Influence of the Stanford Morgan bloodlines – Morgan Horses in the First Motion Pictures Part V

Hinda Rose, Currier & Ives, Library of Congress

Hinda Rose (Electioneer x Beautiful Bells), Currier & Ives, Library of Congress

Stanford’s acreage at Palo Alto now consisted of three farms, totaling more than 82,000 acres.  In 1879, the mare Beautiful Bells (The Moor x Belle of Wabash), who became one of the greatest broodmares in trotting history, was sent to the court of Electioneer, who was then allowed to serve a very few outside mares.  Beautiful Bells was a black mare, 15 1/2 hands, marked with a star, strip and off hind ankle.  She was bred by L. J. Rose of Sunny Slope, CA and foaled in 1872.  Her sire was the registered Morgan, The Moor #466, a black son of Clay Pilot #465 out of Bell of Wabash (Day’s Copperbottom #282 by Brutus by Copperbottom by Justin Morgan x mare by Black Hawk by Sherman by Justin Morgan).  Clay Pilot was a son of Neave’s Cassius M. Clay Jr 2148 (Cassius M Clay by Henry Clay x mare by Chancellor, 2d dam by Engineer 2d by Engineer by Justin Morgan).  His dam was Lady Pilot by a son of the famous Golddust #70 and out of Kate by Black Hawk.  Golddust’s sire, Vermont Morgan was out of a daughter of Sherman Morgan, and by Barnard Morgan, a son of old Gifford out of a daughter of Bonaparte, son of the Hawkins Horse by Justin Morgan.


Beautiful Bells

Beautiful Bells (The Moor x Bell of Wabash)

The dam of Beautiful Bells was Minnehaha, a daughter of Steven’s Bald Chief, whose sire and dam were both by Mambrino Chief, a son of Mambrino Paymaster and great-grandson of Messenger.  Some sources give the dam of Mambrino Chief as being sired by the Latham Horse, a son of Woodbury Morgan and out of a daughter of Justin Morgan.  This may be possible, however other sources say the mare was untraced and clear evidence has not been found.

Minnehaha’s dam was Nettie Clay, a daughter of Strader’s Cassius M. Clay Jr. # 2149 (Cassius M Clay x mare by Abdallah), second dam by Abdallah, 3rd dam by Engineer 2d #325 (sire of the famous trotting mare Lady Suffolk), he by Engineer #300 by Justin Morgan.   Beautiful Bells was a fast trotter and had a record of 2:29 1/2.  At that time, the superintendent of Palo Alto was Harrison Covey, and his assistant was his son Frank. Covey very much admired Beautiful Bells, who had remained there for broodmare care, and  wanted her for Palo Alto.  Especially so when she dropped her first foal from, which was the filly Hinda Rose, foaled in 1880 at Palo Alto from the mating with Electioneer. As it happened, Stanford’s brother-in-law, Ariel Lathrop who was in charge of buying and selling the horses, was not particularly interested in Beautiful Bells and could not be persuaded to buy her.  Covey decided to approach Stanford himself, and explaining the matter, won an order from Stanford to buy her along with the money.  He hurried back to the farm only to find her owners had sent a man to pay her bills and take her away, and had left but an hour before, leading Beautiful Bells and the newborn filly behind his cart. Harrison Covey promptly hitched up a fast horse and sent his son Frank after the man.  John Hervey, in his Dec 13, 1939 article for Harness Horse, related the story told him by Frank Covey, who was a good friend:

“Nobody could express my joy when at last I saw ahead of me the man slowly driving along the road, with Beautiful Bells following after him and Hinda Rose playing about her. I knew that if I in any way failed to find them the jig was up, for once she got into her owner’s hands, as they were at the outs about her, it would be impossible to get her back. So I drove up to the man and hailed him, asking him if that was not the mare he had just taken away from Palo Alto? And that was owned by So-and-So—He said yes, it was. Then I told him: That mare belongs to Palo Alto. We bought her this morning. I have come after her and will take her back there. Of course he demurred. But I showed him my order from the Governor, made out that morning, he finally gave up the mare and I took her back in triumph. She was never again off the farm as long as she lived. As you know, the next season Hinda Rose, her filly, broke the yearling record, then as a three-year-old she lowered the mark from 2:21 to 2:19½ and being taken east to race, won every one of her starts, never being beaten.”

Hinda Rose, like Occident before her, became known as “The California Wonder”, when she set a record of 2:36 1/2 for the mile as a yearling, which stood for six years.  As a three year old, Hinda Rose dropped her record to 2:19 1/2.

Adios(Hal Dale x Adioo Volo  U.S. Public Domain  Wikimedia Commons

Adios (Hal Dale x Adioo Volo) ca 1949, U.S. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful Bells produced a total of fifteen foals, including 11 Standard performers* (*record for trotting a mile in 2:30 or less) and was the first mare ever to have ten of her foals on the Standard list. All but one of her foals were by Electioneer or one of his sons. Stanford would have been surprised to learn that within two or three generations his carefully bred family of speedy trotters which held practically all the records then in existence, would become instead the leading family of pacers.  The great pacer Adios owned by Hall of Fame  driver Delvin Miller traced his direct sireline in four generations to Chimes, a son of Beautiful Bells and Electioneer.

