Dale M. Brumfield

If you have any information about this case, please email Dale Brumfield at dalebrumfield@protonmail.com.

SEVENTY YEARS AGO, ON MARCH 5, 1951, the decomposed body of an estimated five-year-old boy was found stuffed in a blue denim army duffel bag just south of U.S. 250 near Oilville Virginia, about 26 miles…

Rainey Bethea ascends the scaffold to his public hanging in Owensburg, KY in 1936. G. Phil Hanna is on the scaffold in the white hat, holding the rope.

ON DECEMBER 5, 1896, a wealthy 22-year-old Epworth, Illinois farmer and landowner named G. Phil Hanna witnessed the hanging of Fred Behme, who had been convicted and sentenced to die in McLeansboro for the murders of his wife and infant son. Hanna claimed to have been “mortified” by the “brutal…

Jimmie Wilson being escorted from the Perry County Courthouse, 1957

IN THE 1950s, Montgomery, Alabama was the most strictly segregated city in America.

While the city’s population had risen by almost 50% after World War II, and the overwhelming majority of the new migrants were white, Montgomery remained 37% Black. Only 3.7% of those Blacks, however, were registered to vote.

Pauli Murray

THE FEBRUARY 1, 1960 SIT-IN conducted by four Black men in a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth store lunch counter was the right protest at the right time. The nascent Civil Rights movement was gaining steam six years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and fed-up Southern Blacks were…

Once I discovered Kong, I could think of little else. I went to my local library and read everything I could find about this classic film. I even joined the Movie Book Club so I could order books about it. Eventually, I knew every scene, most of the dialogue, and…

Claude Bloodgood, 2000

CLAUDE FRIZZELL BLOODGOOD III (aka Klaus Frizzel Bluttgutt III) appeared gaunt, pale, and exhausted in 2000 as he sat in a wheelchair at Powhatan Correctional Facility, chatting with a Washington Post reporter about the death penalty in between bottled oxygen-fortified gasps induced by lung cancer, emphysema, and heart problems.

“I…

The hanging of Rainey Bethia in Owensboro, Kentucky, August, 1936. It was the last public execution in America. AP File photo.

Tom Horn, Nov. 20, 1903

A vengeful and crooked Deputy Marshall in Cheyenne, Wyoming seemed to have a real problem with Tom Horn, an Army scout who had gained some infamy when Geronimo surrendered to his party in 1886. …

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS INDELIBLY WOVEN into the fabric of American history. Possibly no other western civilization has killed as many of its citizens as America, who despite putting to death over 15,000 people, still ironically holds herself up to the world as an example of compassion, order, and enlightenment.

With…

Americans doing the Hokey-Pokey on the beach in Australia, 1953. Wikimedia Commons.

ANY AMERICAN BABY-BOOMER who went to a roller-skating rink or a home birthday party in the 1960s and 70s especially remembers singing and playing a corny, almost nonsensical game called “The Hokey-Pokey.” As the instructional music played, Kids playfully followed directions as the music boomed over the loudspeaker:

“You put…

Dale M. Brumfield

Anti-death penalty advocate, cultural archaeologist, “American Grotesk” historyteller and author of 11 books. More at www.dalebrumfield.net.

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