Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24 - 25 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

July 24 -25, 1861 - "A whisper was muttered that expanded into a rumor, and the rumor grew into a downright assertion that Dan, the polite, roguish, smart, industrious Dan, was a woman!"

The Livery Stable Clerk.—A livery stable in this city has, for a week or ten days, been under the management of a sprightly fellow, who told a good story, cracked his whip with a knowing jerk, and handled the ribbons with an off-hand skill that never failed to draw admiration from the profound students in horseflesh, who "know a thing or two." Dan Edson, for that was the young fellow's name, kept the books, fingered the money, managed the stable boys, let out horses and buggies, and discussed the points of a horse and the achievements of a racer as occasion called for, and all with the off-hand, decided style that he exhibited in everything he said or did. Dan, although not long in his new place, was becoming a favorite. The old frequenters of the place found it refreshing to rub up their slow ideas against Dan's rapid enunciation and trenchant vehemence. The young "bloods" about town—who love to drive to Fort Pickering at as near a 2:40 pace[1] as whip lash can procure and hired hacks achieve—were fond of dealing with Dan. In their eyes, Dan was knowing; he had a jaunty air and a saucy look about him; and he always contrived, he did not know how, to make them o­n better terms with themselves than usual. They never felt so pleased with the set of their hat, the cut of their coat, the ring of their boot heels o­n the pavement, the glisten of the brooch in their bosom, or the color of their ungloved hands, as when Dan unobtrusively but insinuatingly called their notice to excellencies and beauties, distingue results they had often sighed for, but seldom before dared to hope they had attained. Dan was not in a situation to come much into the company of ladies; yet sometimes a lady would get into, or leave a carriage near the stable; Dan was then a model of attention and politeness. His manner was demure, but yet full of archness. The lips and brow expressed gravity, but the very duce was dancing bold and riotous pranks beneath the two arched eyebrows. Of course the few ladies who had enjoyed the pleasure of Dan's ready aid, as they mounted or left the steps of their carriages, were admirers of his. His modest demeanor and rakish looks delighted them. They were sure he was "the very devil among the girls." In fact Dan was o­n the way to greatness. But a few days he had taken the stable in hand, yet already everything seemed going like a piece of clock work, of which Dan was the regulator. The stable was feeling the benefit of his popularity, and by day and by night the empty halls of the neighboring grand hotel echoed with the tread of horses, and the trundle of wheels from the stable over the way. We must now take a graver tone. Man is mortal, and mortality is changeable, and a change came over Dan's expanding fortunes, and envious fate dashed from his hands the flowing cup of sweet prosperity. A whisper was muttered that expanded into a rumor, and the rumor grew into a downright assertion that Dan, the polite, roguish, smart, industrious Dan, was a woman! The assertion became accusation, and accusation stamped the story with certainty, when, yesterday, the chief of police and officer Winters waited upon Dan with an invitation to accompany them to jail. But Dan was not disconcerted—nothing disconcerted Dan Edson; he laughed in the faces of his visitors, and told them he had not time just then to attend to their jokes. Capt. Garrett put o­n his gravest look and assured the young scapegrace that it was a very serious matter. "Can't attend to you now, gentlemen, that's flat," said Dan. "I let o­ne of our horses to a gentleman yesterday, and he's gone and killed it. Rail fences, and mud roads after a thunder storm, don't do for hurdle and race practice. The fellow has to pay us for our horse, and I expect him every minute. I'm fond of fun, gentlemen; but we'll settle the jail subject when you call again. We can then take a laugh and a sherry cobbler together. "Good day, gentlemen," and Dan was retiring into the abysses of the stable, with o­ne of his saucy, laughing nods, when a few more words from the police convinced her that the play was ended, and the part she had assumed must be abandoned. With a jail for a green room, this was not so pleasant; but it had to be done, and there Dan. Edson was placed o­n the charge of being, properly, a tenant not of pants but of petticoats, and entitled to the name of Mrs. Ray. It is said that behind this adventure of playing clerk in a livery stable lies a story, to move to tears, of an outraged wife, sorrowing and heart-broken, but we cannot touch o­n grief that is too sacred for public exposure. What may come to light, at the investigation that will take place before the recorder this morning, we cannot tell.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 24, 1861.


The Livery Stable Clerk.—Daniel Edson, the livery clerk of whose arrest we have given an account, was before the recorder yesterday morning o­n the charge of being a woman, Mrs. Ray, in man's clothes. A large crowd filled the court o­n the occasion. The lady appeared to answer the charge in the manly garb which she has chosen instead of crinoline and accompaniments. She was fined ten dollars, which she paid.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 25, 1861.


Can a Woman Legally Wear Pants?—This question was presented in the criminal court, Judge Swayne, presiding, o­n Tuesday, in the case of N. D. Wetmore, livery stable keeper, who was arrested o­n a charge of employing Mrs. Ray as his clerk, she being dressed in man's apparel. We are indebted to a legal friend for the following report of the case, the petitioner, Mr. Wetmore, applying for his discharge o­n habeas corpus: In the matter of Mr. N. D. Wetmore, petition for habeas corpus, the facts appeared as follows: That a person supposed to be a female was in the employ of the petitioner as a clerk, or hand, at his livery stable; but there was no direct proof that said person was in fact a female, or was so known to petitioner to be. The petitioner was in custody, as the return of the city jailer showed, by order of a policeman. The questions raised under the proof were, whether the petitioner was guilty of any offense in law, and whether he was detained by authority of law. The court allowed time for the examination of the law o­n these questions, which was done by H. Vollintine, Esq., at the instance of the court, o­n the part of the jailer. It was afterward, o­n reference to the law, agreed that a policeman could not imprison a party in the day time, without examination before the recorder. It also appeared to the court, from the authorities, that employing or retaining a female in man's attire in service, was not an offense known to the law, however liable the female might be herself for thus being in a man's attire. Hence, the petitioner was discharged as before announced, there being no law to detain him.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 25, 1861.

[1] Considered the fastest pace a horse and buggy could run - a mile in two minutes and forty seconds.

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