Archive for February, 2009

Long Live Your Choice

February 28, 2009


The Sprig of Liberty.

In Lewistown, in this state, we have been informed that a majority of the people were so much displeased with the eleven senators, who voted for the acquittal of judges Shippen, Yeates and Smith, that they actually burnt them — in effigy. The 4th of March, was celebrated  at that place with much spirit, and some excellent toasts were drank on the occasion. The following extempore account of the proceedings on that day is taken from the Western Star,, published in Lewistown.

“To a Friend in the Country.

I promised, sir, to let you know,
How here the fourth of March would go,
Rejoic’d old Tom was Chief once more,
We all assembled just at four;
The spot we chose — a rifling ground,
The air with loud huzzas resound;
Our cannon tells the welcome news,
That Jefferson again we choose;
And echo pleased to hear its voice,
Re-echoes back, “Long live your choice!”

Our front, old Seventy-Six men led,
For scenes like this, they fought and bled;
With pleasure glistening in their eye,
They haild the Reign of Liberty.
Indignant at Oppressions name,
Their hearts soon caught the sacred name;
Their tongues assumed the martial strain,
And fought the Britons o’er again.
Thee patriots of a later date,
Who joined to save a sinking state,
When hovering dangers did combine,
To mark the black year Ninety-nine,
With pleasure celebrate the day;
Apostate Burr* has lost his sway.
Old Tommy’s health goes round again,
With Clinton, Washington, MKean;
The noted Eleven not forgot —-
(Poor Passmore left in gaol to rot.)

But still a few not more than ten,
Refused to show themselves like men
And citizens, but lurk’d behind,
And at the general good repined;
Brooding in gloomy melancholy;
The monuments of federal folly;
The satellites of that fall’n star,
Whom Fame disbanded from her car.

The night was spent in mirth and noise,
And loud huzzas of men and boys;
All swigg’d — none from their duty flunk;
And all were gay — though not quite drunk.”


*Although there is very strong reason for suspecting Mr. Burr, of apostacy, we believe it has never been fairly proven.

The Sprig Of Liberty (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Mar 29, 1805


From the “Against the Grain” website:

In Pennsylvania, the feeling against the Common Law took shape, in 1802-1805, in the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court, Edward Shippen, Jasper Yeates and Thomas Smith, charged with a single “arbitrary and unconstitutional act,” that of sentencing Thomas Passmore to jail for thirty days and imposing a $50 fine for a “supposed contempt,” the ground of the impeachment being that punishment for contempt of court was a piece of English Common Law barbarism, unsuited to this country and illegal)

Report of the Trial and Acquittal can be found on Google Books (click the link.)

Trial page graphics from the linked book.

The Gambler’s Wife: By Dr. Reynell Coates

February 27, 2009
Dr. Reynell Coates

Dr. Reynell Coates

Select Poetry.


Dark is the night! How dark! No light! No fire!
Cold on the hearth, the last faint sparks expire;
Shivering she watches by the cradle side
For him who pledged her [love — last year a bride!]

Hark! ‘Tis his footstep! No! — ‘Tis past! — ‘Tis gone!”
Tick! — Tick! — “How wearily the time crawls on!
Why should he leave me thus? — He once was kind!
And I [believed] ‘twould last! — How mad! How blind!

“Rest thee, by babe! — Rest on! — ‘Tis hunger’s cry!
Sleep! for there is no food; the found is dry!
Famine and cold their wearying work have done!
My heart must break! — and thou!” — The clock strikes one.

“Hush! ’tis the dice-box! Yes, he’s there, he’s there!
For this! — for this, he leaves me to despair!
Leaves love! leaves truth! his wife! his child! for what?
The wanton’s smile — the villain — and the sot!

“Yet I’ll not curse him. No! ’tis all in vain!
‘Tis long to wait, but sure he’ll come again!
And I could starve and bless him but for you,
My child! — [his] child! O fiend!” The clock strikes two.

“Hark! How the sign-board creaks! The blast howls by!
Moan! moan! A dirge swells through the cloudy sky!
Ha! ’tis his knock! He Comes! — he comes once more! —-
‘Tis but the lattice flaps! The hope is o’er!

“Can he desert up thus? He knows I stay
Night after night in loneliness to pray
For his return — and yet he sees no tear!
No! no! It cannot be! He will be here!

“Nestle more closely, dear one, to my heart;
Thou’rt cold! Thou’rt freezing! But we will not part!
Husband! — I lie! — Father! — It is not he!
Oh, God. protect my child!” The clock strikes three!

