Who the Heck was Homer?

sfpl01On August 6, 2016 during Silverton’s annual Homer Davenport Community Festival, The Davenport Project heads over to the Silver Falls Public Library for our next free presentation, staring at 1:30 (and repeating at 3:00), sponsored by the Silver Falls Public Library. On tap will be a lively and visually entertaining presentation, on the life and times of political cartoonist Homer C. Davenport, late of Silverton.

Homer C. Davenport

In the decade of the 1890s, just before the dawn of a new century, American society was going through a transition; from horses and trains to automobiles and airplanes. Change was everywhere. Through it all, Oregon-born cartoonist Homer Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene.

Homer Davenport (1867-1912) was Oregon’s first media super-star. Born in Silverton, Oregon, into the pioneer Davenport and Geer families, he became a world traveler and developed a second career of breeding Arabian horses. His life is a story of fame, political influence, family connections, artistic creativity, and discovery. Yet, few outside his hometown are even aware of the impact this self-described “country boy” had on society.

His unique rural Oregon upbringing, along with a supportive and nurturing home life, equipped Davenport with the intellectual tools and the artistic skills needed to hit the ground running, in spite ofsome would say because ofa lack of formal training. He arrived on the scene during a perfect storm of technology and public sentiment. One New York State Senator even sponsored a bill to outlaw political cartoons, because of the influence of Davenport’s work.

For this presentation, Davenport historian and Oregon Cartoon Institute fellow Gus Frederick will present a visual overview of Davenport’s art, life and times. With emphasis on the enabling reprographics technology of the era, as well as a snap-shot of Davenport’s contemporaries, Frederick will show graphically how the turn of the Twentieth Century was the golden age of the cartoonist and graphic illustrator. And how a small-town Oregonian occupied a major role. Also included will be an update on the eight recently acquired original Davenport cartoons, an exhibit featuring the City of Silverton’s collection of cartoons, and of course Silverton’s annual Homage to its favorite son, the Homer Davenport Community Festival.

Frederick is the creator of The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport, an annotated edition of Davenport’s 1898 collection of cartoons, as well as Silverton from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. He also compiled the extensive social commentary of The Collected Works of T.W. Davenport, comprising Homer’s Oregon pioneer politician father’s writings from the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Additionally, he is continuing work on a video documentary of Davenport’s life and times.

The Silver Falls Public Library is located at 410 South Water Street, in Silverton. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. with the presentation starting at 1:30 p.m. and repeating at 3:00 p.m. Free and all ages are welcome!

 


The City’s Cartoons

Mary Delle & Alice Davenport

In the early 1960s, Homer Davenport’s sisters, Alice Davenport Bernard and Mary Delle Davenport Havens (right), gifted to the citizens of Silverton a number of original political cartoons, photographs and other artifacts from their famous brother. The cartoons have been on display in City Hall for decades, since they were donated to the Silverton Library, then part of the City of Silverton.

Main Street Coffee and Bistro in partnership with the City of Silverton will host a special exhibition of these eight original Davenport cartoons. The cartoons, dating from 1894 through 1904, will be displayed the upstairs gallery in the newly remodeled Wolf Building, located at 201 East Main Street, in Silverton Historic downtown core. All of the City Cartoons along with annotated descriptions will allow visitors to examine up close and personal, the artwork of Oregon’s First Media Super Star. The eight cartoons set to be displayed cover a period of time from 1894 through 1908.

The oldest piece, is a portrait of Davenport’s father, Timothy, (left). It includes the note, “Portrait of My Father, October 6, 1894.” At this period of time, Davenport was firmly established with Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, and was no doubt home visiting.

The next earliest, is an image of lame-duck president Grover Cleveland, sitting secure at work, with a Tammany Tiger-skin rug under his chair, being confronted by an old begger. A partial penciled-in title starts “To Busy…” Owing to Homer’s notoriously bad spelling, it most likely meant “TOO busy…” Probably done in late 1895 or early 1896.

Another Tammany-tied cartoon from around 1896 features Tammany Hall Boss Richard Croker, with his bags packed and ready to head off to his Irish estate, while stuffing the Tammany Tiger up his sleeve…

“Now for Prosperity” features House Speaker Thomas Reed (R-ME) and Congressman Nelson Dingly (R-ME) “shake down” Uncle Sam for the benefit of the corporate trusts. This cartoon was included in Davenport 1897 collection “Cartoons by Davenport.”

“God’s in it. We’re in it. There’s money in it.” Here we see Dollar Mark Hanna and the Trust Brute mugging a Cuban. From Davenport’s second published collection, “The Dollar or the Man?” published in 1899.

Wolf Building Display

The final two cartoons date from around 1904, during Davenport’s post-Hearst period. Both feature person hand-written notes dated August 30, 1908. These he apparently gifted to Dr. Charles H. Brewer, an Oregon doctor and his wife Nettie Mae Brewer, during a visit with Homer, most likely in New Jersey. Mrs Brewer, (formerly Nettie Mae Munkers) was a school mate of Homer’s (albeit in an earlier grade level).

One features a ghostly Lincoln with his hand on old man’s shoulder, holding a newspaper reading “Parker’s Letter – I Will Revoke.” This is in reference to 1904 Democratic Presidential candidate Judge Parker, who vowed to revoke a pension extension passed as an executive order by President Roosevelt for Civil War veterans. The hand-written inscription says: “To Mrs. Dr. Brewer, who as a girl was my school mate. Me at one end of the classroom, and she at the other. (Those that know me will know which end I was). It’s with the greatest happiness that I give her this cartoon which bears a likeness of my father, he of whom all Silvertonians—yea Oregonians loved. [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908” Homer often used people he knew as models.

President Roosevelt on a stage with audience, handing his Message to Congress, over to House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon (R-IL). The hand-written inscription says: “To my dear friends Dr. and Mrs. Brewer who have made me so happy with just a visit, but after all, what is greater than a visit between old friends? Yours with Love, [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908”

The final image is a self-portrait of the artist, possibly done during the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, owing to the appearance.

Eventually all of these pieces need to be re-framed in an archival manner to ensure their preservation for
the decades to come. Here is your chance to help the Homer Festival at the same time as helping to preserve history. By donating to the Davenport Cartoon Re-framing Fund, you will get the same tax-deduction as well as the knowledge that you have personally helped keep Davenport’s art safe and secure for future generations to enjoy. Plus you will be the first in line to view these restored pieces, when they are eventually displayed to the public.

Ask your Homer Day Contact about the Cartoon Re-framing Fund!


The Brooklyn Citizen

Arthur E. Jameson

Arthur E. Jameson

On Sunday, October 25, 1896, just a bit over a week before Election day, The Brooklyn Citizen, one of many daily newspapers in New York City, ran a short biographic sketch on Political cartoonist Homer Davenport. This piece ran just one year after Davenport arrived in the Big Apple after his boss William Randolph Hearst’s acquired the New York Journal.

This also appears to be the earliest biographical piece about Davenport to be published. There were many more over the next decade. It was written by Arthur E. Jameson (1872-1957), a fellow Hearst comic artist. At the time of the article, he had himself embarked in what would be a long career with Hearst and Company, eventually specializing in what would be now termed graphic novels. His work in fact predates a style that would become popular by later artist’s like Hal Foster and his Prince Valiant strip.

Why he would write a piece in a non-Hearst paper, seems like a contradiction, but no doubt was part of Hearst’s well-known approach to self-promotion. The inclusion of an image of John M. Palmer the “Gold Democratic Candidate” for President was interesting as well, since Hearst openly supported William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate, who espoused a “bimetal” approach using both gold and silver as an economic base.

The page from which this article was reproduced, had these Davenport caricatures sprinkled throughout the page, even though the article on Davenport was only a dozen or so column inches on the upper left corner of the page. The paper was donated to the Silverton Country Historical Society by the Digerness family, whose ancestors include another talented Silverton cartoonist, the late Knute Digerness.


Work of a Cartoonist
Influence of the Pencil in Line with the Pen
The Varied Career of One
By Arthur E. Jameson

Dollar Mark Hanna and McKinleyPublic interest has been so universally centered in the political outlook, and in the principals who are to engage in the coming battle, that the men who are really to shape their destiny have been overlooked. The writers and artists representing some of the largest newspapers in the country form no small part of the large army of men which is to comprise the opposing forces. Among them are men who have achieved reputation and fame in their respective capacities, and are the chosen ones of their profession. They are as prominent in the newspaper field as are the political figureheads to the laity, and what they will accomplish during the campaign will be watched as carefully by the interested public as by the politicians themselves.

One of the men who will do much to shape and disfigure the hopes of the political aspirants is Homer C. Davenport, of the New York Journal. Since the time of Nast there is no man who has jumped so suddenly into prominence in the field of caricature. Within four years he has acquired a reputation which extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and his original drawings adorn the sanctums of most of the prominent politicians in the country. They watch his work as closely as Tweed and Blaine did that of Nast.

Of all the checkered careers to which a man can fall heir, his is the most versatile. He is probably one of the quaintest and most original characters to be found in the profession. His academy has been the practical school of observation, and there has been nothing for him to acquire but facility; the last was a natural inheritance.

