The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 6.


Gleaned from Hither and Yon -- and Now and Then -- and Way Back When

By A. J. Bowser

This story is about Hosses -- Hossmen and Hosseymen. The foundations were laid on Sunday, July 22, when the thermometer was one hundred in the shade, and then some, by Vernon Philley, who went down into his basement clad only in his B. V. D.'s, and sweat it out of his system. He told me to throw it into Sifting's hopper, mist it with some of my own and what I might gather from others, and see what would come out. He also said "if hell is as hot as this hot spell has been, then I'm going to reform." Well, here is the grist.

Now to my suggestion. I wish to suggest to you the subject for a chapter in your History of Porter County, the title, 'Hossmen," not 'Hosseymen.' Please note the spelling. As I recall the old days of the hoss there were many who owned and loved their hosses, and perhaps all such could have been called Hossmen. But there was also a class of men who owned and loved their hosses, but who also made a living with them, either breeding, raising, training, racing, trading or buying and selling them, and this group of men are the ones I wish to term Hosseymen. All old-timers of Porter county will recall the men whose named are mentioned as coming under the two classifications. These men were an interesting bunch. In the old days a horse was called a "Hoss," by the lovers of that animal.

the first hossman I recall was Philo Beach. He was a brother of Myra Beach, father of George F., Mark and Roy. Philo lived on a farm south of Prattville, and had as his neighbors Theophilus Crumpacker and Charley Luther. His home was near where the road touches No. 30, and where may be seen a clump of Pine trees on the east side of the road, there stood his home. Philo was a bachelor to the end of his days. He raised hosses, for the love of raising them. He always had a herd of them running wild on the farm, few of them were ever broken, and some reached a ripe old age without ever feeling the pinch of a halter. Silas Dolson, an old-time liveryman, had a habit of going out to Philo's place when he needed a good roadster and lassoeing an animal, bringing it to his barn, breaking it, and then sending a check for its value to Philo. That was all right with Philo -- but, just try to buy one of his pets, and you wouldn't get anywhere. That old man was a lovable character, in spite of his queer ways.

"Another character was Abe Baker, who was married twice and left a family of mighty fine children. Abe was essentially a hoss trader, but he also could cure ailments common to hosses. Joe Austin was another Hosseyman, living out on the LaPorte road. These men dealt principally in the draft type. Now will come the man who specialized in the driving of the 'fast' hoss type. Nate Cooper comes first to mind, and I can see him yet at the old county fair track scoring that old veteran, Red Star, the tallest, rangiest hoss I ever saw, and what a trotter he was? Dr. George Jones tells how Mr. Cooper came to own this hoss. Nate Cooper and the late I. C. B. Suman, who also was a great hoss lover, went to Kentucky looking for three good hosses for breeding purposes. They came back with Red Star, Nutwood and Perfect, very fine specimens. On their return both men wanted Nutwood. Straws were pulled, and Cooper went home with Red Star, considered the booby prize. But Red Star proved to be the real star of the three, and he left behind him many fine driving hosses and won many races before he died. The other hosses proved duds. Then there was Ed Mee, one-time manager of the old Lafayette hotel, then on the site of the Premier theatre. Ed owned and raced that noble black, 'Nap-Wee.' About this time there was a famous little trotting mare, Dot L., who could trim them all, though she only weighed a thousand pounds. She was a LaPorte-owned racer and driven by Roy Line.

"Then there was that father and son team, George Williams and his son Ur. Ur trained and drove James S., who was frequently in the money. Ur went east and trained hosses for the Whitneys. Then there was Dud Peirce and his fast bay gelding, 'Dr. Benny." Peirce made the mistake of giving his horse too fast a mark during his first season, and although Dr. Benny could duplicate that record most of the time, his first season's earnings were his greatest, and perhaps his only real money races. Charles Slover, also was in the money many times with his 'Arhutr T.'

"Then along came Bill Walsworth with 'Ex Moore,' who was often in the money. Dr. Ryan also raced many hosses, among them being one called Longworth. Abe Lowenstine, assisted by Albert Muster, was the hossman in this combination, while Albert specialized under the other classification. George Miller always owned a stable of good horses, but his outstanding animal of all was that beautiful light sorrel with a cream colored mane and tail, which Mr. Miller so ably handled. 'Dan' was this racers name. Then there was that spotted Arabian hoss Dr. Vincent drove in his practice. And the tall Norman coach that Dr. Andy Letherman drove so many years. There were perhaps many other who drove and raced horses, but I want to save space for some of the hossmen -- the men who maintained good drivers and teams. So, for this time, so long.".

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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