WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School. MacNeil led a generation of sculptors in capturing many fading Native American images and American history in the realism of this classic style.

~ World’s Fairs, statues, public monuments, coins, and buildings across to country. Hot-links (on the lower right) lead to photos & info of works by MacNeil.

~ Hundreds of stories and photos posted here form this virtual MacNeil Gallery of works all across the U.S.A.  New York to New Mexico — Oregon to South Carolina.

~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth on February 27,

Take a Virtual Journey

This website seeks to transport you through miles and years with a few quick clicks of a mouse or keyboard or finger swipes on an iPad.

Perhaps you walk or drive by one of MacNeil's many sculptures daily. Here you can gain awareness of this artist and his works.

For over one hundred years his sculptures have graced our parks, boulevards, and parkways; buildings, memorials, and gardens; campuses, capitols, and civic centers; museums, coinage, and private collections.

Maybe there are some near you!

Archive for Pony Express

“The Pony Express” heads West into the setting sun. MacNeil loved to study the site and setting for his works so he could place them into their unique Horizon as this dramatic shot highlights.

On first viewing, the sculptures of Hermon MacNeil express amazing beauty and gracefulness.  A second and third viewing reveals MacNeil’s careful inclusion of unique details connected to the subjects, objects and historical periods that he sought to portray in bronze and stone.

In sculpting a befitting monument to the “Pony Express” in 1940, Hermon MacNeil showed his abiding attention to detail.  Studying this “last” public monument reveals a series of actions he completed in preparing and perfecting his final product:

  • He found a suitable “stallion” as his model.
    • The charger he found was a rescued “wild mustang” from the plains of the North Dakota (Teddy Roosevelt country).  The steed was used as a rodeo “bucking bronco” and named after the Mexican outlaw, Poncho Villa.
    • Hermon referred to the animal as “glorious horse flesh”. This was the musculature that he immortalized in bronze. For the last 80 years  it’s been heading West out of downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri, just a few blocks from the Pony Express Station of the 1860’s.
    • The back story of “Poncho Villa” this outlaw mustang from North Dakota by way Madison Square Gardens is a prime example
  • He became friends with a physician nicknamed the “cowboy doctor”.
    • The man was Dr. S. Meredith Strong of Flushing, NY, a neighboring community to College Point where MacNeil lived and had his studio.
    • Dr. Strong was devoted to the preservation of “wild mustangs” from the prairies.
    • Strong was president of the American Rough Riders, “an organization devoted to the preservation of the horse, and especially the native wild pony.”
  • MacNeil studied the history of the Pony Express.
    • He did this by visiting St. Joseph, Missouri where the Pony Express Museum is located and by evaluating the site designated for the monument.
    • He also had Dr. Strong’s interest, knowledge and fervor to instruct him.

Theatrically, MacNeil had his own fascination fueled by attending the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” at the Chicago Worlds Fair (Columbian Exposition).  Buffalo Bill Cody included a re-enactment of a Pony Express ride as a regular dramatization during his shows.  He himself claimed to be a rider, though some dispute that assertion.  

  • The photos below show the actual clay model taken from his studio after his death in 1947.  The broken forelegs and head show the wire structure that the clay was modeled on.
  • I took these photos in the archives of the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, IN. MacNeil built a wire frame on which he constructed his clay model of the horse.
  • Swope Art Museum has remnants of H. A. MacNeil’s small clay models of larger statues salvaged from his studio and storage after his death.
  • Wire frames were a standard practice for constructing clay statue figures of larger proportions. 
  • FOR EXAMPLE: His Manuelito Statue in Gallup, NM was made in 1895 of cement over a wire frame.  It has been restored. 
  • NOTE: I have yet to visit Gallup and see the restored Manuelito statue.

MacNeil was a natural talent as an artist.  His training helped him perfect those innate skills.  By their nature sculptors must be talented artists.  Those skills start early in life.  They include

  • a visual attention to detail. 
  • Visual imaging and proportions.
  • an ability to capture and reproduce the essence of a object and form. 

From there the  process becomes quite meticulous. Phases involved can be described as including:

Model of a Pony Express saddle similar to Dr. Strong’s collection and what MacNeil depicted on his Monument. (Compare actual photo of MacNeil’s work below:)

  • detailed observation;
  • research;
  • historical accuracy;
  • design and balance;
  • construction;
  • inclusion of details and symbols.

