The late John N. Miskell's family generously made available to this CorrectionHistory.Org site's webmaster many of his writings, photographs, news clippings and other materials amassed as Auburn Prison educational director and as a corrections historian. This Nov. 3, 1996 monograph was among them. All rights retained and reserved.

John N. Miskell's


This image of ex-inmate Juan Cruz's 1974 painting of the original Auburn prison electric chair appeared in the Auburn Citizen story about Cayuga Museum Both Sides of the Wall April 2003 exhibition.

Click image for web page of that story. At its bottom are links to other Miskell monographs and exhibit-related web pages with more such links, including one to the museum's art show guest-curated by Juan Cruz.

The history of executions at Auburn Prison began 106 years ago with the execution of William Kemmler of Buffalo on August 6, 1890.

Above is an image of the front cover of the 24-page Nov. 3, 1996 monograph by John N. Miskell "The Light at the End of the World: A Paper Presented to the Members of the Men's Group [of the] First United Methodist Church, Auburn, New York."

It and another 1996 monograph, Executions in Auburn Prison, Auburn, New York: 1890 - 1916 may both have evolved from the 1990 Better Than Hanging whose text also appears on this website.

However, all three essays are so significantly different in their focus, development and treatment that all three warrant being read by anyone seriously interested in the subject. The overlaps and duplications are minimal.

John died 10 years to the month after his 1996 delivery of this paper to the church group: November 16, 2006 at age 83.

In 1942, he had enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served aboard a destroyer escort on duty in the Atlantic Theater during WW II.

John, a graduate of Holy Family High School, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at SUNY Oswego.

After 33 years at Auburn prison, during which he served as deputy superintendent of programs and education director of the Osborne School, he retired but continued his interest in correctional history and research. He was an assistant professor of criminal justice at Cayuga Community College.

NYCHS has been honored by, and is grateful for receiving his support, including his personal permission to present his writings on its website, including Executions in Auburn Prison, Auburn, New York: 1890 - 1916. Click image to access. Use browser's "back" button to return to this page.

The Light at the End of the World is the eighth Miskell monograph transcribed to web format and posted on our site . . . . so far.

New York
Kemmler achieved the unenviable distinction of becoming the first person in history to be legally electrocuted.

Fifty four other persons were to be electrocuted locally during the next 26 years. Charles Sprague was the last; he was put to death on May 1, 1916.

They were of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, educational achievements, and philosophy about death and dying.

Actually they shared only two things in common, none were wealthy and all sat in the electric chair at Auburn Prison, sentenced to death under a 1889 New York State law for committing the crime of murder in the first degree.

Following conviction in court, they became prisoners at Auburn. There they were confined in a special section of the prison known as the condemned cells. These seven single cells were separate from the tiers of cells of other convicts. Accommodations were poor, cell furnishings were sparse, consisting of a bed, a blanket and a bucket for personal needs and little else.

The outcasts were deprived of liberty and exercise on a 24 hour basis. With idle hands, with little to do, there was nothing to stop them from brooding about their own misfortune and past misdeeds. Did their conscience bother them while awaiting execution? For some the answer was,"Yes." Tormented by what they had done, death was faced with regret, with resignation and often with deep despair. A minority were stoical and defiant to the end.

Confinement in prison was difficult in the 1890s and early 1900s. Just living in a cell was enough to throw a lot of things out of kilter: appetite, sleep, nerves, bowels, and the thinking process. The convicts often became moody and morose, irritable, even distraught for their's was a very boring, monotonous existence.

On condemned row the men had no privacy, surveillance was constant, even committing suicide and ending their miserable existence was impossible without swift detection and interference from an alert and vigilant staff.

In time, hurt, confused, alone and lonely, thoroughly subdued and frustrated by confinement where every day was the same, they craved a diversion. Filled with self-pity, they longed for an opportunity to see someone who was interested in their plight; someone who might show a little compassion and understanding of their situation.

