Mrs. Conover spoke freely about her indignation with some of her female neighbors - all of whom agreed with her. She told her friends that she would pay handsomely if someone would tar and feather Mrs. Sheppard, or do something else to punish her. This news made its way to Jacob Sheppard, Ida's brother-in-law, who lived on Zion Road. He made a visit to Mrs. Conover the next day to find out if she was serious. She said she was - but later claimed that this was the last she heard about it until the deed was done.
|A portion of the 1873 map of Hillsborough.|
Blue stars indicate the homes of some of the principal figures,
and the location of the store
Fanny Conover of Montgomery-Zion Road took particular exception to Ida Sheppard's behavior. When Ida ran away for a dalliance with her son-in-law Jake Hegeman (who happened to be Ida's cousin) she said it made her "feel bad". Hegeman had money but left none for his own wife and three children which he left in the care of his mother-in-law.
The men went to the Shepherd house about midnight. They called out for Amos Sheppard but he refused to come to the door. As they crashed through, The Sheppards jumped through a front window wearing only their nightclothes. Amos ran through the freezing snow and out onto Hollow Road. Ida wasn't so fortunate. She slipped on the ice and fell. Isaac Peak grabbed her. Charles Hoff ran after Mr. Sheppard, while William Docherty and Alfred Cray ran back to Peak's store.
|The home of Elizabeth Van Liew, |
photographed in 2009
Amos Sheppard ran north to the crossroads and found refuge in the house of Elizabeth Van Liew - a relative of the assailant Richard Van Liew. Freezing and frightened, he took refuge in the Van Liews' setee, and was, in the words of Mrs. Van Liew, "too scared to breathe".
Isaac Peak, Howard Docherty, Richard Van Liew, and John Corbett - fortified by the cider and their own adrenaline - gathered up Ida Sheppard, tore the clothes from her body, and tarred and feathered her right there on the stoop of the Sheppards' back porch. It was later alleged that there was a further assault on her person. Some accounts say that quartet left her for dead in the snow and continued their drunken reverie through the night, others that they returned her to her bed. In any case, Ida was found later by her husband - unconscious, but alive.
The one-day trial took place in Somerville on April 26, 1877. Van Liew, the oldest and perceived as the ringleader, received an 18-month prison sentence, Cray got 15 months, Hoff, one year, and Corbett and William Docherty, each 9 months. Howard Docherty, as a minor, received three months in the county jail.
In the aftermath of the "outrage", all the community feeling was on the side of Ida Sheppard - who after being treated by Dr. Ludlow went to live three miles away with her mother - and against the "desperadoes" and their meager sentences. The Sheppards' marriage had not been a happy one, and it is unlikely that the couple ever reunited.