Franklin County, Ohio
Genealogy and History


State Penitentiary News

1931 view of the Ohio Penitentiary in Franklin County
1931 view of the Ohio Penitentiary in Franklin County

The Ohio Penitentiary, also known as the Ohio State Penitentiary, was a prison operated from 1834-1984 in downtown Columbus, Ohio, in what is now known as the Arena District. The prison housed 5,235 prisoners at its peak in 1955. Conditions in the prison have been described as "primitive," and the facility was eventually replaced by the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility in Lucasville. During its operation, it housed several well-known inmates, including General John H. Morgan, who famously escaped the prison during the Civil War, "Bugs" Moran, O. Henry, Chester Himes, and Sam Sheppard, whose story is said to have inspired the movie The Fugitive. A separate facility for women prisoners was completed within the walls of the Ohio Penitentiary in 1837. The buildings were demolished in 1998 [source: wikipedia]

These are listed in loose alpha order, trying to base it on the name of the first "criminal" mentioned or the name of prison personnel if the story is about them

John Wesley Brown, 27, negro, convict at Ohio penitentiary, died of tuberculosis at the prison hospital today. Brown was admitted January 9, 1824, from Clark-co after his conviction for operating an automobile without the owner's consent. [Lima News, Apr 21, 1930 - Sub by Linda Dietz]

Columbus - (By Associated Press) - The body of Sylvester Brown, 27, negro, electrocuted early this morning at the Ohio penitentiary, will be shipped to Youngstown today. Brown suffered the death penalty at 1:07 a.m., for the murder of Alexander R. Warren, Youngstown policeman, on May 3 last.
According to the story Brown told, he, with three other negroes, planned a holdup and robbery at Youngstown but when one of the party failed to show up, they abandoned their plan. While returning from the scene of the contemplated crime the party  encountered Patrolman Warren, who told them to halt. Brown drew his pistol and fired four times into the policeman's body before the officer could pull his own gun out. The party escaped but were soon captured and Brown was admitted to the penitentiary from Mahoning-co May 31. Yesterday Brown's wife appealed to Warden Thomas for permission to witness the execution, saying that she wanted to be with her husband in his last moments, but her plea was refused. Earlier in the day Brown had given his consent to her presence at the time of his execution. Brown went to the chair calm and composed. His steps were steady and he seated himself without assistance, placing his arms and legs in their proper position without the least murmur. He carried a small brown bible with him to the chair, clasped in his right hand and when the current shut out his life he was softly pleading for divine mercy.
[The Lima News & Times Democrat, Sep 9, 1921 (Friday) - Submitted by Linda Dietz)

Columbus, O., Jan 6 - With his eyes red from weeping over the grave of his dead wife at Dayton, for the murder of whom he is sentenced to be electrocuted, April 13, Harry W.
Crooks, aged 40, of Dayton, walked into the penitentiary Tuesday afternoon and was taken to the annex to await execution of the death penalty. Crooks killed his wife after she had obtained a divorce from him.
[Marion Daily Mirror, Jan 6, 1909 - Submitted by Linda Blue Dietz]

After a period of unusual quiet, the pugilistic spirits broke out in the penitentiary late Friday afternoon. Henry
Darling and Alonzo Steiner, both about 17 years old, work in the broom shop, and just about quitting time they got together in great shape. They pummeled each other for a few minutes without doing serious damage. each claimed that the other was the aggressor and Deputy Warden Dawson decided to punish both in the same degree. Each was reduced to the third grade for 30 days and will lose 20 days' good time. ["Columbus Dispatch", Aug 9, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus - Joseph
Dell, 26 and Robert O'Neil, 28, negro, both convicted in Cleveland of murdering their wives, electrocuted here. [Lima News, Jan 7, 1921 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, Aug. 23 - Jimmy
Donahue, the ex-convict who assaulted Warden Gould, of the penitentiary, and escaped from the workhouse while serving time for that act, was captured today. He will go back to the penitentiary, to serve out a term for violating his parole, after he completes his workhouse sentence. [Lima Daily News, Aug 23, 1909 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Fontaine and Mollie Sullivan, federal prisoners at Columbus, Ohio, were yesterday pardoned by President [Wisconsin State Journal September 17, 1889 - BZ - Sub by FoFG]

