Newspaper Abstracts, Orsemus Sackett
|Sackett, Orsemus (1826–1896), the Yankee card-writer, lecturer, concert and lecture tour manager, inventor, and newspaper vendor, made, lost, and made again his fortune, and was a well-known if eccentric character in Grand Rapids, Michigan.|
- Daily Standard, Syracuse, New York, Friday Morning, Dec. 12, 1851
The Yankee Card Writer.
In our paper of yesterday morning we briefly announced the arrival of that erratic genius the "Yankee Card-Writer." He occupies rooms at the Globe, where he will be happy to see ladies and gentlemen who desire elegant wedding or visiting cards.
A card case filled with tasteful and elegant visiting cards are an almost indispensable requisite to a lady or gentleman, and no one who mingles in refined society should be without them. Those written by the "Yankee Card-Writer" are quite equal in elegance and beauty to the finest engraving, and possess the important additional qualification of being the most fashionable style now in use. He will remain in the city but a short time, and those who desire to have their card cases filled with a beautiful article will do well to call soon. Specimens of his cards may be seen at the bookstore of L. W. Hall.
- Hornellsville Tribune, Hornellsville, New York, January 24, 1852
The "Yankee Card Writer"—We are gratified to learn that our fellow citizen, Mr. O. Sackett, the "Yankee Card Writer," is highly eulogized by the press wherever he goes. The following which we clip from the Syracuse Daily Journal, is but one of the many favorable notices which have come under our observation. "Mr. S. has done a good business here, which he cannot fail to do everywhere. Indeed, he is without a rival or an equal in his line."
- Hornellsville Tribune, Hornellsville, Steuben Co., N. Y., Saturday Morning, March 27, 1852
O. Sackett, the "Yankee Card Writer."O. Sackett, the "Yankee Card Writer."
The above portrait of the "Yankee Card Writer," was engraved by Carson of Albany, N. Y., and though a poorly executed likeness, will serve to give our readers some idea of the personal appearance of this celebrated artist. Mr. O. Sackett was born near Rochester, N. Y., and at a very early age exhibited an extraordinary talent for portraiture and penmanship. His parents being poor, were unable to assist him, to either make progress in his favorite area, or in attaining an education. Through the kindness, however, of Professor Phelps, the principal of an academy in Sherburne, N. Y., he at the age of twelve years, commenced his education at that institution, paying all expenses except board by superintending the writing department two hours each day. After one year of close study, finding his wardrobe deficient in many important particulars, he became nearly discouraged, and seriously determined to engage in some kind of labor, which should furnish the means whereby he might procure books and clothes, and he prepared to prosecute his studies in a more respectable manner.
A few days previous to that upon which he proposed putting his plans into execution, he was presented, by Prof. Phelps, with a teacher's certificate, and informed that a school had been engaged, which he could conduct (although then but thirteen years of age) as successfully as any person in the State, if he only thought so himself. This was advised by the Professor, who said:—"If you try to earn money by manual labor, your age, and lack of physical maturity will render it impossible for you to command such wages as would assist you in getting an education before you will become discouraged and give up altogether." The advice was taken—the first school successfully taught—after which, he for two years. alternately taught and was taught, until he arrived at the age of fifteen. At this time his talent for portraiture seemed to have gained the ascendency, and without instruction, or the advantage of witnessing the work of any artist, he boldly offered himself to the public, and for two years successfully practiced his profession in the different cities and large towns in his native State.
His miniatures, for truthfulness, and delicacy of tint and finish, have never been excelled by any other artist in this country, and will be treasured, by those who possess them, as rare souvenirs, as well of the artist, as the original.
At seventeen he had already enjoyed the patronage of large numbers of the most autocratic families, in different parts of the State, whose attentions soon brought him before the public, through the press. This so increased his business that he could not possibly execute miniatures as rapidly as ordered. Being ambitious, he unwisely applied himself day after day, and week following week, so closely to business, that he soon lost his sight. After careful treatment, in two months his sight returned but not sufficiently perfect to ever permit him to follow his favorite profession. Nothing discouraged, he immediately commenced giving instruction in penmanship,—arranged and perfected a new and beautiful system which he called the "Science of writing," by which he has successfully taught, in eight years, in this and several other States, about twelve thousand pupils, and left the field with a reputation far beyond any other teacher in the United States, not only as a professor; but as an original and most successful disciplinarian, and yet Mr. S. has never received a moments instruction in penmanship from any person—having already given instruction two years before witnessing the process pursued in any similar school.
All the different professions in which Mr. S. has figured have been stamped with great originality and novelty. He seems never to have followed in a course, marked out by any but himself, and at present, and in every profession chosen, he has gained a higher position, and a more extended reputation than any person preceding him.
