He just dripped history from every pore.—S. L. CLEMENS: Tom Sawyer Abroad (1902), Chapter XII Charles Dunning Clark, a son of George W. and Adeline Clark , was born in Oswego, New York, January 8, 1843. He was educated in the Oswego public and high schools, and the Oswego State Normal. In 1863 he taught in the New Jersey public schools, and later was a teacher of natural sciences in a Philadelphia academy. Still later he returned to teach in his home town. On December 19, 1872, he was married to Mary Haywood,(1) of Syracuse, but had no children. He quit teaching in 1879 to become a reporter on the Oswego Daily Times, and a year and a half later went to Syracuse as reporter on the Evening Herald. In 1882 he returned to the Oswego Daily Times, and was a member of its editorial staff until his death, January 8, 1892.
Clark wrote most of his historical novels under the pen name "William J. Hamilton," but also used "Barry DeForest" and "Captain Clark ."(2)
REFERENCES: Oswego Palladium-Times, January 9, 1882; Banner Weekly, February 20, 1892; Saturday Journal, February 8, 1873, 4.
Dime Novels. Nos. 124, 138, 144, 160, 177, 182, 194,
228, 242, 323, 340, 461, 495, 517, 523
Beadle's Monthly. Short stories in Volumes I, II, and III.
Saturday Journal. Nos. 235, 258, 339, 390, 421, 432, 465, 509
Banner Weekly. Nos. 278, 510, 660
Pocket Novels. Nos. 141, 197, 204, 232, 242, 259
Dime Library. Nos. 164, 183
Half-Dime Library. Nos. 135, 230
Boy's Library (quarto). Nos. 6, 8, 16, 23, 28, 30, 33, 42, 61, 67
Boy's Library (octavo). Nos. 26, 30, 34, 42, 51, 85, 89, 97, 102, 117, 136, 172, 196, 207, 283
Pocket Library. Nos. 213, 309, 396, 422, 424, 474, 478
Under the name "W. J. Hamilton," Clark wrote:
Dime Novels. Nos. 80, 89, 92, 95, 98, 103, 107, 111, 115, 120, 122, 128, 137, 143, 147, 153, 157, 161, 164, 171, 172, 180, 186, 191, 199, 211, 215, 217, 223, 232, 237, 248, 252, 257, 263, 266, 272, 275, 280, 287, 291, 295, 299, 305, 309, 313, 318, 330, 334, 374, 377, 385, 393, 397, 405, 418, 421, 424, 427, 429, 433, 435, 443, 445, 447, 449, 452, 468, 475. 488, 489, 549, 562, 578, 622, 628
American Library (London). Nos. 68, 69, 73, 75, 76, 78, 82
Banner Weekly. No. 285
Pocket Novels. Nos. 13, 30, 102, 110, 112, 122, 124, 138, 144, 165, 174, 176, 180, 181, 186, 187, 188, 189, 193, 194, 202, 207, 212, 213, 249, 253 Half-Dime Library. Nos. 63, 66, 72, 337, 985, 1134, 1137
Boy's Library (octavo). Nos. 159, 167, 189, 197, 199, 206, 211, 218, 225, 229, 233, 245, 257, 267, 273, 276, 292, 298
Pocket Library. Nos. 47, 50, 56, 328, 360, 466, 482, 491
Under the name "Barry DeForest" the following were reprinted:
Boy's Library (quarto). No. 44
Boy's Library (octavo). No. 56
SPECIMEN OF CHARLES DUNNING CLARK'S STYLE
"Border Vengeance; or, The Night-Hawk's Daughter. A Tale of the Territories." Dime Novels No. 280, pp. 59-66.
Mr. Sedley and Jim, upon entering their cabin home, were warmly greeted by Mrs. Sedley, who had been somewhat anxious when they did not appear after the vendue nor as the night wore on. She was a whole-souled, hearty woman, the wife for a man who wrought out with his own hard hands the necessaries of life.
