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Arnold Crum(b) Incident[i]
By David Winterstein 2018
By David Winterstein 2018
The 1840 presidential election pitted the incumbent Democrat, Martin Van Buren, against the Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison. Harrison ran his famous log cabin and hard cider campaign.
Whig supporters in the Elmira Area held a rally there on June 30, 1840 and "raised" a log cabin.[ii] Cannons were used in the rally, and a young man by the name of Crum was injured by one of them. One of his arms was completely blown off, and it ended up in the Chemung River. The other arm was so badly damaged that it had to be amputated.
In those days, cannons and political rallies seemed to go together like ham and eggs. Accidents were common, and from the nature of the injuries sustained by Mr. Crum, one can infer that he may have been involved in loading the cannon when it prematurely discharged.
Mr. Crum's misfortunes were seized upon by both parties and became a local issue in the presidential campaign.
It was suggested by the Whigs that Mr. Crum shouted "Hurrah!" as he was carried away and that he encouraged his fellow Whigs to keep firing the cannons.
The Democrats held a rally on July 1, 1840, and one of their speakers was quoted by Whig sources as saying that Mr. Crum was hurriedly carried away into a cellar occupied by beggars, that his wounds were not properly cared for, and that he was left in the “hands of a poor woman, upon the town." It was suggested that a drunk was hired to take care of Mr. Crum.
Apparently, it was scandalous in those days for a lady to attend political rallies. The Democratic speaker supposedly accused the ladies of Elmira of attending the Whig rally and of not showing any charity or compassion toward Mr. Crum, as evidenced by their failure to invite him into their homes to take care of him.
According to the Whigs, Mr. Crum was carried on a bed to a basement apartment occupied by a poor, but respected widow. He was supposedly attended to by a bevy of local doctors who carefully and skillfully removed his remaining arm and attended to his wounds.
The Whigs characterized the remarks supposedly made by the Democratic speaker as a slander against the Whigs, physicians, citizens and ladies of Elmira.
The Democrats, not to be outdone, published an affidavit signed by around 150 individuals who were present at the Democratic rally and who denied that their speaker made any such statements.
They also published several affidavits signed by eyewitnesses to the accident. The gist of the affidavits was that the cannons kept firing, and when they did, Mr. Crum screeched and begged that the firing be stopped.
Much of the language and many of the key phrases in the affidavits were common to all of them, suggesting that they may have had a common author, or at least a common editor.
Somehow, Mr. Crum ended up in a dwelling located in a corner of Seth Daggett's mill yard in the Village of Daggett. Depending on which side you listened to, the dwelling was either a hut or a log cabin.[iii]
According to the description given of the location of the dwelling, it was probably located on part of the current Mary Lou Garrison property.[iv]
The Whigs announced they were going to have a fundraiser for Mr. Crum to raise money to purchase a 100 acre farm with furnishings and to raise a log cabin on that farm. It was expected that between 6,000 to 8,000 people would be at the rally.
The event was held in Seth's mill yard, and fortunately for the town, only about 153 people, counting men, women and children, attended.
The Democrats claimed that only about $300 was raised for the benefit of Mr. Crum. They used the estimated attendance figure of 6,000 and divided it into the $300, coming up with a 5¢ per Whig donation to the fund. What cheapskates!
When comparing the dwelling in the mill yard to the 100 acres that were supposed to have been purchased, the Democrats suggested that the Whigs had used an old surveyor's trick of measuring downward to the center of the earth.
They even chastised a minister who participated in the proceedings.
The election was held, Mr. Harrison won, and Mr. Crum was forgotten by the media.
Mr. Crum's first name does not appear in any of the newspaper records on the incident, but an obituary for him unambiguously states that he lost his arms at the time and manner in Elmira as described.[v]
Even without the obituary, there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove that it was Arnold. There is no evidence of his being in Jackson Township until the 1840 Census. His in-laws were living in the area, so it was natural that he would have been brought here. The 1880 Census shows that at some point in his life, Arnold had lost both of his arms. There were not many men by the name of Crum who moved into the Township by 1840 that were missing both arms. Arnold has to have been the man injured in the cannon accident.
Arnold and his brother, David, had married two English born sisters whose parents were living in Jackson Township by 1840.[vi]
I do not know if Arnold was brought from Elmira to be hidden here in the Daggett Area, as was suggested by the Democrats, or whether he had come here after the accident because his wife's family was here. In any event, he lived in and around the Daggett Area for the rest of his life. Most of us remember Irene Messing. She was Arnold's great granddaughter.
Was Arnold ending up in Seth's mill yard evidence that Seth was a Whig? How long did Arnold stay in the mill yard?
The cabin was probably an existing structure, and as previously noted, it may eventually have become the Jesse Odle or Jesse Odell house and lot around the end of the 1840s. [vii]
William B. Keyes conveyed to Arnold Crumb 4 acres of land around February 25, 1856.[viii]
The 1862 Walling map shows Arnold living across the road from the Weyborn sawmill formerly owned by William B. Keyes.[ix] That area was a part of Lot 210 of the Bingham Lands conveyed to William B. Keyes that contained the old Weyborn sawmill. I believe the specific area Arnold was living on was a part of the current Russell H. MacDowall property.[x]
On April 6, 1866, Martha Crumb acquired a seven acre lot of land from Andrew J. Miller and Elizabeth Miller.[xi] The lot was along the Eighmey Road (T-789). The 1862 Walling map shows a house there belonging to A.J. Miller.[xii] I'm guessing Arnold and Martha moved there.
