Sunday, June 26, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday - Amos Fuller, Counterfeiter and Jailbird

Every family has at least one family member who is the black sheep of the family (some families have whole flocks). The black sheep I have found in my family research is Amos Fuller.

Amos Fuller (1721-1813) is my 5th great grand uncle. Amos was the 5th son of Benjamin and Tabitha (Wheaton) Fuller of Lebanon, Connecticut. The Fullers had just moved to Lebanon, CT from Rehoboth, MA the year before Amos was born.

Amos fell in with a group called The Money Gang. His specialty was creating £3 Connecticut counterfeit notes. At this time in US history, each state had their own currency. Typically, this paper money was printed on a regular printing press, making anyone with a printing press a potential felon.

Amos may have been criminal, but that didn't mean he was stupid. There wasn’t a lot of law enforcement coordination back before the revolutionary war, so he would go to other states to pass his counterfeit bills.  However, even this strategy didn’t prevent him from being caught.  He was apprehended passing counterfeit bills in New Jersey under the alias "Jeremiah Carpenter".  At the time counterfeiting carried stiff penalties, with the longest possible sentence being life in prison.

Amos Fuller found prison life to be a little too restricting for his tastes and actually broke out of jail.  The details are sketchy, but the following report was published in the New York-Gazette on October 12, 1747.
"Broke out of Burlington Goal, on the 19th of September, one Jeremiah Carpenter, who was committed for uttering counterfeit Jersey money; he had on a grey homespun coat with brass buttons, old leather breeches, yarn stockings, linen cap, and old hat; It is supposed that his name is Amos Fuller, he is about six foot high and of a pale complexion: any person that takes up the aforesaid prisoner, and confine him in any of his Majesty's goals, so that he may be had, shall have TEN POUNDS reward, paid by me,  
Jof. Hollingfneed, Sheriff  
N.B. He is a New England man"

Amos “Jailbird” Fuller was never brought to "justice" and re-imprisoned.

There is evidence the he spent much of his life misleading and defrauding people in the pursuit of easy money. However he did play an important role in the New England “Planters” colonizing Nova Scotia, but this is the subject of a future post.

Who are the black sheep in your family?

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