To search for a particular subject term, click on the highlighted link containing that term at the bottom of the article. For example, if you are seeking more articles about animals, click on the highlighted link which says Animals/Reptiles/Amphibians.
Gazette & Courier - Monday, September 20, 1875
Heath - Messrs.Editors: The death of our most aged mother and much beloved neighbor and friend, Mrs. Martha Spooner, widow of the late Philip Spooner, who died at her home in Heath with her son Deacon N.W. Spooner Aug. 21, aged 96 years, she being the oldest person in town - is deemed worthy of something more than a passing notice.
For more than 60 years the deceased was a resident of this town. Left in early life with a large family of children, almost entirely dependent on her labor for support, she neverthless maintained them in comfort and respectability, early training them to habitual industry, temperance and frugality, teaching them to reverence the Sabbath and be guided by the principles and precepts of God's word...
Gazette & Courier - Monday, September 20, 1875
The Coleraine Murder
The Coleraine Murder - As briefly stated in our last issue, Daniel Dwight, supposed to be one of the murderers of Joseph R. Farnsworth, was arrested Sat. night at the door of his father’s house on Catamount Hill, Coleraine, where he had come 5 days after the murder. There were 6 men, under Deputy Sheriff John Gould, stationed around the house, and between 10 and 11 o’clock, they saw a man coming up the road, which proved to be young Dwight.
They allowed him to approach near the house, when a signal was given, and they stepped from their hiding places. Dwight ran around the house in the direction of the barn, but he was then surrounded and forced to surrender. When taken into the house before his father, he fainted.
Dwight was confined in the lock-up at Shelburne Falls, and on Mon., Trial Justice Brainard of Greenfield held a court at the office of H.M.Puffer, Esq., and had the young man brought before him. A large gathering of people were in attendance, and among them Dwight’s wife, father and mother.
He pleaded not guilty, and the magistrate, without having a hearing of evidence, arraigned him on the charge of murder and continued the case to Mon. the 17th. Officers Swan and Gould then brought the prisoner to Greenfield,where he is now confined in jail. Dwight appears quite calm and is not disposed to talk much about the affair. He accounts for his absence and his whereabouts during the 4 days as follows:
"I had some trouble with my wife on Tues. aft., which had ended by my saying I was going off, and her replying that she hoped I would, and what was more, that I would stay away. She then started to go to father’s house, which is only a short distance from mine, and I started for a pasture where some of father’s cattle were grazing.
On the way I met Herbert Davenport, and together we went to Farnsworth’s house, and afterward went down the lane to the road leading to Shelburne Falls. Herbert wanted a cane, so we stopped and cut one, I bending the tree over while he cut it; but he did not carry it long before he threw it away.
From there we went through the fields directly to my house, where I changed my clothes and gave a suit to Herbert, as his were all patched and dirty. We left home about 5 o’clock, and went down the mountain to Heath, and then through Hartwellville down to North Adams, getting there on Wed. aft.
We walked all Tues. night.Wed. night we slept on the hills near North Adams, and on Thurs. morning, after staying a while in North Adams, we walked to Pownal on the railroad track. At Pownal we got on board a train which was returning with the firemen from the muster at North Adams that day.
At Petersburg Junction Herbert got left with some Salem, N.Y. firemen, because the train started so quick, and I could not get off, it was going so fast. That night I stopped at Greenwich, N.Y. and registered my name in the hotel book in full - Daniel J. Dwight, Coleraine, Mass. I remained there that night, but had nothing to eat, as I only had money enough to pay for my lodging.
[For more information on this area, see the Internet Archive’s "Williamstown, the Berkshire Hills, and thereabout"]
The next day I walked to Troy. I did not remain there long because I was hungry and sick, and thought I would go right home and go to work for father, and let my wife do as she chose. Coming back I got a ride part of the way on a freight train, and got to N. Adams Sat. aft.,and walked to central shaft in the tunnel, and from there I rode to the east end on the workmen’s train and walked to Zoar, where they let me ride on a hand car to Charlemont. From there I rode with a Mr.Wells as far as his house, and then went across the fields home".
A portion of Dwight’s story has proved to be true. Bradley Davenport and Wesley Woodard, sent to Petersburg Junction, sent back that two men answering the description of Dwight and Davenport had been there. At Greenwich, N.Y., Dwight’s name was found registered in full, as he had said, and there is nothing to show that Davenport was with him at the time.