Foaled in 1940, Adios was a multiple world champion during his pacing career, and he sired eight winners of The Little Brown Jug**, as well as two winners of harness racing’s Triple Crown for pacers.  (**Among many other Morgan crosses Adios carried, his sire, Hal Dal, was a great grandson of the Morgan stallion Brown Hal #4141 through his dam.  Brown Hal, who traced his sireline directly to Justin Morgan in five generations was full brother to the famous gelding Little Brown Jug, for whom the race, which is equivalent to the Kentucky Derby for pacers, is named.)

The blood of Electioneer and Beautiful Bells also enters back into the Morgan breed with one notable example being the palomino mare Canary Bird, bred by George Miles and foaled in 1905.  Canary Bird was the result of Mr. Miles bred his Morgan mare Lizzie (Washburn great grandson of Black Hawk x mare by Lexington Golddust) to Anteras (Electioneer x Beautiful Bells),  Mr. Miles then bred Canary Bird to the Saddlebred stallion Emerald King (Emerald Chief x Pocahontas, granddaughter of the famous Morgan stallion Indian Chief by Bloods Black Hawk).  The result was a palomino mare Upwey Emerald Goldy foaled in 1930, and later owned by Owen Moon and registered Morgan.  Descendants of this rare line can still be found in many Morgans tracing to the breeding of Myrtle Neeley.

As the success of the Palo Alto Stock Farm continued to grow, there were many more twists of fate yet to come.  In 1884, while on a Grand Tour of Europe with his parents, young Leland Stanford Jr contracted typhoid fever.  After several weeks of medical treatment, he died in Florence, Italy two months before his 16th birthday.  Grief stricken, Leland and Jane Stanford established the Leland Stanford Jr. University in honor of their son in 1891.  Tuition remained free until 1920.

In 1892, Charles Marvin was lured away from Palo Alto with promise of a $50,000 contract ($10,000 a year for 5 years) to take charge of the Prospect Hill  Stock Farm owned by Miller & Sibley in Franklin, Pennsylvania.   Joseph C. Sibley and his brother-in-law Charles Miller had established their stock farm in 1882, and were famous for their prize Jersey cattle.  Their Jersey Ida Marigold won two sweepstakes prizes at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and their herd won a total of 224 first prizes or sweepstakes at 22 state fairs or expositions, a record believed to be unequaled by any other herd in the world. Another of their Jerseys, Matilda 4th was the first in the history of the breed to give over 16,000 lbs of milk in one year. When they decided to breed trotting horses, they went at it with equal enthusiasm.  Sibley and Miller were much impressed with Stanford’s accomplishments and the blood of Electioneer.  Therefore, they patterned their trotting horse operation after the same manner, often referring to it as “The Palo Alto of the East”,  using several sons of Electioneer as their foundation, and persuading Marvin to come and train for them.

Meanwhile, Leland Stanford was elected as Republican Senator from California, and served in the U.S. Senate from March 4, 1885, until his death in Palo Alto, Calif., June 21, 1893.

Next – the End of the Stanford Era, An Unsolved Murder


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Stanford’s Morgan Bloodlines, The Final Photographic Experiments – Morgan Horses in the First Motion Pictures Part IV

Clay1in motion

Clay (Fred Low  by St. Clair x Maid of Clay by Henry Clay) driven by Charles Marvin. From photo frames by Muybridge.

Another of Stanford’s Morgan racers was a little black inbred Morgan gelding called Clay. He was a son of Fred Low (St. Clair x Lady Ross by Henry Clay). Even though these ancient photo frames are somewhat primitive compared to today’s technology, it is still possible to compare the gait and motion of different horses, and to see clear evidence of Morgan type.

Clay1in motion


Elaine in Motion


AbeEdgington18 in Motion

Abe Edgington

Occident in motion w CM-


Fred Low, the sire of Clay, was also known as St. Clair 2d, was a brown stallion bred by George Ingles of Sacramento, CA, and foaled in 1864.   He was named after Fred Low, the 9th California Governor, who followed Leland Stanford. Considered one of the best sons of old St. Clair, he won first premium at the California State Fair in 1865, 1870, and 1870.  St. Clair was lost in a stable fire later the same summer Fred Low was foaled.  St. Clair, as we have mentioned, was one of the first Morgans brought to California, and was brought across the plains in 1849 in the lead of a yoke of oxen.

St. Clair was described as “Very dark brown, nearly black, tan-colored flanks, little white on inside of left hind foot, coat fine with small white hairs through it, 151/2  hands, 1015 pounds, very strong and well-muscled, compactly built, wide between the eyes, deep through chest, withers well up, had long and heavy mane and tail and as good legs and feet as ever were on a horse ; would nip the groom sometimes, but of a very intelligent and generally kind disposition”  American Morgan Horse Register, Vol I.He was foaled about 1843 in Illinois, and supposed to have been by a son of Barden Morgan, or perhaps by Barden Morgan himself.  Although the pedigree of his dam was lost, she also was pure Morgan on both sides of her pedigree.

Barden Morgan, foaled in Vermont in 1826,  was considered to be one of the very best representatives of the Morgan family.  He was a son of Cock of the Rock by Sherman Morgan, and his dam was a daughter of the original Justin Morgan horse.  Cock of the Rock’s dam was also a daughter of Justin Morgan. Thus, Barden Morgan, although a great grandson of old Justin, carried 50% of his blood, so this was a very potent strain.  Barden Morgan was a very dark chestnut marked with three white feet, and a narrow stripe in the face.  His heavy, waving mane hung to his knees, and his equally thick and luxurious tail hung to the ground.  It was said that his style and action surpassed either  Hale’s Green Mountain Morgan or his sire old Gifford , who were considered the gold standard in that regard.  Barden Morgan was a square trotter with considerable speed, but could also pace rapidly.  He had been raced in Vermont and trotted in 2:38 on the ice, a remarkable record for those days.


