SEVEN WIVES AND SEVEN PRISONS
Or Experiences In The Life Of A Matrimonial Maniac. A True Story. Written By Himself.
By L.A. Abbott
Published For The Author. 1870.
CHAPTER 1. THE FIRST AND WORST WIFE My Early History. The First Marriage. Leaving Home to Prospect. Sending for My Wife. Her Mysterious Journey. Where I Found Her. Ten Dollars for Nothing. A Fascinating Hotel Clerk. My Wife's Confession. From Bad to Worse. Final Separation. Trial for Forgery. A Private Marriage. Summary Separation.
CHAPTER II. MISERIES FROM MY SECOND MARRIAGE. Love-Making in Massachusetts. Arrest for Bigamy. Trial at Northampton. A Stunning Sentence. Sent to State Prison. Learning the Brush Business. Sharpening Picks. Prison Fare. In the Hospital. Kind Treatment. Successful Horse-Shoeing. The Warden my Friend. Efforts for my Release. A Full Pardon.
CHAPTER III. THE SCHEIMER SENSATION. The Scheimer Family. In Love With Sarah. Attempt to Elope. How it was Prevented. Second Attempt. A Midnight Expedition. The Alarm. A Frightful Beating. Escape, Flogging the Devil out of Sarah. Return to New Jersey. "Boston Yankee." Plans to Secure Sarah.
CHAPTER IV. SUCCESS WITH SARAH. Mary Smith as a Confederate. The Plot. Waiting in the Woods. The Spy Outwitted. Sarah Secured. The Pursuers Baffled. Night on the Road. Efforts to Get Married. "The Old Offender." Married at Last. A Constable after Sarah. He Gives it Up. An Ale Orgie. Return to "Boston Yankee's." A Home in Goshen.
CHAPTER V. HOW THE SCHEIMERS MADE ME SUFFER. Return to Scheimer's. Peace, and then Pandemonium. Frightful Family Row. Running for Refuge. The Gang Again. Arrest at Midnight. Struggle with my Captors. In Jail Once More. Put in Irons. A Horrible Prison. Breaking Out. The Dungeon. Sarah's Baby.. Curious Compromises. Old Scheimer my Jailer. Signing a Bond. Free Again. Last Words from Sarah.
CHAPTER VI. FREE LIFE AND FISHING. Taking Care of Crazy Men. Carrying off a Boy. Arrested for Stealing my Own Horse and Buggy. Fishing in Lake Winnepisiogee. An Odd Landlord. A Woman as Big as a Hogshead. Reducing the Hogshead to a Barrel. Wonderful Verification of a Dream. Successful Medical Practice. A Busy Winter in New Hampshire. Blandishments of Captain Brown. I go to Newark, New Jersey.
CHAPTER VII. WEDDING A WIDOW AND THE CONSEQUENCES. I Marry a Widow. Six Weeks of Happiness. Confiding a Secret, and the Consequences. The Widow's Brother. Sudden Flight from Newark. In Hartford, Conn. My Wife's Sister Betrays Me. Trial for Bigamy. Sentenced to Ten Years' Imprisonment. I Become a "Bobbin Boy." A Good Friend. Governor Price Visits me in Prison. He Pardons Me. Ten Years' Sentence Fulfilled in Seven Months.
CHAPTER VIII. ON THE KEEN SCENT. Good Resolutions. Enjoying Freedom. Going After a Crazy Man. The Old Tempter in a New Form. Mary Gordon. My New "Cousin." Engaged Again. Visit to the Old Folks at Home. Another Marriage. Starting for Ohio. Change of Plans. Domestic Quarrels. Unpleasant Stories about Mary. Bound Over to Keep the Peace. Another Arrest for Bigamy. A Sudden Flight. Secreted Three Weeks in a Farm House. Recaptured at Concord. Escaped Once More. Traveling on the Underground Railroad. In Canada.
CHAPTER IX. MARRYING TWO MILLINERS. Back in Vermont. Fresh Temptations. Margaret Bradley. Wine and Women. A Mock Marriage in Troy. The False Certificate. Medicine and Millinery. Eliza Gurnsey. A Spree at Saratoga. Marrying Another Milliner. Again Arrested for Bigamy. In Jail Eleven Months. A Tedious Trial. Found Guilty. Appeal to Supreme Court. Trying to Break Out of Jail. A Governor's Promise. Second Trial. Sentenced to Three Years' Imprisonment.
CHAPTER X. PRISON LIFE IN VERMONT. Entering Prison. The Scythe Snath Business. Blistered Hands. I Learn Nothing. Threaten to Kill the Shop Keeper. Locksmithing. Open Rebellion. Six Weeks in the Dungeon. Escape of a Prisoner. In the Dungeon Again. The Mad Man Hall. He Attempts to Murder the Deputy. I Save Morey's Life. Howling in the Black Hole. Taking Off Hall's Irons. A Ghastly Spectacle. A Prison Funeral. I am Let Alone. The Full Term of my Imprisonment.
CHAPTER XI. ON THE TRAMP. The Day of my Deliverance. Out of Clothes. Sharing with a Beggar. A Good Friend. Tramping Through the Snow. Weary Walks. Trusting to Luck. Comfort at Concord. At Meredith Bridge. The Blaisdells. Last of the "Blossom" Business. Making Money at Portsmouth. Revisiting Windsor. An Astonished Warden. Making Friends of Enemies. Inspecting the Prison. Going to Port Jervis.
CHAPTER XII. ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP SARAH SCHEIMER'S BOY. Starting to See Sarah. The Long Separation. What I Learned About Her. Her Drunken Husband. Change of Plan. A Suddenly-Formed Scheme. I Find Sarah's Son. The First Interview. Resolve to Kidnap the Boy. Remonstrance of my Son Henry. The Attempt. A Desperate Struggle. The Rescue. Arrest of Henry. My Flight into Pennsylvania. Sending Assistance to my Son. Return to Port Jervis. Bailing Henry. His Return to Belvidere. He is Bound Over to be Tried for Kidnapping. My folly.
CHAPTER XIII. ANOTHER WIDOW. Waiting for the Verdict. My Son Sent to State Prison. What Sarah Would Have Done. Interview with my First Wife. Help for Henry. The Biddeford Widow. Her Effort to Marry Me. Our Visit to Boston. A Warning. A Generous Gift. Henry Pardoned. Close of the Scheimer Account. Visit to Ontario County. My Rich Cousins. What Might Have Been. My Birthplace Revisited.
CHAPTER XIV. MY SON TRIES TO MURDER ME. Settling Down in Maine. Henry's Health. Tour Through the South. Secession Times. December in New Orleans. Up the Mississippi. Leaving Henry in Massachusetts. Back in Maine Again. Return to Boston, Profitable Horse-Trading. Plenty of Money. My First Wife's Children. How they Have Been Brought Up. A Barefaced Robbery. Attempt to Blackmail Me. My Son Tries to Rob and Kill Me. My Rescue Last of the Young Man.
CHAPTER XV. A TRUE WIFE AND HOME AT LAST. Where Were All my Wives? Sense of Security. An Imprudent Acquaintance. Moving from Maine. My Property in Rensselaer County. How I Lived. Selling a Recipe. About Buying a Carpet. Nineteen Lawsuits. Sudden Departure for the West. A Vagabond Life for Two Years. Life in California. Return to the East. Divorce from any First Wife. A Genuine Marriage. My Farm. Home at Last.
SEVEN WIVES AND SEVEN PRISONS
CHAPTER I. THE FIRST AND WORST WIFE
My Early History—THE FIRST MARRIAGE—LEAVING HOME TO PROSPECT—SENDING FOR MY WIFE—HER MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY—WHERE I FOUND HER—TEN DOLLARS FOR NOTHING—A FASCINATING HOTEL CLERK—MY WIFE'S CONFESSION—FROM BAD TO WORSE—FINAL SEPARATION—TRIAL FOR FORGERY—A PRIVATE MARRIAGE—SUMMARY SEPARATION.
SOME one has said that if any man would faithfully write his autobiography, giving truly his own history and experiences, the ills and joys, the haps and mishaps that had fallen to his lot, he could not fail to make an interesting story; and Disraeli makes Sidonia say that there is romance in every life. How much romance, as well as sad reality, there is in the life of a man who, among other experiences, has married seven wives, and has been seven times in prison—solely on account of the seven wives, may be learned from the pages that follow.
I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, New York, in September, 1813. My father was a New Englander, who married three times, and I was the eldest son of his third wife, a woman of Dutch descent, or, as she would have boosted if she had been rich, one of the old Knickerbockers of New York. My parents were simply honest, hard—working, worthy people, who earned a good livelihood, brought up their children to work, behaved themselves, and were respected by their neighbors. They had a homestead and a small farm of thirty acres, and on the place was a blacksmith shop in which my father worked daily, shoeing horses and cattle for farmers and others who came to the shop from miles around.
There were three young boys of us at home, and we had a chance to go to school in the winter, while during the summer we worked on the little farm and did the "chores" about the house and barn. But by the time I was twelve years old I began to blow and strike in the blacksmith shop, and when I was sixteen years old I could shoe horses well, and considered myself master of the trade. At the age of eighteen, I went into business with my father, and as I was now entitled to a share of the profits, I married the daughter of a well-to-do neighboring farmer, and we began our new life in part of my father's house, setting up for ourselves, and doing our own house-keeping.
I ought to have known then that marrying thus early in life, and especially marrying the woman I did, was about the most foolish thing I could do. I found it out afterwards, and was frequently and painfully reminded of it through many long years. But all seemed bright enough at the start. My wife was a good-looking woman of just my own age; her family was most respectable; two of her brothers subsequently became ministers of the gospel; and all the children had been carefully brought up. I was thought to have made a good match; but a few years developed that had wedded a most unworthy woman.