The Long Island Star heralded “Poncho Villa”,  his rescuer, Dr. Strong, and Hermon MacNeil’s mastery of sculptural detail in the following narration:

“Watch Out. Pard!     Dr. Strong acquired Poncho from the rodeo after it broke up in New York, just as he did his last “pet.”  The outlaw put six men in the hospital before the physician was able to gain its confidence after months of patient work.  But even today the pony is a one-man animal.  He is a gentle as a lamb when the doctor is around, but let a stranger come near – if you don’t care what happens to the stranger! 

            Fittingly enough for a horse that modeled for the Pony Express statue, Poncho has red, white and blue markings.  The gun, holster, spurs, belt and other accessories sculptured in the replica are all relics which Dr. Strong brought from New Mexico.”   (From the Long Island Star, Tuesday November 19, 1940)

Details of the mail bags as MacNeil modeled them after Dr. Strong’s authentic Pony Express gear from the 1930’s.

Related posts:

See a “Pony Express” in miniature below

Saint Joseph, Missouri was the starting point for the Pony Express.
From April 1860 to October 1861, the Pony Express delivered mail westward to Sacramento California.

The Pony Express

More than 1,800 miles in 10 days! From St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than ever before.
In operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, the Pony Express nevertheless has become synonymous with the Old West. In the era before electronic communication, the Pony Express was the thread that tied East to West.

SOURCE: [ https://www.nps.gov/poex/learn/historyculture/index.htm ] as of June 8, 2019

MacNeil’s “The Pony Express” at Saint Joseph, Missouri

Today, Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s last public monument, sculpted in 1940, commemorates that brief history of westward expansion.

A blackened bronze Pony Express rider with a bandanna over his face heads west over the dusty trail to the next station. What awaits him there will be another fast pony ready for the rider and his bag of mail to hop into the saddle. Thus, the next leg of the continuous trek across the prairies, rivers, plains, foothills and mountainside goes westward.

A bronze miniature of this sculpture has been obtained recently.  The piece was originally cast in 1940 by the Jennings Brothers Manufacturing Company of Bridgeport, Conn. The seller notes: 

Replica miniature Statue copyrighted by HAMN in 1940.

Never cleaned in original condition. No damage or repairs, Never molested never used as a book end!!! the statue is approx 5 1/2″ in width and approx 6″ in height.

Tag on bottom of the statuette identifies it.

 
The seller comments:

“I am offering an unmolested example of a reproduction of the Pony Express rider of an exact copy  of the statue  erected in  St. Josephs  MO. 

This  single statue was given to “Nora Finch ”  Office manager to the owner of Loges department store NYC  April 20 th  1940.  Upon her retirement.  Original tag on bottom.  felt is also original.  This is as original as one could find.  Not many of these around.   Design and copyright by  Hermon A. MacNeil   “C”  H.A.M.N.  JB  on the front where the “Pony Express”  located… Good luck   USA  sales only”
 
 

I never met Hermon MacNeil.

I never met my maternal grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil.  

ALL OF LIFE and our family histories are filled with people we HAVE NEVER MET.

In 2014 I wrote an article for the MacNeil Clan Magazine,

The Galley.

I include the the pages and the text of that article below in this post:

The photos can also be viewed in this previous post. 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil – American Sculptor – (1866-1947)

MacNeil Clan history, like all family history, is filled with people we have never met.  One MacNeil who has always fascinated me is Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  Researching “Uncle” Hermon has also led me to another amazing man, Robert Lister MacNeil. Both men were present when the Clan MacNeil Association was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman.

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a sculptor, who served as the clan’s first president.  At that time, Robert Lister was 32 years of age, a practicing architect in New York City, and a veteran of the First World War. He had succeeded to the chiefship of the Clan MacNeil just six years earlier.  His dreams of the Isle of Barra and restoring Kisimul Castle (as told in his book The Castle in the Sea) were but faint hopes that would await decades and the efforts of many MacNeils for their accomplishment.

Dan “Neil” Leininger in a MacNeil kilt at Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland 2014. WHAT A TOUR it was!!!

