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Ingraham, Prentiss.


E se finxit velut araneus

Prentiss Ingraham, the only son of the Rev. Joseph Holt Ingraham (q.v.) and his wife Mary Brooks, a first cousin of Phillips Brooks, was born December 28, 1843, near Natchez, Mississippi. He was educated by private tutors at St. Timothy's Military Academy, Maryland, and at Jefferson College, Mississippi. He afterwards entered the Mobile Medical College, but left to enter the Confederate Army in Withers' Mississippi Regiment of light artillery, April, 1861, where he served on the staff as lieutenant. He was also commander of scouts in Ross' Brigade, Texas cavalry. He was wounded in the foot and taken prisoner after the siege of Port Hudson, and was sent north but escaped on the way. After the close of the war, he went to Mexico and fought with Juarez against the French, and still later went to South America. He saw service on General Hoffmann's staff in the battle of †Sadowa, Austria, in 1866, was in Crete against the Turks, and in the Khedive's army in Egypt. In 1869 he went to London but soon came back to the United States and took up with the Cuban rebels against Spain, running the blockade in the "Hornet" several times before it was surrendered to the U. S. Navy. He was a colonel in the Cuban army as well as a captain in their navy, and was captured, tried as a filibuster and condemned to death by the Spaniards, but escaped. Later, he was with Buffalo Bill in the West for a time.

In 1875 he was married to Rose Langley,(1) an author, artist, and composer of New York City. They lived in New York and during this time Ingraham was usually writing for Beadle and Adams. In 1881, with David Adams, he made a trip west, spent some time with the three Powell brothers and with Cody,(2) and in 1884, for a short time, he was advance agent for Buffalo Bill's show.(3) Between 1897 and 1902 the Ingrahams lived in Easton, Maryland, and from 1902 to 1904 in Chicago at 360 Fifty-fourth street (old numbers).†(†4)

Ingraham had suffered off and on from the old wound in his foot, and had expected it eventually to be the cause of his death. Patten(†5) tells this rather macabre story:

In the spring of 1903, while at my place in Camden, Maine, I received a message from Ingraham saying he was on his way back from a visit with his family in Chicago, and that he was coming to see me. On arriving he paused on my veranda . . . His cheeks were smooth and there was a little flush of pink in them. I told him how well he was looking.

"I'm feeling fine, Gil," he replied. "I've got some good news to tell you. That's one, reason why I wanted to see you now."

"Good news?" said I. "I'll be glad to hear it, Prentiss."

"You know I've been worried some for fear I'd have to have this old bum foot of mine chopped off. Well, I've been to one of the best doctors in Chicago, and he says I won't have to lose it. He says it'll last as long as I live."

"Now that is good news," I agreed.

"Yes, it'll last me through." He laughed. "You see, Gil, that doctor also told me that I've got Bright's disease and can't live over six months anyhow."

But the doctor had made a miscalculation of two months. Prentiss died eight months later in a Southern Hospital.

Ingraham's death occurred August 16, 1904, at the Beauvoir Confederate Home. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Ingraham's literary career began in London in 1869, where he published a few short articles and poems, but he soon returned to New York, where he wrote novels, plays, and poems. Some of his first work was done for Beadle and Adams, and he remained one of their most productive authors until the firm went out of business. He had short stories in the Saturday Journal as early as November, 1870, and a serial in 1872. His first dime novel, "The Masked Spy," appeared as No. 97, Starr's American Novels, in 1872, and after that novel after novel flowed from his pen in a ceaseless stream for nearly thirty-four years. Ingraham was unable to use the typewriter and so, in longhand, he turned out a couple of 35,000- or 70,000-word novels per month. He once wrote a Half-Dime Library in a day and a night, and a Dime Library in five days. It has been said that he had nearly a thousand novels to his credit; he himself claimed over 600 in 1900.(†6) Most of his stories were written for Beadle and Adams, but he wrote also for other publishers. In the late 1870's he wrote serials for the Family Story Paper and Saturday Night, and also wrote a number of Nickel Libraries. In the Saturday Evening Post, Vol. LV, No. 16, November 13, 1875, appeared the first installment of "The Boy Wrecker; or, The Waif of the Wave," and in one issue of Vickery's Fireside Visitor, in 1882, he had short stories under four different pseudonyms! After Beadle and Adams went out of existence, he became a contributor to Golden Hours, and also was responsible for a number of cloth-bound books. Among his non-fiction books was "Land of Legendary Lore: Sketches of Romance and Reality on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake," published in Easton, Maryland, in 1898.

