Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PATCH, Samuel, athlete, born in Rhode Island about 1807; died in Rochester, New York, 13 November, 1829. He followed the sea, early in life, and afterward went to Paterson, New Jersey, where he became a cotton-spinner. In 1827 he was seized with the mania for jumping that was then prevalent. A bridge had been built at Paterson over Passaic river, and Patch declared so frequently that he would jump from it that he was placed under arrest, but made his first leap from the rocks at the foot of the bridge on the south western side of the chasm that it spanned. Subsequently he jumped from the bridge itself, a distance of eighty or ninety feet, and in consequence became the hero of the hour. He then travelled about the country, leaping from the yard-arms and bowsprits of vessels, and diving from top-masts, until he was attracted to Niagara Falls with the crowd that gathered there to see the condemned brig "Michigan" go over the cataract wit, h its freight of living animals. Here he jumped from a shelving rock midway between the highest point on Goat island and the water, more than half the height of the falls. Previous to his performance at Niagara he had given an exhibition at Rochester, New York, but, not being satisfied with the results, he advertised a second leap on his return from the former place, asserting that on 13 November he would jump from the bank of the Genesee river at Gene-see Falls "into the abyss below, a distance of 125 feet." The country people came in great numbers to see the daring athlete. After a few words of showman's bombast, in which he compared himself to Napoleon and Wellington, Sam made the spring ; but, instead of shooting like an arrow from a bow, as he had done on the previous occasion, he fell so awkwardly that the spectators were unanimously of the opinion that he had jumped to his death. Nothing was heard of him until the following St. Patrick's day, when his body was found near the mouth of the river. It was supposed that, after striking the water, he had attempted to swim back under the cataract, and had become entangled in the roots of a large tree that grew near. His remains were interred in the village of Charlotte, at the mouth of the Genesee. It was Sam's ambition to jump from London bridge, and he had signed an agreement with the captain of a fast-sailing packet to Liverpool to make the voyage the following spring, and jump from the yard-arm every fair day. Speculations and comments on Sam's fate filled the newspapers for months.
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