William L. (William Leete) Stone.

Letters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams online

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and Ketchum then came to the house, and after looking over
the papers for awhile, agreed to proceed with the afflicteil


woman to Canandaigua, as she had requested. They de-
parted from Batavia at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and
stopped at Stafford. Mrs. M. was then taken into a back
room, where her guardians were joined by Ganson, and the
celebrated Johns, heretofore particularly mentioned. They
all thereupon proceeded earnestly to examme the papers,
talking over them in low tones of voice. Johns was asked
if they were the same papers which he had seen in the of-
fice, and replied that they were, with the exception of one
degree, which was yet missing, and of which he gave a par-
ticular description as to the manner in which the manuscript
was folded. After some consultation by themselves, Fol-
jett announced to Mrs. M. that he could go no farther with
her ; but that as Mr. Ketchum was going to Rochester, he
would proceed with her to Canandaigua — assuring her, at
the same time, that K. was a gentleman with whom she
need not be afraid to entrust herself. Taking the papers
with them, Mrs. M. proceeded forward with K., to Avon,
where they tarried for the night. They arrived at Canan^
daigua about noon of the following day — Wednesday, the
13th of September.

During the journey from Batavia, the feelings of Mrs. M.
had been sustained by the confident expectation, that she
would not only meet her husband on her arrival at Canan-
daigua,^ but procure his release, even were she to find him
in duress. The charge under pretext of which he had been
so rudely torn from his family and home, was of such a pal-
try nature, that it could not be doubted that in the wonder-
ful papers, which were now in her trunk, she had a charn?i
that would readily dissolve all the bolts and bars that might
stand in her way. But hope was a deceiver. Ketchmn,
after an absence of some time, returned to the inn at which
they had stopped, stating that he had not been able to find
her husband ; adding that the Masons looked upon him as
a friend of Morgan's, and being apprehensive that he had



come to get him away, would hold no conversation with
him. He then asked her for the papers, and taking them
with him, promised to do all in his power to ascertain where
her husband was, and bring her the intelligence. Hour af-
ter hour passed away, without any tidings, during which
time her apprehensions became painfully oppressive. To-
wards evening, however, he again returned, and informed
the distressed woman of her husband's having been there ;
of his trial for larceny ; his acquittal, &:c. ; together \vith
the particulars of his second arrest and imprisonment for
debt. But although he truly added that Morgan had sub-
sequently been taken from the prison, by a man who had
paid the debt, and carried off in a close carriage, yet he
stated the falsehood, that this debt had been paid by a man
from Pennsylvania, to whiom he (Morgan) was indebted,
and at w4/ose suit he had now been carried thither. He
then coldly asked Mrs. Morgan, when she wished to return
home to Batavia. The desolate woman replied that she
would go immediately, as she had left a child but two years
old, and, without money, was there, among strangers, with
an infant in her arms only two months old.

Once more was the poor W'Oman left alone, while her
guardian went to take a passage for her in the stage. Re-
turning again, in the evening, a scene occurred of the most
interesting and painful description. He found Mrs. Mor-
gan traversing the room, in the bitterest anguish, relieved
only by the tears which were flowing down her cheeks.
Though beyond a doubt he was deeply in the plot, yet he
could not withstand the passion of her grief ; he could not,
it seems, suffer her to depart under the cruel deception
which he had attempted to practice upon the now wretched
woman. Accordingly, after surveying her for a few mo-
ments in her distress, he took her to a seat, and attempted
to sooth the bitterness of her feelings. He assured her that
he did notlmow where her husband was, — that bis place of


