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Three 19th-Century Morgan Trotting Mares

In December 2001 I had to search the bound volume of HARPER’S WEEKLY for 1869 for a work-related project, and came across the following article in the October 9, 1869 issue. This is what I found:


We give on this and the next page four illustrations representing some of the most famous trotters that have recently distinguished themselves on the American turf.
“Lady Thorne” is owned by James D. M’Mann and Welch; her sire was Mambrino Chief; her dam, [by] Gano. Her best time in a one-mile heat has been 2 minutes 19 ¾ seconds.
“Goldsmith Maid”, owned by Jackman and Doble, was sired by Edsall’s Hambletonian; her dam was [by] Old Abdallah. Her best time in a one-mile heat has been 2 minutes 19 ½ seconds.
“The American Girl”, owned by William Lovell, was sired by Cassius M. Clay, Jun.; dam’s pedigree unknown. Her best time in a one-mile heat has been 2 minutes 19 seconds.
“The Mountain Boy”, owned by Commodore Vanderbilt, was sired by Major Winfield; dam unknown. His best time in a one-mile heat has been 2 minutes 21 seconds. He is said to lack wind, and not to be good for a long heat, but is admitted to have the best trotting movement ever witnessed on the course.

The three trotters first mentioned contested the course at Prospect Park Fair Grounds, Long Island, [August] 28. The following account of the affair was given in Wilkes’s Spirit of the Times for September 4:

The great trot on Saturday last, between three of the best mares that ever came together on the turf, was one of the finest ever witnessed anywhere, and the fastest that ever was seen on the Island, if we except the three heats of Dexter at the Fashion against Ethan Allen and his running mate … .

“First Heat.—American Girl had the pole, and Lady Thorn was second in position. After several efforts, in one or two of which Goldsmith Maid broke near the score, they got the word, American Girl having a trifle the best of it. On the turn American Girl led a length, and Lady Thorn was second. At the quarter, in 36 ¼ seconds, Lady Thorn was at the girths of American Girl, and Goldsmith Maid two lengths behind. The wind was now behind them, and they squared away fast and free. Half-way along between the quarter and the half mile Goldsmith Maid broke. The others kept up at the rate, and at the half mile American Girl and the Lady were head and head. Time, 1 minute 9 ¾ seconds; the second quarter having been trotted in 33 ½ seconds. On the lower turn the old mare showed a trifle in the lead. Goldsmith Maid broke again. At the three-quarter pole Lady Thorn led American Girl only a neck. The pace was strong and the interest intense. The two big mares swung around the last turn close together, and came on in a whirl of dust. In the straight bit Daniels laid on the whip, but it was no go, and the long, low stroke of the Lady cut the Girl down, although she had the inside, and beat her by a neck, in 2 minutes 20 ¾ seconds. Goldsmith Maid was two lengths behind them, and her backers began to look blue.

“Second Heat.—A strong friend of the old mare’s and of Dan Pfifer’s carried the news over to his bedside, whereupon he said, “The track is smooth and hard; she’s fit to trot for a man’s life, and they won’t beat her!” So thought the public, for she was made the favorite at two to one against the field. Six times they scored before they got the word, American Girl having become somewhat unsteady. The old mare moved like clock-work, never expending an ounce of exertion that was not required, and never seemed to pull a pound. At the start American Girl had a trifle the worst of it. On the turn [Lady] Thorn led a length, and Goldsmith Maid was two [lengths] before American Girl. There was a little break on the part of the Maid, and she took a little gallop. At the quarter in 36 seconds, she was at Lady Thorn’s haunches, and American Girl was three lengths behind. Again it was hot work in the second quarter, and the fine old mare again trotted it in 33 ½ seconds. Before they reached the half-mile pole she and Goldsmith Maid were neck and neck, but at the pole the Lady led half a length—time, 1 minute 9 ½ seconds—American Girl five lengths behind. The work was still very strong and close between Thorn and Goldsmith Maid. The latter nearly overhauled the old mare, but again the long, steady stroke got her into difficulty, and carried her to a break. Still she came again, and at the three-quarter pole the Lady led but a neck. But now the strong, staying power of old Thorn began to tell a tale. Goldsmith Maid broke again at the head of the short home-stretch, and the Lady won it by six lengths. American Girl was six lengths behind the Maid. Time, 2 minutes 20 ½ seconds. When Mr. M’Mann and the old mare passed by the stand they were saluted with much clapping of hands and cheering.

