Issuu on Google+


FORTY YEARS

A GAMBLER ON THE

MISSISSIPPI BY

GEORGE H. DEVOL. A CABIN BOY IN 1 8 3 9 ; COULD STEAL CARDS AND CHEAT THE BOYS AT ELEVEN; STOCK A DECK AT FOURTEEN; BESTED SOLDIERS ON THE RIO GRANDE DURING THE MEXICAN WAR ; WON HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FROM PAYMASTERS, COTTON BUYERS, DEFAULTERS, AND THIEVES; FOUGHT MORE ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE FIGHTS THAN ANY MAN IN AMERICA, AND WAS THE MOST DARING GAMBLER IN THE WORLD.

ILLUSTRATED. FIRST EDITION.

DEVOL & HAINES. CINCINNATI: 1887.


Entered according to Act of Congress, the 6th day of October, 1887, by DEVOL & HAINES, In the office oi the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. [ALL RICiHTS RESERVED.]


PREFACE. '"PHE author of this book has written the stories as they would * recur to his memory, and no effort has been made at classification. They are not fictitious; many of the persons named are now living, and they can and will testify that the stories are founded on facts. He belongs to the celebrated Devol family of Marietta. His grandfather, Jonathan Devol, was an officer in the Revolutionary War, and was well known to the pioneer history of Ohio. He was one of the passengers on the Mayflower, which he constructed for the use of the first company of emigrants to Ohio. He erected a house on the Campus Martius in 1788, and was joined by his wife and six children in December of that year. He was one of the committee to explore the country in search of suitable places for mills and farming settlements. In 1791 he repaired to Belpre with his family. He succeeded in clearing a patch of land, and built a log cabin not far below the house of Captain William Dorce. The news of the Big Bottom massacre reached him while attending court at Marietta, and he hurried home. Mrs. Devol, hearing that the Indians were on the war-path, ordered the children to lie down with their clothes on, ready for the danger signal. He became famous by building the floating mill. In 1792 he built a twelve-oared barge of twenty-five tons burden for Captain Putnam. The author's father was Barker Devol, who died at Carrollton, Ky., on the 8th day of March, 1871, at the age of 85. He was a shipbuilder, and worked with his father at Marietta. He left a widow and six children, who are all living, except one, the youngest being George H. Devol. THE AUTHOR.


CONTENTS. PAGE.

A Religious Captain A Cold Deck A Woman With a Gun A Shrewd Trick A Paymaster's Bluff. A Crazy Man A Good Night's Work A Euchre Hand A Good Stake-Holder A Mile Dash An Honorable Man A Bull Fight A Duck Hunt A Hard Head A Square Game A Coward Ancient Gambling Boyhood Days Blowing Up of the Princess Beat a Good Hand Butler in New Orleans Broke a Snap Game Before Breakfast Bill Would Gamble Bill's Present

..<.,..,

'.

22 24 27 J5O 163 177 186 212 217 224 227 249 264 267 291 292 296 9 26 63 119 r. 129 201 , 206 213

Caught a Sleeper Collared the Wrong Man Called a Gambler Control Over Suckers Caught Again Caught a Whale Caught a Defaulter Canada Bill Close Calls Cheap Jewelry Cold Steel

24 34 86 88 104 114 168 190 211 237 271

Didn't Win the Bags Don't Dye Your Whiskers Didn't Win the Key Dicky Roach and 1 Detectives and Watches

52 84 96 193 240

Even the Judges Do It Eight Hundred Dollars Against a Pistol

154 177 (5)


vj

CONTENTS. PAGE.

Fifty to the Barkeeper Fight With a Longshoreman Foot Race Forty Miles an Hour Fights

43 83 2O 3 204 2 42

Got Up Too Soon Got Off Between Stations Good Luck Governor Pinchback General Remarks George, the Butter

133 183 215 216 294 299

Home Again Hard Boiled Eggs He Knew My Hand Her Eyes Were Opened He Never Knew He's One of Us How 1 Was Beat He's Not That Old

13 55 136 137 142 170 180 188

Indians Can Play Poker It Made a Man of Him I Had Friends It Was Cold I Raised the Limit It Shook the Checks

20 58 146 179 182 ; . . . 352

Jew vs. Jew Judge Devol

62 72

Knocked Down $300 Kickers

194 282

Leaving Home Leap for Life Lost His Wife's Diamonds Lucky at Poker Lacked the Nerve Left in Time

10 29 44 IOI 109 254

My First Keno My Jew Partner My First Love Marked Cards My Crooked Partner My Partner Alexander Married His Money My Cards My Little Partner Mules for Luck. My Visit to Old Bill Monumental Gall

.,

17 35 65 68 69 73 79 182 IO 7 10 ". ,96 208


CONTENTS.

yii PAGE.

Mule Thieves My Partner Won McCoole and Coburn Mobile

226 229 231 261

Now a Gambler Nipped in the Bud No Play On This Boat No Money in Law Narrow Escapes No Good at Short Cards

16 89 155 160 175 207

On the Circuit

255

Put Ashore for Fighting Pittsburg's Best Man " P r a n k i n g " With a New Game Posing as Nic Longworth's Son

11 50 164 172

Quick Work

265

Red and Black Rattlesnake Jack Reduced the Price

140 272 293

Saved My Partner's Life Sold Out by a Partner " Snap Games " Sinking of the Belle Zane Snaked the Wheel Stolen Money Signal Service Settled Our Hash She Kissed Me Salted Down Strategem Saved By His Wife " Short Stops"

28 37 56 60 ill 131 132 181 219 232 258 269 280

The Game of Rondo Ten Thousand in Counterfeit Money The Frenchman and the Horse Hair The Chicken Men and Their Silver The Hungry Man The Big Catfish The Sermon on the (Mount) Boat The Monte King The Daguerreotype Boat The Black Deck-Hand The Guergunsen Watch The Cotton Man Taught a Lesson* They Paid the Costs The Boys From Texas

14 25 28 31 32 39 41 45 49 53 57 59 6o

6

3 째6


VU1

CONTENTS. FAGS.

The Quadroon Girl,,, ..•„, The Captain Spoiled the Game Too Sick to Fight The Gambler Disguised The Best Looking Sucker The Alligators The Big Sucker The Crazy Man The Brilliant Stone The Hidden Hand The Three Fives The Killer The Deck-Hand The Black (Leg) Cavalry The Paymaster's $3.500 The U. S. Defective's Bluff The Young Man From New York The Yellow Jeans The Jack Fish The Black Man The Persuader The Lap-Robe The Preacher Away From Home The Cattle Buyer The Green Cow-Boy The Police Signal The Good Deacon.. : The Natchez and the Lee The Trick Knife Two Forty on the Shell Road The Arkansas Killers The Englishman and His Gun Traveling Keno The Two Judges Tapped the Till War With Mexico Was in With the Judge Won and Lost With a Poker William Jones (Canada Bill)

'.

75 76 78 78 81 87 90 93 99 103 in 113 115 116 121 122 125 135 139 144 146 148 148 152 156 162 173 191 219 221 235 245 247 287 291 12 97 239. 253 285


Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi. BOYHOOD DAYS. "I'll serve his youth, for youth must have his course, For being restrained it makes him ten times worse ; His pride, his riot, all that may be named, Time may recall, and all his madness tamed."

: I first saw the light of day in a little town called Marietta, at the mouth of the Muskingum River in the State of Ohio, on the first day of August, 1829. I was the youngest of six children, and was the pet of the family. My father was a ship carpenter, and worked at boat-building in the beginning of the present century. I had good opportunities to secure an early education, as we had good schools in the West at that time. I had very little liking for books, and much less for school. When my parents thought me at school, I was playing " h o o k e y " with other boys, running about the river, kicking foot-ball, playing " shinny on your own side,'' and having a fight nearly every day. I hardly ever went home that I did not have my face all scratched up from having been in a fight, which innocent amusement I loved much better than school. When I was hardly ten years of age, I would carry stones in my pocket and tackle the school teachers if they attempted to whip me. My father was away from home at his work most of the time, and my mother (God bless her dear old soul) could not manage me. She has often called in some passer-by to help her punish me. I can now see I richly deserved all the punishment I ever received, and more too. When there was company at our house, and my mother MY DEAR READER


!O

FORTY YEARS A GAMBLER

would be busy preparing a meal, I would get my bow and arrows and shoot the cups off from the table, and then run away. I guess I was about the worst boy of my age west of the Allegheny Mountains that was born of good Christian parents. I have often heard the good old church members say . " That boy will be hung if he lives to be twenty years old." But I have fooled them, and am still on the turf, although I have had some pretty close calls, as you will see by reading this book. LEAVING HOME. In the year 1839, while at the river one day, I saw a steamer lying at the wharf-boat by the name of Wacousta. The first steward said I could ship as a cabin boy at $4 per month. I thought this a great opportunity, so when the boat backed out I was on board without saying anything to my parents or any one else. My first duty was to scour knives. I knew they would stand no foolishness, so at it I went, and worked like a little trooper, and by so doing I gained the good will of the steward. At night I was told to get a mattress and sleep on the floor of the cabin ; this I was very glad to do, as I was tired. About four o'clock in the morning the second steward came up to me and gave me a pretty hard kick in the side that hurt me, and called out: " Get up here, and put your mattress away." I did get up and put away my bed, and then I went to the steward who kicked me and said: " Look here ! Don't kick me that way again, for you hurt me." He let go and hit me a slap in the face that made my ears ring; so into him I pitched. I was a big boy for only ten years old; but I struck the wrong man that time, for he hit me another lick in the nose that came very near sending me to grass, but I rallied and came again. This time I had a piece of stone coal that I grabbed out of a bucket; I let it fly, and it caught him on the side of the head and brought him to his knees. By this time the pas-



Forty years a gambler on the mississippi