Several years since, while carelessly using a metallic pencil, he discovered that a most beautiful impression was made by it upon enameled cards, he at once commenced presenting his young lady pupils (with whom he has always been immensely popular) with visiting cards written by himself. The result of this kindness to pupils free of charge, was such an increased demand of similar favors, that in order to stop it in future, the better to attend to the business of teaching, it became necessary to make a charge, and by demanding pay for visiting cards, Mr. S. thought to drive all orders away; but on the contrary, not only pupils, but those not under instructions were relieved of the delicacy which kept them from ordering cards for which no charge was made, and so great was the demand, and so numerous the orders sent, that a still greater, and more unreasonable charge was made, but with no better success, for the astonishing beauty and artistic perfection of his writing at once placed Mr. Sackett's cards far above Copper plate in the estimation of all persons of taste and fashion, and the extravagant prices charged were paid without reluctance.
Mr. S., never blind to the attractions of money, decided to try card writing as a profession, and immediately commenced operations. Two years have hardly elapsed since, and yet the "Yankee Card Writer" (which cognomen has been assumed by Mr. S.) has effected the greatest revolution in the fashionable world, ever witnessed. —Wherever he goes he is thronged with orders from the most distinguished families, who notwithstanding they have already a supply of beautifully engraved cards, at a much cheaper rate, will use no cards except those executed by the "Yankee."
In Albany, in seven weeks, Mr. S. executed with his own hand, and delivered to his customers, 30,000 cards.
The rapidity with which he writes (every card is written by hand) is without parallel, and for splendor and perfection of execution, cannot be equaled by the most finished copper plate.
Mr. S. is the originator of this profession, out of which he will easily realize a fortune if he does not, as a former case apply himself so closely as to destroy his sight.
It will be seen that whatever Mr. S. has followed for a livelihood up to the present, has been suggested by circumstance, and developed and made valuable by personal effort,—hence, instead of exciting envy, it should secure for him the earnest "God speed you" of every friend of industry and genius.
- Hornellsville Tribune, Hornellsville, New York, April 3 & 17, May 15, 1852
Hornellsville High School,
For Ladies and Gentlemen,
…During the term, Mr. O. Sackett, author of the Science of Writing, has kindly offered his services, and will lecture to the class, on this important accomplishment, gratis.
- Constitution, Connecticut, 30 June 1852
"The Yankee Card Writer
Is in town, at the Mansion House, and will be please to show his skill at writing cards to any who may call upon him. He has a surprising talent in this business, which has procured him a great reputation wherever he has been."
- Boston Evening Transcript, 21 October 1852
"The Yankee Card Writer has been presented with the freedom of the city of New York in a gold box—(or probably will be)—and is now enjoying himself at the Irving House, where he will remain for a few weeks, then honor Baltimore with a visit, and probably shake hands with the "solid men of Boston" some time in December."
- Daily Missouri Republican, 8 November 1852
"O. Sackett, the Yankee card writer, will shortly visit this city. If his card writing is no better than the note we have received, we would set him down as a considerable "scratch"."
- Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, DC, Saturday, November 20, 1852
"O. Sackett, the Yankee Card Writer, will arrive in Washington in a few days. Strangers and citizens will have an opportunity of supplying themselves with his novel and most fashionable visiting cards for the coming season."
- Official Catalogue of the New-York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. 1853
Published by G.P. Putnam & co., 1853
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Nov. 9, 2005
United States—Class 17, p. 63
7. Visiting cards, written by hand, with a new metallic pencil or graver
Orsemus Sackett, "The Yankee Card-writer," (Cosmopolite)
- Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI, Saturday, October 29, 1853, col. F
"The "Yankee Card Writer."—Those who wish neatly and tastefully written cards can obtain them by leaving their orders at WHITTEMORE & Co.'s or PERRY & HULL'S, for Mr. A. Kidder, the "Yankee Card Writer." A sample of his workmanship may be seen in our office."
[Orsemus Sackett, aka Mr. A. Kidder!]
- Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI, Saturday, November 5, 1853, col. E
"Yankee Card Writer"—This very neat card writer is still in our city, tho' he remains here but a few days longer. If any of our readers desire to avail themselves of his services they can leave their orders at A. WHITTEMORE & Co.'s.
- The Boston Daily Atlas, Boston, MA, Monday, October 1, 1855; Issue 78; col. B
"We are indebted to Mr. O. Sackett, the Yankee card writer, for a card case and a pack of visiting cards executed in the neatest possible style. Mr. Sackett is to be found at the Revere House."
- Syracuse Daily Courier, Syracuse, New York, April 3, 1857
"DESERVED IT—Sackett, the impudent puppy who styles himself the "Yankee Card Writer," and is most unfavorably known in this locality, was horse-whipped in New Orleans last week for insulting a lady, and made to leave town for the same offence. He deserved all he got."
- Lowell Daily Citizen and News, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Tuesday, April 07, 1857; Issue 291; col. E
"The "Yankee Card-writer" was subjected to a horse whipping at the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, recently, for having sent a couple of ladies a bouquet with a card attached, stating that he wished to make their acquaintance. An uncle of the young ladies took umbrage at the supposed insult, and castigated the gentleman accordingly."
- Boston Post, 14 May 1857
"The report that the "Yankee Card Writer" had been horse whipped at New Orleans is untrue. The Y.C.W. is not a man to submit to any personal indignity."
- The Daily Cleveland Herald, Cleveland, Ohio, Wednesday, December 23, 1857; Issue 303; col. D
"Card Writing and Penmanship. JOHN W. LOWEY, the Yankee Card Writer, is in town and would be happy to see his friends at the Weddell House. Call and examine his specimens."