Seventeen months after our marriage, our oldest child, Henry, was born. Meanwhile we had gone to Sidney, Delaware County, where my father opened a shop. I still continued in business with him, and during our stay at Sidney, my daughter, Elizabeth, was born. From Sidney, my father wanted to go to Bainbridge, Chenango, County, N.Y., and I went with him, leaving my wife and the children at Sidney, while we prospected. As usual my father started a blacksmith-shop; but I bought a hundred acres of timber land, went to lumbering, and made money. We had a house about four miles from the village, I living with my father, and as soon as found out that we were doing well in business, I sent to Sidney for my wife and children. They were to come by stage, and were due, after passing through Bainbridge, at our house at four o'clock in the morning. We were up early to meet the stage; but when it arrived, the driver told us that my wife had stopped at the public house in Bainbridge.
Wondering what this could mean, I at once set out with my brother and walked over to the village. It was daylight when we arrived, and knocked loudly at the public house door. After considerable delay, the clerk came to the door and let us in. He also asked as to "take something," which we did. The clerk knew us well, and I inquired if my wife was in the house; he said she was, told us what room she was in, and we went up stairs and found her in bed with her children. Waking her, I asked her why she did not come home, in the stage? She replied that the clerk down stairs told her that the stage did not go beyond the house, and that she expected to walk over, as soon as it was daylight, or that possibly we might come for her.
I declare, I was so young and unsophisticated that I suspected nothing, and blamed only the stupidity, as I supposed, of the clerk in telling her that the stage did not go beyond Bainbridge. My wife got up and dressed herself and the children, and then as it was broad daylight, after endeavoring, ineffectually, to get a conveyance, we started for home on foot, she leading the little boy, and I carrying the youngest child. We were not far on our way when she suddenly stopped, stooped down, and exclaimed:
"O! see what I have found in the road."
And she showed me a ten dollar bill. I was quite surprised, and verdantly enough, advised looking around for more money, which my wife, brother and I industriously did for some minutes. It was full four weeks before I found out where that ten dollar bill came from. Meanwhile, my wife was received and was living in her new home, being treated with great kindness by all of us. It was evident, however, that she had something on her mind which troubled her, and one morning, about a month after her arrival, I found her in tears. I asked her what was the matter? She said that she had been deceiving me; that she did not pick up the ten dollar bill in the road; but that it was given to her by the clerk in the public house in Bainbridge; only, however, for this: he had grossly insulted her; she had resented it, and he had given her the money, partly as a reparation, and partly to prevent her from speaking of the insult to me or to others.
But by this time my hitherto blinded eyes were opened, and I charged her with being false to me. She protested she had not been; but finally confessed that she had been too intimate with the clerk at the hotel. I began a suit at law against the clerk; but finally, on account of my wife's family and for the sake of my children, I stopped proceedings, the clerk paying the costs of the suit as far as it had gone, and giving me what I should probably have got from him in the way of damages. My wife too, was apparently so penitent, and I was so much infatuated with her, that I forgave her, and even consented to continue to live with her. But I removed to Greenville, Greene County, N. Y., where I went into the black-smithing business, and was very successful. We lived here long enough to add two children to our little family; but as time went on, the woman became bad again, and displayed the worst depravity. I could no longer live with her, and we finally mutually agreed upon a life-long separation—she insisting upon keeping the children, and going to Rochester where she subsequently developed the full extent of her character.
This, as nearly as I remember, was in the year 1838, and with this came a new trouble upon me. Just before the separation, I received from my brother's wife a note for one hundred dollars, and sold it. It proved to be a forgery. I was temporarily in Troy, N. Y., when the discovery was made, and as I made no secret of my whereabouts at any time, I was followed to Troy, was there arrested, and after lying in jail at Albany one night, was taken next morning to Coxsackie, Greene County, and front thence to Catskill. After one day in jail there, I was brought before a justice and examined on the charge of uttering a forged note. There was a most exciting trial of four days duration. I had two good lawyers who did their best to show that I did not know the note to be forged when I sold it, but the justice seemed determined to bind me over for trial, and he did so, putting me under five hundred dollars' bonds. My half-sister at Sidney was sent for, came to Catskill, and became bail for me. I was released, and my lawyers advised me to leave, which I did at once, and went to Pittsfield, and from there to Worthington, Mass., where I had another half-sister, who was married to Mr. Josiah Bartlett, and was well off.
Here I settled down, for all that I knew to the contrary, for life. For some years past, I had devoted my leisure hours from the forge to the honest endeavor to make up for the deficiencies in my youthful education, and had acquired, among other things, a good knowledge of medicine. I did not however, believe in any of the "schools" particularly those schools that make use of mineral medicines in their practice. I favored purely vegetable remedies, and had been very successful in administering them. So I began life anew, in Worthington, as a Doctor, and aided by my half-sister and her friends, I soon secured a remunerative practice.
I was beginning to be truly happy. I supposed that the final separation, mutually agreed upon between my wife and myself, was as effectual as all the courts in the country could make it, and I looked upon myself as a free man. Accordingly, after I had been in Worthington some months I began to pay attentions to the daughter of a flourishing farmer. She was a fine girl; she received my addresses favorably, and we were finally privately married. This was the beginning of my life-long troubles. In a few weeks her father found out that I had been previously married, and was not, so far as he knew, either a divorced man or a widower. And so it happened, that one day when I was at his house, and with his daughter, he suddenly came home with a posse of people and a warrant for my arrest. I was taken before a justice, and while we were waiting for proceedings to begin, or, possibly for the justice to arrive, I took the excited father aside and said:
"You know I have a fine horse and buggy at the door. Get in with me, and ride down home. I will see your daughter and make everything right with her, and if you will let me run away, I'll give her her the horse and buggy."
The offer was too tempting to be refused. The father had the warrant in his pocket, and he accepted my proposal. We rode to his house, and he went into the back-room by direction of his daughter while she and I talked in the hall. I explained matters as well as I could; I promised to see her again, and that very soon. My horse and buggy were at the door. Hastily bidding my new and young wife "good-bye," I sprang into the buggy and drove rapidly away. The father rushed to the door and raised a great hue and cry, and what was more, raised the neighbors; I had not driven five miles before all Worthington was after me. But I had the start, the best horse, and I led in the race. I drove to Hancock, N.Y., where my pursuers lost the trail; thence to Bennington, Vt., next to Brattleboro, Vt., and from there to Templeton, Mass. What befel me at Templeton, shall be related in the next chapter.
CHAPTER II. MISERIES FROM MY SECOND MARRIAGE.
LOVE-MAKING IN MASSACHUSETTS—ARREST FOR BIGAMY—TRIAL AT NORTHAMPTON—A STUNNING SENTENCE—SENT TO STATE PRISON—LEARNING THE BRUSH BUSINESS—SHARPENING PICKS—PRISON FARE—IN THE HOSPITAL—KIND TREATMENT—SUCCESSFUL HORSE SHOEING—THE WARDEN MY FRIEND—EFFORTS FOR MY RELEASE—A FULL PARDON.
At Templeton I speedily made known my profession, and soon had a very good medical practice which one or two "remarkable cures" materially increased. I was doing well and making money. I boarded in a respectable farmer's family, and after living there about six months there came another most unhappy occurrence. From the day, almost, when I began to board with this farmer there sprung up a strong attachment between myself and his youngest daughter which soon ripened into mutual love. She rode about with me when I went to see my patients, who were getting to be numerous, and we were much in each other's company.
On one occasion she accompanied me to Worcester where I had some patients. We went to a public house where she and her family were well known, and when she was asked by the landlord how she happened to come there with the doctor, her prompt answer was:
"Why, we are married; did'nt you know it?"
She refused even to go to the table without my attendance, and when I was out visiting some patients, she waited for her meals till I came back. We stayed there but two days and returned together to Templeton.
A month afterward her brother was in Worcester, and stopped at this house. The landlord, after some conversation about general matters, said:
"So your sister is married to the Doctor?"
"I know nothing about it," was the reply.
This led to a full and altogether too free disclosure to the astonished brother about the particulars of our visit to the same house a month before, and his sister's representations that we were married. The brother immediately started for home, and repeated the story, as it was told to him, to his father and the family. Without seeing his daughter, the father at once procured a warrant, and had me arrested and brought before a justice on charge of seduction. The trial was brief; the daughter herself swore positively, that though she had been imprudent and indiscreet in going to Worcester with me, no improper communication had ever, there or elsewhere, taken place between us.
Of course, there was nothing to do but to let me go and I was discharged. But out of this affair came the worst that had yet fallen to my lot in life. The story got into the papers, with particulars and names of the parties, and in this way the people at Worthington, who had chased me as far as Hancock and had there lost all trace of me, found out where I was. If I had been aware of it, they might have looked elsewhere for me; but while I was felicitating myself upon my escape from the latest difficulty, down came an officer from Worthington with a warrant for my arrest. This officer, the sheriff, was connected with the family into which I had married in Worthington, and with him came two or three more relatives, all bound, as they boasted, to "put me through." They were excessively irate against me and very much angered, especially that their race after me to Hancock had been fruitless. I had fallen into the worst possible hands.
They took me to Northampton and brought me before a Justice, on a charge of bigamy: The sheriff who arrested me, and the relatives who accompanied him were willing to swear my life away, if they could, and the justice was ready enough to bind me over to take my trial in court, which was not to be in session for full six months to come. Those long, weary six months I passed in the county jail. Then came my trial. I had good counsel. There was not a particle of proof that I was guilty of bigamy; no attempt was made on the part of the prosecution to produce my first wife, from whom I had separated, or, indeed, to show that there was such a woman in existence. But, evidence or no evidence, with all Worthington against me, conviction was inevitable. The jury found me guilty. The judge promptly sentenced me to three years' imprisonment in the State Prison, at Charlestown, with hard labor, the first day to be passed in solitary confinement.
This severe sentence fairly stunned me. I was taken back to jail, and the following day I was conveyed to Charlestown with heavy irons on my ankles and handcuffed. No murderer would have been more heavily ironed. We started early in the morning, and by noon I was duly delivered to the warden at Charlestown prison. I was taken into the office, measured, asked my name, age, and other particulars, and then if I had a trade. To this I at once answered, "no." I wanted my twenty-four hours' solitary confinement in which to reflect upon the kind of "hard labor," prescribed in my sentence, I was willing to follow for the next three years; and I also wanted information about the branches of labor pursued in that prison. The next words of the warden assured me that he was a kind and compassionate man.
