SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.
A Full and True Exposition of All the Various Crimes, Villanies, and Misdeeds of This Powerful Organization in the United States.
By the "Reformed Gambler,"
JONATHAN H. GREEN.
Author of "The Gambler's Life," "Gambling Exposed," "The Reformed Gambler; Or, Autobiography of J. H. Green," Etc.
With Illustrative Engravings.
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"This is a most fearful and startling exposition of crime, and gives the true and secret history of a daring and powerful secret association, the members of which, residing in all parts of the country, have for a long period of years been known to one another by signs and tokens known only to their order. This association has been guilty of an almost incredible amount of crime. Beautifully embellished with Illustrative Engravings, from original designs by Darley and Croome."—Courier.
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Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson and Brothers, 306 Chestnut Street. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by T. B. PETERSON, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The vice of gambling is peculiarly destructive. It spares neither age nor sex. It visits the domestic hearth with a pestilence more quiet and stealthy, but not less deadly, than intemperance. It is at once the vice of the gentleman, and the passion of the blackguard. With deep shame we are forced to admit that the halls of legislation have not been free from its influence, nor the judicial bench unstained by its pollution.
It is against this vice, which is now spreading like a subtle poison through all grades of society, that the present work is directed. The author is not a mere theorist. He speaks from experience—dark and bitter experience. The things he has seen he tells; the words he has heard he speaks again. Some of these scenes curdle the blood in the veins, even when remembered; some of these words, whenever whispered, recall incidents of singular atrocity, and thrill the bosom with horror.
The author professes to speak nothing but the plain truth. He does not aspire to an elegant style of writing, adorned with the ornaments of the orator and the scholar; but to one quality may lay claim, without being thought a vain or immodest man. He speaks with an earnest sincerity. Whatever he says comes from his heart, and is spoken with all the sympathy of his soul.
This work differs from all the previous works of the author. Indeed, it is unlike any thing ever published in this country. It is not a mere exposure of gambling, nor yet an attack on the character of particular gamblers. It is a revelation of a wide-spread organization—pledged to gambling, theft, and villany of all kinds. There are at the present time existing, in our Union, certain organizations, pledged to the performance of good works, which merit the hearty approbation of every honest man. These are called secret societies, although their proceedings, and the names of the officers, with minute particulars, are published in a thousand shapes. Prominent among these beneficial orders stand the Odd Fellows and the Sons of Temperance. But the order, whose history is related in the following pages, differs from all these. Its proceedings, the names of its members or its officers, and even its very existence as a body, have hitherto been secret, and sealed from the whole world. Besides, it is pledged to accomplish all kinds of robbery, aye, and even worse deeds. It has, in more than one deplorable instance, concealed its dark deeds with murder.
This order is not confined in its operations to the dark places of life. It numbers among its members the professional man, the "respectable citizen," the prominent and wealthy of various towns throughout the Union; nay, it has sometimes invaded the house of God, and secured the services of those who are ostensibly his ministers.
There is not a line of fiction in these pages. The solemn truth is told, in all its strange and horrible interest. To the public, to the candid of all classes, to the friends of reform, to the honest citizen, and to the sincere Christian, the author makes his appeal.
Let not his voice of warning be unheeded. Let all be up and doing, so that the monster may be exterminated from the face of the earth, and the youth of the present age be saved from destruction.
THE SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.
Why this exposure is made at the present time—Who oppose reform—My lectures—The New-Light minister—How some get rich—My opponents 9
A DARK CONSPIRACY.
Goodrich, the gambler—His malicious conduct—Cause of it—The Browns—Their plan to escape punishment 16
THE CONSPIRACY IN PROGRESS.
The colonel takes medicine to bring on sickness—Ruse will not take—Character of the administrators of justice in New Orleans—Colonel Brown deserted by the Brotherhood—Dearborn county, Indiana, delegation 22
THE CONSPIRACY FURTHER DEVELOPED.
The secret correspondence brought from Canada—The Brotherhood desert Brown—How I obtained the secret writings—Not suspected—Mrs. Brown and the landlady—-Cunningham suspected of purloining them 27
BRIBERY AND COUNTERFEIT MONEY.
Brown's lawyer attempts to bribe me to testify falsely against Taylor—Acquaint the deputy-marshal with the fact—Brown's ineffectual attempts to find bail—Suspected of having removed the hid money—The colonel's visitors 34
His Lawrenceburgh friends—A hypocritical lecture—Further disclosures—A searching examination—First intimation of the existence of The Secret Band of Brothers—Colonel Brown's narrative of the conspiracy against Taylor 42
The colonel resumes his narrative—The missing papers.—Fare advice 57
DEATH OF COLONEL BROWN.
Conspiracy against my life—Conversation with Cunningham regarding the mysterious papers—Death of Colonel Brown 62
THE SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.
Explanatory remarks—The Grand Master of The Secret Band of Brothers—Vice-grand Masters—Ordinary members—Objects of the Order—Colonel Brown sacrificed lest he should betray them—Taylorites and Brownites 66
THE MYSTERIOUS BOX.
Anxiety about the missing papers—Cause of the hostility of the Band to me—The papers supposed to be deposited in the United States Court—Clerk's office broken into, and the box containing Taylor's indictment and the spurious money stolen—Suspected—Placed in prison for safety—The robber discovered—My release—The mysterious box—The stranger—Conversation with Wyatt—The box opened 75
THE PORK TRADE, OR DRIVING THE HOGS TO A WRONG MARKET.
The trading operations of the Band—Lectures at Lawrenceburgh—The Browns and the hog-drover 84
CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS OF THE SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.
Initiation—Penalties—The Grand Masters—The secret writing—The six qualities, Huska, Caugh, Naugh, Maugh, Haugh, Gaugh—Vocabulary of flash words—The post-routes.—The horse-trade explained—Allowances— Specimens of correspondence—The biter bit—A letter of introduction with an important note—Subsequent inquiry into the case 90
A CHAPTER OF AFFINITIES.
Thieves and thief-catchers—A family of five—Penitence and Penitentiaries—The chain-driver and his gang—Lawyers' fees and Lawyers' privileges—Our representatives 139
GAMBLING EXPEDITION IN THE CHOCTAW NATION.
Character of the inhabitants on the Texas frontier in 1833—The murder of Dr ——. Operations at Fort Towson—Edmonds and Scoggins—Robbery— Journey to Fort Smith—The dumb negro speaks—His character of Scoggins and Edmonds 147
CORRESPONDENCE CONNECTED WITH MY VISIT TO THE AUBURN PRISON, AND CONVERSATION WITH WYATT, THE MURDERER.
1. Chaplain Morrill's letter commendatory of my visit—2. My own account—3. My second visit—4. Mr. Gary's letter—5. Reply to the accusations of Mr. Morrill—6. Mr. Merrill's charges—7. Vindication from these charges—8. Further particulars relative to the life of Wyatt alias Newell alias North, and a horrid murder committed near Perrysburgh, Ohio—
Debate on Gambling 193
Drawing of Lottery Tickets 267
Insuring Numbers, or Policy Dealing 288
Lottery Combinations, etc. 299
SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.
In perusing the following pages, the reader will learn the history of a class of men, who, for talent, cannot be excelled. He may startle at the horrid features which naked truth will depict—at deeds of darkness which, though presented to an enlightened people, may require a stretch of credulity to believe were ever perpetrated in the glorious nineteenth century.
It will, no doubt, elicit many a curious thought, especially with honest men, and the "whys and wherefores" will pass from mouth to mouth in every hamlet, village, and town, where the following recital may find a reader or hearer. All will declare it mysterious. It is a mystery to myself in some particulars, but in others it is not. It is strange, passing strange, to think that such a black-hearted, treacherous band of men, as I am about to describe, could have existed so long in a civilized and Christian country.
With a trembling hand do I attempt to bring to light their ruling principles, to develop a system of organized and accomplished villany. My reasons for assuming so daring a position may seem to require an explanation. It may be asked why I did not make this revelation before, as far as I had knowledge, or what is the occasion of the present exposition? To the preceding queries I will briefly reply.
First, There has been no period in my life, prior to 1846, when I could dare to lay before the world what I contemplate doing at the present time. It will be long remembered by many, that in August, 1842, I renounced a profession, in which I had worse than squandered twelve years, the sweet morning of my life. In doing so, I knew I must, of necessity, experience deep mortification, in a personal exposure, which would attend me through life.
