Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Horse is a Horse...

C. Masterman & Son Framingham Market

When I was growing up I often wondered where my love of horses had come from. There was no one in my immediate family that carried this disease gene. As far back as I remember I was crazy about horses, eventually parlaying that hobby into earning a living.

Of course, up until the early 1900s when the auto was invented, everyone had a horse. Even city dwellers relied on horses for transportation. Country folks relied on horses not only for transportation but, more importantly, for working in their fields.

In 1867, the rural horse population in America was estimated at nearly 8,000,000, while the number of farm workers was well under 7,000,000. By the early 1900’s, there were nearly 20,000,000 on America’s farms, outnumbering humans! Today, there are 6.9 million, mostly recreational horses.

Wedding trip, 1903

As I’ve collected photos and family stories, I found it fascinating to see my ancestors and their connections to horses. My great great grandfather, Chesman Masterman, owned a general store in Framingham, Massachusetts and utilized a horse-drawn wagon for deliveries, photo at top. When his son Filmore married my great-grandmother in 1903, they took their wedding trip by horse-drawn carriage from Massachusetts to his hometown in Weld, Maine.

Above is a picture of Filmore Masterman holding a horse for the blacksmith as a young man in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a job that I spent a great deal of time doing over the years!

Hugh McMonagle at his Sussex Post inn, with his son & daughter ca 1880's

My great grandmother’s family, the McMonagles, had emigrated from Ireland in the late 1700s and settled in New Brunswick, Canada. One of her grandfather's cousins, Hugh McMonagle, son of Cornelius, was a serious horse breeder, bringing thoroughbred race breeding to the area and some of the first organized racing meets in Canada. 

First Morgan horse, Justin Morgan.

He was also a breeder of work & saddle horses, having introduced the Morgan horse to that country.  Morgans were the first breed developed in America as a versatile work and saddle horse.

Amadeus  Mozart Ara-Li winning McMonagle award

Amadeus  Mozart Ara-Li at McMonagle's inn.

There is a McMonagle Memorial Versatility Award is given each year at the New Brunswick Morgan Horse Show in honor of Hugh McMonagle. The past 3 years, the stallion Amadeus  Mozart Ara-Li has won it. 

Beer Wagon, ca 1900

On the German side of the family, My great great grandfather Joseph Enz made his living driving a beer wagon for Schmidt’s in Philadelphia. His brother's son George, (photo left) who stayed back on the family farm in Drackenstein, used both horses and cattle as draft animals. Joseph Enz’ wife, Krescentia, told her children that as a girl in Bottingen, it was her job to harness up the workhorses. The horse pictured is likely a Black Forest Horse, well adapted to work in the fields of that region.

My great grandfather, Frederick Peterson, after emigrating from Sweden, became a fireman in the town of Everett, Massachusetts, during the era of horse-drawn fire engines. Up to five horses pulled the engine, it must have been quite a sight to see them galloping down the street with the bell clanging. In 1900, it took them approximately 15 minutes to get to a fire.

Below is an excerpt from a speech by the Mayor of Everett in 1907, outlining the use of these horses. Horses were used in Everett until 1928.

The fire horses certainly worked hard in a hazardous job, but were highly valued by the men who cared for them and depended on them everyday.

The Army, up until World War II, relied heavily on horses for their cavalry. They had their own breeding program to supply soldiers.  My kids' great-great-great grandfather Hamilton Ingles served in the 14th PA Cavalry from 1862 to the war's end and actually broke his hand while whacking his horse!

These days, horses are a luxury! In the 19th century, an average horse cost $10-50, today an average horse is $2,000. If you figure a mid-1800s dollar is equal to $20 today, that is still cheaper! It is the upkeep these days that is so expensive, due to lack of farm space.

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