Saturday, April 28, 2007

Crazy McCausland's Human Sacrifice

This account is from a paper read before the Maine Historical Society in 1883 by Joseph Williamson titled "Capital Trials in Maine Before the Separation."
The indictment of Henry McCausland for murder, in 1793, at Augusta, then a half-shire of Lincoln County, excited much interest. The prisoner was an ignorant laborer, residing in Pittston, who became insane upon religious subjects. He was thought harmless, but finally had become impressed that the Lord had commanded him in a vision to make burnt-offering and a sacrifice. The offering was to be in the Episcopal church in Gardiner, and the sacrifice a woman named Warren, who lived near. Accordingly, in August, 1793, he set fire to the church, an humble, unfurnished wooden edifice, and it was destroyed. It only then remained to perform the sacrifice. Two months after the burnt-offering, at midnight, he entered the house where the victim was watching a sick person, and deliberately murdering her with a knife, excaped without obstruction. The next day, a great crowd, some of them armed, came after him, but he offered no resistance, and was quietly secured. On being arraigned, he pleaded guilty. The chief justice stated to him the nature of the plea, and suggested a substitution of not guilty. He replied that he killed the woman, and did not like to tell a lie about it. The court did not then record the plea, but remanded him. On the following day, a retraction of the plea was again proposed, and rejected. Several witnesses were then examined as to his mental condition and conduct before, at the time of, and after the murder. He was never sentenced, and as there were then no insane asylums, he was committed to jail where he remained until his death, which occurred thirty-six years afterward, at the age of seventy. During his long confinement he was harmless and contented. [Source]
According to this website, McCausland during his incarceration "was an object of curiosity to the people of the neighborhood, who used to pay a penny apiece for the privilege of 'hearin Crazy McCausland pray.' For the stipulated sum, he was accustomed to appear at his cell window, a strange object with his long beard, in those days of shaved chins and there would mumble an incoherent prayer. The money which he thus obtained he sent to his family in Pittston."

No comments: