF THE MONTOOTH FAMILY HORSE BUSINESS

"The Good Old Horse and Buggy Days"

by Henry Serff  April 1968

This might be of great interest to this young generation, especially to Bill Montooth and Steve, and also Charles Montooth's children and their families.
  I was a boy nine years old when my parents moved to Rushville, and I can remember very well seeing Mr. James Montooth {son of James Montooth, born October 31, 1847, married Anna Belle Colt, died June 21, 1930} having his men lead horses to our stock yards in Rushville to be shipped out.  Their horses had their tails all braided and wrapped up.  I can remember seeing Mr. Montooth drive a chunkey-like horse they called "Bill" to a cart with a fishing pole cut off and stuck up In the whip socket.  He would stop his horse and got off the cart and look at horses that was tied up at the hitch rack around the square.

  Mr. George W. Montooth {son of James and Anna Belle Colt Montooth} started in very young with his father buying horses.  George tells me that he and his father sent horses and mules to Chicago, St. Louis, Army Inspectors, Vermont and Galesburg.  They bought mules out of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri during World War One.  They shipped out of Quincy, Illinois to Atlanta.

  They started shipping big horses to Maine - Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Albion, Eustis, Prisque Isle, Caribou, and Bethel.  This was all done by express, We loaded out of Rushville at first and later on we loaded out of Galesburg, Illinois.  This is where Henry Serff started to work for Mr. James Montooth and George Montooth on January 9, 1924.

  George told me they wanted to handle some saddle horses.  I told him I did not know anything about saddle horses.  He said they were on the order of race horses.  I worked with them quite a bit, and he started me in, when I came there.  That is the barn that Monroe’s owned at one time.  The box stalls that are on the north side were built in 1874.  The date is cut on several of the joists over the doors.  Taylor Brown at Vermont, Illinois was buying horses for them.  He worked in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Chet Montooth bought out of Iowa.  After George W.  Montooth bought out his father, he had a number of men working for him spotting horses and mules.  We held Army Inspections at the plant at Rushville, Illinois at the plant that is still in use.  That was during World War Two.  That was quite a sight to see.  I was pretty well schooled by this time by my boss, George W. Montooth.

  We had a cowboy to ride these horses before inspection and at inspection.  His name was Lyle Adams.  I saw him here in Rushville a number of years ago at a rodeo, but he got killed several years later by bulldozing a steer.  Johnnie Stumper from Springfield fetched a colored boy that did some riding.  Johnnie Stumper did the saddling.  John Lasswell did all the shoeing. He was from Galesburg {Illinois}.  Henry, that's me, I did all the trimming of fetlocks and manes on Inspection Day.  Every man knew his job.

  We developed a number of high priced saddle horses and jumpers at this plant.  Mr. Montooth developed me into about everything in the horse and mule line.  He sold jumpers and high priced ones to Oak Brook Stables and Stanley Luke and Holdorf Stables and Cameron Stables at Evanston {Illinois}, a partner of Al Capone.  He got the Ted Isleman Stables started that handle. fine harness show horses and fine saddle horses.

  We sold mules to Maxwell Crouch, the biggest mule dealers in the world.  Their letterhead said, "We will sell you a pair or a trainload."

  Mr. Howard Bailey was the one who came to our barn to buy mules.  He sent many to Spain, Cuba, South America and some of the islands where they raised sugar cane.  They called the mules "sugar mules." They were mostly leggy mare mules.  He also bought mine mules.  They were mostly 14 hands to 14 1/2.  Sometimes he bought ponys, but we hardly ever had any ponys.  I remember he said something about banana mules, and-I thought he was joking, but he told me they went to South America where they used these little mules to carry the bananas out of the swamps and across the streams.  Two bunches on each mule's back, and they would turn them loose and the natives would herd them back to the loading chutes, sometimes many miles.

  The southern cities used mules for all dray work.  They were mostly big mules, 1400 to 1600 pounds.  We sold some to a Chicago firm.  They were across from the stock yards, but Chicago used mostly horses before the days of trucks.  Swift and Company's man came down a few times.  He bought only dapple greys and was very particular.  They had to be good.

