Page images
PDF
EPUB

etc., etc. He is a man of rather small stature-round foreheadspeaks very fast, and has two scars on his head, and appears to be between 30 and 40 years of age. There is no doubt but that he came from Vermont from the mention he has made of a number of places and persons there, and probably is the person supposed to have been murdered. He is now living here, but so completely insane as not to be able to give a satisfactory account of himself, but the connections of Russel Colvin might know by seeing him. If you think proper to give this a place in your columns, it may possibly lead to a discovery that may save the lives of innocent men-if so you will have the pleasure, as well as myself, of having served the cause of humanity. If you give this an insertion in your paper, pray be so good as to request the different papers in New York and Vermont to give it a place in theirs.

I am, sir, with sentiments of regard, yours, etc.,

Tabor Chadwick."

A similar letter was written by Mr. Chadwick to the postmaster at Manchester, but as every one scouted the idea of Colvin's being alive, little notice was taken of it, and nothing done in regard to it. Mr. Whelpley of New York, however, became convinced that the man described by Chadwick was the real Colvin, and determined on his own responsibliity to go to New Jersey and find out the truth, though his expenses in the case were afterwards paid by an order on the city treasury from De Witt Clinton, Mayor of New York. On arriving at the house of William Polhemus, in Dover, Monmouth County, with whom the man supposed to be Colvin lived, and making known his errand Mr. Polhemus said there was such a man in his employ, that he had made known very little of his past history, that he at first gave his name as Colvin and afterwards changed it, that he was evidently deranged, but was a good, faithful man, and imagined he owned the farm of his employer. He was at this time in the field at work, and it was agreed that on his return nothing should be said to him by Mr. Whelpley, at first, to see if Colvin would recognize him. Returning from his work and seeing Whelpley he looked at him very sharply, but said nothing. After some time Whelpley spoke to him calling him by name. He said Mr. Whelpley must be mistaken, Colvin was not his name, it had been once, but he was another man now, and denied all knowledge of Manchester and his former associates.

At last Mr. Whelpley said. "I see you have a scar on your forehead, how did you get that?" Colvin replied, "chopping on the mountain" for such a man, naming one of his old neighbors in Manchester, which circumstance Whelpley knew to be true, and by gradually drawing him out made him show some interest in his former friends and acquaintances, and he related so many incidents and trivial matters that there could be no doubt of his identity.

It took Mr. Whelpley several days to induce Colvin to go back to Vermont, but at last he succeeded, in the meantime writing a letter

to Manchester stating that Colvin had been found and was then on his way to that place. A few people began to believe that it might be true, but the greater part were still incredulous, and many bets were made as to his being the genuine Colvin. On arriving at Bennington the County Court was in session. Some one rushed in and said that Colvin had come and the Court broke up in the greatest confusion, and Judges, Clerk, Sheriff, Lawyers and spectators jumped over benches and rushed through windows and doors to see the man whom all had believed dead, and for whose supposed murder some of them had been instrumental in having two men sentenced to be hanged. He was immediately recognized by all who formerly knew him. After a short delay the party proceeded to Manchester, a courier being sent in advance to announce his arrival. All along the route people gathered in crowds to see him, and when the stage drove up to Captain Black's tavern at Manchester, a crowd had collected and the wildest excitement prevailed. Cannon were brought out and Stephen Boorn was taken from the jail to fire the first in token of his joyful escape from death. The most extravagant expressions of joy were indulged in by the people who, at last convinced of their error, were only too glad to make reparation. On being brought to the prison, and seeing the fetters which were still on the limbs of Stephen Boorn, Colvin asked, "What is that for?" Boorn replied, "Because they say I murdered you." Colvin answered, "You never hurt me. Jess, struck me with a briar once, but it did not hurt me much." Colvin's wife was presented to him, but he remarked, "that is all over with," and would take no further notice of her. For two or three days large crowds collected from neighboring towns to see the man who was believed to be murdered, and all rejoiced at the unlooked for termination of the affair.

There could now be no doubt of the innocence of the Boorns, but they could not be released from custody without due process of law. Mr. Skinner immediately wrote to the Judges of the Supreme Court then in session in Addison County, that Colvin was alive and then in Manchester. The Judges advised States Attorney Sheldon that they did not believe it could be Colvin, and directed him to make the most searching examination to guard against deception. Colvin was accordingly questioned most thoroughly, and told so many little incidents that could not have been known to an imposter, however well posted, that there could be no doubt in the mind of any rational person as to the identity of the man.

