This started off as a “So you’re so smart ...” item after a reader texted me a question: Know who Margaret Spangler is?

It sounded familiar, but I didn’t know so I cheated. I Googled the name and came up with a lot of ladies, living and dead, with that name.

One entry caught my eye: Margaret Spangler, a horse.

But that’s not even half the story. I’ve been around these parts for a few decades, but here’s a story I don’t remember ever hearing.

Margaret Spangler was a pacer racehorse born in 1918, a combination of eastern stock crossed with Kentucky.

In 1922 she was purchased by Oscar Wolfenden — yes, that Oscar of the Attleboro Wolfendens.

In 1923 Margaret Spangler, who was on the auction block for $30, won one race, the Kalamazoo Derby up in Michigan. The purse was a whopping $25,000.

So what did Wolfenden do? The Attleboro annual report for 1945 — hey, I’ve been researching the heck out of this — tells the tale. The city treasurer report says in part:

“There was income of $700 for Capron Park from the Capron fund and $75 from the Margaret Spangler Trust fund, because a horse by that name, owned by the late Oscar Wolfenden won the $25,000 American Pacing Derby 20 years ago. Mr. Wolfenden gave $5,000 of the winnings to establish the fund.”

Charming. I wonder if there is any money left in that trust fund, if it still exists.

Margaret Spangler lived for 28 years, dying in 1946. She was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1975.

After her racing days, she was sold to a breeding farm and produced three or four 2:00 pacers, a record at the time.

“The only producing daughter of a championship pacing filly,” writes racing reporter Ken McCarr in 1962 in Hoof Beats, “Margaret Spangler did more than live up to expectations. There is scarcely a breeder today who wouldn’t willingly give $1,200 for a mare like her.”

A good story. With some holes. Like where did the name Margaret Spangler come from? Her parents had no Margarets or Spanglers in their names.

There are people out there who know more than I do. Tell me.

Saturday Sermon

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

— John Muir

So you’re so smart ...

Last week I bet you couldn’t tell me what legume is considered the world’s foremost provider of protein and oil.

“I believe the answer is the peanut,” writes Dan West of South Attleboro. Good guess, Dan, but no tophat, cane and monocle for you.

“The soybean (USA’s most valuable agricultural export) is the answer to your legume question,” writes Doug Wynne of Plainville. “And for those who consider tofu a four-letter word, one should realize that soybeans are a vital source of livestock feed. So you’re getting your tofu in your t-bone, albeit slightly used.”

“Soup beans met Appalachians’ protein needs for generations (not so much these days), but oil?”writes Mark Flanagan, the guy on the other side of this page. “I’ll have to guess soybeans.”

The correct answer is soybeans.

Now, I bet you can’t tell me in which state in the United States the first oil well was drilled in 1859.

See you next week.

ORESTE P. D’ARCONTE is a former publisher of The Sun Chronicle. Reach him at

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