Perhaps someone can help me with this: when did Holmes say “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing — I was born with the “Evil One” standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since?”
Holmes’ “Confession” from 1896, as published in the Philadelphia Inquirer (and now available in the excellent compendium of period documents, The Strange Case of HH Holmes) doesn’t include this line at all.
However, on April 11, numerous papers, including the Tribune, published excerpts from the confession to be printed the next day, including the famous “born with the devil in me” quote, and an excerpt from a section about mutilating his son with a knife. Here’s an example from the Sydney Morning Herald.
These papers said that the confession would be published in the Philadelphia North American, not the Inquirer. The Inquirer version was reprinted in a number of papers, including the Chicago Inter Ocean (which changed the name of one victim, along with most regional papers), but not that I’ve seen include either of the excerpts that were said to come from an upcoming edition of the North American. Was the confession in that paper a whole different work?
The North American archives from 1896 don’t seem to be digitized yet, so one would have to find a library that has it archived. According a quick search, a copy should be at the Free Library of Philadelphia, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the Kansas State Historical Society, The Library of Congress, and a Commonwealth Library in Harrisburg. None of these are an easy trip from Chicago. Little help?
UPDATE: We’ve aquired a copy, and found that their source is a bit suspect. A full transcript and analysis is in our 11/22/11 post!