WATERMAN LILLY ORMSBY, JR.
Most U.S. bibliophiles know of Waterman Lilly Ormsby
as the author of the rare 1852 work, "A Description of the Present
System of Bank Note Engraving." But did you know his son
was also an important writer? As a reporter for the New York
Herald in 1858, Waterman Lilly Ormsby, Jr. "crossed the
western states as the first through passenger in the Butterfield
Overland Mail stage from east to west." The accounts are
collected in a 1942 work (reprinted in 1955) published by The
Huntington Library of San Marino, CA, titled "The Butterfield
Overland Mail." The book's introduction includes some
biographical information about both Ormsbys. One interesting
"Twenty-four miles from our last station we came to the
Maricopas Wells, situated in a large plain of alkali soil and
coarse grass. There are, in all, six or eight wells, and the water
is very good. We found a number of Indians there, and one of
them had the audacity to ask me three bits (37 1/2 cents) for a
small melon which he wished to sell. I showed him two
three-cent pieces, and the look of insufferable contempt which
he gave me would be worth a fortune to an actor in the right
place. I am sure his melon would rot before he could get
another chance to sell it." (p99)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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