"Go," he said to an officer, "and instantly take off those irons when you take him inside the prison."
I was taken in and the irons were taken off. I was then undressed, my clothes were removed to another room, and I was redressed in the prison uniform. This was a grotesque uniform indeed. The suit was red and blue, half and half, like a harlequin's, and to crown all came a hat or cap, like a fool's cap, a foot and a half high and running up to a peak. Miserable as I was, I could scarcely help smiling at the utterly absurd appearance I knew I then presented. I even ventured to remark upon it; but was suddenly and sternly checked with the command:
"Silence! There's no talking allowed here."
Then began my twenty-four hours' solitary confinement, and twenty-four wretched hours they were. I had only bread and water to eat and drink, and I need not say that my unhappy thoughts would not permit me to sleep. At noon next day I was taken from my cell, and brought again before the warden, Mr. Robinson, who kindly said:
"You have no trade, you say; what do you want to go to work at?"
"Anything light; I am not used to hard labor," I replied.
So the warden directed that I should be put at work in the brush shop, where all kinds of brushes were made. Mr. Eddy was the officer in charge of this shop, and Mr. Knowles, the contractor for the labor employed in the brush business, was present. Both of these gentlemen took pains to instruct me in the work I was to begin upon, and were very kind in their manner towards me. I went to work in a bungling way and with a sad and heavy heart. At 12 o'clock we were marched from the shop to our cells, each man taking from a trap in the wall, as he went by, his pan containing his dinner, which consisted, that day, of boiled beef and potatoes. It was probably the worst dinner I had ever eaten, but I had yet to learn what prison fare was. From one o'clock to six I was in the shop again; then came Supper—mush and molasses that evening which was varied, as I learned afterwards, on different days by rye bread, or Indian bread and rye coffee. These things were also served for breakfast, and the dinners were varied on different days in the week. The fare was very coarse, always, but abundant and wholesome. After supper prisoners were expected to go to bed, as they were called out at six o'clock in the morning.
I stayed in the brush shop three or four months, but I made very little progress in learning the trade. I was willing enough to learn and did my best. From the day I entered the prison I made up my mind to behave as well as I could; to be docile and obedient, and to comply with every rule and order. Consequently I had no trouble, and the officers all treated me kindly. Warden Robinson was a model man for his position. He believed that prisoners could be reformed more easily by mild than by harsh measures—at least they would be more contented with their lot and would be subordinate. Every now and then he would ask prisoners if they were well treated by the officers; how they were getting on; if they had enough to eat, and so on. The officers seemed imbued with the warden's spirit; the chaplain of the prison, who conducted the Sunday, services and also held a Sunday school, was one of the finest men in the world, and took a personal interest in every prisoner. Altogether, it was a model institution. But in spite of good treatment I was intensely miserable; my mind was morbid; I was nearly, if not quite, insane; and one day during the dinner hour, I opened a vein in each arm in hopes that I should bleed to death. Bleed I did, till I fainted away, and as I did not come out when the other prisoners did, the officer came to my cell and discovered my condition. He at once sent for the Doctor who came and stopped the hemorrhage, and then sent me to the hospital where I remained two weeks.
After I came out of the hospitals the Warden talked to me about my situation and feelings. He advised me to go into the blacksmith shop, of course not dreaming that I knew anything of the work; but he said I would have more liberty there; that the men moved about freely and could talk to each other; that the work mainly was sharpening picks and tools, and that I could at least blow and strike. So I went into the blacksmith shop, and remained their six weeks. But, debilitated as I was, the work was too hard for me, and so the warden put me in the yard to do what I could. I also swept the halls and assisted in the cook-room. One day when the warden spoke to me, I told him that I knew something about taking care of the sick, and after some conversation, he transferred me to the hospital as a nurse.
Here, if there is such a things as contentment in prison, I was comparatively happy. I nursed the sick and administered medicines under direction of the doctor. I had too, with all easy position, more liberty than any other prisoner. I could go anywhere about the halls and yard, and in a few weeks I was frequently sent on an errand into the town. Everyone seemed to have the fullest confidence in me. The Warden talked to me whenever he saw me, and always had some kind word for me. One day I ventured to speak to him about his horse, of which he was very proud, and indeed the horse was a very fine one.
Mr. Warden, said I "that's a noble horse of yours; but he interferes badly, and that is only because he is badly shod. If you will trust me, I can shoe him so as to prevent all that."
"Can you?" exclaimed the Warden in great surprise; "Well, if you can, I'll give you a good piece of bread and butter, or, anything else you want."
"I don't want your bread and butter," said I "but I will shoe your horse as he has never been shod before."
"Well take the horse to the shop and see what you can do."
Of course, I knew that by "bread and butter" the warden meant that if I could shoe his favorite horse so as to prevent him from interfering, he would gladly favor me as far as he could; and I knew, too, that I could make as good a shoe as any horse need wear. I gladly led the horse to the shop where I had so signally failed in pick and tool sharpening, and was received with jeers by my old comrades who wanted to know what I was going to do to that horse.
"O, simply shoe him," I said.
This greatly increased the mirth of my former shopmates; but their amusement speedily changed to amazement as they saw me make my nails, turn the shoes and neatly put them on. In due time the horse was shod, and I led him to the Warden for inspection; and before him and an officer who stood by him, I led the horse up and down to show that he did not interfere. The Warden's delight was unbounded; he never saw such a set of shoes; he declared that they fitted as if they had grown to the horse's hoofs. I need not say that from that day till the day I left the prison, I had everything I wanted from the Warden's own table; I fared as well as he did, and had favors innumerable.
About once a month I shod that horse, little thinking that he was to carry me over my three years' imprisonment in just half that time. Yet so it was. For talking now almost daily, in the hospital or in the yard, with the Warden, he became interested in me, and in answer to his inquiries I told him the whole story of my persecution, as I considered it, my trial and my unjust and severe sentence. When he had heard all he said:
"You ought not to be here another day; you ought to go out."
The good chaplain also interested himself in my case, and after hearing the story, he and the Warden took a lawyer named Bemis, into their counsel, laid the whole matter before him and asked his opinion. Mr. Bemis, after hearing all the circumstances, expressed the belief that I might get a pardon. He entered into the matter with his whole heart. He sent for my son Henry and my first wife, and they came and corroborated my statement about the mutual agreement for separation, and told how long we had been parted. Mr. Bemis and they then went to Governor Briggs, and told him the story, and that I had served out half of my severe sentence, and pressed for a pardon. The Governor after due deliberation consented to their request. They came back to Charlestown with the joyful intelligence. Warden Robinson advised my son, that considering my present mental and physical condition, he had better break the intelligence gradually to me, and so Henry came to me and said, simply, that he thought he would soon have "good news" for me. The next day I was told that my pardon was certain. The day following, at 12 o'clock, I walked out, after eighteen months' imprisonment, a free man. I was in the streets of Charlestown with my own clothes on and five dollars, given to me by the Warden, in my pocket, I was poor, truly, but I was at liberty, and that for the day was enough.
CHAPTER III. THE SCHEIMER SENSATION.
THE SCHEIMER FAMILY—IN LOVE WITH SARAH—ATTEMPT TO ELOPE—HOW IT WAS PREVENTED—THE SECOND ATTEMPT—A MIDNIGHT EXPEDITION—THE ALARM—A FRIGHTFUL BEATING—ESCAPE—FLOGGING THE DEVIL OUT OF SARAH—WINTER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE—RETURN TO NEW JERSEY—"BOSTON YANKEE"—PLANS TO SECURE SARAH.
I went at once to the Prisoners Home, where I was kindly received, and I stayed there two days. The superintendent then paid my passage to Pittsfield where I wished to go and meet my son. From Pittsfield I went to Albany, then New York, and from there to Newtown N. J. Here I went into practice, meeting with almost immediate success, and staid there two months. It was my habit to go from town to town to attend to cases of a certain class and to sell my vegetable preparations; and from Newtown I went to Belvidere, stopping at intermediate towns on the way, and from Belvidere I went to Harmony, a short distance below, to attend a case of white swelling, which I cured.
Now just across the Delaware river, nine miles above Easton, Penn., lived a wealthy Dutch farmer, named Scheimer, who heard of the cure I had effected in Harmony, and as he had a son, sixteen years of age, afflicted in the same way, he sent for me to come and see him. I crossed the river, saw the boy, and at Scheimer's request took up my residence with him to attend to the case. He was to give me, with my board, five hundred dollars if I cured the boy; but though the boy recovered under my treatment, I never received my fee for reasons which will appear anon. I secured some other practice in the neighborhood, and frequently visited Easton, Belvidere, Harmony, Oxford, and other near by places, on either side of the river.
The Scheimer family consisted of the "old folks" and four sons and four daughters, the children grown up, for my patient, sixteen years old, was the youngest. The youngest daughter, Sarah, eighteen years old, was an accomplished and beautiful girl. Now it would seem as if with my sad experience I ought by this time, to have turned my back on women forever. But I think I was a monomaniac on the subject of matrimony. My first wife had so misused me that it was always in my mind that some reparation was due me, and that I was fairly entitled to a good helpmate. The ill-success of my efforts, hitherto, to secure one, and my consequent sufferings were all lost upon me—experience, bitter experience, had taught me nothing.
I had not been in the Scheimer family three months before I fell in love with the daughter Sarah and she returned my passion. She promised to marry me, but said there was no use in saying anything to her parents about it; they would never consent on account of the disparity in our ages, for I was then forty years old; but she would marry me nevertheless, if we had to run away together. Meanwhile, the old folks had seen enough of our intimacy to suspect that it might lead to something yet closer, and one day Mr. Scheimer invited me to leave his house and not to return. I asked for one last interview with Sarah, which was accorded, and we then arranged a plan by which she should meet me the next afternoon at four o'clock at the Jersey ferry, a mile below the house, when we proposed to quietly cross over to Belvidere and get married. I then took leave of her and the family and went away.
