Pearson(1) said that Hamilton Holmes was a pen name of T. C. Harbaugh. Harbaugh, however, was born January 13, 1849, and the first story by "Hamilton Holmes" that was published by Beadle, entitled "Old Rube, the Hunter; or, The Crow Captive," appeared January 16, 1866, consequently must have been written before Harbaugh was 17 years of age. Harbaugh himself said(2) that his first literary work—two short Western stories for Street & Smith—appeared in 1867. "Old Rube" has not the appearance of the work of a sixteen-year-old boy, or else Harbaugh wrote better as a boy than as a man. Therefore, until other evidence appears, Hamilton Holmes cannot be accepted as one of Harbaugh's pseudonyms. Between the time of appearance of "Old Rube" and the first known Harbaugh novel five years elapsed, and this is another point against accepting this as a Harbaugh pen name.
Were I to make a guess, I should say that the two stories published under the name "Captain Hamilton Holmes" were written by Edward S. Ellis. They appeared only a few months after Irwin P. Beadle had announced that thereafter Ellis would write exclusively for him, and it is possible that the stories were already written or contracted for by the older firm, Beadle & Co., and under the circumstances, Ellis did not want his own name to appear elsewhere.
See also T. C. Harbaugh.
American Tales. Nos. 31, 36
Starr's American Novels. Nos. 145, 150
Half-Dime Library. No. 105
Pocket Library. No. 136
SPECIMEN OF HAMILTON HOLMES' STYLE
"Old Rube, the Hunter; or, The Crow Captive." Half-Dime Library No. 105, pp. 10-11, 20-21.
"Yer see how it is," said Rube, as they rode on. "They don't think we'll follow. Thet's jest like an Injin, right over. They'd desart a friend ef they was in danger, and they think whites ain't human no more then they ar'. We'll try thet before we're done with 'em. I'm sorry for poor Jake. The feller hes been with us in a many tight places; an' though he were always scar't nigh about to death, he never turned fully white yit. I 'member one scrape he hed with a grizzly. 'Twas nigh on to three y'ars ago, an' we were up on the Missouri, after beaver. Twere a hard winter, an' we built up a hut of boughs an' covered it with bark, an' calculated to stay until we had taken all the pelts in thet part of the stream. Beavers seemed to walk inter our traps thet year, an' we hed nothin' ter do but take them out and bait ag'in. This yer kept a goin' till our meat began ter run low, an' we hated ter leave, fer beaver never were so hungry as them. So, one day, I tuk my rifle, and left him ter keep camp while I med' a stroke fer a deer. I calculated I mought find one up on the mountains, sum'ers, and then we c'u'd get along another week.
"Jake hed a great notion fer comfort, so he built a fire, and set down on a log by it. Arter a while he concluded 'at he would go out and look at the traps near by. He got a good load of beaver, an' was a-bringin' them in, ter skin 'em comfortably by the fire, when, just as he stuck his nose inter the lodge-door, he heard a growl, and, lookin' in, thar' were the biggest grizzly these yer eyes ever saw, a-toastin' hisself by the blaze, and lookin' pleased as possible over it. He showed his white teeth, and giv' a growl which sent Jake flyin' out of the hut, an' down the bank to ther ice; then he looked back and saw thet the b'ar didn't toller him, and, after awhile, he sneaked back to ther hut, an' thar' the grizzly sot, lookin' inter the fire, an' feelin' as much at home as ef he hed been in his cave. It med' Jake mad to see him sit thar', and he 'gan to call him all the names he could lay his tongue to. Grizzly looked up, when he heard his voice, an' growled ag'in, but showed no signs of getting tired of his snug quarters.
"Jest think of it. The poor nigger out in the cold, with his teeth chatterin', and that blamed b'ar settin' on his ha'nches an' enjoyin' the fire! Ater a while, the old fellow made up his mind that it would be a good plan to make a meal of Jake, so he came lumberin' out of the door an' chased him.
"Boys, you hev' never seen a grizzly, and you don't know how he kin run. Jake was goin' for his life, but, for all that, the b'ar gained on him every step. But he got to a sapling, clum' it, an' left Mr. B'ar gnashing his teeth at the bottom.
"For a while he amused himself by rearing on his hind-legs and lookin' up at Jake, who, thinkin' he were safe enough, laughed, and begun to call him names ag'in. After a while he laid down under the tree, an' put his muzzle on his paws, and looked up at him, as much as to say, "All right, Jake—you won't come down. Suit yourself as to time, for I can wait.
