Biographies and memoirs of contributors to Forest and Stream: editors, writers, correspondents and others, including those prominent or interesting personalities referred to in the pages of our weekly podcast. Once household names, famous figures known throughout the country their distinguished reputations and public familiarity now faded or forgotten in the passage of time.
March 13, 1834 – December 2, 1917
Charles Hallock was an American author, publisher and prominent conservationist. The founder and publisher of Forest and Stream from 1873–1880. More biographical information coming.
George Bird Grinnell
September 20, 1849 - April 11, 1938
George Bird Grinnell an American historian, naturalist, writer and prominent conservationist. Often called the "father of American conservation," George Bird Grinnell was instrumental in convincing others about the importance of using natural resources wisely.
He lived in New York City but directed great attention to western lands and the region's Native peoples. Beginning in 1870, when he accompanied Yale paleontologist Othniel Marsh on a "bone-hunting" trip to the plains, Grinnell tried to devote a portion of every year to travel and study in the West.
Becoming editor-in-chief of Forest and Stream in 1881-1911, at the time this sportsmen's weekly was the nation's leading voice for conservation.
In addition to helping found several organizations devoted to this cause-including the Audubon Society, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the American Game Association-Grinnell also counseled his friend Theodore Roosevelt about the subject. One of his final achievements was leading the successful decade-long campaign to establish Glacier National Park. More biographical information coming.
May 21, 1806 - August 20,1899
A memoir of Isaac McLellan dated May 15th 1896.
Isaac McLellan, the poet-sportsman, is ninety years old. He resides at Greenport. Long Island. N. Y., where he still enjoys fishing and shooting and the gentle study of outdoor things. Though retired from the duties of professional literature, the brilliant old gentleman still occasionally takes up his pen and writes as charmingly as ever. He has studied birds, fishes and wild game in general, and written about the species and their haunts, for nearly three quarters of a century.
Every sportsman and naturalist and every book lover of the day, knows the history of Isaac McLellan, memoir after memoir of him having appeared in books, newspapers, magazines and reviews all over the world: but there are many young people who will see this, and it is to them these few introductory words are addressed.
Isaac McLellan is the last of the great poets of America. He wrote side by side and was classed with Longfellow, Holmes, Willis and Bryant, and is the last to leave the field.
He is the last of the sportsmen of the " Frank Forester " period. He knew Forester (Henry William Herbert) intimately, and with him and Genio C. Scott, William T. Porter ("York's Tall Son "), Ned Buntline, Harry Fenwood and hosts of other equally famous sportsmen, enjoyed many a day afield.
His literary companions through life have been such men as Daniel Webster. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Henry W. Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, N. P. Willis, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jas. Freeman Clarke, Geo. P. Morris, Henry William Herbert, Samuel C. Clarke and Seargent S. Prentiss.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to McLellan on April 4. 1886 : " I remember well the time when we were writing side by side in the same periodicals and annuals. * * * I hope you still enjoy the outdoor life which you have helped to render attractive, and that you will throw a fly and bring down your bird after you are counted among the centenarians."
Henry W, Longfellow wrote: " I see you in imagination, tramping with your gun and dogs over frozen marshes, eager for any birds that have not been wise enough to migrate southward at this season (February 6, 1875). 'Straight a short thunder breaks the frozen sky,' and the beautiful creatures fall and 'leave their little lives in air.' Meanwhile I sit here by my fire, busy with the reading and making of books: not so healthy a recreation as yours, perhaps, but more congenial to my taste. My old enemy neuralgia sometimes troubles me, and then I suffer like Laocoon with his serpents ".
Isaac McLellan was born in Portland. Maine — the birth-place, likewise, of his life-long friends, Henry W. Longfellow and N. P. Nillis — on May 21, in the year 1806.
To further introduce my old friend, I could not do better than to copy the greater part of the memoir written by my fellow sportsman, Fredrick E. Pond, of Westfield. Wis., in McLellan 's " Poems of the Rod and Gun,"' published by my friend, Henry Thorpe, of Brooklyn, N. Y.. in 1886. I quote as follows:
“The parents of McLellan and Willis removed to Boston, and at the age of thirteen both youths were sent to Phillips Academy, Andover. Mass., to be fitted for college. From thence McLellan went to Bowdoin College, and Willis to Yale. During his college life Isaac McLellan was in the next class to Longfellow, Hawthorne, Cheever, and other distinguished writers. His friendship with Longfellow continued unchanged up to the time of the demise of the latter, revived and strengthened during absence by correspondence. After graduating he engaged in the practice of law for several years in Boston, and was then in almost daily intercourse with N. P. Willis, at that time editor of the Boston Monthly Magazine. The brilliant Sargent S. Prentiss, was a devoted lover of shooting, and oft together on Saturday afternoons would young McLellan and Prentiss ramble through the woods in pursuit of game. When Henry W. Longfellow was established at Cambridge as Professor, the old intimacy of the two friends was renewed, both in Boston and at the home of the great poet in Cambridge.