[Also Orsemus Sackett, or a rival?]
- New York Herald, New York, NY, Tuesday, February 2, 1858, p. 3, col. B
"C. S.—Mr. S., THE CELEBRATED YANKEE CARD writer at the date of his retiring from the profession, had a large quantity of his metallic pencils on hand which will be sold at half price and sent, postage free, to any address. Orders enclosing twenty-eight cents in cash or postage stamps should be addressed to O. SACKETT, New York."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Thursday, February 18, 1858, p. 3, col. D
"MR. JAMES—"THE YANKEE CARD WRITER'S" metallic pencil was sent as ordered. They are always sent postage free to any address upon receipt of 28 cents (in stamps). Ladies use them extensively in writing their own visiting cards. Enclose price to O. SACKETT, New York Post office."
- New York Herald, New York, NY, Saturday, February 20, 1858, p. 7, col. A
"MISS LIZZIE—THE "YANKEE CARD WRITER" HAS retired from the profession. You can write your own visiting cards, however, by sending for one of his celebrated metallic pencils; they are selling at half price, and sent to any part of the country, postage free, on receipt of twenty-eight cents (in stamps). Address O. Sackett, New York Post office."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Saturday, March 20, 1858, p. 8, col. D
ATTEND TO THIS—CUT IT OUT AND KEEP IT FOR YOUR REFERENCE—The "Yankee Card Writer", having retired from the profession, and dealrous [sic] to occupy his leisure, will send to any address in the United States and Canadas, postage free, as follows:- one of his wonderful magnetic pencils enabling ladies and gentlemen to write their own visiting cards for 28 cents; 50 beautiful enameled cards and one pencil for 70 cents; one dozen packs, ladies' size $3; one dozen do. Gentlemen's $2.50; 50 cards, single name, beautifully written $4; wedding and invitation cards one line $6, each additional line $2 per pack of 50; Any greater or less number at prices in proportion. Write your name legibly. Wedding and other stationery stamped with initials or plain sent at short notice on receipt of letter of inquiry, with return stamp. European and California arrivals and departures of friends, & c. ascertained at once and communicated, debtors found and collections made, physicians, lawyers and other consulted, sales of property of any description attended to, with ample security, rooms secured at hotels , patterns of newest fashions, and prices of any articles required ascertained and sent, friends and acquaintances looked after, subscriptions for magazines, newspapers and publications effected at publishers' rates. Letters requiring attention out of office must enclose 28 cents. Direct as follows (enclosing gold, par bills or stamps) O. Sackett, general Post office, New York."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Sunday, March 21, 1858, p. 8, col. F
AGATHA, DON'T FAIL TO READ IMPORTANT information from the "Yankee card writer" headed "Attend to This," in special notices in another column of to-day's Herald."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Wednesday, March 24, 1858, p. 8, col. D
"EXCELSIOR—YANKEE CARD WRITER'S WONDERFULLY metallic pencil, with instructions sent, postage free, on receipt of 28 cents, in stamps. Letters of inquiry from ladies and gentlemen in any part of the States or Canadas, regarding debtors, friends, arrivals in steamers, prices of stock, merchandise, fashions, &c. enclosing 28 cents, will be answered promptly. Any article bought and sent on receipt of price. Cut this out for reference. Address O. Sackett, Post office, New York."
- (same page) "JOHN—READ THE YANKEE CARD WRITER'S MANIFESTO, headed "Excelsior," in special notices in another column."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Wednesday, April 07, 1858, p. 7, col. D
"AMERICAN"—"THE YANKEE CARD WRITER'S" wonderful metallic pencils are nearly sold. A few left will be sent, postage free, at half price, to any address for 28c. The celebrated "pocket card case" fitting size of any card, sent free for 50c. Send price in stamps in letter to O. SACKETT, Post office, New York.
[KR Mar 2011]
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Friday, April 30, 1858, p. 6, col. A
AGENTS WANTED—TO SELL THE "YANKEE CARD WRITER'S" "pocket card case," and the wonderful metallic pencil; affords large profits. Sample and prices sent postage free, to any address, on receipt of 25 cents, in stamps. Send letters to O. Sackett, station D, Bible House, Post office, N.Y."
- The New York Herald, New York, NY, Saturday, May 15, 1858, p. 2, col. F
"LADIES—THE YANKEE CARD WRITER sends his celebrated written visiting cards, by the pack or less, postage free, to any address. Specimen card.—Circulars and prices of his new pocket card case and the metallic pencil, sent on receipt of six cents (in stamps, as postage). Address O. SACKETT, station D, Post office, New York."
- New York Times, June 11, 1860
"The Japanese Embassy.
