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Title: The Life and Adventures of Ben Hogan, the Wickedest Man in the World

Author: Ben Hogan

Editor: George Francis Trainer

Release date: November 25, 2013 [eBook #44282]

Language: English



E-text prepared by the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See















Illustrated with over Twenty Engravings.





Copyright, 1878, by Ben Hogan.





The writer of these pages desires it understood that he has acted simply in the capacity of an amanuensis for Mr. Ben Hogan. The statements, opinions, incidents, revelations and views are all the latter gentleman’s.

It should be further explained that Mr. Hogan, and no one else, is responsible alike for the contents and publication of this volume.

This explicit statement is called forth by a sense of justice; for the writer himself would be very loath to lay claim to any of the brilliancy, wit, or delicacy in the choice of subjects which may be found in this book. The honor of all these belongs exclusively to Mr. Hogan.

George Francis Trainer.



[Pg 5]


Early Life—Arrival in America—How he Avenged the Robbery of his Father—Mysterious Disappearance of the Old Jew—In the House of Refuge—Seafaring Life—Beginning of his Boxing Career 17
A Remarkable Game of Poker, and What Came of it—Ben as a Pirate—Fast Life in New York—How he gave a Combination Show in Oswego 29
A Southern Trip—Experiences in New Orleans and Mobile—Three Men Put Under the Sod by Ben’s Bullets 39
Ben as a Spy in both the Union and Confederate Armies—The Buried Treasure—How he Fooled the Captain—At Port Royal and Newbern—Bounty-Jumping 45
Ben in Canada—He goes West again—Adventures in Cincinnati, Nashville, and Louisville—How he Sold the Colored Troops—Sets out for the Oil Regions 54
First Appearance in the Oil Country—Dance House in Pitthole—French Kate—Babylon House—Fight with Bob Donnelly—His Explanation in Court of the Character of his House 62
 [Pg 6]
Attempt to Rob Ben—How he became a Minister and Married a Couple—A Jolly Wedding—French Kate Jealous 76
Attempt to Murder Ben in Babylon—He Shoots a Man and is Arrested—Frightens the Witnesses and Prevents Perjury—Is Acquitted 82
Leaves Oil Country—In Saratoga—Arrested on False Reports—Goes back to Tidioute—In Rochester—First Meeting with Cummings 86
The Gymnasium Business—Life in Rochester—First Meeting of Hogan and Tom Allen—A Disgraceful Affair 94
How Ben Treated the Deputy Sheriff—Annie Gibbons, the Pedestrian—Ben goes to Pittsburgh and Meets Mr. Green 102
Ben in St. Louis—First Entree into Parker’s Landing—Opens a Free-and-Easy—Trouble with the Authorities 113
The “Floating Palace”—A Wonderful Institution—The Girls and the Patrons—Scenes of Revelry—How Nights were Passed—The Loss of the “Palace” 118
Return to Parker’s Landing—His Three Years’ Sojourn in that Town—Adventures and Incidents—Attempt to Burn Ben’s House 125
 [Pg 7]
Ben buys a House in Pittsburgh—Engineering for a New Railroad—Goes to Petrolia and opens House—The Ladies’ Seminary 133
Ben as a Politician—Elected Burgess of Petrolia, but Cheated out of the Office—Goes to Greece City—Pleasure trip West—Preparations to Fight Tom Allen in St. Louis 142
The famous Fight with Tom Allen 151
What came of the Fight—Allen’s Treachery—Attempts to kill Ben in St. Louis 159
Ben in Chicago—Returns to Pittsburgh—More of Allen—Builds Opera Houses in Petrolia and Millerstown—Figures once more in Politics 166
Ben as a Banker (Faro Banker)—Burglars—Counterfeit Money, and How Hogan Didn’t Handle it—Ben as a Doctor—Allen in New York City—Why the Fight Fell Through 175
The Girl Ben Met in Owney Geoghegan’s—A Confiding Sea Captain—Adventure in Little Falls—Pitching a Man Across the Erie Canal—Return to Syracuse 181
Another Challenge to Allen—Brookville and Indiana Adventures 187
 [Pg 8]
Ben’s Generous Act in Indiana—Under Arrest in Pittsburgh with Kitty—Goes West—Life in Grand Rapids—Mistaken for a Minister 194
One More Challenge to Allen—Return to the Oil Country—Ben and McDonald—Opens Dance-House in Elko City—Bullion House—Kitty Runs Away 202
Saratoga Trip—Bullion again—Arrival in Tarport—Opens Dance-House—A Groundless Scandal—The Truth about the Girl Carrie 209
Ben Leaves Tarport—What some of the Oil Country Papers had to say about him—Arrival in New York 213
Ben as a Reformer—His Opinions on the Temperance Question—Physical Culture—The Social Evil—Prisons and Penitentiaries—Gambling 221
Conclusion 237



[Pg 9]



The life of any man is interesting as it reveals human nature and discloses character. Biography is in itself a combination of all those elements which go to make up literature. It is humor and pathos; it is poetry and prose; it is the sternest tragedy and the broadest farce. Fiction builds its most fantastic structures upon the inventions of the brain. Biography writes in lasting characters upon the granite front of truth. The record which it leaves is more wonderful than any flight of fancy—more startling than any outburst of imagination.

If it were possible to read the history of men’s lives written upon their faces, the world would have little need of romances. This shabbily-dressed figure, which to-day you jostle against in the street, might furnish material for a volume of exciting tales. That white-faced woman, who stares with a half-frightened look at the passers-by, could unfold a tale of more terrible interest than ever evolved itself from the brain of the novelist. Around and about us, in all places and at all times, the surging sea of humanity casts up its broken spars and dismantled hulks. Those who sail in calm waters, or walk the beach, may pick up these remnants of wrecks, and find in them clews to voyages full of tragic interest.

[Pg 10]Since this duty is often neglected by the more prosperous voyagers, and since men’s faces are not books which they who run may read, it falls to the lot of the biographer to show to others the mystery of life.

Probably no man’s career, if truthfully told, would be wholly barren of interest. In proportion to the eventfulness of that career it gains in interest. But it is a very serious mistake to assume that a person’s avocation in life determines the rank to which he ought, properly, to be assigned. The art does not make the artist. It happens that there are a good many preachers in this world who can not preach, a good many actors who can not act, a good many writers who can not write. It happens, too, that there are a good many people who can not do anything—whose excuse for existing remains forever a conundrum. The written lives of such harmless ciphers would be of interest only in so far as they might show the uselessness of the subjects. But a study of any character which is strongly marked ought to prove both entertaining and instructive. Nor is it necessary that such a character should be spotless, in order to teach some wholesome lessons. It has been the lot of the writer to meet some eminently respectable persons who were at heart the most consummate hypocrites. He has known school-teachers who harped upon the necessity of bookish knowledge, while they fastened singular verbs to plural subjects. He has met newly-fledged college graduates who talked loud over a “liberal education,” and floundered in the shallow waters of English syntax. He has talked with crushed poets who cried out against the stupidity of the world, and read their[Pg 11] own verses, more limping than the Count Joannes as Romeo. He has listened to straight-laced Puritans pray to be made more Christ-like, and seen them, an hour afterward, turn a starving beggar empty-handed from their door. He has heard pious directors of savings-banks denounce the stage as an instrument of the devil, and learned, the next day, that these sleek Pharisees were under indictments for robbing the poor. He has talked with alleged “statesmen” and found them roughs; with professed Christians, and found them narrow-minded bigots; with the representatives of what is called fashionable society, and found them noodle-heads. One day he met and talked with Ben Hogan, and he found a gentleman.

Does that surprise you?

Let us not fall into any misunderstanding at the outset of this narrative. The qualities which go to make up a gentleman are more readily appreciated than explained. They may be possessed by any man, no matter what his calling in life. They may be acquired under the most unpropitious circumstances, or they may never be acquired, in spite of surroundings and the advantages of education.

Ben Hogan is no saint—but it may be well to add that this volume is not undertaken with a view to promulgating an immoral lesson. Yet, though the hero shall not prove a saint, and though the record of his life may contain some shadows, it is believed that nothing in the pages which follow will be found to offend good taste. Saints, as a general rule, do not make first-rate material for the biographer. The man who launches his craft on life’s sea and sails along in quiet waters, never striking out upon any voyage of[Pg 12] discovery, never running against any shoals or rocks, never breasting any storms—such a man, sailing peacefully on until he enters the great port of Death, may have a very pleasant time of it; but, when his voyage is over, the log-book is found to contain precious little which is of interest to the world. On the other hand, the mariner who strikes boldly out in search of adventure, who runs his frail craft over unexplored waters, who finds himself often stranded upon treacherous coasts, and who laughs at danger and glories in the hardships of an adventurer’s life—such a voyager leaves behind a record which must needs be racy reading. And even should it happen that this plucky mariner plays the pirate at intervals, that certainly would not detract any from the interest which attaches to his exploits.

A knowledge of men and the world comes only from personal acquaintance with the one and experience in the other. There is a sort of wisdom which is not contained in books. The man who would possess himself of that must tread the by-ways as well as the highways of life. This Ben Hogan has done. He has been a close observer of human nature, and he has made his observations from many and various points. Profiting by what that great teacher, Experience, has taught, he has become, in his own way, a philosopher. He has learned to gauge men at sight. This rare faculty has stood him in good stead throughout all his checkered career. In many of the exciting scenes which this work will undertake to describe, the power of measuring men for what they were worth proved the winning card in Hogan’s hand.

Added to this keen insight into human nature, he[Pg 13] possesses a quick appreciation, not only of the humorous but the pathetic. Nobody ever appealed to him for aid without meeting with a generous response. It might appear to those who have met him only in the character of a jolly good fellow—the companion of an hour, over a bottle of wine—that he is not the sort of man who concerns himself about the misery and misfortune in this world. But such a conclusion would be eminently unjust. His sympathies have never been hardened by the rough knocks which the world has given him. And it is this very quickness of sympathy—this power to feel for others—which makes the poet.

Here, then, at the very outset of his task, the biographer has made his subject a gentleman, a philosopher, and a poet.

What! a pugilist a gentleman? A dance-house proprietor a philosopher? A prize-fighter a poet?

Calm your ruffled temper, oh, indignant critic! Let your fretful quills resume their normal, horizontal condition. This little book will not shake the rock-founded morals of society. Not at all. Is it against the law of Moses or the prophets that a pugilist should be a gentleman? That title, remember, can not be conferred by royalty. It can not be inherited along with houses and lands; but it may rightfully be claimed by the man, whether preacher or pugilist, who acts honorably toward his fellow men, who gives respectful attention to the opinion of others, and who endeavors to conduct himself so that his presence is always welcome. If that be a fair definition of a much-misunderstood word, then Ben Hogan is a gentleman. And why may not the proprietor of a[Pg 14] dance-house be a philosopher? Is our barking critic quite sure that he knows what philosopher stands for, or what philosophy means? Not book-learning—for, bless your ignorant soul, Socrates himself counted life too precious to waste in reading. Your dictionary will tell you that the word philosopher means properly a lover of wisdom. There never lived a more passionate lover of wisdom than Ben Hogan. And for the poet: Does it follow that because a man hardens his muscles he likewise hardens his heart? Poetry loves to spring out of seemingly unseemly places. It grows in rough soil and flourishes where the sunshine never reaches. Bret Harte found truer poetry in the life and death of Poker Flat’s outcasts, than Martin Tupper could in the whole range of domestic morality. It is not necessary that a man should write verses to be a poet. What is demanded of him is a sympathetic nature. And that Ben Hogan has.

Perhaps the reader who happens to enjoy a personal acquaintance with the subject of this biography, may consider the foregoing as pretty steep flattery, not to say amazing nonsense. Let him remember, however, that the luxury of getting up a book about oneself is expensive; and certainly a man has a right to order that written which pleases him best. Mr. Hogan has availed himself of this privilege. He desires the world to know how great a man he is. He wants all his illustrious deeds embalmed in print. If, after reading this volume it shall occur to the world that Mr. Hogan is deceived with respect to himself; that he is not a great man at all, and that his illustrious deeds ought long ago to have landed him in[Pg 15] prison—if the world, I repeat, shall come to any such conclusion as this, why, then it must settle accounts with Mr. Hogan himself. Greatness has been unappreciated before now, and it is possible that some will fail to understand why a man should voluntarily proclaim himself to be “The Wickedest Man in the World.”

 [Pg 16]




[Pg 17]




Early Life—Arrival in America—How he Avenged the Robbery of his Father—Mysterious Disappearance of the Old Jew—In the House of Refuge—Seafaring Life—Beginning of his Boxing Career.


Benedict Hagan, whose name has become familiar in the altered form of Hogan, is a native of Würtemberg, Germany. With his parents, he immigrated to this country at the age of eleven years.

His father was a cabinet-maker by trade, who had saved up something like a thousand dollars, with which he set forth to better his condition in the New World. Along with his family, he arrived in New York in the summer of 1852. His reception was not of the most encouraging nature, and an incident which occurred almost immediately after the landing of the family will serve to show the character of Hogan at that time.

As was customary with all emigrants who had any[Pg 18] money to carry, the elder Hogan had secured his fortune, amounting to eight hundred dollars in gold, in a belt fastened about his shoulders. When he walked out of Castle Garden he was forthwith set upon by a Hebrew of the South street order, whose nose resembled his nature, because it was sharp. This enterprising Jew, who spoke German fluently, induced the emigrant to go into a small shop where everything was given away—for four times its value. The unsuspecting Hogan made a small purchase, and when he came to pay for it, disclosed the bag containing his gold. The sight was enough to rouse the Hebrew. Precisely how it happened he did not know; but in an amazingly short time Hogan senior found himself relieved of his eight hundred dollars.

Had it not been for the presence of young Ben, it may be safely assumed that the emigrant would never have gone forth from the Jew’s place alive. The boy, however, presented an obstacle to the commission of murder, which was undoubtedly intended by the robbers. They determined, therefore, to get rid of their victims by strategy instead of force. One of their “cappers” offered to lead the way to the police station where they might get assistance in recovering the money. He did lead the way, but it is unnecessary to add that there were not a great many police stations in the neighborhood to which he conducted them. The Hebrew perhaps thought that he had made one of the fattest “hauls” in his life; but it turned out to be a very dear job.

Young Ben, although a mere child, marked the man who had robbed his father, and resolved to be avenged. Three or four years afterward, he returned[Pg 19] to New York, and after days of diligent search he discovered the Hebrew.

“That is the man!” he muttered to himself.

With two or three trusty companions, he resolved upon a plan of action which he proceeded to carry out.

The next day Ben called upon the Jew in his shop. He represented himself to be an employee of the Emigrant Department. He said that a great many chances came to him of making money, but he wanted a confederate. Would the Jew like to have him (Hogan) bring emigrants to the shop with plenty of money in their pockets? It wouldn’t be of much consequence how they got out of the shop!

“Dat vas a fine idea—a very fine idea!” answered the old vulture, rubbing his bony hands together. “You brings ’em in, and I’ll take care of how they goes out. And together ve’ll take care of all their gold!”

That night Ben called again at the shop and told the Jew that a very green young emigrant was waiting to take a walk along the docks.

“He’s got piles of money on him!” added Hogan.

The old Jew accordingly set forth with the green young emigrant. As a matter of fact, this verdant youth was one of Hogan’s companions; and the “piles of money” which Ben had described consisted of lumps of lead put into a bag, after the emigrant fashion.

Fate is a curious thing in this world. That old Hebrew, for instance, started forth from his shop on the night in question, intent upon robbing the green young emigrant and throwing his body into the river. But[Pg 20] he didn’t carry out his plans. Perhaps he retired from his South street den. Perhaps he concluded to take a tour to Jerusalem; or perhaps he went to Canada; or perhaps his foot tripped, and he fell into the East river. Whatever his fate, he didn’t rob any more emigrants of their hard-earned savings.

Relieved of his gold, the senior Hogan, with his family, removed to Syracuse, N. Y., which city he made his permanent home. The family was not by any means rich in this world’s goods, and it became necessary for Ben to do something toward his own support. His first venture at money-making was in the line of a peddler. His father bought him an outfit—the horse could not trot under thirty, but he did very well to draw a peddler’s cart—costing, in all, twenty-five dollars. The young peddler’s first day was not altogether successful. He made a number of sales and exchanges, but when he came to balance his accounts he found that he was four dollars out of pocket. The next day, however, he did better, and at the end of six months he had cleared seventy-five dollars.

It may be well to remark here, that, from his earliest boyhood, Ben Hogan has possessed the faculty of making money. He never saved any, because he is too open handed to take any thought of the morrow. But, if he has not saved, he has rarely wanted. His ingenuity and quick wit have invariably “made a raise,” and prevented him from remaining “broke” any length of time.

Among the experiences of this epoch in his career was one which resulted somewhat seriously for our hero. It was found out by a companion that there[Pg 21] was a big house near the city occupied by a minister, who had a large collection of books; in these books were many fine engravings, and it occurred to this youngster that if he could get hold of these pictures he might make his fortune by exhibiting them. It was plain that the books would not come to him, and he accordingly concluded to go to the books. For obvious reasons he did not ring the front-door bell, nor leave his card behind him. He found it more convenient to go through the window. In a wagon which he had brought with him for the purpose, he carted off a large number of valuable volumes, tore out the pictures, and threw the books away, telling Ben he had bought the pictures.

Ben Hogan’s career as a showman may be said to have begun when he first exhibited these engravings which had embellished the library of the clergyman. They were steel engravings, which perhaps was why they were stolen. The adventure proved a success while it lasted, but it didn’t last very long. At one and two cents admission the gallery was crowded; but at the very opening of a prosperous season the youthful manager was arrested. This naturally interfered with the show. Although the boy had not really committed anything like a crime here, he was sent to the penitentiary, where he remained thirty days.

Upon his release he went to work in his father’s cabinet shop, but was not wholly contented there. The roving spirit within him began thus early to develop itself. Among Ben’s acquaintances at this time were a couple of choice young spirits known in Syracuse as Joe Heizler and “Red Jacket.” Probably the owner of this latter distinctive appellation[Pg 22] had been christened by some other name, but he was known always and only as Red Jacket. The three boys determined upon setting forth from home and finding out what the world was beyond the salt limits of Onondaga county. Accordingly they got together their limited capital, and without troubling themselves to check their trunks, started for Oswego.

They reached that flour-y and flourishing town with fifty cents in their pockets, failed to get a very cordial reception from Landlord Hartmann, and proceeded to look about for work. Ben was the only one of the trio who had pluck and energy enough to succeed. He found employment on board of a schooner lying in port, and by working like a beaver, earned enough to support his companions. Finding that board bills would be inconvenient to settle, it occurred to Ben that housekeeping would be more economical. Neither a house nor furniture bothered him so much as a stove with which to prepare the meals. He finally mustered up courage to go into a hardware store and tell the proprietor that he would rather have a stove than any amount of stock in an insurance company.

“What do you want a stove for?” asked the astonished merchant.

“To keep house with!” was the prompt reply. “If you will trust me for that stove, I’ll pay you as sure as I live!”

The earnest manner of the boy had its effect upon the merchant, who not only let Ben have the stove, but provided him with a small house on the outskirts of the town, where the three companions took up their residence. Ben not only earned all the money, but he was housekeeper and cook as well. How long they[Pg 23] might thus have lived must remain a conundrum, for the household was abruptly broken up one day by the appearance of a policeman, who took the runaways back to Syracuse.

Ben was again put to work in his father’s shop, but the restraint of the place led to frequent eruptions, and finally, with a view to breaking his refractory spirit, he was sent to the House of Refuge in Rochester. He remained there three months.

The reader will pardon a brief interruption in the narrative while the writer gives expression to some opinions concerning Houses of Refuge and other similar institutions. Mr. Hogan believes—and his belief, I think, will be shared by all who give the subject careful attention—that, as at present conducted, these places are more productive of evil than of good. Boys are thrust into a House of Refuge where they find many associates more hardened than themselves, and where they learn a good deal of wickedness which they did not know before. The more advanced in crime become the teachers of those who are just entering the broad path. Impure habits are terribly common among the boys confined in these Houses of Refuge. Even worse is the condition of many of the asylums and reformatories for women. If a woman has once fallen, she will not be apt to be reclaimed by entering one of these places. Better far if the mother or father of a girl who has gone astray should say to her, “You have done wrong, but I will not cast you off; try to redeem the past by making your life pure hereafter.” Such words as those would do more to restore Magdalene to true womanhood than all the philanthropic institutions which were ever erected.[Pg 24] Ben Hogan bears testimony to the fact that he learned nothing good during his three months’ sojourn in the Rochester institution; and unless he had been a pretty clear-headed boy he would have come out a good deal worse than he did.

Upon returning home, Ben tried his hand at cabinet-making again; but he was no more contented than before. Opposite his father’s shop was a building with a chain running over a pulley, and this chain was a constant temptation to our hero. Whenever he could get the opportunity, he would slip out and climb up the chain to the top of the building, letting himself down head foremost with his feet. This performance excited considerable admiration from those who witnessed it, and the young athlete was called upon to repeat it frequently.

One day a dispute arose between Ben and the foreman of the shop, in which the latter undertook to tell the boy what he should, and what he should not do. Thinking that one “boss” was enough, and that his father rightfully held that position, the young cabinet-maker gave an exhibition of his skill in the manly art by planting a backhander square on the foreman’s nose. When he picked himself up, he was more of a hind man than a foreman. And he didn’t have any more to say to Ben.

Shortly after this episode, the desire to see the world again took possession of our hero, and with very little preparation he left Syracuse. He took with him Red Jacket, Joe Heizler, Nick Shearer, and as big a stock of crackers and cheese as could be purchased for a dollar and a half. It may be remarked incidentally that the crackers and cheese stood by [Pg 25]Ben better than any of his companions. They traveled by the Erie canal as far as Schenectady, and there got a job at cutting broom-corn. Red Jacket and the others soon became homesick, and at the end of a couple of weeks disappeared; but Ben kept pluckily to his work, and at the end of five weeks he set out for Albany with a new suit of clothes and fifteen dollars in his pocket. I say “pocket,” although he really carried his money in his stocking. The conductor on the train was induced to let the boy ride free, Ben telling him that he hadn’t a cent of money, and that he would pay him some other time.




Once in Albany, our hero lost no time in securing work, which he found on the tow-boat “Belle.” His idea was to get to New York, and then to strike out at whatever presented itself. The captain of the “Belle” evinced a good deal of interest in the boy, and proposed to take him to his home in the country when the boating season should end. Ben listened demurely to this proposition, and said he “would see.” After making a couple of trips or so, the captain wasn’t able to see his protege as much as formerly. In fact, Ben had no relish for the idea of a home in the country and so remained in New York.

It was at this period that he shipped as cabin-boy on the “Humboldt,” where he continued for two years. His readiness to do whatever was demanded of him, added to his indomitable pluck, enabled him to make a considerable sum in the way of extra wages; so that at the end of the two years he had saved up two hundred and seventy-five dollars in gold. This entire amount he sent to his father in Syracuse. The fact that he did not even let his parents know from whom[Pg 26] the money came, furnishes an excellent illustration of his character. Throughout his life Ben Hogan has done a good many generous acts, but he has not troubled himself about advertising them to the world.

It was during the time that his ship was lying in port that Ben happened to be passing through Crosby street one night, when he saw, in blazing letters, the word “Gymnasium.” That was a staggerer for the young tar. He had heard of a good many curious things in this world, but he had never before heard of a gymnasium. Crossing the street, he stood looking eagerly at the entrance of the building, when the door opened, and he caught sight of ropes and chains and flying-rings. That proved too much for him to withstand, and so he made his way into the place. The apparatus filled him with wonder, but he took to it as naturally as a duck takes to water, or a Fourth Ward politician takes to whisky. Seeing others lifting the dumb-bells and swinging the clubs, he forthwith began to do the same himself. His fun was suddenly interrupted by the proprietor of the place, who came up and demanded what he was doing.

“Don’t you see?” answered Ben, raising first one hand and then the other.

“But you don’t belong here,” continued the proprietor.

“Oh, that don’t make any difference,” answered the young salt, vigorously working with the bells; “I’ll do this for nothing—you needn’t mind about paying me!”

The gymnasium proprietor stared in amazement, but Ben was too much in earnest to admit of the suspicion that he was “guying.” Finally he explained[Pg 27] to the boy that a course of lessons would cost twenty-five dollars. Ben offered twenty-five cents for a part of a course, but the offer was not accepted. Then the teacher induced him to put on the gloves, and pitted him against a boy of about his own size. The other boy understood boxing and Ben didn’t. The result was that our hero, although he showed plenty of pluck and was game all through, came out second best. He resolved, then and there, that he would get somebody to show him how to use his hands, and take satisfaction out of that “other boy.”

This resolve he carried out. Upon the recommendation of the gymnasium keeper, he called upon Wood, and showed such aptness in the manly art, that in two weeks’ time he went back and polished off his former antagonist in the most approved style.

The fascination of the gloves proved so strong that Ben made up his mind to leave the “Humboldt,” which he accordingly did. Devoting pretty much all his time to the practice of boxing, he soon became wonderfully expert for one of his age, and was known in sporting circles as “The Sailor Boy.” Under the patronage of Billy Clark, he attended a sparring exhibition one night, and was matched against a boy considerably bigger than himself, but whom he disposed of in short order. Then the crowd found a second youth, who also put on the mittens, but finding that “The Sailor Boy” was too much for him, resorted to his feet, and dealt Ben a kick.

This was a style of boxing which our young hero had not been taught; nevertheless, he was prepared to pay back in the same coin. He had on, at that time, a pair of heavy brogans, such as are often seen[Pg 28] upon German emigrants. Dropping at once to the little game of his antagonist, Ben raised his foot and gave him a kick which doubled him up in a sort of pretzel-shaped bow-knot. He rolled about on the stage like a kangaroo suffering from the colic, while his backers shouted and swore, and the crowd yelled itself hoarse. In the midst of this general hubbub, “The Sailor Boy” quietly slipped out of the hall.

Thus ended Ben Hogan’s first public sparring match. It came precious near ending the fellow who fought against him, and it is safe to assume that he never kicked a man after that without first looking to see whether he wore brogans.





[Pg 29]


A Remarkable Game of Poker and What Came of it—Ben as a Pirate—Fast Life in New York—How he gave a Combination Show in Oswego.


After remaining in New York for a short time, Hogan returned to Syracuse, where he opened a boxing-room. His rates for instruction were certainly low enough, the price for a lesson being fixed at three cents. He became a member of Hose Company No. 4, and was well known throughout the city as a boy who could use his fists to good advantage.

Syracuse, however, did not ofter attractions enough to keep our hero long within its borders. He struck out again for himself, and drifted to the West, where occurred an incident of tragic interest.

By a stroke of remarkable luck, Ben had invested five dollars in a St. Louis lottery—which city he had reached in the course of his wanderings—and the number which he bought drew a prize of seven hundred and fifty dollars. With this money in his pocket, Ben determined to visit New Orleans. On the trip down the Mississippi he fell in with a party of professional gamblers, who used to infest the boats in those days.

Although Ben, as we know, had already knocked about the world a good deal, he was comparatively ignorant of cards. Draw-poker, which was the great game on Mississippi steamers, he knew little about.[Pg 30] He had played it once or twice, and learned to hold a pair or flush when he got them; but the intricate points of the science he had not mastered. This explanation is necessary that the reader may understand what follows. The gamblers in question succeeded in persuading Ben to sit down to a quiet little game. He alternately won and lost for some time, when one of the players dealt him four aces. Of course Ben went his last dollar on this hand. The money was promptly covered by one of the sharpers, and at last the call was made.

“I’ve got four aces!” exclaimed Ben, showing his hand, and making a move as if to take in the money.

“One minute!” said the gambler. “I beat your four aces. I have got five jacks!

Ben looked a little dazed.

“The money is certainly his,” said one of the cappers, who had led Ben into the game.

“But I thought,” stammered Ben, “I thought four aces beat anything in the pack.”

“So they do,” replied the oily-tongued sharper; “anything except five of a kind. Of course five jacks are better than four aces. There’s no question about that. And of course the money is mine!”

Saying this, he raked in Ben’s seven hundred dollars, leaving the young fellow without a cent.

Hogan couldn’t exactly get it through his head how he could have lost the money with four aces; but, as explained above, he was too ignorant of the game to detect the swindle.

He went to the captain, hoping to get some explanation, but that functionary declined to listen to his[Pg 31] story. He said he must settle his gambling disputes as best he could.

Then he went back to the sharpers, and begged them to let him have twenty-five or thirty dollars, as he had lost every penny; but they refused to give up a dollar.

Ben was dazed and half-maddened by his loss. Finally he told the gamblers that he would find somebody else on the boat to be fleeced, providing they would give him a percentage of the spoils. This they readily agreed to do, and so Ben went up on to the hurricane deck in search of a victim.

There he fell in with rather of a green merchant, who soon revealed to him the fact that he had between fifteen and sixteen hundred dollars about his person. Ben invited him down to play. As they were passing through the gangway, a sudden impulse seized Hogan to possess himself of this stranger’s money at any hazard. The gangway was open at either end, and as they were passing close to the unguarded space, Ben pretended to trip, falling against the stranger and knocking him overboard; but he immediately shouted and jumped into the water, with a view to save the unfortunate fellow.

It may not be wise to enter into these details too fully; but it may be said that the merchant struggled to the surface alive. Furthermore, when Ben was dragged on board the boat, he had not about him the fifteen hundred and odd dollars which had previously belonged to the stranger. It is a wonder that the latter was not swallowed by an alligator. But how the money was allowed to rest in his pocket must remain a mystery.

[Pg 32]Hogan continued his trip to New Orleans, but did not engage in any more draw-poker with the gentlemen who were accustomed to hold five jacks. If the money had come to him in a doubtful manner, it went in the same way. He drifted about for a few weeks, and finally brought up in Charleston without a dollar.

Now comes a period in his career which for wild adventure and hairbreadth escapes surpasses any romance. Finding himself in Charleston with no money and nothing to do, he determined to “make a raise” in some manner, whatever it might be. Money was his god, and he was prepared to lay burnt offerings or any other kind of offerings upon the altar. The opportunity came to him in a remarkable way.

Late one night Ben was sitting in a saloon near the docks when a black-haired, savage-faced man entered the place, and, taking three fingers of brandy straight, sat down near our hero. After eyeing him intently for a few minutes, he said:

“Would you like a job?”

“I should like nothing better,” answered Ben.

The man dropped his voice to a whisper.

“Are you particular about the kind of work?”

“I am ready for anything,” answered our hero.

The stranger cast a look about the room to see that nobody was watching them, and then bending down, said. “I am a pirate!”

The announcement did not in the least disconcert Ben. On the contrary, he expressed his perfect willingness to join the black craft, and on the day following he sailed out of Charleston on board the “Sphinx.” It is, perhaps, unnecessary to explain that the real name of this ship is not given. In this narrative,[Pg 33] however, “Sphinx” will serve as well as any other word to designate the craft.

During the six months that Ben Hogan sailed under the flag of the skull and cross-bones he encountered adventures enough to fill a larger volume than this. As he has since described it, he lost all semblance to humanity, and became more like a wild beast than a man. Among the rich booty which the “Sphinx” succeeded in capturing was a ship returning from the Bahama Islands with a chest of gold and jewels valued at two hundred thousand dollars. After this prize had been securely stored away in the “Sphinx” a quarrel arose as to the distribution of the treasure. The pirate captain refused to share with the men on equal terms. Ben, although the youngest of the crew, was made spokesman, and threatened that unless the chief came to terms, he would put him where he would care very little what became of the booty. At this, the captain dealt him a blow with his fist, but he found that he had tackled a bad customer. The Sailor Boy sailed into his black-whiskered antagonist, and gave him such a thrashing as he had never had before. This at once made a hero of Ben, and the crew placed their former chief in irons, and kept him there until the end of the cruise.

From that time forward Ben was the real commander of the ship; space prevents a fuller description of his exploits; nor, indeed would it be wise to give in detail all that happened during his voyage. Suffice it to say that at the end of six months the young pirate abandoned his wild life, and drifted back to New York with fifty thousand dollars in his pockets.

[Pg 34]Other men of his class would have spent this money, if they had spent it at all, in the low groggeries on Water street. Not so Ben Hogan. The pirate of yesterday was changed into an elaborately dressed gentleman to-day. His quiet manner and respectful bearing carried him into circles which his former companions could never have entered. In the costliest of broadcloth, with a magnificent diamond upon his immaculate shirt-front, Ben moved among the “bloods” of New York, a brilliant but unknown star.

And a jolly life he led of it while his “boodle” lasted. A good deal has been written about the extravagance of Jim Fisk during his palmy days; but Fisk never spent money half as recklessly as did Ben Hogan when he struck New York at that time. In a single day he went through with seven hundred dollars, simply for wine and cigars. In company with a very beautiful, but not over-virtuous woman, he drove through Fifth avenue in an open coach drawn by four white horses, drinking champagne as he went. He stepped into a small saloon on Cortlandt street one day and asked the proprietor what he considered the establishment worth.

“Five hundred dollars,” was the answer.

Ben pulled out an immense roll of bank-notes, laid a five-hundred-dollar bill upon the bar, and told the man to “clear out.” The astonished bar keeper took the money, and did as directed. Then Hogan invited the “setters” about the place to help themselves to whatever they wanted, and wound up by presenting the establishment, with all its fixtures, to an old man whom he had never seen before.

It goes without saying that this sort of career soon[Pg 35] made a serious hole in his pile. Living in elegant up-town apartments; supporting half a dozen women in princely style; drinking nothing but the choicest wines, and scattering his money on every side, it did not take very long to go through the entire fifty thousand dollars. It should be remembered that he was still a mere boy, but he showed himself quite a man in recklessness and extravagance.

When his last dollar had been parted with, Ben again became a vagabond in search of work. He was glad to take up with anything that offered itself, and that anything was a job on a tow-boat. He made two trips, during which he found time to thrash the mate—for which little service the captain of the boat thanked him sincerely. His reputation as a boxer began to spread, and under the belief that he had learned all there was to learn of the manly art, he once more returned to Syracuse, intending to remain there permanently.

In the building known as Malcolm Hall, at the corner of Railroad and Salina streets, he opened a gymnasium, in company with a teacher of elocution. He made all his own apparatus, spring-boards, bars, etc., and even turned his own Indian clubs. It was his ambition, at this time, to become the strongest man in the world. He put himself upon a diet of raw beef, rye or Graham bread, and drank nothing but milk, with an occasional glass of ale. With the beef he ate large quantities of onions, which probably helped to prevent any bad effects which the meat might have produced.

It was during his sojourn in Syracuse at this time that he engaged in a glove contest with Anthony[Pg 36] Kelly, a boxer of considerable local reputation. Kelly was a most expert representative of the manly art, and the contest excited a good deal of attention. It was won by Hogan, after a very spirited and lively set-to.

Under the training and diet already described, Ben gained rapidly in strength, and became a model of muscular development. He lifted, at that time, fifteen hundred pounds, and he could hold out ninety-five pounds with any one of his fingers. He continued the diet of raw beef for four years, and would probably have gone on eating it indefinitely had he not been warned by physicians that it was injurious for him.

An amusing incident occured in his life at this period. He happened to visit Oswego (the scene of his early housekeeping) and while there attended the “Naiad Queen,” brought out under Capt. Smith’s management. The show was one that would hardly have passed muster in a New York theatre, but it drew a big house in Oswego, and it gave Ben an idea. Returning to Syracuse he got a lot of posters printed, setting forth, in glowing terms, the attractions of “a monster combination,” in which would appear Ben Hogan, “the strongest man in the world,” and a host of other stars. With these bills and some other traps he made his way again to Oswego. Not having any agent and not being flush enough to call upon a regular bill-poster, he donned an old suit of clothes, smeared his face with dirt, and set out to post himself.

Wherever he put up one of the bills, a crowd would naturally gather around and pass comments upon the “monster combination.”

[Pg 37]“Who is this Ben Hogan, anyway?” was the general inquiry.

“Why, didn’t you ever hear of him?” Ben would reply. “He’s a bad man, I tell you—the strongest man in the world. I know him myself, and if you don’t want to miss the biggest show ever seen, you won’t stay away!”

In this way, the talkative bill-poster set the town on the qui vive to see the “monster combination.” Meantime, laying aside the old clothes, Ben appeared in a striking costume, which he had prepared expressly for the occasion. It consisted of a low-crowned, broad-brimmed silk hat, a short cut-away coat, a pair of very tight trowsers, and a flaming neckerchief. Thus arrayed, he made his appearance at the hotel and in the streets. Wherever he went somebody was sure to turn around and ask:

“Who is that?”

A friend of Ben’s, who professed not to know him, was on hand every time to answer.

“That,” he would say, “that is Ben Hogan. Greatest boxer in the country—strongest man in the world. If you want a big thing you’ll go to his show to-night!”

The result of all this was that when evening came the house was packed. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the “monster combination” was composed entirely of Hogan. The bills announced first a “daring act upon the trapeze,” which Ben, dressed in tights, and with enough chalk and paint upon his face to disguise him, undertook to perform. The undertaking was not altogether a success. In the midst of one of his most thrilling feats, he lost his balance and[Pg 38] fell to the stage. If there had been any walnuts or things under him, he would have certainly cracked them into fine pieces, for he came down with force enough to shake the building. The audience was stricken with horror, but the trapeze performer managed to get off of the stage and the show went on. The next feature, according to the programme, was a tumbling act by one of the “Whitney Brothers.” Ben again appeared, with more chalk and paint on his face, and did the act to the entire satisfaction of the spectators. Then the other Whitney brother, in the person of Ben, was seen upon the horizontal bar. And finally, Hogan himself came bowing on to the stage, and was greeted with tremendous applause, nobody in the house suspecting that he had been seen before. Ben did several feats, including the breaking of a stone upon his breast, and the entertainment wound up with a boxing contest between Hogan and one of the local celebrities. Altogether the show was a big success, and the audience went home perfectly satisfied.

Ben made some excuse for the non-appearance of the “Whitney Brothers” at the hotel, and as the show yielded three hundred dollars, it is safe to assume that the “brothers” got their salaries in full.



[Pg 39]


A Southern Trip—Experiences in New Orleans and Mobile—Three Men put under the Sod by Ben’s Bullets.


Shortly after the Oswego venture, Ben drifted once more to the West, and after a series of exciting adventures, which space prevents me from narrating, he brought up in the city of New Orleans.

There, one day, in a saloon which is somewhat famous as a resort for sporting characters, he became involved in a discussion with a stranger, the conversation leading to the subject of boxing. Ben, who felt the utmost confidence in his own fists, was not disposed to hear challenges thrown out at random without signifying his willingness to accept the same. The stranger in question, who may be designated by the title of Baldy, was disposed to be somewhat personal in his remarks.

“I tell you what it is,” he exclaimed, bringing his fist down on the bar with an emphatic thump, “I can lick any man that ever came from the North!”

Ben looked upon this as an invitation to respond, which he did promptly.

“I’m from the North,” he said, “and I’m willing to fight you whenever you say so.”

“From the North, are you?” returned Baldy. “Well, I reckon you must have come by the way of Germany, didn’t you? You don’t suppose any[Pg 40] damned Dutchman can fight with a Southern gentleman, do you?”

Ben quietly signified his belief that, in spite of his being “a damned Dutchman,” he could furnish the Southern “gentleman” with all the satisfaction he wanted.

This dispute culminated in an agreement to proceed at once to a spot in the outskirts of the city, where the Southerner and Hogan could settle matters without delay.

Ben had no friends in the city, but he carried with him a six-shooter, and was ready enough to accept any risks for the sake of a fight.

The party, consisting of half a dozen spectators besides the principals, drove to the spot agreed upon. Ben and his antagonist threw off their coats, and faced each other for business. Hogan supposed the fight was to be a fair contest with the fists, and had no suspicion of any more serious encounter. For a time the Southerner parried and dealt the blows in a scientific manner; but becoming enraged at a blinder in the left eye, he clinched with Ben, and the match became a rough-and-tumble fight. It was very hot on both sides while it lasted. Ben fought like a tiger, and Baldy fumed and swore, as they rolled over the ground. Finally, seeing that Ben was too much for him, he drew a revolver, and seizing the opportunity, held the muzzle close to Hogan’s temple, and pulled the trigger. The weapon missed fire, and before he could cock it again, Ben had whipped out his own shooter, and in another moment the sharp report of a pistol rang out on the air! The men had struggled to their feet during the encounter, but now the Southerner fell back, exclaiming:

[Pg 41]“My God, I am shot!”

The bullet had nearly done its work with terrible certainty. Ben’s antagonist lay stretched there for dead. He had fired purely in self-defense, and this fact was so apparent to the entire party that they made no effort to attack our hero.

With the now unconscious Baldy, the men returned to the city, where Hogan surrendered himself to the authorities. He felt that he had been perfectly justified in the course he had pursued, and felt little or no apprehension as to the result of the adventure.