concealment was not known, — but that if she would permit
him to take the papers to Rochester, he thought he should
be able to discover him. He then told her that a part of
the papers which they wanted were missing, — particularly
the illustrations of the mark-master's degree, — and he urged
that, on her return to Batavia, she would find the remainder
of the papers, if possible, — assuring her, moreover, that if
she could ascertain v/here the sheets of the first three de-
grees, already printed by Miller, could be found, and give
him information at Rochester, by letter, he would give her
twenty-five dollars, and the lodge would pay her one hun-
dred dollars more. Mrs. M. declined making the attempt
to obtain the papers, or printed sheets, from Miller, and said
she would not receive the money. She also hesitated about
giving up the papers now in her possession, fearing, as she
frankly told him, that it was their intention to keep her hus-
band in concealment until they should obtain them all, and
then take his life. He again pressed her to write to him at
Rochester, and inform him as to the state of public feeling
at Batavia, in regard to the taking away of her husband.
He gave his name on a slip of paper, "George Ketchum,"
and on taking leave, made a solemn pledge as follows : — " I
" promise, before my God, that I will not deceive you, but
" will do all I can to find out where he [Morgan] is, and let
*' you see him : I have no doubt when I get back to Roches-
** ter, I can find out more, and I think I can find where he

Ketchum had paid her passage, and he now gave her two
dollars to defray her expenses back to Batavia. Thus was
this unfortunate woman left — a stranger, in a strange place —
homeless — friendless — with an infant at her breast, and an-
other child at fifty miles distance, which, though not quite
so young, was, nevertheless, equally dependant and helpless.
Her husband^no matter what w^ere his faults, he was still
her husband, the father of her children— had been torn from



his family ; and with a heavy heart, she was now compel-
led to return, after a fruitless search, equally as ignorant of
his fate, or of the place in which he had been concealed, as
when she had set out upon the bootless mission.

Mrs. Morgan departed from Canandaigua, on her return,
in the first stage, for Batavia. Arriving at Le Roy,
James Ganson again made his appearance, and joined her
in the coach. He stated to her that he was then on his way
to Batavia, to make arrangements for her support, because
her husband would not be seen by her for at least a year,
and perhaps more ;, although he assured her that he had not
been killed. But he told her that in any event, she should
be well provided for, that her children should be sent to
school, &c. In a few hours after the disconsolate woman
had reached her desolate home, moreover, she was visited
by the same Thomas M'Cully, at whose suit her husband
had been thrust into the Batavia prison in August, and who
had assisted in ransacking the house for the anxiously-sought
manuscripts. The object of his visit was to inform her that
the lodge had appointed him to provide for the support of
herself and children, and that he had engaged lodgings for
them at the pubhc house of Danolds, at which place her
husband had been detained after his arrest on the 10th,
until he was thrust into the carriage, and taken away. The
offers, both of Ganson and M'Cully, were promptly rejected
by Mrs. Morgan. If compelled to live by charity, she pre-
ferred receiving it from different persons than those by whom
her misfortunes had been brought upon her.*

* It appears that the proffers of masonic assistance which I have mention-
ed, were not all that Mrs. M. received. It is stated in the report dftho Lcm-
iston committee, that "about the first of March, 1827, lienry Brown, Esq.
of Batavia, said to be Grand Commander of tlic Kniohts Templars Encamp.
ed at Le Roy, called at Mrs. Morgan's lodjrintrs, and exhibited to the wo-
man with whom she boarded, a bair containinij, as ho said, silver dollo.rs,
which he professed great anxiety to give to her without delay. Mrs. Mot-
<»an never sent for the dollars, and tlicy M'cre taken away by Mr. Brown,
but it is not known to what use they were subsequently appropriated."

Q,uerij : Was this the Henry Brown, who wrote tho narrative of these
importaat transactions^ for the benefit of the Masons ?


Prom the circumstances of the arrest of Morgan, by Hay-
ward and Cheseboro, and those attending the journey of
Mrs. Morgan, as disclosed in the foregoing narrative, there
can, I think, be no doubt of the correctness of the opinion I
have expressed a few pages back, viz : that all the legal
part of these proceedings, was but a solemn mockery of
law and justice, the forms of which were knowingly prosti-
tuted to subserve the vilest purposes, to the deep and last-
ing injury of the unoffending man who was immediately
concerned, even though he should have escaped from the
toils which had thus been spread for his destruction !

I have the honor, sir, to remain vours, &c.


New- York, Feb. 5, 1832.