Henry Clay (Andrew Jackson x Lady Surrey by Revenge, son of Justin Morgan; 2d dam by True Briton, sire of Justin Morgan.  Famous trotting sire foaled 1837.  U.S. Public Domain.

The dam of Fred Low was Lady Ross,  believed to be the same Lady Ross who was a daughter of Vergennes Black Hawk #1409  by old Black Hawk #20,  and her dam by Neave’s Cassius M. Clay Jr #2148.  The second dam of Cassius M Clay Jr was a daughter of Engineer 2d, son of Engineer by Justin Morgan. This mare had a record of 2:29 3/4.

The gelding Clay by Fred Low was out of Maid of Clay, a daughter of old Henry Clay #53 whose dam was the well known Lady Surrey, a daughter of Revenge by Justin Morgan, and her dam a half sister of old Justin by his sire, True Briton.  Clay was a small horse, according to Charles Marvin, the trainer, and scarcely weighed more than 710 pounds.  He would have been very fast but was given too much sharp work against the watch and became an inveterate puller. However, he won a few races for Stanford’s stables, and made an official record of 2:25 1/2.

Green Mountain Maid dam of Electioneer small

Green Mountain Maid (Harry Clay x Shanghai Mary) U.S. Public Domain

Just before hiring Marvin, Leland Stanford had made a visit to the famous Stony Ford Stud of Charles Backman in Orange County New York, the greatest breeder of trotting horses at that time to choose a stallion and several mares to take back to Palo Alto. Among these, he selected the stallion Electioneer, a son of Hambletonian, for which he paid $12,500, and the mare Elaine, a three-quarter sister of Electioneer, sired by Messenger Duroc, for which he paid $7,000. Leland’s purchase of the eight-year-old stallion Electioneer, who was untrained and had sired no offspring of note among the 30 foals he produced for Backman, was not a popular decision among his colleagues, who had expected him to choose Messenger Duroc instead. Leland explained his philosophy for choosing or breeding a horse, “I look at the head first,” he said, “then the form and then the pedigree. I may accept an animal which according to general views is not of good breeding if the other qualities are possessed, but deficiencies in form, or a head that denotes a lack of intelligence, are inseparable barriers in my estimation.” His keen and penetrating vision saw in Electioneer what others did not.

Both Electioneer and Elaine, the cream of his purchase, were out of Green Mountain Maid (Harry Clay x Shanghai Mary), who would be recognized in time as Backman’s greatest broodmare. A granddaughter of Neave’s Cassius Clay Jr. #2148 and out of the mysterious mare Shanghai Mary, Green Mountain Maid would have been eligible for Morgan registry, but spent all her days at Stony Ford and died there, delivering her 17th foal.  In 1881, Stanford offered Mr. Backman $10,000 for this exceptional mare, at which time she was 20 years old and Backman had already earned more than $46,000 from the sale of her foals and he still had seven of them left.  Backman refused.  It seemed a generous offer for an aged broodmare, but by the time Green Mountain Maid died in 1888, Backman had earned almost $69,000 for her foals and he still had not sold them all.  When the famous mare died, Backman erected an ostentatious 25 foot high granite monument over her grave, which overlooks the Walkill River, and lists the names of all of her foals and their records.  It is still there, and in fact, Stony Ford is still an operational horse farm, although today it is known for breelding champion reining horses.

As Green Mountain Maid had become so valuable, there was considerable interest in tracing her dam.  About 1840, Goldsmith Coffein of Red Lion, Ohio, bred a chestnut horse with four white legs, sired by the thoroughbred stallion American Eclipse, and sold half interest to his business partner, John Irons . The horse became known as Iron’s Cadmus and  took his color from his dam, a sorrel pacing mare with four white legs, said to be by Brunswick, thoroughbred grandson of Sir Archy, and out of a sorrel, white-legged daughter of Copperbottom by Justin Morgan.  In 1850, Mr. Coffein had a promising three-year old filly by Iron’s Cadmus, sorrel with white face and legs like her sire and like his dam and granddam.  Her tail had been chewed off by calves.  Sometime that summer, he had a serious argument with his son Thaddeus, and the young man disappeared, taking this filly with him in payment for money he said his father owed him for jockey services performed. He was never heard from again, however, some months later some sheepherders met a young man on the road near Canton, Ohio, riding a weary and footsore young sorrel mare with white face and feet, and her tail apparently chewed off by calves. He claimed to have ridden more than 200 miles and traded his mare to them.  This mare came to be known as Shanghai Mary.  She  later proved to be quite fast, and was eventually recognized as bearing a striking resemblance to another daughter of Iron’s Cadmus foaled the same year, the famous pacing mare Pocahontas, even to her pacing conformation.  When the matter was researched, although the evidence was circumstantial, it was almost certain that the missing Coffein mare and Shanghai Mary, the dam of Green Mountain Maid, were one and the same.