New Orleans was in a state of too intense excitement at that time to make a trial in her civil courts a matter of much importance. Ben was arraigned, but discharged on condition that he should enter the Confederate service. This, of course, he readily agreed to do.

He was stationed in one of the barracks of the city, and in twenty-four hours’ time succeeded in making his escape.

He drifted from New Orleans to Mobile, still in search of adventure, and still prepared to profit by any new turn which Fortune’s wheel might make. His sojourn in this latter city, although brief, was by no means uneventful.

On the second day after his arrival he formed the acquaintance of a party of professional gamblers, who invited him to engage in a game of draw-poker. His former experience in this seductive pastime did not prevent him from accepting the proposition to play. He had grown wiser now, and knew that five jacks would not pass muster under the laws of Hoyle or of ex-Minister Moulte. The game was played in a[Pg 42] room occupied by the gamblers, and situated over one of the principal dry goods stores of the city.

It will be necessary to introduce the reader to two of the three men who made up the party. One was a life-long Southerner, whose passion for gaming had reduced him to such extremities that he was ready for any undertaking, no matter how desperate, if it promised to yield money. He had been the proprietor of a large plantation, but had squandered his entire fortune at cards. The other gambler was an Englishman by birth, and a most desperate character. He had spent the better part of his life in New Orleans, where he was familiarly known as Reddy. He was a scoundrel of the deepest dye, without any of the suavity of manner which characterized his companion.

With these two men as antagonists, and with a third as a looker-on, Ben sat down to the game. He had with him some two hundred dollars, which he had won at faro while in Mobile. For an hour or so, the play progressed without any material advantage to any one, although it was evident that the two gamblers were playing together to fleece Hogan. At last Ben was dealt a hand in which was contained the ace of spades. He drew, however, to a pair of queens, and was lucky enough to get a third. As this made a stronger hand than had been shown up for some time, he went his pile on its soundness. Reddy passed out of the hand, but the Southerner covered Ben’s bets, until the pot contained four hundred dollars.

“What have you got?” demanded Ben.

His antagonist laid down three aces—among them the ace of spades.

“That beats me,” remarked Hogan quietly.

[Pg 43]The Southerner put out his hand to draw in the money.

“One minute,” said Ben, throwing down the cards, and rising to his feet; “this is a skin game, and you can’t touch that money!”

“What do you mean?” demanded the Southerner, also rising to his feet, and at the same time turning pale with rage.

“Just what I say,” answered Ben. “This is a skin game. I was dealt the ace of spades, discarded it, and you show it up in your hand. I demand the right now to go through the cards, and show that there are two aces of spades in the pack.”

“I’ll be damned if you will!” broke in Reddy, jumping to his feet, and at the same time drawing a revolver. “D’ye mean to insult us?”

Ben wore an English walking jacket, in the pocket of which he carried his revolver. With one hand resting upon the trusty weapon, he made answer to his antagonists:

“I am unarmed, gentlemen, and I trust to your honor not to shoot me.”

“Oh the devil take your honor,” rejoined the Southerner. “You leave that money alone and get out of here, or we’ll put a bullet through you before you can wink!”

“Yes,” chimed in Reddy, “I’m damned if I don’t put a bullet through him whether he clears out or not!”

Seeing the desperate position in which he was placed, Ben resolved upon desperate measures. Just as Reddy was cocking his pistol, Hogan, by a sharp, quick blow, struck the weapon out of his hand. Then,[Pg 44] whipping forth his own revolver, he discharged one bullet at Reddy, and a second at his companion—the latter also having drawn a shooter. The two men dropped to the floor. The third, who was unarmed, attempted to seize one of his confederates’ pistol, but Ben threatened to shoot him also if he stirred an inch. Then gathering up the four hundred dollars, our hero passed out of the room, locked the door behind him, and made his way into the street.

It did not take him long to get out of Mobile. From the reports which afterward reached him, he learned that none of the gamblers had been killed by his shots. Under the circumstances, he did not trouble his conscience. By easy stages he made his way North, and eventually brought up in Albany.





[Pg 45]


Ben as a Spy in both the Union and Confederate Armies—The Buried Treasure—How he Fooled the Captain—At Port Royal and Newberne—Bounty-Jumping.


As already stated, Ben, on his return from the South, made his way to Albany. The work of enlisting soldiers for the war was at this time under full headway. Hogan was by no means ambitious to win fame on the field of battle, but he saw a good chance to make money by going South, and he accordingly went.

On board the “America” he sailed for Port Royal, S. C. The vessel was wrecked, but by lashing himself to the mast, Ben escaped. Arrived at Port Royal, he informed the commander of the Union troops stationed there that he would act as a private spy, and this offer was promptly accepted. Immediately after he set out for Charleston, held a personal interview with a certain General, and under that leader’s direction he assumed the character of a spy for the Confederate forces. It will thus be seen that Ben was pledged to give each side all the information he could gather concerning the other. But it may be added that he did not perform this duty conscientiously.

All this time he was working on board the steamer, and by laying in a large stock of quinine, tobacco, etc., which he disposed of at an immense profit, he cleared something like $18,000.

[Pg 46]A snobbish sort of fellow visited the steamer one day with a plentiful supply of choice wines and cigars, with which he expected to get into the good graces of the officers; but Ben seized the opportunity to confiscate the liquid treasure, and in place of wine, the high-toned visitor found that his bottles were filled with soapy water.

A tragic incident occurred shortly afterward. The mate of the vessel quarreled with Ben, and while the latter was lying in his berth, crept in upon him, dagger in hand, with the avowed purpose of taking his life. Had it not been for the timely warning of a companion, the hero of this narrative would certainly have ended his career then and there. As it was, however, Hogan was prepared for the assault, warded off the blow intended for his heart, and shot the mate on the spot. The bullet did its work so well that the man lay at the point of death for days.

Leaving the steamer, Ben found himself in Charleston, ready for anything which might turn up. His inventive brain conceived the idea of running the steamer “Planter” into Union waters, and securing whatever prize-money he could. To carry out this bold plan he secured the services of three negroes, to whom he told glowing stories of the money and fame they would win if they succeeded in the enterprise.

“Why,” said Ben, “if you steal this steamer and get it up North you’ll be such big boys that they’ll put you into Barnum’s museum as curiosities!”

This was enough to persuade the darkies to undertake anything, and they actually succeeded in running away with the “Planter.” But they never got any[Pg 47] prize-money, nor did Barnum offer them an opening in his museum.

We next find Hogan assigned to spy duty at Blufftown, by Gen. Hunter. Scouting about the country he learned from a negro that a chest containing watches, jewels, and money was hidden under the cellar of a house which had been deserted. This information was enough to put Ben to work in short order, digging for the treasure. While thus engaged he heard the sound of horses’ hoofs approaching. Making his way out of the house, he found that the dreaded Black Cavalry was upon him. He dashed through the swamps and underbrush, closely pursued by the horsemen, who discharged their revolvers at him in quick succession. None of the bullets took effect, however, and the cavalrymen could not follow through the stubble and underbrush. Ben reached the troops who had been sent out with him, gave the alarm, and all got back to the steamer in safety.

Not satisfied with this experience, Ben returned to the deserted house next day, only to find that the treasure had been removed, and to behold the negro who had given him the information hanging dead to a tree.

Ben’s return North from Port Royal was attended by an interesting adventure. His reputation had spread abroad as a dangerous man. Many crimes were laid to his door which he had never committed. The mere mention of his name caused people to shudder. As a result of all this, he found himself shut off from the privilege of sailing on the “Burnside,” as he had anticipated doing. He was on board the steamer just as she was about to sail, when it became known that he was Ben Hogan.

[Pg 48]The captain at once told him that he could not make the passage on that boat.

“This man?” the crew shouted. “Sail with him? Why, he’s a pirate, a cut-throat, a murderer! He’ll kill us all! He’s Ben Hogan!”

This last assertion climaxed it all; and in spite of threats and entreaties, Ben was forced to disembark. But he was not discouraged—not at all—and going to Gen. Fuller, he secured a passport.

The “Burnside” had no more than fairly got under way when those on board saw a man swinging his arms wildly and heard him shout:

“Mail! mail! I’ve got the mail!”

As the captain was expecting the mail, he could do nothing but wait until the man on the bank had launched out for the steamer, which he accordingly did. The stranger, who was supposed to bring with him the mail, was drawn up over the side of the “Burnside,” when, to his consternation, the captain discovered that he was none other than Ben Hogan!

“What do you mean?” he cried angrily. “Haven’t I told you that you can’t sail on this vessel?”

“Don’t trouble yourself,” said Ben quietly. “I sail on whatever vessel I want to; just steam ahead, and keep cool.”

When the “Burnside” ran into Newberne, Ben was taken before the Provost Marshal; but, to the amazement of his accusers, that official said:

“This man has more power than I have. You had better make peace with him, for if he says you may go, you may; and if he says you can’t, why you can’t!”

After this startling announcement, Ben’s enemies[Pg 49] concluded that it would be wise to hold their peace. He made the rest of the voyage to Boston on the “Burnside.”

Some time after this occurrence, Ben happened to run across the old captain in New York. He professed to be overjoyed at the meeting, and invited him to go to the nearest saloon, where they drank to one another’s health with great cordiality. The captain was a little man with an odd, weazen face, and full of eccentricities. He wore, on this particular occasion, an old-fashioned swallow-tail coat which must have seen a good many years of service. Ben made up his mind to have a little sport at his companion’s expense, and so, getting some lampblack in the saloon, he smeared it over his hands, and then stepping up to the captain, exclaimed:

“By Jove, you’ve grown fat since I saw you last!”

As he spoke, he rubbed his hands over the Captain’s face, leaving enough of the lampblack to make him look ridiculous. Then, as they stood taking a final drink at the bar, Ben dextrously slipped his hand behind him and cut off one of the tails of that wonderful coat.

“Let’s take a walk up Broadway,” suggested Hogan.

The captain at once agreed, and arm-in-arm the two started through the streets.

Wholly unconscious of the absurdity of his appearance the captain couldn’t make out what all the people were laughing at. But, remembering that his face was smeared with daubs of lampblack and that his coat was minus one of its tails, the reader will perhaps appreciate the cause of the merriment. Ben gave the wink to all the policemen they met, assured the[Pg 50] captain that the people were not laughing at him, and thus the two traveled Broadway from Cortlandt street to Union Square. It was a richer spectacle than one is apt to see every day.

After his return from Port Royal, Ben remained around New York for about a month, and then sailed for Newberne, N. C., on the “Cosmopolitan.” He first made himself conspicuous in that town by giving a trapeze performance at the top of the ship’s mast, which attracted a big crowd, and which set the inhabitants at once to talking about Ben Hogan. Soon afterward he was introduced to Gen. Foster, who gave him the position of steward on the “Cosmopolitan.” Here Ben had the handling of all the wines and cigars, together with a chance to make a fat stake—which he did not miss. As it was against the rules to sell any liquor to the men on board, Ben hit upon the following plan for dispensing cordials: Into a barrel he poured a pail of water, with some lemons, and then filled it up with whiskey. This appetizing concoction he sold at the rate of ten dollars a canteen—which afforded a pretty comfortable profit. Before very long, however, it was discovered that the men on board had procured liquor in some way, and inquiries were set on foot to discover how. It came out, of course; but while Ben was pouring out the contents of the canteens, an assistant was filling them up again, so that the crew did not suffer for drink.

As the “Cosmopolitan” was passing Little Washington her pilot-house was blown off by the enemy’s shots. Ben was called up to take the wheel, and finding that the captain was not willing to stand by him in that perilous position, he turned the boat[Pg 51] square around and headed her the other way. During this time he had saved about eleven thousand dollars in greenbacks and Confederate money. With this sum in his possession he was taken sick at Newberne, and there placed under the care of a physician who proved himself a villain. In one of his doses which he administered to Ben he placed poison, expecting to get rid of his patient in short order. An old negro woman, however, told Ben what he had taken, and by the prompt administration of powerful antidotes his life was saved. As soon as he had sufficiently recovered to leave his bed, Ben swore that he would have this doctor’s life. Meeting him shortly after on the street, he stopped him and said:

“You gave me poison, and do you know what I am going to do to you?”

“No,” faltered the man of pills, turning deathly pale.

“I am going to kill you!” was the laconic reply.

So saying, Ben drew his revolver and fired. But not wishing to take his life, the ball missed its mark, and entered the doctor’s leg instead of heart. The wound, however, was serious enough to necessitate the amputation of the limb—and so it cost him a leg to administer that dose of poison.

Not long after this adventure, Ben returned to New York. He was again ready to make a raise in whatever manner might present itself. He fell in with a choice gang of spirits, who had concocted to go into the bounty-jumping business, in the following way: Forty men pooled in ten dollars apiece at a certain smart saloon, then on the corner of Houston and Crosby streets, with the understanding that whoever[Pg 52] succeeded first in jumping his bounty and reaching New York, should have the entire pile. The enlisting was to be done in Massachusetts. The crowd set forth, Ben agreeing to follow, and it is safe to say that a harder lot never struck the soil of the Old Bay State.

Nearly all enlisted, according to agreement, received their bounties, and then set to work to get away as best they might. Ben first endeavored to get on good terms with the officers by showing them his skill with the gloves, and even sent on for dumb-bells and clubs; but this game he very soon found wouldn’t work. The party, which came to be known as “The Forty Thieves,” were taken on to Boston under a guard equaling their own numbers—that is, one regular to each of the volunteers. No opportunity for escape offered itself on the journey, and it was not until the troops reached New York that Ben saw his way clear for leaving the service. Some of the men had jumped from the boat and taken their chances of being hit by the bullets. Hogan succeeded in eluding the guard upon their arrival in New York, and set out for a friend’s, to learn whether he had won the pool. He wore a red shirt, no coat nor vest, and nothing but the blue trowsers to stamp him as a volunteer.

As he was passing through the streets a policeman stopped him and took him into custody. Ben walked along quietly for several blocks, and after offering the “cop” three hundred dollars for his freedom, which offer was refused, he suddenly “gave him the foot” as they were passing a basement and sent him spinning through the door. He then took to his heels, but a[Pg 53] general outcry was raised, and he was captured. The policemen took him to headquarters, where he told the justice that he was a fireman and had never seen the inside of an enlisting-office. The justice rebuked the officer for arresting a man without cause, but committed him to the keeping of the provost-marshal until it should be ascertained whether he was a volunteer or not.

The provost-marshal’s office was at the corner of Elm and Broome streets, and Ben, on the third night, succeeded in cutting his way through the bars. A too-officious policeman undertook to arrest him after he had reached the street, but Ben knocked him down at a blow, and passed on without further molestation.

That, for the time, ended our hero’s war experience. He had not figured conspicuously in any of the famous battles, but he had had a pretty lively time of it, and it occurred to him that New York was not, all things considered, the safest place for him to remain in longer. Like a good many other enterprising gentlemen in those days, Canada seemed to him the most inviting spot on the globe; and to Canada accordingly Ben made his way.

Of his experiences in the Dominion, which, though brief, were certainly racy, another chapter will treat.



[Pg 54]


Ben in Canada—He goes West again—Adventures in Cincinnati, Nashville, and Louisville—How he Sold the Colored Troops—Sets out for the Oil Regions.


On his way to the Canadian border, Ben met with an interesting little adventure. He was accosted on the boat which took him to Albany by a gentlemanly appearing fellow, who showed him “a peculiar kind of a tobacco-box” which he had just invented. He showed how it worked—how very simple it was to open it—and to prove its simpleness, offered to bet Ben twenty-five dollars that he couldn’t open it in a given time.

It is almost needless to explain that this was the skin game which has since become familiar to everybody. It was fresher in those days, however, and as Ben had never seen the “racket,” he bet with the stranger. Of course he lost his money. But instead of getting mad about it, he resolved to get even by bleeding somebody else. He offered the man ten dollars more for the box, and having been shown how it operated, he put it in his pocket for future use.

On the train from Albany, Ben ran across a verdant merchant with plenty of money, took out the box, and in about ten minutes’ time had relieved him of a hundred dollars in cash. Then the merchant suggested that he would like to get his money back in some[Pg 55] way, and proposed to act as “capper” while they fleeced somebody else. Hogan agreed to share with him, and before very long the first victim brought up a second one to be fleeced. From this individual the peculiar little tobacco-box won a hundred and fifty dollars. The capper pretended to sympathize with the loser, and Ben, meantime, strolled into the smoking-car, with all the money in his pocket. At the first station it became absolutely necessary for him to get off the train; and somehow he forgot all about dividing the hundred and fifty dollars with the capper.

Resuming his journey on the next train, our hero reached Kingston, Canada West, in good spirits. Almost upon the day of his arrival he stood on the street paring his finger-nails, when a mutton-chop whiskered Canadian, who was standing near by, drawled out with a very strong English accent:

“Ah—you Yankees are always picking your—ah—nails, and looking about for a chance—ah—to swindle somebody out of his—ah—money!”

“Vat vas dot you vas say?” demanded Ben, looking up from his nails, and assuming the German dialect; “I vas no Yankee—I vas a Deutcherman, yost comes ober!”

The Canadian looked in surprise, but Ben gave him undoubted proofs of his acquaintance with the German language, so that in the end he apologized for having mistaken the “Deutcherman” for a “blawsted Yankee.”

“Yaw,” continued Ben, “I vas a Deutcher lad, und I comes here to open a shimernasium!”

“A what?” asked the Canadian, looking puzzled.

[Pg 56]“A shimernasium—mit clubs and dumber-bells und all dot!”

“O, a gymnasium, you mean,” said the Canadian, smiling. “Well, perhaps, I can be of some service to you.”

He was as good as his word, and introduced Ben to a number of citizens interested in physical culture, Lawyer Snooks among others. Through the influence of these gentlemen, Hogan opened a gymnasium in the skating rink. He found the Canadians, however, not over-generous in their patronage. An arrangement was finally made by which he was to instruct the students and others who came to him for five weeks without pay. At the end of that time he was to receive a benefit, and the proceeds, it was agreed, should be devoted to the improvement of the gymnasium. In good time this benefit came off, and a big success it was. Ben delivered a speech, and one of the priests spoke in warm praise of “Mr. Hogan, who had done so much for physical education.” The affair yielded five hundred dollars in gold.

After duly meditating upon the subject, it occurred to Ben that, instead of applying this money he had himself earned to a gymnasium, it would be a good deal wiser to apply it to the improvement of himself, and he accordingly left Kingston, intending, one day, to return. Up to the present writing, however, he has not thought proper to do so.

Passing through Rochester, Ben set his face toward the West. He spent a short time in Chicago and from there made his way to Cincinnati. In that city he soon became known. He was a teacher of boxing in the gymnasium at Fourth and Ray streets, and fulfilled[Pg 57] an engagement at the Palace Varieties, doing the stone-breaking feat and heavy lifting.

A performance was got up for his benefit by Messrs. Ashure & Peterson, the agreement being that Ben was to receive the money for all tickets sold outside, while the box-office receipts were to go to the managers. Ben hired a dozen men, well known about town, giving them a hundred tickets each; and the result was that, although the house was packed, the box-office didn’t see any of the money. Hogan pocketed seven hundred and fifty dollars, and Messrs. Ashure & Peterson were thankful to get one hundred and fifty. It was at this performance that a stone weighing eight hundred pounds was broken on Hogan’s breast—a feat which has never been equaled.

Falling in with Bill Sparks, Ben went to Nashville at this time, and opened a show under canvas next to the St. Cloud Hotel. The attractions offered were the cannon-ball throwing of Sparks, and the feats of strength and sparring by Hogan. So successful did this show prove that the receipts averaged between fifty and sixty dollars a day. Ben, however, was not satisfied with this comfortable income, and he looked about for other sources of money-making. A fat thing turned up in the Provost-Marshal’s office—he got the handling of all the Government goods that passed through that official’s hands—and it was by no means an uncommon occurrence for Ben to pocket an odd thousand dollars fairly made.

Meantime, he had gained an extensive reputation as a boxer, and this he turned to good account by joining with Dan Striker in a glove-fight, professedly[Pg 58] for five hundred dollars. Striker appeared as the champion of the Emerald Isle, and was announced as the “Irish Giant;” while Hogan became the champion of his native country, appearing on the bills as “Benedict, the German Hercules.” Intense excitement prevailed over the proposed contest. The city divided itself into two elements, the Irish population backing Striker, and the Germans swearing by “Benedict.” Allen’s New Theatre was secured for the exhibition, and when the night came the house was packed from pit to dome.

As the reader may readily imagine, the “fight” was pre-arranged, it being agreed that each man should score an equal number of knock-downs. Accordingly, the “Irish Giant” and the “German Hercules” each went down six times, and the excitement among the spectators became so great that words led to blows and a general fight ensued. Meantime, Ben and Striker cleared out of the theatre, carrying with them fourteen hundred dollars as the result of the venture.

While at Nashville, Ben also made a handsome sum by introducing certain famous gamblers to army officers, who were willing to pay liberally for the sake of opening wine with such sports. Whatever else they might have done while in the company of these agreeable persons is their business, not ours. Were the names to be given of these officers it would create a scandal which might injure their fair reputations, and so they are withheld.

We next find Hogan in Louisville. This was in the year 1865, just after the close of the war, and the city was filled with troops waiting to be mustered out.[Pg 59] Among others was a negro brigade, which appeared to offer excellent material for our hero to work upon.

It happened that Ben ran across an agent from New York who had a large stock of advertising bills, made to look very much like a greenback. These were something new in those days, and had suggested a plan of operation to the agent. Ten dollars would have bought up the entire stock, which filled a good-sized satchel. With it he went to the quarters of the negro brigade, and offered to “stand in” with the officers if they would give him permission to exchange his “small bills” for the ones of larger denomination paid to the soldiers.

This offer being accepted, the agent stationed himself at the point where the negroes were paid off, and as they passed along in line, shouted out to them:

“Here you are, now. Anybody who wants small bills, step right up and get ’em changed!”

As the negroes had received their money in tens, twenties, &c., and as most of them wanted to use smaller amounts at once, they pressed about the accommodating stranger, crying:

“Yah you are, Massa, suah nuff! Done gwine me some o’ dat small change, mighty quick?”

He did give it to ’em “mighty quick.” The “greenbacks” were done up into packages of ten, twenty, fifty and a hundred dollars, and in an amazingly short time he had exchanged the entire lot of advertising notes for good money.

This little episode made it convenient for him to get out of the city. Doubtless the newspapers of Louisville will remember the affair, inasmuch as they devoted a good deal of space to it at the time. It[Pg 60] may interest them to learn that the hero of the adventure set out at once for home, after having lost all his money to Ben before he had time to divide the spoils with the colored officers.

The job netted about twenty thousand dollars, and with this amount of money in his pocket Ben struck Chicago. Everybody was spending money freely in those days, but Hogan discounted the world. He “dropped” every dollar of his “boodle” in sixty days. How did he do it? That is more than I can tell. A hundred dollars for wine here, and five hundred for suppers there. Champagne suppers, faro—anything and everything which enters into the career of a high-toned sport when he is flush. That explains in part how the money went. Certain it is that it did go, in some manner, and at the end of the sixty days there was not a bank note left of the twenty thousand dollars.

It will be observed, therefore, that Ben added to the prosperity of Chicago by putting this money into rapid circulation. There would never have been any panic, you know, if everybody had spent money as freely. And so always goes ill-gotten gain.

His jolly spree in Chicago over, our hero set out for his old home, Syracuse. On the cars he ran across an acquaintance named Jim O’Neil, who hailed from Liverpool, a suburb of Syracuse.

“Where you bound for?” asked Ben.

“For the oil regions,” was the answer.

“The oil regions—where’s that?”

“Why, in Pennsylvania, of course. More life there than anywhere else in the world. Just the place for a fellow like you. Mints of money!”

[Pg 61]This brief conversation set Ben to thinking. He made up his mind that the oil country was, in truth, just the place for a fellow like him, and he further resolved that he would go there as soon as he could.

He continued his journey to Syracuse, and a day or two after his arrival in that city fell in with a friend whom we will call Burke. This friend had just finished a term in the penitentiary, and like our hero, he was anxiously looking about for something to do. Burke wasn’t exactly a saint, as may be surmised from the fact that he had just got out of prison. He was, in fact, a tough nut, and a fellow who took any kind of risks for the sake of putting through a job.

Ben proposed to Burke that they should get out for the oil regions together.

“But I’m broke!” said Burke.

“Well, raise what you can,” answered Ben, “and I’ll do the same.”

Accordingly, that night the two adventurers put their wits to work, and the next day took the train for Buffalo. It need only be said that Burke improved the time so well that he carried with him a gold watch and chain. Whether some Christian gentleman made him a present of this, or whether he found it on the sidewalk, is not recorded. He had it, at all events, and with the money thus raised, the two friends reached Pit Hole, Pa., after encountering numerous adventures, and traveling the last forty miles on horse and foot.



[Pg 62]


First Appearance in the Oil Country—Dance-house in Pit Hole—French Kate—Babylon House—Fight with Bob Donnelly—His Explanation in Court of the Character of his House.


It was in this manner that Ben Hogan first entered the Oil Country—a region where he was destined to become more notorious, perhaps, than any other man who ever entered it.

His first adventure in Pit Hole was the meeting with Jim Linton, who carried with him a pair of boxing-gloves. Ben pretended not to know what they were; but having been taken around to “Heenan’s Cottage”—a famous resort for the sporting fraternity—he very soon showed that he could use his hands in a thoroughly scientific manner. This, of course, made him “solid” with the crowd, and he very soon became known.

Nothing better turning up, Ben joined Diefenbach’s show, to do general gymnastic business, while young Burke did a lively business in watches. The latter was so industrious that he came in often at the end of a night’s work with half a dozen “tickers” in his pockets.

Probably Pit Hole, at that time, was the wickedest place on the globe. The roughest and most desperate classes had centred there. Pistols and bowie-knives were the ordinary adornments worn by pretty nearly everybody. It was no unusual occurrence for half a[Pg 63] dozen men to be killed in a day, and if twenty-four hours did happen to pass without somebody’s being shot, it set the inhabitants of the town to wondering what was the matter.




At the time of which I am writing, Fred Hill and Dean Wilson came to the town to give a sparring exhibition, and Hogan was trotted out as a “green Dutchman,” who would put on the gloves “just for fun.” Hill naturally supposed that he had a soft thing, but that idea left him by the time four rounds had been fought. He was so used up that he did not want any more of the “green Dutchman.”

From Pit Hole, Ben went to Oil City, where he worked in a variety show, and afterward in O’Hara and Hill’s Theatre, keeping order where nobody else could.

He next joined Capt. Smith, and played in Rouseville, Petroleum Centre, and Pit Hole, at which latter place Ben, who carried the “boodle,” lost nineteen hundred dollars at faro. That bursted the show, as the captain couldn’t make out where the profits were under such management.

Remaining in Pit Hole, Ben’s next venture was in the dance-hall and restaurant line, he becoming the business manager for a woman known as Em Fenton. She had conducted the place on a one-horse scale, but Ben ran the trade up to a hundred dollars a day.

No doubt Cal Wagner will remember his visit to the oil regions at this time, and the benefit which Hogan, in connection with Baldy Sauers, got up for him after his hard luck in Pit Hole.

Although Ben had made Em Fenton’s house his stopping place, he left there owing the woman six[Pg 64] dollars. He next joined “French Kate,” a notorious character, with whom Ben was associated for a considerable time. This woman had served as a spy in the Confederate army and had been a companion of J. Wilkes Booth, Surrat and others. In connection with Kate and Fanny White he opened a first-class house, where liquors were served by pretty waiter girls, and where the patrons very soon became quite numerous.

At about this time occurred his fight with Holliday, formerly of Rochester. Although the stakes were only two hundred dollars, it is doubtful whether a more exciting contest was ever seen in the ring. Fully seven hundred persons were in attendance, women as well as men. Pistols and bowie-knives were as plentiful as cigars, and it took a good deal of courage to face such a crowd in a prize ring. Just before the fight, French Kate called Ben to her side—he was then her acknowledged champion, and said:

“Ben, if you lose this fight you shall cease to be a friend of mine!”

Our hero went into the ring, therefore, with a double incentive for winning. After a pretty woman had said what French Kate did to a fellow, it would have been enough to make a parson fight for all he was worth. Marsh Elliott and John Sweeney acted as seconds for Ben. Seven rounds were fought, at the end of which Holliday threw up the sponge, and Hogan was declared the winner. He thus got the purse, and also preserved his friendship with Kate.

After the fight was over, Marsh Elliott began to do some heavy blowing, asserting that he could furnish a[Pg 65] man who “could knock the daylights out of Ben Hogan.” This sort of talk really had reference to himself, and as Ben was perfectly willing to try conclusions with the man, he invited him to step up whenever he pleased. But Elliott had no idea of meeting Hogan in a fair fight. He shot at him through a window in the hopes of killing our hero, and failing in this attempt, was forced into a fight the next day. Ben disposed of him in four rounds, breaking his nose and giving him a terrible using up. He then secured Ben’s arrest, but the tables were turned in court, and he was himself fined twenty-five dollars while Hogan was released.

On the very next day, as Ben was sitting in his parlor, four men entered the room, with the avowed intention of killing him. Hogan arose and said:

“I am unarmed, and only one against four. Give a man some sort of a show for his life. Let me have one revolver, and I’ll take my chances against you all!”

Just as these words were uttered, and most fortunately for Ben, a number of friends dropped in to see him, and the would-be murderers cleared out.

The attempt to make way with Hogan did not end here. A job was put up by which he was to be induced to engage in a fight with one “Stonehouse Jack,” with the understanding that the latter was to kill him in the fracas. This little plan fell through, however, as Ben met the crowd, and at the muzzle of a revolver made them lay down their arms. Believing his life to be in constant peril, Ben appealed to the authorities, who, knowing the character of the men he had to deal with, told him that he would be justified in[Pg 66] shooting any one of them who might attack him. Acting upon this assurance, he fired at Stonehouse Jack, as that worthy was coming out of a dance hall. Unfortunately for society, the ball missed its mark and Jack escaped.

Striking out for fresh fields, Ben went to Babylon, where, in conjunction with French Kate, he opened a first-class sporting house. Babylon was a peculiar place, and fully as wicked as the ancient city of that name. There were only eight houses in the town, and six of these were gambling houses. The inhabitants were not over-pious, as may be imagined; and a more desperate set it would be difficult to find.

Ben went on in advance, and fitted up the house in two day’s time, doing pretty much all of the work himself. He then telegraphed for some friends, and they set out in a hay-wagon. That was a memorable night in Babylon when these sports arrived and Ben’s place was opened. The whole were pretty well primed with wine, and they made the town ring with their songs and laughter. Crowds of people from the neighboring country gathered about the wagon. The boys shouted and the men shouted back. When the whole had entered the house, a grand rush was made for admission. Ben sold them tickets till the place was jammed, and than stood at the door, with revolver in hand, to prevent any more from attempting to enter.

During the nine months which Ben spent in Babylon, adventures crowded one another in such rapid succession, that I can only touch upon some of the more important ones.

Among Ben’s rivals in business were the Shay Brothers, who succeeded, on one occasion, in getting[Pg 67] away his musicians. It was a Saturday night, the place was crowded, but it was impossible for the crowd to be jolly without music.

Ben went around to the rival house, entered the bar-room, and saw his band playing away at their posts. He took one square look at them, and then, suddenly seizing a champagne bottle in each hand, he let them fly at the heads of the musicians.

Lightning is supposed to travel a greased pole at a pretty lively rate, but the way those musical chaps vanished before Ben’s bottles beat any lightning all out of time. The leader wasted a couple of shots in firing at Hogan, and that was all the resistance that was offered. Naturally enough, the sight of champagne bottles traveling through the air without any fixed destination, threw the whole place into an uproar. Ben had entered with the intention of clearing out the house—and he proceeded to do it without any waste of time. A stray blow with a bottle broke Tommy Shay’s arm. Then Ben knocked over boxes, and kegs, and barrels, sent the glasses spinning around in every direction, broke everything that there was to break, and closed up the place in amazingly short order.

The Shays got out an indictment against Ben for this little proceeding, but when he met them with a counter charge of selling liquor without a license, of keeping a disorderly house, and various other offenses, they concluded to let the matter drop.

It was at about this time, also, that Ben had his fight with Bob Donnelly. Some of the sporting papers talked of this as a “snide” affair, and refused to give either of the men credit for the battle. As a[Pg 68] matter of fact it was an exceedingly hot fight, occupying thirty-six rounds, and being won by Hogan only after a tough struggle. The contest took place near Fort Erie, and was witnessed by only twelve men on a side—a fact which led the papers to doubt its genuineness.

Keeping as many sports as Ben did in his place it became necessary, at times, to devise some means of entertaining them—for Babylon was not a very big town, and the sights were limited. On one occasion Ben enlivened Sunday by getting up a hurdle-race, which was contested by girls in short skirts. Of course a big crowd turned out; the girls never troubled themselves about the purse of one hundred dollars which had been offered (on paper), and Ben did a flourishing business over the bar.

At another time he dressed up fifteen of the boys in girl’s clothing, mounted them upon horses, and, acting himself as the general of this feminine army, made a week’s tour of the oil regions. Every town that was then of any importance was visited, and it need hardly be said that the company picked up a good deal of stray money.

Perhaps one of the most amusing dodges which Hogan originated, was his pulley-weight trick. He had a set of ordinary weights, such as are found in every gymnasium, but he made them pay more than such apparatus ever did before. This is how he worked it: Taking the occasion when the place was full of loungers, he would walk up to the pulley-weights himself, and placing his back to the board draw them out, at the same time pretending to use a great deal of strength. Then he would step back, remarking:

[Pg 69]“I don’t believe there’s anybody in the house that can do that!”

Somebody would immediately try it, and, of course, pull the weights up with perfect ease—they weighed only thirty-six pounds. Then somebody else would want to try it, and after a dozen or so had shown off their strength, Ben would say:

“Well, by thunder, you’re a muscular crowd! But I tell you—it’s one thing to lift up the weights, and another to keep ’em up. Now I’ll bet the drinks for the house that you can’t hold the weights up, say for two minutes!”

There would always be enough ready to accept this bet. Having got somebody holding on to the weights, Ben would have a negro, who was trained for the purpose, go around outside of the building, where the ropes came through, and just as the fellow inside had braced himself for the pull, the darkey would give such a jerk as to hurl him back with a good deal more suddenness than was pleasant. Of course the victim had to stand the drinks for the party, and the money went over the bar.

Even a more fruitful source of income than the pulley-weights was the interesting little game known as three-card monte. In this Ben was assisted by Hank Johnson, who could manipulate the pasteboards with surprising skill. Ben acted as a sort of general patron of the game, always sympathizing with the fellows who lost, and frequently putting in money himself to help make up a stake. He felt very sorry to see his rural friends lose their money—very sorry indeed. But for all that, he didn’t object to sharing the profits with Johnson. Three-card monte is what Hogan used to[Pg 70] call “catching suckers by wholesale,” and that was an excellent name for it.

One case, in particular, was most amusing. A highly respectable old chap from Titusville came in one day with a load of fish. After he sold his stock he was introduced to Hank Johnson, who was illustrating the way they used to draft men in the South.

“You see,” said Hank, “they would throw down three cards in this manner. Well, if a man could pick out the queen, he wouldn’t be drafted; but if he didn’t hit the queen, he was a goner!”

“Waal, now, I want teu know if that’s the way they did it!” exclaimed the first dealer. “I’ll bet if I’d a been down there they wouldn’t a drafted me!”

“You think you could have picked out the right card, do you?” asked Johnson, carelessly.

“Think? Why, Lord bless you, I don’t think nothin’ about it; I know I could!”

“Well, suppose you try it once, just for fun.”

Johnson threw down the cards, and, sure enough, the Titusville man picked out the queen.

“You wouldn’t want to bet five dollars that you could do it again, would you?” observed Hank, playing with the pasteboards in an unconcerned manner.

“Wouldn’t I, now?” said the fish-dealer. “You jest believe I would!”

So saying, he pulled out five dollars, planked it down, and for the second time turned the queen.

All this time Ben had been watching the game, and now the Titusviller turned to him and whispered:

“Why, Lord bless you, I can pick out that kerd every time. Don’t you see it’s got a mark on it?”

Sure enough, the queen did have a mark on the[Pg 71] back, and the only wonder was that Johnson hadn’t discovered it. Probably he would if he hadn’t made the mark himself.




“Go him fifty this time,” suggested Ben. “Here, make it a hundred, and I’ll stand in with you.”

Hogan slipped some bank notes in the countryman’s hand, and the latter bet his pile on the throw.

“There she is!” he exclaimed, laying his finger on the card with the spot on it.

Johnson turned it over, when, to the Titusviller’s amazement, it proved to be the ten-spot of clubs, instead of the queen.

He didn’t have much more to say, except that he hoped they would keep the matter quiet, as it would injure his reputation if it got out. He was a church member, he said, and never did take much stock in cards, anyhow. As he had lost Ben’s money as well as his own, he was allowed to go, only upon promising to bring another load of fish by way of payment.

Another of the incidents which I shall proceed to relate was, perhaps, the spiciest of all Ben’s adventures in Babylon.

The woman Em Fenton, for whom our hero had at one time acted as manager, had drifted into Babylon and established a sporting house there. She had been, and for that matter still was, desperately in love with Hogan. Of course, French Kate became an object of intense hatred to this former favorite, who saw her place taken by another. Jealousy led her to commit an assault upon Kate, and it therefore became the duty of Ben to show his gallantry by resenting the insult.

Providing himself with a keen-edged ax, he paid a[Pg 72] visit to the Fenton woman’s place, and informed the astonished inmates that he had come for the purpose of chopping down the house. With this remarkable introduction, he began to hack away at the door-posts, frightening the women half out of their wits. He didn’t go quite so far as to chop down the whole house, but he smashed things generally and raised a big row.

Thirsting for revenge and maddened by jealousy, Em Fenton made a complaint against Hogan. This led to the arrest of the latter by the sheriff. The occurrence was particularly tantalizing just at that time to Ben. He was expecting to leave Babylon shortly, and the idea of being detained by a law-suit, to say nothing of the chances of his conviction, was anything but pleasant.

He offered the deputy sheriff four hundred dollars to release him, but this offer was rejected. I may add that at a future day Ben got even with this official, which exploit will be recounted hereafter. Not only did the deputy refuse the money, but he insisted on taking Ben to Warren, Pa., a distance of thirty-six miles, in a sleigh, claiming that it was not safe to travel by the cars.

Through the snow and slush, Ben was accordingly taken to Warren as a prisoner. He had with him a plentiful supply of money, and upon reaching the town deposited a thousand dollars with the sheriff as security for his appearance in court the next day. Instead, therefore, of passing the night in jail, he sat down to a quiet game of draw-poker, in which he roasted his friend the sheriff to the tune of two or three hundred dollars. This was a good deal[Pg 73] pleasanter way of passing the time than being shut up in a cell.

When the morning came the whole town of Warren was in a state of intense excitement. It had become noised about that Ben Hogan—the terrible, the wicked, the notorious Ben Hogan—was stopping at the hotel, and was about to be brought to trial. The court room was packed to its utmost capacity. Everybody was straining his eyes to get a glimpse of the wickedest man in the world. Ben took his seat in the prisoner’s dock and quietly awaited the proceedings.

At last the judge addressed our hero, saying:

“Hogan, I find that there are five indictments against you, all growing out of the charge of keeping a disorderly house. I need not specify the charges, as you know well enough what they are. Do you plead guilty or not guilty?”

“Not guilty!” answered Ben. Then rising to his feet, he continued: “If your honor please, I shall be glad to explain this whole matter to you, so that you may judge for yourself the nature of my offences. I will cheerfully answer any question which your honor sees fit to ask.”

“Very well,” said the judge. “I will ask you first, what sort of a place is it which you are keeping in Babylon?”

“A restaurant and gymnasium,” was Ben’s prompt reply. “Open to both ladies and gentleman!”

“What have you got in this gymnasium?” queried the judge, who had himself given a good deal of attention to physical culture.

“Well, the apparatus which is generally found in[Pg 74] such places. Dumb-bells, Indian-clubs, boxing-gloves, pulley-weights, rings, bars, etc.”

“How many ‘ladies’ are there in your class?” continued the judge, with a smile.

“Fifteen!” answered Ben, gravely.

“And about how many gentlemen?”

“Oh, between three and four hundred!”

“The gentlemen find it more attractive than the ladies, do they?”

“Well, they all like it,” was Ben’s reply.

The judge began to think his questions less shrewd than he had supposed, and the spectators relished his disappointment in bringing out evidence of such an innocent nature.

“Now, sir,” he continued, “I want you to tell me what sort of exercises you put these ladies through?”

This caused the crowd to break forth into a roar of laughter; but Ben, not at all disconcerted, proceeded to answer the question with all seriousness.

“Light gymnastic exercise is what I call it,” he said.

“Would you be good enough to explain what that is?” asked the judge.