They’re gone, they’re gone! The glimmering spark hath fled!
The wife and child are number’d with the dead.
On the cold hearth, outstretched in solemn rest,
The babe lay frozen on its mother’s breast;
The gambler came at last, but all was o’er —
Dread silence reigned around — the clock struck four!

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Dec 7, 1846

From the Patriot Order Sons of America website:

The Order of the Junior Sons of America was founded December 10, 1847 in Philadelphia, PA, by Dr. Reynell Coates (December 10, 1802 – April 27, 1886).  Dr. Coates was a surgeon, scientist, statesman, naturalist, teacher, poet, lecturer and essayist, and wished to found a fraternity for American boys to serve as a “High School of American Patriotism.”

The organization was open to American boys aged sixteen to twenty-one years of age. Upon turning twenty-one, their membership would be transferred to the United Sons of America, the parent organization of the Junior Sons. Dr. Coates was the organizer and chief promoter of the Junior Sons of America, wrote the constitution and by-laws, the ritual and ceremonies, and chose the Order’s songs which still remain in use.


Dr. Reynell Coates was the editor of “Leaflets of Memory,” of which two editions can be found on Google Books:

Leaflets of Memory, 1851

Leaflets of Memory, 1855

Included in Dr. Godman’s “Rambles of a Naturalist,”  is Dr. Coates’ essay, A Voyage to India.

Edith Wilson, An Old Colored Woman

February 27, 2009


An Old Colored Woman.

An old woman known as Aunt Edith Wilson, who lives near Providence, Ky., is said to be 133 years old. She was born in South Carolina, and belonged to a man named Adams. Before the Revolutionary War she was a grown woman, and was a house servant and waiting maid to the daughters of Mr. Adams.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Nov 8, 1890


The 1880 census lists an Eda Wilson, age 112, grandmother, living with the Bruce Williamson family.

The 1870 census list an Edith Wilson, age 85, living with the Francis Rice family.

“The Average New Yorker” Becomes a Canteen Worker

February 26, 2009
Sterling S. Beardsley

Sterling S. Beardsley


New Yorker Wins French Cross for Untiring Efforts in Red Cross Canteen Service

PARIS, July 28. — The services that the average New Yorker, over the military age, rendered at the front in France, have been recognized by the French army in the award, announced today, of the Croix de Guerre to Sterling S. Beardsley, a New York cotton broker. Beardsley served for nine months with the American Red Cross as a canteen worker in the fighting zone. Marshal Petain was the signer of his citation.

Captain Beardsley gained the nickname of “The Average New Yorker,” in the press dispatches. The idea conveyed was that Beardsley’s situation in life at the time America entered the was was about the average of thousands of New York business men. He was a broker, over forty-two, had been twice refused by the army, had a wife and two children. He bought liberty bonds, contributed to the welfare organizations and joined in various “win the war” activities.

But somehow this work did not suffice him and so he obtained a commission with the Red Cross. He sailed for France in January, 1918. Two months later he was in the midst of the biggest offensive the German armies had ever attempted — the Somme drive of March, 1918.


*CLICK the Red Cross passport letter for larger image.

Beardsley had never made a cup of chocolate or performed any kitchen labor in his life. But the night he reached the front on top of a rolling soup kitchen he started to scour pots and pans. He explained that he “just figured out” that the yought to be clean.

That night the enemy airmen came over where his soup kitchen was set up and he had to sleep in a damp rat-infested wine cellar. Next day he set to work to make coffee, cocoa and soup by the gallon. Two weeks later when he took his clothes off for the first time since his arrival he realized that he had become a first class soup chief.

He stayed at his soup kitchen in Compiegne for two months. Then he had orders to move to the Marne. He set up his kitchen in Chateau-Thierry. Forced out of there, he went on to another town where he found a hospital full of wounded with insufficient medical staff. He scrubbed floors and aided the doctors at operations and served soup and coffee from his canteen “on the side.”

Journal Six O’Clock, Lincoln, Nebraska, Monday,  July 28, 1919


PARIS, June 13. Mrs. Belmont Tiffany, of New York; Sterling Beardsley of New York and Palm Beach, and James Oliver and Mooney Wheeler of Pittsburg, worked then days and ten nights at a Red Cross canteen with practically no sleep caring for retreating French and British soldiers and the mass of civilian refugees who streamed through Compiegne during the early days of the German offensive.
Beardsley, whose duty it is to organize Red Cross units in the field and get them started in full operating order, had just arrived in the neighborhood of Compiegne on the eve of the enemy’s drive. He was organizing a canteen at a certain place north of Compiegne. Oliver and Wheeler were with him to take over the outfit after he had established it.

