Southwestern Historical Quarterly
S. Chanfrau's cheval de bataille for years and never failed to put
money in his purse.
On November 14, 1887, Professor D. M. Bristol brought his
Eques-Curriculum to Pillot's for a six-day run. It was something
of a marvel in itself that the professor was able to crowd his
twenty-two equine performers into the limited area of the opera
house stage, let alone make them behave, as the bills said they
would, like children at school.15 After the rise of the curtain the
horses all pranced out to "school" with their satchels in their
mouths. The Post account said:
Colonel Wood, Lotta, John Sanborne, and Eagle are all reported
for punishment by Denver, the educated mule. One pupil is ordered to
stand on three legs, one to drop to his knees, one to stand on a dunce-
block, and another to lie down and sleep. Denver rings the bell for a
mathematics exercise by Mollie and Eagle; the latter, on finding the
example wrong, erases the blackboard. Mattie, who is acknowledged
to be one of the wonders of the world, brings writing paper and tells
the month, day and hour by rapping the number with her foot. In the
same manner she adds figures. ... She will squeal at command and
catch a ball thrown to her. Lotta knows the difference between specie
and currency, and will bring either from a closed drawer at command.
Eagle teeters Mollie and Minnie and balances them across a half-
inch iron rod; Eagle also turns on the end of a plank which is five
feet from the floor and but two feet wide.
Another producer who made use of the horse was J. H. Wallick,
who frequently visited the "old Drury" to show his two sure-fire
cards, The Bandit King and The Cattle King. The former was a
pot pourri of rescues, gunfire, fanfare, and other elements like
those of the present day "western," its lineal descendant. The
Cattle King was tamer, had less shooting, and was more moral
than The Bandit. The King featured a wedding on horseback,
performed on the real horses, "Roan Charger" and "Bay Rider."
Once Wallick ventured into Texas history, with a none-too-happy
issue. Sam Houston, or The Heroes of Texas was the name of the
melodrama, and when presented in Houston it offended patrons
with its distortion of historical facts. In this "history," if it may
1xWilmer Waldo, a resident of Houston, recalls seeing Professor Bristol's
horses carried one by one in a sling up the front steps to the second floor of
Pillot's Opera House.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed October 13, 2015.