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Excerpt from Medairy Jr., Bernard John. Notorious Patty Cannon and Her Gang of Kidnappers on the Eastern Shore: Kidnappers, Robbers and Murderers. 1995

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Date: 1995 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
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From Richard Bell's notes.

If we can find the actual book or the primary sources, this should be updated.

Most of what's here is also in other sources, but this has information on Sarah Nicholson that I haven't found elsewhere.

Medairy Jr., Bernard John. Notorious Patty Cannon and Her Gang of Kidnappers on the Eastern Shore: Kidnappers, Robbers and Murderers. 1995

For a whole year, Philadelphia's High Constable, SPG, combed the South and Southwest in search of JJ and EFJ, Jr; he traveled more than 2000 miles without success. In early May, 1827, he returned to Philadelphia, and directed his attentions to the apprehension of Thomas Collins and the mulatto, John Purnell, who were both still at large in SC. [ Purnell takes ship from Baltimore on schooner Sally Ann, which reached Boston on Sunday May 27th] and Boston's Constable Reed was there to meet the vessel [at Garrigues' request] He boarded the Sally Ann, arrested John Purnell, and lodged (165) him in the Boston prison. The Mayor of Boston promptly notified MW of the mulatto's arrest, and MW sent HCG to Boston to take custody of the prisoner, and bring him back to Philadelphia. HCG returned to Phila with John Purnell on Tuesday, June 14th, and lodged him in the Arch St Prison, where his physical description was entered in the prison's Prisoners Description Docket. He was described as a yellow man, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 26 years old, born in MD and having a very flat face, a hair mole on the right side of his chin, a scar on the forefinger of his left hand, and bored ears. His occupation was listed as 'shoemaker.' The following day, JP was taken to MW's office, where he was interrogated. Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser reported: 'The office of the Mayor, was on Wednesday last, crowded to excess in consequence of the examination of a small light colored Negro man, named John Smith, alias John Purnell, of Snow Hill, Dm; the latter being his true name. He was charged with being a principal agent of the Johnsons, in the atrocious kidnappings of 1825. A number of the witnesses, including several of the colroed children who had been kidnapped by Johnson's gang, and restored by Messrs/ Hamilton and Henderson of MS, testified to the identity of Purnell, and his direct agency in the matter.' ...[ Sinclair testifes:].(166)... The American Daily Advertiser mentioned that there was another black man in the Arch St Prison, charged as an accomplice, and waiting his trial. The newspaper then reported: 'There was a white man, of the Nanticoke River, who recently died in the Arch St Prison before trial, who was identified as the Captain that commanded Joe Johnson's sloop Little John, in two of her voyages to this city in the summer of 1825, and who had voluntarily confessed the fact of his guilt.' On June 23rd, 1827, John Purnell was tried in the Quarter Sessions Court of Phila, with Judge King presiding. In two cases he was convicted of kidnapping, and because he had used an alias in the kidnappings, Judge King fined him $4000, and sentenced him to serve forty-two years at hard labor, in the Arch St. Prisons, which was double the time of the usual sentence. john Purnell died in the Arch St Prison (167) on March 26th, 1833, while serving his sentence. Thomas Collin remained at large in SC until the fall of 1828, when he was apprehended, delivered to the Philadelphia authorities, and lodged in the Arch St Prison. his physical description was entered into the prison's Prisoners Description Docket, where he was described as a white man, age 37 years, born in SC, DE, 5 feet 9 inches tall, light brown complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair, a scar in the middle of the forehead, one on his right leg, and dark colored marks on each leg, just above the ankle. His occupation was given as 'waterman.' On October 7th, 1828, Thomas Collins was tried before a jury in the Quarter Sessions Court in Philadelphia, with Judge King presiding. The ADA, which covered the trial, reported: 'Collins, who until recently had eluded the police, was placed at the bar on the 7th inst. and plead not guilty to the charge. The evidence was strong and conclusive; it appeared that he was one of the associates of Johnson on board the schooner Little John, which in the summer of 1825 was anchored below the Navy yard of this city. A number of colored boys and girls were decoyed or carried by force, on board the vessel, where they were chained together, and treated with the utmost barbarity; one of the boys was so severely beaten by Johnson and his confederates that it occasioned his death. The girl, Sarah Nicholson, returned in July last, from slavery into which she had been sold by Johnson, and the story she related was clear, and completely identified the defendant, with Johnson and (168) other individuals who have been convicted. On her examination before the Mayor, she described the personal appearance of Collins, and when he was subsequently shown to her, her emotions were so strong as to deprive her for some moments of utterance. When testimony of the prosecution closed, the counsel for the defendant stated to the Court, that the evidence on the part of the prosecution was so convincing, he could not conscientiously asked the jury to acquit, and therefore left the case to their determination.' After the jury rendered its verdict of 'Guilty' Judge King remarked upon the atrocious character of the offence, and sentenced Thomas Collins to pay a fine of $2000 and undergo an imprisonment at hard labor in the Arch St Prison for twenty-one years. The newspaper reported that 'the two Johnsons, who appear to be ring-leaders of the atrocious traffic, yet elude the vigilance of Justice, but it is hoped that 'ere long, they may be overtaken by the vigorous and effective arm of the law.' Thomas Collins served five years at hard labor in the Arch St Prisons. He was pardoned by the Gov of PA on December 30th, 1833, released from prison, and returned to SC. The black man who was mentioned in the newspaper article, said to be confined in jail and awaiting trial, was Henry Carr, of Phila, who had worked for JJ. He had kidnapped Emphram Lawrence and taken the young black to Johnson's tavern, where he had sold the youth to J. Henry died of 'inflammatory fever' in the Arch Street (169) Prison, on December 10th 1827, before going to trial. While the Philadelphia authorities were engaged in prosecuting John Purnell and Thomas Collins, back on the ES, PC was busy carrying on her business from her tavern at Johnson's Crossroads, where in December 1828, she was visited by her sons in law, JJ. A newspaper, commenting on his visit, stated 'the probability is that his business here was something do with his old business of kidnapping.'

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