The Otsego Herald for July 5, 1819, compiled, with comments:

In Middlefield

A man by the name of WILLIAM BURGIN. living in Middlefield, was found dead, near the house of George Boid, Esq. on Wednesday morning last. His left arm (being strongly girt with a garter) had three deep wounds cut in it, from which he had undoubtedly bled to death — and the coroner’s inquest gave their verdict accordingly.

It appears he had previously applied to Esq. Boid, one of the poor-masters, for assistance from the town — which being refused, he threatened to leave his blood on Boid’s door-steps, before another day; which threat he literally executed, as blood was found on Wednesday morning, and his body a short distance off, lying across the path.

He was 70 years of age, and has left a wife and children.

COMMENT: Before county poor-houses were established, beginning in 1824, three methods were used for the relief of the poor: 1) overseers of the poor might be established by local governments, who used public funds to care for the poor; 2) local governments might auction off the poor — the lowest bidder undertaking to look after a poor person for, say, a year, and be entitled to the pauper’s labor during that time. Abuse of the system was frequent; or 3) someone might contract to look after all the poor of a neighborhood.

Although the law establishing a potential county poorhouse system was passed in 1824, many New York counties (including Otsego County) were exempt from its provisions until they chose to adopt them. I have not yet discovered when Otsego County joined the system.

Death of escaped criminals

The bodies of two criminals, who made their escape from the Steam boat, on their way to the state prison in New York, were found seven or eight days afterwards, in the river, one at St. Anthony’s Nose, and the other two miles below. Their names were Henry Dorset, and James M’Cabe.

COMMENT: The Brooklyn Long Island Star of June 30, 1819, also carried the story, identifying them as Henry Dorsett and James McCabe.

Boy drowned in Lake Otsego

On Wednesday last, BENJAMIN P. DAY, only son of Mr. Israel Day, of this village, aged 8 years, was unfortunately drowned by falling out of a boat, on the lake. He, with two other boys, entered the boat, probably for the purpose of paddling around the shore, but being driven out by the wind, in their exertions to regain the shore, he fell overboard.

His body was taken out in about twenty minutes after he sunk; but every effort to resuscitate him, proved unavailing. His remains were interred on Thursday.


Married — in Westford, on the 27th June by Elder Benjamin Sawin, Mr. NATHANIEL TUTTLE, to Miss ANNA GUY, both of that place.

COMMENT: Benjamin Sawin served as Baptist pastor in Westford from 1808 to 1833.


Died — in Hartwick, on the 27th June RACHEL-ANN SPRAGUE, daughter of Maj. Joseph Sprague, aged 12 years.

Printers in Buffalo are requested to insert the above, for the information of relatives in their vicinity.

COMMENT: Major Joseph Sprague (1771-1836) had lost another daughter, May Day Sprague (1809-1815), then aged 6.

Arbuthnot and Ambrister

In the British House of Lords, on the 11th May last, the Marquis of Lansdown (called) for copies of all communications between the government of the United States and his Majesty’s government, relative to the proceedings which took place on the invasion of the Floridas by the troops of the U. States, in 1818, and more particularly with reference to the trial, condemnation and execution of British subjects.

This motion was prefaced by a most pointed condemnation of the course pursued by Gen.(Andrew) Jackson in the case of Arbuthnot and Ambrister.

After considerable debate ... the motion was negatived without a division, and the house adjourned. — Albany Argus.

COMMENT: Robert Chrystie Ambrister (1797–1818), from the Bahamas, had served in the British Marines and then in Spanish Florida in the British Corps of Colonial Marines. Alexander George Abuthnot (1748-1818) was a Scottish merchant who had been in Spanish Florida since 1803.

Andrew Jackson’s execution on April 29, 1818 of Arbuthnot, Ambrister, and at least two prominent Creek-Seminole leaders — Josiah Francis and Hoemotchernucho — was seen by many as an act of barbarity violating the conventions of warfare, although Jackson said they had been “legally convicted as exciters of this savage and negro war; legally condemned, and most justly punished.”

Andrew Jackson’s execution in this case was used against him, even after he became president.


The subscriber’s Machines are now in operation. Those who favor him with their custom, may depend on having their work well done, and on the shortest notice.

All kinds of Country Produce taken in payment, and one year’s credit given.

THOMAS SHANKLAND – June 7, 1819.

COMMENT: Carding was an essential part of cloth production, and is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibers to produce a continuous web suitable for subsequent processing. Carding machines were often the first introduced in new settlements, where making clothes was so important.

Thomas Shankland (1764-1823) was born in Cherry Valley. About 1796, he married Rachel Tourneur (1776-1826), and he died in Cooperstown. By accepting “country produce” he meant all kinds of rural products, and he would give a year’s credit.

Recommended for you