Now if this back cover text isn’t jaw-dropping…

Here is the text that is planned for the back cover of my upcoming book, “Wicked in Columbus, Indiana,” due out probably late winter:

Dubbed “The Athens of the Prairie” for its array of stunning modern architecture, Columbus still endured its share of unsavory citizens, crime-ridden neighborhoods and tales of woe. Many residents avoided the infamous slums of Smoky Row and Death Valley, while others gave in to the allure of Lillian “Todie” Tull’s famed house of ill-repute on North Jackson Street. Two different father-son hoodlum partnerships, The McKinneys and Bells, terrorized the area in the 1800s. And a brutal fist fight between a newspaper editor and the mayor sparked a scandal in 1877. Author Paul J. Hoffman guides the reader on a wild ride through the city’s salacious side.

And below are some photos that have a really good shot at being included in the book:

Moonshining was big business in Columbus, even into the 1960s. Here, Sheriff J. Walter Johns inspects a homemade still found in a local chicken house.


Lillian “Todie” Tull was one of Columbus’ most famous madames. She, along with a couple of alleged accomplices, was accused with trying to entice a young woman to come to Columbus for employment with the intention of turning her into a prostitute.
Ralph Drake, a man who battled alcoholism as a young adult, killed his lover, Ida Ward, and tried to kill himself in a Columbus boarding house in 1893.
The first local speech on the Ku Klux Klan was held at city hall in 1922.

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