Recollections of the Early Days in Duluth Part 6

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Self-Published by author Jerome Cooley in 1925. Readers should be aware that Mr. Cooley put this book together when he was elderly, and not all of his “recollections” are historically accurate. Reader should also note that Mr. Cooley is very much a 19th-century man, and his language—much of which we would consider politically incorrect today—reflects the era in which he developed.

Old man Albachtan was a German and had a pair of mules. He used to do the teaming and haul wood from the hill. The mules were a foxy pair. One day he was coming up Second Avenue east with a jag of wood and stopped in front of the old Wakelin House to let them rest.

When he wanted to start, they would not move. He had a long, large, black snak whip which he used as a persuader. He would hit one mule and it would go but the other mule would fly back. Then he would hit the second and the first one would fly back. He kept that up until he got out of all manner and patience.

He then threw down the whip and the lines and started for a stick of cord wood and said as he caught one up, “A mule’s a mule, G. D. a mule.”

I think they knew what was coming for they both started up the hill on a run, load and all and the old man had to run hard to catch them. He had a family and one boy was paymaster for the Northern Pacific Railroad for a number of years.

Jake Leidel came here like the rest of us, busted. He was a sailor and jumped his boat in San Francisco during the gold excitement in California in or about 1869. He I drifted around and, being a prudent fellow, finally got into the freighting business.

He had a regular freighting outfit with about fifty pair of mules. He was getting on his feet, so to speak, when he got caught in a regular blizzard and lost his whole outfit. Every mule perished and he got together what was salable and closed out and started for Duluth.

He established a boarding house and saloon on the Point just where the Northern Pacific crossed. He did something in the boat business too and in the winter when the bay was frozen over he drove a stage for passengers and freight to Superior.

Once he wanted some more horses, so went to St. Paul to get them. He had a peculiar way of talking. He would start out by saying, “Hum hum, bet your life, boys, tell you one thing.”

When he got to St. Paul and got a little acquainted the horse dealers thought they had caught a sucker sure and made it up to unload a lot of old scats on him. They had a fine supper for him, intending to get him full and then do the selling. But Jake was not such a fool as he pretended to be. At any rate, when they woke up the next day (they slept on the floor under the tables), they found that Jake had gone to another dealer, bought his horses and was on his way to Duluth. “Hum hum, tell you one thing, boys, bet your life.” An old photograph of Duluth shows his mammoth saloon with the snowdrift above the porch. His family are all gone except one son, Eddie Leidel, who still remains among us. Captain Farrell, father of our Bert, was the standing’ Democrat candidate for sheriff in the early days, He always got three votes-his own, Hibbard’s and one scattering. Rev. C. C. Salter, pastor of the little old Congregational church on the corner of First Avenue east and Second Street, founded the Bethel Home for Homeless Men.

Colonel J. J. Hull from Philadelphia, proprietor of the old Clark House, vied with Rev. Salter in furnishing the spirituous comfort so essential to soothe and sustain the faltering heart in time of trouble, trials and tribulation. Both the Reverend and the Colonel did a thriving business, thanks to the impartiality of early Duluthians for comfort of all kinds, both dry and liquid.

O. G. Simonds was a great calf of a fellow, the butt of all the jokes of the crowd he went with. He pretended to be studying for an attorney and he was a sort of a student in Attorney Settzer’s office. He finally drifted away. The last I saw of him was at the World’s Fair in Chicago. It was understood that he acquired a wife who was stuck on his shape or something and who was able to support him in idleness.

Mr. Settzer was an eccentric sort of a cuss. He would not open his letters if he thought he knew who they were from, if ‘he did not want them to find out his address or residence. A number of his letters with money in them were found after he passed on. His drawer in his desk was full of unopened letters.

Ed Bloomer used to keep a saloon, but he left before the Volstead Act. He was a good fellow but in a poor business. He was Duluth’s first fire chief.

Ed Burlingham was engineer on the old steamer Manistee and perished with the balance of the crew.

John Flynn was steamboat agent for the Chicago line of boats, usually called the Leopold Line. He was an old Buffalo Creek man, brought up on the docks there. He was a mechanic, fearless, good-hearted and with all the traits of an Irishman. Later he worked for the city repairing meters. He went West a number of years ago. He formed one of the number who used to meet over at Bob Anderson’s saloon and stay until George Foley’s wife would come and break up the game and no one blamed her. Bob Anderson’s saloon was on Superior Street, between Lake Avenue and First Avenues East.

There were, in the early days, a couple of characters here whom the following rhyme would fit. It might not have been written for them, but it fits them so well, it seems a pity to leave it out.

The Judge was a Christian and played on the square,
But he figured his cards pretty close.
He could call off your hand every time to a pair,
And lay down a full, when he chose.

The Colonel could play a more difficult game,
I don’t mean to say he would cheat,
But he held the top card, when the big betting came
And some hands that couldn’t be beat.

Coming home from St. Paul, they met on the train,
They were very old friends on the cars,
And as neither the other at Poker could win
They played Euchre, seven points for cigars.

The game ran along pretty evenly too,
‘Til the Judge turned for a moment his head.
When the Colonel in dealing slipped the pack through,
And the Judge cut a cold one instead.

It was Euchre, of course, but the Judge was amazed
When he lifted four kings in the bunch.
The Colonel, appearing not a particle dazed,
Turned up a red queen for a trump.

“I say, Judge, do you pass?” the Colonel called out.
“Well,” says the limb of the law, “I have got very queer cards
And if you’re in for a bout,
We might play this one hand out at draw.”

The Colonel considered and wriggled his neck.
“I too, have got a queer hand,
But if you’ll give me that queen from the top of the deck,
We’ll play out the cards as they stand.”

“Agreed,” says the Judge, for he saw at a glance,
That the Colonel had one of two things:
A full, or four queens, and he hadn’t a chance,
To rake down the pot from four kings.

The Judge chipped with fifty, the Colonel came back,
The Judge gave him another big raise.
Of the bets the two made, I could never get track;
They piled up like girls in a chaise.

“At last,” says the Judge, “I’m hunting no more.
Four kings, just shove over that pot.”
“Hold on,” says the Colonel, “I too have got fours,
But they’re four little aces I’ve got..

The Judge took the cards, looked them over well,
Then heaved a sigh from his trouser’s waist band.
“Well, what I’d like to know is, what in hell
The queen had to do with that hand.”

Bob continued to run the place until prohibition made it unprofitable and then he went into some other business. He is now numbered among those who were.

Click on “3” for the rest of the story….


  • Cooley, Jerome. Recollections of the Early Days in Duluth. Published by the Author"Duluth, Minn. 1925
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