THINKING that it may be interesting to some of my readers, I will now give, in brief form as possible, a history of some of the most noted inmates of the penitentiary.
He must be of a very unsympathizing nature who does not feel for his brother, who, though sinful and deserving, is imprisoned, and excluded from the society of friends. While we are sad when we behold our fellowmen in chains and bondage, how much sadder do we become when, passing through the prisons, we behold those of the same sex with our sisters, wives and mothers. In this land; blessed with the most exalted civilization, woman receives our highest regard, affection and admiration. While she occupies her true sphere of sister, wife or mother, she is the true man's ideal of love, purity and devotion. When, overcome by temptation, she falls from her exaltedsphere, not only do men feel the keenest sor-THE PRISONERS.
row and regret, but, if it is possible, the angels of God weep.
In the Kansas penitentiary, just outside the high stone wall, but surrounded by a tight board fence some fifteen feet high, stands a stone structure -- the female prison. In this lonely place, the stone building, shut out from society, there are thirteen female prisoners. During the week these women spend their time in sewing, patching and washing. But very few visitors are allowed to enter this department, so that the occupants are permitted to see very few people. Their keepers are a couple of Christian ladies, who endeavor to surround them with all the sunshine possible. For these inmates the week consists of one continual round of labor. It is wash, patch and sew from one year's end to the other. The Sabbath is spent in reading and religious exercises. In the afternoon the chaplain visits them and preaches a discourse. Several of these women are here for murder. When a woman falls she generally descends to the lowest plane.
A few days before I was discharged, there came to the prison a little old grandmother, seventy years of age. She had lived with herTWIN HELLS.
husband fifty-two years, was the mother of ten children, and had fifteen grand-children. She and her aged husband owned a very beautiful farm and were in good circumstances, probably worth $50,000. Her husband died very suddenly. She was accused of administering poison. After the funeral, she went over into Missouri to make her home with one of her married daughters. She had not been there but a short time when her eldest son secured a requisition, and had his aged mother brought back to Kansas and placed on trial for murder. She was convicted. The sentence imposed, was one year in the penitentiary, and at the end of which time she was to be hung by the neck until dead, which in Kansas is equivalent to a life sentence. The old woman will do well if she lives out one year in prison. She claims that her eldest son desires her property, and that was the motive which induced him to drag her before the tribunal of justice to swear her life away. During her long life of three score and ten years, this was the only charge against her character for anything whatever. She always bore a good name and was highly esteemed in the neighborhood in which she lived.THE PRISONERS.
Another important female prisoner is Mary J. Scales. She is sixty-five years of age, and is called Aunt Mary in the prison. She is also a murderess. She took the life of her husband, and was sentenced to be hung April 16, 1871. Her sentence was commuted to a life imprisonment. For eighteen years this old woman has been an inmate of the Kansas penitentiary. While she is very popular inside the prison, as all the officers and their families are very fond of Aunt Mary, it seems that she has but few, if any, friends on the outside. Several old men have been pardoned since this old woman was put into prison, and if any more murderers are to be set at liberty, it is my opinion that it will soon be Aunt Mary's turn to go out into the world to be free once more.
This woman was twenty-five years of age when she came to the Kansas penitentiary to serve out a life's sentence. She was charged with having poisoned her husband. For fifteen years she remained in close confinement, at the end of which time she received a pardon, it being discovered that she was innocent. When Mrs. Cook entered the prisonTWIN HELLS.
she was young and beautiful, but when she took her departure she had the appearance of an old, broken-down woman. Fifteen years of imprisonment are sufficient to bring wrinkles to the face, and change the color of the hair to gray. This prisoner made the mistake of her life in getting married. She, a young woman, married an old man of seventy. She was poor, he was rich. After they had been married a short time she awoke one morning to find her aged husband a corpse at her side. During the night he had breathed his last. The tongue of gossip soon had it reported that the young and beautiful wife had poisoned her husband to obtain his wealth, that she might spend the rest of her days with a younger and handsomer man. After burial the body was exhumed and examined. The stomach showed the presence of arsenic in sufficient quantify to produce death. The home of the deceased was searched and a package of the deadly poison found. She was tried, and sufficient circumstantial evidence produced to secure her conviction, and she was sent to prison for life. A short time before this sad event happened, a young drug clerk took his departure from the town where the Cook family resided,
where he had been employed in a drug store, and took up his abode in California. After fifteen years of absence he returned. Learning of the Cook murder, he went before the board of pardons and made affidavit that the old gentleman was in the habit of using arsenic, and that while a clerk in the drug store he had sold him the identical package found in the house.
Other evidence was adduced supporting this testimony, and the board of pardons decided that the husband had died from an overdose of arsenic taken by himself and of his own accord. The wife was immediately pardoned. How is she ever to obtain satisfaction for her fifteen years of intense suffering. The great State of Kansas should pension this poor woman, who now is scarcely able to work; and juries in the future should not be so fast in sending people to the penitentiary on flimsy, circumstantial evidence.
The other female prisoners are nearly all in for short terms, and the crime laid to their charge is that of stealing.
John Washington and Simmons Wolf areTWIN HELLS.
two young Indians tried and convicted in the U. S. District Court on the charge of rape. They were sentenced to be hung. After conviction these Indians were taken to the penitentiary to await the day set for their execution. In the meantime an application was made to the President to change the sentence of death to that of life imprisonment. The change was made. These two Indians were placed in the coal mines on their arrival, where they are at the present time getting out their daily task of coal. They both attend the school of the prison, and are learning very rapidly. Prior to this, Washington served out a one-year sentence in the Detroit house of correction for stealing. He is a bad Indian.
At present there are fourteen Indians incarcerated in the Kansas penitentiary. The Indian pines for his liberty more than the white man or negro. The burdens of imprisonment are therefore greater for him to bear.
One young Indian was sent to the penitentiary whose history is indeed touching. Ten Indians had been arrested in the Territory by U. S. marshals for horse-stealing. They were tried and convicted in the U. S. District Court.Their sentence was one year in the State'sTHE PRISONERS.
prison. On their arrival at the penitentiary they were sent to the mines to dig coal. This was a different business from being supported by the government and stealing horses as a diversion. The Indians soon wanted to go home. One of them was unable to get out his task of coal. The officer in charge thought he was trying to shirk his work and reported him to the deputy warden. The young Indian was placed in the dungeon. He remained there several days and nights. He begged piteously to get out of that hole of torture. Finally the officers released him and sent him back to the mines. While in the dungeon he contracted a severe cold. He had not been in the mines more than a couple of days, after being punished, when he gave suddenly out and was sent to the hospital, where in a few days he died. That young Indian was murdered, either in that dungeon or in the mines. A few weeks before, he came to the penitentiary from roaming over the prairies, a picture of health. It did not take long for the Kansas penitentiary to "box him up" for all time to come. He now sleeps "in the valley," as the prison grave, yard is called.
Another one of the same group did notTWIN HELLS.
fare quite so badly as his associate. The one I am now describing was sent with the rest of his companions to the bottom of the mines. He remained there during the first day. A short time after he went down on the following morning he became sick. He began to cry. The officer in charge sent him to the surface. He was conducted to the cell-house officer, Mr. Elliott. I was on duty that day in the cell house, and Mr. Elliott, on the arrival of the Indian, ordered me to show him to the hospital. After we had started on our journey from the cell house to the hospital building to see the doctor, and had got out of hearing of the officer, I said, "Injun, what's the matter with you?" This question being asked, he began to "boo-hoo" worse then ever, and, rubbing his breast and sides with his hands, said, between his sobs, "Me got pecce ecce." I was not Indian enough to know what "pecce ecce" meant. In a few moments we reached the hospital building, and I conducted my charge into the nicely furnished room of the prison physician, and into the immediate presence of that medical gentleman. Removing my cap, and making a low bow, as required, I said, "Dr. Nealley, permit meTHE PRISONERS.
to introduce a representative of the Oklahoma district, who needs medical attention."
While I was relieving myself of this little declamation the young Indian was standing at my side sobbing as if he had recently buried his mother.
"Reynolds, what is the matter with him?" asked the doctor. I then turned to my charge and said, "Injun, tell the doctor what ails you."
