The Problem with oates.




James Caton was a farmer who's farm was in an area of Washington Massachusetts known as 'New Lenox' located near the Lenox boundary at the east end of New Lenox Road.

New Lenox Road crossed into the town of Washington and eventually proceeded toward the center of the town of Washington up Washington Mountain.

James and his wife had at least three children a son, born about 1852, and two daughters Ellen, born about 1859 and Elizabeth born about 1861.

In a deposition written by James Caton October 12, 1869, he describes the events of a particular week in August that he and his family had endured.

"On the 13th day of last August in Washington my wife in the morning sent home the 13 turkies of Mrs. Jane Dexter wife of Albert Dexter, by my two little girls. The oldest Ellen Jane 10 years old and Elizabeth 8 years old her land lies joining mine. She does all the business.

In the afternoon of the same day I went down to the mill across the pasture.

When I came back about 2 or 3 O'clock P.M., Mrs. Dexter's turkies were in the same piece of my oates they were in in the morning. I directed my boy 17 years old, to drive my team home and I drove Mrs. Dexter's turkies back to her. I drove them down in the public road toward her house. As I went along driving them she was in the yard but soon went into her house. As I drove the turkies up to the house she had her window up and her elbows on the window sill. I said, "Mrs. Dexter, what is going to be done with these turkies. They have been in my oates every day this week." I told her "I sent the little girls home with them 2 or 3 times this week and you weren't (not clear) here."

She said to me, "will you pound them?" I am field driver and highway surveyor. I said, "no mam (not clear) I wont pound them." I said, "I could shut them up in my barn or wagon house." I said, "if you want to go ahead 4 or 5 days till the oats are harvested and have the damage appraised you can and pay for it." I told her, "I would get the damages appraised and she should pay for it." She said, "GOD DAMN YOUR stealing? (not clear) SOUL TO HELL!!! You damn thief, you stole my monkey wrench. You damn old robber, you put your cattle in my meadow cattle show day and I was told of it."

Said I, "Mrs. Dexter I never stole your monkey wrench neither did I put my cattle in your meadow." Said, "it is well known whether I stole or robbed."

Said I, "that is not so bad as what Dick Congdon said of you, that you kept a whore house." I then said, "it aint a very good thing for me to be here talking to you." I turned round to go home. She was barefooted and jumped over the fence and took a long pole out of the door yard and followed me along ( I am and then was lame ) ? (not clear) Said, "GOD DAMN your soul to hell I will wash my hands in your hearts blood." She came near me with the pole. I said, "Mrs. Dexter, you strike me with that and I will have you looking through grates." She dropped the pole and picked up the stones, some about the size of turkey's eggs and threw them at me.

She struck me with one between the shoulders. She put both her hands in the gravel and took up 10 or 12 double handfuls and threw them in my face and neck. She threw round (not clear) wood that had fallen off loads at me. One of the sticks hit and one of the stones and each double handful of gravel. I went home and she went back.

In the P.M. toward night of the same day I went by there to get my cattle and Dexter and wife was in the yard and he said, "did you say that I kept a whore house?" I told him that "I said no such thing." I said "Dick Congdon and your own brother in law Charles Beebe (not clear) told me that your wife did."

He told his wife who was very noisy to go in the house. She made at him with a stick."


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