« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
HESE talks of a winter's night around the
fireplace in the “Bull's Head” tap-room,
were great places for getting the news. Every man who had something new not only liked to tell it but was expected to. Because newspapers were not very numerous, and besides, there were lots of people who couldn't read it even when they had one. Accordingly news got around in great part by word of mouth. There was much excitement, I remember, over the news of the invention of brimstone matches - sticks of wood which would light themselves. For, one day, the news came to us that children had been seen down on the streets of New York City selling pine sticks about five inches long, with something on the end of each stick, so that by rubbing it the stick would break out into a blaze. It made a lot of stir when some
' of these pine shavings were actually shown in the tap-room one night, and it was seen that the backlog and flint-and-tinder were now out of date. But these loco-focos, as they were called, were rather expensive. So I didn't put them into the tavern right away. New-fangled things usually cost more than they are worth; I was getting rich by saving the pennies, here one and there one, like a hen fills her crop, one grain at a time. So the fire tongs which hung by the fireplace for use by the guests to light their pipes with cinders from the fire, were not taken down. I never was much of a hand, anyhow, for new-fashioned things.
Another piece of news which was beginning to be noised around, up in our tavern, was of a rich country out West beyond the Alleghanies. It was not often that we got a traveller from so far away as that. So when we did, we made him tell all he knew. In this way I heard tell how there was a rich valley out in Ohio, called the Scioto Valley, where there was some of the finest beef cattle ever known. And these cattle could be bought out there for a song. A man by the name of Lewis Sanders, across the Ohio River in Kentucky, had imported three bulls and three heifers from England, of the short-horn variety. The Pattens (I think it was), from the South Fork, in Virginia, had also taken with them into that Western country some blooded stock, and had brought out the bull Pluto. A blooded short-horn cow, Venus, bulled by Pluto, had helped to people all the pastures throughout the Scioto region. This importing of foundation stocks from England was also helped along by General Van Rensselaer, up at Albany, who had just been bringing over from Europe the bull Wash
ington, and two short-horn heifers. The short-horns make one of the best beef breeds I have ever seen. Our American cattle were mostly of the Devon, the Hereford, the Sussex and the Norfolk,of England; the Ayrshire and the Galloway, of Scotland; the Kerrys, of Ireland; the Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey breeds of the Channel Islands; with the Holsteins and Holstein-Friesians from Holland. All of these imported breeds, out in the rich Ohio and Kentucky reservations, had bred into an even finer beef cattle than on their native soil. Perhaps this was because of the rich grass and good quality of water.
The short-horns were particularly sought out by us drovers, because they were beef breeds. In that day beeves were more important than dairy cattle. Beef is easier to transport than butter or cheese, because it will drive overland of itself. In that day we didn't have hardly any other means of transporting food-stuff long distances, except to drive it on its own legs. Not that the short-horns are not good.milkers, too; but they are especially good for butcher purposes.
When I heard these stories about the Western lands, I became mighty interested, because the city of New York was growing so all-fired fast, it was hard to find enough beeves in the regions roundabout; so that the price of fit cattle was going higher and higher. I pondered the matter. I made up my mind. Calling Chamberlain to me one day –
he had been my bartender at the “Bull's Head,” and had married my daughter -- I said him:
“Roswell,” said I, “you've got to take care of the place here for two or three months. I'm going out to Ohio to get a drove of cattle. He looked
hutat at me with eyes as big as saucers.
“What's that ?” said he.
“Just what I say,” I answered. “I'm going to bring some of those there critters from the West, right here into the New York market.”
“How in the world are you going to get them over the mountains ? said he. “It's a wild-goose chase; they'll die if you drive them that far."
“Leave that to me, son,” said I, “leave that to me. I calculate to manage it fine as a fiddle.”
So I began to make my plans. First I went to Henry Astor, the butcher. He had been pretty well riled up against me once, because of some deals we had had together. I think I've wrote about it, somewhere in these papers. But he got over being mad after a time, and he and I had become good friends once more.
He had made a peck of money as a butcher in the Fulton Market. So much, in fact, that he had retired and now was a kind of private banker. I went to him and got
. a loan of money to make the Western trip. I saw that it wouldn't pay to drive just a herd of ordinary size that distance. I had to do it on a big scale
or not at all. So I
So I got the money from him — he made me give all-fired heavy security — and started
I took a Mr. Robinson with me. He later went in with me in the banking business, when I became a Wall Street operator. He was an A No. I drover; I wanted that kind of a partner. I also took along our cow-dogs. A good cow-dog is not to be picked up everywheres. A drover learns, when he once gets a good animal of that type, to keep him. They are marvellous intelligent. I've had cow-dogs that knew almost as much as I did about driving cattle or sheep. And they are faithful, too. They aren't spiggot-suckers, like some of your hired help. They will work for you night and day, and for pay only ask a few bones and a pan of milk at night.
We started out in the stage coach, going by day's journeys through Jersey and Pennsylvania — Robinson, the dogs, and myself. The dogs were lots of company on the journey out.
Much of the way through Pennsylvania the woods were thick; the dogs, following behind, would do some hunting on the side, and often brought in a rabbit, partridge, or such like game. It took over a week to get to Ohio. Out there I found that what I had heard tell about the richness of that Western country was gospel. The Scioto Valley was full of fat beef cattle which could be bought for cash — at a price that would have made a farmer out East turn up his nose at the