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1SIEW BLOOMFIELD, IJiV., TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1881.
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Recollections or Prominent Men of the Past.
ALMOST any day, sunny or wintry,
there can be Been on the streets of
Atlanta a short, thickset, sturdy old
gentleman, bearing erectly on unusually
broad shoulders an immense head, sur
mounted with a crown of white hair.
A trifle reserved, holding himself like a
gentleman and man of affairs, with
ruddy face and quick, penetrating eye,
holding a stout cane in his hand, less for
support than in deference to an old habit
of the Southwest, the stranger who sees
him usually inquires of some one for his
name. Any by-stander will inform the
Inquirer that it is Colonel W. H. Sparks,
an old veteran, who has known more
distinguished people than any man
living. I do not think there is so re
markable a link between the past and
present to be found anywhere. Colonel
Sparks is not a centenarian, being only
about eighty-three, and he has none of
the querulous weakness or vagueness of
old age. He is still good for a ten mile
tramp ; Js a decisive brilliant talker and
altogether a compact, vigorous old gen
tleman. He lias been prominent in pol
itics and society all his life, and as leg
islator, writer and wit has been famous
for more than half a century throughout
the West and Southwest. He has known
personally every President since Wash
ington and has the most entertaining
gossip about each of them. He was the
intimate of Henry Clay, Prentiss, Craw
ford and the most of their contempo
raries ; sat opposite Aaron Burr at table
for three months ; heard the Btory of the
execution of Andre from the lips of the
man who superintended it ; heard all the
email talk of the meeting of the signers
of the Declaration of Independence from
the mouth of John. Adams, aud is, in
short, a perfect treasury of gossip and
Your correspondent asked him one
morning if it were true that he had been
personally acquainted with every Presi
dent of the United States, except Wash
ington. " Yes, sir," he replied : " I have had
the acquaintance of every man who oc
cupied the Presidential chair since
George Washington left it ; the friend
ship and confidence of most of them
certainly of the greatest of them."
" Where did you meet John Adams?
He must have died when you was very
" There is a story connected with that.
I was at Cambridge with three young
Southern chumt. We were discussing
the best way to spend the Fourth of
Jnly and determined to spend it with
Ex-President Adams. I wrote a letter
soliciting the privilege of calling on him
and destroyed a quire or two of paper in
forming the request. Mr. Adams re
plied that he would be happy to see us
and instructed ua to stop at a certain
hotel in Boston. As soon as we were
registered the landlord informed us that
Mr. Adams' carriage was awaiting us.
At the door we found his coach, drawn
by four horses and equipped with great
pomp. . We were rapidly driven to his
home, where he welcomed us cordially,
being touched, I think, at the respect
shown him by Southerners. He gave ua
a most graphic account of the signing
of the declaration and the election of
Washington as commander-in-chief.
WhiTe we were with him he received the
first of those letters from Jefferson that
led to the correspondence between them.
He read it to us and said : ' This is the
finest letter ever written by an octoge
narian." - " Did you know Jefferson intimately 1"'
" I knew him well. I was once trav-
ellng through Virginia with a young
friend and stopped at a small tavern. As
we were sitting in the tap-room four dis
tinguished looking men passed upstairs
and entered a small room. I inquired as
to whom they were and was Informed
that they were Ex-President Jefferson,
Ex-President Madison, Chief Justice
Marshall and . I at once deter
mined to Bee them and knocked at the
door of their room. Mr. Jefferson came
to the door, and I stated that we were
Georgians who desired to pay our re
spects to himself and his friends. He
took us cordially by the hand, and in
troduced us to the company. Mr. Madi
son was sitting in a corner, with his
head tied up in a handkerchief, and
merely grunted when we were presented.
We soon secured attention, as we had
just left Washington and bore these dis
tingulHhed men the first news they had
of the Missouri Compromise. When we
left, after an hour's stay, Mr. Jefferson
followed us to the door. He took our
hands in his and bending his head for
wardit was as flat as a board on top
said : " Go home, young gentlemen, and
prepare to devote your talents and your
lives to the service of your country.
This Compromise has only scotched the
snake, not killed it, and it will yet tear
this country assunder. The South will
need your services." How prophetic
were these words. I have since given
the lives of my sons to the service he
then dedicated me."
" Was there much open talk of seces
" Let me tell you of a scene in Mr.
Crawford's room just prior to the pas
sage of that compromise. William II.