  We bought lots of surplus horses after the camp in Oklahoma closed up. We got some from Camp Ellis. We had sold them some before.  Also bought several carloads from El Reno.  Mr. Fred Henninger still has one of them.  Most of them were sent to Carl Harriman, Winthrop, Maine for saddle horses.  'We sold lots of horses to U. S. Steel to work in their mines in Pennsylvania.  They went to Uniontown.  They were chunky horses, around 15 hands.  Once Floyd Moore held up the Pennsylvania Railroad train four hours while he stopped for coffee and played the juke box while hauling a truck load to fill out an express car.  Most of these horses we sold in Chicago, but I remember one car load we sent from Macomb {McDonough County, Illinois}.

  We also sold horses and mules to the State to the different institutions.  Pontiac, Jacksonville, Joliet and Dwight.  We delivered to all these penitentiaries and mostly had to go through locked gates except at Jacksonville and Geneva.  George and I would eat with the warden at Pontiac and be served by prisoners. The boys at Jacksonville were not dangerous as a rule, and the ones we saw were mostly farmers or farm workers who had gone off the beam.  One of them went crazy at the barn when we were putting horses away and tried to kill the boss.

  At Joliet they were pretty particular.  We also sold mules to the big canning companies every summer as they used extra ones around the sweet corn cultivating and harvesting season.  Then in the fall we would buy the extra ones, mostly culls and ones they had used for some time. Also some young ones that didn't suit.

  The Del Monte mules went to Rochelle and DeKalb.  Some went to Belvidere Canning Company and some to a big company in Eastern Illinois.  As I said before, we sold Carlings Ale their show horses, and the man who used to be with Busch came up to the barn to buy them.  I remember Frank Corman was working one of the teams we sold to Carlings and when we bought all their show horses back, Frank bought the lead team back and showed them again, and Busch bought the best wagon and still use it in one of those show teams. , One wagon and harness went to Miles McGrew, Walnut Grove, and one big wagon and show harness to DaMoile, Illinois.  They don't make these wagons any more and then only on special order and cost around $25,000.  We got a lot of those big show horses from Iowa and a few from Minnesota.  We would always get the best show horses after the fairs.  I remember once George bought a carload at Adair when the show was over.  Most of these best ones went to Maine.

  We got $3,OOO from Busch for the wagon and less from the others.  We did most of our own veterinary work.  Had a barn rented back of Bill White's for the hospital.  Mostly distemper.  Once we got some kind of sulpha pills that a man from New Jersey told us about. They cured a few cases and killed some others, so we quit them.  One good big mule dropped dead over night.

  Then we shipped old worn out horses to Chappell Brothers at Rockford {Illinois} where they made Ken-L-Ration dog food.  We had had four counties and handled many loads of killers, as we called them, but had several men burying them but we never did like the killer business and gave it up and stuck to our good horses.

  Before I worked for James Montooth and George Montooth, I worked for Harry Putman at Libertyville, Illinois, the man that fetched out Peter Manning, the world's three year-old trotter at that time, then later on became the world's champion trotter til Grey Hound set a new world record which still stands.  Then I later worked for Dick McNair with his racing stable at Aurora, Illinois for several years.  When I came to work for James Montooth and George Montooth, the horse and mule business was a big business. It was a long time before trucks and tractors took over.

  George would go to Chicago and his dad to St. Louis for a, month or more to sell mules we would ship him.  George worked in the Auction Ring for Harry McNair when he was inChicago, only Mondays.  He also had to help the buyers check over their horses after the auction.

  This might be of great interest to you young Generation.  We winded all our mules and horses hooked to a bobsled.  I think I rode more miles on a sled than any man in Schuyler County, and George W. Montooth has rode more miles in a car than any other man buying horses and mules.  I think I have rode horseback more miles than any man in Schuyler County or any other county, bringing in horses and mules overland before the trucks came in use.

  The biggest drove of mules I think that was brought into Rushville over land was the day Mr. Rebman had old Bill Hook to the cart and had an old grey mare leading behind and Bill Moore was riding Mr. James Montooth’s mare he always rode.  And I rode my silver mare that knew more about driving mules than most men. We had the old Rushville Fair Grounds rented then.  This was where we feed and keep our mules during the summer.  We had 110 head in the bunch that day--loose, coming into Rushville. While I am on the mule business, the chute is still in the mule pen where I have trimmed thousands of head of mules and horses.  I know Mr. Montooth will okay this remark.  I have one pair of scissors yet that I used to use and also the tooth pulling pinchers that I used to pull mule teeth with, to help the three year teeth in sooner.  This old landmark chute at the barn is still In use.  They use it to dehorn cattle in and doctor them.  It is as stout as the day it was built.

