It was half past nine on a quiet Monday night in April 1818. Elizabeth Tuckerman Salisbury, known throughout Worcester as “Madame Salisbury” in deference to her family's wealth and social position, was passing a serene evening at home with her niece and adopted daughter, Eliza Weir. Her husband, Stephen, a merchant and the town's wealthiest Citizen, was away on business. The Salisbury mansion's comfortable drawing room was pleasant, graced by Elizabeth's harp and a piano bought expressly for Eliza.
Suddenly, the peace was shattered as something crashed violently against the front window. Salisbury immediately “call'd in the people” (the servants) for protection. Venturing outside, they spotted no one lurking about but did find two good-sized stones, one weighing over half a pound. Peering out into the now still night, Elizabeth Salisbury noted that “it was very dark, & no one appeared to be in the street. [Y]ou may suppose I did not recover my tranquil[l]ity very soon.”