The next day, at the appointed time, I was at the ferry—Sarah, as I learned afterwards, left the house at a much earlier hour to "take a walk" and while she was, foolishly I think, making a circuitous route to reach the ferry, her father, who suspected that she intended to run away, went to the ferryman and told him his suspicions, directing him if Sarah came there by no means to permit her to cross the river. Consequently when Sarah met me at the ferry, the ferryman flatly refused to let either of us go over. He knew all about it, he said, and it was "no go." I had two hundred dollars in my pocket and I offered him any reasonable sum, if he would only let us cross; but no, he knew the Scheimers better than he knew me, and their goodwill was worth more than mine. Here was a block to the game, indeed. I had sent my baggage forward in the morning to Belvidere; Sarah had nothing but the clothes she wore, for she was so carefully watched that she could carry or send nothing away; but she was ready to go if the obstinate ferryman had not prevented us.
While we were pressing the ferryman to favor us, down came one of Sarah's brothers with a dozen neighbors, and told her she must return home or he would carry her back by force. I interfered and said she should not go. Whereupon one fellow took hold of me and I promptly knocked him down, and notified the crowd that the first who laid hands on me, or who attempted to take her home violently, would get a dose from my pistol which I then exhibited:
"Sarah must go willingly or not at all," said I.
The production of my pistol, the only weapon in the crowd, brought about a new state of affairs, and the brother and others tried persuasion; but Sarah stoutly insisted that she would not return. "Now hold on," boys, said I, "I am going to say something to her." I then took her aside and told her that there was no use in trying to run away then; that she had better go home quietly, and tell the folks that she was sorry for what she had done, that she had broken off with me, and would have nothing more to do with me; that I would surely see her to-morrow, and then we could make a new plan. So she announced her willingness to go quietly home with her brother and she did so. I went to a public house half a mile below the ferry. That night the gang came down to this house with the intention of driving me away from the place, or, possibly, of doing something worse; but while they were howling outside, the landlord sent me to my room and then went out and told the crowd I had gone away.
The next morning I boldly walked up to Scheimer's house to get a few books and other things I had left there, and I saw Sarah. I told her to be ready on the following Thursday night and I would have a ladder against her window for her to escape by. She promised to be ready. Meantime, though I had been in the house but a few minutes, some one who had seen me go in gathered the crowd of the day before, and the first thing I knew the house was beseiged. Mrs. Scheimer had gone up stairs for my things. I went out and faced the little mob. I was told to leave the place or they would kill me. One of Sarah's brothers ran into the house, brought out a musket and aimed it at me; but it missed fire. I drew my pistol the crowd keeping well away then, and told him that if he did not instantly bring that musket to me I would shoot him. He brought it, and I threw it over the fence, Sarah crying out from the window, "good! good!" The mob then turned and abused and blackguarded her. Then the old lady came out, bringing a carpet bag containing my books and things, asking me to see if "it was all right." I had no disposition to stop and examine just then; I told the mob I had no other business there; that I was going away, and to my surprise, I confess, I was permitted to leave the place unmolested.
It is quite certain the ferryman made no objection to my crossing, and I went to Belvidere where I remained quietly till the appointed Thursday night, when I started with a trusty man for Scheimer's. We timed our journey so as to arrive there at one o'clock in the morning. Ever since her attempt to elope, Sarah had been watched night and day, and to prevent her abduction by me, Mr. Scheimer had two or three men in the house to stand guard at night. Sarah was locked in her room, which is precisely what we had provided for, for no one in the house supposed that she could escape by the window. There was a big dog on the premises, but he and I were old friends, and he seemed very glad to see me when I came on the ground on this eventful night. Sarah was watching, and when I made the signal she opened the window and threw out her ready prepared bundle. Then my man and I set the ladder and she came safely to the ground. A moment more and we would have stolen away, when, as ill luck would have it, the ladder fell with a great crash, and the infernal dog, that a moment before seemed almost in our confidence, set up a howl and then barked loud enough to wake the dead.
Forthwith issued from the house old Scheimer, two of his sons and his hired guard—a half dozen in all. There was a time then. The girl was instantly seized and taken into the house. Then all hands fell upon us two, and though I and my man fought our best they managed to pound us nearly to death. The dog, too, in revenge no doubt for the scare the ladder had given him, or perhaps to show his loyalty to his master, assisted in routing us, and put in a bite where he could. It is a wonder we were not killed. Sarah, meanwhile, was calling out from the house, and imploring them not to murder us. How we ever got away I hardly know now, but presently we found ourselves in the road running for our lives, and running also for the carriage we had concealed in the woods, half a mile above. We reached it, and hastily unhitching and getting in we drove rapidly for the bridge crossing over to Belvidere. That beautiful August night had very few charms for us. It would have been different indeed if I had succeeded in securing my Sarah; and to think of having the prize in my very grasp, and the losing all!
We reached the hotel in Belvidere at about half-past two o'clock in the morning, wearied, worn, bruised and disheartened. My man had not suffered nearly as severely as I had; the bulk of their blows fell upon me, and I had the sorest body and the worst looking face I had ever exhibited. I rested one day and then hurried on to New York. Of course, I had no means of knowing the feelings or condition of the loved girl from whom I had been so suddenly and so violently parted. I only learned from an Easton man whom I knew and whom I met in the city, that "Sarah Scheimer was sick"—that was all; the man said he did'nt know the family very well, but he had heard that Miss Scheimer had been "out of her head, if not downright crazy."
Crazy indeed! How mad and how miserable that poor girl was made by her own family, I did not know till months afterward, and then I had the terrible story from her own lips. It seems that when her father and his gang returned from pursuing me, as they did a little way up the road towards Belvidere, they found her almost frantic. They locked her up in her room that night with no one to say so much as a kind word to her. How she passed that night, after the scenes she had witnessed, and the abuse with which her father and brothers had loaded her before they thrust her into her prison, may be imagined. The next day she was wrought up to a frenzy. Her parents pronounced her insane, and called in a Dutch doctor who examined her and said she was "bewitched!" And this is the remedy he proposed as a cure; he advised that she should be soundly flogged, and the devil whipped out of her. Her family, intensely angered at her for the trouble she had made them, or rather had caused them to make for themselves, were only too glad to accept the advice. The old man and two sons carried a sore bruise or two apiece they got from me the night before, and seized the opportunity to pay them off upon her. So they stripped her bare, and flogged her till her back was a mass of welts and cuts, and then put her to bed. That bed she never left for two months, and then came out the shadow of her former self. But the Dutch doctor declared that the devil was whipped out of her, and that she was entirely cured. A few months afterward the family had the best of reasons for believing that they had whipped the devil into her, instead of out of her.
After staying in New York a few days, I went to Dover, N.H., where I had some acquaintances, and where I hoped to get into a medical practice, which, with the help of my friends, I did very soon. I lived quietly in that place all winter, earning a good living and laying by some money. During the whole time I never heard a word from Sarah. I wrote at least fifty letters to her, but as I learned afterward, and, indeed, surmised at the time, every one of them was intercepted by her father or brothers, and she did not know where I was and so could not write to me. I left Dover in May and went down to New York. I had some business there which was soon transacted, and early in June I went over to New Jersey—to Oxford, a small place near Belvidere.
This place I meant to make my base of operations for the new campaign I had been planning all winter. I "put up" at a public house kept by a man who was known in the region round about as the "Boston Yankee," for he migrated from Boston to New Jersey and was doing a thriving business at hotel keeping in Oxford. What a thorough good-fellow he was will presently appear. I had been in the hotel four days and had become pretty intimate with the landlord before I ventured to make inquiries about what I was most anxious to learn; but finally I asked him if he knew the Scheimers over the river? He looked at me in a very comical way, and then broke out:
"Well, I declare, I thought I knew you, you're the chap that tried to run away with old Scheimer's daughter Sarah, last August; and you're down here to get her this time, if you can."
I owned up to my identity, but warned Boston Yankee that if he told any one who I was, or that I was about there, I'd blow his brains out.
"You keep cool," said he, "don't you be uneasy; I'm your friend and the gal's friend, and I'll help you both all I can; and if you want to carry off Sarah Scheimer and marry her, I'll tell you how to work it. You see she has been watched as closely as possible all winter, ever since she got well, for she was crazy-like, awhile. Well, you could'n't get nearer to her, first off, than you could to the North Pole; but do you remember Mary Smith who was servant gal, there when you boarded with Scheimer?" I remembered the girl well and told him so, and he continued: "Well, I saw her the other day, and she told me she was living in Easton, and where she could be found; now, I'll give you full directions and do you take my horse and buggy to-morrow morning early and go down and see her, and get her to go over and let Sarah know that you're round; meantime I'll keep dark; I know my business and you know yours."
I need not say how overjoyed I was to find this new and most unexpected friend, and how gratefully I accepted his offer. He gave me the street, house and number where Mary Smith lived and during the evening we planned together exactly how the whole affair was to be managed, from beginning to end. I went to bed, but could scarcely sleep; and all night long I was agitated by alternate hopes and fears for the success of the scheme of to-morrow.
CHAPTER IV. SUCCESS WITH SARAH.
MARY SMITH AS A CONFEDERATE—THE PLOT—WAITING IN THE WOODS—THE SPY OUTWITTED—SARAH SECURED—THE PURSUERS BAFFLED—NIGHT ON THE ROAD—EFFORTS TO GET MARRIED—THE "OLD OFFENDER" MARRIED AT LAST—A CONSTABLE AFTER SARAH—HE GIVES IT UP—AN ALE ORGIE—RETURN TO "BOSTON YANKEE'S"—A HOME IN GOSHEN.
It was Saturday morning, and after an early breakfast I was on the road with Boston Yankee's fast horse; towards Easton. On my arrival there I had no difficulty in finding Mary Smith, who recognized me at once, and was very glad to see me. She knew I had come there to learn something about Sarah; she had seen her only a week ago; she was well again, and the girls had talked together about me. This was pleasant to hear, and I at once proposed to Mary to go to Scheimer's and tell Sarah that I was there; I would give her ten dollars if she would go. "O! she would gladly serve us both for nothing."