“Third Heat.—Any odds on Thorn, and no takers. At the start American Girl led a trifle, and Lady Thorne went on second. Doble tried to snatch the pole from behind; but “Jeems” knew just about where a sulky could go and where it couldn’t. On the turn the old mare took a slight lead, and at the quarter in 36 seconds she and American Girl were neck and neck, and Goldsmith Maid a length behind. The pace was very hot again in the second quarter. It was trotted in 34 ¼ seconds, and American Girl led a length at the half-mile in 1 minute 9 ¼ seconds, and Goldsmith Maid a length behind Thorn. The latter took the lead upon the turn; but the race was so close that they were as near together, all three, as might be, at the three-quarter pole. American Girl now made a skip, and the long, steady stroke of the old mare began to mow them down. She lasted the longest, as before, and coming clean away from them at last, won it by four lengths in 2 minutes 20 ¼ seconds. Doble saved a little for a last effort, and beat American Girl two lengths for the second place.”


PROSPECT PARK FAIR GROUNDS, L.I., August 28.—Purse $4000--$2500 to the first, $1000 to the second, and $500 to the third horse.
James M’Mann’s b m Lady Thorn 1 1 1
Budd Doble’s b m Goldsmith Maid 3 2 2
Ben Daniel’s b m American Girl 2 3 3
Time, 2.20 ¾--2.20 ½--2.20 ¼.


On the same page, 654, of the 1869 bound volume, were two advertisements:

“ PHOTOGRAPHS OF CELEBRATED HORSES.—We have excellent instantaneous photographs of Lady Thorn, Dexter and Lady Thorn grouped, Mountain Boy, Confidence, Bradly and Geo. Palmer. Sent by mail on receipt of twenty-five cents each, or six for one dollar. ROCKWOOD, 839 Broadway.”


New Trotting Prints
“Won by a Neck.” Lady Thorn, American Girl, and Goldsmith Maid trotting their great race on the Prospect Park Fair Grounds, August, 1869, Lady Thorn winning in three heats, in 2:20 ¾, 2:20 ½, 2:20 ¼. Size 25 x 33 inches. Price, $ 3.

“Any of the prints will be carefully enveloped, and sent by mail, postpaid, upon receipt of price. Please state you saw this advertisement in Harper’s Weekly. Address CURRIER & IVES, Publishers, 152 Nassau Street, New York.”


What especially interested me, though, was recognizing The American Girl’s sire as a Morgan, so I decided to check on the others. The Girl didn’t leave offspring, but both Lady Thorne and Goldsmith Maid have registered Morgan descendents alive today.

In 1873, when she was 17, Lady Thorne was bred to General Knox 65. In 1874 she foaled her only offspring, a brown colt named General Washington 76. In 1879, at age 5, General Washington was bred to Goldsmith Maid, who produced her only offspring on May 1, 1880, a brown colt named Stranger 100. Of Stranger’s 14 registered offspring, 2 stallions and a mare bred on to the present day. Moloch 4800, a black stallion foaled on his sire’s birthday in 1888, sired 3 registered foals. His son Norris M., when bred to his half-sister Bettie Moloch, sired the Maid of Orleans, who was purchased by the US Gov’t Farm. Her son Vermont 5550 by General Gates sired Green Mountain 5600 out of Caroline, a daughter of Daniel Lambert. Green Mountain’s daughter Morina 04411, out of My Lady Knox, produced a single daughter, Fire 09536 in 1941. Luckily, Fire foaled 10 offspring, 9 of whom bred on, supplying the eastern branch of Lady Thorne and Goldsmith Maid’s family.

Another Stranger son, Spokane 5273, sired 66 registered offspring—but only 2 daughters bred on to the present day. Sedge Sparrow, out of Pipit, a bay mare foaled in 1909, was the dam of Iowana, a mare by Quesal, by Quintessance out of Stranger’s daughter Rupicola. Iowana was the dame of Angelice and Queen Iowana Angelice became the dam of Princess Red Hawk, while Queen Iowana’s son Glen Pomulus sired Lady Margaret 09688, the dam of Arana Field and 8 others. Spokane’s other daughter to breed on, Sky Pipit, was the dam of two foals. Her son Skyrocket sired 6 foals; but only his gray son Coloraw sired a single foal, Colven, who in turn sired only one son who bred on, Foxx. The descendents of Spokane and Rupicola are the western branch of the family of the Lady and the Maid.

I really had fun exploring these bloodlines with the help of my Registry volumes, Calvin Hanson’s and the AMHA CD. Hope it’s of interest.

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