Czolgosz May Never Live to Reach Electric Death
Assassin of President McKinley a Helpless, Wasting
Wreck, a Prey to and
Dying from His Fears.
Never Before a Condemned Man in Such a State of Physical Collapse
Electrocution Was Introduced—Seems Certain He Will Have to Be Carried
All Preparations for the Dread Event Have Been Made and Nothing
Remains But to Turn on the Current and End the Life of the Anarchist
Auburn, Oct. 27.—Since death by elec[t]rocution
was introduced as capital punishment in the State of New York, no
condemned prisoner has faced his fate with such physical collapse,
such decrepitude and such emaciation as have visited Leon F. Czolgosz.
His condition is such that he may have to be carried to the electric
chair on Tuesday and it is not thought improbable that at the last
moment Providence may deprive the State of its duty.
LIKE A CUR IN HIS CELL.
Czolgosz is today a wreck, lying
helpless, mongrel-like, in his cell. His food, pushed through the
bars to him, is brought back scarcely touched. If the condemned
man is not completely overcome his stocism [sic] will not hold out
through the thirty-one hours from midnight tonight until 7 a. m.
Tuesday and he may go to death in a fit of hysterics.
Confinement in his cell and the approach
of death have upset his indifference. He has been given no exercise.
For thirty days he has seen no daylight and since he entered the
prison one month ago today he has not spoken 500 words. His life
has slowly crawled away from him as if to avoid the end, and though,
as seen in Buffalo during the trial, he was a frail youth, he is
now weazened and sallow, weighing less than 100 pounds.
Warden Mead is so ill that he is unable
to leave his bed, pneumonia is threatening him and Deputy Warden
Allen P. Tupper will probably officiate at the electrocution.
WITNESSES ARE GATHERING.
Some of those who are to witness
the electrocution are already here. State Electrician E. F. Davis,
who will make the final test to see that the electrical apparatus
is in perfect condition, and whose duty it will be to press the
button, arrived at the prison this afternoon. “The apparatus is
in perfect condition,” he said. “Everything is ready.” Superintendent
of Prisons Cornelius V. Collins will arrive from Albany early tomorrow.
Sheriff Caldwell is expected from Buffalo. District Attorney Thomas
Penney and Justice White of Buffalo have been invited, but are not
Efforts are being made by Czolgosz’s
brother, Waldeck, to have the body cremated in Buffalo, but Warden
Mead is not yet satisfied with the arrangements.
Whether Czolgosz has been sleeping
recently, it is difficult to tell. When Guard Murphy passed the
cell at 3 o’clock this morning the prrisoner [sic] moved an[d] looked
out and asked, “What t[ime?] is it?” If the prisoner asked the question
to calculate the remaining duration of his life, he did not speak
of it. When the guard brought the breakfast another question came
from the cell. “Its [sic] Sunday, isn’t it?” That was all. Czolgosz
lap[s]ed into silence. The breakfast [was] [ta]ken away untouched.
All day [the] [p]ri[s]on[e]r ha[s] been resting quietly either sitting
up with his chin in his hands or lying on his bunk flat on his back.
It is entirely possible that Czolgosz heard some of the noise of
the preparations in the electrocution room. Undoubtedly he is aware
that the electrocution chair is not fifty feet away from him.
DEATH AGENT IS READY.
There has been much activity in the
electrocution room today. All of the electrical wires have been
strung and tested and the dynamos are awaiting simply the turn of
The early readiness has given renewed
impetus to the rumor that the execution may take place tomorrow.
Assurances come from authority that the rumors are unfounded.
