1880: Edwin Hoyt, in Bridgeport

From the New York Times.



BRIDGEPORT, Conn., May 13. — The first administration of capital punishment in Fairfield County since 1809 occurred in this city to-day. Edwin Hoyt was hanged for the murder of his father, in the Town of Sherman, June 23, 1878. Hoyt was then 37 years of age, and had shown during his life a very ugly disposition. His wife, the mother of his five children, had experienced his temper in a manner which placed her life in danger, he having discharged a shot-gun at her and severely wounded her. On the Sunday of the murder he had nothing to exasperate him except the refusal of his brother-in-law to accompany him on a fishing trip. Having been refused, he went home, and, taking a butcher-knife from his house, told his wife that he was going to kill his father. He then returned to the house of his brother-in-law, where his father was at the dinner-table with the family. He appearad [sic] despondent, and said it would be better for him to die, but that there were two or three people he wanted to kill first. He then went to the porch and sat down with his father. A few minutes afterward he sprang up and stabbed his father several times, making a fatal wound in the neck. Hoyt was tried twice, the first time in October, 1878, and the second time in April, 1879. The State claimed that the motive for the killing was animosity toward his father, who had always exercised great severity toward him, and who, he believed, had decided to wholly disinherit him. The defense in both cases was that of insanity.

Hoyt had never believed that he was to be hanged until Wednesday evening, when the final attempt to save his life by means of a writ of error proved ineffectual. After this he was not despondent, but talked pleasantly with the Rev. Dr. E.W. Maxey, who baptized him according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church about 7 o’clock in the evening. After the clergyman went away he ate a hearty supper, smoked a cigar, and wrote a letter to his brother George. The letter was finished by the time Judge Blydeuburgh, of New-Haven, and Mr. Taylor, of Danbury, Hoyt’s counsel, arrived. They were with him about an hour, during which time he delivered his will to them, saying that he wished to have it kept private. They suggested to him that he might desire to make a final statement. He had nothing to say, he answered, in addition to what he had said, for he was not responsible for the killing, having known nothing of it. After his lawyers had left him, the Rev. Dr. Maxey came to remain with him until the time of the hanging.

The hanging occurred in a yard on the west side of the jail, and was witnessed by about 500 people. The yard was nearly filled, and from the woman’s ward of the jail many spectators looked down on the gallows. The prisoners in the male ward were permitted to witness the hanging from their windows. At just 11:30 o’clock the procession to the gallows started. First came Sheriff Sanford; next came Deputies Bartram and Dann, and behind them walked Hoyt, the Rev. Dr. Maxey having his hand on his right arm. Deputies Wakeley and Hughes were in the rear of the prisoner, and behind them walked Drs. George R. Porter, Robert Lauder, and E.D. Noony, of Bridgeport, and Dr. Marshall, of Greenwich. Hoyt, on the scaffold, raised his face to the sky, but showed no emotion beyond that which was expressed in his pale face. He was dressed in the old clothing which he has worn in jail, having refused to change to a black suit sent to him by a friend. The streaks of gray in his otherwise black hair and mustache gave him the appearance of being at least 10 years older than he was. When he was placed on the trap Sheriff Sanford asked him if he had anything to say. He answered in a faint voice, “No, Sir.” Dr. Maxey then read prayers, after which the noose was arranged and the black cap adjusted. Sheriff Sanford shook hands with Hoyt, saying, “Good-bye, poor fellow,” and stepped to the spring near which one of his deputies was standing. The trap fell. There was no noise except that made as the body fell a distance of five and a half feet. Dr. Porter, who had been in charge of the bodies of Mrs. Surratt and the other conspirators executed at Washington, had his hand on the wrist of the condemned man as the rope straightened. The fall of the trap occurred at 11:35 1/2, and at 12:14 the body was taken down. Death was instantaneous, resulting from a dislocation of the neck. There was some muscular tremor, but it lasted only a second. After the body had been taken to the jail, the physicians applied electric batteries and produced muscular contortions of the face and limbs an hour and a quarter after death occurred. The body was given up to Hoyt’s sisters, and taken to Sherman for burial.

On this day..