Monday, December 27, 2010

A Crafty Man in A Sailor-Fashion Jacket (Pennsylvania Gazette, 2-11-1789)

Thomas Wetherby was a healthy young indentured servant when he ran away from John Wood of Cumberland County, New Jersey, in the first month of 1789. Besides a wide mouth and "teeth very much gone before," Wetherby was largely unremarkable in his physical appearance and dress. He wore the clothing of a working man, and the state of his garments indicate that he had owned them for some time. He had an "old felt hat," a brown wool jacket "made sailor fashion" (probably double-breasted) with wooden buttons and a homespun tow lining, an old "under jacket" or waistcoat, worn buckskin breeches, and gray "mouse coloured stockings." His shoes featured narrow copper buckles and were "slit in the instep," perhaps a decorative technique of slashing the leather but more likely a functional addition of unknown purpose. Wetherby carried no other clothing, which may indicate that he fled quickly, not planning for the cold weather he would endure during his travel.

John Wood knew that Wetherby might play the fool in order to make his escape. This runaway had the usual "down look" and did not "appear to be a great wit," due in no small part to his buckteeth. But Wetherby was no yokel. Wood suspected Wetherby would "change his name and dress" soon. Wetherby was dressed for work, and once off the farm in Stoney Creek, he may have easily avoided the suspicions of people he met, as he was "very ready to tell a lye."

No comments:

Post a Comment