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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (March 10, 1907)
The Omaha Sunday. Bee
PACKS 1 T 6.
THE OMAHA DEC
Best & West
VOL. XXXVI-NO. 33.
OMAHA, SUNDAY MORNING, MARCH 10, 1007.
SINGLE COPY FIVE CENTS.
ISAAC S. HASCALL UNIQUE FIGURE IN OMAHA HISTORY
Life Story of a Lawyer Who Was Also a Pioneer and Who Has Taken an Active Part In the Affairs of the West Since the Early Days of the Oregon Trail
THE SOLITARY occupant of a little house standing on tho
bluff east of Rlvervlew park, commanding a magnificent
view of the Missouri river for miles to the south and
giving the eye a clear sweep over many square miles on
both sides of the river, Is a p'oneer who settled In Omaha
In 1865, Isaac S. Hascall. A bold and generous heart, a great
though Idiosyncratic mind, a true and original soul and a sturdy
body, these make up the Individual of this remarkable man.
As his mind is unique, so Is his method of living different from
that of other men. To many it would not be agreeable, but a con
templation of It Is refreshing to the soul blase with the world's con
formity to fashion. The door, which leads Into the house Is propped
hut from the Inside with a board. Judge Hascall meets the visitor
at the door with a handshake. No suspicious eye does he cast upon,
the stranger, for to him all men are friends until they prove them
selves otherwise. In the living room the visitor may sit on one of
the two nail kegs or on a chair and prop his feet on the kitchen
stove. Boxes, books, papers and magazines are piled In a true
bachelor style all about the room. A wash basin rests In the top
of a nail keg. Some socks hang over the back of chair. A bucket
stands on the stove with some water boiling In It. A curtain la
stuck up so as to cover the lower part o( the window.
The head of this house is as unique as the appointment of the
room. His shoes are not laced and he wears no socks. His form
Is innocent of a shirt except his undergarment. A piece of stout
twine tied around his chest serves to keep his buttonless Prince
Albert coat together In front. But he makes no apology for his non
conformity to modern fashion. Why should he? Did Diogenes apolo
gize for his tub? Did Sir Isaac Newton and a host of other thinkers
apologize for their dress while their brains were working out world
problems? Not at all. No more Is Judge Hascall afflicted with self
consciousness before the visitor AhoBe dress may conform more to
the style and who may be more afflicted with self-consciousness.
But when one has listened to the conversation of this man for an
hour and studied his kindly face he grows to like him and his man
ner of living Is but of little moment.
He was born March 8, 1831, in Erie county. New York. His
father, Jonathan Hascall. was a presidential elector from New York
in 1845. The son studied In the public schools and read law with
Judge Lorenzo Morris. He was admitted to the bar In Buffalo,
N. Y., In 1853. In the fall of 1854 he decided to stareut Into the
west to seek his fortune. This was soon after the great '49 excite
ment in California. He went first to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he
stayed during the winter of 1854-55. In the spring of the latter
year he went up into the Little Blue ccuntry and later returned to
Atchison, Kan., where he practiced law four years.
Out Among the Indians '
He then determined to push farther into tne great west, though
It was then infested with Indians and overrun with lawless white
men. He secured transportation to- Denver and there organized a
train for Oregon. Dick Darling, afterward of Omaha, was one of the
men whom he took with him on this trip and from him he first heard
of Omaha. It was a long and very perilous trip from Denver across
the Laramie plains to Oregon. Part of his baggage was a great box
filled with law books. Through all the hardships of that trip he
clung to that box. though other trains were driven to such straits
that they dropped even log chains and all heavy things that could
possibly be dispensed with. Many times the Indians attacked him
and he had a number of very narrow escapes. He tells of a man
who had come out from Iowa with a train. When he heard how
bad the Indians were he put up some "big talk" to Hascall's party.
