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Such addresses are always instructive. Though the effect may not be noticed immediately, it certainly takes place, so that after a few brief years the observer can justly say—the people have been invited to good works.
JACKSON HORSE-BREEDING ASSOCIATION.
Among the great enterprises of the West, that of the Jackson Horse-Breeders Association occupies a prominent position, and will fairly rank with the best of its kind. At the time of its inception, rattling contests were conducted in a sort of haphazard manner, each race-meeting adopting a few rules for the occasion, which were often openly violated; and as no punishment could be meted to the offenders, fraud and flagrant abuses were practiced with impunity. To such an extent was this carried that horseracing had become a bye-word and reproach, being classed among the institutions of gambling.
In the spring of 1870 a few gentlemen who were interested in the improvement of the trotting horse, formed an association for the purpose of conducting races upon a more methodical and respectable basis. S. S. Vaughn, President; J. A. Robinson, Secretary; Geo. W. Kennedy, Treasurer. Two annual meetings were held upon the grounds of the County Agricultural Society, which proved highly successful and indicated what could be accomplished when honest and honorable purposes were thrown into the balance. But the grounds were unsuitable for holding large meetings, the track being narrow and not formed to accommodate more than a moderate field of horses. At the close of the meeting in 1871 this society disbanded.
About this time a part of the Durand property, between the fair grounds and Blackstone street, was offered for sale. Mr. Amos Root, with commendable foresight, conceived the idea of purchasing this piece of land and adding it to the county property. Looking about for support to the scheme, it was but a short time until a confederation of gentlemen of means whose integrity was above suspicion, banded together, bought the 12 acres of land, paying $12,000 therefor, and formed what was known as the Jackson Horse-Breeders Association, with the avowed purpose of elevating and advancing the interest of the trotting turf. This body was composed of the following members : Amos Root, Sewel S. Vaughn, Daniel B. Hibbard, Michael Shoemaker, Jesse Hurd, George Sherwood, C. C. Turner, Dan. J. Robinson, Marion Dorrel, George M. Kennedy. At the first meeting of the members, S. S. Vaughn was chosen president; Don. J. Robinson, secretary; George W. Kennedy, treasurer. Arrangements having been made with the Agricultural Society, it was determined to build a half-mile track upon a new and improved pattern, to erect suitable buildings for spectators, judges, music, etc., and fence the grounds in a substantial and becoming manner.
a careful survey, ground was broken for the new track, the construction of which was under the supervision of D. J. Robinson and C. C. Turner. This involved an immense amount of labor, as the greater portion of the track had to be made of earth, hauled from the adjoining hills, the outer surface of the lower turn being raised some seven feet. In June, 1872, the track was finished, being carefully underdrained and enclosed on both sides by a neat railing, except on the inside of the back stretch, which was left open to give an unobstructed view from the starting point, The home stretch was 75 feet wide, giving ample room for nine horses to score abreast. The turns were carefully graded, and a drain run around the inside of the track to clear it of refuse water. In fact, every attention was paid to the minutest details in order to make it what it proved to be, a model trotting course. It is enough to say that the tracks at Chester Park, Cincinnati, TriState Fair, Toledo, Cynthiana, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., Washington, D. C., were patterned after this.
The first meeting was given in June, 1872, commencing the 25th and continuing four days. Ten purses were offered, aggregating $12,000, divided into the following classes: 3 minute, 2:44; 2:50; 2:34; 2:40, 2:30; double teams and free for all.
A code of rules and regulations was put in force, which gave general satisfaction, by their feasibility and the firm, yet impartial, manner of their application. Never before in Jackson had such tempting purses been offered for contests of speed, and the classes filled with the best trotting "cracks" from all sections of the country.
Seeing early the difficulty of starting large fields of different rates of speed, Mr. Vaughan inaugurated the plan of scoring by the pole horse, which passed into a system bearing his name, and was afterward adopted into the "National Rules." Each year the meetings grew in favor, a new incentive was given to the breeding of superior horses, a recreative amusement was afforded the people, and business enterprises were benefited largely.
The "National Association" was formed in 1870, and in 1873, their interests being identical, the Horse Breeders Association became a member of that organization. Realizing the necessity of preserving order and proper decorum, a bill was introduced in the Legislature by Gen. W. H. Withington, which became a law, extending police surveillance over racing and fair-grounds.
They took the initiatory steps in admitting ladies free, which gave tone and character to the enterprise, and was quickly copied by other associations in all parts of the country. Striving to make their races more interesting by attracting large fields of the best horses from all sections, and realizing the great expense and risk attending such undertakings, they inaugurated the plan of furnishing all kinds of forage free, procured the reduction of transportation rates, and as a result, in the 2:40 race, 1879, 15 horses, representing 10 different States, faced the starting judge.
Each succeeding year the races grew in public favor, and remaining steadfast to their legend, they, step by step, sought to purge their track of evils and reproaches. Games of chance, other than pool selling, was forbidden on the grounds, and in 1879 all traffic in malt and spirituous liquors was refused. No serious accident ever occurred. No crimes were known to have been committed. Races were invariably called promptly, and were always finished during the week advertised, and every dollar of the premiums paid on demand. At the winter meeting of the members, in January, 1880, Mr. Vaughn resigned the presidency, which was the first break in the officers since its organization. During his administration he presided at the inaugural meetings at Chester Park, Cincinnati; Tri-State Fair, Toledo; and Cynthiana, Ky. Jesse Hurd was called to the vacant place, which he held until its dissolution, and was a faithful and efficient officer, discharging the onerous duties with the same unswerving fidelity that characterized his predecessor. During the existence of this association but one death occurred among the members. Don J. Robinson, Secretary, died Jan. 8, 1881, after an illness of two weeks, with typhoid fever. The remaining members attended the funeral obsequies in a body, and followed the remains to the vault. As secretary of the Jackson Horse-Breeders' Association he was widely known. Being highly gifted and accomplished, his opinions were sought and respected in the Western councils. Those who knew him best cherished him most.
