Chase S. Osborn
Transcribed and Contributed by Mark Seeberg
Host of Florence County WI and Winnebago Co IL
Cellini states that all men of whatsoever quality they be, who have done anything of excellence, or which may properly resemble excellence, ought, if they are persons of truth and honesty, to describe their life with their own hands; but they ought not to attempt so fine an enterprise until they have passed the age of forty. And so, he says, in a work like this there will always be found occasion for natural bragging.
Guizot wrote the history of France after undertaking to tell it to his grandchildren as they sat about his knee.
When my friend Emerson Hough, added his urging to that of my children and grandchildren, I first gave a serious though to it. My father had a great prejudice against autobiographies. This he communicated to me congenitally.
I am not abnormally modest, I think, but I rebelled at the idea of writing about myself. It staged my ego too prominently.
"The fact is:, said Mr. Hough, "you unconsciously possess such a Gargantuan ego that you think you must conceal it by a false show of modesty. If you were really modest, you would not think of you ego, but would as willingly write of yourself as of another."
Others supported him. And even with it all I feel like explaining the reason why I consented to try.
I confess I am glad to have my Marco Polo and Abbe Huc and my Stephenson and Roosevelt and Sidney. And I should set great store by it if I had a life of my own grandfather.
Probably the decision to set down what follows grew from the belief that the opportunities of life in America are as numerous as they ever were. If I, as an average American, and that is all I claim to be or wish to be, can have done the things that engaged my existence, others may also have enlivened hope.
With gratefulness to God for His mercy and protection and providence and for all the wondrous blessings I have enjoyed, I submit, as incomplete, a sketch of some of the work of my life.
I vied the future for my county, my family, my friends and myself cheerfully and hopefully, in the light of God's love and His merciful direction.
--Chase S. Osborn, Sault de Sainte Marie, Michigan, December, 1918
THE IRON HUNTER
WOLVES HUMAN AND OTHERWISE
"Those awful wolves ! ! !"
My wife exclaimed as a long low, blood- freezing howl sifted to our ears with the pine-needle, wind rhythms. It came from a mile north on the course of a late fall gale. Our baby, a girlie a year old, slept like a little hairless savage in a padded, corn-can box. The wolf howl did not reach the tiny ears. We were in the back room of a rakish, one-story shack. There were three such rooms, just little cages partitioned with rough ceiling boards, with broken tongues and warped edges, making cracks that prevented anything like eye privacy. As for hearing, our ears were not shut off at all. I used the front end of the building as a printing office. It contained an old Washington hand lever-press and a new Taylor cylinder, painted as floridly as a German reception room. There were two job presses, a Peerless and a Universal--both new--a paper cutter, imposing stone, type cases, small piles of print and job papers, a big box stove, and the usual athletic towel, ethiopic with ink. The smell that came from the room needed no ambergris as a matrix, but was like wild roses in the nostrils of a young, country news- paper man.
The blood-searching howl was repeated in greater volume--four wolves this time. It was getting late in the little mining town but drunken shouts and the crack of a shot could now and then be heard.
"We can't live here, Chase," my wife said. Even if we can, it is no place for the baby.''
"You are right," I replied. " Just give me a little time to clean this place up and make it a fit place for decent people. If I fail, we will go back to Milwaukee or some other place where outlaws are not the law.''
This took place at Florence, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Menominee iron range, one of the Lake Superior iron ore districts. Conditions here were similar to those of every new range. There is always an outlaw headquarters in all new regions remote from disciplined centers. Florence, at this period of the early eighties, was a metropolis of vice. There was gambling on the main streets, outdoors in clement weather and unscreened indoors when driven in by cold and storm. Prostitution was just as bold. Its red passion garbings paraded every prominent place in town. A mile out of town, Mudge's stockade was the central supply station. It was the prison used by the nerviest white slavers that ever dealt in women. A big log camp with frame gables held a bar and dance hall and stalls on the first floor. On the second floor were rooms about the size of those in a Tokio Yoshiwara. A third-floor attic contained dungeons and two trap doors. In the cellar were dark cells and a secret passage, well timbered with cedar, leading to where the hill on which the stockade was located broke down into a dense swamp. Surrounding this camp of death, and worse, were sharp pointed palisades, ten feet high, of the kind used against the Indians to enclose pioneer blockhouses. There were loopholes. Two passages led through the stockade. One was wide enough to admit a team. This was fastened with horn-beam cross bars. The other entrance was narrower and for commoner use. It was protected by a solid sliding gate of ironwood. On either side of this gate, inside, two big, gaunt, terrifying timber wolves were chained. It was the howls of these four wolves we had heard. This stockade was a wholesale warehouse of women. There were several in the Lake Superior iron country in the early days, but I think this one at Florence was the most notorious and the worst. It was built by " Old Man? Mudge. He was a white-livered, sepulchral individual who wore a cotton tie, a Prince Albert coat and a plug hat; even wore this outfit when he fed the wolves. Mudge worked as a preacher through northern Indiana and Ohio and the scoundrel used his clerical make- up to fine advantage. He had a ready tongue and roped in girl after girl. Not much attention was paid in those days to pimping and procuring. Whenever a murder grew out of his acts, the old fox would so involve his trail that, if it led anywhere at all, a church was at the end of it, and that would throw off the sleuth.
Old Mudge ruined his daughter Mina, and she was " keeper " of the place. Mina Mudge was a stunning woman. Her concentrated depravity, for she too had a child and brought it up in infamy, was glossed over by a fine animal figure, a rubescent complexion, semi- pug nose, lurking gray eyes, sensual lips and sharpish chin. Her lips were the clew to passion, and eyes and chin betokened the cruelty of a she hyena. Girls were wheedled or beaten into submission, and nearly always when she sold them she had them broken to the business.
Two days before, in the evening, a shrinking, girlish young woman was found just outside our door by my wife. She cowered and shivered and looked wild-eyed. It took some time to coax her in. After warmth and food, she told her story. Old Mudge had found her on a farm in Ohio. An orphan, she was sort of bound out, and her life was one of work and little else. Rather attractive, she was spied by the old serpent, and taken north ?to a good home." In her heart the girl was good and she was brave. Mina Mudge starved her, beat her, tied her ankles and wrists with thongs and, to break her in with terror, fastened her just out of the reach of the wolves. It was night, and the girl grew cold with exposure and fear. Her wrists and ankles shrunk some, and she wriggled out of the cut- ting thongs. Then she fled to the swamp and hid until hunger forced her to search for food. We took as good care of her as our means afforded and planned her complete rescue. The day we heard the wolves howling, as mentioned in the beginning of the chapter, the girl disappeared. It was years later before I knew what had befallen her. Mudge's gang had located and trapped her. They forcibly kidnapped her and carried her to the wolf stockade. There she was given no chance again to escape. Her spirit was broken. She was sold to a brothel-keeper in Ontonagon County, Michigan, and was murdered by him one night in a ranch near to the Lake Superior shore. Murders often occurred, but those guilty were seldom punished. When this girl so mysteriously disappeared from our house, I was suspicious. I went to the sheriff, an Irish saloon-keeper, but could not get him to act He was either a member of the gang or honestly afraid.
The Mudge gang was organized over a territory including the region for five hundred miles south of Lake Superior from Canada to Minnesota. "Old Man" Mudge was as much of a genius in some directions as he was a devil in others. Compared with him Machiavelli was a saint. They did not confine themselves to woman stealing. They would run off witnesses when arrests occurred near the law-and-order line. If they could not get rid of them any other way, the witnesses were killed. Any man who showed an inclination to oppose the gang was either intimidated or murdered. Within their own ranks a rebel never got away alive. Mudge tolerated no rivals. No sea pirate was ever more bloodthirsty or vengeful. The most notorious murder he was responsible for was that of Dan Dunn, at Trout Lake. Dunn was just as bad a man as Mudge, and not so much of a sneak about it. That was really how Mudge came to get him.
Such were conditions in the iron country when I arrived. The picture cannot be overdrawn. I had gone there upon a telegram sent by Hiram D. Fisher, discoverer of the Florence mine, to Colonel J. A. Watrous of Milwaukee, asking him to send up a young fellow not afraid to run a newspaper." It was a weekly publication. The owner and editor, a man of culture and courage, too old and too fine for the rough pioneering and outlaws, had just " disappeared." The gang was against all newspapers and dead against any that tried to improve conditions or oppose them in any way. Just a little time before they had burned the Manistique Pioneer office and had tried desperately but un- successfully to assassinate its brave editor, the late Major Clarke, a veteran of the Civil War. All along the line they had terrorized editors if possible. So the first night after I arrived they shot out my windows and shot a leg off one of the job presses, just to show me what they would do to me if I wasn?t '' good."
A short time before that the gang had gotten down on Captain William E. Dickinson, superintendent of the Commonwealth mine, two miles from Florence. Captain Dickinson had come there from the New York mine in one of the older Lake Superior districts. He was fearless and a man of order and high ideals. With a fine family of young children, he felt the necessity of improving conditions. Successful in his previous environment, he did not apprehend serious trouble. But he did not correctly take the measure of the desperate characters who made up the Mudge gang. Hardly had he started to move against them before they stole his little son Willie. They sent him word that if he fought them they would kill the child. It was a knife in his heart, the wound of which finally carried him to his grave. Captain Dickinson spent money, followed clews, sent spies to join the gang and gave up every thought except the recovery of his little son. It is nearly forty years ago now. Captain Dickinson has gone to his final reward. Where Willie Dickinson is or what became of him or whether he is dead or alive, is a mystery to this day. It is the most piteous tragedy of scores enacted by the iron pirates.
Something had to be done. I began a study of the situation in detail. The encouraging fact as developed that the law-abiding citizens outnumbered the outlaws. A majority of them were timid and could not be depended upon to act, but we could be certain that not many of them would openly join the leeches. Many men with families deplored conditions but feared that a war on the toughs would hurt business. Hasn't it been always so? Then to my amazement and chagrin, for I was only twenty-three years old and to a degree unsophisticated, I uncovered the fact that that Borgia of a Mina Mudge had something on half or more of the merchants, who thought easily or made that excuse to their conscience, that they had to be good fellows and go to her place with the miners and woodsmen in order to get business. The outlaws were able to keep close tab on the plans of any who threatened them through these dwellers in the twilight zone of morals. As soon as I could be certain of some backing, I attacked Mudge and his gang in my little paper. It was a thunderer there though, no matter what its size. I charged crimes home and named those who were guilty or probably so, whenever I had facts or tangible suspicions. The time must have been just ripe for it for some astounding things occurred. Some of those against whom I made charges came to see me; not all peaceably. But from some of them I obtained denials of participation, and one or two gave to me invaluable inside information. Consequently I was informed in advance when my office was to be wrecked, and when I was to be gotten rid of. I built a little conning place of glass and kept some one on watch there every daylight moment. Also I bought Winchesters for all the office force, and for a long time every type stand was a gun rack for a repeating rifle. At night I took extra care and kept watch. A couple of faithful dogs with plenty of bulldog blood guarded the office, and were much better for the purpose than Mudge's wolves, but did not make as terrifying a setting in the mind of a tenderfoot.
I found a fighting preacher at the little mission church in Florence in the person of Harlan Page Cory, a young Presbyterian just suited to the work to be done and entirely unafraid. An under-sheriff named Charley Noyes, from the Androscoggin country, was found to be clean and brave and dependable. Bill Noyes, his brother was a six footer plus, and the best shot and dry ground trailer anywhere around. He was not afraid of a mad catamount, and his morals had sprouted in the Green Mountains where Ethan Allen got his. Bill was eager to help clean up.
A little concave-chested hardware man named Rolbstell, with whiskers like a deer mouse and a voice like a consumptive cuckoo, was found, when the meter was applied to him, to be as full of good points as a box of tacks. There was no law against shining deer in those days; anyhow not in Florence. Rolbstell built a scaffold one day, twenty feet up in a birch that leaned over a connecting gut of Spread Eagle Lake, where a fine runway crossed. The first dark, soft night that came he climbed up there with a bulls-eye lamp cocked over his left eye. He nearly went to sleep before he heard anything. Then he suddenly came to and saw a pair of silvery eyes and let go at them. Forgetting in his state of mind where he was, he stepped off the scaffold just as if he had been on the solid ground and down he went. That is where Rolbstell made his reputation. He lit astride of a two-hundred-pound buck that he had wounded and which was floundering in about four feet of water. Of course, he lost his gun in the descent Pulling out his tomahawk, he nearly chopped the buck's head off before he succeeded in killing him. Rolbstell had plenty of that intestinal courage that was the fascination of Tsin, who built the Great Wall and measured all men by it. So he became a leader, if not the leader, in the new movement.
With these and others assured, we called a meeting and organized the Citizen Regulators. The meeting was such a hummer and so many joined that the sheriff and district attorney had a street duel the next day, growing out of a row that was caused by each trying to shift blame upon the other. I had publicly charged them both with being controlled by the Mudge gang. The district attorney shot the sheriff through the lungs. A lot of the sheriff's friends got a rope ready to hang the lawyer, who really was one of the worst of citizens, while the sheriff had told several that he intended to join the Regulators. Meanwhile the sheriff lived long enough for the mob to cool off. The preacher and I decided that we must get rid of all crooked and cowardly officials.
I started to Milwaukee and Madison to enlist influence and see the governor, in order to have the district attorney removed and a man appointed who would enforce the law. All the way to Milwaukee I was harassed by telegrams for my arrest. The gang tried to capture me at the train, but I learned of their plans in time to elude them. Then we had a wild race through the woods to the Michigan line. If they had caught me in Wisconsin they were going to finish me in some way. The pursuit kept up almost to Iron Mountain, which was nearly as bad as Florence at the time. I dodged them but was afraid to stop at Iron Mountain because the local authorities there were believed to be under the control of the Mudge outlaws. It was night. I had expected to take an evening train. Prevented from doing this, I ran two miles through the woods to Commonwealth. There one of my faithful printers, an Irish lad named Billy Doyle, had a team in waiting. Hastily climbing into the buckboard and taking the lines, I lashed the horses into a gallop. Over my shoulders I could see the gang coming on foot, on horse and in rigs. I had a Colt's revolver and could shoot it quite well enough. Billy had thrown in a Winchester. I made up my mind they would not take me in Wisconsin without a fight We madly galloped over the corduroy roads in the dark. That it was night and the pursuers were unorganized was all that saved me. We crossed the line. 'On the outskirts of Iron Mountain I gave the reins to Billy and jumped out and went on alone. Safely making a detour of the town, I took the rail- road track and hiked southwards towards law and order.
I was in Michigan. Between Keel Ridge and Quinnesec three men stepped out of the gloom and leveled guns at my head. I obeyed their order to hold up my hands and they took me back to Iron Mountain by main force, and not a sign of legal warrant. They were Mudge agents. It was after midnight I made a big roar as soon as I got where anybody could hear. In spite of the racket I made they took me to a place which was not the jail and locked me in a room. Be- fore they got me confined I managed to send word to Cook and Flannigan, whose firm of attorneys at Norway was the ablest on the Range. The late Hon. A. C. Cook got to me and secured my release. To this day I do not know how he did it. Perhaps his partner, R. C. Flannigan, now a prominent mining country judge, and a good one, could tell if he wished to. I continued on my way. Efforts were made to stop me at Marinette and Green Bay. These were unsuccessful. Finally I got to Milwaukee where I had any number of strong friends. Lemuel Ellsworth had just become chief of police, and the present Milwaukee chief, John T. Janssen, was on the detective staff. I went to the central station to call upon them, as they were old friends of mine during my police reporter days. The chief handed me a telegram to read. It was for my arrest They had sent it to the wrong place. I told my story. All of us knew the chief affectionately as Lem. He said:
"Glad to see you, Chase. Now, let's do something to those hell-hounds. I will wire I have you and ask them to send for you with a strong guard. This will possibly bring a crowd of them down, and I will throw them all into the bull pen."
"Of course I can't wait to do that," I replied, for I had to accomplish my bigger mission and return as quickly as possible.
During the afternoon I received a telegram signed " H. P. Cory." It read : " Don't come back. They are going to kill you if you do."
I knew it as a fake at once, for that preacher would have had me come back and be killed rather than have me run away from the fine fight I had started. I felt the same way. It was only wisdom to be apprehensive enough to be on the alert, as the gang had not hesitated to resort to murder in the dark before.
I saw rugged Jeremiah M. Rusk, then governor of Wisconsin, and secured the appointment of a clean, but rather gentle lawyer named Howard E. Thompson as district attorney, to succeed the Mudge gang lawyer, who, although possessed of a kind of brute bravery, got out of the way. Before he had downed the sheriff that officer had bowled him over, after being shot through the body himself, and stood over him, futilely snapping a revolver, all the loads of which had been discharged, in a frantic attempt to kill. Then the sheriff fell into the pool of blood that had trickled around his feet and the lawyer bad man was run off.
Governor Rusk gave me every encouragement.
" Go after them, boy," he said, " and if you need help just say the word. I'll back you with the troops if it is necessary."
I made my way back north about as rapidly as I had fled. The gang was in a panic when they saw me and heard of the support the governor had fortified me with. I had it told to them in as amplified and impressive a manner as possible and then I played it up in my paper with all my might and type. The gang was on the run from that time, but it was not beaten yet. Dives and relays were started along the border so that the outlaws could jump from one State to the other handily.
Claudius B. Grant was a circuit judge in the adjacent region of Michigan. He became a terror to the bad men and women and clearly showed what a man rightly constituted can do with the law in his own hands. He was waging a solitary war against the gang, and sheriffs and prosecuting attorneys who were their tools. Finally he made it so hot for them on his side, and we so reciprocated on our side that the bad people began to look for other and less troublesome pastures. They fled to Seney, Trout Lake, Ewen, Sidnaw, Hurley and other points in the Lake Superior country out of Grant's jurisdiction, and out of our reach, where they operated for some years without molestation. There was a temporary renascence of outlawry in Judge Grant's district because the gang had gotten rid of him by designedly electing him to the Supreme Court of Michigan. But it did not last long. Civilization must have something more than that kind of outlawry to subsist upon, and civilization was growing a good deal like a weed.
All of this was not achieved as easily as it has been briefly written. There were many clashes and exciting performances. Both sides were high handed. Shootings occurred by day and night, and the fight was a real battle.
At first the gang had nearly all the law Officers on its side. By degrees we changed this. The average fellow in office is quick to try to pick the winning side. These trimmers, usually so despicable, were a real help to us because they trimmed gradually to our side.
Mudge withdrew his worst operations to more remote spots in the woods. The Regulators determined to clean all of them out. The law was too slow under the conditions that existed and the punishments inadequate. At the time there was really no law against white slavery and procuring.
Pat McHugh, a bully and retired prize fighter, was Mudge's head man. Nearly everybody was afraid of him. He had even been known to fight in the day- time with his backers at hand, and he was fairly quick with a gun, but could not fan. On a day agreed upon the Regulators, armed with Winchester rifles, Colt revolvers and blacksnake whips, started on a rodeo. They drove the toughs off the streets. Those who did not move quickly enough were lashed smartly with the blacksnakes. Theirs had been a reign of terror long enough. It was our turn. They showed as many temperaments as one could find among any men and women. Some were whimpering cowards. Others were sullen. The women were most bold and loudest in profanity and vulgarity. A woman has capacity to be the very best and the very worst. McHugh was one of the first to run. He hid in the swamp stockade with half a dozen others of the gang. The Regulators rode down against them. They opened a hot fire with Winchester repeaters. The Regulators replied and charged. It fell to Bill Noyes to capture Pat McHugh. The bully had often boasted what he would do to Bill if he ever got a chance. Now he fled into the swamp, revolver in hand. Bill saw him and ran after him. They dodged from tree to tree, Indian fashion, exchanging shots from time to time. Bill was too good a woods-man for McHugh. He loaded his gun as he ran and soon had a drop on the leader of the outfit. McHugh fell on his knees and begged for mercy. Bill spared him. He said to me only a short time ago:
"Chase, I reckon I oughta killed that red-handed devil that day I got him in the swamp, but I'm kinda glad I didn't, 'cause it goes against the grain with me to kill anything I can't eat."
After that we burned a number of stockades and soon had the community so fit to live in that I spent four happy years there. And my wife, who had given up a good home to share her lot with a young reporter, was contented, and our girlie grew fat and crowed when her first brother was born in the little boarded rooms full of cracks, in the rear of the one-story, country printing office.
What became of Mudge will never be told. Only a half dozen Regulators ever knew.
WHAT?S IN YOUR NAME OR MINE?
The name Osborn, Osborne, Osbum, Osbem, Os- beorn, et cetera, has an interesting genesis, true of the origin of most family names, with source variations dependent upon what name system, Teutonic or other, is consulted Leo?s ?Essay on Anglo-Saxon Names," published in 1841, appears to be as thorough as any and has become an authority. "Bearo? or " bern," betokens, as gathered from Kemble's "Characters," a fruitful, productive wood, yielding beechnuts, acorns and other mast, wild pears, crabapples, paw- paws, persimmons, and other wild fruits of the forest The word " beran," meaning to yield, to produce fruit, evolves into bear, barren, boren, bere, barley. Bearn, a child, the fruit of the body, and bearo, bero, byro, the fruit wood, are similar derivatives.
These things I am setting down, not because of any especial name vanity, but for the reason that these references suggest the manner of the making and the giving of all family names, the reader's as well as mine and all others. Also the growth system of our language is indicated by the way family names have started and by their methods of change in obedience to the influence of thought and time.
Ferguson, in his "Surnames as a Science " builds my name of the Old North "As" or the Anglo-Saxon ?Os" implicative of the deity and "beorn" meaning bear. He says the name is Norse and means ?The Divine Bear" or " Godbear." Lower?s " Patronymica Britannica," published 1860, says that Osborn, Osborne, Osbern, Osbernus and so forth are variations of a very common baptismal name. Several persons bearing these names are referred to in Domesday as tenants in chief in different counties of England.
William Arthur, father of Chester A. Arthur, brought out a name hunt book in 1857, in which he says Osborn is Saxon, from hus, house, and bearn, a child, hence a family child or perhaps an adopted child. Bowditch's "Suffolk Surnames," Boston, 1861, makes very free with Arthur's offerings, as Arthur had done with other name sleuths, and says Osborn means "housechild."
Bardsley's " English Surnames," says that "Os" as a root word carrying the significance of deity has made for itself a firm place among English names, as proven by Osborn, Oswald, Oswin, Osmond, Osmer, Osgot, Osgood, Oslac (Asluck, Hasluck, etc.).
Edmunds, in "Traces of History in Names of Places," says Osborn means " brave bear."
Sophy Moody, in " What is Your Name ? " has it that Osborn means " a chief appointed by the gods." " Gentry, Family Names," Philadelphia, 1892, gives "Os" as hero and " beorn " as chief, general, prince, king, hence hero king, or something akin to it.
