His horse, saddle bags, and himself slipped into the river and went under

Posted by | July 9, 2009

Dr. William James Glass, Sr. (b. 1879) owned about twenty-five saddle horses. He made an effort to buy the very best. The average horse he bought would last about three years, but he had a few wonderful horses that lasted him much longer. Prior to 1916, he used the horses year around.

Following that time, he used them only in the winter when the roads were impossible for a car. In October, he would bring the horses in from the farm where they had been on pasture all summer. It was usually the first of June before the roads dried up sufficiently to use the car.

Dr. William James & Pearl Milam Glass Dr. William J. & Pearl Milam Glass in an undated photo.

During the active part of his career he would ride a horse on the average of 25 miles a day, often in the mud and very frequently in the ice and snow. It was not unusual for him to swim a horse across a high river. He had only one horse that was such a good swimmer that he could get up in the saddle and not get wet. Once while Dr. Glass was returning from the Frogs Creek area, the stream became so swollen that he couldn’t get across. After he’d waited an hour or two, two men living near the stream advised him that it had fallen sufficiently to ford.

He started across on a high spirited horse. When the cold water and chunks of ice began to hit the horse’s side, it apparently became excited and starting lunging down the stream. Both went under, but after a short time, Dr. Glass pulled the horse onto the bank where the horse was able to get a footing.

Both of the men who had advised him to cross had already stripped off most of their clothes in anticipation of going in after the doctor, who was clothed in everything from arctics to a full length sheep lined overcoat.

horse sketch by Brianna HermansonOn another occasion when Poca [Pocatalico] River was a little too high to ford, he was going around a steep bank across the river from Fisher Chapel Church when the bank gave way. His horse, saddle bags, and himself slipped into the river and went under. He scrambled out and ran down the river to catch his saddle bags.

Mrs. Mable Lanham, who lived six miles above Sissonville on Poca, had typhoid fever when she was eighteen years old. Her father came after Dr. Glass one summer day and said she was hemorrhaging. At that time, the doctor owned a beautiful red roan horse that was very fast. He saddled the horse and reached the Monk residence in about thirty minutes. Apparently the horse was so overheated that a few days later it developed pneumonia and died.

He had a few horses that never seemed to tire. One was a large mare named Minnie. She was an intelligent horse that needed very little urging and scolding. She was a beautiful bay with a black mane and tail, had a good running gait, and could cover a lot of ground in one day.

Pocatalico River in WVThe Pocatalico River on a foggy morning, near Sissonville, WV.

Another was a dun horse with a black mane and tail that Dr. Glass bought from a man who couldn’t handle him. The man shot the horse once through the neck with a .38 pistol to control him. Through kind treatment, such as giving the horse a little bit of candy every time he saw him, Dr. Glass was able to tame him and make a very useful horse of him. He was a beautiful horse and well gaited. No matter how hard he was ridden during the day, he would kick up his heels, neigh, and start running when Dr. Glass came in sight of the stable.

The best horse he ever owned was a large chestnut sorrel mare named Gert reared at Maysville, KY. She was deep chested, had tremendous endurance, seemed to never tire, was high spirited, and extremely gentle. She was the easiest riding horse he ever had, that is, he tired less riding her than any other. She had a running gait and a trot. She could cover a tremendous amount of ground in a day. He acquired her when she was ten years old and kept her longer than he did any other horse. He sold her at the age of twenty and learned that she was still going good at the age of thirty.

—Excerpt from ‘The Dr. Will Glass Story,’ from Sissonville, A Time to Remember, compiled by The Sissonville (WV) Historical Awareness Committee of The Sissonville Village Association, 1988

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