Saturday, June 9, 2012

Four Old Cat In Southern Illinois

We played marbles and we played a game of ball in which there were four corners, four batters and four catchers, "four old cat," as it was then called.
-Reminiscences of William H. Packwood

I can't remember how I found this reference but I either got it at Protoball or Larry McCray sent it to me.  Either way, tip of the hat to Larry, who has this reference listed in the Protoball Chronology in the 1840s.  Regardless, Packwood's story originally appeared in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Volume 16, in 1915.

The importance of this reference lies in the fact that Packwood, as a young man, lived in Mt. Vernon and Sparta, Illinois, about 75 miles or so southeast of St. Louis.  He was talking about his school days in southern Illinois and, since he was born in 1832, Larry's dating is plausible.  Therefore, we can say that old cat was being played in southern Illinois in the early 1840s.  I would add that Packwood was most likely living in Sparta at the time of his schooling, that he was most certainly done with school by 1844 and that it's possible to argue that the reference could be dated to the late 1830s.          

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