Awhile back I posted the following article, I have since found a reply from
Mr. O'BRIEN to the Richmond County Standard Editorial Section. I thought it
would be only fair to post it. It is pretty long.....
Newspaper dated October, 18, 1884
"A Very "Previous" Builder"
Mr. Harry C. BRITTON, of West Brighton, whose barn was recently destroyed by
fire, a few days since invited bids for the erection of a new building.
Before a contract was signed or security given, John O'BRIEN, a well known
builder, went to Mr. BRITTON''s place and began to make arrangements for
going ahead with the work. He was ordered to stop; but would not do so until
Mr. BRITTON caused his arrest. O'BRIEN was taken before Justice LANGTON
yesterday, when Mr. BRITTON stated that he did not wish to send him to
prison, his only desire was to have the man remain away from his place. Upon
promise to do so, O'BRIEN was discharged.
Reply from Mr. O'BRIEN, Newspaper dated 10/25/1884
To the Editor of the Standard:
In your issue of Saturday last, an article was published under the heading "A
very "Previous" builder". It recited briefly that Mr. Harry BRITTON
bids for the erection of a new building, that before a contract was signed, I
began to make arrangements for going ahead with the work, that I was ordered
to stoop, but would not until I was arrested; that Mr. BRITTON stated that he
did not wish to send me to prison, and that, upon my promise to remain away
from his place, I was discharged.
Just as much of this as is favorable to me is true and not a word more. I
have no doubt that you published the absurd story in good faith, but it calls
for the strongest protest on my part, as it is a perversion of truth,
calculated to injure my character as an old citizen of this county, and my
reputation as a builder for more than a generation, whose name is associated
with the erection of schools and mansions on the Island.
The facts, condensed as I can make them are these:
By invitation (unsolicited) I presented to the BRITTON Brothers, my estimate
of the work on the 8th instant. The other bidders present were Mssrs.
BEINERT and VROOM, and bids were received also from Messrs. PERO and
ROBINSON. Another gentleman present was Mr. Jacob MERSEREAU. My bid was the
lowest, and the work was awarded to me. Harry BRITTON asked me when I should
start. I will come up after dinner, I said, and stake it out. I went with
two men and met the bothers. Show me the exact points, I said and I will
square out the building. They did so readily, stayed until it was laid out,
and appeared to be well pleased. Harry said "Mr. O'BRIEN, you can use the
stones in the old cistern, if of any use to you, as we are going to fill it
up." I thanked him. He asked, "When do you think you will have it
I answered, I will put on as many men as I can work to advantage, I will not
keep you long out of it, the weather will soon be getting cold. Next day, I
had three men digging trenches, and a horse and man drawing stone. Mr.
BRITTON, after asking where I was getting the stones, said, "You can use
those old walls." Of course I said, if you will give them to me. Next day,
the 10th, I had six men and a horse employed and, on the 11th nine men and a
horse. In the name of law, justice and fair play, was not all this
sufficient warranty for my acts and purposes? An agreement need not, by law,
be reduced to writing for any period not exceeding a year after it is entered
into, and rejection of a bid is not lawful after work and materials have been
actually and expressly authorized. Why then this attempt to disgrace and
persecute a man whose record, so far, has been without stain? After quitting
my work on the 11th, Mr. Harry BRITTON said, "You had better not do any more
work until the contract is signed". I said, any time you have the papers, I
will have the bondsmen and we will sign. When will you have then ready?
"About Tuesday," he said. I don't want to be losing my time, why not on
Monday?, Why have you not done so before now? I was ready at any tine.
"Well", he said, "you had better stop".
At the desire of Mrs. BRITTON, expressed by her son "Win" the same night, I
saw her and her sons on Monday morning the 13th. I asked, have you the
papers ready? Harry answered, "We don't like how you are doing the work and
you had better give up the job." I said, somebody has been I think, speaking
against me. Show me anything you don't like and I will alter it. I mean to
do everything called for in the plan and specifications in the best manner
possible. Mr. BRITTON left, and his mother spoke of making inquiry about me.
Then I consulted legal advise and was told to go on until I should be put
off the ground. On Tuesday, Mrs. BRITTON handed me a scrap of paper, on
which I was told to quit work. "You made no contract with me", she said.
But I did with your agent. I was ordered off the premises, but we worked
On Wednesday, the 15th, I was arrested for malicious trespass. Before
Justice LANGTON, I pleaded of course, not guilty, and chose a trial by jury
on Friday, the 17th. When all was ready and the jury in place. "Win" BRITTON
handed in a piece of paper which reads.
October 17th, 1884
Dear Sir: - We hereby notify you to remove from our premises all of the
tools, lumber and building materials belonging to you within forty-eight
hours, otherwise we shall dispose of the same at your risk.
Yours respectfully, (Signed) E. A. BRITTON & Sons
Nine days after I had commenced I am ordered to remove my materials.
He then left so abruptly that all looked for his return, but he came not, and
so the case was properly dismissed.
Were such proceedings ever heard of and in all of them am not I the party
aggrieved? Mr. BRITTON is reported to have mercifully said that he did not
wish to send me to prison, when in fact, he was like the hero in the old sea
song, who "Spoke not but vanished, and that's all he said!"
Such, a course as I have described seems to me indefensible. Why allow me to
commence? Why allow me to go on for a week? What need was there to
vacillation in the case?
Such stage tricks of "pull, stop; pull, stop" are not approved in the courts
where I will, if necessary seek redress.
Pardon me for what would otherwise be an outrageous trespass, but it was not
possible for me, at least, to tell my story in fewer words. I know you favor
Respectfully, JOHN O'BRIEN