Posts Tagged ‘Wilbur D. Nesbit’

What Art Thou, Hen?

June 28, 2011


{The United States court of customs appeals is to rule on the question of whether or not a hen is a bird.}

What art thou, hen? When thou wouldst sit,
Or set, all firmly on thy nest
Thou art, when naught can make thee quit,
A pest.

And when thou cacklest when we’d take
A nap with no disturbing pother
Thou art, we vow and stay awake,
A bother.

In summer when the garden patch
Tempts thee to stroll with cluckings vague
Thou art, whene’er we see thee scratch,
A plague.

The ministers, however, when
They eat thy offspring served with dressing,
Pronounce thee once and yet again
A blessing.

In winter, when we have to pay
Whate’er cold storage men may hint,
Thou art, because of thy fair lay,
A mint.

And when old age hath ended thee
The plot once more begins to thicken —
In market then thou art, we see,
Spring chicken!

— W.D. Nesbit in Chicago Post.

Warren Evening Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania) Oct 20, 1910


Customs Court of Appeals Now Has That Question to Determine.

WASHINGTON. Sept. 26. — The new United States Court of Customs Appeals is in the full swing of its first session. The much-disputed question, “Is a hen a bird?” which the Treasury officials passed up as hopeless will probably come before the court at this term. The question is, If birds’ eggs are free under the tariff, and hens’ eggs are taxed 3 cents a dozen, why isn’t a hen a bird? An importer who paid the higher rate of duty wants to know.

Another importer has canned eggs which he want assessed as canned albumen, on which the duty is lower.

There are also Chinese merchants with poultry meats packed in oils which they want the court to pronounce fresh poultry, and many other customs cases which have baffled the Board of General Appraisers at New York.

The New York Times — Sep 27, 1910 PDF LINK

A Hen Not a Bird.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

Referring to the communication from Washington in your issue of the 27th, entitled, “Is a Hen a Bird?” and the statement that the Treasury officials had passed it up as hopeless, permit me to state for the benefit of the Treasury officials and the United States Court of Customs Appeals that a “bird” carries its food to its young; while a “fowl” conducts its young to its food. Under this definition it is at once apparent that hawks, sparrows, and robins are “birds,” while ducks, geese, chickens, partridges, and turkeys, whether wild or domestic, are fowls. In a broad sense, however, all feathered animals with wings and two legs belong to the bird kingdom, from the ostrich to the sparrow or humming bird, and fowls, as designated above, are merely a subdivision, so to speak, of  the bird species.

Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 1916.

The New York Times — Sep 29, 1910 PDF LINK

In The Attic with Wilbur D. Nesbit

June 27, 2011

Image by Janet Kruskanp.

I had originally planned to post this with the other “dolls in the attic” poem (see previous post) but after doing some  research on Wilbur D, Nesbit, I decided to separate the poems so I could include more about him and his work.


Up in the attic where mother goes
is a trunk in a shadowed nook —
A trunk — and its lid she will oft unclose
As it were a precious book.
She kneels at its side on the attic boards
And tenderly, soft and slow,
She counts all the treasures she fondly hoards —
The things of the long ago.

A yellow dress, once the sheerest white
That shimmered in joyous pride —
She looks at it now with the girl’s delight,
That was hers when she stood a bride.
There is a ribbon of faded blue —
She keeps with the satin gown;
Buckles and lace — and a little shoe;
Sadly she lays that down.

One lock of hair that is golden still
With the gold of the morning sun;
Yes, and a dollie with frock and frill —
She lifts them all one by one.
She lifts them all to her gentle lips
Up there in the afternoon;
Sometimes the rain from the eave trough drips
Tears with her quavered croon.

Up in the attic where mother goes
is a trunk in a shadowed place —
A trunk — with the scent of a withered rose
On the satin and shoe and lace.
None of us touches its battered lid,
But safe in its niche it stays
Scared to all that her heart had his —
Gold of the other days.

— W.D. Nebsit in Chicago Tribune.

New Castle News ( New Castle, Pennsylvania) Oct 28, 1904

Wilbur D. Nebsit was also the author of An Alphabet of History, the FRANKLIN image above taken from the book, which can be viewed/read on the Open Library website. I linked the Google book version of this book in my The Unknown Blue and Gray post, which also includes his poem by the same name.

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A very brief Masonic Bio can be found HERE. Some of his Freemason poetry can be found HERE.

Below are  some articles that give a little more insight:

Image from The Indianapolis Star – Apr 4, 1914


Scribes From Afar Arrive to Describe Speed Battle for Papers and Journals.

The 500-mile Motor Speedway race has drawn men from two continents, whose names are known to the world of letters. These men will relate the human interest tale of the struggle of men and steel machines against time and danger in the columns of publications throughout the world. Gellett Burgess is one of the many who will pen the history of the race.

Wilbur D. Nesbit, author of poems, comic operas and books, is another. He will write the story of the race for Harper’s Weekly….

The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana) May 30, 1912


Wilbur D. Nesbit Made President of Indiana Society.

Wilbur D. Nesbit, the well-known bard, was elected president during his absence in New York….

The Indianapolis Star – Jan 17, 1912

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I clipped this particle biographical sketch from a book on

Source Information: Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Dunn, Jacob Piatt,. Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919.
Image from the Culver-Union Township Public Library websiteCulver Through the Years
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The following poem by Wilbur D. Nesbit appeared in The Indianapolis Star as part of:
the remarkable sermon delivered by Wilbur D. Nesbit, the famous Hoosier writer, in the Mt. Vernon Methodist Episcopal pulpit at Baltimore last Sunday…
A handful of dust, that is blown by the wind
That is sporting with whatever thing it may find.
It goes swirling and whirling and scattering on
Till it puffs into nothingness — then it is gone —
A handful of dust.
It may be a king who of old held his rule
O’er a country forgotten — it may be his fool
Who had smiles on his lips and had tears in his heart;
But the king, or the fool; who may tell them apart
In a handful of dust?
It may be some man who was mighty and proud,
Or a beggar, who trembled and crept through the crowd;
Or a woman who laughed, or a woman who wept,
Or a miser — but centuries long have they slept
In a handful of dust.

It may be a rose that once burst into flame,
Or a maiden who blushed as she whispered a name
To its ruby-red heart — and her lips were as read —
But no one remembers the words that she said,
In this handful of dust.

A handful of dust — it is death, it is birth.
It is naught; it is all since the first day of earth;
It is life, it is love, it is laughter and tears —
And it holds all the mystery lost in the years —
A handful of dust.

The Indianapolis Star — Jun 15, 1913
Call of “30” for Poet
Wilbur D. Nesbit, vice-president of the Wm. H. Rankin and Company Advertising Agency, and an author of renown, died Saturday at the Iroquois hospital in Chicago, thirty minutes after he had collapsed on the street.
During his career, Nesbit had served as humorous writer on the old Inter-Ocean, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore American and the Chicago Evening Post. In more recent years he had allied himself with an advertising agency, but was a frequent contributor to magazines and had acquired much fame as an after-dinner speaker. As a poet, he ranked with the best. One of his finest contributions, which will always endear his name to the patriotic people, was entitled “Your Flag and My Flag.” This poem appeared in the Baltimore American in 1902, and was circulated throughout the country during the World war. A verse will not be amiss at this time:
“Your flag and my flag,
And how it flies today,
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood -red
The stripes forever gleam;
Snow-white and soul-white
The good forefathers’ dream.”
Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Aug 23, 1927
Famous Folk
Wilbur Dick Nesbit, the poet and journalist, whose first novel, “The Gentleman Ragman,” has just been published, was born in Xenia, O., in 1871. He began his career as printer and later worked as a reporter. His reputation has been won largely as a contributor of verse to magazines.
While Nesbit was finishing “The Gentleman Ragman” he was spending a few weeks in a country town in Indiana. He had sent nearly all of the revised manuscript to his publishers, but certain details of the completion of the plot had been the subject of discussion between himself and a friend connected with the publishing house.
One day a telegram for Nesbit was received at the village telegraph office. It read:
“What are you going to do about Annie Davis and Pinkney Sanger?”
Annie is the heroine of “The Gentleman Ragman;” Pinkney is the villain, if there is one in the book. The local telegraph operator personally delivered the message, and Nesbit wrote this reply:
“Will marry Annie Davis and shoot Pinkney Sanger as soon as I return to Chicago.”
The operator stared at Nesbit wonderingly when he read the message, but Nesbit did not fathom that stare until the morning when he took the train for home, when the village marshal stepped up and said meaningly:
“Mr. Nesbit, I would advise you, as an officer of the law, sir, not to do anything rash when you get to Chicago.”
Cambridge Jeffersonian (Cambridge, Ohio) Dec 20, 1906
The above poem is signed with Wilbur D. Nesbit‘s alternate nom de plumeJosh Wink. (see mention in below article.)
Bedford Gazette (Bedford, Pennsylvania) Apr 25, 1902

