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But the nearer the dawn, the darker the night,
And by going wrong, all things come right;
Things have been mended that were worse,
And the worse, the nearer they are to mend.
Longfellow, The Baron of St. Castine

Chapter V

1857 - 1859

Erastus dabbles in Omaha real estate but returns to Buffalo a poorer and a wiser man.
The Youth's Casket ends with the year 1857. Erastus, Irwin, and Robert
Adams pull up stakes and move to 333 Broadway, New York, late in 1858.
Mrs. Victor edits The Home. Irwin publishes dime song- and-hand-
books. Beadle and Adams and Irwin P. Beadle remove to
137 William Street in 1859. Irwin Beadle and Robert
Adams unite forces as Irwin P. Beadle & Co.,
Beadle and Adams drop out of the pic-
ture, and Erastus becomes sole
publisher of The Home.


APPARENTLY the situation at the beginning of 1857, the year of the Great Money Panic, was this: Erastus had retired in 1856, except in name, from the publishing business, which was taken over by Robert Adams, while Irwin had had a bookstore and news depot for six months or more. There is nothing to indicate that the latter was in any way connected with the publishing firm, Beadle and Adams, of Buffalo. While Erastus is still mentioned in the Buffalo Directory(1) as publisher, we know that he had definitely retired. What he did during the early part of 1857 is unknown.

The real estate business (Fig. 7) again took Erastus to Omaha in the spring of 1857.(2) He left home March 9 and returned to Buffalo September 2, apparently a poorer and wiser man. In his diary, May 1, 1857, he speaks of having received a copy of The Home and hopes that it "will be sufficiently remunerative to warrant its continuance by its present publishers. It is one of the best publications, if not the very best in the country, and it must and will continue to be appreciated and its circulation extended. It is an honor to the publishers and I wish my name might remain as one of the publishers if only in name alone."

Fig. 7. Business envelope of Erastus Beadle as a real estate dealer in Omaha in 1857

During his Omaha experiment, Erastus' wife and children went to Cooperstown. He spoke quite casually of the bank failures in the panic of 1857, and did not seem worried. The malady that, according to the proverb, killed the cat † (3), apparently did not trouble him. Referring to his own lack of money, he said, "Blessed be nothing." There are several references to the low state of his finances. He wrote, April 5: "I wish some one would buy the house in Buffalo, as I cannot say how I shall be prepared to meet the payments," and on August 4, "I have neither business nor capital."

On his return to Buffalo he stayed for a time with his brother Irwin. "Lib [Irwin's wife] and sister Sarah took pity on me, soon after I arrived," he said, September 2, "one mended up my coat while the other took some oil and a comb and tried to limber up and put my hair in shape. Irwin let me wear one of his cast-off hats, and thus attired I looked about half civilized. . . . Irwin has been so full of his jokes and fun aided by Robert [Adams] that I am myself again . . . I find Irwin looking better than I have ever seen him, his business is good, and he is cherful [sic], and now knows how to manage the business with ease." Here Erastus evidently refers to Irwin's bookstore, which at this time was fairly new.

September 7 he said: "Am still visiting with Irwin. Will be a boarder as soon as I get employment." Down, but not out, on September 21 he "Figured with Mr. Bolls about engaging for the winter in selling patent rights for Camera Box, a supposed improvement for the Deguereon [sic] operator," and on the 24th he said "Experimented in taking views with the Patent camera box preparatory to going out selling patents." On the 30th he was in Cooperstown, where he "Assisted Brother Frank in his store. Had a very busy day of it and a good trade, received $1.50 for my services." From October 2, 1857, when his diary ended, until he appeared in New York in the autumn of 1858, the activities of Erastus are unknown. Whether he actually did go out selling patent rights for the Daguerrean machine or found other employment at present awaits the discovery of more data. His daughter, Sophie, very inconsiderately destroyed many of his diaries after his death.

With the end of the year the Youth's Casket ceased to exist as such. In the November and December numbers there is a note to the effect that the magazine will be combined with Forrester's Magazine in Boston. Mrs. Arey, however, remained editor of The Home, and Beadle and Adams the publishers.


In the Buffalo City Directory for 1858,(4) Robert Adams is given as the publisher of The Youth's Casket, while Erastus is given as the publisher of The Home. The Youth's Casket, however, ceased to exist some five or six months before the 1858 Directory was published, and we know from Erastus' own statement that he was no longer publisher of The Home.

