Gazetteer of New York, 1860 & 1861 page 323
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GENESEE COUNTY.    323

The location of the principal land office of the company at Batavia converted it at once into a
place of business and consequence; and the subsequent selection of the village as the co. seat of
Genesee co. made it for many years one of the' most important places in Western N.Y. Several
other land offices were afterward established, but they were aJ subordinate to the one at Batavia.

In the summer of 1826, William Morgan, of Batavia, a mason, commenced the preparation of
a work disclosing the secrets of free masonry, to be published by David C. Miller, a printer
of the same place. When this fact became known, members of the masonic order became excited,
and took measures at once to suppress the book. A stranger was introduced to the printer, who,
under the pretense of friendship, labored to gain an interest in the publication, and thus get pos¬
session of the MS. Morgan was arrested on a civil suit, and gave bail; but in Aug. 1826, his bail
surrendered him to the sheriff, and he was imprisoned over the Sabbath, while his lodgings were
searched, and it is said some of his papers were seized. An attempt was also made to burn the
office where the book was to be printed. On Sunday, Sept. 10, a warrant was obtained at Canan¬
daigua, by Nicholas G. Chesebro, for the arrest of Morgan at Batavia, 50 mi. distant, on a charge
of stealing a shirt and cravat, which he had borrowed of one E. C. Kingsley. The next day he
was arrested and taken in a stage coach to Canandaigua, but was discharged by the justice who
had issued the warrant. He was immediately re-arrested, at the instance of Chesebro, on a claim
of $2 for a tavern bill assigned to him by one Ackley; and, although he took off his coat that the
officer might levy upon it for payment, he was lodged in jail. On the evening of the 12th, while
the jailer was absent, his wife, acting under the advice of Chesebro, released the prisoner, as the
claim upon which he was held had been -paid by Loton Lauson, a pretended friend. As Morgan
passed out of the jail, he was seized by Lauson and a man called Foster, gagged, thrust into a
carriage, and driven toward Rochester. This was the last that was seen of him except by masons;
and whatever else is known was ascertained by judicial inquiry. Yarious theories were advanced
as to his fate, the most prevalent one being that he was drowned in Niagara River.

The disappearance of Morgan excited suspicion, and led to an investigation. Citizens of Ba¬
tavia, Le Roy, and other places along the route of the abduction, held meetings, appointed com¬
mittees which brought to light the facts above stated, and an intense excitement followed. Several
persons were tried for participating in the abduction. Some plead guilty, and were imprisoned,
and others escaped conviction. The delays finally barred new prosecution, by the statute of limita¬
tion, except for murder. The excitement following the investigation, at first directed against the
immediate participants in the outrage, was soon turned against the masonic fraternity. The belief
that a powerful organization, bound by secret oaths, with their members occupying high official
positions, would perpetrate a crime of this magnitude, excited alarm, and led at once to the forma¬
tion of anti-masonic organizations as a political party. The excitement spread through the State
and country, members of the fraternity seceded in large numbers, and a systematic effort was made
to crush the order. The intense feeling continued, and the mutual recriminations of the two
parties entered into all the political, religious, and social relations of society until about 1832,
when other political questions arose, and the excitement gradually died away, and now it is
understood that members of the masonic order generally condemn the deed as heartily as others.1

Immediately after the abduction of Morgan, an attempt was made to obtain the MS. of Mor¬
gan's “Revelations," then in the hands of Miller the printer, but without success.2

conspicuous among whom were Wilcox and Hurlburt. At Staf¬
ford he was taken into a masonic lodge room, where efforts
were made to frighten him, and he was threatened with the
fate of Morgan. When taken out of the lodge room, a large
number of his friends had collected, and he was there first per¬
mitted to see counsel, and to know the nature of the suit,
against him, which was a civil action for debt. Bail was re¬
fused, and repeated demands to be taken immediately beforo
the magistrate were unheeded. From Stafford to Le Boy ho
was closely guarded by a large number of armed men and
attended by an equally large number of his friends. Upon his
arrival at Le Boy he resolutely insisted upon going before the
magistrate, and, assisted by his crowd of friends, he was enabled
to do so, taking the unwilling constable along with him. After
a short delay he was discharged. On his way back to Bata¬
via, under escort of a number of his friends, who had followed
him to Le Boy, efforts were made to re-arrest him, which his
friends prevented. It is said that a portion of the MS.
was preserved by the wives of some of the masons who were
most prominent in their efforts to destroy it. French was
sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in the co. jail, Wilcox
to 6 months, and Hurlburt to 3 mos. James Granson was tried
and acquitted.

Great excitement followed these events, and a civil war was
anticipated. At the celebration of Saint John’s Day following


1

In 1828, a law was passed authorizing the Governor to ap¬
point a commissioner to make a full investigation of the Morgan
affair. Daniel Moseley, of Onondaga co., was appointed to this
office; but upon receiving the appointment of Circuit Judge, in
1829, he resigned, and was succeeded by John C. Spencer, who
made a report to the Legislature in 1830, containing all the in¬
formation upon the subject then known.

The personal characters of the two men who were made the
victims of these outrages would have ruined their schemes had
they been made publicly known. Morgan was a bricklayer and
stonemason of damaged reputation, and Miller a refugee debtor
from N.H., and finally left Batavia under circumstances ex¬
tremely inconsistent with honor. For details, see
Hammond’s
Political Hist. N.Y., chap. xxxviii; Assembly Jour.,
1828, p. 961;
do. 1829, p. 469, and
Appendix F; Assem. Docs. 1830, No. 67-
186;
Anti-Masonic Almanacs, 1828-32; Brown's Narrative of
Anti-Masonic Excitement, die.

2

In Sept. 1827, Jesse French, Boswell Wilcox, and James
Hurlburt were tried and convicted for assault and battery upon
David C. Miller, and for false imprisonment and riot. In the
evidence before the court it appeared that, on the 12th of Sept.
1826, French, then holding the office of constable, came into the
printing office of Miller, and arrested him upon a writ issued by
Justice Bartow, of Le Boy. Miller was taken into a carriage
and driven off, attended by a large party armed with clubs


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