So she made herself ready, got into the buggy, and we started for Scheimer's. When we were well on the road I said to her:
"Now, Mary, attend carefully to what I say: you will need to be very cautious in breaking the news to Sarah that I am here; she has already suffered a great deal on my account, and may be very timid about my being in the neighborhood; but if she still loves me as you say she does, she will run any risk to see me, and, if I know her, she will be glad to go away with me. Now, this is what you must do; you must see her alone and tell her my plan; here, take this diamond ring; she knows it well; manage to let her see it on your finger; then tell her that if she is willing to leave home and marry me, I will be in the woods half a mile above her house to-morrow afternoon at 5 o'clock, with a horse and buggy ready to carry her to Belvidere. If she will not, or dare not come, give her the ring, and tell her we part, good friends, forever."
It was a beautiful afternoon as we drove along the road. We talked about Sarah and old times, and I made her repeat my instructions over and over again and she promised to convey every word to Sarah. We neared Scheimer's house about six o'clock, and when we were a little way from there I told Mary to get out, so as to excite no suspicions as to who I was; she did so, and I waited till I saw her go into the house, and then drove rapidly by towards the Belvidere bridge, and was safely at Oxford by nightfall. I told my friend, the landlord, what I had done, and he said that everything was well planned. He also promised to go with me next day to assist me if necessary, and, said he:
"If everything is all right, do you carry off the girl and I'll walk up to Belvidere; but don't bring Sarah this way—head toward Water Gap. When you're married fast and sure, you can come back here as leisurely as you're a mind to, and nobody can lay a hand upon you or her."
We arranged some other minor details of our expedition and I went to bed.
The next afternoon at four o'clock I was at the appointed place, and Boston Yankee was with me. I did not look for Sarah before five o'clock, so we tied our horse and kept a good watch upon the road. An hour went by and no Sarah appeared. I told Boston Yankee I did not believe she would come.
"Don't be impatient; wait a little longer," said my friend.
In twenty minutes we saw emerge, not from Scheimer's house, but from his eldest son's house, which was still nearer to the place where we were waiting, three women, two of whom I recognized as Sarah and Mary, and the third I did not know, nor could I imagine why she was with the other two; but as I saw them, leaving Boston Yankee in the woods, I drove the horse down into the road. As Sarah drew near she kissed her hand to me and came up to the wagon. "Are you ready to go with me?" I asked. "I am, indeed," was her reply, and I put out my hand to help her into the buggy. But the third woman caught hold of her dress, tried to prevent her from getting in, and began to scream so as to attract attention at Sarah's brother's house. I told the woman to let her go, and threatened her with my whip. "Get away," shouted Boston Yankee, who had come upon the scene. "Drive as fast as you can; never mind if you kill the horse."
We started; the woman still shouting for help, and I drove on as rapidly as the horse would go. When we had gone on a mile or two, I asked Sarah what all this meant? She told me that the woman was her brother's servant; that Mary and herself left her father's house a little after four o'clock to go over and call at her brother's; that just before five, when she was to meet me, she and Mary proposed to go out for a walk; that the whole family watched her constantly, and so her brother's wife told the servant woman to get on her things and go with them. "You, may be sure," she, added, "that the woman will arouse the whole neighborhood, and that they will all be after us." I needed no further hint to push on. We were going toward Water Gap, as Boston Yankee had advised, and when we were about eight miles on the way, I deemed it prudent to drive into the woods and to wait till night before going on. We drove in just off the road, and tied our horse. We were effectually concealed; our pursuers, if there were any, would be sure to go by us, and meantime we could talk over our plans for the future. Sarah told me that when Mary came to the house the night before, she was not at all surprised to see her, as she occasionally came up from Easton to make them a little visit, and to stay all night; that she went to the summer-house with Mary to sit down and talk, and almost immediately saw the ring on Mary's finger; that when she saw it she at once recognized it, and asked her: "O! Mary, where did you get that ring?" "Keep quiet," said Mary: "don't talk loud, or some one may hear you; don't be agitated; your lover is near, and has sent me to tell you." It was joyful news to Sarah, and how readily she had acquiesced in my plan for an elopement was manifest in the fact that she was then by my side.
We bad not been in the woods an hour when, as I anticipated, we heard our pursuers, we did not know how many there were, drive rapidly by. "Now we can go on, I suppose," said Sarah. "Oh no, my dear," I replied, "now is just the time to wait quietly here;" and wait we did till eight o'clock, when our pursuers, having gone on a few miles, and having seen or learned nothing of the fugitives, came by again "on the back track." They must have thought we had turned off into some other road. I waited a while longer to let our friend's get a little nearer home and further away from us, and then took the road again toward Water Gap.
We reached Water Gap at midnight, had some supper and fed the horse. We rested awhile, and then drove leisurely on nine miles further, where we waited till daylight and crossed the river. We were in no great hurry now; we were comparatively safe from pursuit. We soon came to a public house, where we stopped and put out the horse, intending to take breakfast. While I was inquiring of the landlord if there was a justice of the peace in the neighborhood, the landlord's wife had elicited from Sarah the fact of our elopement, who she was, who her folks were, and so on. The well-meaning landlady advised Sarah to go back home and get her parents consent before she married. Sarah suggested that the very impossibility of getting such consent was the reason for her running away; nor did it appear how she was to go back home alone even if she desired to. We saw that we could get no help there, so I countermanded my order for breakfast, offering at the same time to pay for it as if we had eaten it, ordered out my horse and drove on. After riding some ten miles we arrived at another public house on the road, and as the landlord come out to the door I immediately asked him where I could find a justice of the peace? He laughed, for he at once comprehended the whole situation, and said:
"Well, well! I am an old offender myself; I ran away with my wife; there is a justice of the peace two miles from here, and if you'll come in I'll have him here within an hour."
We had reached the right place at last, for while the landlady was getting breakfast for us, and doing her best to make us comfortable and happy, the Old Offender himself took his horse and carriage and went for the justice. By the time we had finished our breakfast he was back with him, and Sarah and I were married in "less than no time," the Old Offender and his wife singing the certificate as witnesses. I never paid a fee more gladly. We were married now, and all the Scheimers in Pennsylvania were welcome to come and see us if they pleased.
No Scheimers came that day; but the day following came a deputation from that family, some half dozen delegates, and with them a constable from Easton, with a warrant to arrest Sarah for something—I never knew what—but at any rate he was to take her home if necessary by force. The Old Offender declined to let these people into his house; Sarah told me to keep out of the way and she would see what was wanted. Whereupon she boldly went to the door and greeted those of her acquaintances who were in the party. The constable knew her, and told her he had come to take her home. "But what if I refuse to go?" "Well then, I have a warrant to take you; but if you are married, I have no power over you." Well married I am, said Sarah, and she produced the certificate, and the Old Offender and his wife came out and declared that they witnessed the ceremony.
What was to be done? evidently nothing; only the constable ordered a whole barrel of ale to treat his posse and any one about tire town who chose to drink, and the barrel was rolled out on the grass, tapped, and for a half hour there was a great jollification, which was not exactly in honor of our wedding, but which afforded the greatest gratification to the constable, his retainers, and those who happened to gather to see what was going on. This ended, and the bill paid, the Easton delegation got into their wagons and turned their horses heads towards home.
We passed three delightful days under the Old Offender's roof, and then thanking our host for his kindness to us, and paying our bill, we started on our return journey for Oxford. We arrived safely, and staid with Boston Yankee a fortnight. We were close by the Scheimer homestead, which was but a few miles away across the river; but we feared neither father nor brothers, nor even the woman who was so unwilling to let Sarah go with me. The constable, and the rest had carried home the news of our marriage, and the old folks made the best of it. Indeed, after they heard we had returned to Oxford, Sarah's mother sent a man over to tell her that if she would come home any day she could pack her clothes and other things, and take them away with her. The day after we received this invitation, Boston Yankee offered to take Sarah over home, and promised to bring her safely back. So she went, was treated tolerably well, at any rate, she secured her clothes and brought them home with her.
It was now time to bid farewell to our staunch friend, Boston Yankee. I had inducements to go to Goshen, Orange County, N. Y., where I had many acquaintances, and to Goshen we went. We found a good boarding place, and I began to practice medicine, After we had been there a while, Sarah wrote home to let her family know where she was, and that she was well and happy. Her father wrote in reply that we both might come there at any time, and that if she would come home he would do as well by her as he would by any of his children. This letter made Sarah uneasy. In spite of all the ill usage she had received from her parents and family, she was nevertheless homesick, and longed to get back again. I could see that this feeling grew upon her daily. We were pleasantly situated where we were; I had a good and growing practice, and we had made many friends; but this did not satisfy her; she had some property in her own right, but her father was trustee of it, and he had hitherto kept it away from her from spite at her love affair with me. But now she was to be taken into favor again, and she represented to me that we could go back and get her money, and that I could establish myself there as well as anywhere; we could live well and happily among her friends and old associations. These things were dinged in my ears day after day, till I was sick of the very sound. I could see that she was bound, or, as the Dutch doctor would have said, "bewitched" to go back, and at last, after five happy months in Goshen, in an evil hour I consented to go home with her.
CHAPTER V. HOW THE SCHEIMERS MADE ME SUFFER.
RETURN TO SCHEIMER—PEACE AND THEN PANDEMONIUM—FRIGHTFUL FAMILY ROW—RUNNING FOR REFUGE—THE GANG AGAIN—ARREST AT MIDNIGHT—STRUGGLE WITH MY CAPTORS—IN JAIL ONCE MORE—PUT IN IRONS—A HORRIBLE PRISON BREAKING OUT—THE DUNGEON—SARAH'S BABY—CURIOUS COMPROMISES—OLD SCHEIMER MY JAILER—SIGNING A BOND—FREE AGAIN—LAST WORDS FROM SARAH.