During his editorial career in Boston, Isaac McLellan was engaged as associate editor of the Daily Patriot - afterward incorporated with the Daily Advertiser - and soon after began the publication of a monthly magazine, which he finally consolidated with the Weekly Pearl, formerly published by Isaac C. Pray. About this time, he contributed largely to Willis's Monthly Magazine, the New England Magazine, the rare old Knickerbocker, Bryant's famous United States Literary Gazette, and various other periodicals, both in poetry and prose, many of his poems attracting widespread attention and admiration. At different periods Mr. McLellan wrote three volumes of poems, which were published by Allen & Ticknor, Boston. These works were entitled, respectively, "The Fall of the Indian," "The Year," and " Mount Auburn." The poems were well received by the public, and one of the volumes received a very friendly notice from the editor of Blackwood's Magazine, who quoted and highly commended a little gem, "The Trout Brook," the only poem on sporting topics in the three works.
While engaged in these literary pursuits. Mr. McLellan employed his leisure time in the sport of wildfowl shooting upon the sea-coast, this being the principal pastime of many New England sportsmen. After making a tour of two years in Europe, he gave up the practice of law and his literary labors, withdrawing to the tranquil joys of rural life, where he might find ample use for gun and rod. His passionate love for field-sports, and more especially wildfowl shooting, inspired him to write in prose and verse on sporting subjects; and the delicacy of sketching, the inspiring sentiment, and rare vigor of these poems bespoke at once the able writer and keen sportsman. Willis and other distinguished writers have given Mr. McLellan the credit of being in several respects the finest poet in America. Genio C. Scott has remarked very truly that " McLellan is as a poet on field-sports what Gen. George P. Morris was as a song-writer — both unsurpassed in their way." While in Europe he shot and fished in nearly all portions of the country, and thus added to his critical observation of American game and shooting a practical knowledge of the field-sports of the Continent.
Among the favorite shooting resorts which he was known to frequent were Cohasset, Plymouth, and Marshfield. Mass., the latter being the rural home of that immortal orator and statesman, Daniel Webster. Through his courtesy, Isaac McLellan passed two seasons at Marshfield dwelling at one of the farm-houses belonging to Mr. Webster. Here he had an opportunity of seeing the great sportsman almost daily, enjoying his usual labors and his rambles with rod or gun.
Daniel Webster passed many of his most delightful days shooting at Brant Rock, in his light gunning skiff, or trout fishing in the clear streamlets of the vicinity. As an angler, no man, per- haps, was ever more ardent and enthusiastic, and it is doubtless in some degree due to the vivifying influences of this manly recreation that he was enabled, when necessary, to undergo such continued labor as that which fell to his lot in Washington. He was equally at home along the trout streams, on the bay or in the Senate chamber: the same dignified, courteous gentleman, whether in the field, on the farm, or on the forum.
Nearly thirty-five years ago Mr. McLellan removed to New York City, and there formed the acquaintance of the sporting celebrities of the day, who congregated at the old Spirit office, where Wm. T. Porter (“York's Tall Son") presided — one of the best-known, and, at that time, the most popular of all the editorial fraternity in Gotham. Here he frequently met with "Frank Forester," and the acquaintance formed from "tastes kindred and pursuits common" soon ripened into friendship, which existed to the time of the tragic death of the great sporting author. His sketches of H. W. Herbert in prose attest a friendship and a sympathy which may well deserve notice, while his lines to the memory of his departed friend possess a pathos and sublimity, combined with symmetry and grace, rarely equaled. It was through the instrumentality of Herbert, that Mr. McLellan secured a fine resort at Barnegat Bay for snipe and waterfowl shooting, and there enjoyed many days of glorious sport.
During several years he passed a part of each season on the coast of Virginia and at Currituck Sound. N.C., where the waterfowl were then very abundant. In later years he has followed the sport of duck shooting at Shinnecock and Great South Bays, Long Island, where he has resided for some time, in close proximity to the finest resorts of wildfowl.
While in Virginia he contributed a valuable sketch to his friend Genio C. Scott's " Fishing in American Waters," and the poetical gems in that standard work were also supplied by McLellan. His ardor for field-sports has an intensity which age cannot quench, and his pen is still as vigorous in depicting those' sports which he loves to describe as in earlier life.
The late Wendell Phillips held our bard in high estimation : and the various collectors of American poetry, such as Dr. Griswold, Dr. Cheevers, Mr. Kettell, and others, all give him an honorable place in their pages.
At the age of fourscore years, the venerable sportsman-bard stands practically alone in his favorite field of labor. In the peaceful evening of a well-rounded life, he may be regarded as the honored patriarch and preceptor of a fraternity believing in the creed that "the groves are God's best temples" — a fraternity that frequents the greenwood and green fields of nature rather than the greenroom and the green table. That the precept and practice of our poet of the woods and waters are in harmony, may be safely assumed from the fact recorded in a recent letter to the writer, that during the whole course of his life he has never been seriously ill until within the past month, when he was confined to his room for a time by an attack of pneumonia. This remarkable exemption from the ills supposed to be the dire inheritance of all mortal flesh must be attributed not alone to the abstemious habits of the bard, but to his life-long devotion to outdoor sports. It may be reasonably hoped that many years of life and usefulness are yet in store for him, and that his rhythmic numbers may continue to flow on as smoothly
'As the liquid trill of the wayside brook, Or the placid lake by the breeze forsook.'”
Mr. Pond wrote this memoir ten years ago, but it sounds as well to-day, for Isaac McLellan at this writing, though, as I have said, ninety years old, is as hale and hearty as in 1886.
Rochester, (N. Y.) Union and Advertiser:"Isaac McLellan is a veteran rhymster. who sings of the chase and nature in her wildest moods. He, him- self, is a sturdy oak, and an hour spent in his company is like getting a breath from the forests of which he loves to write and in which he has spent so many happy days. His reminiscences of William Henry Herbert (Frank Forester), and other notable people whom he has met in the course of his long life, are most enjoyable."
Harry Fenwood in Turf, Field and Farm:"Mr. McLellan is in truth a rural poet. * * * and his genius in many instances surpasses that of his predecessors."
James Freeman Clarke:"You may almost be called one of the pioneers of American poetry — hewing a path through the forests over which an army of writers has since passed."
Forest and Stream :"Mr. McLellan's Muse has taken all animated nature for her own."
New York Times:"Mr. McLellan is known all over the United States as the poet who sings of the woods, of the streams, of the birds, beasts, and fish. There is hardly a sportsman who does not remember some happy line of Mr. McLellan's, for he occupies alone the position of 'the American laureate of the brookside and riverside. In Daniel Webster's time near Marshfield our poet sportsman spent many a happy hour as the guest of the great expounder."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle:"When one considers the great difficulty of using verse for narrative pur- poses Mr. McLellan's success must appear quite remarkable."
The Spirit of the Times:"The author was a friend of Wm. T. Porter, ' Frank Forester,' and the distinguished coterie which made the Spirit office its headquarters quite thirty-five years ago."
Saturday Evening Gazette, Boston:"The poems are spirited, flowing, full of local color, and correct in treatment."
Mirror of American Sports, Chicago:"In the domain of poetry of the field and stream, we know of nothing so fine as the work of Isaac McLellan."
Home Journal, New York:"The author has the peculiar distinction among the choir of singers of being a successful Nimrod, able to enact the exploits he celebrates by flood and field."
American Sportsman, Cincinnati, Ohio,:"That the writer must have been an enthusiastic devotee of the sports of which he writes is evidenced by the vividness in which the scenes stand forth desired to be called up by the author."
Cincinnati Gazette:"When Mr. McLellan strikes the lyre on his favorite subjects he is worth listening to. His poems are smooth and musical. Their subjects are original. They have the quintessence, too, of a veteran sportsman's well bought knowledge."
Peck's Sun:"Mr. McLellan's poems have a flavor of woodland, stream and lake that will re- mind every reader of Auld Lang Syne, or of more recent days spent in Nature's solitude with rod and gun, and make him long to again enjoy himself in that way."
Medical Advance, Ann Harbor. Michigan: "What G. P, Morris was as a song writer, McLellan is as a poet on field sports — each a master in his special field."
The Express, Montello, Wisconsin:" No doubt, in many respects, one of the finest poets in America.
Thus it will be seen that the good old man was not merely a writer of the thousands in the days of Longfellow and Holmes, but was a recognized equal and friend.
-Charles Barker Bradford, New York,
(Isaac McLellan, and Charles Barker Bradford, Haunts of Wild Game, Charles Barker Bradford publisher, New York, New York, 1896)