Jan. 31st, 2012

The Old Darned Man.   How many know the tale of this man who on the morning that he was to be married he attired himself for the wedding, and then received a message that his affianced had died.     His name was Addison Thompson and he came from the western part of New York.  After the death of his fiancee he wandered from his home in New York state to the sea that led across Connecticut, northern Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts.   And then he would immediately retrace his steps.  He did that twice every year so the story goes.  And he always wore his wedding suit.   And he kept mending it year after year.  So became known and called "The Old Darned Man."  He would stop at houses along his way and ask those who treated him kindly for the only articles he ever solicited, a needle and thread or yarn with which to mend his clothes.  Then he would take off his coat, sit down in the house, or sometimes on a bench in the dooryard, where the light was better, and with trembling fingers darn the well-worn garment with tenderest care.  He never asked or permitted others to do this work for him, but always chose to perform it himself.

As the years rolled on, the repairs to which his garments were subjected so altered and covered the original suit that little of it remained intact.  Every fragment torn off was fastened on again with sedulous care.  At last the wedding suit was darned in every part with thread and yarn of many colors.

There have been many stories written about him by different people over the years who knew him or their parents or grandparents had known him.   And this latest batch were in the March and April 1899 issues of the Windham County Transcript.

Elisha Anderson, Danielson, Conn. writes on 13 Mar. 1899:  "He called at my house for the last time in November 1863, thirty-five years ago, and on the following afternoon I was passing with two yoke of oxen and a loaded wagon on the Snake Meadow road about forty rods from the Rhode Island line, west in Connecticut, in the town of Sterling, when I heard someone call "stranger," from the roadside; it being dusk could not see plainly, but on discovering who is was found the "Darned Man" in a dying condition.  I picked him up in my arms and started for my house which was a mile distant, but before reaching there he passed away peacefully and without a struggle.  I gently laid him down and went immediately and notified the Second Selectman, Jerome Madison, who lived not far; we then carried the body into a little house near by until the next day.  He was then taken to Mr. Madison's house and kept two days.  He was then put into a good coffin and box and in the company of the First Selectman, Wheaton Wood, and the Second Selectman, Jerome Madison, I took the remains in my wagon to the cemetery called "The Plains" in Oneco for burial, and after lowering the body to its last resting place I filled the grave with earth."

I am the only survivor that positively knows the sad fate of the "Old Darned Man."


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