From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Oct. 17, 1812

Compiled, with comments


Weather: Utica 1812 Almanack: It may be some flurries of snow.


John Bowman, a youth of 11 years, was convicted at the late court of Oyer and Terminer in Herkimer co. of the murder of Eliza White, a child of 4 years of age, and sentenced to be executed on the 4th of Dec. next.

COMMENT: The murder took place early in July, 1811, and the following details were furnished by the July 13, 1811 issue of the New York Lady’s Miscellany:

“On Thursday last John Bowman, a boy of about eleven years old, living with Mr. James White murdered Ann Eliza White (daughter of Mr. White) aged four years. The lad decoyed the child to the bank of the river, where he procured himself a club, beat her on the head till her skull was broken, and her face lacerated in a most shocking manner; after killing her, to conceal the body, he hove it into the river, and then deliberately went to the house and eat his dinner. When the child was missed he declined knowing where she was. The body was found after being in the water about four hours.”

A coroner’s jury charged Bowman with willful murder and he was sent to the Herkimer County jail. According to other accounts he was between 9 and 10 years old when the crime was committed. At the request of Judge Smith Thompson, who had tried the case, his death sentence was in November 1812 commuted to life imprisonment by the State Legislature. Bowman was taken to a prison on Blackwell’s Island in New York City, where he was still incarcerated in 1820. Nobody seems to know what happened to him after that.


of the war@Body Copy Ragged:

AMERICA did not begin the war against ENGLAND — but ENGLAND began it against AMERICA. She had seized by official accounts, more than 6 thousand American Seamen — she had captured nearly one thousand American vessels, and cargoes! — she had infested our coasts, & murdered our citizens — she had by her allies [i.e., Indians], invaded our country, & slaughtered men, women and children — and committed many other acts of hostility — before war was declared against her!

Britain began the war and carried it on for years, before America authorized or committed a single hostile act! She has forced our government to draw the sword — and there is now no alternative but resistance or submission — independence or subjugation — liberty or slavery! — AMERICANS, which do you prefer? — True American

COMMENT: The accuracy of many of these accusations is open to question, but in wartime such matters are often overlooked.

Our gallant seamen

Commodore Rodgers, wishing to put to sea on the 4th (Oct.) in quest of a British frigate said to be on the coast, requested of Capt. Hull the loan of 60 men. Capt. Hull read to his men the commodore’s note, when the word “volunteer” resounded through the ship, every man offering his service; and in 30 minutes the number desired were on their way with their baggage.

Sixty more from the frigate United States volunteered to go out in the Congress; but the wind prevented them from putting to sea.

COMMENT: Commodore John Rodgers (1772-1838) commanded the U.S. Frigate President during most of the War of 1812. Captain Isaac Hull (1773-1843) was commander of the U.S. Frigate Constitution.

Tornado in New Orleans

On the 19th and 20th of August, a tremendous hurricane was experienced at New Orleans, which lasted with dreadful severity for four hours. Most of the houses were unroofed; and the shipping in the harbor driven ashore and sunk. [Long list of ships driven ashore, sunk, or otherwise damaged], and all the river craft, barges, market boats, &c. crushed to atoms. It is to be feared, the sugar crop will be mostly lost. —  N.Y. Spectator.

Otsego volunteers

In the county of Otsego, in this state, four companies of exempts are organized. They have volunteered their services and hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment’s warning. 

COMMENT: “Exempt” presumably means exempt for one reason or another from Militia duty.

State trial

Last week came on, at the circuit court in Johnstown, County of Montgomery, the trial of an indictment against SOLOMON SOUTHWICK, Esq. for an aledged attempt to bribe ALEXANDER SHELDON, Esq. (late Speaker of the House of Assembly of this state) to vote for, or support, the Bank of America, at the last session of the Legislature.

We are happy to learn that Mr. Southwick was acquitted. The testimony, on the part of the prosecution, was so feeble that the jury expressed a wish to give their verdict without leaving the jury box.... [Their] verdict of NOT GUILTY...was received with the strongest demonstrations of joy and satisfaction by a crowd of spectators who had assembled at the court house to hear the trial. — Troy Registry.

A new species of ducking

On Saturday a substitute for a soldier in one of the camps near this city, being detected in pilfering ducks, had a dead duck slung about his neck labelled “this I stole from a fellow-citizen,” and was paraded in front of the regiment in that plight all day — by which time no doubt he thought he had “brought his duck to a fine market.” — Columbian.

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