We went back to the Scheimer homestead and were favorably received. There was no special enthusiasm over our return, no marked demonstrations of delight; but they seemed glad to see us, and all the unpleasant things of the past, if not forgotten, were tacitly ignored on all sides. We passed a pleasant evening together in what seemed a re-united family circle—one of the brothers only was absent—and next morning we met cordially around the breakfast table. I really began to think it was possible that all the old difficulties might be healed, and that the pleasant picture Sarah painted, at Goshen, about settling down happily in Pennsylvania, could be fully realized.
After breakfast I took a conveyance to go three or four miles to see a man who owed me some money for medical services in his family, and was away from Scheimer's three or four hours. During this brief absence I could not help thinking with genuine satisfaction of the happiness Sarah was experiencing in the gratification of her longing to return home again. Surely, I thought, she must be happy now. No more homesickness, and a full and complete reconciliation with her family; all the anger, abuse, and blows forgotten or forgiven; she restored to her place in the family; and even her objectionable husband received with open arms.
But what an enormous difference there is between fancy and fact. During this brief absence of mine, had come home the brother who had always seemed to concentrate the hatred of the whole family towards me for the wrong they assumed I had done to the youngest daughter who loved me. On my return I found the peaceful home I left in the morning a perfect pandemonium. Sarah was fairly frantic. The whole family were abusing her. The returned brother especially, was calling her all the vile names he could lay his tongue to. I learned afterwards that he had been doing it ever since he came into the house that day and found her at home and heard that I was with her. They had picked, wrenched rather, out of her the secret I had confided to her that I had another wife from whom I was "separated," but not divorced. My sudden presence on this scene was not exactly oil on troubled waters; it was gunpowder to fire. As soon as Sarah saw me at the door she cried out:
"O! husband, let us go away from here."
Her mother turned and shouted at me that I had better fly at once or they would kill me. Meanwhile, that mob, which the Scheimer boys seemed always to have at hand, was gathering in the dooryard. I managed to get near enough to Sarah to tell her that I would send a man for her next day, and then if she was willing to come with me she must get away from her family if possible. I then made a rush through the crowd, and reached the road. I think the gang had an indistinct knowledge of the situation, or they would have mobbed me, and perhaps killed me. They knew something was "to pay" at Scheimer's, but did not know exactly what. Once on the road it was my intention to have gone over to Belvidere, and then on to Oxford, where I should have found a sure refuge with my friend Boston Yankee.
Would that I had done so; but I was a fool; I thought I could be of service to Sarah by remaining near her; might see her next day; I might even be able to get her out of the house, and then we could once more elope together and go back again to Goshen where we had been so happy. So I went to a public house three miles above Scheimer's, and remained there quietly during the rest of the day, revolving plans for the deliverance of Sarah. I thought only of her. It is strange that I did not once realize what a perilous position I was in myself—that, firmly as I believed myself to be wedded to Sarah, I was in fact amenable to the law, and liable to arrest and punishment. All this never occurred to me. I saw one or two of the gang who were at Scheimer's about the hotel, but they did not offer to molest me, and I paid no particular attention to them. I did not know then that they were spies and were watching my movements. At nine o'clock I went to bed. At midnight, or thereabouts, I was roughly awakened and told to get up. Without waiting for me, to comply, five men who had entered my room pulled me out of bed, and almost before I could huddle on my clothes I was handcuffed. Then one of them, who said he was a constable from Easton, showed a warrant for my arrest. What the arrest was for I was not informed. I was taken down stairs, put into a wagon, the men followed, and the horses started in the direction of Easton. By Scheimer's on the way, and I could see a light in Sarah's window. I remembered how in, all the Bedlam in the house that morning she still cried out: "I will go with him." I remembered how, only a few months before, she had been brutally flogged in that very chamber, to "get the devil out of her." I remembered, too, the many happy, happy hours we had passed together. And here was I, handcuffed and dragged in a wagon, I knew not whither.
This for thoughts—in the way of action, was all the while trying to get my handcuffs off, and at last I succeeded in getting one hand free. Waiting my opportunity till we came to a piece of woods, I suddenly jumped up and sprang from the wagon. It was a very dark night, and in running into the woods I struck against a tree with such force as to knock me down and nearly stun me. Two of the men were on me in an instant. After a brief struggle I managed to get away and ran again. I should have escaped, only a high rail fence brought me to a sudden stop, and I was too exhausted to climb over it. My pursuers who were hard at my heels the whole while now laid hold of me. In the subsequent struggle I got out my pocket knife, and stabbed one of them, cutting his arm badly. Then they overpowered me. They dragged me to the roadside, brought a rope out of the wagon, bound my arms and legs, and so at last carried me to Easton.
It was nearly daylight when I was thrust into jail. There were no cells, only large rooms for a dozen or more men, and I was put, into one of these with several prisoners who were awaiting trial, or who had been tried and were there till they could be sent to prison. It was a day or two before I found out what I was there for. Then a Dutch Deputy Sheriff, who was also keeper of the jail, came and told me that I was held for bigamy, adding the consoling intelligence that it would be a very hard job for me, and that I would get five or six years in State prison sure. I was well acquainted in Easton, and I sent for lawyer Litgreave for assistance and advice. I sent also to my half-sister in Delaware County, N. Y., and in a day or two she came and saw me, and gave Mr. Litgreave one hundred dollars retaining fee. My lawyer went to see the Scheimers and when he returned he told me that he hoped to save me from State prison—at all events he would exercise the influence he had over the family to that end; but I must expect to remain in jail a long time. Precisely what this meant I did not know then; but I found out afterwards.
Soon after this visit from the lawyer, the Deputy Sheriff came in and said that he was ordered "by the Judge" to iron me, and it was done. They were heavy leg-irons weighing full twelve pounds, and I may say here that I wore them during the whole term of my imprisonment in this jail, or rather they wore me—wearing their way in time almost into the bone. I had been here a week now, and was well acquainted with the character of the place. It was indescribably filthy; no pretence was made of cleansing it. The prisoners were half fed, and, at that, the food was oftentimes so vile that starving men rejected it. The deputy who kept the jail was cruel and malignant, and took delight in torturing his prisoners. He would come in sometimes under pretence of looking at my irons to see if they were safe, and would twist and turn them about so that I suffered intolerable pain, and blood flowed from my wounds made by these cruel irons. Such abuse as he could give with his tongue he dispensed freely. Of course he was a coward, and he never dared to come into one of the prisoner's rooms unless he was armed. This is a faithful photograph of the interior of the jail at Easton, Penn., as it was a few years ago; there may have been some improvement since that time; for the sake of humanity, I hope there has been.
After I had been in this jail about six weeks, and had become well acquainted with my room-mates, I communicated to them one day, the result of my observation:
"There," said I, showing them a certain place in the wall, "is a loose stone that with a little labor can be lifted out, and it will leave a hole large enough for us to get out of and go where we like."
Examination elicited a unanimous verdict in favor of making the attempt. With no tools but a case knife we dug out the mortar on all sides of the stone doing the work by turns and covering the stone by hanging up an old blanket—which excited no suspicion, as it was at the head of one of the iron bedsteads—whenever the Deputy or any of his men were likely to visit us. In twelve days we completed the work, and could lift out the stone. The hole was large enough to let a man through, and there was nothing for us to do but to crawl out one after the other and drop down a few feet into the yard. This yard was surrounded by a board fence that could be easily surmounted. I intended to take the lead, after taking off my irons (which I had learned to do, and indeed, did every day, putting them on only when I was liable to be "inspected") and after leaving these irons at the Deputy's door, I intended to put myself on the Jersey side of the river as speedily as possible.
Liberty was within reach of every man in that room, and the night was set for the escape. But one of the crowd turned traitor, and, under pretence, of speaking to the Deputy about some matter, managed to be called out of the room and disclosed the whole. The man was waiting transportation to prison to serve out a sentence of ten years, and, with the chance of escape before him, it seemed singular that he should reveal a plan which promised to give him liberty; but probably he feared a failure; or that he might be recaptured and his prison sentence increased; while on the other hand by disclosing the plot he could curry favor enough to get his term reduced, and perhaps he might gain a pardon. Any how, he betrayed us. The Deputy came in and found the stone in the condition described, and forthwith we were all removed to the dungeon, or dark room, and kept there on bread and water for twelve days. We heard afterwards that our betrayer did get five years less than his original sentence for subjecting his comrades in misery to twelve days of almost indescribable suffering. We were not only in a totally dark and frightfully filthy hole, but we were half starved, and the Deputy daily took delight in taunting us with our sufferings.
At the end of the twelve days we were taken back to the old room where we found the stone securely fastened in with irons. Moreover, we were now under stricter observation, and at stated hours every day, an inspector came in and examined the walls. This soon wore off, however, and when the inspection was finally abandoned, about two months from the time of our first attempt, we managed to find another place in the old wall where we could dig out and we went to work. We were a fortnight at it, and had nearly completed our labor when we were discovered.
This time we spent fourteen days in the dungeon for our pains.
And now comes an extraordinary disclosure with regard to my imprisonment. A few days after my removal from the dungeon to the old quarters again, the Deputy, in one of his rare periods of what, with him, passed for good humor, informed me that Sarah had been confined, and had given birth to a fine boy; that she was crying for my release; that Lawyer Sitgreave was interceding for me; but that the old man Scheimer was still obstinate and would not let me out. Passing over my feelings with regard to the birth of my son, here was a revelation indeed! It will be remembered that I had only been told that I was under indictment for bigamy. I had never been brought before a justice for a preliminary examination; never bound over for trial; and now it transpired that old Scheimer, a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, had the power to put me in jail, put me in irons, and subject me to long months, perhaps years of imprisonment. I had something to occupy my thoughts now, and for the remaining period of my jail life.
