Demon in a Bottle: The Dukes/Nutt Affair
March 10, 2017 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Demon in a Bottle: The Dukes/Nutt Affair
Uniontown’s Dukes/Nutt affair has all the elements of a lurid daytime soap: the sexually explicit letter calling a beloved daughter’s honour into question; the outraged father gunned down while challenging his daughter’s despoiler; his killer walking free from court; lynch mobs baying in the streets; riots and a fleeing jury; the dead man’s son taking deadly revenge; high rhetoric at the boy’s trial and a determined bending of the law to ensure he escaped punishment; an innocent woman shot in the violent aftermath; and a prison sentence cut short by friends in the governor’s mansion. All this played out in Pennsylvania and Kansas between 1882 and 1903. It’s the subject of PlanetSlade’s first major essay for over two years, and you can read the full story here.

I began researching this story after stumbling on an 1883 bottle sculpture commemorating the case. Items like this are known as whimsy bottles, and were created by craftmen to show off their skills – rather in the same way that ships in a bottle were made. This strand of the tale led me to a hobo called Carl Worner, who roamed round the saloons of Illinois, Missouri and New Jersey in the early years of the 20th century, trading his own bottle sculptures for a hot meal and few free drinks. Worner’s sculptures often depict the interior of the saloons where he plied his trade, and you can read about his work in my essay too.
Role: Writer.
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