Hallowe’en Hijinks in Upstate New York, c. 1912

In honor of Halloween I post this little ditty related to an ancestor of mine. It pertains to the antics of second cousin, Maurice J. Dullea (1895-1934), who got into a wee bit of trouble with the federal government back in 1912 when he was up to no good with a couple of friends skylarking on All Hallow’s Eve.

He was 17 years old at the time.

The article appeared on page 4 of the Courier & Freeman Newspaper, Potsdam, NY, on 13 November 1912.  I found it on the website NYS Historic Newspapers—a goldmine for genealogists researching ancestors in upstate New York. To read the story for yourself, slide the image onto your desktop and enlarge. For less effort on the eyes, a transcript of the news story follows:

01_NYS header




03_News Article.gif

Boys Tore Down R. F. D. Boxes


U.S. Marshalls Arrest Them For

Hallowe’en Prank.


     On Hallowe’en night three young men not appreciating the fact that they were monkeying with Uncle Sam’s property, tore down several R. F. D. mailboxes on the Hopkinton road. As a result Deputy U. S. Marshal E. C. J. Smith of Ogdensburg came to Potsdam Saturday and placed under arrest Maurice Dullea, Fred Brown and John Walsh on a complaint charging them with violations of section 198 of the United States criminal code of willfully and maliciously tearing down letter boxes on a rural free delivery route.

     The warrant was sworn out before U. S. Commissioner Walter G. Kellogg on the complaint of Henry Curran, a post office inspector.

     The three young men were taken to Ogdensburg Saturday afternoon where they were arraigned before Commissioner Kellogg who held them in $500 bonds for examination. They were unable to give the required bail.

      The penalty for tearing down a box of this kind or willfully aiding or assisting in this offense is a fine of not more than $1000 or imprisonment of not less than three years or both.

In the weeks that followed, local newspapers reported several more stories related to legal proceedings of the case.

The good news is Maurice ultimately managed to get out of that little scrape with the law. He was mentioned in the local papers numerous times in the years that followed though, but for a much more positive reason: for serving with honor in World War I after being wounded in battle.

The newspapers even ran a few of his letters home to the family, one of which I’ll transcribe in a future post here on GeneaJourneys.

Nothing better than a first-person, contemporary account of a soldier on the battlefront recounting the adventures (and often mundane routine) of life (literally) in the trenches.

Stay tuned…


Copyright © 2017 Patricia Desmond Biallas




This entry was posted in Biographies, Family Legends, Family Stories, Holidays, Military, Newspaper Research. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hallowe’en Hijinks in Upstate New York, c. 1912

  1. Lorene Cook says:

    Not any old vandalism…not for Maurice!

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