Brazil is not the only locality where such proceedings are being enacted, nor are they confined to Catholic countries. The same jesuitical tricks are being played in the United States. Much indignation has been excited in Keokuk, Iowa, and its vicinity, by the discovery of a high-handed outrage of this description. The particulars, as reported to us from there, are as follows: Bernard Slevin has resided in Oskaloosa, Iowa, for the last twenty-five years, and had accumulated a property of twelve or fifteen thousand dollars, some say a great deal more. He was a member of a Lodge there for many years. Last spring his health failed and he went to Keokuk for medical treatment. After remaining a short time at the Hotel where he had been accustomed to board, he removed to the house of a saloon keeper with whom he became acquainted about two years since. There the Roman Catholics had him in their power. They induced him to join their church, take the sacrament, renounce Masonry and make a will bequeathing all his property to these new friends! A few weeks ago a Brother Mason was visiting him, when Slevin related what had happened, and said that he had made his will and was kept there without his consent; that he was still a Mason and wanted the Masons to take him away. An informal meeting of the two Lodges in Keokuk was immediately called and a committee appointed to visit him and inquire into the matter. They found him at the bar, half dressed, drinking with other men, with a roll of bills in his hand, and the proprietor dealing out the liquor. When the committee made known their business he retired with them to another room where they conversed together for an hour. He seemed confused and excited and appeared to be under the influence of some drug as well as liquor, but he declared that he wanted to leave that place and desired the committee to take him away. They promised to do so the next morning. A report was made to the Lodges and a committee of two was appointed to procure a carriage, call for him in the morning, remove him from the influences which then surrounded him, keep him until he became sober and calm, and then ascertain what his real wishes were. The committee endeavored to carry out this plan. Slevin prepared to go with them when the saloon keeper interposed and refused to permit it until he had seen the priest. He was sent for and soon appeared in a state of great excitement. As soon as his eyes met Slevin's it was apparent that he had him completely under his control. He extorted from him an acknowledgment that he had joined the Roman Catholic Church, that he had renounced Masonry, that he was well treated and desired to remain where he was. Although satisfied that these were not his real sentiments and wishes, his Masonic friends were obliged to leave.
As a last resort the Commissioners of Insanity were petitioned to make an examination. They found him in such a state that they could not decide what should be done further than to remove him to a comfortable and quiet boarding place until the following Monday, when further consultation should be had. He was accordingly moved on Friday. The priest and his followers tried every means in their power to get possession of him again, but in vain. A physician was called in on Saturday, but on Sunday night the patient died. To all with whom he conversed he expressed satisfaction at his removal, declared that he loved Masonry and the Masons, averred that he had made a will under compulsion, and expressed the hope that the Masons would stand by him until he was able to make another.
The breath had hardly left the poor man's body when the priest produced the will and demanded the remains. By the terms of the will the body was given to the priest, together with the sum of $2,000. The other bequests were $2,000 to the Sisters of Charity of Keokuk; $2,000 to the Sisters of Charity of Ottumwa; $3,000 to the wife of the saloon keeper (a stranger), and $100 to her child. The priest was made residuary legatee, and named executor without surety.
Much indignation is felt throughout the whole community at these shameful proceedings, even Romanists denouncing the conduct of the priest. So strong is the feeling against him that the Bishop has determined to transfer him to another parish.
The Sunday after the death of Slevin, the priest delivered a violent harangue against Masonry and denounced Masons in vulgar and indecent language.
New England Free Mason, Vol. I., edited by Sereno D. Nickerson, A.M., and Charles H. Titus, A.M.
Printed by Frank Wood, Boston, 1874.