Crawford, of Georgia, was then the
most powerful man in Washington. His
room was the rendezvous of a band of
lofty and ardent spirits, silch as Loundes,
Calhoun, Clay, Troup, Bandolph, For
syth. He would have been the candi
date of his party to succeed Madison had
he not declined to oppose Mr. Monroe.
He was sent to France as Minister to
succeed Mr. Livingstone, who was hard
of hearing. Crawford could not speak
French, and Napoleon said after his re
ception : ' America has Bent me two
Senators, one of whom was deaf and
the other dumb.' On the night I speak
of there was a meeting at Crawford's
rooms to discuss the Missouri question.
Mr. .Holmes, of Maine, was present.
Mr. Crawford was lying, as was his wont,
on a sofa. Addressing the Southern
men present he told them that If they
held slavery of more importance than
the Union the time had come for them to
secede, but if they thought the Union of
more importance than slavery they must
go home and begin gradual emancipa
tion. He added that the slave States
were strong enough then to go in peace
and preserve their institutions, but that
they could never hope to maintain sla
very in the Union." At this Mr. Ban
dolph jumped up and said :
"Then let us go, und at once. Mr.
Clay will be here to-morrow. I have
not spoken to the fellow for years, but I
will go to him to-morrow and beg him
to go to his people and urge them to quit
the Union. I will go and urge mine to
do the same and I will follow bis leader
ship to the last."
" Can Mr. Bandolph be in earnest?"
asked Mr. Holmes, of Maine.
" Intensely so," replied Mr. Crawford;
"and the course of your people, Mr.
Holmes, are forcing Mr. Randolph's
views upon the people of the whole
The next day Mr. Clay arrived from
the West. The greatest anxiety was felt
as to his course. His influence was tre
mendous, and the West especially was
training under his lead. I shall never
forget the scene when Mr. Clay entered
the House the next morning. He was
dressed in a spotless black and pale and
msjestio he walked down the aisle with
the slouching Btride of the race horse.
By an involuntary movement every
member rose to his feet, In courtesy to
the great man. Mr. Bandolph stepped
into the aisle to meet him. When Clay
saw him he seemed to grow a foot in
height, but his face never lost its tran
quility. Mr. Bandolph was very much
excited and said : ' Good morning, Mr.
Mr. Clay bowed politely. Bandolph
then went on excitedly :
" I have a duty to perform so have
you, sir. Leave your seat here as I will
leave mine. Tell your people as I will
tell mine that the time has come when,
if they would save themselves from ruin
and preserve the liberties for which their
fathers bled, they must leave these peo
ple of the North. Do thlsBlr; although
I never did before I will follow your lead
in the effort to save our people."
Mr. Clay listened quietly and without
apparent surprise. When Bandolph had
concluded he Bald. without raising his
" What you propose, Mr. Bandolph,
requires more thari momentary consider
ation," and passed on. In a few days
his famous speech on the compromise
was made and the trouble passed over
for a time.
"President Jackson was a remarkable
man. Did you know him well?"
" I did. I married the daughter of
Abner Green, at whose house Jackson's
wife lived, while she was awaiting her
divorce. I aud she and pur child spent
the night with Jackson at the White
House. I remember there was in the
corner of the fireplace a box full of corncob-pipes,
out of which the stems pro
truded. I asked the President why he
was so fond of cob' pipes, lie replied:
For the simple reason that they burn
out before they begin to stink.'"
Colonel Sparks was eloquent in his
praise of " Old Hickory," and devel
oped two points that are interesting and
new. Said he : " It is not at all certain
that Jackson was born in South Caro
lina; indeed, the special proof seems to
go to show that be was born in Ireland.
Judge Alexander Porter, of Louisiana,
was an Irishman, and his parents
lived in the neighborhood of where
Jackson's parents lived. He vis
ited Europe shortly before bis death,
and made diligent Inquiry into
the history of the Jacksons, and learned
enough to satisfy htm that Andrew was
born in Ireland and brought to America
when two years old. Judge McNary,
who had investigated, held the same
opinion, and always contended that
Jackson was four years older than he
said he was."
He says further : " Jackson once told
one of the advices his mother a little
dumpy redheaded Irish woman gave
him when he left her for the last time.
Andy,' she says 'you are going into a
wild and strange country and among
rough people. Never tell a He, nor take
what ain't your own, nor sue anybody
for Blander or assault and battery. Al
ways settle their case yourself."