The 1875 Tioga County Atlas Map does not show a house there.[xiii] I believe that may not be correct. The 7 acres is now a part of the Cheryl Ostrander and Eugene Fleming Farm.[xiv] You can still see the remains of a foundation there. I can remember vague stories about Nort Myfelt using the old house to store farming equipment.[xv] It may be that the house may have existed into the 1960s, and there may be people still around who can remember it. I helped my Aunt and Uncle hay the surrounding fields during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[xvi] I do not recall a building being there then.
Arnold's wife, Martha, acquired 30 acres of land from her father and mother on September 16, 1867.[xvii] The 30 acres were along the south side of the current Lake Road (T-669) east of the intersection of the Lake Road with the Bear Creek Road (T-894). The 1875 Tioga County Atlas shows Arnold living there.[xviii] The house no longer exists. The 30 acres is now owned by John and Carla Hotter.[xix]
On December 29, 1875, Martha Crumb purchased the 1 acre former Stafford lot from David B. Lain and Elvira A Lain, his wife.[xx] Arnold and Martha lived there the rest of their lives. After their deaths, their son George and his family continued to live there. There are still people who remember Helen Rumsey. She lived across the road from my parents, and for many years, the kids in town enjoyed the apples from her crabapple tree. She was a daughter of George and Olive Crum and grew up on the old Stafford lot.[xxi]
My grandfather, Richard M. Smith, purchased the old Crum lot from the Tioga County Commissioners in 1949.[xxii] He raised hogs on the property that he butchered and sold in his store in Daggett. Later on, he used it as a junk yard for old construction equipment. When he retired from his businesses in Florida, he built a house on the lot where he lived until he died. I remember helping him back in the late 1960s to clear the property. During the excavation, we found an old door and frame and a set of concrete steps with the name Crum carved into it. I do not recall the exact spelling of the name that was used. He knew that the property had contained a house, but could not remember one being there when he acquired the property. We left the steps along side the road where they could be seen. The property is now owned by the Charles LaVerne Jennings Estate.[xxiii] The steps are gone.
It appears that none of the houses that Arnold lived in around the area still exist.
Arnold was listed in the various census records as a peddler. He died December 29, 1893.[xxiv] His death records listed him a beggar and that he had lost his eyesight as well.
Martha died September 14, 1900.[xxv]
I cannot find any markers for them in the Job's Corners Cemetery. Could they have been buried in unmarked graves?
History can be dry and even boring at times, but this story reminds us that it involves real people with real lives. Imagine what it would have been like to live in that time period with no arms.
[i] I have found several spellings of the name, including Crumb, Crum and Crumm. You can even see the different spellings on the grave markers in the Job's Corners Cemetery. I use the Crum spelling in this article.
[ii] The story of what happened to Arnold comes from newspaper articles in the Elmira Gazette dated July 4, 1840, July 11, 1840, September 5, 1840 and September 19, 1840. The Elmira Gazette was a Democratic paper. The articles referred to the Whig paper, the Elmira Republican. I have, as of yet, to find the corresponding articles in it. I imagine the articles in the Elmira Gazette were very slanted.
[iii] See the section of my history on Seth Daggett. The hut or log cabin may have later been the Jesse Odell or Odle house and lot.
[iv] 7749 Route 549. Tax Parcel 17/07B00/009.
[v] Tioga Eagle January 17, 1894.
[vi] Arnold married Martha Holton and David married Elizabeth Holton, daughters of Thomas and Mary Holton.
[vii] See note iii.
[viii] There is no recorded deed, and I have lost my notes showing the source of this info. I believe it was mentioned in a related deed in that area.
[ix] Walling, H.F. Map of Tioga County Pennsylvania. Map. New York, NY. Way Palmer & Co. 1862.
[x] 55 Old State Road. Tax Parcel 17/06.00/040.
[xi] Tioga County Deed Book 38 at page 201.
[xii] See note ix.
[xiii] Beers, F.W. & Co. County Atlas of Tioga County Pennsylvania. Map. New York. 1875. See maps of Jackson Township.
[xiv] Tax Parcel 17/04.00/074
[xv] I have discussed this house with Kenneth Eighmey who grew up on the adjacent Jerome C. Eighmey Farm. He does not remember a house ever being there. I cannot find anyone that can verify my recollections.
[xvi] Pauline and Gordon Martin, the former owners of Tax parcel 17/04.00/074.
[xvii] Tioga County Deed Book 42 at page 76.
[xviii] See note Xiii.
[xix] 788 Lake Road. Tax Parcel 17/04.00/028. They have built a new house on the 30 acres.
[xx] Tioga County Deed Book 57 at page 106.
[xxi] While I am positive George and Olive lived on the property, I received an email from Ann Nickeson, a granddaughter of Helen Rumsey stating that Helen may have been in an orphanage for a time.
[xxii] Tioga County Record Book 405 at page 713. The County acquired the property through a tax sale from the George Crumb Estate in 1936. My Grandfather never recorded a deed for the property, and received a substitute deed in 1981.
[xxiii] 40 Switchback Road. 17/04.00/072.
[xxiv] See note v and Tioga County Death Record Bk 1 at page 4 line 43. He was 84 years old and had been born in Tompkins Co., NY. He was listed as single, but I believe that to be incorrect. He died in Rutland Township of old age. That conflicts with him living on the old Stafford lot. He may have been living with relatives when he died. He was buried in the Job's Corners Cemetery.
[xxv] Tioga County Death Record Bk 1 at page 78 line 43. She was 84 years old and had been born in England. She was listed as married, but was that correct? She died in Daggett Hollow of old age, probably on the Stafford lot. She was listed as a housekeeper by trade and had lived 10 days before passing. She was buried in the Job's Corners Cemetery.
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