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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XII, No. 1, Spring 1956

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Vol. XII, No. 1, Spring 1956

Kenneth Scott

THE EASTERN section of Dutchess County near the Connecticut line became, toward the middle of the eighteenth century, the headquarters for two desperate gangs of counterfeiters. In August, 1774, Governors George Clinton of New York and Jonathan Law of Connecticut had some correspondence about the “wickedness” that was going on, and Clinton, and doubtless Law also, instructed the justices of the peace near the borders to inquire after the money makers. It was, however, not until the second of January in 1745, that Law wrote the chief executive of New York that one of the justices near the western borders of Connecticut had committed to jail a certain Andrew Nelson for passing a false twenty shilling bill of Rhode Island and had discovered that a confederated gang was carrying on its nefarious business in the district known as the Oblong or Equivalent Tract, which had been ceded by Connecticut to New York on May 14, 1731.

Before long three of the rogues, Joseph Boyce, Joseph Verry, and John Tyas (or Scias), made the mistake of cheating Robert Clarke of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, by means of a bond which he had to pay. When he complained of the cheat, they offered to recompense him in counterfeit bills for the injury they had done him and to make him one of their band. Clarke pretended to fall in with their scheme and to act as one of the emissaries whom they were constantly sending out to distant places to purchase horses, cattle and other things of worth, using, of course, the bogus money. In reality, however, he set out with the aid of the New York authorities to apprehend the counterfeiters. When he received little aid from that quarter, he decoyed Joseph Boyce, Jr.,and one Hurlburt over the Connecticut line and there had them seized, along with some of their counterfeiting plates, and transported to prison in New Haven....

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