Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Days Not Forgotten

October 31, 2011

Just some old-fashioned fun!

The Spirit Lake Beacon (Spirit Lake, Iowa) Oct 29, 1931

Pepper Martin and the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series!

The Alton Democrat (Alton, Iowa) Oct 30, 1931

BOO! — Shortages, Inflation, Invasion!

The Alton Democrat (Alton, Iowa) Oct 31, 1941


October 30, 2011

Image from The Dead End Hayride website

A Hallowe’en party was fired into in a cornfield at Newark, New Jersey, by a farmer, and a seventeen-year-old boy was killed. The farmer gave himself up and is nearly crazy. The party frightened him.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Nov 19, 1898

I heard of some musical mice the other day that had so “hoodooed” a cottage that the people living near moved away and told wondrous uncanny stories of the pretty little house. It was the country home of some wealthy San Francisco people. Soon after their return to their city home for the winter a couple of years ago, their sixteen-year-old daughter died.

Then the neighbors commenced hearing all sorts of mysterious sounds. They even declared the spirit of the girl wandered through the house and then finally sat down to the piano and played some of the tunes she had loved in life. They could hear them distinctly and recognized the old songs. After a time the music ceased, but the restless spirit still continued to wander through the cottage and the same terrifying and ghostly sounds were heard. So much for imagination.

The following summer the family returned and threw wide the doors of the haunted cottage and let the sunshine in. Then the piano cover was lifted and the mystery was solved. Out scampered a score of mice. The piano was ruined. They took from it a number of nests of whole families of baby mice and an even one hundred pounds, actual weight, of maccaroni, vermacelli, rice, wheat, corn, potatoes, and scores of other things. The piano was crammed full. No wonder it gave forth no sound. The only mystery to the family about their haunted cottage was how in the world the mice managed to squeeze into the piano their family larder, having been so excellently provided for.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Nov 19, 1898

Spooks Take House; 8 Policemen Quail

Moans, Raps and Other Mysterious Noises Startle Bluecoats Who Stay in Haunted Cottage.

Gary, Ind., Jan. 18. Eight policemen of this place are convinced, after having made a personal investigation, that a certain small cottage a mile from Toliston, near here, is the abiding place of a genuine ghost. The squad of officers came to this decision this morning after having spent a night of terror in the haunted house.

Moans, raps and other sounds continued in a mysterious manner throughout the night, the officers say. Until two months ago the house was vacant. Then a family moved in. Wails and sounds of a struggle have nightly disturbed the new tenants and they called upon the police to investigate.

Several years ago a farm hand committed suicide in the cottage.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Jan 18, 1909


BROOKFIELD, Mo. — A new variety of “ghost” was revealed at the Country club here when some-one screwed up enough courage to go into an unoccupied “haunted” cottage. Investigation proved that a woodpecker had been the cause of all the alarm. The bird had died of starvation but the evidence indicated he had fallen into the chimney and then worked his way into the stove thru the stove-pipe. After days of pecking he had worked his way out of the stove.

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Aug 15, 1928

Vet of Local Battle Dies

October 28, 2011

Image of the Charles M. Pratt mansion,  ‘Seamoor’ from the Old Long Island blog.


90-Year-Old Soldier Observed 71st Wedding Anniversary August 3.

Glen Cove, L.I., Oct. 31. — George Washington Dickinson, veteran of Kilpatrick’s 2nd New York light cavalry in the Civil war, died of pneumonia Monday at his home on the Pratt estate here. He was ninety years old. His wife, Sarah Carpenter Dickinson, died last August 17, two weeks after the couple had celebrated their seventy-first anniversary. Mr. Dickinson had served for thirty-five years as caretaker of the Charles M. Pratt estate, making his home in a cottage in the twenty-six acre park surrounding the family’s mausoleum.

Mr. Dickinson, who became ill last Wednesday was born in Oyster Bay, L.I., on March 10, 1843, the son of Susan Dove and Albert Dickinson. When Mr. Dickinson was nineteen years old he married Sarah Carpenter, daughter of a Long Island family, and two weeks later, on August 18, 1862, left his bride to go to war.

Mr. Dickinson saw service at Gettysburg and Bull Run and with the armies of the Potomac and Shenandoah. He was wounded twice, held in Libby prison and returned home on parole the day Lincoln was assassinated. The aged man often attributed his robust health to his out-of-doors job on the estate, where he arose at 6:30 a.m. each day and passed the remainder of the daylight hours in tasks about the estate.

In addition to holding the record of being seventy-one years married, Mr. Dickinson boasted another record — the friendship of the oldest and best man on Long Island. He is Andrew Carpenter, brother of the bride, now in his early nineties.

The Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Oct 31, 1933

Dry Bill – Bye, Bye, Booze

October 28, 2011

Miami News: Two were shot in the first raid on a New York saloon under the Volstead act. The other patrons were half shot.

Ada Weekly News (Ada, Oklahoma) Nov 20, 1919


Posing as prohibition agents, six men forced their way into the home of Joseph Wolff, former wholesale liquor dealer at Chicago, blew open a vault in the basement and carried away 100 cases of 20-year-old whisky.


In defiance of the laws against combinations  in restraint of trade, to say nothing of the Volstead act, bootleggers of Spokane, Wash., have organized to boost the price of liquor.


Overpowering three guards and smashing down the doors, a gang of liquor robbers, believed to have numbered 30, escaped with 2,100 gallons of whisky from a warehouse at Burkittsville, Md.

Boyden Reporter (Boyden, Iowa) Mar 16, 1922

Old Ben.

(From Cincinnati Enquirer.)

Each night, for more than 40 years,
He drank a couple of good beers.
He never would exceed that number,
He said that beer promoted slumber;
It was a tonic, so he said,
And to him it was liquid bread.
He said that whisky poisoned men,
He was against it, was Old Ben.
So he went out and voted dry,
To kill the bourbon and the rye.
He killed the whisky, but, oh, dear!
He also found he’d killed his beer.
He needed beer, and he was sad,
For there was no beer to be had.
*     *     *     *     *
Now in a cell we hear him groan —
For Old Ben tried to make his own.
Man’s first trouble was an apple in the garden.
Now its peaches on the roof garden. R.R.

Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, New York) Jun 28, 1920

More Truth Than Poetry

By James J. Montague.
(Copyright, 1920, by the Bell Syndicate, Inc.)

The Disaster.
(Apologies to the Late James T. Fields.)

We were crowded in the cabin,
Not a soul was at the bar,
For the splendid floating palace
Hadn’t traveled very far.

‘Tis a fearful thing on shipboard
To be preyed upon by thirst,
and to hear the Captain’s warning,
“Pass the three mile limit first.”

Strong men twitched, with nervous fingers
At the buttons on their coats,
Women, gulped to ease the yearning
Of their parched and panting throats.

So we watched the idle steward
With one eye upon the clock,
When we heard below the grinding
And a sudden, dreadful shock.

And so slowly on the billows
We began to dip and lift,
“All is off,” the Captain shouted.
The propeller’s broke adrift.

But the Captain’s little daughter,
Who’d been looking at the log,
Cried: “We’ve passed the three mile limit,
We’ve been drifting through the fog.”

Then we kissed the little maiden,
Life again became worth while,
And we all were nicely jingled,
‘Ere we’d logged another mile.

Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, New York) Jun 28, 1920

William Cunningham: Jailer of Revolution Martyrs

October 27, 2011

William Cunningham, Jailer of New York “Revolution Martyrs”

“FOLK of fashion do complain right grievously that the groanings and lamentable cries of the rebel prisoners (both here in New York and in the prison ship on the Breucklen shore) disturb their slumbers. And they pray that Master Cunningham, our provost marshal, will devise some means to keep the poor wretches quiet of nights.”

So runs an old letter written in New York during the darkest days of the American Revolution. The British had captured New York and Philadelphia. To both cities — but chiefly to New York — they brought thousands of patriot soldiers, captured in battle, and many non-combatants who had risked freedom and life to help the cause of liberty by money, gifts or by patriotic speeches.

These unlucky captives were not treated like prisoners of war. They were housed and fed — or, rather, starved — in a way the law nowadays would not permit for cattle or swine. And the man in charge of them was a blackguard whose own countrymen loathed him, William Cunningham.

Cunningham was the son of British dragoon and was born in the regimental barracks at Dublin. In 1774 he came to America and settled in New York, where he made a living for some time by “breaking” colts and by giving riding lessons. When the Revolution broke out, in 1775, he became involved in a political row with some local patriots and was forced to flee to Boston, there to seek the protection of the British army.

His noisy loyalty to King George III, got him into trouble there and attracted the notice of Thomas Gage, the English general. Gage appointed him provost marshal to the royal army. His chance for “revenge” had come.