Electioneer, from Horse of America by Wallace 1897

Electioneer, from The Horse of America by Wallace, 1897

In all, Stanford had purchased one stallion and a dozen mares, but the only two which proved valuable were Electioneer and his three-quarter sister Elaine, both foals of Green Mountain Maid.  Elaine was campaigned and made a record of 2:20 straightaway. And, when Electioneer’s first crop produced Fred Crocker (x Melinche by old St. Clair), who set a new 2 year old record of 2:25 3/4 in 1880, his fame as a sire was assured.  His 1881 crop produced the outstanding filly Hinda Rose out of the great broodmare Beautiful Bells (The Moor x  Belle of Wabash)  Hinda Rose made a yearling record of 2:36 1/2 and lowered the three year old record to 2:19 1/2.  Stanford did not care for the pacing gait and insisted that all his horses be taught to trot.  By the time Electioneer died in 1890, his offspring held nearly every significant world in existence, and the year after his death, 1891, which was the last year of the high wheeled sulky era, he became the first sire to produce 100 standard performers.  The Electioneer sireline is in fact one of four surviving sirelines which remain in the Standardbred breed, but now the they are all pacers, pointing back in time to the pacing cross from Shanghai Mary, which in turn led back to Copperbottom, pacing son of Justin Morgan.

Meanwhile, the photographic experiments with Eadweard Muybridge were drawing to a close.  Stanford was fascinated with the study of gait, and Abe Edgington continued to be a popular subject of these sessions, as he was photographed at different gaits, both in harness and under saddle.  Muybridge even photographed young Leland Stanford Jr. riding his pony Gypsy.  Stanford, having proved his point with the photographs, hired Dr. J.D.B. Stillman to help him prepare a book analyzing the subject of motion in horses.

Abe Edgington circles in motion
Abe Edgington performs a circle under saddle.  Photo frames by Muybridge.
Leland Jr and Gypsy in motion
Leland Stanford Jr , 10 yrs old, riding his pony Gypsy, 1879, photo frames by Muybridge

It was published in 1882 and titled, “THE HORSE IN MOTION, As Shown by Instantaneous Photography With A Study on Animal Mechanics Founded on Anatomy and the Revelations of the Camera In Which is Demonstrated the Theory of Quadrupedal Locomotion.  By J.D. B. Stillman, A.M., M.D., Executed and Published Under the Auspices of Leland Stanford.”   Muybridge by this time had come to feel the idea of studying motion in horses was his own, and it did spur him on to more photographic experiments in which he examined the motion of humans performing various tasks, as well as the motion of different animals.  He quite forgot that the idea had originally been Stanford’s and he had been originally quite skeptical.  He forgot also that Stanford had financed the whole thing, providing the most expensive camera equipment, which he allowed Muybridge to keep, and enlisting the help of his railroad engineers to make the experiments possible, and providing the horses which were used as models.  Muybridge had been aware that Stanford was preparing a book, but was expecting it to be handsomely illustrated with his own photographs and himself receiving a lion’s share of the credit for the work.  When the book came out, Muybridge was shocked to find he was not mentioned on the title page at all, and was barely mentioned in the Preface as being “a very skillful photographer” which Stanford had employed.  Moreover, very few of Muybridge’s photos were used in the book, and a majority of the illustrations were line drawings.

Muybridge was deeply offended and sought to sue Stanford over the matter.  Although the case was dismissed, it was the end of a decade of friendship and profitable partnership.  Muybridge went on to work for the University of Pennsylvania, producing more than 100,000 images between 1883 – 1886, covering various forms of human and animal locomotion.  In 1887 he published his own book with 20,000 of the photographs, titled  “Animal Locomotion: an Electro-Photographic Investigation of Connective Phases of Animal Movements”.  Muybridge returned to England in 1894, and spent the last ten years of his life there, lecturing extensively until his death in 1904.

Next:  Influence of the Stanford Morgan Bloodlines

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Posted in Abe Edgington, Brenda Tippin, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse book, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse history, Charles Marvin, trotting horse trainer, Copperbottom, Eadweard Muybridge, Electioneer, Green Mountain Maid, Henry Clay, Horse in Motion, Iron's Cadmus, J.D.B. Stillman M.D., Justin Morgan, Leland Stanford, Morgan horse, Morgan Trotting Horse, Palo Alto Stock Farm, Photographic experiments, Shanghai Mary, St. Clair, Morgan Horse, Stony Ford Reining Horses, trotting race | 2 Comments

Palo Alto and Governer Stanford’s Prized Morgan Abe Edgington – Morgan Horses in First Motion Pictures Part 3

Abe 1878 trial - 300

Abe Edgington photo frames illustrating the Horse in Motion, by Muybridge. Library of Congress.

It was now 1876 and Abe Edgington was the pride of Governor Stanford’s stable.  Although Stanford was actually no longer the Governor, people continued to address him as that.  Abe  was a stunning iron grey in color, 16 hands tall and weighed about 1050 pounds.  Yet his Morgan blood was very evident, he was deep bodied and muscular, very upheaded and wonderfully balanced with perfect propotions.  He posessed all the style and elegance of the Black Hawk family, and would naturally turn heads whenever Stanford drove by.  However, being naturally a man of great purpose and energy, and his health from driving his horses wonderfully improved, he was not content to idle his time away as a country gentleman.  Stanford always thought big, and having become fascinated with the gait, speed, and motion of his horses, he now wanted to breed trotting racehorses.  He believed that he now understood something about the mechanics of motion,  and to his mind, the secret of success in developing a really fast horse lay in teaching them speed while they were very young .

General View Palo Alto Stock Farm by Muybridge  1878-300

View of Palo Alto Stock Farm by Muybridge

Stanford purchased 650 acres of the historic Rancho San Francisquito which had been originally granted to Antonio Buelna in 1839. He named the property Palo Alto, meaning “tall tree,” after a huge redwood that grew along the banks of San Francisquito Creek, which ran through the property. Later he added more than 8,000 acres of adjoining properties, and here he began to build his Palo Alto Stock farm.


He decided at once to employ breeding and training experiments of his own, hiring the noted trainer Charles Marvin in 1878.  Occident and Abe Edgington were still at Sacremento when Marvin first arrived but Stanford had them brought to Palo Alto so Marvin could start working with them and implement Stanford’s new training theories. Then Stanford began his breeding experiments with an interest in the Morgan stallion Fred Low #605, another son of old St. Clair #48. Fred Low was foaled in 1864 and bred by George Ingalls of Sacramento, CA. Fred Low’s dam was Lady Ross, a granddaughter of Black Hawk #20; second dam a daughter of Neave’s Cassius Clay Jr. # 2148. Fred Low had received first premium at the California State Fair as a yearling in 1865, and again in 1870 and 1871. Leland had several daughters of St. Clair, as well as some mares of Clay and Black Hawk lines, and he bred several of these mares to Fred Low.

Soon Stanford was ready to resume his experiments on the mechanics of motion and advised Muybridge to be ready. Despite the difficulties of his murder trial, Muybridge had remained a close friend of the Stanford family and was a frequent guest.   He had captured many scenes from the Governor’s mansion in Sacramento which later proved valuable in restoring it  to the museum which may still be seen today.

Leland Jr, his mother, his aunt in billiard room photo by Eadweard Muybridge 1872-300

In a rare 1872 photo, Muybridge captured young Leland Stanford Jr. looking on while his mother, Jane Stanford, center, plays billiards with her sister.

Stanford Mansion, Sacramento - photo by Muybridge 1872-300

Leland Stanford Governor’s mansion in Sacramento, photo by Muybridge 1872

Now his attention turned to Palo Alto.  A great experiment was planned for June 1878 which would be conducted on the training track at Palo Alto.  Stanford submitted the problem to his railroad engineers as to how to devise a means to trip the shutters so as to enable Muybridge to capture multiple rapid photo frames in sequence.  The first camera to have an automatic exposure system was not developed until 1938 and it was another 30  years before the became widespread which made the experiments of Stanford and Muybridge all the more remarkable.  Since there was no way at this time for a single camera to capture such a performance, they set up 12 cameras.  Stanford paid for and supplied all the equipment, as well as the time and expertise of his railroad engineers.  He ordered the finest cameras from New York and lenses from London.  The photographic genius of Muybridge  was required to bring Stanford’s vision to fruition.

Palo Alto Experiment track by Muybridge -300

Photo Experiment track at Palo Alto, photo by Muybridge

Accordingly,  the surface of the track was sifted with lime to make it appear completely white and provide better contrast for the photographs.  The shed housed the 12 cameras, as well as a dark room which allowed Muybridge to develop the pictures immediately.  On the opposite side of the track, a backdrop was set up of whitewashed canvas painted with evenly spaced vertical black lines 21 inches apart.  Another smaller screen below  painted



Abe Edgington driven by Charles Marvin, showing all four feet off the ground, photo by Muybridge



Abe Edgington12-4-300

Abe Edgington, driven by Charles Marvin showing all for feet off the ground.

AbeEdgington24-20 feet off the ground - 300

Abe Edgington with Charles Marvin in a later experiment, again showing all four feet off the ground. In this one, the horizontal lines appear across the track, and to the lower far right of the photo, the wooden slats can be seen through which the left sulky wheel had to pass to trip the wires to the camera shutters.

with horizontal lines 4 inches apart showed the number of inches the horses feet were above the ground.  Charles Marvin would guide the sulky so the left wheel would go between two wooden slats set up with trip wires to the shutters running across. The wires were above the surface only between these wooden slats where the sulky wheel would pass, and the remaining wires across the track were set into underground tubes to prevent any interference or friction with the track surface  As the wheel went over the delicate wires, completing the electrical circuit, the shutters would fire in quick succession, and could easily be heard by the spectators, adding to the impressiveness of the scene.  Afterward, Muybridge would be able to develop the photos within about 20 minutes and lay them out for the crowd to admire.

Abe Edgington 1878-

Abe Edgington by Stockbridge Chief Jr (Stockbridge Chief by Black Hawk x Blue Bonnet by Tom Crowder) from photo frames by Muybridge during 1878 experiment. Driven by Charles Marvin

These experiments were a huge success and many variations of them would occur during the next year.  Muybridge was now in great demand for lectures, and indulgently, Stanford allowed him to keep the cameras and equipment and to patent his ideas although he had supplied the original idea of capturing the horse’s true motion, provided the models for the photos and the engineers to work out the mechanical obstacles and paid for everything.