It is hard to realize that a man who can now make political monarchs bend in fear and submission, has been a jockey, a waiter, an engine wiper, a clown, a fireman, and a steamboat stoker. But such is Mr. Davenport’s repertoire of accomplishments. They were not forced upon him through necessity, of course, for his father has always been in a position to help him. They were merely the result and deserts of his boyish waywardness and recklessness. He was always a source of constant worry and annoyance to his parents. When he ran away with a circus during harvest time his father’s hair, he says, first began to turn gray and Has been turning ever since until about five years ago. Then it began to return to its original color. It was the arrival of this circus which cut short his career at school, but his knowledge was afterwards acquired in the manner most self-made men boast of. He cares more for game roosters and bull pups than he does for books, and though he may not be able to quote Shakespeare or Byron, he can sign his name to as large a check as most learned pedagogues.

It is always interesting to know what event marks the inception of a successful career, and it seems odd that in Mr. Davenport’s case his first effort should have been at the expense of his long-suffering father. His younger sisters, possessing the same humorous instincts had plaited the fore-locks of their paternal ancestor’s hair while he was taking a nap, and had tied a red ribbon on it so that it resembled the topknot of a pickaninny. When he removed his hat later in the evening to introduce Governor Pennoyer to a large audience the red ribbon jumped out and stood straight up, to the intense amusement of the audience and the consternation of the principals. It was Homer’s first motif and the result was conspicuous for a day on the post office bulletin board.

Through a friend of his Mr. Davenport later got an offer from the Portland Oregonian to make advertising cuts. The first drawing was a stove, but the legs had such wiggle and the door such a mark that the advertiser refused to run his “ad” if the cut had to go with it. He was compelled to seek “green fields and pastures new” after this failure, and finally wound up in. San Francisco. An admiring friend introduced him to the art manager of the Examiner as “the greatest artist in the country.” The faces of those around him fell away into a peaceful smirk at this announcement and Homer thrust his precious samples through the linen of his coat. He was willing at that moment to go back to ploughing without complaint. But they gave him a trial at $10 per week with instructions not to be too original. When he eventually grew tired of copying A. B. Frost and drawing bridges and buildings it was the signal for his dismissal.

After a short stay on the Chronicle he went to Chicago, where he did some serious comic stuff for the Herald during the World’s Fair. Mr. Hearst of the Examiner returned from Europe about this time end noticing Davenport’s work, sent for him, He was given free scope at once, and his successful career dates from that period—-two and one-half years ago. When his fine page cartoon of Sam Rainey, the Tom Platt of the Pacific Coast, appeared, it set everybody wild. It was as big a hit to the West as was Gilmans’ celebrated drawing of Blaine, the tattooed man, and it was the political death of the great “boss.”

When Mr. Hearst bought the “Morning Journal he brought Mr. Davenport with him. The people realized his genius at once, and he soon created a stir in national politics. His “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” cartoon was copied from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and when his drawing of Reed punching the bag, the famous Republican leader wrote and asked him for the original. His success was instantaneous.

Dollar Mark HannaBut since that time he has devoted most of his energies and wit and genius to the much-abused Mark Hanna. Indeed, Mr. Davenport has been as merciless in his attacks upon the stage manager and press agent of the Republican candidate that overtures have been made to have the cartoons stopped. The check suit with the dollar marks has wrought great havoc with “Mark” and has caused him many sleepless nights. But they still continue appear, and when the campaign is this check suit will pass into history and continue to haunt Mr. Hanna, as did the famous money bag face of old “Boss” Tweed.

It is scarcely credible to believe that this young genius had never earned a dollar from his pen five years ago. Although he is the same unassuming fellow who entered the Examiner office with his high-water pants and a seedy overcoat to cover up the patches, he is, of course, more metropolitan. But he possesses none of the vices which usually accrue from success. He never touches liquor or tobacco and has only hobby, as was said before, is keeping game chickens and bull pups. There is no more entertaining or original talker. His conversation is like his drawings—full of humor and lasting impressions. Everything he does is tinged with humor; he cannot it. If his drawings were only funny, Davenport could scarcely be less great; but they are full of serious thought and need no letter press to tell the story. No cartoonist can excel him in drawing, and when he introduces animals into his work he is superior to all. Before the national campaign is over he will have shattered many political aspirations beyond hope. Though he has already achieved much, he is only at the inception of his career.

How little the farmers thought when they used to laugh until their sides ached at his early sketches at Silverton, Oregon, that with as much ease he could make the whole world laugh or frown.

Arthur E. Jameson

In Sack-Cloth & Ashes

SFChronMasthead

When he moved to San Francisco in 1892, Homer Davenport worked first—after a brief stint at the Mark Hopkins Art School—for Hearst’s Examiner. He was let go, apparently due to his “lack of artistic skill.” He then found work, at a higher salary, on Michael de Young’s San Francisco Chronicle, before eventually being re-hired by the Examiner, (at Hearst’s personal request) for an even higher salary in 1894.

This period has been lacking, not only in content, but in relevant facts relating to this period, which included a brief stint in Chicago drawing horses for the Herald during the 1893 World’s Fair, before returning to the Bay Area and de Young’s Chronicle.

I discovered “Fold3,” an outstanding online historical archive, that had relatively high resolution scans of each and every page of that San Francisco publication. I discovered a number of examples of Davenport’s work, hereto unseen for over a century. Many include dramatic outdoor scenes of horses and hunting.

One series stood out, and represents some of his earliest published work. It contains five illustrations by Davenport that were published in the February 19, 1893 edition. A seasonal column, it was titled “In Sack-cloth and Ashes,” and featured a tongue-in-cheek overview of how various noted citizens observed (or not) the Christian fast of Lent.

These pieces employed a “silhouette” technique. He also used this effect in the only surviving comic strip he didfeaturing himself as the foil, with pigeons in Venice’s St. Marks Square. The quality of course is what would be expected from online reproductions by way of archival microfilm, but still shows the gist of his illustrated jests. With one exception, his Chronicle work was signed with his initials, “H.D.” like some of his previous work on the Portland Oregonian. It could be assumed that newspaper artists had to earn the right to even have their initials included, so there may well be more images he drew that remained un-signed. Most of the “cuts” are anonymous, and were similar in form and function to our current concept of “clip-art.”

The author of the column is unknown, perhaps by design, as the tone and tenor of the article could conceivably be interpreted as border-line blasphemous by some. This would not have deterred Davenport however, having been raised by “intellectual infidels” in Silverton, Oregon. Below are the original captions, with relevant passages from the original column.

lent_hdA: Louis Lissak runs to eating because it disagrees with him. “That’s just it; I am careful of my stomach for ten months and a half during the year, and when Lent comes I let loose and eat everything my depraved and gluttonous appetite calls for. I get sick then. That is my penance.”

B: Bob Grayson makes penance by eating a tough steak. “Bob Woodward is a better man than I at almost any stage of life,” he acknowledged in his own modest way, “and he quit the table right after the fish was eaten. But I think I did more penance than he will in the balance of this season by trying to chew through the steak they served me. The weight of that leather boot top, with a fine French sauce, I swallowed is resting now with a deadly weight right under my chamois chest protector.”

C: Eddie Dunn comes 3000 miles from New York to eat rubber doughnuts. Dunn has been a little wild in his day, and decided he would leave the tempting haunts of New York, travel 3000 miles and repent during lent by feeding upon one of the lunch counters of a first-class saloon in this city. The tank was more than he could stand when he discovered that the cold pig’s feet and brown rounded doughnuts were some of the most perfect products of the rubber company.

D: Johnny Byrnes ends his mortification in wine. “I refrain from intoxicants the whole year round,” he says, “because they do not agree with me. When I cover myself with sackcloth and ashes I start in the day before and drink beer, topping it off at night with wine, and the next morning I feel that I am buried in the debris.”

E: J. B. Casserly neither borrows nor lends during lent. “I am mortifying my friends,” he said, “more than I mortify myself. During the penitential season I neither borrow nor lend—especially the latter.”


Mary Delle’s Missed Trip

Nancy H. Rose

Historic research is full of surprises. In the course of tracking down facts, often more facts are discovered, which sometimes greatly exceed the original facts that set off the initial search. In this case, I was intrigued by comments Homer’s niece and Silverton Country Historical Society (SCHS) benefactor Mrs. Nancy Havens Rose (right), made in a 2009 “Living History” video produced by Carolyn Hutton for the SCHS. This was the tale of how her mother, Mary Delle Davenport (1885-1965), was invited by her brother Homer to go to Europe on one of his lecture tours. However, she apparently contracted scarlet fever and had to stay behind in New York City, in the brownstone home of Homer’s mysterious girlfriend, Zadah Howard Reakirt, and her young son Robert Hastings Reakirt, who was similarly afflicted.

In 1907 after years in an unhappy marriage, Homer and his wife Daisy agreed to a separation. Eventually this led to Homer filing for divorce, and a budding romance with Mrs. Reakirt—a divorcee “of means” that shared Homer’s interest in art and Arabian horses—ensued. It was after this period that the story Nancy recounted of the missed European trip had to occur. I myself had not found anything in the material I have examined, so I was left to examine the facts, as slim as they were. Mary Delle’s trip East and her stay with Zadah were strong clues, as they indicated a period between 1908 to 1911.

