Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sodomy Arrest Leads to Suicide

Convicted by the paper though he
didn't survive to be tried
A somewhat grim story from the news archives, but I felt that this story, with all its gray areas needed to be told. I ran into a total brick wall on researching anything, although there are some errors in the article (which makes things tough). Here are the particulars: a man was arrested on a charge of sodomy on July 15, 1915. When he learned that several complaints were being made against him, he attempted suicide, being successful on the second attempt.

Other details are less clear. The Ward County Independent gives the man’s name as E. O. Edwards (not helpful in finding additional details), and his age as 21. The North Dakota death indexes give his age as 36. So was he born in 1894 or 1879? Which record do you believe? The article also notes that the officials notified the dead man’s brother, “a locomotive engineer, at Lance, Nebr.” There’s no such place. Nor does it show up on a list of Nebraska ghost towns. There is a town called Alliance, and when I checked the census records, I found a John W. Edwards, who worked as a railroad engineer, probably the brother mentioned in the article.

That John Edwards, might have been the John Edwards born in Wales in 1877, with a brother Evan born in 1879. That works. Maybe. But there’s not enough evidence to definitively say that the man in the article was Evan Edwards.
Young Degenerate Commits Suicide

E. O. Edwards of Ainsworth, Nebr. Arrested for Serious Crime, Shot Himself thru Kidney at City Jail this Morning and Died this Afternoon

E. O. Edwards, aged 21, whose home was Ainsworth, Nebr., shot himself thru his abdomen at the city jail this morning. The young man was taken to the hospital where he died this afternoon.

Edwards, who has been “hashing” about several of the local eating houses for the past month, was arrested in the postoffice Wednesday morning, charged with sodomy, the complaint being made by a young companion. Edwards was placed in the city jail where he denied the charge, but when he learned that there were to be several other witnesses, all of whom were his victims, he laid plans to commit suicide. He drank a pint of liquid soap, but this failed to kill him, merely acting as a purgative.

Early this morning Edwards asked permission of the desk sergeant W. H. Darby to telephone and was let out into the corridor. Darby stood near him as he was telephoning, but someone rapped on the door and he turned his head for an instant. Edwards grabbed a .32 calibre revolver from the desk, ran to the center of the room and fired the shot, then threw the gun to the floor. He was taken to St. Jospeh’s hospital where he died.

Edwards has a brother, a locomotive engineer, at Lance, Nebr., who has been notified of the tragedy and death.
One aspect of the tragedy was the the Ward County Independent called him a “young degenerate.”

"Hashing" as far as I can tell, seems to be "preparing hash," or at least I did manage to find the term used that way. An 1894 article said that
Hashing meats is a fine art.

Meat can never be twice cooked without injury to the article; hence the process of hashing should be a warming only.
Perhaps at the time of this arrest, he was working as some sort of cook at various restaurants.
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