While interaction with staff was constant, opportunities for contact with others were few, for in accordance with the law, and here I quote, "No person shall be allowed access to (the condemned) without an order of the court except the officers of the prison, his counsel, his physician, a priest or minister of religion, if he shall desire one, and the members of his family."

The visits from his lawyer were important, for the attorney was working on an appeal to the courts requesting a reversal of sentence, retrial and possible commutation. However, the lawyer wasn't sure of his fee and didn't come to visit too often and, while he offered hope, he seldom had real good news.

The doctor was also an important visitor, he was able to provide medication for ills that were real or imaginary. He, too, wasn't able to allay the fear of what was to come.

The above unnamed cleric appears seated front row center in group photos of four different Auburn Prison ball teams, apparently from different years (only one of which specifies a year: 1942). The photos were among John N. Miskell materials given over to this website by his family.

The uniformed players seated with him in the various ball team photos appear inmates. But since the old photos lack wording to identify the teams or members, that players were prison staffers is theoretically possible. The unidentified cleric's picture is show here in hopes some viewer may come up with his identity. This is an appropriate juncture at which to seek help identifying the unnamed cleric because "The Light at the End of the World" monograph carries this dedication: "For the Rev. John Burton Nussey, former senior chaplain, Auburn Correctional Facility, N.Y."

Furthermore, this particular Miskell paper itself focuses on the role of prison chaplains and inmates' spiritual advisors. A loose insert in John's copy of the spiral-bound monograph contains these typewritten paragraphs:

"Introductory Remarks...

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your very kind remarks.

"I'm going to talk briefly about three electrocutions that took place in Auburn Prison many years ago.

"I am especially interested in paying tribute to the unsung heroes of all executions, the spiritual advisors who provided counseling and hope of salvation to the persons scheduled to die in the electric chair.

"In many instances the chaplains provided men with the inner strength needed for the condemned persons to control their emotions while held in the cells reserved for them and finally when walking into the death chamber itself. Chaplains encouraged the men to act with some degree of composure when facing certain death; they provided stability in a somber, rather grim situation, and prevented the executions from becoming maudlin affairs, difficult for staff to control.

"Then and now, prison chaplains earn our respect and admiration for a job well done.

"They are the benevolent and pious friends who instruct and console inmates on a daily basis."

The number of visitors from outside of the prison to persons on condemned row varied according to the circumstances and the public reaction to their crime. For example, if the criminal had killed his wife or other family member, he received few, if any, visits from his relatives whom he had disgraced and dishonored.

Families were more forgiving for those who had killed strangers in a rage or in the commission of another crime.

All visits were carefully controlled by prison staff, and were conducted in the presence of a guard. Physical contact with the prisoner was forbidden and conversations were closely monitored. As a consequence visits frequently left the convict as disappointed as the visitors who had traveled from a distance to meet with him. Disenchanted, he turned to the staff person who was willing to visit him when called upon, the one person who was usually quite cheerful, the prison chaplain.

The chaplain is in an unique position within the prison. Traditionally he is not actively concerned with disciplinary matters or the control of prisoners per se.

The presence of the chaplain is tolerated by wardens and by guards who realize that the chaplain is a person of fervent religions convictions, a person devoted to service, a person who believes in redemption and in the power of prayer. Even in prison, the salvation of human souls is the impelling force within him.

Basically the message of the chaplain was the same for all persons confined in the cells for the condemned. "You are not alone in your darkest hour, God is with you. Soon you will be with Him in Paradise, for there is life after death. There you will experience God's grace, His power and His love. Be of good faith, the future is brighter than you think. There is a light shining for you at the end of this world." [Webmaster note: From that last sentence, Miskell took the title of this monograph.]

The prisoners soon learned that the chaplain is an official capable of exerting some moderating influence on the behavior of other staff members. In many small ways he can cause a diminution of the harshness of confinement and alleviate the misery of prisoners.