She also mentioned a “Western Trip with Colonel Roosevelt,” in which Homer and his father, T.W. Davenport were on. That is a different, yet exciting story in its own right, and occurred in August and September of 1910. One of Homer’s other sisters, Adelaide Davenport Armstrong, alludes to this trip in her outline of Homer’s biography, that she started, but never finished. In it she notes cryptically: “Traveling West with the Roosevelt party – The Cheyenne ‘Round Up’ – On to Oregon.”

In researching this trip, I found other clues within the Roosevelt archives. Of importance to this subject, is from the book “Impressions of Theodore Roosevelt,” a biography of the Colonel by Lawrence F. Abbott, and written in 1922. In the third chapter, he recounts Roosevelt’s return to the United States after more than a year abroad. T.R. went first to Africa on safari, then on an extended lecture tour of Europe, before returning to his home at Oyster Bay. In it, Abbott recounts how he and T.R. attended a shipboard “Chalk Talk” by Davenport, (see below).

But when did Homer leave? This bit of information’s arrival like much in the Davenport saga, was of the serendipitous nature. I had talked to Ms. Sieglinde Smith at one of my lectures, and gave her my card. In the course of her own research, she forwarded me an obscure reference to Davenport she had found, that filled in that gap somewhat. It was from The Pacific Coast Architect, a professional journal targeting Northwest architects, dated April, 1911. Under the heading “Address of E. M. Lazarus Before Portland Architectural Club,” Mr. Lazarus recounts meeting up with Davenport at sea the previous year.

What follows are these two published accounts, that while not specific on where Davenport went on his lecture tour, both nevertheless offer an interesting glimpse of Davenport’s character as reported from several different sources: A prominent Portland, Oregon architect, a journalist-turned presidential biographer and the Ex-president himself! And, even more additional information has turned up to add yet another angle to this twisted tale, of an Arabian horse nature.

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The Pacific Coast Architect
Volume 1 / Number 1 / April, 1911
Address of E. M. Lazarus Before Portland Architectural Club

E.M. Lazarus

Edgar M. Lazarus

Mr. President and Gentlemen or, rather, Chere Colleagues: I thank you for the honor of calling on me for a traveler’s tale, and were I skilled in the art of oratory or could command Dickens’ gift of telling a tale, I should feel more at case in the limelight of this platform. As it is, you will have to make amends accordingly … Sailing from New York late in May last, I crossed over with a fellow Oregonian. Homer Davenport, whose love of Oregon, and Silverton in particular, has been instrumental in heralding its fame from the land of where rolls the Oregon to the Bedouin tribes in far Arabia. For where his cartoons are known and admired, so is his love for his home town.

Davenport’s versatility is remarkable. In mid-ocean he invariably spent two or more hours every day making cartoons in the salon, and on a certain eventful day lost his purse containing all his available cash. A few hours later, on hunting him up, I found him finishing a pen and ink sketch in which he was the central figure with beads of perspiration dropping from his brow, the captain standing at his side gesticulating his inability to account for his loss, and with the salon steward standing by with an expression vacant as atmosphere, eyeing the flight of the purse, to which Davenport had affixed a pair of wings, as it vanished in the distance; a cartoon that was afterwards auctioned off at the end of the voyage for the Seaman’s Mission for a good round sum.

Davenport and I were determined to go to Epsom Downs to see the Derby run, where a vast concourse of approximately 260,000 persons had assembled to see the race. We reached London at 3 o’clock on the morning of the race, and were up at 8 o’clock hunting for seats on a coach bound for Epsom Downs. The journey to the track and the track itself was a sight never to be forgotten. The endless string of vehicles on the high road to the course, the costers and their diminutive donkeys and carts, with their wives and sweethearts mingling with the more pretentious equipages, enlivening the time with passages of their Cockney wit with their fellow travelers was a great sight, as was the gamins of the gutter, turning handsprings from mile end to mile end to the old refrain:

The Epsom races have begun.
Now is the time to have some fun;
Throw out your moldy coppers —

And throw them out we did. With a vengeance.

_____________

vistahouseEdgar Marks Lazarus (1868-1939) was a Portland, Oregon architect, who designed numerous public and private structures throughout the state. One of his more famous buildings is the Vista House (right), at Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. Edward Teague of the University of Oregon has studied his life extensively, and has quite a bit of background on him. And like Homer Davenport, Mr. Lazarus was an avid fan of horse racing.

Besides the trip to the Epsom Downs Derby, the only other media reference to Davenport in Europe was a brief notice in the London Times of June 8, 1910, about a dinner of the London Poets Club, where Sir Owen Seaman gave a talk on the power of parody. At this time, Sir Owen was editor of the British satirical journal “Punch.” Two days later Davenport boarded the S.S. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria in Southampton, and sailed back to New York. Also on that same ship, was Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, returning to the United States after over a year aboard. This included an extended African safari and lecture tour of Europe. That portion of the trip was documented in part by Lawrence F. Abbott in his previously mentioned Roosevelt biography.

_____________

Impressions of Theodore Roosevelt by Lawrence F. Abbott, 1922
Chapter III – The Progressive Party

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

When Roosevelt emerged from the African wilderness in March, 1910, I met him at Khartum in the desert on the edge of the jungle, fifteen hundred miles up the river Nile from Cairo … In this vein Roosevelt said to me: “My political career is ended. No man in American public life has ever reached the crest of the wave as I appear to have done without the wave’s breaking and engulfing him. Remember Dewey.”

In reply I told him I did not think the two cases were at all parallel; that the American people knew him, Roosevelt, after thirty years of trial in the whitest kind of light; that his acts, achievements, and character were tested and understood; and that the people had taken him into their confidence and affection permanently, for better or for worse. On the other hand, I argued that Dewey had suddenly been seized upon as a kind of idol by the American people, not because they knew him very well, but because of one great dramatic episode; and that when he did something which they disliked they discarded him, although unjustly, without any wrench or sense of personal loss. “No,” insisted Roosevelt, “I am going down like Dewey.” More than once during our journey through Europe he referred to this assumed parallel in his career and that of the hero of the Naval Battle at Manila.

“Remember Dewey” became almost a slogan or shibboleth in our political conversations, although Roosevelt used it not loosely but very seriously.

Coming back on the steamer from Southampton to New York in June of that year, the usual entertainment given in the saloon, for the benefit of some seamen’s fund or other, took the form of a “chalk talk” by the late Homer Davenport, then one of the foremost of American newspaper cartoonists. The passenger list of the ship was a very large one, many people choosing this particular steamer because Roosevelt was on it, and the saloon on the evening when Davenport spoke was crowded to its extreme capacity. Davenport’s “chalk talks” consisted of a series of stories, usually humorous, each one being illustrated by a picture or a portrait which he rapidly drew with black crayon on a very large-sized pad of brown paper placed on an easel in sight of the audience. On this particular evening the last story which he told was one about Admiral Dewey. The story, somewhat condensed, ran about as follows:

Lest We Forget

“Lest We Forget” – Nov. 25, 1899

“At the time when Admiral Dewey was being bitterly attacked in the newspapers, and criticized throughout the country because of the disposition which he made of the house presented to him in honor of his victory at Manila, I published in one of the newspapers a cartoon in his defense, (‘Lest We Forget’ left – click for detail). I thought the Admiral was most outrageously treated, and I rather laid myself out to make the cartoon a striking and effective one. A few days after it was published a friend of mine who knew Dewey met me on the street in New York and said: “Dewey has seen your cartoon and wants to see you. Will you go over to Washington?” “Sure,” I replied. We went over, and my friend took me to the Admiral’s house.

“We entered the drawing room; I was presented to Mrs. Dewey; and just as the Admiral came forward to give me his hand, he burst into tears and threw himself upon a sofa in a paroxysm of weeping. Mrs. Dewey apologized and said: “You must excuse the Admiral, Mr. Davenport. He has been wrought almost to a pitch of nervous prostration by the unjust attacks made upon him. We had decided to go to Europe, never to set foot on American soil again, and had actually packed our trunks when we saw your cartoon. It was the first ray of light, and made us change our minds, and we have decided to remain in America, although some of our trunks are still upstairs just as we packed them for our departure.”

Davenport thereupon rapidly sketched a portrait of Admiral Dewey and his talk or lecture was finished. There were calls for Mr. Roosevelt. He rose:

“Mr. Davenport,” said he, “may I ask if the story you have just related of Admiral Dewey is accurate in all its details, or have you taken the pardonable liberty of an artist and put in a little color?”

“No,” answered Davenport, “the incident is just as I related it, in every detail.”

Whereupon Mr. Roosevelt paid an eloquent tribute to Dewey, defending him from the attacks that had been made upon him, and, after thanking Davenport, sat down. I happened to be next to him, and immediately on taking his seat he turned to me, and—recalling the numerous times in the month or two preceding in which he had remarked that he was ”going down like Dewey”—said, sotto voce, “Lawrence, they may treat me like Dewey, but I’ll tell you one thing, I shall neither weep nor shall I go to Europe!”

Unhappily first the country and then the Government did treat him like Dewey, but he neither wept nor did he abandon his country. He did not even show resentment or disappointment, but kept up his fight to the very end, in the greatest good spirits. His buoyancy, his capacity to rise superior to all external disappointments, was, I think, one of his greatest qualities.