Besides writing under his own name, Ingraham used the pseudonyms Dr. Noel Dunbar, Dangerfield Burr, Major Henry B. Stoddard, Colonel Leon Lafitte, Frank Powell, Harry Dennies Perry, Midshipman Tom W. Hall, Lieut. Preston Graham, and several more. Two novels with the byline "Capt. Alfred B. Taylor," were reprinted as by Ingraham.(†7)

Ingraham is said to have written some of the novels credited to Buffalo Bill, after Cody himself got tired of writing. One novel was written for Beadle over the name of J. B. Omahundro, and Ingraham told Patten that he was the author of that story. His innumerable stories about Buffalo Bill, written for Beadle, were often reprinted. Many of them were published by Street & Smith in their Far West Library (1918 catalogue) as by "Howard W. Erwin," but later (1926 catalogue) they appeared among other Ingraham tales.

Among the plays written by Ingraham was "Love and Duty," performed in 1885 and announced as written "by Prentiss Ingraham and T. W. King." Actually it was entirely by Ingraham, for King was one of his pseudonyms. Another play was "The Gambler's Wife," originally acted at Hogan's Opera House, in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, September 16, 1887. "The Boy Ranger" was played in the Front Street Theatre, Baltimore, in 1891.

REFERENCES: Scribner's Dict. Amer. Biog., IX, 1932, 480; Appleton's Cyc. Amer. Biog., III, 1887, 351; William R. Eyster, "A Rolling Stone," No. 25, Boy's Library, octavo edition, 32 pages; Saturday Journal, V, No. 246, Nov. 28, 1874; VII, No. 323, May 20, 1876; Banner Weekly, XI, No. 537, February 25, 1893; XV, No. 750, March 27, 1927; People's Literary Companion, Augusta, Maine, VIII, June 30, 1877 (with portrait in the full uniform of the Commandant of Marine Corps in Cuba); George C. Jenks, "Dime Novel Makers," Bookman (New York), XX, October, 1904, 108-14; Ibid., 92-93, with portrait; The Critic, XLV, 1904, 299, with portrait; Publishers' Weekly. LXVI, 1904, 368; Boston Evening Transcript, August 17, 1904; New York Evening Post, August 17, 1904; Mildred L. Rutherford, The South in History and Literature, 1907; Edmund Pearson, Dime Novels, Boston, 1929, 106-107; Gilbert Patten, "Dime Novel Days," Saturday Evening Post. CCIII, February 28, 1931, 126; March 7, 1931, 52, 57.