Gambling, with all its concomitants, had taken full possession of my depraved nature. Thus it was that I, like all wicked men, refused to "come to the light," and I feared to oppose a craft so numerous as the one of which I was a professed member. Well did I know that I was carrying out a wrong and wicked principle. Conviction produced reflection. After a careful deliberation of the whole subject, I declared with a solemn oath, that, by the assistance of Almighty God, I would renounce for ever a profession so ruinous in its every feature. Immediately I felt the band severed, and my misgivings were scattered to the winds. My former companions laughed at me. They scouted the idea, that one so base as I should ever think of reformation. It moved me not. My credit, I found, failed, after it was known that I had quit gambling. A thousand different conjectures attended so strange a proceeding on the part of one in my circumstances. Why should I abandon card-playing, destroy valuable card plates, and lose their still more profitable proceeds, return moneyed obligations, which would have secured me an independent fortune? These things were a matter of surprise with the cool and deliberate patrons of vice, and especially with many, who, though they were often covered with a garb of outward morality, were full of rottenness within. Some, who pass for moral and religious persons, have in this thing exhibited a moral obliquity that has often astonished me.
From a careful examination, I have learned the lamentable fact, that the most prominent opposers of moral reforms are composed of two classes, THE HARDENED SINNER, who makes money his god, and THE EXTREMELY IGNORANT. Let not the reader understand, however, that I suppose there are not ignorant rich men as well as poor—the latter have their share of bad men, and so also have the former—but that vice and ignorance are common to both.
In the year 1843, I commenced lecturing against the fearful vice of gambling, for no other reason than to stay the gambler in his ruinous course, and save the youth of our land from his alluring wiles. For this I received IN PUBLIC the "God speeds" of ALL classes, and the prayers of all Christians in secret. I soon learned I had much with which to contend—opposition from directions I little anticipated. The gambler, unfortunate man! he carried upon his countenance an expression of open hate, indicating a deadly hostility to my reformatory movements. The ignorant man, I found, was disposed to make his avarice the highway to happiness. He was unwilling to favour any reform that would invade the territory of his contracted selfishness. His reply, if he had any, would be that stereotyped one, "such a course will have a tendency to make more gamblers than it will cure." If his reasons were asked for such a statement, you could get no satisfactory answer. Perhaps he would say, "I am satisfied of the fact from my own disposition." He might as well give a child's reason at once, and say, "CAUSE!" Such persons have seldom heard a lecture, or read a syllable, and yet are always prating with a great show of wisdom, but rather, in fact, of blind conceit. Their silence would be of far more service to the cause of virtue than their opinions. In many cases, it will be found that such persons are not only ignorant, but dishonest.
Again, there is the rich, moral, or religious man, who takes another position. He opposes with the declaration "his sons will not gamble: they have such good and moral examples," &c. This is sometimes a want of consideration, that prompts them thus to speak; with others, a secret villany, driving them to such ultra positions, a mere tattered garment to cover their own moral deformity. They must oppose the reformation, or be held up to public disgrace. In nine cases out of ten, the opposer of this class, is, or has been, a participant in the works of darkness whose exposition he so much dreads.
Finding many disposed to act thus, and to teach their children to imitate their own pernicious examples, I have made it a study to demolish, if possible, the foundation of their positions. The success attending my efforts to trace them out, assures me, that I am correct when I affirm that two-thirds of all opposers are influenced in their conduct by the basest of principles; one-sixth act through ignorance, united with vice, and one-sixth are wholly ignorant and cannot be morally accountable, if their want of information is in any way excusable. But what may be still more startling, about one-fourth of the whole are members of the various churches, yea, even men of this class are found in sacerdotal robes. This fact came within my knowledge long since. I felt it my duty to publish the same, but delayed, till I should gain experience in defending my position. I was satisfied, however, that the efforts of a certain New Light minister to traduce my character and hinder my influence, must have been prompted from some of the foregoing considerations. Would the world know who this man is? It will be necessary to go to the very town where he lives to secure the information. I doubt whether his name would ever have appeared in print, but for his newspaper controversy, or in case of his death. His unwarrantable attack put me on my guard, and caused me to search out the ground of his base and unchristian treatment. One thing is very certain, he is no gambler. It may not be a want of disposition, but rather a sufficient amount of sense, to make him a proficient in the business. He may be an ignorant dupe—a mere tool of the designing, the "cats paw" of some respectable blackleg, who thinks to cover his own crimes, by exciting public opinion against me, through an apparently respectable instrumentality. But I did not wish to bandy words with him, being impressed with the propriety of a resolution I made while a gambler, that it is only throwing away time to attempt to account for the different actions and opinions of weak and prejudiced minds; and therefore I dropped the whole affair. I would have remained silent, but for the position taken by other divines from his false and garbled statements. Many have condemned me unheard, listening willingly to my accusers, without hearing a word in my own defence. Not satisfied with such an expression of their EXCESSIVE CHRISTIAN CHARITY, they have even thrust at me through the public prints, for which, no doubt, they will have the hearty amens of all gamblers, and it may be several dollars in their pockets. Certain editors have joined in the same "hue and cry" with their worthy compeers. The reasons were evident in their case. They knew I was invading their dearest worldly interests. There were others who only knew me from hearsay. Why should they become my enemies? It was because I held in my possession secrets, whose exposition would make many of them tremble. It would be to them like the interpreted handwriting upon the wall. Hence they were ready to contribute their talents and wealth, to sustain certain individuals as honourable men. I could not have deemed it proper to expose "THE SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS," had not duty, and my obligations to society, urged me forward. The allegiance I owe to God is paramount to all other. The result is yet to be experienced, by the better part of the community. Heavily was the oppressive hand of this notable brotherhood laid upon me. My soul was sorely vexed by their daring villany.
In the county where I was bred, I have numbered, in one day, thirteen who sustained honourable places in society, nine of whom were rich, strangely rich in view of their facilities for acquiring wealth in a newly settled country. Not one is a professional man. Few bear the callous badge of industry and physical exertion upon their hands. Several are, by an outward profession, Christians,—but invariably opposed to all the benevolent institutions of the day and works of reform, unless their views of what is the right course are fully met, which are generally so extravagant as to preclude all hope of co-operation. With these I had a severe contest. Well did they know, there was something behind the screen which, brought to light, would expose their villanous transactions, open the eyes of honest men, and greatly endanger, if not destroy, their craft. That I had letters, written by themselves, they knew—nor dare they deny it—letters which might lead to a conviction of crime, that would raise them to a position somewhere between heaven and earth. They may rest assured that I have documents that place more than one thousand of them in a relative position to law and society.
In a previous work of mine, called "GAMBLING UNMASKED," an allusion is made to an evident conspiracy against my life, sometime before I became a confirmed gambler. Goodrich was the name which I gave, as the chief actor. This same doubly refined villain, it will be remembered, by all who have read the above work, was foremost to aid in my arrest when I made good my escape to the Pine woods, lying back of New Orleans. The reader will likewise recollect, that I could not, at that time, account for such manifestations of unprecedented malignity, on the part of one from whom I might rather expect protection than persecution. But the secret is out, and I now have the power to give clear and truthful explanations.
This Goodrich, who resides at the present time in or near New Orleans, and who holds the rank of gambler-general in that city of Sodom, was an old and advanced member of the "Secret Band of Brothers." Knowing, as he did, that I was engaged in assisting the honest part of the community to convict two brothers who were plotting my downfall, as a sworn member of the above fraternity, he was solemnly bound to do all in his power to aid in the consummation of my personal ruin. That the world might know something of this Goodrich, (though the half cannot be told,) I gave, in my autobiography, several incidents, in which he acted a prominent part. What I then said will answer for an introduction.
That he was connected with an organized association of gentlemen blacklegs will not be denied. The proof is abundant. Nor was he an apprentice, a mere novitiate; but long schooled in vice and ripening year by year, he swelled quite beyond the bounds of ordinary meanness, till he became a full-grown monster of his kind. Not content to gather riches by common roguery, he sought out the basest instrumentalities as more congenial to his real disposition. His chief riches were obtained by dark and murderous transactions; and had he a score of necks, with hempen necklaces well adjusted, I doubt whether he could pay the full forfeiture to the law.
From my first acquaintance with him at Louisville, with blood-thirsty vigilance he sought my destruction. Here began the risings of his malice, and this was the cause. In the year 1830, I gave information to the city police in relation to Hyman, who, at that time, was the keeper of a hotel. It was while at this house, that Goodrich became my determined and implacable foe. I had been duped by two brothers, Daniel and James Brown, who were then confined in the calaboose for passing counterfeit money. Large quantities were also found in their possession. I was their confidant, so far as prudence would allow them to make any revelations. That they were guilty of the crime with which they had been charged, no honest man could doubt, after being made acquainted with the circumstances. Yet they would swear most stoutly, even in my presence, that they were innocent, and that they had been deceived. I could not but believe they were guilty, after having witnessed so many of their iniquitous actions. Often have I been told by the wife of one of them, that they could call to their assistance, if necessary, a thousand men. Who they were and where they were, so ready to uphold these abandoned men, I had, at that time, no knowledge.