“Certainly,” answered Ben. “It is a moving of the arms, the body and the limbs in such a manner as to bring all the muscles into play, thus,” (here he began to work the upper part of his body to and fro, while the spectators roared aloud). “Practice of this kind,” continued Ben, “is most beneficial to the whole system. It is better than trying to lift heavy weights, in which there is more or less danger of overstraining oneself. The body exercise can be taken by anybody, no matter how weak. It’s a great thing!”

“I should say so!” interrupted the judge.

[Pg 75]“Yes,” resumed Ben, “it does persons a great deal of good, and in order to know how much they are improving, their relations come around frequently to witness their performances, and to judge of what progress they have made, both in health and strength.”

This called forth a fresh outburst of applause; but Ben preserved the utmost gravity.

“I may say to your honor,” he went on, “that this subject is not understood by the great mass of the people in this country. They do not take exercise enough. They shut themselves up in offices and shops, over-tax their energies, eat unwholesome food, and as a consequence become dyspeptic, sallow-faced, and miserable. Now, if they would spend a few hours each week in a gymnasium, it would do them more good than all the doctor’s pills that were ever made.”

“Upon my word,” exclaimed the judge, “you are not the sort of man I had supposed from what I had heard of you. I thought that you must be a monster, but I find that you are very much of a gentleman.”

This compliment was greeted by a round of applause from the spectators, all of whom had been won by Ben’s ready wit and intelligent bearing.

“I think you will find, sir,” rejoined Ben, “that the monsters are those who have pressed these charges against me.”

“Well, perhaps that is so,” said the judge. “However, it is my duty to hold you, and I will therefore put you under two hundred dollars bonds.”

“That is certainly kind,” observed Ben. “I expected that you would make it fifteen hundred!”

“The next time you appear before me I shall.”

“But I shall never appear here again!” rejoined Ben. And he never did.



[Pg 76]


Attempt to Rob Ben—How he Became a Minister and Married a Couple—A Jolly Wedding—French Kate Jealous.


Continuing to recount our hero’s adventures while in Babylon, we shall find that they partook both of a tragic and comical character. Illustrative of the former, the following may be taken:

Ben was returning to his house on a certain night, after a visit to a neighboring town. He was obliged to make his way through the mountain passes, which at best were dangerous places in those days. The night was densely dark. Black clouds rolled themselves up in the sky, obscuring the light of the moon and stars. The wind blew in angry gusts, making solemn music in the branches of the over-arching trees. It was such a night as best befits deeds of violence and crime.

Alone through the darkness Ben made his way. He had reached a point not far distant from his house, but in one of the most secluded spots in the mountains, when suddenly three men, masked, and with revolvers in their hands, rose up in his path.

To appreciate Ben’s position, it must be remembered that he was in a country where murder was the common recreation of a large number of the inhabitants. More than this, he carried with him wherever he went large sums of money, amounting often to three or four thousand dollars. This fact was well known[Pg 77] to the desperate classes who infested the region, and tended to make Hogan an especially tempting subject for their villainies.




“Halt!” came in a threatening voice from one of the bandits.

Ben halted.

“Hand over your money without kicking, and you are all right. Make any show of resistance, and you drop where you stand!”

Ben had no idea of handing over his money, and still less of dropping where he stood. He took in the position in an instant. He was in the hands of desperadoes who were fully prepared to put a bullet through his heart if the occasion demanded it. One man against three made force out of the question. He must save himself, if at all, by strategy. His ready wit and perfect self-possession stood him in good stead at that perilous moment.

“Gentlemen,” said he, quietly, and without the slightest indication of fear, “you have got on to the wrong track this time. I haven’t money enough with me to buy drinks for the crowd. But look here. If you want to make a raise, I can tell you how to do it. Do you hear that sound of carriage wheels?”

Indistinctly in the distance could be distinguished the rumbling of an approaching vehicle.

“Yes,” said one of the robbers, “we hear it, but what’s that to us?”

“I’ll tell you,” answered Ben, speaking in a low, rapid tone. “That carriage contains a woman who has been stopping at my place. She came down from Pittsburgh the other day, with a boodle that would make your mouth water. She’s got five thousand[Pg 78] dollars with her, in cash, and diamonds that are worth as much more. She’ll pass here in three minutes. There’s nobody but the driver with her. Don’t kill ’em, but just make them come down with the treasure quietly. Mind, now, I stand in with you on this job. If it’s needed, I’ll help you. If not, you must divy, because I’ve given you the points. Here comes the carriage now!”

The robbers were thrown completely off their guard. The prospect of making a ten-thousand dollar haul, proved too dazzling to be resisted.

“It’s a go!” said the leader, turning toward the approaching vehicle.

No sooner had the highwaymen turned their attention to their expected game, than Ben disappeared in the darkness, and ran along the road at the top of his speed toward his own house. This he reached in safety, leaving the robbers to grapple with the occupants of the carriage.

It is almost unnecessary to explain that the story which Ben had told was purely a fiction. It was his quickness of thought, combined with his nerve, which had saved his life. It might have interested the would-be robbers to have known that their intended victim carried with him that night over three thousand dollars in cash.

To offset this somewhat unpleasant adventure, I will recount one of a very opposite nature.

It so happened that Ben had procured a suit of black broadcloth, which, together with a white cravat and silk hat, gave him very much the appearance of a minister. One day he chanced to be standing in the street, arrayed in this ministerial garb, when a[Pg 79] young man, a stranger in Babylon, came up to him and said:

“Could you tell me, sir, where I could find a German minister?”

Ben eyed the fellow for a minute, and seeing the chance for a good joke, answered gravely:

“I have the honor to be a clergyman, and I am also a German. What can I do for you?”

“A friend of mine wants to get married to-night. He lives only a few miles from here, and he wanted me to come up and get a minister.”

“I shall be most happy to officiate,” rejoined Ben. “How am I to reach the house?”

“Well, we can come in for you, or you can drive out yourself. I’ll give you the directions.”

He did so accordingly. Hogan promising that he would be there on time.

The prospect of so rich a joke as this promised to be, tempted Ben to harness up his horse at the appointed hour, and drive to the designated house. There he found as jolly a company as had ever assembled at a wedding. He was introduced to them all as the Rev. Mr. Girdler, and created a most favorable impression, especially among the young women.

When the hour fixed for the ceremony at last arrived, the bride and groom stood up, side by side, while the Rev. Mr. Girdler, alias Hogan, proceeded to join them together in the holy bonds of matrimony. He went through the ceremony as straight as a string, and if he didn’t get it exactly as it is laid down in the books, none of the guests were any the wiser. It may be said, with perfect safety, that no regularly ordained[Pg 80] clergyman ever kissed a bride more scientifically than did Ben.

The happy groom slipped a ten-dollar bill into Hogan’s hand, and then the company went in for a jolly good time. Wine flowed in abundance, and it must be confessed that the pro tempore minister drank as freely as any of the guests, and none of them would have been apt to train under the Murphy banner.

There was an exceedingly jolly company that quite captivated the clergyman. I don’t know exactly how it came about, but Ben did not get back to Babylon until the next morning. He found the marriage company so agreeable that it was really impossible to break away sooner.

Ben’s experience had been altogether pleasant. He had made a ten-dollar note, met with a right jolly crowd, drank all the wine he cared for, and enjoyed himself to the utmost.

So deeply was he impressed by the bride, that upon reaching home he began to enlarge upon her beauties to French Kate—who, it will be borne in mind, was at this time his friend. Ben himself had never known what jealousy meant, although, as we shall see later, he afterward made the discovery. On this occasion, however, he was perfectly innocent in his praises of the young woman.

“She was a beauty, and no mistake,” he said, enthusiastically.

“A beauty, was she?” rejoined Kate, her eyes flashing fire.

“She was, as sure as you live,” replied Ben, who[Pg 81] failed to see that he was heaping coals of fire upon her inflammable nature. “She had the prettiest face and the most perfect form I ever saw in any woman.”

“And you admire her, do you?” asked Kate, her hands working convulsively.

“Yes, yes; indeed I do admire her,” answered Ben, honestly.

That was more than the high-spirited woman before him could stand. With eyes glistening like a panther’s, she made a spring toward the astonished Hogan, and seizing him by the hair, pulled and mauled him about in a very frenzy of rage. In vain he tried to find out what he had done to call forth such an outburst. The infuriated woman wasted no time in answering questions, but taught Ben a lesson which he probably will never forget. That lesson was not to praise one woman before another.

So it will be seen that although Ben made a jolly thing out of the wedding, he was himself a good deal taken in before the adventure was over.



[Pg 82]


Attempt to Murder Ben in Babylon—He Shoots a Man and is Arrested—Frightens the Witnesses and Prevents Perjury—Is Acquitted.


In the woods about Babylon were bands of thieves, who lived by plundering the strangers that came within their power. Wild, desperate men were these, who held human life of no greater account than so much earth. Ben’s place was frequented by these desperadoes, who were bent upon murder, or anything else, for the sake of plunder. They found in Hogan, however, a man who didn’t know the meaning of fear, and who was determined to hold his own against any odds. He gave them to understand that the first outrage committed upon any patron of his house would be avenged with interest.

“Understand, gentlemen,” he said, “I will shoot down the first man who undertakes to murder anybody coming out of this place!”

Finding the sort of man they had to deal with, the ruffians banded together for the purpose of killing Hogan. Lots were drawn to see who should perform this work, and the choice fell upon a fellow known as “Scotty,” and one Burke.

Waiting until midnight, the assassins entered the bar-room of Hogan’s place. There was nobody present but Ben himself and the barkeeper. The moment his eye fell upon the men, Ben suspected mischief, and drawing out two seven-shooters, he said quickly:




[Pg 83]“Gentlemen, you will oblige me by retiring at once. Go out, if you please, as you came in; and the first one who attempts to turn about or to draw a weapon will drop!”

This unexpected greeting knocked the plans of the conspirators into a cocked hat. There was nothing to do but to obey, and so they backed out of the room, looking very much crestfallen.

The next night Ben heard a loud knocking at the door, and as he went down to answer the summons, he heard low voices outside.

“Who’s to shoot first?” said one.

“You kill him,” said a second.

This sort of conversation was not very cheerful to listen to, as the midnight visitors had evidently called with the intention of committing murder. Ben, however, quietly opened the door and discharged a couple of shots, which put the fellows to flight.

These incidents are given to show that Hogan was constantly hounded by desperadoes while in Babylon. They will explain, in part, the circumstances which led up to a serious matter, in which Ben figured very conspicuously. I shall proceed to narrate the facts in the case precisely as they occurred.

A gang of twenty-five men entered into a compact to kill Ben Hogan at all hazards. Under the direction of this gang, a man named Dwyer called at Ben’s place at midnight and wanted to engage in a fight. Hogan told him that he did not want to fight, and tried to persuade him to leave the house. Suddenly Dwyer seized hold of a tumbler and struck Ben upon the head. In self-defense, Hogan then grappled with the man and threw him down. He did not want to[Pg 84] hurt him, but simply to prevent him from doing any more injury.

At this point, the crowd outside rushed in. One man was knocked down with a pitcher, and while a number of his assailants held Ben, Dwyer kicked him repeatedly. Frightened at the noise, French Kate rushed into the bar-room. She took in the situation at a glance. Ben, her lover, was being assaulted—one man against a score. Kate dashed into the crowd, and with the butt-end of a revolver, knocked two or three of the ruffians down. Meantime, Ben reached around and succeeded in drawing his own revolver, with which he began to shoot. He aimed wholly at random, having no other idea than that of preserving his own life. Who fell he did not know.

The shots soon drove the crowd from the room. That same night, at a later hour, an attempt was made to set fire to the house; but a single shot was enough to end this game.

A drunken officer was sent to arrest Ben on the charge of murder. One of the shots fired in the encounter had proved fatal. Hogan refused to surrender himself to this fellow, who stood outside the house threatening to shoot; but later, he gave himself up to other officers who came in search of him.

The justice, after a hearing, was about to commit Ben for trial, but the prisoner declared that he would not be locked up.

“For if I am,” he added, “I shall be lynched. Let me take my chances against these men, but don’t take away from me all means of self-defense!”

This appeal had its effect, and a Mr. Shaw becoming security for the prisoner, he was released.

[Pg 85]The trial took place on the Monday following—the shooting occured on a Saturday. Ben appeared in the dock, and before a single witness had been called he arose and said:

“I want simply a fair trial, and nothing more. Let every man tell what he knows about the shooting, but let him be careful not to perjure himself. For I announce here that the first witness who goes upon that stand and swears to what is false I will kill in just three seconds. That is all I have to say, gentlemen!”

When Ben resumed his seat, the court room was as silent as a tomb. The conspirators who were on hand to convict Hogan glanced at each other with pale faces. They had agreed to swear to whatever should be necessary to secure a verdict of guilty; but Ben’s words had taken the backbone completely out of them. They knew it was no vain threat which he uttered. They knew that if they swore to what was false they would drop where they stood.

So the first man who was called as a witness fainted from sheer fright. None of the others had courage enough to go upon the stand. And the result was, that there being no evidence of any kind against the prisoner, he was acquitted.

Thus ended the trial, which, had it resulted differently, might have sent a man to the gallows who simply defended himself against the brutal attacks of a mob.



[Pg 86]


Leaves Oil County—In Saratoga—Arrested on False Reports—Goes Back to Tidioute—In Rochester—First Meeting with Cummings.


It can be easily imagined, after the events narrated in the preceding chapter, that Hogan began to believe the oil regions were not the safest spot for him to tarry in. He, therefore, struck out for a new field of labor.

Accompanied by French Kate, he made his way to Albany, and thence to Saratoga. There he opened a cottage for the season.

He was flush as a lord during that summer. When he first arrived at the Springs he had twenty-seven thousand dollars in cash. It need hardly be said that he spent this money in princely style. Nobody drove a more stunning turn-out, nor drank choicer wines, nor dropped heavier sums on the green board than did Ben Hogan. A single incident may serve to illustrate the recklessness with which he parted with his money.

Entering John Morrissey’s famous club-house one night, he sauntered up to the faro table, and after watching the cards for a moment, said:

“A hundred that the ace loses!”

The dealer glanced up, and at once recognized Hogan, placed a counter on the ace for the sum specified. At the very next turn the ace came up on the winning pile.

[Pg 87]“Two hundred that it loses this time!” said Ben, quietly.

Another marker was placed on the cloth, and again the ace showed up, winning.

“Four hundred that she loses now!” said Ben, while the other players began to stand back and watch him with curious eyes.

Again the cards were dealt out by the dealer, and again the ace turned to win.

“That is seven hundred dollars in all that I have lost, is it?” asked Ben, knocking the ashes from his cigar.

“Seven hundred!” repeated the dealer.

Ben drew an immense roll of bank notes from his pocket, counted out the amount he had lost and fourteen hundred dollars more, and remarked:

“Take up the counters and put this on the ace. I repeat my bet.”

The excitement of those who were watching the game had by this time become intense. Even the dealer stroked his moustache a little nervously before he began to deal out the cards. In fact, the only man in the group who appeared to be perfectly unconcerned was Ben himself. He puffed his fragrant cigar as composedly as though he had no interest whatever in the result of the deal. And yet, upon the single turn of a card hung the fate of fourteen hundred dollars—more money than many a man is able to earn by a year’s hard labor.

But one ace remained in the box. Slowly, and with clock-like precision the dealer slipped out the cards, Every eye was strained, every breath bated. At last it came—and for the fourth time it lost!

[Pg 88]Ben drew forth a fresh cigar, lighted it, and strolled away from the table, having dropped fourteen hundred dollars in just ten minutes.

At this rate, it can readily be seen that the comfortable fortune dwindled away in surprisingly short time. Wine, women and cards can eat up a Vanderbilt estate before a man knows what he is doing. And although Ben was pretty flush, he was not exactly a Vanderbilt.

One incident which occurred that summer, during his sojourn in Saratoga, was of a less pleasant nature than the usual round of pleasures at a watering place. It was nothing more nor less than Ben’s arrest on a charge of murder. The affair happened in this wise:

One Sam Hoick, who had an old grudge against Hogan, circulated a report to the effect that Ben had been indicted for murder in Pennsylvania, and that there was then a reward offered for his capture. Hoick got his brother to add his testimony to the story, which was, throughout, a deliberate falsehood. Ben had never been indicted for murder, either in Pennsylvania or anywhere else; and as the reader already knows, he had been acquitted in the Babylon court because there was no evidence against him. The Hoick brothers, however, did not stand upon falsifying to what they knew was untrue, so long as they were enabled to get Ben into trouble.

Upon these reports a detective arrested Hogan, and he was locked up in the Balston jail. Subsequently he was taken out on a writ of habeas corpus, and a telegram was sent to the oil regions to ascertain whether the Hoick brothers’ story was true. The reply to this message, sent by the justice before whom[Pg 89] Ben had appeared, was to the effect that there was no indictment for murder against Hogan, and added that if he had killed those who had figured in the affair, he would have done the community a service.

Of course, upon the receipt of this message, he was discharged from custody.

His fast career in Saratoga was now drawing to a close. He had spent his money with reckless extravagance, and, as already explained, the steady drain had reduced the pile until little or nothing remained. During this time, French Kate had become so jealous that it was next to impossible for Ben to live with her. They had had one or two open quarrels, and shortly before leaving her, Ben excited her anger to such a pitch that she shot at him, with the intention of killing him.

When, at last, his money was entirely gone, Ben borrowed fifteen dollars and left the Springs, leaving also French Kate behind him.

He made his way back to the oil regions for the purpose of securing the furniture, clothing, and other personal property which he had left in Tidioute. This property was in the hands of the landlord from whom Ben had rented his house. He claimed that the house had been damaged by Hogan’s occupancy of it, and openly boasted that he should hold on to the furniture and other things to indemnify himself.

Ben, upon reaching the town, made his way at once to the landlord’s house. He went with the determination of getting what rightfully belonged to him—and he got it. He did not trouble any lawyer about the matter, and the only friends that he took with him were a couple of good revolvers. These he knew he[Pg 90] could rely upon, and when they spoke, their remarks would be sure to have weight.

Entering the house with a pistol in each hand, he said:

“I have come to get what honestly belongs to me. You have seized upon my furniture, bedding and other articles, and now I want you to fork over the price of the same. If you make any disturbance I may be obliged to call upon these friends for assistance!”

Here Ben swung the revolvers around in an exceedingly free-and-easy manner. There was a good deal of bluster and blow on the part of the landlord, but he finally concluded that the best thing he could do would be to compromise the matter. So he paid Ben four hundred dollars, which was all the money there was in the establishment, and our hero thereupon withdrew.

That same day he went over to Tryern, where were gathered many of the old patrons of the Babylon House. These men, however they might abuse Ben when he was absent, were ready enough to praise him to his face. In fact, they were all too much afraid of him to relish the idea of having him for an enemy. They therefore told him that he had done right in defending his house against the mob, and that if they had been in his place they would have shot a dozen instead of one.

With the four hundred dollars in his pocket, Ben was feeling in such good humor that he bought ten gallons of whiskey and ten boxes of cigars, all of which he distributed among the crowd. Of course they swore that he was the best fellow alive, after that. Any man would be the best fellow alive who[Pg 91] would furnish the gang ten gallons of whiskey and ten boxes of cigars.

There was one chap, John Dillon by name, who had frequently asserted that he would kill Hogan as soon as he saw him. Wishing to settle up all little matters of this kind before leaving the neighborhood, Ben, happening to run across Dillon that day, told him that he was ready to receive him whenever he wanted to put up his fists. Dillon was at first disposed to “get on his ear,” but one blow on the head brought him to terms. He made up his mind that it was all a mistake; he didn’t want to kill Ben at all; he didn’t even want to fight with him. And so the two took a drink together, and pledged each other’s very good health.

Having settled up his business, Ben again left the oil country and bent his course toward Syracuse. Upon his arrival in that city he learned that Cummings, of Rochester, was anxious for a fight, and so he lost no time in giving him a chance.

His first meeting with Cummings was somewhat amusing. The latter had never seen Ben, although he had heard a great deal about him. Our hero sought out the Rochester pugilist, and without making known who he was, began a conversation.

“I hear,” said Ben, “that you want to fight Hogan. Is that so?”

“You’re right it is,” answered Cummings. “I have been trying to get up a fight for a long time now, but I never could bring him to time.”

“Well, that’s odd,” returned Ben. “I’ve been told that this man Hogan is a plucky fellow, who is willing to accept a challenge from anybody. Did you ever see him?”

[Pg 92]“Well, I went down to Syracuse,” answered Cummings, “and tried to see him, but he kept himself out of my way. The fact of it is, the fellow’s afraid of me!”

“Oh, he is, is he?” said Ben, with a curious sort of a smile. “Well, we’ll see what can be done toward bringing you together!”

That ended the conversation for the time being, Ben agreeing to meet Cummings the next day. What troubled our hero was not the fear of fighting Cummings, but the want of money to put up for the match. By good luck, he happened to fall in that same day with Perkins, California Jack, and one or two other sporting men, and to them he made known his wants. Perkins was desirous of seeing what Ben could do, and the party accordingly adjourned to a gymnasium, where Hogan gave a specimen of his pugilistic skill.

“I’ll go my pile on that man!” said Perkins, when Ben had finished.

In this way he secured good backers, and was ready to fight for any reasonable sum.

According to agreement, he met Cummings next day.

“Look here,” said Ben, who wanted to get at once down to business, “you say that you are ready and anxious to fight Hogan?”

“That’s what I say,” answered Cummings.

“Well, now, suppose Hogan was to come in here now,” (they were in the Arcade saloon at the time) “would you go out and fight him?”

“I would,” was the answer.

“All right,” said Ben. “I am the gentleman in question, and I will fight you for five hundred dollars,[Pg 93] or one hundred dollars, or a chew of tobacco, if you like! We’ll drive out of town now with a few friends and settle the whole business. What do you say?”

Cummings, upon finding himself face to face with the man whom he had been boasting he could whip, began to grow a little white about the gills. He professed, however, to be willing to accept Ben’s proposal, but instead of doing this he started off and got out a warrant for Hogan’s arrest on a charge of engaging in a prize fight.

Ben had very little trouble in getting released from custody, but he left Rochester thoroughly disgusted with Cummings.



[Pg 94]


The Gymnasium Business—Life in Rochester—First Meeting of Hogan and Tom Allen—A Disgraceful Affair.


Our hero’s next exploit was in Geneva, which town he visited for the purpose of meeting Dempsey, a local pugilist of some reputation.

It was arranged that a sparring match between the two should take place, so that Dempsey’s friends might decide whether they were willing to back their man against Hogan.

The exhibition was very largely attended, and excited a good deal of interest. When the men made their appearance they were greeted with applause, and their movements were closely watched. Ben had made up his mind that he would let Dempsey get the best of the match, in order that a fight might be brought about. This little game would probably have worked but for the fact that there were some among the spectators who knew Ben, and knew also what he could do. When these friends saw Hogan playing off, and permitting himself to be knocked down by Dempsey, they began to cry out:

“Hold on, Hogan. That won’t do!”

Of course Ben, finding himself discovered, was obliged to handle his fists with his usual skill, and this not only knocked Dempsey, but likewise the match, into a cocked hat. Nobody was willing to back the Geneva boy, and the fight accordingly[Pg 95] fell through. However, the sparring exhibition yielded about four hundred dollars, so that the trip was not a failure.

Soon after this, Ben, in company with Snatch Murray, went to Buffalo and gave an exhibition in that city. Mackey was in the town then, training a man to fight Cummings, and having failed, as we know, to get the Rochester champion in the ring, Hogan contented himself by fighting Mackey. The battle lasted through only four rounds, at the end of which time Mackey had got enough. Indeed, he had got too much.

Hogan’s reputation throughout the central and western portions of New York had become so well established by this time, that the rumor was common that he could whip any man in Rochester, Buffalo or Syracuse. Certain it is that there appeared to be nobody in those cities who seemed anxious to meet Ben in the P. R.

Cast-Iron Collins, as he was called, came to the front for a short time, and a fight was arranged between him and Hogan. But while Ben was in training, Collins backed out, thus showing that the sort of cast-iron of which he was made was not of a very reliable nature.

After a sojourn of some time in Buffalo, Ben returned to Rochester. He struck the latter city with the idea of opening a place—and he had no way of doing it except with a crowbar. He did not resort to this method, however, preferring to use his wits instead.

Hiring a vacant store, he went to work to fix it up as a gymnasium. It may be remarked, incidentally,[Pg 96] that whenever Ben has been hopelessly “broke,” he has invariably resorted to the gymnasium as a means of raising the needful. This Rochester venture did not cost him very much at the outset. He got everything on credit; stocked the bar by credit and paid people—on credit. Nobody can say that this was not a perfectly credit-able proceeding on Ben’s part.

The project proved a big success, and business increased so rapidly that Ben finally concluded to take in a partner. Some laughable incidents occurred during this period in Rochester.

Ben drove a handsome team of horses, which he hired for the season, and which gave him the appearance of a man of wealth. While out driving he frequently met the farmers coming into the city with loads of wood. Purely for the deviltry of the thing, Ben stopped one of these rustics one day, told him that he would buy his wood, and directed him to leave it at a given address. The farmer, thinking that he had made a good bargain, did as Ben told him, taking the latter’s word that he would “settle with him in a day or two.”

As soon as the wood had been delivered, Ben had it immediately sawed and split, so that by the time the farmer called around for his money, it was all piled away. The man was naturally mad, but he was informed that he might take his wood back if he wanted it, only he must first pay for the sawing and splitting. The price charged for this work was fixed at the modest sum of twenty dollars—which was twice as much as the wood had originally cost.

Believing that he had been swindled, the farmer[Pg 97] had Ben arrested, but, as our hero was able to show that he was not worth a dollar, and that he owed more people than he could remember, there was little satisfaction to be got out of the law. Hogan sent the wood to a needy family, and enjoyed the little joke immensely.

If he did this thing once, he did it a dozen times, always sending what he got from the prosperous farmers to the poor of the city. When he happened to meet one of his victims on the road, he would draw up most politely, and say:

“Ah, that little bill of yours! I had forgotten all about it. Call around at my place when I am in!”

And with that he would touch up his horses, and go whirling away.

The trouble was that whenever the farmers did call around at his place, Ben was sure to be out. That was one of his fixed rules.

On another occasion, the man whom Ben had “stood up” for his cigars, came to him and wanted some money the worst way. Ben learned that this man was owing a number of his employees, and that the workmen could not get their pay. He entered into an agreement with some of the hands, whereby they might get a part of what was due them. When the cigar manufacturer came in, Ben laid down thirty dollars on the bar, saying:

“There you are, sir!”

But before the dealer could pick up the money, it had been snatched by the workmen, as Ben knew it would be, and the manufacturer never saw a dollar of it again.

By way of comforting the fellow for his loss, Hogan[Pg 98] proposed a little game of faro, and bled him out of what money he had. But the chap made himself more than solid by afterward bucking against a square game.

On still another occasion a pork dealer came into Ben’s place, who had heard a good deal about the notorious Hogan, and who was anxious to see him. Ben was present at the time and at once met his rural visitor with the utmost politeness.

“Be you Hogan?” asked the dealer in hogs.

“No, sir,” answered Ben, promptly. “Mr. Hogan is not in just at present; but I am a pupil of his.”

“Waal, neow!” said the countryman. “I thought I’d jest drop in here to see what was going on, you know. I used to box a little myself.”

“Well, I’m not much in that line,” remarked Ben, modestly, “but suppose we have a little set-to, just for fun.”

This was agreed to, and the pork dealer put on the gloves. For a time Ben let him get the best of it, merely warding off the blows, without trying to get in any himself. Then he proposed that they should bet the drinks on the first blood. The countryman thought he would have to try it once, whereupon Ben braced up and planted one on his opponent’s smeller, which caused the claret to flow copiously.

“Waal, neow; you got me that time!” exclaimed the countryman. “Suppose we try it once for the first knock-down?”

As may be easily guessed, it didn’t take Ben but a precious short time to lay out his antagonist, and after the two rounds of drinks had been ordered and paid for, Hogan told the pork dealer who he really[Pg 99] was. Of course it surprised him, but not quite as much as did another discovery which he afterward made, and which will be described hereafter.

During Ben’s stay in Rochester he had his first public association with Tom Allen. Allen turned up in the town and gave a sparring exhibition along with Shedder and Bill Riley, the entertainment closing with a set-to between Hogan and Allen.

This was the first meeting of the men, and it is well to note that Ben gave his opponent more than he wanted.

Charley Perkins, who is known among sporting men, from his connection at one time with Heenan, offered to back Ben for one thousand dollars against Allen. A challenge to this effect was sent to The New York Clipper, accompanied by the requisite deposit.

It chanced that after the challenge had been sent, Cummings fell in with Perkins, and told him that he (Cummings) could lick Hogan or Perkins either.

Perkins reminded the windy Cummings that he had seen Hogan offer to fight him in Rochester for anything from five hundred dollars to a chew of tobacco, and instead of accepting the offer, Cummings had slunk away, and had had Hogan arrested. As for whipping him (Perkins) he did not believe that Cummings or any of his tribe could successfully undertake that job.

The hot words very soon led to arguments of a more forcible nature—in other words, the men resorted to their fists. Perkins knocked Cummings down twice in quick succession. Then Cummings, who entertained some curious ideas of the pugilistic art, finding[Pg 100] that he could not fairly whip his opponent, bit off a part of Perkins’ nose.

This disgraceful proceeding naturally aroused much indignation in Rochester. It was, indeed, the excitement growing out of the affray which put an end to the proposed fight between Hogan and Allen. Other explanations than this have been offered, and it has been openly asserted that Hogan weakened. The simple statement of facts here given should serve to quiet all such stories in the future.

As soon as Hogan had heard of the cowardly attack made upon his friend, he resolved to seek revenge. He hurried to the house in which Cummings was living, but unfortunately was followed by two officers who had been detailed to watch his movements. As soon as he entered the house he was ordered to leave it. Seeing how useless it would be to oppose the power of the law, he left Cummings unpunished.

Space prevents the further description of Ben’s adventures at this time, save to recount the manner in which he left the city.

The pork dealer, to whom reference has already been made, happened to drop in a second time, having with him a load of dressed hogs. Ben greeted him with great cordiality, asked him how he was getting along, and expressed deep interest in the subject of hogs. After one or two sociable drinks, our hero surprised his visitor by offering to buy his entire load of pork.

“I will give you,” said Ben, “six and a fourth cents a pound,” (this was about the market price) “and you may come in to-morrow for your money.”

This proposition was joyfully accepted by our rural[Pg 101] friend, who considered the promise of so high-toned a gentleman as Ben quite as good as the money in hand. The value of the pork at the proposed price was two hundred and thirty dollars. Congratulating himself upon having made a first-class bargain, the countryman withdrew—not however until he had drunk Ben’s good health in a bottle of champagne.

The gymnasium business had begun to wane in Rochester. For that reason Hogan had determined to give it up. And this resolve perhaps was hastened by his large investment in pork. He disposed of the stuff for two hundred and fifty dollars, and having got the money, shook the dust of Rochester off his feet.

That farmer is looking for him to this day, but, as he was worth forty thousand dollars, he could abundantly afford to help so worthy an object as Ben Hogan.



[Pg 102]


How Ben Treated the Deputy Sheriff—Annie Gibbons, the Pedestrian—Ben Goes to Pittsburg and Meets Mr. Green.


After his somewhat sudden departure from Rochester, Ben made his way to New York.

There, at the invitation which had been extended to him while in Rochester by Kehoe, the well-known Indian club manufacturer, Ben consented to appear at a sparring exhibition given at No. 600 Broadway. It was intended that Hogan should have a set-to with Johnny Dwyer, the now famous heavy-weight champion of America, but the latter had arranged to meet Rourke, and therefore begged to be excused from a second encounter. In place of Dwyer, Ben, at the request of old Uncle Bill Tovee, consented to a bout with Billy Edwards.

It should be remembered that at this time Dwyer and Edwards were comparatively unknown, the latter having but recently entered upon his fistic career. He came to Ben, and requested him to use him gently in the bout, inasmuch as he was then matched to fight Sam Collyer—his first professional match.

The set-to was an interesting one, although Ben did not attempt to punish his antagonist as he might have done had he so chosen. Unfortunately, however, Edwards made a slip and struck Ben on the forehead with his head, inflicting a wound which caused the[Pg 103] blood to flow freely. This gave rise to such intense excitement that the set-to was brought to an end.

It is worth while to note that many of the men assembled on that occasion have since attained to distinction. There was Uncle Bill Tovee, born before the flood, and known further back than the memory of man stretches. There was Kehoe, whose fame was as broad as the country, but who, alas! is now dragging out his days in the Flatbush Insane Asylum. There was George Rourke, now the middle-weight champion, and a capital boxer. There was Billy Edwards, a mere boy then, but still giving promise of the greatness to which he has since attained. A more expert light-weight pugilist will not be seen for years to come than Edwards. And there, also, was Johnny Dwyer, who is now at the top of his profession, the champion heavy-weight of America, and as thorough a gentleman as he is a pugilist. Dwyer is to-day traveling with Joe Goss, England’s pride, and a man whose achievements in the ring are too familiar to need dwelling upon here. There, too, was Ben Hogan—but modesty prevents us from saying more.

Coburn, at this time, was matched to fight with McCool, and was in training in Harlem. He sent for Hogan, upon hearing of the latter’s arrival in the city, and made him his assistant trainer. Ben remained in this position for about sixty days. It was during this time that he met the deputy sheriff who had taken him to Warren, Pa., at the time of his arrest. As was intimated some pages back, Ben was determined to get even with this fellow, and the opportunity offered itself in the most timely manner. Ben learned that the deputy was to arrive in the city by the[Pg 104] Albany boat, and moreover, that he intended to stop at the Astor House. With this information, he had the fellow driven to the hotel named by a cabman whom he (Ben) had paid. In this way he made sure of his game. Then he ran across the deputy seemingly by accident, shook hands with him cordially, and professed to be delighted at the meeting.

That same evening Ben contrived matters so that his Pennsylvania friend should drop in at Harry Hill’s. Then he proceeded to put into execution the plan which he had formed. Getting some burnt cork, he blackened his face so as to look like a negro, put on a woolly wig, and the roughest suit of clothes he could find. In this disguise he told the policeman on the beat that there was a man in Harry Hill’s whom he was going to lick when he came out. He explained that after thrashing his victim all that he cared to, he should roll him over on top of him (Ben) so that the officer might arrest the chap on the charge of assault and battery.

Having fixed these preliminaries, Ben took up his station at the door of Harry’s famous house. In good time the deputy made his appearance. No sooner had he done so than Ben jumped upon, threw him to the ground, and proceeded to take all the satisfaction out of his hide that he cared to. The poor deputy made but a sorry show of resistance, and indeed it would have made but little difference whether he had done so or not. After Ben had thrashed him to his heart’s content, he rolled him to the top of the heap, and began crying out hastily:

“Police! Police!”

The officer of course made his appearance upon the[Pg 105] scene, and finding a big strapping fellow abusing a poor inoffensive darkey, arrested the former and let the latter go.

The next morning the deputy sheriff was arraigned in a police justice’s court, and fined twenty-five dollars for assault and battery—which, let us hope, taught him not to attack innocent and unprotected negroes.

Upon leaving New York, Ben went to Albany, where he opened a place at the corner of Hudson and Greene streets, on the same principle as that in Rochester. The resort became well known in Albany and was frequented by all the sporting men of the capital.

Ben assisted in getting up the walking match at Rennsselaer Park, in which Weston, Adoc, Payne, Ferguson, and a member of the Troy police force were entered as competitors. Three purses were offered; the first three hundred, the second two hundred, and the third fifty dollars. The pedestrians were to undertake the feat of walking one hundred miles in twenty-four hours.

Ben trained Adoc and Payne with the understanding that he was to have one-half of all the prize money they won. The two men took first and second money, but they cleared out without sharing with their trainer. A seven-mile walk was held that same day for a purse of four hundred dollars, which Ben raised by subscription on the ground.

I desire to refer to one incident which occured during Ben’s stay in Albany, and which I think illustrates a trait in his character for which few persons are cognizant.

[Pg 106]A young man of good family and excellent advantages often came into Hogan’s place in a state of intoxication. One day Ben fell to talking with him about the matter, and told him that unless he stopped short he would certainly die from the effects of liquor.

“But I have tried to stop,” said the young man, “and it’s no use. The fact of it is, Ben, I can’t live without my bitters now.”

“Well,” answered Ben, “you can’t live much longer with them, that’s certain. Now I’ll tell you what I’ll do. If you will follow my directions for three months—do just what I tell you to—I’ll get you a new rig throughout, give you a gold watch and chain and make as good a man of you as I am.”

The young man at once agreed to this liberal proposition. Ben’s course of treatment was substantially as follows: For the first week he gave his patient three drinks of strong liquor a day. He made his diet consist of oatmeal, beef tea, and other equally nourishing articles. He caused him to exercise as much as his strength would permit, go to bed at regular hours, and to bathe himself freely. During the second week the dose of liquor was reduced to two drinks a day; the third week, to one a day; and the fourth week it was dispensed with altogether. This gradual shutting off of his accustomed stimulus made it an easy task to go without liquor. Ben furnished him with beer and light wines, and gave him to understand that he might use these beverages as freely as he cared to.

The result of all this was that the young man who had sunk to the lowest depths of degradation, was rescued from rum’s power. Ben was as good as his[Pg 107] word, and fitted him out with a complete suit of new clothes. He is living to-day, an honored and respected citizen.

At the time of which I am writing, an exhibition of sparring was given in Turner’s Hall, by Tom Kelly and Patsy Reardon. The entertainment wound up with a set-to between Patsy and Ben which was one of the toughest contests on record. But a single round was fought, yet this occupied three-quarters of an hour. The men were so evenly matched that it was impossible for either to score a victory. Both, therefore, were compelled to throw up the sponge, and both declared it to be the hardest round they had ever fought.

A young woman, by name Annie Gibbons, who had formerly been a clog-dancer, was discovered by Hogan, while in Albany, and put in training for a pedestrian.

This Annie Gibbons was a remarkable character in more ways than one. She knocked about the city, visiting all sorts of haunts, in men’s attire, and passing herself off everywhere as a boy. It was no uncommon occurrence for her to enter a faro bank with Ben and engage in the game with as much interest as anybody. At such times she would frequently hear herself talked about with the utmost freedom.

“That’s a soft thing you’ve got, Ben,” some one would remark.

“What are you going to do with the girl, anyway?” from a second speaker.

“She must be a plucky one,” a third would add.

All of which was listened to in silence by Annie herself, whose presence, of course, was never suspected by the speakers.

[Pg 108]Her powers as a pedestrian were something really extraordinary. She could walk fifty miles in ten hours—a feat which she actually performed in Troy. Ben saw of course that there was money to be made out of this woman, and he put her through a thorough course of training. Then he took her to Syracuse, where she gave an exhibition of her powers, and also to Elmira. At this latter place, Ben parted company with her. She made her way to Rochester, Hogan meantime going to Oneida with McLaughlin.

While in Oneida, Ben saw by the newspapers that the girl had got into trouble in Rochester, and had been committed to the penitentiary. He accordingly followed her to that city, and after some little effort, obtained her release. The two then proceeded in company to Buffalo.

It so happened that Adoc and Payne were also in the city at this time. Ben had not forgotten how these two worthies skipped from Albany without sharing the prize money as they had agreed to do. He therefore put Miss Annie to good account in getting even with the two pedestrians. It did not take her very long to relieve them of all the money they had, thus settling up with interest Hogan’s old scores.

Ben meantime had returned to Oneida, where he was giving lessons in boxing. The town, as the reader probably knows, is still frequented by many Indians, relics of the once famous Oneida tribe. Ben conceived the idea of training seven of these noble red men, and taking them to Europe to exhibit. But the project fell through, and proved a losing speculation.

Returning to Syracuse Ben met with Bob Bridley,[Pg 109] then the champion middle-weight of England. The two formed a partnership, and gave sparring exhibitions in Syracuse, Geneva, Lockport, Waterloo, Erie, Buffalo, and finally in Cleveland.

During this trip, they cleared an even seventeen hundred dollars. At this time Allen and Gallagher were matched for a fight, and upon reaching Cleveland, Ben and Bridley, on information which seemed to them trustworthy, put up their entire pile on Allen. They had been informed that Gallagher was sick, and would be in no condition to fight. As it was, however, he showed up well enough to knock the wind out of Allen, and the money out of our friends who had backed the latter.

Finding himself again strapped, Ben proceeded to Pittsburgh, where he made his first appearance in a sparring exhibition held in Lafayette Hall. Gearing, Reise, and others figured on that occasion.

Ben next went to Petroleum Centre, hoping to raise money enough to enable him to fight Allen. A funny incident which occurred at this time deserves to be briefly related.

