Edward H. Rulloff
Edward H. Rulloff (sometimes Ruloff, Rulofson, or Rulloffson, 1819/1820 – May 18, 1871) was a noted philologist and a murderer.
Self-educated, Rulloff studied many fields and excelled at philology. In 1869, he presented his theory of language origins, "The Method of Languages," to the American Philological Association. He believed his book, Method in the Formation of Language, would prove to be definitive.
Rulloff was accused of many crimes during his life. He was in jail several times but was released due to a lack evidence. As a youth, he served a two-year jail sentence for embezzlement before moving to Ithaca, New York.
He was accused of beating his wife and daughter to death, and of poisoning his sister-in-law and niece.
In 1870, he was sentenced to death for the murder of a store clerk, Frederick Merrick, in Binghamton, New York.
Due to his prominence as a philologist, some people believed that Rulloff's life should be spared so that he could continue to contribute to that field of study. Mark Twain wrote a satirical editorial, proposing that some other person should be hanged in Rulloff's place.
His execution was the last public hanging in New York. Some sources claim he gave a speech on the gallows, ending with, "Hurry it up! I want to be in hell in time for dinner." Other sources say that his only statement was, "I can't stand still."
- Edmund Pearson, Instigation of the Devil (New York, London: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1930), Chapter XXI: The "Learned" Murderer, pp. 255–264, 354
- Rulloff: the great criminal and philologist by Samuel D. Halliday, 1905