Thurlow Weed.

Life of Thurlow Weed including his autobiography and a memoir online

. (page 33 of 64)
Online LibraryThurlow WeedLife of Thurlow Weed including his autobiography and a memoir → online text (page 33 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


was the feeling thus engendered that Masons were excluded from a
participation in tlie Holy Communion ; their ijanies were thrown out
of the jury box ; and at the social gathering of the gi-ave matrons ut
the neighborhood resolutions were, in many instances, passed, forbiil-
ding their daughters keeping company with a ^Masun. The old party
landmarks thus swept away or swallowed up in this new element of
discord and strife, it resolved itself into the fact that no nieniljer of
the Masonic order was allowed to fill even the pusitiun of pound mas-
ter.

I wish here to narrate a circumstance, and the incidents attending
it, that transjiired at Batavia on the 24th of June, 18L'7. I do so for
the purpose of showing that the men of our country, however much
they may be tempted in the hour of intense and overpowering excite-
ment to do the very thing they are endeavoring to put their seal of
condemnation upon in others, still they are not even then, when al-
most in the very act of committing a gross and unpardonable violation
of human rights, wholly insensible to the demands of law and order.
The Masons of Batavia and the surrounding towns had resolved, as
was the custom of former years, to celebrate with the usual observ-
ances the day in question. This was opposed by some as injudicious,
and even hazardcnis, in the then excited state of the public mind.
Others, and by far the must numerous portion of tlie order, thought
otherwise ; and they reasoned in this way : In years gone by it has
been usual for the order to celebrate this day ; it is possible, nay, prob-
able, that an outrage against law and liberty has been committed by
some members of the order, but our consciences acquit us of any
crime ; why, then, should we be deprived of a privilege long held dear
by us, because others have committed a wrong act ?

This reasoning prevailed, and it was, tlierefore, resolved to cele-
brate the dav- It was not intended to be done in the dark, but under
the broad canopy of heaven, and the fact was published far and
near. Time rolled round. The 24th of June, 1S27, was ushered
into the world bright, clear, and beautiful, but with it also came the
deep, ominous mutterings of discontent and threatened danger. Soon
after sunrise the fact was unmistakable to the residents of the village
that the quiet little town was increasing in population with wondei'-
fnl rapidity. At first they came singly, then by couples, and finally



324 A UTOBIOGRAPHY. [1827.

by companies of twenty-five and fifty, when at the time appointed
for the Masons to take up their line of march for the ground where
the out-door exercises of the day were to take place (which, fortu-
nately, happened to be private property), at least six thousand stran-
gers were roving through the streets of the little village. The look
of things at this time was decidedly serious. In a majority of cases
these men were sober and sedate farmers, mechanics, and labor-
ers, with a sprinkling of the rougher element which pervades aU so-
ciety. But all were equally excited, and most of them were the dupes
of bad and vicious counselors. They were too excited to reason
calmly, but were ready to believe all and any rumors, even the most
preposterous, that had any bearing against the members of the Ma-
sonic order, one of which was that the celebration of St. John's Day
was a mere blind, whUe the real object in view was the destruction
of Miller's printing-office, where the alleged revelations by Morgan
were being published.

Colonel Johnson Goodwill and myself had been designated as mar-
shals of the day. The Master Masons met in their room at the Eagle
Hotel, the Royal Arch Masons and Knight Templars at the American
Hotel, about a quarter of a mile east of the former, and both on Main
Street. Receiving the Master Masons at the Eagle, we commenced
the march, they keeping the sidewalk, while we, being mounted, took
up our position between it and the middle of the street, without the
fact ever occurring to any of us, it so happened, that this route led us
directly in front of MUler's office, at which point stones and other mis-
siles flew around our heads with a rapidity and closeness that was by
no means pleasant, and was decidedly suggestive of broken heads and
maimed limbs. By a judicioiis and active system of the " dodge
game," nothing of the kind, however, occurred, though there were
many narrow escapes. Arriving in front of the American Hotel, on
the opposite side of the street, the procession was halted for the pur-
pose of receiving the Royal Arch Masons and Knight Templars.
When they emerged from the hotel, dressed in their rich robes of of-
fice, and were crossing the street to take their place in the line, the
immense mass of human beings thus assembled broke forth in one tu-
multuous chorus of hatred and derision, shouting at the very top of
their voices, " These are the d d scoundrels who murdered Mor-
gan ! Down with them ! Kill them ! " and with this a simultaneous
rush was made for them by this surging, angry, and infuriated mob, —
for it now amounted to nothing else, — and the procession was broken
up and scattered like chafB before the wind. Forbearance was a vir-
tue, and in this instance a necessity also, for what could four or five
hundred men do against a mad, unreasomng mob of at least six thou-



