Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mob on Coney Island and Racism - 1849

I find this painful to read, to be honest--some violence and the racism at the start of the last paragraph turns my stomach. Absolutely no idea what actually happened here, either. But in the interest of reporting history accurately....

And part of this one was illegible.

JUSUICES (?) COURT.--Before Justice Winslow.--The people vs. Thomas Barlow, George Hewlett, Samuel Powers and Jacob Anderson.--These parties (all colored individuals) were brought into court, having been arrested at Coney Island by officer Hegeman and deputy sheriff Bird, on a charge of burglary, in breaking and entering the house of Israel Peterson at Gravesend, Coney Island, on the 18th of Aug. last.

Alonzo Myers being sworn for the (illegible)sed as follows:

I live at Coney Island Point (illegible) follow cleaning and such like, (illegible) Aug. last, I was sleeping at the house of Israel Peterson, my own shanty having been torn down by a mob. I know the deponents, Thomas Barlow, George Hewlett, Samuel Powers and Jacob Anderson. Thomas Barlow is one of the number that tore down my shanty the same day, about dusk.--I was asleep on the chest, which was to be my bed for the night, when I was awoke by the noise of these men outside the house, who were cursing and swearing and asking for me ; swearing they would kill me. Hearing that noise I crawled under the bed, when they forced open the door, breaking two buttons off, and entering the house. When they found me under the bed I crawled out. I went up stairs fearing them, but soon came down again, when I was clinched by Samuel Powers, who dragged me out. They were all in the house together assisting each other. After they got me out, they pitched me down the hill and struck me with their fists and kicked me and knocked me with boards. They were all engaged in beating me. After they had knocked me down and beaten me until I was blind, they marched me down towards the shanty, beating and kicking me all the way. After I had got to my shanty that had been torn down they swore they would kill me, if I did not leave the Point. They knocked me down and beat me with boards and threw timbers on me until Israel Peterson came down and persuaded them to let me alone. I then crawled away on my hands and knees, and laid there until near morning when Mrs. Peterson assisted me to get to the house, where I was confined nearly a week.

Patience Peterson, a woman of the thick and flat nose tribe, and who felt about happy in consequence of the liquor she had imbibed for the purpose of keeping her spirits up, gave in her testimony in the most positive manner, which was in sub-substance similar to the foregoing. The parties were all held to answer the charge at a higher court. It is not by any means certain that a burglary was really intended, although so considered in the eye of the law. There are several other charges against these parties and ten or eleven others which will be investigated in due time...

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, September 7, 1849

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