Tarred and Feathered, Oscar Houghtaling

from the Buffalo Courier June 20, 1895



A Faithless Dutchess County Husband Severely Punished

Poughkeepsie, June 19. Tar and feathers was the punishment administered to a faithless husband late Sunday night by the inhabitants of Milan, a pretty little hamlet in Duchess County, a few miles east of Rhinecliff. The victim was Oscar Houghtaling, a middle-aged married man. It was noticed for some months that Houghtaling had been paying attention to Susan Bathwick, a 17-year-old orphan in the employ of Reuben Roberts, a farmer. Roberts protested against his conduct, but to no effect. It was learned that they had hired a room in a house a few miles away, representing themselves to be man and wife. By this time the young men of Milan were thoroughly aroused by the story of Mrs. Houghtaling, and a score or so organized themselves as a "White Cap Committee," and with tar and feathers made a descent on Houghtaling's house at midnight on Sunday.

No opposition was made to their entrance and going to the room occupied by the pair, they fastened a rope around Houghtaling's neck and, ignoring his appeals for mercy and the shrieks of the girl, dragged him away to the woods. Throwing one end of the rope over the limb of a tree, they hauled him up until his toes barely touched the ground. Then they stripped him of his clothing and, after putting tar all over his body and smearing it on his face so that he was almost blinded, treated him to a coat of feathers which they had brought along in a bag. Then they beat him severely with switches and continued to torture him until he was almost at the last gasp, when they lowered him, removed the rope and bade him run for his life. He was too exhausted to walk but managed to scramble away on his hands and knees into the underbrush.

While this was going on, the girl took to the woods in her night dress. A farmer passing through the woods at daybreak says he saw the couple hiding in the bushes and that the girl was apparently trying to rid Houghtaling of his coat of feathers. Mrs. Houghtaling expressed the utmost satisfaction when she learned of the punishment inflicted on her spouse. Much pity is expressed for the girl, who is said to be of feeble intellect. - Buffalo Courier June 20, 1895


Oscar Houghtaling, a farm hand, who has for the past six months been working for Reuben Rikert, a farmer living in the town of Clinton, Dutchess county, became enamored of the servant girl, also working in the Rikert homestead. Houghtaling, who is a married man, eloped with the girl, Sarah Bathrick by name, and went to Jackson Corners, Columbia county, and hired a room from a German who lives in a tenant house belonging to Hiram Kilmer and works for him on his farm.

Sunday night at midnight a dozen masked men surrounded the house of the German and demanded that the door be opened. This was done. They invited Houghtaling outside and as soon as he appeared they seized him and took him some distance from the house, paying no attention to his cries for mercy and his protests that he had done nothing wrong. Then they covered him with a coat of tar on his naked body from head to foot and enveloped him 'with a good supply of feathers, letting him go with an admonition to skip the county. He started for the woods followed by a salute of guns. While Houghtaling was undergoing torture the girl escaped, and also took to the woods, clad only in her night dress. A farmer passing through the woods at daybreak Monday morning says that he saw the couple hiding in the bushes, and that the girl was apparently trying to rid Houghtaling of his coat of feathers. When he spoke to them they ran away, and since then nothing has been heard of them. - The Republican June 20, 1895


Tarred and Feathered. Oscar Houghtaling, of Milan, forty years of age and married, was tarred and feathered by angry neighbors several nights ago for harboring in his house sixteen-year-old Hetty Bathwick. - The Register June 27, 1895


Oscar Houghtaling, a farmer at Milan, Dutchess county, aged 40, deserted his wife last week and ran away with Sarah Bathrick aged 17, soon returning and taking the girl to live with him as his wife. On Sunday night his neighbors tarred and feathered him. - The Daily News June 18, 1895


In 1900 they are on the Clavarack, Columbia County, New York census as husband and wife with 2 children:

1900 Census

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