Mister Indian then began rubbing his sides and front, with tears rolling down his face, and sobbing like a whipped school-boy, he exclaimed, "Me got pecce ecce."
"There, doctor," said I, "you have it. This Indian has got that dreadful disease known as 'pecce ecce.'"
The physician, somewhat astonished, frankly informed me that he never had heard of such a disease before. I was in a similar boat, for I had never heard of such words prior to this. The sick Indian was unable to talk the language of the white man. The doctor then sent down into the mines for another of the Indians who could speak English and had acted as an interpreter. On entering the office, the doctor said to him, "Elihu," for that was his name, "thisTWIN HELLS.
Indian says he has an attack of pecce ecce. Now what does he mean by that?"
During all this time the sick Indian kept rubbing his body and sobbing. What was our great astonishment and amusement when the interpreter informed us" that "pecce ecce" meant nothing more nor less than "belly-ache." The doctor administered the proper remedy for this troublesome disease, and the Indian was sent back to the mines. He had not dug coal more than an hour when he had another attack, and began his crying, and was sent to the top. He kept this up until he wore out the patience of the officers, and they finally decided to take him out of the mines altogether and give him work at the surface. Even here, every few minutes the Indian would have an attack of "pecce ecce," and would start for the hospital. At last, the chaplain, taking pity on the poor outcast, wrote to President Cleveland, and putting the case in a very strong light, was successful in securing a pardon for the Indian. That "cheeky" red youth was no fool. He belly-ached himself out of that penitentiary. I trust I may never have to spend any more of my time in prison. If I do, I think about theTHE PRISONERS.
first day I will get a dose of "pecce ecce," and keep it up, and see if I can't get a pardon.
Ed. Stanfield. -- The history of this prisoner is as follows: He was about nineteen years of age when he entered the prison, which was some five years ago. His people reside in South Bend, Indiana. His father, prior to his death, was a prominent judge. The family was wealthy, influential and highly respected. It consisted of the parents and two sons. Ed. proved to be the black lamb of the flock. At the early age of nine years, being sent away to school, he bade all good-bye one day and followed in the wake of a circus show which was holding forth in the town where he was attending school. He was not heard of any more for several years. His parents spent vast sums of money attempting to ascertain his whereabouts. They finally heard of him in the following accidental manner: His father, Judge Stanfield, had been out in Nebraska looking after some land he had recently purchased, and, on his return home, sitting in the cars, purchased a newspaper of the newsboy as he came around. Looking over the paper he caught the nameTWIN HELLS.
of his prodigal son. There, before him, was the account of his son who, having knocked down a prosecuting attorney in broad daylight with a coupling pin, with the intention of robbery, had been tried, convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years, and was on that day safely locked behind the walls. The sad father, on reaching home, dispatched his elder son to the Kansas prison to ascertain if it was his younger son who was a convict. The young man came on and soon satisfied himself of the identity of the long-lost brother. He returned home and made the report to his parents. From that day Judge Stanfield was a broken-hearted man. He soon grieved himself to death over the sad fate of his boy, and the disgrace he had brought upon the family. In making his will, however, he gave Ed. an equal share in the estate with his brother. After the death of the father, the mother began to put forth efforts to secure a pardon for her son. His crime was so heinous and so un-called for that it was necessary for some time to elapse before an application was presented. At the earliest moment possible the wheel began to turn. The prosecuting attorney of Bourbon County, who had beenTHE PRISONERS.
knocked down with an iron coupling pin, was soon satisfied, for the family had wealth. It is of course unknown how much money was passed to him to make his heart tender and his eyes weep over the erring child that had come so near getting away with his gold watch and chain. A petition was soon in circulation for his release, signed by many prominent citizens. An open pocketbook will easily secure a petition for pardon, it makes but little difference as to the gravamen of the crime. The convict promised not to engage again in this pleasant pastime for filthy lucre. The mother of the young man came on from the East and remained until she had secured a pardon for her boy. The young man stated in our hearing that it took one thousand big dollars to secure his pardon. A great many who are acquainted with the facts in the case are not slow in saying that if Stanfield had been a poor, friendless boy, he never would have received a pardon, but would have had to serve his time out. There are more than five hundred men in that prison whose crimes are of a less serious nature, and who are far more deserving of executive clemency than Stanfield. It is said that "rocks talk" in the penitentiaries as well as onTWIN HELLS.
the outside. The history of this criminal will show my boy readers the future of many of those who, in early youth, ran away from home, and go out into the world to mingle in bad company.
Cyrenius B. Hendricks. -- This man was sent from Chatauqua County. He was twenty-seven years of age when sentenced. His crime was murder in the first degree. The particulars are as follows: He had been down to the Indian Territory looking after his own and his father's cattle. He was absent on this business some little time. On his return his wife informed him that a neighbor had been talking about her in his absence, and had given her a bad character, and that on account of it she had become the talk of the entire neighborhood. The enraged husband compels his wife to go with him, and they proceed to the neighbor's house. Hendricks took his gun with him. When they reached the neighbor's gate they halted and called the unsuspecting man out of his home. Hendricks then asked him if the charges were true as to his talking about Mrs. Hendricks. The neighbor neither affirmed nor denied the statement. At this Hendricks leveled his gun and shot him dead on the spot. HeTHE PRISONERS.
and his wife in a few hours after were arrested, and, as it was too late to take them to the county seat that night, they were guarded in an old log house in the neighborhood. Hendricks was fastened to the wall with a log-chain. During the night some one, supposed to be the brother of the murdered man, came to the window of the house in which they were confined, and, placing the muzzle of a gun through the window, shot Hendricks. The ball struck him near one of the eyes, rendering him blind in that eye, but did not kill him. The next day the two prisoners were taken to jail. They were tried, and both found guilty of murder in the first degree. The husband was sentenced to be hanged, while the wife received a life sentence. They were both taken to the penitentiary. After they had been there a short time Hendricks lost the other eye, from sympathy, as they call it. For a time the husband and wife remained on good terms. They were allowed to visit each other once a month. After a while she tired of him and would have nothing more to do with him. She served four years, and received a pardon. Hendricks still remains in prison, and is a pitiable and helpless wreck. He is totally blind, and hisTWIN HELLS.
nervous system entirely shattered. He can scarcely lift food to his mouth. He is so weak that it is with difficulty he walks about the prison park. An aged prisoner waits on him constantly to care for his wants, and to see that he does not commit suicide. Abandoned by his wife and friends, left to his own sad fate, totally blind and physically helpless, he is another testimonial to the truth that "the way or the transgressor is hard," and it also illustrates how much trouble may arise from using that little member called the tongue in an indiscriminate manner. Since my discharge from the prison I have learned of the death of Hendricks.
Ed. Miner. -- One of the men whose history will be interesting to the general reader is Ed. Miner. This man is forty-nine years of age. He served in the Missouri penitentiary two years on the charge and conviction of assault and battery with intent to kill. After the expiration of his sentence, drifting down the current of crime, he next embarked in stealing horses. He was arrested, tried and convicted. He received a five years' sentence, served his time, and went out into the world a free man. Again falling into bad company, he tries hisTHE PRISONERS.
hand once more at the same old trade of riding fast horses, is again caught, tried, convicted, and received another sentence of five years in the prison, which he is now serving out. As a prisoner, Miner is one of the very best. He never violates a prison regulation and was never known to be punished. During the war he served his country faithfully for four years as a member of the 12th Illinois Infantry. At the close of the war, and just before the troops were discharged, one day on review, the governor of the State of Illinois being present, Miner was asked by the commanding officer to step from the ranks, and was introduced to the governor as the bravest and most daring man in the command. The governor gave him a hearty shake of the hand, and afterward sent him a neat little golden medal as a token of his esteem. Miner now wears this suspended on a small gold chain about his neck. He is very proud of it. One of our prison officers, Mr. Elliott, was in the army with Miner, and says there never was a braver man. It may be a surprise to the reader that such a brave man, such a bold defender of his country's rights, would now be filling a felon's cell. The answer to this is easily given. It is all con-THE PRISONERS.
tained in the one word -- liquor. Miner loves strong drink, and when he is under its influence appears to have no sense. He is then ready for the commission of any offense, ready to participate in any kind of deviltry. Were it not for this baneful appetite there is every reason to believe he would be a highly respected citizen. I asked him one day what he would do when he got out. His reply was, "I don't know; if I could not get the smell of whisky I could be a man; it has downed me so many times that I fear my life is now a wreck; the future looks dreary; awful dreary." With this remark Ed. went away to attend to his duties. My eyes followed the old soldier, and, reader, do you blame me when I say to you that from within my heart there came forth the earnest desire that God in some way would save that man, who, away from strong drink and the influence of wicked companions is a good-hearted, generous man.
Gordon Skinner. -- A young man of twenty, possessed of an innocent, boyish appearance, whom none would take for a murderer, was sent up from Ellis County. His victim was Andrew Ericson, a respectable and worthy citizen about thirty-seven years of age. SkinnerTHE PRISONERS.
claims the shooting was purely accidental; that he was carelessly handling a six-shooter when it went off, the ball striking Ericson. He claims, also, that he and his victim were good friends, and that he never had any intention of killing him. The other side of the story is that there lived near Hayes City a beautiful girl, and that Skinner and Ericson were rivals for her heart and hand. Ericson, being much older than young Skinner, possessed of some property, and doubtless more skillful in the art of winning hearts, was beginning to crowd his rival to the wall. Young Skinner, not being able to endure the sight of his fair one being thus ruthlessly torn away by an old bachelor of thirty-seven, met him one day and the two engaged in a spirited controversy, when Skinner drew his revolver and shot him. Ericson lived several days afterward. Just before death, Ericson begged of his friends not to have Skinner arrested, stating he was not to blame. Skinner, moneyless, friendless, a comparative stranger in the neighborhood, his people all residing in Phillips County, this State, and, with the prejudices of the Ericson people against him, was tried, convicted and sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment. If the Board of Par-TWIN HELLS.
dons ever takes the trouble to investigate this case, with a view of tempering justice with mercy, they will find it worthy. Skinner is a good prisoner, and has ingratiated himself in the good opinion of the officers. But the weight of a twenty years' term is heavy, and is visibly affecting his health. Death should not be left to accomplish what the Board of Pardons should take pleasure in doing. This delicate boy should be sent home to his parents.
Robert W. Corey was sent from Wyandotte County with a sentence of three years for stealing cattle. This is a remarkable case. Corey is a blind man, and had been totally blind for thirteen months prior to his arrival at the prison; he was a taxidermist, and some years ago had taken a contract for furnishing stuffed birds for the museum of the Agricultural College of Mines, Iowa.This business requires the use of arsenic; carelessly handling it destroyed his eyesight. How a man, blind as he is, and was, at the commission of the alleged offense, could drive off and sell these cattle, is a mystery. The man who swore that he committed the theft is now an inmate of the insti-
tution, sent here for stealing since the arrival of blind Corey. This man now says that he is not positive that Corey took the cattle. On the trial, however, he swore it was Corey, and that he was positive of that fact! About the the truth of the matter is, he was the villain that took the cattle and swore it on the blind man. Corey has only a few months to remain in prison at this writing. It is terrible to heap such a disgrace upon as helpless a creature as Corey.
His case calls to mind another in the penitentiary. He is a colored man who cannot write, by the name of Thomas Green, from Fort Scott, serving out a five years' sentence for forging a check for $1,368. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced. Taking an appeal to the Supreme Court, the judgment of the lower court was set aside; but at his second trial, he was found guilty again, and is now in prison serving out his sentence. How can one commit the crime of forgery who cannot write? Probably some "Smart Aleck" of a district judge can explain. I admit that it is beyond my powers of comprehension. It may be law, but there is not much common sense in it.TWIN HELLS.
Gus Arndt is the next. The history of this man will show the freaks of whisky when enclosed in the hide of a raw Dutchman. Gus came to this country a number of years ago, and went to work for his uncle in Wabaunsee County. Not being able to speak English, his uncle took advantage of him, no doubt, for he paid him only ten dollars a month for his services as a farm hand during the summer season, and nothing but his board during the winter. Gus remained here for some time, three or four years, working at these wages. He had learned and could understand and speak English a little. One day as he was pitching grain in the field an Irishman came by who resided on a farm a few miles distant. Needing a hand and noticing that Arndt handled himself in a satisfactory manner, he offered him twenty dollars per month to go and work for him. Arndt accepted his proposition, and agreed to report at the I Irishman's farm the following Monday, this being Thursday when the bargain was made. That night the German settled up with his uncle, and received the balance of his wages, some $75. He had been in America long enoughTHE PRISONERS.
to reach that point in our civilization that, after working awhile, and getting a balance ahead, he must take a rest and go on a "spree." He started for the nearest town. For a couple of days he fared sumptuously, constantly drinking. He at length reached a point below zero. Half crazed, he staggers off to the fence across the way where the farmers who had come to town to do their shopping on Saturday had hitched their teams, and, untying a horse that was hitched to a buggy, Gus thought he would take a ride. Lumbering into the buggy, as a drunken man can, he drove down the main street of the town in broad daylight and out into the country. In an hour or so the owner getting ready to return, misses his horse and buggy. Making numerous inquiries about them and getting nothing satisfactory, he places the matter in the hands of a sheriff, who commences a search for the missing property. Not finding it in town he sends men out on the roads leading to the country, himself taking one. In a very short time he overtakes the noted horse-thief. Gus was sitting in the buggy sound asleep; the lines were hanging down over the dashboard, and the old horse was marching along at a snail's pace. He was out someTHE TWIN HELLS.
two miles from town, and, no doubt, had traveled at this gait all the way. He was faced about, and, assisted by the sheriff, drove back to town. He was then placed under arrest and sent to jail, subsequently had his trial, and for this little drive was sent to the penitentiary for five years. Of a more unjust sentence I never heard. Gus served his time out and a better behaved person was never behind the walls. When he regained his liberty, instead of returning to Wabaunsee County, and to his uncle's house, he finds his way to Marysville, Kansas. Here reside a number of prosperous Germar farmers, and the ex-convict soon got work. When he applied for work he forgot to tell his employer that he had just finished up a contract for the State of Kansas. Some months had elapsed and Gus had worked hard and industriously, had accumulated a neat little sum of money, and began to feel happy once more. At this time a man passed through the country that was acquainted with Arndt's antecedents, and being a dirty dog he thought it was his duty to inform the farmer that his hired man was an ex-convict, horse-thief and a desperado of the worst type. Some men are so officious and areTHE PRISONERS.
so anxious to do their duty when it is in their power to injure a fellow-man who is trying to earn an honest living. Gus immediately got the "bounce." He was informed by his employer that he did not want to make his home a harbor for horse-thieves. Gus took his wages and clothes and started for Marysville. He could not bear the idea of being discharged because of his former misfortune. He again applies to the bottle for consolation. He goes on another spree. When crazed with liquor he acted just as he did before; he goes to a hitching post, and unties a team of horses attached to a buggy. One of the horses had had its leg broken at some former time, and was almost worthless, while the other one was very old. He seemed to select the very worst team he could find. Maybe it was the buggy he was after! He was probably very tired and wanted an easy place to rest. He unhitched them just as if they had been his own. It was in the afternoon. The streets were full of people. Gus crawled into the buggy in his half drunken manner and started off down the road. When found by the sheriff some two hours after he had gone, about half a mile from town, the old horses were stand-THE TWIN HELLS.
ing at one side of the road and the drunken Dutchman was lying in the buggy sound asleep, with one bottle of whisky uncorked, the contents of which had run out and over his clothes, and another bottle in his pocket untouched. He had evidently gone out for a drive. He was taken to jail, and the news soon spread that he was an ex-convict and horse-thief. He was tried on a charge of stealing horses, and was returned to the penitentiary for a term of two years. Here were seven years' service for two drunks! Ancient Jacob, "how tuff!" After Gus had completed his narration to me he wound up by saying, "Ven I shall oudt git this time, I let von visky alones."
