The Eel River Jockey Club

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Poscora Hayward.

Match, Charles Perrott and Ed Dougherty. - William Wax, photographer. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Paul Mudgett

Rohnerville's fastest harness horses traced their ancestry to the two greatest trotting-horse bloodlines in America. Horses of the Morgan and Hambletonian lines ran on Humboldt County tracks in the 1870's and 1880's. The Morgan horses gained popularity as roadsters and racers through Black Hawk, the grandson of Justin Morgan, foundation sire of the Morgan Breed. The climax of their greatness came after the middle of the nineteenth century, when Black Hawk's son Ethan Allen was rated world champion trotter.

The Hambletonian line descended from Rysdyk's Hambletonian through his sons Alexander's Abdallah, George Wilkes and Electioneer. It was George Wilkes who established Hambletonian supremacy when he beat the acclaimed Ethan Allen in 1862. George Wilkes' grandson Joe Patchen sired the famous Dan Patch, who became the idol of America when he paced a mile in 1:55 at the 1906 Minnesota State Fair. These horses and others like them provided the beauty, speed, performance and stamina that characterized the greatest track and road horses this country has ever known.

Rohnerville horsemen were swept up in the speed craze that brought the sulky horse to preeminence late in the nineteenth century. The first trotting-bred horses in Rohnerville were of Morgan breeding. W. H. E. Smith arrived in the county in 1876 with an Ethan Allen stud named Johnny Schomker, who was claimed to go a mile in 2:35 (West Coast Signal, May 10, 1876). Other blooded horses were imported from Kentucky, and by the mid-1880's, Rohnerville horses carried the great Hambletonian bloodline.

Perhaps the most ardent Rohnerville breeder and trainer was H. S. Hogoboom, Jr. Son of an early-day Rohnerville settler, Heity Hogoboom was already established as a horse trainer in 1870 at the age of seventeen, and by the 1880's was breeding and racing horses recognized among the best in California. His stallion Waldstein, four-year-old record of 2:18 1/4, was sired by Director whose record of 2:17 was considered outstanding in his day. Waldstein's dam was a daughter of Electioneer and half-sister of Sunol whose 2:10 1/2 record as a three-year-old was a revolutionary mark in the sport of harness racing. Sunol's owner, Leland Stanford, established the foremost trotting-horse stud in America in Santa Clara County, and with Sunol began the practice of racing colts. Rohnerville horsemen followed suit, establishing a Colt Stakes for broken but untrained youngsters of Waldstein, Ira, and Poscora Hayward breeding.

During the 1891 racing circuit, Hogoboom's Waldstein and several colts Lucky B, Sacramento Girl, Why Not and Remember Me - made outstanding showings at the meets in Willows, Red Bluff, Chico, Woodland and Stockton. Breeder and Sportsman called Waldstein a sire with a future; Hogoboom called him the "best bred stallion on earth." Rohnerville and Hogoboom made the big time in 1896 when a Waldstein mare raced in Chicago. Rohnerville-bred Humboldt Maid, winner of first money with records of 2:17 and 2:13 1/2, gave the famous Joe Patchen a run for his money, going a half mile in 1:03.

Through the efforts of men like Dr. Felt, H. Hogoboom, the Perrotts, and Will East, Rohnerville made a name for itself as "a paradise for horsemen and thoroughbred race stock ... unexcelled in north California" (Nerve, April 23, 1892). The community was justly proud of its contribution to America's great era of the harness horse.

NEXT: The Rohnerville Herald Newspaper

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-- West Coast Signal, May 10, 1876 --
"Thomas Van Sickle has built a fine Livery and Training Stable, which is an ornament to our town, if I except the saloon which is attached to it. We were fondly hoping that the number of these iniquitous institutions would grow less instead of increasing."

-- Rohnerville Herald, February 6,1889 --
"There are at present about 35 horses and colts in training here, and we are informed by those who know, that our race course is in as good, if not better condition, than any race track in the state."

-- Weekly Humboldt Times, May 16, 1889 --
"Sam Adams, popular trotting bred stallion will make the season at Bridgeville. Sired by Altimont, he by Almont, he by Alexander's Abdallah, he by Rysdyk's Hambletonian ... Horse born 1884, 16 1/4 hands high, bay, gentle ... Salmon Brown, Bridgeville."

-- Rohnerville Herald, April 2, 1890 --
"Waldstein, brown horse, 15 1/2 hands high, weighs 1075 pounds, was foaled in 1885 and sired by Director, record 2:17. One of the gamest horses that ever trotted a race and a great breeder. A four year old with a record of 2:18 1/4, a three year old with a record of 2:19 1/4 ... Waldstein's dam was Nellie W. by Electioneers - the GREATEST HORSE ON EARTH, sire of Sunol, three year old record of 2:10 1/4; Palo Alto, 2:12 1/4 ... Come and see his colts trot ... Waldstein will be at my place in Rohnerville. . . H.S. Hogoboom."

-- Ferndale Enterprise, April 4,1885 --
"Stallions for 1884 - the fast trotting stallion, Poscora Hayward . . This fast, game and level-headed horse is a representative of the Clays through the most popular branch, that of the Patchens. California Patchen is the sire of Billy Hayward, and Billy Hayward got Poscora Hayward. First dam, Poscora Maid by Learned's Poscora, second dam by Homer's Black Hawk. He is a gray 15 and 3/4 hands high. Made a record of 2:23 1/2 at the State Fair in 1883 and made the fastest seventh mile in the same day on record, that of 2:25 and has trotted 2:19. His disposition is perfect; a clearly cut head and bright eye. He was awarded the first premium as a roadster stallion over Albert W. and other good competitors at the Golden Gate Fair in 1883. For a more complete history of him see Breeder and Sportsman, February 10, 1883. Fee $40 ...W.H.E. Smith, Rohnerville."

-- Humboldt Times, August 9, 1896 --
"Mrs. Hogoboom of Rohnerville received a clipping from a Chicago paper sent her by her husband stating that Humboldt Maid by Waldstein had had a tilt with the big pacer Joe Patchen, making it very interesting for him and going a half in 1:03. Mr. Hogoboorn has been offered $1000 for her. He paid Lamb Bros. of Rohnerville who bred her, $400 and shortly afterwards won first money in a $2000 purse in 2:17. The following year she reduced her record to 2:13 1/2 in a winning race."