The chaplain and the many ministers and priests of local congregations and parishes who donated their services when requested to do so, believed that the man who kills is society's greatest enemy, for he has set up his own law, contrary to the law of God and the laws of man. They also knew that the execution of murderers, society's ultimate sanction, has existed as long as human culture. Despite their personal feelings about the death penalty, they accepted the legality of death by electric current.

Above is a compressed version of the title page of Miskell's "The Light at the End of the World" monograph.

The paper presented by Miskell, a Catholic, at a gathering of Auburn's First United Methodist Church Men's Group and dedicated in honor of former prison chaplain Rev. J. Burton Nussey, long-time pastor of St. Luke's United Church of Christ, is the most personal of the eight Miskell monographs so far transcribed into web format on this site.

It afforded him opportunity to give expression to his own faith perspective which clearly crossed several sectarian boundaries.

Below is a reduced-size image of the monograph page following the title page.

However they did not believe nor did they accept the dictum, "Show no mercy to the merciless;" rather they sought to console and assist the condemned men during their period of confinement in the prison.

The advisors contributed wise treatment, for they gave consideration to the plight of prisoners regardless of their crime. Advisors were persistently humane, understanding persons, doing their best to council the condemned to face the reality of their situation. When they visited the convicts in their barren cells, they encouraged the men to meditate about the forgiveness of God and the possibility of a chance for a better life in the hereafter.

The chaplain knew the background of the desperately wicked men on death row. Though murderers, they were still accountable and immortal beings and, deprived as they were of the sympathies and kind offices of their families, they needed in a peculiar manner some benevolent and pious friend to instruct and console them. In the vernacular of today, the chaplain was "there" for the convicts. And they knew it when the chaplain visited them to prepare them for their death.

On the day of execution the chaplain or spiritual advisor stayed with each condemned person up to the end. In most instances his ministrations were gratefully received and the consolation of religion seemed to reconcile the condemned for his final trial on earth. The advisor was someone at his side during his last moments, walking with him as he entered the death chamber, praying aloud in the prayers of his faith.

Many of the men who had been baptized as Catholics carried a crucifix as they entered the death chamber. The crucifix is a symbol of the death of Christ who died for the sins of all men. It is a symbol of hope for mercy, for understanding, perhaps for forgiveness; it denotes the power of healing. It seemed to soothe the spirit of the men who would die themselves in a matter of a few minutes.

Every man did not die peacefully. Some men died like animals: snarling, fighting, protesting, begging God to save them. Others died like men, stoical and silent to the end. A few lost their nerve nights before and chanted over and over, "Please God don't let them kill me, please God don't let them kill me," and became bawling sniveling, shrieking wrecks - dead, in a sense, long before going to the chair.

For others, tormented by what they had done, death was faced with resignation; for them, death was a release, for they believed that following death came a time for judgement by God.

The majority of the men who accepted the advice of a spiritual advisor walked upright to the chair with a firm step without the need of assistance or urging of guards. They met death with dignity, convinced that they had been forgiven for their sins. Salvation would follow death.

In the grim, rather gruesome atmosphere of the death chamber, the words of the 23rd Psalm were especially significant to the person strapped in the electric chair: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with rue: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me...."

The vine border graphic which Miskell used to frame the Helen Parker poem above, he also used to enclose the two paragraphs to the immediate left as well as the three paragraphs below which I spotlighted with bullet markers. A short poem within a vine-frame can work as an image on a web page but not five paragraphs of flowing main text scanned from the book by means of Optical Character Recognition software tools. Miskell inserted the unnumbered page with her poem after the concluding pages devoted to Chester Gillette and before the page commencing the Mary Farmer account.

Although many city boosters would rather forget that the first electrocution in the world was performed at Auburn Prison, Auburn does have this ignominious distinction. For more than a quarter of a century scores of murderers were executed in the death chamber in Auburn Prison.

There were some famous victims of the prison's crude-looking, three-legged wooden chair with its nightmarish maze of electrical wires.