  As to getting down to the pulling horses.  We sold many to Mr. Willard Rhodes.  Mr. Rhodes worked horses long after trucks came along delivering coal in Springfield {Illinois}.  He had the world’s champion pullers early.  We bought them later for a man in South Hope, Maine.   Mr. Rhodes would come over and try out some of our big horses.  We made many trades with him. We shipped many pulling horses to Maine, and Mr. Roy Thornton had the champion pulling team of Maine horses that came from us through Jonas Edwards and Son, who were the biggest dealers in southern Maine.  While I am on this item about big horses, I am going to mention the names of the big dealers we shipped to down in Maine, hundreds of express loads of horses.  Mr.  Edwards and Son, Carl Harrison and Son, and Slynicter and Son, and Hugh Sylvester is still handling some horses.  And also Lem Veits of Connecticut.

  While I am still on the big horses I am going to mention one I will never forget. Mr. George Montooth got him out of Iowa.  George told me he had a big, tall thin roan horse coming out of Iowa.  He said he was the tallest horse that he ever looked at. He said he wanted me to feed this horse and see what I could make him weigh.  I started in on him.  I fed him seven times a day a little at a time.  He just weighed 2000.  He just looked like he had one straight gut in him.  I got him up to where he ate 40 ears of corn a day and half a bushel of oats, besides the sugar feed I gave him and a bale and a half of hay a day, besides four big wash tubs of water a day.  He got to weigh 2875 mounds.  When we shipped to Massachusetts Box Company for advertising purposes, the last I heard from him, Arthur Godfrey had purchased him for his horse collection.

  We sold police horses to Chicago and New York City. They were all bays. We sold some to Pittsburgh, just a few.  They had to be black.  The Chicago and New York horses were mostly 15 to 16 hands high and solid colors.

  Frank Flynn came down here a time or two with one of the big shots on the police force to buy them.  George says he is now vice president of the Union Stock Yards.  He was very young when we sold him those horses.

  The ones we sold for the New York Police mostly went through the Chicago markety, but Mr.  Cy Reems, a New York Jew, came down here several times and bought horses direct.  Some times he had a police commissioner with him.  They paid higher prices than Chicago.

  I think Doc Rinehart was the State Veterinarian when we started to sell horses to the State.  Horner was governor and Artie O'Bryan was the one we dealt with, but when John Stelle got in, he turned the horse and mule deal over to George.  Doc and George checked over the horses in the different institutions.  They worked many horses and mules on their farms and culled out all the old worn out horses and some that wouldn’t work.  These culls were mostly sent to Springfield auction and sold to the credit of the State of Illinois.  I know once vie got two truck loads from Joliet that were sold to Springfield auction and somebody copped the money. We got a notice from the auditor to pay for the horses so we got the sale company to give us a duplicate of the sale bill and the number of the check.  It had been cashed, but we never did find out who got the money, but whoever it was must have made it good as we heard no more about it.  The reason I know about all these deals is that I kept all the horse books and made most of the bank deposits.  About this time they started using tractors and someone wanted to do away with horses altogether at these institutions, and they finally did.

  George went down to Chester-Penitentiary and bought some mules, but we never sent any horses there or never sent any to the Menard Penitentiary.

  We had just got started on this program with the State of Illinois when John Stelle got out of office and somebody else took over the management.  They put in tractors and trucks and did away with most of the horses.

  The time they started the Army plant at Burlington, Iowa they bought horses for the officers to patrol the outside fences.  They had taken in a lot of farms and some of the ground was pretty rough and the only way it could be patrolled was by horseback.  They had ammunition dumps all over the grounds, mostly in caves and railroad tracks run along side.  When they quit, we bought the horses.  They were all good, young horses. We shipped them from Burlington camp.  George and Art had the hind shoes taken off before loading them on the railroad cars and put them in the back of his auto.  They were on their way to Ottumwa, Iowa. Art told me about the state police stopping them west of Mt. Pleasant looking at the trunk being weighted down and thinking they were hauling whiskey.  They stopped them and told them to get out and asked them what they had in the trunk.  George told them, "Horse shoes." They said, "Horse s--- !", and when they opened up the trunk their faces' were pretty red!

  We got lots of horses from Iowa from Donnelson, Mt.  Pleasant, Ottumwa and had men helping locate the horses all over that part of Iowa.  We had one man, Rudd, where he got many carloads, and Alva Larkey of Onslo bought a lot of horses for us.

