A flash … back in time!

A monthly series by Town and Village Historian Judith Stone Adams as we look back at life in the area from years past.

The First Murder in Caledonia

   CALEDONIA - Spring of 1807 an event occurred that filled the infant settlement with horror and made a deep impression on many. A number of men were engaged in laying out a road in the neighborhood of Duncan McColls (Graney Road Today). Some trifling dispute arose between James McLean, a very bad tempered man, and William Orr. McLean grew very much enraged and all at once raised his axe cleft over Orr's skull, killing him instantly. Archibald McLaughlin came up a moment after and stooping down to look at the murdered man exclaimed in a tone of reproach "Ah Lachlin, Lachlin, and what have you done now?" Without any further provocation McLean raised his axe again and striking him on the shoulder cut him down to the very heart. Donald McColl, then a boy of 16 years old, with great boldness and dexterity, jerked the axe off Mcleans shoulder, over which he had thrown it, but being unable to wrench it out of his hands ran and hid in a thick jungle of hazel bushes. He then fled as for his life to the village, frightened almost out of his senses, and gave the alarm. The whole settlement was roused to arrest the murderer. McLean hid himself in hollow logs and in the woods he succeeded in escaping to Canandaigua where he was suspected and taken up. He was afterwards convicted and executed in Batavia.

   For some time after this horrible event the women and children harldy dared to move out of doors for fear of having McLean come upon them, and took the utmost pains to bar their doors the moment the men left the house. And it was not until he was safely lodged in jail that the people breathed freely again.


Material taken from:
Rev. W.S. McLaren Papers and The History of Livingston County
by James H. Smith 1881


Previous Articles:

Soldiers Monument Committee - 1899

Writer Recalls Methodists of Caledonia Pioneer Days

Official Town and Village Directory - 1903

Caledonia Collegiate Alumni in 1892

Our Ancestors shaved with jack-knives

Flying Saucers spotted in western sky

50th Anniversary of the War Memorial Monument