"If they drive off my stock I'll go out and take them." he de
clared. That very night the red men drove off hla cattle. The next
morning, in high dudgeon, he called his men together. It amused
HaBcall'r party to see thejr had been drilled. The Iowa man formed
them and gave the order, "forward march," and away went the little
company." As they reached the foothills the Indians, who were be
hind the boulders on the mountain side, began dctourlng and were
about to cut off the little army from their camp. Just In time the
men saw them, broke ranks and ran pell mell back toward the wagon
train, followed by their commander. The latter was shot In the
back, the ball going through his body. Ho recovered, however, but
never was known to pursue Indians in that fashion again.
Judge HaRcall is the discoverer of the Big Shoshone falls in
Wyoming. His party had camped one night when, as the sun was
descending, he noticed a great cloud rising several miles to the north.
His men thought it was only smoke from an Indian signal fire, but
he knew better. The next morning he took several men and went
In that direction. When they had approached within a couple of
miles they heard the roar of the cataract. When It . burst upon
them in all its beauty it was a sight to remember. The vast volume
( of water came thundering down, sending spray twice its own height.
Upon a rock below the falls and some distance from them stood a
solitary Indian, his bare, brown body gleaming In the sun. One of
the men took careful aim with his rifle, pulled the trigger and the
Indian fell into the rapids and was swept away. An Indian's life
was of no more value than that of a beast in those days.
In a god-forsaken part of the Laramie plains they came upon
a most God-forsaken Indian. He was Just about starving to death.
Young Hascall ordered him fed and asked him how far it was to
"grass." The Indian laid his head, down on the ground three times,
thereby signifying one would have to sleep three nights before ar
riving there. He was taken along and fed by his benefactors, but
when he was discovered trying to steal a rlfle on the second night
he was driven away Into the wilderness. The venturesome party
was met soon after reaching grass country by the Oregon cavalry,
which was regularly employed in escorting emigrants along the trail
Lawyer in the Wild West
For the next five years he was in the midst of the lawless wild
element of the great west. He was one of the few lawyers In the
new country. In proportion as they were few, their fees were large.
He had an extensive practice, most of his cases being for mining
claims, ditch rights or dumping claims. All payments In those days
were made in gold dust and a lawyer would not look at a case with
out a retaining fee of from 1500 to f 1,000. He was very success
x ful In this cluss of litigation. The life was full of excitement, for
it was dangerous to ride outside of a town, on account of the Indians
and the highwaymen. He did a great deal of traveling, going horse
back a circuit of several hundred miles. He was always armed, but
It was often a question merely of who got the "drop" first. Once
L Iia waa rlfllnir frnm iiiKn.n r .1 1 .. . a
" - nuuuiu. UIC, nuu I U 1 I 3 in ft n iuiso tt ill u u II I oi
gold dust. A man met hlni, an engaging man of pleasing address,
but with a very large rifle lying across his saddle. ' The man showed
a great liking for his society.
"We were approaching the Payette river," says Judge Hascall,
"and I thought he intended to 'pet me' where there was a long ex
tent of trees near the stream. So I told him my horse was tired and
I would stop at a ranch which we were passing. He decided to stop,
too. We went in and I told the .anchor I wanted a good horse be
cause mine was worn out. He had one, but didn't think Tcould ride
him. He offered to trade for mine with an ounce of gold dust 'ta
boot I told him to bring the animal in. You couldn't get near
that broncho. He would Jump and strike out ten feet with his fore
legs. About six of us got hold of him and saddled and bridled him
after some trouble. Then they held him till I was on, and away he
went down the road and through the river without once stopping.
The highwayman kept up with mo for about a mile and then dropped
behind. The broncho ran thirty-three miles without stopping.
I tied Mm up at a haystack at the next ranch, when he was
to Ured be couU hardly stand. I slept In the haystack aul the
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ISAAC S. HASCALL.
next morning we went on after I had paid 4 for the hay he ate.
Hay was expensive in that country."
While out on a prospecting expedition once he had an exciting
adventure with desperadoes. He was on his way up the Bald Butte
when he met two strangers. They offered to dig the prospect holes
if he would give them their feed. He agreed and they proceeded
together. They camped that night and when he woke up the next
morning it was to look straight into the muzzle of a revolver held
by one of the men. The other Btood by with a big knife.
