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A Favorite Postal Card

It is truly amazing what exciting and interesting information can be found on early postal cards. Figure one shows the front side of a postal card–UX 1, which is addressed to J. McCauley, Sheriff, Ridgeway, Pa., Elk County and dated June 25, probably 1873 and mailed from Philadelphia, Pa. It can easily be assumed that such a card was sent to all sheriffs in Pennsylvania, as Elk County is in the Northwestern part of the state, far from Lancaster, which is located in the Southeastern corner. One would think that cards could also have been sent to sheriffs in the neighboring states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

The back of the card, (Figure two) offers a one thousand dollar reward by Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency for arrest and detention of J.H. Horton. Mr. Horton is accused of passing a forged certificate of stock of the Philadelphia and Reading R.R. Co., valued at ten thousand dollars to bankers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This and other transactions netted Horton about seventy-five thousand dollars, and the U.S. Treasury gold certificates he received are listed with their numbers. It is added that a liberal percentage will be paid for recovered certificates.

It is the description of Mr. Horton which is most interesting, and it certainly is easy to construct an image of him in one’s mind.

"Horton, is about 40 years old, 5 feet 7 to 8 inches high, weighs 180 pounds, erect, broad-shouldered, pretty full chested, rather corpulent, shallow complexion, possibly flushed from heavy drinking, rather small black eyes, (notice they didn’t say beady) heavy black eyebrows, short black hair, short side whiskers and mustache, very slightly sprinkled with gray; hair thin on the forehead; rather prominent nose, high bridge, good teeth; generally good features; short thick neck; will probably be dressed in new clothes; wore on little finger a cameo ring, black oval ground, about 3/8 x 5/8 inch, with white female head, mounting moderately heavy and rather plain. Is short step, rapid walker and proficient in pencil and pen sketching."

It would not be easy to miss the culprit with this fine description. The offices of Allan Pinkerton in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia are listed as places where information on Mr. Horton’s whereabouts may be sent. A quick check on the Internet yielded no further information of whether or not the search for Mr. Horton was successful, but it would seem that his life as a scam artist was.

Contact's: J.E. Johnson