February 21st, 2011 Headsman
On this date in 1930, Eva Dugan was badly hanged.
After he axed her position, she axed the rancher, ransacked his home, stole his car, and fled to New York.
A mysterious teenage accessory, “Jack”, was never found. Eva was picked up and extradited after the missing rancher’s remains turned up in a shallow grave.
The grizzled former frontierswoman — she followed the Klondike gold rush in her youth — took her fate nonchalantly.
“Wal, I’ll die with my boots on, an’ in full health,” she scolded her jurors. “An’ that’s more’n most of you old coots’ll be able to boast on.”
Eva Dugan’s health may have been full — though she bid unsuccessfully for clemency claiming mental illness — but her body was halved.
At 5 a.m. this date, wearing a homemade silk shroud, a composed Dugan mounted the gallows at the state prison in Florence.
Her death was instantaneous, for the rope, when it snapped at the end of the drop, severed her head from her body.
Five witnesses, two women, fainted. Altogether there were five women in the chamber at the time of the execution. It was the first time in the history of Arizona that an execution was witnessed by women.
Thanks in part to this ghastly scene, Arizona in 1934 replaced the gallows with the western states’ hot new killing technology, the gas chamber … leaving Dugan the last female client of that state’s hangman.
Also on this date
- 1862: Nathaniel Gordon, slave trader
- 1946: Cristino Garcia, Spanish Republican and French Resistance hero
- 1934: Augusto Cesar Sandino, national hero
- 1951: Charlie Gifford, politician-killer
- 1942: Mykhailo and Olena Teliha, Ukrainian artists
- 1803: Edward Marcus Despard, a patriot without a nation