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Ingraham, Rev. Joseph Holt.


Alas! What evils I discern in
Too great an aptitude for learnin'!
Vert-Vert, the Parrot

Joseph Holt Ingraham was born in Portland, Maine, January 26, 1809, the son of James Milk Ingraham and his wife, Elizabeth Thurston. His grandfather, Joseph Holt, was a ship builder and trader, and the grandson shipped on board of one of his vessels as a sailor before he was seventeen and went to Buenos Ayres. While in South America he is said to have taken part in a native revolution.

After his return, according to his brother, the Rev. J. P. T. Ingraham, he entered and was graduated from Bowdoin College, but it is said that asearch of the Bowdoin College records by the registrar failed to substantiate this. The Quarterly Church Review says he entered Yale College but was not graduated. About 1830 he went to New Orleans, and then to Natchez, Mississippi, where he tried the law but abandoned it to become a teacher in Jefferson College, Washington, Mississippi—hence the title "Professor" which was often affixed to his name in his publications. While in this school he began writing, and in 1835 published "The Southwest, by a Yankee." The next year "Lafitte, the Pirate of the Gulf," the first of his novels of the type that was to make his name well known to his contemporaries, was issued. Poe,(1) in a review of this book, said:

The novelist is too minutely, and by far too frequently descriptive. We are surfeited with unnecessary detail. . . . Not a dog yelps, unsung. Not a shovel-footed negro waddles across the stage . . . without eliciting from the author a vos plaudite, with an extended explanation of the character of his personal appearance—of his length, depth and breadth,—and, more particularly, of the length, depth and breadth of his shirt-collar, shoe-buckles and hat-band.

Ingraham's son, Prentiss, evidently found the same fault in his father's novels, for he edited and revised a number of them for Beadle.

"Burton; or, The Sieges," appeared in 1838. This is a novel of Aaron Burr and Revolutionary Days. "Captain Kyd" was published in 1839, and "The Quadroone; or, St. Michael's Day" in 1841. "Novel followed novel in rapid succession. Ingraham told Longfellow,(2) in 1846, "that he had written eighty novels, and of these, twenty during the past year." Had he written less, he would have been appreciated more. Many of these novels appeared only in the weekly story papers, and luckily no collected edition has ever been made. In spite of large printings, first editions of the novels in book form with paper covers are at the present time very hard to obtain.

While still in Natchez, Ingraham married Mary Brooks, a cousin of Phillips Brooks and the daughter of a wealthy planter of that place. In 1849 he removed to Nashville, Tennessee, and established there a school for young ladies. It must have given them a thrill to have had as their principal the author of these bloodcurdling tales, although by that time he had decreased his output and in addition to teaching had begun to study theology. In this study he was largely influenced by his brother, the Rev. J. P. T. Ingraham, who at that time was rector of Christ's Church in Nashville. During this period, Joseph published a series of letters in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, supposedly written by a New England governess in the South. They were in defense of the South, and an answer to "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which had recently been published. Later, they were collected in book form under the title "The Sunny South,"(3) and published under the pen name of "Kate Conyngham."

In 1851 Ingraham became a deacon in Trinity Episcopal Church at Natchez. Said a contemporary:(4)

We are glad to perceive that Mr. J. H. Ingraham, author of "The Southwest, by a Yankee," "Burton; or, The Sieges," and a large number of the vilest yellow-covered novels ever printed in this country, has been admitted to the deaconate in the Episcopal church at Natchez; and intends shortly to remove to Aberdeen, in the same state, to found a society in that city.

On March 7, 1852, Ingraham was ordained an Episcopal priest in St. Andrews Church, at Jackson, Mississippi, by Bishop Green, and served successively as rector in Mobile, Alabama, Aberdeen, Mississippi, Riverside, Tennessee, and finally, in 1858, at Holly Springs, Mississippi. During this time the itch to write continued, and he produced what his son Prentiss called "dime novels of the Bible"-"The Prince of the House of David" (1855), "The Pillar of Fire" (1859), and "The Throne of David" (1860)—books, especially the first, which used to be esteemed next to the Bible by people who regarded novel reading a sin!

