Charles Sperry and John Burnham (1855)

By David Schleper

Charles Sperry tended to say one thing, but do the other. Charles often had a lot of bets that he didn’t pay off. People in the town called him a dead beat.

One day, Charles was going around, but this time with plenty of money in his pockets. John Burnham found Charles at Peckham’s store, and demanded that he pay his debt quietly.

But Charles received no answer.

And so John knocked Charles down, and showed that he would repeat the treatment until his demands were complied with.

The fun part is that Charles Sperry was a big fellow, and had been regarded from his own bravado as almost a prize fighter, while John Burnham was smaller and made no such pretensions.

Charles Sperry promised to pay if John Burnham would cease with knocking him down. And so Charles got up, but then noticed that all of the other people in the store started laughing at him—the prize fighter on the floor. So Charles again tried to swagger away, and said he was not going to pay.

John Burnham again cornered Charles in the corner of the store, and once again told him to pay his debt. Charles realized that he was stuck, and he reluctantly paid with a $20 gold piece, which was the amount of the debt.

(Some information from History of the Minnesota Valley 1882 by Reverend Edward D. Neill.)

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