The Japanese Envoys are at last on their way to New-York. They have seen the last of the American Tycoon, "His Majesty the President;" the last of Washington hotels and Washington hacks, of affectionate little negroes making advances of friendship to them through carriage windows, and of inquisitive young ladies inspecting them at the table and at the toilet, with, a thirst for knowledge and an innocence of evil perhaps unrivalled since the days before the fall. They are still undergoing a good deal of complimenting and parading, however, at Philadelphia, the Fathers of that friendly city having resolved, as the faithful telegraph assures us, to "outdo the metropolis with a third of the capital;" and they are probably destined to "pay with their persons," as the French express it, for the determination with which BOOLE and VAN TINE will resent this insolent pretension of the rectangular Quakers, when their Excellencies and suite shall be fairly caged in the Metropolitan.
Dim rumors precede the progress of the princes of Niphon, hinting that all these splendid rivalries in the way of receptions and hospitalities have begun to pall upon their feeble palates; that the shaking of Occidental hands has begun to lose its charm for them; that they no longer devote themselves with exuberant assiduity to the delightful taste of emulating the Yankee card-writer in the chirography of Japan.In a word, if the princes of Niphon were simply so many French or English gentlemen of rank visiting America on a mission of public importance, and not merely princes of Niphon, those who have seen the most of them within the last few days would not hesitate to say they are evidently "bored to death," and that they want nothing so much as to be allowed to go home at the earliest possible day."
- Albany Evening Journal, 15 December 1860
"The "Yankee Card Writer" is in the full tide of successful operation at the Delavan House. His visiting and wedding cards are taking the lead in fashionable circles. The "New Year's Call Card" and "baby card" are great novelties. Doting mamas must send their orders."
- New York Clipper, Aug. 14, 1869, p. 151
"O. Sackett was taken sick with the small pox while with Campbell's Circus, and was taken to the hospital in Montreal."
- The Advertiser, Union Springs, N.Y., December, 1890
—Orsemus Sackett, half blind, half deaf and half dead, who was once a personal friend of J. Fenimore Cooper and spent several weeks at the great author's mansion painting life-sized oils of the writer and his family, is now peddling papers on the streets of Grand Rapids, Mich. He is sixty years old and was once a lecturer of note.
- The Chicago Herald, November 11, 1892
"IN THE GREAT WEST
Orsemus Sackett, once a great personal friend of James Fenimore Cooper and a lecturer of some note, is now half blind and destitute and peddles papers for a living on Grand Rapids streets."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 18, 1893
"Newsman Sackett and the Girls
"Yankee" Sackett, the newsman, will give his sleigh ride to the little girls of the public schools tomorrow afternoon. The sleighs will call at the schools between 3 and 4 o'clock, and after a slide through the country the little ones will be let down at their homes."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 18, 1893
Sackett Among the Great
An amusing incident occurred in a Madison Avenue school room not long ago. It was shortly after the girls' sleigh-ride given by Mr. Sackett and the teacher was questioning the pupils in regard to what great man's birthday was to come soon. Many of the replies were merely guesses, but they included Grover Cleveland and General Jackson. Finally on e little girl in the corner raised her hand and upon receiving permission to reply, said: "I know, it is Mr. Sackett's."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 27, 1893
Sackett's New Suit
Sackett, "the Yankee Newsboy" came out this afternoon looking very swell in a brand new suit and a straw hat. Of course the suit is made of navy blue cloth like his other suits but the buttons are different this time. The coat buttons are Columbian souvenir half-dollars, the buttons on the sleeves are dimes of the new issue and the waist coat buttons are 1803 quarters. The old boy created quite a stir in the Morton and when one of the boys asked where he got his suit he said, "Bought it of my friend May at the Giant, New York, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Rocky Mountain News, Illustrated American, Truth, Puck or Judge." and with a serious expression on his face he walked on in his familiar and peculiar gait.
- The Chicago Tribune, February 7, 1894
"SACKETT'S FATHER REFUSES AID
Repudiates the Son Who Deserted Him in His Poverty
Grand Rapids, Mich., Feb. 6
Hackley Sackett, the silhouette artist arrested in Topeka after eloping with an Elkhart heiress, today wired his father, who lives here, a pathetic appeal for funds to help him out of his scrape. The message was returned to the telegraph office marked "refused." Thirty years ago Sackett senior was one of the best known lecture and concert managers in the country, and he gave his boy a superior education. When he lost both his health and money the boy ignored him, and the broken-down old man came here and began peddling newspapers about the hotels. He is still doing this, and is now worth $12,000 or $15,000. The old man states that his son has a wife and three children in the East. He married a sister of Mrs. Howe, the wife of the Eastern Manager of the American News company, and the deserted family is now living with the Howes in their New York home."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, December 22, 1894
"Wanted To See Fred
Sackett, the Newsman, Invaded the Superior Court
Sackett, the newsman, with whiskers, eyeglasses and a tottering step, walked into the Superior court this morning while it was in session and began calling "Cincinnati," "Chicago," etc. The court deputy rapped for order, but Sackett didn't hear him. He slapped a bundle of papers and magazines down on a table with a resounding whack and then threw down another lot. Then he picked up a paper and began shaking it at one of the lawyers. Finally Judge Burlingame had to call him down, but he didn't pay any attention to the court. Finally his honor sent the messenger to inform Sackett that his demonstrations were out of order. After repeated efforts the old man "caught on," but was dismayed.
