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Wayne County Pennsylvania
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The Murder of Henry W. Shouse

The First Railroad in America

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Allen House

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
September 2 1871

Effects of Lightning.

Many barns have been destroyed by lightning during the present summer in different parts of the State. The destruction in Wayne county has been particularly severe. In Preston township, lately, the lightning struck the barn of William Caurse, burning it to the ground. Two horses belonging to his father and a heifer belonging to a neighboring farmer were killed at the same time in an adjacent field. At Seeleyville a man was lying under a tree dead drunk. A bolt struck the tree and sobered him instantly. Two boys who were passing with pails of huckleberries, were severely shocked. In Honesdale the lightning was fearful, the flashes appearing with scarcely a moment's interval, and the noise of the thunder being continually heard. The house of A. G. Forbes was struck and his wife severely injured. A bolt descended between the Kipple house and the store of H. Green, tearing up the ground and affecting the inside of both buildings. The steeple of the Presbyterian church was struck six times, the fluid passing safely down the rod into the earth. Near Avon village four large barns, a granary, a shed, six stacks of hay and a large amount of grain were burned up.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
March 9, 1877

The Honesdale Dorflinges glass works are filling an order of 72,000 hand lamps to be shipped to Japan, and 115,000 fruit jars.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
December 11 1880

Lewis Rockwell was supported by his relatives at Honesdale until he was a hundred years old; and then deeming his longevity unreasonable they turned him over to the poor master. He is now 102.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
May 30 1884

A Jest That Ended Seriously

A number of boys at Honesdale yesterday evening tied a nail to a string, which they fastened to a window-frame of Mrs. John Crook in such a way that when the string was pulled the nail struck the glass. Mrs. Cook, who is an elderly lady, opened the front door the discover the cause of the tapping, when one of the lads threw a large stone, which struck her in the face. She fell senseless to the ground, and there is hardly any chance of her recovery. Philip Coyne has been arrested, charged with throwing the stone.

The Murder of Henry W. Shouse

Chester Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania)
July 19, 1880

Henry W. Shouse, a prominent citizen of Easton, Pa., was deliberately shot dead in Honesdale, Pa., on Friday evening, by his brother-in-law, Benjamin J. Bortree. The cause of the murder was an old dispute about some property. The Coroner's jury on Saturday night returned a verdict of murder in the first degree. Bortree says he is sorry that he did not also kill Mr. Wilson, a lawyer of Honesdale, "as both he and Shouse robbed him." Bortree is in jail, under guard. There is talk of lynching him.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
December 14, 1880

A murder trial, one of the most curious and interesting for itself and its causes, is now engaging the attention of the court in Honesdale, Pa. About thirty-five years ago, says the Easton Free Press, a wealthy man from Easton, Pa., by the name of William Shouse, moved into Pike county, where he had bought a large tract of country. Among his children was a daughter by the name of Miranda, who, against the wishes of her parents, married Benjamin K. Bortree. Objections to him were eventually so much overcome that the father leased him a farm in Wayne county for life, at the rate of one dollar a year, and on this place Bortree and his wife went to live.

Old Mr. Shouse died, and it was claimed that he bequeathed to his daughter Miranda, Mrs. Bortree, a large sum of money. The will, however, containing such provision, could never be found. Bortree also alleges that Henry Shouse, who was administering on the estate of his father, got possession of the lease of his farm and destroyed it. Bortree also alleges that Henry Shouse held some notes of his that he contends were paid. All of these claims whethter true or not had a terrible effect on Bortree.

The Murder

On the 15th of last July he heard that Shouse was in Honesdale consulting a lawyer in regard to having him sold out by the sheriff on these claims. He went to the office of a lawyer named Eldred, where Shouse was and fired a pistol at him, the ball taking effect in Shouse's head. Mr. Eldred attempted to interfere, but Bortree pressed his pistol against Eldred's breast, saying "I know what I have done," and pushed him out of the room. Bortree then returned to the chair where Shouse sat dead, and put two more bullets into his brain any one of which would have been fatal. Bortee made no attempt to escape. He was indicted for murder, and his trial was begun on Monday of last week.

Some of the lawyers engaged, both for the prosecution and the defense, are eminent in their profession in Pennsylvania. Bortree is a man about sixty-three years of age, and has always occupied a good position in the neighborhood where he has live. He has a fine family of children, among them several daughters who are highly thought of.

The Twelfth Juryman

There was some difficulty in obtaining a jury, and so far as the twelfth one is concerned it is of singular composition this twelfth one being a man by the name of E. B. Hollister, who several years ago attained rather an unenviable notoriety in a criminal suit. He is a wealthy man and prominent socially and politically. The charge against him was a peculiar one.

It was alleged that he had conspired to rob the postmaster and storekeeper of Hollisterville, a man by the name of Baker of $3,000, which he, himself, had paid him the day before. It was alleged that he had bribed a servant girl of Baker, named Fanny Van Gorden, who was said to be of more than ordinary attractiveness, to steal a pistol that Baker always kept under his pillow and give it to a confederate named Myers. This to make the robbers more secure. On the night appointed, a barn near Baker's was set on fire. Fanny Van Gordon first sounded the alarm in the Baker family. When the fron door was opened, Myers rushed in, knocked Mrs. Baker down, and was shown by Fanny Van Gordon where the money was kept. Baker had, however, sent the cash by a friend to Scranton, to be deposited in a bank there, and so the robbers got only a small sum belonging to the postoffice and store, and not the $3,000 paid by Hollister to Baker on the day before.