In January, 1881, a meeting of the members was called, when it was deemed best, in consequence of death and other important changes, to disorganize. Having lived a long and useful life, their work accomplished, with honor and dignity, they mutually agreed to close their affairs as a body, remembered and respected
In all that has been written, mention is made of only a few of such sad events as are here recorded. Beginning the chapter with three sketches, bearing on the legalized villainy of the first Central Railroad directors, the strike of 1878 and the terrible railroad catastrophe of 1879, the succeeding pages are devoted to a series of paragraphic sketches, dealing with some of the most sorrowful accidents as well as the most revolting crimes. The close of the chapter is given to brief descriptions of important events from 1837 to the present time. It is impossible to collect every item which properly pertains to this chapter, yet it is thought there is a sufficient number collated to render the record complete for the uses of the present and the future.
THE TREACHEROUS CORPORATION OF THE OLDEN TIME.
Of all the events recorded in this history, there is not one that bears a semblance to that which resulted in the summary abduction of 50 citizens of the United States from their homes and their interment in the unhealthy prison of Detroit. The law that recognized this action, the vicious directors of the new corporation, who suggested the terrible procedure and the villainous wretches employed by them to bring ruin upon those citizens, have all passed away, leaving only the memory of their corruption to stain the otherwise fair fame of the Peninsula. Many, doubtless, remember the time when the old strap-rail road was built between Detroit and Kalamazoo. For some years the old-time engine went slowly on its way over the primitive track; but, ultimately the track and engine passed into the hands of enterprising, but heartless, men. The State sold that which it should never have owned; the Michigan Central Railroad Company purchased it.
In the charter given to the new company a clause was wisely inserted, binding the directory to have the iron way fenced in and other dispositions made, guarding against injury to persons and property. A year passed over, and yet the articles of the charter seemed to be ignored. The cattle, hogs and sheep of the farmers of the district were run over by the fast trains; the owners sued the company; but an appeal by the defendants to the higher courts generally left the plaintiff to suffer the loss entailed by the destruction of his valuable cattle and the costs of legal proceedings. The company offered half the amount of the claim, and in refusing this the complainant forfeited all. The law was in this connection de
cidedly adverse to the injured citizen, because it recognized the right of the company to appeal and enter the higher courts, where the individual feared to tread. It legalized the robberies of the company, and, like the tea act and its British supporters, roused the people to action and called forth a war of retaliation. A section of the State Historical Series in reviewing this subject, states that “in the year 1849 a number of assaults and depredations were committed on the property of the M. C. R. R. Co., in and about the villages of Leoni and Michigan Center.” To prevent these, the directors did, Aug. 10, 1849, offer a reward of $500 to anyone whose evidence would result in the conviction of the guilty parties. A corps of spies was employed, comprising at one period over 100
No less than 15 of those disreputable scoundrels appeared as witnesses against the very men whose hospitality they enjoyed. This most detestable band of cowards and villains included Phelps and Lake, two discharged convicts; VanArman, a Marshall lawyer; Clarke, a member of the Legislature from Marshall; Dixon, a sheriff from Marshall; Cochrane, Sherman, Holden and Gillispie, four laborers; Taylor, an employe of the railroad company; Wolliver, Wells and Caswell, accomplices in the crimes they denounced; Wescott, a discharged bar-tender, and Faulkner, a carman. They were called from the prison and the brothel, from the counter and the farm, from the sheriff's office, the Bar, and even the Legislature. For a period of six months did these reptiles carry out a system of espionage, but failing completely to arrest one of the injured settlers in the act of placing obstructions on the track, resolved to swear anything and everything that might earn the reward which it was reported the company would offer if the depredations continued. Alive to the situation, those murderers of domestic peace and quiet sleep, resolved to close their labors with a terrible coup de guerre. On Nov. 18, 1850, a banded set of such informers set fire to the great freight depot at Detroit, destroying thereby $150,000 worth of railroad property.
One thousand dollars reward was offered for the apprehension and conviction of the incendiaries, and as a result, a ruffian came forward before the judiciary (?), and on his information, the manhood of a township over 60 miles distant from the scene of the conflagration was seized upon and hurried off to a distant prison, to be tried by a jury of Detroit citizens who neither knew the high character of the accused, nor that of the disreputable perjurers and informers, who contracted to work the ruin of 50 innocent men.
At a sitting of the grand jury of Wayne county, April 24, 1851, 37 men of the 50 under arrest were indicted. May 20, following, the accused parties appeared at the Circuit Court of Wayne, of which Warner Wing was resident judge. The Railroad Company employed no less than 10 eminent lawyers, including David Stuart, John Van Arman, Jas. A. Van Dyke, Jacob M. Howard, Alex. D. Fraser, Daniel Goodwin and Wm. Gray. The defendants were represented by six members of the State Bar, led by William H. Seward, of New York. The trial occupied four months, during