Tuesday, February 27, 2018

James H. Wallick, the Bandit and Cattle King – An Owner of Hollyrood Farm (Part 3)

Poster advertising James H. Wallick’s Cattle King staring Kate Paxton courtesy of the Huntington Digital Library, Jay T. Last Collection of Lithographic and Social History.
James Henry Wallick & his wife Mary (McInnis) Wallick  

(Owners of Hollyrood Farm for 7+ Years, 1888-1895, 1897, 1903)

Continued from PART 2

Even though the play continued to be a success for the next decade, James Wallick wanted a second play to perform along with it. Starting in 1886, a new romantic melodrama, The Cattle King, written by William H. Young, was added to the company’s repertoire. [64] The new drama was set in the Rocky Mountains and was similar in style and form to the Bandit King and featured “four trained horses and a trick donkey.” [65] When the play opened in Cleveland in November, a full house of 2,342 were on hand and several hundred others had to be turned away. [66] A review of the performance stated that, “rarely, if ever, has there been heard such shouting and demonstrations of approval, even within the walls of the Cleveland theater. Every act was followed with a curtain call, and the hero was frequently called upon to acknowledge the plaudits of the public with a bow. The drama was excellently staged with new and appropriate scenery, and for a play of that character no fault can be found with the acting.” The negative reviews that had accompanied the performances of the Bandit King were essentially non-existent for the Cattle King.

Advertisement placed by James H. Wallick in the Kingston Daily Freeman, Thursday Evening, 10 January 1889, courtesy of Newspapers.com. The ad is typical of those placed in papers around the country advertising the traveling showman and his productions.

The success of these two plays allowed Wallick to climb out of debt by about 1888 for the first time in many years. [67] During 1888 these two plays were performed almost continuously across the country in over fifty cities (see 1888 travel schedule earlier in this chapter). By the year’s end, Wallick was ready to move on and in December that year he offered the two plays for sale [68], but apparently he did not get the offer he wanted as he continued to perform them in future years.

  Other romantic melodramas followed over the next two decades, including: The Mountain King, Sam Houston, The Blue Grass King, Devil’s Island, When London Sleeps, Queen of the Highway, King of Rogues, The Guilty Mother, She Dared Do Right, Her Wedding Day, Held for Ransom, and The Dairy Farm. None were quite as successful as the first two plays. It was said that, “When Wallick, the Bandit King actor, wants a new play, he turns one of his horses around, changes the name of one of his old plays, and there you are.” [69] By 1902, Wallick was one of the wealthiest stage performers and managers in the country and had accumulated about $250,000 from the success of his plays. [70] But this was perhaps the height of his success and wealth.

Although James Wallick was good at making money, he was even more skilled at spending it. First, just as he was rising out of debt, he plunged back into it. It was in May 1888 that James and Mary purchased the 264 acres that became Hollyrood Farm near Circleville, New York from Henry Low for $32,000. [71] Later that same month he purchased a large quantity of trotter racing stock to begin breeding his own horses at Hollyrood. [72] The plan was to make the farm a breeding ground for trotters, and Wallick had some limited success. During these years, the Wallick’s seemed to enjoy the time each year that they were able to spend at Hollyrood and the local papers loved to report on their comings and goings. [73]

But horse breeding and raising stock turned out not to be the ‘golden goose’ for the Wallicks. Three years after buying the farm in 1891, Wallick began advertising his breeding stock, the most famous of which was his stallion Millionaire (see included advertisement published in Wallace’s Monthly, a leading horse breeding journal). He shipped six of his finest horses to Chicago in May of that year to be sold at auction. [74] Unfortunately, the auction was very disappointing and “none of the horses brought the prices they should have. There were several bad features that were against [the sale]. The first two or three days it was so cold that purchasers could hardly stand around where the sale was going on.” [75] Still, in 1892, the Los Angeles Times listed James H. Wallick as one of the wealthiest actors in the country making $20,000 to $30,000 annually. [76]

Advertisement placed by James H. Wallick in Wallace’s Monthly, May 1891 (available from Google Books).

Notwithstanding their published wealth, James and Mary Wallick were often near the edge of their financial limits. In August of 1893, James and Mary deeded Hollyrood farm to James H. Rogers of New York City for $1 and the assumption of their $16,000 mortgage. [77] Rogers also purchased the stock on the farm, including the trotters. The farm at the time of the sale was described as containing “a lot of fine buildings and a half-mile track.” [78] The Wallicks may have also been given some other property by Rogers in trade. To diversify the farm, Rogers purchased from a Mr. James Houston “100 sheep of a very fine breed” to raise. [79] But he was apparently not much of a sheep man and no better with his money that Wallick. He lost the farm a year later. [80] At the foreclosure sale, the trotter horses that James Wallick had so carefully bred and cared for were sold at cut rate prices, including his prized stallion, Millionaire, who was won with a bid of $1,700. [81] Following the sale in the fall of 1894 or perhaps early in 1895, James and Mary Wallick once again became the owners of the property, and, in fact, in October of 1894 they were doing well enough financially to purchase a second large house and adjoining property with other buildings in Newport, Rhode Island. [82]

However, the next Spring, April of 1895, they were again close to losing Hollyrood Farm to foreclosure. The local paper, The Middletown Argus, reported that: “Hollyrood farm was advertised by B. M. Cox, referee, to be sold under foreclosure of a mortgage held by the Middletown Savings Bank at 2 p. m., at the Russell House, to-day, but at the request of Mrs. Wallick and of the attorney for the holder of a second mortgage, the sale was adjourned until Wednesday, April 24th, at the same place and hour.” [83] When the property was finally auctioned on the 24th, James and Mary Wallick once again maintained their ownership of the property (now at 276 acres, 12 more than what they purchased from Henry Low) with a bid of $17,608.32. [84] Shortly after this foreclosure auction, on the 1st of May 1895, the Wallicks sold the farm, all 276 acres, to Morris Robinson, a Polish immigrant for $20,000. Part of the sale included Robinson taking on the remaining $12,000 in mortgage debt owed by the Wallicks. [85]

But James and Mary were not through with Hollyrood. Morris Robinson was not able to meet his obligations to the Wallicks and to the farm creditors. The Wallicks filed suit against Robinson in the Orange County Supreme Court in September of 1896 over a disagreement related to promissory notes, jewelry, and the farm property. [86] The case was decided the next April in favor of the Wallicks [87] and on the 2nd of June 1897, Hollyrood was once more on the auction block, and once again James and Mary Wallick put in the winning bid. [88] The property was deeded back to them the next day. [89] This time they held onto the farm for two months before selling it to Moses and Elizabeth Crow for $22,000 on August 7th [90]; this was ten thousand dollars less than they had paid for it in 1888. After the sale of the farm, James and Mary continued to make their home in Middletown, near James boyhood home that lay just a few miles to the northeast in Ulster County.

Continued in PART 4

64. The Patriot, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, 8 September 1886, p. 4.
65. The Patriot, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, 1 September 1886, p. 4.
66. The Cleveland Leader, Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday, 2 November 1886, p. 3.
67. The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, 2 June 1888.
68. The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York City, Saturday, 29 December 1888, p. 11.
69. Al Thayer, 1894, Ah There: Pickings from Lobby Chatter in the Cincinnati Enquirer, p. 170 (available online through Google Books).
70. Philharmonic: A Magazine Devoted to Music Art Drama, v. 2, p. 222 (available online through Google Books).
71. Orange County, New York Deeds Book 358, p. 593.
72. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, 30 May 1888, p. 6.
73. The Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York, Thursday, 14 July 1892, p. 7; Tuesday, 23 August 1892; Monday, 27 March 1893, p. 3; and Tuesday, 25 April 1893, p. 3.
74. The Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York, Tuesday, 5 May 1891, p. 2.
75. The Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York, Tuesday, 12 May 1891, p. 3.
76. Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, Sunday, 22 May 1892, p. 12.
77. Orange County, New York Deeds, Book 401, p. 567.
78. The Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York, Wednesday, 23 August 1893, p. 3. See the chapter on Rogers and his partner Rowe for more on these short-term owners of the farm.
79. The Middletown Daily Times, Middletown, New York, Monday, 13 November 1893.
80. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Monday, 23 July 1894, p. 8 and Wednesday, 1 August 1894. p. 5. 
81. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Wednesday, 1 August 1894, p. 5.
82. The Newport Mercury, Newport, Rhode Island, Saturday, 20 October 1894, p. 1.
83. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Wednesday, 3 May 1895, p. 5.
84. Orange County Deeds, Book 415, p. 219.
85. Orange County, New York Deeds, Book 415, p. 222, dated 1 May 1895.
86. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Friday, 25 September 1896, p. 3; Thursday, 14 January 1897, p. 8; and Monday, 1 February 1897.
87. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Monday, 5 April 1897, p. 8.
88. The Middletown Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Wednesday, 2 June 1897, p. 5.
89. Orange County New York Deeds, Book 431, p. 271; Orange County New York Mortgages, Book 353, p. 449.
90. Orange County, New York Deeds, Book 431, p. 275; The Daily Argus, Middletown, New York, Monday, 28 June 1897, p. 8. 

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