Old St. Andrews



Escape of Hugh Waddell, 1883



St. Andrews Bay Pilot Aug 2, 1883
Escape from the County Jail of Waddell, the American House incendiary and Three Others.
A great general jail delivery, without the interposition of Court or Jury, took place here on Saturday evening under the following circumstances. It will be remembered that Hugh Waddell, bar keeper of the late American House, in this town was arrested here on the morning of Saturday the 16th of June, charged on the information of William H. Whitlock, livery stable keeper of the St. Stephen, with having set fire to the American House, which with its contents was burned down on the morning of Friday 1the 15th of June, and that Waddell, on the 18th of June, after an investigation held before Justice C. E. O. Hatheway, was committed to take his trial at the County Court to be holden here in October next.

Besides Waddell, there were four other persons confined in the jai;: Charles McCarty, James Stevens and Gilbert Lauchlan, hailing here from Saint John , NB, who were committed on the 10th inst.. from St. Stephen on a charge of drunkenness and vagrancy, the two former for sixty days and Lauchlan for thirty days, and James McCardy of St. Andrews, committed for safe keeping.

Mrs. Murchie, Proprietress of the American House, has at intervals, since Waddell's commitment, visited him at the jail. On Saturday evening hast about a quarter past eight o'clock, she applied at the jail for admission to see Waddell, saying she had heard he was sick. Mrs. Paul, daughter of Mr. Mark Hall, the jailor, who had gone down street on business, answered the call, and admitted her. While Mrs. Murchie was standing talking to Waddell, through the grating, Mrs. Paul ran upstairs to see why her child was crying. She almost immediately came down again, and while coming down the stairs, heard a noise, like what would be made by tapping the stick of an umbrella or cane on the flags. She quickened her pace, and just as she turned the foot of the stairs, into the hall, she met Mrs. Murchie going in the direction of the outer door. She was looking very pale, and said as she passed: They have opened the door, or the door is open. Mrs. Paul ran and laid hold of the solid iron door, which is used to cover the grated door, and is hung outside of it, and tried to close it and nearly succeeded in doing so but the prisoners inside pushed against it; forced it open again, stepped out into the hall, and passed through the outer door to liberty.

They ran into the street and round the corner of the Court house. Mrs. Paul immediately went down town, and meeting Mr. Charles O'Neil, told him what had occurred, and requested him to find Mr. Hall. Upon examination it was discovered that by some means, probably the lever in the hand of Mrs. Murchie, the large padlock attached to the grated door had been wrench off, the link of the lock was broken, the hinge pin was forced out and the keeper end of the link broken off. The dropping of the lock on the floor was doubtless the noise heard by Mrs. Paul.

If Mrs. Murchie was not a party to the escape, it seems a strange coincidence that she should be on hand at the moment that it took place, and why she should display so much sympathy for Waddell, who beyond the shadow of a doubt, set fire to her house, requires explanation. The plan of escape was well matured and effectively carried out, both as regard the method and time. The night was dark, the Telegraph office was closed, and no doubt Mr. Hall's movements were carefully watched, and his temporary absence taken advantage of to carry out the scheme. On being informed of the escape Sheriff Stuart immediately placed officers in motion, and had a watch kept during the night, and at daybreak on Sunday morning started in pursuit of the fugitives. Their footprints were discovered in the mud on the road leading from Edward's corner on the St. John road across to the above road, and up to Johnson's cove about three and a half miles from town. Enquiry at Mr. Thomas Johnson's elicited the fact, that his boat, when was at anchor in the cove Saturday evening had disappeared during the night. The boat has since been found at Red Beach, on the United States side of the river, and it has been ascertained that Waddell and his comrades landed from her, having paddled the boat over with a pair of paddles, which they found in a punt which laid near the boat in the cove. The escape of Waddell created a sensation in town; on Monday it was the general topic of conversation on the street.

Public opinion demands that a strict investigation into the circumstances connected with the escape be made. Pilot July 17, 1884 Hugh Waddell who escaped from the Charlotte County Jail, in this town about nine o'clock pm Saturday July 28th, 1883, where he was coffined on a charge of having on the morning of the 25th of June, set fire to the American House, was at the instance of the Attorney General of New Brunswick arrested by a United States Deputy Marshall, at Saco, Maine, on the 9th inst., on board the schooner Anne Frye, of which he was mate, and taken to Boston. Sheriff Stuart proceeded to Boston on the 9th inst. To identify Waddell. A hearing on the petition of Sheriff Stuart for the extradition of Waddell was held before Judge Nelson, in the U. S. district Court on the 11th inst, which resulted in the granting of an order remanding Waddell to await proceedings in the usual form before the state department at Washington. Sheriff Stuart arrived her Monday evening, he will return for Waddell, as soon as he received notification from the U. S. Authorities.


St. Andrews Beacon, 1889
The Escape of Hugh Waddell
The Escape of Hugh Waddell, with three other prisoners, on the 23rd of July 1883, caused one of the biggest sensations that St. Andrews has ever experienced. Waddell was awaiting trial on a charge of setting fire to the American House, in St. Andrews. On the day of his escape he had been entertaining an old sweetheart of his. While she was conversing with him through the grated door, the jailer's family were alarmed by hearing a noise as if caused by something falling. Instantly, the woman screamed out, "They've gone, every one of them." And she had spoken truly! When the affrighted jailer reached the prison quarters every one of his four birds who had been caged so securely (as he thought) had flown. It was a general jail delivery in earnest, without any court ceremonies to lend ├ęclat to it. The lock had been broken by the prisoners, though exactly how they had done it has not been discovered to this day. Of the four prisoners who gained their liberty that time, but one, Waddell, ever saw the inside of a St. Andrews jail again. They got across into Uncle Sam's territory, as speedily as possible, and from that day to this the whereabouts of those three missing jailbirds have been unknown to the authorities. Waddell was out a year and a month before Sheriff Stuart got his fingers closed on him again. It was some months after he had flown that the Sheriff heard that he was in Boston. By the consent of the Attorney General proceedings were at once begun looking to his extradition. The papers were made out, and the Sheriff, with Mr. James G. Stevens started off to Boston to collar the prisoner and bring him back. But the task proved a more difficult one that they had anticipated. They enlisted the services of the United States and Boston detective forces, but not a clue could they get concerning him.

After a long and weary search, the Boston detectives had to declare themselves beaten for once, and the Sheriff and his companion were obliged to return home empty-handed. Time went on. The extradition papers were mildewing in the Sheriff's desk, and the Sheriff himself had about made up his mind that he and the St. Andrews Fire bug had parted company forever. But one day, the townspeople noticed a sudden change come over the usually stoic features of the Sheriff. All at once he seemed to be full of business. His step became buoyant; there was a flash in his eye that had not been seen there for some time before, and the number of constables that were observed hastening in and out of his presence betokened something unusual in the wind. But the officers of the law were as dumb as clams, and the curious citizen were obliged to satisfy their curiosity by indulging in surmise and speculation. The presence of constables about the wharves night after night, evidently lying in wait for some one they expected to arrive by water, roused the curiosity of the people almost to fever heat. By degrees it leaked out that the Sheriff had received information that Waddell was on his way to St. Andrews, and that to see his sweetheart he was willing to risk liberty and even his life. But he did not land.

One night, while watching along the river-bank, the constables observed a boat being rowed cautiously towards the shore. It was not more than a hundred years from the beach, when a shrill whistle from the land was heard. In a twinkling the bow of the approaching boat was turned seaward, and the craft was rowed silently and quickly away into the darkness. It was afterwards learned that Waddell was in this boat, and that his watchful friends on shore had given the signal which had caused the boatmen to turn about so quickly. After watching in vain for his return he constables abandoned their vigil.

A day or two afterward, Sheriff Stuart went to Saint John and, with the assistance of two Saint John detectives, made a search of two vessels in which it was though the fugitive might be concealed. But, beyond hearing that the man he was after had come as far as Eastport in one of the vessels, the officer of the law left Saint John littler wiser than when he went here. Coming home in the steamer he accidentally met a party who was acquainted with Waddell's haunts in Boston. Again, the Boston Detective machine was set to work, and this time with better results.

Ascertaining that Waddell's mother was living in Boston, the detective visited her, and on the pretence of securing her son's services as a bar-tender for a Nantasket Beach hotel, he learned that his man was on the way from New York in the schooner "Annie Frye." The detective kept track of the schooner until she arrived at Biddeford, Maine, and then hastening thither he had little difficulty in picking Waddell out from the crew. He was arrested, taken to Boston, the extradition proceedings were renewed, resulting in his return to St. Andrews Jail, on the 20th of August, 1884. After he had got back to his old quarters, and while waiting for trial, he and another prisoner conspired to attack the jailer and gain their freedom. Another prisoner let the secret out. The Sheriff, on making an investigation, found that an iron bar had been wrenched off the drunkard's cage in the jail, and with this the jailer was to receive his quietus. All the prisoners denied any knowledge of the bar, and it was only found when the rotten flooring in one of the cells was lifted up. The prisoners were kept closely confined until their trial took place when Waddell was sent to Dorchester penitentiary for fourteen years. He went to prison as meek as a mouse, and is still an inmate of it.