Ingraham's death was presumably accidental. Taking a loaded pistol from a drawer in the vestibule of his church, it slipped from his hand and, in falling, was discharged. The bullet entered his thigh, passed up his side, and caused intense suffering for some ten days. On the 18th of December, 1860, he died at Holly Springs. He was survived by his wife, his son Prentiss, and three daughters.

All of Joseph Holt Ingraham's novels antedated the establishment of Beadle's publishing house, and the various stories in the Dime and other libraries, are simply reprints. A number of these were revised for publication by his son Prentiss.

† Besides using the pen names "Adina," "A Yankee," and "Kate Conyngham," Ingraham also used "F. Clinton Barrington" (q.v.). Another name apparently belonging to Ingraham was "Greenliffe Warren." In 1846 there was published by H. L. Williams a novel entitled "Olph; or, The Wreckers of the Isle of Shoals," with the by-line "Greenliffe Warren." However, an advertisement in Flag of Our Union in 1847 included "Olph" as by J. H. Ingraham. This advertisement is mentioned by Lyie H. Wright in American Fiction, 1774-1850, 206, although he does not suggest the name Warren was a pseudonym of Ingraham. The name is not given in Cushing, although the story "The Wreckers of the Shoals," as well as another title, "The Flying Cloud: A Romance of the Bay of New York" (1845), are both definitely in the style of Joseph Holt Ingraham.

REFERENCES: Allibone, Dict. Eng. Lit, II, 1863, 932; Appletons' Cyc. Amer. Biog., Ill, 1887, 351; Scribner's Dict. Amer. Biog., IX, 1932, 479-80; Nat. Cyc. Amer. Blog., VII, 1897, 413; D. H. Bishop, "Joseph Holt Ingraham," Library Southern Literature, VI, 1909; William Francis O'Donnell, "The Effacement of Ingraham," Book News Monthly, March, 1908, 509-12; Lyle H. Wright, American Fiction, 1884-1850, San Marino, 1939, 93-103; †(Gives a bibliography of 79 titles, before 1851). American Quarterly Church Review, XIV, 1862, 186-87. † Warren G. French, "A Sketch of the Life of Joseph Holt Ingraham," Journal of Mississippi History, XI, No. 3, July, 1849, 155-71.

Starr's Fifteen Cent Illustrated Novels. No. 5
Cheap Edition of Popular Authors. No. 15
† Fireside Library.
No. 35
Dime Library. Nos. 109(5), 113, 116(6), 118, 314, 316, 1018, 1020, 1021, 1022, 1023, 1024, 1025, 1027, 1053

† Under the name "F. Clinton Barrington" and "A. G. Piper" were published:

Dime Library of Choice Fiction. No. 4
Pocket Novels. No. 16
Dime Novels.
No. 565

Here is a specimen of one of J. H. Ingraham's stories, with his son's revision. The original work was "Captain Kyd; or, The Wizard of the Sea. A Romance," by Prof. J. H. Ingraham, New York, †first published in 1839 by Harper and Brothers and reprinted by DeWitt & Davenport (1852), two books in one. Beadle published the two parts, revised by Prentiss, separately, as Dime Libraries Nos. 109 and 116, "Captain Kyd, the King of the Black Flag," and "Black Plume, the Devil of the Sea."

The two stories are quite different, although incidents from one are used in the other. The foundation is the same, but there has been so much revision that parts are almost unrecognizable. Even the names of most of the characters have been changed.

Joseph H. Ingraham


Prentiss Ingraham

Castle Cor
Earl of Bellamont
Kate Bellamont
Grace Fitzgerald
Hurtel of the Red Hand
Old Elpsey, the witch
Mark Meredith, the fisher lad, the true Earl of Lester, alias Capt. Fitzroy
Lord Lester (false) alias Robert More, son of Hurtel, alias Capt. Kyd
Mynheer Vandersplocken
"Adventure Galley" the pirate ship

Castle Cor
Earl of Bellmont
Kate Bellmont
Lady Grace of Greyhurst
Hurtel of the Red Hand
Zebel, the witch, alias Gipsy Jule
Kenton Cavanaugh, the fisher lad, son of Hurtel and Zebel, alias Captain Kyd
Mynheer Van Bokelen
"Galley Slave" (pirate ship)

Page after page could be quoted which occur in one but not in the other book. A recognizable scene is the following from Book II of Joseph H. Ingraham and Dime Library No. 116, as revised by Prentiss Ingraham.

(pp. 191-193)

(pp. 21-22)

They were standing with superstitious awe around an open grave, from which the fresh body had just been dishumed and was now lying white and glaring in its shroud upon the ground not far off. Over the grave stood the wizard Cusha, and beside it glittered heaps of treasure. Apart walked Kyd in thought, occasionally turning to the grave, and then walking with quicker pace and uttering his thoughts half aloud: "Though reason tells me there is nothing in it, and laughs at charms, spells, and incantations, curling her lip with incredulity, I cannot get the mastery o'er this superstition, but live its very slave, using the instruments of her dark craft as if my destiny and they were linked, yet scorning while I use them."

Going ahead of his men, Kyd sought through the little grave-yard, until he found what he wished—a new made grave. A low whistle brought his men to his side, each bearing a treasure-cask and the chief said, bluntly: "Throw out this earth." At once they began the work, and soon the coffin, with its decaying form, was brought to the surface, the white shrouded form glimmering with spectral light through the splintered wood.

"All's ready, sir, black wizard and all," said the mate, approaching him and interrupting his meditations. "You treat too lightly these ceremonies, mate! There may be deeper meaning in them than you dream." "If the infernal pit is at the bottom of them, they are deep enough! This negro wizard looks ugly enough to be the devil's grandfather." "No more, Loff. Is all prepared?" "All." "Then give orders to the men."

"All ready, Captain Kyd," said the coxwain.

"Ay, ay, sir. All hands to bury money." The pirates gathered round the grave, part of their number thrown into the shadow cast by the tower of the church, the remainder exposed to the full light of the moon. . . . The wizard crossed his hands on his breast, and bowed himself to the ground. "Cusha is thy slave. Speak."

"And I am ready too; all hands to bury treasure!" he said, grimly, and the fierce crew gathered around the open grave.

"There lies heaped beside thee countless treasure— jewels, stone of price, gold and silver coin untold—each ounce of which has been purchased by its weight of human blood. . . . Now perform the mystic orgies prescribed for such occasions."

"Hats off! Now, thou ebony Hellhound, I command thee to bury this treasure from human eye, and bestow Satan's curse upon him who digs to find that which has cost me rivulets of blood to gain." "I am ready . . ." The deep tones of the African, and his impressive manner of delivery, added to his hideous looks, sent a shudder to every heart.

The wizard slowly rose to his feet, and walked deliberately three times around the grave, the pirates giving back as he walked in superstitious alarm. The third time he began to chant, in a low key, unintelligibly; but, gradually rising in wildness and distinctness, he with strange gestures and contortions of form and face, broke forth in the following chant:

Then he walked slowly thrice around the open grave, each time placing his hand upon the coffin, and halting, he chanted, rather than said:
"Here lies countless treasure—
Jewels, stones of rare price—
Gold and silver unmeasured;
Each gem, each ounce of gold,
Each pound of silver,
Is stained with human gore—
Each and all have cost human souls!
What is so dearly bought
Let us securely hide from human gaze
And, therefore, with mystic sign we
Commit to the earth this red treasure."
He sprung down into the grave, and, one by one, the booty kegs he took and placed upon the bottom, until all were hidden from sight. Then, in a voice wild and strange, he chanted forth:

"Beelzebub, prince of air! mortals worship thee." He elevated his arms as he sung this in an attitude of wild devotion.

"Beelzebub, Prince of Air, mortal men thy power dread;

"Apollyon, prince of sea! mortals worship thee." He stretched his arms towards the sea as he chanted, and a sudden dash and roar of its waves upon the beach rose to the ears of the listeners with an appalling sound.

Apollyon, Prince of Sea, mortal men thy fury fear;

"Sathanas, prince of earth! mortals worship thee." He struck the earth with his foot as he repeated the words, and then, prostrating himself kissed the ground. "Lucifer, prince of air! mortals worship thee." The wind seemed to sigh through the trees and to howl about the church tower as he recited the mystic verse. Then, with a singular union of all the gestures and ceremonies he had hitherto used, he chanted, in a tone that echoed like a chorus of demons through the surrounding forests, "Prince of air, sea, and fire! mortals bow and worship thee."