At length their situation became desperate. Already had they passed one year within the walls of a gloomy prison, without the privilege of a trial. They were required to give bail in the sum of twenty thousand dollars each. No satisfactory bonds could be procured. The whole community were incensed against them. They had for a long time trampled upon private rights and warred against the best interests of the people. They had set at defiance all laws instituted for purposes of justice and protection, and they could not but expect a stern rebuke from all the friends of morality and good order. The only prospect before them, upon a fair trial, was a sentence of twenty years to the penitentiary. This was by no means cheering, especially to those who had lived in ease and affluence, whose bodies were enervated by voluptuousness and hands made tender by years of idle pleasures. Crowds were gathering to witness their trial, and waiting in anxious suspense the issue. Disgrace, public disgrace and lasting infamy stared them in the face. They were put upon their last resources, and necessity became the mother of invention. They fixed upon the following plan to extricate themselves.
Public opinion must be propitiated. An interest in their behalf must be awakened by some manifestation that would touch the chord of sympathy. A double part must be played. They would affect to change their sentiments. In this they acted according to the laws of the secret brotherhood. With them, any thing was honesty that would effect their purposes. But to consummate their design, another object must be secured—some innocent person must be implicated and made a scape-goat for, at least, a part of their crimes. This game they understood well, for they had been furnished with abundant means and instructions. It required also deep-seated iniquity of heart, and in this there was no lack, for they were the sublimation of depravity. They must also have time and capital. These were easily provided, as will be seen in the sequel. There was an individual with whom they had become acquainted in Cleaveland, and upon whom suspicion had rested for some time. He was the man fixed upon as their victim. Of course he was not a member of their organized band. "Honour among thieves" forbids the selection of such a one. It was necessary, however, that he should be somewhat of a villain. Here also they exhibited much sagacity in the selection. It now only remained to slip his neck into the noose that was in preparation for themselves. All the instrumentalities being prepared to their liking, they immediately set the infernal machinery in active operation.
The first thing to be done was to change the direction of public opinion as to the real perpetrator. It must be called off from the persons who were now so hotly pursued, and put upon a different scent. The agents were at hand—The Secret Band of Brothers. These "dogs of war" were let loose, and simultaneously the whole pack set up their hideous yell after the poor fellow previously mentioned. Many of them being merchants and holding a respectable relation to society, and most of them being connected with the different honourable professions, their fell purpose was the more easily accomplished. A continual excitement was thus kept up, by breathing forth calumny and denunciation against one who, however guilty of other things, was innocent of the thing laid to his charge. At the same time, the ears of the principal bank-officers were filled with words of extenuation and sympathy toward the two brothers. Their former high respectability was adduced. That they were guilty was not denied, but they had been misled and seduced. Intimations were given that the name of the real villain who had caused their ruin would be given, provided they would ease off in their prosecution already in progress. And then it would be such a glorious thing to secure the prime-mover.
By these fair and seemingly sincere pretensions, they soon kindled relentings in the hearts of the prosecutors. How could it be otherwise? for "they were all honourable men." Several of the individuals who assisted in maturing the plan were men of commanding influence, in the very town where I was bred. I had abundant opportunities to know them. A proposition was finally made through them by the instructions of the officers, that, as the brothers knew their guilt was fully established, it would have a tendency to mitigate their sentence, if they would expose the head man, by whose knavery many extensive property-holders were threatened with total bankruptcy. This was the precise position at which the secret band of brothers had been aiming. The next step was to secure, if possible, the younger brother as "state's evidence" against the appointed victim of Cleaveland notoriety, whom, for the sake of convenience, I will designate by his name, Taylor.
He was a man of extraordinary abilities and gentlemanly deportment. He and the two brothers were mutual acquaintances. They had been accomplices, no doubt, in many a deed of darkness. But as "the devil should have his due," I am bound to exculpate him from any participation in the alleged crime. That he was innocent in this affair I have the fullest evidence. I was solicited by the pettifogger, (I will not say lawyer,) for the brothers, to take a bribe for perjury, and swear poor Taylor guilty of giving me five hundred dollars of counterfeit money, which money he would place in my hands. Of this fellow, I will speak in another chapter. The younger brother was now to declare himself and brother as having been seduced by Taylor. It was to be done without the apparent knowledge of the elder brother, whom we will hereafter call Colonel Brown. It was to be communicated to one of the officers, with a solicitation to keep it a secret from the colonel. He also had an appointed part to play. The character he was to sustain in this drama of well-concocted treachery, I will next present.
The colonel's physician advised him to take medicine, to reduce his system, and give him the appearance of one rapidly sinking under a pulmonary affection. He consented, as such a plan was considered the most likely to succeed. It will be readily seen, that the design was to work upon the sympathies of the officers, and thus procure his enlargement. Nor were they disappointed. The colonel's health began to fail. The drugs acted their appropriate part. Some of his friends made vigorous exertions to have him removed to the hospital, declaring it necessary for the continuation of life. Others were actively engaged in giving forth intimations, and expressing their fears that he would die before his trial came on, always taking care to assert their confidence of his innocence. This was a mere ruse, to trick the officers into a consent for his removal. But they had mistaken the character of the men with whom they were dealing. They were not to be moved by exhibitions of suffering humanity. Their hearts had become insensible to human misery and they resisted all appeals to sympathy.
There was now but one alternative for the friends of the prisoner. They must apply the drugs more assiduously, till they made a mere skeleton of their subject; and then try the virtue of the "almighty dollar." This now seemed to be the only thing that would move the hearts of seven-eighths of the police judges, marshals, wardens, and prosecutors. Such were the administrators of public justice, at that time, in New Orleans. The greater part were men, who, at some period of their lives, had been steeped chin-deep in infamy. Some were men of wealth and liberally educated. They were men who would shrink from giving an account of their early years. Several were verging upon three score years and ten. All the wealth they possessed had been plundered from another set of villains, whose misfortune was, a want of sagacity in escaping the rapacity of their more accomplished compeers. That there were a few honourable exceptions must be admitted, but I could not with a good conscience assert, that one-eighth of the police was as honest as is generally the case with those city officers, for I have facts to the contrary.
The whole of that Southern Sodom at an early date had been inundated with this "secret band of brothers," or this fraternal band of land pirates. As they became wealthy they ceased their usual occupation, and began to speculate in a different way. Having it in their power, they would rob even their nearest friends, thus overleaping that common law of "honour among thieves." They would do this with the utmost impunity, whenever they saw proper. There was no redress. The very officers were, many of them, under fictitious names and would assume deceptive titles, for the more successful perpetration of their villany.
The unfortunate prisoner discovered, when it was too late, that his supposed HONEST BROTHERHOOD were not what their profession had led him to believe. Poor fellow! he had not taken enough degrees to learn the full "mystery of iniquity." Every effort was made to procure a light bail, but it could not be effected. At last an arrangement was made, and for a stipulated sum he was placed in charge of a committee, who had him removed to the hospital. The colonel, by this time, was, to appearance, very dangerously ill. He was removed to his new quarters, but not permitted to regain his health, lest the spell of their deceit should be broken. His visitors were numerous. To his face, they appeared his most sincere friends. They seemed deeply interested in his welfare, and made bountiful proffers of sympathy and assistance. His true friends, who were capable of rendering him succour, were very few. He had many of the lower class of the brotherhood, the novitiates, who were ready to act energetically and in good faith. But the head men—the very individuals who had reaped the spoils of his doings—were his worst enemies. They had received the lion's share, without leaving the poor jackall even the scraps, but turned him over, unaided, to the tender mercies of a felon's fate. They had filled their pockets with the richest of the spoils, and would not now contribute a penny to reward their benefactor.
At this time, there were one hundred of the brotherhood in the city, who might have procured bail; but gratitude found no place in their hearts. They had also violated their oaths. Day after day would parties of his old friends and neighbours visit him, both in the prison and hospital. They would tell him that arrangements were in progress to effect his escape. The whole, however, was false, as no action had been taken. The prisoner depended much upon a delegation from Dearborn county, Indiana, of whom he had a right to claim assistance; but they, like the rest, proved traitors. I have counted thirty different men from that county, who visited him from time to time. These, at home, were men of good standing, equally respected with other citizens. Several were leading men in all the moral and religious enterprises of the day, and generally individuals of wealth. Two of them, I knew, made great professions of religious enjoyment and zeal. One was a very strict church-going man, but with the heart of a Judas. His hypocrisy was of such a deep and damning character, I can hardly forbear giving his name. Duty might demand his exposure, but for the injury that would be inflicted upon an innocent family. These men may reform. I am delaying exposure. I hope ere long to have an evidence of their sincere repentance, but fear they are too far gone, too much in love with the wages of iniquity. They have too long turned a deaf ear to the pitiful cries of the widow and orphan whose ruin they have effected, whose natural protector they may have robbed, leaving his injured family in penury and want. Some of these, who were comparatively poor at the time of the colonel's downfall, in 1832, have since become rich. There is reason to fear that such sudden wealth, obtained without any visible means, was not very honourably acquired. It is seldom that honest industry will thus accumulate. The letters I shall publish will be accompanied with explanatory notes. The persons concerned will recognise their own productions, and I hope to see such a change in their future life as shall deserve a charitable silence. But I return from my digression.