  We got many horses from Willard Rhodes of Springfield {Illinois}.  He worked horses altogether in his coal business and stayed with horses a long time after trucks came in.  We finally bought the last 18 horses that he had. He always had pulling horses and at one time had the champion pulling team that they called King and Charley.  He brought them to Rushville a time or two for exhibition.  We afterwards bought them and shipped them to a man in South Hope, Maine.  We also got a lot of pulling horses from a man in Spring Port, Indiana.  I can't remember his name.  One time we got eight head after the shows were over.  Mr. Sadler, M. V. Summers, Wolaver Brothers, all bought many horses and mules for us around the Springfield territory.

  We sold Anheuser Busch horses several times.  Mr. Augie Busch came up at one time and bought a pair of grey mares and a pair of Clydesdale horses.  Later on he sent one of his men up. He was one of the drivers and afterwards went to work for Carlings Ale and bought some of those sorrel horses for Carlings show team.

  As a matter of fact, we sold them most all of their horses.  They  had a big stable out of Cleveland, and when they decide quit  the show horse business we bought horses, harness wagons and all.  We shipped some of the horses direct to Maine and brought the rest of them back to Rushville. One team we sold to Frank Corman. Frank had worked that pair of horses before we sold them to Carling.  In fact, he was working them on the corn planter the day we sold them, and this was the same man who had bought horses from us before for Anheuser Busch. We sold Anheuser Busch the best wagon that we got from Carling, and they still use that one in one of their exhibition teams.  Mr. Busch took the grey mares to his farm where he crossed them with his thorobred stallions to raise hunters as dapple-greys are the most popular color.  We bought the big show team back from Busch the first team that they got from the stock yards company.  There were eight horses, and they only showed six at a time.  When these horses were past their prime they would replace them with younger horses.  Their man told, me that most of them they bought in Scotland and Canada.  They held to be big Bay horses with four white feet.  One of the horses in the team that we bought back from Busch we had sold to the stock yards company in Chicago.  It came from Mr. Jonas McGrew from Walnut Grove.  Those horses were in good condition---fat, slick, but their feet were in bad shape.  I fixed up their feet and soaped them and painted them and had them shod with those big show shoes, and when we sent them up to Mr. McNair they looked as good as ever.  I afterwards went down with Bill Bradley and got four more horses from their stable over in St. Louis and while we were there, their man hitched all the show horses in their big ring.  There was one horse we had sold them when Mr. Busch was up to Rushville that they couldn’t use in their team because he wouldn't go up against the rail, and we bought him back.

  I remember when we kept government studs at our barn, the first one we had was Eagle Pass.  We kept him for three years.  They bred thorough mares to him, and the next one was a black horse called Tea Tax.  He was quite a runner in his day.  He died at our barn.  We had to go through quite a lot of red tape signing papers the veterinary had us to fill out before we could bury him.  I got pretty well acquainted with the old Colonel Carr that came up there to inspect the government stock.  The government got to buying pack mules, and we would send them down there for inspection.  He was the one that passed on them.  George got to sending me down with them.  I got quite a kick out of going down there with them.  I got to know a pack mule pretty good.

  Eagle Pass was the highest priced horse that we had, and the government sold him after he was returned to a big stock farm for $2500.  It was a pretty good price in those days.  He was the third in the American Derby and would have gone on and won a lot of races, so Colonel Carr said, if he hadn't bowed an attendant.  Otherwise, the government never would have gotten him.  We had another horse, Trevisco, that had previously stood in Macomb.  He was an old horse, and I think died at our place.

  I could got along with the old colonel pretty good.  I took lots of other mules down to St. Louis.  I liked to work in the auction ring with Alex Norris.  He taught me a lot, to handle horses and mules in the auction ring.  George Montooth put a lot of trust in me.  I always worked hard for him.  Well, I got to say this much for the horse and mule business, when I started to work for James Montooth and his {son}, George Montooth, it was one of the biggest businesses in the country.  We shipped everything by rail then.  When trucks came along we began to bring out horses and mules into the barn and quit herding them in on horseback.

