John N. Miskell's Executions in Auburn Prison, Auburn, New York: 1890 - 1916©


Page 8 of 14

  • Kurt Anderson, An Eye For an Eye, Time Magazine New York, New York, vol. 121, no.4, January 23, 1983

  • Charles F. Durston, Report to the Governor, Auburn Prison, Auburn, New York, August 6, 1890

  • D. Morris Kurtz, Auburn New York, It's Facilities and Resources, The Kurtz Publishing Company, Auburn, New York, 1884

  • James E. Kirk, The Laws of New York Relating to the State Prisons, The Legislature, Albany, New York, June 1, 1904

    Thanks to a genealogist Marcena May Thompson sending NYCHS an obit clip, we learn that a newspaper linked Thomas Mott Osborne and Charles F. Rattigan even before their interest in prison reform.

    Rattigan, the warden who presided over Auburn's last state electrocution in 1916, died Sept. 9, 1956 in the Auburn house at 20 Logan St. where he had been born 91 years earlier. As a young man, he was Auburn Bulletin managing editor before it became the Citizen Advertiser under Thomas Mott Osborne.

    The same year that Osborne became NYS Commission on Prison Reform chairman (1913), Rattigan was named Auburn Prison warden. Osborne donned the guise of an Auburn inmate "Tom Brown 33333" and wrote a book Within Prison Walls promoting prison reforms.

    Together they launched the Mutual Welfare League, an inmate self-government project. Below appears from the Eastern Kentucky U. Correctional Photo Archives an image of Auburn Prison officials, probably including Rattiagn, conducting an inmate league vote.

    Rattigan was warden four years and state prisons superintendent five years. He served 10 months in 1917-18 as U.S. Collector of Customs in Rochester. An active Democrat, he served as state committeeman and alternate delegate to the 1920 national convention.

    A St. Alphonsus Church parishioner, Rattigan also belonged to the Auburn Elks Lodge 474. His grave is in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

    [Image selection & caption by NYCHS webmaster]

  • O.F. Lewis, The Development of American Prisons and Prison Customs, 1776-1845, The Prison Association of New York, J. B. Lyon Company, Albany, New York, 1922

  • John N. Miskell, Why Auburn? The Relationship Between Auburn and the Prison, Cayuga County Historical Society, 1991

  • Richard Moran, The Strange Origins of The Electric Chair, Focus Magazine, The Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, Mass., August 5, 1990

  • New York State Department of Correction, Corrections, vol. 11, Ossining, New York, August, 1941

  • New York State Department of Correction, Auburn State Prison: Its History, Purpose, Makeup and Program, New York Vocational Institution, 1949

  • Edward Sayers, The Chair, Upstate Magazine, Sunday Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, March 4, 1990

  • Dr. Nej1ey K. Teeters, A Survey of Persons Executed by Electrocution in New York State 1890-1963, A Collection of papers, Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, 1964-1965

  • Newspaper Archives, The History Room, Seymour Library, Auburn, New York, 1890-1916, 1929-1995


  • Part A - The Laws of New York Relating to The State Prisons, as amended and in force June 1,1904, the State Legislature, compiled by James E. Kirk page 13-19

  • Part B - The Strange Origins of The Electric Chair, by Richard Moran, a news article appearing in Focus Magazine, The Boston Sunday Globe, August 5, 1990 page 20-22

  • Part C - Warden's Report to His Excellency, David B. Hill, Governor of the State of New York, concerning the execution of William Kemmler, August 6, 1890 page 23-37

  • Part D - Pages extracted from the original Electrocutions record book, Auburn Prison, 1890, amended - the columns concerning the names of relatives and the disposition of corpses have been deleted by the author page 38-40
Executions in Auburn Prison, Auburn, New York: 1890 - 1916 text ©1996 by John N. Miskell
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