Mrs. Belmont Tiffany was visiting that section of the front and inspecting Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. units when Hindenburg’s blow fell.

Had to Change Location.

In the first stride forward the Germans occupied the place where Beardsley had intended to open his canteen, and a large supply of stores, as well as several motor trucks and automobiles fell into the enemy’s hands. Beardsley, Oliver and Wheeler got away in an automobile, donated to the Red Cross by Mrs. B.D. Spillman of Warrenton, Va., and it was that car that they used for the ensuing two weeks in bringing up their supplies and in distributing them. It was the only piece of rolling stock that the Red Cross had in that region, as the roads were so choked with troops and guns it was impossible to get other machines up from Paris or elsewhere.

Mrs. Belmont Tiffany had been at the front and narrowly escaped being hit in a German bombardment with long range guns. She was taken back to Compiegne by the French staff officer accompanying her on her trip, and there she met Bear[d]sley, who was organizing his base supply station there as a canteen. Mrs. Tiffany volunteered to help him during the rush and her services were eagerly accepted, as Oliver and Wheeler were then only others on the job.

Canteen Sign Hung Out.

A counter was improvised, long stables were set up with boards on boxes, and benches were made, and then the Red Cross canteen sign was placed outside. Hot coffee and sandwiches made from French and American bread and potted meats were served all day and all night, as troops on the march were continually traversing the town and refugees from the territory over which the enemy was advancing were streaming back.

Mrs. Tiffany wielded a hammer and a saw as well as Beardsley in their amateur carpentering to make their storehouse into a canteen. Then when it was ready for business she presided at coffee and sandwich making and in pouring the steaming hot beverage from big pitchers.

Meantime, Beardsley stocked up the automobile with cigarettes, chocolate and tinned goods and toured in various directions out of Compiegne, distributing these articles to the weary soldiers.

Beardsley covered the districts near to the town in the day-time, and then ran up nearer to the front, in the Noyon-Lassigny region, at night. He was practically always under fire from the enemy’s six-inch guns, as the Germans were continually sprinkling roads and villages far behind the lines with shrapnel and high explosives.

On one occasion Mrs. Tiffany was riding with Beardsley as they were carrying coffee as well as sandwiches, and she had to hold the big tub steady as the little automobile skidded around shell holes in the road.

They stopped directly behind a French battery of seventy-five which was emplaced in hastily dug gunpits, directly at the edge of the road. They served the gunlayers and officers with coffee and sandwiches and distributed cigarettes and chocolate, which the French gratefully received. The battery, they were told, had been falling back for eight days, stopping two or three times in every twenty-four hours to shell the advancing Germans. They had not lost a gun, but had suffered heavily in casualties among the gun crews.

Gets Shell as Souvenir.

Mrs. Tiffany stooped and picked up the brass shell case of one of the projectiles which the battery had fired, but the French lieutenant in charge bade her throw it away. Then he snapped out an order and his crew rammed home a shell in the breach of one of the pieces. The lieutenant beckoned Mrs. Tiffany to approach the cannon. Then he showed her a lever and motioned her to move it.

She did, and the wonderful little gun barked viciously; the barrel leaped back in its oil bath recoil absorber, and a three-inch shrapnel projectile went screaming northward four thousand yards among the enemy. The lieutenant picked up the smoking, oily metal case of the projectile just fired, which had been automatically ejected from the breech. He scratched the date, the place, the number of the battery and his name in the brass with his diamond ring and handed it to Mrs. Tiffany as a souvenir.

“I suppose we will be called up on the carpet eventually because we distributed some supplies which were intended only for Americans to French and British soldiers and to women and children — poor French refugees from the country where the fighting was going on,” said Beardsley. “These troops certainly appreciated something to smoke and something to eat when I handed over the chocolate and sandwiches. Frequently they were not permitted to halt at all. Then we would stand at the side of the road and their officers would let them deploy into single file so we could hand everyone of them something.

Cared For Women and Children.

“The poor women and their tiny children coming back were not forgotten either. We gave them some milk chocolate which we happened to have and also evaporated cream and condensed milk for the infants. Some of the poor people were almost starving, as they did not have time to save a thing in many cases. Others, however, seemed to have salvaged everything they owned except the actual real estate. They had huge bundles of bedding containing clocks and pictures and similar articles, and they drove along with them their sheep, goats, cows, pigs and chickens. Of course, they were all attended by innumerable dogs.

“At Compiegne they were placed on board trains for transport to the east and south of France. They insisted that their livestock go right along with them, and I was in many compartment giving out food and supplies in which mothers, babies and aged husbands and fathers were sitting and sleeping among their goats, pigs and chickens. The railroad authorities managed to persuade most of the people to part with their cows, but one woman insisted on taking an animal into the baggage car and riding with it.

