Source:Palmyra Register:28 June 1820:5 July 1820:It was far from our intention to charge the Methodists with retailing ardent spirits while professedly met for the worship of their God

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Palmyra Register (1820): "It was far from our intention to charge the Methodists with retailing ardent spirits while professedly met for the worship of their God"

28 June 1820: "The deceased, we are informed, arrived...from a camp-meeting which was held in this vicinity, in a state of intoxication"

Palmyra Register, 28 June 1820:

Effects of Drunkenness--DIED at the house of Mr. Robert McCollum, in this town, on the 26th inst. James Couser, aged about forty years. The deceased, we are informed, arrived at Mr. McCollum's house the evening preceding, from a camp-meeting which was held in this vicinity, in a state of intoxication. He, with his companion who was also in the same debasing condition, called for supper, which was granted. They both stayed the night--called for breakfast next morning--when notified that it was ready, the deceased was found wrestling with his companion, who he flung with the greatest ease,--he suddenly sunk down upon a bench,--was taken with an epileptic fit, and immediately expired.--It is supposed he obtained his liquor, which was no doubt the cause of his death, at the Camp-ground, where, it is a notorious fact, the intemperate, the lewd and dissolute part of community too frequently resort for no better object, than to gratify their base propensities.

The deceased, who was an Irishman, we understand has left a family, living at Catskill this state. [1]

Mention of "the Camp-ground" did not endear the paper to the local Methodists, who objected to the implication that this (the location of their worship services) was the site of drinking to excess and a place of gathering by the "dissolute part" of the community. An article appeared in the same paper a week later which said:

5 July 1820: "Methodists...we did not mean to insinuate, that he obtained it within the enclosure of their place of worship"

Palmyra Register, 5 July 1820

"Plain Truth" is received. By this communication, as well as by the remarks of some of our neighbors who belong to the Society of Methodists, we perceive that our remarks accompanying the notice of the unhappy death of James Couser, contained in our last, have not been correctly understood. "Plain truth" says, we committed "an error in point of fact," in saying that Couser "obtained his liquor at the camp-ground." By this expression we did not mean to insinuate, that he obtained it within the enclosure of their place of worship, or that he procured it of them, but at the grog-shops that were established at, or near if you please, their camp-ground. It was far from our intention to charge the Methodists with retailing ardent spirits while professedly met for the worship of their God. Neither did we intend to implicate them by saying that "the intemperate, the dissolute, &c. resort to their meetings."--And if so we have been understood by any one of that society, we assure them they have altogether mistaken our meaning. [2]

Palmyra register 28 June and 5 July 1820 drunken man dies at camp meeting.jpg

Notes

  1. Palmyra Register (Palmyra, NY), 28 June 1820.
  2. Palmyra Register (Palmyra, NY), 5 July 1820.