In "Homes of Family Names in Great Britain," Guppy, 1890, I find the claim that my name was borne by farmers or yeoman attached to the soil in England before the Norman Conquest. According to Guppy, it was confined south of a line joining the Humber and the Mersey, and its principal area of distribution is in the form of a belt crossing Central England from East Anglia to the borders of Wales. Though well represented also in the southwest of England, especially in Somerset and Cornwall, it is rare or absent in the other south coast counties excepting Sussex. Osborne is common in England and Osborn is uncommon in comparison, although the latter is sprinkled through Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Somersetshire, Suffolk, Sussex, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
A book with author's name not given, "The Norman People and their existing descendents in the British Dominions and the United States," London, 1874, contains a dictionary of 3000 Norman names. I gather here that our family descends from a Kentish branch of the family of Fitz-Osberne, seated in that county early in the reign of Henry VI, where Thomas Osberne appeared to a writ of quo warranto for the Abbey of Dartford, The family had come from Essex and Suffolk, where the name is traced to Thomas Fitz-Osberne, 1227-1240, who granted lands to Holy Trinity. His grandfather, Richard Fitz-Osberne or Fitz-Osbert, held a fief from Earl Bigot in 1165 and was ancestor of the Lords Fitz-Osberne summoned by writ in 1312. Fitz- Letard Osbern came to England in 1066 and held lands from Odo, of Bayeux in 1086.
"The Battle of Abbey Roll with some account of the Norman Lineages," by the Duchess of Cleveland, has many references to the Osborns.
"Dugdale Baronage of England, or an Historical Account of the Lives and Most Memorable Actions of our English Nobility in the Saxon Times to the Norman Conquest, and from thence of Those who had Their Rise before the end of Henry Ill's Reign," genealogical tables, etc., 3 volumes, by the author of " Monasti- con Angelicanum," published 1675, is a notable work and a chief authority for that time in what it purports to cover. Planche, in " The Conqueror and His Companions," visits it liberally, as do other writers dealing with that era.
In Lower's "English Surnames" I found a story of the Osborn name which, whether true or false, mirrors the times and depicts the light regard mediaeval monarchs had for the lands and property of the people that were vested in the crown. Walter, a Norman knight and a great favorite of King William the First, playing at chess with his Sire on a summer evening on the banks of the River Ouse, won all he played for. The King said he had nothing more to play for and was about to quit the game.
"Sire" said Walter, "here is land."
"There is so," replied King William, " and I will further play with thee. If thou beatest me this game also, thine is all this land on this side the bourne (river) which thou canst see as thou sittest."
King William clapped him on the shoulder and declared : "The lands are yours. Henceforth shall you be a lord, and have the name ?Ousebourne.' " And thence sprang the family of Osborn.
The family name is treated in Burke's "General Armor" and especially in Burke's "Vicissitudes of Families.?
In the Church of Dives, Normandy, is a roll of the "Companions of William in the Conquest of England in 1066." It gives Osbern d'Arquess, Osbern du Bernib, Osbem d'Eu, Osbern Giffard, Osbern Pastforiere, Osbern du Quesnai, Osborn du Soussai, and Osbern de Wauci. I have thought that the word Osborn in this roll was synonymous with Chieftain; at least to designate feudal retainers of the Conqueror from the parts of Normandy mentioned.
Undoubtedly William Eitz-Osbern was the nearest personal friend of William the Conqueror. J. R. Planche, in " The Conqueror and His Companions," says he was and also that Osbern was the chief officer of the household. He fought in all the battles in Normandy during the twenty years which immediately preceded the invasion of England, from that of Val-es- Dunes, in 1047, to that of Varaville, in 1060, and took part in the expedition against Conan, in Brittany, and in the invasion of Maine in 1063. Osbern is mentioned in the accounts of the siege of Domfront in 1054, when he was sent to demand an explanation from Geoffrey Martel of his conduct in marching into Normandy and seizing Alencon. I shall now quote a few pages from Planche?s story of this Osbern, mostly because of its rather odd sidelight upon a most important event in history :
?Osbern seems to have resembled the Conqueror, his master, in character, combining great valor with readiness of wit and astuteness of policy. We have seen him entering the hall of the palace at Rouen humming a tune and rousing the moody Duke from his silent and sullen consideration of the news from England by bidding him bestir himself and take vengeance upon Harold, who had been disloyal to him; to call together all he could call, cross the Channel and wrest the crown from the perjured usurper. The Duke called his retainer ?Osbem of the Bold Heart.'
''At the large assembly of the whole baronage of Normandy at Lillebonne to consider the question of fighting Harold, the audacity and cunning of Osbern displayed itself in an amazing effrontery that saved the day for the Conqueror. The barons were irresolute and even rebellious. Puzzled and ill at ease the council finally turned to the wily Dapifer Osbern and asked him to be their spokesman; to say to their lord that they not only feared the sea but were not bound to serve him beyond it. No such decision did Osbern voice. Upon the exact contrary, to the amazement and confusion of the nobles, he told the Duke that they were loyal to a man and eager to serve him; that he who should bring twenty men would bring forty; that he who was bound to serve with one hundred would bring two hundred, and that the one assigned five hundred would bring a thousand and so on down the line he represented that all the barons would double their quota, thus insuring success. As for himself, Osbern promised to furnish sixty ships with full crews of fighting men. At first the barons were crazed with indignation, but stupefied and bewildered. Out of the wild disorder thus created, one of them was suddenly stricken with the idea that if all would do as Osbern had unwarrantedly promised the campaign could not fail And one by one they consented."
Taylor's list of William the Conqueror's ships puts Osbern at the head and agrees with Wace that he furnished sixty ships and crews. The record reads: "Habuit a Willielmo Dapifero, filio Osberni LX naves." At another time Wace tells of Osbern's chiding the Conqueror before a battle, demanding less delay and indecision. He commanded the men from Boulogne and Paix, rode a horse covered from head to tail with fine woven iron chain armor. Even though Osbern was the only companion of the Conqueror who ever dared to cross him or bluntly advise him, he was much loved and was granted lands, position and honor in England by William after the Conquest, and he and his family have never since been separated from the history of England. The Norse Osborns were also an interesting people. Our family has always clung to the idea that it had a Scandinavian origin, easily tracing the name historically to participants in the Norse invasion of England.
NATURAL BORN REBELS
OSBORN is the English corruption for polar bear or godbear in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, whether spelled Isbjorn, Esbjerne op otherwise. Our family story, is that our ancestor was one of two jarls, who got into England at the invasion of 800. The other was promptly killed, and sometimes I fear I have made certain persons wish both had been. George the Settler brought one wing of our family to America and others came during the Hugenot hegira to Massachusetts. The fact that there was much titled nobility in the family did not keep some of my forbears from being rebels. They fought with Cromwell in the Black Watch and with the Irish kings. For so long had they lived in the British Isles that they were scattered throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. To this day a royal chateau on the Isle of Wight bears our family name and the favorite yacht of King Edward VII bore it also. A lot of us must have been naturally democratic despite those of the family who courted royal favor. Every movement of reform from the time of King John and the affair at Runnymede and on through the religious wars has been participated in by my kinsfolk. The American Revolution found most of the family in New Jersey and New York. As usual, a split occurred. Some became rebels under Washington and others were Tories ; later these mostly went back to England or moved to Canada To make a distinction the rebels dropped the final " e " and spelled their name " Osborn." The Tories retained the "e" and so ashamed were they of my grand-sires that many of them made even greater changes in spelling, such as Osbourne, and even Gisborne. Some of the Gisbornes got as far away from us as they easily could by going to New Zealand, where they founded a flourishing town. During a visit to Gisborne I had many talks about our common ancestors with my distant relatives, and much wholesome laughter.
My twice great grandfather, John Osborn, was a revolutionary chaplain and an uncle was a captain. Several others served as privates. The record of all is good without being especially dramatic.
My grandfather, Isaac Osborn, was born in a fishing village on the northwest coast of Long Island, in 1795. He carried a musket as a private in the War of 1812, and was slightly wounded at Lundy Lane. In 1818 he was married to Sarah Pardee at Guilford, Connecticut One of my grandmother's uncles had a private French school at New Haven, in the vicinity of where Yale College was afterward located. The fact that she was a refined young woman only made her more eager to help make powder and mold bullets during the War of 1812. The same heroic tendency inspired to abet my grandfather in his pioneering dreams. Finally they started to cross the Alleghenies with an ox team. Following the trail of westward emigration my grand- father located on the Ohio River at Madison, Indiana. He had been a fisherman and it was not such a big change to become a riverman. It was not long before he owned a flat boat and soon afterwards we find him trading as far down river as New Orleans. He would steer his laden boats down the current and sell his cargo and also his scows wherever the best trade could be made. Then he would return home overland. There came a day when he did not return. Grandmother told me when I was a little boy that grand- father had a fleet of five flat boats on his last trip, laden with a miscellaneous assortment of hogs, cattle, wheat corn, maple sugar, furs, beans, and so forth. He expected to realize between four and five thousand dollars for his outfit. He was last heard of after selling out at New Orleans and starting for home. Years afterward a lot of skeletons were found in a hole in a cellar underneath a tavern that was a kind of a backwoods, halfway house, near where Memphis now stands, where river traders horsebacking north were accommodated. It turned out to be a worse murder trap than the Benders had in Kansas. So far as ever could be learned my grandfather was one of the many murdered at that place. He had had all of his capital invested in the outfit. It left my grandmother almost destitute. She just waited long enough for my father, George Augustus Osborn, to be born, a posthumous child, February 28, 1823, and then moved up to Cincinnati and, as she was fitted for the profession, became a school teacher until she married Amos Davis as her second husband. My father was twelve years old at the time. He had learned to chew tobacco and swear on the river levee by the time he was three years old. I remember now with what needless chagrin he would discuss his boy- hood with me Ã¢?? after he had become a man of as much probity of character as I have ever known, and a total abstainer from all forms of tobacco and liquor. He rebelled at once against the new step-daddy and very soon afterward ran away from home. By the time he was eighteen he had acquired quite some education, and owned a little water-power saw mill in the backwoods of Ohio, where only the best walnut logs were ripped up, the rest going into rails or wood or brush fires.
Amos Davis was a leading spiritualist, and was said to have possessed the most numerous library of books upon spiritualism west of the Allegheny Mountains. . My father, who had become a Wesleyan, grew to hate his stepfather, and in seeking afterwards for a reason was inclined to attribute this to the spiritualism excitant. He confessed to me that he burned his stepfather's books every chance he got, and was encouraged to do so by his Wesleyan Sunday school teacher, which glimpses the pioneer Buckeye intolerance of the day. In this way, to my deep regret, most of the great Davis library disappeared. I inherited a few of the books, and strange enough are they. One is an " Epic of the Starry Heavens," presumed to have been written by disembodied poets, but proving that a poet can be no worse while in the body. Another is a mysterious work de- voted to the subject of " Spiritual Transference of Thought," and even of more substantial things. As a boy I used to devour this ghost book until I could not sleep of nights. But none of it would my father have.
He sawed walnut lumber, built houses, hunted catamounts, deer, coons and squirrels, wrestled and studied medicine with an old doctor of the horse-syringe school. It was while in the backwoods of Piqua County, Ohio, at the village of Circleville, that he met and married Margaret Ann Fannon, my sainted mother. She was the most superb woman I have ever known, and I try to think of her apart from being my mother so that I can be certain she was most wonderful as all mothers are wonderful. I do not know much about her family because both of her parents died of a mysterious sickness within two days, when my mother was a babe in arms. The disease was called " milk sickness." Nobody knew anything about it or how to cure it, nor do they to this time. During a critical epoch in Ohio and Indiana hundreds of pioneers died from it. It was more deadly than the Indians and beside it "fever and agur ? were just nothing at all. It was supposed to be caused by poisoned milk because it occurred at a certain time when the cows ranged in the woods and pastured, feeding upon many strange herbs. Dr. Victor Vaughan, dean of the medical school of the University of Michigan, than whom there is not a more earnest devotee of medical research in the world, writes to me that the " milk sickness ? so-called of the pioneer days in the Ohio and Wabash basin, was and is yet a medical mystery. Happily it disappeared when the land was cultivated.
My mother was born at Circleville, Piqua County, Ohio, April 30, 1827. She was of immediate Protestant Irish descent, although her grandfather on her mother's side was a McGrath and a great grandfather was a McKenna. When her parents died, leaving her a homeless, helpless baby, a big-hearted neighboring family named Hoblett took her to "raise" The Hobletts had numerous children of their own but, as it was with most of the pioneers, there was plenty of room around the warm hearth stone of their hearts. Children were always being desolated by one tragedy or another and in belief that theirs might be next, a feeling developed that insurance for the future could only be had by acts of kindness on all sides. It is not a bad investment to-day and can be depended upon right now to pay royal dividends of happiness.
The Hobletts saw to it that the eagerness my mother showed for learning did not go unappeased. They gave her as good a chance as their own youngsters had, and she took advantage of it with the result that, although schools were crude and teachers equally so, my mother had a better education in her girlhood than most young women of the time. This she improved every day of her long and useful life. Of course she could cook, and knit, and weave, and on a pinch she was a good rifle shot, albeit she did not like wantonly to kill things. In this sentiment as in all things she was truly womanly.
The supernal matrix of life has an instinctive respect for all sentient things.
One evening in the Autumn a fat young buck joined the homestead herd of cattle that was foraging near the log cabin. There was no one at home except my mother. The deer would make the very best jerked venison for winter use. My mother took the big rifle down from its deer horn rack, softly opened the little window enough to admit the barrel, poked it through and shot the deer. I think this story fevered my boyish blood more than any other.
My mother was almost twenty years old when she was married to my father. This occurred in April, 1847. My father was twenty-four. It was getting to be too tame around Circleville for my father, so they soon made up their minds to trek to Indiana. Their first child, Eugene, was born in Ohio and then the little family in 1848 started off through the woods for the West. From that moment their lives were filled with work and unrest. They entered government land in Blackford County, Indiana, and fought malaria there. It was deadly. Two children died its victims. Other little ones came to take their place. Three more were born in Blackford, two daughters and a son--Emma, Georgiana and Stephen Pardee, named for my paternal grandmother's brother, who had entered lands in what is now the heart of Chicago. On the land occupied there by my parents oil and gas wells of great value were found later. In 1858 they moved to Huntington County, Indiana, where prospects for health and life seemed better. My father had become a doctor and my mother had been studying medicine with him. They had some practice but not enough to afford a living. To eke out, my father kept a little store, bought walnut timber, which was coming to have a small market value, and industriously traded.
Exciting times had brewed. Even before leaving Ohio my father had become a devoted abolitionist and was so earnest that he often aided negroes running away to Canada by driving Allen's ?underground" railway, an enclosed night wagon that was used for spiriting negroes northward. In the "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," log-cabin campaign he had marched and carried a torch and a coon-skin banner and had riotously sung songs, and even tried to vote although he was only a slip of a boy. His open endeavor to vote before of age was a joke in the neighborhood for years. All this insured that he would have part in the inflammatory drama that was enacted in Indiana just before and during the war. No one who is not familiar with those border social conflagrations can understand them at all. Bitterness was not common in the far South until actual war was translated there. Nor did the furnace of passions reach such a great incandescence farther north. It was where the north and south came together along that line of frictional contact run by Mason and Dixon, that the feeling assumed a fierce rancor that made for monomania and homicidal obsession. There were more Copperheads than Union men in our part of Hunting- ton County, but they came very far from having their own way. A Union flag was hoisted at the log school house, and a bloody fight in which bowie knives and rifles were used came off when the Copperheads tried to pull it down but failed. The Southern sympathizers wore butternuts as insignias of their sentiments. Their women were especially violent. More than once a riot broke out on Sunday at the services in the log meeting house. Men would generally go for the open, but the women would pull each other over the benches, tear and scratch and pummel and drag each other around by the hair.
It is difficult to adjust the mind to a realization that these things happened such a short time ago. We have made advances on our way but the trail we must travel is still a long one and so often very dim.
In such an atmosphere I was born January 22, 1860, in Huntington County, Indiana, in a little log house of two rooms with one real glass window and two others of greased paper. Wabash, in an enjoining county fourteen miles away, was our big town. It had a population of over two hundred. There were meeting houses at Etna, Lagro, Dora and New Holland, all near by, and about equidistant in various directions. Not far away were the Wabash, the Salimonie and the Mississiniwa rivers, beautiful streams full of channel cats and silver bass, now. stealing quietly along some bepooled dark bank only to burst over a limestone ledge with golden transparency and jolly gurglings, just like the complexion and laughter of a Hoosier girl.
Judging from what I have been told by my parents and sisters and older brothers, I was one of those puny babies that modem eugenics would condemn to infantile death, indeed a peaceful issue of life compared with running the gauntlet of American politics and business, but not nearly so enjoyable. I could digest nothing and had, among other things, a bloody flux that drained my body of almost the last vital spark. But my mother was in advance of her time in baby raising. She made gruel for me of the germ scrapings near the cob of green sweet com. This, with the delicate pulp just inside the skin of the grape, supplied nutrition. Outdoors in the air night and day, with rides on old " Snip,'^ held on a pillow, and walks in the same fashion won me strength slowly. Once they lost me off a pillow. It took a fight every minute for three years to save my life. Even then the first words I spoke as a babe were "Solly me?
My earliest recollection is of seeing soldiers in blue uniforms and of telling a lie to my mother. There is no connection between them. My mother to get rid of me and amuse me made a fishing outfit for me by tying a thread to a gad on which she fastened a pin hook baited with a little piece of plantain leaf. With this she said I might go to a little nearby ditch and fish for frogs. I do not even know whether there were frogs or fish but I think none. However I returned with a famous story. I told my mother that I caught so many frogs that I could not carry them and that then I stopped catching frogs and caught fish and also caught so many of them that I could not carry them. She did not ask me why I had not brought all I could carry, but with much sober concern quietly took me by the hand and carrying a large, homemade bag in the other, started down to the ditch. My alarm was terrible. I had not looked ahead at all and, as I was not yet four years old, this did not betoken abnormal stupidity. On the way I tried to convince my mother that the frogs and fish might all have jumped back in; that in fact most of them had before I left She asked me why I didn't bring home such as were left. After much deep thought I replied that they were jumping around so fast and were so slick that I couldn't pick them up. On we went to the scene of the big catch. My mother looked the ground over and we marched back even more soberly than our going. When we got to the house she talked to me about the sin of lying. Then she made a lather of soft soap and thoroughly washed out my mouth. I thought it the nastiest dose I had ever taken, although children of that time and in that part of Indiana were dosed all the time with all sorts of horrible stuff. After soaping my mouth my mother made me kneel at her knee and ask God to forgive me. That touched my little heart, and made an impression, with many tears, that is as vivid now as it was at the moment.
My father enlisted for the war. He was promised an assistant surgeon's position. On his way on horse- back to Indianapolis the beast stumbled and dragged my father for a long distance through the woods. His head was hurt, several ribs were broken, his spine was injured and there were internal bruises. After that he was an invalid for the remainder of his life. He was six feet tall, weighed two hundred pounds, and had been a powerful man. His life had been filled with energy that drove him to many deeds. Once he had gone for a time, west of Iowa, among the Indians then wild, for study and exploration. On his way home from the trip he had been the house guest of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet at Nauvoo. Father told me that eight women sat at the table with the prophet and himself, and he understood all of them were wives. Joseph Smith was gentle in his household, father said, and although he greatly detested Mormonism, he always spoke kindly of Smith and regretted his assassination.
Two more children were born in Huntington County--Horace Edwin in 1862 and Charles Russell in 1864. My mother began to take the lead as a doctor. She had learned much from my father. Both had strong intellects. My father was impetuous and extreme. My mother was calm and lovely. Both had by now developed lofty characters. In 1857 my father had gone to Cleveland to study hydropathy at a sanitarium. The great water cure discoveries of Vincenz Priessnitz were taking hold of America, fostered by such English and American hydropathic propagandists as Gully and Shew. Heavy dosing was the order of the day until the average patient measured his prospects for recovery by the quantity of nauseous drugs he swallowed. To pretend to cure anybody of anything with just simple pure water seemed a grotesquery if not an insanity. But my parents were courageous and would not fool anybody even with a placebo. They compounded their own prescriptions and carried their own medicine as did most practitioners of the time. The older children were growing up. Grandmother had been a school teacher. My parents realized the ad- vantages of schooling. The opportunities in the back- woods were slight. So they decided to move by wagon to LaFayette. I had passed my sixth year, had helped to carry in wild turkeys my older brother Eugene had shot just back of our brush fence, and had heard the story in eager tones of the bear tracks in our deadening. I had tried to ride a bull calf with the willing help of my brothers and had done a lot of things that attached me to the place. The watermelon patch was a luscious place, and the melons grew almost large enough for me to hide behind. So I cried when they talked of moving away. That did not postpone proceedings. One day the things had all been loaded into three wagons, one of them covered for the family like a prairie schooner, and we started. We had three teams and were regarded as rich. I remember father and my older brothers marching beside their teams, and they would let me walk as far as I could. Our two dogs, Carlo and Rover, would dart off the road after rabbits, or bark as they treed black and gray squirrels. Not infrequently they flushed wild turkeys. The meals we had on that trek were taken from boxes in the wagon and cylinder receptacles of hollow logs with the ends closed with skins. The elders shot game enroute, and we got fruit that was mostly wild.
The rough road followed near the canal along the Wabash River. Everybody called it the canawl. Swift packets, making as much as six miles an hour, carried passengers and mail, and drove a swash along the banks that looked to my boyish eyes like a big ever-running water snake. We had plenty of snakes, too, and I knew their motion ? blue racers, blacksnakes and rattlers. Mules and bony horses, driven tandem, plodded along the towpath driven by ragged, barefoot and often hatless boys. It was interesting to see them pass the locks.
One afternoon the wagons started a down-hill run to cross a creek that flowed into the Wabash. It was quite terrifying the way the wagons swayed, but the worst was to come. When the horses were midstream we heard a blood-curdling scream. The animals plunged madly and ran as hard as they could in the water as they were. I looked out and just ahead and off to the left I saw a monster coming and the horses saw it too. It was belching white smoke and sparks and I was certain we must be near the gateway of hell and that this was the devil about to catch us and drag us in. I had never seen or heard of a locomotive and had not seen an engine of any kind. The fear it caused in me could not be overdrawn. It was an old wood-burner on what was then the new Wabash Valley Railroad, afterwards the Toledo, Wabash & Western, and now the Wabash. The young children could not realize and the older ones knew better, so I had a monopoly of fright. There were seven of us children on this expedition, the youngest two years and the eldest eighteen. How many women to-day would dream of starting on a single day's railroad journey with seven children? However, I think they would if they had to, because women to-day are confronted by more dangers than their mothers were. Social pitfalls are worse than ever were Indian ambushes, and the suffering and death they bring are worse than the scalping wounds, or the tomahawk hacks of the gauntlet that maimed only the body and left the heart purer and the soul more serene than before.
We were over two weeks on the road. On rainy days we mostly camped while the older males hunted and fished for the larder. There was no travel on Sunday, and on Monday we stopped to permit mother and the girls to do our washing.
