October 31st, 2011 Headsman
Against all probability, yesterday’s post completes the fourth full year of daily death-blogging here since Executed Today launched on Halloween 2007. That’s 1,461 straight days, including a February 29.
It’s also a couple of trips overseas, a long move, a random hospitalization, and whatever else it is that comprises a life.
Back when I first started toying with this concept, I told people who asked where the material came from that the annals held such a vast forest of heads on pikes that if the blog didn’t go for 3-5 years it would only be for want of its writer’s energy.
The sentiment was a means of setting a bar for myself. Short of three to five years, the project would have been ill-done, relative to my vision for it, no matter how compelling the reason to abandon it.
Though it’s absurd in a site that’s all about endings, I have to admit that I never thought about what winding down would look like — what comes after three to five years, and when.
Although a great deal of the lowest-hanging fruit has obviously been plucked, the upper branches are so heavy with ripe delectables that there would be ample scope for three to five more years without even counting on new cases. (As we observed last year, more human beings are added to the executioner’s register day by day than are disposed of in this chronicle.)
I wouldn’t bet on that longevity … but then, I wouldn’t have bet on actually making it this long in the first place.
As always, I depend heavily on guest contributors, enumerated in detail below.
But special gratitude is due (and regularly experienced) to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project.
For reasons best known to herself, Meaghan “adopted” this site sometime after she discovered it and has been an absolutely prolific contributor — all while maintaining a vast and important site of her own on missing persons in the U.S. By my count, Meaghan has squeezed in time for 32 posts in the past 15 months, and that’s not counting those that are queued up for the months ahead. She’s got a nose for a great story, a knack for retelling it, and an unnatural level of patience for my scatterbrained harried-editor act. She’s been the margin between a night’s sleep and a total constitutional collapse so often that it’s fair to say she’s been the margin that has enabled Executed Today to keep up its run at all.
Meaghan, thank you.
Overall traffic to the site grew last year, but only modestly: from 1.6 million pageviews during the November 2009 – October 2010 period, to 1.9 million pageviews in the succeeding twelvemonth. (It’s north of 4.6 million all-time to date.)
I like to think it’s a discerning crowd that hangs about for what, after all, is an exceedingly niche subject with no marketing muscle. Exponential growth is fun while it lasts, but if you ever catch me complaining that my audience is too small, please slap some sense into me. I’m thrilled that so many people so regularly stop by to visit.
Top Search Terms
Not a whole lot of news in this department relative to previous years — excluding the searches on “executed today” and “executedtoday”, the top 10 searches (and the top 50, and the top 100 …) are overwhelmingly the names of executed individual men and (especially) women.
executed today ted bundy
thomas cromwell execution botched
maggie dela riva
karla faye tucker
The Twitter feed has more than doubled to about 1,100 followers, who have endured 7,200 tweets.
The most popular posts on Executed Today have a familiar look about them. And it’s not just the accumulation of preceding years’ traffic stats; most of the top posts on this list are also among the top posts week in and week out.
Home of a thousands-long comment thread on everything Bundy, this one post has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on its own — more than numbers two through four on this list combined.
Overthrown Liberian dictator tortured to death as the cameras rolled.
America’s last public hanging.
The Tudor politician is the only fellow from before the 20th century among the site’s top 40 posts.
The former Soviet-backed Afghan ruler hanged from a traffic pylon by the Taliban has been the year’s biggest mover: it was merely #35 as of last October, but it’s been second-most-trafficked (behind only Bundy) during the past year.
The only top-50 executee to be portrayed on celluloid by Tom Cruise.
This site is basically sponsored by World War II.
11. April 10, 1905: Fou Tchou Li, by a thousand cus
12. May 25, 1948: Witold Pilecki, Auschwitz infiltrator
13. June 19, 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
14. July 19, 2005: Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, gay teens
15. July 8, 1999: Allen Lee “Tiny” Davis, the last electrocuted in Florida
16. November 28, 1950: James Corbitt, the hangman’s mate
17. January 12, 1928: Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, Double Indemnity inspiration
18. September 10, 1977: Hamida Djandoubi, the last guillotined in France
19. October 26, 1941: Masha Bruskina, Kiril Trus and Voloda Shcherbatsevich, partisans
20. May 17, 1972: The rapists of Maggie dela Riva
21. September 13, 1946: Amon Goeth, Schindler’s List villain
22. August 27, 1979: Eleven by firing squad in Iran
23. June 25, 1959: Charles Starkweather, Nebraska spree killer
24. June 6, 1997: Henry Francis Hays, Klansman
25. April 7, 2007: Du’a Khalil Aswad, honor killing victim
26. June 17, 1939: Eugen Weidmann, the last public beheading in France
27. Ma 16, 1975: Michael X
28. February 1, 1968: Nguyen Van Lem
29. December 11, 1962: Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin
30. Unspecified date, November 1942: Partisans by the Sonderbataillon Dirlewanger
31. January 31, 1945: Private Eddie Slovik, the last American shot for desertion
32. October 9, 1967: Ernesto “Che” Guevara
33. November 29, 1941: Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya
34. February 17, 2004: Cameron Todd Willingham We beat the national media to the news that Rick Perry executed an innocent man, but the national media has had its revenge by filing enough Willingham stories to bury this link. That’s okay: we’ll take it.
