Editor’s note: After a hiatus, Mr. MacDougall has decided to resume this column. We welcome him back.

The Otsego Herald for June 7, 1819, compiled, with comments:

Their behavior today

Observation — personal observation, does more in an hour, than reading can do in a month.

I called about 11 o’clock a few mornings since to see an old friend — and, as with an old friend, ceremony as to hours, is unnecessary. I found the breakfast table still in the middle of the floor, covered with crusts of bread and remnants of a previous meal — the young ladies had not left their pillows, having been up late the preceding night at a ball.

In a few minutes they entered, dressed en negligee; their hair in papers or papilottes, and their eyes shedding dim lustre, their wrappers not of pure Castilian whiteness, and their kid slippers curved at the heels — they looked like roses beat down by a heavy shower.

They dropped a half reluctant courtesy, and then slid to a chair, sipped a cup of cloudy coffee and cold toast — talked of Mrs. Jasmine’s pretty head dress, the cut of Bobby Pendragon’s new coat, Mr. Phillipps’ “Soldier’s Bride;” and then enquired, with a languishing drawl, whether there was a “Croaker” in last evening’s Post. ...

Young ladies do not think it proper that their fathers should govern their toilet, regulate their dress, and manage their time — but it is his duty to do it, if the mother neglects it. ... HOWARD.

COMMENT: Papilottes are small pieces of paper on which women roll up their hair to make it curl. “The Soldier’s Bride” was an Irish melody arranged and famously sung by Thomas Phillipps (1774-1841). This much longer article was continued through a number of issues of The Otsego Herald, and may have been copied from “Letters to Young Ladies” by Lydia Howard Sigourney (1791-1818).

Revolutionary cannon ball

At a saw mill one mile east of Chadd’s ford across the Brandywine, and about the middle of last March, a man was sawing a large poplar log, he was surprised at hearing the saw strike against something very unusual, that obliged him to stop the (saw) mill; upon examination it proved to be a cannon ball of four pounds weight, completely grown over so as to leave no mark.

It appears evident from every circumstance, that this ball was discharged from the American battery on the day of the battle of Brandywine, Sept. 11, 1777, as the tree in which it was found grew just back of the ground where the British soldiers were encamped.

From that time to the present is more than 41 years that it has lain perfectly harmless, though we cannot say what damage it may have done in the passage from the gun to the tree.

COMMENT: The British force of some 15,000 under Sir William Howe defeated a slightly smaller force under George Washington and forced the Americans to retreat northeast toward the American capital of Philadelphia, which the British captured on Sept. 26, and held it for eight months. — Delaware Federalist, May 26.

Duke breaks arm

Windsor Castle, April 13.

His royal highness the Duke of York has, by a fall about four o’clock yesterday afternoon, broken the bone of his right arm about 3 inches above the elbow joint; the fracture was set very soon after the accident, by Jr. O’Reilly; of Windsor.

COMMENT: Frederick Augustus, Duke of York (England) and Albany (Scotland) (1763-1827) was the second son of King George III and Queen Charlotte. It is said that “he was the favourite of his father, and the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) was devotedly attached to him. His kindly manners, generous disposition, and handsome face made him popular in society.”

The Mahmoudiyah Canal

The grand canal which is now making in Egypt from the river Nile to Alexandria is stated to be nearly complete; and at this time upwards of 40,000 men are employed in it.

COMMENT: This canal was begun in 1817 and was completed in 1820. It was later filled with sand, but was eventually re-dug in about 1850. A previous canal had been built by Ptolemy I (1304-1369).

Letter stealing

Philadelphia, June 2d.

An attempt was made last night to steal letters from the window of the post office, by inserting in the opening to the letter box a piece of pasteboard, doubled and attached to strings at the edges, so as to be drawn out when filled with letters.

In the endeavour to draw it out, it caught inside, in consequence of an effort to guard against such attempts; the string broke, and it was discovered this morning, inside the box. A similar attempt was made at the window of this post office about a year since.

It would be well for the public to attend to the caution of waiting when their letters are put in at night, till they hear them drop. Measures will be taken to detect the perpetrators of these criminal attempts; and any information on the subject will be diligently attended to at the post office.


COMMENT: Richard Franklin Bache Jr. (1784-1848), served as postmaster of Philadelphia from about 1815 to 1827. His father, Richard Bache Sr., a son-in-law of Benjamin Franklin, had served as Philadelphia postmaster from 1776-1782.

In 1832 he abandoned his family and moved to Texas, where he filled a number of important political positions in the Republic of Texas. In 1845, now living in Galveston, Texas, he was a member of the Texas Annexation Convention (he opposed it), and helped draft the Texas Constitution and, following Texas’ joining the Union, served two terms as a senator in the Texas State Legislature.