Daniel and Jason’s Winsome Diversions is Formed (Daniel Hortnuffler and Jason Plarch)

In early 1860, Daniel Hortnuffler was approached by two gentlemen “of means” as he’d later describe them, who were observing both he and his friend, Jason Plarch, as the entertained their friends at a local public house in Cooperstown, New York.  While it began merely as a few jokes among friends, the two gentlemen noticed that “every head in the room began to turn,” spotting the type of magnetism they were used to seeing on stage in the Big City: Schenectady.  As Hortnuffler later explained in a letter to his mother, Champagne:

They approached us, cash in hand.  Both were mustachioed in such a way that I thought them surely to have come from their own show themselves.  They were kempt – too kempt, I should say – their fine suits a cut that must originate from whichever European clothiers dress President Buchanan and his friend, Mr. King.  They struck me as queer fish, but I didn’t hesitate but a single breath.

They flattered us both immensely, with such golden words I’d never heard thrown in the direction of two men dressed and sweating such as Jason and I were.  They near demanded we start a stage career, and with the purse they surrendered to us, I must say, we both nearly went blind with excitement!  Dear mother, but who was I to turn up my considerable nose at such an idea?  Certainly, Jason and I had both considered lives theatre-bound, but had dismissed them nearly without thought, so did we understand the necessity of what passes for hard work in this town.

The gentlemen stayed just long enough to enjoy the house’s specialty, at which point the one’s bald pate was so shining I thought he might be ill, but we continued our congress merrily and, with our word, exeunt the two strangers who left us only a visiting card and the name D. Jacobi.

After having spent seventeen months in Cooperstown as part of a sort of braintrust, coming up with tourist attraction ideas for the small farming town, Daniel and Jason were beholden to their angel investors to proceed with the “life of an all-moving layabout,” as he would later describe their careers.  D. Jacobi is believed to be a pseudonym, as no such name exists from public records from the period, incomplete as they may be.

Author: Jay