"Can't hear a word," he declared. Then, turning toward the judge he asked: "Where is Fred Adams?"
The messenger showed him where the clerk was, and the court resumed business."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, December 31 1894
"Yankee Sackett to the Public
I am sure every man, woman, and child in Grand Rapids will witness that I have done as much to entertain and amuse the newsboys and school girls as any other party, and am not disposed to quit. I wish to explain a slight misunderstanding which does me an injustice. Last Saturday Mr. Sprout of The Democrat told me they were making a float on which I was asked to ride with a small boy, and told me to call on Mrs. Schultz, the costumer, who desired to fix appropriate costumes. He did not tell me I was to represent Time, Santa Clause or a clown. I called Sunday morning on Mrs. Schultz, who told me I was expected to represent Time with a scythe. I replied that any one would answer for that, but it would wholly destroy my individuality, and I respectfully declined. Mrs. Schultz agreed with me as to it unfitness. I only wish to be taken as I am. My self-respect will allow me no other course. I met Mr. Sprout this morning at The Democrat office and he roughly said, "You have done a smart thing, haven't you?" "What," said I, "you never told me that I was expected to appear in the procession in any character but my own." "Well," said he, "we are done with you and don't want anything more to do with you; you are not needed at the newsboys' dinner, Fifty gentlemen at The Morton last evening said it was just like you; you were always a crank."
I have not put myself forward for my recognition by the dinner committee, and if neighbors send in as usual I will probably get a dinner.
I am consoled by the fact that my ancestors fought, bled, died and almost suffered in the Revolution, that my father served in the war of 1812 and lived on horse beef at Sackett's Harbor, and that I did volumes of Union talk during the war and made some money out of the rise in gold."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 13, 1895
O. Sackett, the Yankee newsman, will soon give his annual sleighing carnival to the newsboys of Grand Rapids. A cordial invitation will be sent to the teachers of every school district in the township of Grand Rapids, outside of the city, and the residents of each district owning teams, will gladly volunteer to bring the scholars to the carnival, giving them a delightful gala day. The procession will start from Campau place about noon on a Saturday and end in ample time for the visitors to reach home before dark. The name and number of each outside district should be conspicuous on the sleighs. Due notice will be given of the date of the carnival and sent to the outside schools."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 19, 1895
"The Newsboys' Ride
Sackett, the Yankee Newsman, Will Give It Next Saturday.
A newsboys' grand sleigh ride will be given by O. Sackett on Saturday, Feb. 23. Visitors and boys will assemble on Campau place at 12:30. The procession will move at 1 p. m. and end at 3 p. m., in time for visitors to reach home before dark.
A cordial invitation is extended to the teachers and scholars of the schools of the township of Grand Rapids and out of the city. It is believed that the residents of the districts will kindly donate teams to bring them in.
No city newsboys will be admitted to the sleighs without a badge or check from the papers."
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 24, 1895
"It Made Him Hot
Queer Effect of Cold Water on "Yankee" Newsman Sackett.
The prosecuting attorney's force are now puzzling themselves over a hard problem. Yankee Newsman Sackett complains that James Bayliss of the Morton House news stand has committed an assault upon him. "The Yankee" says Bayliss threw water on him and his papers the other morning while he was holding forth in front of the hotel. It is a grave legal question whether the application of water in some instances may not be reckoned a meritorious deed instead of an assault: but "Yankee" says his papers and his personal tranquility were greatly damaged by the transaction. Wherefore he asks redress from the law."
- The Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, June 20, 1895
"FORTUNE IN PAPERS.
How O. Sackett, of Grand Rapids, Won His Way.
THRIFT AND INDUSTRY.
Recollections of Horace Greeley's Trip to Kansas City.
One Man Who Has Gained a Competence as a Street Merchant.
One of the familiar figures on the streets of Grand Rapids is Mr. O. Sackett, a man 74 Years old, who sells papers. Nearly everybody in the thriving Michigan city knows the venerable newsdealer. He has had an interesting career. He is worth $15,000, which amount he has saved out of the earnings of his news business. He says:
I have had an interest in The Inter Ocean since its foundation, as I was acquainted with Frank Palmer, who was connected with the paper in the early days. I have watched with pride its growth to a great newspaper. I lived in Chicago when Joseph Medill was working the old lever press during the days of "Long John" Wentworth. Old residents will remember me as the "Yankee Card Writer" at the Sherman House in 1863. I was the original card-writing professor and spent my summers at Saratoga, Newport, Boston, Philadelphia, and other Eastern cities, and made much money.
At the close of the war I settled in Kansas City as manager of a lecture bureau in connection with Redpath, of Boston. His bureau sent entertainments to Chicago, and I managed them from Chicago to California. Among my attractions were Horace Greeley, John G. Saxe, Will Carleton, Susan B. Anthony, Artemus Ward, John B. Gough, and others. I was the only agent that Horace Greeley ever lectured for outside of invitations from associations and towns. I learned by the papers that he was to open the St. Louis fair and wrote him, asking for dates in Missouri and Kansas. He replied that inasmuch as he was coming to St. Louis he would give me six dates. His first lecture for me was at Kansas City. After heavy advertising I wrote to learn his price. He replied that he would not make a price, but would leave me to pay him as much as I did others who did not draw any better house than he.
