The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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A robber who led the gang that robbed Herzstein’s general store. Ketchum also killed the co-owner of the store, Levi Herzstein. Ketchum was later hanged for robbing a train. However, in a bizarre accident, the hanging rope decapitated him instead of snapping his spine at the neck, and his head rolled to the feet of the crowd that watched the execution. He was thirty-seven years old. During the Depression, Ketchum’s reputation went from that of a scoundrel to a sympathetic figure who stole from the big businesses that exploited common people, such as railroad companies. His body was later exhumed and placed in a cemetery, albeit in an unmarked grave and away from formerly notable citizens.
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Black Jack Ketchum Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character Black Jack Ketchum appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: First Wave
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...where they were hoping a railroad line would lay tracks. Then, one day in 1896, Black Jack Ketchum rode into Herzstein’s general merchandise store and robbed Levi Herzstein, one of the store’s owners,... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
It took four years for the authorities to catch Black Jack Ketchum . In the meantime, Black Jack was shot in the arm by a conductor while... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Black Jack Ketchum ’s execution was set for 1:00 PM. People came from hundreds of miles to see,... (full context)
Chapter 8: In a Dry Land
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Black Jack Ketchum had been buried for thirty years—and in an age where bankers were perceived as thieves,... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...offered their guests wine. On September 11, 1933, about three thousand people gathered to exhume Black Jack Ketchum . His body looked rather well-preserved. He was taken to the new cemetery but buried... (full context)