Image from Frances Hunter’s American Heroes Blog

Cunningham was sent back to New York and was put in charge of the Revolutionary prisoners there and in Philadelphia. There were several impromptu prisons in New York where the patriot captives were lodged. One was the city hall, another the famous old “Sugar House,” another, King’s (now Columbia) college; another the “new gaol” (the old hall of records in City Hall park, torn down only a few years ago) and — worst of all — the “prison ship ‘Jersey,'” moored on the Brooklyn shore. Churches were also turned into jails.

In the prison ship the captives were herded by hundreds in dark, foul pens, destitute of pure air and sunlight. They were given such food as a dog might well scorn, and in such tiny quantities as would not suffice to keep a dog alive. The water they drank was filthy. No medical care or chance for cleanliness or exercise was granted them. Prison fever and other maladies scourged their ranks. They died like so many flies. To such fearful condition were they reduced that the lowest city outcasts were touched by pity and secretly sent them food.

The fate of the captives in the new gaol, or hall of records, was little better. Here is an extract from Pintard’s account of their sufferings:

“So closely were they packed together that when they lay down at night to rest, on the hard oak planks, and they wished to turn, it was all together, by word of command — ‘right’ — ‘left’ — being so wedged as to form almost a solid mass of human bodies.”

All war is cruel. But such torture as this was inexcusable. And (though the British government might perhaps have bettered matters had they chosen to) the lion’s share of the blame was Cunningham’s. Here is a portion of his sworn confession, made in 1791, just before his own execution:

“I shudder to think of the murders I have been accessory to, both with and without orders from government, especialy while in New York, during which time there were more than two thousand prisoners starved by stopping their rations (which I sold). There were also 275 American prisoners executed. A guard was despatched to forbid people to look out from their doors or windows on pain of death, after which the prisoners were conducted, gagged, at midnight, just behind the upper barracks, hung without trial and then buried.”

Cunningham went back to England after the war and took to riotous living. Being short of money to squander on dissipation, he forged a draft. For this crime he was tried, condemned, and, on August 10, 1791, was hanged.

He is said to have been responsible for the shameful death of nearly 2,500 American patriots. Nor could mere hatred for the colonists account for this wholesale slaughter, since he dishonestly sold for his own profit the provisions allotted to them.

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Sep 19, 1912

Texas Street Talk

October 26, 2011

Image from the U.S. Diplomacy website


Have you seen Clay’s third letter on Texas?

No. Does it differ from his other letters?

Oh, yes. He says he “would be glad to see”  Texas annexed.

Indeed! Is that the truth?


Is it the whole truth?

Oh, he says he “would be glad to see it, without dishonor.

Ah, that’s an importafit qualification! But is that all?

No. He “would be glad to see it, without dishonor AND without war.

Better yet! Is that all?

N – o – t      e – x – a – c – t – l – y. He “would be glad to see it without dishonor, without war AND with the common consent of the Union.

Better and better! As I want to get the whole truth, I’ll make one more effort. Has Mr. Clay any other objections to the project?

Yes, he has. He says also, that it must be done “upon JUST and FAIR terms.

Very well.

And farther, that he “believes that National dishonor, foreign war, and distraction and division at home are too great sacrifices to make for the acquisition of Texas.”

Does Mr. Clay say all this?

He does.

And do you believe that Texas can EVER by annexed “without dishonor, without war, with the common consent of the Union, and upon just and fair terms?”

I do not. The signs of the times forbid such a thought.

Then in no event can Mr. Clay be regarded as the friend of Annexation; and I hope you will not be guilty again of such injustice as to quote two or three words from his letter and on the strength of them charge Mr. Clay with a desertion of the ground taken by him in his first letter. He is the consistent opponent of the Annexation scheme.

Springfield Republic.

Madison Express (Madison, Wisconsin) Sep 26, 1844

Influence of Texas on Election of 1844

October 26, 2011

In 1837, Texas asked to be annexed to the United States.

Texas wanted to enter as a slave state.

The Texas Question became an important presidential campaign issue.

Pro-annexation, James K. Polk beats Henry Clay.


HIGH LIGHTS OF HISTORY — Influence of Texas on Election of 1844

The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa) Jun 24, 1927

Death at a Crossing

October 25, 2011

Image from the Oakland, IL Genealogy website


Levi Alsbury, an Old Veteran, Instantly Killed.