Woodward R. Lopeman was sent up from Neosho County for murder in the first degree. Under his sentence he was to be hanged at the close of the first year. This part of the sentence is never carried out in Kansas. The particulars of his crime are as follows: He was a well-to-do farmer residing in Neosho County, and never had any difficulty to amount to anything before this time. He was an old soldier
and served his country faithfully and bravely for four years. For some trivial cause he and one of his neighbors had a little difficulty, but it was thought nothing would ever come of it, as each of them had been advised by their friends to bury their animosity before it should lead to graver results. Lopeman seemed willing to do this, but his irate neighbor would not meet him half way. One day a calf of Lopeman's, worth but a few dollars, got through the fence and over into his neighbor's pasture. Word was sent to the owner of the calf that if he would come over and pay damages for the trouble of penning it up he could have his property. This had a tendency to arouse a bad feel- ing in the heart of Lopeman; so, placing his revolver in his pocket, and asking his grown up son to accompany him, they went to the house of the neighbor and directly to the lot where the calf was shut in and commenced to lay down the bars to let it out, when the neighbor came from the house with his son, and Lopeman was ordered to leave the bars alone. The neighbor, who was a strong, muscular man, proceeded to chastise Lopeman; the two sons also got ready for an encounter Lopeman, be- ing by far the smaller man of the two, began toTHE TWIN HELLS.
retreat slowly as his enemy advanced brandishing a club. When almost near enough Lopeman to strike him with the uplifted club, Lope- man, in self-defense, as he claims, drew his revolver and shot him. He fell lifeless to the ground. The son of the murdered man perceiving what was done, ran quickly into the house, and getting a double-barreled shotgun, came out and fired twice at Lopeman and his son. The shots did not take effect. Lopeman fired two shots at him. At this the son retired into the house, and Lopeman and son taking the almost worthless calf, which had been the cause of so much trouble, went to their home. Lopeman then went to the county seat and gave himself up to the authorities. As soon as the news spread over the neighborhood, excitement ran high and there was loud talk of lynching. The murdered man was very popular. His old neighbors smelled blood, and it was with some difficulty that they were prevented from taking the law into their own hands. Better judgment prevailed, however, and after six months the trial came off and the murderer was convicted and sentenced as aforesaid. This man was my cell mate. He is something over sixty years of age, of medium height, and dur-THE PRISONERS.
ing his younger days must have been very hard to handle. The first evening we occupied the cell together he told me of all his troubles. and 1 learned from his own lips that I was to room with a murderer. I felt I would much rather be at home, than locked in that 4x7 cell with a man whose hands were dyed with the blood of his neighbor. My alarm somewhat subsided when the time came for retiring. The old man, as solemnly as the Apostle Paul would have done, took down the Bible, read a few verses, and then knelt down and prayed. I sat there in mute astonishment at the proceedings of this gray haired criminal. How was it possible for a man who was guilty of such a grave crime to be devout. He often told me that he had no consciousness whatever of guilt, nor the fear and dread of a murderer. I asked him if in his dreams he could not often see the face of his victim. With a shrug of the shoulders he admitted that he could. For six months this old man and myself occupied that small cell together, so small that it was very difficult for us to get by each other when the sleeping bunks were down. We never had the least trouble during the entire time. Akinder hearted man I never met. WheneverTHE TWIN HELLS.
he received any little delicacies from home he would always divide with me, and in such a cheerful spirit that I soon came to think a good deal of the old man. If we had both been on the outside world I would not have desired a kinder neighbor. His son, later on, was convicted as an accomplice, and sent up for two years. The old man has hopes of a pardon in a few years. He has a wife and several children who are highly respected and much beloved in the neighborhood where they reside. They have the sympathy of all their neighbors in this affliction and bereavement.
Doc. Crunk. -- One of the many desperadoes now behind the prison walls of the Kansas penitentiary is this noted Texas outlaw. He is a native Texan, now nearly fifty years of age. After years of crime he was finally caught in the Indian Territory while introducing whisky among the Indians. He had his trial in the U. S. District Court, was convicted and sent to the penitentiary for three years. For a time during the war he was a confederate soldier. Becoming dissatisfied with the profession of arms, he deserted and entered upon the life of an outlaw. He gathered about him a few kindred spirits with which Southern Texas was infested, and organized a band of cattle and horse thieves, This band of banditti became so numerous that after a time it extended along the lower line of Texas into the Indian Territory and up into Kansas. Their ravages were also felt in Arkansas. They had a regular organized band, and stations where they could dispose of their stolen property. The cattle that were stolen were run to the frontiers and sold to cattlemen who were in collusion with them, and which latter were getting immensely rich out of the operations of these thieves. They would steal horses, run them off and sell them to buyers who knew they were purchasing stolen property. For years this gang flourished. Another mode of securing stock was the following: A great many estrays would betaken up and advertised. In every instance some member of the Crunk gang would claim the property under oath and take it away. The leader of these outlaws stood trial for nineteen different murders, and was acquitted each time. He could always prove an alibi. His assistants would come in and swearTHE TWIN HELLS.
him clear every time. He was an intimate acquaintance and on friendly terms with the James boys, and related many trips that he had made with these noted and desperate men in their work of "seeking revenge," as he styled it. He has no love for a colored man, and as he works now in the prison with a number, pointing to them one day he said to me, "I wish I had a five dollar note for each one of them black skunks I have killed since the wa'." He said he considered "a 'niggah' that wouldn't vote the way decent people wanted him to should not vote at all." Said he: "I know of a number that will not vote any mo'. I saw them pass in their last ballot." "The most money, made the easiest and quickest, was made by our men," said he, "as moonshiners in Montague County. We carried on this business successfully for a long time, but finally the U. S. marshals became too much for us, and we had to close up shop. We had several engagements with them; men were dropped on both sides, until finally we concluded to quit the business and return to our old trade of stealing cattle and horses. The way our moonshiner's nest was found out was very romantic. A young woman came into the district, and tried to getTHE PRISONERS.
up a school, seemingly, but failed. I guess she did not try very hard to get scholars. At any rate she remained with a family in the neighborhood for some time, whom she claimed were her relatives. One of my men fell desperately in love with this young woman. He would be out riding with her, and, as none of us suspected anything, he would at times bring her over to our camp, and we taught her how to make whisky. She seemed deeply interested in the business. I told the boys several times that I was a little afraid of that 'gal,' but they laughed at me, and so I said, 'I can stand it if the rest of you can.' She even went so far as to become familiarly acquainted with all of us. We all got to thinking that she was a nice young woman, and her lover simply thought he had secured the finest prize in the world. But alas! At the proper time she fixed our camp. She proved to be a female detective from New York city. She gave away our fellows, and soon we were surrounded by a posse of U. S. marshals and their deputies. Her lover was captured and is now in the Texas penitentiary. Several of our boys were killed or wounded, and those of us who escaped made up our minds to go back to the old cattleTHE PRISONERS.
trade." "What are you going to do, Doc.," said I, "when you get out of this place?" "Going back to Texas; hunt up the boys, and see if we can't find some more horses and cattle. One thing is certain I will never go to another penitentiary. I will swallow a dose of cold lead first."
And, with this, the famous outlaw went off to his room in the mine to get out his task of coal to keep from being punished. Of the nine hundred criminals in the prison, . probably there is not one of them who has seen so much of a life of crime as the famous Doc. Crunk.
