Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ordinaries, Ferries, and Horses

Wishing to write one more blog post for 2011, I then, as per usual, decided to defer the agonies of writing in favor of the pleasures of organizing the material that I have been collecting over the past couple of years. I started with the real paper but that proved to be such a heterogeneous collection that the task seemed too demanding for the evening of Boxing Day. So I turned to the virtual paper instead.

One of the first files I found bore the name "Anne Arundel County," which told me very little. When I opened it to investigate further, it proved to be a file of extracts from county court records, all having some connection to ordinaries or ordinary keepers. The file had been generously shared with me by Rod Cofield, Director of Interpretation and Museum Programs at Historic London Town and Gardens. Because the colonial town of London was one terminus of a ferry over the South River, operated by the holder of an ordinary license, all aspects of colonial ordinaries in Anne Arundel are important to the interpretation of the site.

William Brown House, Historic London Town and Gardens

To digress just a bit, in 1755 an Englishman named George Fisher traveled north from Virginia, passing through London Town on his journey. In the narrative of his travels, Fisher wrote "London Town, (a great name) where I arrived about Three stands upon the S W side of South River; is composed of a few houses only. After Crossing this small river not more than half a mile in breadth, Two great Fellows in getting my Horse out of their (Browns) Boat, threw him upon his back in the water; and tho' he lay at least a minute on his side in the water, the Boat beating on him, he received no damage. [William and Mary Quarterly, January 1909, p.175]

Returning to the path on which I originally set out, the file is voluminous with much information that has little to do with the content of this blog. But it does contain scattered entries that help shed additional light on the operation of ferries as they pertained to travel through the county on horseback. Enough information so that I promise to put to rest with this blog the question of the power source for Anne Arundel's ferries. Not that I'm convinced all the evidence has been assembled, but only because I don't plan to go looking for any more. If it turns up, however...

The court record volumes begin in 1703. The county levy for that year, established at the November court session, authorized payment of 6000 pounds of tobacco to each of the county's publicly supported ferrymen. In the manner of colonial roads, which meandered around fields and obstacles, the June 1704 court record presents another digression, in the account of a suit by Joseph Addison against Capt. Edward Hunt. Addison charged that Hunt "at Lyons Creek in Anne Arundel County… stood justly indebted" for an itemized list of expenses that included "money lent you at the race" in the amount of 18 shillings. This serendipitous entry testifies to horse races being held at Lyons Creek (near Herring Bay) as early as 1702.

In the record of the January 1705 court session, the clerk included the rates set for food, drink, and accommodations at county ordinaries. Travelers paid six pence for "a night's lodging in a bed" and the same amount for "good pasturage for a horse". For two shillings the horse's master could purchase a peck of shelled corn or oats as feed for his horse and hay or oat straw bedding for the same amount. The August court further decreed that the ferrymen on the Severn and South Rivers had to be in attendance on Sundays between nine and eleven in the morning and two and four in the afternoon to provide passage for all persons, whether on foot or horseback, who were going to church services.

Horses continued to receive equal, if not superior, consideration in court directives concerning ordinaries and ferries. When the justices appointed Joseph Crouch and James Hoskins as ferry keepers for the Severn River in November 1710, for example, they directed the two men to "ply the [river] with a good boat for carry over of horses and other passengers inhabiting in this county." Edmund Rumney, in petitioning for the appointment as ferry keeper for the South River in November 1713, stated that he had spent at least £300 to built "conveniences . . . fit to give entertainment for man and horse by land or water and is also provided with two good boats and hands."

The first clue as to the means by which the ferry boats moved across the rivers can be found in an entry for November 1715: "Edward Rumney agrees to keep South River Ferry for the ensuing year . . . and to find two good boats and two hands to row in the said boats." This stipulation doesn't rule out the possibility that sails were also used in favorable conditions but would seem to indicate that the ferries did not use any form of cable crossing.

Appointment as ferry keeper for the South River was a sought-after plum, judging from the petitions submitted to the court. John Holland petitioned for the post in November 1716; in granting his request, the court ordered Holland to find "two good boats and five able men to keep the said ferry." Perhaps the experience of the previous year suggested that a ratio of five men to two boats was a better arrangement than two men for two boats.

Strength would seem a desirable attribute for the able hands to have possessed, a judgment confirmed in November 1719 when the Severn River post was requested by Thomas Williams. His petition argued that the incumbent, Robert Jubb, offered poor service because he had "for the most part no body to row in the boat but a couple of very weak boys whose strength is not sufficient very often to convey passengers over[,] especially in hard winds, when tis both dangerous and delaying to those that cross the river." Despite Jubb's deficiencies, however, Williams's petition was rejected. Passengers would continue to take their chances with the weak boys.

The extracted records do not record any significant additions to understanding the operation of the ferries until the 1740s. The November 1746 court directed that "nothing is to be paid for bags containing anything," a charge of "only six pence for any man & horse," and "three pence for a single man or horse." Jurymen attending court could cross after sunset for free. It is tempting to picture horses, without riders, showing up at the ferry landing with three shillings in hoof seeking passage across the river or creek, but more probable to infer that passengers sometimes traveled with extra horses.

The same court session agreed to keep Stephen West as the operator of the South River ferry for another year. As part of the new agreement, the justices granted West permission, when it was not safe for two boats to cross the river, each with a crew of only two men, "by means of hard winds . . . liberty to place all the hands in one Boat if he think proper." Again, the language supports the conclusion that the hands employed by the ferry keeper rowed the boats across the river.

A general order issued in November 1750 set forth the clearest description of the services ferries provided and of the cargoes they typically carried: Ordered that the Ferrymen set over all persons belonging to the County [i.e., county residents] from Sun rising to Sun setting for the allowance [i.e., annual salary] made by the County and also at all times the Justices, Sheriffs, Jurymen, and Evidences [i.e., witnesses summoned to court to testify] during their attending courts, and all other persons set over before Sun rise or after Sun set to pay at the rate of six pence man and horse and three pence for a single person and that the several ferrymen may charge and take for carrying over every chaise or chair or other wheel carriage at the rate of three shillings and six pence each and all ferrymen carry over bags, wallets, baskets, dead meat, and fowls, poultry, geese, and turkeys without charging any thing for the same.