The sworn friends of the prisoner had forsaken him in the hour of need, and left him single-handed and alone to meet the stern rigours of the law. There was no remedy unless in his own stratagem, which was now being matured. It was as follows. His brother was to remain in prison as an evidence against Taylor, mentioned in the previous chapter, while he was to assume all the responsibility of the counterfeit money, plates, &c., as well as all the other villanies which had been charged upon them conjointly.
The colonel was very sick from the action of the medicines. He supposed every effort had been made to bail him, but was greatly deceived. His fate was sealed. A conspiracy was formed against him. He suspected foul play, because his former associates did not come forward and bail him. His removal to the hospital was only a pretence set up by them, that might give more time to carry out their treacherous designs. He was a prisoner, and they were determined to make him such the remainder of his life. He had his friends, however, warmhearted, and true. He was almost worshipped by the poorer members of the brotherhood. The richer part envied him for his superior skill in his profession and general popularity, and feared the consequences. In this he differed widely from his brother, who was neither loved nor feared, and was only respected from his relationship. When the plan was devised for the younger brother to swear the counterfeit money and plates upon Taylor, it was intended by these professed friends, that he should be caught in his own net, and be thus prevented from rendering the colonel any assistance. The consummation of this plan, I will next detail.
The younger brother was to produce various letters which had been written to him from different parts of the Union, by different individuals. That this could be done will be seen by what follows. The colonel had been an extensive speculator in merchandise of almost every kind. He was extensively known. His correspondence was wide-spread. In his villanous communications, however, letters were never addressed to him in his proper name, unless some one should labour under the impression that he was an honest man. He used two fictitious names; the one was George Sanford, and the other that of his brother. These letters were placed in the hands of that brother for safe keeping. Thus the colonel, to all appearance, only maintained an honourable and necessary business correspondence. He consented that his brother should use these letters if they could be made useful in helping him out of difficulty. He was willing the letters should be produced and read, as the younger brother had promised to bring forth the plates. In the mean time there was an understanding between them, that no intimations should be given as to the "secret band of brothers;" not a syllable was to be lisped that would lead to exposure.
To obtain the desired end, and give greater security, instructions were given to the wife of one of the brothers to examine carefully all the letters, and select out from them those of a specific character, and to keep them sacred, subject to the order of the colonel. These letters had been conveyed in a chest from Canada, where they had been preserved with great secrecy. This chest was sent for in February, 1832, and arrived the next April. Some three days after the reception of the trunk containing these papers, information was given that the removed letters had come, and were ready for the examination of those who were acting as prosecutors of Taylor. By this time, public opinion had become so much changed toward both of the prisoners, that a very little effort would have secured their acquittal. They had acted with great skill and prudence, and were in a fair way to succeed. This was perceived by the leaders of the fraternity. They were unwilling such a man as the colonel should escape. A deep plot was consequently laid and rigorously carried out to thwart him in his efforts to escape the penalty of the law. His trial was put off and the inducement held out that bail should be obtained. All this was done to keep up appearances. His enemies dared not openly provoke him. They dared not come out and proclaim their hostility, for they well knew he had the means to expose them. To seek his ruin by an open show of opposition would be to touch fire to the train, that, in the explosion, would involve them all in a common ruin. They must approach him, Joab like, and drive the dagger to his heart while saluting him with professions of friendship. But his patience had become wearied by a protracted sickness and continued disappointment.
The letters above referred to were done up in packages of three hundred each. I was present when the trunk was opened, and witnessed the selection of many of the letters. The lady who assorted them threw about one out of every thirty in a separate pile. I made no inquiry respecting them, but my curiosity, as you may well imagine, was not a little excited, especially as I observed several familiar names. The lady finally unrolled six pieces of parchment, which were blank in appearance. She folded them up in a square form of about six inches. She then folded up some three hundred and seventy letters, and placed them upon the parchment. Upon these she placed a written parchment containing the copies of about six hundred letters, and having carefully enclosed the whole in a sealed envelope, she placed them between two beds upon which she usually slept. The remainder she packed up and sent to her husband's attorney. Immediately she left the room to visit her husband in prison.
Scarcely had she retired, before my curiosity was intensely excited to learn the contents of the concealed package. I ventured into the room with the intention of satisfying myself. I no sooner placed my hand upon the package, than I felt the blood seemingly curdling in my veins. The thought that I was about to act the part of a dishonest man impressed me deeply. I reflected a moment, and then dropped the package, and hastened to leave the room. As I turned from the bedside, my desire to know the contents of the package came upon me with a redoubled force. The passion was too violent for resistance, for I was confident some of these letters were written by men I had known from my infancy. Whether I acted properly or improperly, an impartial public must determine; but after thinking upon the subject a moment, I turned, grasped the package, and bore it off under the keenest sensations of alarm and fear of detection. I hastened down stairs and made my way to the house of a man by the name of Watkins. He was a good man, and a sincere friend to me. His wife was a kind-hearted and benevolent woman. I met her at the door, and told her a friend of mine had given me this package to take care of, and I would let her see the contents at another time. She took it and laid it away; I then hastened to the prison to meet Mrs. B——, who I knew expected me to accompany her, or to be present with her that day. Could I get to the prison as soon, or sooner than she, suspicion of my having taken the package would be lessened. I soon found myself at the prison gate. The lady had not yet arrived. The prisoners were standing around the door on the inside. I waited some ten minutes, when I heard B. say he did not see what could detain his wife so long. I stepped to the door and remarked that I had been waiting some time, and was expecting her every minute. Immediately she made her appearance and remarked,
"You have got here before me. I looked for you before I left."
I had observed her looking into the room I occupied, when she was about leaving the house; I, however, was in an opposite one, occupied by another boarder. After conversing a short time with her husband, she remarked, that she must return to the house, as she had left the package where it might be found. She called upon me to accompany her. I did so, and we soon arrived at the house. I remained below while she hastened up stairs to her room.
In a few minutes she came running to the head of the stairs and called me; I immediately answered her.
"Green," said she, "some person has been robbing my room."
I felt as though I was suspected, for "a guilty conscience needs no accusing."
"What have you had taken?" asked I.
"Oh! I have"——then she paused, as if studying what to say. In the mean time, the landlady had heard her say she had been robbed, and hastened to the place where we were standing, but being unobserved from the excitement, was occupying a position at Mrs. B.'s back.
"Oh! I have lost a package of letters, of no value to any person but myself. They are family relics, but I will have them at the peril of my life. I will swear that I have lost other things besides the papers, and will get them back, or make this house pay well for harbouring thieves. Mind, Green, what I have said. Keep mum, and I will have them back at the risk of——"
She was interrupted by the landlady, who very kindly assisted her in finishing her sentence by adding—"at the risk of perjuring yourself!"
Mrs. B. being startled, exclaimed, "Oh! no, madam, don't mistake me. I only meant I would make a great stir about them—that I would offer a reward to the servants, and at the same time let on as if something very valuable was missing."
"Of course I would not intimate, and do not, I pray you, understand me as thinking that any person has taken them with the design of retaining them. I have no idea that the individual having them, whoever he may be, will be base enough to keep them from me. Some of them are very ancient, and among the number are several sheets of blank parchment, which belonged to my grandfather. I have preserved them as a memento. Their loss would be a source of great grief."
The landlady turned away, apparently satisfied with her statement and forced apology. She then turned to me and said,
"I will have those papers at the price of my life. If they are lost"—here she made a stop and added, "I shall dislike it."
I discovered an extreme anxiety depicted in her features—her breast was actually heaving with emotion.
"Green," said she, "has old Cunningham been about here to-day?"
"I believe not," was my reply. "I have not seen him."
"Well," she continued, "I hope he may never enter this house again, though he appears to be the best friend that my husband and the colonel possess. He pays strict attention to his business, at the same time, which does not seem consistent."
This Cunningham, so abruptly introduced, was a man quite advanced in years, a member of the fraternity, and, considering his age, was a very active and efficient agent. At this juncture, the old servant, who attended to the room, entered. She (Mrs. B.) inquired "if any person had been in her room during her absence to the prison." The servant tried to recollect. While he delayed, my heart palpitated violently from fear, lest he might say he had seen me enter her room. I was on the point of confessing the whole matter. I felt that I was suspected. At this critical moment he broke the silence—a silence burdened with anxiety to the lady as well as myself, by remarking that he had seen the old gentleman (meaning Cunningham) "go up stairs, and he thought enter her room."
"I have it!" exclaimed she. "He has got them." I need not tell the reader I felt greatly relieved, that there was at least the shadow of evidence, which would serve to clear me and implicate Cunningham. The lady appeared to be intensely excited. I was in doubt what course it would be prudent for me to pursue. Finally, I went to the house of Watkins, and told him that the package I had given him was of no value to any person but myself; that it was made up of various articles of writing, containing hundreds of names, many of which were familiar to me. He looked them over in a cursory manner, and remarked,
"I think there must be witchcraft in these. The letters, though very simple, bear upon their face a suspicious appearance." He, however, agreed to preserve them with care.
