A Journey to the Gallows

Local authors Vic Butsch and Tommy Coletti will discuss their new book A Journey to the Gallows. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing.  Free program; no registration required.  Join us in the Community Room.

Aaron Dwight Stevens (1831 - 1860) ran away from his Norwich, Connecticut home two times. The first was when he was just a young man not yet 16 years old, but large and mature enough to go to Boston on his own. He convinced the 1st Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers that he was old enough to fight in the war against Mexico. Dwight served with honor through the war narrowly avoiding capture and certain death. He returned home and mended the strained relations with his family, but after several years, he felt that he had to leave again.

The second and final time he left home he chose to join the elite Dragoons. Stevens was stationed in the New Mexico Territory. He also fell in love for the first time, but due to Dwights one continuous and troubling weakness, a very bad temper, he became embroiled in a drunken riot in Taos, New Mexico. Dwight was jailed in Taos by Sheriff Kit Carson. Later he was tried and sentenced to death. Fortunately, Dwights sentence was commuted by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, to three years of hard labor in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. This was the lowest point in his life as he had lost everything including his one and only love, and there was no one to blame, but himself.

Dwight escaped from Ft. Leavenworth and lived with the Delaware Indians for several months. Following this period, he joined the 2nd Kansas Militia under a different name. As Charles Whipple, he became quite well known in Bloody Kansas, and it was during this time that he met and joined with John Brown. The two of them made a formidable team from that point on and helped our country change forever.