Trying in the extreme have been the
plans for putting a man to death. Yet, while the details of the
preparation have been completed, the ethical suggestions of the
moment are singularly easy of notation. To Czolgosz, himself, given
that he expected execution, his death means punishment without the
glory he sought. It was glamour of prospective notoriety that incited
Czolgosz to the commission of his fiendish crime. When he stepped
into the Temple of Music, glory, as he conceived it, was before
him. The laudation of a clique of fanatics was his. Record in history
What future he saw before him as he
wedged through the crowd and felt the trigger of his revolver only
he himself knows. But today Czolgosz looks upon the past as a man
does sadly upon a vanished illusion. Notoriety has been snatched
from him. Even his own clan have refused to voice his name. Locked
up in solitude, his actions, his sociological beliefs, his feelings
have all gone unchronicled. Obscurity is his, remorse is his, the
darkness of [a] cell is his, the horror of clanging chains, unheard
save by himself, is his.
STILL DISDAINS RELIGION.
To the ministers of God, Czolgosz’s
death arouses the question of saving a human soul. Up to the present,
however, the prisoner has disdained religious belief. Repentance
he has shunned as if it were lo[a]thsome to him. His relatives,
and Catholic priests have importuned him all in vain. Father Hyacinth
Fudzinski of Buffalo again and again has knelt down in the cell
with the prisoner and has prayed and implored Czolgosz to embrace
God. But the prisoner has only sulked. It is characteristic of the
assassin’s brutal obstincy [sic].
To the people Czolgosz’s death means
nothing more than the law’s retribution, administere[d] justly,
calmly, deliberately. Most gratifying of all is that the assassin’s
name has been but little linked with the name of the illustrous
[sic] man who fell a victim to his treachery. Without doubt Czolgosz’s
fondest hope was that his name and his portrait should live in history.
But instead of this and unlike the assassins of Lincoln and Garfield
a f[e]w months will serve to sweep Czolgo[sz] into oblivion and
people will have forgotten how to spell his name.
The work of putting a man to death
will be simple in its execution—it will be merely the pressing of
a button, but the details of preparation have been many. Warden
Mead, a nervous, sometimes intolerant man, is in the position of
an army general charged with the duty of ending the life of one
in his command. It is no wonder that the warden is on the verge
of collapse. Every detail has come under his eye. The grave digger
has come for orders about the quicklime which shall consume Czolgosz’s
body, the electricians have discussed their arrangements of the
electrocution chair, the guards, the cell keepers, the post-mortem
and autopsy physicians have all come for their instructions.
If the church bells that rang out
in Auburn today could have penetrated the walls of the prison they
would have sounded a loud death knell in Czolgosz’s ears. But even
the songs sung in the services conducted in the prison chapel by
Father Kelly immediately after breakfast could not have reached
the doomed man. Father J. J. Hickey of the Holy Family Church, is
the Catholic chaplain of the prison, but thus far he has not seen
“The prisoner has not asked for me,”
said Father Hickey, “and it is not our custom to go to the condemned
cells without a request. Of course I would consider it my duty to
see Czolgosz if he had not already seen a priest.”
ALONE AND DEFIANT.
Czolgosz sits alone, defiant even
to those who would console him with the thought that the electrocution
chair would rob him only of his body.
Auburn is not much concerned over
the prospective execution. Few people have looked with any special
interest on the prison. Today less than a score of the curious have
stood before the gate and looked in at the omniously [sic] gray
buildings. Through [t]he great iron grate, which looks out in the
downtown district, can be seen only a little indication of what
is within. Through the iron bars, where Gate-Keeper Triffin stands
with a two-pound key, are visible a small plot of grass, a bed of
flowers, several “privileged” prisoners clad in gray stripes, Warden
Mead’s office and a great blank wall. Auburn Prison sets [sic] in
the heart of town with a silent bastile-like [sic] solemnity. Sentries
passing to and from the top of the walls are the only indication
from without that nearly 1,500 people are housed within.
The guards who are detailed to watch
the condemned prisoner day and night are J. G. Martin, Frank Murphy,
Christian Haas and Florence Donlan.