After my interview with Watkins, I felt greatly relieved. I hastened to the hospital to see the colonel, as was my custom, often several times a day. I found him surrounded with visitors, all of whom appeared to be affected while in his presence. He needed sympathy. His mind was tortured. His whole life seemed made up of successive throes of excitement and desperation. His heart was torn by conflicting passions. His confidence and affection for former friends were evidently waning. If any remained, it hung like the tremulous tones of music uncertain and discordant upon its shivered strings. After the principal visitors had retired, the following individuals, three from Lawrenceburgh, two from Cincinnati, one from Madison, and one from Frankfort, made their appearance, accompanied by one of the colonel's legal advisers. They counseled with him for some time. The legal gentleman remarked, at the close of the mutual conversation:
"It will do. I have conversed with your friends," calling his two principal attorneys by name. "They say something of that kind must be done. It will have a powerful effect. T. cannot ward off such licks as we will give him."
The meaning of this fellow was, that bribery could be effectually used. This man, who thus offered to subvert, by the basest of means, the claims of public and private justice, was so lost to shame and self-respect, that he verily thought it an honourable and creditable act, if he could render himself notorious for clearing the most abandoned scoundrels. It argued the most deep-seated depravity, to commit unblushing crime and then glory in his infamy. He heeded not the means, so he accomplished his end. He would not hesitate to implicate himself, for it was but a few days after this, when he offered me a bribe, as before stated, and likewise the counterfeit money. (I here have reference to the five hundred dollars, to which I referred in my work called "Gambling Unmasked.")
After the party had retired, the colonel said in a few days he would be able to secure bail—that they were waiting for an intimate friend,—a wholesale merchant from Philadelphia. He then conversed with me more freely, and told me much about his enemies in Dearborn Co., Ind., and also his intimate friends. Said he:
"You may live to hear of my success in making some of those Dearborn county fellows glad to leave their nests, which they have feathered at my expense."
It was the next day after this, that I made known to Mr. Munger the fact, that a bribe had been proffered me to swear against T., in favour of the brothers. Some two days after, I received the note containing the information respecting the hidden treasure. See the work above mentioned.
These circumstances, with the excitement occasioned by the loss of the package, created a great sensation, especially with the friends of the colonel and his brother. Fear and jealousy were at work with the whole banditti of public swindlers. They knew not on whom to fix the imputation of purloining their valuable papers. Cunningham was suspected, and likewise Spurlock, another old confederate, who had frequently visited the room of the unfortunate lady. Sturtivant, one of their principal engravers, was thought to be implicated, and even one of their pettifoggers was on the list of the proscribed. They did not fix upon me till several days after. The circumstances of this suspicion I will now detail.
The Lawrenceburgh members had not complied with their promises. One was waiting to turn his produce into cash, and when he was ready to fulfil his engagement, no action could be taken, because his fellow townsmen had their excuses for delay and non-concurrence. The Philadelphia merchant had arrived, but suddenly left, as the report says, "between two days." Two others of the intended bail were among the missing. I carried a letter to another, who owned a flat-boat. I went on board and found his son, but learned that the father had gone up the coast on business, to be absent several days. The son took the letter, broke it open, and read it. He told me to say to the colonel that his father was absent and had written to him that he intended starting home in a few days, probably by the next boat. I went back and bore the message. The lawyer who had given me the letter cursed me for permitting the son to open it. The colonel turning over on his bed, and fastening his eyes upon the enraged attorney, with a mingled expression of anger and despair, said,
"I am gone, there is no hope for me. I see, I see, they have robbed me of my property, my papers, poisoned, and then forsaken me. I have not much more confidence in you than in the rest."
"My dear colonel," said the implicated sycophant, "do you think I would ever treat so basely a client so liberal and worthy as yourself," at the same time wiping his cheek as if a tear had been started by such an unkind imputation.
He then requested me to go for Mrs. B., and tell her, he requested her presence at the hospital. I went in search of the wife, but did not meet with her. I found some ten or fifteen of the band awaiting her return. Night came on, and she had not yet made her appearance. I perceived they were in great perturbation.
This same day my room had been changed to a small apartment in close proximity with the one occupied by Mrs. B., separated only by a thin board partition. About two o'clock at night she came home, accompanied by two females. One left in a few minutes, as she had company waiting for her at the door. The other remained and entered into conversation with Mrs. B. I laid my ear to the partition and could distinctly hear every word which was spoken. I heard Mrs. B. say, "I have searched in a satisfactory manner, and am convinced that some one has removed the earth. I did not expect to find it, after my husband told me some one had answered him in my name and taken the note."
I was now satisfied that she had been in search of the money I had found at the root of the tree, on the corner of Canal and Old Levee streets. I could not hear the opinion they entertained, but the strange female remarked, that
"Colonel Goodrich suspects him, and will certainly catch him, provided he has got it."
"I do not think he can have it," said Mrs. B.; "I have never seen the least evidence of guilt; besides, the colonel," meaning her brother-in-law, "says he is perfectly harmless."
I was then convinced that it was myself they were talking about. My fears were awakened, so much so that I passed a very restless night.
Early the next morning I hurried away to Mr. Munger's room and laid open my fears. It may be proper to state in this connection, that this Mr. Munger, whom I made my confidant, was the United States deputy-marshal.
The search above referred to was for money which had been hid by Sandford, and he, at his death, had informed Mr. B. where he had deposited it. The particulars, together with the manner by which I came in possession of it, are detailed in "GAMBLING UNMASKED."
I found Mr. Munger in his room, and related the incidents of the past night. He said he could not understand their meaning. I could, but I did not tell him that the letters had been taken. For the want of this information, things looked mysterious. He told me not to fear, but to flatter those who had requested me to perjure myself, with a prospect of compliance with their wishes. I went from his room to my boarding-house, and from thence to the hospital. Here I found the colonel surrounded with some twenty citizens, who resided in and about Wheeling and Pittsburgh, all members of the fraternity. Some were men of great respectability in the community where they lived, and doubtless remain so to the present day. They held out flattering hopes that bail would yet be secured, but all left the city in a few days, without rendering any assistance whatever.
The preliminaries for the trial were arranged. Taylor was indicted. The younger brother being state's evidence, had an encouraging prospect of acquittal. Unfortunately, the colonel had taken a wrong position at the start. He had been betrayed by those of the brotherhood who had the influence requisite for assistance. The cheat had been carried so far by fair and continued promises, it was now too late to retrieve himself. I felt deeply interested for him. He was a noble specimen of mankind. He possessed abilities worthy of a more honourable application. He bore all his misfortunes with unexampled fortitude. The night after his Wheeling and Pittsburgh associates had betrayed his confidence, he conversed with me for some time. The main topic of his conversation was about certain men who resided in Lawrenceburgh and its vicinity. He gave recitals of things which had been done by men living in and near that place, which cannot be contemplated without a feeling of horror. I was actually shocked and chilled, especially as I knew the actors. The whole seemed to me like some dreadful vision of the night, and I could hardly believe the evidence of my senses in favor of actual perpetration. The colonel continued:
"They fear me; they are seeking to crush me while professing the greatest friendship." He paused after adding, "to-morrow I will give you some advice which will be of everlasting benefit. Be careful that you do not mention it."
Having returned to my boarding-house, I was very closely interrogated by Mrs. B. and the aforesaid pettifogger, in reference to my absence.
"Where had I been all night, and what had detained me from my meals the day before?"
I told them, at which they eyed one another closely. Mrs. B. observed—
"I think the colonel must be hard run for assistance, to keep two or three constantly waiting on him."
To this I made no reply, but ate my breakfast fast, and returned to the hospital. I found Colonel Brown very restless. During the day several men, from different cities and towns at a distance, called. Three remained about two hours with him. They were from Charleston, on the Kanawha river, Va. After they retired, he lay in a doze for about an hour, when he was awakened by the arrival of four visitors, accompanied by his physician. One made a stand at the door of the colonel, three came in, while the doctor, with the fourth, passed along the gallery, to see some other of the inmates. I soon, learned that two of the three present were from Nashville, Tenn.; one a merchant, the other a negro trader. When they began conversation, I stepped to the door. They talked very rapidly. One said his friend from Paris, Tenn., would be down in a few days with several others, from Clarksville. The colonel listened to them with patience, and replied:
"They had better come, and not disappoint me."
These three left. In a few minutes the physician, in company with the fourth, came to the door. The doctor made a short stay, leaving the other man in the room with the colonel.
It was a matter of surprise to witness the liberty that was extended to visitors, as well as the prisoner. He had a guard, it is true, but the steward of the sick rooms had been ordered not to permit any one to enter the apartment without a pass, signed by the Board of Trustees; yet all who wished to visit were allowed a free ingress, and no questions were asked. I had been taken there at first by Mrs. B., after which I had free access. But to return.
