While conducting some research today for an address I am making a week from this Sunday, I discovered these two articles, spaced one week apart in December 1857, about poor Peggy Clevenger. I thought you would enjoy reading them as I did:
A TERRIBLE AFFAIR.We learn that the dwelling Mrs. Clevenger, situate on the Old Shore road, about half way between Mount Misery and Cedar Bridge, was destroyed by fire, one night last week, and sad to relate, Mrs. C. perished in the flames. She was a very old lady, lived entirely alone, and was known to travelers as “Old Mother Clevenger.”—Her residence was a one-story Cabin, and was well known to persons in the habit of travelling the road.
Since the above was in type, we learn that it is generally believed the old lady was murdered, and her cabin then set on fire. The Coalings are near her residence, and those employed in them, frequently went there to obtain liquor, she being in the habit of keeping some for travelers.—Several times, recently, upon refusing it to persons who were intoxicated, she has been severely beaten.
She was known to be in possession of some money, and it is though that the desire to get hold of it, in connection with the hatred existing against her, in refusing to supply the drunken brutes at the Coalings with liquor, was the cause of her sad and terrible death. The ruins were examined, but her skull and some few of her bones were found. She was about 80 years old.
A night or two previous to the fire, her hogs were poisoned and her horses throat was cut.
We Trust that the affair may be thoroughly investigated and the villains brought to justice.
(New Jersey Mirror 10 December 1857:3)
THE FIRE IN THE PINES.We are indebted to our friend, Joseph W. Cox, of Hanover Furnace, for the following correct account of the “Terrible Calamity” in the Pines, mentioned in our paper of last week. It will be seen that the intelligence we received was greatly exaggerated. We gave it as we received it, from persons who passed through the neighborhood, and was believe by them to be as near the truth as could be obtained at the time.
It gives us pleasure to learn that is generally believed no person was implicated in the calamity, but that the fire was entirely an accident:
Mr. Carr—Dear Sir:—Permit me to correct you in some of the statements in your paper with regard to the death of Mrs. Clevenger. The parties to whom you refer being in my employ, on the Hanover Tract, I deem it but justice to them to send you more correct information with reference to the affair.
I have made as thorough an investigation as I could, and from the facts I gather from her children and others who were present, I am fully satisfied that no one was implicated in the matter—but that the fire originated from the chimney or fire-place.
The old lady was in the habit of providing a bountiful supply of fuel, and piling it up near the fire, when about retiring for the night. She was Providentially saved from the same calamity two weeks previous. A person living near, having occasion to apply for her stable to accommodate a friend’s horse, went there after she had retired, and on entering the house, discovered the wood, contiguous to the fire-place, ignited, and in a short time the house would have been in flames.
And again, the old lady had, the day previous to the fire, provided herself with a quantity of opium, to the use of which she was much addicted. When under the influence of opium, she was frequently much deranged. From this cause, most probably, the fire took place.
The persons employed by me, this year, do not make use of liquor in the Coaling. She has not sold any liquor to my hands the present season, nor have they applied for any. The two head colliers do not use it all themselves and they will not employ a drinking man.
Your paper states that the old lady was known to have had some money. The testimony of her son-in law, who brought her from Forked River, the day previous, was that she had no money, or not exceeding two or three cents, which were found with the clasp of her purse, amidst the ruins.
The poisoning of her hogs is misrepresented, also. She had a hog or pig given her last spring, but it died in a short time. Since then she has not had any hogs.—With reference to her horse, no person could inform me whether his throat was cut or not, and he was so decayed when I was there that it could not be ascertained. If it was the case, however, it was done by some one of her own family, to relieve the old horse from his misery, for they had to life him up every morning.
The remains of the old lady, which consisted of the chest and skull, and what bones they could gather from the ruins, were taken charge of by the undertaker from Juliustown, Joel Mount, who accompanied me, and were properly interred at Wrightstown.
Your, &c,. J.W. COX.
Hanover Furnace, Dec. 12, 1857.
(New Jersey Mirror 17 December 1857:3)