The history of the Donnelly family, the victims of the terrible atrocities recorded below, is one which would require more space to narrate than a daily newspaper can afford. Rightly or wrongly the name has been associated with innumerable crimes in the Township of Biddulph and village of Lucan for the past twenty years, including in the category, murder, arson, attempted shooting, cattle stealing, assault and larceny, besides many misdemeanors of less heinous nature. The old man James Donnelly and his wife came to this country between thirty and forty years ago, and settled on lot 18, in the 6th concession of Biddulph, which at that time comprised part of the county of Huron. Shortly after taking up the fifty acres mentioned, the father, with the view, no doubt, of providing for his increasing family, squatted on another fifty acres on the 11th concession of the same township, but, after a long and tedious lawsuit, his claim to the property was decided to be invalid, and he was dispossessed by the Canada Company, and the lot subsequently came into possession of Mr. Los. Carswell. This gentleman setteled upon it, built a good house and outbuildings, but one night, shortly after harvest the barns and granary were destroyed by fire, together with all the season's crops. This crime was laid at the door of the Donnellys, but the perpetrators notwithstanding a large reward was offered by the Government, were never discovered. Sometime after this, Mr. Carswell had a number of his horses and cattle disembowelled during the night, and the blame was again attributed to the family [...]

The Donnellys have been at loggerheads with the Carrolls, Keffes, Ryders, Kennedys and many of their most respectable neighbors for years, and but little sympathy will be expressed for them in their calamity. [...]

There were seven boys and one girl in the family, and of the boys Michael and James are dead, the former being killed in a quarrel at Waterfords few months since. James was said to have died from consumption, but those who were in a position to know, state that his death resulted from the effects of a pistol ball, while endeavoring to escape from Constable some years since. Robert, another son has been recently released from serving a term in the Penitentiary for attempting the life of Constable Everett one night while the latter was about to enter his own house. William was convicted in 1875 of assaulting and wounding Constable Reid, of Lucan, while in discharge of his duty. He (William) was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for the offence, but through the intervention of his counsel, he was released before completing the term on the plea of sickness. John, Thomas and James were indicted at the Sessions in 1876 for larceny, assault, and attempted arson, but their cases were remanded to the Assizes. In the meantime the witnesses were spirited away, and the accused were subsequently held on their own recognizances to appear when called upon. Patrick is following blacksmithing in the vicinity of New York at the present time, and the remaining sons were at home on the farm. Michael, Thomas, and Robert followed stage driving for several years between London, Lucan and Exeter, but finally gave it up. They could not brook opposition, and the man who had sufficient pluck to cross their paths in business sooner or later became a loser in either stages, horses or equipments. Two or three times the opposition stages were destroyed by fire; on one occasion a team of horses were subjected to horrible cruelties, and at another time the tails of the dumb animals were cut off and their bodies maltreated in a fiendish manner. The members made the quarrel of one of their number a family matter, and wreaked vengeance upon their opponents in the most summary style, and after the most approved Ku-Klux fashion.

Source: Unknown, "A Murder Horror!," St. Marys Argus, February 5, 1880.

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