It was early on the morning of Tuesday, the 12th of
September, — the morning of Mrs. Morgan's departure in
quest of her husband, — that Col. Miller received an anony-
mous note, the chirography of which was unknown, inform-
ing him that an attempt was that day to be made to take
his office by assault, and, at all hazards, to wrest from his
possession the manuscripts, and probably the printed sheets
also, of his proposed masonic publication. This notice
was shown by Miller to some of his friends, and a consulta-
tion held to determine what was best to be done. Millers
office was already armed by two swivels, fifteen or twenty
guns, and several pistols. Some were disposed to treat the
threat as an idle one ; but recent occurrences admonished
the majority, that it was the dictate of prudence to be on
their guard. A number of the villagers, therefore, armed

themselves with clubs, and repaired to the neiirhborhood of



the office, to be prepared to repel force by force, should the
information conveyed by the note prove to be well founded.
It was well that this precaution was adopted ; for, at about
the hour of 12 o'clock at noon, the village was once more
invaded by a gang of between sixty and seventy men, arm-
ed with heavy sticks or clubs, newly prepared, all appear-
ing as if cut at the same time, and for the same purpose ;
and the persons wielding them, were all, or nearly all, en-
tirely strangers to the inhabitants of Batavia. There was
much consternation in the village, at the appearance of such
a formidable array of at least partially armed men : for the
singular arrest of Morgan; the manner in which he had
been hurried away ; and the doubt and uncertainty that
hung over his fate, were subjects already in the mouths of
the people. Added to thisy should a riot ensue, it was now
ascertained, that there was not, at that time, a single magis-
trate in the village, — they all having, by a strange and sin-
gular coincidence, been subpoenaed into a distant town, as
witnesses. The rendezvous of this party was at the house
of Danolds ; but they had doubtless been advised of the pre-
parations made to give them a warm reception, should they
attempt any oflensive measures, as well by the friends of
Miller, as by Miller's own garrison, armed as it was by
swivels and fire-arms of various calibre, — for they made no
demonstration towards the office in a body. Along witli
this company was a constable from Le Roy, named Jesse
French, who alkidged that he had a warrant for Miller, and
from the intimations given out, it was supposed to be a
criminal process. French, with a single assistant, proceed-
ed to the office and arrested Miller, who made no resistance,
although one of his men called for a pistol, but repaired
with the officer to the inn of Danolds. Here he was de-
tained a couple of hours, but was not prevented from com-
xnunicating with his friends, nor from consulting with
couniseL He was afterwards placed in an open waggon*


with seven strong men, strangers to him, who were all arm-
ed, as above described ; the constable mounted on horse-
back ; and in this manner, attended by the mob, increased
by a number of the people of Batavia, they proceeded to
Stafford, where, in the face of his remonstrances, and those
of his couilsel, who followed him, he was forced up into
ihe third story of a stone house, and placed under a guard
of five men, in a lodge-room. To all inquiries as to the
nature of the warrant under which he had been taken, the
jfeplies were vague and evasive ; but both Miller and his
counsel were again and again given to understand that it
was a criminal process. By some means or other, however,
Miller had learned that the process had been sued out by
his evil genius, Johns, who has been already twice men-
tioned. This man, who had been in pretended partnership
with Miller, had only left him three days before, — having
succeeded in purloining a part of the coveted papers ; —
while, as it was said. Miller had managed to get hold of
some thirty or forty dollars of his cash. But be that as it
may, Johns now suddenly made his appearance in the lodge-
room, and marched quickly up to Miller with a drawn
sword. The latter remonstrated with him on the subject of
his conduct — to which Johns replied, with a faultering
tongue, that he was only performing what he had been
commanded to do. While thus in confinement at Stafl:brd5
Miller learnt that the process had been issued by a magis-
trate at Le Roy ; but his guards told him he was not
to be tried there — nor by any ordinary tribunal. He was
not to stop at that place ; but was going where Morgan
was. In reply to a question from him, what tribunal he was
to meet, and where Morgan was, the answer was equally
significant and laconic — " You will see !" A number of
Miller's friends were admitted into the lodge-room, at their
request ; but the great and unnecessary delay at this place,
and the refusal of those having Miller in custody, to pro-


