Obituary Guide

More Murder, Mayhem in the Brandon Cemetery

Brandon Sun, June 8, 2015

David McConkey

On Feb. 25, 1915, murderer Harry Green was hanged in Brandon at the Provincial Jail. But that’s not the end of the story. The surprising follow-up? The next day at the jail, there was another hanging.

Whether famous or forgotten, fascinating tales of murder and mayhem are in our past. And – in the Brandon cemetery – these stories live on . . .

HANGINGS, FEBRUARY 1915

Harry Green, 28, had been sentenced to hang for murdering fellow Hartney farm worker Thomas Hill. Green “expiated his crime here at 8:00 precisely this morning,” the Brandon Daily Sun reported. “Condemned man walked to his doom without assistance – ate good breakfast.”

Harry Green is buried in an unmarked grave in Section 24, Block F, Plot 33.

Also in the jail with Green was another prisoner, Charles King, 33. He had recently immigrated from the U.K. and lived in Winnipeg with his wife and two young children. But King had been transferred from Winnipeg to the Provincial Jail in Brandon to serve a 12-month sentence for theft. He was depressed; King even said he wished he could take the place of Green on the scaffold.

King made his macabre wish come true. The day after Green was executed, King hanged himself in his cell. Using his bed sheet as a noose, the Sun said, was “King’s method of making his exit from this world.”

An inquest was called the next day and it reported its findings two days later. The jury’s verdict: King’s death was “suicide during a fit of temporary insanity”; jail officials were absolved of any blame.

Apparently given a pauper’s funeral, Charles King is buried in an unmarked grave in Section 16, Block H, Plot 23.

ESCAPEE, JUNE 18, 1915

From 1914 to 1916, hundreds of “enemy aliens” were interned at the Brandon Winter Fair buildings. Although they mostly spoke Ukrainian, they had immigrated from what was then Austria. And Canada was at war with Austria.
 
Stories about the injustice of the Brandon Internment Camp have been told over the years in the local Ukrainian community. These stories tell of incidents of abuse, of forced labour, and of men being killed or committing suicide and then buried in unmarked locations. Much of what happened at the camp will never be known. But we do know about one death, the result of a failed “dash for liberty.”
 
“Fifteen Desperate Aliens Attempt Escape: One May Die,” the Sun announced on June 7, 1915. Andrew Grapko, 19, had been shot and was “lying at death’s door.” Soldiers had fired at Grapko when “he refused to halt when told to stop.” 

“The ringleaders” of the escape attempt, the Sun said, “are much superior to the average Austrian labourer in intellect.” Interviewing one of them, Simon Konrat, the Sun said, “He finds the confinement maddening.” Konrat was asked, “Will you try to escape again?” He replied, “Yes, I will try again, because I will go crazy if I stay here much longer. I will take a chance on getting shot.”

Grapko died of his injuries two weeks later. Not much was known about Grapko – he had been brought to Brandon from Winnipeg with other prisoners in November 1914. No inquest into his death was necessary, the Sun reported, as “it was a purely military matter.”
 
The inscription on a plain headstone: “Andrew Grapko, Died June 18, 1915.” Also – and most unusually – the grave’s location is marked on the stone: Section 1, Block DW, Plot 31.

* * *
See Also:

Tours, Book Bring Cemetery to Life 

Murder and Mayhem in the Brandon Cemetery

Get to Know Your Local Cemetery

Dark Side of Brandon’s Past

Every Stone a Story: Manitoba's Buried History on Amazon.com      (Amazon.ca)



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