"'Tain't necessary fer me to tell yer Jake didn't like that. He begun to find, too, after half an hour, thet 'twan't pleasant roostin' on a limb in cold December weather, and a warm fire shinin' out upon the snow from the door of the hut. Things begun to look blue enough. He looked at the B'ar, and begun to calculate his chances in a fight; then he looked at the long teeth an' sharp claws, and dassent try it.
"The tree was a hemlock, an' long limbs reached out an' almost touched the ground. His gun were a-standin' in the door. Ef he c'u'd only git it, he would risk his life for a shot at his inimy.
"It seemed to grow colder, and his blood were like ice. Was yer ever nearly froze? Well, I hes been, an' I know 'tain't pleasant. Jake didn't like it, neither.
"Bymeby he 'gin to holler. He thort he might make me hear, ef I were not too fur away; but, Lord! I were miles away, among the hills, an' couldn't a' heard him, anyhow, fer I hed followed a deer out of range; but he hollered till he was hoarse, and his legs felt like iron rods. After a while he got up, and begun to climb up an' down the tree. Thet was a good idea, an' pretty soon he was warm as toast, an' his blood begun flowin' ag'in.
"All this time the b'ar never stirred, and Jake kept callin' of him names. 'You ole rip!' he said, 'you's afraid, you is; you's afraid, you is; you dassent go 'way an' let me get rifle. Lemme get gun once, me fixie you, ole fool! T'ink yer smart, don't yer? Well, yer ain't. Yer ain't half so smart as yer cracked up to be; nothin' but a lean old grizzly, with a black face, long as my arm. I dar's you to take a stump! Go out by dat stump an' wait till I come.' That's the sort of talk he gev' the b'ar; but the old fellow never minded it at all, but jest laid still an' looked at him with eyes twinklin'.
"Strange things happen sometimes. The b'ar got up, after a while, an' began to snort, jest as they will when they're mad. Jake knew somethin' were comin'; what it were he couldn't tell; but the b'ar was afeared.
"Pretty soon he heard a crawlin' sound, and the b'ar got up on his hind-feet to look. The sound kern' nearer, and then one of the biggest painters you ever laid eyes on jumped up on the limb, close to the nigger. Thet were worse then the b'ar, Jake thort, but he hoped the old fellow wouldn't see him, so he jest laid still and scarcely breathed. The painter were lookin' at the b'ar, and didn't notice Jake at all, who was shakin' fit to take the tree down. Bymeby the painter gev' a yell thet med' the old darkey jump about three feet frum the limb. The painter had tackled the b'ar. Jake knew thet were his time, and when the painter dropped onto the b'ar, he tumbled outer the tree, and went inter the hut flyin'. This time he shut the door and piles logs against it, an' then looked out at the fight.
"Boys, thar' ain't nothin' like it in natur'. I saw sich a fight once, and it fairly med' my ha'r stand on end. Sich yellin', sich scratchin', sich fightin'! Every oncet in a while the painter 'ud fly up inter the tree, like a bird, an' the old grizzly 'ud stand up on his hind-legs, an' wait fur him. Then they'd close and the h'ar and blood would fly for about a minnit, when they would break away, and try it over.
"Fire and blood. Thet is the way it looked to Jake. The snow were red for yards around, an' they were both growing weak. After a while the old b'ar got him in his fore paws, and begun to work his hind ones as ef he were workin' a tread-mill. At the same time, the painter's teeth met in his throat. They stood locked in this way fer some time, an' then both kem' to the snow with a crash. Jake fired one or two shots at 'em, ter mek' sure thet they were gone up, an' then he kem' out. The inside of that painter was taken out as neat as you ever cleaned a trout, an' the windpipe ov the b'ar was bitten clean in two. 'Tain't no wonder they was played out. Jake put a couple of balls inter them, to make sure, and then dragged them into the hut. I kem' back without any meat, an' Jake showed me his b'ar-meat, but he didn't take pride in it, an' told me he never was so scar't in his born days. . . ." †Another excerpt is given under American Tales, no. 31, in Vol. I.
† Correction made as per Volume 3.
|1||Edmund Pearson, Dime Novels, 263.|
|2||Who's Who, Volumes from 1901 to 1922.|