Charles Marvin, Stanford's trainer who drove Occident and Abe Edgington during Muybridge's photoshoots small

Charles Marvin, from his book, Training the Trotting Horse, 1890

Charles Marvin, meanwhile, began to train Abe Edgington and Occident according to Stanford’s new theories.  On his arrival, Abe worked a mile for him in 2:22 and Occident in 2:19, but it seemed the more he tried to  use Stanford’s methods, the slower the horses became.  Later, Marvin realized this was because he did not really understand the method and how to properly employ it. Stanford’s plan consisted of giving the horses short quick brushes to build up their speed, and later Marvin came to understand that an older, more mature horse cannot stand as much sharp work as a younger horse, and he was giving them too much of it, causing their speed to deteriorate.  Abe’s best effort before Marvin arrived had been to win a match of $10,000 in a race against Defiance in 1875.  He was never able to better the training time of 2:22 in a race however, and his official record under Marvin came later in 1878 while winning a race at Santa Clara in straight heats against Doty, Coquette, and Frank Ferguson, with a time of 2:23 3/4.  Occident beat Judge Fullerton in a race at Sacramento later that year with the best heat in a time of 2:22.  Marvin always believed Abe Edgington was actually the better race horse of the two, but since both were “made” horses when they came into his hands, he was unable to improve their records.  Stanford believed that if they had been given the advantage of learning his system when they had been young horses, their speed would have been much greater.  This was doubtless true as Stanford’s Palo Alto stars were later very successful.

AbeEdgington18 in Motion

Abe Edgington driven by Charles Marvin, photo sequence by Muybridge, 1879
















Next:  Further photographic experiments, and Stanford’s Palo Alto stock farm


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Posted in Abe Edgington, Automatic Shutter, Brenda Tippin, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse book, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse history, Charles Marvin, trotting horse trainer, Eadweard Muybridge, Governor's mansion, Jane Stanford, Leland Stanford, Morgan horse, Morgan Trotting Horse, Occident, Palo Alto Stock Farm, Photographic experiments, Sacramento, St. Clair, Morgan Horse, Stanford mansion, Transcontinental Railroad, trotting race, trotting race heat | 2 Comments

Morgan horses – the First Motion Pictures – Part 2


Occident Currier & Ives, Lib. Cong.-300 small

Occident, lithograph by Currier & Ive’s from Muybridge’s 1872 negative showing him trotting with all four feet off the ground.  Library of Congress.

It was 1872 when Leland Stanford first hired Eadweard Muybridge to do some photographic work.  Stanford had  become very interested in Occident, his little brown Morgan horse, and was determined to satisfy his questions concerning the movement of horses trotting or running, as he had long believed the accepted theories as portrayed by most artists were inaccurate.  He initially paid Muybridge the sum of $2000 to undertake these experiments, which over the next decade would cost him more than $50,000.  The first of these were of Occident, who Muybridge photographed in a private speed trial in 1872, succeeding at that time in capturing a single negative which showed the horse with all four feet off the ground while trotting.  This was made into a lithograph by Currier and Ives, but the public needed more evidence to be convinced, so many more experiments would follow.


Eadweard Muybridge2 by Frances Benjamin Johnston around 1890 - 300

Eadweard Muybridge, ca 1890, photo by Benjamin Frances Johnston, Library of Congress

Muybridge was an English photographer, born in 1830, who came to San Francisco at the age of 25 in 1855 when the Gold Rush was at its peak.  He established a bookstore, changing the original spelling of his last name from Muggeridge to Muybridge at that time.  His shop was quite successful and he brought his brothers to California to tend it while he traveled.  Observing the beauties of nature, he decided to travel back to England to learn professional photography.  On this journey he was involved in a serious stagecoach accident in which he suffered a severe concussion from which it took him nearly a year to recover, during which he endured headaches, double vision, and temporary loss of the senses of hearing, smell, and taste. As the doctors he saw in America were unable to help him find relief from these symptoms, he went on to England, and sought the care of Dr. William Gull.  Gull was one of the most eminent physicians in the country, and later was made a Baronet for his skill in saving the life of the Prince of Wales.  In an interesting twist, during the 1970s there was speculation that Gull had staged his death and was in fact, Jack the Ripper although this is highly unlikely.  At any rate, Gull’s recommendation for Muybridge was that he should pursue an outdoor career to restore his health.



Dr. William Gull, ca 1860 U.S. Public Domain

Nevada Falls, Muybridge, loc

Stereoscopic view of 700 foot Nevada falls by Muybridge, Library of Congress




At that time, stereoscopic photos were quite popular, and Muybridge believed he might find a lucrative career for himself in photographing views of remote and exotic places.  He returned to San Francisco in the mid-1860’s, and over the next few years produced more than 2000 photos, documenting lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, scenery of Yosemite, views of San Francisco, railroads, and much more.  These photos brought him considerable fame and fortune, and Leland Stanford believed he was the man to help him prove his theory that a horse trotting fast has all four feet off the ground at some point in his stride.

Occident w CM-12-300

Occident with all four feet off the ground, driven by Charles Marvin.  Photo by Eadweard Muybridge, from Library of Congress

The photographic experiments were interrupted in 1874 when Muybridge discovered his young wife had been having an affair with a drama critic known as Major Harry Larkyns. Even more infuriating to Muybridge  was the fact that he  found a series of love letters between the two, indicating that Larkyns might be the true father of the little boy his wife had given birth to a few months earlier.  Muybridge tracked Larkyns down and finding him said,  “Good evening Major, my name is Muybridge, and here is the answer to the letter you sent my wife!”  He then shot Larkyns point blank and killed him.  Muybridge was arrested without protest and tried for murder.  Leland Stanford stood by him during this time and helped to finance his criminal defense. His lawyers attempted an insanity defense based on injuries from Muybridge’s stagecoach accident years earlier and several witnesses testifying to changes in his personality resulting from this.  However, Muybridge himself undermined this defense by continuing to insist that he meant to kill Larkyns.  Ultimately, however, when all the evidence was presented, the jury was persuaded in Muybridge’s favor and he was acquitted on grounds of “justifiable homicide”.  Following the trial, Muybridge left the country for a little while and worked on documenting views of Central America and the Isthmus of Panama until things cooled down.

