Beautiful certificate from the Central Agricultural Society of New Jersey issued in 1867. This historic document was printed by Murhpy & Bechtel and has an
ornate border around it. This item has the signatures of the Company's President, James G. J. Campbell and Secretary, W. F. Van Camp and is over 140 years old.
The Central Agricultural Society was active from 1866 to 1871 with an annual State fair and racing program on what in the latter year became H. N. Smith's Fashion Stud Farm, a short distance from the present InterState or Trenton Fair grounds. Mr. Smith, who had become wealthy as the partner of Jay Gould in Wall Street, put up equine quarters for some of the most noted horses-stallions and brood mares-in the country and besides having his home near by, kept up a well-appointed clubhouse where the "swell" horse fanciers of the period were lavishly entertained. Goldsmith Maid, with her then unsurpassed record of 2.14, lived as befitted a real queen of the turf.
"It's admitted that Lou Dillon, Alix, Maud S. and Nancy Hanks With Goldsmith Maid's two-fourteen Played many kinds of pranks. Sunol and scores of others Make you think her star will fade, But for all their speed they missed the fame That came to Goldsmith Maid; As turf lovers all remember That from January to December The mare that won the money was the Maid."
This great mare's winnings under several owners totalled $364,200, said to be a record never equalled in the trotting world. She was foaled at Deckertown, N.J., May 1, 1857, raced eleven years (ten years driven by Budd Doble), and she died September 28, 1885, at the Fashion Farm. 7 John L. Kuser erected a granite monument over the grave of Goldsmith Maid, October 26, 1926, Governor A. Harry Moore presiding at the ceremonies which were largely attended.
William H. Doble once kept the Eagle Hotel and had five sons who all became drivers and horsemen. Budd, the oldest, drove Goldsmith Maid in her record-breaking performance of 2.14 in the days of heavy, old-fashioned, high-wheeled sulkies, at Boston, Mass., September 28, 1874.
"Budd Doble whose catarrhal name so fills the nasal trump of fame", is Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes' allusion to this Trenton driver in one of his poems of the period. Budd bought for H. N. Smith the farm which was developed as the famous Fashion Stud Farm. The father, William H., trained horses there and drove in many races on the Grand Circuit.
Mr. Smith in all had 130 head of stock, 90 of them belonging to himself. The farm of 365 acres was in every respect a model establishment, representing an investment of $300,000. Besides the Maid, for whom Smith had paid $40,000, the stables accommodated Jay Gould, once valued at $50,000, General Knox, Socrates, Lucy and numerous others with records. The stock farm was eventually cut into building lots, the stock having been dispersed.
Other race tracks that encouraged raising of horses for speed have been the Ewing track and still later the Trenton Driving Park, both on the Pennington Road. With the advent of the automobile, interest in horse racing declined.
The Ewing track was owned by "Mine Host" Howell, of the Cross Keys Tavern at Ewingville, Scudder Phillips, Oliver Gray, Edward McGuire, George McKelway, Dr. Heston Bradshaw and Sheriff Charles H. Skirm. Another favorite track for some years was Henry's at Wheatsheaf, where, too, some excellent stock was quartered, including Anteo by Electioneer, for whom the proprietor paid $60,000.
The Trenton Driving Park received its impetus largely from Joseph Martin, owner and admirer of fast horses. The track was laid out on Pennington Avenue and the Scotch Road in 1892, Chris Huber's 26-acre farm being bought by the association which included Colonel Anthony R. Kuser, Judge Robert S. Woodruff, Major Michael Hurley, Thomas J. Donaghue Captain Lawrence Farrell, George Hildebrecht, John B. Fell and Al Worthington. For an account of various pleasurable events at this park, see the Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser, February 7, 1926. The park, which cost $75,000 to purchase and equip, was finally sold for $26,000.
The Pitmans also deserve a place in the niche of local horse fame. For three generations, the family have owned the Pitman farm in Hamilton Township, starting with Caleb Earl Pitman, passing to G. Rusling Pitman and now in the hands of Earl Pitman, a celebrated driver, still active in handling fast horses. He keeps up a training quarters with a half-mile track attached and has scored many victories on the turf, Fonda, a pacer (2.12 1/4), being his particular pride.
While driving for pleasure has ceased, a renewal of interest in horseback riding has become pronounced in and about Trenton in the recent past. Several riding academies are in existence which have the patronage of a large number of persons, notably young people and children. Periodical riding-shows take on a social as well as an equestrian character.
AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY FAIRS
The first appearance of a fair locally in the last century was the fourth annual fair of the State Agricultural Society, which opened here on September 14, 1858, and lasted three days. The Daily Gazette gave a great deal of space to details of the fair and the awarding of prizes. The fair was held just outside of the city, according to newspapers, but just where they do not say. The probable site was the Eagle Race Course, which was set back quite a distance from South Broad Street and extended almost to what is now Hamilton and Chestnut Streets. Admission to the fair was 25 cents. The State Agricultural Society held its exhibition here in 1858 only.
What promised to be a permanent fair organization established itself in Trenton in 1866. The Central Agricultural Society of New Jersey purchased land close to the present site of the Inter-State Fair Grounds, enclosed its one hundred acres, and held its first fair almost at once. This fair of 1866 was an exhibition giving every evidence of the haste which had attended its preparation; it was not until the following year that the fair showed itself to be a planned and finished exhibition. Permanent buildings had been built and a mile race-track laid out. The 1867 fair witnessed one of the finest exhibitions of blooded and race horses that had ever been assembled in the East. The most celebrated stables sent in entries, and $7000 was awarded in prizes. The fair lasted four days and offered the usual displays, entertainment and attractions.
The last fair of the Central Agricultural Society was held in 1871. The next year it decided to sell out, one of the purchasers being Henry N. Smith, Jay Gould’s partner, who established the famous Fashion Stud Farm, described fully in Mr. Cleary’s chapter on “Recreations,” below.
The Mercer County Board of Agriculture held its first fair on Wednesday, October 7, 1885, and after three years was succeeded by the Inter-State Fair Association, whose activities are also recorded in the same chapter on “Recreations.” It may be added that fire has twice destroyed the grandstand which faces the race-track - in 1900 and again in December 1909 - but both times a larger and stronger structure replaced it.
The only other fair ever held in Trenton was the National Horse Fair of 1870. It began on May 24 and lasted four days; $10,000 in prizes was awarded for the performance and quality of the horses.
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