Dime Novels. Nos. 286, 290, 298, 302, 214, 364. 417, 437, 603, 606
Starr's American Novels. Nos. 97, 116
Saturday Journal. Nos. 122, 276, 323, 370, 429, 457, 489, 547, 555, 558, 593, 605, 653
Beadle's Weekly. Nos. 1, 9, 20, 33, 43, 71, 95, 107, 118, 133, 136
Banner Weekly. Nos. 160, 184, 196, 211, 229, 252, 264, 276, 299, 340, 347, 359, 371, 383, 395, 407, 419, 431, 443, 455, 473, 485, 497, 509, 521, 530, 546, 565, 589, 594, 601, 607, 609, 627, 635, 652, 664, 677, 690, 703, 717, 726, 738, 750, 755, 756, 757
Pocket Novels. Nos. 46, 114, 203, 219
Girls of Today. No. 25 (unfinished)
Fireside Library. No. 88
Starr's New York Library. No. 2
Dime Library. Nos. 2, 85, 89, 94, 103, 104, 109(†8), 116, 727, 128, 131, 134, 139, 147, 155, 162, 168, 172, 177, 157, 184, 189, 198, 205, 210, 216, 220, 224, 231, 235, 246, 255, 259, 281, 307, 314(†9), 316(†9), 318, 325, 329, 336, 341, 346, 362, 364, 369, 373, 377, 388, 393, 399, 418, 425, 430, 435, 446, 457, 469, 476, 482, 489, 493, 510, 516, 524, 530, 540, 546, 553, 560, 581, 587, 593, 600, 605, 610, 615, 625, 630, 635, 640, 644, 649, 653, 658, 662, 667, 672, 679, 685, 691, 697, 704, 710, 716, 722, 727, 731, 735, 739, 743, 748, 757, 761, 765, 769, 777, 757, 787, 797, 794, 507, 805, 812, 816, 819, 822, 826, 830, 834, 845, 851, 854, 857, 863, 869 874, 882, 890, 895, 900, 904, 906, 909, 911, 915, 927, 927, 930, 933, 936, 939, 943, 946, 950, 953, 956, 960, 963, 964, 968, 970, 972, 975, 979, 954, 959, 992, 994, 1000, 1004, 7006,1007, 1009, 1073, 1029, 1049, 10537, 1059, 1067, 1063, 1065, 1066, 1075, 1055, 1087, 1089, 1095, 1097, 1098, 1101, 1103
Half-Dime Library. Nos. 7, 17, 24, 62, 75, 102, 111, 776, 197, 204, 216, 222, 229, 237, 245,250,264, 269, 276, 280, 284, 287, 304, 308, 314, 377, 383, 387, 393, 402, 407, 412, 429, 433, 437, 441, 446, 450, 454, 462, 468, 474, 483, 487, 495, 497, 503, 507, 511, 520, 525, 530, 535, 540, 545, 550, 555, 560, 565, 570, 575, 580, 586, 591, 597, 602, 607, 617, 644, 650, 656, 662, 668, 674, 679, 686, 692, 697, 702, 707, 713, 719, 725, 731, 737, 743, 749, 756, 760, 766, 772, 777, 784, 788, 793, 798, 803, 808, 813, 819, 825, 829, 835, 842, 847, 853, 859, 865, 867, 871, 573, 877, 883, 885, 889, 896, 902, 908, 914, 920, 926, 929, 932, 936, 942, 948, 958, 964, 968, 975, 981, 988, 995, 1000, 1007, 1013, 1016, 1023, 1025, 1027, 1031, 1034, 1037, 1040, 1042, 1046, 1052, 1055, 1060, 1065, 1106, 1166, 1117, 1126, 1127, 1129, 1137, 1132, 1145, 1165
Waverley Library (quarto). Nos. 26 129, 188
Waverley Library (octavo). Nos. 73, 75
Boy's Library (quarto). Nos. 1, 3, 5, 9, 17, 27, 32, 39, 43, 50, 54, 63, 71, 86, 90, 100, 109
Boy's Library (octavo). Nos. 2, 5, 7, 70, 27, 27, 32, 37, 45, 49. 54. 58, 62, 65, 67, 75, 53, 147
Pocket Library. Nos. 3, 11, 75, 46, 59, 77, 57, 57, 144, 157, 155, 160(†10), 165(†10), 177, 155, 197, 204, 276, 221, 227, 232, 238, 244, 250, 256, 262, 268, 274, 280, 310. 326, 347, 357, 365, 372, 378, 383, 388, 392, 398, 404, 409, 413, 418, 423, 428, 433, 438, 443, 449

Under the pen name "Major Dangerfield Burr, 5th Cavalry, U.S.A." Ingraham wrote:

Saturday Journal. Nos. 507, 543, 573, 582, 611
Banner Weekly. Nos. 220, 247, 291, 312, 730
Dime Library. Nos. 92, 117, 142, 156, 175, 188, 448, 682, 750, 1017
Half-Dime Library.
No. 7022

Under the pen name "Dr. Noel Dunbar," he wrote:

Saturday Journal. Nos. 596, 656
Banner Weekly. Nos. 193, 217, 244, 273, 324, 337, 356, 386, 422, 452, 624, 685, 734
Fireside Library.
No. 740
Dime Library. Nos. 500, 604, 730, 850, 858, 886, 1015
Waverley Library
(quarto). No. 196

Under the pen name "Midshipman T. W. King," were published:

Beadle's Weekly. No. 80
Banner Weekly. Nos. 410, 712
Dime Library.
Nos. 566, 1011
Half-Dime Library.
No. 1098
Boy's Library
(octavo). No. 285
Popular Library. No. 29

Under the pen name of J. B. Omohundro (Texas Jack), one novel, actually written by Prentiss Ingraham, was reprinted several times.

Saturday Journal. No. 348
Half-Dime Library. Nos. 38, 1059
Pocket Library.
No. 9

Under the pen name "Lieut Harry Dennies Perry" were published:

Banner Weekly. No. 190
Dime Library. No. 811(†11)
Half-Dime Library. Nos. 176, 180, 192

Under Dr. Frank Powell's name, several novels were published which were actually written by Ingraham.

Banner Weekly. No. 235
Dime Library. No. 158, 746
Boy's Library
(quarto). No. 11
Boy's Library (octavo). No. 23

Under the pen name "Maj. H. B. Stoddard" were published:

Half-Dime Library. Nos. 306, 346, 391, 398, 406, 505, 1149
Boy's Library
(quarto). Nos. 88, 121
Boy's Library (octavo). Nos. 4, 11, 70, 98
Pocket Library.
Nos. 289, 370, 391, 415, 431, 437


"Ralph Roy, the Boy Buccaneer; or, The Fugitive Yacht." Half-Dime Library No. 17, pp. 6-7.

