Blair was the thirteenth man to "stretch hemp" in Ohio's Palace of Doom; and justly he merited the ignominious death that the vengeance of an outraged law inflicted.
His crime was like "weighing so many ounces of gold against so many drops of blood." It was a cold, calculated, malicious murder. It was the weighing of young Arthur Henry's life against the day's receipts of the office.
Arthur Henry was the station agent at Hartsburg, a little town of three or four hundred inhabitants, and in counection [sic] with his duties as station-agent managed a small general store.
March 17, 1890, was a cold, blustrous day; darkness came on early. The March wind whistled in mournful cadence around the corners of the little station, and the white flakes of snow dashed against the window panes like little sheeted ghosts. The nightly loafers who invariably infest country stores had turned in early and Henry, thinking that the day's trade was over, locked the store shortly after eight o'clock and repaired to his modest little home. He had scarcely seated himself before his pleasant fireside, when there was a rap at the door. He arose and opened it, and Edward Blair stood upon the threshold. He asked Mr. Henry to accompany him to the store, as he wished to purchase some provisions and tobacco. The unsuspecting man readily consented and followed the murderer to the slaughter. No sooner had he unlocked the store door and stepped inside, than Blair drew a revolver and shot him in the back. He then looted the store, took what money Henry had in his pockets, and went forth into the night. Henry lived six hours after the shooting.
Blair was arrested the next day in an old shanty where he had, in company with other tramps, been living. Only the cooler heads prevented a lynching. He was transferred to the County Jail at Ottawa, where the Grand Jury promptly indicted him for murder in the first degree. He was tried in the Court of Common Pleas, found guilty as charged and sentenced to hang.
On two different occasions he was given ninety days stay of execution by the Governor of the state, in order that the higher courts might review the case. The Common Pleas Court of Putnam County was sustained, and the sentence of the court was carried out on the night of August 21, 1891, on a fitting night for the avenging of a crime so dark and damnable.
About eleven o'clock the storm which had been threatening throughout the evening burst in all its fury. A clouded canopy seemed to overhang the whole world.
The vindictive serpentine flashes of cragged lightning shot their fiery darts through space and the hoarse roar of deep thunder-peals drowned human sound in the echoing answer; the huge resounding undulations of the Scioto river crashed against the prison walls; and torrents of rain fell from roof to earth in streams.
As the hour of midnight drew nigh, the storm, as if conscious that a foul murder was to be avenged at that time, increased its fury. The lightning flashed with a brighter glare; the thunder growled with a deeper energy; the wind whistled with a wilder fury. The confusion of the elements without added to the horror of the situation within.
At five minutes past midnight, while the thunder shook the old corridors from turrets to foundation-stone, Edward Blair, pale as death itself and quaking with fear, stepped upon the trap that opens the gateway from earth to eternity.
All is speedily made ready. Between thunder-peals the Warden asks if he was anything to say. His lips move, but nature's angry elements drown his voice. But see! A hand is on the lever, a quick movement, and the trembling wretch plunges downward. There is a lull in the storm--the wind without is sighing and sobbing through the great sycamores, and Edward Blair is slowly but surely choking to death. For eleven minutes the struggle is fearful to look upon; then the body hangs limp and quiet. Twenty-one minutes after the trap is sprung the last quivering pulsation is felt. Edward Blair has paid the price of his crime with his life and the State is satisfied.