The view from Fogo Island

Benson
Benson Hewitt
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Police Chase in Fogo, 1891

Most of the times when you think of a police chase you think of someone doing a 150 (or more) miles per hour down a highway, like the one of the police in Los Angeles chasing O. J. Simpson down interstate 405, in 1993, I do believe. Although they often end tragically, they are entertaining when watched at a distance or on television.

Did you know that there was a police chase (and duly reported on) in Fogo in 1891? The one in Fogo, I believe, was especially entertaining, but as you no doubt can guess, it wasn’t in any vehicle, but on foot, and not even on the roads. I'll get back to the details later.

You may recall that I wrote a piece once on a bread riot that happened at Hodge’s Store in Joe Batt’s Arm. While researching a little about Hodge’s business, I found another interesting story, concerning their business in Fogo, which was their main headquarters.

Mr. Hodge, or one of his employees, on opening the business one morning discovered that someone had broken into his shop the previous night and stolen a large quantity of goods. A lad going about his business, no doubt, on that same morning, discovered the pile of goods in a large blanket bag under a punt. The thief, no doubt, intended to come back for his loot. This young man was rewarded by Mr. Hodge with four dollars. Not a bad reward, I’m thinking, but then he saved Mr. Hodge quite a considerable sum.

According to my story, a suspicion immediately centered on one person, whom the paper referred to as the ‘celebrated Breen’. They didn’t even give his first name, as that didn’t seem to be necessary. It seems that everybody knew of him.

I didn’t find many Breens associated with Fogo during this period. A Sylvester Breen from Wexford County in Ireland was married in Fogo in 1823, and perhaps it was one of his grandsons.

In any case, the policeman in Fogo in 1891 was Sergeant Lacy, and he went, like you would expect, to apprehend Mr. Breen. We are not told where he was at that particular time, but when the officer got him (well, ...almost!) the reporter said that ‘He was so clever that he got away from the officer and outran him home.’

Organizations: Store in Joe Batt, James Foster

Geographic location: Fogo Island, Los Angeles, Wexford County Ireland Bonavista

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