City Pages: The black depths of Harry Hayward, murderous rogue of Minneapolis

By Mike Mullen
City Pages

The Infamous Harry Hayward (Shawn Francis Peters)Here’s how Harry Hayward tells the story of the best night of his life.

During the 1880s he lived in New Orleans, a fine place for a rootless cad to indulge his taste in gambling, women, and drink.

Hayward went to a ball and met a pretty young woman. The two got along famously. About an hour into the night, he spotted an even prettier woman and introduced himself. Around midnight he found a third. There came a fourth, and then a fifth, whom he finally claimed as his prize.

“I was very fickle at that time, as I am, and continue to be,” he later confessed.

Hayward’s tale highlights his charm, his nighttime stamina, his womanizing, his narcissism. Most telling of all: He makes no mention of what he said to the women he cast aside, or what became of them. In Harry Hayward’s mind, his was the only story worth telling.

It is told anew in The Infamous Harry Hayward, a disturbing history by Wisconsin-Madison professor Shawn Francis Peters, which the University of Minnesota press will publish in April.

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