In this way we moved to LaEayette. Soon we were sumptuously installed in a big, three-story, frame house, with four acres of grounds surrounding, and barns, out- buildings, fruit trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens. Contrast this with the woods and the little log house we had left We children thought it was a palace and our father a king. Aunt Goldthwaite had come out some time before from Connecticut to visit us and told us fairy stories, just enough to make us wonder and credit to the fairies all the things we could not understand. My present from Aunt Goldthwaite was a toy watch ? we called it a "dumb? watch then. No Waltham, Patek-Phillippe or Jurggeson since has been worth a quarter as much 1 Down below the hill reposed the city, and just then LaFayette was a sleepy place. Near by were neighbors. Everything was as different as it could be. We had a real lamp with something green in the oil bowl and a ground glass globe and shining chimney. It was kept in the parlor, that holy of holies of the time, and never lighted. Candles made our light, and father used two at a time when he read, and snuffed them with his fingers in a manner that fired all of us with emulation.
The big house had a huge cellar. Soon there were mysterious goings on in it My eldest brother was the only one of the children permitted the secret. But we learned when the time came that father was an inventor; that he had devised one of the first stoves with an oven and that now he had designed a washing machine. We did not know that nearly everybody of that period had invented a washing machine, so when father sold out his patents for what seemed a large amount of money we took it as a matter of course. All of us had had plenty to eat and good enough clothing up to that time. But with the sale of the patent came still better days. Mother had two black silk dresses and father, wherever he got the idea, donned a frock coat and plug hat. I had seen a daguerreotype of him as a youth with a beaver on, and I know he was familiar with the advice of Polonius to Laertes. Then he went to Indianapolis and entered the Indiana Medical College where he received a degree.
Once while father was absent the household was aroused in the night by thunderous knocks and loud calls. Good old Charley Kurtz, a neighbor butcher, called "Old Charley" because he had a son called " Young Charley," on his way home from the Odd Fellows, discovered that our house was on fire. It got a good start in the cellar, that was full of shavings from the washing machine models that were kept for kindling. It gave me one of the big scares of my young life. I escaped from the family circle, and in an obsession of excitement ran wildly about the place in my nightie. I was seven. There was a big patch of gooseberry bushes. Their thorns tore my limbs and body when I repeatedly ran through them as I cried out frantically for help.
The last child, William Douglas, was born in 1867, making ten in all with eight living? three girls and seven boys, with two girls and six boys living as I write these notes in 1916.
POVERTY THAT CRAMPS AND THEN EXPANDS THE SOUL
Early in 1868 something happened to our family fortunes. I do not know what it was more than that my father lost all of his money, every cent. It actually took the carpets off the floors to pay out, and there was no hesitation about permitting them to be taken. It was one of those occurrences that are continually happening and directly or indirectly, mostly the latter, exert a great influence both upon individuals and society, serving to cure pride and remind man in a decisive manner of his self-insufficiency.
All of a sudden we were as a family translated from luxury to necessity--from affluence to abysmal poverty. It seems to me that I must have been taken out of the big house while asleep. I was eight years old, and must have had sufficient intellect to comprehend things to some degree. Perhaps my senses were be- numbed by the shock. Anyhow all I remember is that I seemed to go to sleep in the big house and to awaken in a little frame shack, with only two rooms and a lean-to. The big parlor lamp was gone and so was the parlor and the base-burner with the red coals shining through the mica. Each youngster had had a horse to ride. They were all gone. Two old crowbaits, that were dying of old age and were a liability, and were only kept in deference to a creditable sentiment, remained. We called them ?Baldy? and "Goalie? because one had a white forehead and the other was coal black. The first real fight I ever had was with a boy who shouted after me " flip-flop!" "flip-flop!" "flip- flop!" as I was urging old Baldy into a sort of earth- quake, bone-racking trot. He was rather too big for me, and I got a bloody nose and a black eye. He got enough so that he did not yell " flip-flop!" at me again.
I did not understand then why my parents wished to keep these worthless animals and were so tender with them. As for myself, I was so ashamed of them and so angered at times that I hate a "flip-flop'' to this day. Also I am thankful to have a feeling grow within me that would not permit me to turn out a faithful old horse or dog to starve to death.
The new abode is known in our family history as "the little brown house.'' And it was small. The furniture consisted of a few wooden chairs, a wooden table, poorly equipped beds, iron knives and forks, tin plates, cheap cooking utensils and one stove, a cooking stove with two holes and a square box oven on top at the back, supported by long, spider-like iron legs. Food was scarce too. We children were put on a com meal diet and not any too much com meal. Every Friday was hog killing day at the slaughter house down on the old Plank Road. At such times hogs' hearts could be had for five cents a pound. Father and mother took ad- vantage of that and as a consequence we had hogs' heart meat once a week and no meat at all between times. I noticed a change in everything. The big dogs were gone. Only we had kept Pinkie, a little black and tan feist with a hole in her throat, cut by a ground hog she had crawled after into a den.
Father acted strangely. He was depressed. I did not know that then. He hung out his doctor sign and one for mother, too. Also he would parade in front of the house with his long coat, gold-headed cane and silk hats which he had managed somehow to hang onto. After thus showing himself he would return to the house, put on cotton overalls and waist, and departing by the rear and through the alley go to a remote part of town and work as a carpenter--a trade he had well learned as a boy. He was not strong. Soon he grew ill and was very sick. He could not eat. Delicacies were tried.
One day I smelled what to a hungry boy was about the sweetest odor I could remember. It came from the cook stove where five cents' worth of prunes were simmering in a tin cup. They were for father and his life might have depended upon them for all I knew. That did not shield me from temptation. I made up my mind to steal those prunes and eat them and then run away to Texas. My mother must have suspected me in that divine way that mothers have. Anyhow she watched me and kept such a vigil over the prunes that I was foiled.
That was my first tangible temptation, and there flowed from it my first crystallized ambition. I made up my mind then and there that when I became a man I would not stop in my efforts until I had all the prunes I wished for, even if I had to be a pirate.
Sometimes all of us were hungry and we were ill- clad but cleanly. Old clothing was transformed dexterously and handed down from child to child.
We were sent to school. Other children made fun of us because we were poorly garbed. This made me so sensitive and wounded me to such an extent that I would not look at other children. Fatty Tyner, Nigger Bill and a German boy named Theodore Mersch, called by the urchins "Tater Mash," as being near the Ger- man pronunciation, were particularly kind to me. They would back me in my fights and permitted me to lead them in expeditions for nuts, berries, paw paws, fishing, and against the ?Micks " of the Flank Boad. Always there seemed to be war among the boys of LaFayette. If some of us went to the "old sycamore" to swim in the Wabash our enemies were nearly certain to come and muss our clothes, tie them in wet knots, and as we dragged at them with our teeth they would deride us with " Chawed beef and roasted mutton1 Chawed beef and roasted mutton!"
We learned to keep a standing guard and pickets. If the Micks outnumbered us we would run. If there was a fair chance we stood our ground and fought, with honors about even from day to day.
I learned to swim at the "wide water," an impounding reservoir used to adjust the canal levels. It looked big to me as a boy and it was over a man's head in depth. A bigger crowd than ours chased us away from the "old sycamore" swimming hole. We grabbed our clothing and ran across the Wabash bottoms to the wide water. I remember that I arrived bleeding and stinging from the smarting wounds of thorns and sandburrs. Although I could not swim or had not swum before I was on fire. I rushed down the steep, artificial bank into the wide water where it was about ten feet in depth. I went to the bottom. When I came up I struck out just as naturally as though I was a good swimmer, not dog fashion, but a full sweeping stroke. It was not long before I developed into a good swimmer.
One day Nigger Bill showed me how to cure warts. He was the son of Reverend Maveety, who preached on Sunday and wielded a whitewash brush week days. His mother knew how to "Kunjer ? he said and was sister of a hoodoo (voo-doo) queen. I was deeply impressed and told my mother. She ordered me to keep away from the negro boy and told me the rules he gave me were foolish.
I still had faith in Nigger Bill. A block from our house lived the Purnells. They had a nice little girl named Laura about my age. She had more warts on her hands than a Texan toad and was quite proud of them. I got her to let me try to take off just one of them, and because we were good friends she consented, Nigger Bill had told me to take a piece of blue thread, tie it in a hard knot over the wart and then slip it off and bury it, repeating as I did so,
"Hoblin, goblin, go an' snort. Rot in the groun' an' kill a wart?
As the thread rotted the wart would rot and come off. Mystery of mysteries, but to me perfectly natural then, Laura Purnell?s big wart on her left hand, that I had tied the blue thread over, became inflamed, and the swelling communicated to the entire hand and arm. Laura was in great pain, and some thought she might die. I was frightened to death. After a really severe siege she recovered, minus the wart. Then I went and dug for the thread to see if it had rotted. Either I dug in the wrong place or it had disintegrated, for I could not find it. I was afraid to be a wart doctor because somebody might die before the wart came off. Just what happened I do not know unless I slightly cut or irritated the wart and it was infected by the thread. Warts are not nice to have but they are preferable to Nigger Bill's cure, in which there is the philosophy of the ages. To help out I became a rag picker, which included gathering old iron as well. I got to know the alleys of the town better than the streets. Also I carried a news- paper route and sold papers. It brought me into con- tact with all phases and strata of life, and I early came to know, I do not know how I knew but I did, that God takes especial care of boys and girls or there wouldn't be one on earth uncontaminated. Down in the Wabash bottoms I used to see men and women derelicts. In the summer they infested the now dry flood lands. I had as much abhorrence of them as of a snake. Nobody told me about them or the great dangers of boyhood. I just knew instinctively, and I think other boys do.
Once the circulator of William S. Lingle's Daiy Courier asked me to carry papers in a part of the town where the carrier was always being licked and his papers destroyed. He said I would have to fight and that maybe as many as twenty boys would attack me at once. I couldn't whip twenty boys without preparedness, so I bought a second-hand, twenty-two caliber, seven-shot revolver.
It was autumn. The coming January I would be eleven years old. Hard knocks and life in the alleys were developing me fast. I took the papers and started out really hoping to get a chance to shoot a few boys just to test the killing power of my gun. I had al- ready tried it on a cow out in the commons, and when she walked away seemingly unconcerned I was ready to take the revolver back to the second-hand man. But I thought I might have better luck shooting boys. At the comer of Thirteenth and Union streets a colored boy, possibly a little larger than I, came up to me in a bantering way and grabbed at my papers. I forgot my revolver and laid down my sack and waded into the Negro. We were rolling around on the ground and I was getting a little the best of him I thought, until he got my left fore arm between his sharklike teeth. That made me desperate and caused me somehow to remember the gun in my pocket. I got it out and when the Negro boy saw it he yelled ?murder" and "help? and gave up.
Then boys began to appear from everywhere, but mostly from behind an old barn near by and from under a street bridge over an open surface sewer called Pearl River. When I saw them I ran for my papers and bolted. The yelling crowd of boys pursued me. I thought there must be a hundred. Some were larger than I. As I was ascending to the sidewalk after crossing that Pearl River, a bigger boy struck me over the head with a broken shinny stick. Down I went. I had already been hit several times by rocks and clubs but I was not hurt. Now was the time to use the revolver. I pulled it out and shot all seven shots slam into that crowd. Really I expected to kill seven boys at least and maybe more. There was a scattering in all directions and it wasn't long before a policeman had me. I don't know where he came from. There weren't many in LaFayette those days.
He took my gun and instead of taking me to the calaboose, as we called the local lockup, he took me home. I had not lost many papers. As soon as the officer turned me loose I got an older brother to go with me and we finished the paper delivery that night. I hadn't hit a boy. Just like shooting into a flock of any- thing without picking your bird. From that day I carried that route unmolested. I wouldn't advise boys to follow my example, even though in what I did I was perfectly innocent of intentional wrong doing.
As I grew stronger I did all kinds of work. It seems to me now that the hardest work of my youth was cutting and shocking green corn. When I was thirteen, my brother Steve and I took a contract cutting corn and shocking it for ten cents a shock every fourteen rows and fourteen hills of corn. Those who know Indiana corn along the Wabash will think of each stalk as almost a tree. I wielded the corn cutter and Steve carried the big heavy bundles and shocked them. He was older by eight years and was equal to the work. When I would be awakened in the morning I would ache from head to toe and would be so stiff and sore I could have cried out with pain when I essayed to move. And I was too young to harden and get used to it. Also I learned to cradle, rake, bind, mow, stack hay and grain, load hay, rive clapboards, split rails and chop cord wood. I still enjoy swinging an ax just as I liked it best of all as a boy. Many hardships have been my lot by land and sea, if one calls enjoyable, exacting adventures hardships, but not one caused me as much suffering as corn cutting in the Indiana maize forest.
I went to Sunday school. My mother was a Methodist and my father a Wesleyan, between which denominations there is little difference. At Christmas time I managed to get to six Sunday schools. It required no end of scheming, but I really received gifts one Christmas from six different trees. It was not right I now know but I thought no wrong of it then. In fact, I thought a boy who went to only one Sunday school at Christmas time was downright shiftless.
Two things I best remember that I heard in church while a boy. One was the temperance examples told by Francis Murphy. The other is a picture of a devout Sunday school superintendent of the Ninth Street M. E. Church of LaFayette, named J. Q. A. Perrin, as I slyly glanced at him while he repeated the childhood prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. This I ask for Jesus' sake.
The above is not the way Billy Sunday words and spells it but it is the way Mr. Perrin recited it, and it is the way I have repeated it every night of my life since I was nine, with the alteration since I have had a wife and children to "our" instead of "my." It is a selfish little prayer but one does not have to stop with it.
The pangs of poverty and attendant humiliation ground into me more and more. I did not have as good clothing as had the other boys that I thought I would like to consort with, and many fisticuffs grew out of the scorn and derision of those who assumed to look down upon me. I did not win all these by any means, but all of them gave me a kind of confidence in myself. I got hold of several dime novels and read also the Jack Harkaway adventures, and a lot of stuff about Jesse James and his brother Frank, who were just beginning to limn on the lurid horizon of boys' brains. I also read the more wholesome "Ashore and Afloat" books by William Taylor Adams, who signed himself Oliver Optic. History began to unfold to me interesting pages, and I found ornithology, entomology, botany and astron-omy fascinating. Not that I went very far with any of them; only I liked them better than mathematics. Zoological and biological things were entertainment and mathematics were study. About the very first book I read was a brave little tome called "Little Prudy's Captain Horace? by Sophie May, one of the Little Prudy series of delightful books for children. I was nine years of age when I got it off a Baptist Sunday school Christmas tree.
The year before three impressive little books fell into my hands. They were the "Burial of the Firstborn," by Joseph Alden; "The Little Brown Jug," by Mrs. C. M. Edwards, and "Not a Minute to Spare," by S. C. I read all these before I was nine. Really I seemed to partially understand in "Not a Minute to Spare" Tupper's line "now is the constant syllable ticking from the clock of Time."
At least forever after the tick-tocks said to me, "Never return, never return"!
So early does the mind of the average child begin to function. In fact, I read just about everything I could lay my hands on, including all the doctor books I could find around the house.
At an early age, too early, I had read Cray's "Anatomy," Dalton's physiology, Thomas on "Diseases of Women and Children," pages of Dunglison's medical dictionary. Gully's and also Shew's hydropathy.
Fine reading for a youth of ten to twelve! and it made me knowing beyond my years. I would gather a crowd of boys on the curbstone on dark nights and be-fore a Rembrandt fire in the gutter, with its vivid chiaroscuro, I would tell them the secrets of these doctor books in low tones.
The greatest horror of impression would be made by the descriptions of awful diseases that befell men and women who were not good.
Nearly all of us had read " Robinson Crusoe " and " Swiss Family Robinson."
We would tell riddles and ghost stories also until all of us were of a shiver. Then there were famous nights when we played "Blank Lie Low" and hunted coon and 'possums, and, best of all, camping on the banks of the Wabash all night keeping up a fire big enough for a lion country, while those of us who were bigger baited and ran "trot" lines. We used liver for bait and sometimes we had a thousand hooks out.
They were fine fish, those channel cats (siluridae), but they would sort of gurgle and squawk when we slit them just through the skin behind their horns, and then holding them between the fingers of the left hand would pull off the skin with pincers in the right hand.
The niggers used to say that the catfish were trying to tell what they would do to us when they were men and we were catfish, and their strange metempsychosis folk lore made a deep impression.
We boys thought we could see the catfish squirm, like' eels and frog meat do when first put into a hot frying pan. This the niggers said was nothing to the way bad boys would squirm in hell.
All through the dimmest social fabric there seemed to run the certainty that good is rewarded and bad is punished, which must have been one way the Creator has of manifesting a fundamental truth.
Boys were wild and adventurous but they were not nasty or impure, and if there was a degenerate unfortunate he soon come to be marked and shunned.
I wish to believe that that is the way of boys today.
WILD BOYHOOD DREAMS FILL MY MIND AND I ACT UPON THEM
MY parents would teach us American history traditionally and they were both well informed. As my father loved or hated so did I come to do. He could not, without rage, think of Simon Girty, who, as an English agent in Canada, had aroused the border Indians, and was charged with paying them fifty cents for the scalp of an American white woman and seventy-five cents to a dollar for the scalp of a man, but only twenty-five cents for a child or a gray-haired scalp. Some of our relatives had met this fate and it has left a bitterness that even I have to struggle against to this day.
Next to the bloody Girty my father hated Aaron Burr and so did I. He was wont to say that Jeff Davis was a gentleman beside Burr and his tool Blennerhassett, and that Benedict Arnold had not been worse. His condemnation of Henry Clay was because Clay had been Burr's attorney. Father was intolerant of anybody who would hire out his talents to criminals. He loved Alexander Hamilton as the greatest American, and always put Washington as secondary to Hamilton. To his mind Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Albert Sydney Johnston were misguided good men, and of the three he placed Albert Sydney Johnston first. He told me stories of Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton and Davy Crockett and their contemporaries until I forthwith got an old bored-out army musket and hid it under the shed, as against the time when I would become an Indian fighter. Soon I was able to grind do a corncutter blade into the most savage-looking bowie knife I have ever seen.
These preparations were soon followed by a decision to run away, which was promptly acted upon. My first adventure of this kind was when I was ten years of age. With an older boy named John Godfrey, son of a belligerent Methodist preacher named Samuel Godfrey, the best silver bass fisherman on the Wabash "riffles," I started out. We got nearly fifty miles away before our parents caught us.
Without discouragement I kept at running away two or three times a year until I succeeded. Once I got clear away on a raft and with the two other boys floated down the Wabash to the Ohio and quite a distance into the Mississippi. We were gone several months and had enough adventure to fill a book.
My longest runaway absence was when I went into the wild Michigan lumber woods in Newaygo County near the present village of Hungerford. I spent a winter in the camps as a cookee and chore boy. In the spring I worked in a saw mill and shingle mill. That winter I got a terrible thrashing. There was a boastful fellow in camp named Jason Grimsby. No one knew whether he would fight, but from his tell he could lick his weight in wild cats and then some.
Some of the woodsmen had families in near about shacks and there were several boys of about my age. We made up our minds that Jason was a coward. Our plan to try him out was to waylay him at night and while not hurting him, we were to leap on him and tousle him about pretty lively. Good idea, but it didn't work, and to this day we have no correct measure of Jason although he got one of me.
I was a sort of leader. Perhaps I was the biggest boy. Anyhow Jason came beating it along a trail swinging a candle lantern and whistling. I made a jump for him. There were five of us boys two on one side of the trail and three on the other.
All I know is that every one of them ran away and Jason mopped up the earth with me. The lantern went out at once and it took Jason some time in the dark to tell when he had pounded me enough. I tried to accuse him of attacking me, but while my attitude confused him a little it did no good. From that time to this I have depended more upon myself than others and have more carefully considered undertakings.
I went back to Indiana with quite a sum of money saved up, amounting to near one hundred dollars. I had walked most of the way to Michigan, and I earned good wages in savings by walking the most of the way back, over two hundred miles.
At thirteen I was in the LaFayette high school despite the fact that my runaway trips had broken into my schooling. I cannot remember that I was more than an ordinary student.
When I was fourteen I was admitted to Purdue University at its opening. There was not much organization or grading or I surely could not have been admitted. The institution had been endowed by John Purdue under certain conditions, one of which was, I believe, that it must be open for students by a certain time. In order to save itself the university was opened hurriedly and perhaps without much previous preparation. I spent three years at Purdue. They were years of mingled happiness and bitterness. I seemed to get along with my work all right but, struggle as I did, I never seemed to have enough clothing to prevent richer boys from making fun of me. Shortridge was president, and before I left he was succeeded by White, a strong man. The university was coeducational from the beginning and it grew rapidly.
The boy that I most disliked in school was Jim Reidy, son of a banker and rich. He was bigger and older than I, quite a flashy fellow, whose sole accomplishment was to write a good hand. That fellow goaded me to desperation. He would call attention in a loud voice to the fact that I wore no undergarments and often no socks, and that my shoes were cowhide.
He was a handsome young animal, and I couldn't lick him as I found out. Secretly I half admired him, al- together envied him and often came near to a determination to murder him. Reidy married a charming co-ed and became a partner in his father's banking business. They expanded into a string of banks. A panic struck them; there were irregularities and Jim was sent to the penitentiary. I did not learn of this for a long time. I was governor of Michigan when I did find it out and I was not onlv sorrv for Reidy but at once endeavored to do what I could for him.
One of my best friends at Purdue was Orth Stein, son of Judge Stein, a prominent lawyer and worthy citizen of LaFayette. Orth was tall, anaemic and somewhat effeminate. He was such a good boy that mothers commonly pointed him out to their sons as a model. And he had a good, double-barreled shotgun that he would loan. That endeared him to me more than any- thing else, I think. You cannot always tell about a good boy. Before they hung Orth he murdered several people, including a woman. It was the whiskey and prostitution route.
Harvey W. Wiley, foremost American food expert, was then professor of chemistry at Purdue. He also drilled the college cadets and was a pitcher in the baseball team. It was permitted at this time to give the ball a kind of underhand throw. Dr. Wiley's fame was made one day when he knocked a cigar down the throat of Johnny Harper, the catcher. Baseball nowadays with an unmasked, unprotected catcher behind the bat with a cigar in his mouth would be the quintessence of comedy.
There was hazing of a rough kind, such as putting a freshman on a straw stack in the night and setting it on fire so that he had to jump through the flames. An- other stunt was to make the candidate walk a plank blindfolded into a deep hole in the Wabash. Some- times we tied his hands behind his back. The victim was always rescued but often he was first nearly drowned. Boys were not much good who did not go in for these things and it is a fact that the roughest and wildest boys have done the most in life.
They were always fair and square, were not bullies and adhered to certain unwritten laws of young buck chivalry. Indiana was full of such youths, and I hope the country is still developing them. All of the college pranks were played, and the Greek letter fraternities had quite a vogue. It was just before I left Purdue that President White started his fight against them, singling out the Sigma Chi as the one to make the test upon. His defeat disappointed him and checkered a life of great usefulness.