Acquittal of Hollister

Hollister, Myers, the Van Gorden girl, and an unmarried man were indicted. Hollister and the other man was acquitted. Myers and Fanny Van Gordon convisted. Myers got bail before sentence and disappeared. Fanny Van Gorden was never sentenced and the whole matter became one of those legal mysteries that are never solved. The Easton Free Press describes Hollister as the man who has fought himself out of the toils of the law on a charge of conspiracy and burglarions robbery accompanied with assault and battery; as the man who is said to have more brains than any one else in the county of Wayne. He is a tall man, aged about fifty years, spare in flesh, erect, wearing a white beard on his chin. With an average exception or two he is the only one of intelligence, as that word is used, on the jury. Among other things also, it is said that Hollister some years ago was tried for a misdemeanor and convicted. On the jury that tried him was a brother of Shouse the murdered man.

Excitement Over the Trial

There has been great excitement at Honesdale during the trial, and the little town has been crowded with people. An effort is being made to prove that Bortree was insane when he shot Shouse, and that insanity has existed in his family for generations. At the trial yesterday there was a large attendance. A witness swore to finding liquor bottles in Bortree's cell, and the prosecution will endeavor to show that Bortree was drunk instead of insane when examined by experts. Fifteen witnesses swore to the prisoner's perfect sanity on the day of the murder, and the testimony of this afternoon is expected to show how Bortree got his liquor, and other startling facts.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
January 1 1881

A dispatch from Honesdale says that Bortree, recently convicted of murder in the second degree, for killing A. W. Shrouse, of Easton, Pa., was yesterday sentenced to ten years and eleven months in the penitentiary.

The First Railroad in America

Taken From the Daily Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) Arpil 18, 1884

Engineer Horatio Allen in an article printed in the Railroad Gazette, settles the controversy as to the time and place when the first locomotive was run on a railroad in America. What he says is all the more conclusive because it is not hearsay, he ran the locomotive himself. August 9, 1829, he superintended the transfer of a locomotive named the "Stourbridge Lion," from a boat on the Delaware and Hudson canal to a truck prepared for it at Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and ran the locomotive three miles and back over rails of wood upon which bar iron 2 ¼ inches wife and 1 ½ inch thick was spiked down. It has long since been claimed that the South Carolina railroad, from Charleston to the Savannah river, at Augusta, Georgia was entitled to the credit of precedence in this matter, bu Mr. Allen's testimony effectively disposes of the claim. He was the chief engineer engaged in the construction of that railroad, and he entered upon his labors at Charleston in September, 1829. To the South Carolina railroad company, however, the honor must be awarded of being the first to adopt locomotives as the tractive power on a railroad 150 miles long, and the first to make a continuous trip over a distance of 100 miles. It is a new feather in the cap of Pennsylvania that the first puff of a locomotive was heard on her soil, and it is an honor to the borough of Honesdale which might well be commemorated in some enduring form.

James McCabe Hanged at Honesdale Yesterday

The Bradford Era, Bradford, McKean County PA,
Friday Morning, November 11, 1887
Ready To Meet His God

Wilkesbarre, Pa., Nov. 10

James McCabe, the Wayne county murderer, was executed at the Honesdale jail at 12:01 p.m. today. About seventy persons witnessed the hanging, which was conducted by Joseph Atkinson, of New York. After hanging eighteen minutes the body was cut down and handed over to his friends. The funeral will take place tomorrow.

Among those who witnessed the execution was James P. Reilly, brother of the murdered man. The wife of the condemned man and her children had a long interview with the unfortunate father this morning. It was a heart-rending scene and the two were with difficulty separated. Mass was celebrated in the doomed man's cell at 6 o'clock. Father O'Mally celebrated mass, assisted by Father Dassel. McCabe received the holy communion for the last time. After mass the condemned man was in better spirits. He said: "Well, all is over now. I am ready to meet my God." He walked to the gallows at 11:45, leaning on the arm of his spiritual adviser, and with a firm step mounted the scaffold. The priest recited the prayers for the dead and McCabe answered in low tones. He kissed the crucifix and shook hands with the sheriff. The black cap was adjusted and at 12:01 he was swung into eternity.

W. K. Spry Sells Old and Purchases New Property
The Honesdale Citizen, Honesdale, PA, July 2, 1908
W. K. Spry has sold his farm in Canaan, near Keene's station, comprising 60 acres of land, dwelling house, barn, fruit trees and all farming implements, to W. J. VanBuskirt, of WilkesBarre. Consideration, private. The purchaser is already in possession.
W. K. Spry, of Canaan, has purchased the property known as the "Jacob S. Miller farm," in Oregon and the adjoining land, known at the "Dony farm," owned by George VanDeusen, the former comprising 80 acres of land, house, barn, orchard, etc., and the latter 40 acres, timer, orchard, etc. Consideration in both cases private. Mr. Spry will take possession next week.

Perkiomen Seminary Graduation of Wayne and Pike County Students
The Honesdale Citizen, Honesdale, PA, July 9, 1908
At the annual commencement at Perkiomen Seminary in Montgomery County, Pa., the following named pupils from the township of Dreher, Wayne County, and Greentown, Pike County, passed very creditable examinations and without any conditions. Miss Edith Simons, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A J. Simons, was one of the graduates of a class of fifty-nine and stood first in her class. Miss Muriel Smith passed to the senior class and will be a pupil at the East Stroudsburg State Normal. Misses Violet Somers and Grace Sawyer passed in the middle year class and are qualified to teach. All were pupils at the Newfoundland high school and it is a very good showing of the proficiency of former teachers.


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