News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 21, 2013

Painting relates to harness racing history

Barbara Carney
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — An oil painting that relates to Terre Haute’s harness racing history was recently given to the Vigo County Historical Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stephens.

The subject of the painting is a handsome horse hitched to a sulky. His driver is seated in the sulky, and a groom is standing in the foreground with a blanket over his shoulder, holding the trotter’s bridle. In the background, a white fence runs the width of the painting along with a muted view of racing fans in a grandstand. Across the bottom is printed “The harvester after his mile in 2:01 at Syracuse.”

The unframed piece is signed, with the artist’s name appearing to be Pearl M. Smith, and the number “12” below the signature. The date of the work is no doubt 1912.

The key individual connecting the harvester with Terre Haute was Paul Kuhn, a wealthy grain dealer and owner of two Vigo County horse farms, Forest Park Farm and Glendale Farm.

On June 6, 1917, Kuhn purchased the retired equine, a former world-trotting champion and stallion record holder, at auction in New York’s Madison Garden. By then, the horse had acquired fame and fortune for himself and his two previous owners.

Foaled  in 1905 at Walnut Hall Farm near Lexington, Ky., the harvester began his brilliant career in 1907, was undefeated and named Horse of the Year in 1908, ran the mile at Syracuse in 2:01 minutes in 1910 and was retired to stud in 1911.

After purchasing the renowned trotter, Paul Kuhn began hosting “The Harvester Stakes,” a trotting race held at Forest Park, north of Terre Haute. It is of interest to note that all entrants in this race were required to be descendants of the harvester.

In 1931, after the death of Paul Kuhn, the great horse was purchased by Rose Stock Farm of Bardstown, Ky., where he died six months later.

Historical Treasure

• The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through

Sunday.