How far would someone go to prove their love?
How far would someone go to make an easy dollar?
How far would the public go to believe a story in 1897?
In the next few stories, a young Missouri boy falls in love with a soft, tender, and delicate treasure. Yet, I ask you, Dear Reader, look beneath the veneer and ask.
Did he fall in love with an Arkansas girl?
Or, is it his self-preservation?
Is it the money?
Is it a scheme?
Or, is it true love?
Only time and a few newspaper articles will tell.
Nevertheless, when true love comes, the multilayered façade can quickly fade to expose the genuine and unadulterated motives of the heart.
In evidence of the profound truthfulness of the remark once made by the illustrious Sir John Lubbock, that "love defies distance and the elements," we have but to call attention to the case of one of the most ambitious, heroic young men of America—Mr. T. Allen McQuary, a resident of the state of Missouri, says the veracious Post-Dispatch of St. Louis.
This young lover hero has taken upon himself the arduous task of making a trip on horseback around the world for the privilege of marrying the girl of his heart's choice—the beautiful young daughter of a rich planter of Arkansas.
Mr. McQuary is now at Mountain Grove, Mo, a quiet, thrifty town of Wright county. It is here probably he is making the longest stop of any place through which he will travel while making the circuit of the world, from the fact that he is obliged to earn by "honorable means" sufficient funds with which to purchase a horse, saddle, bridle and quite an extensive costume for himself, as per the stipulations of the conditions to which he must comply before he can make the trip In the prescribed manner.
The origin of this unique project of, which Mr. McQuary finds himself the central figure of attraction is of a very romantic nature.
In the spring of 1896 Mr. McQuary disposed of The Rustler printing plant in Neosho, Mo., where he had lived for 14 years, seven of which had been spent in the printing business, and went south for his health as well as to look up a new business location. At a small place about 45 miles from Little Rock he became acquainted with the young daughter of a wealthy planter, and as time went by the two became everlastingly and irretrievably infatuated with one another, and concluded that the best thing to do under the circumstances would be to get married. The young lady was the only child of this planter, and what made her more than ever dear to him in his old age was the sad fact that the mother died when the girl was born.
When he was asked to consent to the match, he sternly though kindly refused to listen to such a proposal. Why? Because his child was only 16 years of age, and the two lovers, he said, were not well enough acquainted. He did not absolutely refuse them, but sternly gave them to understand there was ''time enough yet." The couple, of course, were yet encouraged, despite the father's refusal to consent to a speedy marriage, and as time glided by Mr. McQuary became more intimately acquainted with the old gentleman, and ofttimes he would spend hour after hour in the old gentleman's reading room talking and reading about bygone days. The old gentleman would often on these occasions throw out the idea that the young men of the present generation were not as brave and heroic as were those of his earlier days. Mr. McQuary, of course, stood up manfully for the boys of today by assuring the old fellow that no such opportunities now presented themselves for our boys to show their grit, and finally one day clinched his argument by asserting that he would gladly avail himself of any such opportunity o exhibit his heroic propensities if by so doing he could only get permission to marry the girl he was so anxious to make his wife.
He realized later the expense of the remark when the old gentleman confronted him with a written document and stated that he was going to test his earnestness in the matter. It was then he told Mr. McQuary he could marry his daughter in 18 months, provided that he would in the meantime carry out the conditions stipulated in the document, of which the following is a true copy:
Conditions by the exact fulfillment of–which you shall be rewarded by the hand of my daughter in marriage and the sum of $5,000 on your return if the trip be made within the limited time—18 months, commencing May 19, 1897.
Your mode of traveling shall be upon a black horse by land, not less than 15 hands in height and not more than 8 years of age. You are to be accompanied by two of my large dogs. Should one of them die on the trip, you will only receive $4,000 on your return. Should both be missing, you will only receive $3,000 on your return.
Your dress shall be like that of an ancient knight, plush or velvet black or purple, as you prefer. You shall wear a blade about your loins, never to be removed only when you retire. You shall wear a black mask over the upper part of your face, never to be removed until 8 o’clock, p.m., and to be replaced at 6 o’clock in the morning.
Day rules: You shall rise at 6 o’clock each morning, feed and care for your own horse and dogs before your breakfast. You shall not beg or borrow money of any description. You shall obtain the signature and date stamp of the postmaster of each town or city through which you pass, signature and seal of the governor of each and every state, signature and seal of each and every president, king, queen or emperor through every country you may travel. You shall attend some religious service every Sunday.
Direction of travel shall be from your starting point to New York city to Cuba, where you shall obtain the signature of the commander n chief of the insurgents, also the Spanish chief. There I release all restrictions as to your course; you may travel through any country in Europe or Asia that you may wish.
In entering upon your trip you are to begin penniless and begin by your own labor your horse, saddle, bridle &c. in an honorable way. All debts must be paid in each and every town or city before you leave.
Thing to be remembered—you shall never mention my name during the entire trip. A violation of this condition will cause you to lose all.
Wishing you success, I am respectfully,
Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 18th day of May, 1897. (My commission expires March 11, 1901.)
(Seal) Notary Public
A very careful perusal of the last clause of the above conditions will explain why the public will necessarily have to remain in ignorance of the planter's and notary's names, as well as their places of residence.
Mr. McQuary, having previously selected Mountain Grove as his "starting and quitting point," arrived in town on the 19th of May and at once made known to the newspaper reporters his business. The following morning he formed the acquaintance of M. S. Glenn, editor of one of the local papers, to whom he delivered what cash he had, thus launching himself boldly among strangers in a penniless condition. He went to work the following day, however, as compositor on Our Country, which position he still holds.
Mr. McQuary is about 23 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches in height, weighs 145 pounds, is light complexioned, refined, unassuming, reserved in disposition, and, all in all, a gentleman worthy of the acquaintance and friendship of every loyal, ambitious, honest and respectable, citizen of the land, as described by The Post-Dispatch.
Mr. McQuary has a press agent in the person of Editor M. S. Glenn of Mountain Grove, who will see that the traveler's progress is duly advertised, and may succeed in giving him sufficient notoriety to make his journey an easy one financially.
McQuary tells a pretty story of his sweetheart at the old well on her father's plantation:
End of Article.
Stay Tuned for A Missouri Lover & an Arkansas “Dream” Girl…Part 2.
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Works Cited:“Missouri Don Quixote.” Daily Herald 4.14 (29 June, 1897) 8. Access Newspaper Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 1 Dec. 2009 http://www.access.newspaperarchive.com/.