Next came a new dodge of the Scheimers, the object of which was to show that Sarah's marriage to me was no marriage at all, thus leaving her free to marry any other man her family might force upon her. When I had been in jail seven months, one day the Deputy came in and said that he was going to take off my irons. I told him I wouldn't trouble him to do that, for though I had worn them when he and his subordinates were around till the irons had nearly killed me, yet at other times I had been in a habit of taking them off at pleasure; and to prove it, I sat down and in a few minutes handed him the irons. The man was amazed; but saying nothing about the irons, he approached me on another subject. He said he thought if I would sign an acknowledgment that I was a married man when I married Sarah Scheimer, and would leave the State forever, I could get out of jail; would I do it? I told him I would give no answer till I had seen my counsel.
Well, the next day Lawyer Sitgreave came to me and told me I had better do it, and I consented. Shortly afterwards, I was taken to court, for the first time in this whole affair, and was informed by the judge that if I would sign a bond not to go near the Scheimer house or family he would discharge me. I signed such a bond, and the judge then told me I was discharged; but that I ought to have gone to State prison for ten years for destroying the peace and happiness of the Scheimer family. Truly the Scheimer family were a power, indeed, in that part of the country!
My lawyer gave me five dollars and I went to Harmony and staid that night. The next day I went to an old friend of mine, a Methodist minister, and persuaded him to go over and see what Sarah Scheimer's feelings were towards me, and if she was willing to come to me with our child. He went over there, but the old Scheimers suspected his errand, and watched him closely to see that he held no communication with Sarah. He did, however, have an opportunity to speak to her, and she sent me word that if she could ever get her money and get away from her parents, she would certainly join me in any part of the world. I was warned, at the same time, not to come near the house, for fear that her father or some of her brothers would kill me.
CHAPTER VI. FREE LIFE AND FISHING.
TAKING CARE OF CRAZY MEN—CARRYING OFF A BOY—ARRESTED FOR STEALING MY OWN HORSE AND BUGGY—FISHING IN LAKE WINNIPISEOGEE—AN ODD LANDLORD—A WOMAN AS BIG AS A HOGSHEAD—REDUCING THE HOGSHEAD TO A BARREL—WONDERFUL VERIFICATION OF A DREAM—SUCCESSFUL MEDICAL PRACTICE—A BUSY WINTER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE—BLANDISHMENTS OF CAPTAIN BROWN—I GO TO NEWARK, NEW JERSEY.
The next day I left Harmony and walked to Port Jarvis, on the Erie Railroad, N. Y., arriving late at night, and entirely footsore, sick, and disheartened. I went to the hotel, and the next morning I found myself seriously sick. Asking advice, I was directed to the house of a widow, who promised to nurse and take care of me. I was ill for two weeks, and meantime, my half-sister in Delaware County, to whom I made known my condition, sent me money for my expenses, and when I had sufficiently recovered to travel, I went to this sister's house in Sidney, and there I remained several days, till I was quite well and strong again.
Casting about for something to do, a friend told me that he knew of an opportunity for a good man at Newbury to take care of a young man, eighteen years of age, who was insane. I went there and saw his father, and he put him under my charge. I had the care of him four months, and during the last two months of the time I traveled about with him, and returned him, finally, to his friends in a materially improved condition. The friends of another insane man in Montgomery, near Newbury, hearing of my success with this young man, sent for me to come and see them. I went there and found a man who had been insane seven years, but who was quiet and well-behaved, only he was "out of his head." I engaged to do what I could for him. The father of my Newbury patient had paid me well, and with my medical practice and the sale of medicines in traveling about, I had accumulated several hundred dollars, and when I went to Montgomery I had a good horse and buggy which cost me five hundred dollars. So, when my new patient had been under my care and control two months, I proposed that he should travel about with me in my buggy, and visit various parts of the State in the immediate vicinity. His friends thought well of the suggestion, and we traveled in this way about four months, stopping a few days here and there, when I practiced where I could, and sold medicines, making some money. At the end of this time I went back to Montgomery with my patient, as I think, fully restored, and his father, besides, paying the actual expenses of our journey, gave me six hundred dollars.
Returning to Sidney I learned that my first and worst wife was then living with the children at Unadilla, a few miles across the river in Otsego County. I had no desire to see her, but I heard at the same time that my youngest boy, a lad ten years old, had been sent to work on a farm three miles beyond, and that he was not well taken care of. I drove over to see about it, and after some inquiry I was told that the boy was then in school. Going to the schoolhouse and asking for him, the school-mistress, who knew me, denied that he was there, but I pushed in, and found him, and a ragged, miserable looking little wretch he was. I brought him out, put him into the carriage and took him with me on the journey which I was then contemplating to Amsterdam, N. Y., stopping at the first town to get him decently clothed. The boy went with me willingly, indeed he was glad to go, and in due time we arrived at Amsterdam, and from there we went to Troy.
I had not been in Troy two hours before I was arrested for stealing my own horse and buggy! My turnout was taken from me, and I found myself in durance vile. I was not long in procuring bail, and I then set myself, to work to find out what this meant. I was shown a handbill describing my person, giving my name, giving a description of my horse, and offering a reward of fifty dollars for my arrest. This was signed by a certain Benson, of Kingston, Sullivan County, N.Y. I then remembered that while I was traveling with my insane patient from Montgomery through Sullivan County, I fell in with a Benson who was a very plausible fellow, and who scraped acquaintance with me, and while I was at Kingston he rode about with me on one or two occasions. One day he told me that he knew a girl just out of the place who was subject to fits, and wanted to know if I could do anything for her; that her father was rich and would pay a good price to have her cured. I went to see the girl and did at least enough to earn a fee of one hundred dollars, which her father gladly paid me. Benson also introduced me to some other people whom I found profitable patients. I thought he was a very good friend to me, but he was a cool, calculating rascal. He meant to rob me of my horse and buggy, and went deliberately to work about it. First, he issued the handbill which caused my arrest in Troy, where he knew I was going. Next, as appeared when he came up to Troy to prosecute the suit against me, he forged a bill of sale. The case was tried and decided in my favor. Benson appealed, and again it was decided that the horse belonged to me. I then had him indicted for perjury and forgery, and he was put under bonds of fourteen hundred dollars in each case to appear for trial. Some how or other he never appeared, and whether he forfeited his bonds, or otherwise slipped through the "meshes of the law," I never learned, nor have I ever seen him since he attempted to swindle me. But these proceedings kept me in Troy more than a month, and to pay my lawyer and other expenses, I actually sold the horse and buggy the scoundrel tried to steal from me.
Taking my boy to Sidney and putting him under the care of my half sister, I went to Boston, where I met two friends of mine who were about going to Meredith Bridge, N.H., to fish through the ice on Lake Winnipiseogee. It was early in January, 1853, and good, clear, cold weather. They represented the sport to be capital, and said that plenty of superb lake trout and pickerel could be taken every day, and urged me to go with them. As I had nothing special to do for a few days, I went. When we reached Meredith we stopped at a tavern near the lake, kept by one of the oddest landlords I have ever met. After a good supper, as we were sitting in the barroom, the landlord came up to me and at once opened conversation in the following manner:
"Waal, where do you come from, anyhow?"
"From Boston," I replied.
"Waal, what be you, anyhow?"
"Well, I practice medicine, and take care of the sick."
"Dew ye? Waal, do ye ever cure anybody?"
"O, sometimes; quite frequently, in fact."
"Dew ye! waal, there's a woman up here to Lake Village, 'Squire Blaisdell's wife, who has had the dropsy more'n twelve years; been filling' all the time till they tell me she's bigger'n a hogshead now, and she's had a hundred doctors, and the more doctors she has the bigger she gets; what d' ye think of that now?"
I answered that I thought it was quite likely, and then turned away from the landlord to talk to my friends about our proposed sport for to-morrow, mentally making note of 'Squire Blaisdell's wife in Lake Village.
After breakfast next morning we went out on the lake, cut holes in the ice, set our lines, and before dinner we had taken several fine trout and pickerel, the largest and finest of which we put into a box with ice, and sent as a present to President Pierce, in Washington. We had agreed, the night before, to fish for him the first day, and to send him the best specimens we could from his native state. After dinner my friends started to go out on the ice again, and I told them "I guess'd I wouldn't go with them, I had fished enough for that day." They insisted I should go, but I told them I preferred to take a walk and explore the country. So they went to the lake and I walked up to Lake Village.
I soon found Mr. Blaisdell's house, and as the servant who came to the door informed me that Mr. Blaisdell was not at home, I asked to see Mrs. Blaisdell, And was shown in to that lady. She was not quite the "hogshead" the landlord declared her to be, but she was one of the worst cases of dropsy I had ever seen. I introduced myself to her, told her my profession, and that I had called upon her in the hope of being able to afford her some relief; that I wanted nothing for my services unless I could really benefit her.
"O, Doctor," said she, "you can do nothing for me; in the past twelve years I have had at least forty different doctors, and none of them have helped me."
"But there can be no harm in trying the forty-first;" and as I said it I took from my vest pocket and held out in the palm of my hand some pills:
"Here, madame, are some pills made from a simple blossom, which cannot possibly harm you, and which, I am sure, will do you a great deal of good."
"O, Mary!" she exclaimed to her niece, who was in attendance upon her, "this is my dream! I dreamed last night that my father appeared to me and told me that a stranger would come with a blossom in his hand; that he would offer it to me, and that if I would take it I should recover. Go and get a glass of water and I will take these pills at once."
"Surely," said Mary, "you are not going to take this stranger's medicine without knowing anything about it, or him?"
"I am indeed; go and get the water."
She took the medicine and then told me that her father, who had died two years ago, was a physician, and had carefully attended to her case as long as he lived; but that she had a will of her own, and had sent far and near for other doctors, though with no good result.
"You have come to me," she continued, "and although I am not superstitious, your coming with a blossom in your hand, figuratively speaking, is so exactly in accordance with my dream, that I am going to put myself under your care."
She then asked me if I lived in the neighborhood, and I told her no; that I had merely come up from Boston with two friends to try a few days' fishing through the ice on the lake.
"You can fish to better purpose here, I think," she said; "you can get plenty of practice in the villages and farm houses about here: at any rate, stay for the present and undertake my case, and I will pay you liberally."