An old invalid soldier, Levi Alsbury, more familiarly known as “Button,” was instantly killed at 11:35 a.m. to-day at the Priest street crossing of the Illinois Central road, just east of the tray factory. He had been up town after some nails, and was returning to a new house in the fourth ward he was building, when he sat down on a log near the factory to rest. The Terre Haute and Peoria passenger train going toward the depot came along, and just before the train reached the crossing, Alsbury arose to cross over. The old man was subject to fainting spells and may have been suddenly attacked with a feeling of weakness as he arose from the log. The cow-catcher struck him and hurled him upward against the steam chest with great force, when the lifeless body dropped into the ditch. Nearly every bone in his body was broken. The body was removed by Coroner Perl to his office, where the inquest will be held this evening at 8 o’clock.

Mr. Alsbury was 48 years of age, and resided at 900 West Macon street. He leaves a wife and two children. Brice Alsbury, a son of his wife by a former marriage, was murdered at Kinney, Ill., a few years ago. Mr. A. served through the war as a member of Co. H, 63d Ill. Regiment and received a pension of $30 a month. His back pay received not long since was $1900.

It was T.H. & P. train 1, engine 4, that struck the man; Buchanan, conductor; George Winn, engineer; Jerry Ryan, fireman.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) May 14, 1887


Levi Alsbury Struck Down By a T-H.& P. Train.

From Sunday’s Daily.

Levi Alsbury, a union ex-soldier, was killed at the Priest street crossing of the Illinois Central railroad a few minutes before 12 o’clock noon yesterday, by a Terre Haute & Peoria passenger train. He was struck by the pilot of the engine and his body was hurled a distance of nearly twenty feet. Alsbury had been up town to get a bundle of nails and was on his way to work on a dwelling which he was erecting in the Fourth ward, when he met his death. An inquest was held last night by Coroner Perl at his undertaking establishment on South Main street. The witnesses were John Sheeney, a bricklayer, George Winn, engineer, and Eugene Ryan, fireman on the engine of the train, and Mrs. S.J. Alsbury, wife of the deceased. Sheeney testified that Alsbury walked toward the crossing without looking down the track and was seemingly unmindful that the train was coming, although the engineer was sounding the whistle and the fireman was ringing the engine bell. The engineer testified that he sounded the station whistle at the usual place and subsequently sounded the whistle again to attract Alsbury’s attention. The fireman testified to the same fact. Alsbury did not discover his danger until he was on the track. Then he made a leap to get out of the way but was too late. He was struck by the top of the right side of the pilot and instantly killed. His neck, both arms and both legs, and his ribs were broken. The train at the time of the accident was running, according to the testimony of the engineer, fireman and Sheeney, not faster than six miles an hour.

The deceased was aged 48 years, and resides at 900 West Macon street. He leaves surviving him a wife and two children. He was the father of Brice Alsbury who was murdered at Kenney two years ago. Mr. Alsbury served in the union army during the late war as a member of Co. H, 63d Ill. Inf. He was wounded and lost a portion of the bones of his left arm. For this disability he was allowed a pension of $30 per month, and received back pay amounting to $1900.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) May 21, 1887

EDWIN PHILBROOK, pension attorney, has received notice of a pension of $12 per month for Sarah J. Alsbury, Decatur, Ill., widow of Levi Alsbury, Company H, 63d Illinois Infantry.

Decatur Daily Republican ( Jan 15, 1890

Brice Alsbury’s Murder:

From Tuesday’s Daily.

Held for Trial.

Henry Teal, of Waynesville, was arrested on Friday for the murder of Brice Alsbury, upon a warrant sworn out by State’s Attorney Booth, of DeWitt county. He was taken to Clinton, and was given a preliminary hearing before Judge McHenry. The judge was of the opinion that Teal’s provocation for shooting Alsbury had a tendency to somewhat mitigate the enormity of the crime, and, on the plea of manslaughter, admitted him to bail in the sum of ten thousand dollars, for his appearance at the next term of the circuit court. Teal was released upon his furnishing the required bond. Wiley Marvel, John Teal and George B. Graham are his securities.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) Mar 15, 1884

Murder Trial.

