The uproar of chasing a fugitive—murderer, at that—who remained at large for upwards of forty eight hours certainly was news consumed voraciously by the populace back in Michigan and Wisconsin (scene of several crimes attributed to John Hogue) and Manitoba (site of his previous arrest and home of the deportation officer he had just killed). Each of those locales obviously had their own agenda in following the reports of Hogue's trial and sentencing.
But what about Essex County, Ontario—the very place where all this drama unfolded in late January, 1917? The two subscription sites from which I had gleaned these other news reports unfortunately did not include editions from any location in Essex County, thus leaving a rather significant gap in our survey of unfolding events.
Fortunately, I recalled a way around this dilemma. Those of you who have been journeying along with A Family Tapestry for a few years might have had your memory jogged by mention of that location, too. Though not having anything to do with this family line, we had spent some time on Essex County news when one of my husband's distant Flannery cousins from Paris, Ontario, had shown up in the news in that county in Ontario.
It was thanks to reader Intense Guy that I had become acquainted with a newspaper scanning project initiated in Essex County a while back. He had mentioned it in a comment when we were discussing the fate of one Patrick Flannery. Though that site has now transferred its original scans to a different URL, the good news is that, in the process, the site has uploaded numerous other news publications from the county as well.
Taking a look at the current files, I've been able to get an earful of local editorial commentary on the case as it unfolded.
From The Essex Free Press of May 4, 1917, in an editorial collection of shorts dubbed "Twinklers," an unnamed staffer noted,
A petition has been signed by a large number of people in Windsor on behalf of John Hogue, alias Stewart, who shot the immigration officer some time ago. At the first thought, we would be pleased to append our names, but when we remember that, if he had had half a chance, he would have shot the officers that arrested him, we are compelled to shrug our shoulders and remark, that after all the kindness shown him, to commit a deliberate murder, the scaffold is the only humane punishment for him.
A level-headed analysis was provided in a column simply labeled "County News" in the same edition of The Essex Free Press, explaining the order of events leading up to Hogue's eleventh-hour reprieve. The request had been made to consider either a new trial or at least a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment.
"In the event that an error is found in the charge" of the presiding judge in his instructions to the jury, which apparently "did not fully understand the law as it was explained to them," it was hoped the powers that be would reverse course. To bolster that argument, the newspaper included a review of pertinent facts:
Three affidavits from jurors to that effect have been obtained by the condemned man's counsel.
The crown is also charged with failure to produce...two material witnesses, members of the colored construction battalion, which was in Windsor at the time of the slaying. Their evidence, counsel maintains, would have proven that Hogue did not intend to kill Immigration Officer Marshall Jackson.
Unfortunately, there was no mention of just what evidence those witnesses might have provided.
Though it is understandable that those Hogue had wronged back in Michigan and Wisconsin were vocal in their demands for justice, and those in Manitoba were aggrieved at the loss of a local officer and family man, it seemed counter-intuitive to read that a good number of local residents at ground zero for this latest in Hogue's escapades would plead for clemency on his behalf. However, as we'll see tomorrow, there was a vocal chorus raised not only among those back in his hometown in West Virginia, but there in his most recent stop in Canada, as well.