The point of the whole quantity issue is that I have undertaken another very time-consuming project for the website, though it's not one that I find unpleasant. It's just fairly slow-moving.
I have transcribed long pieces of writing before, including an excerpt about the fate of the Lady Be Good, an airplane with a tragic history currently on display at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton. Then there's the scanning of Russel Frey's book Rogue's Hollow: History and Legends, as part of my page about Rogue's Hollow. When a book is highly relevant to something on the site, I will sometimes try to provide access to it, especially if it's old or rare or out of print.
All three of those things are true about H.M. Fogle's 1908 book Palace of Death: A True Tale of 59 Executed Murderers. It's so rare you'd have to really work the used book world to catch sight of it, even in Columbus. But once again thanks to Beth Santore of Grave Addiction, I own a copy of this unique, utterly engrossing and horrifying little hardcover. The spine has crumbled, and it's missing one page near the beginning, but other than that it's quite readable.
Ohio had executed more than fifty-nine people by 1908, and it certainly didn't stop that year. (Today, after a long break, they're at it again on a regular basis.) But H.M. Fogle set out to write a book about all the men executed within the walls of the Ohio Penitentiary up to the date he published it. That means starting with the first hanging to be brought inside prison walls rather than performed as a public spectacle at the corner of Mound and High. And he had access to some remarkable records, thanks to connections at the prison. It all makes for a book so fascinating it's hard to believe it's been so forgotten.
Well, as you might have noticed from the sign in the parking lot, we specialize in the forgotten here, and that's why I've begun transcribing the entire book, word for word, and posting it on its own special page mainly linked from the Ohio Pen section. Click below to check it out, and read the first fifteen chapters for yourself, should you be so inclined. (You really should.)
I won't go on with the history stuff; it's a little pretentious, and what I'm really trying to say is that the overall tone of Palace of Death is ugly because it comes to us from an ugly time. You'll find some N-words in it, and you'll read about female victims who pretty much deserved what they got for being such whores. You'll also find a shockingly cavalier attitude about the concept of executing an innocent person. More than one chapter is about someone "likely innocent" of the crime they're going to their death for. H.M. Fogle seems to think that even if the courts made a mistake, it was most likely an honest one, and you just gotta break those omelette eggs. It reminds me of something I once read about the "Hanging Judges" who gained fame in the Old West, people like Roy Bean and Isaac Parker: When in doubt about the guilt of an accused party, they favored summary execution. Their reasoning? It was a way of referring a difficult issue to a "higher court"--one that was never wrong about which way it judged a defendant. The possibility that the occasional guilty party might walk free was more repellant to them than the consequent guarantee that innocent people would, from time to time, be irreversibly punished. (Even scarier is the fact that some people still feel this way.) And with attitudes like that about hanging or electrocuting people who might have done nothing wrong at all, you can imagine the book's attitude toward capital punishment for legal minors or the mentally retarded.
Not to belabor the point, but...it makes you wonder what a person in the year 2108 will have to say about us.
The first was at noon today, Free Age Radio with Aeileon. It was fun and went well except for the fact that I touched a dead spider while I was talking and screamed like a six-year-old girl.
The second show, Verse 1, is hosted by a friend of mine, Adam Brown. I will be his guest tonight at 11PM. Both programs should be archived on their respective pages soon enough, and if things go as planned I might start doing a regular monthly guest spot to answer questions and talk about Forgotten Ohio.
I am listening to:
David Bowie singin "Magic Dance" from Labyrinth.