NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center
On-Line Library



"Leaves have their time to fall
And flowers to wither at the northwind's breath
And stars to set---but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! Death."

If you stand in front of a prisoner's cell and tell him that he is the most abused man in the world, you instill into his heart a hatred of the prison officials and the results will never be prison reform but-murder. Equally guilty with the murderer are those who thus instilled murder into his heart; and while the law of the land may not reach them, the great Judge above will not overlook to pass judgement (sic) on them, and no doubt sentence them to that same corner of hades where linger those who fired the shots.

Never shall I forget the fourteenth day of March, 1912. A blizzard was raging, it was an awful day, a day just fitted for the commission of a crime. Warden Delahunty


came into the office about seven o'clock. It was his fifty-fifth birthday. As he passed by my desk I congratulated him and wished him many happy years. He thanked me and went on to his desk where he worked until eleven o'clock. He got up several times to look out. The cars were not running regularly. He told me that he wanted to go and see Mr. Huckins, publisher of the "Lincoln Herald," but thought he would postpone the trip on account of the weather. He tried to get Mr. Huckins by phone, but the phone refused to work. At noon he went upstairs and sat down and talked with his mother for a while.

After dinner the deputy warden, Mr. Wagner, sent a note to me asking me to come to his office. This was between one and two o'clock. I went in there, and Mr. Wagner explained that he wanted me to write to Kansas City to get the record of an inmate. I left right away, and no sooner had I sat down at my desk than I heard


six shots fired in the chapel in rapid succession. I rushed to the door and looked into the turnkey room, where I saw Claus Pahl, the turnkey crouching on the floor. I asked him what was the matter. He turned and looked at me but did not answer. I noticed that he was very pale and his eyes protruded from his head. To me he looked like an insane person, and I thought that it was he who had gone mad and had fired the shots. Afterwards I realized that he was "scared to death." If he had thrown his keys into the hall when I spoke to him or departed by the side door, he would have saved the day; but doing as he did, he simply lost it. For a minute I retired to the office. Soon the usher, Mr. Heilman, came staggering in and fell upon the floor seriously wounded. The good old man had heard the noise and rushed out of his office into the hail to see what was going on. He was struck by a bullet fired by Dowd who stood guard while "Shorty Gray" was working on the door


leading from the library into the turnkey. Poor Mr. Heilman fell upon the floor. Then the chief clerk, Mr. Ward, and I picked him up and placed him gently in a chair. Just at that time I heard a terrific explosion, that of blowing the lock from the door. At the same time Warden Delahunty came running down stairs, grabbed his gun, and standing in the doorway kept shooting at the desperadoes, who returned the fire. At the same time, Chief Clerk Ward made a bee-line for the vault, pulled the inside doors partly shut and remained there during the fight. At the same time Steward Robb ran into his office and shut the door, but I want to give Mr. Robb credit for not posing as a hero and for telling the truth. He told the public that he was unarmed and hence retreated to his office and shut the door. Thus Warden Delahunty and I were the only two left on the floor. As the warden advanced I followed him, 'confident that he would conquer the enemy. Never