"We want this outfit," they said.
Robbers Overhauled But Freed
The young prospector could do nothing but yield. He knew,
however, they would have to cross a prospectors' trail as they went
down the mountain and he followed them. A party came along the
trail Just as he reached It. He told of the robbery add they Imme
diately organized a party and followed the robbers through the
snow, catching them before they had gone five miles. The outfit
was returned to the owner and then one of the men who had helped
In catching the robbets handed a big dragoon revolver to Hascall.
"Kill them," he said laconically.
But Hascall was never a blood-thirsty man and he presented the
men with their lives. Such mercy was the exception in such cases
rather than the rule. It would have been considered perfectly
proper to shoot the two men in cold blood. There were other ad
ventures in those days, many of which he passed through. He saw
an odd accident once. A pack mule fell from a prceipice into the
top of a tree, 100 feet below, where it was held fast in the crotch ot
a limb. It had to be left there, though a bullet was mercifully 6ent
through Its head.
The young pioneer lawyer became acquainted with many of the
leading men in the west at that time, among his close friends being
Governor Gibbs of Oregon and Attorney General Wilson, later of
Grant'B cabinet. Eventually he decided to leave there and took the
stage for San Francisco. He remembers many Interesting Incidents
of this trip. He and "a Russian Jew were the only occupants of the
stage when It reached- Jacksonville, where a short stop was made.
W'hen they were ready to proceed they found the stage filled with
Chinamen. The Jew knew how to deal with the yellow men. He
got in and kicked right and left, sending them flying out of the stage.
Then the two white men got in and rode in state the rest of the way,
while the representatives of the "yellow peril" clung to the top and
squatted In the boot.
At one of the stations where the' stage stopped a small grizzled
Dutchman was waiting! There were no seats left and the driver
told him he would have to wait fof another stage. A big miner
Jumped down and started to lift the little man Into his place.
"I'll not ride and see the pioneer stay here," he said.
The little man was Sutter, the original discoverer of gold In
California. He had become very rich, but had gambled away all he
had and only his ranch on Feather river remained.
Arriving In San Francisco, ung Hascall remained there a few
days and then went to New York by way of the Isthmus of Panama,
a trip of thirteen days down the west coast, a day by railroad across
the Isthmus and nine days up the east coast to New York. He visited
In his old home where he had left his wife when ho went from Kan
eas into the far west. They had been married some years before.
But he was not satisfied with the east and soon left for Omnha, ot
which he had heard so much. He arrived In the growing town in
March, 1S65, and found things "booming," so that ho could hardly
find a place to stay. He finally succeeded In purchaslns a building
at the northeast corner of Fifteenth and Farnani streets, where a
Mrs. Corey had been conducting a store. He went to housekeeping
there with his wife and opened a law office In the old Floneer block.
County Judge in Omaha
His Identity with politics began almost with the day of his com
ing to the city, for he was appointed county judge to fill out the
term of Judge Dickinson, who had died. The following year he
was elected to the office. He was afterward a member of the con
stitutional convention and cast the deciding vote in the senate on
the constitutional provision regarding the negro, under which Ne
braska was made a state. Ho was elected to the senate again in
1869 and was in that body when it impeached Governor Butler In
1870. He was acting governor of tho state for a short time in the
early dayj. In city politics he has been a power and has often been
referred to as "boss" of the council. He was eouncilman-at-largo
two terms, served one term as councilman from the Flrs ward and
one term as councilman from' the Second ward.
Regarding all these political honors, Judge Hascall Is extremely
"I Just went into the council to get something done," he. says.
"They were spending too much time tooling around with little ihinga
and we needed improvements."
The first year he was in the council he secured the building of
the big Jackson street sewer. He was a man most remarkable for
his thorough knowledge of the property in the city. He had a
perfect mental picture of any lot that might be mentioned. He
gained a reputation, also, for doing things and for sterling honesty.