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What is interesting about this exchange, that occurred at sea on or about June 15, 1910, was that it foreshadows T.R.’s 1912 Progressive Party candidacy. This campaign actually started two months later, with an extended trip through numerous Western states in late August and early September. This trip was seen by many as The Colonel “testing the waters” for what became known as the Bull Moose campaign. It included an embedded journalist under contract to the Publisher’s Press—a news service not unlike, and apparently in competition with—the Associated Press. This journalist was Homer Davenport, late of Silverton. And according to Nancy Rose, the journalist’s father was along as well! But that is another story…


The Colonel Visits Oregon

He's Good Enough for MeOf all the famous personages that Homer Davenport knew and called friend during his brief years in the limelight, perhaps none was more influential than the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Davenport’s respect and enthusiasm for “The Colonel,” as he preferred to be called, supposedly was the reason Davenport left Hearst in 1904. This year he also created one of his more famous cartoons, the influential He’s Good Enough for Me (left), with Uncle Sam’s arm resting on T.R.’s shoulder.

Many have said that this single cartoon elected a President. Whether or not that’s true, the facts are that two years later at Davenport’s request, President Roosevelt directed the State Department to initiate contact with the Ottoman Empire, for the purpose of importing Arabian horse breeding stock. This acquisition expedition was a success, and today the Davenport Arabian Horse is the offspring of that one cartoon.

Colonel Roosevelt has remained a household word over the years, and even boasts a head on Mt. Rushmore. So much so, that in mid-May of 2013, the Oregon Historical Society with sponsorship by Wells Fargo Bank hosted a week-long “Roosevelt Roadshow” featuring Theodore Roosevelt re-enactor Joe Wiegand. They visited numerous Oregon communities, culminating with his last performance at the OHS Annual Membership Meeting in Portland.

I figured it might be a good gesture for The Davenport Project to present the Colonel with a framed reproduction of the He’s Good Enough for Me cartoon. I assumed that I could walk up after his talk and present the cartoon and maybe get a picture. That was the plan anyway. As it turned out, I arrived too early for the festivities, so I killed some time exploring the Museum.

The Colonel plugs Davenport

The Colonel plugs Davenport

While in the USS Oregon/Spanish American War room door stairs, I encountered a familiar character who immediately struck up a conversation with me, introducing himself as Theodore Roosevelt. I shook hands and said “A pleasure to meet you, Colonel.” to which he exclaimed that “My friends call me Colonel! I detest Mr. President.” He asked where I was from and if anyone of note was from there. I answered that I was from Silverton, Hometown of one of his old friends. I then gave the “Homer Davenport” elevator speech and mentioned the famous cartoon.

I then presented him with the framed copy I was carrying. The Colonel was obviously impressed. He was quite well acquainted with this particular cartoon, but was apparently unaware of Davenport’s Oregon roots. He said it was the best gift he had yet received during this trip. I included a letter with a brief bio of Davenport and his T.R. connection. He then asked me if he could incorporate the picture into his talk, and the rest was a delightful presentation of history, complete with a rather robust tribute to Davenport and Silverton! And as Homer could attest, even this “T.R.” put on a great show!

“Theodore Roosevelt is a humorist. In the multitude of his strenuousness this, the most human of his accomplishments, has apparently been overlooked. There is a similarity between his humor and Mark Twain’s. If Colonel Roosevelt were on the vaudeville stage he would be a competitor of Harry Lauder. At Denver, at the stock-growers’ banquet during his recent Western trip, Colonel Roosevelt was at his best. He made three speeches that day and was eating his sixth meal, yet he was in the best of fettle. You couldn’t pick a hallful that could sit with faces straight through his story of the blue roan cow. He can make a joke as fascinating as he can the story of a sunset on the plains of Egypt.”

—Homer Davenport. Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 23, 1910


In Clover at Last

Orison Swett Marden

Orison Swett Marden

In 1904, the New York-based “Success Company” published a book entitled “Little Visits with Great Americans or Success Ideals and How to Obtain Them.” It was edited and written by Orison Swett Marden (right), who is described by Wikipedia as “…a spiritual author in the New Thought Movement.” This volume contains numerous sketches of successful folks of the era, comprising a wide range of backgrounds. “Successful” authors, politicians, actors and even cartoonists, had short interviews or biographical sketches of them.

What follows is Marden’s interview with a now very successful Homer Davenport, at his home in East Orange, New Jersey in the Roseville neighborhood. Of interest is the reference to Homer’s sister, who could have been either Alice or Adelaide. Davenport’s own self-depreciation enters in also, as he relates getting fired from various newspapers, but lands other jobs on other papers for more money. Of particular note is his comment that he worked for the Oregonian for “…just a day.” Davenport researcher Barry Bernard uncovered a steady-stream of Davenport illustrations from March through September, 1890 in the Oregonian archives. The interview and images are from Google Books, the great new research resource.

Rebuffs and Disappointments Fail to Repress a Great Cartoonist’s Genius.

Homer C. DavenportTo-day Homer C. Davenport is the “first cartoonist” of America, and yet he is but thirty-five years old. Mr. Davenport has a small place in Roseville, on the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey.

He is a tall, handsome man, with large, humorous eyes, beneath heavy eyelids, that give him an expression of perpetual thought.

“I suppose you want to see my studio?” Mr. Davenport said. We went upstairs.

“This is it,” he said, with a chuckle. It was merely a small, square room, with a few framed pictures on the papered walls, and a desk in the corner. There was no easel in the room, but I saw a drawing-board under the desk.

Davenport’s Unique Studio.

“You work on that board, when on the desk?”

“Yes.”

“You are disappointed,” said his sister, with a smile. “It is not what you expected.”

It wasn’t. I had expected to see a typical studio, with unfinished cartoons, and the usual artistic surroundings.

Mr. Davenport laid an unfinished cartoon on the desk, representing a chariot race, and laughed when he explained what it would be and mean; and this told me that he enters heartily in whatever he draws, which is requisite to success in art as well as in other things. Then we adjourned to another room and sat about a wood fire.

“Tell me of your beginning,” I said.

“Well, I was born in Oregon, thirty-five years ago, on my father’s farm. As a child, I was perpetually drawing, and to my father I owe much, for it was he who encouraged me, my mother dying when I was very young. I would lie flat on my stomach, and draw on the floor, if I had no paper. As I spent hours this way, the habit became injurious to my digestive organs, so a flat cushion was made for me. I was a hopelessly poor student, doing more drawing on my slate and on the margins of my books than studying. To sit in school for any length of time made me sick and nervous, so my father called on the schoolmaster and gave instructions that, whenever I got tired, I should be allowed to draw, or to go home.”

He Drew Cartoons in School.

“This was rather demoralizing to the school, for even then I drew cartoons. Finally, I was taken away, and my father painted a blackboard, four feet high by fifteen feet long, on the side of a room in the farm­house, where, with plenty of chalk, I drew to my heart’s content. I would draw all day.”

“And you received no instructions in drawing?”

“I never had a lesson in my life. It was my father’s ambition for me to become a cartoonist. When, in later years, I did anything that he considered particularly good, he would carry me off to Portland, and I would submit it to the Portland ‘Oregonian,’ where my attempts were always laughed at. Then, much crest­fallen, I would return to the farm.

“‘Now, my boy,’ my father would say, ‘that is good enough to be printed,’ and off I would go again.

“At length, the news spread that I had a job on the Portland ‘Oregonian.’ The whole town became interested, and when the day arrived for my departure, the band of which I was a member, and many of the towns­people, escorted me with due honor to the railroad station.”

His First Disappointment.

“‘Well, I heard some say, ‘I guess we will never see him again. He’s too big for this place.’

“I was on the Portland ‘Oregonian’ just one day.

“’What’s the sense of this?’ I was asked. ‘You can’t draw,’ and back I went.  ‘I had before me the mortification of meeting the righteous disgust of my friends. On my way back to Silverton, I heard that they were short of a brakeman at the Portland end, so I beat my way back to Portland, and, walking into the office, offered myself.

“’What!” said the man. ‘What do you know about braking? I would like to know who sent you on such a fool’s errand?’ and he raved and stamped, and swore he would discharge everyone on the train. But on the next train, I went out as head brakeman. All the elements got together, it rained and snowed and froze, and when I got to Silverton, almost frozen, I slipped from the train and tramped home, a much disheartened young man.

“But just to show my father I had something in me, and wanted to make my way in life, I asked to be sent to an institution of learning, where I stayed just one week. Then I got a place attending to the ink roller in the local printing office, where the town paper was published, which, to this day, I do not think can be beaten,” and Mr. Davenport laughed in his hearty way.

At Ten Dollars a Week.

“Finally, my star rose on the horizon. I went to San Francisco, and was taken on trial on the ‘Examiner.’ I remember the day well,—February 2, 1892. For one mortal week, I simply hung around the office. Then I was put to work at ten dollars a week. But I proved unsatisfactory. I drew the man over me aside.

“’Look here,’ I said, ‘I can’t draw. I want you to write to my father and tell him what a failure I am, and that his belief that I am an artist is the delusive mistake of a fond parent. He sat down to write, and, as he was doing so, my fingers, always itching to draw, were at work with a pencil in sketching horses, on a piece of paper on the table.

“’When did you do that?’ he asked, picking up the paper.

“I did it just now,” I replied, sheepishly.

