1876 Newspaper Timeline

The beginning of polo in The US

Evidence to the Importance of
the English Texans
on the Origin of American Polo

The whole polo origin History Mystery began when Debra Gracy bought a Historic Building in Boerne, Texas. There has been an urban legend attached to the building and Boerne since the 19th century. The legend says..... The first game of polo played in America was played just outside Boerne by Englishmen at a retired British officers (Captain Turquand) famous Balcones ranch and the place where the Polo Club gathered & overnighted for celebrations/meetings etc. was at the building she purchased. 

If the urban legend is found to be true, the building would possibly be home to the first Polo Club in America and Boerne would be home to the first polo match.

With one google six years ago the whole urban legend was easily debunked because history says it was James Gordon Bennett Jr. who started the whole polo trend in New York and the only part Texas played was to supply the ponies. 

That is all we had to go on until we looked deep into the archives.

If you google it today there is now way more to the story.


The English Texans

Many of The English on the Texas frontier were world adventurers, former military officers and second sons from England's wealthiest families.  Texas was an interesting place in 1876. In fact, Texas became the new Africa for the English as Africa was spent on action and opportunity.

Texas was the new frontier and so popular a destination that Texas & English businessmen partnered up and formed a new company called the Liverpool Texas Steamship Co. They built new ships naming them The San Antonio, The San Jacinto & The San Marcos and re-tasked another,  The Lord Bute to Texas from The Cape in Africa.





Before going into the Boerne legend scan through THIS LINK
If the English did it there why not in Texas?

This March 1879 newspaper article is about Belmont in San Antonio and surrounding area buying polo ponies........ 

The 1898 article above says Belmont must have came in 1884 - 85 because it talks of the 1883 Turquand team inspiring him to come to Texas. The games the writer is talking about in San Antonio happened after Turquand hooked up with Captain Shearburn and decided to market polo in 1883. 

So he (the 1898 writer) is actually talking about Belmont in 1879 not 84-85 meaning he Belmont was inspired by Englishmen earlier than 1879.  It is obvious that in the 1898 article the writer went back a few years in his newspapers archive and used the 1883 polo/Turquand article as reference because it is used verbatim.

Here is the front page of the 1879 paper with the date and it too mentions Belmont & polo.

Captain William Michael Glynn Turquand (British officer) and Father of Texas Polo retired from the British Military in Jan 1875. Turquand also patented a sheep shearing device in June 1875

The Origins of American Polo?


James Gordon Bennett established the Westchester Polo Club on May 6, 1876 and on May 13, 1876 the Jerome Park Racetrack in Westchester County was the site of the first American outdoor polo match.

The founding fathers of American polo were instrumental in establishing and nurturing the sport of polo in the United States. H.L. Herbert, along with James Gordon Bennett and August Belmont financed the original New York Polo Grounds.. H.L. stated in this 1913 article that they formed the Westchester Club AFTER the "first" outdoor game was played on May 13, 1876. This contradicts the historical record of the club being established before the Jerome Park game..


The Origins of American Polo Including The English Texans

During the 1870's Texas cowboys were considered the Genghis Khan of horseman and New Yorker's like James Gordon Bennett Jr. who lived in urban areas and "the man who brought polo to America" could barely ride & drove buggies. 

***May 2nd 1876 Denison Texas has a polo club***
 FOUR DAYS BEFORE BENNETT'S "FIRST" GAME OF POLO IN THE US WAS PLAYED........It appears from H.L. Herbert's statement from the 1913 article above that Denison HAD A CLUB BRFORE The Westchester club was actually formed. The Denison club already had ponies and plenty of outdoor space to play BECAUSE THEY HAD RANCHES NOT RENTED SUMMER COTTAGES..

June 2nd 1876 Harold Gooch, an Englishman, is playing polo in Denison Texas. Harold Gooch's team SENT A LETTER TO JAMES GORDON BENNETT WANTING TO CHALLENGE THE NEW YORK TEAM they had received his reply by the time the article came out on June 2.

How long did a letter take to travel both ways from Denison Texas to New York then from New York back to Denison in 1876?...

THE FUNNY THING IS on the same day as the announcement that the Denison team had sent a letter to James Gordon Bennett (June 2nd 1876) there is this article about the New Yorker's wanting to hire some Texas boys to teach them how to ride.