Thomas A. Currens. -- One of the most unique characters to be found in the striped ranks of the Kansas penitentiary is that of the man who is herein described. This convict is fifty-two years of age, and a native of Kentucky. His life, save a short time spent in the army, has been one of crime. He was a courageous lad. Leaving his home at the early age of ten years, thus deprived of all parental protection and restraints, he formed bad associations, and soon his future career was in the di-THE PRISONERS.
rection of crime. The greater part of his boyhood was spent in city and county jails and reform schools. At the age of twenty-two years he was convicted on a charge of horse-stealing and sent to the Frankfort, Ky., penitentiary for six years. After serving four years he was pardoned by the Legislature. He remained out of prison for the two following years. We next find him in "limbo" in Indiana. He was arrested, and twenty different charges were preferred against him. By pleading guilty to the count of stealing a wagon, the court dismissed the other cases and gave him a sentence of three years at hard labor. He was taken to the State's prison. Shortly after his arrival he was put to work running an engine during the night-time. After five months had passed away, Thomas, reaching the conclusion that he did not enjoy watching over an engine during the lonely hours of the night, determined to escape. Stealing an old suit of clothes belonging to an officer, which he drew on over his suit of stripes, he scaled the walls and was once more a free man. It was a cold winter's night. After traveling some distance through the woods his feet were almost frozen. Daylight was now approaching. He must find aTHE TWIN HELLS.
place of hiding during the coming day. In a few hours he would be missed at the penitentiary. The alarm being given, the usual reward being offered, scores would be on the lookout for him. Approaching a farm yard, he sat down and cut up his striped pantaloons and wrapped up his almost frozen feet. He then crawled under a hay-stack. In this place he came near being discovered, for in a couple of hours the farmer came out to feed his cattle, and as chance would have it took the hay from the stack under which the convict was secreted. As he was removing the hay, several times prongs of the fork sank deep enough to penetrate the flesh of the runaway. He endured this pitchfork probing heroically while it lasted, and was thankful when the cattle had received sufficient provender. Here he remained until nightfall. He did not renew his journey until the farmer and his family had retired and were in the land of dreams. Almost starved, uninvited he enters the kitchen and helps himself to what he can find. His hunger being appeased, his old habit of taking things that he should leave alone, forced him into the bed-room of the sleeping farmer, and forced his hand into the pocket of the aforesaid "ranger's pantaloons, from which he took his pocketbook containing twenty dollars in money. He was now prepared for traveling. Continuing his journey for several miles, becoming very tired, he decided not to walk any longer as there was so much good horse-flesh in the vicinity. Near the hour of midnight, this weary tramp entered the farm-yard of a wealthy old Indiana farmer, and going into the barn led out one of his fleetest steeds. Once more astride a good horse, Thomas felt like a free man. During the rest of the night he made good headway, and by the morning sun was up the rider and horse were many miles away from the place where first they met. Entering a small village, the horse was fed and nicely groomed. At the same time Thomas partook of a good breakfast which he heartily enjoyed. The fates seemed to favor the man of crime. It is an old saying: "The devil looks after his own." A horse-buyer had arrived in the village a few days before. When the noon train came whistling up to the station, the convict having converted his horse into one hundred and twenty-five dollars, purchased a new suit of clothes, a silk hat, and a pair of kid gloves, and representing himself to be a traveling salesman, gettingTHE PRISONERS.
aboard, soon reaches Chicago, where, soon after his arrival, he. joined a band of crooks. He was never discovered by the Indiana prison officials. Fifteen years after his escape, he got a "pal" to wire the authorities of the Indiana penitentiary, and inquired of them what reward they would pay for the return of Thomas A. Currens, a convict who had effected his escape many years before. An answer came that if he would remain out of the State, he would never be molested.
Wandering about several months after his escape, he arrives in Sedalia, Missouri. Among other little articles he was accused of stealing at this place was an eight hundred dollar barouche, the property of Judge Ferguson, of that place. Again this noted thief was arrested and confined in the county jail to await trial. He was not anxious for trial, for he knew the "yawning pen " was waiting to receive him. For eleven months he remained in this jail, having his trial continued from term to term. When his case was called up for the first time he feigned sickness. The next time one of the principal witnesses was absent, and thus for eleven months his case was continued. Thomas now yearned for freedom. How to get out ofTHE PRISONERS.
that jail was the problem. Another term of court would soon convene. He had no grounds for further continuance. Fortune favored him. At this time a man was arrested and placed in the same cell with Currens. The face of the new arrival was covered over with blotches. The next morning Currens in a confidential manner stated to the sheriff that his cell mate had the small-pox. Being interrogated the prisoner said he had been exposed recently, and a physician being called, on examination it was decided to remove him to the pest-house. Currens was sent along on account of his exposure to the contagion. An officer was placed in charge of the two jail-birds at the pest-house. During the night following their arrival at this out-of-the-way place, the officer was pounced upon by the two desperate criminals, bound hand and foot, and with a large cork placed between his teeth, was gently laid on the floor. His gold watch and chain, and all the loose change he had with him were taken from his person, and the two small-pox patients walked forth into the darkness and gloom of that night unattended by any friendly official. Thomas never believed in criminals traveling in groups, so he bade his companion an af-THE TWIN HELLS.
fectionate farewell. Wending his way to the southwestern portion of the State he was arrested for additional crimes and misdemeanors. Knowing that the officers had not sufficient evidence against him he bravely stood trial and was acquitted. However, as he was going forth from his prison cell a free man, much to his surprise, an official from Sedalia put in an appearance and took him back to the scene of his small-pox escapade. At his trial he was convicted and received a sentence of six and one-half years. He now took a cell in the Jefferson City penitentiary. After four years of imprisonment this notorious criminal makes an application for pardon, setting up an alibi as the basis of the application, and succeeded in influencing the Governor to believe the testimony, and was set at liberty, promising that he would leave the State of Missouri, never to return. The conscience of the said Thomas never troubled him over failing to keep his word with the officers of the law. He did not leave Missouri, as he agreed, but betook himself to the pleasant little city of Carthage. Scarcely three moths had elapsed before he found himself again in durance vile for stealing horses. He was tried, convicted and returnedTHE PRISONERS.
to Jefferson City penitentiary under a sentence of six years. He took an appeal to the Supreme Court. The judgment of the lower court was reversed. He was taken back to Carthage for another trial, and was convicted the second time, and again received a sentence of six years at hard labor in the penitentiary. As before, he appealed the case, and the governor,thinking the State was getting the worst of the matter, and that a large amount of costs were being made, pardoned the convict under another promise that he would leave the State. Currens, now following Greeley's advice, turns his eyes toward the setting sun. He crosses the Big Muddy, and plants his feet upon the sacred soil of Kansas. He makes a raid upon Lawrence, breaks into a house, and is caught in the act of trying to carry off the household goods. A courteous policeman takes charge of him -- now deeply steeped in crime -- soon landing him behind the bars. In the presence of the court he next makes a solemn statement that, prior to this, he had been a Sunday-school teacher; that misfortune had overtaken him, and he was forced to enter some friend's kitchen or starve. Those who listened to his pathetic appeal inform me that the stern judgeTHE TWIN HELLS.
was moved to tears, and that while he had con- templated giving the wayward Thomas six years, he made it three. This was the first introduction of our hero to the principal brown stone front of Lansing. It was not long after his arrival at the Kansas penitentiary before he gained the confidence of the authorities, and was made a "trusty." He had an easy place given him.
His three years' sentence soon passed away. His term was reduced three months because of his excellent conduct while in prison. Bearing with him the good wishes of a majority of the prison officials, and followed by the prayers of the pious chaplain, he goes forth to engage in life's battle again. Thomas could not fully enjoy the sweets of liberty unless on horseback. He makes his way to the capital of Kansas, and engages at once in the dangerous business of stealing horses. He had not continued this course long before he was arrested, tried, convicted and returned to Lansing for five years more. Thomas had not been in the Kansas penitentiary the second time but a few months, when he called upon the chaplain, and with tears rolling down his face confessed he was a great sinner, promised to lead a different life,THE PRISONERS.
and urged the chaplain to pray for him. Delighted at the prospect of snatching such a brand from the eternal burning, the man of God took Thomas into a private room, and the two knelt down. The chaplain offered a fervent prayer that the loving Father would take to His embrace the returning, sinful prodigal. At the conclusion of this prayer the chaplain called upon the "sin sick soul" to pray for himself. This was an unexpected movement by the chaplain, and Thomas was hardly prepared for the emergency. However, he prayed. He was converted on the spot. At least, the chaplain thought so. Strange as it may appear to my readers, instead of this noted convict having to remain and serve out his five years' sentence, through the influence of this minister he secured a pardon. At the expiration of eighteen months the shrewd convict was a free man. That chaplain was " worked."
The fortunate Thomas next visits Atchison. A farmer came to the city one day, driving a beautiful horse. The temptation was too great, and the man who had been an inmate of a penitentiary seven different times followed the unsuspecting farmer to his home, and that night rode away the coveted prize. The AtchisonTHE TWIN HELLS.