Professor Hussey taught zoology. He asked for specimens. It took a great effort on my part to gather all the bones of a horse skeleton in the river bottoms and pile them in the class room. The specimen was too new and really I can smell it yet Professor Hussey was fine usually but he lost his temper. I confessed to the act. He came near to where I sat and glowering down upon me growled:
"Osbom, do you know how near a fool you are?? I replied, "Two feet."
It was not an original retort, I am certain, but it nearly ran me out of college. Altogether an act upon my part to be condemned, the psychology of it was that its very boldness gave me greater confidence in myself, a trait I was deficient in to the extent that I was bashful, sensitive and terribly ill at ease in company.
One night at the end of my third year, I attended a commencement reception at President White's house.; Several of the young men actually wore evening dress suits. I had never seen one before and the mental effect they had on me was as strange as it was ludicrous. All along I had been struggling to get far enough into style to wear an undershirt, and here were these claw hammer coats. The case was hopeless; the odds were too terrible to struggle against. Then and there I vowed to leave school for good, and I did. I was seventeen.
My father no longer worked at carpentering. The unusual medical skill of both my parents insured them from being in poverty very long. So far on the upgrade had they gone that father was able to buy a tract of forty-seven acres of land about three miles from La- Fayette. It was a network of swampy pond holed, with a planched growth of sassafras, hazel, ash, water elm and briars with numerous enough rattlesnakes, black snakes and blue racers. My brothers and I were given the job of clearing that land. No work was better for us. We straightened a sluggish creek and laid tile in every direction. The timber was cut into cordwood and rails, with now and then a linn or an oak sawlog.
Working at many things during my hungry youth I had learned to set type, put a job on a press, make rollers, pull a Washington and turn the old man-power cylinders. Also I had crudely written some for the papers and really began to gather news items at ten. But I had not formed a definite desire to do newspaper work. Only it was true of me that accidentally or otherwise I had done more work around newspaper outfits, and had learned more about them than about anything else.
An event occurred before I was eighteen that caused me to leave Indiana in deep disgust, mostly with my- self. Quite a notorious bully named Ed Rawles, a young fighting widower, was the high cockalorum, as he claimed, of the Hebron district, about seven miles from LaFayette. If he didn't like a young fellow he would scare him away by bluffing or licking him. He tabooed me and sent me word not to come again into his neighborhood under penalty of a thrashing at his hands. My older brother told me not to go. He said Rawles would maul me all to pieces, and I really thought he would myself, but I wasn't going to be scared out. The very next time there were any doings at Hebron church, I went. Rawles was in a seat in front of me. It was in the evening. He leaned over and called me a vile name in a loud whisper and said he was going to ?lick the stuffin' out of me" after church. I didn't wait until after church, but waded into Mr. Rawles then and there. I struck him in the face, and before he could recover from the surprise and the blow, I climbed over the seat and gaffed him. We had a fine fight. He would jam in between the seats. I was thinner and had him at a disadvantage. Naturally the church was in an uproar in a moment. Women and girls screamed, but there weren?t many fainting Hoosier women those days.
Men got to us and pulled us out into the aisle. Then it seemed to me the tide of battle turned. I had been having all the best of the mix-up among the seats. Now a half dozen were holding me and it seemed to me that no one was holding Rawles. He pounded away at me and my arms were pinioned. When they thought I had enough, for I was blind and delirious with fighting rage, they faced me about and threw me out of church.
I ran as fast as I could go to "Doc" Coleman's, the nearest farmer I knew, and tried to. borrow his shotgun in order to go back and get even.
Of course he refused it. Next day I was arrested. It seems that I was not only guilty of assault and battery but of church desecration, a much worse crime. Colonel Dick DeHart, a famous soldier and criminal lawyer and afterwards an able judge for years, defended me without charge and I was acquitted.
But from that moment I was a marked youth. Parents forbade their daughters to speak to me and ordered their sons to shun me. I was the most depraved youth in Indiana according to their ideas. It did not matter what reputation Rawles had, nor did it count that I ended his days as a bully. I had but one destiny and that included both penitentiary and hanging. In fact, so persistent was the opinion that thirty-five years later. when I had gone to Indiana as a guest of that State as Governor of Michigan, a fine old gentleman named Kantz, of German extraction, exclaimed: "Ist dis der real Chase Osbom? Vat, ain't you hung yet ??
The girls and boys did not all taboo me by any means but my social relations were, to say the least, clandestine, so I packed my "turkey?'
While on the farm engaged in the work of clearing I had time to read, to go to the country parties and spelling schools and debates, in all of which I seemed to take an average part. Opportunities came to go harvesting with better wages and to follow the threshing machine that did the work for many farmers. There was much interchange and exchange of work. At threshing and harvest time women, old and young, showed their best at cooking and housekeeping. The tables bent with wholesome, well-cooked food--turkey, chicken, beef, mutton, pork, potatoes and many other vegetables, big bowls of steaming gravy, pies and cakes of many varieties, preserves, spiced fruit and pickles. They were wonderful feeding days and for feasting even exceeded Christmas time.
I learned when very young to cut bands and several times nearly cut the feeder's hands, but luckily did not. As I grew older I learned to rig up the horse power, pitch from the stack onto the feeding table and also to feed the machine, which required the greatest degree of expertness of all. Binding in the wheat field behind a reaper--they were a new thing and there were only a few in our part; cradling, raking and binding also. Excellence marked women and men. To be a good cook and housekeeper and economical made a woman famous, and the young woman thus distinguished married early. Young men were told to observe a girl peeling apples or potatoes. If she pared them thickly and wastefully avoid her as a wasteful wench, but if the parings were thin it was evidence of care and thrift.
Men who excelled in chopping, cradling, binding, or in anything were known all over wide communities and were pointed out. It all made for wholesome ideals.
There were a good many chances to dicker and use one's wits. One winter evening walking along a frozen dirt road that ran at right angles to the pike that had been recently built to the Tippecanoe battleground, where General Harrison beat the Prophet, I saw a queer- looking animal in a bleak field of dry and rustling corn stalks. It was yellow and had long, matted hair, and at the distance it was, might have been a big goat or almost anything. When I came up to where the man of the place was feeding the hogs I asked him what it was. He said it was a mule and as he didn't like mules nohow he would sell it. To my consternation he made me a price of two dollars on it. I was not sharp at trading but I asked him what was the matter with the mule. "Boy," he said, "so far's health is consarned that critter be a well one an' kin eat glass."
Then I asked the age! "Dummed if I know," he replied, "and it don't make no difference nohow kase nobody never seen a dead mule."
I bought the mule.
When I entered the field to inspect my purchase the thing came at me with mouth open, teeth gleaming and issuing fiery snorts altogether like a ferocious fiend. I have been in close quarters since with grizzly bears and lions, but nothing has ever come so near to getting me, to the best of my belief, as that mule did. I barely made the rail fence and fell over it as though thrown by a cyclone.
The former owner of the beast was doubled up with raucous laughter. I felt cheap and some mad. When I asked him what he meant by unloading that thing on me he offered to buv the mule back for a dollar.
I refused. The thought came to me that I might also sell him "as he ran," as I had bought him, and there seemed to be nothing wrong about trying.
In fact, I did not think of ethics at all. The only thing that I really wondered about was whether it was a mule or something else. I had heard repeatedly that there are nine kinds of meat in a turtle and I really thought the mule might have nine kinds of animals in him. He roared like a lion, opened his jaws like an alligator, showed his teeth like a dragon and charged with lowered head like a billy goat,
I went on to town. Next day I looked up a Jew junk dealer. We knew him as the ragman. I told him I had a mule for sale for twenty-five dollars. It seemed to me that his eyes gleamed at the chance he foresaw to beat me. My eyes could have gleamed also because I made up my mind to sell that mule for two dollars if I couldn't get more.
He started for the country with me at once. When we reached the field of cornstalks the mule was browsing about a hundred yards from the fence. It was a frosty morning. The sun glinted from the rufous side of the beast. He didn't look badly at all. What I feared was that the Jew would try to inspect him. To my surprise and deep relief he did not. We had been hauled out by a poor, old, gray rack o' bones that was ready to cave in at any time, and the junk dealer knew it. Evidently he was bound to buy that mule without exciting me as to his intentions. His first offer was five dollars. I was anxious to take it but the lap gods held me off. We dickered rapidly for a short time and I sold the wild red mule to him for eleven dollars.
He went to the farmer who owned the field and asked if the mule belonged to me to sell, and that farmer looked as innocent as a poisonous toad stool to a mush- room hunter as he told him it did.
Then the Jew paid me eleven dollars out of a very greasy wallet. The farmer and I stood where we could watch the new owner take over his property. We had a roaring laugh and then a fright, because it looked at one time as though the mule would catch the Jew and eat him.
The ragman was more persistent than I had been. He detected power in that mule which if harnessed would pull his junk wagon many a mile. But no use. He finally came to me and demanded his money back.
I followed the example of the farmer and offered him six dollars. At the same time I suggested to him that he might get help and catch the beast, or failing that he could sell him "as he ran." That ended the mule trade so far as I was concerned.
CHAPTER VI SWEPT INTO THE HUMAN MAELSTROM OF CHICAGO
I started to walk to Chicago, along the Lake Erie and Western railroad tracks. The exact reason I started to walk was because the train crew pulled me out of a box car and bade me do so. Tramps were everywhere and had become such a men- ace as to forfeit all sympathy. I had spent nearly all my money on clothing and did not have any to spare for railroad fare. At that time the fares were so high that a tolerable walker could make good wages afoot. It was autumn. The golden paw paws burst as they fell to the ground. Wrinkled persimmons hung on the trees. Pheasants were in full plumage and the quail and prairie chickens were strong of flight. Wild ducks and geese were winging south. Apples and turnips and cabbages were buried in pyramidal heaps in the field. Corn husking was occupying the men folks, and the women were about through "putting up" canned stuff for the winter.
I was leaving all these Hoosier things forever. But I did not know it then; I did not even recognize my own feelings as they surged within me. Only one thing was clear. I was going to Chicago where so many Hoosier lads had gone before and have gone since, only to be swallowed remorselessly.
At that age of limited experience I did not know the great cities devour boys and girls as a more avid Minotaur than the Cretan monster in the Labyrinth that Daedalus built, that ate the seven maidens and seven youths sent by Athens as an annual tribute, until Theseus killed the demon.
What a lot of Theseuses we need nowadays to hunt down the modem monster Minotaur's.
One night I slept a while in a straw stack. First I dug a hole in the stack and crawling in I pulled the straw in after me. Just as I got comfortably warm and asleep, the farmer's dog treed me, and I was driven forth. Next I crawled into a corn shock where I was very cold and did not sleep much. It took me three days and nights to get to Chicago, only one hundred and thirty miles from LaFayette. Part of the way I managed to cover in freight trains, but I walked more than half the distance.
There was a railroad station at the foot of Lake Street, I think, with dismal, unpainted, wooden sheds and many rookeries about. Across from the station were saloon dives, cheap hotels, restaurants and barber shops. My first impressions of Chicago were very disappointing and I fear they have not improved much yet. I had just fifteen cents. About nine o'clock in the morning I arrived.
Entering a barber shop I asked if I might wash. The boss said I could. When I thanked him as I started to leave the shop the barber stopped me and said I owed him fifteen cents. It was every cent I had in the world but I paid and then plunged into the human jungle.
I have seen the highways and byways of the earth since and have confronted many exacting conditions, but I never again have had such heart sinkings as I had that morning. To have no breakfast was not such a serious thing for a strong boy.
Alone in the middle of the Sahara I have felt nearer to friends and love and sympathy than I felt after the barber took my last cent. Some one to turn to was what I hungered for more than food.
Where to go or which way to turn seemed to make no difference. Rivers of people swept by in ceaseless, rapid flow. There was the sullen roar of the city like a Niagara of fierce sorrow. It seemed to me that all the faces I saw were hungry and hard.
I had heard of the Y. M. C. A., rather a new thing then, and made my way to its rooms. But they stared at me and spoke in a manner so short and feelingless that I almost fled from the room.
It seemed as though the Y. M. C. A. was run for boys who had a home, and not for the strange and homeless.
Of course I felt hard, unjustly so no doubt, and I was terrified by my own thoughts, which were that I hoped the place would burn down.
What a trivial cause to start such a low trend! I soon tired and wandered about cold and rather despairingly. Soon again I was at the depot
A man with a big valise hailed me and gave me the bag to carry. It was big and heavy but I was strong. When I got it to the dollar-a-day hotel he sought he gave me five cents. I could have blessed him, but I only hurried away and found a place where I got a big bowl of soup and bread for the money I had earned.
I haunted the railroad station and for several days carried quite a number of bags and parcels and earned twenty-five cents a day.
At night I slept in the depot and was seldom molested. To me it was a cheerful room at night, as the coal stove with open door east a bituminous glow which made fine shadows that I was too big now to be afraid of. Sometimes I had bad dreams, and once I awoke in a cold sweat because I was chased by "Nigger Henry," who lived in a cave up Tenth Street ?holler" at LaFayette, hissed on by "Crazy Cyrus," who lived out by Reynold's pasture, and wrung his hands and gawped "bloodle-doodle."
Between errands for passengers I hunted for a job. Finally a cheap sort of hotel boarding house on Wabash Avenue near Polk Street took me as assistant porter. The work was to do anything I was told to do by anybody. When nothing more definite was in sight I was to scrub the stairs and floor and wash the windows. I got my board and was promised three dollars a week. My shoes were wearing out and I had no over- coat. Trips downtown afoot through the snow and slush breasting the lake winds not warmly clad are the features I best remember of that experience.
I could not get my pay so I began to hunt for another job. A fifteen-cent restaurant on Clark Street offered me two dollars a week and board as a potato peeler. I had to work in a grimy basement but I liked it because when the first week was up I got my pay and I could see new shoes ahead. The cook made soup of the potato peelings which was strained and sent up on a dumb waiter.
I worked here for some weeks. There were many swift changes in the staff and soon I found myself second cook. Then I went upstairs as a waiter at two dollars and fifty cents a week, because the business could not afford a second cook.
It was while waiting on the table that I met a Tribune reporter who came to eat our best fifteen-cent meals in the city. We became friends and he found work for me with his paper.
The Times was the big paper of Chicago, but the Tribune had started upon the growth that landed it at the top. I really ran errands at first for the city editor. Sometimes he gave me unimportant assignments. Gradually he gave me more to do and I learned a great deal. Of course, I felt at home around a newspaper on account of the experience I had had at LaFayette.
Hard times grew harder. It was the early summer of 1879 that the Tribune cut things to the marrow. I was one of the first to go because I could be easiest spared. For my work on the Tribune I had been paid five dollars a week, perhaps really more than I earned. I lived on less than two dollars a week for food and saved enough to improve the quality and character of my clothing.
The streets were filled with workless men and to get a job of any kind seemed hopeless. So I made up my mind to go to Milwaukee and farther north if necessary. The trains were closely watched and I suppose I was not a clever hobo, so I walked most of the eighty- five miles to Milwaukee. Naturally I saw and fell in with many tramps and learned their ways. It was a shock to my youthful ideals and sympathy to learn that most of these gentry would not work if they could get out of it. It was always a satisfactory day when they had bummed their grub without turning over a hand. Few of them were inclined to be criminals.
In fact, they were drifting derelicts on their way to the hopeless, helpless, social sea of Sargasso which engulfs the inert human debris just as the flotsam of the ocean is caught. Nor did I then recognize the type at all except as something not to tie up to permanently.
It was only in after years that I came to realize that these deficients are the certain product of a social usury of yesterday and continued to-day with slight abatement Theirs is a disease of the overworked world. Milwaukee offered nothing. It was winter. I walked on north through Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Green Bay. A farmer living near Fond du Lac, to whom I applied for work, said he would give me a job if I could hold it down. It consisted of being a valet to a man-eating stallion. I fought that horse for a week with everything that I could use and not kill him and I would have finished the vicious brute if I had dared. After having my clothing partially bitten off me and suffering from not a few nips that reached my flesh, I gave up the job. It is really the only time in my life that I have admitted defeat, and I have longed for an- other chance at that horse but in vain.
On toward the pole star I plugged away. At Oshkosh I was seized with neuralgia from exposure and underfeeding. It made me jump, I tell you. Some good people took me to their home for a few days and then I went on.
The Chicago & Northwestern was building its Me- nominee Range extension. I worked in the construction gang near where Hermansville was afterwards located. The force was reduced and I found myself among those laid off at the northernmost limits of settlement. No use to go farther, so I began to retrace myself. There were tracks of bear, lynx and wolves, and the latter sounded their coursing tongues every night Every hunting dream that had tenanted my mind as a boy was revived as I saw deep-worn deer runway after runway.
Strange how the red deer followed the same paths in their food migrations for centuries. Indians built deer fences and killed thousands along them, only taking skin and saddle. Civilization was even more ruthless. It is pathetic to observe the deer habits now. They try to migrate as in the olden days, but so restricted and cut up is the zone of wild life that it is more like a city Zoo. Game sanctuaries must be established.
Things raced through my mind in a disconnected way. I wondered where I might get a start in life and how a real one. Then back to the scenes and adventures of early boyhood my mind would travel. I contrasted the big forests with the Wea Plains, the Wabash bottoms and the borderland of the Grand Prairie in Indiana.
I sat on a log to rest and heard the drumming of a pheasant. They call it a partridge north; the ruffed grouse. It made me think somehow or other of a June afternoon long ago when a mower had cut three legs off my double-nosed pointer pup as he lay in the grass, panting from his intense work. I had been training him on young prairie chickens that kind of just fluffed up out of the grass when I flushed them. I was a big boy, but I cried in secret when I shot the beautiful pointer to put him out of misery. He had been presented to me by a man whose two children I had pulled out of a burning shed. When I was asked what I would like to have as a reward, poor as I was, I said a bird dog. One morning while going out to train the puppy I saw a black cat, and shot it as it was stealing up on some young quail. Nigger Bill had told me it was certain bad luck to kill a cat and worst of all to kill a black one, but I didn't believe him, because after many struggles in which I was considerably scratched up I had cut a cat's head off and no bad luck seemed to follow.
Now I believed it and as I sat on the log, with head full of disconnected thoughts, remembered that Nigger Bill had said that to kill a cat meant bad luck for seven years. I had two more years to go. Then I fell to thinking of signs and made up my mind to be very careful for, I argued, even if there's nothing to them, it won't hurt to avoid them.
And that is the reason why signs are bad. Those who are unobserving and careless are always the ones who trespass most in the field of superstition with the consequences only those things that would naturally happen such persons.
My thoughts covered a wide horizon as I tramped along day by day. Finally after the usual experiences of hunger and weariness I again reached Milwaukee. I had not been depressed a moment since the morning in Chicago when I was penniless and friendless in that awful mire of men. The limitless forests of the north that spread out under the boreal aurora with their bear, wolves and wild cat things were kinder than the big hungry city with its human wolves that are worse.
I DRIVE A COAL WAGON--PILE--LUMBER--CAPTURE A MURDER AND DOCK WALLOP IN MILWAUKEE
MY first job in Milwaukee was driving a coal wagon for H. B. Pearson. He was an alder- man and a prosperous coal dealer on West Water Street. In my memory he dwells as one of the best men in the worlds just because he had a kind word and a bread-getting place for me. It was the early part of the spring of 1880. I was twenty years old and big and strong enough to do anything.
Spring came with a rush that soon put the coal wagon out of business, but not before I learned a good deal about the streets and lay of the city. Sight away I asked why none of the streets crossed the river straight and why all of them bore different names after crossing. Mr. Pearson patiently told me the reasons and said that they were the same that kept Milwaukee back, and from being a bigger place than Chicago. When / the town was first started local rivalries, that have killed more towns than any other cause, were a conflagration in Milwaukee. Three towns separated by the KinniKinnick and Milwaukee rivers strove against one another. They were Juneautown, Walkertown and Kilbourne City, and so bitter were they that bridges were not built and there were many fights and much bad blood. Men build cities even more than nature. The fact that Milwaukee is a city at all with the bad start it got proves that it has better natural advantages than Chicago. By the time the coal wagon had to go the season of navigation had opened, and lumber hookers were coming in with their green cargoes. Mr. Pearson helped me to get a job piling lumber in Durr & Rugee's lumber yard on the south side. It was hard work and by quitting time I was always tired, but not so much so that I could not do night work on Gregory Hurson's Goodrich docks.
I got ninety cents a day in the lumber yard and twenty cents an hour for dock-walloping, plus kicks and curses at the latter.
An attic over Godfrey & Crandall's job printing shop on Michigan Street furnished a place to sleep on a pallet on the floor. It was always a soft pallet after I got through dock walloping at ten or eleven o'clock. Sometimes I worked until midnight loading or unloading vessels, and the work was quite certain to be had every night.
Real trouble soon brewed at the lumber yard. I was the only American on the job. All the others were Poles and the foreman was Polish. They conspired against me and gave me the worst end of it, or I thought they did, when it came to unloading a schooner. I noticed that two Poles were assigned to take away from one man over the rail. I had to do that job alone, and there were other signs that I was not welcome among them. Since that time I have been treated better in Poland that I was by the Polacks in Durr & Rugee's yard. Things were coming to a pass where there had to be a show down and then I was certain I would have to go. My employers, no matter how fair, could not keep me as against all the balance of the gang.
There was a turn of good luck, if ever there is such a thing, and I think there is because so many things happen in a person?s life that cannot be traced to their cause source within the individual.
Two young fellows from Louisville named Baber and Gesswein had started an evening newspaper called the Signal. It is now the Milwaukee Journal, with many hiatuses between. George Yenowine was also one of the unlucky Kentuckians. They got into debt to Godfrey & Crandall, the printers, in whose attic I had my abode, and lost their struggling property for printing bills.
Hampton Leedom, a sturdy man of middle age, with hunchback, red visage and kind heart, kept the books for Godfrey & Crandall and for some others. He, too, often worked at night and I became acquainted with him and he took an interest in me that I shall never forget. It was Mr. Leedom who told me about the Signal and its troubles. I told him about the newspaper and printer's work I had done, and he promised to keep a look out for me for a job.
Before taking the coal wagon I had been to every printer and publisher in Milwaukee. I could not hang around long because I had not done better up to that time than to work from hand to mouth, and there did not seem to be a job in prospect anyhow. One night Hampton Leedom advised me not to go to the lumber yard next day because he had been telling George Godfrey, of Godfrey & Crandall, about me. I took his advice.
Mr. Godfrey was a slight, swart man who had character and ability. He looked over his spectacles at me and appeared cross but he was not. I had heard a good deal about him. He was a greenbacker, and from what I had heard of greenbackers from my father, I had a great prejudice against them and could not understand how a man could be one and a respectable citizen at the same time. That George Godfrey could be gave me a measure of his versatility.
He also printed the Milwaukee Commercial Letter, which was edited by Mr. Friese, commercial editor of the Sentinel. Mr. Godfrey told me he was anxious to get circulation for the Signal, an ambition quite common to publishers at all times. He said he did not wish to keep the paper but could not dispose of it to advantage without building it up some. I thought it queer that he should tell me these things and concluded it must be because I came from LaFayette, where he had a brother, the Methodist preacher. It was not this at all as I came to know. He was just one of those open men who think aloud and consequently never lie.