The Davenport boy arrested - Search was continued for Davenport and finally he was tracked to Williamstown, and Thurs. aft. was found there by a Mr. White. He made no efforts to escape, but on the other hand seemed glad to give himself up.
He was brought through the tunnel to Shelburne Falls Fri. morning, and Trial Justice Brainard of Greenfield held a preliminary trial, arraigned him for murder, and continued the trial until the 27th. The Davenport boy’s narrative is substantially the same as that given by Dwight, but he does not deny that they killed Farnsworth.
He says their only object was to obtain money, that he had no enmity or ill will towards the murdered man. He and Dwight had made up their minds to go West and hoped to get enough money from Farnsworth to pay their expenses, but he says they only got about $4.
There were 2 sticks cut, he says, a walnut and a maple. It was with the latter that Farnsworth was knocked down. He says that he did not do the striking, though he was there. After he was left at Petersburg Junction, he wandered from place to place, working for something to eat when he could get employment, and was endeavoring to get back home.
Davenport is not of ordinary intelligence. He was dull at school, and has since been lazy and shiftless. Want of mental responsibility will be entered as a plea in his behalf. His mother says that he has always been a "strange boy". She has another son and a daughter who are bright, active and industrious.
Davenport was brought to Greenfield and lodged in jail on Fri. by Deputy Sheriff Swan. Both boys, who are allowed to be together when not locked in their cells, do not appear to be cast down or afflicted much with remorse. They will be brought before the Grand Jury at the November Court and if bills are found against them the trial will be before a special session of the Supreme Court.
Gazette & Courier - Monday, September 13, 1875
Shelburne Falls - Thurs. aft. a mad steer was driven through our village, but not till he knocked over two men, and turning a somersault which broke off one of his horns, was he safely secured in the slaughter house yard. John Reed of Heath raised the steer.
Gazette & Courier - Monday, September 13, 1875
Heath - We are called upon to record another fire in the town of Heath, of the barn of Henry Barker, which was burned about 9 o'clock on the night of Sept. 1., it being the 4th fire which we have had within the space of 2 years, with all its contents, consisting of some 23 tons of hay, some 75 bushels of barley and oats, 3 wagons, mowing machine, and all his farming tools.
It was with great difficulty that the house was saved, it being about 12 ft. from the corner of the barn, the wind being favorable, and the timely aid of the neighbors served in saving it. It caught fire several times upon the roof, but was extinguished before much damage was done. The house was cleared of most of its contents, and many things were somewhat injured in their haste to remove them.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but was without doubt set by tramps who were seen lurking about the premises the previous eve. Mr. Barker and family have our sincere sympathy, and hope that he may receive timely aid in this time of trouble. We appeal to the authorities, and ask what shall be done with tramps who are infesting our lands, burning our buildings, injuring our property, insulting our families, heaping insult upon insult upon all they meet?
We again ask, what shall be done with tramps? S.B.
Gazette & Courier - Monday, September 13, 1875
A man murdered in Coleraine
A man murdered in Coleraine - He is killed and robbed by two young ruffians - It is now 8 years since Simeon Peck killed Miss Cheney at Griswoldville, and Coleraine is again the scene of a tragedy, which in all its details has never had a parallel in the criminal annals of the County. The victim of this terrible crime is Joseph R. Farnsworth [i.e. Joseph Riley Farnsworth], known among his townsmen as "Riley", a quiet, inoffensive man, who dwelt with his wife and two children on his mother’s farm, on what is known as "Catamount Hill", some 2 miles and a half from Shelburne Falls.
The circumstances of the affair are these: On Tues. last Farnsworth, who served in the late war, went to Greenfield to be examined by a surgeon, as required, before making out an application for pension. He went back to Shelburne Falls on the train, and at the office of H.M. Puffer Esq., had his pension paper made out. When this business was finished, he started for home, getting a chance to ride with Levi Davenport, a neighbor.
They rode together until they came to the fork of two roads which led to the mountain. Farnsworth took the road up the ravine on the easterly side, while Davenport went the other way to his home. It had by this time begun to grow dark, and Farnsworth pushed along alone through a wood and came to a place where the road separates, a path leading up to Jack Woodard’s on the one hand and to his mother’s place on the other.
At this point someone steps suddenly from the cover of bushes by the roadside and, without a word of warning, strikes him a blow upon the forehead with a stick which prostrates him upon the ground. The blow is followed up with others or with kicks, until the man’s head is covered with ghastly wounds. He is then robbed of the few dollars which he had in his pocket book.