35. December 13, 1945: The Belsen war criminals
36. August 8, 1944: Eight July 20 plotters
37. January 9, 1923: Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters
38. June 20, 1864: William Johnson
39. May 10, 1994: John Wayne Gacy
40. February 3, 1998: Karla Faye Tucker
41. July 28, 1794: Maximilien Robespierre
42. July 15, 1977: Princess Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud and her lover
43. March 28, 1757: Robert Francois Damiens, disciplined and punished
44. December 30, 1896: Dr. Jose Rizal
45. May 9, 1947: Willie Francis, this time successfully (in contrast to the first time)
46. August 14, 2004: Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the last hanged in India … for now
47. Unspecified date, late 41 BCE: Arsinoe IV, Cleopatra’s sister
48. December 20, 1786: Hannah Ocuish, age 12>
49. June 3, 2004: Nam Cam, Vietnam crime lord
50. March 16, 2005: Mohammed Bijeh, the desert vampire
The most-trafficked post actually put up since last Halloween is that of Eva Dugan, a grisly botch in Canada — which is #123 all-time and stands a good chance at cracking the top 50 by this time next year.
This blog gets by with a little help from its friends; close to 10% of the content has been written by guest authors.
I was enormously grateful in Year IV for these guest posts:
Jan. 28, 1829: William Burke, eponymous body-snatcher
Feb. 6, 1821: Owen Coffin, main course
June 8, 1675: The murderers of John Sassamon, precipitating King Philip’s War
Elizabeth M. Hull
(An amazing collection. See above.)
Nov. 23, 1499: Perkin Warbeck, Princes in the Tower pretender
Nov. 24, 2009: Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping, for tainted milk
Dec. 23, 1942: Sasha Filippov, during the Battle of Stalingrad
Dec. 27, 1944: Not Sim Kessel, Jewish boxer
Dec. 30, 1818: Robert Johnston under horrific circumstances
Jan. 15, 2000: Kasongo, child soldier
Jan. 17, 1945: Szymon Srebrnik survives execution at Chelmno
(Approximately) Feb. 23, 1629: John Dean, boy arsonist
Apr. 1, 1942: Not Hersh Smolar, saved by Genesis
Apr. 6, 1945: Kim Malthe-Bruun, Yours but Not Forever
Apr. 8, 1943: Elise and Otto Hampel, postcard writers
Apr. 13, 1942: Anton Schmid
May 19, 1942: Shimon Cohen, ladykiller
May 20, 1943: Wilhelm H., pensioner and vandal
May 23, 1673: Thomas Cornell, on spectral evidence
(Approximately) May 27, 1941: Mirjam Sara P., T4 victim
June 12, 1903: Ora Copenhaver and William Jackson, a double hanging
June 26, 1944: Krystyna Wituska, thanks to a bad romance
July 9, 1943: Not Halina Birenbaum, thanks to a shortage of gas
July 13, 2010: William Garner, arsonist
Aug. 6, 1942: Janusz Korczak and his orphans
Aug. 13, 1915: George Joseph Smith, Brides in the Bath Murderer
Aug. 21, 2010: Four in Equatorial Guinea
Sep. 24, 1896: Four in New Mexico
Oct. 4, 1843: Allen Mair
Oct. 16, 1675: Samuel Guile
Jan. 6, 1939: Joe Arridy, posted the day before Arridy was posthumously pardoned, a guest post + interview with one of the campaigners who helped make that pardon possible
Expert interviews also helped liven up these posts:
Nov. 20, 1903: Tom Horn
June 1, 1307: Fra Dolcino, Apostle
June 25, 1790: Thomas Bird, the first federal execution under the U.S. Constitution
July 18, 1300: Gerard Segarelli, Apostolic Brethren founder
Aug. 19, 1692: Martha Carrier, ferocious woman
Other than guest posts, which are always among the best content on the site, these are a few of the everyday posts that I found most interesting to write.
