In the village of Washington, Fayette Co., Ohio, there was a
transient sort of a personage, a kind of floating farmer, named
Hinkle,Jacob Hinkle,commonly called Old Jake Hinkle. Jake
was, originally, a Dutchman, a Pennsylvania, Lancaster County Dutchman;
and that was about as Dutch as Holland and Sour Krout could well
make a human critter. Well, Jake Hinkle owned, or had squatted on, a
small patch of land, just beyond old Mother Rodger's bottom, that is,
about a mile east of the Rattle Snake Fork of Paint Creek, which,
every thundering fool out West knows, empties itself intoBig Paint,
which finally rolls out into the Muskingum, and thence into the Ohio.
Very well, having settled the geographical position of Jake Hinkle, let
me go on to state what kind of a critter Jake was, and how it came
about that he was pronounced dead, one cold morning, and how he came up
to town and denied the assertion.
Jake Hinkle loved corn, lived on it, as most people do in the
interior of Ohio and Kentucky; he loved corn, but loved corn
whiskey more, and this love, many a time, brought Jake up to the Court
House of Washington, through rain, hail and snow, to get a nipper,
fill his jug, and go home. Now, in the West it is a custom more honored
in the breach than in the observance, perhaps, for grog shops of the
village to play all sorts of fantastic tricks upon old codgers who come
up to town, or down to town, hitch their horses to the fence, and there
let the critters stand, from 10 A. M. to 12 P. M., more or less, and
longer. The most popular dodge is, to shave the horse's tail, turn it
loose, and let it go home. Of course, that horse is not soon
seen in the village again, as a horse with a shored tail is about the
meanest thing to look at, except a singed possum, or a dandyyou ever
One very cold night, in January, '39, Jake Hinkle came down to the
Court House, hitched his horse to the Court Square fence, and made a
straight bend for Sanders' Grocery, and began to wood up. Old
Jake's tongue was a perfect bell-clapper, and when well oiled with corn
juice, could rip into the high and low Dutch like a nor'easter into a
field of broom corn. Jake talked and talked, and drank and talked, and
about midnight, the cocks crowing, the stars winking and blinking, and
the wind nipping and whistling around the grocery, Sanders notified
Jake and others that he was going to shut up the concern, and the crowd
must be putting out. Jake made a break for his nag, but she was gone.
Why, says Jake, she's broke der pridle and gone home, and by skure I
shall walk,and off Jake put, through the cold and mud.
Next morning, when the Circleville stage came along between old Marm
Rodger's bottom, and the Rattle Snake Fork of Paint, the driver
discovered poor old Jake laid out, stiff and cold as a wedge! Alas,
poor old Jake! Gone! Quite a gloom hung over the grocery; Jake was an
inoffensive, good old fellow, nobody denied that, and certain young
fellers who had shaved the tail of Jake's mare the night previous,
and set her loose, now felt sort of sorry for the deed. The editor of
the Argus of Freedom came down to the grocery, to get his morning
nip, heard the news, went back to his office, set up Jake's
obituary notice, pitched in a few sorrowful phrases, and then put his
paper to press; that afternoon, the whole edition, of some two hundred
copies, were distributed around among the subscribers and dead heads,
and Jake Hinkle was pronounced stone deadpegged out!
Two or three days afterwards, a man covered with mud and sweat, came
rushing into Washington. He paused not, nor turned not right or left,
until he found the office of the Argus of Freedom, where he rushed
in, and confronting the editor, he spluttered forth:
You der printer of dish paper,der noosh paper?
Yes, says the 'responsible,' I am the man, looking a little
Vell, bine de great Jehosaphat, what for you'n make me deat?
Me? Make you dead? says the no little astonished editor.
Yaas! bawled old Jake, for it was heYou'n tell de people I
diet; it's a lie! And do you neber do it again, and fool de
peeples, witout you git a written order from me!
That editor, ever afterwards, insisted on seeing the funeral before
he recorded an obituary notice.