The Pursuit of Justice
By: Hobie Morris
It is three years after the guns of the Civil War fired their final shot.
Brookfield’s village proper has many businesses to meet the people’s needs. Surrounding hills and valleys are thickly populated with small farms. Scores of water powered factories and mills along Beaver Creek and smaller streams in the township produce a wide variety of useful and marketable items. Sunday morning church bells sound in the far distance. In a few years the Village will be incorporated with its own elected officials including a President. In the mid 1870s it will have its own local newspaper – The Brookfield Courier. Brookfield is generally a law abiding community. But not all the time!
It is Sunday night in mid-October, 1868. William Crumb is awakened in the night by unusual commotion among his poultry. Crumb gets out of bed and goes to the window. He could see in the dark a man in a tree throwing down to another man one of Crumb’s turkeys. The other man is putting them into a wagon.
Crumb yells at the two men frightening them. They jump into their wagon and flee as fast as the hilly nature of the dirt road allows.
Determined to give chase, Mr. Crumb quickly grabs, in the dark bedroom, what he thinks are his pants. He runs to his barn for a horse and discovers that in his haste he has put on not his pants but his coat! Fearing the robbers will escape, Crumb climbs on his horse and off he speeds with the near appendages of his garment floating wildly in the midnight breeze. The chase is on!
Crumb chases the fleeing fugitives for 2 miles, yelling for “help” at each house that he passes. The turkey robbers, fearing they are losing the race, begin throwing overboard turkeys, chickens, and even some washing clothes that they have also stolen. The two fugitives believe this will stop their pursuers, a crowd of folks who rallied to the cries and standard (flying shirttails etc.) of Mr Crumb who they hope will stop to gather up the loot. Their plan doesn’t work.
Eventually the robbers are caught and are discovered to be two notorious thieves living near Hamilton.
Mr. Crumb’s high energy effort proves the difference. Did the flying “shirttails” give Crumb and his horse a boost? Possibly… Dan Peckham and Dan Manchester thought so.
Indeed the “Pursuit of Justice” has some interesting tales/tails to tell!
But these are only the musings of a simple country man from a rustic, rural community with volumes of still unwritten stories from many generations of now forgotten people.
Editor’s note: Hobie Morris is a Brookfield resident and simple country man.