County Vigilance Committee traced and soon caught the guilty horse-thief, landing him in Atchison County's beautiful jail. Shortly after, Thomas had an interview with the county attorney, and it was agreed by and between them, if the horse-thief would plead guilty, he should be let off with one year in the penitentiary. To this the grave offender agreed, and, presenting himself before the tribunal of justice, Hon. W. D. Gilbert presiding, plead guilty. The county attorney being absent, the court gave Thomas, instead of twelve months, a year and a half at hard labor. I met him in the penitentiary a few days ago, and learned that he is putting forth an effort to secure a pardon on the ground that had he not been promised only a only year's sentence, he would have stood trial and been acquitted. He claims that he should be given his liberty when his one year is up.
Thomas was out of the penitentiary long enough to go into the army and get a bullet through his ankle, and therefore draws a pension of twenty-four dollars per month. He takes good care of his money, and has enough on hand to enable him to act a good start in life when he obtains his freedom. He is a well-THE PRISONERS.
behaved prisoner. He is true to his pals in crime, never having been known to turn State's evidence. He has a mania for taking things that do not belong to him. He claims that he never would have been caught the last time had not his housekeeper "given him away." The two had a domestic quarrel, and in her efforts to get even, she told the authorities of his theft. After his trial and conviction, womanlike, she repented in sackcloth and ashes, but Thomas would have no more to do with her. Later, she went over into Missouri, where she has since died. One of the first things Thomas will do on regaining his liberty will be to secure another housekeeper, and probably the the next thing will be to steal some farmer's horse.
This convict is now serving out his eighth term in the penitentiary. It is fearful to contemplate these human wrecks. A wasted life, golden opportunities unimproved, a dark and dismal future will constitute the death knell of such fallen beings. Young man, remember the life of this convict, and shun such a course.
William Hurst. -- Some of the narratives inTHE TWIN HELLS.
this book read like the story of Aladin's Lamp, and we have no doubt some of them so reading are absolutely true, while for the Lamp story nothing is claimed. For many ages men, and particularly those engaged in the literary field of thought, have discanted on the baseness of the passion of jealousy. There is no sense in being jealous. You are either loved or you are not, and hence the absolute foolishness of indulging the passion.
William Hurst, whose history we now relate, is a man of rough personal appearance, Irish descent, and his age is now about fifty-five. Coming to Kansas at an early day, he settled in Doniphan County, and there courted and subsequently married one of Doniphan County's pretty girls. Time went along as usual, and in a few years there were several little cherubs that blessed the household of Hurst. But, as sometimes happens, the husband began to drink, love grew colder, the necessities of the family hourly grew greater, poverty in all its hideousness came to curse the home once so happy. The poor, distracted wife and mother did all she could, by taking in washing and ironing, to prevent the starvation of her little ones. The husband through his bleared eyes imagined he
could see that other men were too friendly to his wife. He charged her with unfaithfulness to the marriage vows. She denied the charge. Only incensed by this he would beat and mistreat her out of all reason. For protection she had him arrested, intending to bind him over to keep the peace, but on the advice of officers, who are so full of it, she withdrew the charge and he was set at liberty. For a few days he was quiet, but soon the red liquor poured down his throat, and like a mountain devil stirred all the dark passions of his lost and ruined nature. He attempted to debauch his own daughter, and was only prevented by the physical force of the ever-watchful mother. The father (great God! is such a human being entitled to the endearing term?) turned upon her, and again, as had often happened, abused, kicked and mistreated her in a most shameful manner. She had him arrested a second time with the intention of binding him over to keep the peace. He pretended, while in charge of the officer, that he must see his wife, and together they started toward the hovel where they lived. They met the wife and mother at the outskirts of the little village, had some words, and before the officer could prevent it, Hurst sprang uponTHE TWIN HELLS.
the woman and cut her throat from ear to ear, jumped away, and made good his escape to the woods, the officer, meanwhile, deeming it more important to aid the woman, not knowing, for a moment, that the cutting was fatal. That fact was very soon apparent. Others were called who took charge of the body, and the officer struck out in hot pursuit of the murderer. He was followed to the woods a few miles from White Cloud, in Doniphan County, there overtaken and conducted to the county seat, tried, convicted of murder in the first degree, sentenced to be hung", sent to the penitentiary to await the final execution, which, in our State, never comes. He remained in there about twenty months when he became insane, and was sent to the asylum; was there about three and a half years, when he was pronounced cured and returned to the penitentiary. He is now insane a second time. You have all in your younger days read the story of the maniac that paced his cell, repeating "once one is two," and now comes the queerest part of this narrative. Hurst seems anxious to talk to every one that calls, and especially anxious to shake hands; but if you say anything to him, or ask any question, his only answer is "skilledTHE PRISONERS.
labor," and keeps on repeating these words as he walks up and down his place of confinement. Who knows but the infinite God has destroyed reason to prevent the power of darkness over this poor, unfortunate being. Or who knows but the demands of justice are met in the terrible conscience blows which have staggered and shattered that which originally was in the image of God.
McNutt and Winner. -- these are two of the most noted criminals in the penitentiary, rendered so because of the dastardly crime committed by them, and the high social relations of the latter. They came from Wichita, and have been in prison almost fifteen years. McNutt is a fine artist and painter. He had his paint shop in Wichita, and was doing a very successful business. Winner was his associate, and the two plotted and carried into execution the following horrible crime: McNutt got his life insured for $5,000, his wife being his beneficiary. It was a dark, stormy night when McNutt and Winner enticed into this paint shop an unsuspecting mutual friend. Here theyTHE TWIN HELLS.
murdered him in cold blood. They then set fire to the paint shop and took to flight. After the fire was put out, the charred remains of the murdered man were found, and supposed to be those of McNutt, the owner of the building. The wife, cognizant of the awful deed which her husband had committed, followed the remains of the murdered man to the grave, dressed in her garb of mourning.
Shortly after this she applied for the insurance money on her husband's life. Some doubts were raised as to the identity of the body. Detectives were employed to make an investigation of the case. They made use of a deception, and thus got the woman to confess. They told her that they had found an accomplice who had confessed the crime, and was in jail. They promised the wife that if she would tell the truth they would not prosecute her. She consented. She narrated the sickening events as they had been plotted in her presence and under her roof. Officers were now despatched to find the murderers. McNutt was found in Missouri plowing corn. Winner was found near Wichita. They were brought to trial, convicted, and sent to prison for life. Winner was unmarried at the time ofTHE PRISONERS.
his conviction. His father and only brother are very wealthy, and living in Kansas City. I have been told they offer $20,000 for Winner's pardon. McNutt is a very useful man in the prison. He has charge of the painting department. He has done some fine work on the walls of the prison chapel, covering them with paintings of the Grecian goddesses. Both of these prisoners hope to receive pardons. Whether they will regain their liberty is a question which the future alone can answer.
In the coal mines, as before stated, the convicts are permitted to converse with each other. I improved this opportunity of acquiring the histories of the five hundred criminals with whom I daily worked, eight hundred feet below the surface. I would talk with a fellow prisoner, and get the details of his crime as we sat together in the darkness. Understanding "short-hand," I would go to my cell in the evening and jot down what I had learned during the day. I had no fears of any one reading my notes, as I was the only short-hand writer about the institution. Day after day I kept this up,THE TWIN HELLS.
until I had material sufficient of this nature to fill a book of more than two thousand pages. My readers should also know, that a convict will tell a fellow-prisoner the details of his crime, when he would not think of saying a word about it to others. As a rule they deny their crimes to those who are not, like themselves, criminals, pleading innocence. It is not difficult for a prisoner to get the confidence of a fellow-prisoner. In fact, criminals love to unburden their minds to those who possess their confidence. The truth is, convicts have related their crimes so often to me that it became tiresome. They say it relieves them to communicate their troubles. Pinkerton, of Chicago, the prince of detectives, stated at one time that a criminal could not keep his secret. It is true. I know it to be a fact. It has been demonstrated a hundred times in my association with these convicts in the Kansas penitentiary. Securing their confidence, these men have not only told me of the crimes for which they have been sent to prison, but also of crimes that they have committed, and, in the commission of which, they had not been detected, which, if I should make them known,would cause a number of them to remain in the penitentiary the rest ofTHE PRISONERS.
their lives. I am not in the detective business, and will therefore keep what was confided to me. I have met but few criminals in the mines that would not admit their guilt. I have thought in many cases, convicts received sentences too severe, and not at all commensurate with the crime committed. I have met a few men, however, who would stubbornly deny their guilt and stoutly affirm their innocence. I have worked upon these men day after day, and never got anything out of them but that they were innocent. At times, in tears, they would talk of their sufferings, and wonder if there was a just God silently permitting the innocent to suffer for the guilty. I am satisfied these men are innocent, and they have my sympathy. They are exceptions. Others, while admitting their guilt on general principles, and assenting to the justice of imprisonment, yet maintain that they were innocent of the particular crime for which they stand convicted. I trust the reader will not get his sympathies wrought too high, as comparatively few angels find their way into modern prisons. I will give you a few illustrations. These are just samples of scores of histories in my possession.THE TWIN HELLS.