In Nell Robinson’s house—where Tom Snowden was then tending bar—our hero met with an exceedingly verdant chap whom we will designate by the appropriate name of Green. Ben who still carried with him that peculiar-looking tobacco-box, already described, showed it to Mr. Green. Mr. Green at once became interested. Ben explained to him how simple it was to open, and then offered to bet him ten dollars that he couldn’t open it. One Gasper, who acted as a capper, suggested that Mr. Green make his bet twenty-five dollars. It was immaterial to Mr. Green,[Pg 110] and so the wager was made, and Ben pocketed the money. Instead, however, of becoming enraged, this seemed only to heighten the good opinion which Mr. Green entertained toward his new friend. Ben had grown somewhat shabby at this time, and the generous Mr. Green magnanimously proposed to buy him a suit of clothes. This offer was very readily accepted, and proceeding at once to a clothing store, Ben blossomed out in a complete new suit, which was afterward crowned by a shining silk hat.

These little incidental expenses were nothing to Mr. Green so long as they purchased for him the privilege of being in Ben Hogan’s company. He had a profound admiration for pugilists. So to pamper this innocent weakness, Ben introduced the fellow as Mike McCool. That suited him to a T. At Ben’s suggestion, they obtained a violin and bagpipe, and visited various bar-rooms, in all of which Mr. Green flaunted himself as the genuine McCool.

“You see,” said Ben, “with these musical instruments we can travel around together, call at all the saloons, get a crowd, and then give sparring exhibitions, and make piles of money.”

Mr. Green thought this a capital idea. The fun continued until Ben finally climaxed it all by persuading Green to hire a band and get aboard the train for Oil City. While the band was playing and the crowd staring, and Mr. Green showing what a great man he was, Ben quietly got off the cars, and the train went on without him. So did Mr. Green and his band. The former sent a telegram back to Petroleum City, and Hogan replied that he would be on in the next train; but having got his clothes and[Pg 111] hat, and a fair sum of money, he permitted Mr. Green to depart in his glory.

It was a pity that there were not more Greens, for, had there been, our hero might have lived like a prince, without troubling himself to work. As it was, however, Ben began to look about for some means of raising the wherewithal to bring Allen to a fight.

Gus Rigl promised him half his place, but this promise turned out of no account. Then Ben joined with John Sweeney and started out, giving sparring exhibitions. They visited Oil City, Petroleum Centre, Titusville, Cora, Rouseville, and met everywhere with encouraging success.

This gave Ben enough of a lift to warrant the opening of a place in Titusville, with Jerry O’Brien—which he did.

Having by this time raised a sufficient sum of money, Ben determined to carry out his original project, and challenge Tom Allen to a fight. Such a challenge was written out and sent to the New York Clipper, accompanied by one hundred dollars’ forfeit. Allen’s reply, which appeared in the same journal, stated that he had already matches arranged with McCool and Gallagher; that he was in training for these, and that he did not care to enter into any third match. He therefore refused to accept Ben’s challenge.

It may be well to add in this connection, since there has been so much said and written about the meetings between Allen and Hogan, that Ben had no knowledge of Allen’s intention to fight either Gallagher or McCool at this time, and that he was perfectly sincere in his desire to bring about a fight.[Pg 112] The challenge was not made for the sake of bluster, but simply to decide which was the better man. As we shall see further on, a meeting was finally arranged between the two men, and at that time Ben showed that he was by no means afraid of Allen’s fists.



[Pg 113]


Ben in St. Louis—First Entree into Parker’s Landing—Opens a Free-and-Easy—Trouble with the Authorities.


Shortly after the incidents narrated in the preceding chapter, Ben made his way to St. Louis.

On his way to that city, and while in Cincinnati, he met with O’Baldwin. Ben had intended, on arriving in St. Louis, to give a sparring exhibition, but O’Baldwin got in ahead on this project, and took the cream of the town.

Gallagher was at this time in St. Louis, getting ready for his fight with Allen. When Ben reached the city, he called on Gallagher, and was surprised at the remarkable powers which he possessed. He interested himself in behalf of his fellow pugilist, and did the latter good service in the capacity of trainer.

After remaining some time in St. Louis, Ben took a farewell benefit, which was held in Jack Looney’s hall. Gallagher, McCool, and a number of others volunteered for the occasion, which proved in every way a success.

Leaving St. Louis, Hogan returned East, going to Oneida, N. Y., where he acted as trainer for McLaughlin, who was preparing for his match with Homer Lane. After a month spent in this manner, Ben was seized with a desire to go back to the oil country, and, accordingly, made his way to Petroleum Centre. He reached that town dead broke; borrowed[Pg 114] five dollars of Tyler, and struck out for Parker’s Landing.

When he reached that small but by no means unimportant settlement, our hero had just thirty-five cents in his pocket. His first entree, therefore, in Parker’s—for by that name it is familiarly known—cannot be said to have been altogether encouraging. But if his capital in money was limited, Ben had any amount of pluck and energy, and these soon gave him a fair start.

His first venture in Parker’s was in the gymnasium line. Charley Green, to whom he made known his plans, advanced him forty dollars, with which he opened a place. He stopped for a time with John Eckert, who now keeps a popular hotel in Auburn. The gymnasium was opened in a hall, and among the distinguished pupils were Eph Parker, Doc. Karnes, Charley Green, Tillinghast, and others. Eph Parker may be said to have been the mainstay and cornerstone of the concern. Whenever Ben became hard-up—which he did frequently in those days—Eph would generously advance him fifty or a hundred dollars, wherewith to bridge over the temporary troubles. Eph was a good-natured sort of a fellow, who spent his money with more freedom than wisdom. He had a great weakness for boxing, and believed himself to be an expert in that line. Ben very quickly discovered this susceptible point, and turned it to practical account. He would tickle Eph’s vanity by telling him that he was the greatest boxer in the world, and follow up this stupendous flattery by borrowing a hundred dollars.

This sort of thing might have gone on indefinitely,[Pg 115] but for the fact that Jim Linton opened a free-and-easy in the town, which made sad havoc with Ben’s gymnasium. In fact it broke it up.

Bent upon taking advantage of this misfortune, Hogan proceeded to set up a free-and-easy himself.

Both of these places were what might properly be termed red-hot, and of the two, Ben’s was a little the hotter. Parker’s was a town at that time unlike any other spot on the face of the globe. The inhabitants grew accustomed to such exclamations as “I’ve lost my ear!” “I’ve lost my nose!” “I’ve lost my pocket-book!” This last, perhaps, was the commonest of all. It was a place where a man found so much life that he was apt to stumble upon death when he least expected it.

It was the red-hotness of the free-and-easys which finally led to their being pulled. Ben and his partner, Col. Adams, were not arrested. This, however, was no fault of the officials. Hogan received a telegram to the effect that a deputy sheriff was coming down on the train to close up his establishment, and he therefore found it convenient to get out of town very suddenly.

Some of his friends fared less fortunately. Ben Savano, Charley Green, Billy Casey, and Doctor Booke, were all arrested and placed under five hundred dollars bonds.

Meantime Ben had made his way to Petroleum Centre. There he called upon some influential political friends—a Senator and Congressman, among others—and obtained a letter of introduction to Judge Nulton.

He happened to meet the judge at the doorway of[Pg 116] the court, where he was making inquiries with regard to the free-and-easy arrests.

“The only man we want, now,” observed the judge, just as our hero made his appearance, “is Ben Hogan!”

“Yes,” said Ben, joining in the conversation, “Hogan ought to be hung.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” returned the judge. “In fact, all that I do know about him is what I have heard others say. He seems to be a pretty desperate character, but it would hardly do to hang a man on hearsay evidence.”

“Well, he’s certainly a hard character,” said Ben, with emphasis.

“Do you know him?” asked the judge.

“Yes,” was the reply. “I know him better than any one else in the world. I happen to be the gentleman myself!”

The judge stared in blank amazement.

“Will you do me the favor and read these letters?” continued Ben.

Finding that Hogan was not after all so terrible a person to meet with, the judge proceeded to give him some points as to how he might get out of his present scrape. Acting upon these hints, Ben furnished straw bail, which was the best he could do.

The men who had really been responsible for the arrests were Golden, and one Christy—a lawyer not overburdened with clients. Naturally enough, Ben and his companions entertained no very friendly feelings toward Golden and Christy, and at a later day they took occasion to square up accounts.

While the case was progressing, Ben and Charley[Pg 117] Green put up at Reynold’s Hotel, where they dealt a quiet little game of faro in their room, and made three hundred dollars during the night. It was encouraging for the indicted gentlemen to find that some of the court officials were their best customers.

The upshot of the trial was that all the parties under arrest signed a contract not to open a free-and-easy in the town within three months. It is only justice to add that Booke had in no way been connected with either of the establishments, and that he had simply been drawn into the matter with a view to extorting money from him.

All the persons concerned in the case left Parker’s, with the exception of Ben. How he managed to live up to his contract, and at the same time to run a free-and-easy, will be explained in another chapter.



[Pg 118]


The “Floating Palace”—A Wonderful Institution—The Girls and the Patrons—Scenes of Revelry—How Nights were Passed—The Loss of the “Palace.”


Of all Hogan’s enterprises, none perhaps ever became more widely known than did the famous “Floating Palace.”

It has been explained in the preceding chapter how Ben bound himself not to engage in any free-and-easy project in the town of Parker’s Landing.

It occurred to him, however, that he might keep within the letter of his agreement, and at the same time carry on his business on an enlarged scale. This is how he accomplished his purpose:

He bought a boat with money borrowed from Bill and Mr. Snyder. The boat measured one hundred and twenty-five feet in length by thirty feet in width. Having secured this craft, Ben set to work to fit it up for a music and dance hall. He decorated it in an elaborate manner, stocked it liberally with liquors and cigars, laid out a spacious dancing floor, and prepared a bar in the most approved style. This done, he secured the services of a number of musicians, and also, as the chiefest attraction of all, a company of pretty waiter girls. These latter were arrayed in costumes that did not hide any of their charms.

The boat was christened the “Floating Palace,” and[Pg 119] floated in the Allegheny river, between the counties of Allegheny and Armstrong. Whenever the officials of either one of these counties undertook to raid the “Palace,” Ben would float it across the river so as to be out of the province of the officers. Drifting back and forth in this manner, he managed to avoid legal difficulties. Nor had he broken his contract, inasmuch as he had simply promised not to engage in such an enterprise in the town. He had said nothing about the river. I should not omit to mention that about this time Ben first became associated with Kitty O’Brien, alias Bowers. She was a woman of far better education and appearance than might be supposed from her manner of life. Indeed, I may say, from personal acquaintance with her, that she was very much of a lady in her bearing, and gave unmistakeable evidence of early advantages and refining influences. Kitty, as we shall hereafter speak of her, accepted Ben as her lover, and joined her fate from that time forward with his.




In attempting to describe the “Floating Palace,” I shall ask the reader to imagine a brilliantly-lighted saloon, filled with dashing-looking women, and melodious with music. Not everybody could gain access to this floating hall of revelry. Two small boats were kept running from the shore to the “Palace,” and on these came the choice spirits who were admitted to the charmed circle.

Bankers and brokers, merchants and oil kings were to be met on the boat. It was not the sort of place which a man without money would care to visit. It took the mighty dollar to unlock the mysteries and pleasures of the establishment.

[Pg 120]Champagne corks flew freely, and whatever was ordered had to be paid for at princely rates. A night on the “Floating Palace” might safely be estimated to cost a man a hundred dollars; and if he happened to spend two hundred, nobody grumbled.

For the girls it may be said that they were neither better nor worse than the average of their class. Some of them were exceedingly pretty, and all of them had an eye to business. While music and dancing were indulged in freely, visitors were expected to order wine generously.

Among the more characteristic amusements was a bath which the girls took toward sunset. All the patrons of the “Palace” were at liberty to disport themselves in the waters of the Allegheny, and to enjoy the company of the mermaids, in the exhilerating waters.

The “Floating Palace” was most unquestionably a novelty in its way. As a novelty, it possessed a valuable charm in those days—a charm of exciting speculation, and it was also the means of rapidly circulating money. “Music hath charms,” and it charmeth even in a greater degree when floating on the rippling waters, with the bright lights to add brilliancy to the scene. Where amusements for the people were few and money plenty, the “Palace” seemed to break up the monotony of the prosaic hunt for wealth characteristic of the oil regions. The amusements on shore were not of the highest order, and the “Palace” was certainly less objectionable in many respects than some of the amusements which flourished ashore.

The “Floating Palace” cost twenty-five hundred dollars, but so great was the success attending it that[Pg 121] in sixty days Ben was able to, and did, pay back one thousand dollars of the money he had borrowed.

It should be borne in mind that the authorities were constantly making efforts to suppress the business. Ben’s ingenuity, however, enabled him to avoid arrest, although he was by no means free from meddlesome interference.

The opportunity presented itself, while on the “Palace,” to settle up accounts with J——, who, it will be remembered, had instituted the suits against Ben. J——, who visited the boat on a number of occasions, became desperately smitten with the charms of one of the girls, named Lizzie Topley.

Becoming aware of this fact, Ben posted Lizzie, who, while she professed the most ardent love for J——, was still loyal to Hogan. One night, in attempting to reach the “Floating Palace,” J—— was tumbled into the water, apparently by accident, but really by a preconcerted plan on the part of Ben. That rather dampened his ardor for the fascinating Lizzie, although he may never have suspected that she was at the bottom of the mishap.

I have already intimated that large sums of money were made out of the “Floating Palace.” For the benefit of the reader who may not be posted in such matters, it is well to explain that the profits were not all of a strictly legitimate character. For example: A man might order half a dozen bottles of champagne without once suspecting that the article furnished him under that name was concocted from Catawba wine and soda water.

Little dodges of this kind were harmless enough in themselves, and perhaps the fellow who paid five[Pg 122] dollars a bottle for Catawba and soda was just as well off in the end as though he had drunk genuine Piper Heidsick.

The “Floating Palace” visited Catanan, and while there a scheme was entered into by a brother of J—— to procure the indictment of Ben for various offenses, and particularly for selling liquor without a license.

Ben happened to meet this man J—— on the street one day, and he chased him through the town, capturing him finally in the mayor’s office. Had it not been for the interference of that official, Hogan would have taken satisfaction out of Mr. J——’s hide. As it was, he compelled him to withdraw the charge, and pay the cost of the proceeding.

Determined upon having his revenge, Ben succeeded in getting a number of the leading lawyers and some of the jurymen on board the “Floating Palace,” and while these worthies were enjoying themselves in the saloon with the girls, he ordered the ropes to be cut, and the boat floated down the stream. Before this was discovered by the jolly company inside, the “Palace” had drifted sixty miles from Catanan.

The lawyers and jurymen were in a high state of resentment. The court was to convene the next morning, and it would be very difficult for them to offer any plausible excuse for their absence.

Ben professed to be equally enraged at what had happened, and threatened to do all sorts of things with the fellow who had cut the ropes—when he found out who that fellow was.

The victims pleaded with him to return to the town, but Ben showed them that it would be utterly[Pg 123] impossible to do so that night. There was no alternative, of course, but to remain on board the “Palace” all night and take the train back the next day. This the legal gentlemen did, but it is doubtful whether they revealed to anybody the real cause of their absence from court.

The “Floating Palace” continued its course until it reached Pittsburgh. Before entering that city Ben dispensed with all his people except Kitty, Lizzie Topley, and Steve Kinney—the latter of whom was his bar-tender.

A landing was made above Shapsbury Bridge, and there the “Floating Palace” was anchored.

Ben’s success up to this time had been so encouraging that he had determined to follow out the idea on a larger scale.

It was his intention, as soon as he could complete the necessary arrangements, to go down the Mississippi river with two additional boats, modeled after the “Floating Palace.” These were to be stocked with women and wine, and some new features were also to be added, such as a museum and dollar store. The project was a big one, and would undoubtedly have been put into execution, but for an unforeseen accident.

When Ben anchored the “Floating Palace” at Pittsburg, he was well fixed in the matter of money. This, however, did not prevent him from endeavoring to add to his pile, which he did by patronizing that game commonly believed to have been named in honor of one of the kings of Egypt—faro. Every night, as regularly as the night came, he visited the bank, conducted by Tony and Johnny N——, and so good was[Pg 124] his luck that he almost invariably went out of the place from thirty to forty dollars ahead.

Making his way later than usual one night toward Shapsbury Bridge he made the unpleasant discovery that the “Floating Palace” floated no longer. In other words, the boat had sunk. This put an end to the project of visiting the South, and Ben concluded to go back to Parker’s Landing.

The loss of the remarkable craft was quite in keeping with its latter history. It had been the scene of many revels, and had been brightened with laughter, music, and wild merriment. Its brief career ended as suddenly as that of some of the revelers themselves. The river became its resting place, as it has often become the last haven of many a tempest-tossed soul.





[Pg 125]


Return to Parker’s Landing—His three years’ Sojourn in that Town—Adventures and Incidents—Attempt to burn Ben’s House.


As intimated in the preceding chapter, Ben left Pittsburg after the sinking of the Floating Palace, and returned to Parker’s Landing.

There he bought a house from one Johnson, with the intention of fitting it up as a sporting resort.

The town of Parker’s Landing takes its name from one of its residents who is familiarly known as Old Parker. At the time of which I am writing, Old Parker owned a good deal of property, and wielded a large influence in the town. No sooner had he heard of Ben’s purchase, than he informed Hogan that he could not remain in the place. Ben replied that he had bought the property and paid for it; that he intended to keep a thoroughly first-class establishment; that everything would be conducted in a quiet and orderly manner, and that there would be no disorderliness anywhere about the premises.

Old Parker thought that there mas no such thing as a first-class variety hall, and that two women would be two too many for the morality of the neighborhood. The dispute waxed hot and hotter, until Ben finally lost his temper and resolved to go ahead and run any sort of an establishment he pleased.

Accordingly, the next day he opened up with six people, and the day following procured six more. In a month’s time he was doing a business big enough to[Pg 126] justify the enlargement of his house, adding a wing forty feet in length. He also bought a nine hundred dollar piano, and with fifteen stars under his management, the establishment was in full blast.

Ben remained in Parker’s at this time three years. During that period, he met with innumerable incidents and adventures, only a part of which can here be narrated.

The house, it should be remembered, was really conducted on a high-toned scale. Artists were there who could speak all languages which any of the patrons would be apt to understand. The patrons were drawn from the prosperous citizens of Pittsburg, Oil City and elsewhere, and included speculators, bankers, capitalists and merchants. Many a respectable citizen found it frequently necessary to go to Parker’s on pressing business—and the business usually proved so very pressing that it necessitated his remaining over night.

So far as it was possible to conduct such a place honorably, Ben did so. Of course there were ways enough for the visitor to spend his money, but there was no violence used toward anybody, nor was robbery permitted. An idea of the amount of business done may be gained from the announcement that the income of the place during the three years amounted to fully fifty thousand dollars. If some pious people objected to the nature of Ben’s business, it must, nevertheless, be admitted that that business did a great deal toward keeping up Parker’s. It called to the town hundreds of men who otherwise would probably never have gone there; and it kept in circulation a large amount of money, for Ben spent as freely as he received.

Among the earliest incidents which occurred to Ben during his early sojourn in the place, was one in which[Pg 127] Parker himself figured conspicuously. While Hogan was first preparing to open his house, he was engaged one day in painting the outside, when Doc Barnes happened to pass along, and Ben, from his perch on the step-ladder, sprinkled some of the paint over Doc’s new clothes. Thereupon a friendly tussle ensued, in the midst of which Parker put in an appearance. He straightway concluded that the two men were fighting, and he regarded it as his Christian duty to interfere. Just as he got under the step-ladder, the pot of paint, in some mysterious manner, tipped over, and the contents struck Parker on the head, and trickled down his clothes, giving him a coat as brightly colored as Joseph’s. Perhaps the paint pot upset itself without any aid from Ben; and then, again, perhaps it didn’t. At any rate, Parker, with the paint dripping off of him, vowed that he would never interfere with a fight again.

In such a house as Ben presided over, it was inevitable that a good many tough characters should at times assemble. To manage these properly called for nerve and pluck. Here is an incident which illustrates how Ben played the champion at the risk of his own life:

A fellow by the name of Stilson came in to Hogan’s place one night and became smitten by the charms of one of the young women. He was bent upon thrusting his society on this girl, who was equally determined not to have anything to do with him. Stilson became angry, and began to use abusive language. Ben, who always kept an eye open as to what was going on in the establishment, stepped up to the fellow and told him that he must stop his noise or clear out. Stilson sullenly withdrew; but in a dark alleyway which led along the side of the building, he ran across the girl whom he had been importuning for favors. Finding her alone, he[Pg 128] openly insulted her, and her cries brought Ben to the spot. Stilson drew a revolver, and holding it toward Ben threatened to shoot. It was so dark that the men could not see each other; but Ben could feel the muzzle of the pistol against his coat.

While Stilson was still threatening to shoot, Ben pushed the barrel of the revolver to one side, so that the ball would pass harmlessly by. Meantime, he drew his own weapon, which Stilson did not know he carried. Ben was particularly anxious to give this fellow a dose of cold lead, but he wanted him to fire the first shot. So he dared him to shoot, calling him all manner of names, and blackguarding him roundly.

Had Stilson pulled the trigger of his pistol, as I have explained, the ball would have passed harmlessly by Ben’s side, while our hero would have done more effectual work. But Stilson was not the sort of a man to shoot, although he talked loudly enough. It was well for him that he finally put up his pistol, for if he had discharged it, it would certainly have cost him his life.

Once, during his three years’ residence in Parker’s, Ben attended church. The newspapers in the country about came out the next day and declared it was a pity the steeple had not fallen and crushed Hogan to death. Finding so little encouragement in his attempt to follow the paths of piety, Ben gave it up as a bad job, and never troubled a church again.

But if he did not sit in a pew on Sundays, our hero did some good deeds which would have honored any Christian. For example, a girl came to him on one occasion in sore distress. She had gone astray; had lived a short, wild life of sin and pleasure, and was now reaping the terrible harvest of her wayward career. Forsaken by friends, with no home to go to, she had come to Ben[Pg 129] as a last refuge. She was then pregnant and suffering from a loathsome disease. Her cup of wretchedness seemed greater than she could bear, and like many another poor unfortunate, she had resolved to end her misery by taking her own life. She had gone so far, even, as to procure the poison, which she fully intended to take.

Ben talked to this woman in a way in which no stiff-necked puritan could have talked. He told her there was still hope for her in this world; that she must put all thoughts of suicide out of her mind, and that he would help her out of the slough into which she had fallen. A gleam of hope finally dawned upon the black pathway of this miserable girl. She found in Ben a friend who did something more than preach. He gave her sound advice, and backed this up with aid of a more substantial nature. Through his influence she obtained admittance to the Pittsburg Hospital, and there, in the course of a few weeks, she was fully restored to health. Then Hogan took it upon himself to bring about a reconciliation between the girl and her parents. He visited the latter, who lived in Butler, pleaded with them in behalf of the outcast, and showed them how, by receiving her back, they might yet save her from further disgrace. These pleadings were not in vain. The girl returned to her parents’ roof, abandoned her old evil ways, and is to-day the wife of a lawyer, loyal and true.

This story, which is in every particular a fact, carries with it, I think, its own moral. Ben’s efforts in behalf of a friendless and outcast woman saved her from a life of shame and made her a respected and happy wife. If the example would be followed more often, there would be less of wretchedness and woe in this world.

When the races were first held at Parker’s, they brought a rich harvest to Ben’s place. He, in[Pg 130] connection with Newell, Leo, and a few other sporting characters, followed up the races to Jamestown, where Newell ran a faro bank. Ben, who carried with him five thousand dollars in cash, loaned five hundred dollars for the game. But when this was lost, he refused to advance any more, having a suspicion that Leo was not dealing a perfectly square game. Although Ben himself had no interest whatever in the bank, he was arrested just as he was boarding the steamer, by a deputy sheriff, who informed him that he must go to the lock-up with him. The deputy’s plan was really to bleed Hogan, whom he knew to be the moneyed man of the party. The bleeding, however, was on the other side of the house, for Ben drew off and dealt the deputy a blow which caused his nose to bleed with unpleasant freedom. He didn’t care to attempt any more bleeding just then.

All this time that Ben remained in Parker’s, Kitty was accustomed to make occasional trips to Cleveland, presumably on business, but really to meet an old flame which she had in that city. Ben was altogether ignorant of this little liaison, and it would no doubt have caused him both anger and chagrin had he known that Kitty’s business trips, which cost from three to four hundred dollars each, were made for the express benefit of some other fellow. This was one of the instances where Ben himself had the wool pulled over his eyes.

The want of space prevents me from dwelling longer upon our hero’s career in Parker’s. Altogether he had a lively time of it, and a volume might be written upon the occurrences of those three years. I must hasten on to describe how Ben finally left Parker’s Landing.

He had gone to Pittsburg one day, and there, while standing in front of George Leavenworth’s saloon, in[Pg 131] conversation with Booke, a telegraphic message was put into his hands. Upon opening the envelope Ben read the startling news that his place at Parker’s was in flames.

He handed the message to Booke. The latter, who owned the best hotel in Parker’s, in close proximity to Hogan’s house, turned a little pale at the announcement. Ben, however, received it with his usual coolness, and simply sent back a telegram telling them to save his piano, and let the rest go. He lost no time, of course, in getting back to Parker’s. On reaching the town, he found that his house had been saved by the promptness of the citizens, who had turned out en masse to extinguish the fire.

Although Ben had no positive proof, he was fully convinced in his own mind that his place had been set on fire by some of the men who had long been hostile to him. One of these, Casey by name, he met in the street, and accused him point blank of firing his house. Casey undertook to turn off the matter with a laugh.

“You can laugh,” said Ben, shaking his finger in the man’s face, “but there’s a good deal of strain about that laugh. You and your gang fired the house, and you know about it!”

Again Casey laughed and tried to deny the accusation.

It may be mentioned that some time afterward, when Ben was living in Petrolia, this same Casey became one of his staunchest friends, and just two weeks before he was burned to death on the Allegheny river, he made a clean confession, telling Hogan that it was he indeed who had fired the house.

Shortly after the above occurrence, a new constable was elected in the town of Parker’s—he had been a[Pg 132] blacksmith originally—and through the instrumentality of this official, indictments were found against Hogan for selling liquor without a license. Ben immediately called upon his old friend, the Judge, accompanied by Joe Smith, as bail. He told the judge that before the election of the new constable, he had paid the District Attorney one hundred dollars to prevent any suits against him. He further said that he was willing to stand a trial, but that he should insist upon pleading his own case.

“What do you want to do that for?” asked the judge.

“Because,” answered Ben, “I mean to show up some things that will astonish the natives. I mean to prove that there is a corrupt ring in the courts of this county, formed for the purpose of bleeding everybody it can. I shall not have to go outside of the court to get all the witnesses I want. And if the case is ever tried, there will be a good many other fingers burned, besides mine!”

Under the circumstances, the Judge thought it advisable that the suit should not be pressed. He placed Ben under five hundred dollars bonds, Joe Smith becoming the surety. The case was never called, and Ben soon after removed from Parker’s.





[Pg 133]


Ben buys a house in Pittsburg—Engineering for a New Railroad—Goes to Petrolia and Opens House—The Ladies Seminary.


In the city of Pittsburg, there stands, on Tenth street, a handsome brick house, which has a history connected with it.

This house was once the property of Ben Hogan. Upon leaving Parker’s Landing, as already narrated, he made his way to Pittsburg, accompanied by Kitty and Lizzie Topley, and carrying with him fifteen thousand dollars in cash. A part of this money he was desirous of investing in real estate, and after looking about the city, he finally hit upon the dwelling on Tenth street, alluded to above.

For this place he paid seven thousand dollars, and expended about three thousand more in furniture and decorations. The interior of the house was magnificent in the extreme. The furniture, carpets, pictures, etc., were of the costliest description. Kitty and Lizzie were the only occupants, Ben’s idea being to fit up a permanent and handsome place for his home. It was what might be called a semi-private resort, where a few high-toned patrons only were admitted. Nothing but choice wines could be obtained in the place, and those who were desirous of maintaining their reputation as gentlemen were expected to order liberally without regard to the rather high price per bottle.

With the outlay involved in fitting out this Pittsburg[Pg 134] house, and the other expenses which he had met with after leaving Parker’s, Ben found his capital exhausted. He therefore set about to discover some means by which he could make another raise.

It so happened at this time that they were building a railroad, or rather discussing the feasibility of building one, between Pittsburg and Butler. This gave Ben a suggestion for a plan of operation. Joining with a couple of gentlemen who were not overburdened with conscientious scruples as to what they did, he provided himself with a surveyor’s glass, a line, poles, and other instruments used by civil engineers. Then the three friends set out for the country between Pittsburg and Butler. Arrived at the spot where stood the house of a rich farmer, the self-constituted surveyors began their work. They set up their sighting glass, and proceeded to make observations, stretch the line and drive in stakes.

It was not long before these operations attracted the attention of the farmer, who came out and wanted to know what the strangers were doing. He was informed that they were civil engineers, and were laying out the line for the new road to Butler.

“But you ain’t going to make that ’ere railroad run through my land, be you?”

“The track will pass straight through your front door,” answered Ben, in a business-like manner.

The farmer looked as though his death sentence had just been pronounced. He invited the surveying party into the house, and insisted upon their becoming his guests while engaged in their work. Meantime he set about seeing what could be done to prevent the proposed road from running through his land.

[Pg 135]Waiting until evening, he accosted one of Ben’s associates, saying:

“This ere road is going to do me a powerful lot of harm. I’d give a pile of money rather than have the track cut through my property.”

The confidence man stroked his moustache thoughtfully, and rejoined:

“Well, you might speak to Mr. Hogan about the matter. Perhaps you could induce him to change the route. I’d offer him five hundred dollars at the least, if I were you. He wouldn’t consider anything less than that.”

The next day the farmer approached Ben on the subject, and after beating around the bush for some time, finally offered him five hundred dollars if he would change the line of the road.

Ben pretended to hesitate, said that it ought to be a thousand, at least; and finally accepted the money.

The next day the party returned to Pittsburg, for the purpose, as Ben explained, of explaining to the directors that the route of the road would have to be changed. The farmer, of course, discovered that he had been swindled, and threatened several times to bring a suit against Hogan for damages; but none of these were ever carried through.

Soon after this adventure, Ben left for Pittsburg, and struck out for Petrolia. This was his first advent into Petrolia. Kitty remained in the Pittsburg house.

Ben’s first venture in Petrolia was the purchase of a small wooden house from one Lauterbach, for which he was to pay three hundred and fifty dollars. The house stood on Fairview street. Ben at once laid in a large stock of liquors, having fitted up an ice chest capable of holding two tons of ice. While he was making his preparations to open this house, the good citizens of[Pg 136] Petrolia took alarm at the idea of having Ben Hogan for a fellow townsman, and at once called a meeting at which it was voted to arrest all whiskey dealers in the place. Messrs. Campbell, Jamison and others were among the leaders in this crusade. The liquor dealers were arrested, according to the programme, and Ben appeared in the justice’s court as their counsel. Bail was fixed in the sum of five hundred dollars each. Ben at once offered to become surety for the indicted dealers. The Squire, as the police justice was called, eyed Hogan a little suspiciously.

“What is your name?” he inquired.

“Ben Hogan,” was the prompt reply.

This caused an immediate sensation in the court-room.

The Squire was paralyzed, so to speak, at the announcement. He was afraid to accept the offered bail, and still more afraid to refuse it.

“Where is your real estate?” he asked.

“In Pittsburg,” answered Ben. “It is first-class unincumbered property, and you’re bound to accept me as bail!”

Here followed an argument on the part of the prosecuting lawyers, as to whether the prisoners should be admitted to bail at all. They referred the Squire to statutes which they claimed showed that the men must be held. Meantime Ben took one of the lawyers aside, and offered him thirty-six dollars if he would settle the case without further trouble. This offer had a curious effect upon the legal gentleman’s opinion. He straightway stood up and argued that what he had before said was all a mistake; that the statutes plainly showed that the case could be settled there and then; and that any man who said it couldn’t was a liar.

The Squire, who was a good deal muddled, at last[Pg 137] made up his mind that the lawyer was right, and so declared that the matter should be dropped.

No sooner had he rendered this decision, than Ben arose and said, addressing the Squire:

“Now, sir, I mean to have you arrested for blackmail!”

“Wh-wh-what do you mean?” stammered the Squire, frightened half out of his wits.

“I mean,” returned Hogan, “that there has been bribery here, and that the law does not permit such a case to be settled. I shall let the matter rest, however, providing I am not molested in my own business. I’ve opened a house here in Petrolia, myself, and to-morrow being Sunday, I invite you all to come around and get a drink. For I want it understood that I am going to sell liquor when and where I please!”

It can readily be imagined that this speech created a good deal of a sensation among the hearers. Nevertheless, the invitation was accepted, the lawyers visited Ben’s house the next day, got gloriously drunk before they left, and that ended all further disputes in the court. This decisive action on Ben’s part secured to the Petrolia liquor dealers the right of carrying on their business—which otherwise they probably would never have obtained.

After a short time, Ben found that he needed a bigger house than the one which he had bought. He endeavored to get a lease of some suitable premises, but the feeling against him was so strong that he found it impossible to do this. He therefore resolved to build a house for himself.

Going out into the suburbs of the town, he selected an open field in which oats were growing. This field was the property of Mr. Jamison, already alluded to.[Pg 138] Without consulting that gentleman, Ben went to work on a certain Monday, and in just one week’s time erected a structure, one hundred by twenty feet, containing fifteen bedrooms, a ball room, bar, and other requisites. He had this house open and in full blast before the worthy Mr. Jamison had so much as discovered that a building had been erected on his property. When he did discover it he was naturally excited and enraged. He went out to the spot, and, meeting Ben, asked him if he knew who had put up that house.

Ben said he hadn’t the remotest idea who did it.

“Don’t you know I own this ground?” demanded Mr. Jamison, angrily.

“Well, what if you do?” answered Ben. “You know I couldn’t get a lease anywhere in the town, so I have come out here where I don’t molest anybody.”

“But you molest me,” was the rejoinder. “You molest my oats!”

“Oh, well,” said Ben, “I’ll buy your oats, for that matter. And as I only want to stay here for three months, you’d better let me remain. The fact of it is, Mr. Jamison, you live here in Petrolia, own property, and do business. I have come here to live here also, and I am going to carry on my business as I see fit. This is an oil region, and it’s all nonsense to talk about stopping the sale of liquor. It will be sold, of course. And I am going to sell it!”

Mr. Jamison began to weaken under these arguments. Perhaps he did not consider it safe for his own welfare to arouse Ben’s anger. He therefore adopted a pacifying tone.

“Well, if you will agree not to keep your place open Sundays, you can stay,” he said.

Ben assured him that he would never sell any liquor[Pg 139] on Sundays, as six days in the week were all he cared for.

But it so happened on the first Sunday that a party of thirty men drove out for a day’s sport, and out of sheer tender-heartedness Ben was obliged to open up the ballroom and furnish them with music. Of course they could not dance without liquor, and so he gave them that also. It was his tender-heartedness, you will observe, that was to blame for this.

Among the amusing incidents which occurred at this time, I will relate one of an exceeding spicy nature:

On a certain cold and drizzly day, a farmer’s wagon drove up to the door, and the farmer, with his wife and daughter, entered Ben’s place. He was entirely ignorant of its character, and about as verdant as they make them. While the wife and daughter made their way into the kitchen to dry their clothes by the fire, the farmer accosted Ben, saying:

“Whose place is this, anyhow?”

“Professor Hogan’s,” was the reply.

“Well, now, I want to know!” ejaculated the farmer. “And you have some other kind of business, maybe?”

“Oh, yes,” answered Ben. “I am also engaged in the oil business. I’ve got fifteen pumping wells.”

“You don’t say so!” returned the visitor.

Meantime the mother and daughter, in the kitchen, were propounding conundrums to Lizzie Topley. Noticing the numerous young ladies sitting about the room, the old lady inquired what sort of a place it was.

“This is a female college,” said Lizzie, gravely.

“A female college. Well, I do declare!” exclaimed the farmer’s wife. “What an excellent idee to be sure. Here we’ve lived in the oil country all these years and never had a college before. Who is the professor?”

[Pg 140]“Hogan, his name is;” answered Lizzie—“Professor Hogan.”

“And what are the terms?” continued the old lady.

“Fifty dollars a quarter!”

“Well, now, we’ve got a farm that we’re a trying to sell, and if we do sell it, I’ll have my daughter come down here, and enter the college. If we don’t sell the farm, we’ve got a brindle cow that’ll fetch fifty dollars anyway, and that’ll pay for one quarter!”

The farmer and his wife finally took their departure, thoroughly convinced that they had seen the only private college in the oil country. The old lady afterward learned what sort of a college it was, and she concluded that she would not send her sixteen-year-old daughter to be educated by “Professor Hogan.”

Ben’s absence from Kitty led him at times to fits of jealousy, and in one of these he drove one night to Pittsburg, a distance of forty miles. Reaching the city at six o’clock in the morning, he proceeded at once to his house, entered through a back window, and stole quietly into his mistress’s room. There his suspicions found abundant confirmation! In the bed with Kitty was a girl, both wrapped in sleep. Ben drew his revolver, with the intention of committing a double murder; but the weapon missed fire, and in another moment Kitty had sprung from the bed.

She soon pacified her infuriated lover. The girl, she explained, was her country cousin, Julia by name, who had come to the house and spent the evening in opening champagne. Both she and the “cousin” had partaken so freely of the wine that they became drowsy, and had so fallen asleep on the same bed.

Cousins, and especially country cousins, are, as we know, a privileged class; and so Ben concluded that he[Pg 141] would permit Kitty’s friend to remain where she was. It may be mentioned that this little trip cost our hero the comfortable sum of one thousand dollars, for he remained in Pittsburg long enough to visit a number of faro banks, and to open several baskets of wine. He concluded, upon his return to Petrolia, that country cousins were too expensive luxuries to be indulged in often, and jealousy didn’t pay.



[Pg 142]


Ben as a Politician—Elected Burgess of Petrolia, but Cheated out of the Office—Goes to Queen City—Pleasure Trip West—Preparations to fight Tom Allen in St. Louis.


Not long after Ben’s return to Petrolia from the country cousin trip, a couple of fellows came into his place—they were residents of the town of Brookville—and claimed that on a previous visit, they had been cheated out of four hundred dollars in the house. This was a lie, cut out of the whole cloth.

Perceiving it to be nothing more than an attempt at blackmail, Ben showed the fellows the door in short order. They set out in search of a justice, swearing to procure warrants for Hogan’s arrest. The latter followed close at their heels, and reached the justice’s office just as the warrants were to be signed.

Ben denounced his accusers, and endeavored to show the Squire that what they asserted was a falsehood. The argument which ensued led to hot words on both sides, and these in turn resulted in blows. Ben whipped both of the men and turned them out of the office, along with the Squire for company.

During the fracas, the man who entered the complaint, drew out the money which he claimed had been stolen from him, thus proving that his accusations were wholly false. Of course the case was never pressed in view of such developments.

Petrolia by this time had become a borough, and the election of a burgess, as the office is called in Pennsylvania,[Pg 143] was close at hand. A very strong and popular man, Dimmick by name, had been nominated for the position, and as his election was regarded a certainty, no opposition candidate was named.




This gave Ben an opportunity to make his first entree into politics. He determined that Dimmick should not have a walk-over in the race, and so set himself up as an independent candidate. With very little experience in the wiles and ways of political life, his personal popularity was such that he was fairly elected to the office, receiving a majority of seven votes.

So close a result prompted Dimmick’s friends to resort to fraudulent measures for the sake of their candidate. Hogan was counted out of the office to which he was justly entitled, as other men in higher walks of life have been counted out of higher offices. The upright Mr. Campbell declared that, whatever the ballots might show, Ben Hogan must not be burgess.

“Why,” said he, “this man would have a drinking saloon or a gambling hell on every corner. And he would arrest all of us who didn’t go into these places!”

Ben really cared very little for the office. He had run simply to test his strength, and his success made him abundantly satisfied with the result. He permitted his opponent to assume the position without contention.

Just after the election, and while on his way to Pittsburg, Ben picked up a copy of the Oil City Derrick, in which he read an announcement of his election. The train happened to be delayed by the breaking of a bridge, and our hero went into a neighboring farm house to obtain something to eat. This being furnished him, he fell into conversation with the farmer, and pointed out to him the paragraph in the Derrick.

[Pg 144]“Think of it!” said Ben, with assumed indignation. “Such a man as Hogan elected burgess of Petrolia! Why, it’s a disgrace to the town—a libel upon the elective system!”

“That’s so,” returned the farmer. “I’ve heered a good deal about this Ben Hogan, and I should calculate he ought to be in jail instead of in office.”

“Of course he ought,” rejoined Ben. “Lynching would be too good for him!”

This sort of talk was continued for some time, Ben joining with the farmer in the opinion that Hogan ought to be hung up to the nearest tree.

