1903: Hilario Hidalgo and Francisco Renteria

Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my Administration and to me, as your Governor and as a citizen.

Statement (pdf) by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on signing the anti-immigration law, which went into effect July 29, 2010

Some stories are just plain classics.

In February 1903, two Mexicans shot up Goddard Station stagecoach stop, for motivations that were never plain. (There was no robbery, but it might have been revenge.)

The shooters got away, but law enforcement soon enough decided that a couple of railroad workers on the Mexican side of the border matched their description, and contrived to lure them into Arizona where they could be arrested.

Hilario Hidalgo and Francisco Renteria, were put on trial for their lives in Prescott, Ariz., in June 1903, where they were doomed to hang on the strength of eyewitness testimony and thirty minutes of the jurymen’s time. Appeals forbidden, the sentence was executed on this date — not six months after the crime.

With feelings of profound regret and sorrow, I hereby invite you to attend and witness the private and decent and humane execution of two human beings, namely: Richard Roe and John Doe. Crime — Murder.

Said men will be executed on July 31, 1903 at 12 noon. You are expected to deport yourself in a respectful manner and any flippant or unseemly language or conduct on your part will not be allowed. Conduct on anyone’s part bordering on ribaldry and tending to mar the solemnity of the occasion will not be tolerated.

-Sheriff’s invitation to the hanging, quoted in Frontier Justice in the Wild West: Bungled, Bizarre, and Fascinating Executions

The men cracked wise at the reading of their death warrant — “I have heard that repeated so often that if it was a song I would sing it to you,” reported the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 1, 1903) — and with “perfect nerve” checked out, calling only “Adios! Adios!” from the scaffold.

It was the last hanging in Prescott, Ariz.

On this day..

2 thoughts on “1903: Hilario Hidalgo and Francisco Renteria

  1. Aaron is right! He found a picture of the men you believe are in the photo above and they look nothing alike.
    I am convinced the photo you used is Frank Willson and John Johnson 1887. There are too many things lining up that you have the wrong photo for this article.
    Do you have more backup of where you got this photo? I would love to know more about it.

  2. Are you 100% sure this is a picture of Hidalgo and Renteria?

    Erwin Baer lived in Prescott and would photograph the people before a hanging. There was a photo he took on the 12th of August, 1886 of Wilson and Johnson. A Black man and a White Man that had murdered the Clevenger family.

    From the looks of this picture, is it possible that this was a picture of Wilson and Johnson vs. Hidalgo and Renteria? Are there any other pictures of H & R?


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