A hog-thief worked in the mines with me for a few days. His dose was five years at hard labor. He had stolen an old sandy female swine with six pigs. I asked him if he was really guilty of carrying on the pork business. "Yes," said he, with a low chuckle, " I have stolen pigs all my life, and my daddy and mammy before me were in the same business. I got caught. They never did." He then related the details of many thefts. He made a considerable amount of money in his wicked traffic, which he had squandered, and was now penniless. Money secured in a criminal manner never does the possessor any good. I asked him if he had enough of the hog business, and if it was his intention to quit it, and when he got out of the pen to earn an honest living. "No," he replied, "as long as there is a hog to steal and I am a free man, I propose to steal him." Imprisonment failed to reform this convict. Although a hog-thief he was an excellent singer and a prominent member of the prison choir.
There are many murderers in the mines. In fact, nearly all the life men are there. Some of them speak of their crimes with a bravado simply astonishing, showing their utter deprav-THE PRISONERS.
ity. Others, admitting their guilt, say but little of details. The following will give the reader some idea of the stories that greeted my ears almost daily, and led me to conclude that the coal mines of the penitentiary are not inhabited exclusively by Sunday-school scholars. This cruel and heartless wretch had murdered an old man and his wife. The old people lived on a farm adjoining the one where this criminal, who was then a hired man, worked, It was the talk of the neighborhood that they had money. This human fiend undertook to secure their "loose change," as he called it. He procured a shotgun and an axe, and, in the dead hour of night, went to the house of the old people. He forced open the kitchen door and went in. He had also brought with him alantern. He quietly stole to the bedside of the innocent and aged sleepers. He had no use for his lantern as the moonlight shone through the window opposite and fell upon the faces of the unconscious victims. Setting his gun down by the side of the bed, so that he could have it handy for use, if necessary, he took the axe and struck each of his victims a blow upon the head. He said, with a demoniac chuckle, thatTHE TWIN HELLS.
it was more difficult to kill a woman than a man, as it required two blows from the axe to kill the woman, while one was sufficient for the man. He then ransacked the house, and, between some blankets underneath the straw-bed upon which the old folks were sleeping, he found a small bag, which contained some gold, silver and paper money, amounting to over one thousand dollars. In a cold-blooded manner he further stated (and as I pen his words my blood nearly freezes in my veins), in order to search the bed upon which his victims were lying, it became necessary for him to remove the bodies; so he lifted them up one at a time, and placed them upon the floor, face downward, for the reason, as he said, that their eyes bulged out and seemed to stare at him.
After securing the money he fled and returned to the farm where he worked. He slept in the barn, as is very often the case with farm laborers during the summer season. Entering the barn he procured an old bucket, places his money in it, covers the top with a piece of board, and buries it in the earth east of the barn. He also buried the axe near the bucket. He said there were clots of blood andTHE PRISONERS.
hair on the axe, and he thought best to put it out of sight. He then returned to the barn, and, strange to say, soon fell asleep and slept sweetly until morning. He went to work the next day as usual, and his mind was taken up more by thinking of what a good time he would have after a little, spending that money, than in worrying over the terrible crime he had committed. He reasoned that the money would do the old people no good, but that he could use it to advantage.
The discovery of the murder was made the next day about noon. The alarm was given. The whole country was aroused and excited over the commission of such a horrible crime -- two innocent, helpless and highly-respected old people murdered for their money. A couple of tramps had passed through the neighborhood the day before, and, of course, everybody thought it must have been the tramps that committed the murder. The object now was to find them. They were overtaken the next day and brought back to the scene of the murder. They both stoutly denied any knowledge of the crime. They were separated, and each was told that the other had confessed. This was done that a confession might be forcedTHE TWIN HELLS.
from them. They continued in their affirmation of innocence. They were then taken to the woods near by and each hung up until life was almost extinct, but they still denied the commission of the crime. They were at length taken to the county seat, not far distant, and, on a preliminary examination,were bound over to appear at the next term of the District Court, and put in the county jail. The majority of the people believed that the perpetrators of this crime had been arrested and were now in durance vile; the excitement soon passed away, and very little was said about it.
"It was at this time," said my informant, "that I made the mistake of my life. I had worked hard on the farm for several months, and thought I would take a lay off. I felt it was due me. I now made up my mind to have a time. I went to town and soon fell in with a harlot. I got to drinking. I am very fond of strong drink; it has been my ruin. I became intoxicated, and during this time I must have betrayed my secret to this wicked woman. A large reward had been offered for the murderer of these old people. This woman who kept me company having thus obtained my secret, went to the city marshal and made an arrange-THE PRISONERS.
ment that for half of the reward offered she would show him the man who had committed the crime. This was agreed to. While I was drinking and having a good time with my 'fast woman' three men were on the road to the farm where I had been working. They found and dug up the old bucket containing what money I had left in it, and the axe. All this I learned at the trial. I was arrested and bound over to the District Court on a charge of murder in the first degree. The officers had to keep me secreted for some time, as there was strong talk of lynching. In due time I had my trial and got a life sentence."
I asked him if he had any hope of pardon. "Oh yes," said he, "in the course of eight or ten years I will be able to get out once more."
"What became of the tramps that came so near being compelled to suffer the penalty of your crime?"
"They were released as soon as I was arrested, a snug little sum of money was raised for them, a new suit of clothes purchased, and they went on their way rejoicing, thinking themselves creatures of luck."
As we sat together in a secluded place in theTHE TWIN HELLS.
mines, with the faint light of my miner's lamp falling on his hideous face, the cool, deliberate manner in which he related his atrocious doings, the fiendish spirit he displayed, led me to regard him as one among the most debased and hardened criminals I had met in the mines -- a human being utterly devoid of moral nature -- a very devil in the form of man!
One of my companions in the mines, and with whom I worked a couple of weeks, lying almost side by side with him as we dug coal in the same room, was a noted counterfeiter. He had plied his trade for many years successfully. Whisky finally sent him to the penitentiary. If professional criminals would only let strong drink alone not half so many of them would act caught. They get drunk, and in this condition expose themselves. We don't mean to use this as an argument against the prohibitory law! It is, perhaps, proper for them to drink. This counterfeiter makes his dies out of plaster parts. They are very simple and easy of construction. He explained to me the manner in which they were made. I would give his method of making these diesTHE PRISONERS.
were it not for the fact that some smart boy getting hold of this book and learning the method would undertake the business, and as a result his good old mother would be going to the penitentiary to visit him. When this counterfeiter would run short of funds he would purchase the necessary material, go into the woods on a dark night, and in a very short time would have plenty of bogus money. He taught the trade to his brother and to some bosom friends, and it was not long until they had a regular organized gang. Getting drunk one day one of them displayed too many shining new pieces of money. He was "spotted." A detective was put on his track. He was traced to the headquarters of the gang, and in a few hours thereafter the entire posse were locked up in jail on a charge of counterfeiting and passing "bogus money." They now formed plans for their escape from jail. They adopted the plan of seizing the jailor, as he brought in supper, thrusting him into a cell, locking him in, and then making good their escape. They made the attempt. The jailor was locked in the cell according to the programme, but so much noise was made in the struggle that the sheriff put in an appearance with a loaded re-THE TWIN HELLS.
volver. The prisoners made a dash for liberty, A brother of my informant was killed; another of the gang was wounded and dragged back into his cell in the jail; the others got away. It was in the winter time. The succeeding night was extremely cold. Wandering about all night in the snow, their feet were frozen, and they were easily recaptured the next day. They had their trial, and all were sent to the penitentiary. They got eight years apiece, three for counterfeiting and five for breaking jail. In this manner was broken up one of the worst counterfeit gangs of the West. Whisky has trapped many a criminal. There are but very few that do not "indulge." In fact, I cannot now recall a single professional criminal but would take a drop if he could get it. They must have whisky to nerve them for their iniquitous business. When the crime is committed they drink again to soothe their "wounded consciences."