A rosy-cheeked, but excessively verdant young girl, a daughter of the farmer, was very much taken with a diamond cross which our hero wore upon his shirt-front. She did not know what it was, but Ben told her, adding that it cost nineteen thousand dollars—it was worth perhaps seven hundred—and that it had been presented to him in Austria.

Altogether he made a deep impression upon the occupants of the farm house, and their surprise may be more readily imagined than described when, upon taking his departure, he presented them with his card, in the shape of a silver half dollar, upon which was engraved his name. The farmer was paralyzed with astonishment. Nor would he believe his senses until he had run after the train and been assured by the conductor that his visitor was really none other than the notorious Ben Hogan.

After his return to Petrolia, from this visit to Pittsburg, came the memorable thirty days “shut down” in the oil regions. The effect of this move, which was in fact a demand for an increase on the price of petroleum, was most disastrous to the oil interest. It resembled, on a[Pg 145] smaller scale, the Black Friday, never to be forgotten in Wall street.

Seizing upon the excitement of the hour to promote his own interest, Ben issued a circular which was exceedingly rich and racy. He proceeded to declare that he was the owner of fifteen pumping wells, and that he fully agreed with other operators in the pressing necessity of an advance in prices. It was impossible, the circular said, for Mr. Hogan to produce his oil for less than five dollars a barrel. Indeed, considering the character of the oil obtained from his wells, even this was too small a sum.

Thousands of these circulars were distributed through the oil regions, and copies of them found their way all over the country. So neatly was it worded, that a great many swallowed the joke as gospel truth; and one man in addressing a public meeting astonished some of his hearers by saying:

“Why, gentlemen, here is a circular from Mr. Hogan, one of the heaviest operators in this region. He says that he owns fifteen wells, and yet even he is not able to produce his oil for less than five dollars a barrel!”

If the orator had known that it was fifteen barrels of whiskey he was talking about, he probably would not have brought forward this circular by way of an argument.

It was at this period that Bill Casey made his confession of firing Ben’s house, to which reference has already been made. Two weeks afterwards he was burned to death on the Allegheny river.

With a view to enlarge his field of operations, Ben rented his place in Petrolia for fifty dollars a week, to a woman named Nell Robinson. He, himself, went to Greece city, and there established one of the handsomest wine rooms ever seen in the oil[Pg 146] regions. It was fitted up on a scale of magnificence which would have done credit to a first-class New York establishment. The bar-room cost nineteen hundred dollars, and was decorated and frescoed in a most elaborate manner. Nothing but the choicest brands of imported wines and liquors, with the best of cigars, were sold. The place was purely a wine room, Ben having become temporarily tired of sporting women.

During the three months which this place remained open, it did a thriving business, and in spite of the heavy outlay, paid a handsome profit.

Having money enough to meet all present wants, and wishing to enjoy himself for a time, Ben closed up his business, and proceeded to Pittsburg. There, after spending a short time in a general round of pleasures, and dropping more money than he could keep track of, Ben one night went into George Leavenworth’s place, and flipped up a twenty-dollar gold piece to decide whether he should go West or to Europe. The coin came down three times in succession in favor of the West, and so Ben set out in that direction in search of pleasure and adventure. He found plenty of both.

In order to break the monotony of his journey, he stopped off at a number of country towns, where he represented himself to be the canvasser for a New York story paper. His plan of proceeding was this: He would enter a farmer’s house and solicit his subscription for the paper. This amounted to five dollars, and included a magnificent chromo, which, of course, was worth double the money. The chromo, however, was only a secondary inducement to subscribe.

“You see,” Ben would say, “we give away every year a piano, which you couldn’t buy for less than seven hundred dollars. This is done for an advertisement, and the[Pg 147] lucky person is decided upon by drawing numbers from a wheel in the same manner as a lottery. Now, I can so arrange it that you will draw the piano, but, of course, I shall expect something in return. If you will pay me twenty-five dollars, and speak a good word to all your friends about the paper, I will see that the piano is shipped to you as soon as I get back to New York.”

This generous proposition was, in the majority of cases, readily agreed to. The farmer would accompany Ben to his nearest neighbor, and there use his influence toward obtaining a subscription. Dismissing farmer number one, Ben would proceed to make the same offer to number two, assuring him that he would get the piano by the payment of twenty-five dollars.

This proved a pretty profitable kind of recreation for our hero; but when the farmers assembled in town on the appointed day, and found that the promised piano didn’t arrive, it was, perhaps, well for Ben’s health that he was a good many miles distant from the spot.

Another little incident showed how the biter may sometimes get bitten himself. Stopping off at Little Rock, Ben fell in with a crowd of sharpers who introduced him to a faro bank where the worst kind of a skin game was dealt. It made no difference what the result over the board might be, the policy of the crowd being to freeze to the money when they had once got it into their possession. The bank was located in the upper room of a hotel, where, presumably, no gambling was allowed. While Ben was engaged in the game, and after he had invested four hundred dollars in chips, one of the sharpers slipped out of the room unperceived, and disguised himself in the uniform of a policeman. Then a mock raid was made upon the bank. The lights were put out, and a general hubbub ensued.[Pg 148] The first that Ben knew he was in the hands, as he supposed, of an officer, with the prospect of spending the night in jail. Then he did precisely what the sharpers had counted on his doing—offered two hundred dollars to be set at liberty. The bogus policeman hesitated, said he couldn’t do it; that he would have to lock Ben up; but in the end, of course, took the money. When Ben discovered, as he afterward did, that the whole thing was a put-up job, he probably felt like butting his head against a stone wall just for fun.

After these and other adventures, which space prevents me from recounting, Ben at last reached St. Louis. His intention was to proceed to Hot Springs, but before doing so, he spent some days in St. Louis, stopping at the Planters’ Hotel. He visited a number of his acquaintances in the city, among others Jack Looney and Tom Allen. The latter asked him if he had given up boxing, to which Ben answered that he had. Allen and Hogan drove out together to Mollie M‘Cool’s, opened a number of bottles of champagne, and drank to one another’s health—or rather Allen did most of the drinking, and Ben settled the bill.

Notwithstanding Hogan’s assertion that he had given up boxing, he was as anxious as ever to arrange a match with Allen. He offered Jack Looney fifty dollars if he would bring about such a contest. Here the matter rested for the time being, and after having a high time in St. Louis, Ben pushed on to Hot Springs.

At this famous resort, he remained five weeks, making the money fly in a lively manner. The pleasures of the watering place, however, grew a little monotonous in time, and so Ben determined to visit the Choctaw country, where he would be certain to find novel and exciting adventures. He chose Dublin for his[Pg 149] companion on this bold expedition, and the two provided themselves with a peculiar outfit. It consisted of nine gallons of whiskey, twenty pounds of lead, a quantity of powder and guns. These articles were designed as presents for the Indians, and were taken with a view to insuring a friendly reception.

Ben and Dublin traveled over three hundred miles of rough and unfrequented territory, meeting in that distance with only three inhabited houses.

Whatever may be the virtues of the temperance theory, if a man is going to visit the Choctaw nation, he cannot do a wiser thing than take with him a liberal supply of whiskey. Nothing touches the heart of the red man so surely or quickly as fire-water. This our adventurers found. For with their stock of liquor and presents, they were hospitably received, and found themselves quite at home among the red men.

What with fishing and hunting and studying the traits of the Indians, Ben and his companion passed a month quite pleasantly. To a timid man the surroundings would have been a little too uncivilized for comfort; but Hogan took things as easily as though they were in his own home. To give variety to the sort of life which was led there, a couple of rather comely Indian girls honored the visitors with their constant presence.

Some jealous feelings arising between the two tribes, which were encamped together, Hogan and his friend finally deemed it wise to depart. They were accompanied on their return journey for a considerable distance by a number of the braves, and reached Hot Springs in good health and spirits. Ben then made his way back to St. Louis.

On reaching the city, he once more renewed his efforts to bring about a match with Tom Allen. Ignorant of[Pg 150] the fact that Looney was hand-in-glove with Allen, he sought the services of the former to aid him in consummating the match. In company with a newspaper man, Looney visited Allen with the professed purpose of negotiating matters. So long as Allen did not suspect that his second visitor was a reporter, he talked with a good deal of freedom. Among other things he said that if the fight with M‘Cool for which he was then in training, should go against him, he would not care to enter into another contest. It would be difficult, he hinted, for him then to obtain backers.

Of course this conversation, falling upon a reporter’s ears, gained more or less publicity, and Allen was particularly anxious to have the matter hushed up.

A few days later, Looney succeeded in arranging the match, which was for one thousand dollars a side, half of the money being put up at once in the hands of Eagan. Ben did not know the fact at the time, but this Eagan was a particular friend of Looney and Allen, and he showed his friendship, as we shall see, in a peculiar and characteristic manner.





[Pg 151]


The Famous Fight with Tom Allen.


We come now to an incident in the career of our hero which gained wide publicity at the time of its occurrence, and which is still remembered among all sporting men.

Numerous misrepresentations have been made with regard to the Hogan-Allen fight, and it will be my object to correct these, as well as to give a plain and simple statement of the facts, leaving the reader to form his own opinion of the relative merits of the case.

As soon as the arrangements described in the preceding chapter had been perfected, Ben at once went into training for the forthcoming fight. He took up his headquarters at Wash Home, and there devoted himself diligently to the work in hand.

Under the assumed name of Benedict, he joined the gymnasium in St. Louis, and while professing to receive instructions, he really became the teacher of those who patronized the place. Nobody suspected that it was the notorious Ben Hogan with whom they practiced daily in the gymnasium.

Ben’s system of training was thorough and severe. He cut off from his diet every thing except the most nourishing articles, abstained entirely from all intoxicating liquors, and exercised regularly and constantly.

In the interim between the making of the match and the time appointed for its fulfillment, occurred the fight[Pg 152] between Allen and McCool. In that contest, as the reader probably knows, Allen was an easy winner, knocking McCool completely out of time before his backers knew what ailed him.

Ben was present at this fight, and, as may readily be imagined, watched its result with keen interest. After the sponge had been thrown up by McCool, Hogan stepped up to Allen and said:

“If you whip me as easily as you have this man, I will stand a champagne supper for you and all your friends.”

“You’re getting high-toned,” retorted Allen, with a derisive laugh.

“I beg your pardon,” said Ben; “I forgot who I was talking to. I will stand the lager, as that will probably be more to your taste.”

Three days after the Allen-McCool fight, the remaining five hundred dollars a side was put up by Allen and Hogan. Ben then went into training with even more earnestness than he had before done. Dublin Trix acted as his trainer, and things were looking most hopeful, until a sudden stroke of bad luck changed the aspect of affairs.

Fully fifteen hundred cases of dumb ague were raging in and about St. Louis, and Ben fell a victim to the disease. This, it will be remembered, was on the eve of the battle, so to speak, and a most discouraging circumstance it was. A less plucky man than Hogan would have thrown up the game then and there. But he determined to meet his antagonist, whatever might come. Of course the ague interfered seriously with his training; indeed, it may be said to have put a stop to it altogether. All that Ben could do was to fight against the disease and attend strictly to the laws of health.

He tried any number of remedies, and offered four[Pg 153] hundred dollars to any doctor who would cure him, but all to no purpose. The ague held on with an iron grip.

Two weeks before the day appointed for the fight, Dublin Trix left Ben, and his position as trainer was filled by Jerry Donovan. There was still little training to do, as Ben was in no condition to bear it. However, he did not grow disheartened. During this time he made many friends among the better class of people in St. Louis, all of whom were surprised to find so gentlemanly an appearing man in the pugilistic profession.

The long-expected day, on which the fight was appointed to take place, came at last. During the night, Ben had succeeded in getting six hours’ sleep, and he awoke feeling better than he had for many days.

At an early hour in the morning, Tom Kelley put in an appearance with a horse and buggy to drive our hero to the river, where they were to take the boat.

It had been arranged, in order to avoid any interruption from the authorities, that the two principals should meet the boat at points below the city on the Missouri side of the river. The boat itself was packed to overflowing with admirers of the manly art. The matter had not been kept as quiet as caution would have dictated, and the result, as will be seen, was of an unpleasant nature.

Ben and Kelley drove to the point agreed upon, while Allen struck the river a mile or two lower down. So confident was Hogan that morning of winning the fight, that he told Kelley he would go another five hundred dollars on the result.

While the two principals waited on the shore, the steamer made its way down the river. When some distance below the city, the wind which had been blowing a small hurricane, drove the boat toward the Illinois[Pg 154] bank, and such was the force of the wind and current combined, that it was impossible to change her course.

A deputy sheriff and a posse of men, who had got scent of the party, were waiting near the point where the steamer struck the shore, and they immediately made a descent upon the craft. Those on board were arrested, and some of the leaders were kept in Illinois and taken back to St. Louis. The real game for which the officers were searching, that is, the pugilists themselves, was not captured. This mishap to the boat of course put an end to the fight for that day. It was asserted by those who ought to know that the excursion money amounted to four thousand dollars. If it did, Hogan never received a dollar of the sum, and to the best of his knowledge, neither did Allen.

The New York Clipper and other sporting papers charged that this running ashore of the boat was all a put-up job on the part of Hogan and Allen. The statement which I have here given will, it is believed, show that such charges were wholly without foundation. Hogan had not the remotest idea that any such thing was about to happen, and it is only fair to assume that Allen was equally blameless. Neither of the men profited financially by the occurrence, and they certainly did not expect to gain in reputation by any such proceeding. It is more reasonable to conclude that the boat was driven ashore purely by accident, and that the arrest of the party was simply a piece of bad luck—not bad intention.

After the first postponement of the match, Ben was anxious to go to Detroit, but Allen and his backers would not agree to this. They insisted upon making Omaha the place; and Ben, who was ready to yield anything rather than give up the match, consented to the latter place.

[Pg 155]The second match was made for five hundred dollars additional a side, and the championship of the world. Each man was to select one umpire, and these together were to choose a referee. Allen named Looney as his man, and Ben selected Tom Kelley.

At the time when these selections were made, Allen offered to bet three hundred dollars to two hundred that he would win the fight by the referee’s decision. This, as will be seen, was a singular sort of proposition, and hinted pretty strongly of fraud somewhere.

“I don’t know anything about the referee’s decision,” said Ben. “But I’m willing to fight you in this saloon here now, for all the stakes that have been put up. We can decide the matter without any more nonsense. There has been too much talk already. It’s time that we began to fight!”

Allen would not agree to any such proposition. He was ready enough to abide by the referee’s decision, but not by the decision of Hogan’s fists.

Ben, from this time forward until the fight, made his headquarters at the Southern Hotel. During his sojourn there, he was one day informed by the chief detective, whom he happened to meet on Fifth street, that unless he left the town at once, he would be locked up. Ben replied that as long as he attended to his own business, the authorities would better attend to theirs, and leave him alone. The vagabond law, then in force in St. Louis, made it possible for any stranger to be arrested on the simple grounds that he had no home. However, the police did not deem it their duty to take Hogan into custody, although they knew perfectly well that he was preparing to fight Allen.

It was at this time, also, that Cal Wagner visited St. Louis, and suggested a remedy for the ague, from which[Pg 156] Ben was still suffering, and which afforded our hero some relief.

At the appointed time, Ben set out for Omaha, stopping en route in Kansas City. Allen had reached this place in advance, and was doing some pretty lively talk about the forthcoming fight.

Ben gave a sparring exhibition in Kansas City on the Sunday night preceding his departure, which was largely attended, and which proved quite a successful affair. He also met with a physician whose course of treatment proved so beneficial that he followed it out from that time forward. It should be mentioned that when he arrived in Kansas City, he was scarcely able to stand upon his feet—rather an awkward predicament for a man to be in who was on his way to the prize ring.

From Kansas City Ben proceeded direct to Omaha. He took with him John Sweeney, to act as one of his seconds in the fight. Upon reaching Omaha, he put up at the Grand Central Hotel, and began to make his final arrangements for the battle. For the purpose of furthering his training, he subsequently removed to a private boarding-house, where he had all facilities for his work.

When Ben first struck Omaha, he was really a sick man. The dumb ague had not left him. His flesh was wasted, and what was the most serious thing of all, he was not able to sleep more than six hours out of seventy-two. By a careful and systematic course of treatment, he gained, during one week, seven pounds in weight. He submitted daily to a severe rubbing, in order to get up circulation, and he took short walks, as his strength would permit. His diet consisted of oatmeal, mutton chops and bread. Had it not been for this intelligent and conscientious care of himself, Ben would never have[Pg 157] been able to have faced Allen at all. As it was, he was not in a condition which enables a man to use his fists to the best advantage.

During his brief sojourn in Omaha, Ben was one day called into the office of the Daily Herald by the genial and gifted editor of that paper, Dr. Miller. The doctor had already listened to a good deal of Allen’s talk, and, with true journalistic instinct, was anxious to hear what Ben had to say for himself.

“Well, really,” said our hero, “I’ve nothing to say. Fists and not talk must decide this matter. You have already seen Allen; have you not?”

“Yes,” replied Dr. Miller, “I have.”

“Well,” said Ben, rising to go, “he has done talk enough for six men!”

It was a notorious fact that Allen had offered to bet money that Hogan would never enter the ring with him. The secret of this may be very briefly explained. The hackman who was to drive Ben and Sweeney to the place of meeting had been bribed to carry them so much out of the way that they would lose the train, and thus prevent the fight from taking place.

This little game might have worked to a charm, had it not been for the fact that the occupants of the coach discovered that they were on the wrong road, whereupon Sweeney jumped out, pistol in hand, and threatened to shoot the driver on the spot if he did not carry them to the train.

The man, frightened at this emphatic way of making a request, whipped up his horses and got over the ground at a lively rate. The coach reached the station just in time to intercept the train. Allen and his friends looked somewhat astonished when they discovered, in spite of their well-laid plans, Ben had been able to reach the train.

[Pg 158]It was a cold, drizzly day in the fall of the year. The excursion train stopped at a point some twenty miles beyond Council Bluffs, and there the party disembarked.

It should not be forgotten that Hogan was by no means a well man on that day. The damp, piercing air was the very worst there could have been for his disease, and the ague held him still by a pretty firm grasp. Nevertheless, he was dead in earnest that the fight should take place then and there.

“Take anybody,” he said to Sweeney, “for a referee, but don’t let the affair fall through.”

Allen, who knew very well what his antagonist’s condition was, kept him waiting a quarter of an hour in the mist and cold, while he was professedly preparing himself in a neighboring house.

The referee chosen was one Ryan, of whose future conduct in the case the reader will be able to form his own opinion. Sweeney and Thurston acted as Ben’s seconds, while Arthur Chambers and a friend did similar duty for Allen.

The spot selected for the fight was in a retired section of the country, with only a single house anywhere in the neighborhood. In a field near this solitary dwelling, the ring was staked out, and the three hundred spectators, more or less, gathered about to witness the fight.

It was a memorable affair to all who beheld it. The long-existing feud between these two famous pugilists seemed at last to be upon the point of a decisive settlement. The backers of each were confident that their respective men would win, and were ready to back this confidence to their last dollar. So in the leaden light of the autumn day, the two men stepped forward to batter each other’s faces until one or the other should throw up the sponge.







[Pg 159]


What Came of the Fight—Allen’s Treachery—Attempts to Kill Ben in St. Louis.


The fight itself, whatever may be the view taken of it, was unsatisfactory. It was marked from the beginning by a desire on the part of Allen and his friends to resort to foul means in order to win the stake. I make this assertion in the full confidence that any unprejudiced person who was present on the occasion will bear me out in its accuracy.

The men stepped into the ring, and, in accordance with time-honored custom, shook hands with each other. The crowd pressed close to the ropes, the seconds took up their positions in opposite corners, and the event concerning which so much had been said became at last a reality.

The first round lasted eight minutes. After some little sparring and cautious feelers on both sides, Ben got in a square right-hander, which drew the claret, and counted first blood for our hero. This he followed up by a knock-down, and succeeded in getting his antagonist into a corner, where he attempted to throw him over the ropes. This, it will be remembered, was the strategy resorted to by Heenan in his world-famous fight with Sayres. But Ben was not heavy enough to handle Allen in this manner, and so, instead of throwing him over the ropes, he knocked him underneath. This ended the round.

[Pg 160]The men responded promptly to the call of time, on the second round. This opened warily on either side, the pugilists standing off, and exchanging a series of scientific passes without any material advantage to either. Then Ben began to work Allen over towards the latter’s corner, doing some splendid work in the way of dealing and warding off blows. It was at this point that Allen began the tactics to which allusion has already been made. After a feint with his left, he let drive with his right, striking Ben not only below the belt, but in a part of the body which is, perhaps, the most sensitive of any. Ben dropped at once. The physician who was in attendance, and who made a hurried examination of the wound, declared that he had been ruptured, and that it was impossible for him to go into the ring again. Before any explanation could be made, however, and even before Ben could enter his protest against the foul, which Allen had plainly been guilty of, Looney called time, and there was nothing to do but to respond to this call.

The third round was a hot mill, lasting from seven to eight minutes. Some twenty blows were exchanged on each side, and then Allen again began his attempt at fouls. The crowd was quick to detect this, and equally quick to discountenance it.

“Foul! foul!” was the cry on all sides. In another moment the ropes were cut, and the spectators pressed into the ring. Addressing Allen, some of them said:

“If you can’t lick this man by fair means, you can’t lick him at all!”

Talk became loud and furious, and some pistols were drawn, but without any serious results.

Meantime, in the midst of the intense excitement which prevailed, Ben was eager to go on with the fight. The referee, however, decided that it should stop, and as[Pg 161] there was no appealing from this decision, the party made its way back to the train. On the way back Hogan fell into conversation with the referee, and asked him point blank what his final decision on the fight was to be. Ryan answered that he thought he should call it a draw. Ben insisted that the stakes ought to be given to him, inasmuch as he had won the first round, while in both the others Allen had been clearly guilty of a foul.

Eagan, the stake-holder, made his brags on the train that whatever the referee’s decision might be, whether for or against Hogan, he, Eagan, had got the money in his possession, and should keep it.

Some of the party who were disposed to be friendly to Ben, suggested that he might secure Eagan’s arrest for embezzlement, and accordingly upon their arrival in Omaha, the stake-holder found himself in the clutches of the law.

Three days after his arrest, Eagan gave up the money. He said before trustworthy witnesses that if he had had his own way about the matter, he should have paid over the entire stakes to Hogan, because, in Eagan’s opinion, he was justly entitled to them. It may be added that, when Eagan got back to St. Louis, he stoutly denied ever having made any such assertion as this. But perhaps there were some strong influences brought to bear to induce the stake-holder to forget what he had previously said.

Ben remained in Omaha for some days after the fight. During that time he received a telegram from St. Louis informing him that, as soon as he made his appearance in that city, he would be shot on sight. In answer to this threatening communication, Ben simply telegraphed back to secure a hall for the purpose of a benefit. From[Pg 162] which it would appear that he was not very much frightened at the threatening message.

Having secured the Comique, for the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, he left Omaha, and in company with Sweeney proceeded to St. Louis. The two put up at the Southern Hotel, and Ben began to make preparations for his proposed exhibition.

Although he had not hesitated a moment to return to the city, he still did not under-estimate the danger to which he was exposed. He knew that he had aroused the hatred of a desperate gang of men, who would not hesitate to take his life at the first convenient opportunity. He knew, moreover, that he must rely largely upon his own coolness and courage to carry him through the danger. For these reasons he kept in his room the greater part of his time, and was on the constant lookout for unpleasant surprises.

On the Sunday afternoon following his arrival in the city, he accepted an invitation from two high-toned residents to take a carriage drive. Behind as fast a team of horses as there were in St. Louis, Hogan and his friends set out for their trip, which was destined to be one of exciting adventure.

At Ben’s own suggestion, the party drove toward Wash Home, our hero little suspecting that his enemies were lying in wait there to kill him. As they neared the hotel, the gentleman who owned the team exclaimed suddenly,

“We are gone, as sure as fate!”

“What do you mean?” demanded Ben.

“I mean,” answered his friend, “that there are Tom Allen, Jack Looney, Schmidt, and the rest of the gang. If they see you here, you’ll be shot without mercy.”

“Oh, well,” answered Ben, “I guess they will give me[Pg 163] some sort of show for my life. I’m willing to meet them all in a bunch, if I have a pistol.”

The driveway leading to the hotel steps was in the shape of a semicircle, thus affording approach from either direction. Allen and the others were waiting on the steps at the point where they expected Ben to dismount. The carriage drove up as though intending to stop, but instead of doing so, the gentleman who was driving whipped up his spirited horses, dashed by the steps, and around the curve to the road again.

Perceiving that they had been foiled, Allen and the others started in hot pursuit. Some were in carriages, some on horseback, and some on foot. Eagan, the stake-holder, succeeded in closing up the gap between him and the carriage in which Ben was seated, and drawing his revolver, cried out:

“If you don’t stop, I’ll shoot!”

Just at that moment, Ben had neither the inclination nor the time to stop. Fortunately for him, the horses behind which he was driving were fleeter than any of those in pursuit, and so gained steadily upon Allen and his friends.

Ben was driven back to his hotel, where he parted with his friends. He went at once to the landlord and told him that it might be better for him to leave, as he did not care to disgrace the house by being killed there. The landlord only laughed and told him that he would take the chances on that.

Some of Allen’s followers did call at the hotel, but confined their operations to blackguardism and windy talk.

Ben meantime remained quietly in his room until the day of the exhibition. All things considered, he thought it would be safer not to take any more carriage rides to Wash Home.

[Pg 164]Frustrated in their designs of shooting Ben, his enemies resorted to a different course of tactics. They took advantage of the so-called vagrant law—one of the most disgraceful statutes that ever appeared in the law books of any city—and managed to procure the arrest of both Ben and Sweeney, while the two were at dinner in the hotel. The men were locked up, really guilty of no offense, unless it be a crime for a man to live in some other place than in St. Louis. The intention, of course, on the part of those who had entered the complaints, was to break up the exhibition. In this, however, their plans failed.

The Comique, that night, was open as advertised. A bigger house was never seen within the walls of a theatre. It was literally packed from pit to dome. When the hour for opening the entertainment had arrived, the manager stepped upon the stage and announced that the gentleman in whose benefit the performance was to be given had been arrested, and was at that time locked up in jail. He further said that if there were any present who desired to withdraw, their money would be refunded to them. Nobody cared to accept this proposition, and so the show proceeded.

After the performance it was discovered that a barrel of rocks and bolts had been carried in to the galleries with the intention of giving Hogan and Sweeney an unpleasantly warm reception. So, after all, it was a lucky thing for our hero that he was arrested.

At half-past eleven, that same night, Ben and his companion were released. In spite of their imprisonment, the benefit yielded nine hundred dollars in cash. When Ben was arraigned the next morning, the detective explained that the arrest had really been made to save Ben’s life, inasmuch as he would certainly have been[Pg 165] stoned and perhaps mobbed had he appeared on the stage of the Comique.

There was something singularly ridiculous in the idea of calling upon a man to answer to a charge of vagrancy, when he was stopping at a first-class hotel and had plenty of money, together with valuable jewelry locked up in the safe. However, it was in accord with the laws of St. Louis, and as has already been stated, it was a most lucky circumstance that the arrest had been made.

The witnesses against the alleged vagrants were Looney, Eagan and Allen. They failed to make out a case, and so Hogan and Sweeney were released. Before they left the city, an attempt was made to kill Ben, but this, like the other efforts of his enemies, proved unsuccessful.



[Pg 166]


Ben in Chicago—Returns to Pittsburg—More of Allen—Builds Opera Houses in Petrolia and Millerstown—Figures Once More in Politics.


Immediately after the incidents related in the preceding chapters, Ben left St. Louis, and in company with Sweeney proceeded to Chicago.

Reaching that city at about the time when the Palmer House was first opened, the two friends spent a week in a thoroughly lively manner. They found plenty of ways in which to spend their money, and they spent it with a freedom which was refreshing.

It was during this week that Ben one night went into a well-known sporting house, and there falling into conversation with one of the women, learned that Kitty had been to Cleveland. His own identity was unknown to the woman in question, and so she talked without reserve. In response to Ben’s inquiry as to whether she knew Kitty, she replied that she did to her sorrow. That this same Kitty had won from her the love of the only man whom she ever cared anything for, and that it would afford her infinite pleasure to scratch out this same Kitty’s eyes.

“Why,” she said, “the vixen has been in Cleveland living with my fellow there. She had three thousand dollars’ worth of diamonds with her, and she promised to give them all to him.”

“Oh, she did, did she?” rejoined Ben, a good deal interested in the narrative.




[Pg 167]“Yes,” continued the woman; “you see, she has a fellow in the oil regions, Ben Hogan—perhaps you’ve heard of him—who gives her all the money she can spend. And every little while she comes on to Cleveland, and has a time with my fellow, and of course this Ben Hogan doesn’t know anything about it!”

“Well, he must be a good deal of a fool,” observed Ben, with a quiet satire, which the woman could not understand.

The information thus obtained induced Ben to cut short his visit in Chicago and return to Pittsburg. There, it will be remembered, Kitty was still living in the house which Ben had provided for her, and upon the latter’s arrival he found so many lovers hovering about that it was really difficult to tell who was the master of the house. Hogan finally vindicated his right to this title by selling off the furniture, and afterward disposing of the house itself.

Meantime, Sweeney and Hogan gave an exhibition at Ames’s Varieties, and during the week of the performance, Tom Allen arrived in Pittsburg. With a number of his backers, he went into Wood’s saloon, and there began to talk about the Omaha fight. He did a good deal of tall bragging, and wound up by offering to fight Hogan the next week, for a purse of three thousand to two thousand dollars.

Ben replied that he was in no condition to make a match. He had not yet recovered from his fit of sickness, and more than that, he was suffering still from the effects of Allen’s foul blow.

This ended the discussion for the time being. But after leaving the saloon, and thinking over the matter, Ben sent two of his friends, Sweeney and Fairchild, with two hundred dollars, and this message to Allen:

[Pg 168]“Tell him that I will put up this two hundred dollars as a forfeit to fight him for even money, for the amount he has named, the fight to come off in thirty days.”

Fairchild and Sweeney found Allen in Martin’s Varieties; but the St. Louis pugilist refused the proposition on the remarkable grounds, that he did not care to add to Hogan’s reputation by giving him the chance to have his name coupled with his (Allen’s). After enjoying a benefit in Pittsburg, Allen went back to St. Louis, where he claimed that he had driven Ben Hogan out of the former city.

Although not by any means driven out, Ben left Pittsburg for Petrolia, while his friend Sweeney returned to his home in Kansas City.

In Petrolia Ben again took possession of the house which he had rented to Nell Robinson, and installed Kitty therein, thinking that she might do better there than in Pittsburg, as she certainly would not be surrounded by so many lovers.

Looking about for some fresh enterprise, Hogan hit upon the idea of erecting an Opera House in Petrolia. It so happened that, talking this project over with an acquaintance named Crittenden, he made a bet with the latter, of one hundred dollars in money and a basket of wine, that he would build an opera house in thirty days. In order to accomplish this task, it was necessary to divide up the work, and go outside of the town for assistance. Accordingly, he sent one man to Corry, another to Warren, and so on, procuring the windows and doors at one point, the lumber at another, and the seats at a third. In this way the work was pushed through with great rapidity.

It proved a good deal heavier undertaking than Ben had counted upon, but he did not permit his energy to[Pg 169] wane. As he had lost all his own money in the seductive game of faro, he had no ready capital to risk. But he went right along as though his bank account was unlimited. So, indeed, in a certain way it was; for Mr. Taylor, to whom Ben had applied for assistance, told him his enterprise ought to be encouraged, and gave him authority to draw upon him for any amount. Ben got the bulk of his material on sixty days’ credit, and with two thousand dollars in ready money, furnished by Mr. Taylor, he carried the project successfully through.

In thirty days from the time of its conception, the Petrolia Opera House was finished, and thrown open to the public. Its total cost was eleven thousand dollars, and it was really a very substantial and handsome structure. The hall itself was on the second story, and was completely equipped with gas, scenery, and stage appointments. The walls were double boarded, and eight inches thick. On the ground floor was a bar-room forty by thirty feet, together with forty bed-rooms for the accommodation of the traveling public. Altogether it was a decided credit to the town, as well as a monument to Ben Hogan’s enterprise.

Dan Shelby, the well-known Buffalo manager, brought on his company and opened the house, playing for a season of two weeks. These first performances were fairly successful, and the profits were divided between Shelby and Ben. The Opera House was afterwards used by traveling companies, and is to-day well known to showmen.

Having won his wine, and shown what he could do in the way of erecting theatres, Ben went to Millerstown, and there proceeded to build a second opera house. This was put up on a cheaper scale than the one in[Pg 170] Petrolia. Hogan again demonstrated how a man may accomplish without a dollar’s capital.

He went to a lumber firm in the town and laid before them his project. The firm agreed to build the opera house for two thousand dollars—which was fully twice as much as it was worth. Ben’s proposition was to pay on time, and to give the firm a percentage on the profits accruing from the house. The chairs, scenery, etc., were supplied from the Petrolia house, the latter having enough and to spare. Wildman’s Dramatic Company opened the Millerstown Opera House, playing East Lynne, and filling out a very successful engagement of two weeks.

In this time, Ben cleared two thousand eight hundred dollars; but after the first cream had been taken off, the milk henceforth was very thin indeed. Millerstown was not big enough to make the management of a theatre remunerative.

There was at that time no church in the town, and so one of the ministers went to Ben and solicited the use of the Opera House for Fridays and Sundays. This request was promptly granted, Ben declaring that he would cheerfully give the use of the house to any church or charitable institution. The building was accordingly occupied every Sunday for religious meetings, and this movement may be said to have been the foundation of a number of churches in the town.

In referring to Ben, the minister took occasion, at one of the meetings, to say that there was many a black sheep whose soul was really whiter than many of those who counted themselves within the fold. A common sense, if not a theological truth.

The lumber firm, who had sought to play a sharp game on Ben, received in all about one hundred and fifty[Pg 171] dollars, and after that they came in possession of the Opera House. Hogan was perfectly willing to surrender it, having squeezed the lemon dry during the first two weeks.

While these enterprises were engaging his attention, Ben divided his time between Millerstown and Petrolia, Kitty still remaining at the latter place. In a row which occurred at the Petrolia House, in which the participants were a couple of women and a man, one of the women accidentally (?) shot Ben, but with only slight injuries. As soon as he had recovered he met the man, Charley Moore by name, and a somewhat lively dispute followed. Moore had a friend with him who discharged his revolver at Ben, but failed to score a bull’s eye, the ball striking a dry-goods box instead of our hero’s heart. With no other weapons than his fists, Ben disposed of both men, knocking one down with his right hand and the other with his left. The fellow who discharged the shot was arrested and sent to jail, but got out again in a week or so.

The dull times had now begun to tell seriously upon the oil region. Oil dropped to forty cents, and with it money ceased to drop. There was very little life left in the neighborhood, and that may have accounted for the tax which was levied upon the keepers of all sporting houses. The mistress was called upon to contribute twelve dollars to the treasury of the town, while each of the girls was assessed seven dollars. Of course any such tax as this was really illegal, as the houses were not licensed; still, to avoid interference, the money was paid.

Ben, to whom this shot was particularly directed, was considerably incensed, and determined to expose the whole thing. He was already paying a license of three[Pg 172] dollars a night for his Opera House, and he did not care to increase his donations to the town officials. An opportunity for speaking out his mind presented itself on the occasion of a performance given in the Opera House by Sanford’s minstrels. After the show had ended, Hogan stepped upon the stage and said:

“I desire to detain you only a moment, ladies and gentlemen. As you are all well aware, I built this Opera House for the sake of furnishing the public with amusement. There was nobody else who had the capital or the energy to do this work. Now you all know that there are from forty to seventy sporting women in Petrolia. They have been here long enough for you to know their character, and there is no need of discussing the fact that they are here. You know, moreover, what my business is, and I have only to say if you think the women have injured the town, let them be driven out. But I don’t intend to submit to this exorbitant license business any longer. I have spoken to Mr. Dimmick, the burgess, and he tells me it is not his fault—that the Councilmen are responsible. Now if the Council spent the money for public improvements, if it was used for sidewalks and pavements, and things of that sort, I would willingly pay double the amount they demand of me; but we have no sidewalks nor pavements, and the inevitable conclusion is that the money finds its way into official pockets. I don’t propose to contribute any more for that purpose.”

This speech was received with enthusiastic applause by the audience. Indeed, it may be said that the sympathy of the people was much more largely on Ben’s side than on the side of the officials.

At about this time the campaign for the election of a Congressman for that district opened, and Hogan entertained some ideas of running for the office on an[Pg 173] independent ticket. While not expecting, nor, for that matter, seeking an election, he desired to show what his strength was, and in that way throw his influence on whichever side of the house he saw fit.

He went so far as to organize a committee in Millerstown, with the ostensible purpose of supporting him for Congress. The officers of this somewhat curious committee were as follows: President, Ben Hogan; Vice-President, Ben Hogan; Secretary and Treasurer, Ben Hogan. It may be added that the membership consisted chiefly, if not solely, of the officers; and as Ben was all the officers put together, he was likewise all the members.

He held a memorable meeting that fall in Millerstown. Securing the services of a brass band, he marched to the hall, collecting a crowd as he went, and then selected officers for the evening from among the representative citizens. Speeches were made by a number of those present, but the beauty of the thing was that nobody could tell on which side the orators were arguing. In fact, Ben directed the speakers to eschew politics altogether, so that no offense could be given to either party. Then he mounted the rostrum, and made this little speech himself:

“To-morrow is election day. I want to say a word to the working men, and it is this: Vote for the best candidates, never minding what their politics are. You will find plenty of men running for office who will be your friends so long as they can make tools of you. But after election they do not know you when they meet you. Now, I think you will bear me witness that I have always tried to help the working man. I never turned anybody away from my house hungry, nor have I refused money to those who needed it. I never passed a beggar[Pg 174] or blind man without giving him something. But I do not ask any political favors. I have not even told you which party I shall work for, and I’m not going to tell you now!”

This little speech was received with much laughter and applause. As a matter of fact, Hogan was paid money by both political parties that night, but he worked the next day with the Democrats for a Congressman, District Attorney and Judge, all of whom were elected.

This little campaigning incident goes to show that a good many leading politicians have sought Ben Hogan’s aid, and have been able to carry through their plans solely by reason of his influence. Had he chosen himself to run for Congress that year, it is at least probable that he would have been successful. And the capital might then have been graced by the Hon. Ben Hogan as it once was by the Hon. John Morrissey.



[Pg 175]


Ben as a Banker—Faro Banker—Burglars—Counterfeit Money, and how Hogan didn’t Handle it—Ben as a Doctor—Allen in New York City—Why the Fight Fell Through.


Soon after the election, Ben closed up his place in Petrolia, and separated from Kitty. She went on to Pittsburg, and he soon after followed.

At that time, for want of anything better to do, he went largely into the banking business—the faro banking business. In his tours about town he fell in with a party of first-class cracksmen, who were making ready for an extensive job. These men took Hogan into their confidence, and told him that they could make half a million dollars if they had the capital to carry them through.

Ben consented to furnish the money, and to become a silent partner in the proposed undertaking. The field of operation was the city of Baltimore, to which place the cracksmen, in company with Ben, made their way.

In the week which Hogan spent at the Utah House, he thought over the business which had brought him to Baltimore seriously and carefully. He reasoned with himself that all these men were bound to bring up sooner or later in prison or on the gallows, and he reached the determination that he would have nothing to do with the business. Hardened as he was, and elastic as his conscience may have been, he was not prepared to assist in robbery.

[Pg 176]He told this to the burglars, saying:

“You must count me out of this job, gentlemen. I will furnish you the money for any legitimate purpose, but I must decline to hold a hand in the game!”

After his week in Baltimore, Ben drifted to New York. By this time his money was getting low, and he entered into a little of the speculation known technically as dealing in the “queer,” and commonly as offering counterfeit money for sale. But the reader will observe, as the narrative progresses, that our hero never had a dollar of the “queer” in his possession. His plan of operation, while in New York, was somewhat as follows:

Having selected his victim, who was invariably a stranger in the city, he would approach him cautiously on the subject, and finally invite him to his room in the hotel. There he would produce a satchel, containing some genuine bank notes, show them to the visitor, and inform him that they were counterfeits.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Ben would add, “but it’s a fact. To the right sort of person, I am willing to sell this in large quantities for thirty cents on the dollar. Here are five hundred dollars, and you can take it along, satchel and all, for one hundred and fifty!”

If this offer was accepted—and in nine cases out of ten it was—Ben proceeded to carry out his fine work. This consisted, in the first place, of exchanging the satchel which contained the money for one with newspapers in it. Then the purchaser was informed that it would not be safe for him to carry the money himself, so he would better send it to his home by express. Ben would then accompany his customer to the express office, get a receipt for the satchel, and skillfully exchange this for a blank slip of paper, folded to look like the receipt.

