Thursday, January 1, 2015

WILLIAM SLACK, GRAVE ROBBER

A 52-week challenge went out last year to genealogists to post one ancestor per week.  I didn't do it last year but thought I would give it a try this year.  Here is my post for the first week of 2015.

My fourth great grandfather, William SLACK, was born 21 February 1783, probably in Windham Co., Connecticut, where his parents were living at the time.  They were Christopher SLACK and Phebe (surname unknown).  He was baptized as an adult in Northampton on 23 April 1795.  He first married Hannah CASWELL (my ancestor), daughter of Jonathan CASWELL and Margery MARKHAM, who was born in Middlesex Co., Connecticut.  He died 3 September 1845 in Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts.

William's family moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, and William went on to Otsego Co., New York.  Hannah's family moved to Otsego Co., New York also and, I believe, that is where they were married on 13 April 1807.  They were living in Springfield, Otsego Co. and had four children there. Two died in infancy and Hannah died about 1812.  After her death, William returned to his family in Northampton with his two remaining children, Philinda SLACK (my ancestor) and Jonathan Caswell SLACK.

William married twice more after returning to Massachusetts.  He married Priscilla PELTON and then Nancy DAMON TORREY HALL, as her third husband.

William SLACK was a farmer, weaver and, according to town records, had a cider mill, as well.  He was a land owner and, eventually, his land went to his son Jonathan.  Here is the interesting thing I found out about him...  He was arrested as a grave robber!  The following item appeared in the Hampshire Gazette on 4 October 1837:  "Supreme Court:  In the case of the Commonwealth vs William Slack and J. (oseph) Kingsley from this county, which was an indictment for removing a dead body before burial, from Westhampton to Northampton, against the statute for protecting the sepulchers of the dead, the defendants were discharged on the ground that the indictment did not allege such facts as were material and necessary to bring them within the provisions of the law."  Apparently, they did remove a body but the court wasn't presented with sufficient evidence of a crime.  I certainly wonder why they moved it!!

Note:  The sources for this information and all other information on my family are available in my files.

4 comments:

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  2. Dang! I can't believe I missed seeing this posting, but here's the answer to your question about why they removed the body. See pp. 304-308:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=nrdLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA304&lpg=PA304&dq=slack+Kingsley+body&source=bl&ots=sb6ytSjPaD&sig=-iBbK6kPVfSnzpCAZqU_I2wh8zo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=EWn2VJ_lDsTzoAS25IKIDw&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=slack%20Kingsley%20body&f=false

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  3. Maybe there was a family feud over where to bury someone?

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  4. After I wrote this, I found documents that explain a bit more about it. It was against the law to bury someone in a town other than where they died. William Slack and Joseph Kingsley removed someone to a town other than where he died for burial. They didn't actually dig him up!

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