1827.] A RIOTOUS SCENE. 325

sand ? The Masons, thus assaulted and dispersed, silently reassem-
bled on the sidewalk in line with the Master Masons, and the march
resumed amid the hooting, hallooing, and derisive and profane jeer-
ing of the mob, who followed on with frequent demonstrations of vio-
lence. Arriving in front of the office of the Hon. Phineas L. Tracy,
that gentleman, seeing the imminent danger that threatened the pubhc
peace, rushed bare-headed from his office, his hair streaming in the
wind, and placing himself in front of the surging mass of humanity,
cried out at the top of his voice : " Men ! FeUovv-citizens ! For God's'
sake, turn back, for you know not what you are about ! You are mad,
and are about to commit a greater wrong than the one you seek to
condemn ! If the rights of the citizens have been invaded, as they
doubtless have, in the person of Morgan, leave it to the law and pub-
lic opinion to correct the evil. I beseech you, therefore, for God's
sake, for your own sake, and for the sake of humanity, turn back from
your mad purpose, and permit tlie Masons, as they have the right, to
celebrate the day in quietness and peace."

But the people were wild with excitement ; their mad passions were
at fever heat, and the mild, persuasive, and entreating language of the
venerable judge was alnmst wholly disregarded. One hundred, or per-
liaps one hundred and fifty or two hundred of the more thoughtful
tni lied back ; but the great mass surged onward in their mad course.

Another event occuired soon after this, wliieh for a time assumed a
most serious and threatening aspeit. Colonel Goodwill and myself, as
I have already stated, were mounted ; and wliile he was in the middle
of the street, I had posted myself on the side, and near the head of
the procession. For gome purpose connected with the proceedings of
the day, the colonel desired to speak with me. I reined ray hoi.se
aJonf,'side of his, when all at once, and with evident marks of concern
visiUe on his countenance, he remarked, " Follett, we are gone ! " I
looked around me to discuver the eause which had prompted this re-
mark. It was evident at a glance, and too threatening to admit of a
doubt, for in an instant we liad been surrounded by three or four hun-
dred men, and I think I am entirely safe in saying that at least every
other one grasped in his hand a newly-ground knife, with a blade not
less than twelve to fifteen inches in length, glistening and sparkUng in
the bright rays (jf the sun, with the suggestive premonition that they
were not made f<jr ornament, but service. There was evidently no
time for coimsel or reflection. Whatever was done, nmst be done
quickly. So I told the colonel to keep cool, and follow me. Fortu-
nately I was mounted on a very spirited horse, and turning him sud-
denly to the right I attciniitcd to force my way through the cordon
that surroanded us, but my bridle reins were at once seized by four



326 A UTOBIOGRAPHY. [1827.

stalwart-looking ruffians, two on either side, while a fifth seized me

by the right leg, shouting at the top of his voice, " Get ofE, you d d

scoundrel, and let Morgan ride ! " I perceived the force, but was not
strongly impressed with the propriety of the suggestion, and in the
heat of the moment raised my sword to clear myself of his grasp. But
this method was entertained only for a moment, and as speedUy aban-
doned ; for the shedding of but one drop of blood by the Masons on
that day would have drenched the streets of that quiet village with
that of hundreds of human beings ! Resolving, therefore, not to be
the immediate or the proximate cause of force myself, I immediately
sunk the rowels of my spurs deep into the sides of my horse, and giv-
ing him free rein, he dashed like a thunderbolt through the mass that
surrounded us, knocking down some twelve or fifteen, and thus giving
us a passage out, and freeing us from immediate danger, though the
volcano stiU kept seething and rumbling around us, ready to burst at
the slightest provocation. This state of things continued until we
neared the entrance to the ground in which the out-door exercises of
the day were to be held, consisting of an oration by George Hosmer,
Esq., at that time one of the most distinguished lawyers in the western
part of the State.