I got a job soliciting subscriptions. The Signal was Milwaukee's first two-cent paper. The working people had never been canvassed, I think, for they seemed eager to try the daily at ten cents a week. I secured as many as fifty subscribers in a day at Bay View, where lived the rolling mill employees and other better paid, skilled workmen.
My success made me quite famous in the office. Hampton Leedom told me I ought to shuck my Hoosier togs as not being suited to my new stratum in the world. He gave me a credit with F. P. Gluck, tailor, and I used it to obtain my first made-to-order suit.
My big cowboy hat went into the discard with. the old clothes for all of which I got one dollar and eighty cents, at a West Water Street den of three-ball finance.
Mr. Godfrey was running the paper in quite a popular way. He took a good deal of advice from Robert Schilling, whose socialist paper, Der Deutsche Reformer, was printed at Godfrey & Crandall's. Schilling was a strong, earnest, honest propagandist
A newspaper man named C. C. Bowsfield came along and made an offer for the Signal. He got it and changed the name to the Chronicle.
Because I knew how to handle the carrier boys, as demonstrated one turbulent evening, Bowsfield made me city circulator. I got the routes arranged and made a pretty good start with street sales and newsdealers, before I was transferred to the editorial department. This was what I had been praying for. Not that the writing end of the paper was very formidable, because it was not, but it was on the way for me.
Bowsfield chewed a toothpick and looked wise and important as owner and editor, and I was certain he felt just as he looked.
Darwin Pavey, assistant to Bowsfield, was between six and seven feet tall, very skeletony and always looked hungry as his big, gray eyes wandered about his food- less environs. It seemed to me that he was always writing puffs for the Newhall House that never got onto the advertising books. This was proved right by finding out that he got his dinner at that hotel without other pay. They even permitted him to carry fruit and stuff away from the table. Now and then he would bait me with a taste of these tidbits.
It was great to watch him pick his teeth with a wire he carried to clean his pipe. I thought that I would strive to become a great editor like Mr. Pavey and also pick my teeth with a pipe wire after enjoying a sumptuous dinner at a two-dollar hotel.
The Chronicle did not prosper any better than the Signal. Bowsfield got new blood and some money into it by interesting Frank A, Flower. I never had known such a man as Flower. He seemed to me to be a walking dictionary. But he could not supply the nourishment the Chronicle needed.
My salary was supposed to be seven dollars a week. I had been getting enough of this barely to live up to the point it stopped altogether. My last week on the paper is memorable for several reasons. I had been sent to pawn Mrs. Flower?s ear rings in order to pay the printers.
We were all in terrible shape. I had gone from living on fifteen cents a day to a generous free-lunch saloon on East Water Street, across from the city hall, to which I was introduced by George C. Youngs, a printer friend.
Every day, nearly, I scooped our rival, the Evening Wisconsin. The very police seemed to be won by the struggle I was making and everybody helped out with exclusive news.
Walter Gardner, city editor of the Wisconsin, sent for me. I went with quaking knees, caused as much by lack of food as by awe and desire to get a job on the richest paper in town. Not in all my life before or since have I wanted anything so much. Mr. Gardner asked me how I would like to work on the Wisconsin. I replied with profound insincerity :
"Oh 1 I don't know." Manifestly he was surprised. "
?What !'' he exclaimed. " Don't you realize that you are a real newspaper man the minute you come over here ? ''
I bantered him with the query : " Is that why they call it the Evening Granny?''
Gardner was said to be a college man. They were rare in newspaper offices then. He had a reputation and was superior but he had but a dim sense of humor. I could see that he was struggling between a desire to kick me out and a kind of admiration of my audacity. If he had known how high my gulp was he would have hired me on the spot Perhaps he did know somewhat. Anyhow he offered me ten dollars a week. I am afraid now that I tried to give him the impression that my wages were more than that on the Chronicle, but such a preposterous idea could not have lodged in his sober brain.
We had more conversation. I told him that on the Chronicle I was the whole thing, which now was the truth, with the exception that the paper never would have come out if it had not been for Julia O?Brien, a type sticker, and Dick Bavis, the foreman.
They kept the crew going with such pawnshop money as I could raise for Bowsfield and Flower, who were afraid they would be caught at it and so sent me.
Finally, Gardner offered me twelve dollars a week and the haggling stopped instantly. It was big wages even in Chicago, and unusually good for Milwaukee. I had not been on the Wisconsin long before Mr. Gardner and I clashed. He ordered me to write in his style, which I could not do, and for that matter nobody could except himself. He said he would fire me, which was a bluff. It sent me with my trouble to Uncle Billy Cramer, senior of Cramer, Aikens & Cramer, owners of the Wisconsin and also of a big job and ready print business that made them rich.
Uncle Billy was as deaf as a big collection of adders and nearly blind also. His other senses were unimpaired and the story of his marriage some time after this incident was a raw morsel among the boys.
I think my nerve in bracing him personally appealed to him. Anyhow, Mr. Gardner went on an extended leave for his healthy and upon returning became an editorial writer.
The Chronicle had been unloaded on Tom and Jim Somers, democratic lawyers who wanted an organ. They got one. Frank Flower came over on the '' Wisconse '' to take Gardner's place as city editor. The old paper took on more life than a doped race horse.
I was permitted to run an astounding scandal of the county farm, involving the big German chairman of the county board of supervisors and a crippled moron girl.
The county chairman threatened to kill me on sight. A. H. Schattenberg, clerk of the school board, warned me of my danger and, as it was against the law to carry concealed weapons he gave me a hatchet to defend my- self with. I wore it openly in a belt, and Judge Mallory, of the Municipal Court, said it was all right. Julius Meiswinkel, clerk of the court, and Alvin Wiebers, his assistant, gave me a duly signed permit to carry a hatchet until I elected to bury it.
This began to make me a marked reporter. Also I never walked. During the time I was in Milwaukee I always ran wherever I went. Oftentimes I beat other reporters who went in cabs and besides I saved the cab hire.
The libeled person took a new tack. He had Uncle Billy arrested for criminal libel and had me arrested on the same charge. It was the first time on record that an attempt was made to fasten such responsibility onto an employee. John J. Orton, the regular Cramer, Aikens & Cramer attorney, and W. H. Ebbitts, a noted criminal lawyer of the time, defended us. We were put in jail for a short time for the dramatic effect.
On the very same day a German youth named Herman Hilden murdered his stepfather. The Chicago Tribune got the thing mixed. It carried a Milwaukee dispatch to the effect that I was arrested for murder and Hilden for criminal libel. As the Tribune had a large circulation at LaFayette my bad reputation thereabouts was further fortified.
We had the goods, so nothing came of our prosecution except an uplift of my local reputation. The Chicago Tribune asked me to take charge of its Milwaukee bureau, which I did. Also I got quite a string of outside papers and began to make money as I looked at things.
The Chicago Times' man in Milwaukee ? both Tribune and Times had Milwaukee bureaus then a--was a booze fighter for fair, and I had the good luck to protect him in his job for quite a long time.
One day Herman Hilden broke jail with other prisoners. John Rugee, of Durr & Rugee, had become sheriff. Fat office those times. He offered a reward of three hundred dollars for Hilden. A clever girl friend of mine, a telegraph operator at Appleton, reported to me that she thought she had spotted Hilden. I followed up the clew, located him and told the Milwaukee sheriff. I waived all claim to the reward, but saw that the girl got her share.
My position in the matter, which seemed to me was a simple one and right, made me a very lion for a time. Sheriff Rugee gave a big dinner for me and presented me with a huge, gold-headed cane which quite floored me. I did not any more know what to do with that cane than I would with an elephant?s trunk, if one had been tied to me. Its destiny was to be broken over a dog that snapped at our first baby. At the Rugee dinner it was discovered that less than a year before I had been a lumber piler in his yard, and it made quite a hit. Soon afterwards a big wholesale Jew clothing house was burned. John Black, assistant fire chief, told me the owners had done it. He took me from floor to floor and showed me piles of kerosened clothing that had not completely burned. It was a great story and when I told Frank Flower all about it he let it go. Of course, it created a tremendous sensation, which was felt in the office as well as outside. The owners started a libel suit. It looked like a bad fight, and while we of the city staff were hot for it, our wealthy bosses were not so keen.
Two days later occurred Milwaukee's greatest tragedy, the burning of the Newhall House and one hundred and eleven persons. This swept the boards of the public mind clear of everything, including our threatened libel suit.
Parenthetically, the insurance on the clothing stock was never paid.
The night the Newhall House burned I was in that fated fire trap until after midnight, looking up inside stuff about the failure of Dixon & Co., grocers. I can see Tom Thumb yet as he reached up his cue to his eyes while playing billiards. After watching him for some time I left. All the way home, for now I was married, I had one of those feelings that are unexplainable. Gamblers call them hunches. Spiritualists call them warnings. I was certain that some big thing was about to happen. It was the first time I had sensed anything like it enough to be impressed. The Newhall House was a fire trap. Everybody predicted it would bum. I had been in it for some hours just before and wandering through its narrow hallways, had dwelt upon the fire butts and dried and wrinkled reels of rotten hose. Maybe that had a lot to do with my feelings.
I lived on 2l8t Street on the West side near Grand Avenue, and had reached the comer of 18th Street on that stately thoroughfare. About I faced and started downtown. Just as I got to 16th Street a fire alarm sounded, quickly followed by a general alarm. It was January. I ran as swiftly as I could go and just reached the scene in time to witness the ineffaceable spectacle of the jumping of waitress girls from their sixth-story attic rooms into the alley below. Some of the guests leaped into the telegraph wires and broke their fall. My old employer, Uncle Billy Cramer, lived at the Newhall. I soon discovered, to my gladness, that he had been led out quite safely.
Tom Thumb received injuries from which he subsequently died. Billy Dodsworth, of the American Ex- press Company, arrived just in time to see two of his best friends, Mr. and Mrs. Joslyn, jump to death. Mr. Joslyn was prominent on 'change. With his wife he occupied the third floor corner rooms of Broadway and Michigan. Mr. Dodsworth had influenced them to put up a private fire escape, but in their panic they forgot it. I have had and have witnessed a good many tragic things in my life but nothing so appalling as the Newhall holocaust. The men I saw dying at the siege of Constantinople had a chance and were not caught like rats in a trap.
Jesse James was operating up in Wisconsin then, and the Williams Brothers, of Dunn County, were supposed to be a part of his gang. Every detective or would-be Vidocq in the West and a lot from the East had lurid dreams of rounding up the James outfit or some of it. Old Bill Beck, who had a piece of his jaw shot off, leaving an ugly, facial scar, was the first chief of police I knew in Milwaukee. He was a war time, secret service detective and typical. Under his direction quite a detective force incubated. Some of them were too funny for anything even then, but Janssen and Riemer, Billy McManus, John Hannifin, and Smith and Sheehan did good work from the first. John A. Hinsey had charge of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Eailroad detectives with headquarters in Milwaukee. That was before the offices were moved to Chicago. Alexander Mitchell and S. S. Merrill were directing the masterful contest waged against the Chicago & Northwestern for control in the new Northwest. William C. VanHorne was general superintendent and was making his record as a lieutenant that resulted in his being drafted by the Canadian Pacific promoters. Fred Underwood, afterwards president of the Erie, was a brakeman. His home was out at Wauwatosa, where his father was a dignified minister of the gospel. Tom Shaughnessy, afterwards Lord Shaughnessy, was dealing out candles and wicking as a clerk in the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad storehouse, and his father was a faithful, Third Ward policeman, with a brogue like over- cooked mush.
James J. Hill and Donald Smith, the latter afterwards Lord Strathcona, were beginning to appear in the horizon of the Northwest. The United States had just failed to see and take advantage of a chance to purchase nearly a million square miles of Hudson Bay Territory, which would have given us an unbroken domain to the North Pole, including the now famous hard wheat belt of the North.
The vast Northwest had begun to sizzle as the fires of settlement and commercial desires moved up to it. One could tell the story on and on for they were making men in Milwaukee then.
Well, as I was saying, all the sleuths were after Jesse James. A deputy sheriff named Jim Greding had more imagination and less sense than any one person I ever saw. He thought he was a detective. Laboring under that delusion he did more odd things than could be told in a tome. Once he came to me and told me in a whisper that would burst the listening ear of Dionysius in the latomia of Syracuse, that he had located his quarry. I followed him over to Grand Avenue. He stealthily approached the salesroom of the Singer Sewing Machine, where an inoffensive citizen named Beach was planning further raids on the Wheeler & Wilson.
"That's him !" said Jim.
It was hard to keep my face straight, but I sicked Jim on until Beach nearly broke every bone in his body. This didn?t feaze him, for one day a rube named William Kuhl came to town and Jim at once marked him for the desperado Lon Williams. He really got Kuhl into the coop and finding a scar on his toe that tallied with Williams, they spirited him to Dunn County for final identification, which was so success- ful that it proved conclusively who he was not.
But Jim had us all fooled for a while. I had myself locked up with the pseudo Lon, and so eager was I to believe Kuhl to be a villain for the storv there was in it, that I had no difficulty in doing so. It was a great les- son to me. I learned how easilv one can be misled in the direction he would like to proceed.
MARRIED ON CREDIT I GIVE MY BRIDE A FIVE CENT BOUQEUT AND WE TAKE A WEDDING TRIP ON A STREET CAR
The best act of my life was performed in Milwaukee when I fell in love and married. I do not know how any one could be more deeply in love than I was, unless I am now, and I think I am. My sweetheart was seventeen and I was twenty. I was refused a marriage license on this account. The moment we became of age I secured the license and we were married by the Reverend F. L. Stein, pastor of the Grand Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, in the parlors of his parsonage, Saturday evening. May 7, 1881.
I gave my bride a five cent bouquet from the German market, paid the preacher two dollars down and three dollars on the installment plan and paid Gluck, the tailor, for my wedding suit in the same way.
We joyously took our bridal tour on one of Washington Becker?s street cars drawn by horses, and spent the evening with Observer Mueller of the United States Weather Bureau and Mrs. Mueller.
If any bridegroom was ever happier before or since it is because of his greater capacity for emotion. I had wedded the most beautiful and the bravest girl in the world, and I know this now better than I thought it then. There never has been a time in African jungle or any other place demanding courage, when my wife has not been the braver of the two.
I made many friends, and one of the dear ones, Colonel J. A. Watrous, was directly responsible for my going to Florence as told in a previous chapter. My character began to take form in Northern Wisconsin. I wished to provide for my wife and family and be a good husband and citizen. That was an undertaking big enough. Conditions at once compelled me to make a decision between the outlaws and the little Presbyterian Church. At that time I did not formally join the church, but I did enlist for the aims of the church. It is nearly true but not quite exactly the case that it was put up to me to be a horse thief or a Presbyterian, and I chose to be the latter.
At Florence I had my first real initiation. into the politics of the times. Hiram Damon Fisher, a good- hearted, canny Green Mountaineer, born at Vergennes, Vermont, was the big man of the place in everything. He was the discoverer of the adjacent iron mine that made the town possible.
Mr. Fisher had "entered" from the Government most of the environal land to the extent of thousands of acres. His plan was to secure the minutes (descriptions) and. take them to the capitalists to be purchased from the public domain at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. Generally one quarter interest, but sometimes only one-eighth and infrequently three-eighths would be given the cruiser, or whatever person supplied the chance. In this manner much of the best of the valuable public domain fell into a few hands.
All sorts of things had fallen to the lot of the father of Florence before he got his start. He was a sailor on Lake Winnebago and Fox River, connecting that water with Green Bav, where his finer character was shown by saying " jeeswax '' instead of the profanity that was more plentifully charged with hemoglobin. Book peddling carried him into insurance, and while thus engaged he met Emily, the beautiful daughter of Joseph Keyes, one of the pioneers of Wisconsin.
Boss Keyes, a son of Joseph, was a political power and for a long period dominated in Wisconsin.
Joseph Keyes came to be registrar of the United States land office at Menasha. Young Fisher got into the atmosphere of the office instinctively, as well as into the good graces of the majestic daughter.
He camped at the Keyes. Woods cruisers would come in with the information gathered after long and adventurous trips, oftentimes they were only concerned with certain specified parcels of land, but in going to or from that location they would incidentally gather much information about timber, rocks, soil, fur, game, Indians and what not. Very often they would race with other woodsmen for some rich stake, nearly always pine timber. Thrilling canoe trips in summer and great hikes on snow shoes trailing toboggans in winter were common.
The time Charley LaSalle lost his trapping "pardner" up on Lac Vieux Desert in the middle of the winter and froze the corpse until spring, when he pain- fully and laboriously trudged out with it for some hundreds of miles, was a chiefer tale, and the fellow who did not know all about it was the worst of lob-gobs-tenderfeet
When these couriers du bois were at the land office, and some of them were there every day, Damon Fisher would cultivate them. A drink here, or a plug of tobacco or a present of a pipe and the jolly young Yankee was their bosom friend.
Then they would tell him everything, even the secrets they hoped to capitalize in the nebulous some day. In this manner he learned of places where the compass would turn a complete circle because the magnetic attraction was so strong.
Every little while a cruiser from the Lake Superior region would fish out of his pockets a specimen. Nearly all of them knew iron ore when they saw it They were not very good judges of percentages of metallic iron, but that was relatively unimportant. Sometimes they would have jasper and at other times lean magnetite, resembling what they had known as loadstone.
One day a cruiser showed Fisher a small piece of sparkling specular hematite. That settled it. He had married Miss Keyes, but that did not prevent his decision. The woods were a terra incognita to him, so he interested George Keyes, who was a cousin of his wife, and a good woodsman named Nelson Halsey.
This trio made trip after trip up into the wilds. They could go as far as Green Bay by rail, and then they had to attack the brush. Each man carried a pack. They took a light cotton tent, one blanket apiece, frying pan, tin tea pail, three tin cups, knives and forks some- times, plenty of flour and pork, tea and salt. No sugar ; no luxuries. Their food range was as important as a seafighter's coaling radius is.
Tea, grillades and galette for breakfast and supper, and cold dough-god for lunch made up the woods fare of all who deserved the name of cruiser. It was wearing upon the young prospector's bank account, which had not been a big one to start with.
There was a lonely wife and baby in a little cottage in Menasha. Fisher just would not give up. He exhausted his means so completely that he would borrow five dollars to buv flour with, and when pressed would borrow of another in order to pay the original loan.
In this way of high finance he kept himself and his little crew in the woods. But there must be success or an end to it all. Anybody who ever had confidence in him had lost it.
So it came to the third mid-summer's prospecting. Halsey and Keyes were looking for a corner in order to locate themselves. They were in a dense cedar swamp between two small lakes. Eisher wandered about quite aimlessly and got away from his men. Coming to the edge of the swamp he climbed a hill, so that he might get a birds'eye view of the country if possible. But it was too thickly timbered at the hilltop. Then he hal-looed to his men. No answer.
"Lost I by jeeswax," he soliloquized.
He sat down and took out his small exploring pick. Sticking it in the ground at haphazard, as one would idly play mumbletypeg alone, he pulled it out and be-hold! The point was red.
He had stuck it into hematite just beneath the leaf- mold. Feverishly he scraped away the leaves and plied the little pick. There was iron ore.
Restoring the original appearance Fisher's next task was to find his men or have them find him. The work of anxious months was at an end.
Thus was discovered the Menominee Iron Range.
Not even telling Halsey and Keyes when they came together, Fisher started for Menasha just as soon as he was certain of the section his find was on. The land was entered. More weary years ensued before John H. Van Dyke and Albert Conro of Milwaukee, and A. C. Brown of Marinette, and Henry Patton of Menasha and other rich bankers were interested.
The railroad followed, and then development and riches. To secure all this Fisher had to give up to capital three-fourths of his discovery.
Two lakes may be seen from the denuded crest of Florence Mine hill. The one to the southwest is called Keyes and the nearer one, which is southeast, is called Fisher. On the banks of the latter, in a beautiful location, is the mining village of Florence, named for Mrs. N. P. Hulst, of Milwaukee.
It was Mr. Fisher who came to have a drag on the town weekly, as a quite common result of loaning to it small sums of money. I went north in response to a wire from him to Colonel Watrous. The Colonel, a most generous and brave man, saw me climbing the stairs of the Wisconsin building with a series of jumps. Peck's Sun was on one floor- and the Sunday Telegraph, published by Calkins & Watrous, on another.
He asked me if I would like to go into business for myself.
I answered, "You bet!'' without a moment's thought of capital.
That was four o'clock, p. m. I left on the six o'clock train, two hours later, and did not return. Mr. Fisher asked me how much money I had. I told him eighty dollars. He asked me how much I could raise. I told him all that was necessary.
"Where?" he queried.
"You," I replied.
"All right," he said.
I signed notes for two thousand, five hundred dollars, at ten per cent., all to be paid in a year.
It took sixty dollars of my eighty dollars to bring up my wife and babe and our scant household truck. I did not know there was a great depression in iron, and that the mine was idle. A small force was working A two miles away at Commonwealth. There was some lumbering. Over the Michigan line there was a good deal of exploring in the region of Tobin Lake and along the Paint and Iron rivers, where the towns of Crystal Palls and Iron River were just starting. Small mines had opened at the Delphic and Mastodon locations. Edward Breitimg, of Negaunee, was doing some work at the lower Pine River falls, and Angus Smith, of Milwaukee, had an exploring crew on the Menominee, near Bad Water Indian village. The Lake Elwood section, between Spread Eagle and Pine River, was also attracting attention. Norway, Quinnesec and Iron Mountain were flourishing new towns. Keel Ridge mine had caved in and killed a number of men, the first big tragedy of the range.
The Breens and others had done some work in the vicinity of Waucedah, which had been abandoned as beyond the extension of the productive iron formation. There was much excitement in the Metropolitan and Felch mountain regions and the Chicago & Northwestern built a branch in from Narenta, but the ore bodies turned out to be a shallow blanket, and large sums of money were lost.
To say that I worked night and day is the only description of my activity. I loved the wild new country. It brought into play everything that a soul and mind and body possesses. Nearly all the pioneers were young. The pace demanded youth. Jim Knight had a paper at Norway. I think they called it the Chronicle then; now his paper is the Current Boulders Bennett was a feature of it.
Jim Russell, then a bellicose tyro, since become an able and dignified penologist, had just joined A. P. Swineford in the Marquette Mining Journal. George Newett, always a man and now famous for his tilt with Colonel Roosevelt, ran the Iron Agitator--now Iron Ore, at Ishpeming. C.G. Griffey was plugging away with the Negaunee Iron Herald.
A fine fellow named Devereux seemed out of the world with the Portage Lake Mining Gazette at Hough- ton, and he gave it a tone that was high and distinctive.
Fred McKenzie was at Calumet, where he had a poster affair much like his own pudgy self. Alfred Meads, father of them all and a credit to everything he contacted, was the pioneer publisher of the Ontonagon Miner.
