Tuesday 29 May 2012

May 30, 1876

“For the greater convenience of the public, Mr. J. Semmens, the well-known baby carriage manufacturer, has opened a wareroom, No. 37 King Street west, for the sale, wholesale and retail, of his baby carriages.”
                             Hamilton Spectator      May 30, 1876
Despite the difficult economic times of 1876, at least one Hamilton business was doing well enough expand the retail outlet for his manufactured products:
 “Mr. Semmens is the pioneer in Canada of this branch of manufacturing industry, being the very first in the Dominion to start it. From quite a small beginning, his establishment has grown to large proportions, and is now one of the notable features among the manufactories of Hamilton. Mr. Semmens owes his success to a careful and painstaking attention to the work which he turns out or his customers, not only as to the outside appearance, which is everything that good taste demands, but also to those qualities which do not meet the eye of the casual observer, and are found only after the article has been used. Strict care in the selection of good material and in the quality of the workmanship are among the features of his management, which have given celebrity to the carriages of his manufacture. In his new warerooms will be found a very choice selection of canopy topped carriages of beautiful design and excellent finish. Mr. Semmens also manufactures croquet sets, specimens of which in the form of what is known to the trade as Grand Hall Stands, can be seen at the new wareroom.”
There had been an announcement that this organization was going to make a stop in Hamilton during its journey from its home city of Detroit, Michigan to the great Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
There was  great anticipation of seeing the Knights Templar of Detroit perform their famous marching drill in Hamilton but the train was unavoidably delayed:
“Some days ago, it was made known that a large number of Knights Templars of the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan would pass through this city en route for the Centennial Exhibition. It was supposed that they would reach here in the afternoon, but on account of an unforeseen accident, the train was several hours late, and it was 9 o’clock ere the long train of some ten cars moved into the depot. The Templars were received by several of their brethren in this city, who conducted them into Moore’s dining rooms, where they partook of refreshments. From the rooms, they marched on the platform, where they performed several difficult military evolutions. The martial appearance and the beauty of their costumes were much admired by the crowd that filled the depot. The Templars were accompanied by Gardiner’s Flint City Band of Detroit, one of the best musical combinations in the State of Michigan. After playing a selection on the platform, the band marched up Stuart street to MacNab, up MacNab to Merrick, and thence to the Royal Hotel, where they played another selection, and then after partaking of the hospitality of the house, returned to the station. The crowd at the station, as before stated, was very large, and the railway officials deserve every credit for the order kept. Nobody was hurt with the exception of a young lady who was bruised in the crush on the “way out.”
The case of domestic violence when had been postponed finally was taken heard in the Hamilton Police Court :
“This morning, Edward Tompkins, a big cowardly scoundrel, was sent to jail for nine months for brutally assaulting his wife. The assault was committed three or four days ago, and the injuries she received was so great that it was feared at one time that she would die. The chief of police believed her injuries to be fatal, and applied to the mayor to have a physician sent to attend her at the expense of the city. This morning Mrs. Tompkins appeared in court, and could not walk across the floor without assistance. It was with reluctance she testified against her husband, and she heard his sentence with tears in her eyes. Wife beating is getting very common, and it is evidently the intention of the Magistrate to put a stop to it as soon as possible.”
An odd story about a odd collection made by a man named Mrtin:
“A little man named Martin, living near the lake, has succeeded in collecting over ten bushels of cigar stumps, for what object it is not known. He has them piled in his back yard, and says that he is going to use them as a fertilizer in his garden; but this is improbable. It is supposed he will grind the best of them for snuff, or press them into plugs for smoking tobacco.”
The biggest news item of the day took place not in Hamilton, but in Cayuga, although very soon ithe story would have some very definite Hamilton connections :
                      “The following particulars of the escape of the condemned murderers John and James William Young from Haldimand jail, are from the Globe of this morning :
                                                                                                Cayuga, May 29.
On Sunday evening about seven o’clock, the inhabitants of this quiet village were startled by a report that John and James William Young, the men lying under sentence of death here for the murder of the farmer, Abel Macdonald, last Nov., had almost murdered the jailer and escaped. A rush was made for the jail, when it was found that the report was but too true. It appears that it has been jailer J. Lawrence’s custom to go into the cells every night for the purpose of locking the iron shutter of the cell windows. On Sunday night, he went into the cell of prisoner James for this purpose. He found everything apparently right, the manacles on the prisoner’s legs seemingly secure. Lawrence proceeded to lock the shutter as usual, and while doing so he received a violent blow on the side of his head from behind which stunned him. He remembers nothing farther than he consciousness that he was struck on the head repeatedly and rendered senseless. On coming to himself, he at once realised the state of affairs, and, though he could scarcely move at first, he ultimately crawled towards the hall, and gave the alarm. On hi sons and other inmates of the prison going upstairs, it was discovered that both the Youngs were gone. The scene in James’ empty cell disclosed what occurred. The shackles which enclosed the prisoner’s legs, and which are riveted o the floor, had evidently been opened with a false key, which is now in the hands of the Sheriff,  and is manufactured out of what looks like a brace or vest buckle. This must have been done previous to Lawrence coming into the cell, although when he entered all appeared to be in order. The blankets on the bed and floor were besmeared with blood. T was found on examination that after Young had knocked his victim down with the blow from behind, he had attacked him with the shackle leg, cutting him terribly. One cut severed one of Lawrence’s ears; another on the left temple has laid open part of his face; while a third has almost broken the jaw. There are other cuts about the head, more or less serious, and it is a wonder that he is alive. Besides the wounds on the head, he complains of being sore all over his body, and thinks his assailant must have knelt on him while delivering the blows. It is supposed that, so soon as he had settled Lawrence, James proceeded to John’s cell, and, with the keys, which he had possessed himself of, liberated him also.  They had opened the iron door connecting with the hall, and quietly stepped out by the rear, jumping the fence and landing in the Court House yard. John’s shackles were left lying on a sofa in the hall, they having retained them probably with the purpose of attacking anyone who might obstruct them. They passed out unobserved, however, and nothing was known of the occurrence until Lawrence regained consciousness and crawled downstairs. Before this, a considerable time had elapsed, probably twenty minutes, and by the time the alarm had been given outside, the prisoners had got clear off. On examining the garden, footmarks were observed in the soil, and from the fact that about the time on the evening in question, James Horn, who lives here, observed a man run down the garden fence and jump into the meadows. James, the one who battered the gaoler, had nothing on but a white cotton shirt and a pair of pants, together with his shoes and stockings. John had a coat and vest as well, but his shoes are bad, having been cut to allow the fetters to meet round the ankle. Lawrence is not fit tonight to be spoken to, but his son was able to give the particulars, which he had got from his father bit by bit. Young Lawrence states that the shackles opened very easily, and a key can be made of a piece of wire that will unlock them. It is not supposed that the prisoners had any assistance from outside, although the keys with which the manacles were opened could have been passed in at the cell window., which can be reached by climbing on to a roof which comes in below it. The keys of the gaol have not been found, so that the fugitives must have taken them with them. On the alarm being given, some five constables started in pursuit of them, but instead of surrounding the bush where it was supposed the prisoners had gone, they scoured along the roads. It is supposed that had the proper steps been taken on the escape being discovered, they might easily have been hemmed in and recaptured. Up to the present time – half an hour after midnight – nothing has been heard of them.
A report reached this place today that they had been caught at Ancaster, and the sheriff and others were jubilant. It turned out to be unfounded, however, and may have been a ruse on the part of the prisoners’ friends to divert attention while they made the best of their way in an opposite direction. The commotion which the escape has raised in Haldimand county is even greater than was raised when the trial took place. The event is talked of by everybody, and it appears to be the general wish that they may speedily be captured. The feeling is very much increased in consequence of the murderous attack on Lawrence, the jailer, who it was thought at one time might succumb to his injuries. Although he is yet very low, the doctor thinks he will get over it. From the fact that James left his coat and vest in the cell, it  might be supposed that he had a conviction that he would find friends on the on the outside to provide him with clothing. It is as likely, however, that the hurry was the cause of his leaving these. There is a feeling that the fugitives are lurking in the neighbourhood. This is likely enough, unless they have friends to supply them with clothing, for if they were to appear in their half-naked state, they could at once be discovered. They are not likely to receive succour, as the people around here are anything but friendly towards them.
Up to the hour of going to press, our latest telegraphic intelligence was that no trace had yet been found of the escaped prisoners from Cayuga jail. “
The following are the Spectator’s own items on the Youngs Escape:
“A daughter of Mr. Lawrence, the governor of the Cayuga jail, residing in this city, received a letter from her father yesterday which had been written only a few hours before the Youngs escaped. In the letter, he stated that his obliged to keep James William chained to the floor, as he was the more sullen and appeared to be the more desperate character of the two.”
“It is reported that friends of the Youngs – the escaped murderers – are passing through the country bare-headed and in their shirt sleeves, by way of putting the detectives off track .A great number of strangers, evidently friends of the escaped murderers, haunt the neighbourhood of Cayuga and Caledonia, and should they be arrested in that neighbourhood a big fight will take place.
“The reward offered by Government for the recapture of the escaped murderers induced a number of private persons to undertake a search through the Cayuga woods. That the Youngs will sell their lives as dearly as possible if surrounded is certain. It is reported that on Monday morning they broke into a private house and stole a revolver and a suit of clothes.”

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