“Trains used for bringing up troops to that district were filled with these refugees for the back haul instead of being sent back empty.”

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Jun 13, 1918

Sterling Beardsley Before the War


That Is the Sobriquet Given a New York Broker.

New York, June 22. — Just because the members of the New York Cotton exchange have christened Sterling S. Beardsley, of the firm of E.F. Hutton & Co., with the ponderous title of “The Human Steam Roller,” there is no reason to doubt the confidential assertions that the stage lost a popular “matinee hero” when this gentleman declared for a life in the brokerage ring. For even in the present, while lending his aid to the efforts to boost cotton toward the eleven cent mark, Mr. Beardsley harbors Thespian ambitions, and along with one Mr. Shakespeare, holds firmly to the belief that “the play’s the thing.”

Today, in point of physical displacement, Mr. Beardsley holds the record of being about the biggest member of the Cotton exchange. In his Harvard days, likewise, he had a weighty influence in affairs of the student body. It is recorded, also, that he made one of his greatest hits in that period by appearing as Fatima in a certain amateur theatrical performance sponsored by the Hasty Pudding club.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Jun 22, 1909

*For more posts about canteen workers, click on the WWI category or the “Canteen Workers” tag.

Beg, Beggars, Beggary

February 26, 2009

Sympathy by Frederick Judd Waugh

Sympathy by Frederick Judd Waugh

The pictures I’ve used don’t go with the poems exactly, but have the same theme.


I stood by a desk in my little store,
Turning the leaves of a volume o’er,
Now of a monarch, reading slowly–
Then of a God-man, far more lowly,
Of whom the olden records say,
He knew not where his head to lay.

I turned from that sacred book of yore,
As a shadow darkened that small glass door,
A shadow–but scarce more frail than she
Who lifted her pitiful eyes to me,
And, trembling, against the county bent,
She wept, and begged for a single cent.

Her cheek was white, and lean, and high,
And little lustre was in her eye;
Though from its glances a wildness shot,
That told of pleasures she now had not,
And as a silent suppliant, she
Stretched forth her pallid hand to me.

I read on her wasted face the tale
That has made a thousand spirits quail.
O! I would willingly hear my knell,
Wee there no more such tales to tell.
Cursed be the want and woe that lent
Such value to a coveted cent!

The woman–oh! thin and young she was–
Shook like a blade of wind-stricken grass,
And hectically she blushed to know
That a world was witness to her woe;
But with that hectic flush, a sigh
Showed that death to her heart was nigh.

She paused a moment beside the door,
Until the throe of her pain was o’er,
And I, into her open palms,
Had dropped a poor man’s meagre alms;
And then she prayed on my soul might fall
That Father’s blessing who gives us all.

The shadow glided across the door,
And vanished slowly, to come no more.
May God preserve thee, deserted thing!
Thy sorrow my heart is harrowing.
It was so mournful to see thee bent
In supplication for a cent!

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Mar 22, 1852

The Beggars' Breakfast by Jean Geoffrey

The Beggars' Breakfast by Jean Geoffrey


He sits by the great high road all day —
The beggar blind and old,
The locks on his brow are thin and grey,
And his lips are blue and cold;
The life of the beggar is almost spent,
His cheek is pale and his form is bent,
And he answereth low and with meek content,
The sneers of the rude and bold.

All day, by the road, hath the beggar sat,
Weary, and faint, and dry —
In silence, patiently holding his hat,
And turning his sightless eye,
As, with cruel jest and greeting grim,
At his hollow cheek and eye-ball dim,
The traveller tosses a cent at him,
And passeth hastily by.

To himself the blind old man doth hum
A song of his boyhood day,
And his lean, white fingers idly drum
On his thread bare knee where they lay;
And oft, when the gay bob-o’link is heard
The song of the youth-hearted yellow bird,
The jar of life, and the traveller’s word,
And the shout of children’s play;

He starts and grasps with a hurried hand
The top of his smooth-worn cane,
And striking it sturdily into the sand —
Then layeth it down again!
While his black little spaniel, beautiful Spring,
That he keeps at his button-hole with a string,
Leaps up, and his bell goes tink-a-ling ling;
As he yelps with impatient pain.

Then he counteth his gains with quiet heed,
As the few through his fingers slide,
He knows is scarcely enough to feed
The beautiful dog by his side;
So he holdeth his hat and waiteth still,
Though the day is worn and the night is chill,
With patient hope his hand to fill
From the offals of pomp and pride.