Late in 1858, Erastus Beadle, Robert Adams, and Irwin Beadle removed to New York City, where Irwin began publishing ten-cent handbooks and songbooks. Erastus was there at least as early as December 1, 1858, and probably somewhat earlier, for the January, 1859, issue of The Home, of which he was again part publisher, appeared on the market December 4,(5) with the name and address of the publishers as Beadle and Adams, 333 Broadway. With the December issue, Mrs. Arey ceased to be editor, and with the January number Mrs. Metta Victoria Victor took her place. The magazine henceforth was announced to be issued simultaneously in Buffalo and New York. Apparently Mrs. Arey did not like her loss of position, for she and Mrs. C. H. Gildersleeve started as editors, and their husbands as publishers, of a new and rival magazine. They took an office either next door or across the street from the old Beadle office, namely, at 226 Main street, and called their publication The Home Monthly. A Household Magazine. Volume I began with the January, 1859, issue, although for reasons quite apparent, it was hurried on the market November 20, 1858.(6) However, with this magazine we have nothing to do except to call attention to the similarity of names and addresses, and to the fact that Mrs. Arey, at different times, was editor of both. It was never a Beadle publication, but it is sometimes confused with The Home. In size and format it was a very close imitation of Beadle's, with a steel engraving as frontispiece to the volume, and woodcuts of the same style. It also contains an "Editor's Department," "Suggestions to Housekeepers," "Correspondence," etc., all exact imitations of The Home. Said the Buffalo Morning Express,(7) in a review of the Arey-Gildersleeve publication:

Having said this much in its favor, it behooves us to point out such faults as cannot escape the eyes— many of which . . . may be remedied in the next number. In the first place, then, we hold it was a mistake (to use the mildest phrases) to select a name bordering so closely upon that of the monthly which Mrs. Arey formerly edited. "The Home Monthly" steals more than half its name from "The Home—a Fireside Monthly," which is still published by its original proprietors, with simply a change of editors, and is now in its seventh volume. It would have been better, we say, had the proprietors chosen a name for their magazine as widely different from the old one as possible. A vessel may become very popular while under the command of a skilful and courteous captain; yet, if the captain chooses to sail in a new vessel, for his own benefit, he does not appropriate the name of the old craft, with which to christen his new venture. ...

Nor, we may add, does he take an office with an address as near as possible to the address of his competitor.


It is to be noted that Irwin P. Beadle was listed in the Buffalo Directory(8) for 1859 as a publisher as well as a news dealer. In the Banner Weekly,(9) in a sketch of the firm, it was said that he had made a great success selling single-sheet ballads, and that this gave Erastus the idea of gathering some of these songs into a booklet and selling it for a dime. Nowhere was confirmatory evidence found, although the Buffalo papers were carefully searched, to show that any such single sheets were published until an advertisement was discovered on the back wrapper of "Hie for School; a Book of Seventy Songs for Schools and Families," published in 1859 by Irwin P. Beadle at 333 Broadway (the same address as Beadle and Adams that year) and 227 Main Street, Buffalo. The advertisement reads:

IRWIN P. BEADLE dealer in Books, Stationery, Cheap Publications, Periodicals, Magazines and Newspapers
No. 227 Main Street, BUFFALO, N. Y.

N. Y. Ledger, Frank Leslie's paper, Harper's Weekly,
Ballou's Pictorial, Flag of Our Union, New York Weekly, N. Y. Clipper, Porter's Spirit of the Times, Mercury, Novelette, True Flag, American Union, Waverley, and all the New York Dailies:Harper's Monthly, Godey's Ladies' Book, Peterson's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Leslie's New Family Magazine, Ballou's Dollar Monthly, Monthly Novelette.

Cheap Prints, school and sheet songs, song-books, &c. of all kinds, on hand.

I. P. B. publishes "THE DIME SONG-BOOK," a collection of New and Popular Comic and Sentimental Songs. 72 pages, price 10 cents.

"Hie for School," a book of seventy songs, for schools and families, 72 pages, price 12 cents. Either of the above sent by mail, prepaid, on receipt of price.

I. P. B. also publishes a great variety of Popular Comic and Sentimental songs in Ballad form, at one cent each. These Songs will be sent by mail, prepaid, at the rate of 50 cents per hundred, assorted to suit purchasers. No orders attended to by mail for a less amount than six cents. A liberal discount to the trade.

