James Burton Pond Collection
 

 

Famous Lecture Manager, Printer, Editor and Soldier

   Major James Burton Pond, for thirty years a well-known lecture manager, died Sunday at his home in Jersey City, as the result of an operation on June 17, in which his right leg was amputated. He was sixty-five years old. Major Pond was born in Cuba, Allegany County, N. Y., June 11, 1838. He was a son of Willard Elmer and Clarissa (Woodford) Pond. His boyhood was spent in Wisconsin, where, as he says, the Bible and the Tribune were about the only library advantages he had.
  
Before he was fifteen years old he ran away from home and secured employment in a country printing office in Fond du Lac. Then he turned up in Kansas, where for three months he carried a rifle with John Brown. He was one of the Denver, Col., pioneers, and he was also among the first who went to Pike's Peak in 1859.
   He organized on Oct. 6, 1861, Company C of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, and served through the Civil War as captain and finally as major in the regiment. He was one of seventeen survivors of a band of 118 in the Baxter Springs massacre by the guerilla chief Quantrell in 1863.
   With James Redpath, Major Pond organized the Redpath Lyceum Bureau, and was the New York representative of the firm's interests. Later he established himself in the business in which he made such a great success.

(Boston Evening Transcript, Monday, June 22, 1903)

 

 

Writings
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The Markesan Journal Editorials, Markesan, Wisconsin, 1861.
James Pond edited the Markesan Journal in Markesan, Wisconsin, from 1860, when he took over responsibility for the paper, to October, 1861, when he abruptly resigned to organize Company C of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Many of the Journal's issues for which Pond was editor have not survived.

"A Pioneer Boyhood. Recollections of the West in the Forties." The Century Magazine, Vol. LVIII, No. 6, 1899, pp. 929-937.
Pond's narrative offers his recollections about his early life in Lake County, Illinois and Alto Township, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, in the 1840's and 1850's.

The Baxter's Springs Massacre, Letter to the Janesville Gazette, October 28, 1863
Pond's own description of the attack by Quantrill on Pond's garrison at Baxter's Springs, Kansas, detailing the brief, brutal battle for which Pond earned the Medal of Honor.

"First Question Answered," from Eccentricities of Genius, New York: G. W. Dillingham Company, 1900, pp. xvii-xxvi.
An autobiographical preface to Pond's portraits of the men and women he managed on the Lyceum circuit, mentioning his early experience with the underground railroad in Wisconsin and emphasizing his experiences with Mormonism in Utah.

"Charles Sumner," from Eccentricities of Genius, New York: G. W. Dillingham Company, 1900, pp. 14-15.
An autobiographical piece relating a disillusioning 1858 encounter between the great albolitionist spokesman and Pond's father, Willard Pond, in Ripon, Wisconsin.

"Samuel L. Clemens" from Eccentricities of Genius, New York: G. W. Dillingham Company, 1900.
The journal account of Pond's 1895 journey across North America with Mark Twain as manager of the first leg of Twain's world tour (transcript on the University of Virginia electronic text site, courtesy of Stephen Railton); Pond's photographs of the trip are included. His role in and publicity for the 1884-85 tour of Twain and George W. Cable is also on the site, titled "Touring with Cable and Huck"

 

Biographical Materials
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Commemorating Heroism
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin arranged for the loan of five Civil War Medals of Honor as part of its commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the American Civil War, among them those of James Pond and his brother, George Pond. Three of the five medals were stolen while on display at the Society's museum in 1963, but owing to some confusion as to which medals had been on display it was not immediately known which were lost. As confirmed by the Pond family, James Pond's medal was not among the missing, although brother George's was and has not been recovered.

James Pond's Markesan Journal: The John Parker Exchanges
On April 26, 1861, twelve days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, James B. Pond, twenty-three-year-old editor of the Wisconsin weekly, The Markesan Journal,  published an inflammatory editorial questioning the patriotism of local citizens he chose not to name. His editorial precipitated an emotional exchange of letters and additional editorials on the home front at the beginning of  the American Civil War.

Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Company C
Company C of the 3rd Wis Cav was recruited in central Wisconsin by E. R. Stevens, 37-year-old Kingston merchant and former U. S. Marshal, and James B. Pond, 23-year-old editor of the Markesan Journal. The unit was destined not to engage in the war's most dramatic battles. Instead, it engaged in the guerrilla warfare in Missouri, Kansas and the Indian Territory on the war's western border, referred to as "the most devastating challenge to any notion of civility or virtue in war." It was here that both Pond and his brother George distinguished themselves by earning the Medal of Honor.

Baxter's Springs Massacre, New York Times, October 18, 1863
This two-column front page story appeared in the Times less than two weeks after Quantrill's attack on Pond's garrison at Baxter's Springs, Kansas, detailing the brief, brutal battle for which Pond earned the Medal of Honor.

"Death of Major J. B. Pond," Obituary, The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, June 22, 1903
Pond's career is summarized, with an emphasis on his later career as a lecture impressario and references to his early occupations in Wisconsin in the printing and furniture businesses.

"Major J. B. Pond," Obituary, Boston Evening Transcript, June 22, 1903
Pond's career is summarized, with an emphasis on his later career as a lecture manager and reference to his experiences as a printer, associate of John Brown in Kansas, and Civil War enlistee.

 

Sources & Fragments
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Alto Township, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, 1850 Federal Census (Willard Pond Family).

CWSAC Battle Summaries: Baxter Springs, American Battlefield Protection Program.

Lady Gregory Letter to James Pond, The Abbey Theater Collection, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

James B. Pond Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Microfilm). Originals of these papers remain in the possession of the James Pond family.

James B. Pond Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

James Stephens Materials, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

"Mark Twain at the Aldine Club," The New York Times, December 15, 1900.

The Mark Twain Archive, The Pond Collection, Elmira College Gannett-Tripp Library.

Mark Twain Letter to William Dean Howells, January 25, 1900, in The Selected Letters of Mark Twain, ed. Charles Neider, New York: Harper and Row, 1982, p. 258-259.

Porter, Charles W. Journal, 1862-1865. State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives.

Whitman, Walt. The Correspondence. Volume IV: 1886-1889. The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman. Ed. by Edwin Haviland Miller. 6 vols. New York: New York University Press, 1969.

Wisconsin Adjutant General's Blue Book Records, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Company C, Commanding (PDF)

 

With appreciation to Kevin Dier-Zimmel, Pond family researcher, for general guidance and for permission to use the Civil War portrait of James Pond (rights reserved).

About the Pond Collection