Alfred P. Southwick

Burial Location Visited
Buffalo, New York April 18, 2010


The Southwick family's plot in Forest Lawn                                               Southwick was the dentist that invented
Cemetery.                                                                                                               the electric chair.


Alfred P. Southwick is interred next to his                                                 He passed away in 1898. I could not find
wife, Mary.                                                                                                             his actual date of birth or death.

*** Interesting Facts ***

* Before going into dentistry, Southwick was a steamboat engineer.

* In the early 1880's Alfred Southwick saw an inebriated man killed when he touched a live electric generator. He figured that the man had died so painlessly that it would be a novel way to execute people, or at least be more humane than sending criminals to the gallows.

* Because of his experience handling people who were strapped to chairs, Southwick decided that his new form of execution would be easiest if the victims were sitting at the time.

* The first person executed with the electric chair was William Kemmler, a New Yorker who murdered his wife in 1889. He was electrocuted the following year in Auburn Prison, now the Auburn Correctional Facility, in Auburn, New York. The execution did not go as smoothly as had been planned. Kemmler was not killed on the first try, and was breathing in agony. On the second try, he began bleeding and his body reportedly caught on fire. This new method did not get rave reviews. Entrepreneur George Westinghouse, a rival of Thomas Edison's who supported the use of alternating current for electrical systems, stated that they "would have done better using an axe."

* Despite how grisly the first use of the electric chair had been, Southwick continued to advocate for its use as a permanent way to execute criminals.

Spouse: Mary M. Southwick (         -1895)

* As I have not found the actual date of Southwick's birth or of his death, I can only approximate that he was seventy-two years old.
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