ceed on to Le Roy, where the warrant was returnable,
created a suspicion that they were waiting for night-fall, that
under the mantle of darkness, an opportunity might occur
to play the prisoner foul. It was not until dusk in the eve-
ning, that the party proceeded onward to Le Roy, four
miles. The journey was not unattended by noise and tu-
mult — a considerable party of Miller's friends having fol-
lowed on from Batavia. On arriving at Le Roy, French
proposed to take his prisoner to a tavern, in which was a
lodge-room ; but Miller and his counsel both objected to
this arrangement, and insisted upon going directly before
the magistrate, which was accordingly done. Leaving the
prisoner before the justice, French then went in pursuit of
the plaintiff, — for it now appeared that the warrant was
merely a civil process, issued on the application of Johns,
for the recovery of certain monies advanced by him to
Miller, w^hile he was acting as a counterfeit partner in what
Miller, at the time, supposed to be their joint speculation.
After waiting about half an hour, the officer not having re-
turned himself, nor made a return of the warrant, and no
plaintiff appearing, the magistrate discharged the defendant,
and told him to go where he pleased. Just as he was leav-
ing the oflice of the magistrate, with his friends, French
came up in company with Johns, and made an attempt to
arrest him again ; but he did not succeed, and Miller esca-
ped to a public house. French and his party raUied again,
and made several additional efforts to seize him upon the
same warrant, but the attempts were all incflectual ; and,
finally, the friends of Miller succeeded in forcing him into a
carriage, in which, late ir) the night, he was returned safely
to his home, and his family were, consequently, once more
relieved from the terror occasioned by the extraordinary
transactions of the day.

It requires no argument upon the preceding statement of
facts, to show, that the process of the law was again, for a


third time, abused, and its majesty insulted, by this pretend-
ed legal arrest, and the outrageous circumstances attending
it. It was well that a portion of the people of Batavia
had been made acquainted with the intended visit of these
audacious disturbers of the peace, coming under the cloak
of the civil la'w. But why was it, that all the magistrates
of the village, had been summoned into another town, as
witnesses, on that day ? A state of things might have
arisen, in which the presence of the magistracy would have
been of the utmost consequence. Is it not possible, — nay,
probable, inasmuch as the conspiracy was widely extended,
and its members very numerous, either that the magistrates
were willingly absent, or that, without their own knowledge,
perhaps, their absence had been procured precisely at that
time, to favor the views of the conspirators ? The latter is
the most charitable inference ; and yet, there is an anecdote
on record, remaining, as far as I am informed, uncontradic-
ted, which amply warrants a contrary conclusion. Two of
those magistrates, residing in the village, were Masons.
One of these remarked, to a third person, before his return
from Bethany, (the town to which he had been taken by
subpoBua,) " that he (the person addressed) need not be sur-
*' prised, if, on his return to Batavia, he should find Miller's
*' office levelled with the earth." The gentleman to whom
the remark was made, inquired, " if they, being justices of
" the peace, thought such proceedings right ?" " Why,"
replied one of them, " if you found a man abusing your
" marriage bed, would you have recourse to the law, or
" would you not rather talvc a club, and beat his brains
" out ?" Comment upon this short but emphatic colloquy,
is unnecessary.

There was now a brief pause in the progress of events ;
but it lasted only a week or two. It is true, that an im-
perfect statement of the occurrences was published in CoL
Miller's paper, and possibly copied by a few — a very few= —

158 Letter xiv.

publishers elsewhere ; but very little attention was paid to
the story abroad — probably, in the first instance, from an
impression that the rumors related to some trifling local af-
fray, which had been greatly magnified, and which possess-
ed little, if any, public importance. I well recollect that
the first knowledge I possessed upon the subject, was de*
rived from one of Miller's papers, which caught my eye at
a public house in New- Jersey, on the day of commencing
a journey to Baltimore and Washington. It made but a
transient impression upon my mind; and seeing nothing
further upon the subject for some weeks, during my ab-
sence, and even after my return, the circumstances had all
but escaped my memory, until they were revived late in the
autumn, by the unpleasant reports, and symptoms of high
excitement, which began to reach us from the west.