1952 Harold Gooch is confirmed to be an Englishman in sons obituary. Gooch was a buffalo hunter on the high plains of Texas in the EARLY 1870's

 Back to the timeline


Feb 6th 1876 just before polo James Gordon Bennett had a coaching/buggy club and was looking for outdoor sports to get involved with, polo was just one

Feb 16th 1876 article saying Texas ponies can & should be used for polo

March 16th 1876 article stating James Gordon Bennett is importing shetlands for polo.

Why did Bennett decide on Texas ponies after he ordered shetlands?  He listened to the Texans that is why.

April 4th 1876 article stating Harry Blasson in San Antonio Texas (near Boerne) buying polo ponies for James Gordon Bennett


April 8th 1876 article saying James Gordon Bennett's polo ponies are passing through Luling in Caldwell County Texas on the way to New York


May 13th 1876 article.... James Gordon Bennetts's polo pony can kick a button off a grooms vest at 5 paces


May 17th 1876 article stating that trained Texas ponies were sent to New York for polo......TRAINED?


May 19th 1876 article talking about the New York polo players can't handle Texas ponies plus a great example of James Gordon Bennett's angle on the story compared to the Galveston News angle. Very funny. You can see why they wanted trained ponies from Texas after the first polo match from the may 17 article above.

Bennett and the others could not ride well at all and were embarrassed in front of high society.

June 2nd 1876 article stating that The New York Club wants some Texas boys to teach them how to ride

July 11th 1876 announcement that polo was played in Denison Texas on 4th of July



The 1879 & 1898 articles about Belmont in Texas buying polo ponies...COMBINED... with the below facts and all of the above links challenges the orthodox view of America's polo origins and points toward the English Texans

The urban legend of Captain Turquand's influence on early polo in the US plus just 22 years after polo began there is an article written by a person who was actually there in 1876 and heard tales of Belmont & himself witnessed Vanderbilt getting his Texas training.......the 1898 article....

The fact that Harold Gooch, an Englishman, was playing polo in Texas in May 1876 and that Denison announced its polo club on May 2nd four days BEFORE THE "FIRST" GAME IN NEW YORK......

In the H.L.Herbert 1913 article Herbert states that James Gordon Bennett's team had to beg borrow and steal to get horses locally in order to play on the 6th of May and they did not organize the club until  AFTER  the 2nd "match" on May 13th.  

Trained ponies were sent to New York from the San Antonio area in May 1876 for the game of polo.......

Denison had a polo club, English players,  ponies, sticks, balls and a place to play on May 2nd 1876.....

In December of 1876 Captain William Glynn Turquand (THE FATHER OF TEXAS POLO) was called a colonial flockmaster in a British agricultural magazine......

Captain Turquand's sheep shearing device being patented in England in 1875......

Captain Turquand retiring from the British military in 1875.....

Again, the facts of H.L. Herbert's saying the Westchester club was organized after the Jerome Park game was played and James Gordon Bennett's polo team could barely ride & needed Texans to teach them how to handle the frisky Texas ponies.....


Who Swung The Mallet First?

Was it the English buffalo hunting Indian fighter, the ex British officers or the New York Newspaper Magnate who could barely ride a horse?



The patina on the Texas origins.........

1869 english immigration to texas growing so much england turns ships from africa

1872 william kingsbury, boerne's/englands  greatest english immigration recruiter to texas, will be at the world fair in vienna selling texas

1872 the birth of denison texas, this is a great flashback to northern texas at a time when harold gooch arrived.  

1872 tons of english immigrants to texas

first mention of the game of polo in american newspaper that we could find

april 4th 1876 harry blasson in san antonio texas near boerne buying polo ponies for james gordon bennett

april 6 1876 james gordon bennett's polo ponies bucking

april 8th 1876 james gordon bennett's polo ponies pass through caldwell county texas on way to new york

august 1876 polo is all the rage california and the players are really good

May 6th 1876 texas boys could knock spots on bennett's team

James Gordon Bennett the "knock kneed polo professor

1879 august belmont sent to texas to buy polo ponies

1879 august belmont's polo ponies

american settler 1882 glynn turquand has a big horse ranch

1882 shearburn & frewen brothers are business partners 

1883 the texas polo club formed feb 8th

july 2nd 1883 turquand returns from playing polo in austin

texas polo club arranged a game july 4 1883

1883 cowboy polo club played the english and got drummed

balcones polo club 1885 goes to new orleans

1898 take on captain turquand and polo in texas and how they brought the game to life and possibly to america..