Colonel Van Duzer, a veteran of Sherman's army, published the Escanaba Iron Port, and the way the splendid old hero "marched to the sea" every issue was good for contemplation.
I have mentioned this press personnel because these men had more to do with developing the social and civic structure in their respective communities, that were in turn interwoven, than all the acquisitors whatsoever. Every one of them waged a battle for equality and decency every minute and it was a prideful thing to know them.
The Mining Journal, of Marquette, and the Green Bay Advocate just about controlled things in the new field I had entered. It was my business to drive them out, which I did. I could do it only by appealing to local loyalty and meeting their competition. I started departments in my paper for Iron River and Crystal Falls and at last, when forced, I printed papers for these towns, that were set up and run off at Florence.
I UNDERTAKE THE STUDY OF IRON ORE AND ENGAGE IN EXPLORATION AND PROSPECTING
MY newspaper work and its involvements did not give me enough to do so I began a systematic study of iron ore exploration in all of its practical and scientific phases, an enjoyable life's work which I still keep up and which has attracted me to every country in the world. Woodcraft and surveying are as necessary as anything else in a new country.
The government survey of Northern Michigan and Wisconsin was made between 1850 and 1860. Mostly it was well done but not always. Townships six miles square were measured off north and south from an arbitrary base line and east and west from a range or meridian line. These townships were subdivided into thirty-six sections one mile square, and the sections were quartered; later to be divided into forty-acre lots by county surveyors. The section comers and the points midway between them, quarter stakes, were marked. Great care was given to marking the section comer. Whether the monument was a cedar stake, or of some- thing else, charcoal was buried at its base. Then bearing or witness trees, four when possible, were gouged with the legend of the location. Accurate location by distance and direction was made on the field notes. Observations of topography and geology were also written on the field notes, making them very valuable. The government survey by the United States is a creditable public achievement.
It was impossible to survey the magnetic fields in the region of Lake Superior with an ordinary compass. Necessity thus led to the contrivance of Burt's solar compass which has been developed now into the dial compass, a still more useful instrument.
It was a memorable day when Mr. Fisher, at my request, took me into the woods and showed me for the first time an unmarred section corner and three witness trees. Another lesson was to walk along the section line two thousand paces to the next comer, locating the quarter stake enroute. I held a compass straight in front of my body, waist high, as I took sights along the line.
At noon we had a bouillon made of a pileated woodpecker. I had never before seen this beautiful bird. Mr. Fisher called it a wood cock and informed me that it was a fine game bird. It is just as good to eat as any woodpecker and no better. They are rapidly disappearing and are even more scarce than their southern rival, the ivory bill. I have never permitted the killing of one since that day except for alleged scientific purposes, and not many with that now poor excuse.
By evening Mr. Fisher said he could teach me no more ; that all the rest of it would have to come by the experience that would attend keeping at it.
The Gogebic and Mesaba ranges and their extensions were little known and undeveloped. Charles Wright, geologist, had made what is yet the best map of the Menominee range.
The Brotherton boys, of Escanaba, doing the practical work, and John M. Longyear, the clerical, for the Lake Superior Ship Canal Railway & Iron Company, had made valuable land grant selections along what has been developed since as the Gogebic range. While doing this work Mr. Longyear laid the foundation for his great fortune by securing money backing and taking up lands adjoining, utilizing the Brotherton information for the purpose and obtaining a quarter interest in everything thus entered.
The entire Lake Superior country was overrun by agents of rapacious interests of one kind or another. Homesteaders were struggling for a share with no intention of making a home. Unearned land grants were being fought for. It was a Golconda and greed was after the diamonds. Beneath it all was a current flowing that was certain to purify everything. One had but to glance below the murky surface of the present.
Before I left Florence N. D. Moore and others were working in the Gogebic region and with the coming of the railroad the Colby mine was opened.
My first year at Florence witnessed the payment for the little paper. Three years more of work there brought more than a living so that when I sold out early in 1887 I had nearly ten thousand dollars and the world by the tail.
Mr. Fisher, egged on by Boss Keyes and a natural tendency, took part in all the politics from the township "corkis" to the state convention. In fact, he was the political entity of the county and aspired to go to the legislature some day. In order to facilitate this and define more clearly his realm, he had Florence County cut out of Marinette and erected.
When there was any kind of a convention he would send for me and we would together write out a list of names of delegates, issue their credentials and sign them, and that was all there was to it. I have no idea that I would have been consulted if it had not been necessary to have some one sign as secretary of the convention that was never held.
At first I thought it was a trifle irregular but as I did not know anything about the proper form, a brief conversation with the well-intending local boss caused me to have no qualms ; and, in fact, I am certain that Mr. Fisher was conscientious in also believing it to be all right. They all did that way, he told me. The candidature for congress of Mr. Isaac Stephenson, a. Nova Scotian lumberman at Marinette, reputed to be nearly a millionaire at a time when those common- places were uncommon, was announced. His district was the Ninth Wisconsin. Sounds like a military company, does it not? It included Florence County. We were entitled to two delegates and whom else could we appoint but ourselves? There was no other thought in our minds even if others might have had them.
Soon after our popular selection as delegates a most confounding thing occurred that stumped me completely for a while. Mr. A.C. Brown, of Marinette, a lumbering partner of Mr. Stephenson, came to Florence and actually called on me. I was boyishly glad to be recognized by Mr. Brown, who really was a fine gentleman and rich. My legs were almost removed from perpendicular connection with my body when he pulled out a fifty dollar bill and handed it to me. I had never seen one before and my first idea was that it might be a millionaire's calling card, indicating his status, and only to be taken and returned. So I took it and searched it minutely and then offered to give it back. He waved it aside with an imperious smile, as if to convey that he had more of them than could be loaded into one of his Brule River batteaux.
"But what is it for ? " I asked.
He seemed stuck for a second and then replied, " For subscription to the Mining News."
And I thought it was; cross my heart. So I ran over in my mind how long Mr. Brown would have paid in advance at two dollars and fifty cents a year, or whether he might not wish it to be divided among names he would furnish ?
It made no difference to him, he said, and after visiting a while he got up to go, remarking that he would see me at the convention where we would be certain to land Stephenson all right.
I was also certain, because Boss Keves was for Stephenson ; A. C. Brown was for Stephenson ; Stephenson was for Stephenson; Mr. Fisher was for Stephenson, and whom else could I be for, and I did not know the other fellow if there was one.
There was no need of scattering money all over the district the way they did, except for the observation of the same good form that makes a fellow set 'em up again who has had a drink with some one buying for a barroom crowd. And yet the money smoothed the way to Congress for Uncle Ike just as he iced .logging roads, or as a ship's ways are greased before launching.
Before I left Florence a revolution against the prevailing political methods occurred and conventions and caucuses were really held, but a few interested persons pulled the strings and manipulated things just the same.
MY FIRST TRIP INTO THE TRACKLESS WILDS OF UNEXPLORED CANADA
I SOLD out to advantage at Florence and moved back to Milwaukee and took a position as city editor of the Sentinel. Together with Harry Myrick, Mel Hoyt, Henry Legler, Sandy Dingwall, Curt Treat and Will Anderson, all newspaper men, I started a ade paper called the Miner and Manufacturer, which we had King & Fowle print.
The Gogebic range was booming. Milwaukee went iron mad. Iron mine stocks were traded in by the public speculatively for the first time in America in 1887. As usual fortunes were made and lost, and the start was made of many spectacular careers, such as that of Ferdinand Schlesinger, that took even banks up and down.
I had a few stocks and sold them, but did not buy any nor speculate. It got to be noised around that I was an expert iron ore man. This was based on the fact that I had been underground in nearly every mine and exploration in the Lake Superior ranges, and had written mining dope that was given wide publicity. I did not intend to pose as an expert. In fact, iron ore exploration was then done by guess and b'gosh by the best of them. No one person seemed to be able to see much farther into the ground than another.
Anyhow, I was consulted and I think I was honest One day a man came to me and told me a syndicate of Milwaukee and Chicago men had been formed to make some examinations of the Echo Lake region of Canada, and he asked me if I would take charge of them. I had no more idea where Echo Lake was than the man in the moon. We did not discuss that, but came to terms upon the general proposition, and I engaged to go. My pay was five hundred dollars a month and expenses, and I was to have a quarter interest in anything I found worth taking hold of. If I had asked any less during that boom they would not have thought me an expert at all, and as it was they thought I was too cheap, as I afterwards learned. As for myself, I was in much doubt of my ability to earn my wages. But I did and more.
Four active years in the woods of the Menominee range, during which I had repeatedly visited and studied explorations and formations from one end of the range to the other, had given me something. The woods had loaned to me some of their secret craft, and the lakes and rivers had yielded experience in rowing, paddling, poling and sailing.
I was somewhat equipped for work in the wild country that my quest was partially to introduce me to. I had walked from Lac Vieux Desert to Lake Superior and had interested Milwaukee acquaintances in entering several thousands of acres of copper lands, covered with good hardwood and scattering pine between the Black and Presque Isle rivers. On that cruise I had a pack of eighty pounds and wore my improper footwear down to sore and bleeding feet
The geography of Echo Lake locates that beautiful mountain-shored basin in Canada, between Sault Ste. Marie and the mouth of St. Mary's Straits. Its inlet comes down from between the Garden and the Abinadong and its outlet debouches into Big Lake George, on the old channel east of Sugar Island, called a long time ago St. George's Island. I was instructed to start in there and follow up any leads I might get as to iron ore and likely formations. No railroad reached Sault Ste. Marie. To reach that classic town, older than Plymouth Rock settlement, one took stage in winter and boat in summer. It was to me a passage into paradise. I had never breathed such air nor drunk such water. Pure as nature was the entire Northland.
At Crystal Falls I had known a temperamental pigmy named Fay G. Clark, who was known as Racketty Clark by his woods acquaintances. I asked a Canadian French woodsman one day why they called him " Racketty," and he knew:
Cause she hant pak rite in her 'ead, maybe."
Racketty had gone into the Sault country the year before and finding that nearly every Indian had specimens of iron ore he sent out wild stories that were taken hold of at once that wildest year. He wrote interestingly and convincingly to one who wished to be convinced.
I searched him out and found him the evening I arrived at the Sault eating a big brook trout at Mother Churchill's restaurant. He told me at once about killing the trout at the Little Rapids just below the Sault. It weighed more than five pounds according to his tell, and he could not decide which was the better; such a trout or the iridescent, sweet and hardmeated whitefish, that the Indian descendants of the old Bawittiwiniwags scooped out of the rapids.
Now and then a bone would shuck out of the comer of Racketty's mouth, which was a perfect boning machine. He told me much about the Sault as he ate and ate: about Gizhe Manido and how that Indian deity had pursued the great beaver, father of all the beavers, first out of his dam at the Little Rapids and then out of his main dam at the big Sault, destroying them partially and thus forming St. Mary's Falls.
When he finished I engaged him to go into the Canadian wilderness with me. I directed him procure as good an Indian as he could find and one just as old as he could be and handle himself. It was desirable to have as much cumulative redman lore as one individual could hold.
We spent the entire summer along the massive ranges that lie between the (Jeorgian Bay arm of Lake Huron and Batchewanna Bay, Lake Superior. I found a strong iron formation clear across. Now and then it was cut off by extensive igneous flows. It was easy to connect roughly the sedimentary zones containing ferniginous quartzite, marble, limestone and porphyry with boundaries of pegmatite, granite gneiss, syenite, norite, diorite, diabase, basalt and other fire rocks.
Quite often we found good float ore, mostly a semi-specular hard hematite. I thought it ought to outcrop, but could not find where. Up and down mountains, through swamps of spruce and tamarac, along stream valleys and around lakes, tramping and eating our grillades and galette as we drank copiously of bitter boiled tea, we spent a wonderful season until the snow came and drove us out, because one cannot prospect the surface when the snow covers everything.
I carried a pack that weighed something over ninety pounds at the start; the Indian's weighed exactly one hundred and eight pounds and Racketty's sixty-five pounds. We used from Minabog's first because it was heaviest Our packs were not bags but pack sheets of awning cloth made up with tump line or misery strap in Ojibway Indian fashion.
We carried no tent, so that we could increase our supply of pork and flour to the limit, and nothing else but salt and tea. No firearm, not even a revolver, was permitted to take the place of grub. A trolling hook and line that we whirled and threw from the bank of a lake almost always won a walleyed pike. Many of the streams had brook trout. We cooked the fish by running a stick through the body from mouth to tail and placing it perpendicularly before the fire, giving it a twist now and then to expose all sides. If the fish had scales they would easily come off with the skin when cooked. As for the viscera it dried up in a ball and practically fell out when the fish was opened.
For fruit we had nothing except a few wintergreen berries that are horribly lacking in acid, until other berries would ripen. Then our craving for something sour would be satisfied with luscious shadberries and blueberries such as do not grow elsewhere. Sometimes we mixed the plentiful Labrador tea (ledum palustre) with our tea to make it go farther and once a week we made tea of the tender tips of the spruce, a perfect antiscorbutic. Best of all, late in the season, were the high bush cranberries (viburnam opulus or guelder rose) that were very sour and juicy and clung to the bush tenaciously.
At night if it were clear we would not bother with a covering, but would roll up in our blankets and perhaps pull over a pack sheet, ample and practically water-proof. Flour mixed with water into a stiff dough and fried in hot pork grease makes dough gods very acceptable to woodsmen when eaten hot, but deadly enough to any one not living in the open and not working hard. I think they even hurt the ironclad cruiser in the long run. The same dough baked in the frying pan makes a nourishing, unleavened galette.
On these rations I lived for many years during the season between the going and the coming of the snow, one year walking and packing two thousand two hundred miles and several times exceeding one thousand eight hundred miles.
The most interesting particular region we searched was the valley of the Abinadong, a tributary of the hurt- ling Mississauga. These streams on the Great Lakes' side of the height of land are wicked in their fury to get down to their vent and their erosive power is enormous. They rush madly through the firmest dykes, cutting contracted canals, forming polished gorges, and forever roaring and shouting when they are not tickling pebbles into song as they loiter on some nearly level stretch. The Mississauga is such a typical river. Not so rough in its moods as the Abinadong. Its valley is less rocky. There are sandy savannas.
Low, elmwooded islands are quite numerous. They possess good soil and vegetation grows lush. Sometimes brakes as high as one's head would be encountered, and beds of delicate, black-stalked maiden hair ferns higher than our knees. In June the banks were lined with Indian roses, making a canoe promenade of pink. A little later these were succeeded by the plentiful white blossoms of the northern wild clematis, the fastest growing climbing plant in this region.
Nowhere before or since have I seen so much wild life. Moose would stare as dully at one as oxen, and red deer knew no fear. Rabbits and squirrels would play about our feet and were a nuisance because they would steal our dough gods at every camp. Caribou were not really wild. Wolves and foxes would scuttle away but bears showed neither sign of fear nor much concern about man things.
The pileated woodpecker was our barometer. His rain call never misses. Once I heard a pileated wood- pecker and a raven talking to one another. It did not take much imagination to conclude that they were arguing about the weather. Anyhow the pileated kept on shrieking his raucous zee-cruck, zee-cruck, but the raven did not join in until a day later. It rained.
The pileated woodpecker is the wisest bird in this part of the world. It will even come to man to be saved. Justice Steere, of the Michigan Supreme Court, relates that once when he was in a forest a large hawk assailed a pileated woodpecker. The bird of the royal red crest flew to the jurist and was saved.
Otter, beaver, mink, marten and fisher were much more numerous along the Abinadong than is usual. It appeared that this tranquil valley was a perfect game sanctuary. That is just what it was. I had much difficulty in inducing Minabog to ascend the river at all. When we came to the mouth he said, "No go up." And he stuck to it until I threatened to desert him. This brought him to time and caused him to tell me the secret of the river.
It is the land of the Windigo; belongs to it as its home. No human ever trespasses. Hundreds of years ago, according to tradition, the Ojibways tried repeatedly to trap along the river. Some of them never returned ; others came back and were mad murderers and cannibals and had to be killed by the tribe. Then the Abinadong was given over to the ghosts that lived along it
No Ojibway can tell you just what a Windigo is. John Tanner, who lived with them thirty years, never found out exactly; nor did the observing and accurate Alexander Henry, nor Schoolcraft.
The Windigo is not the devil and is only an evil spirit when his hunting ground is invaded or he is molested in some other way. He has power to turn men into eaters of human flesh and is quite as subtle as the werwulf or the loup garou. The most horrible thing he does is to eat away the base of the tongue or the inside of the eyeball or the lining of the upper nose and inner ear, to an extent not to be fatal, but worse. Among the Chippewas the fear of the Windigo is supreme. That is why the Abinadong is a paradise of wild life to this moment. It is the home of the ghastly Windigo and I hope it will be forever, because I imagine the whole thing is a story devised by the wise old fathers of the redmen so that a place would be preserved where game, so necessary to them, might propagate in perfect safety. White men ought to set up several Windigo places as game sanctuaries.
I reported nothing of value to the syndicate that employed me. It was a disappointment. It seems that I was expected to find something whether there was anything or not. Such was the speculative excitement that a good story could have been capitalized to big advantage. Next year they sent in another person who supplied the desired report, upon which more than a quarter of a million dollars were expended and lost.
CHARMED BY THE BEAUTY OF SAULT DE SAINTE MARIE AND FASCINATED BY ITS ENVIRONS I CHOOSE IT A A HOME FOR LIFE
The Sault country fascinated me as it had many another and always will continue to do. Mazy summers of life and pure joy. Winters of stimulating majesty by which men, women and children are made robust or driven away; no colorless middle ground.
Mel Hoyt had recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin as a lawyer^ but had taken up newspaper work and was already compelling. His rapier mind was reaching and strong. I told him the story of the north. He was as enthusiastic as Tom Moore was when he mused the Hyperboreans. And parenthetically Moore was an instinctive poet. He only knew the Greek legend of the peopled north and was not aware that modems have proved the North Pole to have been habitable and not unlikely to have been the incunabulum of the human race, at least as the race is now known.
Mel and I bought the 8auU News, a struggling underdog, weekly paper in 1887. I had enough money to make the deal a cash one and as I had formed the attachment for my partner that has only grown richer between us all our lives, it was a keen delight to carry him for his share. We went at the thing hammer and tongs, and it was not long before we had our paper on a paying basis and our competitor on the run. The Sault was booming. Goose pastures were being subdivided. The whistle of the work train on the coming railroads could be heard. The trail to Hudson Bay, which had been one of the passages to and from the big world, would be side-tracked. French habitants were made over from muskrat hunters to millionaires in a day, in their minds. Many a palace with pink body and blue trimmings was started and some were built. An artificial atmosphere contaminated the Northwest wind for a while and then blew away, taking on its wings some of the adventurers and undesirables. Good people found their way and started legitimately to build a city in one of the most attractive locations on earth.
Our ambitions took fire with the others. We took in Sandy Dingwall as a third partner and planned as avidly as the best or worst. Sandy had been a clerk in the Wisconsin Fire and Marine Bank, of Milwaukee, for which George Smith laid the foundation and Alexander Mitchell, David Ferguson and John Johnston erected the superstructure. The Northwest was a New Scotland until the Germans and Scandinavians came to compete.
The Sault grew until its country trousers did not reach its ankles. It had to have a new suit cut by up-to-date tailors. That meant city organization. We were tremendously interested and took a very active part. There were ordinances to print and other fat takes, and it was our business to get them. I am positive that not one of us had an ethical thought. We were young fellows with eager hopes and no tangible ideals. My own boyhood and young manhood makes me think that vital youth is a thinly disguised barbarian, or was in my time.
Election day came. The village had been democratic if it oould be said that there were partisan conditions. Really the Trempes, or the Ryans or the Browns, or an arrangement between them, usually controlled things. A short time before they had been shocked by Charley Chapman, a newcomer, who had been made village president without asking permission of the old regime. In the ancient days that were declining a few barrels of pork and some of whiskey carried every election.
At the first city election in the Sault there was a crazy quilt of corruption, and not a soul raised a warning or even an objecting hand. Political morals were as unknown as if the country had never been discovered. I saw the unclean hand ungloved, hard and bold, for the second time. Uncle Ike and A. C. Brown had exhibited a marked refinement compared with the methods in the Sault. I do not suppose that worse ever existed--the darkest practices before the dawn of reform.
Political lines were drawn taut. Otto Fowle, a banker, had been nominated for Mayor by the Republican local leaders, among whom William Chandler, Joseph H. Steere, Greorge Kemp and Charley Spalding were prominent. There was no clash between the old and the new among the Republicans. The Democrats were not so lucky apparently. Billy Cady, also a banker, was nominated by the Democrats controlled by the new element.
Hoyt, Dingwall and I were as busy as three live young fellows could be. The open sewers ran whiskey, and drunken Indians staggered through the knee-deep spring slush in all directions. It might have been safe for a woman to have appeared on the street, but not one did. By ten o'clock we discovered that the Democrats were paying a dollar apiece for votes in addition to free whiskey. At once the leaders on our side armed their workers with a good many more dollar bills than the voting population of the town numbered, because the votes were coming in from Sugar Island, Sault Township, the Canadian Sault and even from the Indian Mission on Waiskai Bay and as far as Whitefish Point. It was not a question of morals with anybody concerned ; the problem to be solved was whether they could get to this purchasable human commodity and had enough money to get it away from the other side. Nobody went into an alley or behind a barn unless it was to keep the other side from penetrating whatever strategy there was.
Fist fights were going on all day, and as my partners and I rushed from one polling place to another, we could not avoid them nor did we try to do so. Finally the day wore through. Soon the polls would close. The fight was furious. At the Fourth Ward polls occurred the astounding thing of the day, even as I now view that ollapodrida of strange experiences, proving that a condition is a condition and that morals have no stable standards and are really a matter of inner growth. Very evidently the leaders had either no inner growth or nothing else to go by, and everybody else was in the same boat.
About ten minutes before the polls closed, a thrifty citizen drove up with a team bearing twelve drunken Indians, an even dozen. Mike O'Day began to negotiate for them at once for the Democrats. A Republican pushed him aside and they roughed it a little, when, realizing how short the time was to buy those votes and get them in, they got to work again. It became a matter of open bidding as in a slave mart or auction of any kind. Dollar by dollar they raised each other. O'Day bid twelve dollars a head. Both leaders knew the election was close. The Republican raised his bid to fourteen dollars. It was more than O'Day had. The Democrats were all in. The Republicans got the votes--twelve-count them-twelve-at fourteen dollars each open auction.
Otto Fowle was elected by seven majority.
Will you say that public morals have not improved since then? Improved is not meaningful enough. There has been a complete transformation, except in cities like Detroit, where the so-called good citizen is too often a silk-stocking derelict on election day. And my morals have improved. I thought of nothing wrong when I took part in that unclean election, and I wish to be charitable with those who may not have had a chance to see and know better and who still besmirch the ballot. About that Sault election even the preachers knew everything and said nothing, and the candidates were honorable men. Not a word was said before or soon after about the influence of money and whiskey and pork and their use. It was not long before the scales fell from my eyes and I saw the heinousness of it.