After remaining in Manchester a few days he requested to be taken back to his home in New Jersey, which was done, and he died there a few years subsequent.

A few days before the time appointed for the execution of Stephen Boorn, the Judges of the Supreme Court stopped over night at Manchester, on their way to Bennington. Mr. Sargeant called upon them and after talking about the case some time, Judge Brayton said: "Well, Brother Sargeant, what are you going to do about it? I suppose you have some plan concocted." Mr. Sargeant said the case was without precedent as far as he knew, and he should petition the

Court for a new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence. There was some difference of opinion among the Judges on the subject, but they finally decided it to be the right course to pursue. A new trial was granted, a nol pros immediately issued by the prosecuting officer, and both prisoners were set free.

THE TRIAL OF WILLIAM FARQUHAR AND JOHN H. CLARK FOR ASSAULT AND BATTERY, NEW YORK CITY, 1816.

THE NARRATIVE.

One hot night in the first part of the nineteenth century. a citizen of New York with a young man from Albany, were returning home, when they came across a man and his wife in rather earnest conversation with a city watchman. They took up the cause of the lady and it resulted in a fight which ended in the watchman being knocked down and his club taken from him. But the noise brought other city guardsmen to his rescue and the two men were taken to the watch house where they were obliged to spend the night. And later they were indicted by the Grand Jury for Assault and Battery. The Judge told the jury on the trial that the interference was uncalled for and unnecessary, for was not the woman's husband on the ground and able to protect her; and the citizen was found guilty and fined.

THE TRIAL.1

In the Court of General Sessions, New York City, July, 1816. HON. RICHARD RIKER,2 Recorder.

July 30.

William Farquhar and John Hyde Clark having been indicted by the Grand Jury for an assault and battery committed on Edward Graves, a watchman in the city, their trial came on today, both pleading Not Guilty.

3

Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Rodman, for the Prosecution.
Mr. Wilkin, for the Prisoners.

1 The New York City Hall Recorder. See 1 Am. St. Tr. 61. 2 See 1 Am. St. Tr. 361.

3 See Id. 62

4 See Id. 62.

THE EVIDENCE.

It appeared, from the testimony of the witnesses, that on the night of the 10th of July last, the house of Francis Page, near the corner of Hester street and the Bowery, was broken open, and property to a considerable amount stolen therefrom, by some person or persons unknown. Edward Graves was the watchman stationed near that place; and the next evening, between the hours of ten and eleven, being on his duty near the place, he heard an expression or caution fall from Page to a third person, then passing along near Graves, "Take care or you will be robbed." Graves surmised that the expression was intended to be applied to him, on account of what had taken place the preceding night, and remonstrated with Page with some severity, who endeavored to convince him that the caution was not intended to apply to him.

The watchman was not satisfied with the explanation made by Page, whose wife, then on the stoop, commenced a dispute with the watchman, in relation to the remark made by her husband. The tone of the watchman's voice was loud and boisterous, but it appeared by the testimony of Page and his wife, that she was not insulted. At this time, Far

quhar and Clark, his companion, a young gentleman from Albany, came along the street, and Farquhar interfered in the dispute, by saying, Mr. Watchman, it appears to me that you regard matters of little consequence and neglect those which are greater. He also remarked that the watchmen were continually out of the way. The watchman said, Who are you? and told the other to mind his own business. Farquhar insisted that he had a right, as a citizen of New York to interfere when a lady was abused.

The quarrel increased and as Farquhar approached the watchman, whose orders were not to suffer any person in the night to approach near enough to disarm him, he pushed Farquhar and told him to go about his business. A violent assault was then commenced by Farquhar in front, while Clark from behind seized the watchman's club, which was wrested from his hands. He called his fellow watchman to his assistance, when the two gentlemen were seized and carried to the watch house, where they remained during the night.

Farquhar was very abusive and boasted he had disarmed watchman.

the

Mr. Wilkin urged to the jury, that the defendants ought to be acquitted, because the interference in favor of the lady was just and natural; and because after an assault committed by the watchman on a citizen, and after confining him in the watch house during the night, the same watchman had the unparalleled impudence to come into this court and complain of an assault and battery.

« PreviousContinue »