Farnsworth was not long wholly unconscious. Within half an hour he must have rallied sufficient strength to get upon his feet, and staggering and frequently falling, he made his way home, some one hundred rods distant, and which he reached by half past 7. He was able to tell his mother and a neighbor present a part of what had happened, and Dr. Canedy of Shelburne Falls was immediately sent for.
He arrived in the evening, but found the man so badly wounded there was little that could be done for him. Farnsworth could not tell who struck him, and becoming unconscious, he lingered until about 10 o’clock Wed. morning, when he died.
The news of the affair had by this time spread over the town, and efforts made to ascertain who were the perpetrators of the crime. Suspicion soon rested upon two young men who live in the vicinity, and who had not been seen since the murder. These were Daniel Dwight, a son of Josiah J. Dwight, and Herbert Davenport, a son of widow Roxana Davenport, and a nephew of the murdered man.
The former is 19 years of age and the latter 18, and both had borne a hard name among the people of the town. Going to the scene of the assault, a heavy print of a shoe was found, where the desperado stood when he gave the murderous blow, and a few feet in front was found the pool of blood which flowed from the wounds of his victim, and a bloody trail was made by Farnsworth as he rested and stumbled home.
Not far from his place a hickory stub was found where the stick, about an inch in diameter, had been cut; and in another direction the stick itself was discovered, which corresponded with the stub, and which had been thrown away after the assault. The stick, which is in the possession of one of the officers, was evidently cut by a left handed person. Dwight is known to be left handed.
It seems that the two boys had been to Farnsworth’s house the afternoon that he was away, borrowed fifty cents from his wife, all the money that she had - they agreeing to pay her back before the time of the county fair, when she wanted to spend it. They also took away a cheap watch which belonged to Farnsworth.
Before going to Greenfield Farnsworth had made known his errand to the neighbors, and the boys probably thought that he was going to bring home his pension money and so made their plans to waylay and rob him. But the money Farnsworth had on his person could not have exceeded 2 or 3 dollars. There had been ill feeling between the boys and Farnsworth before. He had not got along happily with his wife, being frequently jealous, it is thought by some, without cause, and the fellows had taken her part.
They have been heard to threaten him on her account. Dwight, who was married and lived with his wife in a house on his father’s farm, took away with him two suits of clothes, but young Davenport is not known to have carried away only such clothes as he happened to have on, and left behind a little money and a bank book.
Wed. aft. upwards of 50 men were out scouring the woods of Coleraine, Whitingham and Heath, under Officers Henry A. Howard of Coleraine and Deputy Sheriff [?] S. Frost of Shelburne Falls, and the search by some of the party was kept up all night, but was fruitless. Dwight and Davenport are both familiar with the woods for miles around, having hunted and roamed over them together.
It was thought that perhaps the fugitives had gone in the direction of North Adams, and an officer was sent there Thurs. morning, while the general search was partly abandoned. Though the young ruffians may evade their pursuers for a while, it is hardly possible to make a successful escape. Their photographs and descriptions will be sent broadcast. The Selectmen have offered a reward of $500 for their recovery, and mean to bring them to justice.
As there is no coroner in the vicinity, S.D. Bardwell Esq. of Shelburne Falls, as a Justice of the Peace, summoned a jury to view the remains. The jury consists of Hezekiah Smith, C.W. Shattuck, A.A. Smith, Thomas D. Purrington, H.C. Millington and Russell J. Smith. They visited the scene of the murder Wed. aft., and will meet again today, when probably a verdict in accordance with the facts we have related will be rendered.
Farnsworth’s funeral took place Thurs. morning and was largely attended by the people of the town. Rev. Mr. Cole, the Methodist clergyman of Coleraine, conducted the services. Farnsworth leaves a boy of 9 and a girl of 7. His age was about 35, and his mother, with whom he lived, is about 75. The family, though poor and ignorant, were considered of average respectability. The mother of the Davenport boy has always opposed his keeping company with Dwight, who is generally supposed to have been the leader in the matter, but the two were together a great deal, and had become hardened and desperate.
A note received by J.B. Clark, one of the Selectmen of the town on Sat., stated that there was no trace then of the murderers, but that the watch supposed to have been stolen by one of the boys, was found, and was in his possession.
