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100 Years Ago

Thursday, March 8, 1917

As the late Governor Hatfield left his office he extended the executive clemency to some sixty odd unfortunate persons. The list includes the pardon of Max Curry, sentenced in this county in April 1915, for arson, to serve six years. This is the Cass merchant who was indicted on a charge of burning his own property to defraud insurance companies. Another one was Antonio Brintonio, an Italian, who with some others was convicted of a drunken, senseless murder of a foreman at Spruce. Brintonio was sentenced for life and his sentence was commuted to 18 years. Warwick C. Ratliff who has been out on parole for four years received a full pardon.

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The town authorities are doing what they can to break up the very dangerous practice of jumping moving trains in the Marlinton yards. There is an ordinance prescribing a heavy penalty for its violation.

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The weather took a turn for the worse last week. For four or five days it rained, snowed and sleeted, and there never was worse weather under foot and over head. There never was a time when a roof came in as handy as it did during that season. What was worse the laws of Lucina have been somewhat relaxed of late years and instead of having the lambs make their appearance around the first of May, the first of March is now the fashionable time and that struck the worst spell of weather that was ever seen in this sheep raising country. It is said that if a sheep’s backbone gets cold that he is a gone gosling, and the sleet, and rain and snow combined searched out the back bone of many a poor sheep.


The following is from a paper read before the Cincinnati Literary Club, and was sent to us by a friend:
When I was a boy, there was a celebrated legal case, which was at once the wonder and the horror of the age. It was then known as the famous Bull and Boat case – or, to give its legal title, “Bullum v. Boatum.”
The facts are these:

In a quiet village of Laydown lived William Jones and Thomas Smith. Jones was the owner of a fragile boat, and Smith was the proprietor of a raging bull. One evening, Jones, who had been visiting the girl on the other side of the river, tied up his boat to the shore with a hayband, rope being scarce – that is to say, with a band made of hay. An hour afterwards, Smith’s bull came to the river to drink. He, I mean the bull, was frisking his tail in the breeze, with a sort of “does any fellow want a horn” sort of an air, and anxious, unlike Mr. Micawber, to turn something up. He suddenly smelt hay, and following his nose and discovered the boat and the hayband.

As a matter of course, he tasted this new kind of rope, and he found the ends to be so succulent that he commenced to eat the coils around the post; and, in order to do this thing thoroughly, he stepped on board the boat. As he bit, nibbled, pulled and chewed, the rope broke, and the next moment the tide (which waits for no man, much less for a bull) carried the boat and the bull into the centre of the river. The bull no sooner felt that his “bark was on the waves” than he tried to kick the boat back into its place; and as he plunged away, fore­­­­­ and aft, his hind legs went through the bottom, the boat turned upside down, and not being able to swim with his legs in the air, he was drowned. In the elegant language of the daily press, he – I mean the bull – “ascended the golden stairs” with a broken boat wrapped around his loins.

Boat and bull were afterwards found lying dead in each other’s arms – or legs. Then came the suit. Jones sued Smith for the value of the boat, and Smith sued Jones for the worth of the bull. This is the great case of Bullum v. Boatum. It was argued fifteen times before a full bench, that is to say, each occupant of the bench was full.

First came the argument for the bull:

“The bull,” roared his counsel, “was strictly within his rights. He was exercising his legs in the evening.
Hay was his natural food. The right to eat hay was given by Magna Charta. He was suddenly tempted by a delicious hayband, and he did not resist. It was not in the nature or constitution of a bull to resist temptation; in fact he was trained for purposes of seduction. He ate that hayband – and in order to get the whole of it, he got into the boat. It is perfectly plain that if the boat had not been there, my client could not and would not have stepped aboard; and then this noble specimen of energy and push could not have perished” – and so on, and so on, for five days in succession.

Then up rose the great Admiralty lawyer on behalf of the boat:

“The bull was palpably in the wrong. Who? The bull went to the boat; the boat did not come to the bull. ‘My Client’ was gently and peaceably floating on the tide of the watery events when this red-headed rake of a bull ate up the anchor and hawser, tore it from its fastenings, jumped in, had a ride for nothing, kicked the bottom out, and died in an attempt to swim with his horns and tail. If ever there was a case of piracy and burglary combined, this was the one, and the bull was the culprit. Look at the natural consequences. The body of that bull floated into the millrace, broke a wheel of the mill, the miller lost his life in trying to pull it out by the tail, and his wife ran away with the constable by way of consolation, and, and, – – –”

Here the chief justice suddenly woke up and said: “I have had enough of this. Take your decrees, Brother Bullum. It is the most infamous case of willful and malicious negligence on the part of the boat that I have ever come across in my professional career. Think of it! A boat tied with a hayband to the shore!

Can human turpitude and moral delinquency go further?

The bull was within his constitutional rights. He has a natural inalienable lien upon hay. The vicious nature of hay is well known. There is a case in the 49,000th report of Ohio Riddle, where a load of hay fell upon a mule and killed him, or her, or it.

Bull! – why bulls are sacred animals, known and mentioned in Holy Writ! Popes keep them to his very day in the Vatican. Nearly all bulls are endowed with horns as a sign of martial honours. The statute of Michael Angelo, by, by, Moses had – had horns like a bull. I saw them myself. The bull was no sailor, the boat knew it; and what is more infamous still – took advantage of his ignorance of navigation, and drowned him with his feet in the air. I feel like giving heavy, yes, punitory damages in this case as a warning to boats to keep their bottoms away from bulls.”

There is a judgment that is a judgment. This is a case which every lawyer ought to know by heart; it is an inexhaustible mine of legal lore.

I regret to add that the judge died soon after the decision, and that he is still dead…

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