Before the Ohio Penitentiary’s closing in 1979, the execution chamber within the facility housed and displayed photographs of many of the prisoners sentenced to death throughout the state’s history. This portrait of Roy Smith is one of them. The caption at the bottom of the photograph reads, “Roy Smith, of Van Wert County, Electrocuted August 9, 1935, for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Forrest Good at Van Wert, Ohio.” Smith had been a farmer before his conviction. He shot and killed Deputy Good on April 18, 1935 while being questioned about a theft of grain that was recently committed by his brother. Smith was executed at the age of 29.
From 1897 to 1963 there were a total of 315 people in the state of Ohio, both men and women, who were legally put to death on the electric chair, or “Old Sparky” as it was often referred. Before this time the main method of execution had been hanging. However, the electric chair was considered to be a more humane way to carry out death sentences. So in 1896 the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill mandating that electrocution was to replace hanging as the state’s sole method of execution. It was not until 2001 that lethal injection replaced electrocution as Ohio’s only method of execution