• A lottery ticket from 1820. Many projects were funded across the country with primitive lotteries to increase needed revenue in past centuries. Library of Congress

For the Monitor
Published: 1/20/2021 2:52:32 PM

As long as people have dreamed, opportunities have been pursued. Some people pursue their dreams in business while others might look towards the arts. Others might seek their fame in acting while some take up the quill and write in search of great rewards for their opinions. In our ancestors time there have been adventurers with solid plans and then there are those that make decisions without forethought and simply pursue their riches in other ways. Our ancestors would seek both entertainment and rewards with games of chance, gold mining and even with the purchase of a lottery ticket.

It was not just modern society that discovered the profits and losses associated with the purchase of a lottery ticket. Our colonial ancestors were offered the opportunity of winnings by purchasing a lottery ticket many years before we were born. Our very own Continental Army was in need of food, warm clothing, muskets and ammunition as they engaged in battle against the British and needed financial support. The United States offered a primitive lottery where the people in the colonies could purchase a ticket in hope of winning. Lotteries were offered to fund the building of canals, bridges and local monuments to honor those from the past. There were even opportunities to purchase lottery tickets from sources outside of our country in support of other agendas. Games of chance have always existed and perhaps always will, as long as people have a spare dollar and a dream.

It was back in the year 1820 a gentleman from Hopkinton had his very own dream. He heard about a lottery, a chance for riches that were beyond the reach of the average man. His name was Mr. Phillips and he did have a spare dollar to pursue his dream. Mr. Phillips read the local newspaper and learned there was a lottery being offered and all he needed was eight dollars to purchase a ticket. The rewards were very sweet indeed, he had the cash and certainly the desire to become wealthy. Mr. Phillips placed his name and eight dollars in a paper envelope and sent it off to New York for his very own lottery ticket. Once mailed, Mr. Phillips started to think about his venture with some reservation.

A few days after Mr. Phillips daring investment in the lottery, he started to develop some strong doubts about his frivolous investment. He was a prudent man with sound thoughts and felt much apprehension wasting his eight dollars on such a thing as the lottery ticket. As Mr. Phillips fear grew each day he started searching for a resolution, a refund was not offered but perhaps he could sell his ticket to another person in town. Surely there had to be a like minded fellow in search of his very own dream. Along came Phillip Brown, another local man with some resources and a dream. Mr. Phillips approached Phillip Brown and explained his dilemma, and Mr. Brown did listen to his friend. As the two men parted, Phillip Brown purchased the eight-dollar lottery ticket from Mr. Phillips and awaited the outcome in the coming days.

As each new day arrived Mr. Brown started to second guess his judgement and resented purchasing the lottery ticket from Mr. Phillips. Just prior to the day of the lottery drawing Mr. Brown visited a local farmer in search of a two-dollar load of hay for his livestock. He offered the Hopkinton farmer his lottery ticket to pay for the load of hay. The frugal Yankee farmer would have nothing to do with a lottery ticket, he wanted his cash in payment for the hay. As Mr. Brown paid the farmer, he felt quite forlorn and accepted the fact that he had made a poor investment by purchasing the lottery ticket from Mr. Phillips. Resigned to the fact that his money was lost he retired to bed the evening before the drawing and did not sleep well.

The day of the drawing approached without fanfare, neither Mr. Phillips or Mr. Brown discussed the matter and carried on with their daily chores. It was a few weeks after the drawing occurred that a message arrived at the post office in Hopkinton for Mr. Phillips. The message from New York advised Mr. Phillips that he was the lottery winner and would be receiving $25,000. as soon as he verified, he was the lucky ticket holder.

Mr. Phillips read this letter and then read it again. He took the letter home and fell asleep reading the letter one last time. The lottery ticket that he sold to Mr. Brown was worth a fortune. Even though poor Mr. Phillips was noted as the holder of the winning lottery ticket it was Mr. Phillip Brown that was indeed the rightful owner at this time. The next morning Mr. Phillips met with Mr. Brown and shared his story while advising the people in New York that he sold his ticket to another man.

In the following weeks the story was the talk of the town, people did feel bad for Mr. Phillips but so pleased to hear about the fortune Mr. Phillip Brown had won.

In 1820, this amount of money was very bountiful. Soon the bank in Concord sent a messenger to Mr. Brown advising him that a draft in the amount of $25,000 arrived in his name. The draft was quickly converted to United States bank notes and Mr. Phillip Brown brought his riches to his home and placed the bank notes in his dresser drawer for safe keeping.

This intriguing story does not end here, for where there is fame and fortune there is also curiosity, second guessing and genuine concerns. The first night that Mr. Phillip Brown retired to bed he gazed upon his dresser containing more wealth than he could ever imagine. He could not sleep for he felt there was danger lurking around every corner, his fear of robbery increased with each hour. The next morning, he felt exhausted and concerned that his fortune would not last long in his dresser drawer. A plan was needed and his thoughts drifted to several options as the sun was setting and the darkness of night was once again upon him.

It was at midnight that Phillip Brown remained sleepless and concerned. He rose and gathered all of his lottery winnings and left his home traveling deep into the surrounding forest under moonlight. Eventually he came upon an old tree with a hollow trunk, the perfect hiding place for his windfall. He placed the bank notes in the trunk of the tree and covered them with sticks and leaves before retuning to his home and falling into a deep sleep.

The next morning Mr. Brown felt relief and thought his decision was the best to ensure the safety of his money. Nobody would rob him this night or the night after. After a hearty breakfast Phillip Brown walked into the surrounding forest under a bright sun to visit his tree once again. Anxiety arrived quickly as Phillip Brown traveled from tree to tree in search of his money, he was not able to locate his hiding place this day. He traveled back again and again to the Hopkinton forest in search of his wealth only to return home in disappointment. As another evening arrived Phillip Brown regained his composure and spent some time reflecting on his concern. Perhaps he should retire to bed this evening and when the clock strikes midnight travel into the deep forest in search of his tree. With the same setting he was confident that he could locate his hiding place.

Our story does have a very happy ending for Mr. Phillip Brown. His plan to journey into the forest under moonlight resulted in the discovery of his tree containing his lottery winning. He gathered his money and secured it in the bank at Concord.

In the coming years, Mr. Phillip Brown invested his windfall in real estate in his native Hopkinton and then in Concord. He eventually moved to Concord and held tightly to his riches. The real estate investments he made were prudent and his wealth grew and grew.

He never again purchased another lottery ticket.

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