Anecdote of Horace Greeley.
I sold the entire house at Kansas City for $1 a seat. I met Mr. Greeley the morning of the lecture at the depot. On the way to town I asked him if he was ever in Kansas City before. He said:
"Yes; fifteen years ago I came to Wyandotte to see John Brown. There being no livery stable at Wyandotte, they sent to Kansas City for a livery rig for me, but when they found who it was for they refused to let it come, and I had to go to John Brown's in a lumber wagon."
"What did St. Louis pay you for your two lectures?" I asked.
"They promised me $100, but have not paid me anything", he said.
Mr. Greeley would not ask pay of any man. At his death thousands of bills in notes held by him had not been presented for payment. I paid him $150 a night.
I saw Wild Bill with his revolver put thirteen bullets in the "O" of the I.O.O.F. sign at the top of the building in the market square at Kansas City, the thirteen shots making but six reports. The marks of the bullets may be plainly seen today.
I am the inventor and hold the only unexpired patent on the beautiful hotel casket now on all first-class hotel counters to hold envelopes, matches, pens, ink, etc. I have had my ups and downs, but have always managed to land on my feet. I came to Grand Rapids in 1879 with $40,000 to manufacture my hotel caskets. I was taken sick after two years and was on my back six years. I lost all my money and began life again with 50 cents. I sell in this small town between 300 and 350 papers daily. I have no news depot, but sell entirely on the street. I am today worth $15,000."
[Researched by Kari Roehl, 2008]
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 19, 1896
"Sackett Is No More
The Old "Yankee Newsman" Died last Night
A Man Of Mystery
Who Made Fortunes and Lost Them Again
Closed His Business a Few Days Ago and Death Quickly Followed His Release From Toil.
O. Sackett, The "Yankee Newsman," is dead. His peculiar and familiar cries of "Cincinnati," "New York," "New Orleans," etc., will be heard no more on the streets nor in business places. For eighteen years he had been a conspicuous figure in Grand Rapids. His traits of character indulged many that were called eccentric, but, with all his oddities, he counted many warm friends. In his younger days Sackett was a successful amusement manager, having directed the tours of such famous lecturers as Horace Greely and George Francis Train. Many stories of more or less authenticity have been told of the fabulous fortunes that have been amassed by Sackett in amusement enterprises, but it was said he lost them. No one tells, however, of the manner of their loss. It was, perhaps, the fact that his early life was shrouded more or less in mystery that made him the more interesting to those with whom he came in contact.
Sackett was especially fond of telling anecdotes of his earlier experiences in the amusement line and was evidently proud of associates of former years. He had been engaged in selling newspapers and periodical literature on the streets of Grand Rapids nearly all of the time since he came here. Last year he sold photographs of himself, upon the back of which was a "sticker," bearing the following printed advertisement:
"The oldest newspaper man in the world, 75 years old July, 1895. Started in 1889 with 50 cents. Saved, up to December, 1894, $16,000.
"Has no News stand, but solicits, sells and delivers papers and magazines from all cities in the United States, Mexico and Europe.
"Covers 15 to 25 miles daily. Send postal with name of paper to O. Sackett, postoffice, and I do the rest."
The old man's health had been failing for several years and his feebleness became very noticeable six months ago. Several times during the summer he was overcome by the heat or other causes and had fallen on the streets exhausted. On these occasions he was cared for by friends or was taken to his boarding place, 162 Ottawa street. Last week he was attacked by jaundice, and on Friday took to his bed. He was attended by Dr. Amanda Evans and two nieces, Anna and Eva Sackett, of Croton, Newaygo county. Anna has been in the city for two weeks caring for her aged uncle. Notwithstanding the best of nursing, he gradually sank, and passed away last night at 6 o'clock.
The last time Sackett appeared on the streets selling papers was on Tuesday, Aug. 11. He was so feeble that he was prevailed upon to "close out" his business, as he expressed it, and he was making plans to go to St. Paul to superintend the construction of some houses upon lots which he had purchased there some time ago. He purchased an invalid chair and insisted upon being taken out on the streets as late as last Friday. He refused to entertain the idea of death, expressing the strongest determination and expectation of recovery up to the very last.
The old man made a will about six months ago, the document being drawn by Hon. John Patton, jr. C. B. Kelsey was named as executor of his estate. Mr. Sackett leaves three children, T. Ackley Sackett of Minneapolis, Fitch Carl Sackett of Brooklyn, N. Y., and another son, whose whereabouts are at present unknown. The deceased had been married twice. After the death of his first wife he married again, but did not live happily, and was divorced from her thirty years ago. The divorced wife has been remarried more than twenty years. Mr. Sackett also left a brother in Croton, Newaygo county, and several nephews and nieces.
For all of his eccentricities, Sackett enjoyed the friendship of hundreds of newsboys, and the annual sleighrides given to the boys by him will be missed. A week ago last Sunday Sackett struggled about the streets in an endeavor to conduct his business as usual, but the extreme heat compelled him to spend most of his time reclining in shady doorways. Here he was attended by the little newsboys, who took turns in relieving the old man's distress by fanning him.
The funeral will be held from O'Brien's undertaking rooms on Friday at 2 p. m. C. B. Kelsey and Henry Spring have charge of the arrangements. It is desired that all the newsboys in the city attend the funeral, and they are therefore requested to meet at The Evening Press office on Friday at 1 p.m., from which place they will go to the funeral in a body."
[Researched by Kari Roehl.]
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 21, 1896
Grand Rapids' Famous Old Newsboy Is Dead—Left a Fortune.
Grand Rapids, Mich., Aug. 20—Orsemus Sackett, "the newsboy," is dead. He was 72 years old, had been peddling papers here for 10 years or more and leaves a fortune of several thousand dollars. He was born in New England and as a young man grew rich in piloting George Francis Train, Horace Greeley and other famous lecturers about the country. He lost his money speculating in oil, and in an unfortunate venture in Western lands, and when he came here he "went broke." He began selling papers in a modest way and soon became a familiar character. It was his boast that he could furnish papers from any city on the globe. At one time he made a sensation by appearing in a suit of clothing with $5, $10 and $20 pieces as buttons. Two sons survive him."
[Researched by Kari Roehl.]
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 21, 1896
"Kind Words For Sackett.
The Newsboys' Band Sorrows, for a Friend Has Passed Away.
Peioskey, Mich., Aug. 21.—The members of The Evening Press Newsboys' band have been the jolliest resorters in Michigan, but when they heard of the death of O. Sackett, the veteran newsboy, they looked very sorry indeed and at once drafted resolutions of respect. The boys had been treated well by the aged newsman, and they are not the sort to forget a friend. The resolutions were characteristic and read as follows:
Whereas, We liked Mr. Sackett, the oldest newsboy in Grand rapids, very much, and
Whereas, He was always good to us and gave us jolly times by his yearly sleighrides for the newsboys, be it
Resolved, that we are very sorry to hear of his death and regret that we cannot show our respect by going to the funeral. We wish we could send some flowers, but we shall never forget him, and maybe that would please Mr. Sackett just as well.
(Signed) Geo. Simmons, Arthur Thomas, Frank Pla?s."
[Researched by Kari Roehl.]
- Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 22, 1896
"One Dollar Each
Sackett's Sons Are Cut Off by His Will.
His Money to Lie in Bank Nineteen Years Before Being Divided
As soon as the relatives returned from the funeral of Newsman Sackett yesterday they assembled at the People's Savings bank and listened to the reading of the last will and testament of the deceased. After directing that all just debts and funeral expenses be paid, the sum of $1 was bequeathed to each of the three sons. To his nieces, Anna and Eva Sackett, was given his gold watch and amethyst ring. The residue of the estate is bequeathed to the grandchildren, Geraldine, Irving and Byron Irving of Brooklyn, N. Y., and to his great grandchildren, Althea Wade and William S. Wade of Hurley, Wis., and the nieces, Anna and Eva Sackett, of Croton, Newaygo county, Mich.
It is directed that the estate be converted into money as soon as possible and deposited in the Peoples Savings bank, to be kept there, with accrued interest, for nineteen years and then distributed equally among the heirs named.
Charles B. Kelsey is named as executor of the will. He places the value of the estate at from $5,000 to $7,000, allowing for the valuation placed upon the St. Paul property by the deceased.
After the reading of the will Mr. Kelsey brought out a small tin box containing the keepsakes and other treasures of the dead man. They were family pictures, a few pieces of old silver, an ancient deed to some lots in Grand Rapids, two marriage certificates and a copy of a decree of divorce dated 1891. A tattered piece of paper bore the family record, showing that the deceased was born in Chili, Monroe county, N. Y., July 19, 1826."
[Researched by Kari Roehl.]
- Topeka Daily Capital, Kansas, 22 Aug 1896, p. 4
HE LIVED IN TOPEKA
Sackett, the Newsboy, Was Well Known in This City.
At the Age of 77 He Sold Papers and When He Died He Was Worth $16,000—His Son's Escapade.
There are many people in Topeka who remember Or[s]emus Sackett, the "77-year-old newsboy," who died at Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday. Sackett is the old man who sold newspapers and peanuts on Kansas avenue away back in the 70's, and during his residence here he brought Horace Greeley to Topeka to lecture.
At that time nearly everybody in Topeka knew him, for he was then the character of the town. Two sons survive him. One of them, Harry, was his office boy while he conducted his lecture bureau. Harry figured in a sensational incident over a year ago. He eloped from Elkhart, Ind., with Frankie Davenport, a belle of the town, and the runaways were arrested at Topeka. Sackett fixed up the matter by marrying the girl. She left him afterwards and went to Washington, securing a divorce a few months ago.
Sackett was with "Wild Bill" in 1871 when that famous frontiersman made a target of an "O" in the I.O.O.F. glass transparency in the Odd Fellows' building at Missouri avenue and Main street, Kansas City. Wild Bill fired thirteen shots in succession through it, riddling the "O" out of existence, and then City Marshal Speers came up and put a stop to his little fun.