Nov. 4, 1778: Abraham Carlisle and John Roberts, triggering Benedict Arnold’s betrayal?
Nov. 8, 1969: Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge, assassin of Tom Mboya (watch for the cameo appearance by Barack Obama)
Nov. 11, 1761: John Perrott, bankrupt debtor
Nov. 28, 1783: Johanna Catharina Hohn, by Goethe’s vote
Nov. 30, 1539: Don Carlos Ometochtzin, Aztec heretic
Dec. 28, 1888: Prado, before Gauguin
Dec. 29, 1479: Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, sketched by Leonardo da Vinci
Dec. 31, 1905: Rebellious workers of the Red Presnia district
Jan. 22, 1952: Yosef Basri and Shalom Salah, Jewish bombers?
Uncertain date, January 1474: Not the Archer of Meudon
Jan. 31, 1879: Takahashi Oden, she-demon
Feb. 13, 1892: Two Georgian bandits, witnessed by the young Stalin
Feb. 15, 1688: Philip Standsfield
Feb. 22, 1799: Heshen forced to commit suicide
Feb. 26, 277: Mani, dualist
Mar. 6, 1968: Three blacks in Rhodesia, notwithstanding Queen Elizabeth II
Mar. 7, 1811: The Vere Street Coterie
Mar. 20, 1393: John of Nepomuk
Mar. 25, 1887: William Jackson Marion, actual original archival research by Executed Today concerning his posthumous pardon
Apr. 11, 1705: Captain Thomas Green and two of his crew on the Worcester
Apr. 12, 1967: Aaron Mitchell, the only man ever executed by Reagan
May 3, 1909 (maybe): Jesus Malverde, narco patron saint
May 6, 1972: Deniz Gezmis, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin Inan, Turkish revolutionaries
May 16, 1691: Jacob Leisler
May 29, 1606: Caravaggio murders Ranuccio Tomassoni
June 14, 1381: Simon of Sudbury and Robert Hales during Wat Tyler’s peasant rebellion
June 21, 1924: Not Onisaburo Deguchi or Morihei Ueshiba, Japanese new religion exponents (the latter created the martial art aikido)
June 28, 1899: Ologbosere, of the Benin Empire
July 6, 1415: Jan Hus with focus (courtesy of blog friend Sonechka) on his seminal role in the Czech languge, as well as the religion
July 15, 1907: Qiu Jin, Chinese feminist and revolutionary
July 29, 1947: Three Jewish terrorists and two British hostages
Aug. 7, 1930: Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith lynched, the inspirations for the song “Strange Fruit”
Aug. 18, 1634: Urbain Grandier, for the Loudon Possessions
Aug. 20, 1941: Yugoslav partisans was a pretty light post by me, but the commenters unearthed a whole different angle on war historiography
Aug. 30, 1867: Bridget Durgan
Sep. 3, 1875: Six in Fort Smith under hanging judge Isaac Parker
Sep. 13, 1916: Mary the Elephant
Sep. 19, 1902: Fred Hardy in Alaska, a terrifying thriller to read on Halloween
Sep. 25, 1991: Warren McCleskey
Oct. 8, 1354: Cola di Rienzi, last of the Roman tribunes
Oct. 15, 1964: Nguyen van Troi, Vietnam urban guerrilla
… and especially appropriate to year four of the site:
Four to save the electric chair
Four in New Mexico
Four in Equatorial Guinea
Last man drawn and quartered
On this day..
- 1862: Thomas Sanders, rapist - 2016
- Deathed Up to the Nines: Executed Today's Ninth Annual Report - 2016
- The Eight Pains: Executed Today's Eighth annual report - 2015
- 1460: Tiburzio di Maso, Roman brigand - 2015
- Seven-Out: Executed Today's Seventh Annual Report - 2014
- 1814: Private John McMillan, deserter - 2014
- Six Years Under: Executed Today's Sixth Annual Report - 2013
- 1698: The last Streltsy executed in October - 2013
- Executed Today's Fifth Annual Report: Hang Five - 2012
- 1907: Evstolia Ragozinnikova - 2012
- Executed Today's Third Annual Report: Third Time Lucky - 2010
- 1492: Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, Nearly Headless Nick - 2010
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