Thursday, June 23, 2011

Colored Engraving of Champion, trotting sire owned by William Russell Grinnell of Cayuga County, New York

Engraving removed, at some point, from a book.  It appears to be handcolored, if my tiny microscope and its user are reliable.

It depicts the beautiful chestnut "Champion", owned by William Russell Grinnell of Levana in Cayuga County, New York.  See an 1897 article about Champion and some of his offspring, below, after a brief family history of William Russell Grinnell.

From online research, hopefully correct:

William Russell Grinnell was born 10 March 1819 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Cornelius and Eliza Tallman (Russell) Grinnell.  His paternal grandparents were Captain Cornelius and Sylvia (Howland) Grinnell.  His maternal grandparents were Gilbert and Lydia (Tallman) Russell.

William married Charlotte Van Waert Irving on 8 June 1847 at Sunnyside, New York.  They raised at least three sons, from what I could glean online.  William Russell Grinnell died on 11 October 1888 at Aurora, New York; Charlotte died 16 March 1911.

From "The Horse in America, His Derivation, History and Development", published in 1897 by John H. Wallace, and available to read in digitized format online.

CHAMPION, the head of the Champion family, was a beautiful golden chestnut, sixteen hands high and without marks. He was bred by George Raynor, of Huntington, Long Island, and was foaled 1842. He was got by Almack, son of Mambrino, by Messenger; dam Spirit, by Engineer Second, son of Engineer, by Messenger, and sire of the famous Lady Suffolk. This is enough Messenger blood to please the most fastidious, but I think there was still more beyond the Engineer mare. When eighteen months old this colt showed phenomenal speed when led behind a sulky, and when three years old he was driven a full mile to harness in 3:05. a rate of speed which, at that time had never been equaled by a colt of that age. This made him ''champion" as a three-year old and William T. Porter named him Champion. After this performance Mr. John Sniffin, a merchant of Brooklyn, bought him, and in June, 1846, Mr.William R. Grinnell paid two thousand six hundred dollars for him and took him to Cayuga County, New York. After keeping Champion in that county till the close of the season of 1849, Mr. Grinnell concluded to sell the horse, as in all that time he had not covered one hundred mares. Mr. Grinnell complained that the farmers did not appreciate the horse, and many of them failed to pay for his services. But the fault was not all on the part of the farmers, for the price, to them, was very high, and he was a very uncertain foal getter.

In April, 1850, he was sent to New York and kept in the stable of Mr. Van Cott, on the Harlem road. He had been very badly handled, and Mr. Van Cott says he had been abused and illtreated, and when he came to his place he was as vicious and savage as a wild beast. The horse was kept there for sale, and in his daily exercise Mr. Van Cott says he could "show considerably better than 2:40 at any time." In 1851 he was sent over to Jersey and kept for public use at a fee of fifty dollars, by Samuel Taylor, at Newmarket, Metuchen, Boundbrook and Millstone. After making three or four seasons in the region of Boundbrook, in the year 1854, Mr. Grinnell, who still owned him, sold him to Mr. James Harkness, of St. Louis, Missouri, for about seven hundred and fifty dollars. On reaching St. Louis he proved to be as dangerous as ever, and no man dared to go into his stall, except Mr. Harkness and one assistant. In 1858 Mr. Harkness sold him to Thomas T. Smith, of Independence, Missouri, for one thousand dollars. He was there stolen by "jayhawkers" and taken to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he made two seasons and died 1864. Although he lived to be old, he left comparatively few colts, but a large proportion of that few were of excellent quality and many of them trotters.

CHAMPION (SCOBEY'S also known as King's Champion) was the best son of Grinnell's Champion, the son of Almack, and he came out of a mare called Bird, by Hedbird, son of Billy Duroc. He was foaled 1849, and was bred by Jesse M .Davis, then of Cayuga County, New York, and sold to David King, of Northville, New York, and by him in 1861 to Mr. Kellogg, of Battle Creek, Michigan. He was repurchased by Messrs. Backus. Scobey and Burlew in August, 1865, and soon became the property of Mr. C. Scobey and died his in May, 1874. It has been claimed this horse had speed and a record of 2:42 in 1857, but I have no data to determine how fast he was. From his own loins he put eight performers in the 2:30 list, two of which were phenomenally fast, although their records do not show it. Here I allude to Nettie Burlew and Sorrel Dapper, more generally known as "The Auburn Horse." The latter was a long, leggy, light chestnut, with a tremendous stride, and Hiram Woodruff did not hesitate to say he was a faster horse than Dexter. This Champion was a sire of excellent quality, although but a few of his progeny were developed. He left six sons that were the sires of forty-four trotters, and seven daughters that produced nine performers.