"Ah, old man," she said, "I'm glad to see you. I was getting anxious, I tell you."
"Thought I was on a spree, didn't you, old lady?" said Sedley, with a gay laugh. "Never you fear for me A man like me can't afford to drink, for I've got a boy growing up here, and I won't set him a bad example. He's done right well to-night, Jim has, but he's too resky; I must say it—too resky."
"I didn't have no chance," said Jim. "Father left me to 'tend bosses while he had all the fun, and I don't like it."
"What have you been doing?" demanded Mrs. Sedley, anxiously. "Not fighting, I hope?"
"Wal, we did have a bit of a skrimmage, old girl. Not much fighting about it, 'cause we run like thieves, all of us. A gang of men pitched into us in the woods, and —Tell your mammy about it, Jim, while I give the animiles a feed."
The boy sat down by the fire, and, interrupted by exclamations of "The massy sakes alive," "do tell," and "who'd 'a' though it?" recounted to his mother the adventures of the night. She was terribly excited, for, woman-like, she feared a hidden enemy more than an open one.
"We know two of 'em, anyhow," said Jim; "Bill Brace and Con Thurston, and it won't do for them to linger too long in this section or some of 'em will stretch a rope, sure. I'm mortal hungry, mammy; I wish you'd kinder hurry up the grub."
The good woman bustled about, and soon had the table spread, and placed upon it the provisions she had kept warm before the fire. Father and son sat down and made a hearty meal, never even pausing to answer the questions of the mother.
It was after one o'clock when Mr. Sedley put up the bars on the doors and windows, and retired to rest. The cabin had been built in the days when Indian attacks might be feared, and would resist a strong assault. The loft was provided with loopholes for rifles, and presented a solid double wall of heavy logs to beat bad the rifle-balls. In the dead of night, Mr. Sedley was aroused by a sharp rap at the door, and he sprung out of bed, partly dressed himself, and went to the door.
"Who is there?" he demanded.
"Let me in and I'll tell you," replied a harsh voice, "I want to talk to you."
"Want must be your master, if you can't give a better reason than that," replied Sedley. "Trot away on the legs natur' has given you or I'll put a bullet through you."
"Don't crow that way, Sam Sedley!" replied the man outside. "You'd better open the door; it will be all the better for you."
"See here, old lady," whispered Mr. Sedley, "pass my rifles and ammunition up to Jim, and get into the loft yourself. If these ain't robbers and hoss-thieves, I don't want a red cent."
Mrs. Sedley had lived too long upon the border to be very much excited. With a coolness which would have done credit to a veteran soldier, she collected the rifles and ammunition and passed them up to Jim, who was on hand, delighted at the prospect of a muss. By this time the applicant for admission was getting clamorous and was pounding on the door with the butt of a pistol.
"Now, look here, my friend," said Sedley, in a threatening voice, "I don't want any trouble with a man I don't know; but if you've got a boss, you mout as well climb on him and get away pretty quick, because I'm liable to shoot, any minnit."
"Oh, dry up—do!" replied the man outside, "We ain't the kind of chickens to scare easy, and we want you to open this door."
"Can you see him, Jim?" whispered Sedley, looking up at his son in the loft.
"How many can you see?"
"I count ten from here. They've tied their beasts the edge of the road and are coming this way. Every man carries a rifle, and I kin see pistols, too."
"I'm glad the moon shines," said Sedley. "We'll mark some of the thieves down, as sure as fate."
"Are ye going to open this yer door?" snarled the man outside.
"Jim, stand ready," whispered Sedley. "Draw a bead on him, and when I count five shoot him through the shoulder. Don't kill him if you can help it." Then the man at the door: "No, I ain't going to open door."
"Then we'll bust it in," roared the scoundrel.
"I'm going to count five," said the borderer; "and it will be healthy for you to git away from that door before I git done. One!"
"I'll make you sweat for this."
"I'll hev yer skulp, by the mortal—"
"Yer kain't skeer me—what's the use? I ain't one of them 'ar fel—"
"Oh, count away till yer breath gives out."
Crack! Jim's rifle exploded the instant the word dropped from his father's lips, and the ruffian outside uttered a yell of agony and clapped his hand to his shoulder, from which the blood was bubbling. Jim was a good shot, and had been looking along the brown barrel of the rifle while his father counted, waiting anxiously for the last word. Sam Sedley ran up the little ladder which led to the loft and drew it after him. This done, he closed the trap, stepped rapidly to one of the loopholes and fired at the advancing party. One of them threw up his arms and dropped heavily to the earth.
"Mebbe that'll skeer them," he said coolly. "We ain't going to be routed out of our own shanty."
While he was reloading his rifle the enemy dropped out of sight, crouching behind every thing which could afford them shelter.
"Hold on," cried one. "Hullo, in the house, what ar' ye shooting at?"
"You'll find out mighty soon if you don't pick up your truck and clear," roared Sedley. "Come—git out!"
"We want our friend."
"Waal, you won't git him," said the borderer. "I want to see him, and when I know his face, like enough we kin find out who his friends are. A man is known by the company he keeps, and wice wersa."
No reply was made, but the enemy began to creep up by slow approaches from all sides, covering themselves from the shots of the father and son by means of every object in the line of the house. In that uncertain, wavering light, it is not wonderful that the defenders did not succeed in disabling any more of their assailants, though several received slight wounds.
The whole party was soon ensconced under the wall of the cabin, in such positions that it was impossible to fire at them. Yet they were in a perilous situation, for the watchful eyes above were busy, and if one of the assailants showed a finger it became the mark of a bullet.
"This is rough on us," whispered one of the men. "Why not take the horses and put out? We can lay out Sedley some other time."
"He knows too much," was the reply, "and for our safety he must go down. See if you can't get your knife under that shutter, Jack."
But the strong oaken shutters resisted their united efforts and they began to realize that they had put their heads into the jaws of the lion without getting his permission to take them out again. Something must be done, and that quickly, for the sound of rifles might bring assistance to the besieged. The men collected near the door and aimed their rifles at the same spot and fired together. Eight balls pierced the door just above the heavy bar which secured it, and it required only a few strokes of a bowie to make an opening large enough to admit a man's hand and arm. A moment more and the door was thrown open and the wild band trooped in.
They were all clad in buck-skin, and wore masks which completely concealed their features from the gaze of the assailed, who were unable to identify a single man in the party.
"Now, Sam Sedley," cried a voice evidently disguised, "we want you, so you may as well come down. You've shot two of the boys, and you've got to answer for it."
"I'll shoot another of the boys if I git a bead on him," replied Sedley, changing his position the moment he had spoken. A dozen pistol-balls passed through the garret floor where he had stood a moment before.
"Are you going to yield?" demanded the leader. "Speak, quick, for we have no time to waste."
"Not a bit of it!"
"You've got your wife and boy up there," said the speaker. "Think before you consign them to a horrible death."
"You wouldn't hurt a woman," cried Sedley, anxiously. "Come, I don't think so mean of you as that."
"We won't hurt her or the boy if you give up, Sam," replied the spokesman. "We've got to have you."
"Don't listen to him, father," whispered Jim. "They'd kill you, and we might as well die here. Oh, if Joe Bagley and Mr. Sanderson had only come home with us."
"They may hear the shooting and come out," said the father, hopefully. "D'ye hear, down there? we ain't going to give up."
He had placed his wife in the angle of the loft directly over the little bed-chamber, where she was safe from the bullets which the villains began to send through the floor, thick and fast. But, although they flew close to the brave father and son, not one touched a mark. Jim listened intently, and then fired his rifle through the floor. A loud scream of pain from below told him that the shot had found a mark. Encouraged by this Mr. Sedley discharged his weapon with a like result.
"Curse them!" roared a voice below; "they won't give up; let's burn 'em out!"
The cruel proposition was hailed with delight by the ruffian band, who began to collect combustible material upon the floor of the cabin. Beds and bedding were thrown in one great heap, but the leader stayed the hand which would have thrown a brand upon the pile.
"Once more, Sam Sedley," he cried, "I give your wife a chance for her life. The boy has sealed his own fate and must go with you. Will you two yield if the woman is allowed to go free?"
"Yes, yes," cried Sedley, eagerly; "will you promise that she shall be allowed to go, and that no man shall lay a finger on her."
"Hold on!" cried the clear voice of Mrs. Sedley. "Do you think I will trust such villains as that? What is their word good for? No, if we've got to die let us die together, in the name of God."
"My dear wife," said the borderer, "you may be right —I am afraid you are—but I can't bear to throw away a chance to save your life."
"There is no chance to save life and honor," she said, hoarsely. "It is in God's hands, my husband; let us die nobly, if we must."
"That's the talk!" spoke up Jim. "We won't give up to them."
Sedley was infected by the heroism of his wife and boy. Not that he lacked bravery, but his desire to save her had made him forget the character of the men below. His indecision was over now, and he caused Jim to load the rifles carefully and to stand ready. This done, he suddenly flung open the trap and snatched his rifle from the hand of his wife. Before he could fire, the man who held the brand fell, shot through the heart by Jim, whose aim was deadly. Then the other rifle cracked and a second man measured his length upon the floor. With a hoarse cry of rage the leader of the robber band caught the brand from the hand of the dead and flung it upon the heap which at once sprung into a blaze, and the assailants retreated to the outside and formed a circle about the house with their rifles cocked.
"Now, then, we have them," cried the masked leader; "not one of them shall escape."
Indeed, they seemed to be doomed. The character of the material of which the heap was composed was such that it at once sprung into a bright flame which streamed up to the floor of the cabin loft in which the victims stood. There was an ax in the loft, and, grasping it with both hands, the brave borderer broke open the roof, and made a space wide enough to admit the passage of a human body. In this opening he placed the ladder which had formed the means of access to the loft, and ordered his wife to go up on the roof where she would be out of danger for the present.
"Good heavens, lieutenant," said one of the assailing party. "Let's save the woman; I can't stand it."
"Keep back!" replied the leader, fiercely. "Do not dare to take a step to her rescue, for she must go with the rest now. I have no doubt that Sam has told her every thing."
Mrs. Sedley was now standing on the roof in full view, and she stretched out her hands in a gesture of proud defiance. Her husband followed her, showing himself boldly upon the roof, for in his present desperate strait, he preferred death by the bullet to death in the flames. He shook his clenched hand threateningly at his enemies. Jim in a moment was also on the roof, and stood with folded arms looking out upon the space lighted up by the fire.
"It's no use talking," said the man who had proposed saving Mrs. Sedley; "they are game to the core, and will die so."
The fire was spreading rapidly, and was already attacking the roof upon which they stood. The doomed family had given up hope, and Sam Sedley openly defied his enemies to fire.
"Aim at my breast, cowards and dogs as you are," he screamed. "I am ready to die, since it is the will of God. Shoot, if you dare!"
Not a hand was lifted, and the red flame shot up through the opening which had been made in the roof, and shed a strange mellow light upon the scene. Mrs. Sedley did not blench, but Jim, thinking always of the possibilities, dragged the ladder out of the fire and laid it upon the roof, near the eaves. The villains stood appalled at the stern resolution of their victims, when the rush of hurrying feet startled them, and a rifle shot brought down one of their number. The doomed family looked up, and by the light of the burning dwelling, saw Happy Bill calmly reloading his rifle, while Sanderson, Joe and the two Irishmen were coming up rapidly.
|1||The Saturday Journal, February 8, 1873, gives the name of his bride as Matie E. Hayward, of Oswego, but the place name given in the Oswego paper is more likely the correct one.|
|2||In litteris, John M. Gill, managing editor, Oswego Palladium-Times, April 26, 1939.|