In and about Batavia, however, a strong feeling of dis-
trust soon began to pervade the unmasonio community,
touching the cause of the protracted absence of Morgan.
More than a week had passed away, and there were no
tidings from him ; while the manner in which those of the
Masons conducted themselves, who had clearly been either
directly concerned in the transactions before related, or had
looked on rather with approbation, than otherwise, was lit-
tle calculated to allay the public apprehension. Instead of
expressing any anxiety themselves, they jeered and laughed
at those who did. Nor did they hesitate, occasionally, to
justify their conduct in carrying him away, and even to de-
clare, that any punishment he might have received, was too
good for him. Indeed, their carriage was such, in various
respects, as to offend many good citizens, and to excite the
suspicions of those who would, otherwise, have been the last
to entertain a belief that friends and neighbors, of so much
respectability, could have been concerned in any transac-
tions involving positive crime. It was apparent that they
supposed their stratagems to prevent the publication of the


hated book, had been crowned with complete success. No
publication was yet issued from Miller's office ; Johns,
three days before Miller's arrest, had succeeded in purloin-
ing a portion of the manuscripts appertaining to the upper
degrees, and marring somewhat more ; and Ketchum had
obtained from Mrs. Morgan the original manuscripts of the
first three degrees. These, therefore, were strong reasons
why they might imagine that the work had been effectually
suppressed, and they exulted at their supposed success, in
terms of unqualified and undisguised triumph. Little did
they think that the prize obtained of the wretched woman
was valueless. But it was so ; she having, in fact, obtained
the papers from Miller, for the purpose of negotiating with
the fraternity for the liberation of her husband, after he had
no farther use for them. That portion of the manuscripts
which had been embezzled by Johns, was sent to New-
York by an express, to be laid before the General Grand
Chapter of the United States, then holding its triennial con-
vocation in this city. Of this circumstance, however, I
shall speak more at large hereafter, in connexion with the
name of an illustrious individual, now no more, who has
been most infamously calumniated, not only in regard to
the precise occurrence to which I now refer, but likewise
in connexion with the whole transaction.

With sentiments of great respect, I am, &:c.


New- York, Feb. 8, 1832.

The desolate condition of Mrs. Morgan, after her return
from Canandaigua, pennyless, and, for aught she knew,
husbandless likewise, did not escape the attention of the


humane citizens of Batavia. She had rejected the proffer-
ed bounty of the lodges, and, under the circumstances, she
had done right. Poor indeed must she have been, to have
acted otherwise. But although I would by no means un-
dervalue the charities of the lodges, which, as I well know,
before the institution had been so greatly abused, have sent
forth their beneficence in countless streams and rivulets, car-
rying gladness and comfort to thousands of the destitute and
afflicted, yet, fortunately, in this favored country, charity is
not confined to the members of the fraternity. There are
hearts to feel the woes of others, and hands to administer to
the wants of the destitute — to cheer the widow's heart, and
wipe the tears from the orphan's cheek — in every village
that studs the face of our beautiful land. The kindest sym-
pathies of these were enlisted in behalf of Mrs. Morgan,
and the necessary measures were taken by the benevolent
to provide for her immediate w^ants. Meantime, day after
day passed away, without seeing, or hearing a word from
Morgan ; and from frequent inuendoes, and dark givings-
out, it became a doubtful matter whether his return was to
be expected at all. It was therefore determined to despatch
a messenger to Canandaigua, to make inquiries as to his
probable fate, and ascertain, if possible, the place of his con-
cealment, or learn the direction in w^hich he had been taken.
The mystery of the case was hourly becoming deeper ; nor
was it in any degree dispelled, or the anxieties of the wife
lessened, by a letter which she received from Ketchum,
dated at Rochester, September 14th, two days after he had
parted from her, at Canandaigua. This letter exhorted her
to make herself contented — assured her that her husband
was well ; but protested that the writer could neither tell
where he was, nor which way he went. It cautioned her
to keep her own counsels — to be faithful to his directions,
given her at Canandaigua — in which case, he assured her,
she would find friends, — admonished her not to exchangk


told her to write to hini if she wanted money — and charged
her to burn his letter up as soon as she had perused it. Of
course such a communication only tended to increase the
mystery already shrouding the transaction, while it also in-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 14 of 49)