When the verdant and would-be counterfeiter reached[Pg 177] his home, he would find that the blank slip of paper was not good for the satchel, while the satchel itself was good only for what it would fetch at a second-hand store. The contents, that is, the newspapers, would not be of much value, except in a country where they used them for currency.

It will be seen that such a game as this called for a great deal of skillful work on the part of the operator. Not many men could have carried it through successfully, but Hogan found plenty of dupes, who were of course afraid to make any disturbance because they had been swindled, for the very reason that they were attempting a swindle themselves.

Ben also did more or less in the sawdust business—that is, sending a box of sawdust for those who wrote on for the “queer.” And on a good deal larger scale, he offered some of the well-to-do merchants large sums of Mexican dollars, which he said he had in his possession, and which were all counterfeit; but which, having received advances from the respectable gentlemen who were anxious to handle this counterfeit money, he never furnished.

If there is any moral to be drawn from these incidents, it is that the men who were swindled were quite as criminal as was Ben, and the latter perhaps did society a good service by bleeding them.

Another curious method resorted to by our hero for raising the wind was that of suddenly becoming a physician. Not having any college degree, Ben conferred a degree upon himself. He left New York, went to Washington, put up at the St. James Hotel, and announced himself as the distinguished Dr. Cable, whose special line of practice was that of private diseases. Soon after the Doctor’s arrival, he was one day standing on[Pg 178] the hotel steps, when a young man came along and said that his services were needed at once in the case of a young lady who was very sick. Dr. Cable at once called upon this patient, and saw that she was suffering from nothing more serious than a bilious attack.

It may be well to explain in this connection that Ben really has a considerable knowledge of the human system, and has devoted much time to the study of diseases and their cure. Probably he is quite as well qualified to prescribe in cases of illness as are some of the alleged doctors who have bought a degree from one of the cheap medical colleges which flood the land. At all events, in the case of the Washington young lady, who was supposed by her friends to be seriously ill, Ben’s simple remedy worked like a charm. She recovered in short order, and the distinguished Dr. Cable won quite a reputation for his remarkable cure. Whenever he was called to attend a patient whose case he did not understand, he would give a little magnesia or a seidlitz powder, and in this way not only avoid injuring anybody, but really did many good. As for other physicians, the distinguished Dr. Cable absolutely refused to hold any consultation with them. His time was too valuable to waste in talking.

One rich old bachelor sent for Ben one day, under the impression that he was at the point of death. As usual, Dr. Cable prescribed his simple and harmless remedies, and left his patient doing finely. It occurred to the distinguished Dr. Cable, however, that the bachelor was a legitimate bird to pluck; and he, therefore, secured the services of a confederate and proceeded to carry out this plan. On the day following Dr. Cable’s visit, the confederate called at the bachelor’s house, represented himself to be a physician, and disclosed the startling fact[Pg 179] that the bachelor had been poisoned by Dr. Cable. The patient, of course, was very much frightened, and thereupon the second doctor offered to save his life for the reasonable sum of one hundred dollars. The offer was straightway accepted; more magnesia and seidlitz powders were administered; the bachelor’s life was saved, and Ben and his confederate divided the hundred-dollar fee.

I may say that the last time our hero ever assumed to be an M. D. was just before his last arrival in New York. He was standing one day in Winan’s drug store in Tarport, Pa., when a man entered, and upon inquiring for a physician, Ben told him that he followed that profession. Then he explained to the stranger precisely what ailed him, and prescribed—a seidlitz powder. All this was done in the presence of the doctor, and purely for a joke. Nevertheless, Ben took the two-dollar fee which the man offered him.

After his brief but by no means inglorious career as a physician, Ben left Washington and returned to New York. There, happening to meet Joe Coburn, the conversation turned upon Ben’s fight with Allen.

“Would you be willing,” asked Coburn, “to meet Allen again?”

“I am ready,” answered Ben, “to fight him at any time, under any circumstances, and for any stake, be it love or money!”

This induced Coburn to exert himself to bring about a match; and while the negotiations were pending, he and Ben took a joint benefit at Harry Hill’s. Ben then printed a challenge in the papers, in which he offered to fight Allen for two thousand five hundred dollars a side.

This challenge brought Allen from the West. After[Pg 180] considerable talk, a match was finally made for one thousand dollars, to come off in New York City. The place selected was a barn in Thirty-second street, and the conditions were that only twenty men should witness the contest.

On the day appointed for the battle, Ben and his friends, including Budd Riley and Coburn, assembled in a saloon near the proposed fighting ground. The time appointed for the fight was ten o’clock in the morning. Promptly at that hour Allen, accompanied by Arthur Chambers, Billy Edwards, and Micky Coburn, made his appearance. He was not so prompt, however, in coming to time. He claimed that it was absolutely necessary for him to go down town to his hotel, for the purpose of changing his clothes. So he went—and that was the last seen of him. Ben and his friends waited around for a long time, but Allen must have found his toilet exceedingly difficult to arrange that day. The fight fell through, and from that time forward New York sporting men have taken very little stock in Tom Allen.





[Pg 181]


The Girl Ben Met in Owney Geoghegan’s—A Confiding Sea Captain—Adventure in Little Falls—Pitching a Man Across the Erie Canal—Return to Syracuse.


Ben remained in New York at this time for a month or so, during which time he met with an adventure which it is worth while to relate.

Being well fixed in the way of money—he had made five hundred dollars in a few hours at faro—he went around one night to Owney Geoghegan’s notorious resort on the Bowery. It was considerably past midnight when he entered the place, and the women who were lounging about the room were in the main most pitiable representatives of their sex. Among the number, however, was one who, in spite of her dilapidated appearance, gave unmistakable evidence of having seen better days. With this girl Ben fell into conversation, learned that she had followed a life of shame but a short time, and was struck by her beauty and intelligence. Poor and forsaken, as she now was, Hogan’s sympathy went out to her, and the character of the man was illustrated in the way he treated her. Accustomed as he was to gilded vice and the association of the better class of the demi-monde, he could still make himself an equal with women of this sort. He accompanied his newly formed acquaintance to her home on Forsyth street, and there spent the remainder of the night, occupying, let it be said, a separate room. Most wretched quarters they were in which this young woman with her widowed mother lived.[Pg 182] When Ben awoke the next morning, he proposed to the girl, Nellie, to stay to breakfast. She told him with some hesitancy that there was nothing in the house to eat.

“That makes no difference,” said Ben; “we can get plenty to eat and drink, too. Here, take this ten-dollar bill, go out and buy whatever you want. A porter-house steak wouldn’t go bad, and you might invest in a bottle of champagne, too.”

With many expressions of gratitude, the girl took the money, and while she was gone, Ben, adapting himself to the surroundings, assisted the mother in preparing for the breakfast. It was a royal feast, and perhaps the consciousness of having done a good deed gave our hero a keen appetite.

When Ben came to take his departure, the girl and her mother were profuse in their thanks.

“You may be a prize fighter,” said the latter, “but you have the kindest heart of any man I ever knew.”

“When I’m in want again,” said the girl, “I shall look you up to help me.”

A day or two afterward, Ben, while in company with some of his friends, ran across the girl in the street, and readily furnished her with the money she solicited. She told him then that she had three or four hundred dollars’ worth of rich dresses and jewelry in pawn, which she hoped some time to redeem.

Some two weeks after this adventure, Ben was passing down Broadway, with a friend, when he heard a voice call out


Turning, he saw a richly dressed young woman, in conversation with a gray-haired man. As he approached, the latter turned away, and upon coming up to the girl who had called him, Ben found his old friend, whom he[Pg 183] had met in Owney Geoghegan’s. It took only a few words to explain matters. The gray-haired man who had just left her was a sea captain, with plenty of money, who had been smitten by her many charms. He had provided her with funds to redeem her clothing and jewelry; had given her two hundred dollars in cash, and was prepared to give her any additional amount. She had called to Ben as “cousin” in order not to arouse the jealousy of the sea captain. And she was now prepared to pay back Ben’s kindness with interest.

The two, therefore, started off together, and lived royally while the captain’s money lasted; then they hit upon this plan for raising more. The captain was so smitten with the girl that he was only too anxious to spend money to gratify any whim of hers. She represented to the captain that she needed money to furnish her room in better style, and the confiding old fellow readily made out his checks for the desired amount. In this way he contributed another four hundred dollars to the enjoyment of the girl and Hogan.

It will be observed that when this woman was in want Ben was quite ready to assist her; but when she struck good fortune again, and was supplied with somebody else’s money, he was equally ready to share it with her, and get all the pleasure out of the adventure possible.

Ben never saw the girl afterward, but their brief acquaintanceship was one that he will never forget.

At length, after an eventful sojourn in the metropolis, our hero determined to pay a visit to Syracuse, the scene of his early adventures. On his way to that city, he stopped off at the town of Little Falls, where occurred a very amusing incident.

As he was a stranger in the place, he sought the[Pg 184] companionship to be found in a friendly and adjacent bar-room, and was there accosted by a fellow anxious to make a bet. The conditions of the bet were that each man should put up twenty-five dollars, and the one who first succeeded in knocking off the other’s hat, should take the money. Believing that his own skill in the boxing art would make it an easy thing to win the bet, Ben squared off with the stranger; but all the science he could bring to bear did not enable him to knock off his opponent’s head-gear. In about two minutes and a half, Ben’s hat was sent spinning to the floor, and the Little Falls representative was accordingly entitled to the stakes.

Ben immediately put up another twenty-five dollars, which the stranger also won, and repeated the process until he had relieved our hero of one hundred and seventy-five dollars. Ben subsequently discovered that this shrewd boxer wore a set of false whiskers, encircling his chin, and the close-fitting cap which covered his head was fastened to these whiskers. Of course it was impossible to knock off the cap under these circumstances.

Fully conscious that he had been done for, Ben set his wits to work to hit upon some plan by which he might get even with the Little Faller. By the next morning he was ready with a proposition. He offered to bet the fellow who had done the boxing five hundred dollars that he could throw one hundred and thirty pounds across the Erie canal, which flows through Little Falls. As a matter of fact, Ben did not have a dollar left, but he had taken the landlord of the hotel into the scheme, making the latter the stakeholder. It was agreed between them that if the fellow could be induced to make the bet, the landlord should represent that Hogan had already put up the money.

[Pg 185]“What sort of a weight do you want to throw?” asked the successful boxer.

“A dumb bell,” answered Ben.

“But there isn’t any one hundred and thirty pound dumb bell in the town!”

“Well,” said Ben, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll bet you the five hundred dollars that I can throw you across the Erie canal!”

“I’ll bet you can’t!” was the prompt rejoinder.

“All right!” exclaimed Ben. “We’ll make the trial, and if I fail, the one who gives out first and wants to stop shall lose his money.”

This was agreed to by the stranger, who put up his five hundred dollars, and with the landlord and Ben, proceeded to the canal.

It was a chilly day, and the water was anything but inviting. The man of course had counted upon being pitched in to the canal, but he had also reckoned that he could stand the ducking longer than Ben could stand the throwing. That was where he made a mistake. Hogan seized hold of the chap, who weighed about one hundred and twenty-five pounds, and pitched him head foremost into the chilling water. He came out with his teeth chattering and his skin blue.

“That’s one failure!” exclaimed Ben, “but never mind; I shall get you across, yet. There’s nothing like patience in these things.”

Thereupon he seized hold of his victim again, and pitched him a second time into the water. Shaking as if he had the ague, the fellow pulled himself out, while the landlord and Ben roared with laughter. A third time Hogan picked up the unfortunate man, and threw him out into the canal. By this time he was pretty nearly frozen to death, and when he got out, he[Pg 186] swore he wouldn’t be thrown in again if he could win ten times five hundred dollars. Ben and the landlord divided the stakes, and Hogan left Little Falls seventy-five dollars ahead, in spite of the unfortunate boxing contest.

The ups and downs of an adventurer’s life found an illustration in the journey to Syracuse. A couple of railroad sharpers, who made a living by betting on sure things, came up to Ben on the train, and told him they had a chance to bleed a “sucker,” but they needed a little ready money to do it. Would Ben go them two hundred or two hundred and fifty dollars for about half an hour? They would stand in with him evenly for all they made. Ben gave the fellows his money, and they went forward to another car to operate upon the “sucker.”

After waiting half an hour for their return, Ben got a little uneasy, and went in search of his friends. He found that they had jumped the train, and his two hundred and fifty dollars had gone where the woodbine twineth. Then it was that he saw the “sucker” not a very desirable kind of fish to be.



[Pg 187]


Another Challenge to Allen—Brookville and Indiana Adventures.


Upon his arrival in Syracuse, Ben went into training with the expectation of making a match with his old antagonist, Tom Allen. His ground for believing that such a match might be brought about was the suspicion that the Allen-Rourke fight, which was then under way, would fall through. In that case, Ben wanted to be ready to step in, and offer to fight Allen immediately.

During the four weeks he thus spent in training, he was assisted by Tommy Foster, who was himself an excellent athlete, as was shown from the fact that, weighing only one hundred and forty pounds, he could put up a one hundred and sixty pound bell.

At the end of his month’s training Ben went to Pittsburg. Meantime Allen’s fight with Rourke had, as was anticipated, fallen through. Ben, therefore, as soon as he reached Pittsburg, issued the following challenge:

“I see that the Allen-Rourke fight did not take place as proposed. A large number of sporting men having assembled to witness this contest, I herewith propose, in order to prevent them from being disappointed, to take Rourke’s place and fight Allen for five hundred or one thousand dollars, or any other sum which he may name. The fight to take place immediately upon the acceptance of this challenge.”

Allen’s excuse for refusing to take up with Ben’s offer[Pg 188] was that he had business to attend to at home, and so could not spare the time to fight anybody.

Disappointed in thus failing again to bring Allen to a square encounter, Ben fell back upon his old resource, and opened a gymnasium in Pittsburg, on Fourth Avenue. In response to a telegram, George Rourke went to the city for the purpose of giving a sparring exhibition with Hogan. Great excitement was awakened in Pittsburg over this proposed match, but the Mayor refused to grant a license for the exhibition. Ben therefore lost seventy-five dollars on a speculation which he had hoped would return him a fat thing.

The week following, however, Rourke succeeded in getting a license to give an exhibition at the Academy of Music, and on that occasion Ben made his appearance, winding up the show by a bout with Rourke. The latter proved to be a clever boxer, and the set-to was an interesting one.

Why the Mayor of Pittsburg should have refused to grant Hogan a license, does not make itself wholly apparent. He may have been influenced by others, although it is at least certain that he entertained no very friendly feelings toward Ben. This was shown on numerous occasions, when the Mayor had an opportunity to molest or annoy Hogan.

Ben called upon the official, and spoke his mind pretty freely.

“You have no right,” he said, “to refuse me a license. I have done nothing out of the way here, as you very well know, and I am trying simply to make an honest living. You may be the Mayor of Pittsburg, but you are not king any more than I am. You are a common citizen, with the same rights as others. It may be well for you to keep that fact in mind!”

[Pg 189]Some hot words followed on both sides, and the result of the whole thing was, that the Mayor soon after had Ben arrested and locked up—for what offense it would have been exceedingly difficult to tell.

In the same cell with Ben were a couple of strangers, with whom he naturally fell into conversation.

“What are you in for?” he asked.

“Don’t know!” was the rejoinder.

“What are you in for?”

“Don’t know!” answered Ben.

“Well, what sort of a man is this Mayor, anyway?”

“If you want my private opinion of him,” replied Ben, “I can give it to you in a very few words. He is an ignorant bull-head, and no more fit to be Mayor of the city than a lamp-post. He might do for sweeper in the office, but that’s all. Before he was elected Mayor, he was a useful citizen in a humble sphere; now he is noted for his severity.”

Right in the midst of this conversation, the Mayor himself made his appearance at the cell door.

“So, ho!” he said, “I’ve got you now!”

“The h— you have!” answered Ben.

“Yes, sir, I’ve got you!” repeated the Mayor, swelling with official dignity; “and I mean to make it very warm for you.”

“What have I ever done,” asked Ben, “that you should seek to persecute me in this manner? Have I ever been drunk or disorderly?”

“No,” interrupted the Mayor; “you’re a good deal too sharp to get drunk.”

“Then I should like to know what I have done to justify my being locked up. The only harm I have done in Pittsburg is the harm I have done myself by spending fifty thousand dollars, more or less, at your faro[Pg 190] banks and bar-rooms. If I had the money back now, you can rest assured that I wouldn’t put it in circulation in this town.”

In spite of his threat to make it warm for Hogan, the latter was released from custody on condition that he would leave the city. This he did by crossing over the river to Allegheny, and returning again the next morning. He remained some two weeks longer in the city, and experienced no further trouble from the Mayor.

Ben next went to Brookville, and there gave lessons in gymnastics. During the six weeks which he spent between this town and Reynoldsville, the crusade movement against whiskey broke out in active form in that part of Pennsylvania. It was at the time that Hartranft was running for Governor, and when he was anxious to conciliate the temperance vote. He spoke one Sunday night in Brookville, and Ben was among those who attended the meeting.

On the next day the women pushed their work among the saloons, the town being crowded on account of the holding of the court. In one of the bar-rooms where the crusaders operated, and where Ben chanced to be present, some of the bystanders insulted the women in their work. Picking out the ringleader of the disturbance, Hogan proceeded to deliver a lecture to him after the following fashion:

“You have no right to interfere with these ladies. They are doing simply what they believe to be right; and, whether right or wrong, no decent man will insult them. It might be a good deal better for you if you had lived up to the principles of temperance yourself. Perhaps your wife, then, wouldn’t be in want of bread to eat, nor your little ones without shoes or stockings. If you had spent the money which you have wasted for[Pg 191] liquor in a better cause, you would be a good deal happier to-day. I am a temperance man myself, although I don’t believe in the total abstinence principles of these ladies. At the same time, I am going to see to it that they are not annoyed nor insulted. No man worthy of the name will do that to any woman. Remember that you have had a mother, and perhaps a wife and sisters. Treat these women with courtesy and kindness. They are engaged in a great work. Now, gentlemen, we will all have a drink!”

This speech, as may be readily conceived, had its effect upon the crowd; and where Ben Hogan became the champion of the crusaders, none of the Brookvillers thought it wise to molest them.

After leaving Brookville, Ben went to Pittsburg again, where, falling in with a young man whom we will designate as George, he made his way into Indiana county. There he entered upon the counterfeit money game, on a somewhat different plan from that adopted in New York. I will attempt to describe the method used.

Ben would call upon a leading farmer, whose love of lucre he believed to be stronger than his conscience. He would go provided with two or three hundred dollars in crisp, new bank notes. Falling into conversation with the intended victim, he would tell him, in a delicate and round-about manner, that he had a project in mind, by which his friend might make a fortune in no time. Drawing out some of the genuine bills, he would say:

“Just look at these. You wouldn’t think they were counterfeit, now, would you?”

“Counterfeit!” the farmer would exclaim, in amazement, at the same time taking the bills and examining them critically. “Well, I swan! If them is counterfeit bills, I’d like to have about a million of them, that’s all!”

[Pg 192]“Yes, they’re counterfeit!” Ben would rejoin, in a matter-of-fact sort of way. “The best imitations ever made. Bankers themselves can’t detect them!”

“Well, how much do you charge for this money?” the farmer would inquire.

“We sell it at the rate of four dollars for one—that is, where the amount taken is big enough to make it an object. You see I am the agent, and I carry this with me simply as a specimen. When we get enough orders in any place, we ship it on in large quantities. But it doesn’t pay us to handle small amounts.”

“Couldn’t you let me have, say a hundred dollars’ worth?” the farmer would ask.

“No,” Ben would answer, “that isn’t enough. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You take me round and introduce me to some of your neighbors—men who can be trusted, you know—and then you can make up a purse together, and buy enough to make it an object for us to ship it.”

This proposition would almost always meet with a ready acceptance, and so, in company with his first victim, Ben would start out in search of a second. In this way half a dozen or more farmers would be visited, and on the strength of the introduction, it was comparatively easy to broach the subject. Having secured enough to make up a purse of perhaps five hundred dollars, Ben would take the farmers’ money and inform them that one of their number could drive in to the village with him, while he obtained the “queer.” It is almost needless to explain that Ben would give the farmer the slip, and that not a dollar of the counterfeit notes ever found its way into the would-be speculators’ pockets. Not any of them would dare to make any noise over the swindle, because if he did, the whole[Pg 193] matter would of course come to light, and that would put him in a good deal worse boat than it would Ben.

In all Hogan’s operations of this nature, he never handled a dollar of counterfeit money; but he found that there were plenty of people in the world who would have been glad to handle it, if they could have done so on the quiet.



[Pg 194]


Ben’s Generous Act in Indiana—Under Arrest in Pittsburg with Kitty—Goes West—Life in Grand Rapids—Mistaken for a Minister.


It was in the town of Indiana, at the same time during which the counterfeiting game was in operation, that there occurred an incident which serves to illustrate Hogan’s readiness to help those in distress.

One of those financial sharks who manage to keep within the letter of the law and at the same time to swindle everybody who has dealings with them, held a mortgage on a poor man’s house. The hard times had made it impossible for the man in question to meet the demands of the mortgage-holder, and the latter had therefore entered a foreclosure. This left the man homeless, and without a dollar in the world with which to support his family.

In some way the facts of the case came to Ben’s knowledge, and he resolved to save the unfortunate man’s property. With his accustomed shrewdness, he hit upon a plan which completely outwitted the money-sharper. The mortgage upon the property amounted, with interest, to three thousand dollars. It was generally believed that the property at that dull time would not bring much more than enough to satisfy this claim. Of course it was for the interest of the holder of the mortgage to get as much for the property as he could.

Ben had it circulated about the town that he was a real[Pg 195] estate dealer from New York, who had come on to Indiana to buy up all the land that he could get hold of. His confederate, George, who was with him at that time, went to the broker who held the mortgage, and told him that this New York agent would pay any sum for the property which was about to be sold. George advised the broker to bid against Ben, so as to run the figure up as high as possible. In his greed to get all that he could, the broker straightway fell into this trap.




When the day of the sale arrived, a goodly number of people assembled, some to bid, but more to look on. The broker was on hand early, with George at his side, who professed to be most loyal to his new friend. Ben, also, was there, with the man who had given the mortgage. The auctioneer mounted his box and the sale began.

“What am I offered for this property, gentlemen? You all know what it is worth, and the circumstances under which it is sold. What do I hear to start it?”

“Five hundred dollars!” said Ben.

“Five hundred and ten!” said the broker.

“Fifteen hundred!” continued Ben.

The broker was cautious in all his bids, and raised this last amount only ten dollars.

“Three thousand dollars!” exclaimed Hogan.

“Three thousand and ten!” exclaimed the broker.

“Four thousand!” cried Ben.

At this point the auctioneer had to dwell some time. The broker began to get a little nervous, but George was on hand to spur him on.

“Why, man alive,” said the latter, “don’t be a bit afraid; this New Yorker will give ten thousand dollars rather than not get it. I heard him say so, myself. Raise him again!”

“Four thousand and ten!” said the broker at last.

[Pg 196]“Five thousand dollars!” came promptly from Ben’s side of the house.

The man who had given the mortgage began to fear lest Hogan would overdo the thing.

“Don’t raise it again,” he said; “it is up high enough now to give me a good surplus.”

But Ben only replied by saying in a tone loud enough for everybody to hear him:

“It doesn’t make any difference to me what I pay for this property. I’m going to have it; and I’ve got the money right here in my pocket,” slapping his breast as he spoke, where there was not a dollar.

The words, however, had their desired effect upon the broker. Thinking that he could safely run the price up, he continued to bet against Ben, until he reached seven thousand dollars. No sooner had he made this bid than Ben looked over with a smile of triumph, and said:

“The property is yours, sir. I hope you are satisfied with your bargain!”

The broker was almost frantic with rage and disappointment; but there was nothing to do but abide by the consequences. He had bid more than twice the amount of the mortgage, and the residue of course went to the man who had owned the house. Ben thus did an act of kindness which his friend will probably never forget; and he also succeeded in bleeding the financial sharp—as difficult a thing as it was satisfactory to accomplish.

After his eventful sojourn in Indiana, Ben went back to Pittsburg with plenty of money in his pocket. There he went in for a general good time, and made the dust fly in a lively manner. He made further investments in banks—the faro banks—which are not always fair oh.

In the course of his tours about town, he discovered in[Pg 197] a house then well known his former mistress, Kitty. It was on a Saturday night, and while Ben was in the place, the house was “pulled,” and all the occupants, including Ben and Kitty, were locked up. They were obliged to remain in the station-house until Monday morning, when they were arraigned. Each of the others was fined either five or ten dollars, but Ben and Kitty, toward whom the Mayor entertained special feelings of friendship, were each given the privilege of paying one hundred dollars, or spending sixty days in jail. Ben had money enough only to pay his own fine at the time, but he succeeded in raising enough afterward to pay Kitty’s also, and thus released her from imprisonment. Ben instituted proceedings against the city for unjust punishment, and left the case in the hands of his lawyer, ——. If that gentleman ever succeeded in getting any damages, Ben has not been informed of the fact up to the present writing.

Before leaving Pittsburg at this time, Ben repeated the Mexican dollar dodge, of which mention has already been made, among a number of the leading shoe merchants of the place; and, by this and other means, he raised enough to carry him to the West in good style.

Striking Cleveland, he put up with his friend Charley Moore, and remained for six weeks, at the end of which time his capital was again exhausted. At about the same time he learned through El. Rumsey that there was to be a glove fight at Birmingham, O., and thither he made his way.

For five weeks he remained with Rumsey, at the latter’s hotel, and had altogether a jolly time of it. He gave a number of sparring exhibitions at this time, the last of which was held in Sandusky. Ben fell in love with so many girls during his sojourn in Birmingham,[Pg 198] and took unto himself so many wives, after the Brigham Young fashion, that it finally became necessary for him to get out of town.

He proceeded at once to Detroit, and there fell in with McLaughlin, who was stopping at Martindale’s Hotel, preparing for his match with the Butcher Boy of Ypsilanti. Ben became McLaughlin’s trainer, and remained with him six weeks. Of all the men whom he had ever had under his charge, he found McLaughlin the most perfect specimen of muscular development. He could bear training better than anybody Hogan had ever met, and his powers of endurance were simply marvelous. Up to that time, McLaughlin had never been trained under two hundred and forty pounds. Ben brought him down to two hundred and fifteen, and there was not a muscle in his entire body which did not show. A number of physicians called to examine him, and they united in pronouncing him a model of physical strength. It maybe added that Ben found McLaughlin a thorough gentleman, as well as an ideal athlete.

Ben, in company with McLaughlin and Schmidt, went from Detroit to Toledo, and in the latter city gave an exhibition of wrestling and boxing. They afterwards returned to Detroit, where Ben separated from McLaughlin, and made arrangements with Johnny Donaldson, of Cleveland, to spar for one week in the Theatre Comique, for which they received two hundred dollars. Ben found Donaldson to be an expert and clever boxer.

Our hero next proceeded to Ypsilanti to see Martin, the Butcher Boy, making the trip one of pleasure rather than of business. He happened to fall in with Mixer, and was induced to become the latter’s trainer for his match with Holcomb. This match came off in the Grand Rapids Opera House, and was a most stubbornly contested[Pg 199] battle, lasting fully five hours. Holcomb was the winner, but it should be said that Ben had Mixer in hand only about a week, and previous to that time the man had little or no attention.




After the wrestling match, Ben remained for some time in Grand Rapids, opening a gymnasium, and delivering lectures through the country villages on “Physical Culture.” His recollection of Grand Rapids is altogether pleasant. He found the citizens of the place cordial in their support of his undertaking, and he formed many acquaintances, which he will always cherish warmly. The gymnasium became popular, and Ben himself was a universal favorite. He made the Sweet House his headquarters, and found it altogether one of the best-conducted hotels at which he had ever stopped.

Among the many incidents which occurred during Ben’s residence in Grand Rapids was one which became the talk of the town. Perhaps I cannot do better than reproduce the account given by the Grand Rapids Times. This is what the Times said:

“Ben Hogan had on his clerical suit yesterday. Arrayed in this dress, Hogan bears a striking resemblance to a minister of the Gospel, and has frequently been taken as such. He wore, in addition to the high-buttoned waistcoat, a standing collar, and, with his saintly air, looked more than ever like a chosen disciple. Standing on Monroe street, yesterday afternoon, with a book (“Professor Wood on Gymnastics”), about the size of a common Bible, under his arm, and a copy of the Times in his hand, he was approached by a stranger, and saluted. The stranger was similarly dressed, and proved to be a minister in charge of a small parish in an adjoining town.

“He expressed his pleasure at meeting with a brother[Pg 200] and co-worker in the cause, remarking that he was a stranger in the city, and intimating that he was willing to be entertained at the home of the Rev. Dr. Hogan. Ben, who has become tired of explaining so many times that his vocation lies in another direction than that of the holy profession, permitted him to remain in blissful ignorance of his true character, and finally invited him to visit his library.

“The divine jumped at the invitation, and taking the gymnast’s arm, proceeded to the “library;” the stranger in the meantime manifesting considerable anxiety to learn how much his reverend brother received as salary, and how his flock prospered. Arriving finally at Hogan’s gymnasium rooms, the twain entered, when, instead of beholding a study-room stocked with holy works, his bewildered gaze fell upon a miscellaneous lot of dumb-bells, boxing-gloves, pulley-weights, sand-bags, and the paraphernalia that is usually found in a gymnasium. Hogan pointed to these with a satisfactory air, saying:

“‘Here’s my study.’

“‘Ah, but I don’t understand,’ replied the holy man.

“Hogan proceeded to enlighten him upon the mysteries of the profession. He gazed for some time on Ben’s muscular exercises in an abstracted manner, and finally allowed this was very well for the development of the body, but asked when he developed the mind.

“Hogan replied that this exercise served to enlarge both mind and body, and invited him to balance a thirty pound dumb-bell. The minister declined, and began to realize his mistake. Hogan, finding him to be a pleasant gentleman, with a humorous turn, soon explained the situation, not omitting to tell how many times he had been mistaken for a clergyman. The reverend gentleman realized the situation, and remarked that he had[Pg 201] never made a more serious mistake in his life, looked the gymnasium carefully over, admitted the necessity for such institutions, shook hands, and laughed heartily when Ben told him how many prize fights he had been engaged in.

“The clergyman then explained to the professor that his appearance and general make-up, together with the book he supposed to be the Bible, and the Times (which he knew to be a religious journal) all led him to believe he had met a brother and an earnest worker in the vineyard.

“Ben admitted that he didn’t know much about the vineyard, but remarked that he was an earnest worker in the gymnasium. After a brief (very brief) season of mutual congratulations, the rural divine started to seek a genuine brother with a study more to his taste.”



[Pg 202]


One More Challenge to Allen—Return to the Oil Country—Ben and McDonald—Opens Dance House in Elks City—Bullion House—Kitty Runs away.


While our hero was in Grand Rapids he made still another effort to bring about a match with Tom Allen. To effect this end, he published a challenge of which the subjoined is a verbatim copy:

Mr. Tom Allen, St. Louis.

Dear Sir: Noting in the Chicago Times of the 3d instant, in an account of the fights you have been engaged in, a reference to myself, which is both unprofessional and ungentlemanly, written by your trainer, and instigated, as I believe, by yourself, I hasten to put myself aright before the public.

“I had retired, as I hoped, permanently from the ring, with loathing and disgust of the practice, but cannot permit so insulting an allusion to myself to pass unnoticed. I hereby challenge you to meet me in the ring at any point within fifty miles of Detroit, in Canada, for fun, simply to decide who is the better man. I will pay, on a week’s notice, your expenses to Detroit.

“If you prefer not to fight for sport, but money, I will agree to fight you for one thousand dollars a side, within three months from this date, which is more than is at stake in your coming mill with Goss.

“You promised to meet me in the winter of 1875, in a barn on Thirty-second street, New York, to fight for a [Pg 203]purse of one thousand dollars. You excused yourself to go and change your clothes, and never came back. You published a card in a Pittsburg paper, boasting that you had driven me out of New York. I was in that city two months afterwards. You were then matched to fight Rourke, but the engagement never came off. In the summer of ’75 I challenged you to fight me near Pittsburg, when you claimed to have retired from the ring. Now that you have again entered the ring, I tender the above challenge, simply requesting that not more than twenty-five friends of either party shall witness the engagement.

“Yours truly,
Ben Hogan.”

This fair and manly offer, which certainly gave Allen an opportunity to prove his metal, had he cared to do so, was not accepted. Ben, tired of his attempts to bring the redoubtable pugilist to terms, made no further efforts to bring about a meeting.

Shortly afterward he left Grand Rapids, and returned East, striking his old home, Syracuse. There, in company with Charley McDonald, he filled a week’s engagement at Barton’s Opera House, giving highly successful sparring exhibitions.

The desire to return to the oil country took possession of him once again, and with two hundred dollars, which he borrowed of his mother, he set out, in company with McDonald, for his old haunts. In Buffalo he fell in with Joe Goss and Steve Taylor, and the four proceeded together as far as Erie, where they put up at the Reed House, spending a day or two in a jolly manner. At that point they separated, Ben and McDonald going on to Parker’s Landing.

[Pg 204]The two pugilists made arrangements to give a series of sparring exhibitions through the oil towns, but the enterprise did not prove a success. Finally, having got rid of all his money, Hogan struck Elk City with just ten cents in his pocket. He saw that the place offered an excellent field for the sort of work to which he was most accustomed, and he therefore resolved to open a free-and-easy and variety theatre.

He endeavored to lease a lot adjoining the premises of a Mr. Spencer, but this gentleman objected to Ben as a neighbor, and the latter was therefore compelled to seek another location. He found a site directly opposite the one first proposed, and, with fifty dollars, borrowed from Mr. Lynch, he went to work to erect a building suitable for his purposes. The lumber, furniture, and other necessary articles he procured on credit, and in a short time had completed his building. This done, he made his way to Petrolia, and there once more made up with Miss Kitty. He promised her, if she would behave herself, to give her a home for life, and she professed to be glad to accept this offer.

With Kitty and music, and four women to do the honors, the Elk City House was thrown open to the public. So decided was its success, that from the very outset the profits averaged two hundred and fifty dollars a day. The chief revenue was the dance hall, where a full brass band—composed of a fiddle and an organ—made persistent, if not exquisite, music. From eighty to ninety sets occupied the floor during the twenty-four hours, each set yielding two dollars to the management.

With a view to increasing his business, Ben fitted out Kitty for a trip to Pittsburg, to secure additional people. Having perfect confidence in Miss Kitty, Ben, on this occasion, bought her a handsome outfit of costly[Pg 205] clothing, and gave her fifty dollars wherewith to defray her expenses.

Instead of going to Pittsburg, Kitty made her way to Petrolia, and there met and married one of her old admirers. This left Ben in some distress; but it was not altogether a new thing for him to be thus deceived in women whom he had trusted.

Upon Kitty’s unexpected exit, Ben himself went to Pittsburg and secured the services of six people, among whom was E. J., known familiarly as Jennie. This latter he soon after made his housekeeper, and to the present day she occupies that position. Not only is she attractive in personal appearance, but her bearing and manners are those of a lady, while her loyalty to Ben and his interests is beyond question. It is not to be wondered at that Hogan was at once attracted toward so pretty and lady-like a person as Jennie. These observations are made to refute in part the scandalous statements that have appeared in some of the oil country newspapers respecting Ben Hogan’s present consort.

At the time Ben found Jennie, his advertisement in the Pittsburg papers was answered by scores of young girls, who were innocent of the sort of work which would be required of them in a free-and-easy. To all these Ben gave a bit of wholesome advice. He not only refused to accept of their services, but he told them in every instance to go back to their homes and to continue in a virtuous career. Not a few of these young girls were accompanied by their fathers, and had Ben been so disposed, he might have secured many innocent victims. That he did not do so, shows that even the business that he followed had not wholly blunted his ideas of honor.

Among the people whom he did take back with him were two who passed under the names of Mary[Pg 206] and Maud. These young women, at the expiration of their first week’s service, claimed that they had been deceived in regard to the character of the house, and threatened to bring a suit against the proprietor for alleged damages.

Women who would voluntarily accept of a position in a dance-house are not the ones to whom the world is accustomed to look to for the strictest morals. The probabilities are that Mary and Maud were not so astonishingly innocent nor so amazingly ignorant as not to know the character of the place to which they went. Be that as it may, the injury to their reputation was not of such a serious nature but that it could be made good by the application of a soothing plaster in the shape of a greenback. A ten-dollar note paid to each sufficed to heal their wounded honor, and prevent them from appealing to the law for vindication. Let it be added, however, that the women hailed from Pittsburg, which may explain for their natural tendency toward blackmailing.

During the history of the Elk City house it was not an infrequent occurrence for farmers from the neighboring country to drive up to Ben’s place with lumber or produce, which they offered for sale. Although Hogan rarely had any use for these articles, he would invariably offer to take them at the farmer’s own terms. Once inside the house, and with the prospect of a good bargain before him, the rural visitor would avail himself of the opportunity to see, at least, a part of the elephant. The animal usually proved so interesting that it was hard to turn away from the sight.

Ben would post the girls, who in turn would one and all profess to be smitten by the farmer. This would tickle his vanity, and besides indulging in every dance that was[Pg 207] called, he would order the wine with the utmost liberality. The more he danced, the more he drank; and the more he drank, the more firmly he became convinced that every woman in the place was desperately in love with him. This was pleasant while it lasted, but it was also expensive. Before he had finished seeing the elephant, the farmer would invariably find that he had run up a bill considerably in excess of the amount due him for his produce. If farmers had only been plenty enough, Ben would never have been called upon to expend a cent for eggs, butter, or vegetables.




While still managing the house in Elk City, Hogan went to Bullion, where he bought Frank Nesbit’s hotel, paying him therefor four thousand dollars. He did not really want this property, but was forced to take it because he failed in his efforts to get a lease of any more suitable premises. Mr. Sincox, who refused to grant the lease in question, was particularly anxious to prevent Ben from locating in Bullion. When he found that the latter had secured the hotel, he drew up a petition to have him ejected from the town; but, to his surprise, he found that the very men whom he had counted on to sign this petition were ready to sign one in favor of Hogan’s right to remain. Nesbit, who knew Ben to be a thorough man in his line of business, readily disposed of his property to him.

While Ben devoted his time to Bullion, Jennie managed the place at Elk City. Ben’s energy found a new field in Bullion, in the way of erecting an opera house, which was a neat and creditable building for the neighborhood. This house was opened by Wildman’s company, the very appropriate play of “Ten Nights in a Barroom” being chosen for the initiatory performance. Whatever else may be said of[Pg 208] Ben’s appearance in this town, it is at least certain that he infused into it a good deal of life.

The success of the Elk City and Bullion enterprises were such as to warrant Ben in taking a somewhat protracted pleasure trip, which, in company with Jennie, he did.





[Pg 209]


Saratoga Trip—Bullion Again—Arrival in Tarport—Opens Dance House—A Groundless Scandal—The Truth About the Girl Carrie.


The summer of 1877 found our hero and his friend at Saratoga, where they spent a couple of weeks, and then journeyed to New York. There they made the Sinclair House their headquarters, and in that very excellent hostelry lived in a most sumptuous manner. The choice viands and superior wines for which the Sinclair is famous were ordered in most lavish style. Meantime the usual round of pleasures—the theatres, drives, and promenades were indulged in to their fullest extent. This was Jennie’s first visit to the metropolis, and, indeed, the trip was undertaken with a view to showing her the sights of the Eastern cities. The couple proceeded next to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, making the tour one of continuous pleasure. From the last-named city they returned to Pittsburg, and while Jennie made her way back to Bullion, Ben attended the races at Petersburg. These he followed up to Edinburg; and after this season of sport he also returned to Bullion.

For the purpose of re-opening the house, Jennie was dispatched to Pittsburg, where she procured twenty new women. Returning with these, the house was again thrown open, and the former lively business was resumed.

Among the girls who had accompanied Jennie from[Pg 210] Pittsburg was one who made such a deep impression upon a highly respectable young man of Bullion that the latter asked her to become his wife. The offer was accepted, and the twain were married. The girl, who was not altogether guileless in some matters, was refreshingly innocent so far as wedlock was concerned. She was gravely informed by some of the inmates of the house that before she could legally be married she must have a cross painted upon her back as a symbol of her regeneration. To this and other equally absurd tricks she submitted without a murmur, and her body was tattooed so that she might have rivalled the famous Greek in the museum. In spite of this doubtful treatment, however, she got her husband, and so ought to have been satisfied.

It was Ben’s policy while in the oil country to be constantly on the lookout for new fields of operation. This was due to the fact that while a sporting-house or free-and-easy was a novelty in any place, it did an overwhelming business, but when the novelty wore off, the profits dwindled. Ben was ready by the time the cream was skimmed in one place to open up in another. He did not wait for others to make a beginning, but pushed ahead and built a business wherever the chance offered.

