100 Years Ago: Real Horsepower Still In Demand

“Allied Army Seeks Horses, Mules in San Diego,” proclaimed the headline in an article on page two of the San Diego Union on Sunday morning, June 6, 1915.

“H. P. McKee, a San Diego horse dealer, received a contract from an agent of the French government to furnish 700 horses and 100 mules for the French army,” began the article, which noted that the contract “calls for good sound horses, five to nine years old, weighing 1,050 to 1,400 pounds and fifteen and a half to sixteen hands high. The horses to be used for cavalry must weigh from 1,050 to 1,200 pounds. Those to be used for artillery are required to weigh 1,200 to 1,400 pounds.”

McKee would start immediately on purchasing stock, the article said, and bringing them to “McKee’s barns, 1036 First street, where they will be inspected every Saturday. They will then be sent by train to Galveston and later removed to Newport News for shipping.”

The United States at that point was still a neutral observer of the war then raging in Europe. But clearly France and Britain, who were fighting Germany, considered the US a reliable supplier of material for their military campaigns.

“This is the largest contract for horses for a foreign country ever let for a San Diego dealer,” stated the Union article, which added in closing, “There is said to be a supply of good horses in San Diego county.”

That there was a supply of good horses, or at least stables and horse dealers, in San Diego may be vouched for by this page from the 1915 San Diego City and County Directory. It shows Mr. McKee as being among 26 livery stable owners and horse sellers in the county, 16 of them within San Diego city limits:

McKee page 1915

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers and the San Diego City and County Directory 1915.

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