Des Moines Daily Leader (Des Moines, Iowa) Oct 13, 1901
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Cracker Barrel
WILBUR DICK NESBIT expounded a brand of patriotism that seems to have fallen out of fashion in the current age when draft dodgers become folk heroes and the American flag is publicly despoiled.
Born in Xenia Sept. 16, 1871, the son of a Civil War veteran and court bailiff here, he grew up in Cedarville where he learned to set type on the old Cedarville Herald in which paper his first wrtings appears.
After two years he went to an Anderson, Ind. papers as a reporter, then to the Muncie (Ind.) Star in a similar capacity. There his copy attracted the attention of John T. Brush, an Indianapolis clothing merchant, who put him in charge of his store advertising.
From there he joined the ad staff of the Indianapolis Journal and next became a feature writer for the Baltimore American under the nom de plume Josh Wind [k]. After three years he was lured to the staff of the Chicago Tribune where he conducted the column “A Line O’ Type Or Two” and then joined the Evening Post.
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AFTER HE BECAME director of the copy staff for the Makin Advertising Co. he bought an interest in it and changed the name to Rankin Advertising Agency. HE co-authored the musical comedy “The Girl of My Dreams” and turned out reams of poetry in some of which he collaborated with cartoonist Clare Briggs.
His collection, “Trail to Boyland,” reminisced about Greene County and Cedarville in the pastoral patern of James Whitcomb Riley. He also published “After Dinner Speeches and How to Make Them,” “Sermons in Song,” and “Poems of Homely Philosophy.” His “Your Flag and My Flag” was recited in most school classrooms.
Nesbit died Aug. 20, 1927. Recently his friend and admirer, ex-Cedarvillian, Fred F. Marshall, came up with his timely and appropriate poem entitled “The U.S.A.,” which follows:
There’s them that wants to get us skeered
By tellin’ us o’ things they feared.
They say we’re goin’ to th’ dogs,
Th’ gov’nment has skipped some cogs
An’ that ef we don’t trust to them
Our futur’ wont be worth a dem!
But I want to say
Th’ U.S.A.
Ain’t figgerin’ to run that way.
I’ve noticed things fer many years;
I’ve seen these men arousin’ cheers —
These high-hat men with long-tail coats
That tells us how to cast our votes,
I’ve noticed, too, their idees is
That votin’s all the people’s biz
But I want to say
Th’ U.S.A.
Ain’t only jest election day.

I’ve seen ’em lift their trimblin’ arm
An do their p’intin’ with alarm
Afore election! An’ I’ve seen
How they don’t do much work between
Elections! Seem to save their brains
For workin’ durin’ th’ campaigns
An’ I want to say
The U.S.A.
Don’t give them fellers its O.K.

There’s one or two that I wont name
That keeps a firm hand-holt on Fame
By stormin’ up an’ down the road
A-tellin’ us what long we’ve knowed
That is, they rise to heights sublime
Along about election time
Yit I want to say
The U.S.A.
Ain’t figured yit to turn their way.

It ain’t th’ men that tells our sins
That almost al’ays sometimes wins —
Its them that rolls their sleeves an’ helps
While these yere talkin’ humans yelps
That makes us know our native land
Has got a craw that’s full o’ sand
An’ makes us say
The U.S.A
Is settin’ tight an’ here to stay!

Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio)  Nov 2, 1972

The Unknown Blue and Gray

April 9, 2010


The little green tents where the soldiers sleep,
And the sunbeams play and the women weep,
Are now covered with flowers today;
And between the tents walk the weary few,
Who were young and stalwart in sixty-two,
When they went to war away.

The little green tents are built of soil,
And they are not long and they are not broad,
But the Soldiers have lots of room;
And the soil is part of the land they saved,
When the flag of the enemy lustily waved,
The symbol of dole and doom.

The little green tent is a thing divine;
The little green tent is a country’s shrine,
Where patriots kneel and pray;
And the brave men left, so old, so few,
Were young and stalwart in sixty two,
When they went to the war away!

Comrade Peck.

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) Nov 25, 1925


There are unknown graves in the valleys
That the troops of war possessed,
Where the bugles sounded for rallies,
But the bullets sang of rest;
And the mountains hold without number
Hidden graves from war’s made day
Where the unknown men have their slumber
In their shrouds of blue and gray.