The man left there by the doctor, I knew. After viewing him closely, consider my surprise, when I recognised a person I had known from my first remembrance. It was the man who was said by his son to have gone up the river, and, as I supposed, had returned home. It was the usual custom of this man, not to go with his flat boats, but being ladened and committed to skilful pilots, he took passage upon a steamboat and waited their arrival at the place of destination. He seemed very much disconcerted in my presence, but I said nothing to strengthen his suspicions that I knew him. He cast several glances at me, at every convenient opportunity. When he left, it was near night. I was requested by the colonel to go to my supper and then return. I went away, and being weary I laid down upon my bed, from which I did not awake till daylight. On examining my clothes, I found some person had rifled my pockets. My wallet was robbed of one paper, which contained a list of names, but nothing else. Fortunately, however, I had written the same on my hat lining. I expected to have heard something concerning the affair—especially the record of names, but in this I was happily disappointed.
Having eaten my breakfast, I went to the Custom house. The United States court was then in session. Hundreds of the colonel's acquaintances were there every day. They were frequently giving their opinions as to the issue of the trial. Some entertained one opinion and some another,—their chief conversation was in reference to the two brothers, and their connection with Taylor. One of the group I discovered was from Lawrenceburgh, Indiana. I knew them all, and with the exception of this one, they extended to me the hand of friendship. They seemed glad to see me, and were in fact honest men. He, however, did not seem friendly, though he did speak, but at the same time gave me a look of disapprobation, as much as to say, you have no right to be in company with such honest men. I paid no attention to his looks, as I knew him better than any man in the crowd. He knew he had laid himself liable to detection, and hence did not wish me to be in communication with his old friends, lest I might become an informant. He rather desired to have them discard me, but as they were upright, unsuspecting men, they did not give heed to his conduct. They conversed freely, and tried in every way to amuse me. At length he discovered there was a growing sympathy in my favour, and assumed another attitude to secure my departure. He began to talk somewhat in the following strain.
"I know Green is a smart boy, but they say the Browns have him here to run on errands, and he is strongly suspected of not being what he should be, in regard to honesty."
One or two of the honest countrymen spoke in my behalf, and the whole was turned off in a jovial way, not wishing, as I suppose, to injure my feelings; at which he, with a sigh that bespoke the consummate hypocrite, added:
"Well, Green, God bless you. You had a sainted mother, and I always respected your old father, but you boys, I fear, are all in the downward road to ruin. You had better return home and be a good boy. Beware of the company of the Browns, as you know they are bad characters, and that I, and many others, held them at a distance, when they were in Lawrenceburgh."
The rest of the company retired while he was thus lecturing me so sanctimoniously.
No one can imagine the feelings I then had. I was at first confounded, then enraged, to witness the conduct of that black-hearted villain, he little suspecting that I knew him to be the very man that was in the room the day before, dressed in disguise. How could I feel otherwise. There he was lecturing me about duty, as if he had been a saint. It is true, he sustained that character at home. I had known him for many years as a leading man in the very respectable church to which he there belonged. Had I not been satisfied of the base part he was acting, when I met him the day before in disguise—his hypocritical lecture might have been beneficial. But I discovered he was an arrant knave—a real whitewashed devil, and I could with difficulty refrain from telling him my thoughts. I left, wondering how such a Judas could go so long "unwhipt of justice"—how he could avoid exposure. Probably it was by a change of dress.
It was now time I had visited the hospital, to show reason why I had not fulfilled my engagement on the previous evening. The colonel received me with a welcome countenance, and remarked, he "was glad I had returned, for," said he, "I feared you had gone away."
I told him I was weary when I went home; that after supper I had laid down to rest a few minutes, and slept longer than I intended, and that was the reason I had not returned. He was satisfied with my excuse, and introduced another subject. He inquired if I had heard any news, or seen any of the Lawrenceburgh citizens; and if so, had his name been mentioned? I replied, that it had been the principal topic of conversation, some speaking well of him, and others illy. He then wished to know, who had spoken evil of him? I told him the man's name.
"And he talked about me, did he?" inquired the colonel.
I replied, "He has spoken very hard things against you, alleging that he never associated or had any dealings with you."
"He told you, he never had any dealings with me? What did you think of that?"
I answered, "When you resided in Lawrenceburgh, I was too small to notice such things."
I answered thus designedly, for I had seen him walking arm and arm with the colonel, time and again, but I was afraid to let the colonel know that I had even a moderate share of sagacity.
"Green, how often have you seen him," continued the colonel, "and where, since you have been in the city? You know his son said, he had returned home, a few days since, when you carried him the letter."
I told him I had not seen him before, since I came to the city.
"Are you certain of that?"
"I am confident I have not seen him."
"You are mistaken," said he, "you met him yesterday."
I knew what he meant, but dared not let him know that I had recognised him. Again he interrogated me:
"Do you not recollect him?" at the same time eyeing me with an intensity of expression. I replied that I was certain I had not seen him.
"You are mistaken," said the colonel. "You met him here yesterday. He was the man that remained after the doctor had left."
"It cannot be," I rejoined. "You must be mistaken, as I was certain that man had light hair, nearly red."
"It was him, Green," said he. "He had a wig on, but for your life mention not a syllable of this to your best friend. He is a villain of the deepest dye, and I know him to be such."
I, of course, agreed that I might have been mistaken.
"He knew you," continued the colonel, "and was the worst frightened man I ever saw, for fear you would recognise him. I am glad you did not, for it might have cost you your life."
"I suppose, then, colonel," said I, "he intends furnishing you with bail, does he not?"
"He did not manifest such a determination, did he, when you met him?"
I replied: "He might have had his reasons for acting as he did; it may be, it was to find out whether I knew him as the person I met here yesterday. You say, colonel, then, I actually met him yesterday?"
"Yes, he is the very villain. I know enough about him to make him stretch hemp, if he had his dues."
I told him he was esteemed by many, where he lived, to be a very good man.
"Yes, they respect him for his riches," said the colonel; "but they would not respect either him, or many of his neighbours, if all knew them as well as I do."
After this, he proceeded to give me the promised advice, and addressed me thus:
"Green, I believe you are a good boy, but have been imposed on by the world. I am about to give you some advice. I feel it right I should do so. I am in bad health, and can never recover, and my only object in procuring bail was to secure a decent burial, but I have no hope. Green, I tell you this, that you may know the condition in which you are placed. You are surrounded by a set of devils incarnate, and you know them not. You are just entering upon a life of misery and crime. You can now see, to a limited extent, what has caused me to lead a wretched and abandoned life. As soon as you can, leave this place. You know not your danger. You have about you some desperate enemies. I have told the most inveterate of them, that they were mistaken as to your character."
I here inquired what they accused me of.
He continued, "Of being treacherous to one of the brotherhood, of which my brother is a member."
"I never knew before that such a society existed," said I.
"They accuse you of three different crimes. You know whether there is any foundation for the charges. First, that you agreed to swear against Taylor; then, after the spurious money was placed in your hands, you gave the facts to Taylor's lawyer, and that your evidence will now be used in his favour. If such is the case, I advise you to abandon such a purpose, for you will certainly lose your life if you persist in this thing."
I denied to him any such intention.
"Well," said he, "what have you done then with those five one-hundred-dollar notes given you by one of the assistant attorneys of my brother?"
I replied, "They are in my chest."
"If such is the case, it will make every thing satisfactory in that matter."
I now left, and went to Mr. Munger, and related the substance of my late interview. He handed me the notes that I might make good my declaration. I took them immediately to the hospital. When I entered I found two merchants, who resided at Memphis, in close conversation with the colonel. He told me to call again at two o'clock. About that time, I returned. The visitors were gone, but the colonel appeared much distressed. Some new event must have added to his former anxiety.
"I wish you," said he, "to bring those notes and let me see them."
Having them in my pocket, I presented them to him.
"I am glad you have them. You have been strongly suspected of foul play—of giving them into the hands of the defendant."
I was well convinced from this, that it was one of the clan who had rummaged my trunk and pockets a few days previous. I then asked him, what else they had laid to my charge?
He replied: "A man by the name of Sandford gave information to my brother, that a certain amount of money had been hidden by him. Sandford died, and gave the money to my brother, and gave directions where he could find it. My brother prepared a note for his wife, and told her where she could find the money, and my brother reached the note to the wrong person." [See GAMBLING UNMASKED.] "Some person told him you were the receiver; that they had seen you take the note."
I knew, however, that no one had seen me take it, that the whole was a mere conjecture—a plan to worm a confession out of me. Hence I denied it stoutly.
"I do not believe it myself," affirmed the colonel, "but the whole clan, remember, dislike you; among others, a negro trader, by the name of Goodrich. He has marked you out as a transgressor, and is determined to put you out of the way." I have mentioned this same Goodrich, once before. He is well known as one accustomed to sell runaway negroes, as a kidnapper, who lives with a wench, and has several mulatto children, and probably does a profitable business in selling his own offspring.
I replied, "I do not know Goodrich, and know as little about Sandford's money."