Arriving at this point the procession was halted, and Colonel Good-
will, in a firm and decided voice, said : " The ground upon which we
are now about to enter is my own individual property. I do not seek
controversy or litigation with any of you ; at the same time I shall not
shrink from it if forced upon me. I am determined, however, that
the first man who sets his foot unbidden on my grounds to-day shall
be prosecuted for trespass." And now was witnessed a scene which
went far to compensate for the trials and vexations of the day. Amer-
icans we all know are excitable, jealous of their rights, and ready to
maintain them, and only in the most extreme cases can they be tempted
to go so far as to trample law and order under their feet. A beautiful
illustration of this trait in their character was now witnessed. These
men could meet force with force, and sink beneath them the social
relations of life, but when the vengeance of violated law was hurled
back upon them, the silence almost of death itself pervaded this vast,
excited, and tumultuous assemblage ! Reason once more mounted its
throne. The Masons occupied their grounds in peace, and the waves
that surged and beat so madly before now rolled back in peace and
quietness. And thus ended the day, the morning of which seemed
pregnant with riot and bloodshed, law and order finally triumphing
over the wild passions of the multitude.

Much diversity of opinion existed at the time, and the subject is not,
perhaps, entirely clear to the mind of all at the present day in refer-



1827.] STATEMENT OF ORSON PARKIIURST. 327

ence to the iJintity of the body found at thi> mouth of Oak Orchard
Creek in the autumn of ISLT. Many believed, and honestly, too, I
have not the shadow of a doubt, that it was the Imdy of AVilliam Mor-
gan. Others stoutly contended, actuated doubtless by the sanie motives
of sincerity, that it was the body of Timothy Munroe. That men at
that day should have been mistaken in supposing it to be the body of
Morgan is not to be wonik'red at, for there were many points aljout it
indicating such to be the fait. At this late day I am not disposed to
go into particulars, even were they sufficiently impressed upon my
mind t-o enable me to do so. I will only give the impression of my
mind at the time, strengthened somewhat by more recent facts, that
the body thus found was not WUliam Morgan, but Timothy Munroe.
Of this I had no doubt then, neither have I now.

I have not written this long letter with the slightest idea that I have
been able to throw any new light on the subject. Indeed, the great
and leading facts connected with it are better known to yourself than
to any other man, and for that reason I have mainly sought to treat
of matters more local and personal than general, and therefore less
likely to be familiar to yourself.

Respectfully j'ours, Fkedekt< k Follett.

Mr. Orson Parkhmst, who, it will be reniembentl, was in tho
employment of J^zra Piatt, and drove the carriage in which
Morj^aa was confined fioni Kocliester to (larkson, and with
whom I siihscquently became well acquainted, is now a re-
spectable manufatiturer at Cohoes, and subiiiits the following
statement : —

STATEMENT OF MR. OKSOX PARKHUKST, SIADE APRIL 11, ls70.
My name is Oi-s* n Parkhurst. I reside at ('iilmes, Albany County,
N. Y. I was born in the year 1S(I-1 at WeatlierstielJ, \'t. My trade
was that of a carpenter ; have been for eighteen years or about a
manufacturer at Cohoes. I went to Rochester, N. Y., about Febru-
ary, 1820 ; arrived in Rocliester in March. I had some difficulty in
my lungs, and was advised by the doctors to go into some open-air em-
ployment, and I went into stage-driving from Uucliester to Scottsville,
right up the Genesee River. I drove only one season. I worked for
Ezra Piatt, who was srjle proprietor of that line. I was a single man.
In the month of Seiitember, I think, and also in the year 1826, I
think (the month may have been October), I was called early ono
morning, a little before daylight, by Mr. Piatt (I boarded at his
house), who said that he wanted me "to take a veddlnfj pnrty to
Sodiis linij." He told me to drive down to the Ka;;le Hotel, I think,