“’What? Do it again.’

“I did so. He looked at me curiously.

“’Wait a bit,’ he said. He took the paper into the office. ‘Come in here,’ he said, ‘the boys won’t believe it. Do some more.’

“’Davenport,’ said the manager, ‘you are too old to strike a path for yourself. You must put yourself in my hands. Do nothing original, not one line.’ If the manager caught me doing so, he tore it up.

“I remember one time, Ned Hamilton, a star writer on the ‘Examiner,’ some others, and myself, were sent to a Sacramento convention. I drew what I considered very good likenesses, and that night, when I retired, with a fire burning brightly in the room where we all bunked, I fairly kicked my heels in delight, in anticipation of the compliments of the ‘Examiner.’ I was awakened by the tearing of a paper that sent the cold shivers up and down my back. Ned Hamilton was grumbling, and throwing my labor into the fire.

“‘If you can’t do better than that,’ he said, ‘you ought to give up.’

“I almost wept, but it took any conceit I might have had out of me, and the next day I did some work that was up to the mark.”

He was Discharged in Chicago.

“But my walking papers came in due time, and I went to the ‘Chronicle.’ It almost took my breath away when they offered me twenty dollars a week. Before I was discharged from there, I had risen to a higher salary. I went to Chicago, and got on the Chicago ‘Herald,’ at thirty-five dollars a week. I was there during the World’s Fair. It seemed to me the principal thing I did was to draw horses. But the greatest blow of all was when the Chicago ‘Herald’ discharged me. It seemed as if everything were slipping from beneath my feet. I went back to San Francisco and got on the ‘Chronicle’ again. It was then, and not till then, —1894, —that I was allowed any freedom. All that I had been asking an outlet for found vent, and my cartoons began to attract attention.

“William R. Hearst, of the ‘Examiner,’ asked, in one of his editorial rooms: ‘Who is that Davenport, on the ‘Chronicle,’ who is doing us up all the time?’

“‘Oh, we bounced him; he’s no good,’ was the reply.

“’Send for him!’ said Mr. Hearst.

“No attention was paid to the order. Mr. Hearst finally sent for me himself. I was engaged at forty­five dollars a week. Then a thing happened that I will never forget, for no raise before or since ever affected me to such a degree.

“I drew a cartoon of Senator ‘Steve’ White and his whiskers. The whiskers so pleased Mr. Hearst, that he called me in and said that my pay would be raised five dollars a week. I went home that night, and woke up my wife to tell her the glad news. She fairly wept for joy, and tears trickled down my own cheeks, for that increase meant appreciation that I had been starving for, and I felt almost secure, —and all on account of Senator ‘Steve’ White’s whiskers.”

Here Mrs. Davenport, who had brought us two large books, in which she had fondly pasted all of her hus­band’s work, said:­

“Yes, no subsequent increase, no matter how large, has ever equaled that five-dollar advance.”

In Clover at Last.

Mr. Hearst, as soon as he bought the New York “Journal,” telegraphed to the “Examiner:” “Send Davenport.” He is now receiving a very large salary, and his work is known throughout the world.

Two years ago, Mr. Davenport went abroad and drew sketches of the members of the houses of parliament, and Mr. Phil May, the English artist, became his fast friend.

In Washington, Senator Hanna insisted upon meeting Mr. Davenport, and shaking him by the hand. He was the first to immortalize Mr. Hanna, with that checkered suit of dollar marks.

Such is the man and artist, Homer C. Davenport, who, in 1894, had not drawn a public cartoon, and who, today, has a world-wide reputation, and the esteem of even those whom he has caricatured, and who cannot help enjoying their own exaggerated portraits. Davenport’s success has come rapidly, but not until he had sustained reverses that would have discouraged any man of a less resolute character.


Chief Joseph’s Interview

Chief Joseph, 1903

Chief Joseph, 1903. Photograph by F.T. Cummins, from the First People Website.

In 1903 Nez Perce Chief Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, also known as Chief Joseph, visited President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. Apparently he first visited New York City, where he was interviewed by the media of the day. One such interview was performed by fellow Oregonian, cartoonist Homer Davenport, then working for William Randolph Hearst’s New York American. Davenport was a “value-added” artist, who often wrote his own features that he likewise illustrated. And once again, another unique glimpse is offered into the background of this “simple country boy.” Like the fact that he was apparently semi-fluent in “Chinuk Wawa,” the Chinook jargon. His reference to his Uncle John Davenport is also interesting. The town of Davenport, Washington is named for “Uncle John.”

Chief Joseph, a voice of conscience for the West and his people, died less than a year after Homer’s interview, still in exile from his homeland, according to his doctor “of a broken heart.” This piece of Davenport trivia comes to the Project courtesy of Davenport researcher Barry Bernard of Portland. It was reprinted in the Morning Oregonian, on Saturday, October 10, 1903. The photo of Chief Joseph was taken around the same time as the interview in 1903, by F.T. Cummins, (from the First People Website). Davenport’s portrait comes from a second generation Xerox copy printed from microfilm. And since this was manually transcribed, (by me!) from the a fore mentioned Xerox copy, I may have gotten some characters scrambled, especially in the Chinook passages.

Chief Joseph and the Artist
Homer Davenport Interviews the Famous Chief of the Nez Perce in New York

In 1879, I was in Colfax, Washington, at that time one of the thrifty towns of the Northwest, a town threatening to be a city, a center in those days for all the Indian trade of the Palouse District. This day I have in mind was a perfect day. The sky was apparently a million miles high and the blue was that of the Mediterranean. A breeze was blowing, but I don’t recall which way.

Anyway, the day was perfect, and about noon my uncle, then the leading merchant of that place, called my attention to a great cloud that was visible up the valley some three miles or more away. He said, “What is it?” and after some moments gaze I pronounced it a storm cloud. “No,” he said, “It’s some Indians bring two or three hundred wild horses in for me to see, and that’s the dust they are raising.”

The old Indian sat on his pony facing a spotted stallion. On him he kept his eyes for a few moments, as this horse was a leader, and when he became quiet, all were quiet, or where he went all others would follow. Uncle John was very mad. They had torn through Mr. Cooper’s garden in mistake for a street, and as a result Cooper’s garden was now a street and nothing more. Uncle went up to the old Indian, who was all smiles, and said, “Platote, confound you! I thought I told you not to bring these horses in. Keep them away. I never want to see them again, or you either.”

The old Indian, still smiling, shifted in his saddle and said, “Now witka now witka, hias skookum tennas cultan,” meaning “I understand, I understand, but I wanted to show you the fine little colts.”

“I know,” said uncle, “but don’t bring then in any more. They tear down fences, break the sidewalks and some day they’ll run over some child, and then they’ll hang you. If you love me take them back to Snake River and keep them there.” At this point I saw uncle drop a $5 gold piece quietly into the old Indian’s prepared hand as quick as you would tip a policeman. Then uncle left in disgust and went to the store, while I remained with the old Indian.

I always remembered the name of old Platote, though I never saw him but that once. Yesterday I had an appointment with the management of Madison Square Garden to see and have an interview with Chief Joseph, the greatest chief the Nez Perce (Pierced Nose) ever had, and more than likely the greatest Indian chief now living, the greatest war general, greater than Geronimo, because Joseph never considered cold-blooded murder warfare.

The gentleman who arranged my interview with the chief said the old man couldn’t talk, and he disliked interviews. I came at the appointed hour and brought a child along to see if children meant anything to this Indian. [No doubt one of Davenport’s own children.]

As we entered his room in the Garden, the old chief arose from a blanket on the floor alongside of a bed; he had been resting, as the bed evidently tired him. As he arose he grew more and more in a dignified way, like an old Indian Hamlin Garland once told me of that grew in his estimation till he looked 17 feet high, and so as Chief Joseph straightened and reached out his long right arm to be shaken, he looked like a great Roman senator in bronze. He frowned with his brows, but his lips smiled, that he might make me feel more at home.

If you were going to interview a President that would be easy. You could say that you were leading a strenuous life and were in favor of good citizenship, and that would lead up to something, but to this man that meant nothing. He had done that all his life. If you were to interview an actor you could say that you saw him in his last play, then he would do the rest.

Chief Joseph, drawn from life by Davenport

Chief Joseph, drawn from life by Homer C. Davenport, 1903

But to draw and talk to a solemn old chief, 85 years old, made doubly melancholy by the presence of tall buildings instead of tall mountains, who had closed up tight as a clam, was something not at all easy. I thought of a chance. I remembered my uncle had bought his [Chief Joseph’s] horses, and that in his general merchandise store he had trusted all of the Indians over which this man had once ruled. Perhaps he might remember, so I asked him in jargon, “Do you know John Davenport, at Colfax?”

The old chief quickly lifted his head, his eyes lit up with a bright twinkle. “Now witka, hias skookum John Davenport. Skookum, skookum, skookum, hi youtl potlatch quitan, hi youtl potlatch quitan, hi youtl potlatch chickamen, sluh Colfax.”

In my joy I happened to think of old Platote, and I asked if he knew Platote.

Instantly the old chief, who had again become a boy, stood up. “Platote,” he exclaimed over and over, in loud, deep tones. Then he asked if I knew Platote, and I told him yes. He shook with laughter. The other Indians in the room all laughed and said Platote. Finally from a roll of red blankets that lay on the floor in the corner of the room came a grunt and the muffled words, “Charley Platote, hi youtl quitan.”

Gayety reigned for many minutes. Indians laughed that hadn’t smiled since they left their tepees in the far Northwest. The old Indian peeked out of the blankets that he might see the old friend of Platote. I asked if Platote was still alive. “Yes” the chief said, “and he is still herding horses.”

I was in the midst of a drawing by this time of the old chief’s face, when he burst into a noiseless laugh. Turning to Chief Red Shirt, he talked in a different language about a minute, and the only word I caught that I understood was “Platote.” I asked the interpreter what he said. He said to Red Shirt, “What kind of world is this? We come away from Indian country and come through mountains, then pass more Indian country and come through days of great wheat fields, then come where everything is corn, and pass through some big cities, and then come way here among these high buildings and find a man who knows Charley Platote, the Nez Perce horseman.”

The expression on the chief’s face changed noticeably into that of deep melancholy. He was more dejected than he was a few minutes before he had been so happy. He stood up over six feet and trod back and forth with bowed head. He was a grand sight, although a dejected person.

Chief Joseph, a pure Indian of the Nez Perce tribe, is past 85 years old, but looks 50. His skin is a s soft as satin, though his flesh is hard and firm. He is the type of man and art where the work of A.B. Frost stops and where that of Frederic Remington begins. On the other hand, you get melancholy when you see a great, broad-minded man like Chief Joseph. You see a man representing a race that were not dealt with as they should have been. This prisoner of war was never charged with cruelty. The only charge against him was that as he was ordered from his home and the hunting ground of his ancestors before, he said, “I don’t want anything the white man has. I only want to be let alone and let live in the beautiful Wallowa Valley, where my ancestors lived and died, and where my boyhood days were so happily spent.”

Notwithstanding this simple plea from a just and honest Indian, the troops came to take him to a reservation and he naturally fought, and when he fought, he fought in a manly, dignified way, and had he had as many warriors as we had he would have caused our Generals to blush. As it was, he proved almost a Napoleon. He rightly figured that the whites and the progress of civilization might have spared to him the beautiful little valley at the junction of the Wallowa and Snake Rivers, in Eastern Oregon. There he could live as he had always lived at the head of his tribe, a well-behaved band of Indians.

The buckskin smell and the odor of a wilder country had made me homesick and blue, and as I started to leave the room, as I passed the dignified old Chief to say goodbye he said that I had made him feel very bad, but he was here where the houses are “slah, slah,” pointing to the sky, and at the railroads were “slah,” and that the mention of old Platote had made him homesick. “Hi youtl homesick.”


Hospital Bed Endowment

Thomas NastIn a testament to cross-checking in research, I have uncovered a media account involving Davenport and his inspirational mentor, cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902). Homer’s mother, according to Davenport family lore, asked her husband on her deathbed to encourage Homer’s art so that he might become another Nast. This occurred, and then some. By 1901 both men were successful and living in New Jersey. Nast, on the downside of an incredible career; and Davenport almost midpoint into his.

But did they ever meet each other? The closest reference that I found was a short piece in the New York Times in 1903, about six months after Nast died of Yellow Fever in Ecuador. It recounted a lecture Davenport held in Nast’s hometown of Morristown, which at the end he pledged to help raise funds for a commemorative statue of Mr. Nast. The Nast archives are likewise silent of any mention of Davenport. However, Nast was not known as a letter writer, according to his biographer Albert Bigelow Paine.

Now, I have uncovered a media account of Davenport and Nast, leading to an interesting tale of a Hospital Bed Endowment Fund, “Florodora” Girls, Baseball and ultimately fraud. It all started with Ebay.

I purchased nine pages from The Strand Magazine, an arts and literary periodical from Great Britain. This particular article detailed elsewhere in these pages, include short biographical sketches of Davenport and three contemporaries. Two I was familiar with, but the other, Mr. R.C. Bowman, I had never heard of before. So I started Googling…

Rowland Claude Bowman (1870-1903) was a political cartoonist from the Minneapolis Tribune, and who had published a couple of books prior to his untimely death at 33: Several volumes of his work for the Tribune, and one book of children’s verse entitled “Freckles and Tan.” The first edition, published in 1900, featured illustrations by Bowman himself. However, a second edition, published a year after his death, was illustrated by one F.Y Cory.

Fanny Young Cory (1877–1972) was unique for her time, a highly talented and successful artist in her own right. She went on to illustrate numerous books, (including early editions of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series) and several comic strips over the years. She lived a long and productive life, working from her and her husband’s Montana ranch. Her book of paintings and verse, A Fairy’s Alphabet is still in print. Turns out, she had a similarly talented brother, John, who was a New York political cartoonist who lived in New Jersey.

John Campbell Cory (1867-1925) doubled as a strip and political cartoonist. He eventually wrote The Cartoonist’s Art in 1912, as kind of a “how to” manual for aspiring young cartoonists. He also worked for Hearst’s New York Journal during the same time Davenport did.

A cross check with “Cory” and “Davenport” yielded a delightful link to “The Strippers Guide” a blog by historian Allan Holtz dedicated to comic strip artists. A feature on Sydney B. Griffin, a strip cartoonist from this same era, recounted the details of a short article from the New York Sunday Telegram.

The September 22, 1901, story reported the upcoming charity baseball game between actors and artists to be held at the New York at the Polo Grounds on October 7. The goal of the game was to raise money to endow a hospital bed for newspaper artists. The list of players was a veritable “who’s who” of the New York political art scene: Besides Syd Griffin, the group included Richard Outcault, Louis Dalrymple, James Swinnerton, and J. Campbell Cory. Outcault was manager, Davenport is listed as pitcher, with Jimmy Swinnerton as shortstop.

A final paragraph notes that “…Miss Lillian Russell from the first accepted the position of official scorer, and the veteran [cartoonist] Thomas Nast will be her associate in that delicate but important office…” This would have been just over a year prior to Nast leaving for Ecuador, having been appointed Consul General by President Theodore Roosevelt. Lillian Russell (1860-1922) was an famous actress the era, and friend  of the Davenports, having attended several of the exotic Barbeques hosted there.

So I started scouring the papers for late September and October in hopes of finding more details about the game. Keyword “Nast” brought up a short piece from the New York Times, dated September 26, in which Mr. Nast the sent a congratulatory cartoon to the Times, in honor of that paper’s fiftieth anniversary, (right).

The next hit came from the New York World, run by Hearst’s arch rival Joseph Pulitzer. This article, dated October 7, the day of the game recounted the practice game held the day before. Obviously written by a member of the World’s dramatic staff, it only mentions the names of the actors playing, which included members of the cast and chorus line of the hit Broadway musical production of “Florodora.” Indeed, the “Florodora Girls” as they were known were to be the major draw.

The next day, The World ran a rather lengthy account of the game itself. It included an illustration, no doubt by one of the World’s staff cartoonists, (below).

There appears to be a “G” in the lower left corner of the cartoon, possibly representing Syd Griffin. Again, no artists were mentioned by name, although many of the actors were. The illustration however did include an apparent caricature of Jimmy Swinnerton running, (Upper-left, “When an Artist saw a ball coming.”).

In the lower right corner, an “artist” is painting the scene with easel and paint tray. The artist, while looking rather stereotypical of a bohemian type: Goatee beard and western-style hat, had the main attributes of Mr. Nast. Indeed the self portrait from September 26 Times piece was very similar to the “artist” in the cartoon.

The final score was 31 to 12, in favor of the Actors. The article even included the entire score broken out by innings. The World reported that “A small crowd saw the game.”

The umpires were listed as Eugene O’Rourke, P. Wilder, Christy Mathewson and “Rube.” Of these folks, Eugene O’Rourke (1863–1917) and Marshall P. Wilder (1859–1915) were both actors, although Wilder was also an artist.

Christopher “Christy” Mathewson (1880–1925) however was a Major League pitcher with the New York Giants at the time. “Rube” might have pitcher Charles Edward “Rube” Waddell (1876–1914) who was at the time of this game ostensibly playing for the Chicago Orphans, but notoriously bouncing around quite.

O’Rourke had started out playing third base, but “retired” to the umpire position. At which point, vaudevillian comic actress Marie Dressler (1868-1934) stepped up to the plate and volunteered. The article reports: “After a consultation between Louis Harrison, Dan McAvoy, Eddie Foy and Burr McIntosh, it was decided that the gentlewoman could do more effective work as a mascot.” Dressler went on to an extensive career in films, eventually winning the Best Actress Oscar in 1931.

Then a final clue. From the Monday, October 12 edition of the New York Dramatic Mirror, also from “The Strippers Guide” site. The Mirror reported that the frosty weather kept the attendance low and official scorer Lillian Russell and the chorus girls away. After five innings the game was called. As it turned out, Davenport did not pitch because he had left for Oregon to see his ailing father. So Nast may well have been on scene, but Davenport, Lillian Russell and the Florodora Girls were not.

One final article from the New York Time, dated October 15 recounted how several “solicitors” were at the game, supposedly collecting funds for the Hospital Bed Endowment, but were in fact fraudulent operators. The article included a notice of a reward of $100 for “…information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons representing themselves as newspaper reporters who solicited or obtained subscriptions in the name of the Actors and Artists Hospital Bed Endowment Fund.”

