The Accessory Transit Company had, according to Greytown resident Samuel Wood, taken pains to put the Greytown government into its back pocket when the British pulled out and left the free port to its own devices back in 1852. The Company availed itself of the town’s courts. Yet the Company declined to pay the rent it owed on Punta Arenas, a bit of land a ways outside of town which it leased as a coaling depot. Now the Company complained that Greytown had no jurisdiction over it at all, just like Solon Borland argued. Clearly Greytown had a legitimate government when it suited the Company and at no other time.
The dispute over Punta Arenas formed part of the Company’s grievance with Greytown, but the United States did not intervene with its cannons and fire to destroy the town on those grounds and how a Greytowner pegged Solon Borland with a broken bottle alone. Rather the Company claimed that the Greytown authorities had stolen Company property. Samuel Wood had a different take on that, thanks to his four years witnessing events in Greytown. The building
did not belong to the company, but to Captain McCerreo, a boardinghouse keeper, whose sole connection with the company arose from his providing accommodations for the workmen.
It was removed, in a legal and orderly manner, by the Mayor, from the grounds belonging to the city, on which it had been illegally erected, and of which the company had no lease, after summons had been repeatedly served, without avail, on the party in possession, requiring him to appear before the proper tribunal and show cause why it should not be removed. The only response to the summons was the setting up of a spurious charter, alleged by the company to have been granted to them by the State of Costa Rica, than which a more ridiculous and desperate claim was never perfected.
That came to more than the shack that Greeley said got torn down, but still very far short of the exorbitant sum that the Company demanded in damages. Furthermore, it sounds like the town acted reasonably and with considerable restraint in the manner.
Borland, Fabens, and the Company called this an assault on and seizure of American property. An American might have owned or controlled it illegally, one supposes, but that comes far short of the scenario the words imply. In effect, the Company wanted protection for its possession of stolen goods and, as it did elsewhere when Greytown’s rules did not suit it, the ability to act with impunity. That sounds wonderful for the company, but much less appealing to everybody else around.