333 Broadway, New York.
Wholesale Department Room No. 10

There is nothing in the advertisement to show where these ballads were originally published, but the listing of Irwin P. Beadle's name in the Buffalo Directory as "publisher," would seem to be evidence that they were originally published there. Erastus, however, had nothing to do with these ballads, songbooks, or the later handbooks, and although the statement has often been made, even by Erastus himself, that his brother's success in the publication of single-sheet ballads gave him (Erastus) the idea of combining them in songbooks, this is incorrect. The idea was wholly Irwin's.

Erastus had again obtained an interest in The Home, and was too much engrossed with this to touch such small matters as ten-cent booklets. His name had been dropped from the Buffalo Directory for 1859, but had appeared in the Brooklyn Directory for 1859-60, issued about the middle of 1859. Lest the fact that he was "broke" in 1857 should seem to cast doubt as to his ability to be back in the business of publishing, it is only necessary to call attention to the very limited capital(10) on which these men were working at that time.

One more event in the first half year of 1859. In the April number of The Home, Mrs. Victor, the editor, said: "Our publishers have resolved upon a May Day migration. A four months' experience in the metropolis has convinced them that fine airy rooms on William Street are preferable to close rooms on Broadway, and like sensible men, they have resolved to have a home at 137 William Street." On the first of May, 1859, the offices of the two firms, Beadle and Adams, publishers of The Home, and Irwin P. Beadle, publisher of songbooks and handbooks, were moved to new quarters.(11)

Just when Irwin Beadle left Buffalo for New York is unknown. The Buffalo directory still listed him in the issue of June, 1860, although we know definitely that he was in New York long before that and appeared in the New York and Brooklyn directories for 1860. His wife, as shown by the directories, remained in Buffalo, and continued for some years to conduct the news depot. This seemed rather unaccountable until I discovered that Irwin and his wife were divorced about this time.(12) The exact date is uncertain, but it probably was in 1858 or 1859.

The first Beadle's Dime Song Book was of the same size as "Hie for School," and was deposited for copyright April 19, 1859. It bears the address, Irwin P. Beadle, 333 Broadway and 227 Main Street, Buffalo. No. 2, which was put on the market July 27, 1859,(13) has on the cover the imprint Irwin P. Beadle, 137 William Street. It was issued after they had moved, showing that the brothers had changed their quarters at the same time.

Irwin Beadle's songbook met with instant success, and other dime books followed in rapid succession. Not that sporadic songsters and handbooks or even low prices were innovations, but continuous series of books at ten cents each, were. Without searching for the first appearance of such books, a few of those preceding Irwin Beadle's may be noted. Some of them give a clue to the sources of the names of series later adopted by him. Thus there was "Every Man His Own Gardner," published by Homan & Ellis, in 1845, for one shilling; a "Church Melodist," advertised in the Buffalo papers January 5, 1852; and a "Republican Campaign Songster," published by Miller, Orton and Mulligan, July 23, 1856. There was a "Humorous Speaker" advertised in the Buffalo Courier, February 1, 1854, and "The Ladies' Complete Guide to Needlework," by Ann S. Stephens, published September 2, 1854. And here are a few booklets advertised by other publishers in the last half of 1859 alone: "Budget of Fun," "Ladies Manual of Fancy Work" by Mrs. Pullan, "Chess Player's Instructor," "The Game of Billiards," "The Art of Dancing," "How to Write," "How to Behave," "How to Talk," "How to do Business," "The Universal Speaker," "Chess Manual," "Ball Players' Guide," "Solo Melodist," "Entertaining Dialogues," "Cricket," "Hints to Skaters," "Skater's Pocket Companion," and "The Home Melodist."

Thus Irwin Beadle was not inventing a new method of distributing books but was simply capitalizing on the popular demand, and he deserves full credit for his business acumen in so doing. Whatever the faults of Irwin, he had a keen head for business—too bad he did not possess the stick-to-it-iveness of his brother.

At this time, neither Irwin nor Erastus did his own printing. It was let out to other firms, and it was not until many years later, when money was more plentiful, that the Beadles used presses of their own.

The rapid succession of the various booklets may be seen from an editorial note in the September, 1859, Home.