The clerk's record of proceedings in August 1751 contained an unexpected description of the crew of the Magothy River ferry. William Kitely appeared "to answer a the complaint of John Gray of Magothy concerning his keeping Magothy Ferry, and that he should bring with him the girl named Linstead[?] that usually rows in the ferry boat." Evidently the able hands could be female, as well as male, as long as they were strong enough to pull the oars. Three years later, in June 1754, the justices exempted Thomas Barrel, "who rowed in South River Ferry Boat" from payment of the annual levy and granted him a stipend of 320 pounds of tobacco for his support until the next November's levy court, "he having fitts and [being] unable to work." Taxes were levied only on those adults able to work, and residents who could not work and lacked family to care for them received support from public funds.

The men like Thomas Barrel who did the work of loading and unloading the ferries, as well as rowing them, received some consideration for their well-being in a directive of the court issued in November 1754. "The ferrymen are to assist in getting the carriages [on and off the ferry] but shall not be obliged to wade in the water in the winter season." Left unclear is who would wade in the water if that were necessary to move a carriage or chaise safely between shore and ferry. Travel by horse-drawn vehicle entailed various kinds of discomfort but the savings in time must have made their use worth the hardships for inland trips that avoided long sails up and down the Chesapeake region's many rivers.

When the court renewed William Brown's appointment as keeper of the South River ferry in 1762, modifications to the standard terms indicate the growth of public business that was occurring during the third quarter of the century. The justices required that Brown keep two boats and four hands "constantly attending" year round, but "in all public times such as Provincial and County Courts, elections, and other public meetings[,] to keep three boats and six able hands attending." How seaworthy the third boat would be and how skilled the two extra hands (idle or employed in agricultural tasks the rest of the year?) were should perhaps have been a concern.

The August 1769 court proceedings included publication of the current "Rates of Liquors and Other Accomodations." Ordinary keepers could charge 8 pence per gallon for oats and corn. The array of provision for horses also included "Fresh water, hay, corn tops, or oat straw with stableage" at a charge of 1 shilling per night. If fodder consisted only of marsh hay, the cost was 8 pence, and good pasturage per night could be obtained for 6 pence.

With this last entry, the information available from the court records relating to travel on horseback in connection with ordinaries and ferries comes to an end. The references, coupled with the one account by Philip Vickers Fithian of his experience of being called upon to row during a difficult passage, generally indicate that the ferries operating in Anne Arundel relied upon able bodied men (and an occasional woman) to row the ferry boats with their human and equine passengers across the county's waterways.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heraldic: Silver Medal Winner at Pan Am Games

[Disclosure: I recently read in a newspaper article that a blog post should be no more than 500 words. And when I was alerted to the Capital story on Heraldic (having been out of town when it appeared), I anticipated writing only a short piece about the ceremony honoring the Pam Am Games silver medal winner. But, you can't write a short essay without understanding as much of the background as possible. And as I began looking into the subject, I became increasingly drawn down various by-ways and side paths that have made 500 words an impossible limit. I'll try to do the 'who-what-when-where-why' up front before digressing down those paths; readers who want to take a different journey are of course free to move on at any point.]

Pan Am Games -- 2011

Heraldic is a handsome bay Arabian gelding who was honored by the Maryland Horse Industry Board on November 15th with its "Touch of Class" Award. The ceremony, held at the Maryland Department of Agriculture building in Annapolis, followed Heraldic's return from Chile, where he and his rider, John Crandell III, won two silver medals in the Pan Am Games endurance ride. [Although the larger competition took place this year in Mexico, the endurance ride was held in Santo Domingo, Chile on October 22.]

Heraldic is owned by John Jr. and Linda Crandell, parents of John III and owners of Long Run Farm in West River. John III, trainer and rider of Heraldic, and his family live on a farm in Star Tannery, VA adjoining the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, where Heraldic's endurance training takes place. Training in horsemanship and other skills, including schooling, basic dressage education, and behavioral work, all critical to success in endurance riding, takes place at Long Run Farm here in Anne Arundel County as well as in Virginia. The Crandell family has also operated the marine construction firm E.A. and J.O. Crandell Inc. in Annapolis since 1948.

Pan Am Games -- 2011

The endurance ride in Chile, covering a distance of 120 kilometers (74.6 miles), crossed both flat terrain and rough, mountainous areas in five loops of varying length. The U.S. team of three horses and riders won a silver medal with a combined time of 19:05:19, just 1 minute and 47 seconds behind the gold medal finish of the Uruguayan team. Crandell and Heraldic finished the course in 6:03:38 to win the individual silver medal; a U.S. pair also took the individual bronze medal, giving the U.S. team a total of three -- the largest number of medals ever won by a U.S. endurance team in international competition.

The margin of victory for the individual medal might well have been narrower or the finish order different had Heraldic not tripped a mile from the finish line. Crandell skinned his knee landing on the ground, but remounted to finish the ride, only four minutes behind the first place rider and horse.

Although the medals won in the Pan Am Games (one of the largest international competitions other than the Olympics) provided the immediate occasion for Heraldic's award, the horse and his rider have a long list of accomplishments that makes them deserving recipients of an honor reserved for "horses and people who represent the highest standards of excellence in Maryland's equine community." [MHIB press release, 11/10/11]

Pan Am Games -- 2011

Governor Martin O'Malley declared November 15th "Heraldic and Crandell Family Day," adding that "We look forward to the continued success of Heraldic and the Crandells as they represent Maryland and the United States at the World Championship next year.” But November 15th must have been a bittersweet day for the Crandells, as Jewell Ardella Bladen Crandell, 98, of Churchton, mother of John Jr. and grandmother of John III, died that same day.

Touch of Class
Through its name, the "Touch of Class" award honors the Maryland-bred Thoroughbred mare, Touch of Class, who won individual and team gold medals in show jumping at the 1984 summer Olympics, making her only the fourth horse in history to win two show-jumping gold medals. Touch of Class posted the first double clear rounds in Olympic history, and cleared all but 1 of 91 jumps. In recognition of her performance, the USOC committee named Touch of Class the first non-human USOC Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year.

Heraldic and the Crandells
John Crandell Jr. bought the two-year-old Heraldic from Asgard Arabians in Sinks Grove, W.Va. in c.2000. When John Jr. broke his hip and was unable to ride for several years, he passed Heraldic's competitive riding on to his son, John III. The latter's description of the trip to West Virginia that resulted in the purchase of Heraldic gives some indication of the training required to turn an independent, untamed horse into a champion racer.

The listing of Heraldic's rides begins in May 2005 with a 9th place finish in a 50-mile competition, followed in December with medals for first place finish and best condition in a 100-mile competition. In 2006, Heraldic and Crandell became the first horse and rider pair to win endurance riding's Triple Crown, capturing the Old Dominion 100 in June in Virginia, the Tevis Cup trophy in August in Placer County, California, and the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) championship in Virginia in October. All rides covered 100 miles, and Heraldic took the medal for best condition in two of them. The pair's stellar year earned John Crandell III the title of horseman of the year from Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

AERC 2007

In 2007, Heraldic took medals for first place finish and best condition at the AHA National ride in Montana in June and for first place in the AERC championship ride in Idaho in August. November found Heraldic in Malaysia, where he and Crandell finished fifth in the Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge 2007 (now the Sultan Mizan Cup), the first ever endurance challenge held in Malaysia with international participants, including the world's best riders. The challenge also served as the trial run for Malaysia to host the 12th FEI World Endurance Championship in 2008.

Heraldic was to have been a member of the U.S. team competing in that 2008 FEI championship ride until the horse suffered a potentially career-ending injury. Heraldic was by then already in training for the championship in Malaysia and soon to be moved to a training camp in Florida. But one morning in August 2008 Crandell found the horse, in the small meadow pasture where he was being kept, with a cut on his left hind leg, described by John Crandell as "a 2.5 inch diameter open wound medial on the stifle [the equine equivalent of a knee]; Grade 5 lame."

After a period of five or six months, when Heraldic's leg could again bear weight and move freely, another year and half were spent in the therapy and retraining that enabled Heraldic to compete again. As Crandell said on Heraldic's website "Heraldic came out of the ordeal re-educated, more disciplined, and better prepared to train for fitness than ever."

Photo by Potato Richardson --The Equestrian News, 10/15/2011

The 2010 season of competition attested to Crandell's assessment of Heraldic's condition when horse and rider captured two of the three rides that make up the Triple Crown. Heraldic won both the Old Dominion 100 and the Tevis Cup, also taking the medal for best condition in the Virginia ride. By the last stretch of the Tevis Cup course, Heraldic had outpaced the rest of the field to such an extent that instead of sprinting for home, Crandell took time to spruce up his mount for the finish line photographs. An unlucky step into what proved to be a sub-surface hole cost Heraldic his chance for victory in the AERC championship, third of the year's three major rides.

Victory in the Pan Am Games endurance ride in 2011 capped another year of three major victories, the other two coming in March at the Fun In The Sun ride in Williston, FL (FITS), another 100 mile test, and in the 75 mile Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association (OCTRA) event in Canada, where Heraldic also won the medal for best condition.

To appreciate fully the severity of Heraldic's injury and the work that the horse and his extensive support team devoted to bringing him back into competitive form, read the account posted on Heraldic's website: http://heraldic.yolasite.com/. And to keep with up Heraldic's current activities, you can visit his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heraldic/246652352042241.

Endurance riding has been a multi-generation Crandell family enterprise for over forty years. John III began his involvement as a teenager in 1976 and has been a professional farrier and trainer since 1983. In those capacities he has served as a shoeing and training consultant worldwide. Since 1986 he has participated as a rider or staff member for the U.S. and U.A.E. endurance teams for both world championships and other major international competitions.

Photo by Paul W. Gillespie -- The Capital

Crandell's second Old Dominion 100 win with Heraldic in 2007 was his sixth winning ride in that competition, the other four preceding his partnership with Heraldic. In the 2007 ride, Ann Crandell, John's wife, won the bronze medal. Other Crandell family members actively engaged in riding and training include John's parents, John Crandell Jr. and Linda Crandell, and his brothers.

Because of the physicial demands of training and competition, horses generally compete in no more than three 100 miles rides during a given year. Riders compete more often, however, on different mounts. John III finished third in the FITS 100 in 2007, second in the Tevis Cup in 2007, and third at the Greenway Gallivant 100 in 2008, riding HH Saba Shams in all of those races, and in 2010 finished in the top ten of the Goethe 75 on LR Bold Greyson.

Crandell and Heraldic will lead the U.S. Team in the World Endurance Championship to be held in England in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics.

Endurance Riding
So, what is endurance riding? The Old Dominion Endurance Rides, Inc. website provides a succinct answer (as well as being one of the best sources of general information about the sport): "An Endurance ride is a timed test against the clock of an individual horse/rider team’s ability to traverse a marked, measured cross-county “trail” over natural terrain consisting of a distance of 50 to 100 miles in one day."

The definition of 'day' varies according to the length of the course and the difficulty of the terrain. For the Tevis Cup ride, the 'day' is a 24-hour period, from 5:15 a.m. one day to 5:15 a.m. the following day. This means that all horses cover at least a portion of the course in the dark.

Tevis Cup -- 2010

Things get more complicated beyond that generic description. Trails vary considerably. The Tevis Cup covers a unidirectional course from the start just outside Truckee, CA, near Lake Tahoe to the finish in Auburn, CA, with over 15,000 feet of altitude changes. The Pan Am Games ride took place at the Brisas de Santo Domingo resort, located along the Pacific coast in the middle of Chile. The ride began by the sea but the five-loop course climbed to a lake-filled plateau with a variety of flora and fauna. In the 2010 Old Dominion 100 competition, teams had to contend with morning temperatures in the low 90s and humidity near 100 percent as well as rough terrain. In Dubai, the sandy course can be a hard-packed surface in some areas and soft footing in others.

