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Photo of the Month
January 2005
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places

 

One of the most sensational stories told exclusively on Minerd.com is the sad, 100-year-old tale of Civil War veteran Alpheus Minerd, the son of Samuel and Rebecca (Hueston) Minerd of Tontogany, Wood County, OH. Also known as "Alf Minard," his brutal murder at the hands of William Nichols, seen above, was a sad postscript to a life lived under the dark cloud of mental illness and physical suffering. Unfortunately, we have no photos of Alf Minerd. This photo of Nichols was provided by the Ohio Historical Society and its collection of portraits of prisoners from the Ohio State Penitentiary.

As young men, Alf and his future brother in law William H. Shepard were Civil War soldiers with the 34th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Captured in battle at Beverly, WV, they were held as prisoners of war at the Confederacy's notorious Pemberton Prison in Richmond, VA. Later, Alf's postwar mental disabilities led him in and out of insane asylums, and the federal government ended up convening a grand jury to investigate charges of criminal fraud in connection with his soldier's pension. As an older man, Alf's violent behavior alienated him from his family, and he struck up a friendship with Nichols. 

In July 1903, after getting into a fight over a friendly game of cards in rural Hardin County, OH, Alf lay dead in a grove of trees, stabbed and shot by Nichols. Because Nichols was of mixed-blood (known as a "mulatto" in that era), the murder was sensationalized with racial overtimes by the newspapers of the day. It "landed on page 1 of every newspaper in the state and brought everlasting fame -- of a sort" to Hardin County, said Carl Drumm's 1940 book, A Complete History of The Scioto Marsh, republished in 1976 by the Hardin County Historical Society. After a manhunt, Nichols was brought to justice. He was convicted of murder, and on Dec. 9, 1904, was put to death in the electric chair at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Alf and Nichols are briefly mentioned in the January-February 2004 issue of the Ohio Historical Society's Timeline Magazine in a cover feature about the penitentiary.

 

Copyright 2004 Mark A. Miner