Leaving Jennie in charge of the Bullion house, he visited Tarport, which he believed to be a promising point for operations. He landed in the town with just fifteen dollars. This sum he speedily increased to two hundred dollars by means of a friendly game of draw poker with Captain Moner and Pete Holmes. Thus supplied with a little ready money, he bought a house from Mr. Keefe, paying four hundred dollars for the property, and afterward enlarging and remodeling it at a cost of one thousand dollars.

[Pg 211]This was the first dance-house ever opened in that section of the oil region. It created an immediate and decided sensation. The fame of Hogan had preceded him, and the good people of Tarport thought it a terrible calamity that such an infamous character should take up his abode in their midst. Their indignation, however, did not prevent them from calling around to satisfy themselves as to the nature of the house. And Ben satisfied them all at fifty cents admission.

The place opened with six women, and employed, after it was fairly under way, from fifteen to eighteen. Rhodes’ full string-band furnished the music, and the redoubtable Nibbs acted as doorkeeper. This man Nibbs, who has previously been mentioned in these pages, under the alias of Scotty, in Tidioute, proved himself treacherous to the interests of his employer. Knowing that Ben was accustomed to carry large sums of money about his person, Nibbs conceived the idea of entering into a conspiracy with Jennie to rob Hogan. The proposition was that Jennie should take Ben’s clothes, while the latter was asleep, and throw them out of a window where Nibbs would be in waiting. With the three or four thousand dollars which this venture would yield, the doorkeeper suggested that he and Jennie could set out for California, and enjoy themselves to their heart’s content. Or, if it was more to her liking, they could strike out thirty or forty miles and open a house similar to the one in Tarport.

“I ain’t afraid of Ben,” added the intrepid doorkeeper; “and if we once got a place started, I wouldn’t care for anything he might do!”

Jennie so far professed to fall in with this plan as to draw out Nibbs’ plot, the proposition having been made during Ben’s absence from Tarport. Immediately upon[Pg 212] his return she laid before him the whole story, which, of course, knocked the doorkeeper’s schemes out of time. He not only failed to get the money, but he lost his position, Ben discharging him at once upon the discovery of his treachery. He was succeeded by Jack McCormack, who proved a perfectly trustworthy and honest man.

While Ben was in Tarport, an indictment was found against him at Franklin for having sold liquor in the Bullion house without a license. The fact that he had lent the Attorney thirty dollars while at Bullion, and also paid for a night’s carousal for that official, did not save him from having the case pressed to its utmost. Hogan was convicted of the alleged offense, and fined three hundred and fifty dollars, which he paid. It was the first money which he ever parted with in a case of that kind.





[Pg 213]


New Resolves and New Hopes.


And now, dear reader, after having given you some insight into my turbulent and, for so far, misspent life, I stand before you and before Heaven with uplifted hands and tearful eyes, imploring the forgiveness of society and the great and good Being I have so long and so persistently offended. Surely, I can say of a truth that “the way of the transgressor is hard;” for now I most solemnly aver that never during my wild and reckless career had I experienced a moment of true peace or happiness. Under the promptings of the Evil One and of my own fallen nature, all was confusion and crime; and were it not for a benign and forgiving Providence I should long ere this have been beyond all hope.

When even rolling in wealth, no tongue can tell the torments I suffered both in soul and body. The excesses of the maddening bowl and of the gaming table had nearly done their work, when a whisper came to my conscience that I must alter my ways or be lost to all eternity. I had, somehow, become impressed with the necessity of a change of life, and I, therefore, made an effort to redeem my terrible past. Under Heaven I have succeeded to some extent, for I am no longer a slave to either of the vices just named. And, oh! if I could but impress upon the youth of this country the vital importance of temperance, and of a good and pure life, how happy I should be. If I could but depict to them the horror of my feelings when after a hard night’s drinking[Pg 214] and gambling I found myself in the morning all but a beggar on the streets, without a penny in my pocket or a friend in the world, staggering seedy and blear-eyed into a pawnbroker’s shop to pledge my overcoat for the price of my breakfast—could I describe this as graphically as my heart would prompt me to do, I should be, indeed, grateful for the gift. For, let it be understood, that through the instrumentality of the glass and of the gambling table more souls are sent to perdition than through any other means. Look at all your murders throughout the length and breadth of the land, and take a peep into your prisons. Who perpetrates the one or fills the other?—the gambler or the drunkard. Who is your suicide and wife deserter from Maine to California?—the gambler or the drunkard. Who brings ruin upon his family and reduces the partner of his bosom and his little ones to state of beggary?—the gambler or the drunkard. And who lives without God in the world and dies without hope?—the gambler or the drunkard.

I have been broad and specific in my statement regarding my life, so that there might be no misinterpreting my faults, and so that thereby they might loom up before the youth of this and every land in their true and repulsive colors. God knows it cost me many a pang to say all I have said of myself, but this was one feature of the palliation of my various crimes and offences. I must confess all! I must hide nothing, else my repentance should not be complete or sincere.

I hope and trust that there may yet be some space left to me to do good in the world; and, in view of the fact that I am not in the sear and yellow leaf, I think I can discern a bright gleam in the future. Still, I have done so much evil that I scarcely dare mention what little good I had allowed to fall to my lot. I shall,[Pg 215] therefore, permit this drop to fall unobserved into the bucket and begin life anew. Often my heart and tongue struggle to say that which is embarassed by a restricted education, but which lies burning or smouldering far down in the depths of my being. When I see the youth about me wasting the precious moments of their lives as I have wasted mine, and think of the possible fate that awaits them, I sometimes shudder at the contemplation of their future. When I see a young man in business hours, or after or before them, wending his way to the tavern or liquor saloon, to which every vice gravitates, I feel as if I could spring forward and arrest him on the threshold of the dangerous spot.

There is something so infectious in the atmosphere of such places, that it is next to impossible to shake oneself free from it once it has touched the blood. Its fascination is that of the deadly serpent, which holds you in thrall until escape is impossible, and the poisonous fangs are buried deep in your soul. To learn the terrible power of such places has cost me dear, and I now turn from them with a loathing so deeply seated as never to be brought to tolerate them again. They are the destroyers of time, of the purse, of the health and of character; and they brand a business man so effectually and so fatally, that even his friends and the sharers of his orgies shake their heads portentously in relation to his ultimate fate. No drunkard has ever succeeded in life, or taken up an exalted position in society; and when we all know that the constant use of alcoholic stimulants not only destroys the physical body but ruins the mind, what infatuation must it be to ever permit a drop of such stuff to cross our lips.

In my day I have seen wealth melt like the snow and sink into this vortex where it was lost forever to him[Pg 216] who had possessed it. I have seen families that were once the very embodiment of prosperity and happiness scattered to the winds by this monster curse. I have seen pride tumble into the gutter from a pedestal upon which it once stood admired and respected; and oh, I have seen manly and female beauty fall beneath its infernal spell. Could I this moment, with one sweep of my pen, rid the land of this mighty demon, I should account myself the happiest of mortals in performing the act. There is no sacrifice too great that tends to its utter destruction, and no mission more holy than that which struggles toward its annihilation. Every effort that has been put forth in the cause of temperance and morality by those good men and true who are working in this field toward elevation of society, and to save the natural man from himself, is approved by Heaven so palpably that a blessing follows close upon its heels. Hence our ministers and temperance lecturers should be sustained to the fullest by the head, the heart and the pocket of a nation. What we want are good and faithful citizens—men who are true to themselves and humanity, and these are not to be fostered in a gambling or a liquor saloon. In this relation parents and perceptors must constantly keep stretching out their hands and plucking the young brands from the burning. Nor is it necessary to effect this that the regime to which we would submit them should be severe or uncongenial. Youth is the time of sunshine, and we must not cloud it with rules or precepts antagonistic to its joyous essence. We must give it judicious scope, and surround it with healthy and innocent enjoyments and amusements. And while we should, as it is our duty, inculcate morality and religion, we must remember that a healthy mind and body are indispensable to the true growth and development of both.

[Pg 217]Again, it is so difficult to retrace one’s steps once that vice has got a firm hold, that the danger of the first cup becomes apparent at a glance. Hence we must see how necessary that we should neither touch, taste nor handle the inebriating cup. The steps toward final and complete ruin are in the first instance at times so imperceptible that we scarcely know we are transgressing and pursuing a downward track until we may be almost past redemption. Often we see the fond mother and the fond father tempting their children to taste some sweetened beverage that is simply alcohol in disguise. Such kindness is fraught with the utmost danger, for the tastes and habits of the young are easily formed. Youth has a tendency to reckless indulgences, which in this relation, as well as in others, should be narrowly watched; and, as for the most part these tastes are engendered in the first case beneath the eye of the parent, surely the greatest prudence and caution should prevail. Man is an imitative animal in every sense of the word. Consequently, how all-important it is that in the respect now under consideration we should set a pure example before the younger members of our families by both word and act. If the child perceives the father or the mother indulging to any extent whatever in those mixtures falsely called wines or pure spirits—that is, if they should be given to their wine-glass of punch after dinner, or at any period during the day—the child, whether boy or girl, is, of course, tempted to follow the example; and so on the very hearthstone which should have fostered the germs of sobriety and purity we sometimes find this viper warmed into life whose fangs are so pregnant with poison that the first touch often proves fatal.

And now for the cautious, the moderate and sober drinker—the man who never exceeds, although he daily[Pg 218] indulges in the intoxicating glass. He, let it be clearly understood, is an infinitely more dangerous person, and does more veritable mischief than the absolute and confirmed drunkard that we find rolling about the streets. In the one case we find a man of a certain temperament and constitution, who has prudence and self-control, tempting others, who are differently constituted, into the indulgence of habits that they are utterly unable to keep in check. The moderate drinker is in this respect a decoy-duck of the devil. He says, “look at me, I never exceed; a man can take a glass in reason, and fill all the duties pertaining to him at the same time.” This is dangerous logic, but it is what he is hourly preaching by his example. Does he not know that for one individual who can drink, or that has the power to drink in moderation, there are thousands, aye, millions, who in this respect have no control of themselves whatever. Step into any of your bar-rooms or liquor saloons, and show me if you can the number who frequent such places and who drink moderately. There is no such thing as moderation connected with such people. One glass begets another, until the brain is dulled or maddened, and the young or the old life blasted for the time being, while at the same moment time and money flows away unnoted and unimproved. Nay, more, and I have experience to back the assertion, there is not under the sun one place that tends to demoralize a youth so rapidly and irrevocably as one of those dens where bad liquor, bad cigars, and bad everything else are rife. The gambling table is a horror also, but, as a general thing, it beggars its victim so swiftly as to paralyze him for some time at least, and prevent him from indulging in its excesses, because of his want of means. But in the liquor saloon, for a very trifle, you can indulge in low habits of intemperance, and[Pg 219] so lay the foundation of your destruction as to place your case in a very short period beyond all hope.

And yet, let it be understood that I do not place all liquor dealers in the category of bad men. Very far from it. I have known many of them to be good and generous; yes, and opposed to intemperance. I have known many of them to refuse to supply further with drink persons who had already had “enough,” as the term goes, and even refuse money under the circumstances. These are simply good and honest men, who have got into the wrong groove, and who are utterly exalted above the less scrupulous dealers of their class; and had they chosen any other vocation, where their goodness of heart would have had full scope, they would have become ensamples in it worthy of imitation and all praise. But the groove, and the circumstances that surround it, bear a stigma which the honesty or kind-heartedness of one good man, or a thousand, cannot wipe away—cannot obliterate. The wine cup has done such damage—has broken so many hearts, ruined so many fortunes, and destroyed so many lives that no light can fall on it but what is the most fearful, lurid and repulsive to any well-ordered mind.

But some one will say, “Ben Hogan, this is all very well, but what remedy do you propose—how are you going to help us out of the mire?” In answer I reply, “If society is at present so constituted that liquor saloons cannot be done away with, I propose that not one saloon throughout the length or breadth of the land shall be permitted to sell a single glass of liquor that is not as pure and as sound as liquor can be. I propose that, in this respect, there shall be such vigilance used and adequate legislation, that adulterated liquors shall become impossible, and that none but respectable persons[Pg 220] should be licensed to sell. In addition, I should make it the law of the land that every bar-room from Maine to California should be closed at ten o’clock at night, and not opened until eight o’clock in the morning, and that any violation of this rule should be punished with a heavy fine. Let this system be once adopted, and we shall have less midnight brawls, and less stay-out-at-night husbands, squandering the means that should be devoted to the well-being and happiness of their families, and destroying their own health, prospects and reputation; while, in addition, they will have no incentive to leave their houses at daybreak in the morning to quench their burning thirst at the same accursed fountain. Curtail the confirmed inebriate at night and in the morning by keeping the liquor saloons closed against him, and hopeless as his case may be, all hope is not lost. Let one have no incentive to be absent from his home after ten o’clock at night, or to leave it before eight in the morning, and you leave him time to take a glance at his condition at least. As the case now stands, the man who is addicted to the use of ardent spirits has scarcely time to recover from one debauch until he becomes embarked in another. He gets home at midnight, and for the purpose of stimulating his sinking spirits, or easing his fiery head, he is up and out at daylight, and, although intending to take but one glass, begins the day as he had begun the misspent yesterday. Had he been home at ten o’clock on the night before, and were he presented with no bar-room inducement to leave his house before eight o’clock in the morning, he would have had ten hours sleep or rest, instead of four, and a respite of the same length from the fatal glass; for, I contend, that most drinkers do their destructive work outside their own dwellings, and among boon companions.”



[Pg 221]


Ben as a Reformer—His Opinions on the Temperance Question—Physical Culture—The Social Evil—Prisons and Penitentiaries—Gambling.


The reader who has followed these pages to the present point will, I think, admit that the life of Ben Hogan has been one of strange adventure and untiring activity. It would be singular, indeed, if such a career had not left strong impressions upon the mind of the man who has followed it. These impressions have given rise to convictions on many important questions, which, to my thinking, are sound and reasonable. I shall attempt to lay before the reader some of the opinions held by Ben Hogan touching the subjects of temperance and the social evil.

With respect to the first, it is Hogan’s belief that the principle of total abstinence will never effect the reform which its advocates claim. The first distinction to be drawn is that between temperance and total abstinence. The words have come to be used by many persons as synonymous; but their meaning is widely different. A man may drink wine, beer, or spirits all his life, and still be strictly temperate. If we apply this rule to anything excepting intoxicating drinks, its validity will at once be apparent. For example: Beef is an excellent article of diet, and yet a man may use it in such excessive quantities as to overstrain the digestive organs and bring about all manner of diseases. We are not to reason from this[Pg 222] that men should give up beef altogether. Its abuse, and not use, alone, is to be condemned.

So with liquor. If pure wine or whiskey can be obtained, and if it is taken only in moderation, it is an established fact that the system is not injured. But, says the advocate of total abstinence, hundreds of men cannot take liquor in moderation. If they touch it at all, they go at once to the wildest excesses. This is a fact; but for the sake of sound argument we must go behind the fact. Why is it that a man cannot touch liquor without plunging into excess? Because his system has been broken down by the vile stuff which is sold in most of the bar-rooms of this country. He does not know what pure liquor is; and having once become accustomed to the destroying fluids, which are sold under all sorts of names, it is doubtful whether he would appreciate the genuine article, even if he got it.

For more than forty years the doctrines of total abstinence have been preached in this country. Young men have been told that whatever would intoxicate should be shunned as a poison; and with this terrible announcement ringing in their ears, they have stepped into the nearest saloon and tested the poison in the shape of a cocktail. The Neal Dows and Murphys and Oliver Cotters have given their theory a fair trial; and the result is—what? That, making due allowance for the increase in population, there is to-day three times the amount of drunkenness in the United States that there was forty years ago. This stubborn fact would seem to knock the bottom out of the total abstinence theory. Evidently we are on the wrong track to suppress drunkenness. In Germany, everybody drinks beer and Rhine wine; yet Germany is freer from the evil of intoxication than any country in the world. In France,[Pg 223] claret flows as freely as water; and yet you rarely see a Frenchman drunk. In the United States, nobody is supposed to drink anything, and the rates of drunkenness are alarming.

Now it is Hogan’s theory that if light wines and lager beer were made the common beverages of the people, there would be a steady decrease in drunkenness. Instead of attempting to prove to men that a glass of wine is as bad as a dose of poison, show them that a glass of wine is infinitely better than a glass of whisky, and you will carry conviction with your argument. Let beer gardens and wine rooms be made respectable, as they are on the continent of Europe. Let a man be able to take his wife and family into these places, and not be obliged to stand behind a screen and guzzle down the adulterated stuff in company with sots and ruffians. It is fair to assume that men will go on drinking in the future as they have done in the past. Stimulus is a natural craving of the system, especially where life is run on the high-pressure principle which it is in this country. Let us not undertake the impossible task of shutting off this stimulus—of preventing men from drinking altogether—but rather let us seek to make the beverages comparatively harmless.

The facilities for producing light, pure wines in this country, at an expense which shall place them within reach of all, are unexampled. California and the Ohio Valley could and should furnish wine enough to supply the whole United States without importing a bottle. The manufacture of lager beer has already become a most important industry. To our mind, lager is destined to do more for the cause of true temperance than all the ranting and radical speeches that were ever delivered on the subject. Persuade a man to drink a glass of beer[Pg 224] instead of the manufactured stuff sold as whisky, and you put him out of the danger of delirium tremens. These views, it is to be remembered, are entertained by a man who has had abundant opportunities to study the evil effects of liquors. So thoroughly convinced did Hogan become of the impossibility of furnishing pure spirits to his patrons, that just before leaving the oil regions he refused to sell any more distilled liquors. He told his customers plainly that it was an impossibility to get good whisky. He gave them beer and wine if they wanted it, but refused to help on the traffic in adulterated liquors.

Briefly summarized, then, Ben Hogan’s views on temperance are these:

First, absolute purity in all liquors.

Second, the substitution of beer and light wines for whisky and other strong drinks.

Third, the regeneration of places where wine and beer may be obtained, so that they can be visited by anybody without the sacrifice of respectability.

Certainly these views are reasonable, and since the total abstinence doctrine has met with such signal failure, would it not be worth while to give them a fair trial?

Closely allied to this question of temperance in Hogan’s mind is that of physical culture. He is a thorough believer in the old Latin proverb, “A sound mind and a sound body.” His own opportunities for mental acquirements have been, as we have seen, limited. But if he has never delved much into books, he has picked up a large stock of useful information which the schools do not teach. Observation has taught him that all cultivation of the mind which is made at the expense of the body is to be counted in the end an unprofitable experiment. The Book of books has asked what it shall profit[Pg 225] a man to win the whole world and lose his own soul? It may also be asked, What shall it profit a man to get the wisdom of sages, and lose his health?

This word health means nothing more than a perfect operation of all the functions of the human system. To obtain so desirable an end, is certainly worth time and thought. Ninety-nine parents out of a hundred put their children into school, and are tenacious about their mental growth, while they leave the body to care for itself. Physical culture ought to begin as early as that of the mind. A boy should be taught the laws of health before he is taught the laws of arithmetic or grammar. Yet, while money is freely expended to train the intellect, it is only in rare instances that a child is put through a proper course of physical training.

It is a generally accepted fact that a perfectly healthy condition of the body begets a corresponding state of mind. The mind, in short, is that indefinable something—even the metaphysicians have not determined what—but which relates to the brain, and is largely dependent upon that organ for its operations. Now, the brain, as we know, is matter. It has substance, color, and weight. It is, in short, a part of the body. When the brain becomes disordered, reason loses its control, and the result is insanity. On the other hand, if the body is kept well and strong, the brain performs its work without difficulty, and a person is prepared to grapple with the problems of life successfully.

All this leads up to the argument which Hogan advances in favor of physical culture. Let a man devote a part of his time to the development of his muscles. He will be better and stronger in every way if he does. Proper and persistent exercise is the best medicine in the world. A pair of dumb-bells contain more virtue[Pg 226] than a dozen prescriptions. A sand-bag may be made far more efficacious than the biggest box of pills ever compounded. If your spirits are low, if you are subject to fits of despondency, and find yourself looking upon the world with jaundiced eyes; if the color goes out of your cheek, and your digestion is bad; if, in short, you are one of the innumerable stoop-shouldered, sunken-eyed, and sallow-faced army, throw physic to the dogs, and go into a gymnasium. Put up the bells—ten pounders, perhaps, at first, but if you keep at it perseveringly, you will raise a hundred in time. Learn to box, to fence, to swing Indian clubs, to turn on the bar, and to walk. This last accomplishment is really the most difficult of all. Not walking from your house to your office or your shop, but getting over the ground in the true pedestrian style, and counting the distance by miles, not rods. Hogan has frequently made his thirty or forty miles a day, simply for recreation. It is such walking as this that will put the blood into an active circulation, and improve the whole system.

To be of any lasting benefit to a man, physical exercise must be constant and continuous. It must not be practiced by fits and starts. Steady work is the only thing which will bring the desired result. Surely, a man would better devote an hour each day to the preservation of his health, than pay exorbitant doctors’ bills, or be forced to give up work altogether. The Americans, of all people in the world, need this relaxation. They live upon the constant strain. Mind and body alike are even worked. The rest afforded by proper gymnastic exercise would be as grateful as it would be beneficial. If we want to build up a strong and sturdy race of people, we must attend to physical training as one of the most important things in life.

[Pg 227]Hogan is free from any hobby in this matter. He has no particular kind of exercise to recommend other than that which may be found in all gymnasiums. His argument simply is, that people shall develop their brawn as well as brain, leaving the method to be adopted to individual choice.

A third question, which from time immemorial has agitated the public mind, has received thorough and careful consideration by Ben Hogan. That question is the social evil.

Let nobody question the right of such a man as the hero of this book has been shown to be to pass judgment upon this all-important subject. It is to men who have gained a practical knowledge of such matters that we must turn for true reform. The theorizers who preach from the pulpits may be all well enough in their doctrines, but the practice of what they preach is impossible. As has been justly said, the wise legislator seeks to enact such laws as may be put in effect. It would be an excellent thing, no doubt, if murder and theft, and crime of every description, could be done away with altogether; but no laws can be enacted to compass this desirable end. The statute book can only throw about society a safeguard; it cannot exterminate the evils to which men are prone.

So, then, in dealing with this perplexing question, we must look the facts squarely in the face. It is a fact, to begin with, that women have prostituted themselves in all stages of the world’s history. It is a fact, from the very nature of society, that this evil will continue so long as the passions of men overmaster and control their reason. It is a fact, that in every city and town of any considerable size in the United States there are a greater or smaller number of houses devoted to the propagation[Pg 228] of illicit intercourse. It is a fact that all the laws which thus far have been enacted with a view to suppressing this evil have ignominiously failed of their purpose. It is a fact that man is addicted to folly, and that woman is weak. Until society is reconstructed on a different basis from the present, these things will undoubtedly remain as they now are. How, then, shall the evil be met?

Ben Hogan holds the views of a man who has studied the question in all its bearings. His conclusions may not be in accord with religious teachings nor Sunday-school law makers; but I think they are strictly in accord with common sense.

He claims at the outset that the social evil cannot be exterminated. The one thing, therefore, left to do is to render it as harmless as possible, and to surround it by such legal safeguards as may be practicable. First, let the house of prostitution be regularly licensed. This is no new idea, nor is it untried even in this country. In St. Louis and some other Southern cities the plan has been adopted, certainly with better effects than the abortive attempts to suppress such places altogether. On the Continent of Europe it is the almost universal practice to grant such licenses. Let us consider briefly the advantages arising from such a course.

If a sporting house is regarded as a legal institution—which of course it is, in case of a license—then the law is able to take it in hand, and dictate such rules as it sees fit. This enables such places to become respectable in so far as it is possible for them to be so under any circumstances. A license necessarily carries with it certain conditions and restrictions. Let these be made so binding and severe that it will be impossible for any diseased woman to offer her body for prostitution. Let a board of examining physicians call at the houses at regular[Pg 229] intervals, and make a thorough examination of the inmates.

Just here I fancy some over-righteous reader may be tempted to throw down this volume in disgust.

“What!” exclaims such a one, “would you make this miserable traffic more widespread than it already is?”

Common sense, and not morality, must dictate the answer. These places will exist in spite of preachers and police. The sensible, worldly plan should be to make them as productive of as little evil as possible. When a man holds illicit intercourse with a woman, it is assumed that he breaks the law of God; but, unfortunately, no means has ever yet been devised to prevent a man from sinning. He is a free moral agent, responsible for his acts, and accountable for the disposition which he makes of his days on this earth. But while the laws of society cannot prevent a man from breaking the laws of God, it can restrain him from rushing into those excesses which may injure others beside himself.

Another advantage—and this also, it is to be remembered, is of purely a worldly nature—arising from granting licenses to sporting houses would be the revenue returned to the municipal government. Here again the pious reader may take offense at the line of argument. And yet he thinks nothing of profiting by the tax which is laid upon liquor dealers. Nevertheless, rum is as certain an agent of the devil, according to the strict Puritanic view, as anything in the world. “Wine and women are equally destructive to the soul,” say the preachers.

But the question cannot be argued upon the basis of morality. It must be regarded, as has already been intimated, purely from a practical point of view. It is a fact[Pg 230] not be disputed, that if houses of this character were compelled to pay a license, the money thus received would amount to a very considerable sum, especially in the larger cities. This revenue might, if desirable, be devoted to the erection of Magdalen houses, or even to the foundation of Young Men’s Christian Associations.

Then, again, if the houses were licensed, it would tend to make them more orderly. As it is at present, they are outlaws at best, and therefore there is no incentive to keep them within the bounds of decency. But if their existence depended upon their conduct—that is, if the license was to be revoked in case of any disorderly outbreak—then the proprietors would see to it that order was maintained.

To recapitulate, the license system would secure freedom from sexual diseases, a rich source of revenue to city governments, and comparative freedom from scenes of violence and disorder.

Such are Ben Hogan’s views with regard to the manner of conducting sporting houses. Another, and perhaps more interesting phase of the case, deals with the treatment of women who have gone astray.

In nine cases out of ten the fault lies not with the girl who follows the downward path, but with the world. Without indulging in any of the stale and sickly sentimentality respecting the guilt of the man who seduces a woman, it may be said that society makes prostitutes by its method of dealing with the erring. Take the example of a girl who has fallen from the strict paths of virtue. Her offence, we may say, is the result of thoughtlessness, of temptation, of passion. She finds herself robbed of that priceless jewel which she has been taught, or should have been taught, to regard as more sacred than anything else in life. Still she has not become[Pg 231] hardened or criminal by her one misstep. She might, at this stage in her career, easily be reclaimed. But what is the treatment which she receives? Her friends cast her off, her home is shut against her. Even those nearest and dearest to her steel their hearts and regard her as a stranger. What possible alternative is there left but to follow in the path which she has already entered?

Let us suppose that this girl is young, innocent, and ignorant of the ways of the world. She finds herself an outcast, wholly unfitted to fight the stern battle of life single-handed. She has been taught nothing that will avail her in this hour of extremity. Perhaps she is able to play on the piano, to crochet, and to speak a few words of doubtful French. These accomplishments afford but a sorry means for gaining an honest livelihood.

In sharp contrast to the misery and privation which present themselves on the side of virtue, is the luxurious ease of a life of vice. Is it any wonder that the weak girl chooses this latter path? It seems broad and smooth and tempting to the feet. The other is dark and narrow, with sharp thorns in the way and no sunshine ahead.

So the girl enters upon the course which a thousand have trod before her, only to bring up at the inevitable goal of wretchedness and despair. She cannot see the end at the beginning of her career. For a time she finds all rosy and delightful. She lives in a whirl of excitement. If, now and then, memories of the past—thoughts of home and friends thrust themselves before her mind, she resolutely crushes them out with the bitter reflection that those who should have been her protectors have cast her aside. She follows the gay life for a brief time, drinks in the intoxicating pleasures of the moment, and awakens, sooner or later, to find herself[Pg 232] stripped of her beauty, forsaken, and without a refuge except that offered by gracious death. This picture is no exaggeration. It finds its counterpart in nature every hour of every day of every year. Now, think for a moment how differently this girl’s life might have been shaped had her first offense been forgiven. Suppose the parents of the girl had said to her upon the discovery of her first wayward step:

“You have been tempted, and the temptation has proved greater than you can bear. But we will forgive and forget. Let the past be wiped out forever. Your life is still before you, and you may redeem yourself yet. Our love shall cover your sin, and you shall still be to us a beloved and loving child.”

Words like these would save many a woman from a life of shame, but words like these are too rarely spoken. Are those Christians who are so ready to hurl the first stone? Have they forgotten the words of Him who bade Magdalen of old to “Go, sin no more?”

The common error is to assume that when a woman once loses her virtue, she thereby forfeits all claims to respect. With men sin is smoothed over, and sometimes even admired. Stokes commits murder, and at the end of his term of imprisonment returns to New York, mingles in the gay society which knew him of old, and gazes critically through his opera-glasses from the box of the theatre. He has committed a crime, to be sure, he is an ex-convict, and all that; but society does not hesitate to receive him back with open arms.

The worst libertine that walks the earth may still hold his head erect in the charmed circles of aristocratic society. But the woman who once goes astray is lost forever. The taint of suspicion is about her, and, strive as she may, the doors of respectability, of decency, of an honest life, are barred against her.

[Pg 233]Why should this distinction be made between the wrong-doing of man and the wrong-doing of woman? No other answer can be made to this question than that society has so willed it. Now, society, in this matter, as in many others, is at fault. The girl who has fallen from the upright course should be given a fair chance to reform. She should not be branded with the scarlet letter for a sin which, in many cases, is less her fault than that of another.

This question of reform leads me to speak of another matter, which has claimed much of Hogan’s attention. All over the country there are so-called asylums for fallen women, reform schools, and charitable institutions without number. Besides these, are the prisons and jails, which are supposed to be instrumental in making their inmates better. How much good do you suppose these institutions accomplish.

Take the reform school, for example, as it is found in almost every county in the more populous States. A boy who has been guilty of some minor offense, or who is found difficult to manage, is committed to one of these schools, professedly with a view to reformation. Instead of learning anything good, he falls in with a class of boys more hardened than himself, and from these he gets his first lesson in crime. Reference to this very point has been made in the preceding pages, where it was attempted to show that Hogan’s brief sojourn in the Rochester Reform School fell far short of reforming him.

If this is true of the institution in which boys alone are confined, it is still more true of our prisons and penitentiaries. There the association with hardened criminals does more to foster crime than any other one thing in the world. A man may enter such a place comparatively innocent, but, after serving out an average[Pg 234] sentence, he will return to the world thoroughly posted in the ways of evil. The great mistake lies in huddling all classes of prisoners together like so many sheep, and treating them as if they were all equally guilty. The young man, for example, who may have been driven by necessity to commit his first theft, and who might, under proper circumstances, be made a useful member of society, finds himself sandwiched between a veteran cracksman and a life-long adventurer. From such companionship it is only natural that he draws a fund of information which fits him only for a career of crime. All the good that may have been in him when he entered the institution is eradicated before he leaves.

If this be true in the case of men and boys, it is even more so with respect to women. The latter find in the institutions, which are supposed to be reformatory in their nature, the vilest kind of associations. Indeed, it may be safely asserted that when a woman once enters a prison or penitentiary, her utter ruin is inevitable.

Still another subject which has claimed Hogan’s attention is that of gambling. Here, again, his personal experience is large enough to enable him to speak understandingly. A man who has himself lost and won thousands of dollars over the green cloth, is perhaps better fitted to express himself on the evil than one who has no practical knowledge of its operations.

To begin with, no man who voluntarily enters a gambling room has a right to grumble if he loses his money. He is tempting fortune, and fortune is too fickle to be trusted without bitter disappointment. Even supposing that a man is playing at a perfectly square game, his chances of winning are less than even. But, in modern times, and in this country especially, absolutely[Pg 235] square games are rarely found. The general policy among all professional gamblers is to take unfair advantage of their victims. Let it be understood that Ben Hogan does not denounce all men who make a business of gambling. He has counted among his personal acquaintances many of this class who were naturally generous and noble-hearted men. But the very nature of their occupation tends to blunt the sense of honor, and to make them treacherous even to their best friends. Outside of the game they may be genial, open-handed and companionable; but the power of the cards is such that they lose these qualities as soon as they are engaged in play.

This dishonesty is, in short, but another form of the petty trickery resorted to in almost all branches of business. The grocer sells stale butter, if he can find a purchaser; the butcher cuts the bone so that it weighs more than the meat; the baker makes his bread an ounce lighter than the regulation weight, and the dry-goods dealer measures cloth so that thirty-five inches make a yard. All these things are counted a species of shrewdness by those who practice them. On precisely the same principle, the gambler deals from the bottom of the pack, or stacks the cards whenever he thinks he can do so without detection. In one case, the dishonesty is called sharp bargaining; in the other, it is called cheating. Both are equally disreputable, and, therefore, the gambler is not to be signaled out for especial denunciation.

But knowing that he will be swindled, if possible, the man who gambles has no claim for sympathy. When he enters a faro bank, for instance, he should reflect that the men who are running the place do so in the expectation of making money; if they cannot make it fairly, they will make it by questionable means; and they will[Pg 236] not be dainty in the selection of their victims. If, therefore, the man loses his money, he has nobody but himself to blame.

All these opinions are, it will be admitted, sound and reasonable. If Ben Hogan’s views could be infused into the public mind, the world would be the better for it.



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In bringing this volume to a close it will, perhaps, be both proper and appropriate to give a brief description of Ben Hogan’s personal appearance and mental characteristics.

A study of the illustration to be found in the beginning of the book will give a fair idea of our hero’s physiognomy. It will be observed that he has a pleasant and strongly-outlined face. The brow is broad, the eyes bright and piercing, giving the appearance that they are black, but being really of a deep blue; the nose is straight and shapely, and the chin well-turned. He wears a dark mustache, which hides a mouth indicative of great firmness.

Altogether, Ben Hogan’s face is one which attracts the beholder, and it is extremely doubtful whether anybody would select its owner for a prize fighter.

In hight, Ben stands five feet and eight inches. Ordinarily he weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds, although he has reduced this to a much lower figure, when in training. He is exceedingly well built, straight as an arrow, and active in his movements. He has a chest which would do honor to Apollo, while his shoulders are broad enough for another Atlas. His muscles are like steel, and his limbs compact and trim. He dresses neatly, sometimes elaborately even, but never in flashy taste. Meeting him upon the street in his usual[Pg 238] dark clothes, with the silk hat and cane which he invariably carries, one might take him to be a successful business man or a thriving lawyer or possibly a sensational preacher.

He is generally quiet and unobtrusive in his manner, although perfectly independent and self-reliant. His powers of conversation are really remarkable, and no one would suspect from his speech that he was a foreigner. He is always a hail fellow well met, and forms a pleasant companion for an hour’s chat. The secret of his success lies largely in his powers of observation, and his ability to read men’s characters. As the foregoing pages will abundantly show, he is possessed of great energy, indomitable pluck, and rare executive abilities.

In his domestic life he is regular and abstemious. He eats largely of meat, and is fond of raw beef, which he believes to be wholesome and strengthening. He is a very moderate drinker, rarely, if ever, touching strong liquors, and partaking of wine and beer in moderate quantities. The only excess of which he can be said to be guilty is that of smoking, as he is seldom seen without a cigar. Those who meet Hogan for the first time are invariably surprised at his intelligence and gentlemanly bearing.

It should be remembered that he is still in the prime of life. His exploits in the future may furnish material some time for another volume, although it is doubtful whether its hero can be styled The Wickedest Man in the World.



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As several Physicians of eminence, and other noted personages, have done me the honor to ask, on more than one occasion, for my views on Physical Culture, and the best method of building up a Healthy and Robust Manhood, the confidence which these gentlemen have invariably expressed in my system of physical training induces me to present, most respectfully, the few succeeding pages to all who may be interested in this, the most vital of subjects.


Sinclair House, New York, May 1st, 1878.


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Flourens, the famous French physiologist, and member of the Paris Academy of Science, asserts that the normal period of the life of man is ONE HUNDRED YEARS. How comes it, then, that so few attain to this age, and that the alarmingly small average of thirty-three years only is now the measure of human existence? The question is a most momentous one, inasmuch as it affects vitally every fireside and project in the world, and bears strongly upon whatever measure of health, happiness and prosperity may be permitted to us in this world.

Monsieur Flourens’ theory of the longevity of our race is founded upon data the most conclusive. By the careful and lengthened observation, and by numerous analytical experiments, he ascertained, beyond a shadow of doubt, that it is a law of animal life, that all creatures that move upon the face of the earth, and doubtless the tenants of the watery world also, should exist for five times the number of years it took their physical structure to come to a state of perfection. Man, it has been decided, attains this condition of perfection at the age of twenty—that is, his bones become united to the epiphyses and no longer grow. He has reached the ultimatum of his stature. As long as the bones are not united to the epiphyses he continues to grow; but once[Pg 244] the epiphyses (which is a portion of a bone separated from the body of the bone by a cartilage) becomes converted fully into bone by age, then he has attained the climax of his natural growth, so far as his osseous structure is concerned.

“For example,” says this distinguished Frenchman, “the union of the bones with the epiphyses takes place in the camel at eight years of age, and he lives forty years; in the horse at five years, and he lives twenty-five years; in the ox at four years, and he lives from fifteen to twenty; in the dog at two years, and he lives from ten to twelve years; and in the lion at four years, and he lives twenty. This is strongly corroborative of the correctness of the theory in relation to the longevity of man, which cannot now, I think, fail to be accepted generally.” As a necessary consequence of this feature of life, assured to us by Monsieur Flourens, that able gentleman modifies seriously the different ages or stages of our existence. “I prolong the duration of infancy,” he says, “up to ten years, because it is from nine to ten that the second dentition is terminated. I prolong adolescence up to twenty years, because it is at that age that the development of the bones ceases, and consequently the increase of the body in length. I prolong youth up to the age of forty, because it is only at that age that the increase of the body in bulk terminates. After forty the body does not grow, properly speaking; the augmentation of its volume which then takes place is not a veritable organic development, but a simple augmentation of fat. After the growth, or, more exactly speaking, the development in length and bulk has terminated, man enters into what I call the period of invigoration—that is, when all our parts become more complete and firm, our functions more assured, and the whole[Pg 245] organism more perfect. This period lasts to sixty-five or seventy years, and then begins old age, which lasts for thirty years.” To those who may be desirous of inquiring why it is that man, who is obviously designed to live to so great an age, so seldom attains it, Monsieur Flourens replies: “With our manners, our passions, our torments, man does not die; he kills himself!”

In view of these facts, then, and of the universally received opinion that, in this day and generation, man does not live out even one-half of the years apportioned to him by the Creator of all things, is it not astonishing that physical culture and the best and surest modes of attaining health and strength, as well as this maximum of human life, do not command the first place, not only in every family, but in the councils of the nations also? The generations come and go on half time only; and that, too, under a pressure of weakness, disease, and discomfort which renders the life of millions a burden to them.

Take the healthiest acorn that has ever fallen from the soundest and most gigantic oak, and plant it in poor and uncongenial soil, or in any locality shut out from the atmosphere or the sun, and it must die, or at best present sent us with but a sickly sapling which can never attain the strength or the dimensions of its progenitors; at least, not until it is transplanted into the sunlight, and brought under the benign influence of the nutriment proper to its healthy development and growth. Light and heat, fresh air and pure water, are indispensable to its existence from the moment of its first appearance above the soil; for without these it must perish. Here, however, its requirements seem to cease; for, under the influence, presuming the soil to be suitable, its mission may be accomplished to the fullest extent. And so it is,[Pg 246] measurably, with the animal kingdom also. All these elements are part and parcel of its existence, so to speak; for failing the proper and unrestricted enjoyment of any one of them, it must suffer generally, and in many cases to a fatal extent. As regards man, however, his true physical development requires more care and caution than that of any of the lower animals. Nature, and the instincts of the latter, are sufficient to meet all the necessities of their case; but man being endowed with the higher attribute of reason for his guidance to mental as well as physical perfection, he is called upon to use that attribute in relation to building up his physical structure on a broad and sure foundation, and in so doing establishing a true and healthy basis for his metaphysical structure also. The brain sympathizes with the whole system, and is, consequently, affected by the imperfections or the disarrangements of any of the other organs. A vigorous mind is incompatible with a diseased brain; and as a sound and healthy brain cannot possibly be associated with a physical system suffering from the feebleness and the countless ills that result from a neglect of those means which are found to be indispensable to the creation as well as the preservation of health and strength in the animal, we all can, at a single glance, perceive where we stand, and what our duty is in the premises. The case lies in a nutshell: are the men and women in whom the rising generation shall culminate to be splendid types of strength and physical beauty—to be possessed of that noble manliness of form that characterizes some of the ancient sculptures on the one hand, and the beautifully moulded and exquisitely developed bust and limbs which individualize the Venus of Titian on the other? I ask again, shall they present those exalted features, individually, or shall they, like so many of the men and women[Pg 247] of the present time, go shuffling along the streets hollow-eyed, narrow-shouldered skeletons, with complexions that would do no discredit to a charnel house, and bearing, even while yet young, all the impress of declining years?