  • Leon F. Czolgosz, age twenty-eight, was executed on October 29, 1901 for the assassination of President William McKinley. His remains were buried in the prison plot adjacent to Fort Hill Cemetery. The grave was unmarked.
  • March 30, 1908 saw the electrocution of Chester Gillette, whose crime became the basis for Theodore Driesers' famous novel, "An American Tragedy," and for several motion pictures, two plays and a television show. He was twenty-four years old when buried in an unmarked grave in Soule Cemetery.
  • Mary Farmer was the only woman to be electrocuted at Auburn Prison. She died on March 29, 1909, at the age of thirty-two. She was buried outside of the fence at Saint Joseph's Cemetery, also in an unmarked grave.


The above facsimile of a police "mug shots" photo of Leon Czolgosz, circa 1901, did not appear in Miskell's monograph.
Curiously, Leon Czolgosz, the most infamous person to be put to death in the electric chair at Auburn Prison for the murder of President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, did not avail himself of the assistance of a spiritual advisor; he refused to see the prison chaplain or a Catholic priest who came from Cleveland, Ohio, to visit with him at the request of his parents who were devastated by what he had done.

The President was shaking hands with people following a reception given in his honor. When Czolgosz approached, the President reached out with his left hand to shake Czolgosz's left hand because Leon wore what appeared to be a bandage on his right hand. However, inside of the bandage he held a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver. He fired the gun twice into the chest of the President before he was forced to the ground by the Secret Service men standing on each side of the President.

One bullet struck the President in his breastplate and did not penetrate further. The second bullet became lodged in his pancreas. Doctors who conducted exploratory surgery immediately after the shooting were, however, unable to locate the bullet and closed the body.

Above is a cropped reduced-size version of a McKinley assassination period illustration that filled the full page preceding the Miskell monograph's section on Czolgosz's execution at Auburn.
The President did not die until eight days later from blood poisoning brought about by gangrene of the pancreas.

Leon was indicted for first degree murder. He was put on trial on September 23rd, four days after the President was buried. The trial itself lasted less than two days, actually a total of eight hours and twenty-six minutes, including the time it took to impanel the jury. There were no witnesses called in Czolgosz's defense. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty after only thirty-four minutes of deliberation.

Leon showed no emotion when the verdict was read. No appeal was ever filed; even his own lawyer detested him, his crime had shocked the world.

Czolgosz was transferred from Erie County Jail to Auburn Prison on September 17, 1901. When he arrived he was apparently scared half to death, and collapsed when led from the train to the prison. He had to be dragged through the front gate and was practically carried into the institution, moaning and groaning all the way, bawling all the while. He was completely collapsed, terrified, panic stricken, frightened beyond all power of self control. He cried out, "Ooh, Save me, save me..." It seemed like the agony of death but prison officials thought that he was shamming and disregarded his behavior.

By law, the time of execution must begin not less than four weeks after the sentence to allow the condemned person time to prepare for death. During that period Czolgosz regained his composure but remained sullen and uncooperative.

The day before his execution, Leon reluctantly agreed to see a priest but during the short visit he would not pray; he did not confess, recant or repent. He scoffed at religion to the end, telling his brother,"Don't you have any praying over me when I'm, dead! I don't want it; I don't want any of their damned religion!"

Above is a cropped reduced-size version of an unnamed newspaper's stack of headline decks that filled the full page after the concluding paragraph of the Miskell monograph's section on Czolgosz's execution at Auburn.
On the morning of October 29, 1901, Czolgosz went to his death unfalteringly; he walked to the chair unaided. He talked as he was strapped in, "I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people, the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime." Four minutes later he was pronounced dead.

The autopsy showed that his brain and all of his organs were normal. His mental condition was not responsible for his crime.

Czolgosz's body was unclaimed by any relatives. He was buried in the middle of the prison plot next to Fort Hill Cemetery in the City of Auburn.