Abe Edgington circle3b-300

Abe Edgington, by Wilson’s Stockbridge Chief, traced his sireline directly to Justin Morgan in five generations, with many more crosses in six.  Photo by Eadweard Muybridge, from Library of Congress

Stanford, meanwhile, decided he would buy another horse.  He wanted a horse that was handsome and stylish as well as fast, and turned once again to the Morgan breed, purchasing the beautiful gray gelding Abe Edgington, a son of Wilson’s Stockbridge Chief Jr. #1213 (Stockbridge Chief #102 by Black Hawk #20 x Blue Bonnet by Tom Crowder #618, son of Pilot #104). A great-grandson of Black Hawk, Abe traced his sireline directly to Justin Morgan in five generations, with many more crosses in six. The second dam of Stockbridge Chief #102 was by Brutus #2, a son of Justin Morgan. Stockbridge Chief Jr. had been owned for a time by W.H. Wilson, the man who bred Jubilee De Jarnette from the great mare
Lady De Jarnette, who was so beautiful she was banned from the show ring and instead paid $500 per week just to be driven around the track at the fairgrounds so people could see her. Wilson sold Stockbridge Chief Jr. to Ohio, where Abe Edgington was bred. Leland Stanford paid $20,000 for this horse, solely for his style, beauty, and breeding—considerably more than he later paid for his best breeding stallion, Electioneer. This is testimony to the deep appreciation Leland Stanford held for the Morgan horse, and although he later developed what would become the largest and most successful Standardbred breeding farm of its day, he always kept a strain of Morgan blood in his horses.


Next:  More on Abe Edgington, and Muybridge’s photographic experiments at Palo Alto

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© 2016, Brenda L. Tippin.  Please do not copy without permission

Posted in Abe Edgington, Brenda Tippin, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse book, Brenda Tippin, Morgan horse history, Charles Marvin, trotting horse trainer, Eadweard Muybridge, Jane Stanford, Leland Stanford, Morgan horse, Morgan Trotting Horse, Occident, Photographic experiments, Sacramento, St. Clair, Morgan Horse, Transcontinental Railroad, trotting race | Leave a comment

The First Motion Pictures Captured Morgan Horses – Part I

Occident (Medoc x Mater Occidentis

Occident (Medoc x Mater Occidentis) 1878 – from photographs by Eadweard Muybridge

The cast of characters is a curious one.  The Governor of California, later U.S. Senator.  Builder of the first Transcontinental Railroad.   Then, eccentric photographer, the first motion pictures, Morgan horses, a prestigious University, murder, and intrigue all figure into this tale.  The story begins with Leland Stanford, who served as the eighth Governor of California from January 1862 – December 1863.  Born in New York in 1824, Stanford studied law and took an apprenticeship with a prominent firm of lawyers, Wheaton, Doolittle and Hadley in Albany, New York, After three years of study, he was admitted to the bar in 1848 and first began practicing  law in the Supreme Court of New York State.

Leland Stanford -1Jane Stanford from painting by Bonnet                                               Leland Stanford                                                                              Jane Lathrop Stanford, from painting by Bonnet


Soon after this, he moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin,   where he set up a law practice with Wesley Pierce for a short time, and then established a firm of his own. His father, Joseph Stanford, who was a farmer of some means in the vicinity of what was then known as Watervilet, New York, presented him with a law library that was said to be the finest anywhere north of Milwaukee.In 1850, Leland Stanford was married to Jane Elizabeth Lathrop in Albany, New York, whose father, Dyer Lathrop was an eminent merchant of that city.  Stanford and his bride returned to Port Washington, where he continued to practice until his law offices were destroyed by fire in 1852.

By this time, California had come alive with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. Four of Stanford’s brothers had already answered the call and had gone to seek their fortunes on the west coast.

Quite a few Morgan horses were making the arduous journey across the plains as well. One of first registered Morgans documented in California was the remarkable stallion St. Clair #48, who made the overland trip to California in the lead of a team of oxen in 1849.
St. Clair was a grandson of Barden Morgan (Cock Of The Rock [Sherman Morgan x mare by Justin Morgan] x mare by Justin Morgan), and his dam was a Canadian mare, very likely from the Dansereau family of pacing Morgans, as old St. Clair was a pacer. He was a handsome, muscular horse with a deep chest, powerful shoulders, short back, and excellent feet and legs.  He was dark brown in color with a heavy flowing mane and tail, and large intelligent eyes. St. Clair was about 15 1/2 hands tall, and weighed about 1015 pounds.

