Script No. 286 - Sep 28, 2002 Title: Pick One Theory from Column A...

In June of 1881 quarry workers removing topsoil in Pembroke, New York, came upon human remains. Sifting through the surrounding dirt with their bare hands they uncovered a silver ring bearing the monogram "WM". Had they discovered the answer to a well-known disappearance, dating back to the year 1826? Was this the mortal remains of the Virginia-born, battle of New Orleans veteran-turned-brewer, who had gone on to become a mystery that has puzzled conspiracy theorists on into the 21st century? Was this indeed William Morgan?

Morgan had left the brewing business to become a stonemason. moving from the Toronto area to Rochester, then Batavia. Like many in his trade he'd joined a Masonic lodge. His troubles began when he wrote an expose of Freemasonry and then cranked up the marketing machinery, which did not set well with the publicity-shy, well connected Masonic brotherhood. Morgan was jailed in Canandaigua on trumped up on petit larceny charges. On his release he was spirited away in a mystery coach, presumably toward the international border at Niagara. Accounts vary, but he was never seen again. According to rumor he was either murdered, freed into anonymity, hanged as a pirate in Cuba, or made an Indian chief out west. A body was found on the shore of Lake Ontario in 1827 that was thought to be his and buried, but a woman came forth and claimed the clothes were those of her husband, drowned in the lake the previous winter. Not everybody bought that story. Fifty-four years later the Pembroke investigators claimed to have found scraps of paper with words like "kill", "prison" and "Henry Brown" a prominent Mason, on them. No conclusive evidence was turned up however, so the mystery continues.

Meanwhile, back in 1826 New York, the recently opened Erie Canal was already making its mark on the state, bringing in new and future revenues, inaugurating the golden age of canal building in the U. S. (July 4th would be a favorite launch date for future projects; this year it was the day the cornerstone was laid for the Oswego Canal). 1,100 craft had locked through the canal this year; 418 had arrived in Buffalo harbor. Samuel Wilkeson, who had been largely responsible for bringing the canal to the city rather than to Black Rock, was elected a State Senator by grateful voters. In nearby Lewiston the Frontier House tavern opened its doors to weary travelers. (It's not likely William Morgan was one of them). To the east, in Lockport, businessman Lyman Spalding built a flour mill and a sawmill, powered by canal water running down from the city's heights to the lower part of town, while William Bass and Jabez Pomeroy used the same water to run a wool carding and cloth dressing operation. In Palmyra William Phelps opened a general store, that is still one of Wayne County's top tourist sites. Above Albany, where the canal bypassed the falls at Cohoes, Stephen Van Rensselaer and other investors bought out the Cohoes Manufacturing Company to form the Cohoes Company for the development of water-power, installing canal engineer Canvass White as president. The new company was incorporated on March 28th. And at Juncta, which would soon become part of the Champlain Canal interface, the number of locks was doubled. Another major player in the state's economy began blossoming this year when Albany hardware merchant Erastus Corning came into an inheritance and bought an iron mill on Troy's Wynant Kill, renaming it the Albany Iron Works.

For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor


© 2002 David Minor / Eagles Byte