Old Courthouse Museum
103 West Cherry Street
Watseka, IL 60970-1524
Scepter F. "Sep" Palin
Any fan of harness racing knows the name of Greyhound, the record setting trotting horse of the 1930's. What some people don't know is the story of the man who sat behind Greyhound on those record rides. Scepter F. Palin, Sep to his friends and fans, was born 1878 in Iroquois Co., IL south and west of Milford to Augustus and Nancy Holland Palin and grew up in the Milford area.
One of 9 children, Sep and his family spent only a short time in the county before going back to Indiana from where they'd come. Sep's ancestors were Quakers coming from the Pasquotank Co. area of North Carolina to Henry, Wayne and finally Fountain Co. Indiana at an early day.
Sep's early career began on the small tracks in Indiana where harness racing was the common sport of the time; races sometimes developing on back country roads for the pure pleasure of the sport. At the time Sep began, harness horses that could do a mile in 2:05 where rare and anything faster was beyond belief.
In his career as trainer/driver, Sep sat behind 67 horses that broke the 2:05 mark with Greyhound doing it the fastest in 1:55.25. The list of big name races Sep participated in with a record setting horse reads like the who's who of harness racing: The Hambletonian, The Kentucky Futurity, The Transylvania, The Walnut Hall Cup - the list is long.
In October 1952, Sep was at The Trots, a big race meeting in Lexington, KY, when he suffered a stroke at the time trials and fell backward, hitting his head on the concrete walk, causing a severe concussion from which he never recovered.
Sep married a lady named Lora who was an invalid at the time of his death. They had two sons; Harold G. who was living in Raleigh, NC and C. L. who lived in Indianapolis as did Sep and his wife. His funeral was held at the Flanner & Buchanan Mortuary in Indianapolis.
Sep Palin led a remarkable life and left an indelible mark on the harness racing world. Iroquois County is proud to have been the birthplace of this history making man.
Sources: The Harness Horse; Oct. 8, 1952 Quaker Records; Hinshaw Iroquois County Genealogical Society The Indianapolis Star 4 Oct 1952; pg 23, col. 3