The 1858 Kidnapping of Richard Newman

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On April 1, 1858, Robert Stump of Hampshire County, VA, bounty hunter Peter Heck of Uniontown, PA, and Frost, the Deputy Marshal for the Western District of PA entered Blairsville in search of Richard Newman, former slave. Mr. Newman had been living openly in Blairsville for nearly 6 years.

As the men walked East on Market St., Stump spotted Newman in the doorway of Mullholland's dry-goods store. Stump instructed Heck to grab him and throw him into the street because Newman wouldn't recognized Heck and that then he and Frost would assist him. The plan was weak and Newman invariably flung Heck into Market St. The three men, working in tandem, were able to restrain and subdue Richard Newman.

Quickly, a crowd of angry residents surrounded the kidnappers. They succeeded in freeing Newman. As the mob's calls for hanging the men grew, a nervous Stump fired his pistol into the crowd. Constable George Wilkinson and Mayor Chester Davis were called to the scene and Johnston was able to secret Mr. Newman away.

Blairsville’s former physician Dr. Robert M. S. Jackson and his travelling companion Mr. Peter Lesley encountered the mob of Blairsville citizens attacking two slave catchers and a deputy US Marshal.  Jackson  and Leslie, good Christian men, but also ardent Abolitionists, interceded on behalf of the slave catchers whom they feared would be killed. Although beaten and pelted with rocks and sticks, the three slave catchers were saved by the combined efforts of Jackson, Leslie, Blairsville’s Mayor CC Davis, and Constable Wilkinson.

After the slave catchers were driven out of town, Dr. Jackson and Mr. Leslie continued to the Blairsville PRR Depot.  Inside, the men encountered Blairsville’s   Vigilance Committee.  Lesley wrote to Theodore Parker of the event, “In the Depot were concealed thirty and in the barn fifty armed men, and the woods were full. Three thousand good and true men could be concentrated in thirty-six hours at any point in Indiana County”