Regardless of the temperatures encountered or the terrain, every ride has a specific starting and ending time, and all horse/rider teams must remain on the trail for the duration of the ride. Although the expectation is that riders will ride, rules permit them to lead or follow the horse instead, as circumstances dictate. Winning riding times vary between 6.5 and 13 hours, depending on the terrain. [Heraldic has been a particularly versatile athlete, having won on both the fastest and the most challenging courses in America.]

Endurance riding began in the early 1900s as a test for horses used by cavalry units: a 5-day, 300 mile (483 km) ride with a weight load of at least 200 lbs. In the early 1950s, endurance riding became a civilian sport, with time and distance reduced to a maxium of a one-day, 100-mile ride.

In 1978 the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for World and Olympic equestrian events, recognized endurance riding as an international sport. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has the responsibility of overseeing all U.S. teams taking part in international FEI competitions. More than 300 annual FEI-sanctioned competitions are held in Europe, Asia, and the American continents.

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) is the official national governing body for endurance riding in North America. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout the United States and Canada. The two oldest and most prestigious sanctioned races are the 100 Mile Western States Trail Ride (for the Tevis Cup trophy) in California and the Old Dominion 100 Mile Endurance Ride in Virginia.

Any horse competing in a sanctioned endurance ride must pass a thorough examination by a licensed veterinarian before being allowed to start. Every course has additional mandatory vet examinations at check-points during the ride. Veterinarians have specific guidelines for judging a horse's ability to continue the ride. They monitor respiratory and heart rates, examine feet and legs for potential problems that could cause lameness, and look for signs of dehydration. Any horse showing lameness or failure to meet specified metabolic parameters is immediately eliminated. Horses undergo a final exam within 1 hour after the ride is completed and can still be eliminated if deemed unable "to continue." The awarding of a separate medal for best condition to a horse finishing among the top ten underscores the commitment to the welfare of the equine competitors.

The great majority of horses competing successfully in endurance rides are Arabians (whether full-blooded, one-half, or one-quarter), like Heraldic. Linda Crandell, in an interview with Equinews in October 2002, explained why Arabian horses are particularly well-suited to endurance competition. “These horses have large nostrils and lung capacities that allow for greater oxygen intake. Arabians have veins that are close to the skin surface, which help in cooling the blood and allowing for quicker recovery times. They are a slighter horse with lighter muscling that makes it easier for them to carry themselves and their riders over longer distances.”

Tevis Cup -- 2006

The Western States Trail Ride, the oldest modern day endurance competition, began in 1955, with the first Tevis Cup trophy awarded to the winner in 1959. The course follows the Western States Trail, a narrow mountain track shared with hikers, runners, other riders, and occasionally off-road vehicles. Temperatures during the 24-hour day can range from 40 degrees to 120 degrees Farhenheit. The course has two mandatory 60-minute rest stops, at 30 mile and 70 mile marks. This challenging ride is one of those usually dominated by Arabians because of their stamina and the physical characteristics identified by Linda Crandell. The average completion rate for the competition is 50 percent. Heraldic won in 2006 at age 8 in a time of 15:08; returning to the competition in 2010 after recovering from his 2008 injury, he finished first at age 12 in 14:59.

If you've read all the way through these meanderings, you now know about as much as I do about endurance riding. I hope you've found it as interesting a journey of discovery as I have. My thanks to Heraldic and the Crandells for leading the way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Horses in Times of War

The book The Long Fuse: How England Lost the American Colonies, 1760-1785, by Don Cook (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995), looks at the Revolutionary War, and the lead-up to it, from the other side of the Atlantic. For those whose interest is in military history, much of what Cook has to say about the conduct of the war by the British may be old news. But for someone whose time line of colonial history stops no later than the end of the Seven Years' War, Cook's narrative contains much that was new, and some of it pertained to the use of horses during the war. Some of his details are even relevant to Anne Arundel County.

Much has been written about the difficulties Washington faced in retaining soldiers in his army, particularly over the winter months when enlistments had expired, and of the difficulties in provisioning the troops. The British faced their own logistical problems, however. When soldiers were killed or wounded in battle, replacement awaited the arrival of fresh troops from Britain. The third of a ton of food needed per man per year came from shipments across the ocean of bread, flour, rice, salt, butter, salted beef, and pork. The option armies frequently used, of living off the countryside, would alienate the colonists whom the British hoped to persuade to lay down arms and resume being loyal subjects of king and parliament.

It wasn't just men and their rations that had to be imported from Britain -- horses and their feed also had to cross the Atlantic. Storms and unpredictable winds complicated the task of supplying the army's needs. In 1776, for example, 950 horses were shipped to the army in New York but nearly half -- 400 -- were lost en route.

When General William Howe decided in 1777 to leave New York in favor of occupying Philadelphia, he made a secondary decision to transport the army by ship rather than move overland to avoid the danger of flank attacks by Washington and the American forces. A dubious decision at best, as it left General John Burgoyne with no support in the event of difficulties in his Fort Ticonderoga campaign, it proved to be a disastrous one for the horses and men involved.

Howe determined on Philadelphia as his objective in the spring of 1777, but it was early July before the force of 19,000 troops and their supplies -- cannon, gunpowder, food, horses, and fodder -- began loading about the fleet of 250 transports and warships that his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, had assembled in New York. Becalmed for days, the fleet did not set sail until 23 July.

When the fleet arrived at Delaware Bay, a British patrol frigate informed the admiral that the river approaches to Philadelphia were heavily defended (an overstatement of the situation). The Howes decided to sail up the Chesapeake Bay instead and then to march overland from the head of the Elk River to Philadelphia.

As a result of this decision, as well as the delay in leaving New York, men and horses spent seven weeks on board ship during sweltering summer weather that light breezes did little to alleviate. They had left New York with a four-week supply of food and animal fodder. Starving, dying horses had to be thrown overboard as the fleet moved slowly up the bay, some undoubtedly washed ashore along Anne Arundel's shoreline or observed by county residents monitoring the fleet's progress from the shore.

When the army came arrived at Head of Elk on 25 August, it was nearly 70 miles from Philadelphia -- almost as far away as it had been when in New York.

