Harry Adams seemed to be on the right path for the first time in his life. Born as Francis Daniel Spealman, he had a tumultuous past involving running away from home and a life of crime, including jail time. Finally, using his acquired skill as a shoemaker, he was able to land a job as a cobbler for St. Mary’s School in Dayton. Although he was known to enjoy the drink, the consistent work kept him out of trouble. That is, until he met a woman named Lou Huffman.
Huffman was proprietor and madam to a house on Pearl Street in Dayton’s Red Light District. It did not take long for Harry to fall in love with her and move into her house. He helped Huffman operate her business and was available to her every beck and call.
It was during this time that a soldier named Henry Mulharen (also spelled Mulharon) was making his way to Dayton after receiving a $50 pension (a sum equivalent to nearly $900 today). Mulharen planned to visit the Soldier’s Home to get treatment for an injury he received as a soldier in the Civil War. Mulharen and a friend of his, a man named Woodward, met Adams at the brothel, where he introduced them to Jennie Smith, one of the girls working there.