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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Warren County Long Known For Wonderful Trotters

Dallas Bogan on 23 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 61
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Shanghai Mary

In the early days of Red Lion there seemed to come a great deal of history concerning Warren County. One of these events concerns a great racing horse known as "Shanghai Mary." In the early part of the nineteenth century there lived in the Red Lion area a man named Goldsmith Coffeen and his family, who had removed from the State of Vermont. He was widely known as a horse breeder and manufacturer of liniments, which he claimed were suitable for man or beast.
Coffeen and his partner, John Irons, owned a magnificent dark chestnut sorrel horse with white legs named Iron's Cadmus. He was the sire of Pocahantas who later became the ancestor of many great performers, including the Axworthy family.
Iron's Cadmus sired our subject, Shanghai Mary. She was one of the most intriguing horses among the old time affiliated brood mares. Iron's Cadmus was trained as a pacer and an effort to make him trot jumbled the poor horse up so badly that his gait totally disappeared.
He was sired by Beach's Cadmus from a pacing mare that his breeder, Goldsmith Coffeen, had received in trade from a horse-trader. Iron's Cadmus passed through many hands and was finally sold for $2,000 and shipped to St. Louis.
On the trip west by boat, the horse caught cold and died a few days after his arrival. He was eighteen years of age. It is estimated that 80 percent of all harness horses in the United States came from Iron's Cadmus.
Shanghai Mary made her public debut in 1869 when John H. Wallace called the attention of Charles Bachman to a doubt of Shanghai Mary's daughter, Green Mountain Maid. A slip of paper concerning the sale of the mare at a price of $450, said in certain terms that the mare was out of Shanghai Mary by the celebrated running horse, Lexington. Bachman's secretary, Mr. Shipman, was sent to western New York and Ohio to establish the authenticity of the mare's birth. Shipman returned with a report, which showed that Shanghai Mary was foaled in 1847, which made her older than Lexington.
While still searching for some history on Mary, Shipman learned that the Wilcox Brothers of Livingston Center, N.Y., while purchasing sheep from some farmers in eastern Ohio, met a young man on the road near Canton. He was riding a three-year-old chestnut filly with four white feet, a blaze on her face, and a stubby white tail, which had been eaten off by calves. The boy said he had ridden her about five- hundred miles and had intended to trade her for a blind mare that the Wilcox Brothers had taken in trade for some sheep. A trade was made and the boy simply rode away and disappeared.
Wilcox Brothers broke the white-faced mare to harness; she exhibited great speed and was started in a number of races in New York, none of which were ever reported as the Angelica mare. Eventually the Angelica mare became known as Shanghai Mary. Using the latter name she was passed to Samuel Conklin of Middletown, N.Y. He bred her to Harry Clay in 1861 and got the filly afterwards known as Green Mountain Maid. She was of a small nature, wild and was never broken to harness; even age could not tame her. (Green Mountain Maid died on June 6, 1888, having been the ancestor of many racing horse legends.)
Hershel I. Fischer, former editor of The Western Star, into the disappearance and reappearance of Shanghai Mary, made an investigation. He found that a son of Goldsmith Coffeen, Thaddeus, had become outraged at his father over wrongful conduct toward him as a jockey, and that one day in the fall of 1850 he disappeared from home. It was common report that Thaddeus had taken the filly in exchange for his jockey services.
It was thought in the fall of 1850 that the appearance of a filly near Canton, named Shanghai Mary, and a description of Coffeen's filly named Shanghai, were the same horses. The actual testimony of Thaddeus would settle the controversy, but he was not to be found. The fleeing of Thaddeus Coffeen across the State of Ohio with the great filly Shanghai Mary (and her soon to become famous career) to the New York traders, and his disappearance, has earmarked Warren County to become "The Mother of the Trotters."


In 1844, John C. Dine purchased a bay mare who was a graceful trotter and was much more adaptable to racing than ordinary farm horses. Knowing practically nothing about horse breeding and raising, the Dines were encouraged by the ultimate speed of the mare to visit the home of Iron's Cadmus with hopes to get a fast runner. In the spring of 1846, Dine and his neighbor, Abe McKinney, each took their mares to the Cadmus stallion. Upon arrival both mares were in season. The stallion had already served six mares that day and a coin was tossed to see which of the two mares would be served first. McKinney won the toss and his mare became number seven for the day. The Dine mare dropped a large, strong filly, which was later to be known as Pocahontas.
With the death of John Dine in 1848, an auction was held and Dine's son, William, for a price of $30, bought the two-year old filly. At the age of three, she was broken to ride, but her withers were so low that a device called a crupper had to be used to keep the saddle from slipping forward. Consequently, her tailstock became sore and her saddle soon became useless. Dine worked the horse with much ease. One day she was handed over to a young lad who worked her so hard that she was badly restricted in both legs. She was presumed to be of no use to the family, so she was sold to a neighbor for $51. The winter of 1850 found her doing common farm work. She was then traded to Abraham Pierce for another three year old. Pocahontas afterward passed through the hands of several owners.
In 1852 Pierce bought her back for use in a four horse team for hauling logs, and the following year she was sold to William Potter for $135. She was now located a few miles from where she was foaled. Potter noticed the unusual amount of energy the mare had and took her to the farm of L.D. Woodmansee who owned a half-mile track. Her first race paced in the saddle was 2:58. She was then sold to the owner of the track for $180.
Being shipped to Cincinnati to be raced on that track, she won her first race in a time of 2:40. It was at this race that she acquired her name "Pocahontas." Cincinnati residents gathered to watch with great interest the race between their fast pacer Ben Higon and Pocahontas. Their conclusion was that a greenhorn from the country was easy prey for their well-known pacer. Pocahontas won in 2:34.
Dunham and Hooper bought half interest in the pacer for $1,000. The mare was then shipped to New Orleans where she won three races. In the meantime, Pocahontas had been turned out to pasture where a young colt had got to her. Before starting in the last race, she was found to be in foal. The owners had to enlarge by six inches in width the sulky axle; she won her race in that condition.
On April 21, 1854, she foaled a colt that was later named Tom Rolf. This was but two months and nine days after she had won her last race with a time of 2:20. The colt was placed with a mare that had lost her offspring, and Pocahontas immediately went back into training. She won many races before her end. A story goes that in her later years a boy on a runner challenged her to a race one morning at Cincinnati. The two were even at the half waypoint, and then the mare turned on speed and left the runner behind. Her time was said to have been 2:08 1/2, running the last half in 57 1/2 seconds.


Lebanon had another horse that held the world's record in 1896 of 2:10. His name was Moquette. Frank and Isaac Drake, who owned a livery stable where the old Goodwill store was located, was the owner. He was a horse of immense reputation with his picture and story featured in many newspapers and magazines. (His speed was almost unapproachable with a time nearing 2:04, before being beaten at Fleetwood Park, N.Y.) He was raced in Chicago and raised much enthusiasm with Warren Countians who had bet on a first place finish. His second place finish in the Windy City caused the Drakes to sell him. His portrait, which hung over the door at the livery stable on Main Street, was said to have been painted by Marcus Mote, the noted Warren County painter.

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