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Billy Baxter's Letters, By William J. Kountz   By: (1867-1899)

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Billy Baxter's Letters

By William J. Kountz, Jr.

Contents: Preface Out Hunting One Night In Society In Love In New York Johnny Black's Girl


In presenting this work, we believe that an explanation is due the reader as to why the letters are given in their present form at this time.

The first book published, "One Night," was "issued by The Duquesne Distributing Company to show its great love for the American people, and to incidentally advertise the 'R R S .'" Its success was immediate.

"In Society" appeared February 1, 1899, and scored as promptly as "One Night." The demand for the booklets was phenomenal, and Mr. Kountz received thousands of friendly letters applauding him for his humor. He also received flattering offers from the leading comic weeklies, the metropolitan dailies, and great advertisers throughout the Union. He declined them all, being primarily a business man, and carrying literature only as a side line.

On May 1st "In Love" was given to the public, with the promise that "In New York" would follow on October Ist. On the evening of August 9th, William J. Kountz, Jr., turned to the writer of this preface, and referring to "In New York," said: "Well, I'm through, all but going over it." He never returned to his office, and on August 18th he died in the room where he was born not quite thirty two years before.

We then conceived the idea of putting the letters out in their present form, as a last tribute to the author, who in less than a year's work lifted himself into a place among the nation's humorists.

We have reproduced only such of the prefaces and advertisements as have been widely discussed for their humorous quality, and which the author's friends insisted should no be omitted.

The two heretofore unmentioned letters were discovered after the author's death, and are published in the rough, as they were found. "Out Hunting" is based on a trip which actually took place, and from personal knowledge contains a good deal of fact. It was doubtless written before "One Night," and for that reason is given priority in the arrangement.

"Johnny Black's Girl" is merely a scrap, and is inserted as such. It shows, however, that the author had a "tear for pity" as well as an eye for the ridiculous.

Geo. McC. Kountz.


Pittsburg, September 1, 1898.

Dear Jim:

I am just back from St. Paul, where I spent a couple of days with Teddy Worthington. Teddy and Bud Hathaway of Chicago were going on a shooting trip in the Big Woods of Minnesota, and they asked me to go with them. It was new deal for me, so of course I was for it. I hired a hammerless breech loader for seven a week, borrowed a lot of fishing tackle, and bought a hunting knife with a nickel plated handle. It was a beaut, and stood me three fifty. A fellow can never be too careful. Up there you are likely any minute to come face to face with an Apache or some old left over Aztec rubbering around among the trees.

At the last minute Bud Hathaway's father had to die, so just Teddy and myself went. After we left the train we rode twenty miles in a wagon to Freshwater Lake, which was our destination. The house where we stayed was kept by a half breed guide named Sarpo, and with him lived his two sons and his second wife, who was a young white girl, and not a bad looker at that.

The next morning we started out after ducks. I made a horrible bluff that I was one of the old boys at the business, and that I was on to everything till it came to loading my hammerless, and there's where I went to the bad. I couldn't get the blamed thing open. Teddy handed me a few of his kind little remarks, and I got back at him with something personal. He got sore. No thoroughbred kidder would have grown personal, but I couldn't think of anything else at the time. There was nothing stirring in the duck line, and for two hours we sat all hunched up in a little boat among a lot of weeds... Continue reading book >>

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