Props to the Genius of Liberty newspaper, out of Leesburg, for being skeptical. On July 18, 1820, the editors updated their readers on a story they ran “not long since,” in which a man in York, Pennsylvania, attempted to defraud a farmer there by “personating the devil.” Upon further investigation, prompted by “doubt of the fact,” they were now able to say that it “is essentially correct.”
Which is fine, but what about another story that appears on the same page (2) of the same issue of the Genius (July 18)?
“We have often thought it a bad trait in a man’s character to be too sceptical,” the editors write (strangely, considering …), “especially as we are obliged to receive most truths entirely upon testimony.” Such is the case with this next account, which readers may or may not find credible. And if they do, well … “young Deal may, with very great propriety, be called a “man child.”
The story is out of Raleigh, this time.
Mr. Abel Deal, living about ten miles from Elizabethtown, Bladen county, (N. C.) has a son, named Haywood, will be nine years old in August next; is five feet six and a half inches high; was weighed by James Shipman, esq. in January last, and his weight was one hundred and sixty seven and a half pounds.—He has all the actions and dispositions of children generally, of his age. His is rather corpulent; has an open, good countenance; good disposition; very sensible and communicative, for a child raised in the country. His eyes are weak, particularly when in the sun. His father is an industrious labouring man, common size; his mother is quite a small woman. They have a daughter, older than Haywood, remarkably large; she lost her eye-sight when very young.
Several thoughts: 1) communicative … for a child raised in the country; are the hayseeds more generally mute-ish?; 2) according to this height-weight calculator, he’s not doing too bad, really (139–141 pounds would be about right, notwithstanding the oddity of his age); and 3) the caveat being that I’m no doctor, could diabetes be the issue here?
Anyway, if you think 167 pounds is bad, how about 218?
IMAGE: The top of the front page of the Genius of Liberty, Leesburg, July 18, 1820