But the rapid flight of the fugitive yacht, and its size alone saved it from the batteries of the castle, which now opened fire with a will, and sent iron messengers of death ahead, astern, above and about the little vessel, which seemed to bear a charmed existence, for she soon left the castle half a mile astern, and continued her swift course along the island shores lying upon either side, and in a manner serving as a protection from the fire of the fort, now that darkness was coming on and rendering objects indistinct.

Still on sped the yacht, and the spirits of all began to rise, though the fort yet kept up a rapid fire.

"Sail ho!"

All started as the voice of Sylvester was heard, and every eye glanced astern, in the direction his gaze was turned.

"By heavens! you are right; it is the cutter Mermaid. She arrived in port last night, and the sloop has sent her in pursuit."

"Is she fast, sir?" quietly asked Ralph.

"Very. She is said to be the swiftest schooner in these waters," answered Arthur Reginald.

"I doubt if she can overhaul this yacht; but she has one advantage."

"And that is?"

"Her guns. It will be a stern chase, and a raking fire. We are in greater danger now than we have been yet; but we must not be taken."

Ralph said this with a determination which proved, that he would hesitate at no ends to escape, and his crew seemed determined to support him; they were now his very slaves, so thoroughly had he gained the mastery over them.

The yacht was now running directly before the wind, wing and wing, and only a mile astern the Mermaid, a six-gun cutter, was rushing swiftly in pursuit.

"Lieutenant, we draw less than the Mermaid; can we not run in between some of the islands and dodge her?" asked Ralph.

"I was thinking of a ruse to save us. The cutter will soon open with her guns, and she is running full as fast as we do."

"The tide is aflood, and there must be depth enough between the islands, for we draw not over six feet; besides, with the wind on her quarter the yacht sails better."

"We'll risk it; I'll put the helm up, and run for the islands," answered Arthur.

The fore-sail was at once jibed over to starboard; both tacks were hauled aboard; the stay-sail and jib drew together, and the schooner darted away on an oblique course, and, with the wind on her quarter, steered for a narrow channel that ran between two islands to the north and east.

Hardly had the sheets been hauled aft when a bright flash was visible, and a deep boom followed; then a solid shot rushed shrieking along and buried itself in the water at the very spot the yacht had changed her bourse.

"A crack shot that for the first one; the cutter's in practice from hunting smugglers on the Maine coast," said Arthur Reginald quietly.

"They are firing at random. The flash blinds them, and they do not notice our change of course," responded Ralph, lowering the glass from his eye, and watching the full sails as they drove the Flying Phantom swiftly along.

"The yacht sails better on a free wind, I see, and if we can hold our own five minutes longer we will be to windward of the Mermaid and have all our own way," remarked Arthur Reginald.

"See! they are giving up the chase! They are taking in the upper sails," cried Jessie, who had taken the glass from Ralph's hand.

"No, they are taking in their studding-sails to bring her to the wind, and continue pursuit; they see us now," coolly said Ralph.

"Then unless we can run the island channel we are lost," answered Arthur Reginald.

"But we can—we must! we have not escaped thus far to be taken now," cried Jessie, earnestly.

"We will do all that we can, Jessie," answered Arthur, and then turning to Ralph, he continued:

"Let a man go forward and heave the lead, sir. I never ran this channel at night."

"What water?" cried Arthur.

"Twenty feet!" sung out Ralph, for he had taken the line himself.

"Eighteen feet!" came another cry from forward.

"It shoals rapidly; but we must stand on; it is our only hope," muttered Arthur to Sylvester, who aided him at the wheel.

And as he spoke another flash illuminated the bows of the pursuing schooner, and another shot sped over their heads with ominous sound.

"Fifteen feet!" rung out again, yet in even tones.

"The tide is not as full as I supposed; but we must venture," again said Arthur, and in a voice too low for Jessie to catch his words.

"Twelve feet! and the channel narrowing!"

"Ay, ay, sir! Throw as rapidly as you can."

"Eleven feet!"

The excitement on the schooner was now intense.

Every man held his breath in suspense. What would a few minutes more bring to them—death or safety?

"Only five feet between the keel and a rocky bottom," said Arthur, calmly, though his heart was in a flutter.

"Ten feet! and the islands on either quarter!" cried Ralph, in the same unmoved tones.

"Nine feet! luff half a point to avoid a rock—steady now!" came again from the bows, the last words being almost lost from the roar of a shot overhead.

A silence like death now fell upon all the yacht, for no one spoke; only the warning cry from Ralph was heard, calling out the rapidly lessening depth of the channel.