The contact for the game and charity was listed as “A. Stone,” with an address in the N.Y. World Building. This would have been Abram Stone, one of the principals involved in the New York School of Caricature, of which Mr. Cory, Syd Griffin and Lou Dalrymple were also involved. No further word as to the outcome of that investigation however.

In the long run, one of those research dead-ends. But an interesting story nonetheless! The search for the Nast / Davenport connection will continue elsewhere it would appear.


The American Cartoonist

Introduction: Through Ebay, I recently obtained a selection of nine original pages from the October, 1902 number of The Strand Magazine from London. This was an article entitled The American Cartoonist and His Work by Arthur Lord and featured short bios and examples of four “famous” cartoonists of the day: Homer Calvin Davenport, William Allen Rogers, John Tinney McCutcheon and Rowland Claude Bowman. What I found interesting in this piece, besides the fact that it opened with Davenport, was the noted variations between styles of the four chosen by this British author, to represent the “American Cartoon” community.

The deeper I dig into the history of Davenport and his world, the more surprises I find. W.A. Rogers I had been familiar with for years, as his career extended into fine art as well as cartooning. J.T. McCutcheon I chanced upon earlier this year in a small county history museum in Richmond, Indiana. And subsequent research reviled that he and Davenport were acquaintances of one another, as detailed elsewhere within these pages. He, like Rogers had a long and distinguished career, with numerous collections of his work readily available.

The forth cartoonist profiled in this article was a pleasant surprise. I had never heard of R.C Bowman, but was immediately taken by his interesting style. There was very little information on him, with the bulk of it gleaned from the blog of a contemporary cartoonist, Mr. Paul Berge. He had one of Bowman’s books, a collection of cartoons he did for the Minneapolis Tribune, and posted them on his blog. He also did his own research and uncovered a few additional facts:

“I turned to the listserve of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. J.P. Trostle referred me to the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. There I discovered that Bowman’s full name was Rowland Claude Bowman, and that he lived from 1870 to 1903. It also appears that the OSU BICL&M might have a copy of the 1903 book, and I hope it’s in better condition than my copy of the 1901 edition.”

His relative obscurity today, not unlike Davenport’s, is no doubt due to his early demise, at the age of 33. Obviously, room for much more research! At any rate, here is the entire article, reproduced here with the original illustrations. The high-quality printing process employed by The Strand Magazine can be seen in these reproductions. This also allowed for a relatively easy “OCR” process to convert the text as well. Note, that as a product of the UK, the grammar and spellings represent standard usage of “The King’s English,” from the other side of the big pond. These I have left as-is. Enjoy!

The Strand Magazine, October 1902
The American Cartoonist and His Work
by Arthur Lord

He who first wrote of the political cartoon as a “picture editorial” writ better than he knew. He invented a term which expresses the thing exactly. Since the days of Hogarth and Gillray there have been “cartoons,” “caricatures,” “political sketches,” or “pencillings,” as Punch once called them, but no one has been able to classify all varieties of work and style under one distinctive head. Here, however, we have a double-barreled title which shoots unerring to the mark.

It is a term pretty in its connotation. It carries us back to the time when the influence of the editorial first began to wane and something equally potent began to take its place. That “something” was the political or social cartoon, daily or weekly enforcing a lesson which might well have been enforced in type had not the public got tired of written sermons. Editors were not slow to recognize that the printed picture contained more power for good than a column of double-leaded lines. The man in the street, it was noted, would stop to look at the picture before he tossed his paper into the mud, and the audience to which the picture appealed became almost as numerous as the people in the street. The cartoon took unto itself a cumulative increase in power, and the improved mechanical appliances in newspaper illustration made it well-nigh impossible for any modern newspaper, pressed as its editorial columns are by the competition in, and acquisition of, news, to succeed in bringing home moral lessons to the public without the aid of the editorial drawn by an artist’s hand. The change from old conditions to new occurred with greatest rapidity in the United States, where the editors are as prompt in observing what the public wants as the public is quick in showing what it likes, and it is with these “picture editorials” and their American makers that this series of articles has to deal.

Homer Calvin Davenport

There are many who look upon Mr. Homer Davenport (left), as the leading cartoonist in the United States. This noted draughtsman possesses many of the qualities which should entitle him to the most prominent consideration; yet it is well that the real question of his pre-eminence should be left open to doubt. He works, it is true, for one of the most widely circulated papers in America. His fertile brain and facile pen have full swing. He attacks with uncommon straightforwardness, and at times a positive brutality, all the evils of the day, either social or political, and his cartoons go direct to the heart and intellect of the American people. His picture editorials speak with no uncertain voice, and if the results of one’s preaching were to entitle any cartoonist to the position of pre-eminence in the cartooning ranks, then Davenport would be first and all others behind.

Young Baby among the Nations

Young Baby among the Nations

But in work of this sort something more than mere effectiveness should be considered. There are numerous workers on the American pictorial Press who, if somewhat less skillful than Davenport in hitting the bull’s-eye of public appreciation, are in every way better draughtsmen. They wield their pencils with more technical accuracy, and each cartoon they draw is a lesson in the best newspaper art. Davenport makes no pretense to being a great artist. He has lacked the training which others happily possess, and his success is due rather to his brutal effectiveness in the objective treatment of a subject than to his technical manipulation of line.

He is a rapid worker, and has been known to discard half-a-dozen drawings before satisfying his own criticism. He has improved in his work conspicuously while he has been on New York Journal, and if he still finds it impossible correctly to draw the human form in a variety of action, he has come dangerously near making Presidents. As Gillam invented the “tattooed man” in the Blaine campaign of twenty years ago, so has Davenport given to Hanna a dollar-marked store suit which has become inseparably associated with the name of our great political organizer.

Conquerors And Enslavers Of Mankind - Whisky Leads The Horde.

Recently his cartoons in the Journal have enforced moral lessons, such as the evils of whisky, gambling, church bigotry, etc., and one of these, called “Conquerors and Enslavers of Mankind—Whisky Leads the Horde,” we are able to reproduce. A more powerful cartoon, perhaps, was that called “Whisky—That’s All,” which represented a woman and three or four children standing by the coffin of husband and father in a poverty-stricken room. Here was a moral lesson enforced with a poignancy which, according to the opinion of many judges, should be totally outside the province of the newspaper cartoon. Davenport and the paper he works for evidently thought otherwise, and it is not for us to say that they were incorrect.

Davenport was born in a small Oregon town in 1867, and in his thirty-five years of life has been at different times a jockey, railroad fireman, and circus clown. He possesses no school education. In 1892 the San Francisco Examiner gave him employment, and in 1895 Mr. Hearst took him to New York, where he has since lived and worked. It was against him and his cartoons that the attempt was made in 1897 to pass the Anti-Cartoon Bill in New York. Besides the Hanna suit, which we have already mentioned, Davenport invented the well-known giant Trust figure in 1899, and from a Republican point of view it is not entirely to his credit that he nearly made Bryan President.

In an article recently published in a San Francisco weekly Mr. Davenport has told the interesting story of his own career. Much of this is an elaboration of the main facts just cited, but the artist has something to say about his methods which should here be re-told. “With me,” he writes, “as with all cartoonists, I suppose, there, is that feeling within the soul that there is a great cartoon of national and international importance that will someday be drawn. I am striving to that end, and I hope someday to achieve my ambition.”

“I love,” he continues, “to draw strong cartoons, in the line of brute force, but I prefer those of the pathetic order, and I am satisfied that between the two lies the real power of cartooning. Humorous cartoons are pleasing and restful, but they don’t leave the lasting impression that should go with serious work. My work has been a great pleasure to me, and the greatest reward it ever brought me was when Admiral Dewey, sobbing like a child, told me that my cartoon, ‘Lest We Forget,‘ drawn in his behalf when the of the nation were a people abusing him, prompted him to content himself in America when he was seriously thinking of going abroad to make his home.”

W.A. RogersThe name of Mr. W. A. Rogers (right), is possibly best known to our readers through the cartoons which for many years have appeared in Harper’s Weekly. There are those who hold that Rogers is greater even than Thomas Nast, who worked for the same periodical. Nast could not draw a human foot correctly; Rogers can. He is a thorough artist as well as an effective moral preacher, and some of his attacks upon bad government in New York City have passed into municipal history.

How High Up Does It Go?

The cartoon which we reproduce, called “How High Up Does It Go?” (left), probably made the strongest impression of anything Rogers ever did, and it was so distinctly serious in tone that it appealed particularly to the intellectually-minded, who hold that cartoonery should be something else than buffoonery. When published in Harper’s Weekly this cartoon was commented upon widely by the public Press, and a large number of letters flowed in upon the publishers from many parts of the United States complimenting both paper and artist upon the masterly and compelling qualities of this memorable attack upon municipal corruption.

For those who, in their knowledge of the evils of to-day, have forgotten the evils of yesterday, it may be well to say that Rogers in this cartoon pictures a sewer flowing with filth, a series of stone steps leading upwards, with a policeman on the lower step, a captain of police on the step above, and higher up a pair of clutching jeweled hands. As the captain passes his bags of money to the hands above he deducts his part of the spoil, the policeman receiving the bags from a woman’s hand stretched out from the eddies of filth in the sewer. Municipal degradation could have gone no farther in the days when this cartoon was made, and we doubt if anyone beside Rogers could have so fitly exposed such degradation to the public view.

