In March 2013, I presented in two parts the story of the lawsuit between Bovina's two Presbyterian Ministers. Rev. Joshua Kennedy of the Bovina Reformed Presbyterian sued J.B. Lee of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church for slander in 1869. Thanks to Samantha Misa's perusal of the Bloomville Mirror at the Delaware County Historical Association, we discovered some information from early 1868 that had escaped my earlier research. It starts with the January 28, 1868 issue. Dated January 16, it reads:
"Friend Champ: - Having passed through several towns in this County, about Holidays, I have been a little amused with the different sound of Church bells. In one place it said, “Come and be dipped! Come and be Dipped!” another said, “There is room for all! There is room for all!” and in the little town of B, there is one that puts the cap sheaf on all that I ever heard. It speaks very distinctly in this way: “Down with the Methodists! Down with the Methodists! Down with the Methodists! Down with the Methodists! Slander Mr. K! Slander Mr. K! Eternal Damnation! Eternal Damnation!” and so say the congregation, their Minister not excepted."
The letter is signed "Peace Maker."
Three weeks later, the February 18 issue of the Mirror included on its front page a poem entitled "Brushland Rhymes." The writer of the poem knew details of the rumors involving Rev. Kennedy. The spreading of these rumors by Rev. Lee led to the slander suit. Here's the full poem:
For Peace Maker has had a call –
To blow some gas and write the news,
For other people to peruse;
‘Bout bells he writes, and blows his gas,
And brays just like some silly ass:
He’s heard a bell up in a steeple
When ringing loud to call the people.
“Come and be dipped!” it called aloud,
As coming from some distant cloud;
This seemed to smite his wicked heart,
So from this town he quick did start,
And made his way along the road
Bending beneath a sinner’s load;
He went around from town to town,
And looked just like some awkard clown.
He soon did hear another bell
Which seemed to warn him of a hell,
He paused and listened to that call:
“There’s room for all! There’s room for all!”
Then to the town of B. he went,
As if by some foul demon sent,
To hear that far renowed bell
And hear the tale it had to tell.
“Down Methodists and Covenanters!”
And all such kind of weak dissenters,
Came from that bell up in the steeple
Alarming all weak-minded people –
And great damnation it did say,
And “Slander, Slander Mr. K.!”
If really, Peace Maker is your name,
And you would rise high up to fame,
You’d better try some other way
Than blowing for this Mr. K.
If you will write, just write the truth,
And follow him up from his youth –
And write of him in early days
And show to us his deeds and ways –
And of his acts to use relate
While living in the Keystone state,
And bring his deeds out to our view,
Then we can judge if he is true.
From Chambersburgh he once was going
He looked quite wise and very knowing,
A lady, too, was by his side,
No doubt they had a pleasant ride!
He talked so fast and smiled so sweet,
(The horses were both strong and fleet)
She was enraptured by his smiles,
And quickly passed away the miles.
He put his arms around her waist
And her sweet lips he then did taste;
This seemed to chill her very heart –
It pierced her soul just like a dart;
He kissed her o’er and o’er again,
She struggled hard, but all in vain.
“Oh dear!” she said, “if Mrs. K.
Was only here, what would she say?”
“But Mrs. K., she is not here,
So rest contented now, my dear;
And if she was she would not care –
Your blushes now please try and spare.”
Another time while on the street,
A widow fair he chanced to meet –
‘Twas very dark – he nearly missed her,
Soon in his arms he caught and kissed her.
Now, if Peace Maker wants to blow,
Just write again and let me know,
And through the Mirror we will write,
And bring some facts out to the light.