Extraordinary precautions were taken to completely destroy the corpse. He was buried in a black stained pine coffin. A carboy of sulphuric acid was poured into the coffin after it had been lowered in the ground. Five bushels of quicklime followed, washed down with several buckets of water. A cloud of vapor then rose 50' into the air.

A twenty-four hour watch was placed over the grave for three days. Doctors estimated that the body would be completely disintegrated by that time; nothing would remain that could be dug up and carried away.

Within six weeks from the death of his distinguished victim, Czolgosz was regularly tried, convicted, sentenced and executed; a remarkably short time for our system of justice to punish a person convicted of murder in the first degree.

Ten minutes after he was executed the rest of the prisoners went to work in the prison shops as if Czolgosz had never existed. The anarchist was unwept, unhonored, ignored.

*** *** ***

The above photos of Chester Gillette and Grace Brown, circa 1908, did not appear in Miskell's monograph.
Leon Czolgosz rationalized his act of killing President William McKinley and in so doing was able, in his own mind at least, to absolve himself of any responsibility or guilt. Others who murder carry the guilt in their minds, sometimes to a point of obsession, yet still retain a small measure of hope to escape the punishment of death in the electric chair.

Chester Gillette, who murdered Grace Brown rather than marry her, even though she was carrying his child, always knew of his guilt. Yet he thought until the very end that he would not have to pay the supreme penalty for his crime. He thought that somehow, in some way, his mother, Mrs. Louise Gillette, would be able to convince Governor Hughes to grant him a reprieve before he was scheduled to enter the death chamber.

Chester and Grace worked together in his uncle Horace Gillette's skirt factory in Cortland. They became friendly and in time, Grace, believing that Chester planned to marry her, succumbed to his advances. She soon became pregnant and wanted to plan her wedding. Chester was shocked by the news; he had his eye on another and wasn't about to marry Grace.

When she pressed him to do the honorable thing, he invited her to spend a few days with him in the Adirondacks. There he took her out in a rowboat on Big Moose Lake, [and] hit her in the head with his tennis racket. Grace either fell or was pushed into the water; Chester claimed afterwards that she fell. However, he made no attempt to save her and swam to shore as Grace sank to the bottom of the lake and drowned.

Grace's body was located on the following afternoon; her head and face were badly bruised and battered. Her silk coat and Chester's straw hat were found near the overturned boat. The tennis racket, hidden in tall weeds along the shore, was also found. The coroner ruled Grace's death to be a homicide.

A search was made for Chester. He was discovered a few days later camping with some friends a few miles away. He denied all knowledge of any crime.

In the investigation which followed, sufficient evidence was uncovered to implicate Chester. He was arrested and tried for the murder of Grace Brown in Herkimer County. Grace's letters to Chester, written from her home after she became pregnant, caused a sensation when read at the trial.

Much to his dismay, Chester was found guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence only; no one had seen him push Grace into the water, but the jury believed that he was indeed guilty after he abandoned Grace and left her to die.

Chester was sentenced to death in the electric chair. With his mother's assistance, he fought off execution through legal appeals for more than a year from his cell in Auburn Prison.

Chester maintained a cheerful attitude while confined; he was most obedient and cooperative. He retained his nerve to a remarkable degree. He and Chaplain Cordello Herrick talked together often. Chester's spiritual advisor, the Rev. Henry MacIlravy, had a special influence on him. While he was reticent for months about discussing the crime, Chester finally made a confession to his advisor who then assisted him to write a message to the young people of the world who faced the same temptations that he had failed to resolve.

After Chester's mother had lost her last minute appeal to Governor Hughes, he was scheduled to die on March 30, 1908. With the Rev. MacIlravy and Chaplain Herrick walking at his side, Chester, unmoved and without showing any emotion of any kind, walked quietly to the chair. It took only one contact of 1,800 volts, 7 1/2 amperes held for 63 seconds to end his life.