Sathanas, Prince of Hades, mortal men thy vices shun; Then bring thou curses deep upon him who would this treasure seek we plead by Air, by Earth, by Sea, by Sky, and by the all-destroying Fire, and to thee dost give sacrifice."

Suddenly he ceased, and took, with much form and ceremony, a black cat from a pouch slung at his waist. He elevated her in one hand, while in the other he held a drawn knife above her, and chanted, turning the animal slowly round:

As he spoke, he took from the huge bag he had brought, and which lay near him, a black object, which the horrified seamen now discovered was a cat.

Again chanting, he sung:

"No spot of white must meet the sight! Thrice shall it wave above the grave! At a single blow the blood must flow!"

"No wound or blight, Must meet the sight; Above the grave, The victim wave; At the first blow, The blood must flow."

And so on—and on—and on. The changes are slight here in comparison with other places in the books.


"The Burglar Captain; or, The Fallen Star. Dime Library No. 118, chap. xv, p. 16.

"I will speak for her, Herman, for I can speak best of her good and noble conduct," answered Mrs. De Ruyter. "We were so reduced, and I, being sick, that I had no means except what Cecilia's needle earned; and soon the confinement affected her health; when she would either have had to give it up, or seek something else. Well, she saw a place advertised in a paper, and thinking, perhaps, she would just suit it, she applied, ami engaged herself in it, without my knowledge. She has been there now about three months, and received good wages, and the people are respectable and kind to her. The only drawback is, that it is very public, and she has to encounter the gaze of young men, and to stay out late. She doesn't, however, go till ten in the morning, and so she helps me much at home. You have seen already what she has done with her wages over what we don't need to consume."

"What place is this, mother? A milliner's?"

"No. Herman!"

"Why this hesitation? Is it a tailor's?"


"I will tell you, brother," said Cecilia, calmly, seeing him surprised and impatient at the apparent reluctance of his mother to reveal the character of the situation she held. "I will tell you, Herman, and perhaps you may blame me, as a modest girl, for taking it; but I had no alternative, and you may be assured that in no instance have I been treated by any one who has entered the shop otherwise than with that respect that modesty and a pure heart always command! The place I am in is a retail cigar store?"

"A retail cigar store!" he repeated, starting from his chair. "You in a place like that!"

"It is very respectable, Herman," said his mother. "It is on Broadway, and only resorted to by the most genteel company."

"Worse and worse, worse and worse!" he repeated with an angry brow. "I don't know what else would not have been better!"

"But how could it be helped?" said his mother sternly. "How could it be helped, when we were perishing for food?"

"But consider, mother, this young pure girl! consider Cecilia is so guileless, so beautiful, placed in a situation surrounded with such great dangers. Consider the peril to her reputation! Were she as fair as the lily, the breath of slander would blast her fair fame forever! Oh, Cecilia, would to God you had reflected, ere you had taken this step!"

Terrible! Terrible! In a tobacco shop! Oh, Cecilia, how could you?

† Correction made as per Volume 3.


1 Edgar Allan Poe in the Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1836.
2 Samuel Longfellow, Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, II, 35, in his diary under the date April 6, 1846. Wright, American Fiction, 1774-1850, 93-103, lists 80 novels before 1850.
3 The complete title is The Sunny South; or, The Southerner at Home. Embracing Five Years' Experience of a Northern Governess in the Land of the Sugar and the Cotton. Philadelphia, G. G. Evans, 1860.
4 The International Magazine of Literature, Art, and Science, III, April-May, 1851, 178.
5 "Captain Kyd," Dime Library No. 109 and 1053, was given in Beadle's lists as by Prentiss Ingraham. It was originally written by Joseph H. Ingraham, but was revised, the characters were renamed, and the plot somewhat changed by his son, Prentiss. It is, therefore, listed in this book both under Prentiss and J. H. Ingraham,
6 "Black Plume," Dime Library No. 116, was given in Beadle's lists as by Prentiss Ingraham. It is, however, the sequel to Dime Library, no. 109, and it is so stated at the end of that novel. I have listed it in this book under the names of both authors.

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