Akron, O., March 14 - Fred
Green, 35, confessed slayer of his wife, an Akron beauty contest winner, today was taken to the Ohio State Penitentiary to start serving a 5 to 20 year sentence for manslaughter. Green had been in the county jail here for a year. [Lima News, Mar 14, 1931 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Henderson and Sam Allen, Lucas county, one year each for larceny, and Emmit Delton, Miami county, one year for burglary and larceny, have been discharged. William Brickler went out on parole. ["Columbus Dispatch", Aug 9, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., Feb 22- Governor Harmon followed the recommendation of the parole board and pardoned William
Hopper, colored, serving a life sentence from Hamilton county, who was believed to have been shown innocent by the confession of the girl supposed to have been his victim. Hopper has served 14 years. Susie Smith, the girl, recently confessed that she falsely swore to an affidavit charging him with the crime at the behest of a woman with whom Hopper had formerly lived. [Van Wert Daily Bulletin, Feb 22, 1911 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., Feb 19- Stanley C.
Jones, of Lake county, sentenced to hang March 6, for the murder of a Painesville lawyer, was yesterday granted a respite by Governor Campbell until May 8. The extension is granted in order that the condemned man may have a chance to secure a presentation of his case to the state board of pardons. [Lima Daily Times, Feb 19, 1891 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Guard Edward A.
McCabe will spend the next two or three days at his home in Coshocton. ["Columbus Dispatch", Aug 9, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus - Ohio supreme court decreed Tuesday that James
Morgan must die in the electric chair for the murder of a railroad conductor in Williams county. [Lima Daily News, May 27, 1919 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., Jan. 5- Ex-Sheriff
Nichols of Medina county has been tendered the wardenship of the Ohio penitentiary by Governor-elect Nash. Nichols was shown the institution by Warden Coffin. [Cambridge Jeffersonian, Jan 11, 1900 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

COLUMBUS. O., Jan. 12.- Governor Willis today granted a pardon to John C.
Morrow, convicted in April, 1914, from Morrow county, for the crime of manslaughter and sentenced for a period of from 1 to 20 years. [The Times-Democrat, Jan 13, 1916 Submitted by Linda Dietz)

Columbus, O., Oct. 22 - Governor McKinley yesterday issued a pardon to William W.
Place, ex-auditor of  Putnam, who was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for getting money by false pretense while auditor. Place's daughter is in dying condition, and as his sentence would have expired this week, it was thought to be humane to release him on that account. [The Daily Herald, Oct 22, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., Jan. 3- Governor Campbell has granted a pardon to Frank
Rowe, convicted at the January term, 1890, of burglary and larceny in Darke county, on recommendation of physicians and the warden that he is dying of consumption. [The Evening News, Mansfield, Oh, Jan 3, 1891 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., Jan 2- After 14 years of imprisonment behind the walls of the penitentiary
Thornton Sampson, the "convict recluse" serving a life sentence for murder from Athens county, who was received March 14, 1892, was the recipient of the New Year's pardon at the hands of Gov. Harris. The aged convict seemed stunned by the sudden news. [Marion Daily Mirror, Jan 2, 1907 - Submitted by Linda Blue Dietz]

Columbus. O., Aug. 2. Governor Campbell has pardoned George H.
Sheldon, a Franklin county prisoner, serving eighteen months for forgery. Sheldon was a traveling salesman employed by a Coshocton house and came here last summer to attend the Odd Fellows' demonstration. He fell in with gamblers, lost his money and became intoxicated. While in this condition he forged a check for $30. The pardon was recommended by the board of pardons and is conditioned on Sheldon's abstaining from the use of liquor. [The Daily Marion Star, Aug 2, 1890 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Cincinnati, March 14 - James
Starnes, 24, one of five prisoners who recently escaped here from jail, was sentenced today to from 10 to 15 years in the penitentiary upon conviction of robbery. He was recaptured a week after breaking jail. [Lima News, Mar 15, 1931 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

During the morning Dr.
Tharp removed a small tumor from the eye of Andrew Trautman, a Franklin county prisoner serving four years for cutting to wound. The patient is getting along nicely. ["Columbus Dispatch", Aug 9, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, O., The spinx of the penitentiary, Dallas Washburn, who has served more than 11 years behind the walls for murder in the second degree, having been sent up from Huron county, July 16, 1896, was the recipient of the New Year pardon at the hands of Governor Harris. For the past year Washburn has been employed as the keeper of the front lawn of the prison. He is known as the silent man and has been seldom heard to talk. [Mansfield News, Jan. 2, 1908 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