None could excell him in shrewdness, but he was as generous as ha
was shrewd. He conducted extensive speculations in real estate,
chiefly in the south part of the city. He has left a permanent mon
ument in the foundation for a million dollar hotel or castle which
he had projected. The1 foundations still exist, embracing an area of
more than a block Just north of the Vinton street park. People
have named It "Hascall's folly." Even If the term is Justified, it is
the folly of an optimist, of a builder, of the kind of man that is not
afraid to risk money on enterprises, of a man who contributed much
toward the upbuilding of Omaha.
Unique Among His Fellows
Today, in his 76th year, Judge Isaac Hascall Is a man unique
among his fellows. He lives in his little home overlooking the
lordly Missouri, a philosopher anions his books. In many ways he
resembles Diogenes, the Greek who lived in a tub. But he differs
from that worthy in that his soul Is not bitter toward his fellowman.
It Is related that the Greek said to a man who called upon him at
his tub, "Stand out of my sunshine." Isaac Hascall says to the
visitor, "Come In," and If any refreshments aro on hand, the visitor
Ir invited to help himself.
Upstairs the two rooms of his little house are bare of furniture
to give comfort to the body, but they are liberally and profusely sup--plied
with books to give pleasure and wisdom to the mind. Four
great cases are filled with the volumes. There are "Grant'B
Memories," "Modern Eloquence," "Twenty Years in Congress," "Li
brary of Choice Literature," "Character Sketches," "Pope's Works,"
"Life of Washington," "Life of Lincoln" and a thousand others. And
In all of them this remarkable old man Is versed. History, literature,
science, philosophy, all have engaged the attention of his -active
mind. He Is doing some writing himself and if his works partake of
the interest of his individuality and his conversation, they should
find a ready sale. His conversation Is pithy and Interesting, with
the added charm of an unique piquancy of expression. Of his own
life and accomplishments he Is extremely modest. He likes to talk,
but would rather talk on some subject other than himself.
Judge Hascall has one daughter, Mrs. R. F. Williams of this
city. He and his wife separated a number of years ago. And now
this unique man is about to marry again. His bride he remembers
as a pretty little girl he met at a boarding Bchool back In New York
nearly half a century ago. Her name was Portia Hawkins. Her
father and Judge Hascall were warm friends in the former days,
and their admiration for the works of Shakespeare drew them
together. Miss Hawkins married, but Is a widow, and lives In
Buffalo, N. Y. They corresponded regularly. This spring Judge
Hascall expects to go east, and the wedding will take place then.
Judge Hascall Is still the hearty, vigorous man his free manner of
life has made him. He lives a mile from the car line, but thinks
nothing of the Journey down town, even in the most disagreeable
Judge Hascall has been a Mason all his life and is proud of the
fact that his father and grandfather were members of the same
honorable order. He has never affiliated with any church.
"There were bo many 'isms' that I couldn't decide on any
particular one of them," he says. But a well-worn copy of the Bible
on the shelves of one of his bookcases indicates that he has made a
close study of that book.
Weidensall Writes of Switzerland Y. M. C. A. Work
DURINO my visitation of Europe I passed
through Switzerland several times, but
stopped at two cities only for any length
of time, Geneva and Basle. I first en
tered Switzerland from Italy in July through the
great Rlmplon tunnel, the largest tunnel in the
-world. At this time I stopped in and about
Geneva for sixteen days, when I made a study of
the nations of Europe with the secretaries ot the
world's committee, who treated me very kindly.
A trip to Europe was outlined for me. but made
In sections of nations and groups of nations. The .
first section included the northern nations of Eu
rope, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and
Russia, as I desired to visit them In the warm
months of the year. Then followed the nations
southward, finishing up with Portugal, Spain and
France. During this stay in Geneva I had fre
quent helpful conferences with the secretaries of
the world's committee concerning the nations I .
was to visit, making special mention of the na
tional committees and committees of local asso
ciations, and securing from 'them a list of the
names of the officers of both committees. A very
helpful route of travel by land and water was
marked out for me. During this stay I had also
a most satisfactory visit with Mr. R. Sarasin, pres
ident of the world's committee, at his own request.
