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"Lord" Timothy Dexter Exhibit

The "Mouseum" of "Lord" Timothy Dexter

Timothy Dexter (1747-1806), the Newburyport Nut, is best known for making his fortune from zany business investments, and from his eccentric nouveau riche personality. His prophetic dreams made him a millionaire by such acts as shipping a load of mittens, warming pans and cats to the West Indies. He literally shipped "coals to Newcastle" (England), and made money doing so. He gave his wife $2000 to leave him and hired her back for the same sum two weeks later.

It's no surprise that he was snubbed by New England's High Society: his neighbors hated him and considered him insane. To improve his image he bought a mansion in an exclusive area in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and soon began erecting life-size wooden statues of famous men, with the help of a hired carpenter. He stated, "I will show the world one of the Grete wonders of the world in 15 months . . . that is, if no man murders me in Dors or out of Dors."

His 40-piece "mouseum" consisted of groupings with the titles such as, "Motherly Love," "Four Lions Lying Down with a Lamb." Included among the characters were, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, William Pitt, Napoleon Bonaparte, Venus, John Adams, John Hancock, King George, General Knox, the governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Lord Nelson, and Louis XVI. Towering over all the others was a statue of himself, bearing the inscription, "I am the first in the East, the first in the West and the greatest philosopher in the Western World."

People flocked to see his statuary and a tomb that Dexter had built for himself. Inside the tomb were a pipe and tobacco, fireworks, a bull-horn, and "a Bibel to read and sum good songs," so that he'd be sure to have a good time on the other side.

His book, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress "became one of the great curiosities of American literature." It was at first given away, but eventually was much in demand, and ran into eight editions. It tells the story of his own life and what a great guy he really was, with rambling attacks on politicians, clergymen and others. In response to complaints from people who could barely understand his prose, Dexter added an extra page which contained nothing but punctuation marks. "The Nowing ones complane of my book the fust edition had no stops I put in A nuf here and they may pepper and salt it as they please," was his explanation.

One of Dexter's last eccentric acts was to announce his own death, and stage a phony funeral for himself. He wanted to prove to his wife (and to himself probably, as well) that lots of people would show up, while he watched the proceedings from his mansion. Whether or not he was satisfied with the results of this is a matter of some dispute. In any case his real funeral took place only a short time after the phony one. Unfortunately though, the town authorities wouldn't allow him to be buried in his elaborate tomb, "for sanitary reasons." Instead, he was buried in the public grounds at the Frog Pond.

The "mouseum" was soon destroyed by a hurricane, and the mansion fell into disrepair. The ornate carvings on the house were removed, but the mansion itself still stands on Newburyport's High Street.

Excerpt from A Pickle For The Knowing Ones
(Available for the first time in over 100 years)

Ime the first Lord in the younited States of A mercary Now of Newburyport it is the voise of the peopel and I cant Help it and so Let it goue Now as I must be Lord there will foler many more Lords prittey soune for it Dont hurt A Cat Nor the mouse Nor the son Nor the water Nor the Eare then goue on all in Easey Now bons broaken all is well all in Love Now I be gin to Lay the Corner ston with grat Remembrence of my father Jorge Washington the grate herow 17 sentreys past before we found so good A father to his children and Now gone to Rest Now to shoue my Love to my father and grate Carieters I will shoue the world one of the grate Wonders of the world in 15 months if Now man mourders me in Dors or out Dors such A mouserum on Earth will annonce O Lord thou knowest to be troue fourder hear me good Lord I am A goueing to Let or shildren know Now to see good Lord what has bin in the world grat wase back to own fore fathers Not old plimeth but stop to Addom & Eve to shoue 45 figers two Leged and fore Leged becose we Cant Doue well without fore Leged in the first plase they are our foude in the Next plase to make out Dexters mouseum I wants 4 Lions to defent thous grat and mistry men from East to wist from North to South which Now are at the plases Rased the Lam is Not Readey in short meater if Agreabel I forme A good and Peasabel govement on my Land in Newburyport Compleat I take 3 presedents hamsher govener all to Noue York and the grate mister John Jay is one, that maks 2 in that state the king of grat britton mister pitt Roufus King Cros over to france Loues the 16 and then the grate bonnepartey the grate and there segnetoure Crow biddey - I Command pease and the gratest brotherly Love and Not fade be Linked to gether with that best of troue Love so as to govern all nasions on the fass of the gloub not to tiranize over them but to put them to order if any Despout shall A Rise as to boundreys or Any maturs of Importence it is Left france and grat britton and Amacarey to be settled A Congress to be always in france all Despouts is to be thare seteled and this may be Dun this will balless powers and then all wars Dun A way there fore I have the Lam to lay Dow with the Lion Now this may be Dun if thos three powers would A geray to Lay what is calle Devel one side and Not Carry the gentelman pack hors Any longer but shake him off as dust on your feet and Laff at him there is a grate noise aboute a toue Leged Creter he says I am going to set sade black Divel there stop he would scare the womans so there would be No youse for the bilding I should have to E rect sum Noue won Now I stop hear I puts the Devil Long with the bull for he is a bulling 2 Leged Annemal stop put him one side Near Soloman Looking with Soloman to Ladey venus Now stop wind up there is grat ods in froute I will Let you know the sekret houe you may see the Devel stand on your head before a Loucking glass and take a bibel in to your bousom fast 40 owers and look in the loucking glass there is no Devilif you dont see the ould fellow but I affirm you will see that ould Devil

Unto you all mankind Com to my hous to mock and sneare whi ye Dont you Lafe be fore god or I meane your betters think the heir power Dont know thorts and Axsions Now I will tell you good and bad it is Not pelite to Com to see what the bare walls keep of my ground if you are gentel men you would stay Away when all is Dun in marble I expect to goue out myself to Help if thous grat men will send on there Likeness all over the younited States I wish all the printers to give Notis if pleases to in form by printen in the Nousepapers for the good of the holl of man kind -

I waus to make my Enemys grin in time Lik A Cat over a hot puding and goue Away and hang there heads Doun Like a Dogg ben After sheep gilty stop see I am Afrade I Rite toue hash my peopel Complane of backker spittel maks work to Cleane it up - in the women skouls A bout it spit in ther hankershif or not spit A tall I must say sumthing or I should say Nothing therefor make sum Noise in the world when I git so ouely to Nash my goms and grising for water and that is salt water when brot A yong Devel to bring it and A Scoyer to wate and tend on gentelmen A black Suier hes breth Smelt wos then bram stone by far but Let the Devel goue in to Darknes an takeld his due to Descare mankind for A Littel while this Cloven foot is seen be sum but the trap will over hall the Devel in tim I pittey this poore black man I thinc his master wants purging a Littel to har ber mr Devel A most but I did Not say Let him Run A way good Nit mr Devel Cary the sword and mwney with you tak John mekel Jentel man good Not


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