1930 Fire

List of those who died in the  Ohio Penitentiary Fire: They are listed by counties: 

Theodore Angilian, Hamilton; Benjamin Allman; Washington; Arthur Allen, Hamilton; Red Ames; Wyandot; Edward Axe, Miami; John Atkins, Franklin; Sherman Arms, Meigs; Robert Anderson, Franklin; Sam Aldrich, Lucas; Howard Allen, Clermont; George Arthur, Franklin; Albert Black, Cuyahoga; Hugh Bunough, Henry; Jack Breews, Summit.
John Bushner, Cuyahoga; James Blodgett, Cuyahoga; George Baker, Hamilton; Arnold Birgley, Butler; Robert Brannick, Clark; Jacob Bearhalter, Hamilton; Daniel Belcher, Scioto; Walker Bryant, Hamilton; Charles Biller, Cuyahoga; Dempsey Brown, Hamilton; Patrick Dillon, Lake; Dave Davis, Cuyahoga; Sherman Dawson, Cuyahoga; Dorse Dewitt, Summit; Innis Drake, Hamilton, Hamilton; Gilbert Dawson, Cuyahoga.
Lawrence Early, Mahoning; CharlesEverpaugh, Licking; Homer Eberth, Clark; John Eckler, Columbiana; Pierre Edmund, Cuyahoga; Arol Fremont, Cuyahoga; Charles Fletcher, Cuyahoga; John Forkner, Greene; Mike L. Frombetti, Hamilton; Alfred Ford, Hancock; Charles Ford, Stark; Sam Frazzell, Franklin; Harry S. Foreman, Franklin; Mike Fisher, Franklin; WilliamFoster, Hamilton; Leroy Gray, Lucas; George Goboroff, Stark; Paul Gibsob, Marion; Russell Good, Van Wert; Lonnie Gaywood, Butler; Mike Glowitch, Cuyahoga. 

Robert Berbrey, Miami; Earl Graft, Cuyahoga; Joe Geesey, Cuyahoga; Dale Harmon, Stark; Edward Heston, Summit; James Hooling, Hamilton; Edward Halitski, Jefferson; Charles Harris, Jefferson; James Harris, Hamilton; Oren Hill, Franklin; Richard Harper, Union; Floyd Hosier, Preble; Charles Hall, Hancock;

Carl Hollenbacher, Allen; James Anderson, Montgomery; Earnest Hunt, Cuyahoga; William A. Hutcheson, Mahoning; Pat Hanna, Cuyahoga; Raymond Hickman, Franklin; William Hickman, Cuyahoga; Robert Hartley, Lucas; Albert Holland, Coshocton; Charles B. H-sk, Cuyahoga; Geo. P. Jacobs, Warren; James Jackson, Hamilton; Thomas Jones, Cuyahoga; Arthur Jones, Fulton; William Jennings, Harrison; Hershell B. Johnson, Portage; Wallace Jackson, Cuyahoga;  Will Johnson, Richland; 

Walter Kruse, Hamilton; Robert Knapp, Summit; Albert King, Hamilton; Joe Kowslski, Defiance; Harry Kuzo, Cuyahoga; O. D. Kell, Belmont; Lawrence Kerpigan, Guersney; John Kerr, Hamilton; Richard Kozac, Cuyahoga; Frank Klayman, Hamilton; Howard Krelsiga, Hamilton; Stanley Kostiks, Cuyahoga; Fred Kern, Cuyahoga; Alex Kuni, Mahoning; Pearl Kreiger, Henry; William Kisner, Summit; Wilson J. Knott, Hamilton; Elmer Kooner, Hamilton; John Kowalarski, Cuyahoga; 

Felix Kowalski, Lucas; John Karko, Cuyahoga; William W. Laws, Franklin; Howard Lewis, Hamilton; James Lazette, Lucas; Bud Lee, Columbiana; William Lightner, Portage; Erie Lehio, Cuyahoga; Theodore Lemiere, Hancock; Harvey Lieber, Paulding; John Longacre, Crawford; Walter Lambert, Franklin; Eli Larocque, Cuyahoga; Mack Lalley, Franklin; William Murdack, Cuyahoga; George E. Moelke, Lucas; Earl Miller, Wood; Albert McWhorter, Pickaway; Peter Musso, Stark; Andrew Murphy, Cuyahoga; C. J. Murray, Lucas; Charles Mack, Lucas; Joseph Miller, Guernsey; George Mullenir, Jr., Miami;

