I grew up in this farmhouse, shown here in a painting by a famous artist (me). The house was built in 1832 by my great great grandfather, Isaac Wiggins. It was to provide a home for his new bride, and replaced a log house formerly on the property. His son James B., his grandson James A., and I, all grew up in this house located near Uniontown in southwestern Pennsylvania.
As a child I was always fascinated at those times when my father removed the "bottle" from my grandfather's desk and let me hold it. Then back away it went. Now that I am fully grown (71) I have an even deeper appreciation of the bottle. That fascination is enhanced by the fact that I discovered among my father's things an original 1883 copy of the The Republican Standard telling in great (two-page) detail of the happenings which led to the creation of the bottle.
The bottle contains the name of the maker, William Wiggins, of Tipton, Pa. I am presently researching his relationship to me and why he created the bottle. In addition to his name it contains the names of the "perjured jurors" in the case (list cut directly from the newspaper and inserted into the bottle) and an almost illegible explanation. The jurors' names can be read quite clearly in the bottle, as can the name of the maker. By very careful examination using a magnifying glass those words have been ascertained on the portion that appears blank in the photo. They are:
"A foul seducer and murderer has been turned loose on the community of Uniontown Penna and he has with him his lawyer and perjured jurymen but the Mark of Cain is on him. A fugitive and vagabond shalt soon be in the earth. Wm. Wiggins, Tipton, Pa. March 30, 1883"
The newspaper devoted its entire front page and the entire back page to a detailed description of the case and the ensuing trial. Since it is so lengthy I have made the two pages links to this page. I hoped to get it onto one URL page; however, my notebook memory would not accept that much writing so I had to break it up into three URL pages. I am not good enough on the computer to figure the way around that. Since the original has some tears and crinkles there are parts that are difficult or imposssible to read; however, most of the paper lent itself to digitalizing onto a c.d.
The story is fascinating, full of intrigue, and (go ahead, TV, steal my story), would make a great made-for-TV movie. Nicholas Lyman Dukes, 33, the acquitted "murderer" had been engaged to Lizzie Nutt, daughter of the murdered man, Capt. A.C. Nutt. Both men were prominent, Nutt in banking, and Dukes in the state legislature.. When the engagement ended, exact reason unknown, Mr. Dukes, out of spite perhaps, wrote a scathing letter to Nutt about his daughter and mentioned many improprieties on her part, all without any positive evidence. This so incensed Nutt that he went to Dukes' hotel room and, in a violent argument, was shot by Dukes who later claimed to be acting in self defense.
The newspaper needs two full pages of fine print to detail all of the accusations and details of the resultant trial whose outcome was pleasing to almost none. At a later date Nutt's son James shot Mr. Dukes in the back, killing him. He was tried and acquitted by reason of insanity at the time the crime was committed.
The bottle was probably created in the interim period between Nutt's death and the killing of Dukes in June of that same year.
As of now I have no plan to sell the bottle; however, that may change in the future. In the meantime reward yourself by looking at a detailed site dealing with the very rare "whimsey" bottles. It is at: Bottle Folk Art
Copyright © 2006 Arthur Brenton Wiggins
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