His other kinsman was Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Hermon was the older of the two, an accomplished sculptor, also practicing in New York City, he had already created a myriad of statues, sculptures, monuments, as well as, the U.S. Standing Liberty Quarter first minted in 1916.  Although these two MacNeils were 23 years apart in age, they were both trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a school for architects and sculptors in the Classic Greco-Roman styles.  A lasting bond between them formed through their shared artistic talents, professional skills, and years of Clan MacNeil activity.

Hermon MacNeil designed a bronze plaque that was unveiled and dedicated on May 28, 1928 on the campus of Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, NC. The plaque commemorated the 1735 landing of Neil MacNeil of Jura, Scotland with 350 followers.  This group made up mostly of clan members landed at the Cape Fear Settlement in North Carolina. The plaque was placed on a red granite stone and marked another clan project shared by these two men.

In his later years, Robert Lister stated: “Hermon was an outstanding sculptor and one of my dearest friends all the rest of his life.”  In 1970, six years after publishing those words, Robert Lister MacNeil died at the age of 81.  Twenty-three years earlier (in 1947), Hermon Atkins MacNeil had died, also at the same age of 81.  All of the above was discovered as I “searched for Uncle Hermon.” I never met either of these two MacNeil men. The more I learn of them both, the more striking I find the parallels in their lives.

MacNeil roots. The third MacNeil man that I never met was my own grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil (1860-1932). Whenever my mother spoke of her father or of her “Uncle Hermon,” I would see a certain smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  Emotionally, recalling her McNeil memories seemed to take her to “a very pleasant place.” On the MacNeil family tree, her father and Hermon MacNeil were first cousins. But “Uncle Hermon” was what the whole family always called him and what he always considered himself to be. Though she did not share them often, my mother’s stories instilled in me a sense of “wonder” about these two “MacNeil” men. 

Genetically, my mother gave all of us six children her MacNeil biology, but when I first realized that my parents also gave me the middle name of “Neil,” I felt some extra portion of my Scottish ancestry. That feeling has only grown as I get older.  My grandfather McNeil died before I was born.  I was just two years old when Hermon MacNeil died.  Now as an old man myself this MacNeil heritage and my memories of the sparkle in mother’s eyes have expanded my interest in these three MacNeils, and in the many other MacNeils that I have yet to meet.

MacNeil pursuits. So I am pursuing my MacNeil Clan interests in several ways.  In 2010 I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” by building a “digital gallery” of the life and work as a sculptor. I built HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world. A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” will take you there.  His sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  Now this virtual gallery features over 500 photos and 125 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.  There you can see his statues of George Washington from Washington Arch, NYC; Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, William McKinley at Columbus, Ohio; Abraham Lincoln at Champaign, Illinois; Pony Express at St. Joseph, Missouri; Pere Marquette in Chicago; and monuments in Philadelphia, Charleston, Albany, and Flushing, and dozens of other cities.

In 2013 I became a member of the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  I did not know its existence until I saw the 1928 news story of the MacNeil plaque dedication in Red Springs.  For the last three yearsI have shared “MacNeil stories” at our annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I went to my first Highland Festival. My nephew in Colorado  told me about the attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride and heritage.

Donna and I have booked our spots on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland.  We reserved our passage before I received the Fall/Winter issue of The Galley with Rory MacNeil’s invitation to the World Gathering of the Clan MacNeil on the Isle of Barra from August 4-7, 2014.  We hope to meet some of you there this summer.

  1. I joined Clan MacNeil Association I have attended the 2013 Estes Park Highland Fest
  2. I have booked spots for Donna and I on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland
  3. I continue to research HAM

TODAY marks the  153rd anniversary of the birth

of Hermon Atkins MacNeil

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

AND THE 10th Year of my Search for “Uncle Hermon”
for whom this website is dedicated.

For a brief summary of his life and work click here for => A Brief Bio of Hermon Atkins MacNeil 

This website also is inspired by the memory of my mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger.

I remember my mother telling me about her “Uncle Hermon.” 

She handed me some Liberty Standing Quarters”  from her grocery change and showed me the little “M” at the left foot of Lady Liberty.

She showed me “The Sun Vow” statue in the Saint Louis Art Museum.  We also visited The Pony Express” statue in St. Joseph, Missouri.  I grew up with a sense of pride and quiet fascination with mom’s “Uncle Hermon” 

I never met “Uncle Hermon”

Hermon A. MacNeil died on October 2, 1947 at the age of 81 years, 7 months, and 8 days.  On the day that he died I was just two years-old.