Samuel Mann, Columbiana; Robert Meyers, Lucas; Emerson Monnett, Fairfield;  Edwatd Meadows, Mercer; Robert McMillen, Summit; Guy McIntosh, Cuyahoga; Raymond McAbler, Carroll; Ivan McPherson, Henry; John Myers, Hancock; Eddie Montgomery, Summit; Archey Myers, Clark; Barney Madden, Lucas; George E. Naice, Lucas; Edward Neubauer, Hamilton; Harry Nerri, Summit;

Edward Nagle, Jr., Hamilton; Robt. Nance, Hamilton; Derold Pott, Auglaize; Herman Pendleton, Miami; Dewey Pierce, Hocking; Emil Pitner, Cuyahoga; Harold Phillips, Jackson; Charles Paullin, Wood; Gafaretti Pietro, Summit; John Polles, Summit; Roy Parkins, Warren; George Plagueman, Hamilton; Joe Porzio, Cuyahoga; Oakley Ross, Mahoning; John Rudnicki, Lucas; Lester Ross, Miami.

William Reaster, Lucas; John Reno, Trumbull; Joseph Stoner, Cuyahoga; Thomas Shellerich, Stark; George Scaporetti, Summit; Jess Shively, Franklin; Charles D. Shelpman, Defiance; Charles Sherrick, Clark; Ed. Smith, Athens; Genaro Saliman, Marion; John Stiers, Adams; Morris Snelling, Licking; Edward Scott, Hamilton; John Skaiko, Cuyahoga; August Socha, Hamilton.

Ben Smith, Hamilton; George Smith, Cuyahoga; George Smith, Montgomery; Alfred Sutleff, Lucas; Albert Sisco, Fairfield; Harold Schuck, Cuyahoga; Joe Sweet, Hamilton; Joe Slack, Cuyahoga; Ray Spence, Cuyahoga; Charles E. Stetson, Lucas; Mike Sopha, Cuyahoga; Charles E. Seeley, Scioto; August Sachs, Hamilton; Robert Skean, Jackson; Willie Sherman, Mahoning; Kalio Stayanott, Stark.

Frank Z. Sans, Marion; Holland J. Taylor, Stark; Frank Thompson, Stark; Harold Thomas, Wood; Cleve Taylor, Hancock; Robert Thompson, Lucas; Joe Tyber, Mahoning; Edward Upchurch, Marion;  Andy Verbatis, Belmont; Fred Vanargabright, Shelby; Harry Virney, Mahoning; Emil Tischler, Cuyahoga; Roy Tyler, Cuyahoga; Andy Verbackin, Belmont; Mike Veomsky, Mahoning.

Adam J. Victor, Cuyahoga; Bart Walters, Lucas; Richard Wagner, Hamilton; J. J. Webster, Darke; Fred Waters, Stark; Everett White, Washington; Roy Wailen, Columbiana; Lawrence Weiner, Summit; William Walker, Muskingum; Clarence Waite, Trumbull; Charley A.Wells, Scioto; Elisha Williams, Franklin; Earl Young, Clark; W. D. Young, Seneca; Joseph Zolkowski, Cuyahoga. [Lima News, Apr 22, 1930 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

General News Stories

Albert Van Rider, a 14-year-old boy who was supposed to have been murdered by a tramp in the woods near Celina, O., in 1889, and for which the tramp is now serving a life sentence in the penitentiary has returned to his parents in Kenton, O. He knew nothing of the man's arrest and conviction. [Lorain County Reporter, Jan 2, 1892 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

The usual large number of baskets filled with dainties for the enjoyment of fortunate prisoners on Sunday have been received during the day.
["Columbus Dispatch", Aug 9, 1895 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]

Columbus, The greatest number of prisoners confined at any one time in the Ohio penitentiary are now inside the prison walls. There are now 1,907 convicts, including 44 women. These figures include the "honor gangs" who work outside. One year ago there were 1,675 prisoners, including 38 women. [Lima Daily News, July 2, 1915 - Submitted by Linda Dietz]


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