Tar and Feathering of Charles Kelsey:
The Kelsey Outrage in Huntington, is a scar on the towns name. Was it justified, you be the judge!
the time in history was back in 1873 where men on the north shore of LI was all about whaling. So the townsfolk found the likes of Charles Kelsey as a quirky, odd fellow. Charles was an avid gardener, poet, and Sunday School teacher. One Sunday school meeting with 20 year old Julia Smith, is all it took for Charles to be smitten with the perky Julia.
On September 5th in 1873 the newspaper read that a funeral was held for the lower torso of Charles G. Kelsey. The 2nd Presbyterian church on Main Street was packed with patrons regarding the funeral for half of a man. The horrific events leading up to that point is one of the most sensational trials ever held on this ground. It had elements with sex, mutilation, spurned love, Tar and feathering, and half of a missing body...
On November 4th, 1872 Charles Kelsey spent his final hours alive. Charles was obsessed with a 20 year old orphan Julia Smith, she was the granddaughter of Charlotte Oakley. Julia lived on the 2nd floor and she and Charles during their relationship had a code. The code was simply put in place when Julia would ignite an oil lamp to be seen from the outside by Charles. They had done so many nights in the past, but Julia had fallen for a 26 year old young man named Royal Sammis. Charles had a broken heart when he discovered she was no longer interested to be involved in an relationship with him. He personally attacked her in the newspapers with vicious poems and she was driven from his arms into the arms of a young man with a bright future.
As Charles was walking home that evening from a political rally, he noticed while passing Julia's room had an oil lamp ignited! Could it be? Had she had a change of heart? He needed to check for certain, and off he went to check her bedroom...
The utter embarrassment he would discover, sadly he was unaware that Julia switched rooms with her Aunt Abby. Abby awoke to find Charles within her bedroom trying to slide into bed with her. She screamed a piercing shriek. Charles got out of dodge lickedly split. The following night, Charles again saw the oil lamp in the same window. He was perplexed as to what he should do. He gave it some quick thought and started to approach the driveway from along Spring St. As he got closer a large mob engulfed him. He froze as he was not expecting this at all. The crowd grew angry with Charles for attempting to break into the Charlotte Oakley Farmhouse. He was stripped of his clothes and had hot tar poured over his lower torso, as well as smothered with feathers from local farms from around Huntington. The crowd paraded Charles around to some of the local wives who were rumored to have a sweet eye for Charles. The men were determined to show any women in the town that this was a bad man. He was last seen hobbling up Spring St towards the home he shared with his sister Charlotte.
The town even parted into two major groups the Tars and anti-Tars. The following day of this event a fisherman found a blood soaked shirt, a necktie, 2 lemons all on the shoreline of Lloyd Neck. Justice of the Peace William Monfort charged 3 men with riot and assault. The 3 men were 26 year old Royal Sammis, 22 year old Claudis Prime, and Dr. George Banks. The search for Kelsey's missing body was halted until the spring of 1873. An 750 dollar reward was issued to anyone who could produce Mr. Kelsey's missing body. It took all the way til August 29th of 1873 before his missing body turned up, well half of it anyway. Two Oyster Bay fisherman found the lower torso of missing person Charles Kelsey. They discovered his remains between Moses Point and Plum Point. His legs were encased in black trousers along with a pocket watch belonging to Charles Kelsey. When the trousers were removed tar and feathers were still affixed to the legs, and disturbingly missing were the genitals.
The coroner in Oyster Bay began to build a case against Sammis, Prime, and Banks. Doctors argued that Kelsey was still alive when they emasculated him, due to the high volumes of blood loss. On October 25th 1873 the coroners jury concluded that Kelsey was in fact murdered, however no-one was being named. It did state though that Sammis, Prime, and Banks "aided and abetted, and countenanced by their presence the committal of gross outrage and inhumane violence upon the person of Charles G Kelsey. A week after on November 7th 1873 a meeting was held in th4e Riverhead courthouse. There they indicted Sammis, Prime, and Banks for riot and assault. A few hours later another member was charged with 2nd degree murder, that being 19 year old Rudolph Sammis, younger brother of Royal.
The story takes a bizarre twist, at the time of the grand jury indictments, the town board decided to only pay half of the reward moneys for the remains of Kelsey. After some arguing, the full reward was given to the 2 fisherman from Oyster Bay. As the months turned to years regarding the trial, finally was settled in October of 1875. A jury in Riverhead found Royal Sammis and Dr. George Banks not guilty of riot and assault. Murder charges were never brought forth from the original indictment towards Rudolph Sammis. The upper torso was never recovered, the lemons found on the shoreline the following day on 11/5/1873 were purchased for Charles's sister Charlotte. That was the only testimonial from Charlotte Kelsey toward her deceased brother's unsolved murder.
On a number of occasions i have returned to the scene of the crime. When you approach the back of the property their is a heavy energy that closes in on you as you trek deeper on the grounds. When you get on the grounds you can almost still here the sounds of a riot.