  The first truck that started hauling into the barn was driven by Hal Lee.  It was owned by a man in Mt. Sterling, Illinois.  I will just mention a few names that has hauled thousands of head of horses and mules for us: Red Peters, Bill Bradley, Floyd Moore, Jim Peak, besides a world of other truckers.  As to the men that worked for George W. Montooth, there was Taylor Brown, Tom McCabe, Guy Walker, Ross Browne and Alva Larkey, Bert Satterfield, and a number of others that I cannot call their names at the time.  These men spotted horses and mules for Mr. Montooth.  Most all of these men are dead and gone but Alva Larkey at Onslo, Iowa.  The men that helped me around the barn were Bill White and he drove for George, and Bill Moore.  Jess Kinnamon was George’s best driver, and Ottie Green was my best barn man.  Jimmy Thompson and Raymond Powell drove for George and Raymond helped me at the barn and so did
Art McCullough.
  We shipped a lot of mules to Atlanta, Georgia as well as St. Louis.  At first we shipped to Cliff Ragsdale.  His father was mayor of Atlanta at the time.  Later we shipped to Smith Brothers. That deal was strictly on commission.

  Smith Brothers had a big horse and mule business in Richmond, Virginia, and we used to ship them horses and mules.  We had sold them many horses and mules before.  Once we shipped them an express load of mules direct from Rushville.  We sold them many horses in Chicago, mostly little southern horses and mares.  Most of the mules that we sent to Smith Brothers in Atlanta we shipped from Quincy {Adams County, Illinois}.  We bought many of them from Puttz and Cissna, dealers there in Quincy.  Smith Brothers got on pretty thin ice at one time and owed us for five carloads of mules.  The drafts were held up for a few weeks, but we finally got our money.  They finally went broke after being millionaires.  They were big operators and good friends of Harry McNair and Jim Smith who used to come to Rushville.

  We sold a number of horses and mules at home on time and took their notes for them.  We did all right.  We never lost anything to speak of.  When some party came along I was a little skeptical of, I would tell him I had the safe full at the present time.  Soon as some fellow paid his note off, I would take his.

  We farmed out two-year-old mules every year to the boys that broke mules and worked them.  We farmed them out in Schuyler, Brown, Cass, Fulton and McDonough County.  I would make my regular trips to see how they were doing.  We called them in when the green corn came on.  Some of them would be awful thin but they would put on fast.  I would keep all the harness marks on them by using a safety razor.  When we shipped them to St. Louis they would sell good.

  Here is a little note I can remember very well.  I have heard George's dad tell about them stealing horses in his day like they do autos today.  I heard him tell about the stolen team that Mose Weinberg bought that was stolen at Versailles, Illinois.

  Going back over the mule business, we sold many pack mules.  Most of them went to St. Louis to be inspected.  I usually went along.  It was hard to get a full carload of pack mules, as they were a small blocky mule 14 to 141/2, about the same as a mine mule.  Colonel Carr said they used them going over the hump in China.  I think they carried machine guns on their backs, so he said.  What mules Colonel took we would truck to St, Louis to be shipped out of there.

  When we had the army inspection here it was a pretty big deal and we had as high as 150 head of horses.  The most they ever took at one showing was 99.  We showed 104.  Colonel Carr said that was the best percentage that he ever had and the best bunch of horses I can remember about. When he made out the voucher he put on $100.  There was no set price and Colonel Carr marked down the price of each horse according as to how he valued them.  They started to take some smaller horses.  They sent a new inspector.  He was okay the first time, but the next time wouldn't take any.  That was about the time the Japs were taking over the islands.  We had an order from Colonel Carr to get all the little horses we could buy, 14 to 14.3 that was canceled and we only sold him six more.

  Later we started buying them back.  Some from Camp Ellis and down at El Reno and at Burlington, Iowa.

  Well, I will turn, to the days when they rented horses from us to use up to Camp Grant for the National Guard to train with.  We had to get them 150 head.  We would get them bought and fetched into the plant at Rushville where the new high school {still the High School in 1999} stands today is where we turned them out.  That was all in pasture.  We have had thousands of heads of horses and mules on that grounds.  We had to have those horses all shod.  Ben Perrin would set up his anvil and forge in the west end of the mule pen.  He had a man from Beardstown to nail on the shoes.  He done all the fitting himself.  Later, John Wise did some of our shoeing.  And by the way, John just came by with an old time 1907 newspaper that he had found with an advertisement of James Montooth: "100 Horses Wanted.  Some could have small blemishes and some could be a little thin.  Be sure and see me before you sell." This was before I worked for Mr. Montooth, and John just happened to notice this in the paper.

  When they got through with their drills we would pick up these horses.  Some of them was pretty well used up, and we would send them to the killers and the rest we took to Chicago Horse Market.  Sometimes we would fetch a truck load or two home here to resell again.  We furnished them their horses three different times.

  This is one thing I will never forget in the good old horse show days.  After the old fair ground played out they held a few draft horse shows in the center field.  We would farm out a lot of these big draft three and four year old horses to these horse boys like the Greer boys and our horse boys in several different counties around.  I remember very well one time they were showing at the halter in the center field I and George walked down the line of these draft horses showing at the halter.  There were forty head lined up. We owned all of them but five head.  Me and George had a little fun along ourselves picking the winner.  They had a judge out of Springfield, 0. B. Summers.  After the show he asked George how he did.  George said., "Very well, but a fellow is allowed one mistake."

  Well, I will leave the horse and mule business at this point as the tractor had took over.  But the old plant never did stop doing business.  I feed cattle and hogs here for a number of years.  Pete Phillips leased the mule pen for nine years and bought hogs and cattle.  Done a big business.  After that I weighed thousands of cattle over the scales that went up north to the cattle feeders.. It was occupied by some horse trainer later, and at the present time it is occupied by two of the leading auctioneers in the county today.  They are handling hogs and cattle, and the north side is occupied by Mr. Toland {Kenneth, who’s wife, Geraldine is an descendant of George Montooth’s grandfather James Montooth, Senior.} who has ponys in some of the stalls.  So you see the horse business still remains on their land mark.  As mentioned, this landmark, I think this is one of the oldest that remains around.

  I can remember when Monroe's owned this plant.  They handled fine hackney horses.  They would show them in New York and all the big places.  After James Montooth and son George bought this place, they built the big mule pen onto the main barn.  Another item I can bring to this plant, the barn that stood behind the old Montooth home here in town was torn down and the lumber used to build the big long shed on the north side of the lot joining the box stalls that was built in 1874 {The long shed was were Kenneth Toland had his ponys}.  Another old landmark is when George built the big shed in the back lot.  He owned the old stock yards that was there before I was born.  He had Orrin White to move the big granary that was built over there at stock yards.  It was well built.  It is in the back shed where George built, with big long corn crib that held ear corn and big driveway.  This granary has three bins; they are all tight ones.  They hold 600 bushel of small grain apiece.  So you see they came from an old landmark.  I am very fond of this old plant.  My place joins it on the south.  It brings back to me many fond memories of the days gone by.  To this old plant I can tip my hat too for the friends it has made me over all these years.  I can say this much – I think George and me has looked at more horses and mules in the face than any human being living today.

  I had forgot about Bill Freeman, the windy Jew that came down several times.  He was partners with George on several deals and used to ship horses to Maine.  Once I know he and George shipped three express loads to the Great Northern Paper Company.  They went to Greenville, Maine.  He come down here with Jim Brooks, another one of George’s buddies.  We sent Jim several race horses, and John Kelly, another one from Maine who bought only good young horses for his own company.  He would have the bill made out to Freeman and Bill would make one out to him and put on $100 on each horse.  He was the president of the company, so I guess it was all right.  Freeman told me that they took good care of the horses and these young ones would grow and get to be worth the extra cost in a year.  He and John would split $1400 each on every load.  He and George bought several carloads of potatoes
one year but they didn't do so good.  We had one load sent to Colchester and one to Rushville.  They put several carloads in storage and just about came out.  That was all the potato business.  In those days they used those nice big horses in the potato fields in Maine, and they traded horses for some of the potatoes.  Kelly hada paper mill some where in Mississippi and he bought a carload of mules at the state fair.  They were all big mules.  Freeman wasn’t along.  Kelly also had race horses.  That was about all they would talk about when George and Bill would go down east every summer.  These birds would get together and go down to potato country to the races.  I never was down in Maine, but I heard all the long winded stories when they would get in the back office and have me get the ice and the glasses.  Bill had done everything according to his story.  He was a butcher, a cook, a drummer, he peddled everything, and he had one of those little glasses that jewelers use to look over diamonds.  He would sure tell some big stories.  He was an auctioneer and sold in Chicago auctions later on.
  I forgot to tell about Diamond Bill Hall.  I heard Mr. James Montooth tell about him.  He. would advertise to be in a town to buy horses and farmers would bring in their horses to sell, and he would buy as many as 300 in one day just like a circus, so Mr. Montooth said.  He afterwards had a circus and came to Rushville once.  He billed most of his towns in Iowa and shipped most or the horses to Chicago market.  This was before I was working here and all I know is what I heard.  Mr. Montooth told me that after the show started Mr. Hall came up to the barn and he sold him 16 horses.  George said that when the parade went by the barn which was then about where the Norge laundry is now that Bill was riding on the head wagon with six horses, and he hollered, "Hi Jim.  Got any horses?  I'll be up to see you after while."  They had been friends for a long time.