Following the autopsy Chester's body was buried in Soule Cemetery, Auburn. His mother's request that he be buried, "On the eastern side of the hill, so the sun will rise on him in the morning," was granted. The graveside is unmarked.

The service at the cemetery was brief and consisted of prayer and scripture reading and the singing of three hymns. Only family and a few friends, the Methodist minister, the Rev. Henry MacIlravy, and his assistant, were present. No public service could be held as the law prohibited such procedure.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide in me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day,
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away,
Change and decay in all around I see;
Thou, who changes not, abide in me-

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can fail the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thro' cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me. Amen.

[Chester's Letter to the Youth of America:]

"In the shadow of the valley of death, it is my desire to do everything that would remove any doubt as to my having found Jesus Christ, the personal Savior and unfailing Friend. My one regret, at this time, is that I have not given Him the pre-eminence in my life while I had the opportunity to work for Him.

"If I could only say some one thing that would draw young men to Him, 1 would deem it the greatest privilege ever granted me. But all I can say now is, I know in Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

"If the young men of this country could only know the joy and pleasure of a Christian life, I know they would do all in their power to become earnest, active Christians, and would strive to live as Christ would have them live.

"There is not one thing I have left undone which will bar me from facing my God, knowing that my sins are forgiven for I have been free and frank in my talks with my spiritual advisor and God knows where I stand.

"My task is done, the victory won.

"Chester E. Gillette"


The above message to the youth of America was composed by Chester Gillette with the encouragement of his spiritual advisor, the Rev. Henry MacIlravy. on the day before he died. It was released to the press following his execution.

*** *** ***

The above photos of Mary and James Farmer, also circa 1908, did not appear in Miskell's monograph.
In contrast, Mary Farmer, the only woman executed at Auburn Prison, did accept the assistance of Fr. John J. Hickey, pastor of Holy Family Church, months before she went to the chair. The priest gradually gained her confidence and, before she died, he managed to convince her to make a last minute statement exonerating her husband, Jim, of any complicity in her crime. After the execution, Jim was subsequently retried and declared innocent. He became a free man once again.

When first apprehended, Mary had told authorities that her husband was equally guilty of murdering Mrs. Brennan. Mary had killed Sarah Brennan, her next door neighbor, for she wanted her farm; she wanted a home for her son, Peter. Six months earlier Mary had gone to the County Clerk's Office in Watertown and falsified a deed to transfer the Brennan property to her name.

On April 23, 1908, using a hatchet, Mary assaulted Mrs. Brennan from behind. The attack was unprovoked and unsuspected. Mary then placed her victim's body in a trunk and sealed it. When an odor began to emanate from the trunk a few days later, she asked her husband to put the trunk in the basement. He did what he was told without knowing what was in the trunk.

A search party looking for Sarah located the trunk and found her body inside. Mary and James were then indicted for murder. The two were quickly found guilty and sentenced to death for committing the crime. Both were to be executed.

While in county jail, Mary was allowed to keep her baby in her jail cell prior to her conviction. After her guilt was established, the child was turned over to her husband's brother. When Mary was transferred to the prison she was not put in one of the cells for the condemned, rather she was housed in a solitary cell in the adjacent Women's Prison while her husband, Jim, was placed in a condemned cell.

After all appeals were denied, Mary requested to see her husband. Her request was granted on the night before she was scheduled to be executed. Warden Benham handled the entire situation tactfully and with discretion. He arranged for the visit to be conducted after dark to keep Mary away from the prying eyes of hundreds of inmates.

At 7:30 P.M. Mary, escorted by two matrons, walked to the pass through gate in the wall between the two prisons. She was then given a ride through the South Yard to the death house some 700 - 800 feet away. No restraints were used during her time out of cell.

The four men held in the condemned cells while awaiting a response to their court appeals were moved temporarily to cells in the western end of the South Wing. Jim was alone in the condemned cells when Mary arrived. A wire mesh screen was placed in front of his cell door to make physical contact impossible between husband and wife. Mary sat on a chair outside and keepers allowed them all the privacy they could during their last moments together.

