The Great Chicken Caper

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I don’t know all that much about my great great grandmother Mary. Both of her parents were born in Ireland and so was she. She married Michael Collins, who was born in Ireland, before 1858 and they had seven children. Some of those children were born in Massachusetts and some in New York State.

Stereotypically people of Irish heritage have a strong sense of right and wrong and a fierce determination to stand behind their convictions. As far as grandma Mary goes, the apple didn’t fall far from the Irish tree. Of all the things I found on her, the most interesting was an article in the Olean, New York newspaper published in 1884. Mary was 52 at the time and raised chickens as I am sure many people of that time did for both eggs and meat. Mary had a neighbor, Ottis B Adsit, 63 years old, a teamster born in Connecticut, my impression is, they didn’t get along all that well.

It seems that Mr. Adsit had absconded with some of Mary’s chickens and Mary was having none of it. Mary took her neighbor to court to get her chickens back. She told the court that if she was wrong she would pay for all of the court costs herself, but two of those chickens in Mr. Adsit’s coup belonged to her. She asked the court to have Mr. Adsit release the chickens so that she could call them home. As the paper so eloquently put it, the chickens were “liberated” by Mr Wiley Mckiniey and Mary called her chicken’s home by letting out her “melodious voice.”

Mary won her suit.


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