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Henry Bookman

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Henry Bookman

Birth
Death
10 Dec 1915 (aged 27–28)
McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA
Burial
McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA Add to Map
Plot
#159
Memorial ID
View Source
Henry Bookman was the first person put to death in the electric chair at Oklahoma Department of Corrections. He was convicted of killing a McIntosh County farmer, Rich Hardin, on April 2, 1915.
_________________

M'Alester, Dec. 7--Next Friday a man will be killed in Oklahoma. Everybody in the state knows it, yet here in McAlester 12,000 people are apparently indifferent to the fate of the unfortunate human whose life will be snuffed out by flash of electricity. It will be the first legal electrocution in the history of Oklahoma. Last spring Henry Bookman, a negro, was arrested for the killing of Rich Hardy, a farmer of McIntosh County. He was tried and on May 29, was sentenced to death. His case was then taken to the criminal court of appeals and the sentence was recently confirmed by that tribunal.

From outward appearances the news of the confirmation of his sentence has affected Bookman's mentality and sealed he is lips against public utterance. Prison official believe his shamming insanity, and it is true that he heeds no remarks addressed to him but keeps in a continuous death chant which in its weird execution grates on the nerves of the penitentiary attaches.

And as the condemned negro laments his rapidly approaching death at the unstayed hand of the great state of Oklahoma, Warden Bob Dick, with a prejudice against capital punishment and sentiment that makes him look reluctantly upon the coming execution, is proceeding with his plans for the performance of his sworn duty as chief executioner of the state prison.

Two more changes yet remain for Bookman to escape the electric chair. One is the interference of Governor Williams and the other is the provision of the state constitution that makes it obligaroy to postpone the execution of an insane man. The former hope, it is understood, is as good as gone, and prison officials are loath to admit that the negro is crazy. Should they decide that he is really insane they are supposed to call a jury of twelve men to be drawn from the regular county panel to inquire into the mental condition of the prisoner. The jury may call upon the penitentiary officials, guards, prisoners and physicians for testimony and if the condemned man to be found insane he shall be sent to the asylum for the criminal insane and his execution postponed until such time as he has regained his mental faculties.

Bookman has scarcely eaten a bite of food since his sentence was conformed and he refused to talk to anyone. He turns a deaf ear to Warden Dick, the prison chaplain and others. Even a colored clergyman who was sent to the death cell could not make the negro talk.

The tremendous strain of the realization that he must be sacrificed on the altar of law and order is telling on the frantic negro. He groans constantly like one in great agony, and once attempted to end his misery by committing suicide. He made a noose of his blanket and hanged himself to the bars of his cell, but was cut down by guards who reached him in time to save his life.

Under the state law the execution must be witnessed by only twelve persons, in addition to the country attorney, county physician, warden of the penitentiary, the executioner and his assistants. A great list of applications have been received by Warden Dick from morbid curiosity-seekers who want to enjoy the weird privilege of seeing a man shot into eternity. So far the warden has not made out the list of those who will be admitted to the death chamber on Friday morning.

Bookman's execution will be the first legal killing in Oklahoma in more than four years, former Governor Lee Cruce having commuted all death sentences during his administration save one at Tulsa a few days after he took office.

Bookman's execution will also be the first electrocution in Oklahoma, all executions during Governor Haskell's administration having been hangings.

Warden Dick stated today that Mac Treadwell, electrical engineer at the state penitentiary, probably would act as executioner and that Prison Physician Dr. C. C. Shaw will officiate after the death current has been forced through the veins of the condemned negro.
(Tulsa World, Dec. 8, 1915)
Henry Bookman was the first person put to death in the electric chair at Oklahoma Department of Corrections. He was convicted of killing a McIntosh County farmer, Rich Hardin, on April 2, 1915.
_________________

M'Alester, Dec. 7--Next Friday a man will be killed in Oklahoma. Everybody in the state knows it, yet here in McAlester 12,000 people are apparently indifferent to the fate of the unfortunate human whose life will be snuffed out by flash of electricity. It will be the first legal electrocution in the history of Oklahoma. Last spring Henry Bookman, a negro, was arrested for the killing of Rich Hardy, a farmer of McIntosh County. He was tried and on May 29, was sentenced to death. His case was then taken to the criminal court of appeals and the sentence was recently confirmed by that tribunal.

From outward appearances the news of the confirmation of his sentence has affected Bookman's mentality and sealed he is lips against public utterance. Prison official believe his shamming insanity, and it is true that he heeds no remarks addressed to him but keeps in a continuous death chant which in its weird execution grates on the nerves of the penitentiary attaches.

And as the condemned negro laments his rapidly approaching death at the unstayed hand of the great state of Oklahoma, Warden Bob Dick, with a prejudice against capital punishment and sentiment that makes him look reluctantly upon the coming execution, is proceeding with his plans for the performance of his sworn duty as chief executioner of the state prison.

Two more changes yet remain for Bookman to escape the electric chair. One is the interference of Governor Williams and the other is the provision of the state constitution that makes it obligaroy to postpone the execution of an insane man. The former hope, it is understood, is as good as gone, and prison officials are loath to admit that the negro is crazy. Should they decide that he is really insane they are supposed to call a jury of twelve men to be drawn from the regular county panel to inquire into the mental condition of the prisoner. The jury may call upon the penitentiary officials, guards, prisoners and physicians for testimony and if the condemned man to be found insane he shall be sent to the asylum for the criminal insane and his execution postponed until such time as he has regained his mental faculties.

Bookman has scarcely eaten a bite of food since his sentence was conformed and he refused to talk to anyone. He turns a deaf ear to Warden Dick, the prison chaplain and others. Even a colored clergyman who was sent to the death cell could not make the negro talk.

The tremendous strain of the realization that he must be sacrificed on the altar of law and order is telling on the frantic negro. He groans constantly like one in great agony, and once attempted to end his misery by committing suicide. He made a noose of his blanket and hanged himself to the bars of his cell, but was cut down by guards who reached him in time to save his life.

Under the state law the execution must be witnessed by only twelve persons, in addition to the country attorney, county physician, warden of the penitentiary, the executioner and his assistants. A great list of applications have been received by Warden Dick from morbid curiosity-seekers who want to enjoy the weird privilege of seeing a man shot into eternity. So far the warden has not made out the list of those who will be admitted to the death chamber on Friday morning.

Bookman's execution will be the first legal killing in Oklahoma in more than four years, former Governor Lee Cruce having commuted all death sentences during his administration save one at Tulsa a few days after he took office.

Bookman's execution will also be the first electrocution in Oklahoma, all executions during Governor Haskell's administration having been hangings.

Warden Dick stated today that Mac Treadwell, electrical engineer at the state penitentiary, probably would act as executioner and that Prison Physician Dr. C. C. Shaw will officiate after the death current has been forced through the veins of the condemned negro.
(Tulsa World, Dec. 8, 1915)

Gravesite Details

DOC#5947


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  • Created by: MillieBelle
  • Added: Mar 25, 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID:
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13736108/henry-bookman: accessed ), memorial page for Henry Bookman (1887–10 Dec 1915), Find a Grave Memorial ID 13736108, citing Department of Corrections Prison Cemetery, McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA; Maintained by MillieBelle (contributor 46628380).