" Jackson was a negro trader, despite
the proof to the contrary made by his
friends. He had a small store at Brains
burg, in Clalborn county. At this tra
ding point he received the negroes Bent
to him by his partner and sold them to
the neighborhood and into Louisiana. I
have now several bills of sale of ne
groes signed by Jackson, in which his
signature runs clear across the page. He
quit negro trading because he sold an
unsound negro into Louisiana and had
to stand a loss on him. He and his
partner quarreled in adjusting this loss
and he quit the business."
" Were you acquainted with any inti
mate friend of Washington?"
" I knew intimately the man who
knew' him perhaps better than any
other man ever did Colonel Ben Tal
mage, who was Washington's favorite
aide. The circumstances under which I
knew him were interesting. I passed
the old gentleman one day as he was
mending his gate. I was then a student.
I raised my bat and bowed profoundly.
He was struck with my evident respect
and asked Judge Beeves who I was and
why I had been so respectful. I replied
' Say to him that I could never walk
into the presence of a man who has had
the confidence of the great Washington
with my hat on my head.' This reply
pleased him so much that it gained me a
place at his fireside."
"He was full of reminiscences of
."Oh, yes; and very entertaining it
was to hear him talk familiarly of the
Father of hia country. He said that no
character in history had been so con
slstent as Washington's. He was stern,
Blow, reserved and cold. Even Hamil
ton, whom he loved and trusted above
all men, never ventured upon the slight
est Intimacy. I never saw General
Washington laugh, and only once or
twice did I ever see him smile. I never
saw him exhibit the slightest surprise
or Impatience. I was with bim. when
he received information of Arnold's
treachery, and he received it as impas
sively as If It were an orderly'! report
Of all the officers of the army Greene
was bis favorite, and he was right for
Greene was a superior military man to
Washington. I heard Washington say
that Greene was the only man who
could retrieve the mistakes of Gates and
save the Southern country. Mrs. Wash
ington was less amiable than her hus
band. She always remembered that she
was wealthy when she married Wash
ington, and she never let him forget if.
One of Washington's strongest points
was the quickness with which he read
men. He mistrusted Burr from the very
first, and was rarely deceived In men."
In this strain have I heard Colonel Tal-
mage talk of Washington by the hour.
And let me remark here that I have
known many women who knew Wash
ington. I never yet saw one that liked
him. Governor Wolcott told me that
he heard Mrs. Adams say she never be
lieved that Washington had been " more
than polite to Mrs. Washington."
" Was this Talmage the same who
superintended the execution of Andre?"
"Yes, sir; and I have heard him tell
of that sad affair a score of times, and
always with tears. It was he who beg
ged Washington to at least allow Andre
to die a soldier's death.'. Said he: 'The
saddest duty I have ever had to perform
was communicating his refusal to An
dre. He saw my embarrassment and feel
ing as I approached, and rising said, " I
thank you, Colonel, for the interest you
have taken in my case, but I see that it
has proved of no avail ; yet I am none
the less grateful." He pauaed a moment
and said, " It Is hard to die and to die
thus. I have only a short time, which
I must employ in writing to my family,
Shall I see you to-morrow, or is this our
last parting V" I told him it had been
made my duty to superintend the execu
tion. " We will part then at the grave,"
he said, and covering his face with his
hands, sank sobbing into his chair
When we met at the scene of execu
tion next morning, he asked me to
secure his watch, which had been taken
from him at headquarters) and send it
to his family. I made the promise, but
Lever secured the watch. As he saw
his grave a shudder ran through his
frame, and he Bald : " I am to be buried
there. One more word, Colonel ; mark
it, so that my friends may find it when
this cruel conflict shall have ended."
These were the last words he ever spoke
to me. He pressed my hand, turned
and ascended the scaffold with unfalter
ing steps. In a few moments all was
over. Munv a time have I hearcLColonel
Talmage tell this story, and a precious
privilege I esteemed it to hear from the
lips of the man who had superintended
It, the story of the execution of Andre."
A Spectre Light.