"Well, Green, I believe you are innocent of the two first accusations, and hope you may be of the third."
But now came the "tug of war." These others were only a preparatory step for a fearful inquisition. I knew what was coming, and mustered all my fortitude to meet the exigency. If ever there was a time when I was called upon to summon my collected energies, to express calmness and betoken innocence, it was on this occasion. The colonel, fixing his eagle-eye upon me with severest scrutiny, proceeded:
"A certain package of papers has been taken, which has produced a great excitement, and has caused me serious injury." When he mentioned PAPERS, there was a sensible pause, and a piercing look which exhibited a determination to detect the slightest expression of guilt. I was enabled to command myself, however, in such a way, that I think I satisfied him I was not guilty.
In reply, I asked the colonel "Why they should accuse me of acting so base a part?"
"Unfortunately for you," said the colonel, "you have been seen talking with the friends of Taylor."
I replied, "Perhaps I have, for I cannot tell who are his friends, or who his enemies." I likewise asked him if he thought it possible I could or would do any thing to injure him.
"I think not," said he, "yet mankind are so base and deceitful, I have but little confidence in any one. I will now show you how dreadful must be my position in regard to the package, and then you can understand why its loss will go so hard with me."
I listened with the utmost attention, and he entered upon this part of the subject as follows:
"I am a member of a society called 'THE SECRET BAND OF BROTHERS.' It is an ancient order, of a religious (?) character. The leading members carry on an extensive correspondence with one another. All letters of business are subject to the order of the one who indites them, allowing the holder the privilege of retaining a copy. I had many letters written by leading men in my possession; besides a large package of copies. These with the original letters have been taken. Now, Green, you promise secrecy, and I will give you the whole plan, so far as in my power, and you can then judge how seriously I shall be affected if those papers are not recovered.
"At the time of my arrest, on the charges for which I am to be tried, my friends were numerous and wealthy, and I had the utmost confidence in all their promises. The excitement was intense, and I did not deem it proper to call upon them until it should subside. After waiting a suitable length of time, I wrote to many of my acquaintances, and, among others, to several whose names are familiar to you. They were under personal obligations to me, aside from the common claims of friendship. They had made their thousands by plans of my own invention, and much of the very wealth which had given them distinction and influence was the fruit of my ingenuity. To my letters they made ready and satisfactory replies. They made the largest promises to give me any requisite assistance, when called upon, yet as often left me in suspense, or to reap the bitter fruit of disappointment. This was the reason why my trial was put off during several sessions of the court. My brother having been indicted with me, made the prospect of both more dubious. I had property, but not at my disposal. My wife betrayed my confidence, for having it in her power to send me pecuniary aid, she neglected to do it; indeed, all her conduct had a tendency to involve me in the net that was spread for my feet. Through her, information was given that I had friends who would assist me, which served as an excuse for her dereliction. This awakened the suspicions of community. There was an anxiety to know who would step forward to my rescue. Hence those from whom I expected aid became alarmed, lest their characters, which had hitherto been unblemished, should come into disrepute. Two of them are merchants in Dearborn county, Indiana. Some five of the most wealthy men of that county were driven almost to desperation when they learned that my wife had it in her power to use their names in connection with deeply dishonourable acts. I, however, satisfied them that she would not expose them, and they in turn promised to assist me, writing several letters of commendation in my behalf, giving me an untarnished character as a merchant of high respectability in Lawrenceburgh. From time to time they promised to secure me bail, and yet they as often failed to make good their word. In this they violated the most solemn obligations. We were pledged to sustain each other to the last farthing, in case either became involved in difficulty. That pledge I had never broken, and I looked for the same fidelity on the part of my associates. I never before had occasion to test their sincerity, but found all their solemn promises a mere 'rope of sand.' I found I was gone, as far as they were concerned, and turned my efforts in another direction."
"I now had recourse to my friends in Chillicothe, Cleaveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Zanesville, Beaver, Lexington, Nashville, Philadelphia, New York city, Boston, and Cincinnati. As usual, they gave me the most liberal promises, but in no case fulfilled their engagements. I was now driven to new measures. I found those in whom I reposed the utmost confidence hollow-hearted and treacherous. I next entered upon the plan of making a certain villain share in my wretchedness and disgrace. In this I was joined by my brother, who, in perfecting the scheme, acted somewhat imprudently. I advised him to take a different course, but he listened to others who professed to befriends to us, and were, indeed, members of the same fraternity, but turned out the worst kind of enemies, especially those who were wealthy. The poorer members were true to a man, and I am confident will remain so; and if I am spared, I will make the wealth of the others dance for their vile treatment. I have a thousand men who but wait my call. When I say the word, though they are of the same brotherhood, yet having also experienced the treachery and oppression of the higher class in common with myself, they will make war upon them whenever the signal is given."
Here he stopped for a few minutes, and then began to state the little trouble it would have given his friends to have aided him if they had felt disposed.
"But I am an invalid, and God knows I do not deserve such treatment." (The reader may think it strange that such a man should call upon his Maker, especially when he reads the constitution of the secret conclave, of which he was a member. The phrase "God knows," was used often in his private conversation.) "These persons I have always considered my friends, and have never given them occasion to be any thing else. Finding, however, that I had no hope from them, and that I must stand my trial, I was willing to make use of other means. I therefore agreed to proposals made by the most wealthy of my friends, and yielded to their arrangements, in order, if possible, to escape punishment. There was a man by the name of Taylor, the same whose trial is now pending, whom they feared, and who was known to community as an accomplished villain. He was the person selected upon whom it was designed to heap the burden of the guilt. By that means, the attention of our prosecutors would be diverted. The plan was set in operation, and soon the infamy of Taylor was sounded from Maine to the confines of Texas. They had their agents in almost every city to help on the work. From the first, I had but little hope of success in this manoeuvre, but consented reluctantly to the trial. I was confident he had many enemies, and not without cause. Having been foiled in all my former plans, I now experienced the deepest anxiety. I was especially solicitous that as long a time should elapse as possible before he was arrested. Some time after the report of his guilt he was arrested, and my brother promised to secure evidence to prove him guilty, and likewise to establish my innocence. It was also agreed by the committee of arrangements at that time, that I should take medicine upon a feigned sickness, in order to secure a change in my situation. In this way I could be removed to the Marine Hospital, when reported by the committee of health as being in danger. I was to appear ignorant of my brother's design, of which in truth I was. I took medicine, which had the desired effect. It made me desperately sick, producing excessive prostration. Application was made for my removal to the place where you now see me. Being conveyed hither, arrangements were made for my bail by my supposed friends. I was persuaded that I should continue in this state of unnatural disease from that time till the present. My brother carried on his treacherous part, and it required no little effort to convince the community that Taylor was really guilty of what was charged upon himself. Although he was known to be a desperate man, yet the charges were of such a nature, it was most difficult to sustain them. My brother's main dependence was in the fraternity. He founded his hope of success upon a concert of action among so many, apparently reputable witnesses. Some of them would be used in behalf of the state, and consequently receive regular pay for time and services, and at the same time could employ a false testimony against Taylor. Two objects could be thus secured; first, they would be detained as witnesses and used as necessity required; and, secondly, be ready to make up my bail. My brother further gave community to understand, that he would be able, by the production of certain papers, to convince them of all that had been rumored against Taylor. For this end, a quantity of papers were forwarded to this city, among which were some bearing my name, that were mere business letters. The ordering these letters was not approved by me. It was a plan of my brother. When it was discovered by several of my most intimate friends, they became alarmed, thinking I was concerned in the affair. As the fraternity required, by their constitution, that all letters should be returned at the request of the author, permitting the holder to take a copy, it became my duty to comply with this requisition whenever made. There was a great alarm. Many visited the city with whom I had held correspondence, whose letters had never been returned. They learned as to the disposition that was to be made of the papers, and report said we were about to give each individual's name concerned, as we were intending to turn state's evidence. This accounts for the many different visiters you have seen. You also saw several from Lawrenceburgh, and the very man you said spoke so disrespectfully of me, and gave you the long moral lecture, is here on the same purpose—the same individual you met two days since, whom you designated as having light hair."
I here found his strength would not permit him to pursue the narrative further, and upon his promising to resume and finish the subject the next day, I left the hospital.
 When he spoke of this fraternity, I then supposed he referred to some of the benevolent societies of the day.
In returning to my boarding-house I was met by the blackleg pettifogger, who treated me with great coldness. I met him again the next morning at the prison, and he treated me in like manner. But I was especially anxious to hear what more the colonel had to say, and hastened to his room. He began his account where he had left off.
"This man, who was dressed in disguise, was greatly alarmed, lest certain of his letters in the package should come to light, which had not been retained. He started for home, as stated by his son, but returned to secure his letters. You have witnessed the tremendous excitement which exists, the running to and fro, and the many strange visitors that frequent my room. There is a cause for all this which I will now relate.