And no drums will rumble and rattle
And no fifes blow sharp and shrill
In the valleys that knew the battle,
Nor atop the lone high hill;
But the silent stars know the story
And the broad sky of the day
Bends and whispers low of their glory
To these men of blue and gray.

And no banners o’er them are waving
No marches come and pause
With cheers for the land of their saving
Or tears for their lost cause;
Yet the twilight stars intermingle
With the hues when ends the day,
And the striving flags now are single
O’er the men of blue and gray.

There are unknown graves in the thickets,
On the hillside and the plain,
Of the missing scouts and the pickets
Yet they did not fall in vain.
Though their names may not be engraven
And their places in the fray,
In our hearts now each finds a haven,
They who wore the blue and gray.

For the God of battles is kindly
With none of mankind’s hate
That is cherished even so blindly —
And these pawns of warfare’s fate
Have their tombs of nature’s splendor
Each set forth in proud array
Through an impulse holy and tender,
Though they wore the blue and gray.

Where once were the guns that wrangled
Sounds the peace song of the thrush,
And the roses and vines are tangled
In the solemn, sacred hush;
Where the cannon one day would hurdle
Their missiles in the fray
Grows the rue and the creeping myrtle
O’er the graves of the blue and gray.

They are nature’s hands that are strewing
The flowers on each mound;
It is God’s own beautiful doing,
That each unknown grave is found
Where the cypress leaves are ‘aquiver
Where peaks lift through the day,
Where the forest sighs to the river
Of the unknown blue and gray.

— Wilbur D. Nesbit.

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) May 27, 1914

Wilbur Dick Nesbit wrote quite a bit of  poetry etc., much of it geared toward children.  The above image is one of his books. (Google book LINK.)


(By Joseph Mills Hanson.)

This sabre-cut on my forehead scored?
I picked it up at Beverly Ford
The day we turned “Jeb” Stuart’s flank
And hurled him back from the river bank.
It was parry and thrust with a hearty will
As they fought for the guns of Fleetwood Hill,
While over the fields and through the pines
Backward and forward surged the lines;
Twelve thousand men in a frenzied fray,
Charge and rally and made melee, —
Oh, the crash and roar as the squadrons met,
The cheers and yells, — I can hear them yet!
But we’d forced the fords, so our work was done,
And we galloped away ere set the sun.

This welt of a bullet across my arm?
It’s a scratch I caught at McPherson’s farm
That morning our outposts chanced to strike
Hill’s solid corps on the Cashtown Pike.
Hour by hour our thin ranks stood
Stubbornly holding each fence and wood,
Till, down the road where the wheat fields grew
And the spires of Gettysburg pierced the blue,
We saw a column of dust arise,
A welcome sight to our anxious eyes,
And into the hell of the battle’s roar
Reynolds marched with the old First Corps;
But the field where the rebel flood was stayed
Was held by the stand that Buford made.

This limp I got as my horse when down
When Fitz Lee ran us through Buckland town.
Out of the woods with a spurt of flame,
Driving backward our van, he came.
Custer struggled to turn the thrust
But they whirled him off like a fleck of dust;
Davies, shattered in front and flanks,
And off we scampered, like boys at play,
Over the hills and far away.
Crack! A shot through my good steed’s knee,
Down he tumbled on top of me,
And I crawled to a thicket, right glad to lie
Till the jubilant rebels had thundered by.

This scar on my neck was a bayonet blow
From a stalwart Johnnie at Waynesboro,
Where we routed Early from hill to hill
And tossed him over to Charlottesville,
Clearing the valley, all seamed and scored
By waste and pillage and fire and sword,
Down we galloped, like Attila’s Huns,
Capturing trenches and flags and guns,
Bagging the foe ere the fight began
(That was a habit with Sheridan!)
I seized a flag, but the color-guard
Passed my party and thrust me hard, —
Though we made it up and were friends for aye
When I shared my rations with him next day!

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) May 29, 1912

Literature of South Dakota, by Oscar William Coursey (Google book link above) has a few pages that talk about about  his writing. Google  also has some of his work available online, for example:

Pilot Knob: the Thermopylae of the West
By Cyrus Asbury Peterson, Joseph Mills Hanson (LINK)

Frontier ballads
By Joseph Mills Hanson, Maynard Dixon (LINK)