"Eight feet!"

Still Arthur Reginald stood on—his hands like iron clutching the wheel.

"Seven feet!"

"Good God! I must put back while I have time. Ready all!"

"Nine feet!" came the cry in the same unmoved tones; but they brought a burst of joy from all on board; in the nick of time the channel had deepened.

"Twenty feet!"

Another cheer from the crew, and a defiant yell at a solid shot that fell into the water a few fathoms astern, yet near enough to sprinkle spray upon them.

But the joy on the yacht was short-lived, for in startling tones came from forward:

"Nine feet!"

Every face blanched—the bar between the islands had not yet been passed over.

"Seven feet! ready about! Breakers ahead!"

The ringing voice of Ralph caused all to spring at once to work, and Arthur Reginald answered calmly:

"Ready about it is!"

Swiftly the yacht swung round, while a grating noise was heard under her keel—another moment and the schooner would have been a wreck, her crew struggling for life.

"It is all up—we must surrender," calmly said Arthur Reginald, and Jessie gave a low moan of despair.

"You mistake, sir. I am not made of that kind of stuff. I will take the helm, please," and Ralph came aft.

"In God's name what would you do, boy?"

"I will show you. Stand ready all to obey without a word!" sternly commanded the young commander, and he headed directly back toward the cutter, which, having beheld his maneuver, at once ceased firing.

The wind was now blowing a ten-knot breeze from the northwest, and its force sent the yacht through the waves with fearful velocity, her lee gunwales under water, while the schooner, approaching upon the opposite tack, lay over until her guns were useless.

Nearer and nearer the two boats approached to each other, until only a short space divided them, and in trumpet tones came the hail from the cutter:

"Yacht ahoy!"

"Ahoy!" cried Ralph, in clear tones, while he gradually edged to windward so as to near the cutter on the weather bow.

"Pass astern, you accursed pirate, and round to under my lee, while I heave to and send a boat aboard," rung out from the cutter.

"Ay, ay, sir!" cried Ralph, in pleasant tones, and then in a deep stern voice, not loud enough to be heard except by his own crew, he said:

"Stand by to cast off the jib and fore sheet!"

Like an arrow from a bow the yacht shot past, while orders were heard in the cutter to lay the topsail to the mast and bring her to the wind.

As the cutter's taffrail got abeam, Ralph gave his orders rapidly in low words to his crew.

"Ease off the jib, fore and main-sheet!"

As this order was obeyed he put his helm up a point, and the yacht rushed on with increased velocity to what she had been running when close hauled, and the next moment, with a free sheet, the Flying Phantom was rushing away to leeward.

The confusion of laying to for a few moments prevented Ralph's bold act from being noticed by those on board the cutter; but then, when all expected to find the yacht under their quarter they beheld her flying from them like a race-horse.

A cry of mingled surprise and admiration at the bold maneuver burst from the crew, and curses of rage from the commander, who called in angry tones:

"Fire upon her; sink the pirate!"

But, laying to as was the schooner, no gun could be brought to bear upon the flying yacht.

"Let her wear round. As the guns bear upon the yacht, blow him out of the water!" yelled the irate commander, who felt that he had been thoroughly outwitted.

But the cutter took some time to wear round, and the yacht had gained a long start, so that the shots flew wild, and the beautiful craft escaped unhurt, while she rushed on, her lee-scuppers buried in the waves.

† Correction made as per Volume 3.


1 Mrs. Ingraham died in Greenwich, Connecticut, February 3, 1941, according to a news item in the New York News, February 4, 1941.
2 Saturday Journal, No. 595. August 6, 1881.
3 Banner Weekly, No. 89, July 26, 1884, Correspondents' Column.
4 † Besides writing a number of dime novels about the World's Fair during his stay in Chicago, Ingraham also edited Alexander Majors' Seventy Years on the Frontier, which contains a preface written by Buffalo Bill, who had herded cattle for Majors in 1855 (see p. 57 above). The book was published in Chicago in 1893.
5 "Dime Novel Days," Saturday Evening Post, CCIII, March 7, 1931, 57.
6 Who's Who, II, 1901-1902.
7 See sketch of Taylor below.
8 Nos. 109 and 1053 are by J. H. Ingraham, revised by his son Prentiss.
9 Nos. 314 and 316 are by J. H. Ingraham, edited by Prentiss.
10 † These two stories were originally published as by Captain Alfred B. Taylor, but reprinted under Ingraham's name. For a discussion of them, see the biography of Captain Taylor below.
11 In the previous number, this novel was announced as by Dangerfield Burr, another of Ingraham's pen names.

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