  I forgot about the barn we had at Adair.  George rented 40 acres of pasture and a big barn half mile west of Adair.  We had that for several years and May Snider looked after the horses and bought and sold some for us.  We got a lot of horses in the Adair country.  We called it the Adair Prairie.  We shipped some from there but mostly trucked them.  I used to know every farmer around there but very few of them left now.  We had another man at Ipava who we dealt with a lot, Elzie Collier.  He had a big farm or two and Camp Ellis got one of them.  He was a pretty good horse man, most of these horses came to the barn in Vermont where we would load them on the train.  We would start a car at, Rushville and stop it at Vermont and finish it out.  Mules were different.  Also Army horses and express loads.  All had to be loaded at once.

  I am taking this note down about some of the history of the Monroes that owned all this land up here one day where the Alexander Lumber Yard is.  They had a big lumber yard there one day.  They owned the house and lot where I own now and the houses beyond me on Mason Street.  They all join the barn that Monroes owned one time.  That barn was the home of the best hackney horse at that time.  They owned Lord Green, one of the highest priced studs at that time, worth $26,OOO.  He took the Blue Ribbon at Madison Square Garden and all the big shows in the east. His stall was next to the office at the plant.  Today it is just in the same shape as it was then when he had it for his stall, The feed box still remains in it so you see a lot of fond memories still hovers around this grand old plant.

  Going back to Leon Viets, he is one of the very few that still handles horses, and I think that now he has the best horses In tie east.  When he started buying from us he came with Mr. Carl Harrimon, one of our big customers from Maine.  He bought mostly good broke chunks around 1400 to 1500.  Later he got to buying the best big horses he could get.  Leon was a cattle man and always had pulling oxen.  Everybody talked about them the same as horses.  They would say a "pair of cattle."  Every farmer had a pair and all tried them out on a drag; they called it a stone boat.

  Leon also went in for pulling horses and always had a few good teams.  I'll never forget the time the hotel burned {February 6, 1945}.  Leon and one of his friends from Connecticut were on the top floor, but got up early and were out in the country when the fire started.  It started in the basement and went up the laundry chute and went so fast that anyone asleep on the third floor would never have made it.  George said he got a letter from Leon last week.

  Well, before I close my book on the Montooth horse business I must write a few things about George's children, George Seeley Montooth, Charles Montooth, and Suzanne Montooth.  Of all these years I have been with them, they never gave me a cross word.  They were all very small when I went to work for their father.

  I take George Seeley first to say a few things about him.  He helped quite a bit around the barn with the white washing.  Him and his boy friends would get into a white wash throwing once in awhile.  He was a good boy to work.  He rode horses quite a bit.  When they were all small, George would fetch all three of them over to the barn.  When we went to load mules out he would tell my wife to get a broom and have Charlie and Suzanne to help her turn the mules from going down Mason Street.  Suzanne would get awful mad at Charlie and say, "You hain’t paying any attention."  He would get playing.  Them was in the good old days.

  As to Charlie, he never cared too much about horses.  He did help me haul manure over to the green house.  He liked to play his horn and draw.  Him and Otto Green used to pull cockleburrs out of the thirty acres.  I can see them yet.  George Montooth gave both of these boys a good education, and they are doing all okay.

  Getting down to Suzanne.  She was a very small child when I went to work for her father.  She had a dog they called Jeff that was her teddy bear.  She thought the world of him.  She grew up fast.  She taught school several years.  When she was nine and ten years old she rode an old sorrel mare around that was good and gentile, but Raymond Powell had her and old Bill hitched up one day to the flat rack wagon hauling cobs.  Just as he came back to the barn I happened to be out there to open the gate.  She gave a squeal and fell over dead.  She had a heart attack.  George said it was a good thing it happened that way; that Suzanne might have been riding her some day and it would have happened with her.  We had another smart old horse called Bill the kids drove around a lot on picnics and places and to the woods.  They thought a lot of him.

  George Seeley, you never rode horse back very much but you should surely remember when you rode Bill White's spotted horse in the Smiles Day parade {still held every year}.  You were about ten years old, and your horse pranced all the way and everybody clapped.  We were all seared except you.  Then he ran away when he turned to the barn.

