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Season 3 Episode 18

Abby, Julia and the Seven Pet Cows

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Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Jan 07, 1958 on CBS
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Abby, Julia and the Seven Pet Cows
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The story of two spinsters born to be suffragets in their twilight years stand against the almight tax collector who takes seven of their cows for taxes amounting to $101.39.
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    • TRIVIA (1)

      • In the early morning of January 8, 1874, a momentous procession moved along the quiet Main Street of the small New England town of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Led by an implacable town official, who doubled as constable and tax collector, seven Alderney cows plodded toward the auction block, their reluctant progress urged by four men, a dog, and a drum. Behind followed some forty-odd local citizens with teams of horses, and in the rear, black-bonneted heads high, their resolute spines never touching the backs of the wagon seats, rode two frail little elderly ladies. The scene was, in the words of a Hartford correspondent, "a fit centennial celebration of the Boston Tea Party." Justice was at stake, and the seven cows, like the chests of tea, were destined to become a national symbol.

        The embattled owners of the cows were Julia Smith and her sister Abby. Though these two were quietly living out the closing years of a long and uneventful life-Julia was 82 and Abby 77—they were not wholly unacquainted with notoriety. They were the last remaining members of a family of nonconformists who for half a century had nonplused the small community of Glastonbury.

    • QUOTES (1)

      • "The motto of our government," Abby declared, "is 'proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land,' and here, where liberty is so highly extolled and glorified by every man in it, one half of the inhabitants are not put under the law, but are ruled over by the other half, who can … take all they possess. How is liberty pleased with such worship?"

    • NOTES (1)

      • The officials soon discovered that they had no ordinary cows on their hands. These creatures had been delicately and lovingly reared. They responded at a gallop to the names of Jessie, Daisy, Proxy, Minnie, Bessie, Whitey, and Lily. They were so emotionally dependent that every day of their captivity they refused to be milked until Julia came and stood reassuringly in sight. Their plaintive lowing rent the sisters' hearts and distracted the neighbors.

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