More About Jerome the Legless.

[ Headline, St. John Daily Telegraph, 5 April 1909 ]

Une du St. John Daily Telegraph, 5 avril 1909, Caroline-Isabelle Caron,

To the Editor of The Telegraph :
Sir : -- It seems almost a pity to spoil a romantic page by holding it in the white light of history; a pity to destroy the mysticism of a subject by a presentation of the cold hard facts.

Apropos the recent articles which appeared in the New York Herald, The Daily Telegraph and other papers from time to time in regard to the “Legless Mystery of Meteghan” it may be opportune to throw more light on an interesting subject.

To begin with A. W. Savary has the fact of the man’s advent on the Nova Scotia coast about as they should be; but the antecedent events are much too misleading.

About the year 1857, Peter Garvey engaged in lumbering, went to the lumber brow with a load of logs. Lying under the end of the logs, as they lay on the ice in Gaspereaux River, he found a man so severely frozen that he was nearly helpless. This part of the Gaspereaux is in Northumberland county, not Queen’s, as is generally understood. From where he was found Mr. Garvey had the unfortunate man conveyed to Chipman parish, then but an extent of wilderness. From inquiries and from the unfortunate’s tracks the fact was established that the man had come to Gaspereaux from Cain’s River, a branch of the Miramichi. The distance between the two streams at this point being very short, not over ten miles direct. Later this supposition received added confirmation.

However, gangrene made its appearance and to save the sufferer’s life amputation was decided upon. The operation was skillfully performed by the late Dr. Peters of Gagetown. He then remained a parish charge and was housed and fed by the late Philip Gallagher for six years. At the end of that time the parish councilors were seized with a desire to economize and hired a man by the name of W. Colwell to take “Gamby” to where he might be of less expense to the people by Salmon River. Mr. Colwell and his charge boarded a small schooner owned by a man named Benton or Denton, I am not sure, but it was one of these names. Denton and Colwell marooned him on an island of the Nova Scotia Coast with a supply of food. Colwell reported to Chipman councilors that it was Briar Island upon which that cast the man known to all here as “Gamby”.

This is then in short the transition of “Jerome” from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia.

Now as for the other features of the man’s case, it may be said that the resident priest, Father Nugent, a linguist of some ability, often questioned “Gamby” as to his country, case and travels. As a result of his endeavors, Father Nugent decided the man was a native of one of the Ionian Islands, but in addition he spoke a patois or dialect of northern Italy, Adriatic coast. Father Nugent claimed that he came to this country on an Italian vessel either as a stowaway or a shanghaied seaman. At any rate, he wished urgently to leave the vessel at Miramichi. This he did and no doubt followed the river bank he got lost and wandered through the forest to Gaspereaux, where he was found by Mr. Garvey. The conclusions of Father Nugent are corroborated by those Mr. Meechi, viz., that he spoke a dialect used in a part of north Italy, though not in the vicinity of Trieste. For the rest the American who put him ashore had an easy elastic conscience when its qualms were suppressed with a $10 bill.

Among the traits which marked him during his six years’ stay at Gallagher’s were these: He always repeated “Gamby” when asked a question in English. As the people were of limited education in those days it is not known whether or not the sound was correctly caught. Perhaps the word may have been “Gambia” or even his name “Gambier”. From the repetition of this word he was named “Gamby”.

When he ate his meal he ate all his food in succession. For instance he ate all his meat, then his bread, the each separate article by itself and finished by drinking whatsoever was given as his drink.

He appeared to be somewhat of a misogynist and was quite intractable while men were absent, but became very meek upon the appearance of Mr. Gallagher.

To conclude, he never worked a day in lumber woods in his life for Senator King’s father or anyone else. He appeared to lose control of intellect after amputation of legs; also a large number of people are yet living in Salmon River who well remember “Gamby”. Mr. Garvey, who found him, is still very much alive and other who can contribute an iota to the stranger’s career.

It has always been regretted that no countryman of his ever happened along which probably would understand the man’s speech aid, thus the writer would be in a position to dispel certain mists from which American mythographers are composing mysterials.

If Judge Savary wishes to know the name of the write he can obtain it from The Telegraph.

In near future perhaps additional details may be written of this unfortunate’s life.


Chipman (N.B.), April 1, 1909.

P. S. – I may add that “Gamby” had a beard and appeared to be about 26 years of age when found. As he spent six years at Mr. Gallagher’s and was marooned in 1863, consequently he must at least be 80 years of age.

Source: Amphibia, "More About Jerome the Legless," St. John Daily Telegraph, April 5, 1909.

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