The Murder of William Archer Truax
In 1834, Abraham Truax, his wife Jane Scott, and 13 of their 16 children left Farnham, Quebec and headed for Kent County, near Point Pelee in southwestern Ontario. In their original Ontario land petition, they gave the reason why:
"That your Petitioner with a wife and 13 children have been compelled to emmigrate from the Lower Province, in consequence of the death of his son aged 24, who was killed or rather murdered by one, who was tried for the offence and sentenced to a long imprisonment, but which sentence was mitigated, and the offender was at large to the great inquietude of your Petitioner and his family - who in consequence have been compelled to abandon their former residence and seek Asylum in this province, should your Petitioner be fortunate enough in succeeding in the prayer of his Petition."William Archer Truax was born March 13th, 1810 in Dunham, Quebec, the third of Abraham and Jane's 16 children. On January 11th, 1834, the Montreal Gazette reported that "A respectable farmer, residing in Stanbridge, named William Truax, was, on the 1st instant, stabbed with a knife, by one Archelaus Walsh [sic], Jr. of the same place, and almost immediately expired. His assassin has escaped, and has been subsequently seen armed with a gun and pistol." Walsh (Welch) was later reported to have been helped by family members to flee to New Hampshire, but he returned to Quebec in the hopes that he would be allowed to remain free on bail until his trial. This turned out not to be the case, and he was placed in custody on January 25th.
(Sept. 25th, 1834)
Welch was brought up before the Grand Jury in Montreal on March 3rd, and several witnesses testified to the events of that night. Apparently William, the victim, had gone looking for Welch for the express purpose of berating him over his having beaten another man. He found Welch at a local tavern and launched into a verbal attack. When things got a little too heated, William tried to smooth things over by buying a round. Welch refused, and threatened to call the law on William. Soon after this, the fight became physical, and William was stabbed in the belly, either by accident, in self-defence, or intentionally. Welch tried to leave, but someone caught up to him, knocked the knife from his hand and brought him back to the tavern, where William lay dying. Welch appeared remorseful and begged for William's forgiveness, which he apparently received.
The Attorney General agreed to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter. Archelaus Welch was found guilty, and on March 10th, 1834, he was sentenced to six months in jail. However, in their petition, William's parents claimed that this sentence was 'mitigated' (probably on appeal) and that Welch was set free. Given the circumstances, this is entirely possible.