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Independence, Missouri newspaper clipping, no date, early 1900’s
(Note: this story has also been attributed to Linville Hays, Upton Hays'
A MULE BECAME FAMOUS
It was Sam, a mule, and a Missouri mule at that which gave Kansas City more advertising than it has ever had since, even more than the boulevard system it now boasts of.Campbell and “Up” Hays were partners in the freighting business across the plains in the ‘50’s. They were under contract with Majors, Russell & Waddell. Campbell and Hays were camped with their wagon train one day near Bent’s Fort, Colo. A stage coach going east passed.
“Hey, you fellers” yelled the driver, “Russell & Waddell’s failed – gone to the wall,” and with a crack of his whip he lashed eastwards. Campbell and Hays looked long and hard at each other.
“Hell”, muttered Hays.“Hell, nothing,” snapped Campbell, “we’ll beat the prairie boat to Kansas City and collect on those notes.” Hays and Campbell held $60,000 in drafts on the bankrupt firm. It meant their fortune. “There’s only one way and that’s for one of us to ride Sam and beat that stage,” snapped Campbell. The mule was the best one of their outfit and was peculiar for a mule, lacking all the stubbornness of his race, and could run.
Started on Wild Ride
Hays started eastward on a wild ride of 620 miles over the plains to Kansas City. On the inside of his buckskin shirt was fastened a little bag – the $60,000 in drafts. It was a single Missouri mule pitted against a fast stage which made the trip in six days with a relay of six horses every 110 miles. Night and day Hays rode Sam over the prairies. Now and then Hays tipped to the sod, overcome with exhaustion. He wrapped the bridle reins about his arm so that the tugging of the mule, foraging for nibbles of grass, would keep him awake. On the sixth day Sam stumbled up the rolling hill with Hays hanging by sheer strength of will to his saddle. Far ahead was the stage. Hays spurred the mule into a last spurt and passed the stage.
Won Against Time
That afternoon a wobbling, gasping, halting mule stumbled into Kansas City. Off the animal’s back slid a man who fell to his knees as he “Cash,” muttered the man through swollen lips as he laid $60,000 in drafts on the counter (it was a counter in those days). “I don’t know you,” said the cashier suspiciously. “I’m ‘Up’ Hays – you – fool – give me the - money,” Hays answered.
The cashier peered close. “Money,” yelled Hayes for the rattle of the stage and pounding of hooves awoke him to anger at the delay.
Old Sam was Pensioned
The clerk counted out the money. Hays thrust the big roll of bills into his shirt and staggered out. He had won – or rather the mule which stood sound asleep with legs braced – had won.
Men said Hays aged ten years on that ride. He slept for two days. And Sam, the Missouri mule, didn’t do a lick of work the rest of his days. Newspapers throughout the east printed the story of the wild ride. Sam became a national pet. He lived for 20 years. Campbell never parted with him and gave him a burial after he died. Those are the memories recalled by the tombstone of John Campbell.