On arriving in California, St. Clair passed through several owners. He was used  as leader in a stage team, and saw very severe service.  One day he was pulling a dray cart in Sacramento when, by a providential stroke of luck, the man who had brought him across the plains happened to see and recognize him.  His pedigree was restored and he was purchased by John E. Miller of Sacramento, who advertised him for stud as a full-blooded Morgan, to stand both at his Miller’s Ranch east of Sutterville, and Miller’s Stable in Sacramento. St. Clair was a very popular stallion and soon recognized as a source of speed among both trotters and pacers.  He had sired between 600 and 700 foals by the time he died in a stable fire in 1864. Many of his offspring also won premiums at the California State Fair. Unfortunately very few of these found their way into the Morgan registry, but remarkably enough, the blood of old St. Clair survives today among the Standardbred, the trotters of France, .as well as Swedish Warmbloods.

When Leland Stanford’s law office burned in 1852, he decided to go and join his brothers who had set up a mercantile business in Sacramento, California.  Jane’s father, however, was not well and he believed California to be a wild and barbaric place to which he was unwilling his daughter should go.  Jane made the difficult decision to remain behind and nurse her ailing father.  Dyer Lathrop died three years later in 1855, and Leland Stanford then traveled back east to bring his wife out to the west coast.  It was a difficult journey, and he promised Jane that the next time she wanted to go east she would be able to travel in comfort as he intended to see that a transcontinental railroad was built.

Leland then bought out his brothers and expanded his mercantile to be one of the largest and most successful in California.  He became very involved in the Republican party, and became California’s first Republican governor in a landslide election in 1861.  However, on his inauguration day in January 1862, the northwest was in the midst of the largest flood ever to strike Oregon, California, and Nevada, with Idaho, Utah, and Arizona also being seriously impacted.  The flooding was so extensive in fact, that Governor Stanford was obliged to use a rowboat to get from his residence to the capital to deliver his inaugural address.  And by the time he finished and was ready to return home, the water was so high he had to enter through the second story window.  Afterward he chose to renovate his mansion, making it four stories instead of two.

California went bankrupt as a result of this flood, losing a quarter of her taxable real estate, nevertheless Stanford proved a steadying influence during this difficult time. Among other accomplishments of his brief two year term, he cut the state’s debt in half and established the first Normal school, which is now San Jose State University.

However, he declined to run for a second term and during the next several years focused his energy on the Central Pacific Railroad, of which he was President.  He became deeply involved with his partners in building the first transcontinental railroad.  Stanford, Collis
Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins were known as the “Big Four” .  They had their work cut out for them, not only in crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but wealthy proprietors of toll roads, stage lines, and express companies all stood to lose the fortunes they were making on freight and passenger travel over the mountains once the railroad was completed.  Stanford persisted however, and under his direction, 530 miles of railroad were finished in 293 days.

On May 14, 1868 a son, Leland Jr. was born to the Stanfords, and a year later, on May 10, 1869, Leland drove the final golden spike joining the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific at Promontory Mountain, Utah, overlooking Salt Lake. A telegraph
wire was attached to the silver hammer he used so the great news was flashed across the nation the moment he struck the final blow.  The 3300 miles of iron rails connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific also included fifteen miles of railroad Leland’s father had built from Albany to Schenectedy when he was a boy, which first planted the seed of interest in him to complete this work.

It was after this supreme effort that Leland’s doctor suggested that he take up driving horses to relieve his mind from the great stress he had been under  Stanford took his doctors advice and soon discovered he enjoyed driving fast.  In 1870, he bought a horse that showed speed in a scrub race.  This horse was a small brown Morgan gelding named Occident, and he was a grandson of old St. Clair. In his early life, Occident had worked hard in a team hauling dirt for construction of a levee.  Though he was a small horse, weighing about 900 pounds, he managed to keep his end of the whiffletree, however heavy the load.  Occident proved to be quite fast, and Stanford quickly became fascinated with his new hobby.Occident w CM-1-300

Occident (Medoc by St. Clair x Mater Occidentis) was very much Morgan in type and resembled his grandsire, old St. Clair. He was at first inclined to pace and it is possible to see the pacing conformation in the slightly dropped rump and narrower  hindquarters. Leland Stanford disliked the pacing gait however, and since he could trot just as well, this was the gait that was developed. He hired the noted trainer, Charles Marvin, and Occident became known as the California Wonder.  In 1873 he tied the world record of 2:16 3/4 made by the famous mare Goldsmith Maid, thus displacing Dexter (who made the legendary
match race against Ethan Allen in 1867) for title of World Champion Gelding.

In study the gaits of his horses, Leland Stanford became convinced that the way artists portrayed them in paintings and drawings was wrong, and hired the photographer Eadweard Muybridge  to do a series of photographic experiments to prove the point once and for all.  Muybridge at first did not believe this would be possible, but soon became fascinated.  It was Muybridge’s frame photos of Occident and other horses belonging to Stanford which became the very first  motion pictures which he showed to rapt audiences with his new invention, the zoopraxiscope.Eadweard Muybridge frontspiece from Animals in Locomotion book 1888-300

Eadweard Muybridge from the frontspiece of Animals in Locomotion



Occident (Medoc x Mater Occidentis

Occident, 1873 World Champion Gelding, tied world record of Goldsmith Maid 2:16 3/4, known as “The California Wonder” is shown driven by trainer Charles Marvin using Muybridge’s fast frame photos taken in 1878.  Next we will discover more about the eccentric Muybridge and just how he accomplished this, and see some other examples of Morgans trotting more than 135 years ago.


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© 2016, Brenda L. Tippin.  Please do not copy without permission









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