Latest - Intelligence from Shelburne Falls yesterday, states that Dwight was caught about half past 10 Sat. eve. Half a dozen men were laying in wait for him around his house, and he came home at that time and fell into their clutches. The whereabouts of Davenport is not known. Dwight was put into the lock-up at Shelburne Falls yesterday morning.
[A followup to this murder can be found on p. 371 of Google Books "Publications of the American Statistical Association", 1892 - 1893. There is also mention of the sentence on p. 5 of Google Books "Public Documents of Massachusetts", 1876].
The Rev. John C. Edgar will deliver a lecture in the Town Hall at Heath Center on Thurs at 7 o'clock. Subject, The Battle of Bala Clava [Battle of Balaclava] in which will be given a vivid description of the Charge of the Light Brigade which has been immortalized by Tennyson. Price of admission, 25 cents. Mr. Edgar has served 8 years in the Light Brigade...At the close of the lecture, the ladies of the Congregational Society will hold a peach festival, to which all are respectfully invited. The bill of fare will not only consist of peaches, but of the many good things which the ladies of Heath know full well how to prepare for such an occasion. Tickets 50 cents each.
[See Wikipedia for more information on the Battle].
Gazette & Courier - Monday, August 30, 1875
The third week of the superior court was continued at 4 o’clock p.m. Mon., at which time the arguments were made on the town case of Joel R. Davenport vs. the Inhabitants of Coleraine, The accident, as alleged by the plaintiff in this action, occurred on the highway in the town of Coleraine, near the house of Arthur A. Smith, in Feb. 1873. At the time named, the ground was covered by a heavy body of snow, and on the day of the alleged injury, was thawing. The plaintiff was drawing wood, and had on his sled at the time, 180 ft. of green wood - a very heavy load.
The plaintiff says he was sitting upon the load of wood, driving with due care, and by reason of a defect in the highway - which consisted of a deep "cradle hole", and also a sidling condition of the road - his load was overturned, falling upon and injuring him. To this the town replied that the plaintiff was not using due care, and in fact he did not receive the alleged injury claimed, in the manner as stated.
Two boys, who saw the occurrence, testified that the plaintiff stopped his team, and after examining the load, stepped upon the rave of the sled, and turned to the right and started up, upon which his load was overturned. To another party, who came up shortly after, the plaintiff stated that he was not hurt. The testimony of other witnesses, who examined the track of the runner in the snow, went to show that the boys’ story was true, and that the plaintiff was mistaken in keeping the road, and his getting off the hard track and his endeavor to drive back into it, occasioned the overturn.
The defense also argued that the plaintiff had no claim against the town, and never thought of such a thing himself for over a year after the accident; and in proof of this theory, they showed that the plaintiff said, some time ago, he should have to ask the town for pay for his sled stakes; and again, about a year after, he made a demand on the Selectmen for $100, for injury to his chest or side, while his claim now was for injury to his leg or hip.
The court ruled that unless the defect was the sole cause of the accident, the town was not liable. Verdict for the defendants. S.T. Field for pl’ff.; D. Aiken for defense.
Lyman J. Wait vs. Justin Thayer et al. - This action was brought to recover the payment of a promissory note held by the plaintiff of Greenfield, dated Nov. 1, 1872, for $1000, and signed by S.F. Warner, with the endorsement of Thayer, Sargent & Co. of Northampton. The real defendant, however, in the present action being Gen. Luke Lyman of the latter town, who, as well as Warner, composed the company of the endorsing firm...The whole case was narrowed to the single question of the circumstances under which the note was taken; it being conceded by all parties that the proceeds were used for Warner’s private benefit...Verdict for plaintiff, amount $1281.67...
Mary M. Hillman vs. the Inhabitants of Charlemont - This was an action of tort for injuries received on the highway leading from Heath Center, to what is known as the old center of the town of Charlemont, and occurred Aug. 14, 1874. The injury was received by the horse running away, and the plaintiff being thrown from the wagon, at a steep and rocky portion of the road. The injury in this case was real, the fact not being questioned by the town, and no evidence was needed of severity or permanency, the only fact to be tried was as to the liability of the town.
The plaintiff of course, made the usual allegations of want of repair or defects in the highway, and the due care used by her; while the defendants rested their case on the grounds - first, that the road was safe and convenient; second, want of due care; and third, loss of control and the vicious habits of the horse...The jury evidently came to the conclusion that the town was liable, and being liable, gave a verdict to the full amount asked. ..
The large damages given occasioned general surprise, however, from the fact that the plaintiff was understood to be willing to settle with the town before the trial for $1500. The amount will be quite an item in the future taxes of Charlemont, already very heavy (some 3%), while to these must be added a large sum on a new bridge for which the town is to pay. The present verdict is for $5000, to which heavy cost must also be added...
The following cases were disposed of without trial: Simon L. Shattuck et al. vs. John Haggerty - Judgment for plaintiff, amount $114. Frank T. Swan vs. Charles L. Sawyer et al. - Judgment on award of referees, for plaintiff; amount $1720. L. Johnson vs. Harding G. Woodard - Discontinued and settled out of court. Henry C. Willard et al. vs. Elijah Stratton - Judgment for plaintiff, amount $88. James Newton vs. Walter A. Lee - Judgment for plaintiff, amount $217.
Parker Wise et al. vs. David W. Goss - Judgment for plaintiff, amount $60. Solomon O. Poole vs. Solomon Poole - Discontinued and settled out of court. Mary Joslyn vs. William B. Templeton, app’t. - Discontinued and settled out of court. Hezekiah Andrews vs. George P. Stearns - Action dismissed. Rodney Hunt Machine Co. vs. Rodney Hunt et als. - Judgment on award of referee.
The case of Chandler A. Vincent vs. the Inhabitants of Rowe has been on trial during the last two days of the week, and will be given to the jury today. The action is one of contract, to recover for building a road in said town. The plaintiff claims that he took the piece of road to build, according to certain conditions as to time, etc.; that he performed his part of the contract and now wants his pay therefor. The town deny the claim, alleging that the conditions were not complied with, by which a good winter road was to be made by a certain date, and the same afterward completed for acceptance by another fixed date...
The contract was all oral, and it required a large number of witnesses to ascertain what it was, and whether it had been executed to the satisfaction of all people living in that vicinity. The only remaining cases are those of Edward A. Robbins vs. John T. Fitch et al.; and John Butterworth vs. S.W. Hall et al. and Trustee; but the trials to be had before the Judge will take the most of the week. The term will be the largest for years.
On Fri. July 9, a person traveling up Hawley road, in the vicinity of Mr. Mansfield, might have seen parties of 2, 3, and 5, stealing along behind bushes and fences in a very suspicious manner, each one bearing baskets or pails carefully covered. When all these groups of wayfarers had gathered under the trees above the brook they started for the house to take Mrs. Mansfield by storm. Mrs. Mansfield was born in Middleborough, Mass. July 9, 1788, so this was her 87th birthday, and her friends and neighbors had gathered to celebrate the event.
The dear old lady was taken completely by surprise. After the usual congratulations had been made and the people were comfortably seated in the parlor, Mrs. Mansfield began to relate some of her youthful experiences. She told of daring feats of horsemanship and hairbreadth escapes in dealing with fiery steeds. Mrs. Mansfield's guests then presented their birthday gifts. There were aprons, ties and bows, a dress and collar, oranges, lemons and figs, a bottle of blackberry wine, a bountiful supply of snuff, a book mark, and most noticeable of all, a large pincushion with a set of pins in the center and stars in the corners. I know not whether the maker intended the stars to have any particular significance or not, but they reminded me of the promise: "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever".
Mrs. Mansfield has been a communicant of the church for half a century, and has led a most lovely and consistent Christian life. Towards the end of the afternoon tables were set under the trees, but a shower coming up they were removed to the spacious dining room. The tables were loaded with an abundance of choice viands that kind friends had provided. The aged couple sat at the center of the long table, under a floral arch made by their grand-daughter, Miss Essie Sears.
Just before tea was announced, Dr. Trow of Buckland and a friend of his drove up, and by their presence added to the pleasure of the occasion. Over 40 persons partook in the feast. Dr. Trow made an eloquent speech, which, I regret to say, I am unable to repeat. He called to mind the many changes that the venerable couple had witnessed in the long life that God had allotted to them, and speaking of all the friends and companions of their youth having passed away, compared their present state to that of the few solitary trees scattered over the mountain side beyond the Charlemont fair grounds, where formerly a forest had stood [and stands again]. http://www.charlemon...SCHFairgrounds.shtml W.E. Mansfield then gracefully thanked the company in his parent's behalf. One of the no. present read the following: "Lines to a dear friend on her 87th birthday"...Quizzie.
The wife of D.M. Sprague, who has suffered many months with that dreaded disease, consumption, died July 6th at the age of 41 years. The bereaved family have the sympathy of the entire community. Felix.