1853 a Hebrew peddler, whose pack was light and his purse was full,
asked leave to pass the night at the house of Daniel Baker, near
The favor was granted, and that was the last seen of Samuel Moritz;
although, when some neighbors shook their heads and wondered how it
was that Baker was so well in funds, there were others who replied
that it was impossible to keep track of peddlers, and that if Moritz
wanted to start on his travels early in the morning, or to return to
for goods, it mattered to nobody.
On an evening in 1860
when there was a mist in the gullies and a new moon hung in the west,
Reverend Cummings, a clergyman of that region, was driving home, and
as he came to a bridge near "old man" Baker's farm he saw a man
standing on it, with a pack on his back and a stick in his hand, who
was staring intently at something beneath the bridge.
The clergyman greeted
him cheerily and asked him if he would like to ride, whereat the man
looked him in the face and pointed to the edge of the bridge. Mr.
Cummings glanced down, saw nothing, and when he looked up again the
man with the pack had disappeared. His horse at the same moment gave a
snort and plunged forward at a run, so that the clergyman's attention
was fully occupied until he had brought the animal under control
again; when he glanced back and saw that the man was still standing in
the bridge and looking over the edge of it.
The minister told his neighbors of this
adventure, and on returning with two of them to the spot next morning
they found the body of old man Baker swinging by the neck from a beam
of the bridge exactly beneath where the apparition had stood--for it
must have been an apparition, inasmuch as the dust, damped though it
had been with dew, showed no trace of footprint.
taking down the body the men loosened the earth on a shelving bank, and
the gravel rolling away disclosed a skeleton with some bits of clothing on
it that were identified as belongings of Samuel Moritz. Was it conscience,
craziness, or fate that led old man Baker to hang himself above the grave
of his victim?
of America, updated October, 2015.