Moses Lion, of Johnstown

The following was contributed to the site by James Morrison, current archivist and former Editor of the Johnstown Historical Society's newsletter.  In every issue was included an article or historical document from their collection.

"The following is copied from a newspaper clipping donated by Delorme Riparius. The spellings are as printed. In a couple of places a few words had to be guessed at because the original was in such bad condition. These words are identified by being enclosed in brackets ( )."

Updated June 2006:

I have obtained a copy of the original broadside printed in 1829 and have the correct words for the ones that you bracketed due to the newspaper clipping being in bad shape. [corrected in version below]

I hope this helps. The original has a drawing of a person hanging from their neck and two coffins. The smaller coffin as the words Mrs S. Y. on it, I guess to depict that the smaller coffin was for Salley Yarrington.

Curt Dalton
Curator of Visual Resources
Dayton History
Dayton, Ohio


The caption at the top of the poem reads:

Verses, written on the trial, confession, execution and dying words of Moses Lion, who was hung at Johnstown, Dec. 18th, 1829, for the murder of widow Sally Yarrington November 10th.

O, solemn indeed is the thought,
But doubly Impressive the sight;
Behold the poor culprit forth brought,
Safe guarded and pinioned tight!

See! yonder the gibbet doth stand,
on which he must shortly expire;
While thousands all over the land
Stand gazing in mournful desire.

Behold now in martial array,
In death's solemn pomp and parade
Th' procession proceed on their way,
While death-notes in music are playd

At length they arrive at the spot
Prepar'd for the tragical scene;
Th' procession in halting to stop,
While the hard pressing crowd intervene.

Behold him with trembling amaze
Ascend the dread platform beneath
While his halter they speedily raise
Around the firm staple do wreathe

Then quickly the drop is displaced,
He scarcely doth speak, nor yet pray,
Tis thus, as it were, in great haste
T' eternity launches away!

But shocking indeed is the thought,
We fear that he dy'd as he liv'd,
Tho' a formal confession he made,
Which we in its substance will give

From his trial we also shall sketch;
From all it will plainly appear
He was an abandoned Wretch;
His life most a shocking career!

Three wives he had had in his time;
one dy'd, and two he forsook;
And then with a prostitute Vile
His living and lodging he took

Intemperance to whoredom was join'd
To make hem both wantonly vile,
But Iniquity's work we shall find
Is prolonged but very short while

Six months scarcely pass'd of the year,
When, in one of their drunken affrays,
He pounded and beat her sever,
And ended her wretched short days

In the act of the murder and crime
He was ca'ut by the nei'bors who heard
And ran to the house just in time
To witness what there had occur'd.

Already she seem'd to be dead;
But such was his brutal intent,
He had not desisted 'tis said,
Tho' they found life's current was spent

He then was arrested with speed,
His country's tribunal to meet -
For the wicked and murderous deed
Was condemned to deaths gloomy retreat

In confessing his guilt & his crime,
He imputes it to whiskey and rum,
And bids us beware now in time
Not to do as he basely has done

O, hear his last words and Relent,
Ye Votarys of Bacchus and wine,
And think of the days you have spent
At their beastly diabolical Shrine

Ah, think of whats evils ensue
From a practice that shames human kind
It sickens my heart while I View
The sad picture impress'd on my mind

Your reason; your conscience; & mind;
your health; & your friends, & good name
Every virtue and blessing combin'd
Sink deep in Indelible shame!

But Ah! all the evils of life
Which oppress the poor drunkard below
are nothing compared with the strife
of future remediless worry

To those dreary mansion of night,
Where fiends must eternally howl,
The drunkard must take his last flight
With his own kindred spirits so foul

O, taste not the poisonous glass,
Lest a slave to its power you become,
And from evil to evil you pass,
Till you die on a gallows by Rum!

With shame and remorse I confess
My sins have been many and great;
O that mercy might reach my distress
and help me on Jesus to wait

Most solemnly now do I call
Upon all who my exit may View,
For death to prepare, one and all,
For he'll soon send a summon for you

O, forget not Jehovah to fear;
At his rightous bar you must all
Soon account for the deeds you did here,
Every action, both weighty & small.

Let all who are Parents instruct
Their children in fearing their God.
Yes, early I say bring them up
To walk in the heavenly Road

When taught in their childhood to fear
And walk in the ways of the Lord,
Tis seldom, if ever, we hear
That they have forsaken his Word

O, children, your parents obey,
Attend to their counsels with care
to study your Bible, and pray
That Jesus yours souls would prepare:

That He'd send his blest Spirit to dwell,
In your hearts, & Renew them by grace,
That you may be saved from hell -
From sin, and from shame, & disgrace

May you Feel that your sins are forgiven
That you love & delight In the Lord;
That you are prepared for Heaven,
Forever to Dwell with the LORD


Return to Fulton County NYGenWeb


Copyright , 2001 Jeanette Shiel
Copyright , 2001 James Morrison/Johnstown Historical Society
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:12:04 PDT