AN EPIDEMIC IN BARN-BURNING.
The good people living in Cayuga county are in a flutter of excitement over the acts of an incendiary or incendiaries in firing the barns and granaries of the honest farmers in that vicinity. Dispatches to the daily papers relate the circumstances of these fires. Jeremiah Brown and Morris Campbell are farmers living near one another, not far from the boundary line between the towns of Cato and Conquest in this county. Campbell is an unmarried man, and in the spring of 1883 Brown discovered that Campbell had betrayed his daughter Florence. Campbell refused to marry the girl, but promised to pay her $2000. This he subsequently refused to do. A bitter feud between Brown and Campbell was the result, and the outcome of the trouble has at last brought the quiet farming community to a state of constant fear and unrest. A large barn on the Brown farm was burned to the ground with all its contents.
After Campbell refused to make any reparation for the wrong done Miss Brown, she had him indicted. The hearing in his case came up last winter, and after a long trial the jury failed to agree. James Reynolds, a cousin of the girl, took an active part in the prosecution of Campbell. He lives near the latter’s farm. One night soon after the trial, Campbell alleges that he discovered Reynolds in the act of setting fire to his barn. Not long after that a barn belonging to Horace Burns, who was a witness against Campbell, was burned to the ground. Last summer a large barn belonging to Richard Richardson, who had manifested considerable interest in the Campbell prosecution, was burned, and valuable live stock, machinery and crops were destroyed.
A few nights later Richardson was awakened by dense smoke in the room where he and his wife were sleeping, and found that his house was on fire. He gave the alarm, and in a few minutes Campbell appeared on the scene with a ladder and assisted in extinguishing the flames. Campbell lives a mile from Burns’ house. It was found that hay had been slufled under the clapboards of the house, saturated with ketosene, and then set on fire.
Soon after a barn belonging to Mortimer Van Auken was burned to the ground. Van Auken’s hired man said he saw Campbell at the barn on the night of the fire. He was arrested. He admitted before the justice of the peace that he had been in the barn, but asserted that he had gone on an errand, and knew nothing of the fire. He was discharged. The farmers in the neighborhood set a nightly watch on their premises and kept the vicinity under surveillance for a long time, but matters having apparently quieted down, vigilance was relaxed a week or so ago.
The community is now under greater excitement and apprehension than before, for the guards over premises had scarcely been withdrawn when another barn belonging to Mortimer Van Auken was burned to the ground, with all this year’s crops. Led by Justice Cole, the farmers are now engaged in a determined effort to hunt down and bring to punishment the persons who are so persistently applying the torch to their property. In the meantime, men armed with guns are kept patroling about the farm buildings nightly.