"VNE of the most singular events that
J ever arose in the experience of rail
road men came across the engineer, fire
man and brakeman on the C. B. I. & P.
express, which left Davenport for Coun
cil Bluffs the evening of Thursday, the
30th ult. The train pulled out of this
city, James Baynor, conductor, at 7:10
o'clock. The weather was bitter cold
that night, it will be remembered, the
mercury falling to fifteen degrees below
zero. Nothing unusual happened until
after the train bad gone from Marengo.
at 11 o'clock, and about three miles west
of that town the engineer, J. B. .Wilkin
son, saw in the distance ahead a locomo
tive beadllght.tend he says to his fire
man, David Myers, " Dave, what on
earth is that train on the track on our
time fori1" Dave looked ahead, and
there was the headlight sure enough,
and Wilkinson immediately closed his
throttle. applied the air brakes and
stopped. The brakeman jumped off to
ascertain the cause of the halt, and he,
too, saw the headlight coming. The
engineer and the fireman watched the
distant glare a moment, and it quivered
exactly as a headlight does when viewed
at a distance from a fast approaching
train, and the track for a long distance
in front of it glistened like silver in its
light. The conductor did not get off to
see the light, and so missed the sight,
But as there was a tram ahead, 'n . an
apparent right to the track, tne fc ress
train backed to Marengo In short order.
There a telegram was sent to the train
despatcber at Des Moines, Informing
him of the unexpected train, and asked
for Instructions. His answer was, " No
train between Marengo and Brooklyn
go ahead." "But the engineer reports
seeing a train." "Impossible there Is
no wild train on that section, and regu
lars are all right go ahead, I tell you."
And again . the train pulled out of Maren
go, but the strange headlight was seen
no more. To those who beheld it when
the train stopped it was as real as any
light they ever 'saw, arid all were as
certain that there was a locomotive with
a train coming toward them as they
lived. It is now believed that a sort of
mirage or reflection of Wilkinson's head
light was produoed at the plaoe by some
freak of the elements in that clear, cold
frosty air, and that this was what Mr.
Wilkinson, Dave Meyers and the brake
men saw. It was real enough to send
the train speeding back to Marengo for
Instruction. Mayhap it was a spectre
train, of which there are several in rail
road lore. Davenport Gazette.
MB. SPEBBY, the man who has
charge of the clock in Trinity
Church, New York, gives the following
Interesting facts about the clock and its
" The Trinity clock was plaoed in the
steeple in 1840 by James Bogers. It
took two men to wind it. Now I do it
alone. It's not because I can do more
than two men can. The machinery has
been changed. Formerly It was wound
by a single back gear, but not very long
ago it was fitted with a double back
gear. Of course it takes longer to wind
it now than it used to. I have to lift
each one of the three weights of 1,600
pounds each to a height of over fifty
feet. One weight is for the chimes and
the other two for the clock. The crank,
which answers to the key to your watch,
is about twenty inches long, and when
I turn it around I make a sweep of
thirty inches. It's a good deal harder
than turning a grindstone, but tbe
machine has a ratchet, so that I can
stop and rest when I want to. The
crank has to be turned 750 times to turn
the barrel twenty twenty-one times.
Around tbe barrel is wound a wire rope
that holds the 1,600 pound weight. The
weight is simply a box with pieces of
Iron in it." That is very old-fashioned.
Now, we have iron weights so moulded
that they can be added to or subtracted
from, and the weight can be graded to a
nicety. A new wire rope was put to
the chimes' weight the other day. The
rope is what is called the tiller rope, and
is made of finer and more pliable wire
than that which supports these store
elevators. This rope is 280 feet long and
three-quarters of an inch thick. It
takes me an hour and a half to wind up
" The oldest clock in the city," con
tinued the clock man, " is in St. Paul's
steeple. John Thwait, of London, made
it In 1778. A cog in tbe escape wheel
by constant use was worn thin and
turned over backwards by the ratchet.
Of course the clock stopped. I patched
It up and it runs as well as ever. This
clock has a single back gear, and I wind
It In three-quarters of an hour. It has
two weights of 1,000 pounds each.
"St. John's clock was put In the
tower in 1812. I wind It in less than an
hour. St. George's clock 1 modern. I
wind it in' fifteen minutes. Once a
week I examine each clock, and use a
whole bottle of porpoise oil in keeping
tbe wheels and pinions oiled. This
porpoise oil is extracted from the jaw of
the porpoise, and is expensive.
The Exact Irishman.
A two-foot rule was given to a laborer
in a Clyde boat-yard to measure an Iron
plate. The laborer not being well up to
tbe use of the rule, after spending a con
siderable time, returned. " Noo, Mick,"
asked the plater, "what size is the
plate V" "Well," replied Mick, with a
grin of satisfaction, " it's the length of
your rule and two thumbs over, with
this piece of brick and the breadth o'
my hand and my arm from here to
there, bar a finger."
tjr In the commission of evil fear no
man so much as thyself ; another is but
one witness against thee; thou art a
thousand; another thou mayst avoid
thyself thou canst not. Wickedness la
its own punishment.