A boy was brought into the hospital one day while I was there, whose history is worth relating, as it shows the fatal effects of bad literature upon the human mind, and to what sadTHE PRISONERS.
results it may lead. This youth had become suddenly ill in the mines, and had to be assisted from his place of work to the ward for the sick. He was very ill for several days, but began to grow convalescent. An opportunity presenting itself, I got into conversation with him, and he told me the history of his crime. He was an orphan. At the death of both his parents in the East he had come to Kansas to make his home with an uncle. This relative was very kind, and after a time adopted the boy. He had a pleasant home, and his prospects for the future were bright. How often is it the case that the sky of the future becomes overcast. This young criminal was a constant reader of the Life of Jesse James, and kindred literature, until he made up his mind to go on the "war path" and become Jesse James No. 2. With this in view, he provided himself with two large revolvers. One night, after all the household had retired, he crept stealthily into the bed-room of one of the hired men and stole seventy dollars. He goes to the barn and takes one of his uncle's horses and starts for the Indian Territory. The uncle was awakened an hour later on account of some unusual sound at the barn, and going thither discovered thatTHE TWIN HELLS.
one of his best horses was gone, and also that his nephew was away. He got together several of his neighbors and started in pursuit, and the next day, about noon, the youthful thief was overtaken and surrounded. The uncle rode up to him and began to question him as to his strange conduct, when the boy drew one of his revolvers, and, pointing at his uncle, shot him dead. He was going to play Jesse James to the last. When he saw his uncle fall dead from his horse, now realizing what he had done, the bravado spirit forsook him, and he began to quake with fear. The neighbors closed in upon him and soon took his firearms from him. In due time he had his trial and was sent to the penitentiary for life.
Bad books are our worst companions. I have narrated the history of this young murderer, and now urge my boy readers to let yellow back literature alone. It wrecked the future of this youth, and what it did for one it may do for another.
Willie Sells. -- In the prison, this convict is called the "baby convict." When he came toTHE PRISONERS.
the penitentiary in 1886, he was but sixteen years of age, and in appearance much younger. One of the most sickening murders committed in Kansas is charged to the account of this boy. His home is in Neosho County. His father, a prosperous farmer, lived happily with his wife and three children. Willie was the oldest of the children. Early one morning he rushed from his home and made his way to the nearest neighbor, about half a mile distant, and with his face and hands covered with blood conveyed the startling intelligence that the entire family had been murdered, and he only had escaped. Soon an excited crowd of neighbors gathered at the home of the murdered victims! and the sight that was presented has but few parallels in the fatal and fearful results of crime. The victims had been murdered while asleep. In one room lay the father and mother of the youthful murderer, on their bed of death. Their heads had been split open with an axe that lay near by, and the blood of one mingled with that of the other. In an adjoining bed-room, covered with their own life's blood, were found the little brother and sister. They had been foully murdered with the same instrument that had caused the death of the parents. WhoTHE TWIN HELLS.
was the monster that had committed this terrible and atrocious act? A search of the premises disclosed the fact that robbery was not the motive. No property was missing. The survivor was questioned again and again. He said that a burly-looking tramp had effected an entrance into the house through a window during the night; that he being awake at the moment, and becoming alarmed, hid himself, and, unperceived, beheld his father and mother, his brother and sister, thus foully murdered. A thorough and extensive search was made, but no clue could be obtained that would warrant the arrest of any one.
Finally, the surviving child was taken into custody. It was claimed that his statements of the circumstances connected with the crime varied, and in several instances were contradictory. The evidence introduced at his trial was purely circumstantial. After much deliberation and hesitancy, the jury decided on a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, and this child criminal was sentenced to imprisonment for life.
He conducts himself well in the prison. On account of his extreme youth he is given a great deal of liberty. It is with great reluctance that he talks about his crime, and longs for freedom.
Is this boy guilty? This question has never been satisfactorily answered in the affirmative. I am informed there was a grave doubt in the mind of the judge who tried the case and imposed the sentence as to the guilt of this alleged youthful offender. A chill of horror creeps over us as we think of the members of this family weltering in each other's blood. Should he be innocent, it would be awful for this boy to remain in the Kansas Hell for a lifetime.
William Baldwin furnishes the history of one of the most remarkable cases in the criminal annals of Kansas. He was charged with the atrocious crime of murdering his own sister. William and his sister were the only children of a widowed but wealthy mother. It is claimed that the son had received his portion of the estate prior to this sad occurrence, and that by taking the life of his sister he would become the sole heir of the Baldwin estate, which was supposed to be very large. Mary, the beautiful and accomplished sister was discovered dead one morning Iying upon her bed in her chamberTHE TWIN HELLS.
with a chloroform bottle at her side. A panel of the outside door of the house was found removed. Immediately upon the discovery of the murder it was supposed that the house had been burglarized, and that the thief had committed the murder. Upon an examination of the premises by the proper officials it was found that nothing had been taken from the house. In looking for a motive that would prompt a person to commit such a fiendish act, and it being known that William Baldwin, the brother, would be the sole heir in case of the death of his sister, he was at once suspected of having committed the crime. His arrest was prompt and immediate. He was bound over on preliminary examination, and in due course of time had his trial and was convicted. He was sentenced to the penitentiary for one year, at the expiration of which he was to be hung until dead. His case was taken on appeal to the Supreme Court of the State. Baldwin, in the meantime, was removed to the penitentiary. Here he was placed in the tailor shop, where he has remained since. He is a very obedient prisoner, and is highly esteemed by the prison officials. The judgment in his case upon hearing in the Supreme Court of the
State was affirmed. From the Supreme Court of Kansas his case was taken by appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States; in this highest tribunal, the judgments of the lower courts were affirmed, and the fate of William Baldwin is forever sealed so far as the judiciary of the country is concerned. If he is permitted again to inhale the air of freedom, it must be through the clemency of the pardoning board and of the governor of Kansas. During one hundred and ten years of American jurisprudence, there had been only two similar cases taken to the Supreme Court of the United States. But a few days before my release I was talking with Billy Baldwin in the penitentiary, and he seemed to be very hopeful that after a time he would secure his pardon. His wife is one of the most highly respected ladies of Atchison; is true, faithful and devoted to her husband. She has enlisted the sympathies of the entire community in her behalf, because of her youth and great bereavement. His aged mother, who has been called upon to wade through deep waters of affliction because of the great calamity that has befallen her son and daughter, will also exert great influence in getting signers to a petition for his pardon.THE TWIN HELLS.
The question has often been asked me, because of my intimate relation with Baldwin in the penitentiary, whether I believed that he is guilty. I can answer as to my own belief. I have watched him carefully as I have the other fifty-five lifetime convicts, and I aim free to say that I do not believe that William Baldwin ever committed the crime of killing his sister for the malicious desire of obtaining filthy lucre, or the estate of his sister. He does not conduct himself as scores of other criminals who have confessed their guilt. In conversation with him, while I was "in stripes," he has time and again told me, with tears rolling down his cheeks, that he was innocent of the terrible crime of which he stands accused, and that there was no brother had greater love for his sister than he, and that he had such faith in an overruling Providence that eventually he would be exonerated from the crime; and that the real perpetrator would be made known. If he is innocent and it should ever be clearly proven, his will be one of the saddest and most mysterious events ever recorded. There is beyond doubt an unsolved mystery hanging over this remarkable case.