"My brother sent for those papers, which, upon arrival, were submitted to his wife that she might select the most important to be produced as testimony in court against Taylor. In accordance with directions, she examined them all and laid aside all the business letters, (meaning the package lost,) which in some way have been mislaid or stolen. These, you are accused of having taken, and also of having taken a note that was reached through the grate by my brother, as he supposed to his wife, but it proved to be some other person, and they suspected you as that one. They also charge you with giving information as to the man who gave you five hundred dollars, and also that he used my name, saying at the same time, 'If you will swear that money on Taylor I will make you a rich man,' and that you concerted in this thing to act a deceitful part."
I replied: "I promised to take the money and swear according to directions, but it was not for any respect I had for the man who offered me a bribe, or the pecuniary compensation, but for you and your brother."
"Green," said he, "have no respect for my brother. He has not an honest heart. He would betray his own father, and be sure that you refuse to do what the pettifogger has advised." (See a full account in Gambling Unmasked.) "Green, take care, or you will lose your life. You have enemies that watch you closely. They also watch me, but I cannot help myself. I wish you well and believe you innocent."
This last was uttered in a suppressed and pathetic tone, and I perceived his eye was intently fixed upon mine as if he would read in its expression the secret workings of my heart. I was determined he should not effect his purpose, and managed to evade his glances.
"I am aware of their foul intentions," continued he, "but know not how to evade it. Green, I have all confidence in you as an honest boy, and do not think you would do any thing to injure me, but have thought you might have had a curiosity to know the contents of some of those letters, and have mislaid them with the intention of giving them back when you had read them."
I again protested my innocence, and solemnly declared I had no knowledge of the package.
"Then," exclaimed he, "I am a doomed man. There is no hope, and I will tell you the reason why.
"You know I have had many friends calling upon me, day by day, from all parts of the country. You have seen among them some of the most wealthy in the town of Lawrenceburgh. They are my sworn friends and all members of a Secret Society, which obligates each one, under a most solemn oath, to assist a brother member out of any difficulty, provided he has not violated his obligations. Now my brother has acted most imprudently in pledging himself to produce certain papers, and to bring other witnesses besides himself against Taylor. These men were apprehensive that we had mutually laid a trap to expose the whole band. This has involved me in the most unjust crimination. I am subjected to the charge of conspiracy, and hence you see how difficult it is to procure bail. It is true I have had promises from all parts of the Union, but my brother concerted, without reflecting upon the consequences of his conduct, to bring one thousand men, if necessary, to this city, who would be ready to do any thing he might direct. These men were brethren of the same band, but of a lower order, none of whom were possessed of wealth or extended influence. The others, who possessed both, were kept in silence, for fear of being betrayed or proving false to the fraternity of which they were members. That we are circumstanced as you see us at present, is not for the want of friends. They are abundant and powerful; we have them on sea and on land, and they are ready to assist us out of any difficulty, and would do it in a moment if assured that all was right on our part. You see the city is full of them—many have come to secure their letters, which they knew were in my possession, and if exposed, would bring upon them certain ruin,—but alas! they have come too late. You will notice I have had no visitors while I have been giving you this history. I told the steward to admit none but yourself. Be assured, Green, I have many friends, but they dare not act—they dare not help me and they dare not convict me. You may live to know the truth of what I am stating."
I inferred, from the last remark, that he had reference to the judiciary. I had noticed that during his two days' conversation, no person had visited the room but the physician and a certain judge who lived near Florence, Alabama, and the latter remained only a few minutes. I found out his name by seeing it written upon his hat lining, which had been placed upon the window opening on the piazza. After the judge had retired, the colonel resumed the conversation.
"I am accused by my friends with treachery to the brotherhood. They think that I, in concert with my brother, have laid a plan to clear ourselves by their downfall. When the news was out that the papers were lost, I saw the most marked indications of hostility. They came forward and pledged to bail me in any amount, provided I would return their letters, but swore that I should never go from this room alive, if I did not produce them. I am certain to suffer death. My sentence is fixed, and I have no hope. My brother and his advisers have ruined me. They have had me borne hither that I might not understand their plans. I am satisfied the papers are in the hands of the intimate friends of my brother and those who had manifested such an interest in my removal to this place. I have been reduced by medicine, and my inability to exercise—so contrary to my general habits—has seated a fatal disease upon my lungs."
His disease had been occasioned by the constant use of medicine, which exposed his system to cold, and this, by constant repetition, had entirely destroyed his constitution. I have no doubt that a slow poison was mingled in his medicine. When he had finished this tale of sorrow, he gave me some affectionate advice in something like the following words:
"Green, I advise you to leave the city as soon as possible. There are two parties of the 'secret band' that seek your life; those who are so much enraged at the loss of the papers, because their reputation, fortunes, and lives, are thereby in jeopardy, and those who are the personal friends of my brother, and who support him, do or say what he may. They take his word with the infallibility of law and gospel, and are by profession great friends of mine, as well as of the other party, who swear they will have those papers at all hazards, right or wrong; meaning if you have them, they will obtain them in some way; that if I have them they shall be returned. I therefore advise you to leave the city immediately."
I told him I had no funds.
"I have not one dollar," said he, "to help you off, or I would give it to you."
I told him I was under great obligations for his kindness. He further remarked:
"Now pledge me secrecy to what I have related, for it can have no effect in assisting you, and will ruin me."
I did so, and bade him farewell. I hastened to see Mr. Munger, and told him what the colonel had said about the counterfeit money and the money I had found by Sandford's note, but not a word as to the mysterious package.
Shortly after the events detailed in the foregoing chapter, I had a conversation with Mr. Munger, who told me, he was satisfied that my life was in danger, and advised me to leave the city for a few weeks, or, at least, to change my boarding-place, and keep myself in seclusion. Accordingly, I changed my quarters as soon as possible. I could not well leave the city, as Mr. Munger informed me I must be present to appear in court when Taylor was tried, in case the younger brother acted the part he had promised; and if not, it would be equally important for me to be on hand, as they intended to indict him and his pettifogger, for their wicked designs upon the man they were endeavouring to ruin. As I could not go far out of the city, under these circumstances, I considered it more safe to remain concealed: I waited, therefore, several days, until the colonel's death, which occurred not long after I bade him farewell.
I had met Cunningham—the old man at first charged with having the package by Mrs. Brown—several times after the colonel had advised me to leave the city, and in our last interview, he gave me to understand that the colonel would never get out of his bed alive, or leave the hospital, except when carried to his burial. I asked him, why.
"There are many reasons. His health will never be any better; he cannot recover from his present illness. I know it is hard, but there are many who think it is preferable that one should suffer than thousands, who consider themselves better men. He has brought this trouble upon himself, by not living up to his oath. He and his brother are both traitors, and have placed the fraternity, of which they are members, entirely in the power of their enemies, but it will all come out right; there is no mistake. You heard that Madam Brown had lost a certain package of papers, letters, or the like, did you not?"
I replied in the affirmative.
"Well, they believed for a time that I had them, or would have made others think so; but that kind of accusation would not take with men who knew me. They next laid the charge against you: I have satisfied the interested party, that they are not in the possession of either of us, but that the colonel and his brother have them, and intend thereby to slip more necks into the halter than poor Taylor's. I am of the opinion, their own necks will pay the price of their treachery."
I then replied, that I knew Mrs. Brown had said she had lost a package of papers, but what they contained, I knew not.
"Nor ever will know," said he.
"I have no curiosity about the matter," I replied.
"And you might as well NEVER have, for curious people will pay dearly for reading them, especially if they undertake it in court, as evidence against the brotherhood."
The reader can hardly imagine the intense desire that was created, by this time, in my heart, to learn all about this "brotherhood," and "fraternity," so often introduced, and yet so obscurely as to give me no certain information.
I took this opportunity to ask Cunningham, what title this society had assumed; whether they were Masons or Odd Fellows? He laughed, and said:
"I thought I had explained some of the particulars to you." He then stopped, as if to consider, when he continued: "Certainly, Masons and Odd Fellows both, and all other good institutions—but, I can tell you, Green, the brother who has turned state's evidence swears terrible vengeance against you. Do you be careful. He has many who are watching you. I belong to the party opposed to him and the colonel, and they throw all the blame upon you. You are the victim of their suspicions and hate, and you will do well to leave this place without delay; but tell no one, by any means, that I have given you this information."
I bade him good day, and we separated.
I now thought I would call once more, and see the colonel. I hastened to the hospital, but as I drew near, I discovered two men riot far from the steps, and the third coming down. I walked by them, without being recognised, and as I passed, the third man had entered into conversation with the other two.
He was asked, "Is it a fact, that he is dead?"
"Yes, certainly. He has been dead about three hours."
"I knew," said one, "that he could not stand it long."
Two of the men, I perceived, were from Lawrenceburgh, the two who stood remotely, one of whom was the identical person who wore the wig, and gave me such good fatherly instruction. I passed to the room, where I found the steward, with three assistants, laying out the corpse.