He sites by the great high road all day;
That beggar blind and old,
The locks on his brow are thin and grey,
And his lips are blue and cold;
Yet he murmureth never, day nor night;
But seeing the world by its inner sight,
He patiently waits with a heart all light,
Till the sum of his life shall be told.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Feb 7, 1842

Misery by Fernando Pelez

Misery by Fernando Pelez


“Stay, lady stay, and list awhile,
A poor and beggar boy am I;
Bereft of pity’s beaming smile,
And sunk in woe and misery.

“There was a time, when on the couch
Of ease, I tun’d to notes of joy;
But now (save scorn, and keen reproach,)
There’s nothing left the beggar boy.

“Once I could boast of parents, friends;
E’en maidens’ love I once possess’d;
But now no pitying hand extends
Its help, to sooth my aching breast.

“There was a time — alas! ’tis gone
When fortune, FICKLE fortune smil’d;
Enwrapt in joy I journey’d on,
And was pronounc’d her fav’rite child.

“But like the transient meteor’s light,
That sporting fleets along the sky,
But quickly fading from the sight,
Deceives the wandering gazer’s eye.

“So sportive fortune woke to me,
And wrapt me in delusive joy,
SHE FLED — and meagre poverty,
Was all she left the beggar boy!”


Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 26, 1825

If you like these, I also posted a couple of poems about ORPHANS that  are similar in theme.

“Flopping Bill” Cleans the Ranges of Desperados

February 26, 2009


Thirty Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustlers, in Two Months, Were Hanged and Shot by the Determined Vigilantes of the Northern Montana Plains. Prominent Men Were Involved in the Raid That Cleaned the Ranges of Desperados. Death Was Quick and Sure. Prisoners Were Taken From United States Troops and Lynched. The Story Told for the First Time. The Law Called a Halt.

It is a story of which little has been told. Most of those who rode with “Flopping Bill’s” vigilantes have left the state or crossed the Great Divide. Those who have remained are reticent. As to the 30 or more desperate horse thieves and cattle rustlers who operated in Northern Montana in the early eighties — well, bleaching bones on wind-swept prairies tell no tales.

In 1885 the cattle and horse business in Northern Montana was becoming more and more unprofitable, for the reason that there were organized bands of horse thieves who had stopping places from the Canadian line to Mexico, and who made more money in the business of stealing horses and live stock than the real owners could in raising them. Of course more horses than cattle were stolen, because they were easier to get away with, and in those days were worth a great deal more money.

The stealing became so serious that the cattlemen of Northern Montana were forced to do something, and in the fall of 1885 they did it. When the cattlemen start to do anything they do it up brown, and it was so in this case.

The tale of the hanging of the road agents of 1863-4 by the vigilantes of Alder gulch has been told so often that it became known from one end of the world to the other, and it is looked upon as the biggest thing of its kind which was ever pulled off in Montana. This is a mistake and the cowboys of Northern Montana during the year of 1885, from September to November, hanged and shot more men than the vigilantes of Alder gulch ever dreamed of. This may seem like a fairy tale at this time, but it is a fact, and there are men in Northern Montana at the present day who have the papers to prove the assertion.

During the fall round-up of the Judith in the fall of 1885 it was decided to do some hanging. Who proposed the matter, or by whom meetings were held, it is not necessary to state, as on of the leaders of the cowboy vigilantes in now a prosperous stockman within a few miles of old Fort Maginnis, another is a prosperous sheepman living near Ubet, and another lives in Butte, after having spent a number of years abroad. And there are others, but the matter of the real extermination of the rustler was carried on under the direction of “Flopping Bill” Cantrell.

“Flopping Bill” was a desperate character himself and worked against the rustlers because it paid better than to work with them. From September, 1885 until the weather became too cold to ride, “Flopping Bill” and his band of cowboy exterminators worked, and when they had finished there was no count of the men whose candles had been snuffed, but there are men in Great Falls today who can name at least 26 of them, and it has always been estimated that about 30 people were hanged or shot by “Flopping Bill’s” band during that fall.

The first performer in the bloody drama of extermination as carried on by “Flopping Bill” was a half-breed near Fort Maginnis. Some one believed that he had stolen a steer and butchered it, and one night during August, 1885, he was taken near the ranch of Reese Anderson and strung up to a cottonwood tree without a chance to say his prayers, if he knew any.

That was the beginning, and shortly after “Flopping Bill” called for volunteers to search for horses which had been stolen from the herds of several well known stockmen. The requisition was made upon the round-up, which was camped on the Musselshell about 60 miles above the mouth, and reckless riders and desperate men only were chosen.

The posse made a hard ride that day, and by night they came to the cabin of a man named Downs, near the mouth of the Musselshell. Downs kept a sort of trading post, and was suspected of being in league with the thieves. It was early daylight when the posse arrived and they at once surrounded the cabin, and when Downs came out it was “hands up.”


A search of the corral and vicinity discovered 22 D.H.S. horses, and Downs was asked to explain. He saw that he was up against it, and gave a full list of all the men connected with the “rustling” business, and indicated where they had their rendezvous. The Missouri runs swift and deep where the waters of the Musselshell enter it, and the banks are high and steep. A rope was placed about the neck of Downs, and a convenient tree was looked for. Some one spied a large grindstone which stood alongside of the cabin.

“Tie it to his neck and drop him in the river,” was the suggestion, and it was carried out literally. To-day the big round grindstone, with the hole in the center, lies in the bottom of the Missouri near the mouth of the Musselshell, and if time and water have not proven too much for the hempen rope the neck bones, at least, of Jim Downs are the grindstone’s companion.

Armed with the information derived from Downs the posse rode south to the mouth of Lodge Pole creek, where there were several “rustlers” located, and in the early morning light three of them were captured and strung up on some cottonwood trees which surrounded the cabin where they had lived. One of the hempen ropes with which the hanging was done swung in the breeze for many years, and perhaps is there yet — it was up to five years ago.

Some of the cowboys in the posse began to get more than they had bargained for, and wanted to quit the business, but “Flopping Bill” pointed out to them that they would be hanged by the civil law if their share in the impromptu hanging was known, and that together with other cogent reasons prompted them to remain.

The next bunch of rustlers was located along the Missouri. They passed as woodchoppers, and a large number of them had rendezvous at Long John’s Bottom on the Missouri, a short ways below the mouth of the Musselshell.

“Flopping Bill’s” posse came upon the camp early one morning, and was discovered by the horse herder, whom they promptly shot, and charged upon the camp. There was a block house with a stable attached, belonging to the rustlers, but most of them were sleeping in tents, and when they shooting began one of them was shot while getting to the block house. Once there they defied the posse, and it was only by strategy that they were dislodged. While the posse kept a hail of bullets against the house, one of the cowboys sneaked up there through the grass and set fire to the stable, and it in turn fired the block house. Just how many rustlers were killed will never be known, but there were at least 11 in the house and six were taken prisoners, while one escaped.

The one who got away was Dixey Burroughs, a half breed, and well known in Northern Montana. Burroughs managed to get away from the house, and was stopped by one of the outer guards, bu dropped behind a log and at the fourth shot managed to get his man, and escaped. Who the cowboy was that was shot has never been divulged. He was buried where he fill and a hint given that nothing was to be said about it.

That night “Flopping Bill” went away and during the night a number of men rode up to the camp of the cowboys, and after a sham battle, took six prisoners, and in the morning their bodies were decorating the Cottonwoods, on the east end of Long John’s Bottom. “Flopping Bill” came back and said the men who had taken the prisoners were a posse from Miles City — and nobody inquired further.

When Dixey Burroughs escaped he crossed the Missouri on a raft, and met old man James and his two sons, Dick and Jim, together with two others. This part of the gang had not been home when the cowboys called, and when Dixey told his story they saw that there was death in the air, and started down the river on a raft. They knew the cowboys were after them and that they would be shown no mercy, and so when near Poplar, they surrendered to a sergeant and a detail of seven United States soldiers, and asked to be taken to Fort Maginnis for trial. The sergeant and his detail started with the prisoners for Maginnis, and early the third morning they awoke to find themselves in the hands of a dozen masked men.

“Hitch up your outfit and drive straight on,” said the leader of the party, “and we will not injure you at all; refuse and we will kill you all. The prisoners are ours.”

The sergeant, whose name is not recalled — the whole affair appears in the records of the post during this year — hitched up and drove on as requested, and the dozen masked were left behind. The prisoners were never seen again, except that a couple of years ago an old-timer told a story of meeting Dixey Burroughs over the Canadian line, and he said he had been spared his life by promising to leave the country.

After these the hangings were desultory, but the aggregate for the two months of September and October is believed to have amounted to about 30. The cowboys would be riding the round-up, and some night word would go around and in the morning 20 of them would be gone for a day or a week, and no questions asked.

That winter, it is related, a crowd of men rode up to the place where the cowboy vigilante crew were quartered, and served notice that everyone of them must leave the country or die. The majority of them left, and have met death in one way or another, but there are still two or three of the posse remaining in Northern Montana, but they do not boast of having belonged to “Flopping Bill’s avengers” in ’85. “Flopping Bill” also found it advisable to leave the country many years ago, and less than two months ago his death was recorded in old Missouri — for Bill was a Missourian and had ridden with Quantrell.