  Charlie, you should remember when you took grandfather's horse and buggy to take Roma a ride and when old Bill nipped her on the arm you put that blue salve on her arm.

  Suzanne's big old sorrel mare she called "Skinny Bones" and her white horse she took to MacMurray with her.  Now this is all I am going to say about you kids.  Suzanne drove me a lot of miles looking at horses and mules so I can't leave these friends of mine out of this book.  I think as much of them three as they were my own children, so I think I will close this article for the time being.

  Going back before I came to work George would always bring up Frank Handley and tell about him before he started to take Army horses at Vermont {Fulton County, Illinois} and Galesburg {Knox County, Illinois}.  I never knew him but I have heard enough about him.  He bought several carloads each week to ship to Chicago.  That was before the war and when that got going he bought as high as 200 a week for Colonel Walsworth, English Inspector.  Afterwards they gave him this territory, and he started taking our horses at the Galesburg Stock Yards and then at Vermont where he would come down on the night train and inspect them at night.  They would ship them out next day.

  George said this same Frank Handley taught him much of what he knew of the horse business and said he came to Rushville when he was 12 years old to buy a car of horses.  He got some from his father and said on Saturday night ran into Sam Moore who came down to the barn saying he had five horses to sell.  Mr. Handley asked him if it would be all right to come out Sunday morning.  Sam said he could look at them but he wouldn't sell them on Sunday.  So George said they went out Sunday morning to look them over and Frank would say, "Now, Mr. Moore, if it wasn't Sunday, what would you ask for that horse?"  Sam would tell him a price, and Frank would tell him what he would pay any day but Sunday.  So when he agreed to leave a check for the five head at the barn Monday morning, he brought the horses in.  George said he would buy 100 horses at auction and never miss the price on one, the same when he was selling.  I run this in here as I heard so much about this man I felt I knew him.  His son Jim wrote "Home Again in Indiana."

  Now I have been writing this while I was laid up and I am out and around now, so this is the end.  I just wrote this as it came to my mind and got Roma Edwards to type it out.  She could read my writing and correct the spelling.  There are lots of things came to mind I have left out, but this ought to be enough to let some of George’s great grandchildren learn something about the good old horse and buggy days.

Henry.

{clarifications by Sara Hemp.  James Montooth named in this piece is the brother of my great great grandfather, George Washington Montooth [yes, he is the uncle of the George W. {William} in this article].  Kenneth "Kenny" Toland, also mentioned in here, is my uncle.  In 1969, I was staying with my Grandparents, Alva and Freeda Montooth Roudebush.  I went every day to what was the Montooth barns and rode Uncle Kenny’s horses and ponys.  Henry Serff has brought came many happy memories for me too.}

MONTOOTH BARN SOLD

  A family business that began more than 50 years ago when horses and mules were a major livestock commodity, disappeared from the scene the first week of Feb. 1969 when George Montooth sold the Montooth Barn and Yards to Merle Paisley.
  The Montooth business began in 1918 and George Montooth and his father, the late James Montooth, bought the barn and grounds at northwest edge of Rushville from Charles Monroe who had operated the business of buying and selling horses for many years prior to that.  A portion of the barn was built in 1874 and the remainder was added after that.  The Monroes at one time owned the best hackney horse of the time which was reportedly worth $25,000.  This horse took the blue ribbon at Madison Square Garden and all the big shows in the east.

  During the more than half century of business by the Montooths, horses have been sold in every state in the union as well as to firms in France, Italy, Spain and South America.  Mules also were big business during the earlier days and they were shipped to Spain, Cuba, South America and to southern states.

  A number of high-priced saddle horses were developed by Mr. Montooth and were sold to stables around Chicago.  A large market for horses we the police departments of Chicago, New York and Pittsburgh.  The first show horses ever shown by Busch Brewery of St. Louis were purchased by the Montooths and one of these was J. Moore's of Schuyler County.

  The late Henry Serff, who worked the barns for 45 years, was responsible for training many horses over the years.  Contracts were held with the army during World War I for horses and others were sold to state institutions at Pontiac, Jacksonville, Joliet and Dwight.

  Many local truckers hauled out of the Montooth Barns over the years.  These included Hal Lee, Ernest Peters, Bill Bradley, Lloyd Moore and James Peak.

  Information taken from Rushville Times, February 6, 1969.
 

Note: With special thanks to Margaret Bucholtz <margeb@ruraltel.net> for one of the pictures.


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