Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

February 13, 2014

'A Tale of Horror!'

Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Feb. 12, 1814

Compiled, with comments

Child murder

New-London, Jan. 26. Three weeks since we heard of the following murder...but so great was our reluctance to give publicity to a tale of such enormity... that we have heretofore deferred publishing it. The following letter is from of [a] gentleman of our acquaintance, whose veracity is unquestionable. Other attendant circumstances have come to our knowledge equally monstrous, but sufficient is stated to harrow up the feelings of the human reader.

Letter from a gentleman in South Kingston, R.I. dated Jan. 4, 1814 ....

On the morning of the 26th December, Wm. C. Brown, son of Peleg Brown, called on a little girl who lived with him, who was between four and five years of age, to read her alphabet—that she read it through the first time pretty correctly, and that Brown then ordered her to read it over again, which she did as far as the letter P, which she could not or would not speak.

Upon which he went out and cut two alder sticks, which he whipt her with until they were unfit for his horrid purpose—that he then took a stick designed for a candle rod, which he also beat her with until worn up, or nearly so, and that after this a large stick was put into his hand by his wife, which he beat her with still longer—

That in the intervals of whipping her, and after he had desisted, he held her naked body to the fire, and literally roasted her—so that the skin on her back was found crisped ... and ... held her ear in his teeth for a whole hour, which he chewed and lacerated to pieces ...

The child expired in about 15 minutes after the last whipping and burning ...

COMMENT: William Coggeshall Brown (1792-1876) was sentenced to 6 years in jail and a fine of $2,000, for the crime, which was widely publicized. Despite his crime his wife Sally stuck by him and bore him 12 children of his own.

To Cooperstonians, this crime would have reminded them of the murder of Betsey Van Ambergh, who was beaten and tied up outside in January 1805 by her adoptive father Stephen Arnold for not pronouncing the word “gig” properly. She also died, and Arnold was sentenced to death for murder, but it was later commuted to life imprisonment. In 1806 Arnold was brought out of jail to witness a total eclipse of the sun (the only one ever to be seen in Cooperstown). Young James Fenimore Cooper witnessed the event and was much moved by it—eclipses would remain an important factor in his later writings.

Secession of Massachusetts?

At the late federal legislative caucus in this town, it is said a motion was made for introducing a resolution into the legislature to the following effect:

That thirty thousand men be immediately raised by the state of Massachusetts;

That two million dollars be appropriated for their pay and subsistence;

That new customs houses be immediately established;

And that vessels be cleared out in opposition to the embargo!!

In fewer words, that Massachusetts should seceded from the Union, and take up arms to oppose the National government; thus bringing upon the country all the horrors and calamities of a civil war ... Boston Patriot

COMMENT: Efforts by New Englanders to bring an end to the War of 1812, if necessary by leaving the Union, were growing.

Treason in New York?

Judge Ford, of Ogdensburgh, has been arrested on a charge of high treason, predicated upon the affidavits of two British deserters. Judge Livingston, who issued the warrant for his arrest, has admitted him to bail.

COMMENT: Judge Nathan Ford (1763-1829) was the founder of Ogdensburg, in Northern New York State on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence River, and with merchant David Parish (1778-1826), did his best to keep that town neutral in the War of 1812. When the British attacked the town in 1813, they burned all its buildings except those belonging to Ford and Parish, and Parish later bribed President Madison into keeping the town “neutral,” thus allowing it to engage in open smuggling of supplies to the British across the river. Though arrested for treason, Judge Ford was never prosecuted or convicted.

New York Refugee Relief

New York Senate—Feb. 1, 1814 ... Be it enacted...that the treasurer pay...the sum of fifty thousand dollars, to Joseph Elliot, Batavia, William Wadsworth, Geneseo, and Daniel Davis, Caledonia; who shall pay forty thousand dollars of the sum to the overseers of the poor of the towns of Harland, Porter, Cambria, Schlosser and Buffalo.... [for] the relief of the inhabitants of their respective towns who have lately suffered by the incursion of an allied British and Indian force ... according to their immediate and present necessities and sufferings ...

And be it further enacted, That [they] pay the sum of five thousand dollars to the Tuscarora nation of Indians, to afford them some present relief from their distresses and sufferings, occasioned by... the burning of a part of their village, and the plunder of their property.

And be it further enacted, That [they] apply such sums, not exceeding five thousand dollars ... for the relief of such Canadians as have taken refuge into this state in consequence of their attachment to the United States, and are, or may be, in necessitous circumstances.


I TAKE this method to inform those indebted to me that I am determined to collect what is due me without delay.—Any kind of grain will be taken in payment.

A good assortment of HATS on hand, which I will sell as cheap as ever for cash, grain or good notes. R. WORTHINGTON. Cooperstown, Jan. 30, 1814.

COMMENT: The Worthington House, built in 1802 by Ralph Worthington (1778-1828), still stands (somewhat enlarged) at 13 Main St., Cooperstown.