CHAMPION (GOODING'S)was a bright bay horse with black points, standing fifteen and three-quarter hands high. He was got by Scobey's Champion, dam the trotting mare Cynthia, by Bartlett's Turk, son of Weddle's imported Turk; grandam Fanny, by Scobey's Black Prince; great-grandam Bett, by Rockplanter, son of Duroc; great-great-grandam Kate, represented to be a Messenger mare. He was foaled 1853, and was bred by Almeron Ott, Cayuga County, New York, and traded to Mr. Stearns, from whom he passed to his late owners, T. W. and W. Gooding, Ontario County, New York. He died June, 1883. This horse was peddled about in Seneca County at a fee of five dollars, and had a very light patronage among the farmers. At last he was sold, with difficulty, at Canandaigua, for three hundred dollars to the Messrs. Gooding, and he brought them a handsome income as long as he lived. As his reputation as a sire of speed spread abroad, the quality of the mares brought to him improved, and among them were some with good trotting inheritance. Of his progeny, seventeen entered the 2:30 list, the fastest in 2:21, and they were good campaigners. It is a remarkable fact that only one of his sons proved himself a trotting sire, and he left but a single representative. On the female side of the house he was more successful, for six of his daughters produced seven performers.

CHARLEY B. was a bay horse, sixteen hands high, and was bred bv Charles Burlew, of Union Springs. New York. He was foaled 1869, aud was got by Scobey's Champion, son of Champion, by Almack, and proved himself the best son of his sire. He was out of a mare well known as "Old Jane" that was the dam of Myrtle with a record of 2:2o^. Several pedigrees have been provided for this mare that did not prove reliable, and they were all careful to endow her with plenty of Messenger blood. After searching for the facts through some years, the only version of it
that seemed to be worthy of credence showed that her sire was a horse called Magnum Bonum and there it ended. In his racing career this horse was started sometimes under the name of ''Lark.'' He has six heats to his credit in 2:30 and better, and a record of 2:25. From his own loins he has twenty-two trotters in the list. Considering the respectable number this horse shows in the 2:30 list, his great nervous energy, his vigorous constitution, and the number of years he was liberally patronized in the stud, it is a most notable fact that he has but two sons that are producers. Six of his daughters have produced. As a propagator of speed in the coming generations, this horse seems to be even a greater failure than his half-brother, Gooding's Champion.

NIGHT HAWK was a chestnut son of Grinnell's Champion. He was bred by John S. Van Kirk, of Newark, New Jersey, and his dam was by Sherman's Young Eclipse, son of American Eclipse. He was foaled 1855-6. In 1862 Mr. Van Kirk took him to Kalamazoo, Michigan, thence to Paw Paw in 1872, and in 1879 he was returned to Kalamazoo, owned by A. T. Tuthill. He was something of a trotter, and had a record of 2:36, under the name of Champion, when he was controlled by Mr. D. B. Hibbard, I think. He was shown at a State fair, held at Lansing, on a poor half-mile track, it is said, and trotted a mile in 2:314;, and for this performance he received a piece of plate from the society testifying to this fact. He has but two representatives in the 2:30 list, and three of his sons have five trotters to their credit, while six of his daughters have produced seven performers. He lived to an old age.

The merits and demerits of this family are very marked. The head of it seems to have possesssed great nerve force and an unmistakable instinct to trot, but he was irritable and vicious in his temper. Both these qualities — the desirable and the undesirable alike— he seems to have transmitted to his offspring. I have seen Gooding's Champion, and he had the temper and disposition of his grandsire. It appears that the original Champion was a shy breeder, and I am disposed to think he inherited this infirmity from his sire, Almack, and whether the inability of his sons and grandsons to get sires of trotters may be accounted for from this cause would be a very difficult question to answer. There are several others of this family, East and West, that have single representatives in the 2:30 list, that I have not enumerated, but from the statistics, as they now stand, it seems probable that, whatever is good in this family will be swallowed up in other tribes that are more prepotent and positive in the trotting instinct.

If you have any corrections, additions or insights regarding any of the information presented here, please leave a comment or contact me directly. Thanks!

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  1. I love that you have the whole story with the engraving. Great work!

  2. Thanks for your kind comment. The coloring of the horse is so beautifully done. With the microscope I could see tiny splotchy dapples the colorist made.