During the third night in August, William Badger cowered beneath the hail of logs launched by John B. Haynes. ‘Good,’ he probably said to himself, ‘I’ve gotten the worst out of the way for this year, which is 1811, good thing I announced that out loud just in case someone nearby forgot we live in the early nineteenth century.’
Unfortunately, William Badger pissed off a lot of violent people.
Not only did John B. Haynes return to Badger’s house on August 10, 1811, to elaborate on his hatred for the silversmith, but on that same day another man appeared over the horizon. We possess no knowledge about why John J. Winston beat Badger’s ass, but we do know that his appearance foreshadowed a disturbing trend; folks would not stop attacking this man. Luther Morgan showed up later that same year, although no exact date is given, and proceeded to wallop all over him. On August 16, 1811, Nicholas Gilbreath did the neighborly thing and made Badger’s bruises slightly more symmetrical. For an entire month, multiple people appeared at William Badger’s door to beat and humiliate him.
It’s worth noting here that perhaps William Badger either tried to rip these men off or did shoddy silverwork. Our limited view into the situation provides some possible answers. During William Badger’s first appearance in Madison county’s historical record, the court recognized his occupation as a silversmith. Several brutal assaults later and Badger emerged not as an artisan but as a laborer. Although later records indicated John B. Haynes as a yeoman, the August 10 indictment specified him as a merchant. The courts listed that same occupation for John J. Winston. Luther Morgan’s livelihood remained vague, along with the date of his smackdown, but his desire to beat the bejeesus out of William Badger indicates that he either owned a store or participated somehow in the local mercantile economy.
Although it’s entirely possible that Badger no longer possessed the ability to smith some silver after the nighttime assault by Haynes*, it’s also just as likely that he tried to cheat several business partners at the same time and lost credibility with the small community of merchants that supplied Madison county. The most definitive thing we can say is this – William Badger looked forward to September.
*how you gonna work with precious metals without a roof? also, John B. Haynes was eventually convicted for his second assault on Badger and fined $13.75.
The Territory v. John B. Haynes, Minute Book of Madison County Mississippi Territory of the Superior Court in Law and Equity, 1811-1819. p. 26/24-26/25 (1811).
The Territory v. John J. Winston, Minute Book of Madison County Mississippi Territory of the Superior Court in Law and Equity, 1811-1819. p. 31/29-32/29 (1811).
The Territory v. Luther Morgan, Minute Book of Madison County Mississippi Territory of the Superior Court in Law and Equity, 1811-1819. p. 32/30 (1812).
The Territory v. Nicholas Gilbreath, Minute Book of Madison County Mississippi Territory of the Superior Court in Law and Equity, 1811-1819. p. 63/53 (1811).