The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Mt. CalvaryNovember 7, 2019 12:00 pm Bucky Cutright
Thousands of people pass it each day without so much as a thought; the small hill dotted with tombstones near the old Cooper Stadium on the city’s near west side. The place is called Mt. Calvary Cemetery. It was founded in 1865 to replace the urban St. Patrick graveyard that once occupied the land where Columbus State now stands. Around 1908 additional graves from St. Jacob’s Cemetery in Bexley were also relocated here.
It’s the final resting place of many devout Catholics, priests, nuns and even a bishop. But there is a duality to this holy ground that very few realize. Not only do nice little old ladies and innocent babes lay here in eternal slumber, there are also several unsavory characters who, in the final moments before they were put to death at the Ohio Penitentiary, embraced the Catholic faith in a last-ditch effort to get right with the afterlife.
One of the more nefarious residents that rests in Mt. Calvary Cemetery sought to personally embody the dual nature of humanity that is represented by the sinners and saints buried there. His name was Oliver Crook Haugh, M.D.
Born in Dayton in 1871, Haugh was named after the city’s first native born physician, Dr. Oliver Crook, who made his mark with a cure-all tincture known as “Wine of Tar.”
As a teen Haugh was constantly embarrassed by his parents’ public displays of religious fervor and the “slowness” his older brother suffered as the result of a childhood head injury. To cope with his frustrations, Haugh began acting out and gained notoriety as a neighborhood bully.
The young man’s first significant act of violence occurred during a hockey game in the winter of 1885/86, where he knocked the upper front teeth from the skull of a fellow teen by the name of Wilbur Wright. The incident derailed Wilbur’s life and he was plagued with headaches, digestive problems and depression for years to come. Eventually Wilbur would overcome these issues, and with his brother Orville, go on to develop the first successful heavier than air flying machine.
Haugh’s teeth were giving him trouble as well, but in the form of painful cavities. Using his position as a clerk at the local drug store, the 16-year-old Haugh became adept at treating himself with the common pain cures of the time: cocaine, opium, morphine and alcohol.
Another formative experience occurred that year when the impressionable teen read Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Maybe it was the opiates, maybe it was the alcohol, but for whatever reason, it appeared he came to consider the classic tale as more of a guidebook for how one should lead their life than a masterpiece of horror fiction.
Despite his growing addictions, Haugh’s knack for preparing medicines led him to follow his namesake and pursue a career as a doctor. He enrolled in the Cincinnati Medical College in 1888, but after two years of struggling financially it appeared he wouldn’t be able to finish. Haugh’s saving grace was the large insurance payout his girlfriend, Anna, received when her father, who held an intense dislike for Haugh, unexpectedly dropped dead. At the time, his sudden death was shocking, but certainly not suspicious. And, with disapproving dad out of the way, the young couple were married a few months later.
After graduating from medical college in the spring of 1893, Dr. Haugh returned to Dayton and opened his first medical practice on the city’s west side. Neighbors were fascinated by the young doctor, who claimed to be on the verge of a great discovery which would alter the course of human evolution and prove the idea set forth in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “that two beings can exist in the one body, the one blotting out the influence of the other.”
By the summer of that same year, the townsfolk’s interest in the doctor lost its sparkle when Anna ran into the house next door crying that her husband and been transformed into a monster and that he intended to kill her. Like the character in Stevenson’s story, it appeared that the elixirs Haugh was experimenting with had indeed brought about a dark change in his personality.
When the police arrived and searched his laboratory, they found that the doctor’s work was hardly the scholarly pursuit that he had claimed it to be. The only activity taking place there, it seemed, was the consumption of copious amounts of cocaine and morphine.
With his reputation in tatters, Haugh was forced to close his practice and move in with his parents. Anna filed for a divorce but returned to her husband when she discovered that she was pregnant. At his parents home, Haugh’s behavior continued to spiral out of control and his drug-fueled escapades became so hostile and violent that the family was forced to commit him to the Dayton Asylum for the Insane.
Once released, the doctor opened office after office in towns across western Ohio, each failing due to his reputation as an incompetent physician and drug-addled madman.
During this period, it wasn’t uncommon for patients to find Haugh passed out in the hallways or posing naked by the door to his office, as if he were a statue. It was also around this time that the doctor told a few acquaintances he believed the best course of treatment for certain ailments was death, and that he had employed such treatment on several occasions. No one thought he was serious.
As his business continued to fail, the dejected doctor took more and more drugs and by 1900, found himself once again in the Dayton Asylum for the Insane.
After his release in the spring of 1901, Dr. Haugh left Ohio and embarked on a tour of cities across the Midwest where he’d take a new wife, though still married to Anna, open up a practice, then be forced to flee town under a cloud of scandal and suspicious deaths.
In 1903, Haugh returned to Ohio and moved into a house in Lima with a woman named Jennie Twohey. She was a patient turned lover that Haugh began injecting with large quantities of morphine after he learned she’d inherited a small fortune from her mother’s estate.
Following the mysterious disappearance of one of the couple’s acquaintances, Haugh and Twohey moved to Lorain, Ohio, where they ran a brothel and saloon.
After a guest at their tavern died following a “medicinal” injection from the doctor, the establishment was raided by authorities. There they found filth beyond description, a pet monkey that ran freely about the rooms, and an emaciated and seriously ill Miss Twohey riddled with disease and track marks.
Twohey was taken to the hospital where, during moments of lucidity, she would beg for someone to help her escape from Haugh’s insidious needles. Unfortunately the dependency he had nurtured in her had grown too powerful and Twohey succumbed to the drugs and disease less than a month after being admitted.
Following this incident, Lorain police arrested Haugh for disorderly conduct but, in a bizarre move reminiscent of the “Denial, Ohio” ad campaign, he was released shortly thereafter under the condition that he leave town immediately and seek treatment for his addictions elsewhere.
Haugh resumed his nomadic lifestyle, unsuccessfully attempting to establish clientele for his medical services in Canton, Cleveland and Tiffin. Eventually he was left with no other option than to move back in with his parents and older brother, who had since relocated to a peaceful farm on what is now Dayton’s North Dixie Drive.
Haugh’s return home started out as promising. He was taking on odd jobs, attending church services and professing a life of reform. It was as though the reign of narcotics had finally loosened its hold.
Before long, Haugh felt he was well enough to resume his career as a physician and asked his father, Jacob, for assistance in securing a new office. When the elder Haugh explained that he wasn’t able to help, the son’s sinister side once again bubbled to the surface. With bulging eyes and throbbing temples, he threatened to kill his entire family if he wasn’t given the money. After that the scene, things around the Haugh household became rather tense.
Things got worse on Halloween of 1905, when Haugh discovered that because of his drug use and philandering, his parents had written him out of their will. Following one of his trademark tirades, the doctor quietly placed an order for a large quantity of a drug called hyoscine hydrobromide. He’d taken hyoscine in the past to calm his withdrawal symptoms and knew that if someone took enough of the drug it would cause complete paralysis. He also ordered a much larger quantity of lamp oil than the family typically used in a week.
The reasons for Haugh’s unusual purchases became apparent in the early morning hours of November 5, 1905 when neighbors were awakened by the doctor running through their yards screaming that his family’s house was on fire.
When people rushed to help, he initially told them that his parents and brother had escaped. Soon it became horrifyingly clear that the doctor had been lying, as revolted onlookers standing near the burning home’s cellar door saw the bodies of father, Jacob, mother, Frances, and brother, Jesse fall through the floor into the basement, still very recognizable though portions of them had been burned away by the flames.
Under questioning and examination, Haugh’s account of the evening’s events quickly fell apart and prosecutors deduced that on that terrible night he had drugged his family’s dinner with hyoscine and while they were still alive, and possibly even aware, doused them in kerosene and lit them on fire. He had done this so effectively that all which remained of his parents and brother were placed in a single casket and buried in Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery on November 10 of that year.
As the doctor awaited trial and word of his crime spread, letters began pouring in linking him to possible murders in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. In total, he is believed to have committed no less than 16 murders over the course of his career, though it was the grizzly manner in which he had dispatched his own family that earned him a seat in “Ol’ Sparky,” the Ohio Penitentiary’s electric chair, on April 19, 1907. Following his execution, the body of Oliver Crook Haugh was taken to Mt. Calvary and placed in an unmarked grave, the location of which was lost after a flood destroyed cemetery records.
Before his death he had this to say:
“When I have taken enough of the hyoscine the man within me disappears and Hyde is the power. It seems as if I must do something – destroy something. My only recourse is to get out into the street – out into the open country – away from men and women, lest I murder them…If I die for these crimes, I shall have at least established proof of the theory on which I have always insisted – that two beings, one of good, the other of evil, may exist in the same man, and in that respect at least I shall have rendered a distinct service to posterity”– Dr. Oliver Crook Haugh
Hear more about the crimes of Dr. Haugh and other notable nasties who are buried in the Columbus area by joining Columbus Ghost Tours excursions offered all year long. Details and bookings at columbusghosttours.com.