828 AUTOBIOGRAPHY. [1827.

kept by a man by the name of Ainsworth. I got up and harnessed,
and drove down to the hotel with a covered carriage. When I got
down to the hotel, about daylight, there were one or two men got in.
I tliink that Mr. Whitney was one of them. I think that Birge, or
Burrage, Smith was one of the men. (He subsequently went or cleared
away to New Orleans, and died.) After these men got in at the hotel
I drove down to Hanford's Landing into the woods, where there was
another carriage standing in the woods ; we drove within five or six
feet of the carriage. Hanford's Landing was out on the Ridge Road.
I think that Mr. Smith was outside on the seat with me. I think
that the driver of the other carriage remained in his seat. One of
the men got out of my carriage, and one or two men got out of the
other carriage. They took out a man who was blindfolded with a
handkerchief over his eyes and put him in my carriage. He seemed,
to get out willingly enough, and to get into my carriage without any
compulsion. I think that two men got into my carriage, making four
in all besides the bhndfolded man. Smith sat on the seat with me.
After the man who was blindfolded got in, and the other men, Smith,
with whom I was acquainted, gave me to understand that he was the
manager of the concern, and that things had got to go as he said, and
he ordered me to drive slow. Smith commenced a conversation which
led me to think that he was going to tell me what they were about,
and I checked him, and told him I was subject to his order, but I did
not want to know anything about what they were doing or what they
were about. Smith then kept " mum," and we drove on to a farmer's
house and stopped, and one of the men went out into the field and
took the farmer's horses and put them on our carriage. It seemed to
be understood that the horses were to be exchanged. On my return,
I changed horses back again. This was about fifteen miles from Roch-
ester where we changed horses, as near as I can state. When we
reached Clarkson we stopped in front of the tavern. There was horse-
racing that day, and a large crowd of people around that day. The
men in my carriage got lunch and something to drink, which was
brought out to the carriage. The man who was blindfolded did not
get out. Two or three times I heard some one groan in the carriage,
as if they were tired. The curtains of the carriage were down all the
while. People could not look into the carriage. I think we changed
horses after stopping at Clarkson, but am not certain whether it was
before or after. I drove on to the town of Gaines, Mr. Smith still
staying outside with me on the driver's seat. We drove under the
horse-shed at the tavern at Gaines, and a man by the name of Mather
hitched on to our carriage another pair of horses, — I think he took
my harness. I think it was late in the afternoon when we arrived at



1827.] PARKIIURST'S STATEMENT CONTINUED. 329

Gaines. Mather told me where to take my horses. I think that the
change of hoi-ses was previously aiTanged. I took my horses into
Mather's barn. I did not see the man who was blindfolded. At this
place 1 went to a privafie house to stay. I don't recollect the name ;
think that he kept boai-ders, and was under the shed, and asked me to
go home with him. I did not go into the tavern at all when I was
there. I got supper, and stayed there all night. This man where I
stopped seemed to understand what was going on. He asked me
whether I was a Royal Ai-ch Mason, and I said that I was not ; and
then he said that he supposed that no one but Eoj'al Arch Masons
knew anything about this, or were engaged in it. I told him that if
there was anything which he did not want known, tliat he had better
not say anything about it ; and he did not talk any more about it
This conversation was the same afternoon that we got there. I stayed
there, I believe, only one night. The next day in the afternoon,
rather late, I think, the carriage came back, and I went back with it
to Rochester. None of the men that went out with me came back. I
might have picked up one or two passengers on the way liome. I
think I reached Rochester in the night. I saw Smith and Whitney
around Rochester afterwards. I was out in the city much daytimes,
except Sundays. I do not recollect any conversation wliich I had with
them on the subject. A month or so afterwards a Mr. Norton, who
was engaged in the forwarding business at Rochester, called at tlie
stable and asked me if my name was Parkliurst, and I said, " Yes."
Then he wanted to know whether I drove out on the Ridge Roa^l
at a certain time. I told him I drove a " wedding party out to
Stilus,"' and he rather ridicided the idea, and said it would lie to my
advantage to tell all the facts. Norton then left, or Mr. Piatt hove
in sight. Norton said, " I will see you again." He left rather ab-
ruptly. Piatt wanted to know of me what Norton's business was, and
I told him ; and Piatt said that " I had business in Michigan," and
that I must go " right off." Piatt settled up with me, and paid me
what he owed me, and I think he advaneed me twenty or twenty-five
doUars, and I started right off the same day for Vermont, my old
place of residence. I packed ray trunk, and Piatt sent it out of Roch-
ester, and I did not find it, and had to go buck to Rochester, and
foond it. I went by the canal. I went to my father's, at Weathers-
field, Vt. My father was a carpenter. I think that I went to work
at Charleston that winter, driving team for hauling grain for a distil-
lery. Next summer I went back to Weathersfield and worked at my
trade with my father. \V'e worked at Perkinsville in the same town,
Weathersfield. In September, on election day, on my way home, I
met George Ketchum, of Rochester, who had come out on purpose