Of course I, in the first place, address myself to parents and to all those who are interested with the care of youth; and here I would observe that, for the most part, a long life of health and happiness is utterly unattainable, save through the medium of a pleasant and systematic course of physical culture or training, to be observed from early youth to manhood, and from this latter to the utmost limits of our declining years. It will, however, be readily perceived that this system of training must be such as to adapt itself to the necessities of the various physiques and natures which so widely characterize all communities; and that care must be taken not to confound these different constitutions one with the other.

Plenty of pure, fresh air, and gentle exercise, a sufficiency of plain, wholesome and suitable food; the proper quantity of sleep, and a judicious use of the sponge and slightly tepid or not absolutely cold water, are the starting points for the young on the way to health and strength, and the possession of a physique capable of the greatest endurance, and of ministering, in the highest degree, to the realization of those mental and sensuous enjoyments which so crown the sum of our earthly happiness. During the period of dentition, or for the first ten years, as Flourens has it, great care must be taken not to overtax the brain or the physical organs of the child to any extent whatever. While yet in the arms of the nurse, the babe should have an abundance of open air sunlight in mild weather, and, when practicable,[Pg 248] be permitted to inhale the pure, fresh country breezes. This, when supplemented by the nutritious element of a mother’s milk only, will lay the first, sure stone in the foundations of future health and strength, and soon enable the little prattler to move about unsupported as best he can, until, at last, he takes to his feet and, prompted and sustained by more solid, but yet simple food, begins to shift for himself on a small scale. As he grows up, and his bones and muscles begin to assume consistence, care must be taken that he is never permitted to remain long standing on his feet at one time, as the superincumbent weight of his, or her, body, as the case may be, tends to bow the legs, and thereby destroy the symmetry of the whole form. It is because of the neglect of nurses in this relation that we meet with so many persons who are rendered physically incapable of stopping a cat in even the narrowest passage, and that are neither more nor less than deformed for life. The wooden walking-frame on wheels, to which the child clings, must not be placed too near the cradle. No child should be entrusted to his legs before he is a year old, and then only for a short period at a time, as just observed.

The great secret of the success sometimes observable in the early education of children, lies in the faculty of their preceptor to divest their lessons of everything pertaining to the character of a task, by surrounding them with the fascinations of a pastime. In this way, their mental faculties will become gradually developed, and with their own concurrence as it were—a result which is seldom or never realized by keeping them staring into the dull features of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, framed in the monotonous page of monotonous primer. Familiar objects and pleasant pictures should furnish the first[Pg 249] mental food for the young; nor should their faculties be taxed beyond these, until both brain and muscle acquired something like true consistence. When it is time to begin to educate the mind in a more serious and formal manner, it is time, whether the subject be boy or girl, to begin the course of physical training of which I have already spoken, and failing which both mind and body must suffer alike.

Let me, then, while entering upon this part of my subject, direct attention to the fact, in the first place, that every household in the land, rich or poor, high or low, has within itself the elements of a gymnasium; nay, more, that every individual who walks the streets or the fields, can, in his or her own person, command those elements to a large extent. For example, every movement of ours, no matter how simple or complex, brings a certain muscle or set of muscles into play, and such movement is represented by some fact in the gymnasium which takes precisely the same muscle or set of muscles, and which tends to develop and strengthen them. Now, from this one observation, it will be apparent to even the most casual reader, that a gymnasium contains within itself all the aids necessary to the true development of brawn and muscle; and that it tends toward perfecting and assuring every physical motion made by us in the pursuit of our daily avocations, or in the pursuit of any project, no matter how trifling, laborious or trying. The truth is, the gymnasium is the great builder up and educator of our mere physical system, and the promoter of health and strength and manly or feminine beauty. It is the deadly enemy of all disease and nervous debility; from the fact that it enlarges the chest, invigorates the lungs, and gives them fuller scope and power, and so strengthens, trains and indurates the muscles, that the[Pg 250] mechanism of the human frame, under its wondrous influence, becomes almost invincible and capable of performing, with ease and precision, feats of strength, agility and endurance, of which the mere novice has no idea whatever. Whether we practice its usages in public or in our own private apartments, the result is the same—health, strength and manly or feminine beauty wait upon them. Our enjoyment of life is keener, our presence more impressive, and our movements filled with easy assurance and well-defined grace. Between the ladies and gentlemen given to these healthy and invigorating exercises, and those who neglect them and wear their flesh loosely upon their bones, there is as much difference, and to the prejudice of the latter, as there is between day and night. The one class moves with head erect and expanded chest, while the pavement rings beneath its heel and the flush of health suffuses its cheek; the other, with mincing step, sallow cheek, contracted chest and lack-luster eye, picks its way along, as best it can; and, when fatigued in any degree, throws itself into an easy chair to languish many a weary hour away. This is no overdrawn picture, as a 3 o’clock saunter through any of our fashionable squares or thoroughfares will verify. But sad as the case is in this one relation, there is a remedy for it if it be taken in time; and that is, a judicious course of physical training and exercise, as much as possible in the open air; gentle and with but little exertion at first, but gradually leading up to that glorious and matchless point, where the patient, now a totally new being, revels in feats of strength and agility that he or she formerly supposed to be unattainable on the part of either.

In order to insure perfect health, the body ought to be sponged with cold water daily, the various muscles[Pg 251] should be exercised for a short period, and submitted to the action or tension proper to them, whether in running, lifting, striking, stretching or posturing. The chest should be expanded by the use of dumb-bells; and the muscles of the arms strengthened by the use of clubs or the trapeze—which latter is of general utility, inasmuch as it can be brought to bear upon nearly all the muscles. The lungs, also, must be distended to their fullest capacity, by frequent gulps of pure, fresh air; while the chest, during the time they remain inflated, must be gently beaten with the palms of the open hand, so that the air may find its way into the minutest of the cells. If this system of training were observed with any degree of intelligence and regularity its beneficial results would be felt almost instantly, and even in the case of the weak or suffering, who would, at first, be obliged, of course, to indulge in but homœopathic doses of this regime, until they became accustomed to it, and began to delight in all its fascinating phases. Physical strength or beauty without physical health being an impossibility, we can perceive how necessary it is to establish, restore or preserve the latter, as the case may be; and as this cannot be effected if the muscular system is not adequate to all the reasonable demands upon it, we cannot fail to apprehend the vital importance of keeping it in a state of the highest efficiency. But while attempting to accomplish this latter we must remember that to overtax either it or the nervous system would be to frustrate the object had in view, and to almost make the cure as bad as the disease. To avoid this, we must therefore study the peculiarities of our physique, and the precise nature of our constitution, in relation to the exercise and the food we take. There is an old saying, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and a true saying it is. And here it[Pg 252] may be said that the opinion and advice of the experienced athlete and professional trainer may be of some value, who invariably makes himself acquainted with the peculiarities of the physique and the constitution, before he makes a single move, and who cleanses the system of all impurities before he begins to build it up into a perfect and impregnable whole. To adopt any other course than this would be but to mask or paralyze the seeds of disease for the time being only; for, if the system is not purged until it is as free from crudities, and as pure as that of a child, the seeds of decay and death will lie at the foundations of any superstructure into which it may be sought to build it.

Those who are conversant with the mysteries and mechanism of the human frame, and who have studied its anatomy and its physiology, will tell you that its four hundred muscles, that are the primary agents in all our physical movements, are, in so far as the voluntary ones are concerned, sure to suffer vitally if not properly trained and kept in constant use. It is, indeed, to their exercise only that their efficiency is mainly due; for to allow them to fall into disuse for any length of time, would tend, not only to weaken them, but to paralyze them completely, which, of course, means to paralyze the whole frame. If we would set wind and weather, fatigue and hardships, at defiance, our muscles must be as hard as iron and our lungs as tough as leather. This condition once attained, the world is ours for the winning, for with these characteristics, an industrious spirit, and the fear of God before our eyes, we may, with a fair education, aspire to any eminence attainable in this free land. By constant and judicious exercise our muscles become fully developed, enlarged and strengthened. Look, for example, at the arm, or any of the limbs, or[Pg 253] the chest of a young man who has never had any physical training, and what do you behold? Nothing in true shape; nothing full of life or resistance; everything soft and flabby and girlish; in short, a frame incapable of the slightest endurance, and a hot bed ready to receive and force at any moment the seeds of disease. On the other hand, take in at a glance the limbs and form of the man of trained muscles, and who is accustomed to the exercise necessary to their perfection. Mark his well assured and elastic step! His flesh, through the constant use of the sponge and proper exercise, is at once as fine as silk and as firm as steel. Were he to spring from a height of thirty feet, not a fibre of it would shake on his bones when he had struck the ground. Look at his finely developed chest, and his classic arm, glistening and corded like that of the Farnese Hercules. In truth, he is every inch a man, and such a one as a woman might well take to her bosom as her protector and the partner of her life. In like manner, compare the limp and delicate young miss of eighteen or nineteen who languishes her life away in drawing rooms, at evening parties, or in her carriage, with the brusque beauty of the same age who indulges in the training and exercises proper to her sex—whose muscles, through judicious manipulation and use, have become firm and strong, and who can walk two or three miles at a rapid rate, without suffering the slightest fatigue. What a contrast we have here: The cheek of the one is dull and colorless, and her eyes devoid of true fire and brilliancy. Her whole frame is unstrung and limp, and her step uncertain and feeble. On the part of the other, we perceive the roses of health lighting up her face; we observe her arms beautifully rounded and firm, and her bust splendidly developed, while her step is as elastic as that of[Pg 254] the fawn. All her muscles having been trained, her whole form becomes a model of classic beauty, and she, in consequence of her constant use of the sponge and cold water, and from her absolutely breathing fresh, pure air only, renders her skin as fair as snow and as smooth and fine as satin, while her health becomes so robust that she enjoys all the blessings and comforts of life with tenfold zest.

But, as already observed, physical culture must never be characterized by anything approaching overtraining; for to tax the muscles or the system beyond their well-defined power of endurance, would be to injure both materially and perhaps permanently. We must, in this relation, study our own physique, and be guided by its premonitions. If we find that any of our muscles are weak and not fully developed, we must bring them into training gradually, never testing them to the fullest at first. If we are capable of lifting but eighty or a hundred pounds when putting forth our full strength, let us begin with fifty or sixty pounds, adding to that weight, day by day, a single pound for example, until we reach the eighty pounds, which we shall be able then to lift with the greatest ease. By this system of judicious or gradual augmentation we shall find ourselves, in a few weeks, able to lift a hundred pounds with greater ease than we had lifted the sixty pounds when first testing our strength in this direction. And this may be taken as an example of how we ought to proceed in all our exercises for developing, strengthening and hardening the muscles, expanding the chest and enlarging the lungs. We must perform the work gradually and intelligently. We must not fatigue ourselves to an uncomfortable extent when we first take up our dumb-bells, or clubs, but accustom ourselves to them by degrees, until their use[Pg 255] involves but little exertion. In like manner, when we would inflate our lungs with fresh air, should they be weak in any degree, we must commence by inhaling smaller volumes, gradually augmenting them until we feel that our chest is distended to its utmost capacity. By observing caution in all these relations we shall, if we persevere intelligently, soon begin to feel and enjoy the inestimable blessings that arise from true physical culture, and be able to accomplish feats of strength and agility of which we were before utterly incapable.

And when we come to consider that the brain shares essentially and largely in the benefits arising from this culture, and that through its agency it is capable of doing more and better work than if it should be unaided by the physical training of our body generally, how important does this subject become at once. No man can perform with ease any great amount of mental labor where physical culture has been neglected, or who does not use the sponge freely and indulge daily in the proper amount of physical exercise. This, together with pure cold air as food for the lungs and suitable diet, will accomplish miracles, and tend to secure health and happiness, presuming always that our habits are temperate, and that we eschew those excesses—such as the immoderate use of wine and tobacco—of which we perceive so many victims of all ages and sexes, and which in even the healthiest constitutions sometimes sow the seeds of disease and death.

It would, of course, be almost impossible to lay down rules for every case, but as a general thing the system of physical culture, as explained by me to the gentlemen referred to in my introductory notice, and of which I have given some hints here, may be followed without the slightest misgiving. Obviously, however, it must be[Pg 256] modified to suit the years and the constitution of those subjected to it; but how young or aged soever, how delicate or robust, it can, under judicious guidance, be made to build up into perfect health and strength those who are feeble, constitutionally or otherwise, and assure and develop the muscular resources of those who are already in possession of a sound and healthy constitution. The aged also will find great benefit from it, and from a careful and gentle exercise of their muscles and the constant use of the sponge and cold water. To all of what I have hitherto observed on this subject, well ventilated residences and bedrooms must be added, as a sine qua non, for neither health nor strength, nor anything pertaining to true comfort, can be found in connection with badly ventilated bedrooms. The air we breath becomes impure and vitiated while being expelled from the lungs, and is utterly unfit to be inhaled again. Consequently, if through some open casement or door there is no mode of escape for it, once it has performed its mission, or no mode of ingress for fresh, pure air from without, we are, while slumbering during the silent watches of the night, not only marring the completeness and refreshing character of our repose, but actually poisoning ourselves by slow degrees. We must, therefore, never submit to any conditions that will shut out the pure, fresh air of heaven from us, awake or asleep; for it and the bright, warm sunlight falling upon us whenever it may, are indispensable to our mental and physical well being—the sun bath itself being a great promoter of health.

In my experience as a trainer and athlete, I have met with numerous instances where ladies and gentlemen, of weak constitutions originally, and frames the most feeble, became, through a judicious course of physical culture, not only healthy in the first degree, but robust,[Pg 257] powerful and agile. In fact, I question very much whether any disease common to our race may not be thoroughly eradicated by a system of physical training, while it is equally obvious that the adoption of such a system under all ordinary circumstances secures the body from the attacks to which it is subject in this relation. In addition, should fate so decree it that a frame developed and strengthened through a good system of physical training, should fall within the power of any of the diseases incident to us, it is quite plain that the chances of recovery are infinitely beyond those shared by the patient whose body is all unstrung, and who is incapable of presenting any physical resistance to the inroads of the malady. Let this be engraven upon our memories, for rest assured that long life and happiness wait on physical culture; and that no good work, mental or otherwise, can ever be achieved where it is wholly neglected.

Our whole structure, with all its delicate and complex machinery, is entrusted to our keeping; and when we come to glance at its numerous nerves, its four hundred muscles, its two hundred and fifty-two bones, and its various organs, we will be able to perceive that it behooves us to be most careful and systematic in our treatment of it. Some persons may possibly be inclined to say that our involuntary muscles are not under our control; but, then, the objection can be disposed of summarily by instancing the act of the suicide, that in a single moment stills them forever. It is, therefore, incontrovertible that our physical organism is placed in the charge of our mental, and that any neglect or mismanagement of it must result in disease or discomfort, and the lowering of its legitimate powers and mission to a grave extent.

Rock salt, dissolved in the tub, when we are about to[Pg 258] use the sponge, will be found to heighten the efficacy of our bath. When well sponged, from head to foot, so that our flesh and pores are thoroughly cleansed of the effects of perspiration, which so tend to clog the latter, crash towels should be applied briskly until we feel a warm glow, when soft ones may be used to dry the skin thoroughly. None save those who have tried it can be aware of the pleasure derived from this invigorating process, and the absolute comfort to ourselves, which invariably follows it and abides with us until we again perform our ablutions. The clogging of the pores is a fruitful source of disease, and should never be permitted to obtain for a single hour. If perspiration be obstructed in any way, our internal organs and whole system begin to suffer at once. All our secretions must flow freely to make health possible; therefore, the constant use of the sponge and the bath is necessary to our very existence. Any neglect in this relation will register itself at once in a sallow complexion, eruptions of the skin, and general debility, if not the active development of some serious disease. Let this be borne well in mind, and acted upon, and we shall have cause to be grateful. The bath and sponge form a primary element of physical culture, for without them the proper training of our muscles becomes utterly impossible. The pores must be kept comfortably and uniformly open before we can realize the benefit of active physical training, and this can be effected only by means of the sponge, which should be applied every morning, and after any violent exercise, which had caused us to perspire to any unusual extent. In this latter case, however, care must be taken to use tepid or slightly warm water only; for cold water, under the circumstances, might be accompanied with injurious effects, and tend to close suddenly the pores[Pg 259] that had been already so much relaxed through over or active exertion.

There is another advantage connected with physical culture and athletic exercises which is of all importance, and especially to the young; it is that of a tendency toward temperance, and the utter rejection of all excesses touching the use of spirituous liquors, and that of tobacco also. There is nothing so prejudicial to the system and to manly beauty as the immoderate use of the wine cup. No man who indulges in alcoholic drinks or in the “weed” as it is called, can ever be all that he should be. The love and the respect of a pure and good woman is lost to a man, or never accorded to him if he will persist in the debasing use of the bowl; and when he is deprived of this—when he is a pariah to the sex—there is not much left for him to live for here below. Let me not be misunderstood in this important point:—no man who is given to the immoderate use of whisky and such abominations has ever secured happiness to himself or the partner of his bosom. I need not dwell on this part of the subject. The newspaper press and the experience of thousands bear evidence to the truth of what I say, in the countless illustrations presented to us daily. We must, then, if we would be men, eschew the bottle and take the way pointed out by temperance and virtue, which simply means the way of happiness, prosperity and peace.

The mind and body appear to go hand in hand. When virtue imbues the one, health and strength appear to wait on the other. It is the order and the way of heaven. Neither soul nor body is ever itself in abnormal conditions. The way is clear before us; and we who would attain the highest standards of perfect man or womanhood must obey natural laws, and conform to them systematically.

[Pg 260]Against what is called the “manly art of self-defense,” or pugilism, there is a popular prejudice, which is not founded, I think, in experience or common-sense. There is not a gentleman of my acquaintance, or, I presume, in the world, who does not recognize the utility of the art of self-defense. Not very long ago the newspaper press published an incident which may, I think, be regarded as a case in point. It occurred on a railroad car, and in relation to a couple of ladies, evidently of delicacy and refinement, whose ears had been assailed by some indecent language and ribald jests on the part of two burly scoundrels, who were seated behind them. Fortunately, there was a well-known athlete in one of the seats directly opposite the ladies, and he interfered at once, begging the two men to discontinue their objectionable language or to retire to the smoking-car. This was the signal for a volley of abuse, and certain threats, which had for their object the intimidation of the speaker, and which were followed by a renewal of their objectionable sayings, intended still further for the ears of the ladies. Upon this, the champion of decency and good conduct arose from his seat, observing, at the same time, if there was a repetition of the offense he would eject both the men from the car, in which there were but two or three additional passengers. Upon this, the two ruffians jumped up, and, bounding over to him, with most opprobrious epithets, dared him to make good his threats. There was not another word on the subject; for, with the speed of lightning, the athlete sprang upon them, caught one in each hand, and, dashing their heads together, whipped them off their feet and dragged them out of the car, and into the smoking-car, upon the floor of which he threw them, simply announcing his name, which was quite enough for the pair of vagabonds, as[Pg 261] they did not put in an appearance in the car from which they had been ejected for the rest of the journey.

Now, it is quite obvious, that had not this gentleman undergone a course of physical training, he could not have disposed of the ruffians as summarily or have done such meritorious work in the service of the two refined and delicate creatures whose ears had been thus outraged—nay more, he could not have protected himself from an assault had it been made upon him, had he not had trained muscles, which enabled him to illustrate the utility of this art by not only avenging himself for an outrage committed on all decency, but upon ladies into the bargain. Had he not been in a position through a well trained physique, he would have been constrained to submit to all he had seen and heard, and the axiom “self-preservation, etc.,” would have been a dead letter to him; but as the case stood, he not only vindicated his manhood, but won a handsome and wealthy wife besides.

Strange as it may sound in some ears, I have not met a noted pugilist who was not a gentleman. True, there are some men connected with the profession who forget themselves from time to time, but, as a general thing, all the stars of the ring have been good members of society. Sayers, Heenan, Goss, Spring, Crib, Morrissey, Edwards, etc., have all fine records; and yet I am very far from recommending the profession as a desirable one. It has its disadvantages, and serious ones of course, but, then, it has its redeeming side also. It repudiates the pistol, the bowie-knife, and every implement of the assassin, and is, withal, an art of peace, so to speak. I have never met a true son of the ring who was not as peaceable as a child, however unflinching or dogged his courage when once before the public.

Habit, they say is second nature. How necessary[Pg 262] therefore, that our habits should be pure and good and conducive to health and strength. Our diet, our clothing, and the manner of our exercise should all tend to building up a perfect manhood. Under proper training, the human frame is capable of most wondrous feats of activity and endurance. I have been informed, and quite recently, that not long since a gentleman who holds a position in one of the gas companies of this city picked up in one hand a weight of two hundred and twenty pounds, at an exhibition in Gilmore’s Garden, and flourished it above his head. This was a wondrous feat of strength, and could no more have been accomplished by a man with untrained muscles, than could the removal of the Adirondacks by an infant. What should be the question, then, with every young person of either sex in the land? It is this, “Shall we enjoy the whole—the entirety of the life that the Good Father has given us, or shall we drawl out an imperfect existence from the cradle to the grave?”

Wealth has its mission, but what can it in any individual case accomplish without health? No matter how soft the cushions, no matter how luxurious the appointments, without health there is no enjoyment. When, therefore, life and light and health are placed in our keeping, to neglect the great boon is criminal. I tell you that you must cultivate life as you would an apple tree. It is in your keeping. You must not slur it over, and pet it one day and neglect it the next. Take it to your hearts all who read; keep your frame, your body, free from all impurities through the medium of temperance, healthy exercise, and the bath, and when the Angel of Death calls you home to God, you will have already acquired the rudimentary wings.

Now, to be more explicit, were such within my power,[Pg 263] take an individual case: Here we shall suppose a delicate lad, as nerveless as the chicken that has just cracked its shell, and what shall we do with him? Say his years are ten or twelve. We shall begin to develop his muscles, which means strengthen his flesh until he feels himself that he can do something. We must take him inch by inch, so to speak, and give, by exercise and judicious manipulation, strength and consistence to his frame. If we find him weak in any particular direction, we must see to it. We must grasp the muscles that are known to be identified with that particular feature, and develop their power and capacity. When we come into contact with anything that is feeble, we must treat it with care; we must manipulate it, knead it, so to speak, until it has got true consistence and a name. We must call it into action gradually and cautiously, until it grows, as it were, under our hands, and begins to perform its mission with an efficacy and certainty of which we had no previous conception. And what does it all mean? It means health, strength, enjoyment of animal life, and enjoyment generally, so far as our mere physique is concerned. We are all subject to disease and discomfort bodily; but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred we can avoid it or stave it off; we can fortify ourselves against it if we only keep the citadel of our body well manned by pure organs and good desires.

All the feats of strength of which we hear and read, are not the result of merely accidental muscular action, but an effort of well-trained muscles and of a desire to accomplish with ease and precision something out of the ordinary course of our action. The man who lifted the two hundred and twenty pounds with one hand in Gilmore’s Garden began, perhaps, with lifting twenty-eight pounds. Nor was there so much of a difference between[Pg 264] the weights lifted this day and the next, so to speak. There was a gradual augmentation of weight and of power; and here is where the secret of all physical strength lies.

Now, much that I have said in relation to gentlemen applies to ladies also. Both are subject to the same laws of health and development. No matter how perfect and beautiful the form, it is still in a plastic condition. God gives the exquisite outlines, but it is for us to fill them up as it were. There is the arm, the bust and the limbs generally, but without physical culture they cannot attain the contour of expression in which their strength and loveliness should culminate. The spirit never glories in its habitation to so great an extent as when the body is at its best. The mysterious link between the one and the other is placed in our hands, and if we would unite them perfectly we must do it through temperance, true religion and physical culture. The means of the latter are placed within the reach of every individual, and to neglect them is to rebel against heaven and our own existence. Pope said more than he had intended, when he wrote “the proper study of mankind is man.” No doubt he had special reference to man’s metaphysical nature, for his was an age of metaphysics to a very grave extent; but the truth is, the study of our physical structure is of the first importance, for without a knowledge of it, its peculiarities and necessities, we shall be unable to give fair play to our other self.

A marked illustration of the benefits of physical training may be found in the fact that the skeleton of the famous Tom Sayers—for, if it must be confessed, the body of that noted pugilist was not permitted to remain undisturbed beneath the sod—presented bones of a texture so hard and so fine as to create surprise on the part of[Pg 265] the medical men who inspected them. They were almost like ivory, and this, it was admitted, was owing to the continual hard rubbing of his limbs and the constant exercise of his muscles. This hand rubbing is a wondrous advantage in more than one relation. In my own experience I have found it to almost work miracles. In one case, a youth of seventeen, who had been given up by the doctors as a hopeless consumptive, happened to mention the circumstance to me. One of his lungs was, as I could perceive, very much diseased; but I thought that he might, notwithstanding, be saved yet. I took him in hands, and began by sponging his body regularly with tepid salt and water, and then drying and rubbing him gently with the palms of my hands, until his body was all aglow. I now insisted that he should, when the weather permitted it, take daily a short walk, during which he was to endeavor to inhale as much fresh, pure air as his lungs would contain. I soon found that with judicious diet, he was beginning to creep up a little, so I began to lengthen his walks, and at times to give him a short drive over rough roads in a common wagon. Although he came into my hands an absolute skeleton, in three months he gained eight pounds in weight, and was evidently determined to cheat the doctors. And yet, during that period he did not take a single particle of physic. The fresh air, the gentle exercise, and the constant hand rubbing of his limbs and his chest, which I began to expand, first with wooden dumb-bells, did the work, for the man is alive and well to-day.

It may not be generally known, but it is nevertheless true, that the hand of a healthy man when brought to bear in rubbing the body of an invalid, imparts a portion of his own strength and magnetism to the sufferer. And, although there are certain instances in which the[Pg 266] services of the educated physician may not be dispensed with, yet, in the matter of weak lungs, weak physique and spinal derangements, the professor of physical culture has the advantage beyond all question. And this reminds me of another incident in my experience. The daughter of a very dear friend of mine, a child of about nine years of age, had a spine so weak that it became curved and shapeless; indeed, so much so that the poor little thing was quite deformed, to the despair of her parents, who loved her as they did the apple of their eye. Every remedy had been applied by them, but without avail; for there still sat the poor, pale, sickly thing, with the prospect of an early grave staring her in the face, or at best a life of suffering and misery. The first time I saw the sufferer and was informed of her malady, I felt assured that the rock salt bath and hand-rubbing would relieve her, if not result in a permanent cure. I gave directions, to be followed in my absence, having first myself performed one operation, during which I permitted the cold water from the sponge to drip from time to time along the spine. About two months afterward I made another visit to my friend, when I was well pleased to meet my little patient apparently quite well, and playing briskly on the sidewalk with some children of her own age. And so I found it in every case in which this treatment was applied to a weak frame or deranged nerves. There is an efficacy and a magnetism about it that is irresistible, as all who may have occasion to try it can prove to their satisfaction.

It may be interesting to many to be informed of the mode adopted by experienced trainers and gymnasts in building up the system of a man when preparing him for great feats of endurance and strength. In the first place,[Pg 267] the system must be purified and the liver and all the organs brought into the healthiest of conditions, which is now generally effected by the free use of lemons and castor oil. Formerly calomel and the black draught were resorted to for this purpose; but as the former was sometimes inclined to remain in the system, lemons came into use as safer and more efficacious. When the system, then, is purified of every impurity, the building up and strengthening process begins. Early in the morning the subject arises, and after a slight ablution, during which he carefully scrapes what is called the fur from his tongue with a thin piece of whalebone that he between his teeth bent, and then draws over his tongue after the manner of a rake. By this means, and by gargling his mouth and throat with cold water he is in a condition to enjoy a cup of tea without milk or sugar and a single piece of dry toast. This disposed of, he takes a short walk of say a quarter of a mile, and returns to breakfast, when he sits down to a mutton chop and toast, etc., still taking tea without milk or sugar. After breakfast he takes a rest of about half an hour, and then starts forth on a walk of from four to ten miles. Returning about 10 o’clock, after perspiring freely, he is rubbed dry and permitted to rest on his bed until he becomes quite cool. Then comes the strong rock-salt bath and sponge, after which, and on being rubbed dry once more, his muscles and flesh are manipulated by the naked hands of the trainer for two hours. His next meal is composed of a heavy beefsteak, some calf’s foot jelly, toast, and perhaps a bottle of Bass’ ale. He drinks but little or no water, as this liquid has a tendency to fatten and render the muscles flabby when taken internally. An hour’s sleep may now be indulged in with advantage, after which comes a regular course of exercise, embracing pulleys, bars, clubs, dumb-bells, sand[Pg 268] and bean bags—the sand bags hanging from the ceiling, to be hit in the manner of a man, right and left, with a view to strengthening the hands and packing and hardening the muscles, and the bean bags to be thrown between him and the trainer, the one and the other catching them in turn, so as to train the eye and the hand to quickness. In these exercises every muscle is brought into play, and all the limbs made to perform every movement of which the body is capable, so that all the muscles are developed alike, and ready at any moment to do, with the utmost efficacy and precision, the work proper to them. After a good rest, and at about 5 o’clock P. M., there is a moderate sponge bath and lots of rubbing. Indeed, so important is this latter, that if one man is not able to accomplish it, more help is called in. Supper at 6 o’clock, of broiled chicken, without a particle of grease or butter, a cup of beef tea, some dry toast, and, if found necessary, sometimes a little genuine old port wine and beef tea mixed. Oat-meal and a few raisins are now and then called into requisition—the former in the shape of porridge and the latter mixed with gruel made of oat-meal also.

But this treatment must not be supposed to apply to all cases, as there are constitutions which might require one totally different in so far as diet is concerned. Indeed, the trainer’s judgment must be exercised here with the greatest caution, for to be unable to discriminate between constitutions, or to determine the quantity and quality of the food, as well as the quantity of exercise necessary in every individual case, would be to fail signally in his profession, and to be liable at any moment to do almost irreparable damage to his man.

Although the implements of training proper to the muscular development of ladies may be lighter than those[Pg 269] suitable for gentlemen, yet they are all modeled after the same fashion. Of course, it would be quite unnecessary and indeed wrong to subject the gentler sex to the excessive exercises necessary in the case of those who are supposed to be engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle with the world, or any of those vocations which require iron brawn and muscle in their successful pursuit. Still, the principle running through both modes of training is the same, and the treatment moderated only in the one case, to meet the necessities of sex and organization. But, as already laid down, I hope impressively, no matter how lovely or symmetrical the form, to secure strength and consistence the muscles must be well trained and the bath constantly used, if health and personal beauty are to be secured permanently. We are not to suppose, however, a lady needs that degree of physical culture that would enable her to lift two hundred weight in one hand and flourish it above her head, but we are to expect that she will keep her frame in a condition that will enable her to endure any moderate degree of fatigue without the slightest inconvenience, and that a brisk walk of three or four miles will only serve to sharpen her appetite rather than to prostrate her for a whole afternoon.

There is no enjoyment of life without health; and there can be no health where physical culture is neglected. To be sure, there is a certain class of beings who believe they are possessed of health so long as they are able to move about without any great trouble to themselves; but let these once taste the sweets of well-trained muscles and steady nerves, and they will soon begin to find that they had only been vegetating previously. How culpable, then, would it not be on the part of any person of ordinary understanding to neglect the means of health and strength and comfort placed within the reach of even[Pg 270] the poorest in the land? For it will be remembered, I have stated plainly, that every man and woman in the world is a gymnasium, so to speak, to himself or herself, and that there is not in this or any other country a single household, gentle or simple, that has not within itself more than one implement of physical culture. Any one can improvise a club, a pair of dumb-bells, a bar, or something answering to weights and pulleys. Every person can manipulate and exercise his own muscles; can use the sponge bath, and, in most cases, obtain pure, fresh air, posturing, throwing back his shoulders and thus expanding the chest; stooping, swinging the arms and legs to and fro; hanging by the hands, sustaining the whole weight of the body from time to time, and taking long gulps of fresh air, and relaxing them as long as possible on the lungs, are all modes of educating and strengthening the muscles. And although the exercises thus accomplished may not be as effective as those under the direction of the accomplished trainer, yet they are in the right direction, and cannot fail, if persisted in, to culminate in the happiest results.

I do not intend to be egotistical when I say that I have done something in this my native land for gymnastics and physical culture generally. There are in this city and elsewhere gentlemen of distinction, in and out of the learned professions, who can bear witness to what I here state, and who can speak of me from their own personal experience. Nay, more, I think I may venture to say that I have been the means of building up into perfect strength many a weak and shattered constitution on the part of more than one lady and gentleman within the limits of this fair city to-day, not to speak of others that are scattered through the length and breadth of the land. In this direction, as well as in that of physical[Pg 271] culture generally, my experience has been very far from limited, and I freely give the world the benefit of it, so far as what I have now said here is of any value. I speak with the heart and the pride of a man who is wedded to his profession, because of the benefits it is so eminently calculated to bestow on every age and condition; because I have known it to alleviate suffering and to eradicate disease, and to develop to the highest state of perfection the human system, and to make it all that the good Father intended it to be. As the case stands at present, men and women are suicides who, by their own neglect, curtail not only their happiness but their existence. If a hundred years is the natural length of the life of man, how comes it that so few attain that age? Monsieur Flourens has only answered the question in part, in so far as I am aware. He only pointed out the case, but did not, I believe, enumerate the remedies applicable to it. It is because that we have become accustomed to this shrivelled span of our life that we do not shrink with horror from its contemplation. But let us, while looking the matter full in the face, examine how far we are ourselves a party to it, and we shall begin to discover that, in our neglect of the means of securing health and strength, and of fortifying ourselves through good habits and judicious physical culture against the inroads of both time and disease, we are surely acting the part of suicides.

Let me then, before bringing these brief and imperfect observations of mine to a close, direct, once for all, the serious attention of both old and young—parents and teachers—to this all important subject of physical culture, or the art of preserving health and strength and happiness, till called hence in the true natural order of things. Let me say to the delicate young miss whose[Pg 272] frame shrinks from every passing breeze, and whose cheek is a stranger to the flush of the rose, that she may become a very model of health and brilliant feminine beauty if she will follow intelligently the advice already laid down. If she would have a figure and step like that of Diana, she must see to her muscles and her bath, and go into daily training proper to her sex. Her fate in this relation is in her own hands. In relation to weak or sickly children, also, there is much to be done on the part of parents, who sometimes permit the delicate little sufferers to become almost confirmed invalids, although the sponge and the hand rubbing process, with other judicious operations, would restore them to perfect health and strength, and lay the foundation of a true man or womanhood. And what shall I say to the delicate and robust youths, who alike mismanage their case—the one in not endeavoring to build up his constitution into a perfect whole; and the other in not giving proper direction to the strength already pertaining to him naturally? I shall warn him of the feeble constitution, that, unless he begins a course of physical culture, he will never be able to fill the true mission of a man, mentally or physically; while to him of the robust frame I shall say that he is simply carrying a weight of flesh about him useless and flabby, and will continue to do so until he enters on a course of physical training, that will give consistence and proper tone to his brain and muscle.

There are, I am aware, certain parents and guardians who are opposed to gymnastic or athletic exercises, as the process of training is something like that adopted in the case of pugilists. And this brings to my recollection an incident that occurred to me personally when engaged in teaching the art in Michigan, not very long ago. I was engaged at the period in directing a gymnasium[Pg 273] connected with an educational institution, and had besides opened my own rooms, where I gave private instructions. I had not been engaged over a month or so, when a legal friend of mine introduced me to a wealthy grocer, whose two sons, aged respectively seventeen and nineteen, were going to school, but who were tall, consumptive-looking creatures, with but little apparent life or strength in them. On entering into conversation with the father of these boys, I happened to introduce my profession as a great promoter of health, and one that could be brought to bear with advantage upon his two sons. He did not take my observation kindly, but, in a manner that was very far from polite, intimated to me that he wanted to make scholars and gentlemen of his sons, rather than entrust them to my tuition, which he plainly hinted would tend to leading them off in a different direction. I felt a little nettled at his rudeness, but was determined that I should not imitate it, although he had insulted me to some extent.

“Well, sir,” I observed, in reply to his remark, “it is quite proper, and is very creditable to you to give these young gentlemen a fine education, for I know, to my cost, what a poor education means, although I am satisfied that neither wealth nor learning are the only constituents of a gentleman. I regret to say that my education is very defective, although, in knocking about the world, I have learned some things, and among them, that of being polite to strangers and of being considerate of the feelings of others. And now let me ask you to give me, if you can, any intelligent or good reason for your sneer at my profession, which has for its object physical culture only. Had you made yourself thoroughly acquainted with the subject, and with its mission and benefits, you would have been able to perceive that[Pg 274] in the present state of the health and the physique of your two sons, neither of them can attain to anything like proficiency in their studies. Their brain sympathizes with their feeble and undeveloped frame and hence no good mental work can be performed by them. Again, if they are permitted to continue their studies on the same plan upon which they are now conducted, they will be old men before they reach the age of thirty-five. You object to allowing them to attend my class for a couple of hours in the evening, imagining that were they to attend it they would become fighters and pugilists; but in this you are mistaken. I am no friend or champion of pugilism, but simply a physical trainer who develops the muscles, strengthens the system and the brain, and gives the whole frame something like true consistence. And whether, I should like to ask you, would your two sons, who are all but skeletons, be safer in my hands for a couple of hours after school every evening, for a few weeks, than in standing at the corners of the streets or in visiting drinking and billiard saloons, where the foundation of drunkenness and gambling are so often laid, and where the seeds of active disease are so often sown? In the one case they would be subjected to a pleasant course of physical training, resulting in health, strength and activity, and out of the reach, for the time being, of bad examples and bad habits. In the other, they would be breathing an atmosphere not always pure, and fragrant at times with some of the worst vices of the age. Whether would you rather see your boys men with finely developed forms, active and athletic, or mere apologies for men, with no physique, and with no life or health in them, not only from a neglect of their systems, but from the excesses and indulgences to which your[Pg 275] conduct so tends to expose them. With me their health and morals are safe for that length of time, at least; and, as they are taught nothing that does not tend toward their mental and physical welfare, as they suffer in neither language or deportment, and are rather led in the way of generous and manly sentiments, I think they would not deteriorate from any contact with me, or with the true gentlemen of the profession.”




He was impressed and taken aback with what I had said, but did not at the moment make any observation on the subject. On the next day, however, happening to meet my friend the lawyer, I learned that he had informed him that he feared he had acted wrongly toward me, and had, in addition, done some injustice to my profession. The result was, that very shortly after both he and his two sons visited my rooms during one of my exhibitions, or rather lectures, that I was illustrating with gymnastic feats. He was struck with my observations and with the performance of some of my pupils, as well as with the marked difference between their physique and activity and those of his own boys. For his edification and that of those who had come to witness the exhibition, I referred to the well known fact that the ancient Greeks and Romans were gymnasts, and that their nobles frequently contested in public for the prize; and besides, that he who performed the greatest feats of strength and agility was crowned with laurels. At the close of my lecture he came forward with a frankness and a manliness I was pleased to see, and made an ample apology for his treatment of me on a former occasion, and at once placed his two sons under my charge. In fact I had won, and when some months afterwards I presented him his two boys as strong as young lions and as agile as panthers, I noticed a tear of gratitude in his eye, and we have been warm friends ever since.

[Pg 276]It is all a mistaken idea that a true course of physical training tends towards pugilism or to foster a spirit of aggression. The case is quite the reverse, for it engenders a spirit of nobility and generous manliness only. It is averse to treachery and meanness, and is indorsed by all the educational institutions in the land. Show me a college without a gymnasium or its physical culture and I shall be much astonished. It is now an accepted fact, that a true course of mental culture is impossible without a true course of physical training. For the student to succeed in the former, he must undergo the latter. They must travel side by side, irrespective of sex, and there must be teachers for both. One is the body and the other is the soul of the man, so to speak; and as a healthy brain and an unhealthy body are incompatible—are not to be found centered on the same person—we must see that the latter is always kept in order and at its best, and there is no fear for the success of the former.

One parting word, and I have done. All our physical organization has been constructed with a view to ministering to the comforts and the necessities of our body as a whole, as well as to our mind or soul. Of themselves, our physical organs know nothing, and are completely under the control of our immortal part. When, therefore, we find that the slightest feebleness or derangement on the part of any one of them results in the greatest discomfort to us, and when we find that, to support health and to pursue with effect any vocation in life, active or sedentary, it requires the fullest development of our muscles and all the parts of our frame, does it not behoove all those who have not yet turned their attention to the subject to take it up at once, and endeavor to achieve that state of physical perfection which is so necessary to their success and happiness in this world, if not in the next?