Henry Teal is on trial at Clinton before Judge Herdman for the murder of Brice Alsbury, at Waynesville, a year ago. Alsbury is well known about Mt. Zion, in this county, where his relatives reside. Attorneys Booth and Warner represent the People, and Dan Voorhees, of Indiana, and Lawyer Graham the defendant. A jury was secured last evening.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Dec 11, 1884

SATURDAY last, at the second trial at Clinton, Henry Teal was found guilty and sentenced to one year at Joliet, for the murder of Brice Alsbury. Teal has applied for another new trial.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Sep 7, 1885


Henry Teal, for the murder of Brice Alsbury at Waynesville, Ill., more than a year ago, has been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in the penitentiary of Illinois.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Sep 8, 1885

HENRY TEAL, who was found guilty of the murder of Brice Alsbury, was granted a new trial at Clinton, Thursday, by Judge Epler, on the grounds that two of the jurymen had previously expressed themselves as to Teal’s guilt.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Sep 12, 1885

Teal Discharged.

Brice Alsbury, whose parents reside at Mt. Zion, this county, was injured at Waynesville, in DeWitt county, some years ago, and died. Henry M. Teal was indicted for the murder, and found guilty by a jury. He was granted a new trial and a change of venue to Havana. Yesterday State’s attorney Booth, of Clinton, entered a nolle in the case and Teal was discharged. Important witnesses have disappeared.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Aug 7, 1886

Before the murder of Brice Alsbury:

YESTERDAY Brice Alsbury was arrested in Decatur on a state warrant charging him with having made an assault upon one James Houchens, at Waynesville, Ill., with intent to kill. The assault is alleged to have been made on October 17, since which time Alsbury has been skirmishing around for the benefit of his health. The prisoner was lodged in the county jail and the DeWitt county sheriff notified of the arrest.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Dec 28, 1882

Why Despise the Name of Polk

October 24, 2011


Ah, why despise the name of Polk! —
A name that rhymes so well with folk,
That crowds may rally round this name,
and trust to Polk their country’s fame.
‘Tis a plant used by dames and swains,
To cure their fierce rheumatic pains;
If Uncle Sam is sore beset
Writhing with anguish, pain and debt,
(Worse than disease of joint or limb,)
Surely ’twill health restore to him.

‘Tis said the juice with care preserved,
To flush the cheek with bloom has served,
Since oft in pleasures idle maze,
Nature’s fresh bloom too soon decays.
Ye fair who wish the cheek’s bright glow,
On POLK your favor then bestow.
Surely such halcyon scenes ’twill raise,
As vieing with those fabled days —
The golden age — which poets sing,
New bloom to every cheek will bring.

A simple viand for the poor,
Is this same POLK, who asks for more?
If beauty, health, and food it give,
Let POLK in fame forever live.
When soaring high our eagle proud
Cleaves with its wing the thunder cloud,
In the same talon, bright and keen,
Where the green olive branch is seen,
The imperial bird the POLK shall bear,
High, through the azure field of air.

The Experiment (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 31, 1844


I would, if I possessed the most valuable things in this world, and was about to give them away — I would give

Truth, to whig editors.
Merit, to whig candidates.
Common sense, to whig orators.
Justice, to Henry Clay.
Peace, to John Tyler.
The Presidency, to James K. Polk.
Infamy, to the Judge who sentenced Dorr.
Victory, to Democracy.
The spoils, to the victorious.
Salt River, to the Native Whigs.

The Experiment (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 31, 1844

From the Globe.

Proud chieftain of democracy —
Lov’d leader of her faithful band! —
Oh! shall no harp resound for thee,
While through this wide-spread land,
From morn till night, a venal crowd, —
By hope of lucre basely won, —
Are worshipping with paeans loud,
A far less worthy son?

Yes! the proud duty shall be mine
To wake my humble harp, and raise
A tribute to a heart like thine;
For whom can camly gaze
Upon thee as thou truly art —
Thine every word and action scan —
And then not own thee, in his heart,
A good and honest man?

THINE eyes ne’er took the murderer’s aim,
As o’er the pistol’s tube they roll’d; —
THY hands ne’er plied the cunning game
To win thy neighbor’s gold; —
THY lips ne’er spake to ask God’s curse
Upon they fellow’s head to fall,
Nor o’pd with revellers to rehearse
Their tales of midnight brawl.

But pure in soul, and bright in mind,
With fearless front and step upright,
Thous standest forth amidst they kind,
A bright and shining light! —
And while one heart is left to fan
The flame on freedom’s altar rear’d,
Stern warrior for the rights of man,
Thy name will be rever’d!

The Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Nov 18, 1844

Jean Lafitte, and the “Pirate Trust”

October 23, 2011

Jean Lafitte, and the “Pirate Trust”

TWO young Frenchmen — Jean and Pierre Lafitte — started a blacksmith shop in New Orleans in 1809. They had not the look or manner of blacksmiths. Probably Jean — a splendid, handsome giant, the hero of this story — never wielded hammer or shod a horse in all his career. Instead, he made negro slaves do the rough work while he strolled about the city and planned bigger enterprises.

Jean Lafitte was a blackguard. But he was a manly, likeable blackguard. And, once at least, he did our country valiant service. He was a pirate. Yet some historians say he went to sea but twice in his life — once when he came from France to New Orleans as a youth and once when he sailed away from America in 1820, never again to be heard of. Others say it was Pierre who set sail in 1820 and who perished somewhere in the ocean, while Jean went to Yucatan and lived six years longer in ill-earned luxury. The fact remains that there is no absolute knowledge as to whence Jean Lafitte came or whither he vanished. He was a man of mystery.

Louisiana in those days consisted largely of rich, unsettled land. Into these waste spaces the pioneers began to come. Huge plantations sprang up. To work the plantations there was need for thousands of negro slaves. And the slave trade between Africa and America throve tremendously. A negro that cost $20 in his African jungle could often be sold for $1,000 in the New Orleans market. Then the United States declared the horrible African slave trade illegal. This stopped the imports. The planters clamored for more slaves. Gangs of smugglers met the demand by secretly buying slaves intended for Spain’s Cuban and South American plantations and landing them by night in the Louisiana bayous. There was money in this sort of business. More than in blacksmithing. So, the Lafitte brothers became slave smugglers.

Then Jean’s fertile brain still further improved his business in a rather original way. What was the use of buying negroes from the Spanish slave ships off the Cuban coast when, by seizing those ships, he could get the negroes for nothing? It was a clever idea and he at once put it into practice. He also seized vessels laden with other valuables, and altogether he prospered exceedingly.

Lafitte himself did not go in search of such prey. He was a business man, not a cheap sea rover. By this time he had a number of good ships and nearly one thousand men to send on his piratical errands. He had a fortified town and harbor of his own at Barataria and made that place his headquarters. Jean had marvelous control over his men, and, though he seldom troubled himself to fight, he was unconquerable. One night a band of mutineers attacked him in is cabin. Lafitte, single-handed, slew six of them and beat off the rest.

The pirates called Lafitte, behind his back, “The Old Man.” To his face they called him “Bosse” (meaning literally “prominence”). And thus the word “boss” came into our own language. He seldom spoke to his men except when he had to and held aloof from them.

By judicious bribes to the right authorities he managed to steer clear of active prosecution, though countless governmental threats were hurled at him.
When the British planned their attack on New Orleans in the War of 1812 they offered Jean Lafitte a captain’s commission and $30,000 to join them with his men. Instead of accepting, he sent word of the offer (and of the British plot against New Orleans) to the American government, volunteering his services in exchange for a pardon. The British, in revenge, destroyed his Barataria stronghold and seized his ships. But the American general, Andrew Jackson (after cursing him for a “hellish bandit”) accepted Lafitte’s offer. And the pirate fought bravely for America in the battle of New Orleans, receiving a pardon for all past crimes.

After the war Lafitte went blithely back to his old ways. With his men he settled on an abandoned island, where now stands the city of Galveston, and made that place his new headquarters. Thus he was in a sense the real found of Galveston. He hit on an odd way to sell his smuggled slaves. He would arrange for Colonel Bowie (inventor of the bowie knife) to seize them from him and take them to New Orleans. There, as confiscated goods, they were placed on sale, and Lafitte and Bowie each reaped a goodly profit.

A visitor to the pirate lair wrote:

“Gold pieces are as plentiful here as biscuits.”

In 1820 the government captured Lafitte’s Galveston camp and hanged many of his followers.

Adams County News (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 8, 1912


Thanks to commenter, Robert R., here is a Google ebook preview link regarding Jean Laffite’s death:

Title: The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
Author: William C. Davis
Edition: reprint, illustrated, annotated
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006
ISBN: 0156032597, 9780156032599
Google eBook preview (can be purchased for $9.99)
Jean Laffite’s death – Page 463

This might not be the same book, but it is the same author. Thanks, Robert!