Father Knickerbocker's Peril

Another of Rogers’s cartoons, called “Father Knickerbocker’s Peril” (right), showed a good little “Goo-goo,” or good Government club, refusing to help poor Father Knickerbocker out of the clutches of the Tammany tiger because he did not approve of the others who were trying to rescue him. The little “Goo-goo” is now forgotten, but the moral of the cartoon remains. President Roosevelt told Rogers a short time ago that he considered it about the best thing the artist had ever done.

The Turk and the Christians

Another effective cartoon is that called “The Turk and the Christians” (left), intending to show-that the stake does not always go to the winner. It was published in Harper’s Weekly during the Greco-Turkish War, and excited considerable attention. Rogers was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1854, and, after being educated in the common schools, was employed in business offices until his eighteenth year. He was on the staff of the New York Daily Graphic in 1872-3, and was engaged by Harper’s Weekly in 1877; for which paper he has worked almost continuously since.

The wide difference that exists between humorous and serious cartoon work is admirably shown by a comparison between the examples of Davenport and Rogers, which we have just passed, and the following examples from the pens of McCutcheon and Bowman. At first glance it might appear that the difference was a mere distinction between East and West, for McCutcheon and Bowman possess the Western spirit, whereas Davenport and Rogers speak with the more serious language of the East. The two Western men are genuinely funny, and their work shows the quality of caricature as it is more familiarly known. There is a burlesque broadness about it that appeals — and we hope it may be said without offense to the Western mind — to the less developed intellect of the new and enterprising homogeneous civilization.

John T. McCutcheonThey look at things in a new way in this wonderful West of ours. They see the comic side of life. They are just a little vulgar, but it is a vulgarity which does not wholly annoy, and if there is a suspicion shoddiness in the social side of life, it is that same shoddiness which the cartoonist delights to bring before the public. John T. McCutcheon (left), in his remarkable series of cartoons published in the Chicago Record-Herald at the time of Prince Henry’s visit, called “The Cartoons that Made Prince Henry Famous,” went almost as far as it is possible to go in exposing the pretensions of the vulgar rich, their fervid hunt for recognition by those of Royal houses, and the tendency to toadyism which at such a time is, in certain classes, let loose. It is said that Prince Henry was so pleased and impressed by McCutcheon’s cartoons that, at the request of the Imperial German Consul, the originals were presented to him and were sent framed to Kiel.

Entertaining Prince Henry

Entertaining Prince Henry

A mere glance at the selection we have made from this entertaining series shows the good and bad qualities of McCutcheon’s style. He possesses splendid ability in depicting action, and his manipulation of crowds is noteworthy. He possesses a rough and ready facility in facial expression, and can do much in the least possible number of lines. The captions in his cartoons are among his happy hits; and that he thought of the Prince Henry series and carried it to such a successful conclusion in the short time allowed him by the exigencies of newspaper illustration and the feverish haste of the German Prince’s tour is the best evidence of his ability as a topical illustrator. McCutcheon’s faults are due perhaps to this same pressure under which cartoonists abhour. There is an unfinished appearance about his work, an exaggeration of detail, and a slight tendency towards that vulgarity in subject treatment which we have mentioned as common to Western draughtsmanship. Were his cartoons, however, less full of faults they would not be half so funny.

At Last Mr. Harrison Has Come Out of the WoodAn early cartoon — “At Last Mr. Harrison Has Come Out of the Wood” (left) — is in many ways the best thing McCutcheon ever did, and we are glad to know that the artist himself looks upon it as his best. The episode which brought it into being is now almost forgotten, except by those who follow political movements closely, but the political movement of the late Mr. Harrison shown in this cartoon is interesting from the first footstep to the last. We speak under correction, but we are prompted to believe that the figure of cowboy Teddy, with his pistol and sombrero, is the first appearance of that famous figure in political illustration. Another of McCutcheon’s cartoons, “Oom Paul Calls on Some Gentlemen of Europe” (below right) is one of those on the subject of the South African War which attracted attention and was widely reprinted in the early days of that struggle.

The Record-Herald is to be congratulated on having in McCutcheon one whose pen is ever ready either for writing or illustration. We may call him a cartoonist, but he is a correspondent as well. He has been connected with the Record-Herald since 1889, when he was nineteen years of age, and became prominent through his cartoon work in the campaign of 1896. In his cartoons of this time he introduced a queer and wonderful little dog which trotted beside caricatures of Bryan and Hanna, and formed a conspicuous part in various drawings of parades and other political satires. In 1897, through an invitation from the Treasury Department, McCutcheon started on a tour round the world on the revenue cutter McCulloch, and reached Hong Kong in time to join Admiral Dewey before the American fleet went to Manila. He was on board that vessel during the Battle of Manila Bay, served until April, 1900, as a correspondent in the Philippines and the Far East, then went to the Transvaal to represent his paper on the Boer side, and returned to America in 1900, again to take up cartoon work. Since that time he has been constantly engaged in illustration, and to-day possesses one of the best-known names as a highly-paid, up-to-date, and forceful caricaturist. McCutcheon is essentially good-natured in all that he does.

R.C. BowmanMr. R. C. Bowman, of the Minneapolis Tribune, belongs also to the ever-spreading good-natured school. This artist, who began at the age of nineteen on the Arkansas Traveler, has devoted about twelve years to caricature, and he possesses theories about his work which many a less-known man might take to heart, with accruing advantage to himself and the public. Bowman believes — and the strength of his belief is shown in the specimens of his work here reproduced — that a cartoon can be to the point without malicious, and that it is not necessary to make ogres of men in order to show that you differ with them politically. A running glance at his various cartoons shows that Bowman has pronounced ideas of right and wrong, and that he takes his stand conscientiously on all matters of social and political import, but you will hunt in vain for any trace of partisan spleen.

Great Guns! What Is It?During the five years he has been with the Tribune his output has been as enormous as its scope has been varied, and he friendships he has made have been not only among those of his own party, but also among his political foes. The man who laughs most heartily at a cartoon when that cartoon is good – humoured is very often the subject of the cartoon himself. Where Davenport, in short, would make an enemy, Bowman would make a friend, so great is the difference in the styles of the two men. Bowman is a careful student of politics, and his picture editorials always present a strong argument. He possesses a rare originality and spontaneous humour, and that his drawings are well thought out is proved by their simplicity in detail. It is not too much to say that in connection with the work of Bartholomew, of the Minneapolis Journal, which will be treated of in our next article, the topics of the times are more effectively illustrated by these two cartoonists than by any others in the United States. Bowman is a humorist and not a satirist, and has attained his success through close adherence to well-defined principles of directness, simplicity, and gentleness. The Tribune reader opens his paper with the knowledge that he is going to get a laugh, and the man made fun of may open his copy with the knowledge that he is not going to squirm.

Look, by the way, at Bowman’s cartoons, and see if you can find the dog. The Bowman dog has become famous. This remarkable little canine, which the cartoonist introduces into nearly all his work, is full of expression, and the keynote to the story is often to be found in the antics of the pup. If he is scared, in common with the elephant and the donkey (above right), at the advent of the Third Party, you will find him running into the distance with marvelous alacrity. He rests, with wonder-eyed demureness, beside Carnegie and Morgan while John Bull tacks down his island (left), and when the battleship Kentucky arrives off the coast of Turkey (below right) he is—well, find him for yourself. If the small boys of Minneapolis, as it is said, may be seen chalking Bowman’s dog on side-walks and fences, it is a proof of the popularity of the cartoonist which needs no further to be proved.

The Battleship "Kentucky" Arrives Off The Coast Of TurkeyBowman has a great fondness for children, and we believe it is his highest ambition to become a successful writer of child verse. He has already published one volume which contains verses of this sort, that may reasonably be compared with the late Eugene Field’s. He is also a “chalk talker,” and indulges now and then in a funny lecture which he illustrates with his own hand. In our photograph we may see him, an able-bodied, happy, and good-natured gentleman, standing by the side of his blackboard as if in lecture pose, and from the appearance of the man and the examples of his work reproduced in this article we may easily understand the quality of the reputation made by him throughout the great and enterprising West.

Our Next Great Work - The Pacific CableIncidentally, in our treatment of the men, we have dropped a hint or two as to the qualifications necessary for successful cartoon work. In so far as nearly every paper of importance in the United States goes in for this form of illustration, and as nearly all the principal journals are partisan, it is obvious that the competition between newspapers for the services of the best draughtsmen is intense, and the successful cartoonist is the man who most effectively expresses the political tenets of his paper. On newspapers independent in politics the cartoonist’s office is no sinecure, and often the artist has to sacrifice his own independence of thought in order to make his work correspond with the “ideals” of the managing editor. Where, however, the cartoonist’s honest feelings coincide with the party feelings of the paper he represents we get the sappiest of results, for no man preaches so effectively as when he preaches what he really believes. We know of cases where Republican cartoonists have done extremely clever work for Democratic journals, just as we may find cases where editorial writers with Democratic leanings have been engaged at high salaries to write Republican editorials, but success in such cases is the exception rather than the rule.