Monadnock Moments No. 88: Cal Tenney and the Cattle Drover
The book entitled “Marlborough Recollections” issued by the Marlborough Historical Society contains a collection of local folktales. One of these tales concerns Calvin Tenney, a mid 19th century Marlborough tavern keeper.
Much of Cal Tenney’s business came from cattle drovers who put up in the tavern at night. These drovers turned their cattle into the tavern pasture in the evening, rounded them up in the morning, and started on their way to the Boston market. Cal charged a nominal amount per head for the pasturing and safekeeping.
One day a drover stopped off at the tavern to spend the night. He knew of the fee for pasturing cattle, but was not anxious to part with his money. The drover put his herd into the pasture, went up to the tavern, and told Cal that he had already pastured his 125 cattle. Cal, who had been watching from the window, said that that was fine.
The next morning after breakfast the drover paid his bill, including the charge for 125 cattle. “I’ll go down with you while you get your herd,” Cal said. He opened the pasture gate and watched the cattle come through. When 125 head of cattle had passed, Cal closed the gate. The drover pointed out that a good number of the cattle still in the pasture were his. Cal replied, “I counted out 125 cattle. That’s the number you (told) me and paid me for. The rest of them critters must be mine.”
The drover knew he had been caught and he had to pay the fee for the rest of his cattle, including a fine – a round of drinks for everyone in the tavern.