Sylvester Newton, “Malicious Mischief”, 9 July 1938

comments 4

Sylvester Newton

Sylvester Newton’s family farmed land by the Shenango for a century until it was sold for industrial development. Sylvester’s father went to work in the new tinplate mill. He stayed there almost forty years, until the depression shut it down.

Sylvester worked in the tinplate mill, too, except when he was sent to Europe in the first world war. He divorced his first wife on the grounds of cruel and barbarous treatment. The following year, he married someone else. They had a son; Sylvester’s only child.

In 1938, when he was forty-three, Sylvester was arrested for malicious mischief and eventually sentenced to three to six years in the Western penitentiary for statutory rape. It was an unusually long sentence for the crime, but no newspaper reported the details of the trial. He received a pardon after two years.

Sylvester’s second wife divorced him in 1947 and his son died ten years later, crushed to death in a press machine that started up when he was making adjustments inside it.

In the early hours of a November morning in 1970, Sylvester parked his truck on the side of the highway that passes through South Beaver township and had just started to cross the road when he was hit by a car driven by a teenage girl and killed instantly. He was seventy-five years old.

Sources: New Castle News (2 November 1918 , “Twenty Men Are Called”; 28 July 1922, “Large Number Of Local Persons On Same Job Over 20 Years”; 20 October 1924, “Divorce Is Granted To Sylvester Newton”; 22 March 1932, “Deaths Of The Day”; 27 May 1939, “Sentences Passed In County Court”; 24 July 1941, “Paroles Granted Four Lawrence County Youths”; 17 November 1947, “Divorce Notice”; 30 April 1957 , “Mesta Worker Dies Instantly In Accident”; 23 November 1970, “Ex-Local Man Killed by Auto”).


  1. Looks like he blinked while the flash was firing in the photo on the right. I suppose that must have happened quite often with old flash bulbs.

  2. bwark says

    I believe that this is a post mortem photograph. In the photo on the left, you can see that the eyes looked to be painted in.

    • Yes, his eyes look weird in that shot — definitely like his irises have been painted on his eyelids, now you mention it! — but I’m pretty sure that’s just because the camera had a slow shutter speed and he blinked when the operator took the picture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s