It was far up In the Alps, In sight of the high,
snowy range, Including the Matterhorn and Mt.
Blanc, where he and his family were spending the
summer. I gave him a running statement of my
T'-iUcJLlca lbs nalieaa and associations of the
far east and Italy, which I had visited on my way
I then desired to learn of him what he wanted
me to do In my visitation of the nations of Europe
and In my conferences with their national and
local association workers. He was deeply Inter
ested in all association work aryd was specially In
terested In my world trip. He and his family did
all that could bo done to make my sojourn with
them enjoyable. When I left I had not only his
words of counsel and advice, but his well wishes
and his heart love. Leaving Geneva about
August 1, I went to Norway by way of Ber
lin, Copenhagen and Stockholm. After visiting
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia
I returned direct from St. Petersburg through
Berlin to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the meet
ing of the world's committee Young Men's Chris
tian association September-27, 1906. I was de
lighted to attend a meeting of this committee and
an opportunity was kindly afforded nie to ?lve a
running rertort of my world trip of the associa
tions, and particularly of the European nations I
had Just visited, and my proposed visits of all the
other European nations. All I had to say seemed
Jo be most heartily received and appreciated. I
met in that committee meeting some prominent
association men that were very helpful to me in
my subsequent trips, notably Mr. H. Helblng, sec
retary of the German national committee. He
cordially invited me to meet with his national
committee at Its headquarters. Barmen, Germany,
October 9 and 10. 1906. This proved a very
great help to me in my visitation of the associa
tions and association men In the German empire.
During this second visit to Geneva I had more
special conferences and Interviews with the presi
dent and secretaries of the world's committee
about my future movements. A new outline of
travel was afforded me. I left Geneva September
29 for a continued trip through Germany, Austria
and Hungary and returned to Basle. Switzerland.
October 27 and stayed In the home of the presi
dent of the world's committee. Mr. R. Saraslu,
where I was well provided for and made one of
1 visited some ot the associations and associa
tion buildings with Mr. Sarasin. and with others.
There is au unusual number of independent asso
ciations in Basle, which are scattered throughout
the entire city, and are working together quite
harmoniously. It is not a metropolitan ork
with branches, but is doing a metropolitan work
in another way. These Independent associations
are of Ions standing and are coming closer to
gether in their work as they are animated by the
one spirit In their work for all the young men of
the city. I think they will of themselves grow
into a metropolitan work. The large number of
associations there, many well located and well
equipped buildings and rooms, and their 1.000
active Christian members, enable them to do an
excellent work, but they are capable of doing a
mut:h larger and better work, and 1 believe they
will do it. A banquet was prepared by Mr. and Mrs.
Sarasin in their home for the presidents of ail tho
Young Men's Christian associations in Basle to
meet me in conferencal Over twenty were present,
earnest, capable men. At the close of the banquet
I was requested to address them. It was a real
pleasure to do so. Mr. Sarasin was my Interpreter.
I presented them many of the greetings I brought
with me from many parts of the earth, which were
heartily received,' when I spoke to them of the
tremendous importance of the association work,
the fitness of the association to do the work and
of Its marvellous success wherever It has bad a
reasonable opportunity to undertake it. I urged
them to do all they could to put the Basle asso
ciation work in the front rank of association ef
fort; then their work would be worthy of imlta-i
tion. It was a very helpful and enjoyable ban
quet and conference. I left Basle October SI,
1906, to attend the national convention of the
French associations in Nancy, France, with Mr.
R. Sarasin, at his request. This finished up my
trip in Switzerland.
Geneva is an extraordinary city, charmingly
located at the end of Lake Geneva. It Is rut in
two by the majestic River Rhone as it rushes out
of Lake Geneva on its course to the sea. Geneva
is a large and busy city, with a population of 110,
954 inhabitants. It Is one of the renters ot con
tinental travel. It has almost everything to make
it an attractive city. Its great lake of superior
excellence. Its majestic river, unexcelled by any
other; Its punoramic view of the Alps, including
Mt. Blanc; its splendid public buildings, unlver-
(Contlnued on Page Four.)
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