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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/John H. Wallace

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JOHN H. WALLACE


JOHN H. WALLACE was born on August 16th, 1822, and was reared on a farm in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He was educated in the common schools and at Frankfort Springs Academy. Though naturally an eager student, his health was so delicate that he determined to seek an outdoor life rather than one of study, and in 1845 he removed to Muscatine, Iowa, locating on a farm near the city. He became an active member of the State Agricultural Society and in 1856 was elected secretary and for six years was the chief official in the management of the State Fairs. He was frequently called upon for information relating to pedigrees of domestic animals and the need of an authority on the pedigrees of horses was constantly forced upon his attention. There were herd books for the registration of cattle in those days, but no stud book where the pedigrees of any breed of horses could be found recorded. In 1856 Mr. Wallace began collecting information with the ultimate purpose of publishing a stud book of thoroughbred horses. The thoroughbred, or British racehorse, was then here, as in England, the only horse of literature, though the Morgans and the fast trotting horses had begun to attract attention. From the files of the oldest American sporting journals containing the records of racing and from old turfmen and breeders and from other sources of information Mr. Wallace gleaned a great mass of pedigrees, which he published in 1867 in “Wallace's American Stud Book.” While compiling the thoroughbred pedigrees Mr. Wallace gathered such information as he found about the breeding and records of trotting horses, and these he arranged as a supplement to his work on the running horse. This supplement contained all horses that have trotted in public in 2.40 or better and many of their progenitors and descendants with all that is known of their blood. It was a very meager work covering considerably less than one hundred pages and containing in many instances only the names, color and record of the horse registered. That the editor was pretty well satisfied with it is indicated by a sentence in the introduction: “It is believed that this compilation of trotting horses, embracing more than seven hundred animals, is very nearly perfect, but it is not claimed to be entirely so.” Meager and imperfect as it is now known to have been, this trotting supplement was more used and appreciated than was the main stud book, and soon after its publication Mr. Wallace turned his undivided attention to this new field—the history and literature of the American trotting horse. The first volume of “Wallace's American Trotting Register” was published in 1871. It represented years of untiring labor, travel through all parts of the United States and personal investigation of hundreds of important pedigrees which before had been altogether unknown, or in hopeless confusion. The second volume was published in 1874 and in 1875 Mr. Wallace removed to New York City, where he established Wallaces Monthly, a magazine devoted to the trotting horse. Later he published “Wallace's Year Book,” a statistical work containing reports of all races trotted or paced in the United States and Canada, together with elaborate tables of pedigrees and records designed to bring out the relative merits of the different families of trotting horses. Mr. Wallace continued the publication of the Register, the Monthly and the Year Book until 1891, when a controversy between him and several wealthy and influential breeders, concerning the pedigree of the famous trotting mare Sunol, 2:08 1-4 led to a rupture which ended in the sale of the publications to the American Trotting Register Association, a business corporation located at Chicago, for about $130,000. Nine volumes of the Trotting Register, six volumes of the Tear Book and fifteen volumes of the Monthly were published under the direction of Mr. Wallace before he relinquished control and these works contain more than all others concerning the history of the trotting horse. In 1897 Mr. Wallace published his latest work “The Horse of America,” which may be said to contain the cream of all the earlier publications. Mr. Wallace's influence upon the horse breeding interests of the United States was incalculable. Possessed of untiring industry, sterling integrity, ability not approached by any other man of his day, or of any day, in his chosen field of labor, and with courage enough to stand his ground against the whole world when he believed he was right, he accomplished what perhaps no one else could have done in ascertaining and putting on record the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the blood elements of a new breed of horses, now recognized as the most valuable the world has ever known. He not only performed a herculean task in tracing out the inheritance of the trotting horse, but his deductions from the statistics of turf and stud guided to a great extent the breeding of trotting horses throughout the country. It has been said of Mr. Wallace that he was more of a scientist than a horseman. He cared little for what may be termed the practical side of horsemanship and racing. His taste and talent were almost wholly for the historical and scientific phases of the subject. He was a most uncompromising opponent of betting in all forms and had many bitter enemies among horse owners and track owners owing to his unceasing warfare against pool-selling. He would not go as far as from his New York office at Broadway and Fulton streets, to Fleetwood Park, to see an ordinary race, but would spend weeks, months and sometimes even years in tracing the inheritance of some obscure trotter that had gained a record of 2:30 or better in that race. His whole interest and labor were in tracing and classifying pedigrees and records and drawing from the statistics so collected and classified deductions as to the sources of speed, the laws of heredity and the way to improve the breed of trotting horses.