Sackett was born in New England, but lived in Chicago before coming here, and was one of the minor projectors of the Chicago Inter Ocean, and was formerly associated with Frank Palmer, formerly its publisher, and once postmaster there, as well as United States government printer. Old Chicagoans will remember Sackett as the noted "Yankee card writer" in the Sherman house lobby in 1863 and 1864. He was the original "card writing professor" and spent his summers at Saratoga, Newport and Long Branch, and made lots of money. Before coming to Kansas City he lost every dollar he had speculating in oil.
Sackett invented the little rack, to be found on almost every hotel counter, for cards, envelopes, noteheads, pens, ink, matches and telegrams, and made much money on the invention. He left Kansas late in 1879, with nearly $40,000, for Grand Rapids, Mich., to manufacture these hotel conveniences. After a year's work he was stricken with disease and was practically an invalid for five years thereafter.
When he began life again he had just 50 cents. This was the modest capital with which he started selling newspapers on the streets of Grand Rapids. He had no stand, but traveled all over the town and suburbs selling and delivering the daily newspapers, weekly picture papers and magazines. It was his boast that he carried his office in his hat. He walked about twenty miles every day to cover his routes. He could furnish papers from any place on the globe and sold over 400 daily. One of his eccentricities was to occasionally appear in a suit of clothes with buttons made of $5, $10 and $20 gold pieces, the latter on his overcoat. He left about $16,000.
He lived in Kansas City for several years. Sackett was one of the most eloquent boomers in early days, and he never grew tired of singing the praises of Kansas City by day and night. He predicted, in 1879, a population of 150,000 by the census of 1890 and his prophecy came true. When any of his lyceum stars arrived he met them at the depot with a magnificent blooded team and rig, and the first thing he did, after a brief lunch, was to show them the then rising and rugged western metropolis in all its picturesque beauty and descant eloquently upon its future greatness. He brought all the star actors of the country, too, here in the early days. He was enterprising to an extreme, and no price was too great for him if the orator was of national reputation. He also had a habit of using the wires lavishly in furthering his lecture schemes.
[Researched by Ted Smith and transcribed from Newspapers.com image by Chris Sackett]
- Minneapolis Journal, Minnesota, August 29, 1896
SACKETT'S ODD WILL
He Left Three of His Sons Legacies of $1 Each
THE ESTATE SAID TO BE LARGE
Some Valuable Lots in St. Paul Being Among the Rest Properties.
X. Ackley Sackett, a genial silhouettist, who has won many friends in Minneapolis, returned to the city yesterday from Grand Rapids, Mich., where he was summoned to attend the funeral of his father, Orsemus Sackett, which occurred a week ago yesterday.
Orsemus Sackett was 70 years of age, and was well known in his day as a newsman and amusement manager, and, though in many respects he was called eccentric, his funeral was attended by a large number of people, conspicuous among whom were the newsboys of Grand Rapids.
The pallbearers were carriers on the daily papers.
The Rev. Thomas W. Illman, who preached the funeral sermon, said of the dead man that he had not been an eccentric whose qualities were repellant, but one who attracted much sympathy. He was a man of untiring will and wonderful energy; one who did not let the grass grow under his feet.
"We do not know," continued the minister, "that he was soured against the world, but in his manner of living he separated himself from the rest of the world and lived a life apart from his fellows. He may have made no profession of religion. I am not here to make him out a saint, as is too often done in such cases. I am told that he had no belief in the hereafter. His belief or nonbelief does not alter the truth, and we believe that he knows now what we only see with the instinct of mind and heart."
The Grand Rapids Democrat, from which the above facts are taken, published in full the strange will of the peculiar old man. To his three sons he left $1 each and to his nieces, Anna and Eva Sackett of Croton, Mich., he left an amethyst ring and a gold watch, "to be divided between them as they shall agree." To these two nieces and five grandchildren and great grandchildren the will assigns all the remainder and residue of the estate, but under the most peculiar conditions. All the property is to be converted into money, which is to be deposited with the People's savings bank of Grand Rapids, Mich., where it is to remain at interest for nineteen years, at the end of which time it is to be gradually distributed among the persons named.
As the two nieces are middle-aged women already, they will not come into enjoyment of the property until life's end is near. Immediately after the reading of the will one of the nieces said that she was sure that her uncle had intended to cancel that part of the will relating to the nineteen years before the distribution. Mr. Kelsey, the executor of the estate, said he was of Miss Sackett's opinion. X. Ackley Sackett, the silhouettist, who had been cut off with $1, though he had always been his father's favorite, assured the nieces that he would assist them in getting the objectionable clause set aside and they in turn assured him that as he had always been good to his father they would divide with him if the courts ruled out the peculiar clause. The estate is believed to be worth about $20,000 or $25,000, among the property holdings being two valuable lots at St. Paul."
[Researched by Kari Roehl.]
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The Boston Post, Boston, Massachusetts. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
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Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, DC. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
Official Catalogue of the New-York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. 1853. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, Wisconsin. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
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The Daily Cleveland Herald, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
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Albany Evening Journal, Albany County, New York. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
The Advertiser, Union Springs, New York. (Researched by Kari Roehl).
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