To atone is one of the reasons I have fought for clean politics and honest government ever since.
A number of candidates appeared for the Sault post-office after Cleveland's defeat. There was a good deal of friction. The office was offered to me as a compromise, but I declined. However, while I was upon an expedition in the woods I was appointed. About the same time the business bubble burst. Hoyt, Dingwall and I jeffed to see who would keep the Sault News. We had made up our minds that there was not room enough for three in the business. Mr. Hoyt was a strong man and until very lately was the successful editor and publisher of the Milwaukee Daily News and one of the able men of the Nation. Mr. Dingwall became a millionaire play manager in New York, of which he gave signs when as a boy he had the dramatic column in the Milwaukee Sentinel. I lost, as we thought, as it fell to me to keep the paper and remain in the Sault, where my life has been so satisfactory and my friendships so happy among a people with no superiors, that it turned out that I won richly.
Before our debacle I had made plans for systematic exploration in Canada and had started the work. To the North from the Sault is a beautiful sky line of un- broken hills. Sometimes they wear a rich blue haze. At other times they are dressed in the gorgeous reds and golds of autumn. In the summer these hills are green and in the winter pure white. They are the oldest things in the world if geological chronology means anything. Stretching away from Cape Canso to Queen Charlotte Sound without a fracture they are more the back bone of the North American continent than are the Rockies. Between them and the North Pole there was nothing of man in those days and there is not much yet
Behind those hills lay lie greatest and least known wilderness in the world. It drew me like a human loadstone.
Something lost behind the mountains; " lost and waiting for you, go I "
If I had not gone something in me would have busted ; now I don't mean burst--something ruder than that. I knew that such little exploration as had been done followed the rivers. Along the rivers were trails and canoe routes. Fish lived in the waters ; fur lived on the fish ; Indians subsisted by the fish and fur, and the Hudson Bay Company exploited the Indians. Hence the one way of things along the streams. Drainage of this half the continent was south from the height of land to the basin of the Great Lakes and North from the same great divide to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. Almost no attention had been given to minerals. Pine was coming in and furs had been the golden fleece for two centuries and fleece is right
My idea was to conduct reconnaissance?s across the country. This meant packing supplies on the back al- most altogether and hard work. It also meant seeing country that even the Indians had not seen. I was eager to pay the toll. It was something of the spirit that had driven and coaxed my grandfather across the Alleghenies.
While I was in the wilderness the Sault Newswas expected to subsist my family. It was my permanent dock where I tied up my hope of sustenance and it did not fail. Critical conditions arose; most of them during my four-year term as postmaster. As I anticipated would be the case, a good many older citizens resented my selection. I was too new. Then, as postmaster, I was consulted by the state and national party machine. This also brought its conflicts and embarrassments and compelled me to attend at times very closely to my knit- ting.
Booms bring to towns a regular riffraff of things, more good than bad, no doubt, but it takes only one rotten apple in a barrel to foul all the rest, and a whole barrel of good apples will not cure a rotten one; just got to throw it out. I undertook the throwing out game and took on no end of tough enemies.
Two factions fought over variant plans for the water power development. One was for the old LaCrosse and Milwaukee Cargill-Elliott crowd and the other favored certain big promises made by Alexander Hamilton Gunn, for an alleged English syndicate. The enterprising townspeople had already gone down into their own pockets for a bonus of one hundred thousand dollars to start the thing and they were pyrographically concerned.
As usual in such things, politics poked in through the doorway of a desired franchise. I took sides with the tangible proposition made by Cargill and his associates. A popular local manufacturer named Lewis A. Hall, of Bay Mills ten miles up the shore became interested. In order to influence the council ground was broken for the huge paper-making plant, which after- wards became the Niagara Pulp & Paper Company at Niagara Palls.
The segregated judgment of the people is ever a problem. In sufficient mass with adequate interest involving almost life or death the people invariably go right; in local cases, wherein momentary passion obscures, they are just as apt or apter to go wrong.
After a bitter recriminatory contest the Sault rejected the bird in the hand for one that was said to be in the bush, but was never seen. It plunged the town into commercial gloom sooner or later, thus compelling a penance of years for the mistake.
During this fight another opposition paper was established, making three in the field--too many. I had been roasted until I was getting hardened to it, and had been hung and burned in effigy, all in the way of supplying me with experience that would entitle me some day to join the veterans' corps of those who become immune to such shafts. My continual war against the gamblers, tough saloons and West End prostitutes always made it possible for my enemies to mobilize a strong force against me. At least once they started to march to my home to mob me. The common knowledge that I had a half a dozen rifles and could and probably would shoot^ made the gang listen to those who advised giving me a wide berth. A coterie of citizens, respectable enough outwardly, but willing to lie in with the worst element to achieve a result, organized for the purpose and boasted that they would drive me out of town.
I have had two such fights in Sault Ste. Marie, running over several years. My frequent absence from home seemed to make it easier for my enemies to undo me. Sometimes, when I would return they would have a warrant awaiting me and would serve it on a Saturday night so as to keep me in jail at least over Sunday. Always some good friend would find out their plan and would have everything ready to circumvent it successfully. The favorite charge brought against me was criminal libel. I have defended nineteen libel suits and have been successful every time, because I tried to be in the right and was able to assemble a sufficient defense. Even now I cross my fingers and touch wood.
Once while I was postmaster my enemies charged me with overcharging an ignorant foreigner for a money order. Inasmuch as I had never issued a money order in my life, it was easy to disprove this. In fact, my enemies have generally, in their blind bitterness, overdone their attacks.
Such a life of civic and social warfare made for me many golden friends as well as unpleasant enmities. I learned that character may be good enough to be malice and slander bomb proof, and I tried to build such a one.
"If you don't do it you can't be caught," was my motto.
That was a selfish thought at first and only gave way with years and growth to my guide of later years:
"Right because of Right?
I will not try to convey the impossible idea that I was always right, because I was not. I was forever doing something and I made mistakes, but I never committed another criminal act after the Indian vote buying, related in a previous chapter. Perhaps I might go further and state that I have always tried to do right and hope that fifty-one per cent, of my acts have been of that character. At least I learned that life cannot be a bluff or a four flush, actions must square with words, and habits and associations must harmonize with aspirations. The hour never appealed to me and only those who know me least would designate me as an opportunist.
My Uncle William Osborn was one of the best men in the world. He said to me once:
"Nephew, where does the trail of life you are on lead to? Every man's life is a trail; it is as long as he lives. There are many blind bypaths leading off. Some of them go nowhere; others lead to quagmires and precipices. The chart of the trail is the bible; the lights on the way are Christian efforts. If you get off the trail go back to the last point you were certain of and start again. Don't be afraid to back up when you are wrong and don't be afraid to go ahead when you are right. Carry your own load and help those who are not as strong as you are to bear their burdens. Show your colors. If you are not with a church you are against it, or worse yet, an agnostic, living in the twilight zone of individual cowardice. The average trail is three score and ten years long. Yours and every man's will land him safe if he uses his conscience as a guide and his better desires as a staff. Where are you going to fetch up at seventy? Read ?Pilgrim's Progress?
My uncle's sermonette made the deepest impression on me of any advice I ever received. "Where are you going to fetch up at seventy?"
So the halfway houses have not held me very long and the jack o' lanterns have not dangerously enticed me off the main trail yet. For this I am thankful to God as the way to go has been very dim at times and hard to follow and there have been rocks in the way and I have stumbled. But I always got up, put my jaws together, smiled to myself and went on. If I were asked the secret of success and happiness I would say applied energy and poised growth.
I AM USED AS A POLITICAL FULCRUM BY JAY HUBBELL TO PRY OUT SAM STEPHENSON
One day William Chandler, of the Sault, came into my office. He loved politics and no sooner had Joe Steere landed in the Sault to recover from an attack of Lenawee enteric, than he was placed on the circuit bench to succeed Judge Goodwin.
The Chandler and Oren families were mixed up with mine back in the old Ohio days. I had gone to school with Mrs. Chandler at Purdue, and had been taught by her very superior mother. Mr. Chandler asked me if I would like to go to Congress. I was only a little past thirty and had not thought of any office, let alone Congress. I had been in so many fights that my opinion was that I could not have been elected dog catcher, and I told Chandler so. He scarcely listened to me.
Ours was the twelfth district. It had been formed geographically in various ways. Just then it comprised the entire Upper Peninsula or about one-third the area of the entire State, divided into fifteen counties, and had a population of about two hundred fifty thousand. From Canada to the Montreal river east and west, and from the mouth of the Menominee to Keweenaw Point north and south, inclosed a formidable region. Its interests were lumbering, iron ore mining and copper mining. Now agriculture, then just beginning to be seriously considered, forms an important pursuit with prospects of ultimately yielding more than all the others.
There were lines of political cleavage between the various interests. Sam Stephenson of Menominee, was our representative. He was a brother of Uncle Ike, and their fraternal ambitions could not be carried in the same basket, as one lived in Michigan and the other in Wisconsin, separated by the Menominee River. It was good for them to be so near together, because they each nourished a proper desire not to be outstripped by the other and they could keep tab on each other. They were wholesome men of their type and period. Only one way was there to get anything and that was to buy it. Hence their life could be summed up: get money and buy what you want They were honest according to prevailing standards, generous when they could see what they were getting for their giving, profane in language, chin likely to be a nicotine delta, canny in a trade, forceful in business, crude and rude and uncouth in matters, manners and education, endued with homely horse sense and enough courage. They were both rich and getting richer sawing pine lumber and selling it.
I have never been able to determine the place of such men. Mostly I have thought they performed a needful function and occupied a legitimate sphere. They got their timber from the Government directly or otherwise at small cost, almost nothing. They cut it ruthlessly and the waste was scattered everywhere they lumbered, and allowed to bum and destroy great, uncut forests and even villages and lives, as witness Peshtigo and many other places.
There was a need for economical house material all over the growing nation. It was thus adequately supplied. One cannot have his cake and eat it too; nor can he have trees and wheat in the same field. Greater care and selection in lumbering would have increased the cost of home building during a critical period, and would have delayed farm development. Consequently, I do not join with those who curse the Stephensons and their congeners.
Sam Stephenson had just bought a seat in the House of Representatives, just as he would purchase a plug of tobacco or a bottle of bone liniment. It did not matter to him whether Henry W. Seymour, of the Sault, had occupied it only a brief few months since the untimely death of Representative Seth Moffatt, of Traverse City. It just "belonged to the feller that could git it,'' was the way Sam sized it up, so he turned his labial nozzle on Mr. Seymour and injected a stream of tobacco juice in his eye, after the manner of squids.
When that benign gentleman got through rubbing his eyes he could not find his seat in Congress. It was not a gentlemanly thing to do perhaps, but Sawlog Sam got what he was after, which is the object in life a great many have.
Now it appears that Mr. Seymour got in because Mr. Chandler and other friends were able to tie the tails of the copper and iron and sawlog cats together, and throw them over the district political clothesline. Down in Chippewa County we were in the minority and flocked with nobody. Our only hope was in a scrap by the others.
Jay Hubbell, of Houghton, who was called "Two per cent." because of his dextrous assessment of post- masters for campaign purposes while in the House of Representatives and chairman of the Congressional Campaign Committee, hated Sam Stephenson plenty. I do not know the origin of the feud, or whether it extended beyond political boundaries or not. Hubbell was a strong man^ educated as a lawyer, resourceful and the foxiest politician in the district.
I did not know that he had ever heard my name. But he had, and just as horsemen have their eye out for likely colts, he had his at the political periscope. Down he came to the Sault and deposited a bug in Mr. Chandler's ear, where it was to abide until it could be transferred to mine. I wore no ear laps in the summer and they got me.
Mr. Hubbell had no use for me. He did not tell me so; nor did he exactly tell Chandler that he had not But he was not delicate about admitting to the latter what he kept from me, and that was his master hunger just then was to beat Sam Stephenson. The scheme was to have favorite sons in enough counties to split things up, and thus make Stephenson's renomination impossible. I was to carry my home county of Chippewa and possibly Mackinac and Luce, and even might keep things stirred up in Schoolcraft. Carl Sheldon was brought out in Houghton County. John Q. Adams, of Negaunee, and Colonel C.Y. Osburn, of Marquette, were candidates in Marquette, the heart of the iron region.
Trouble enough I made for all hands. I did not know that my part was to be only that of a tool. So I went at the thing slambang. I was familiar with the campaigns of Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln. Their districts were not wilder nor larger than the one I had to cover. In fact, bears and wolves and wildcats were thicker in our part of Michigan than they were in Kentucky in Henry Clay's time. Schoolhouses were as far apart. Trusty rifles hung on many-pointed antlers, and there were thousands of Indians who only went on whiskey war paths.
I determined to campaign every school district in the Upper Peninsula. How else could I win without money to buy my way? It was the first campaign of the kind ever conducted in this way in our part of the State. My knowledge of hunting and woodcraft and my life on the Menominee range gave me certain advantages, and I made the most of them I could.
Quite quickly my candidature developed from an incident to a menace. At first Uncle Sam gave no sign of knowing of it; then he roundly haw-hawed and then he sent out agents and money in plenty to head me off. I really liked the people, especially those in remote settlements, and some of them liked me. The old system obtained. Caucuses began to be held and I was successful in more townships and counties than anybody had estimated. Sometimes when our side won, the more bitter and resourceful would send contesting delegations. This was particularly true in Delta and Iron counties. Every political trick known, running the gamut of money, bulldozing, cajolery, lying and promises, was resorted to. Our side might have been as guilty as the other if we had been supplied with the same weapons. We did not use money because we had none to use.
Jay Hubbell and his schemes were lost sight of in the curiosity that was aroused by the queer campaign I was making. I walked and worked night and day, attended socials in churches for which Uncle Sam had donated the principal part of the building fund; went to country dances and called at hundreds of houses where a candidate had never been before. Came the Congressional Convention. It was held at Ironwood, a victory for me because Gogebic County was for me and the local atmosphere would be favorable. I had carried, or claimed to have carried, eight of the fifteen comities and had that many delegations on hand. That did not give me a majority because the larger counties, such as Houghton, Marquette and Menominee, were against me and had candidates of their own. It was while the convention was being organized that I discovered the real part that I had been expected to play. The old bosses, such as Hubbell, Duncan, Parnell, Maitland, Walters and others, were willing to beat Uncle Samuel, but they did not want me by a jugful. In fact, if it came to a show down between Stephenson and me, they would have been for gruff old Uncle Sawlog, who at worst was one of them in being a part of the "interests,? only then they did not call them that. I had more votes than any other candidate and was permitted to organize the convention, or at least to think that I did. Voting started. Once I came within four of the nomination. That was my high water mark. Report was made to my floor managers that John, Duncan, of Houghton, really preferred Uncle Sam to Carl Sheldon, their home candidate. In fact, the fight was not the field against Stephenson any more than it was the field against me. I was consulted and decided that the Duncan report bore earmarks of truth. We threw my support solidly to Sheldon, and he Was chosen. I had gone into the hall at the rear and stood behind Sheldon, who was seated in a chair. When the lid blew off, as Sheldon was nominated, I gave a big, bursting, boyish yell of victory and grabbed Sheldon's hat, as I thought. Waving it in the air I somehow got sight of it. Not a hat at all, but a wig. His toupee had burst its shoe wax moorings. Snatched as baldheaded as a billiard ball, there he sat in a gold-mouthed, glowering rage, caring nothing about his honor and only seeking the return of his thatch, which I had waved aloft like the banner of the beard of the prophet at Goek Tepee.
We had nominated a man not only with solid gold teeth, like the Sultan of Johore, though not set with diamonds, but one who wore a wig. I was responsible for this. Would the common people stand for it ?
Our district was as strongly Republican as though it had been politically pock-marked. There was no doubt of Sheldon's election if he could be kept at home. He was. It transpired that he had no such native ability as Stephenson and was not as effective as a representative.
As for myself, I became a political factor, not by vir- tue of either ambition or design, but only because I al- ways went with all my might at whatever my hands found to do, and this had not been an exception.
There are no bitternesses quite equal to local ones, no matter whether political, religious or of other kinds. They come near to one; there is immediate friction which is aggravated by being seen as well as felt. The source is always within striking distance and that makes for frequent striking and multiplied inflammation. One has to learn to joust and like it; to hit hard and also take blows and to discharge the whole matter as soon as it is over. Not adopting such a philosophy the participant is either knocked down and thrown into the discard, or is made into a grouch, whose very temper becomes his undoing. "Be just as good an anvil as you are a hammer,? was the tabloided advice given to me when a boy, by a veteran of many a battle, who had not a mean wrinkle in his heart and then of course not in his face.
It was a good thing for me that I learned this, because I have been pounded incessantly from youth until the present, and really I think I have improved all the time in every way. While leaving me very far from the unattainable on earth goal of human perfection. I have enjoyed going on the way.
THE SACRIFICE OF GENERAL ALGER TO APPEASE POLITICAL BLOOD HOWLERS
Hispano-American War broke. I was in Spain when the Maine was blown up. Proceeding almost directly to Egypt I found there John Hay and Dr. James B. Angell. I was not of their party, but went to Damascus at the same time that they did and also up the Nile. When I returned to Cairo I found a letter from General Alger asking me to re- turn home and on the way to obtain, if possible, certain information in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and particularly in England. Our Government had reports from its officials upon phases of conditions in those countries and wished the views of others and facts they might gather to use in checking up.
I found everywhere I went in Italy a profound and natural sympathy for Spain. In Germany I found the people and many officials friendly to the United States. In Spain I was to ascertain what might be their ability to sustain the war, and reported great internal weakness, both of physical power and political harmony. Her colonies had drained Spain of her honor and her young manhood until to lose them was welcomed. Their government had been used as a means to political debt paying, and the feeling was that nobody higher up went to the colonies except to feather his nest.
I did witness a funny incident in Huelva. A story teller was entertaining a big crowd talking about the war. He told them that America was about the size of Andalusia and that the people were all shopkeepers; rich, dishonest, cowardly and soft-handed. One big warship they had, he said, and upon it they would sail forth to battle with the Spanish navy. In just a little bit their blood would flow like the juice of a crushed grape, and the war would be over, and Spain would have America in her possession again as she did before it was stolen from her. The crowd cheered this recital with sharpened screams.
My surprise was complete in England. So far as I could determine the government was diplomatically friendly, but the people sympathized with Spain. I talked with hundreds of them of all strata. We had no friends among them so far as I could find. On the English steamer, upon which I returned to America, I canvassed every passenger and did not find one friend. They hoped the Yankees^ swelled heads would be reduced and freely predicted final victory on the sea for the Spaniards. Proceeding at once to Lansing I offered my services to Governor Pingree. He tendered me commissions at three different times and on one occasion he was sup- ported by General E.M. Irish in urging me to accept. I had received some military training in the College Cadets at Purdue under Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, as captain, and I was eager to go to war. Just as I was about to accept a commission, William Jennings Bryan became a colonel. Thereupon several of my friends, who by ridicule and otherwise had been endeavoring to dissuade me from going, remarked with disgust that every cheap politician in the country was grandstanding the war. Somehow or other that shot struck home; not that I thought of Mr. Bryan as a cheap politician, but I knew the place offered to me was earnestly sought by several better equipped than I was, and it began to impress me. So I refused the commission, but offered to enlist as a private. The Governor, who was a practical soldier, told me the time might come when I could do that with propriety, but that just now I could render better service at home. As a result, I became active in organizing and assisted in raising two companies, the officers of which the Governor consulted with me about before he named them.
Quickly the war was over. There had not been a battle severe enough to attract public attention from the minor discomforts of war: sickness in camp and quality of food. Some one found a can of Chicago corned beef that emitted gas when it was punctured for opening. It was one of the few cans that did not stand the sub- tropics. A round robin was hatched in Cuba. Once started there was an epidemic of criticism. There had to be a scapegoat of the administration. General Alger, of Michigan, was Secretary of War. He was a Civil War veteran with a brilliant record, had subscribed thousands to the McKinley campaign fund when Mark Hanna was raising it, and was really possessed of solid ability and sound sense. Although he wrought himself into a sick bed and continued to work when unfit and endangering his life as much as upon a battlefield, the storm settled upon him. Every result of the ante- bellum carelessness, inefficiency, insufficiency and unpreparedness was charged up to him.
One day soon after the last private staggered off the transports at Montauk Point, I received a telegram from the Secretary of War asking me to come to Patterson, New Jersey, where he was to spend a weekend at the home of Vice-President Hobart. I proceeded there at once. General Henry M. Duffield, of Detroit, had been summoned also. He was not only a friend but an inti- mate political adviser of General Alger, and a depend- able, influential and intellectual gentleman. It did not take us long to ascertain that President McKinley had yielded to the pressure and had made up his mind to dump his Secretary of War as a sacrifice. He had asked Vice-President Hobart to break the news to General Alger, and that was the object of the weekend conference. When Hobart told Secretary Alger the lay of the land, the General's care at losing his place in the cabinet was as nothing compared with his personal disappointment in McKinley. It was the only time I ever heard General Alger swear and it was rather pleasant to listen to him as he relieved his feelings.
"Why, it was as late as Thursday that the President put his arms around me and told me not to pay any attention to the attacks of the press," he said, sadly and bitterly.
Continuing, General Alger said the President told him of his confidence and admiration.
"When I offered to resign, which I did in good heart," said Secretary Alger, " the President would not hear of it, and professed to be pained and embarrassed by the idea and asked me as a favor to say no more about it and not to think of leaving the cabinet."
Vice-President Hobart told me that the President had made up his mind some time before that he would have to feed General Alger to the clamorers, egged on in doing so by Senator Hanna and all the administration advisers, but that it was only on the previous Thursday that he had asked Hobart to get Alger out smoothly--the same day the President had caressingly assured the General of his confidence, affection and support.
Of course, Vice-President Hobart told General Alger all the facts. It made him so angry that he decided not to resign, but instead to make all the trouble he could. General Duffield and I permitted time enough to elapse to cool General Alger's fighting blood, and then we advised him to resign, and to return to Michigan where the people loved him and trusted him, and we predicted that they would vindicate him by sending him to the United States Senate. Always amenable to reason. General Alger looked at the matter as we did and decided to resign.
I asked him what, in his opinion, caused the bitter attacks of the New York papers to center upon himself, when the editors certainly possessed the knowledge that he was not to blame for the natural hurts of years of loose departmental administration, and poverty of imagination and anticipation. General Alger replied that he was certain about what caused it. Bids for trans- porting to Spain the Spanish soldiers captured during the war were asked for. The shipping trusts submitted exorbitant figures. A Spanish steamship company pro- posed to do the job for much less and got the contract, in spite of threats made by the robbers. Thereupon certain of the New York press discovered that General Alger could not be controlled and at the same time decided that he was not competent, and would have to go. It was the McKinley campaign fund talking and its speech was effective. Nor did it matter whether such a trifling thing occurred as the destruction of a man's reputation.
Upon my return to Michigan I saw Governor Pingree and Secretary Stone and others, and arrangements were begun for the big homecoming reception of General Alger, that was soon given to him by Detroit. Nothing could have been easier. General Alger was Michigan's most loved citizen. They sensed the unjustness of his treatment and resented, as a quickly generous people would do.
Then followed the working out of the plans to send General Alger to the Senate. He sent for me and re- quested me to be his campaign manager. There were many reasons why I could not do so; chiefly I knew that it would be necessary to use all the Pingree organization that existed, and I did not control it. General Alger would not hear to my objections. My appeal was then to Henry B. Ledyard. When I told Mr. Led- yard my reasons, and informed him that in my opinion William Judson, of Washtenaw, would be the best man that could be obtained, he agreed with me, and got General Alger to consent. Judson conducted a shrewd campaign against the McMillan-Ferry combination and was able to defeat D. M. Ferry, though not easily.
MY ASSOCIATION WITH HAZEN S. PINGREE PLUNGES ME INTO POLITICS DEEPER THAN EVER
It was the age superlative of riding on people's necks. The strong rode the shoulders of the weak night and day, and the rich seemed only to regard the poor as beasts of burden. Nor did it matter, as in mule packing and horse use, whether the collar galled, or the girth fit, or the saddle was on right, or the pack was properly cinched or whether the work animals were properly watered and fed or given rest or taken to a blacksmith or veterinary or turned out to pasture. They just threw the diamond hitch on man and never took off the load. There were more men than mules, and they were easier to get; the supply was unending. Social reformers were anarchists. A disciple of Karl Marx and Rudolph Engels was crazy. Any one who agreed with Henry George was a moron. Herr Most and Emma Goldman should be hung.
Nevertheless, things could not always go on as they were. No thought to speak of had been even given to the idea that the despotism of wealth should ever be benevolent. God works in a mysterious way; yesterday, today, forever. Man with brief authority and enlarged stomach, containing all the coarser passions and desires, has deluded himself with the conceit that he was doing things, when all the time he was contributing to the plan of Providence. Man has exactly the same relation- ship to the vast thing defined as Universal life, as the microscopic cells of the human body have to the life of that body. He is a microcosm of the macrocosm.
He is a cell and his intracellular and intercellular activities cause him only to be conscious of action. There is no such thing as inertia or he would know that. There is no such thing even as physical death : it is only disintegration in order that more perfect reintegration may occur. How wondrous the periodic law, the elements of Mendeleeff, the triads of Dobereiner and the octaves of Newlands--business of the three entities: matter, energy and ether, and business going on all the time and, aided by oppression and repression making for localized power, men popped up everywhere who represented something that just would not be poohed aside and so had to be reckoned with.
Hazen S. Pingree was one of this sort. He was an extraordinary ordinary man. Out of the Green Mountains he came, a shoemaker. Grandfather in Revolutionary War, father in Mexican War, and he a private in the Civil War. Fighters. In Detroit he became quite rich manufacturing shoes. They ran him for mayor. No one knew him as a great humanist ; he did not even know it himself. Elder Blades told him about it, and John Atkinson told him more. Charley Joslyn was one of his young adherents who showed symptoms of humanity that might develop, if he were permitted to run free and unhaltered.
When Pingree began to find out how things were in a social and political way, he began to raise the dickens. This marked him as a troublemaker and undesirable by the machine. James McMillan was a United States Senator of Michigan, and chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. He was a rich, Scotch Canadian whose money had been gleaned from public land grants, and playing the game as honestly as it was played in that time by the big fellows and those who parroted them. Anything was legitimate during that epoch, that would not land a man in the penitentiary, and the function of lawyers was to steer their clients so that they could do business and keep out of jail--but do business. Senator Stockbridge had died in office with the peaceful consciousness that he had had Schuyler Olds pay for all he got. John Patton had been appointed by good Governor Rich to the vacancy, and, being in advance of his time in morals and ethics, he had to be displaced, because his fellow citizen, Blodgett, a lumber king, decided to buy the place for Julius C. Burrows. The railroads, and principally the specially chartered Michigan Central, at the head of which, under the Vanderbilts, was the master mind of Henry B. Ledyard, exercised a large political influence in the State, often secondary, however, to the McMillan influence. Mr. Ledyard and Mr. McMillan were too strong individually, and had too many clashing interests, always to work in harmony.
General Russell A. Alger, with a disposition as sweet as a good woman's, brave when he knew where and how to strike, cherishing a high desire to be right and do right, clean as a man could be and be in big business in those days, was a friend and ally of Ledyard and also was Tom Piatt's agent in Michigan.
This is a partial mirror of political conditions when Hazen S. Pingree began to horn down the shelves of the china shop. There had not been a big man in the pub- lie life of Michigan since the passing of Zach Chandler. Big occasions make big men; just mean money grabbing does not. The Pingree crowd, and it was as crazy a crowd finally of irresponsibles as ever was permitted to gather around a man whose greatest weakness was his inability to judge men, could not work with any existent political entity. So it worked alone. Pingree wished to be governor. It was natural for a lot of reasons that he should. Many of the sycophants nearest to him wanted to use him as such. Others who believed in him were certain he had a mission. Such modernists as Captain Gray, of Glasgow, and William T. Stead spurred him honestly. And the "Old Man'' himself had his fighting blood at boiling point.
Every newspaper in Detroit was against him. He had to put up bulletins in the city hall in order to se- cure any kind of publicity. Not one of the papers could be induced to mention him for governor. Among the old liners he was either a rattlesnake or crazy. Albert Pack finally lined up with him. Pack was to succeed Burrows as United States Senator if things came out right. Pingree started on a tour of the State with O. 0. Tompkins, who later, as warden of Marquette Prison, shot off some fingers of Holzhay, the Gogebic bandit. Very few outside of Detroit had any crystallized convictions about the man. Perry Powers, of Cadillac, while president of the Michigan Press Association, had made a fight for my appointment as state game and fish warden by Governor Rich, which I had clinched by waylaying the Governor between three and four o'clock one morning. This had introduced me into state politics. Consequently I knew Mayor Pin- gree, and I had some idea of what he was up against. When he came to the Sault to see me I at once enlisted in his cause, and agreed to bring him out for governor in the Sault News, which I did. It took some scoring. but he finally won. I was continued in the office I held; in fact my term was for four years, and I had two more to serve when Governor Pingree was inaugurated. He began many reforms and had a knock down and drag out fight every minute with the legislature, while it was in session. The notorious "Immortal Nineteen" lined up against him in the senate and headed him off at every turn.
So it went for two years. When he came up for re- nomination we hoped to get him through on a truce. Prospects were not good. I went to Washington and had a number of sessions about the matter with Senator McMillan, during which I made the discovery that there was no reason to be afraid of a United States Senator; that even the strongest of them are not supermen.
Decision was made that Governor Pingree had so intrenched himself that he could not be successfully opposed without more of a fight than was worth while. I had a good many reasons for desiring to be a factor in the second Pingree convention. Principally I de- sired to secure the nomination of Horace M. Oren, of my home town, for attorney general. The idea was put into my head by Fred A. Maynard, whose time had come to retire from that office, which he had ably filled. There was no fight on Pingree, but there was plenty of opposition to everybody else.
I succeeded in organizing and controlling the convention, and our slate went through, of course including Oren. I did not know then that the attorney general has a fat lot of state law business to give out, with the consent of the Governor. It was, and still can be, one of the most productive sources of graft.
Eli Sutton, a son-in-law of Governor Pingree, seemed to have his ear and his confidence to a greater extent than anybody else. Others of the kitchen cabinet were Bill Judson, of Washtenaw, Sybrant Wesseliua, John Atkinson, Arthur Marsh and Charley Joslyn. Now and then Oren and I would be invited to the "meetings," but I was not often taken into the inner circle. Whether it was because they were going to "bunk" the Old Man or do some dirty work, I do not know, but they were careful. Personally, I do not think a single one of the intimates of Governor Pingree was dishonest intentionally. Some of them had supported him on principle and others, who were outside the political breastworks, picked him as a hundred to one shot. The kitchen cabinet was in disagreement. Wesselius seemed to lead one wing and Eli Sutton the other. Sutton won out.
Wesselius was commissioner of railroads; a big, able, unpoised man. To my surprise that place, about the best in the gift of the Governor, was offered to me. I did not want it. But I had come to know and love and trust General Alger. So I asked his advice. He was emphatic in telling me to take it. There was some delay, not serious, in my confirmation. Then the office was turned over to me. When I walked through the door I thought that about all the equipment I had for the job was acquired when I was one of the Chicago & Northwestern construction gang. Mr. Wesselius and his friend, Fred Britton, one of the best of Michigan newspaper men, were the only occupants of the office, and I was alone, so simple may be the investiture of authority. Some commonplaces were exchanged during which I observed that I hoped to administer the office in the interests of all the people, but with no unfairness or injustice to the railroads, whereupon Wesselius snorted:
"Young feller, you pray to God and ask him to look out for you and the people; the railroads will look out for themselves."
Now I was commissioner of railroads of the State of Michigan, with more authority, positive and negative, if exercised, than any one man should ever have.
As long as I occupied the office Governor Pingree never crossed its threshold. He sent for me the first day and told me that he had promised that Senator Frank Westover, of Bay City, an able man, should be appointed deputy commissioner. That was exactly the time for a show down as to whether I was commissioner of railroads or a dummy for the Governor, or much worse perhaps, for some of his advisers. I told him that I did not know Mr. Westover, that I had nothing against him, that I did not wish to thwart him as governor and even would help him carry out his promises when I could adjust actions to public interests. Then I told him I would resign, that there would be no feeing and that he could appoint Mr. Westover as commissioner.
Secretly I think he liked my straight talk and respected me, but outwardly he sniffed and snuffed air through one side of his nose, and we never became intimate. I did not know then, nor until lomg afterwards, that I had been appointed really because General Alger had asked Governor Pingree to do so, and Mr. Ledyard had asked General Alger. Not another request was made of me by the Governor, nor did General Alger or Mr. Ledyard ever ask a favor that had any bearing on my official acts.
Governor Pingree had Ralph Stone as private secretary. Then the position of secretary carried the title of major. He was even then, though a young man, possessed of superior attainments of heart and mind. While with the Michigan Trust Company at Grand Rapids, Major Stone acquired valuable business experience to supplement his academic law training at the University of Michigan. At the ^Varsity he had been an independent and a leader among the "non-frats? This was due to a deeply set humanity, probably inherited from a sensitively organized father, who at that time was a Unitarian preacher in New Jersey. Between Major Stone and the purely political crowd there was always friction. The secretary was constant in his endeavors to protect his chief from the wolves. More than once he tore up wild speech manuscripts that had been supplied the governor, and wrote addresses to replace them. Very much credit for the many concrete achievements of Governor Pingree's administration belongs to Ralph Stone. I always found it a satisfaction to cooperate with him, and early I was impressed with his clean and clear and courageous thought processes, his poise and good judgment, and his common sense and kindliness. He had deeply at heart the welfare of the masses with no desire to make political capital of his sentiments. And yet, when he sought employment after leaving the executive office, he found that capital regarded him as a dangerous socialist, if not an anarchist. This made his ladder climb to the presidency of the Detroit Trust Company a trial of his manhood and principles. Ralph Stone was one of the first to demonstrate the reasonable and human tendency in modem business.
Governor Pingree made enemies in phalanxes. They dogged him everywhere, as always is the case when men in public or private who are worth while, assail the established order, no matter how bad the established order may be. Pingree fought back bravely. The Detroit Free Press, which has had a history of malignancy unsurpassed since the days it hounded Lincoln, and was the organ in London of the rebel Knights of the Golden Circle, set its spies on his track and after all of those who were a part of his administration.
As is often the case, internal conditions proved fatal when external attacks are easily resisted. There was crookedness in the Governor's official family. Probably the acts were not more dishonest than many past practices, but always higher standards are being erected by which public acts are judged, and no one had done more than Governor Pingree to improve conditions in this respect.
One evening I received a hasty summons to come to the Executive Chambers. Assembled was every friend of the administration that could be reached. The military scandals had been unearthed. Then occurred a demonstration of the wonderful, though blind, personal loyalty of Governor Pingree. He would not believe a single charge made. It was the work of his personal enemies who, because they could not "get the old man," were determined to ruin any or all who were his friends. And in this view he persisted to the last, finally pardoning those who pleaded guilty so as to give him an opportunity to do so, rather than to trust their fate to a succeeding governor.
While the grand jury was in session, nearly all the Governor's appointive heads of departments took to the woods. No one molested me, because there was nothing that could be tortured into a dereliction. They hounded me though, and I enjoyed it, because I have never feared that a clear case could be made out against a man unless he had left himself open somewhere, either by carelessness or dishonesty. In every way I had taken my public work seriously and had tried to do more than the law required me to do. It was not enough for me to do what the law specified. I tried to carry out anything and everything within my power in the interest of the public, that the law did not forbid. Very little time elapsed before I discovered that the strong have a way of sending special representatives to a state capitol, and that the weak and unorganized are not represented at all, unless public officials constitute of them- selves their especial guardians. That was my view of public duty.
One of the first things I had to decide was whether I would accept passes and permit my subordinates to use them also. In the past it had been the practice of all public officials I knew anything about, who could get passes, to take them, use them and charge up their railroad fare to the State just as though they had paid it. There was no commoner graft, and while petty in one, it amounted to a big total when all did it. There was no law then against accepting a pass on anything. It was easy to determine that the passes were sent to me as commissioner of railroads, and not personally. So to each railroad and other transportation company that sent a pass, I wrote the following:
"Received as a courtesy extended to the State of Michigan, to be used as such."
And of course I did not charge, or permit to be charged by subordinates, to the State, any railroad fares. The saving thus made was considerable in four years, but it was much greater in principle, because it was an index of that right performance, which made it impossible for the many who subsequently delved into my record to "get anything on me."
I BECOME A CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR TO SUCCEED HAZEN S. PINGREE
As the Pingree second term waned the question of a successor to him began to seize all concerned. The political pendulum had been pushed by Governor Pingree as far as it would go in the reform direction and was already starting on a reverse oscillation. The McMillan machine had received a jolt that made it rickety. The railroads, between which and the McMillan bund there had been a partial truce, always sufficient in effect before the election of Governor Pingree to protect the transportation interests in the legislature and control the appointment of the railroad com- missioner, had been badly shaken up. At the same time, the Pingree organization had been flawed by the state militia exposures. It is always the case that political chaos produces numerous candidates. The mixed conditions during the last year of the second term of Governor Pingree did not prove an exception to this. Probably the McMillan machine showed the most vitality and best cohesiveness. While it failed to beat Alger with Ferry it easily defeated Albert Pack for United States Senator with Julius Caesar Burrows.
Senator Stockbridge, who died in office, was succeeded by John Patton, of Grand Rapids. Governor Rich often showed signs of independence, and this appointment of Mr. Patton was an instance. When the brief term served by Senator Patton expired, his place was taken by J.C. Burrows, of Kalamazoo. This result was a perfect mirror of existing political conditions. John Patton was a citizen of unusual strength. He was a lawyer, a man of culture and force, independent and courageous, desired only the best and acted upon well considered convictions. Naturally, he could not be handled willy nilly. The politicians and interests had no manner of use for him because they could not use him. Politics appeared to be a question of profit of some kind for nearly everybody. Some one more bid- able than John Patton was wanted in the national Senate. Mr. Burrows, then for some time in the House of Representatives, was selected as the man. Delos Blodgett, a wealthy lumberman of Grand Rapids, forgot the amenities that are supposed to subsist between fellow citizens, in the desire that submerged him to have some one who would vote right on the lumber tariff and other things. Mr. Blodgett sought and obtained the McMillan vehicle, which was not difficult, because James McMillan, the senior senator, did not look pleasantly upon a junior senator of superior culture, who would not play second fiddle to him. The machine worked so well that Mr. Patton got the guillotine expeditiously. It worked quite as well against Albert Pack, who had lined up with the Pingree forces and tried with their aid to beat Senator Burrows, after his first term. I had impotently supported both Patton and Pack.
With these scalps in their belt the McMillanites quite confidently trotted out D.M. Ferry, of Detroit, as a successor to Pingree. Aaron T. Bliss, of Saginaw, had the Alger-Ledyard railroad support. I was offered the support of one wing of the Pingree following, including A that of Justus S. Steams, of Ludington, then secretary of state. It was not long after he had urged me to become a candidate for governor and had pledged his support to me, before he decided, as was his right, that he would be a candidate himself. This was the result of influence upon him by the Pingree wing that was not for me. It was the mercenary gang, and was stronger than the other following. Nevertheless, inasmuch as I had made my announcement, I stuck to my colors.
James O'Donnell, of Jackson, a newspaper man of standing and ability, who had been in the house of representatives and also had been a candidate for governor several times before, announced himself.
Lastly, the commissioner of insurance under Governor Pingree, Milo D. Campbell, of Coldwater, be- came a candidate. This made six candidates for governor to succeed Pingree. Three of them, Bliss, Ferry and Stearns were by reputation multi-millionaires. The other three, O'Donnell, Campbell and myself were comparatively poor men. I was youngest of all and, as I view things now, I was not qualified to be governor, although I am, even after sixteen years, unconvinced that I was not as well equipped as any of the others, which is not an immodest tribute to myself.
There ensued the wildest use of money in politics that had ever occurred in the State. Such a fight as Ferry, Bliss and Stearns put up had never been witnessed before. The serpent of corruption made a slimy trail all over the State, and debauched and debauchers could be tracked by the spoor of dollars. When the thing got hot, delegates were offered three thousand dollars for a single vote, and perhaps more. Friends of mine witnessed an offer of two thousand, five hundred dollars to a delegate favorable to me, and saw him refuse in anger. That honest man is Oilman M. Dame since then for a time chairman of the Republican state central committee of Michigan. That act explains the origin of my friendship for him that began then and has subsisted without a break to the present time.
I made a red-hot personal canvass as far and as fast as I could go. With no money to spend I was not tempted to spend any. O'Donnell and Campbell were in the same moneyless boat so far as concerned ability to compete with Ferry, Bliss and Steams. My stock in trade was my political and administrative record up to date. As state game and fish warden I had done my best at every turn and had really gotten results. As commissioner of railroads I had enforced two-cent passenger fare laws for the first time in the history of the State; had clung to a policy of grade separation consistently and doggedly, only to see it die when I went out of office and remain unresurrected to this time--and had done all the law required and quite a good deal more.
My grade separation work had just been tragically emphasized by an accident at Flint, in which Major Buckingham, Mrs. Applegate and Mrs. Humphrey had been killed. Application had been made for a certain grade crossing at Flint. The hearing was attended by a large number of citizens- of that town, including Major Buckingham. That gallant gentleman had abused me roimdly when I decided against those who desired the unopposed request. Special legislation was sought and obtained, reversing my decision in effect. The grade crossing was put in, and within a short time afterwards Major Buckingham and his guests were killed upon it.
The grade crossing policy caused more friction than anything else during my administration of the railroad commissioner's department. It was an active era of electric road construction. Very frequently indeed there was trouble over crossings between steam and electric roads. I was called upon almost continuously to grant hearings, at which appeared the best lawyers of the State and many capitalists. One incident discovered to me how the situation might be made extraordinarily profitable by one so inclined.
I had made a decision requiring six grade separations to cost ten thousand dollars each, a total of sixty thousand dollars. The electric road builder who would have to do this work called upon me in my office early one forenoon, before the separation orders had been issued. After preliminaries he said he had come to "lose thirty thousand dollars under the carpet of my office.?
For just a moment I really did not understand him, but in the next half second it flashed to my mind that he was trying to bribe me. It was probably the play for me, according to the story books, to be insulted and knock my tempter down and throw him out, or do some such dramatic stunt But I only saw the humor of the thing and told him that if the money was lost under the carpet, the janitor would find it after a while and return it, but he would lose his interest.
Disgusted with what he appeared to think was my stupidity, he soon departed.
It was the only time in my life that I have been offered a bribe. He was going to split fifty-fifty with me and not separate the grades. A lot of money to me was thirty thousand dollars, but it required no accession of honesty to refuse it; in fact it was not even a temptation, and I did not seem to get for myself from it any real measure of my true character.
The charm of the governorship campaign was the attitude towards me of certain personal friends and particularly of my home town and county, and the entire Upper Peninsula. I had every Upper Peninsula county behind me except Luce. The two delegates from Luce County were controlled for Stearns by Con Danaher, a fellow lumberman. In the Lower Peninsula I did not have much support, but it was more than enough to offset the loss of Luce.
The convention deadlocked, but not for long. The Ferry forces decided early that they were beaten. They caucused. Their leaders saw they might dictate the nomination by throwing to O'Donnell or to me. In a vote between us I lost by two. If the Ferry delegates had come to me I would in all probability have been nominated, because I had a large second choice following, that would have come to me on the break that followed. Power above man pilots destiny. Bliss was nominated.
I have always thought that James O'Donnell joked himself away from serious consideration. He was a fine man. In public he was a monologist, and came to be regarded as a funny entertainer. This threw a curtain over his solider merits. Ecclesiastes: "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor."
Defeat for nomination as governor at the Grand Rapids convention did not in the least discourage me. On the contrary it opened my eyes. The three contesting millionaires had spent three quarters of a million dollars. Disgust was written as large in the State as shame had been. It is as though the individual is a phagocyte and sustains the same relation to the great body politique as that bacillus does to the human body. When a sickness threatens death they are stimulated as never before to work to save it.
I shared in the common desire for better and cleaner things. This was intense enough within me to cause me to decide that I would get out of politics and remain out until I could participate as an independent.
There were only two ways then, and that is all there are now, by which a man could become a candidate. One was as the creature of interested persons, and the other was upon one's own initiative as an independent. In fact, the latter way offered the only possible chance for freedom in public service. I could not see how a poor man could be wholly independent under our political systems and conditions then, and cannot now. The thing then for me to do, I decided, was to make enough money to be independent and to make it by methods so honest that I could not reproach myself, or be assailed by an opponent or an enemy. It took me twelve years to do it.
My next decision was to reenter politics, or at least to offer to serve, and particularly to expose and oppose all forms of political corrupt practice. My happiness was not to be found in holding office, but in work of any kind and in any and all directions, so far as my power went, that would help mankind. Nor could I convince myself that I was unselfish, because I soon found that there is more joy in offering to serve and in conscientiously doing one's best when opportunity comes. I was after that sweetness.
Upon all sides I saw the hardness and the misery and the discontent of wealth. Strong men would phlebotomize everybody they could, and then in an anguish of remorse, seek happiness as professional philanthropists through channels of belated restoration, only to gather disappointment and increased bitterness.
Somewhere between too much and too little is the economic Utopia that Solomon quotes Agur, the son of Jakeh, as praying for when he asks: ?Give me neither poverty nor riches."
That also became my prayer. I was thus, I think, prevented from having an incurable case of money grubbing. When my possessions got to the fairly certain value of two hundred fifty thousand dollars, I diverted all my strength to public service in any way that gave me a chance.
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