Tag Archives: New York

An unfaithful husband

Footpads at work

“It behoves all good citizens to carry a revolver and when molested on the highway deal out death in the shape of leaden bullets sent whirring from its muzzle into the carcasses of the vagabonds.” –Evening Auburnian (NY), November 3, 1879

When you work on researching your family genealogy, you sometimes uncover some interesting stories. This is one of mine. It has to do with William Joseph Scotton (sometimes spelled Scotten). One of my great grandfathers was William Joseph Moseley. The records are a bit uncertain, but William Scotton MAY be William Moseley’s father, which would make William Scotton my great-great-grandfather. In 1875 William Scotton married Jane Wilkins in Birmingham, England. Around 1878, William and Jane emigrated to Auburn, New York in the United States.

The robbery

On November 3, 1879, the Evening Auburnian newspaper published an article titled “Footpads at work.” The article says that on that day, William was robbed of all his cash by three men as William was walking near his home. It also said that William “was so frightened that he did not raise an alarm.” The article concluded by stating that “it behoves all good citizens to carry a revolver and when molested on the highway deal out death in the shape of leaden bullets sent whirring from its muzzle into the carcasses of the vagabonds.”

The deserter

However, about two months later, on December 29, 1879, the same newspaper carried another article about William Scotton. This article describes William as a “consumate rascal”. It seems that at the time William was “robbed”, he was behind in his rent and faked the robbery to gain sympathy. Then in early December, William left for work on foot one morning, said good-bye to a friend, and headed north. That is the last time anybody saw him. He left his wife Jane “penniless” on her own. I have searched high and low and have never found any record of his whereabouts after that day.

The article concludes with this:

Scotton deserts in 1879
Scotton deserts in 1879

In 1880 my great-grandfather William Moseley came to live with Jane in her boarding house and went to work in the Auburn Button Factory. Jane never remarried and lived in William Moseley’s house on Mary Street in Auburn until her death in 1921.