Horses fared no better when another British commander, General Henry Clinton, moved the army out of New York by sea in December 1779, this time for Charleston, South Carolina. Clinton's fleet carrying 8,000 men plus their horses and equipment was not the first, nor the last, to experience first-hand the perils of the North Atlantic in winter. Men and horses alike suffered through a month of storms and gales, snow and icy rain, broken masts, ripped sails, and rigging torn away. Even if the transports had adequate stalls with slings for all of the horses, the extreme pitching of the vessels in heavy seas resulted in broken legs -- more horses that had to be destroyed and thrown overboard. Others were lost when transports sank.

When the fleet finally limped into the Savannah River at the end of January, preparations for the land campaign that eventually ended in Yorktown in October 1781, included buying or seizing fresh horses to replace the hundreds lost at sea.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


When I wrote the previous post, I had one more postcard to include, but I wanted to verify the background details with Charles Cadle, the authority for everything you want to know about the history of the city fire department. Before I was able to arrange that, however, Charlie spoke with a Capital reporter, whose story appeared in today's newspaper, filling in the details that I needed to get.

The postcard shows two horses racing down King George Street, pulling the city's steam engine behind them. They appear to have just passed the intersection with Martin Street, heading for Randall Street and Gate 1. Horses powered the steam engine from 1884, when it was purchased for the Independent Fire Company No. 2, until they and the steam engine were replaced in 1911 by the horsepower of the city's first motorized fire engine.
The above image is taken from the 1885 Sanborn Company map of Annapolis. The periodic series of Sanborn maps show the footprints of all structures in the city as well as building height and fabric. The first set of maps for Annapolis was prepared just in time to capture the new fire station in City Hall. By that time, the fire department had celebrated the arrival of its new engine by hosting a Thanksgiving Day parade in November 1884 -- an opportunity to show off their new equipment. [“History of the Independent Fire Company from an Old Program,” p.4.] The engine was housed in City Hall until the city government built a larger facility across the street. The fire company occupied the new two-story brick firehouse from 1917 until 1983. But the steam engine was gone by that time.

Fortunately, postcards and photographs, like the one above, record a time when city residents and property owners depended on the power and speed of horses, as well as the skills of members of the fire department, to protect their property.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And now for something completely different...

When the Heritage Area staff and I began discussing how to turn a proposed exhibit on the place of horses over time within the Four Rivers area into a narrative publication and then more realistically into a blog, we grappled with how to control our large and shapeless subject. Our solution envisioned a two-dimensional matrix. Divisions of time would provide one dimension: the five centuries during which horses have been an integral part of life in this area. The other dimension would attempt to sort the relationship between horses and the area's residents into four categories of activity: agriculture, transportation, recreation, and business.

Both of our dimensions are arbitrary. Using centuries as our time divisions blurs relevant political, social, cultural, and economic changes that occur independently of the stroke of midnight marking the boundary between one century and the next. The "iron horse" began to supplant the animal horse as a means of long-distance transportation by the middle of the 19th century, not on the first of January 1800. Horsepower harnessed in car engines rather than equine bodies became a significant means of moving people and goods in the second quarter of the 20th century, although automobiles first appeared in the 19th century. Our activity categories overlap, making assignment to one or another equally arbitrary. Racing and riding stables are businesses for the owners of horses, race tracks, and stables, but they provide entertainment for racegoers who cheer for and bet on their favorite horses and for children and adults who take riding lessons or go on trail rides.

Being a historian, I've approached the posts on this blog from that perspective. How did the first horses arrive? How were they used? How did their numbers increase over time? How did settlers reshaped the landscape to accommodate travel by horse? How did informal competition between owners develop into formal races? Trying to answer these questions, previous posts have focused on the first two centuries of the county's history, although they do touch to greater or lesser degrees on the activity dimensions of the matrix.

At the same time, I've been collecting a growing stack of newspaper and magazine clippings dealing with more current topics. Most recently, a feature on a fundraiser for a therapeutic riding program and a news article about the recent joust at St. Margaret's Church await being carried from the kitchen counter to be added to similar material in my office. What they haven't yet done is appear online.

Inspired, however, by this month's meeting of the Annapolis History Consortium, this post moves a century forward in time. The meeting featured the generous sharing by one member of images from his Annapolis postcard collection. The collection covers about 100 years of the city's history and a wide variety of subject matter, but my attention focused on a half-dozen images that included horses. Thanks to the even more generous permission to copy them, I'm able to include them here.

Okay, these horses are not in Annapolis or the Four Rivers Heritage Area. But I could not resist including this use of horses to sell flour. I'm not sure how one gets from the image of Ben-Hur in a chariot race to the retailing of flour, but presumably Messrs. Campbell and Phipps expected their customers to see a connection.

George Jones's early 20th century postcard shows harness racing at Parole. Spectators' carriages line the sides of the track, and the racers can be seen approaching in the distance in the center of the postcard.

Mame Warren's Then Again...Annapolis, 1900-1965 includes an interview that describes the early races:
"Mr. Rullman, who had a drugstore right across from the Farmers Bank on West Street, had a horse that he used to ride out West Street every evening in good weather. At that time it was an oyster-shell road and...you'd see the trail of dust all the way down the road.

Mr. Rullman used to go out to Parole. He used to race out there....Races would be announced in the paper, and they were only on holidays,...so that people could get there. There was just a field with markers around a partial fence to denote where the track was. There were no stands; it was just a field. So people would take their horses out there from time to time and run them around the track. These were harness races...in the days when I knew it. The horses were locally owned."

By the 1930s, a more formal track had replaced the one on which Rullman raced and the harnesses now connected horses with sulkeys, not the owner's carriage.

The race track at Parole gave way to Parole Plaza shortly after this aerial view was taken in 1959. The then-modern shopping center has since yielded its place to the shops, restaurants, and residences of Annapolis Towne Centre.

Horses, dogs, and people took the ferry across Spa Creek while the second Eastport bridge was being constructed. The new bridge opened on 8 April 1907.

Early 20th century transportation in a nutshell: horse-drawn carriages, a bicycle, and the trolley of the Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis electric line in this view looking down the first block of West Street toward St. Anne's Church.

Photographs and prints similarly show the ubiquitous presence of horses in the 19th and early 20th centuries. More to come.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Equipping Horses

Although you can ride a horse bareback, it’s not a very practical way to travel, particularly if you need to carry anything with you. By the time Anne Arundel residents were traveling by horseback, equipping a horse entailed the services of an array of specialized craftsmen to produce the leather and metal articles that made for a comfortable trip.

A variety of sources are available to tell us about the equipment needed for a horse more than two hundred years ago. Philip Vickers Fithian’s account [p.16] of his trip from New Jersey to Virginia in October 1773 provides a list of the minimum purchases required for a long-distance trip on a horse. Store accounts and inventories of both store goods and decedents’ horse-related possessions provide other documentation. Visual images – paintings, lithographs, etc. – offer another look at the well-dressed horse.

More Mondays ago than I care to remember, I explored a different avenue for studying equipment when I visited Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum to spend some time with Sara Rivers-Cofield, Curator of Federal Collections. Sara and I discovered a mutual interest in colonial horses last fall when we both attended a one-day symposium at Belair Mansion (which shall figure more importantly in later posts). We decided then that we should get together to share information as soon as we found a mutually convenient date.

Mostly Sara provided information and I took pictures and notes. Because the MAC lab is a repository for collections from around the state, Sara is in the enviable position of having enough pieces of stirrup iron, bosses from bridles, nails from saddles, and other fragments to begin to put together a picture of what horses were wearing over time. One or two tacks or bosses don’t tell a researcher much, but when you have twenty or thirty, you can begin to compare and draw conclusions.

That’s not what I’m going to do here, though. Instead, I’ll start with Fithian’s account and try to provide some visual accompaniments for his notations of what he bought for his journey. Fithian started with a horse, of course, and that may be the hardest purchase to illustrate correctly. No need to include a Stubbs painting as Fithian certainly didn’t buy a Thoroughbred. But he did pay £25 for the animal, so he probably bought a relatively young horse bred for stamina rather than speed, the kind of “genuine country horse” described by Ruffian’s owner in his 1793 advertisement.

Two days before he bought the horse, Fithian set about acquiring the leather goods needed for his trip. He noted first the purchase of a “Saddle, Bridle, Spurrs, etc.,” and the “etc.” must have also included reins. The same day he also bought a “Pr of Sadle-Bags.” The day after buying his uncle’s horse, Fithian “Had my Boots altered & mended – Was measured for a Surtout-Coat.” Travelers covering long distances had to be sure they too were well-equipped; sturdy boots and a warm, heavy overcoat were necessities in October.

Fithian’s last step was to have shoes put on the horse. In New Jersey, where he lived, it is possible that a farrier did this work, if there were enough local customers to support such a specialized trade. A farrier not only made horseshoes and then shoed horses but also trimmed and balanced hooves. In Anne Arundel and the rest of the Chesapeake region, these tasks were carried out by blacksmiths as part of a broad array of services. Even at the end of the colonial period, there was not enough density of settlement to cause any smith to limit his trade to farrier’s work. [A google search today, however, of ‘farrier maryland’ will turn up 74,000 hits.]

When the Reverend Hugh Jones described traveling on horseback in the late seventeenth century, he wrote that “Our soil is generally sandy, free from stone, which makes itt verry convenient for travelling. And we have noe occasion for shoeing our horses except in frosty weather.” This apparently was true, at least on the lower western shore, into the eighteenth century, for excavations at a 1715 stable, on the plantation of Richard Smith, Jr., found no horseshoes, despite the presence of other horse equipage artifacts. But Fithian was making a trip from New Jersey through Maryland to Virginia and his horse needed shoes. Judging from the assemblage of horseshoe fragments at the MAC lab, Fithian’s horse was not the only one, and of course the few surviving blacksmith’s accounts from the colonial period include shoeing horses among the charges found in customer’s records.

Thus equipped and prepared, Fithian was ready to begin his journey on 20 October 1773.
[The stable was located on the Smith St. Leonard Site, 18CV91. Members of the public can volunteer and help dig the site through the Park's public archaeology program.]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Horses Racing

In one of Patricia Moyes’ mysteries featuring C.I.D. Inspector Henry Tibbett, the inspector and his wife go sailing with friends off the coast of East Anglia. As they are returning home at the end of their sail, Tibbett notices that there is another boat nearby sailing a parallel course. He also becomes aware that for the remainder of their time on the water, his host and hostess are making many more adjustments to the sails and their course than had been true earlier. When they are finally back at their starting point, ahead of the other boat, Tippett congratulates his host on winning the race. “Race? What race?” replies the other man. “We never race.”

What has this to do with horses in Anne Arundel? Just that, as two boats sailing near one another on similar courses are almost always testing relative speed and skill, so too horse owners, as far back as the prehistoric nomads of central Asia who first domesticated the horse, matched their animals against one another, often with a wager on the outcome. Informal races in Maryland date back to the mid-seventeenth century when there were enough horses in the colony for owners to begin competing in match races during gatherings for fairs, church, or court days. Or, as the author of a history of racing in France (p.1) put it, “Desultory horse-racing of course exists in all countries where there are horses to be ridden and men or boys (especially the latter) to ride them; and the commencement of such horse-racing dates, no doubt, from the earliest period at which the horses of those countries submit . . . to bear riders upon their backs.”

The first races in England may have been those organized by Roman soldiers stationed in Yorkshire about 200 A.D. The first recorded race meeting, however, is believed to have taken place in 1174 at a horse fair held at Smithfield, London during the reign of Henry II. The first trophy awarded to a winner is similarly believed to be a small wooden ball decorated with flowers presented in 1512 by the organizers of a Chester fair.

One of the world’s most famous races dates to a period between these two events. The Il Palio di Siena originated in the 14th century; today 10 horses compete in a circuit of the piazza di campo but originally the race began outside the city with the finish line in the campo. Unlike the English match races, the palio began as a multi-horse competition, with the horses racing for contrada, or Sienese neighborhoods, rather for than individual owners.

Despite the Smithfield and Chester races, today Newmarket is considered the home of horse racing in England. According to the Newmarket Racecourses website, in fact, “Newmarket is the historic Home of Horseracing and the greatest horseracing centre in the world.” (And, truthfully, for those of us who are Dick Francis fans, the idea of hanging out in Newmarket for a few weeks or months to soak up the ambience sounds like nirvana.) Legend has it that James 1 discovered the village in 1605 while out hawking or riding, and subsequently spent so much time there that the House of Commons requested that he spend a bit more of it on ruling the country. It was James who had the first grandstand built on Newmarket heath. From here spectators could watch the first recorded race, a match on 18 March 1622 between horses belonging to Lord Salisbury and the Marquis of Buckingham. The latter’s horse won the prize worth £100, an enormous sum for the average Briton but much less so for the aristocratic owner of the horse. Spring and autumn race meetings began in Newmarket about the time that Charles I succeeded to the throne (1625) and the first Gold Cup race was held in 1634.

Charles II, when restored to the throne of England in 1660, resumed the royal association with Newmarket. The course’s records include “Articles ordered by his Majestie to be observed by all persons that put in horses to run for the Plate, the new Round-heate at Newmarkett, set out the 16th day of October, in the 17th yeare of our Sovereaign Lord King Charles II. Which Plate is to be rid for yearly, the seconde Thursday in October, for ever.” There were twenty articles in all, which laid out the rules for a race consisting of three heats and “the course,” specifying the time, the weights to be carried, the behaviour expected of participants, the circular shape, and the stakes involved. The first race is dated to 1666, but this would require the articles to take effect in the 7th year of the monarch’s reign. As Charles is credited with winning the Plate in both 1671 and 1675 (“rode 3 heats and a course and won the Plate” on Blew Capp), it would seem that the 1666 date (the one used by Newmarket itself) is correct. These were the first races in England to be held according to written rules.

The year 1665, when the articles were drawn up, is the key to devoting some attention to Newmarket even though it too is not in Anne Arundel County. In that same year, Charles II directed Richard Nicolls, the governor of New York, to lay out a racecourse called Newmarket . The course was constructed on what was then known as Salisbury Plains on Long Island, now Hempstead Plains, near present-day Garden City and within a few miles of Belmont Park, home of the last leg of the Triple Crown. The Newmarket (LI) cup dates to 1668, making it the oldest trophy race in the British North American colonies.

It needs to be noted that the horses racing at Newmarket and elsewhere were not yet Thoroughbreds, but the breeding stock that contributed to the development of the Thoroughbred does date from Charles II and his marriage to Catherine of Braganza. Catherine, who married Charles in 1662, was the daughter of John IV of Portugal and as part of her dowry England acquired the ports of Bombay and Tangier. The “royal mares” imported from Tangier, known as Barbs, were later bred with imported middle-eastern and North African stallions to develop the Thoroughbred horse.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Scarcity to Nuisance

The Jamestown colonists found it necessary to slaughter their horses for food during the starving time of the first winter. We can assume, although without documentation as proof, that subsequent supply ships brought replacements for those horses, but it wouldn’t have been until the 1610s, after the initial years of famine had receded, that the colony’s supply of horses began to grow through births of foals in Virginia.

The accounts of the arrival of the Ark and the Dove, carrying the first Maryland settlers in 1634, are similarly silent on the subject of horses, although early ships must have carried a few even if there were none on the first voyage to Maryland. By the late 1640s, there were definitely at least seven horses in the colony for they turn up several times in the Provincial Court records (vol. 4 of the Archives of Maryland Online). These horses were the property of Leonard Calvert, brother of Lord Baltimore and governor of Maryland. Tracing them through the records, it appears that five of the horses -- three mares, a "stone horse" (stallion) and a colt -- were originally the property of Lord Baltimore, then were acquired by John Lewger, secretary of the colony, and sold by him in 1644 to Calvert in exchange for Calvert's payment of £100 sterling to John Smith, a linen draper (cloth merchant) in London, on Lewger's behalf.

The mid-1640s were a turbulent time for the Maryland colony, when Richard Ingle, a ship captain who supported the Parliamentary cause attacked the colony and for a time took over its government -- a period later referred to as the "plundering time." Leonard Calvert and others defended proprietary interests for some months but eventually fled to Virginia. There Calvert recruited soldiers and returned with a force of both Virginians and Marylanders to retake control of the colony. He evidently took at least a few horses with him when he crossed the Potomac into Virginia. In June of 1647, Virginia's governor, William Berkeley, wrote to say that he was sending back to Calvert a mare and colt in the care of a Mr. Trussel. Calvert also received a claim from Edward Hill, who was acting as governor for a time after Ingle's departure, for "satisfaction for Colclough’s horse, offered me in exchange of your filly at Chicacoan."

Leonard Calvert died unexpectedly on 11 June 1647. On his deathbed he named Thomas Greene as governor and Margaret Brent as his executor. Legacies included a "mare colt" to his godson Leonard Greene and the next "mare colt" born to Mrs. Temperance Pippett of Virginia. The inventory of Calvert's estate, appraised on the 30th of June, listed "3 Stone-horses 3 mares, & one Ston-colt" valued at 8400 pounds of tobacco and a saddle and bridle worth 100 pounds. There is no further mention of horses until February 1649, when Margaret Brent sold one gray stone horse to Barnaby Jackson, a tailor, for 1700 pounds of tobacco. The bill of sale does not indicate that Brent acted as Calvert's exectuor, so it is possible that she sold one of her own horses.

The final reference to the governor's horses comes in 1650, when Thomas Thornborough submitted a petition to the court, asking that it enforce a commitment made by the deceased governor, Leonard Calvert, to give Thornborough a horse as compensation for his service at St. Inigoe’s fort. The horse in question was being held by Cuthbert Fenwick, who had bought it from Margaret Brent, Calvert’s executrix, who had sold it out of Calvert’s estate. When Jane Fenwick, Cuthbert's widow, died in 1661, the inventory of her estate included one horse, but there is no way to know whether or not it was the horse Thornborough claimed as his.

From the above evidence, or lack thereof, we could reasonably conclude that there were not many horses in the province through the 1650s. But other documents suggest that might not have been the case. By 1659, the Maryland legislature was enacting a law requiring “That all fences for Corne fields within this Province shall be five foote in height round the said field sufficient and strongly made in the Judgemt of two Indifferent men viewing the same in case of trespass[,] And in case any horse or horses or other cattle[1] shall happen to leape over such fence as aforesaid or breake it downe it being sufficient and strongly made as aforesaid That then the Owners of such horse or horses or other Cattle shall be lyable to pay the trespass[,] And in case the said Fence be not soe high that then the Owner or owners of such Corne feilds shall beare their owne losse comitted by the horse[,] horses or Cattle as aforesaid.” In other words, all corn fields had to enclosed by strong fences at least 5’ in height. If any horse managed to get into the field despite the fence the animal's owner had to pay damages, but if the fencing was inadequate, then the planter suffered the loss. Apparently there were enough horses on the loose by the late 1650s to be a threat to fields of corn.

Five years later, the legislative records indicate another recognition of the importance of horses for travel within the colony. An Act for Ferrys stipulated that ferries over the St. George’s River in St. Mary’s County and the Wicomoco River in Charles County must have boats with a 14’ keel to carry “any person traveling on foot” but that an 18’ boat was required to provide for “men and horses[,] for the passinge or conveyinge over [the Patuxent River] all passengers whatsoever wth their horses travelinge either on foote or on horse back.”

The first law attempting to limit the importation of horses was passed in 1671. By the early 1680s, the legislature was considering several measures to control the number of horses in the colony, including not only limitations on importation, but also prohibition of ownership by non-landowners and a ban on stallions running loose that were not at least fourteen hands high to prevent any deterioration of the colony’s stock of horses. The general aim was “to lessen the Number of them that now are grown a Common Nusance.” This was to some degree a measure of social control – with the upper house arguing in favor of legislation to restrict ownership by the lesser sort while the lower house raised objections to the proposals. In the October 1683 session, the lower house did respond to a request for a proposal when “Mr Clement Hill and Mr Hutchins from the Lower house [came in] with a Bill for Lessening the Number of Horses” but after the first reading there is no further mention of the act.

In 1694, the assembly, distressed that earlier laws had not been effective, passed “An Act to prevent the greate Evill occasioned by the multiplicity of horses within this Province.” The law argued that “the small stature of Stallions running wild doth both Lessen & spoyle the whole breed and Streyne of all horses” but then noted “that which is most grievious and intollerable is the utter Ruine & destruccon of Corne Feilds, Pastures, and other Inclosures, which otherwise would produce great store of good & usefull provisions.” The remedy was a requirement that “yearly & every year all Owners of any horse horses Mares Colts and Geldings shall & are hereby obliged to keep all or any such Horse or Horses Mares Colts and Geldings withingood and sufficient Inclosures fenced grounds or pastures from the first day of May till the tenth day of November yearly for prevention of the greate Mischeife and Evills aforesaid.” The proliferation of wild horses had become enough of a problem to reverse the usual practice of letting animals roam freely while fields had to be fenced to keep them out. Horses now had to be enclosed in fenced pastures to protect crops from damage.

2 May 1754

Similar laws remained in effect for much of the colonial period but failed to remedy the problem. Issues of the Maryland Gazette in the 1750s and 1760s often have as many or more notices asking owners to collect lost or strayed horses as there are advertisements seeking the return of runaway servants and slaves.
[1] The OED defines ‘cattle,’ in the language of the stable, as applying to horses, in the way it is used in Georgette Heyer novels by aristocrats referring to the matched pairs they purchased for their carriages. As the likelihood of a cow or bull leaping over a colonial fence seems remote, this is perhaps also the legislative use of the word.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Thoroughbred Horse

Before I began doing the research for this blog, I had assumed that Thoroughbred horses were similar to pedigreed dogs: pure-bred animals with a documented lineage. Wrong. As I began reading about breeds of horses to become familiar with the types hat might have been imported in the seventeenth century, I learned that a Thoroughbred is a specific breed of horse, defined by a pedigree that can be traced back to one of three foundation sires.

Having read and loved King of the Wind as a child, I knew about the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerley Turk, and the Darley Arabian. But I hadn’t realized quite how central they were to the development of the Thoroughbred. Up through the seventeenth century, British horses were bred for the strength and stamina to carry armored knights in battle, while Arabian horses were smaller and bred for speed and maneuverability. The smaller English breeds were ponies that could not match the qualities of the Arabians.

The Byerley Turk

At the end of the seventeenth century and in the early eighteenth century, however, Turkish leaders sent gifts of Arabian horses to the heads of European nations and some Europeans privately acquired ownership of Arabian or Turkish horses. These included the Byerley Turk in 1683, the Darley Arabian in 1703, and the Godolphin Arabian in 1730. Breeding English mares to these three stallions formed the foundation of a new breed, the Thoroughbred, combining the strength of one with the speed of the other to produce a horse that could carry a rider at a sustained speed over a long distance. The result was an animal that gave new impetus to the sport of horse racing.

The Darley Arabian

The introduction to James Weatherby’s General Stud Book, which began publication in 1791, recorded the pedigree of over 350 mares. Each could be traced back to Eclipse, a descendant of the Darley Arabian, Matchem, a grandson of the Godolphin Arabian, or Herod, a great-grandson of the Byerley Turk and to one of 74 foundation mares of English or North African/Middle Eastern origin (Arabian, Turkoman, or Barb [Barbary Coast of North Africa]). Weatherby and Sons still publishes the General Stud Book and only horses listed in it are considered Thoroughbreds and allowed to race professionally. Although used primarily for racing, Thoroughbreds are also bred for fox hunting, show jumping, dressage, and polo.

The Godolphin Arabian

In May 1793, an advertisement appeared in the Maryland Gazette for “RUFFIAN, genuine country horse.” Ruffian had “but little to recommend him, except the excellence of the strain from which he was bred, and his ability to perform more riding with greater ease to the rider than any horse heretofore known in Maryland.” The Maryland race horses of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century were country horses like Ruffian, but by the mid-eighteenth century some men wanted more than a genuine country horse. They began to bring Thoroughbred bloodstock into the Chesapeake, beginning with Bulle Rock, imported by Samuel Gist of Virginia in 1730.