I went back to Meredith Bridge—I believe it is now called Laconia—and had another day's fishing with my friends. When they were ready to pack up and return to Boston, I astonished them by informing them that I should stay where I was for the present, perhaps for months, and that I believed I could find a good practice in Meredith and adjoining places. So they left me and I went to Lake Village, and made that pleasant place my headquarters.
The weeks wore on, and if Mrs. Blaisdell was a hogshead, as the Meredith landlord said, when I first saw her, she soon became a barrel under my treatment, and in four months she was entirely cured, and was as sound as any woman in the State. I had as much other business too as I could attend to, and was very busy and happy all the time.
In May I went to Exeter, alternating between there and Portsmouth, and finding enough to do till the end of July. While I was in Portsmouth on one of my last visits to that place, I received a call from a sea-captain by the name of Brown, who told me that he had heard of my success in dropsical cases, and that I must go to Newark, N. J., and see his daughter. "Pay," he said, "was no object; I must go." I told him that I had early finished my business in that vicinity, and that when I went to New York, as I proposed to do shortly, I would go over to Newark and see his daughter. A few days afterward, when I had settled my business and collected my bills in Portsmouth and Exeter, I went to New York, and from there to Newark.
CHAPTER VII. WEDDING A WIDOW, AND THE CONSEQUENCES.
I MARRY A WIDOW—SIX WEEKS OF HAPPINESS—CONFIDING A SECRET AND THE CONSEQUENCES—THE WIDOW'S BROTHER—SUDDEN FLIGHT FROM NEWARK—IN HARTFORD, CONN.—MY WIFE'S SISTER BETRAYS ME—TRIAL FOR BIGAMY—SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT—I BECOME A "BOBBIN BOY"—A GOOD FRIEND—GOVERNOR PRICE VISITS ME IN PRISON—HE PARDONS ME—TEN YEARS' SENTENCE FULFILLED IN SEVEN MONTHS.
Why in the world did Captain Brown ever tempt me with the prospect of a profitable patient in Newark? I had no thought of going to that city, and no business there except to see if I could cure Captain Brown's daughter. With my matrimonial monomania it was like putting my hand into the fire to go to a fresh place, where I should see fresh faces, and where fresh temptations would beset me. And when I went to Newark, I went only as I supposed, to see a single patient; but Captain Brown prevailed upon me to stay to take care of his daughter, and assured me that he and his friends would secure me a good practice. They did. In two months I was doing as well in my profession as I had ever done in any place where I had located. I might have attended strictly to my business, and in a few years have acquired a handsome competence. But, as ill luck, which, strangely enough, I then considered good luck, would have it, when I had been in Newark some two months, I became acquainted with a buxom, good-looking widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Roberts. I protest to-day that she courted me—not I her. She was fair, fascinating, and had a goodly share of property. I fell into the snare. She said she was lonely; she sighed; she smiled, and I was lost.
Would that I had observed the elder Weller's injunction: "Bevare of vidders;" would that I had never seen the Widow Roberts, or rather that she had never seen me. Eight weeks after we first met we were married. We had a great wedding in her own house, and all her friends were present. I was in good practice with as many patients as I could attend to; she had a good home and we settled down to be very happy.
For six weeks, only six weeks, I think we were so. We might have been so for six weeks, six months, six years longer; but alas! I was a fool I confided to her the secret of my first marriage, and separation, and she confided the same secret to her brother, a well-to-do wagon-maker in Newark. So far as Elizabeth was concerned, she said she didn't care; so long as the separation was mutual and final, since so many years had elapsed, and especially since I hadn't seen the woman for full six years, and was not supposed to know whether she was alive or dead, why, it was as good as a divorce; so reasoned Elizabeth, and it was precisely my own reasoning, and the reasoning which had got me into numberless difficulties, to say nothing of jails and prisons. But the brother had his doubts about it, and came and talked to me on the subject several times. We quarrelled about it. He threatened to have me arrested for bigamy. I told him that if he took a step in that direction I would flog him. Then he had me brought before a justice for threatening him, with a view to having me put under bonds to keep the peace. I employed a lawyer who managed my case so well that the justice concluded there was no cause of action against me.
But this lawyer informed me that the brother was putting, even then, another rod in pickle for me, and that I had better clear out. I took his advice, I went to the widow's house, packed my trunk, gathered together what money I could readily lay hands upon, and with about $300 in my pocket, I started for New York, staying that night at a hotel in Courtland street.
The following morning I went over to Jersey City, hired a saddle-horse, and rode to Newark. The precise object of my journey I do not think I knew myself; but I must have had some vague idea of persuading Elizabeth to leave Newark and join me in New York or elsewhere. I confess, too, that I was more or less under the influence of liquor, and considerably more than less. However, no one would have noticed this in my appearance or demeanor. I rode directly to Elizabeth's door, hitched my horse, and went into the house. The moment my wife saw me she cried out:
"For God's sake get out of this house and out of town as soon as you can; they have been watching for you ever since yesterday; they've got a warrant for your arrest; don't stay here one moment."
I asked her if she was willing to follow me, and she said she would do so if she only dared but her brother had made an awful row, and had sworn he would put me in prison anyhow; I had better go back to New York and await events. I started for the door, and was unhitching my horse, when the brother and a half dozen more were upon me. I sprang to the saddle. They tried to stop me; the over-eager brother even caught me by the foot; but I dashed through the crowd and rode like mad to Jersey City, returned the horse to the livery stable, crossed the ferry to New York, went to my hotel, got my trunk, and started for Hartford, Conn., where I arrived in the evening.
This was in the month of June, 1854. I went to the old Exchange Hotel in State street, and very soon acquired a good practice. Indeed, it seems as if I was always successful enough in my medical business—my mishaps have been in the matrimonial line. When I had been in Hartford about three months, and was well settled, I thought I would go down to New York and see a married sister of Elizabeth's, who was living there, and try to find out how matters were going on over in Newark. That I found out fully, if not exactly to my satisfaction, will appear anon.
When I called at the sister's house, the servant told me she was out, but would be back in an hour; so I left my name, promising to call again. I returned again at one o'clock in the afternoon, and the sister was in, but declined to see me. As I was coming down the steps, a policeman who seemed to be lounging on the opposite side of the street, beckoned to me, and suspecting nothing, I crossed over to see what he wanted. He simply wanted to know my name, and when I gave it to him he informed me that I was his prisoner. I asked for what? and he said "as a fugitive from justice in New Jersey."
This was for taking the pains to come down from Hartford to inquire after the welfare of my wife! whose sister, the moment the servant told her I had been there, and would call again, had gone to the nearest police station and given information, or made statements, which led to the setting of this latest trap for me. The policeman took me before a justice who sent me to the Tombs. On my arrival there I managed to pick up a lawyer, or rather one of the sharks of the place picked me up, and said that for twenty-five dollars he would get me clear in three or four hours. I gave him the money, and from that day till now, I have never set eyes upon him. I lay in a cell all night, and next morning Elizabeth's brother, to whom the sister in New York had sent word that I was caged, came over from Newark to see me. He said he felt sorry for me, but that he was "bound to put me through." He then asked me if I would go over to Newark without a requisition from the Governor of New Jersey, and I told him I would not; whereupon he went away without saying another word, and I waited all day to hear from the lawyer to whom I had given twenty-five dollars, but he did not come.
So next day when the brother came over and asked me the same question, I said I would go; wherein I was a fool; for I ought to have reflected that he had had twenty-four hours in which to get a requisition, and that he might in fact have made application for one already, without getting it, and every delay favored my chances of getting out. But I had no one to advise me, and so I went quietly with him and an officer to the ferry, where we crossed and went by cars to Newark. I was at once taken before a justice, who, after a hearing of the case, bound me over, under bonds of only one thousand dollars, to take my trial for bigamy.
If I could have gone into the street I could have procured this comparatively trifling bail in half an hour; as it was, after I was in jail I sent for a man whom I knew, and gave him my gold watch and one hundred dollars, all the money I had, to procure me bail, which he promised to do; but he never did a thing for me, except to rob me.
A lawyer came to me and offered to take my case in hand for one hundred dollars, but I had not the money to give him. I then sent to New York for a lawyer whom I knew, and when he came to see me he took the same view of the case that Elizabeth and I did; that is, that the long separation between my first wife and myself, and my presumed ignorance as to whether she was alive or dead, gave me full liberty to marry again. At least, he thought any court would consider it an extenuating circumstance, and he promised to be present at my trial and aid me all he could.
I lay in Newark jail nine months, awaiting my trial. During that time I had almost daily quarrels with the jailor, who abused me shamefully, and told me I ought to go to State prison and stay there for life. Once he took hold of me and I struck him, for which I was put in the dark cell forty-eight hours. At last came my trial. The court appointed counsel for me, for I had no money to fee a lawyer, and my New York friend was on hand to advise and assist. I lad witnesses to show the length of time that had elapsed since my separation from my first wife, and we also raised the point as to whether the justice who married me, was really a legal justice of the peace or not. The trial occupied two days. I suppose all prisoners think so, but the Judge charged against me in every point; the jury was out two hours, and then came in for advice on a doubtful question; the judge gave them another blast against me, and an hour after they came in with a verdict of "guilty." I went back to jail and two days afterwards was brought up for sentence which was—"ten years at hard labor in the State prison at Trenton."
Good heavens! All this for being courted and won by a widow!
The day following, I was taken in irons to Trenton. The Warden of the prison, who wanted to console me, said that, for the offence, my sentence was an awful one, and that he didn't believe I would be obliged to serve out half of it. As I felt then, I did not believe I should live out one-third of it. After I had gone through the routine of questions, and had been put in the prison uniform, a cap was drawn down over my face, as if I was about to be hung, and I was led, thus blind-folded, around and around, evidently to confuse me, with regard to the interior of the prison—in case I might ever have any idea of breaking out. At last I was brought to a cell door and the cap was taken off. There were, properly no "cells" in this prison—at least I never saw any; but good sized rooms for two prisoners, not only to live in but to work in. I found myself in a room with a man who was weaving carpets, and I was at once instructed in the art of winding yarn on bobbins for him—in fact, I was to be his "bobbin-boy."