The 1885 episode of the rope and gun has not been written about very much, but the advertising it got was such as to discourage “rustling” in Northern Montana for many years, so that it is only the pilgrim of recent years who has been reviving the business — the real old-times of the bad lands would not take any one’s stock as a gift — but “Flopping Bill,” the man of nerve, without human feeling, has gone over the divide, and perhaps the stock inspectors may be given more work in consequence.

The Anaconda Standard: Sunday Morning, Aug 11, 1901.


AS IT WAS In Billing 45 YEARS Ago Today
(From the Billings Gazette, May 28, 1885)

William Cantrell, one of the stock inspectors of the territorial association, and known in the Maiden country as “Flopping Bill,” is attending court, as a witness. (Cantrell was an important figure in the cleaning out of the rustlers along the Musselshell by Granville Stuart and his cowboys in 1884.)

Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) May 28, 1930

From Soldier’s Mother to Canteen Worker

February 25, 2009


Her only son slain in France while serving as a lieutenant in the American forces, Mrs. Mabel Fonda Gareissen has left her home at No. 490 Riverside Drive, New York City, to be a Y.M.C.A. canteen worker. In service to the living, this Spartan mother has chosen her substitute for mourning. To make it more appropriate, she is to serve the canteen attached to the regiment of her dead son, Lieutenant Scott McCormick, for the colonel and other officers of the unit joined in a request that the Y.M.C.A. detail her there upon hearing of her determination to work in France.

Taking her place with the mothers of France who, though bereaved, have worked to aid the men, Mrs. Gareissen made the following explanatory statement:

“Our sons belonged to a peace-loving age. They had to leave loved ones, drop prospects of careers, and prepare for the most infernal war the world has ever known. They have done this without complaint, with a determination to put forth the best and highest within them. American mothers, no matter how their hearts may bleed, must rise to the leading of their sons. And if those idolized sons fall, still they must rise, keeping ever before them their sons who have gone up and up. In other words, they must be worthy of being mothers of the boys of today.”

Mrs. Gareissen’s son, Lieutenant McCormick, was killed on January 17 last by hand grenade explosion. Before attending the first Plattsburg camp for officers’ training he was in the employ of Edmonds & Co., bankers. When the United States entered the war he was among the first to resign his business connection for the training camp, where he was commissioned and sent to France among the earliest.

A few days after General Pershing had cabled the news of her son’s death, Mrs. Gareissen decided to go to France and filed her application with the Y.M.C.A. War Work Council for canteen work. She kept the fact from even her most intimate friends, among them Provost Marshal General Enoch N. Crowder, until a few days before she left for France.

The Coshocton Tribune, Wednesday Evening, June 26, 1918

Other posts about canteen workers:

Diary of a WWI Canteen Worker

Canteen Worker Goes the Extra Mile for a Wounded Yank

No Fillings for the Whangdoodle in Bloomers

This last one, you need to scroll down to read about her daughter, who was the canteen worker.

Tattling Made Easy

February 25, 2009


From the Catskill Recorder.

Messrs. Editors — Assiduously persevering in my great literary undertaking, I now enclose to you the contents of my third work, recently finished, in hopes that merely, the heads of the chapters will give such a view of the performance, as will produce a rapid sale, and entitle it to universal approbation.


Vast importance of the subject, especially in this rapidly improving nation — Advantages which we possess for this business over all other nations, owing to our extreme liberty, popular government, &c. Various inducements laid down, as the pleasures of the employment, its hostility to idleness, its happy effect, &c.


Things to be avoided by those who would become renowned in this important vocation. All authority and regulation in the family — Any considerable degree of learning — All writers of any celebrity, for they teach other doctrine, the Bible in particular — Love for neighbors and peace — Respect for one’s own character, or the character of one’s family — Attention to one’s own affairs.


Things to be acquired by a Tattler.
Volubility of tongue — A hearing ear — Sound lungs — Strong ancles — A spirit of inquisitiveness — A constant desire of verbal emission — Delight in thunder-storms — A retentive memory — A genius for invention.


The art of destroying the peace of a family. Become familiar with them — Ganin their confidence — Learn their foibles — Discover their separate interests — Learn who is friendly to some of them, and at enmity with some other of them — Prepared for a shot.


To destroy the peace of a society. Be extremely friendly with every family — Visit often — Drink strong tea — Talk much — Invariably report in one family every thing that will answer your purpose, which you hear in the others — Misrepresent a little — Add a little.


