Thieves at the Mississippi Hotel–When Crime Began to Soar


Perth Courier, July 9, 1897


On Friday last a man named John O’Connell was brought in from Carleton Place by Chief Wilson and committed for trial by P. Struthers, J.P. charged with stealing a $5 bill and a silver watch guard from one James Scott in the Mississippi Hotel on the 28th ult.  He denies the charge and has asked for a trial without jury and before the county judge.

William Benger, aged 37, was convicted on 28 March 1829 for stealing twine. He was sentenced to seven years transportation.

Thomas Jacobs, aged 19, was convicted on 17 April 1822 for stealing a handkerchief. He was sentenced to transportation for life. which was later mitigated to 14 years.

John Ellison was convicted  12 January, 1821 of stealing his master’s shirt after a session of grog at the Spotted Dog Tavern. He was sentenced to seven years transportation.

Children were seen a nuisance in the 1800s, especially poor or needy ones. So ships full of children aged 9-16 were sent to the colonies. Like the worst school trip ever.

Crime was soaring because of a rise in population and wealth. The worst of this crime was between 1820-1840. Jails were overflowing which resulted in a lot escapees. There were riots over food costs and availability. The wealthy began carrying guns for protection from thieves.But it was not only thieves who were punished by banishment to reformat institutions and work houses. Children of all ages that were considered “at risk” of becoming a problem to society were treated and punished as if they already committed a crime. Punishment was cruel. Whipping posts sat around town. Adulterers and bigamist received more lashes of the whip than manslaughter. If a woman was believed to have been unfaithful she received thirty lashes and a big A was branded on her forehead with a hot iron so every one that saw her would know what she had done. She also had to wear a heavy device around her neck.


About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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