Thursday 22 March 2012

March 23, 1876

Police Court habituees, and those who closely followed police court reports in the pages of the local press were surely titillated by the case of a house of prostitution on Pearl Street North, the full Spectator coverage follows :
“Tilly Yates was charged with keeping a house of ill-fame at No.’s 51 and 53 Pearl Street north, and Sara M. MacDonald, Nelly Jones, Laura Stuart, Minnie MacMahon, Maggie Elliot and Mary A. Shaw were charged with frequenting the same.
          Lottie Patterson, sworn : Live at 51 Pearl street with Tilly Yates; there are eight girls in the house, not including the mistress; I was cook; in pay, I got half what I made; I was there three months; I never got any money; I got $4.50 on one occasion; the rest of the girls boarded at the house, paying $10 a week; I saw men come and go into the bedrooms with the girls.
          Cross-examined by Mr. O’Reilly : I lived in the north half of the house; Tilly Yates lived in the house on the south side and could not get in our part without going outside; there is no communication between her house and ours; the girls paid her the board money themselves; Tilly Yates bought the eatables for both houses; she keeps the beer, whiskey and cigars in her own part.
          Flora Miles – Have lived in Yate’s house three weeks; the arrangements were that I was to give her $10 a week, but I only made $3 all the time I was there; I paid her every cent I made: Laura Stuart occupies the house I live in.
          Sarah MacDonald, sworn - Laura Stuart occupies both houses; the store-room for both houses is in No. 51; I live retired with Tilly Yates in no. 53; she proved the correctness of a lease purporting to be given by Tilly Yates to Laura Stuart of the “pulled” house; no beer pedlar comes to see me.
          Nelly Jones, sworn - I  I live in No. 51 Pearl street; I pay $10 a week for my board to Laura Stuart; Laura Stuart told me that she paid $20 a week to Yates for keeping the house; have lived in the house about two months.
          Maggie Elliott, sworn – Board at Tilly Yates; pay $5 a week; the girls pay their money to Sara Stuart.
          Nelly Jones, sworn – Am a sister of Sarah MacDonald: I have only known her seven months; we parted when we were little children and never saw each other again until last spring we met in a house.
          Mr. O’Reilly addressed the Magistrate in favour of Tilly Yates, claiming that the evidence was not sufficient to convict the prisoner.
          His Worship found the woman guilty.
          Sara MacDonald was then placed on trial on the charge of frequenting a house of ill fame. She pleaded “not guilty.”
          Lottie Patterson and Flora Miles were recalled to prove that she was a frequenter of the house. Miles swore that she had seen a young beer pedlar in MacDonald’s room.
          The prisoner was found guilty, as were the rest of the girls, with the exception of the woman Shaw, who was discharged. Mrs. Yates was fined $60 or six months in jail. The rest were fined $30 or three months in jail. Laura Stuart and Sarah MacDonald paid their fines. “
          It was a forlorn procession of sleighs which started at the railway station and passed all the way up James street, ending at the institution on the mountain, the Asylum for the Insane :
          On Friday, thirty lunatics, in charge of the Medical Superintendent of the Asylum on the Mountain, arrived by the regular train from Toronto, and were conveyed in large sleighs, supplied by Mr. O. Nolan, to the institution on the mountain. There were thirty in all, ten males and twenty females. A large crowd assembled at the depot to witness the arrival. The unfortunates seemed to be of the quiet class of incurables and no difficulty seemed to attend their transfer from the time they left until they reached their new home. Two keepers, besides the officers of the Hamilton Institution accompanied the unfortunates.”

In the March 23 edition of the Weekly Times, Michael McConnell was still, even in death, the focus of extensive coverage:
          We have before us the following lines, written by McConnell, in his cell at the County Jail, a few days before his execution. The writing is in pencil, on a sheet of foolscap, and very fair, the document  bearing his signature in a very plain hand:

                             MOTTO FOR EVERYMAN

                   Let us speak of a man we find him
                      And heed not what others may say;
                   If he is frail, a kind word will bind him,
                      Where coldness would turn him away.

                   For the heart must be barren, indeed,
                      Where no bud of repentance can bloom;
                   Then a pause ere you cause it to bleed,
                       For on a smile or a frown hangs its doom.

          Mr. Thomas Moore says ;
                   The man that can’t feel for another
                      Is just like a colt on the moor:
                   He lives without knowing a brother
                      To frighten bad luck from his door.

                                      Psalm iv. verse 4

                   Fear and sin not; talk with your heart
                      On bed, and silent be.

                                      verse 6

                   But of Thy countenance the light,
                      Lord, lift on us always!


Psalm v, verse 11.
                   But let all joy that trust in Thee,
                      And stid make shouting noise;
                   For them thou say’st: let all that love
                      Thy name in Thee rejoice.

                   Psalm vii.  verse 7

                   Upon my heart bestow’d by Thee
                      More gladness I have found
                   Than they, e’vn then when corn and wine
                      Did most abound.

                             Verse 8
                   I will both lay me down in peace
                      And in quiet sleep will take,
                   Because Thou only me to dwell
                      In safety, Lord, doest make.

                   Yours sincerely,
                   MICHAEL MCCONNELL

Hamilton Jail, March 6, 1876
Finally, even the hangman who carried out the execution of McConnell also received some press :
          From the time that it was a fixed fact that McConnell was to swing, many persons were anxious to discover who was to act the part of hangman, but, from the way in which that individual was masked, we are quite certain that no one on the scaffold or in the Jail Yard below, could discover his identity.
          McConnell died, apparently, less sorry for the horrible deed he had perpetrated than many amongst the spectators who witnessed the execution were for his condition. His hangman (who should have endeavored to keep his identity a secret) made no effort in this direction but openly boasted in various places throughout the city that he was the man who had the “job” in hand, and that it would be “done up to the handle.”
          This hangman is an old soldier, having formerly belonged to a regiment which was in this country, and had served in the Indian mutiny in 1857, where he was engaged in hanging up the Sepoy mutineers. He proudly boasts that he has assisted in “roping” no less than eight Sepoys at one time, and counts the number of those whose executions he has helped in by the hundred. He left, or was discharged from the army in 1867, while at Toronto, at which place he had been engaged on lookout duty. The first time we remember having seen him in Hamilton was with that notorious scoundrel, Whiskey Detective Mason, whose aid-de-camp he was, and it is not unknown that his blissful ignorance of truth led him into more difficulties than one, in fact he spent a term of one year’s imprisonment, revolving over in his mind whether he had told the facts respecting a certain liquor case in which he was the prosecutor.
          The man has always had the reputation of doing his work well as a hangman, and so far, according to his own statement, has hanged no less than eight criminals in Canada, commencing at Goderich in the year 1869. His last exploit before this (for which he takes great credit, because the Mercury praised him) was at Guelph not long ago when he executed a colored man named White.
          He lives on Pearl street in this city, and since the execution of McConnell, has been roaming about referring to the success which attended him in that awful event. Thursday forenoon, he turned up at the police court, charged with assaulting his mother-in-law, (not an unpardonable offense in the eyes of some), but she having her eye on a portion of the fee recently earned was probably too much devoted to the cup of Bacchus to prosecute.

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