Below is our original posting from 4 years ago (TODAY IS JUNE 23RD 2011) , it is kept as an archive for the web bots..................

Galveston Daily News - Saturday, April 08, 1876
(28 days before America’s first game of polo)

"We have in Texas thousands of little horses, active and strong, that are the most docile, hardy and fleet creatures for their size that can be found in the world…

The Texas Pony will make a better horse than those in use in Great Britain, which are generally composed of overgrown Shetlands or Scotch Galloways, who have neither activity nor speed…

One great advantage to be derived from the game of polo, we are convinced, will be that it will make all who practice it good horsemen, and give an impetus to equestrian ism that has long been needed in this section of country…

The advantage of superior horsemanship was manifest at the commencement of  the rebellion by the Southern cavalry, as every man was a good rider, and they are so still…

A Southerner would soon become a good polo player…

*1861 diary entry by Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards, who visited Texas during the Civil war, observed Texans  fondness for cavalry service: "it was found very difficult to raise infantry in Texas," he said, "as no Texan walks a yard if he can help it." Governor Clark observed that "the predilection of Texans for cavalry service, founded as it is upon their peerless horsemanship, is so powerful that they are unwilling in many instances to engage in service of any other description unless required by actual necessity”.

 Galveston Daily News - Thursday, April 06, 1876
(One month before the first game was played)

Bexar County Texas (San Antonio area)

Mr. Harry Blasson from New York has been in the region as agent of The New York Herald, Mr. James Gordon Bennett, to purchase twenty small ponies for a “Polo Club” of which he is president. This institution require particularly small and active nags… .The New York Club is first to introduce it into this country. Texas cow-boys and rangers would make admirable players…   

 Galveston Daily News
(from The New York Herald)- Thursday, April 06, 1876

James Gordon Bennett, of New York, took the advice of the NEWS and sent to Texas for horses for the new game of polo, or mounted shinney…

These Texas ponies understand another game that which will be will be new to the New York horsemen that is bucking bucking…


Galveston Daily News - Saturday, April 08, 1876
(23 days before America’s first game of polo) 

James Gordon Bennett's twenty Polo ponies passed through Luling (Texas) Wednesday. They are beautiful little creatures and active as young leopards…

Galveston Daily News - Tuesday, May 02, 1876 - Galveston, Texas (4 days before the first game played in America)

Grayson County, Texas 
Denison (Texas) has a Polo Club

Galveston Daily News - Saturday, May 06, 1876 (SAME DAY as the first game of polo was played in America)

The West is teeming with immigrants, and all appear well pleased with the country…

The young men of Graham (Texas) celebrated the 4th of May by riding mustangs at break-neck speed, and poking at rings with a stick a high old tourney. They should go to the Centennial and play polo with James Gordon Bennett's club. ..The Texas boys could, knock spots on the New Yorkers…

 Galveston Daily News - Friday, May 19, 1876 (16 days after the first match)

As the NEWS predicted, the New York polo players are not up to the ways of the frisky little Texas ponies used in the game…

After innumerable falls the New York polo players have discovered that Texas mustangs are not adapted to the business, and complain that these little steeds are unmanageable. The fault is not in the ponies, but the riders, a Texas cow-boy can track a hare on one of them with more ease than a greyhound. They can be checked instantly in mid career, or wheeled on their forefeet as a pivot…

The New Yorkers want some Texas boys to teach horsemanship, and must learn to ride if they want to keep pace with the fashionable world…
Galveston Daily News - Friday, May 19, 1876 (16 days after the first match)

Galveston Daily News - Tuesday, July 11, 1876 Polo played near Dallas Texas (35 days after the first match in New York polo was being played in Texas)

Two years ago the chief attractions were a “gander pulling, a greased pig and a greased pole. One year ago the gander pulling was left out of the program. This year the greased pig went with the gander.  Let us hope that next year, the greased pole may slip the memory of the committee on arrangements. The News says nothing against the Polo and baseball games which were among the games of the day.

Website Builder