330 A UTOBIOGRAPHY. [1829.

to see me. He came to have me go o£E to some other place. He was
afraid that the Anti-Masons had found out where I was. I left my
business, and started right off. I went to Norwich, Conn. He gave
me some money. I remained at Norwich that fall and winter, work-
ing at my trade. Then Ketchum came to Norwich ; he was fright-
ened, and was afraid that they had found me, or ascertained where I
was. He wanted me to leave for some other section. I went with
him to KeesevUle, N. Y., on the west side of Lake Champlain, and from
there we went out to his brother's, six or eight miles in the woods,
where his brother was carrying on the smelting business. Then Mr.
Ketchum went with me to Albany, and he went home to Rochester.
He furnished me partly with some money. I went to New York by
the river, from New York city to Boston, and from Boston to Port-
land, and came back to Boston, and got work in Boston at my trade,
and worked through the summer ; and then I went to Braintree, and
worked there at my trade about a year, and then went back to my far
ther's in Vermont. I reached my father's in the spring, I think, of
1829. In the fall of 1829 Mr. Thurlow Weed came to Weathersfield
for me. Mr. Weed stopped at Windsor at the tavern, Pettus', I
think, and got the sheriff, Joel Lull, and they came to Weathersfield.
I was working at Perkinsville in the same town, at Samuel Downer's
Tavern, in Weathersfield. Mr. Weed inquired for the name of the
" hottest Anti-Mason in town," and Mr. Downer said that " Ira French
was hot as hell ; " he did not know whether there were any hotter
ones in town. This is as Mr. Downer told me the story. French
came with the sheriff and Mr. Weed to find me, and French skulked
around in the bushes until I was arrested by the sheriff. I did not
then know Mr. Weed personally. Mr. Weed and the sheriff came up
to me. I did not know the sheriff ; he introduced Mr. Weed of Roch-
ester, and the sheriff said I was his prisoner. After I was arrested I
went with them to Windsor (called at my father's on the way), and
stopped over night. Next morning we started for Rochester. I con-
sented to their taking me into the State of New Hampshire in order
to take the stage, although they had no right to go out of the State
of Vermont. We reached Albany, N. Y. The sheriff delivered
me up to Mr. Weed on the State line of Vermont and New York
State. Mr. LuU, the sheriff, however, went with me on to Albany.
At Albany, I had so gained the confidence of Mr. Weed that he al-
lowed me to go alone to visit an uncle of mine va. Hawk Street, and I
went up in the morning before the stage started, and on my return
found Mr. Weed coming after me, as the stage was waiting, and ready
for us. My uncle's name was Littimer. We rode by stage to Utica,
and we were both pretty tired, and took the packet there for Roches-



1827.] PAKKIIURST ESCAPES. 331

ter. The captain's nanu' was vSmith ; he was a Mason. Judge Mc-
Lean was aboanl. I tliink that he was then postmaster-general under
Jackson. He was a ^[ason. Jacob Graves, of Rochester, was on
board. He was a tanner, and was a peaceable and quiet sort of man.
He was a Mason also. We reaehed Montezuma Marshes near night-
fall. AVhen I got on to the packet I had no intention of escaping from
Mr. Weed. I talked with Mr. Graves wliile I was on deck, and he
said tliat if I went to Rochester I would be kept untU the next Jlay ;
and tliat if I could not get security for my appearance as a witness I
woidd be imprisoned, and detained in custody. This alarmed me, and
a plan was arranged for my escape, and I concluded to escape. The
captain was a ^Slason, and he arranged that my berth should be in the
stern and Mr. Weed's in the bow. The captain of the Geneva packet
was on board, and my trunk was placed on his piicket at Jlontezuma.
(He did not cliarLje me any fare to Seneca Falls. He was not a Mason,
and probably was not aware of the circumstances.) The first lock was
six miles beyond Montezuma, and I think that we went to bed before
we reached Montezuma. I was aware that my trunk was to be taken
off at Montezuma. When we reached the fu'st lock beyond Monte-
zuma it was about ten o'clock P. M. I was in my berth ; liad not been
asleep. The captain called me before I got into the lock. I stepped
into the closet, and he agreed to call me ; and when the boat had
raised high enough, the captain called me. When I left the boat no
one was in sight, except the captain and bowsman. I got on to the
tow-path side and walked back to ilontezuma, and got on to the Ge-
neva packet, where my trunk was. Mr. Graves had given me some
money, and I went to Seneca Falls, Cajniga Bridge, steamboat to Ith-
a/!a, and from Ithaca I went to the town of Veteran to see an uncle of
mine, and stopped there about two weeks ; and then I returned to
Montezuma and got on to tlie packet, and it happened to be the same
packet I had escaped from. Captain Smith knew me, and arwinged



Online LibraryThurlow WeedLife of Thurlow Weed including his autobiography and a memoir → online text (page 33 of 64)