(Northern Journal, Lowville, N. Y. - February 29, 1844)
Americans In Van Dieman's Land
Typist's Note: Please be aware that many names shown in this article appear to contain errors in spelling and intent; e.g. Matthews in most records appears as "Mathers."
New York, February 17, 1844.
To the Editor of the Tribune:
The undersigned, were engaged with Colonel Von Schoultz in the affair of the Windmill, near Prescott, in November, 1838. They were tried by a militia Court-Martial at Kingston, Can. and sentenced to death, but sent to Van Diemanís land as convicts; where, after a residence of nearly four years, they were forgiven and allowed to return to their country by Sir John Franklin, the British Governor.
On our voyage out, we doubled the Cape of Good Hope; on our voyage home, we doubled the Cape Horn--performing, in all, a journey of upward of 30,000 miles, and sailing once, at least, around the world.
As there were fifty-four of our comrades were under Von Schoultz still in captivity, we think it a duty to them and their relatives to offer the public an account of their present circumstances, so far as they are known to us.
To do this in the most satisfactory manner, we here name them severally. They are all in tolerable health, except THOMAS STOCKTON, who is in a consumption. Severe treatment and other causes, which it would only excite unkind feelings for us to dwell upon, have made great inroads upon many constitutions once very strong. and it should it be the pleasure of the English Government to release them, seeing to it is on the most friendly terms with ours, and perfect peace prevailing on this continent, their wives, sisters, parents and other relatives, may expect to meet with men broken down, care-worn, or in many, if not in most cases, friends who have painfully endured a very heavy, and, as some think, most unmerited bondage. Their names are,
Also, J. STOCKTON, who is in ill health.--the following Prescott prisoners are dead.
The above are nearly all Americans. The prisoners from Windsor and Short Hills, partly Canadian, partly from the United States, are in tolerable health, except ROBERT MARSH, who is consumptive. Their names are:
Of these, L. W. MILLER (student at law) and JOSEPH STEWART, are at Port Arthur, a place of additional punishment. They attempted to recover their freedom, and suffer accordingly.
The prisoners were in hopes, that when President Tyler and Mr. Webster concluded the late Treaty with Britain, through Lord Ashburton, and when Canada got a new constitution, their hard fate would be remembered; but not one of those on the island knows of any steps taken for a general release. Mr. Everett, our Minister at London, told us he was doing what he could for us unhappy countrymen, but thought it was very doubtful whether they would be allowed again to see their native land.
We were five months on the passage from Van Diemanís Land to London, and Mr. Everett got us a ship to New York.
We say it with truth and sincerity, that we would not of choice pass the rest of our lives on Van Diemanís Land, if the whole island were given to us in freehold as a gift, and as there can be no fear that our unfortunate friends who remain there will ever again desire to interfere with Canada, we would entreat the generous and humane to exert themselves to procure their release. We have not to complain of unusual harshness used towards ourselves, and yet both of us have often wished to be relieved by death from the horrid bondage entailed on those who are situated as we were. To be obliged to drag out an existence in such a convict colony, and among such a population, is in itself a punishment severe beyond our power to describe.
Several parties, in all about 1,500 men, were placed last May under proper officers by the Governor, for the purpose of securing four criminals, guilty of murder, etc.; we were in one of those parties by whom the criminals were secured, and this, and general good conduct, procured several persons their liberty, among whom we two were so fortunate as to be included.
Morrisett), Murray and Lafore (sic), are, we think, from Lower Canada.
We can speak more decidedly as to our comrades from Prescott, Windsor, and the Short Hills, above named, because when we got our freedom we visited most of them, though scattered through the interior of the country, following their several trades or occupations.
One of us, Aaron Dresser, resides in Alexandria, Jefferson County -- the other, Stephen S. Wright, lives in Denmark, Lewis County, both in New York State. We will be happy to reply to any post-paid letters from the relatives of our comrades, and to give them any further information in our power.
S. S. WRIGHT
He was cordially welcomed by a large number of townsmen and neighbors, who met him in this town on his return. He has delivered several addresses, in which he gives a detailed history of his imprisonment, sufferings, and final return. He addressed a large assemblage here on Tuesday, but being absent from home, we did not have the pleasure of listening to him. We presume his lecture, published in our paper to-day, contains the main particulars.
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