Jim and Mary talked for one hour and forty five minutes before saying their last goodbyes. No sign of emotion was shown by either party, there were no tears, no histrionics. Mary asked Jim for forgiveness for what she had done to him and told him that she had signed an affidavit exonerating him from her crime. They parted on friendly terms.

Mary spent the night in cell #7 in the condemned cells, the cell nearest to the death chamber. Jim walked through the main yard to the old condemned cells under the Administration Building where he stayed for two days after Mary's execution took place.

Father Hickey arrived at 3:00 A.M. to deliver Holy Communion to Mary and to pray with her in her cell. At 6:00 A.M. Mary, gowned completely in black, walked unhesitatingly into the death chamber when summoned, She cradled a crucifix in her hands. Fr. Hickey walked behind her, reciting the Litany of the Dying for members of the Catholic faith.

The execution was strictly feminine - the condemned person was a woman, the victim was a woman, and the doctor, two nurses and two matrons in attendance were all women. Mary was led to the chair and gently strapped in by women. She took her seat in the chair bravely, mastering all human emotions to the last.

As Mary prayed, "Jesus, Mary, Joseph have mercy on my soul," the electrician pulled the switch for the first time.

Three shocks were necessary before the thirty-two year old woman was declared to be dead. The execution of Mary Farmer at 6:15 A.M. on March 29, 1909, was completed without any gruesome feature.

Following an autopsy, Mary's body was buried in the afternoon in Saint Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn. The service conducted by Fr. Hickey was brief. A picture of her son. Peter, was placed on her breast before the lid was put on the box in which she rested. Peter was two years old.


Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun goes down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear, Steps unto heaven;
All that Thou sendest me, In mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee! Amen.

De Profundis

There is an hour, just after sunset,
when all nature seems to be preparing for rest,
when the heavens are telling in the rich coloring
of the dying day, the story of the great Light that
never wanes. We watch the majesty of all this and
realize the swiftness with which our own lives are
ending. Then, oh then, the loved ones who are absent
from us come into affectionate remembrance, and
those whom we have loved and lost awhile, who rest in
the blessed peace of God, invoke in this sacred twi-
light our loving hopes and earnest prayers.

Fifty-five persons were executed at Auburn Prison during the period August 1, 1890 to May 1, 1916 in atonement for committing the crime of Murder in the first degree. May their souls and the souls of all the clergy who helped them to prepare for death, rest in peace. Amen. Thank you for listening.

*** *** ***


The Laws of New York Relating to The State Prisons, Sections from The Code of Criminal Procedure, Title X, chapter 1, sections 492,495,505, 506, and 507 as amended, 1904

New York State Department of Correction, Correction, Volume 11, Ossining, New York, August, 1941

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

Robert J. Donovan, The Assassins, Harper Brothers, New York, 1955

State of New York Prison Department, Annual Report of the Superintendent for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30: 1901, 1908, 1909, Sing Sing, Ossining, New York, 1902, 1909, 1910

Official Hymnal of The Methodist Church, The Methodist Hymnal, The Methodist Publishing House. selections #397 & #520, 1939

Selected, De Profoundis, Father Richard Felix, 0.S.B., Benet Lake, Wisconsin, 1950

Newspaper files stored in the History Room, Seymour Library: The Auburn Bulletin [and] i>The Syracuse Post Standard, various editions, 1890 to 1916

To John N. Miskell's "Better Than Hanging"

To John N. Miskell's
'Executions in
Auburn Prison:
To John N. Miskell's
'Why Auburn?
Prison & Community
To John N. Miskell's
'Offering Hope:
Auburn Seminary,
Prison Connection'
To John N. Miskell's
'Medal of Honor
Rite at Auburn
Inmate Grave'
To John N. Miskell's
'Long Watch
of Copper
To John Miskell's The Bell: Auburn Prison.