Last but not least we must mention the series of "Dime Books," recently published by Irwin P. Beadle (late of Buffalo), 137 William St., New York. The series is designed particularly to unite excellence with cheapness; and, if large sales are any Index of the usefulness and value of such books, it may be said they are successful. The series thus far comprises:

The Dime Cook Book . . by Mrs. Victor(14)
The Dime Recipe Book . by Mrs. Victor
The Dime Dialogues . . by Louis Legrand, M.D.
The Dime Speaker ... by Louis Legrand, M.D.
The Dime Melodist

This series probably will be extended as the wants of the market seem to require.

This list is incomplete, however, for at this time there were at least three other books already published by Irwin: "The Dime Song Books," Nos. 1 and 2, and "Hie for School." Before the end of the year "Song Books" Nos. 3 and 4, and the "Dime Book of Etiquette" were issued.

Sometime between the end of August, 1859, when the September number of The Home appeared, and the end of December of the same year, when the January number appeared, and probably on November 1, there was a complete shifting of the make-up of Irwin P. Beadle and Beadle and Adams. Irwin P. Beadle became Irwin P. Beadle & Co., wherein Robert Adams was the "Co." Beadle and Adams dropped out of existence for the time being, although the name remained on The Home until its demise in June, 1860. Actually, the magazine had been turned over to Erastus, who alone signed the "Publisher's Announcement" in the final number, as noted below.


1 Commercial Advertiser Directory, Buffalo, 1857.
  Beadle & Adams, publishers, over 227 Main. Publishers Youth'sCasket and Home.
  Erastus F. Beadle, publisher, h. 178 Niagara.
  Irwin P. Beadle. Bookstore. 227 Main. h. same.
  Robert Adams. Firm of Beadle and Adams, h. 407 East Seneca.
  Mrs. Martha Adams. Fancy store. 407 East Seneca.
  Harry Adams, clerk for S. G. Philips.
2 Erastus F. Beadle: "To Nebraska in '57." Bulletin New York Public Library, February and March, 1923.
3 Care, not curiosity, killed the cat, according to many writers. See R. L. Stevenson's Treasure Island, chapter XXXI, and Captain F. Marryatt's Jacob Faithful, chapter XVIII, for examples.
4 Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, 1858.
  Erastus F. Beadle, pub. The Home. Over 227 Main. [No house address given.]
  Irwin P. Beadle, News depot. 227 Main. h. same.
  Robert A. Adams. Publisher. Youth's Casket. 227 Main [Given in the classified portion of the directory under Periodicals.]
  Mrs. Martha Adams. Variety store. 407 East Seneca.
5 Buffalo Morning Express, December 4, 1858.
6 Commercial Advertiser, Buffalo, November 20, 1858.
7 November 24, 1858.
8 Commercial Advertiser Directory, Buffalo, 1859 (issued June 21, 1859).
  Irwin P. Beadle, newsdealer, 227 Main. h. same. [His name is also given in the classified list as "publisher."]
  Martha [also listed as M. M. Adams.] Adams. Variety store. 407 Seneca.
  "The Home Monthly," Messrs, [sic] Gildersleeve and Arey, pub. 227 [sic] Main street.
  (Neither Erastus F. Beadle nor Robert Adams is listed here.)
  Brooklyn Directory, 1859-60 (issued May, 1859).
  Erastus F. Beadle, publisher, William near Fulton.
  Trow's New York City Directory, 1859-60 (issued May, 1859).
  Erastus F. Beadle, publisher, 137 William st. h. 286 Fulton Av. Brooklyn.
  (Neither Irwin Beadle nor Robert Adams is given.)
  Wilson's Business Directory of New York, 1859.
  "Home." Erastus F. Beadle, 137 William.
  Erastus F. Beadle, bookseller, 137 William.
9 Banner Weekly, VIII, No. 368, November 30, 1889.
10 See below, under date August 26, 1863, the partnership agreement between I. P. Beadle, George Munro, and Samuel Greenwood.
11 In the record book of the Southern District of New York, under the date of October 25, 1859, there is a note to the effect that Irwin P. Beadle deposited for copyright the title of a print, "Beadle's Dime Publishing House, 135 and 137 William Street, New York." No copy of this print has been found.
12 In litteris, Robert Cameron Beadle, Irwin's grandson, to me, November 22, 1941.
13 New York Tribune, July 27, 1859.
14 The dates of issue of these booklets were, respectively; Before September 1 and probably before July 1, 1859; (c) July 14, 1859; (c) July 20, 1859; (c) August 13, 1859; appeared on the market in August, 1859.

† Correction made as per Volume 3.

Go to Chapter 6