Just arrived today is a terrific document, a complaint against Rufus Cheadle (1756-1816) of Coventry, Connecticut. The complaint is made by Joseph Talcott, Justice of the Peace, December 14, 1807. Cheadle has “fallen into scandalous offenses” and “has for a long time kept himself from the Communion table,” according to Talcott. Talcott then goes on to expand on the scandalous offenses. On July 21, 1807 Cheadle “did disturb and break the peace of his own family, and of the neighborhood in which he lives, by tumultuous, noisy and offensive conduct; by swearing profanely by the Holy name of God; by threatening with an ax in his hand that he would be the death of Jacob Allen; and with a butcher knife went at Sam’l Burden and swore by the Eternal God, that he the s’d Cheadle would rip up s’d Burden’s bowels, and spill his hearts blood”. Talcott then quotes scripture to defend his recommendation that the church “withdraw their watch and care over the s’d Cheadle.” On the verso of the document is a summons to Cheadle to explain himself before the members of the Church of Christ in North Coventry on January 1, 1808.
Was it a mid-life crisis that caused Rufus to act out in anger against Allen and Burden? Is there a deeper story here–was he feeling cheated by these men, kept from making a living or buying land, considered an outcast? Additional research, as always, may uncover the rest of the story.