To ruin a character. It will generally answer to tell all that is true — Otherwise, invent; but talk in a mysterious, in direct manner — Express great concern for the person’s welfare.”


Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Apr 7, 1819

**Removed a link that was no longer good.

Dot Your i’s and Cross Your t’s, Mary!

February 25, 2009


LAZY Mary Ann Dees
Never dotted her i’s nor crossed her t’s,
So the letters resolved they would give her no e’s,
And they fed her on pods without any p’s,
And at last they banished her over the e’s
To the kingdom of fogs that is known as Queen V’s.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Oct 19, 1881

Orphan’s in Rhyme and Old-Style Print

February 24, 2009


I originally ran across this poem in a paper dated about the 1840’s, but when I went back to find it again, I couldn’t. I then stumbled across this earlier version, and had to laugh at the f/s usage. I have seen old census records with hand-written versions of this, but was surprised to see it type-written. If you would like to see more information on the old-style handwriting, here is a great link with several examples.

To make the poem easier to read, I have transcribed it using the  modern “S.”


THE frozen streets in moonshine glitter,
The midnight hour has long been past,
Ah me! the wind blows keen and bitter,
I sink beneath the piercing blast.
In ev’ry vein seems life to languish,
Their weight my limbs no more can bear,
But no one sooths the Orphan’s anguish,
And no one hears the Orphan’s pray’r.

Hark! hark! for sure some foot-step’s near me,
Advancing, press the drifted snow,
I die for food; oh! stranger, hear me,
I die for food; some alms bestow;
You see no guilty wretch implore you,
No wanton kneels in feign’d despair,
A famished Orphan kneels before you,
Oh grant the famished Orphan’s pray’r.

Perhaps you think my lips dissembling,
Of virtuous sorrows feign a tale,
Then mark my frame with anguish trembling,
My hollow eyes and features pale,
E’en should my story prove ideal,
Too well these wasted limbs declare,
My wants at least are not unreal,
Then stranger grant the Orphan’s pray’r.

He’s gone, no mercy man will show me,
In prayers no more I’ll waste my breath,
Here on the frozen earth I’ll throw me,
And wait, in mute despair for death,
Farewell thou cruel world, to-morrow,
No more scorn my heart will tear,
The grave will shield the child of sorrow,
And heaven will hear the Orphan’s pray’r.

But thou proud man, the beggar scorning,
Unmov’d thou saw’st me kneel for bread,
Thy heart shall ache to hear at morning,
That morning found the beggar dead,
And when the room resounds with laughter,
My famish’d cry thy mirth shall scare,
And often shall thou wish hereafter,
Thou hadst not scorn’d the Orphan’s pray’r.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 1, 1806


Here is another orphan poem; it is really sad!

From an English Paper.


Oh! lady, buy these budding flowers,
For I am cold, and wet, and weary;
I gathered them ere break of day,
When all was lonely, still and dreary;
And long have sought to sell the here,
To purchase clothes, and food and dwelling,
For Valor’s wretched Orphan Girls —
Poor me, and my young sister Ellen.

Ah! those who tread life’s thornless way,
In Fortune’s golden sunshine basking,
May deem that Misery want not aid,
Because her lips are mute — unasking;
They pass along — and if they gaze,
‘Tis with an eye of hope repelling —
Yet once a crowd of flatterers fawned,
And fortune smiled on me and Ellen.

O! buy my flowers, they’re fair and fresh
As mine & morning’s tears could keep them;
To-morrow’s sun will view them dead,
And I shall scarcely live to weep them!
Yet this sweet bud, if nursed with care,
Soon into fulness would be swelling —
And, nurtured by some generous hand,
So might my little sister Ellen.

She sleeps within a hollow tree,
Her only home — the leaves her bedding;
And I’ve no food to carry there
To sooth the tears she will be shedding;
Oh! that those mourners’ gushing griefs —
The pastor’s prayer, & bell’s sad knelling,
And that deep grave — were meant for me
And my poor little sister Ellen!

When we in silence are laid down
In life’s last fearless, deathless sleeping,
No tears will dew our humble grave,
Save those of pitying heaven’s own weeping.
Unknown we live, unknown must die,
No tongue the mournful tale be telling
Of two young, broken hearted girls,
Poor Mary and her sister Ellen!

No one has bought of me to-day,
And night winds now are sadly sighing;
And I, like these poor drooping flowers,
Unnoticed and unwept, am dying!
My soul is struggling to be free —
It loathes its wretched earthly dwelling —
My limbs refuse to bear their load —
Oh! God, protect lone orphan Ellen!

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Apr 9, 1823