To read the whole article, Click and open in a separate window

My own Mother died years later in the winter of 1985. At that time, I wrote:

With her passing a warm, safe feeling faded from my world. I was the “baby” of her six children. Her death ushered in feelings of being a midlife orphan who would soon turn forty. Darkness seemed to creep in from the far corners of my life. A strange fearful child inside of me said, “Who will take care of me now?”

 

As the years passed, I would think of mom, and occasionally, of her “Uncle Hermon.”

By the turn of the 2K millennium, computers and the internet had become household items.  This allowed people to hunt, find, and save data.  I found fascinating stories about Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Virtually anything from anywhere could be researched. 

In 2010, I met Dan DeBlock. He is a retired Army Chaplain and Lutheran Minister who builds websites for churches.  It started as a hobby interest and became Leiturgia Communications, Inc. The Host and Tech Support for this website.

One day I asked Dan DeBlock, “Could a website be built as virtual gallery of the sculpture of Hermon Atkins MacNeil?”

Nine years and 170 stories later, “HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com” is the answer to my question and Dan’s hosting.

In that year (2010), I seriously began my “Searching for Uncle Hermon.”

That journey continues.  This is story # 171 – A Birthday Present for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School.

 

Last Saturday while traveling home to South Dakota, I made an unscheduled stop at Reed Chevrolet in St. Joe, MO.   As I took the exit ramp off I-29 at Frederick Ave., the red light on my Chevy Silverado dash told me that the alternator was failing. 

I was planning to stop at Hazel’s Coffee to get some of our favorite beans to bring home, but I drove a block farther into Reed Chevrolet for emergency repairs.

While waiting for repairs, I met Lou Schreck, sales team member there. He gave me  test drive in a new 2017 Red Silverado. 

We drove downtown as Lou gave me his sales low down on Chevy’s 2017 Silverado line. I drove the very red 2017 that felt like a tall limo. 

Lou Schrenk and “Poncho Villa”, Hermon MacNeil’s model for “THE PONY EXPRESS”

I gave Lou a history of the PONY EXPRESS statue in downtown St. Joe, Missouri and took his picture as MacNeil’s bronze mustang soared above.

Webmaster Dan in St. Joe again for the Ump-teenth time

I enjoyed meeting this friendly Chevy man and exploring the Silverado and St Joe again.  Lou got a snapshot of me also with our Pony Express friends.

For more Pony Express stories that I told to Lou, click on this link:

More PONY EXPRESS

The Reed repair shop got me back on the road to home

(I should have got a pic of the truck too. I swiped this from their website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dan Leininger holds the “Galley” for Summer 2014 with MacNeil’s “Pony Express” statue on the cover and an 8 page feature story inside.

“Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil”

The current issue of the Clan MacNeil Association of America magazine has a feature story on Hermon Atkins MacNeil by webmaster, Dan Leininger

The Galley edited by Vicki Sanders Corporon titles Dan’s story as “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” The feature and photos fill 8 pages in the “Galley” issue for Spring/Summer 2014.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.  Page 19 of the “Galley” (This Photo from Cornell University is Courtesy of Chris Carlsen).

 

 

Page 20 of  “Galley” for Summer 2014

Page 20 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

The featured photos include the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (with a detail close-up of Moses, Confucius, and Salon); The George Rogers Clark monument in Vincennes, IN at the site of his victory over the British in 1779; Confederate Defenders of Charleston, SC; the Young Lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Champaign, IL; General George Washington on the Washington Arch, NYC, NY. Also in this article are photos of the grouping Coming of the White Man in Portland, OR; The WWI Angel of Peace Monument in Flushing NY; and a bust of Dwight L. Moody (who MacNeil sketched during the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.

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Page 18 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Nearby or far away, there is no ONE place to go and appreciate this wide range of art pieces. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and hidden, these creations point us toward the history and values in which our lives as Americans have taken root.

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.
COME BACK & WATCH US GROW

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the entire work from several angles, including the surroundings.
2. Take close up photos of details that capture your imagination.
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature, often on bronze works. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of yourself and/or those with you standing beside the work.
5. Add your comments or a blog of your adventure. It adds personal interest for viewers.
6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster