Introduction of the excitement into Delaware county, 1844-Roxbury - First public meeting - Description of the costume worn by an Indian - Molest John B. Gould - Second attempt to enforce submission - Tar and feather H.More - Tar and feather T. Corbin - Sheriff's papers taken and destroyed - First equal rights' convention - Legislative proceedings-Passage of an act preventing persons appearing in disguise - Copy of the same - An act of D. W. Squires - Extract from a letter to the Adjutant General - Organization of an armed force by the sheriff-Steele in limbo at Andes - His defence - Letter to the sheriff - His release - Antipathy of anti-renters against Steele - His courage - Their threats-Shacksville battle - Particulars of the same -- Names of prisoners - Sale in Andes - Painful death of Steele - His last moments-Extract from the correspondence of the Albany Evening Journal - Funeral services - Indignation meetings at various places-Resolutions passed - Summerset of anti-rentism.
IN the early part of the summer of 1844, through the cooperation of some leading, anti-renters in Schoharie county, where the excitement had taken hold the preceding- year, the agitation was introduced into Delaware, first into the town of Roxbury. Before any publicity was given to the proceedings, the articles of association had received the signatures of something more than fifty voters of the town, most of whom had provided themselves "As knights of old, with coats of mail." Report, it is true, with her pliant tongue had diffused her thousand rumors of the characters, manners and customs of the pretended aborigines of the forest; an intense interest had been awakened to learn who, and the "why and wherefore" of the new party but like the celebrated know-nothings of the latter day, "they knew each other, knew others, but were not known." Soon, however, the excitement assumed a more public form, and the adherents of anti-rent principles became more bold in the confidence of their strengtb, and by the co-operation and adhesion of some of the leading and most prominent citizens of the town, a great majority of her population were eventually drawn within the meshes, of anti-rentism.
The first public proceeding on the part of the Indians in Roxbury was a meeting at the public house of Thomas Keater, a respectable citizen of the town, attended by a large concourse of citizens, and the elect in full uniform. The excitement carried with it a novel aspect, which presented itself particularly to the young and inexperienced. Many young, men of respectability and promise, entered the ranks, and embraced it ardently, but the great majority were those whose habits and reputation would hardly warrant so pleasing an encomium; who brought with them and incorporated an element in anti-rentism, which however high-toned and worthy of consideration the original aims of that organization might have been, was doomed to place a dark stain upon its future history, and defeat eventually its dearest interests.
A description of the costume worn by those who appellated themselves Indians, although appropriate here, yet nevertheless it would be a delicate task even for the pencil of the artist. The covering which concealed the head was usually of sheepskin, with apertures through which the wearer might discern what was going on in the world without-another corresponding to the mouth, and yet another for the accommodation of the nasal organ, through which he inhaled a portion of the aerial element necessary to support the human system. The exposed or outer surface of this mask was usually painted in divers shapes, to accord to the wearer's fancy as to making an impression, just as some men wear their hair long or short hair, curled and tastefully combed, or careless and unassuming. Some, even more given to the wonderful, went so far as to substitute the necessary appendages of some quadrupeds, and imagined themselves elevated above the generality of the human species, in the capacity of sporting a huge pair of horns or a horse's-tail.
A calico dress, furnished by the patriotism of the fair sex, and sometimes to the discomfiture and inconvenience of members of the family at home, through the scarcity of that commodity, encircled around the waist by a belt usually ornamented by a profusion of tassels and other fantastic ornaments, together with the implements of warfare, completes the cabinet of an artificial Indian.
During the summer of this year parties were frequently seen in disguise, and several peaceable citizens who had chanced to think differently from themselves, belonging to what was termed the up-rent, or law and order party, had been molested and severely threatened with rewards for their perverseness. The first open act of hostility was perpetrated on the sixth of July, upon the premises of Mr. John B. Gould, who, regardless of the threats and the timely warning of the association to desist from blowing his horn, had continued to use it as a signal to call his workmen to dinner. Upon the day in question, he had as usual blown his horn at noon, when five Indians, equipped and armed for fight, presented themselves at his door, and demanded redress for the insult he had given to the authority of the association. A spirited and angry discussion ensued, when they were compelled to retreat from the premises, to the tune of the "old king's arm and shell."
Smarting under their unwelcome defeat, a second company was dispatched the following Tuesday to enforce submission, and with instructions to seize the gun and horn, and if necessary mete out to Mr. Gould a salutary coat of tar and feathers. The sun had just arrived at the meridian, when a favorable opportunity presenting itself, the signal whoop was given, and the savage horde sprung from their hiding places, and with demonlike yells rushed up and surrounded Mr. Gould, who was standing with his little son in the open air in front of the house.
We were that son: and how bright a picture is still retained upon the memory, of the frightful appearance they presented as they surrounded that parent with fifteen guns poised within a few feet of his head, while the chief stood over him with fierce gesticulations, and sword drawn. 0, the agony of my youthful mind, as I expected every moment to behold him prostrated a lifeless corpse upon the ground. His doting care and parental love had endeared him to his family. But he stood his round firmly; he never yielded an inch. Conscious of right, he shrank from no sense of fear-and finally, when a few neighbors had gathered together, a second time they were driven from the premises without the accomplishment of their object. The Indians marched off the premises and down the road in single file. About three miles below they overtook and tar and feathered Hiram More. In September following, Timothy Corbin was tar and feathered at Daniel W. Squires, in the same town, on general training day, while assisting the sheriff, Greene More, Esq., in the service of some official papers. The sheriff's papers were also taken and destroyed.
The following is copied from "The voice of the People," a paper established at Delhi, as the organ of the new party. "On the first day of Oct., 1844, a little band of true patriots assembled in Bovina, at the house of James Seacord, and united in holding the first Equal Rights Convention ever assembled in Delaware county. At that convention, John Mc Donald, of Kortright, and George Thompson, of Andes, were nominated to the assembly." This ticket was defeated in the main, although one of the candidates, having been endorsed at the Delhi convention, was returned to the legislature.
Early in the session of the legislature of 1845, an act, entitled "An act to prevent persons appearing disguised and armed," passed rapidly through both houses of the legislature, and receiving the Support Of the Governor, became a law.- Hammond's Political History of New York.
The following is a copy of the act: The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:-
§ 1. Every person, who, having his face painted, discolored, covered, or concealed, or being otherwise disguised, in a manner calculated to prevent him from being identified, shall appear in any road or public highway, or in any field lot, wood or enclosure, may be pursued and arrested, in the manner hereinafter provided; and upon being brought before any judge or other officer, hereinafter designated, of the same county where he shall be arrested, and not giving, a good account of himself, shall be decreed a vagrant, within the Purview of the second title of chapter twenty, of the first part of the revised statutes; and on conviction, as provided in the said title, shall be committed to, and imprisoned in the county jail of the county where such person shall be found, for a term not exceeding six months; and all the magistrates authorized in and by the first section of the second title, in the second chapter of the fourth part of the Revised Statutes, to issue process for the apprehension if charged with any offence, are authorized and required to execute the powers and duties in relation to the offence created by this act, which are conferred and imposed on justices of the peace, by the said second title of chapter twenty, and all other powers and duties conferred and imposed by this act.
§ 2. Every sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, marshal of a city, or other public peace officer, or other citizen of the county where such person or persons shall be found disguised as aforesaid, may, of his own authority, and without process, arrest, secure, and convey to any such magistrate, residing in the county where such arrest shall be made, any person who shall be found having his face painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or being otherwise disguised as aforesaid, to be examined and proceeded against, in the manner prescribed in the said second title of chapter twenty; and it shall be the duty of any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, marshal, or other peace officer, whenever any of them shall discover any person with his face so painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or being otherwise disguised as aforesaid, immediately to arrest, secure and convey, such person to any such magistrate, to be proceeded with according to law; and whenever any such officer shall receive credible information of any person having his face so painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or being otherwise disguised as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of every such officer forthwith to pursue such person, and arrest, secure and convey him to any such magistrate.
§ 3. In the execution of the duties prescribed in the last foregoing section, any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, marshal, or other peace officer, shall be authorized to command any male inhabitant of his county, or as many as he shall think proper, to assist him in seizing, arresting, confining and conveying to any such magistrate and committing to the common jail of the county, every person with his face so painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or being otherwise disguised as aforesaid, and any inhabitant so commanded, may be provided or provide himself with such means and weapons as the officer giving such command shall designate.
§ 4. Every person so commanded, as provided in the last preceding section, who shall refuse or neglect, without lawful cause, to obey such command, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and be subject to a fine not exceeding, two hundred and fifty dollars, or to imprisonment not exceeding one year, or to both.
§ 5. Any magistrate to whom complaint shall be made, that any person has appeared in a public highway, or in any lot, field, wood or enclosure, with his face so painted, discolored, covered, or concealed, or being otherwise disguised as aforesaid, may in his discretion, by warrant under his hand, dispute and empower any elector of the county, to arrest, seize, confine, and bring such person before such magistrate, to answer such complaint. And in any such warrant, or in any other warrant, or process against any person charged with having his face so painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or being, otherwise disguised, as aforesaid, whose name shall not be known, it shall be sufficient to describe the offender by some fictitious name.
§ 6. Every assemblage in public houses, or other places, of three or more persons disguised as aforesaid, is hereby declared to be unlawful; and every individual so disguised present thereat, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction be punished with imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding one year.
§ 7. Every person convicted upon any indictment for a conspiracy, or upon any indictment for a riot, or for any other misdemeanor, in which the offence shall be charged to have been committed by such person, while armed with a sword, dirk, fire-arms, or other offensive weapons, and while having his face so painted, discolored, covered or concealed, or having his person so disguised as aforesaid, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, for a term not exceeding one year, or by fine, in a sum not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the State prison for two years, in the discretion of the court before whom such conviction shall be had.
This act shall take effect immediately.-Passed Jan.. 25, 1845.
Several charges having been prepared against D. W. Squires of Roxbury, and the grand jury having found an indictment, an order for his arrest was placed in the hands of the under sheriff, Osman N. Steele, who repaired to that town on eleventh of February, and in conformity with the third section of the above act, warned out a sufficient number of persons to co-operate with him in the performance of his duty. The party arrived at, and surrounded the house in the middle of the night, when the inmates were supposed to have been in the strong, embrace of sleep. But contrary to the expectation of the officer of the law, their approach had been suspected. An entrance was forced, and after considerable search Squires was found concealed between the two ticks of the bed in which his wife and mother were sleeping, and taken into custody.
The following extract from a letter dated Delhi, February 12, 1845, to the adjutant general, thus refers to the arrival of the party at that place the following day after the arrest.
"About 10 o'clock this morning, our under sheriff brought to jail Daniel W. Squires, of the town of Roxbury, in this county. It was said that Squires was engaged in the tarring, of Mr. Corbin last summer, and in forcibly taking the papers of Sheriff More at the same time.
"During the day, many of the citizens of this village have volunteered their services to aid the sheriff in the discharge of his duties, and have placed themselves under his command. A guard of twenty men was selected to defend the village and jail, inasmuch as many threats have been made, that if any 'Indian' should be placed in our jail, he would not remain there twenty-four hours."
The day following the same correspondent again writes:
"There has been considerable excitement to day amongst our quiet people, in consequence of Captain North's company of volunteers having received orders, from the sheriff of Delaware county, to repair immediately to Delhi, and hold themselves in readiness to obey orders. The order was read this morning, and at this time (2 P.M.) about forty are here. The companies from Franklin, Meredith, and Walton, have been called upon, and are on the ground. There has been no serious difficulty in Delaware county as yet. Big Thunder, alias Mr. Squires, was arrested yesterday by force. The anti-renters have made serious threats, and the sheriff is afraid he cannot do his duty, (namely, serving process and making some arrests,) without this extra force.
"It is said that the companies from the above-named places, are the only ones in Delaware county, but what the disaffected have a-majority in."
It had been reasonably hoped that the prompt and efficient action of the sheriff and his assistants, in conjunction with the timely action of the legislature, by the passage of the preceding act, would completely annihilate all further spirit of revolt, and that those who had been thoughtless enough to convoke themselves in open violation of the established principles of law, 'Would become convinced of the error into which they had fallen, and return again peaceably to the quiet occupation of their homes. And it seemed for a time that these hopes had been realized, but that period proved to be of short duration, and the quiet and heretofore peaceful county was destined yet again to become disturbed by the angry spirit of discontent, and the character of its citizens be sustained by the perpetration of still darker scenes.
Nothing further worthy of note occurred until the eleventh of March, when the excitement again broke forth, as will be gathered by the following, letter from a prominent citizen of the county to the editor of the Albany Evening Journal.
"Delhi, March 11, 1845."
"Dear Sir-I write hastily amongst a crowd to inform you of the state of affairs here. The following copy of a letter just received from O. N. Steele, a deputy sheriff, now held in duress at Andes, a village about ten miles from this place, will explain itself'-"
"Andes, March II.
TO THE SHERIFF: SIR,-We left Andes yesterday about five o'clock, for Delhi, but were stopped on the road, and, compelled to return to this place. We are now at Hunting's. The house is now surrounded by men in disguise, about one hundred strong. They intend, as near as I can ascertain, to take my papers, tar and feather me, and pass me over to the Middletown tribe. I shall never be able to reach home unless you come over with all the force you can raise. Let every man come armed, and determined to do his duty or die on the spot. Lose no time, but get here as soon as possible."
"Yours, 0. W. STEELE."
"9 o'clock, A.M."
"The messenger whom Steele fortunately obtained to bring his letter with all possible speed, informed me that he left Steele, with Charles Parker, another officer whom the anti-renters have taken, in a small garret in the house, into which they had been driven, retaining possession of the pistols with which they were armed. This outrage is in consequence of Steele's having lately arrested Squires on a bench warrant. The sheriff, immediately on the receipt of the letter, commenced summoning a party to go in pursuit of the rioters. Every man in the village who can procure arms, will leave within half an hour. I have no time to describe the outrages that are daily committed. The country is in a state of actual rebellion." Yours &c."
The receipt of this intelligence completely electrified the entire village, and although the-travelling under foot was exceedingly muddy, in an incredibly short time the posse were on their march from Delhi to Andes. It was a motley group of lawyers, physicians, merchants, tradesmen, mechanics, and citizens-some on horseback-some on foot, and all armed with warlike weapons of some kind,
The Indians, however becoming aware of the approach of so formidable a foe, dispersed and fled upon their approach, leaving Steele and Edgerton masters of the field.
The Indians had cherished a strong antipathy against Steele, as may be inferred from the above correspondence, in consequence of his having been chiefly instrumental in the arrest of Squires on a bench-warrant, the preceding February. He was well known too, to be a fearless and faithful officer-ever ready and obedient in the performance of his duties, regardless of smiles or frowns. His life had been repeatedly threatened, yet filled with the firm conviction of right, He taunted at their imprecations, and told them that they were disobeying the laws, and as the reward of that disobedience, the claims of justice would sooner or later overtake them. How well his own prophetic words were verified, and how well the dire threats of his life so often thrown in his face were executed will more fully appear in the progress of the narrative.
A few days after Steele had been in limbo at Andes, he was dispatched upon a second expedition to Roxbury, for the account of which, the author is indebted to the following correspondence of the Albany Argus:
"DeIhi, March 15, 1845, 10 o'clock P. M.
"DEAR SIR,-Yesterday morning, being the day after the return of the sheriff's posse from Kortright, another posse of about eighty mounted men, in two detachments, under the command of deputy sheriff Osman N. Steele, and Erastus S. Edgerton, started from Delhi for Roxbury, by different routes, for the purpose of making arrests. As that town is the most turbulent part of the anti-rent district, where large numbers of disguised men are frequently collected, and as the roads are exceedingly bad, some anxiety has been felt to-day as to the success of the expedition.
"The party has just entered the village with twelve Indians whom they have taken prisoners, disguised and armed.
"The particulars of the skirmish, which showed skill and intrepidity on the part of the officers and men, I cannot at present fully relate. After they had last evening arrested Preston on a bench-warrant, the blowing of horns, and other movements in the neighborhood, announced great preparations for an attempt to rescue the prisoner, who was strictly guarded during the night.
"In the morning, after some reconnoitring a party of about one hundred and thirty Indians, well armed, were discovered, and immediately charged upon by Steele and Edgerton, and about forty of the mounted men, and they fled to the woods. During the skirmish, there was some firing by the Indians, one of whose shots narrowly missed E. S. Edgerton, who grappled the Indian, and disarmed him of his pistols, which were found loaded with balls. Officer Steele also closed in with another Indian, who was armed to the teeth, and on stripping off his sheepskin mask, found he had captured a constable and collector of Roxbury. The eight Indians, with the prisoner apprehended on the bench-warrant in Roxbury, and four others taken at Bloomville, on their return, are now lodged in jail. The sheriff is now at the court house, detaching men to guard the jail and the village during the night. At the same time horns are blowing, and guns are firing on the mountain opposite the village, informing us of what we may expect, if the insurgents can muster in sufficient force to put their threats in execution."
Among the prisoners were Messrs. Burrill, Tompkins, Osterhout and Knapp, who were severally convicted and sentenced to Sing Sing, for two years. Gov. Wright, however, restored the unfortunate men to the rights of citizenship in September, 1846, a short time previous to the expiration of their sentences.
The arrests made in Roxbury in March-the trial and sentence of the prisoners, if anything, had a tendency to add fuel to the flame. The excitement assumed a far more angry and threatening aspect than it had hitherto presented, but no blood had as yet been shed on either side, until the seventh of August, when the public ear was startled by the lamentable death of Steele.
The following are the particulars of the painful tragedy, which put the climax on anti-rentism, as sworn to by Peter P. Wright, before the coroner's inquest, held over the unfortunate man:
"On the fourth of June last, I was called upon professionally to draw a warrant of distress for John Allen, the agent of Charlotte D. Verplanck, to collect sixty-four dollars, the arrears of rent due from Moses Earle, on the premises occupied by him, in the town of Andes. The levy was made, and the sale had been postponed until the seventh of August, at one o'clock. I went at the request of Mr. Allen, from this place in company with sheriff More, in a one-horse wagon, and arrived on the premises of Mr. Earle about ten o'clock in the forenoon. A number of spectators had then assembled.
"Our first business was to see Mr. Earle, to whom we proposed a settlement of the rent; his reply was, "You will have to go on and sell, I shall fight it at the hardest.' Something was then said about his having written a letter to the sheriff in regard to it, and he stated in substance that he had since altered his mind, and should make no settlement. We discovered from appearances, such as killing of sheep, &c., that preparations had been made to meet us, and we apprehended that there might be some difficulty. About eleven o'clock we discovered a company of six Indians, armed and in disguise, cross the road from the north side above the house, and pass through the pasture lot where the cattle were, and enter the woods near where the cattle were pasturing.
"I told the sheriff that he ought to command every spectator to assist in arresting them, and he did so. 'In the course of fifteen or twenty minutes I observed another company of about as many more pass into the woods, in the same direction. I observed nothing further until about twelve o'clock, when I discovered a party of forty or fifty come from the woods on the east side of the pasture lot, and pass, in single file, to the woods on the south side, where the others had congregated. At the same time I observed another company of fourteen coming off the side hill on the north side of the road, and were passing in the direction of the others above mentioned; I went up the road about thirty or forty rods east of the house, and came within three or four rods of them as they crossed the road, and passed a few rods into the pasture lot, where they halted at the command of the chief, and looking at me as I stood in the road, cried 'tory, tory.' The chief then motioned with his hand in the direction of the others, who were passing through the lot, crying 'tory, tory.' The only remark, I made to them, was to ask them what they wanted of me.-The fourteen immediately turned, and coming towards me recrossed the road nearly in the same place. As they passed me I observed that several of them had their faces but imperfectly disguised, and I pursued them ten or fifteen rods on the north side of the road, endeavoring to ascertain who they were they passed up the hill, and I left them and returned again in the road.
"In about one-half or three-quarters of an hour we observed the Indians coming out of the road, on the south side of the pasture lot, and marching in single file, they passed up near the bars about fifteen or twenty rods east of the house, on the southerly side of the road, when they formed in sections of four each, and passing through the bars, formed in single line in the road, the lower end reaching about opposite Mr. Earle's house. I stationed myself at the bars as they passed, and endeavored to count them. In observing their disguises I lost the count, but should think from the estimate I then made, they were about one hundred strong, all disguised and armed; I saw not one unarmed, most had rifles; there were some muskets, and in addition, several had small pistols, some tomahawks, bags of feathers, &c, &c,. I passed from the bars down along the line of Indians, from four to six feet in front, and on arriving at the centre of the line I met one of the chiefs, who, raising his sword, told me to stand back twenty feet; I stopped, and maintaining my position, told him I should not stand back one inch for him or any of his tribe; he then placed his sword upon my breast, and again ordered me back: I instantly placed my hand upon my pistol, and told him to withdraw his sword from my person, or I would make a hole through him; he then withdrew his sword and drew a pistol; I then told him to violate my person again and I should defend myself to the last, against him and the whole of his tribe; that I should offer no insult or injury to any of them, but that they must let me alone, that I did not fear the whole of them; that I came there on lawful business, that their's was unlawful; they came there to violate the law, and were all outlaws, and liable to be punished in the State prison, every one of them; that they were not ignorant of the fact, for they knew what the law was.
"This was said in a loud voice, so that all could hear, and they responded, 'damn the law, we mean to break it.' I told the chief that I knew him well, and that I should remember him; he replied, 'you can't swear to me.'-The Indians then asked me if I intended to bid upon the property; I told them that I came there for that purpose, and that if I had an opportunity I should. I was then told that if I bid upon the property I would ' go home feet foremost in a wagon.' To this one of the spectators responded, 'that's the talk.' A pail of whiskey was brought from the house of Mr. Earle, and carried the line from which they drank. A horn was blown, and some accession was made to their ranks. I remained in the same position about half an hour, during which time I was blackguarded and my life repeatedly threatened, to which I made very little or no reply. Officers Steele and Edgerton then came in sight and rode up on horseback about two o'clock. The Indians then marched forward against the stone wall on the north side of the road, and about- faced. The sheriff then announced that he would proceed with the sale, and that he would go down and drive up the property, and proceeded with one or two citizens into the pasture lot for that purpose. After he had gone fifteen or twenty rods, the chief called for twelve volunteers to accompany him to see that the property was not sold down in the lot, that he might sell it down there, and that they must prevent it.
"The property was driven by the sheriff with some difficulty up near the bars, where the Indians prevented him from driving the property into the road. The line of Indians by the stone wall, then marched through the bars into the lot and formed a hollow square around the bars, enclosing the property and the sheriff; Steele, Edgerton and myself, took our position by the bars, and Steele told me to stand between him and Edgerton, and they would protect me. Considerable conversation then took place in regard to driving, the property into the road. A Mr. Brisbane, an anti-rent lecturer, wanted to know what right we had to drive the property into the road: I told him we had a right to sell it any where on the premises, and we wanted it in the road for the convenience of the bidders. Something was then said about the notice of sale on the barn, when Steele and Edgerton rode down to read it; at this time ten or fifteen of the Indians ran from the lot, and crossing the road on the north side, as if they wished to head them off, supposing they had started for home.
"Steele and Edgerton returned to the bars, and the Indians to the lot. I then called the sheriff of the lot, and told him that he might say to the Indians, that unless they would permit the property to be driven into the road, he might adjourn the sale. The sheriff then went back into the lot, saying he thought he should be able to drive the property into the road, and was followed by Mr. Brisbane, about fifteen feet from the bars, a little to the right, where they were surrounded by a number of Indians, and considerable conversation ensued with the sheriff, which I cannot now relate. In a few moments I attempted to pass through the bars into the lot where the sheriff was, and a platoon of Indians guarded the bars, forbidding my passage, and an Indian raised his gun before me. Holding a cane in my hand, I placed it with both hands against his breast, and forced a passage into the lot, the file of Indians at the bars closing in behind me. Steele and Edgerton, apprehending my danger, then rode into the lot about two lengths of their horses. I maintained about the same position near the horse's head. The file of Indians at the bars fell back, forming a semi-circle of fifteen or twenty feet radius around Steele, Edgerton and myself. The crowd around the sheriff formed in the same circle, and some came from the hollow square. The chief then gave the command: 'shoot the horses-shoot the horses shoot' 'shoot him, shoot him' the spectators at the bars moved away at the motion of the Indians, and thirty or forty rifles were pointed at us, and we then supposed death was our portion. Steele and Edgerton then commanded the peace, and Edgerton, in a loud voice, called upon every citizen to assist in preserving the peace. A volley of rifles was then fired upon us, and I saw instantly the blood flow freely from the breast of Edgerton's horses upon my right, and I should think Steele was wounded in the arm at this fire; in the course of a very few seconds, a second volley was discharged, which came like a shower bath upon Steele and the horses, taking effect in the body of Steele, and also in both horses. Steele fell bleeding upon the ground, three balls having pierced his body, and others gone through his clothes. Edgerton's horse fell dead near Steele, another ball having passed tbrough the saddle into his side.
"Sheriff More appealed to the Indians 'for God's sake to desist; they had done enough.' Edgerton and myself ran and took hold of Steele, and asked him how badly he was hurt: he replied that "two balls had passed through him, and that his bowels were all shot to pieces." We carried him into the house of Mr. Earle, where he survived between five and six hours, enduring the most excruciating pain. He fired once, and once only, and that was after he was wounded in his right arm. Edgerton drew his pistol but did not fire, mine was not drawn; I am sure that the Indians fired first, there can be no doubt about it. Drs. Peake and Calhoun were called, who rendered all the assistance in their power.
"While lying upon his bed in the agonies of death, Steele told Mr. Earle, that if he had paid his rent he would not have been shot; and Mr. Earle replied, he should not pay it if it cost forty lives. Mr. Steele was on the ground only about half an hour before he was shot, during which time the Indians used towards him the most insulting and abusive language, as well as threats upon his life, to which he made not the least reply, maintaining that cool temperament and presence of mind for which he was so much distinguished.
"The Indians remained upon the ground some two or three hours, holding an Indian pow-wow around the horses, and exulting in the blood of their victim. Thus has fallen a faithful and fearless officer of the law, who died at the post of duty, suffering martyrdom for no other reason than because he was faithful in executing the laws of his country."
Steele had fallen bravely at his post of duty: he suffered the most excruciating pains, and it seemed evident to all that he could at farthest survive but a few hours. A messenger was dispatched in all haste to carry the painful intelligence to his family and friends, and his wife arrived barely in time to witness the untimely death of her husband, which took place about 8 o'clock in the evening. His remains were taken to Delhi, where the coroner's inquest was held. The funeral ceremonies were performed on the tenth. It was attended by a large concourse of citizens-about two thousand, who had assembled from all parts of the county, and who manifested the deepest feeling at his untimely death.
A monument has since been erected in commemoration of his memory by the citizens of this county, in acknowledgment of his worth as a citizen and his integrity as a public officer.
A correspondent of the Albany Evening Journal writes as follows:-
"Delhi, Sunday Evening, August 10, 1845.
"DEAR SIR,-I arrived at this village last evening, and found a deep gloom hanging over it. This day the remains of Deputy Sheriff Steele, were committed to the grave. The funeral services were performed by the Presbyterian, and Episcopal clergymen of this place, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Adams, of the Episcopal Church, at Unadilla. There was a very large concourse of people, so much so that the largest church would not begin to hold them. The clergymen addressed the multitude from a piazza. The clergyman of this village impressed on the minds of his hearers eternal vigilance, until the murderers are brought to punishment, and the majesty of the law sustained.
"The citizens of the village held a meeting last evening, and organized a patrol to guard the village and public buildings. Many persons did not close their eyes for fear of incendiaries. There is a horrible state of things in this county. I found to day that a posse went out last night, to arrest six men living in Roxbury, the town adjoining Andes, where Steele was murdered, who were supposed to have been present, if not implicated in the murder. The posse had just returned bringing in three men, who are confined in jail. An express left here on Friday afternoon for Albany, to confer with, and bear dispatches to the Governor. The inhabitants say that the laws are insufficient. The grand juries will not find hills against anti-renters in this county. They further say, that, if the Governor does not act promptly, and provide relief, they, the people of this county, will take the law into their own hands.
"Steele had many very warm and ardent friends, who are determined to avenge the taking of his life. I presume there are a thousand men waiting anxiously to be led into the disaffected towns, if the laws can have no effect. Much is said here about certain prominent men of this village, who are said to have thrown firebrands by encouraging the anti-renters.
"Men are pouring into the village, from different towns, to protect the public buildings. The anti-renters say that the jail will never again hold any of them long. They will endeavor to destroy the State arms, that are here, by burning them. I am told that the Governor will be requested to declare the county in a state of insurrection, and to proclaim martial law."
Immediately upon the receipt of the intelligence of the death of Steele, meetings of the citizens were convened in various sections of the county.
On the eleventh a meeting of the citizens of Moresville, was convened, and the venerable John T. More presided.
On the fourteenth inst. a meeting was held at the head of the Delaware, at which A. M. Babcock presided. Isaac D. Cornwall, Charles Griffin, Calvin C. Covil, Joshua Draper, Hiram Fredenburgh, and Adam Grant, were appointed a committee of five to draft resolutions, condemning the late outrage, and sympathizing with the widow and relatives of the deceased.
A numerous meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Andes, convened at the house of E. B. Hunting, on the sixteenth inst., for the purpose of taking into consideration the late events which have transpired in that town: the following gentlemen were selected as officers of the meeting; Cyrus Burr, president, Samuel McCabe, vice president, John Dickson, secretary.
The meeting, was addressed by several gentlemen in strong and energetic language, denouncing the whole course of proceedings in the late anti-rent excitement-showing the unpolitic course pursued to obtain redress for any grievances they may have, and depicting in glowing terms the consequences which must follow.
The following persons were appointed to draft resolutions, expressive of the sense of the meeting viz. M. T. Peake, H. Dowie, Jr., Ezra Waterbury, D. B. Shaver, and Luther Jackson, including the president and secretary of the meeting.
The committee after retiring, reported the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, we, the inhabitants of the town of Andes, in consideration of the awful tragedy enacted in our town, resulting in the death of our faithful public officer Osman N. Steele, who fell on the seventh inst., while endeavoring to sustain the laws against an infuriated mob unanimously:
"Resolved, That we hold in horror and detestation those cowardly assassins who have stained our land with innocent blood, and brought a reproach upon our character, as lovers of law and order.
"Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the widow and relatives of the deceased.
"Resolved That while we sympathize with the afflictions of our neighbors who are implicated in this transaction, we tender to the law and its officers our faithful allegiance and support.
"Resolved, That those political demagogues who have decoyed a confiding community into this vortex of crime and misery, deserve the execrations of an injured people."
The same day a meeting was held in the school-house at Bovina Centre, and the Hon. James Cowan, was chosen chairman. A preamble and resolutions were unanimously passed, among which was the following:
"Resolved, That the only safety we have for our lives or property, is to be found in the steady and inflexible administration and maintenance of the laws."
Meetings expressive of the indignation of the inhabitants were also held at Hobart, Delhi, Middletown, and several other places in the county. Nor was this exhibition of obedience to law confined to the limits of the county. Even the citizens of adjoining counties held numerous meetings of this character. And I perceive by a reference to a file of Kingston papers, that a large and respectable body of citizens assembled at the courthouse in that village, "to express their indignation at the recent outrage in Delaware county." John Van Buren was called to preside. The meeting was addressed by Messrs. H. M. Romeyn, and Gen. J. G. Smith in their usual forcible style. The preamble and resolutions were responded to with great applause.
These numerous assemblies, with the strong and emphatic language of the resolutions, in every instance unanimously passed, is sufficient of itself to illustrate the wonderful summerset anti-rentism had taken. The novelty of a calico dress, or a sheepskin face, lost all its magic fascination to those who had become the unfortunate dupes of its flattering pretensions, when it came in contact with the dark realities of the unpromising future. Even those who had secretly aided, and abetted the organization, now came out openly in its opposition, while those, who trembled at the revelations which a court of inquiry would draw out, fled degraded outlaws to evade the vigilance of the officers of the, law. Some settlements were almost entirely deserted by the male portion of the population, crops were left unharvested, farms and farmwork were neglected, and a sad picture, far surpassing any thing which distrainmient for rent could ever produce, was everywhere presented.