From one who was in the cell house
recently the following description is obtained:
“Czolgosz’s cell is on the ground
floor. No windows are in the cell house and the only light comes
from a row of incandescent lamps. The lamps being high up in the
ceiling, it is almost dark in the cells themselves, so that if you
look in at Czolgosz you see only dimly his hands and face. There
is a sort of a phantomlike indistinctness which makes you shudder.
There are four other condemned prisoners in the house, but the cells
are so arranged that each prisoner is practically in solitary confinement.
The stillness of the place is oppressive, it being impossible to
[h]ear anything distinctly except the ticking of a clock. Why this
clock is there, I don’t know, unless it is to make the men realize
that their lives are ebbing away.”
Religious fanatics, social cranks
and cranks without any excuse for living, have been pouring in letters
of comfort and scorn upon Czolgosz. None of these missives ever
reach the prisoner. It is perhaps unfair to women in general to
say that members of their sex have written most of these letters.
The letters are opened by the warden and destroyed.
Men, however, have been busy writing
letters of another character.
No less than 2,000 requests for admission
to the death chamber have been received. Some of the applicants
hold political jobs and have brought political influence to bear.
A number of physicians and scientists have applied, 
[“]in the name of science,” but Warden Mead has not much sympathy
for [t]hese. Only twenty-six will witness the [e]xecution. Dr. Carlos
F. MacDonald, [a]n insanity expert, will assist in the [a]utopsy.
It is hoped at the autopsy to [d]evelop some facts as to the condition
of Czolgosz’s brain. Dr. John Gerin, the prison physician, will
conduct the [a]utopsy.
ARRANGEMENTS FOR BURIAL.
Unless arrangements are effected,
Warden Mead says that immediately after the autopsy the body of
Czolgosz will be placed in a van and driven to [t]he prison box
at Ft. Hill Cemetery. The grave will have been dug there [p]reviously
and fifteen bushels of quicklime will be placed over the remains.
This will be sufficient to dissolve the [f]lesh within twenty-four
hours. The earth will be covered over the grave [fl]at so that in
the future there will be [n]othing to indicate that Leon F. Czolgosz
Late tonight Waldeck Czolgosz was
hopeful that he would be able to have the body cremated at Buffalo,
this being the nearest place where a crematory could be found. Waldeck
has been in consultation with Undertaker Cameron here and an undertaking
firm in Buffalo by the name of Brady.
WON’T SEE HIS BROTHER DIE.
Waldeck and Thomas Bandowski, his
brother-in-law, were found stopping with some Polish friends in
a [d]irty delapidated [sic] frame house opposite the prison at No.
9 Wall Street. Waldeck talked with a worried uneasiness. Asked if
he did not want to be in the execution room, he said, “No, I couldn’t
see my brother die. I never could get it out of my mind. Already
I have dreamed of seeing it.”
As to the disposal of his brother’s
body, Waldeck said, “We haven’t decided yet. He may be buried by
us, he may be cremated or he may be left in charge of the State.
It is awful to talk of burying a brother before he is dead. Leon
doesn’t seem to feel it as much as we do. My father is anxious to
have the body cremated and by tomorrow I hope to complete plans.”
WITNESSES OF EXECUTION.
A partial list of those officially
summoned to the execution is given for the first time as follows:
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Charles R. Skinner.
State Treasurer John P. Jaeckel, Auburn.
Supt. C. V. Collins, Albany.
President of the State Prison Commission
Cayuga County Judge Underwood, Auburn.
State Electrician C. F. Davis.
District Attorney Thomas Penney, Buffalo.
Justice White, Buffalo.
Sheriff Caldwell, Buffalo.
George R. Peck, Auburn.
C. F. Rattigan, Auburn.
Dr. Carlos F. McDonald.
George E. Graham.
J. F. Tremain.
Prison Physician John Gerin.
Father Szandinski, Rochester.
Father Fudzinski, Buffalo.
The priests have been asked to be
on hand in case Czolgosz should at the last moment ask for spiritual