1832: Lucy (Wells), jealous slave

This date in 1832 was the Republic’s only execution of a female in Tyler County, West Virginia (then part of Virginia): a slave named Lucy who murdered the daughter of a neighboring family.

Detail on this case comes salvaged from the now-defunct (we think) death penalty history site Before the Needles:

Just across Middle Island from the Wells home lived a family which had a daughter named Mary Ann Fletcher.

Communication between the two homes was by canoe or johnboat and quite frequently Lucy was sent to the creek bank to set Miss Fletcher across the stream for a visit to the Wells home when they heard a halloo from the opposite shore. For some reason Lucy became intensely jealous of the attention which her master’s family lavished on the young Fletcher girl and determined to slay her.

One day after visiting the Wells home Lucy was sent with Miss Fletcher to set her across the creek and after a little longer delay than usual Lucy returned to “Stonehurst” her usual calm self, but later in the evening Mr. Fletcher came to the creek bank and hallooed across to “Stonehurst” and asked if they would send Mary Ann home immediately, as it was growing late.

Squire Wells and his family wondered what had happened, but did not think of anything wrong untill Mr. Fletcher called to them a second time. Lights were secured by both families who went to the crossing and in a short time the body of Mary Ann, drowned, was discovered.

An examination of the body disclosed the she had evidently died from foul play, because the fingers of both hands had been badly crushed and she also had bruises on her head and face. Lucy was immediately suspected and shortly confessed that she had pushed Miss Fletcher out of the boat, and when she did not readily drown, and had caught the sides of the canoe with her hands, she (Lucy) had pounded Miss Fletchers hands with the paddle, struck her over the head several times and pushed her under the surface of the stream.

On this day..