Six Years Under: Executed Today’s Sixth Annual Report

They say the coward dies a thousand deaths. Executed Today has now made it six full trips around the sun, and died two thousand, one hundred and ninety-two.*

We’re getting pretty long in the tooth in blog years, and as noted in this space last year blogging daily for five, and now six, years puts us well past our original win conditions for this site.

There has been some consideration hereabouts about how and when to let this blog die its own cowards’ death, but there are still so many stories left untold for the faithful executioner. “Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau,” as Madame du Barry is said to have begged under the guillotine. Just one moment more … one more year at least.


Andrew Jackson’s execution of six militiamen in the War of 1812 introduced the term “Coffin Handbills” to the language.

Traffic

We logged about 2.77 million pageviews over the past twelve months, bringing the site near 10 million all time. (It should reach that milestone in about a month.)

That figure was spiked by a Reddit frontpage referral to the fascinating medical-history guest post on the nameless woman “Aochababa”, whose 1771 beheading and subsequent medical dissection initiated a new era of anatomical learning in Japan. That post, originally published in 2010, had five-sixths of Executed Today’s one-day traffic record (53,646 on May 1, 2013). On that strength it became the most-trafficked post on the site for the entire year, the most common visitor entrance page other than the home site, vaulting from undeserved obscurity into the site’s top 10 all time.

Also making an enormous move: the Ottoman Grand Vizier Pargali Ibrahim Pasha. This post just snuck into the top 60 last year as it began receiving search traffic after the debut of a Turkish costume drama about the reign of Pasha’s friend, sovereign, and executioner Suleiman the Magnificent. In Executed Today’s sixth year, Pargali was consistently among the top two or three most-seen posts day in and day out; it’s the ninth-most-trafficked post all-time on the site as of this writing, but if the next year is like the last, it could easily stand as high as no. 2 next Halloween. (A different post about the capable heir Suleiman foolishly executed also reached the top 50.) For close-but-no-cigar cultural ephemera, the TV series Vikings drove “Ragnar Lodbrok” to the no. 21 search term for the year — surely a spoiler for viewers who learned that the show’s protagonist is destined for execution in a snakepit. Like those snakes, such search wins can be poisonous; while once we had one of the few pages on the whole Intertubes about this fellow, it has subsequently been buried by posts about the television program.**

Current events spurred other movers. Eva Dugan, the last woman executed in Arizona, shot up into the top 20 thanks to the wall-to-wall media coverage of Jodi Arias’s Arizona capital murder case. John Bennett, the last U.S. military execution to date, cracked the top-posts list for the first time because of Major Nidal Hasan‘s death penalty court-martial for the Fort Hood shootings. We’re not above drawing such connections explicitly ourselves on Twitter, where we’ve sent about 17,200 tweets (4,500 in the past year) to a follower universe now nearing 3,000.

The all-time top posts hereabouts run as follows:

1. Ted Bundy (January 24, 1989)
2. Eleven from the Stutthof concentration camp (July 4, 1946)
3. Mohammad Najibullah (September 27, 1996)
4. Samuel K. Doe (September 9, 1990)
5. Rainey Bethea (August 14, 1936)
6. Green Tea Hag (March 4, 1771)
7. Hideki Tojo (December 23, 1948)
8. Jesse Washington lynched (May 15, 1916)
9. Pargali Ibrahim Pasha (March 15, 1536)
10. Thomas Cromwell (July 28, 1540)
11. Karl Hermann Frank (May 22, 1946)
12. Nguyen Van Lem (February 1, 1968)
13. Fou Tchou-li (April 10, 1905)
14. Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni (July 19, 2005)
15. Eugen Weidmann (June 17, 1939)
16. Pulitzer Prize-winning firing squad photograph from the Iranian Revolution (August 27, 1979)
17. James Corbitt (November 28, 1950)
18. The rapists of Maggie dela Riva (May 17, 1972)
19. Allen Lee “Tiny” Davis (July 8, 1999)
20. Eva Dugan (February 21, 1930)
21. Three partisans in Minsk (October 26, 1941)
22. Charles Starkweather (June 25, 1959)
23. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (June 19, 1953)
24. Hamida Djandoubi (September 10, 1977)
25. Claus von Stauffenberg (July 21, 1944)
26. Amon Goeth (September 13, 1946)
27. Pvt. Eddie Slovik (January 31, 1945)
28. Mohamed Oufkir (August 16, 1972)
29. Karla Faye Tucker (February 3, 1998)
30. Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray (January 12, 1928)
31. Eight July 20 anti-Hitler plotters (August 8, 1944)
32. Witold Pilecki (May 25, 1948)
33. John Bennett (April 13, 1961)
34. Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin (December 11, 1962)
35. Michael X (May 16, 1975)
36. Henry Francis Hays (June 6, 1997)
37. Robert Francois Damiens (March 28, 1757)
38. Dhananjoy Chatterjee (August 14, 2004)
39. Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters (January 9, 1923)
40. Princess Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud (July 15, 1977)
41. Du’a Khalil Aswad (April 7, 2007)
42. The Stoning of Soraya M. (August 15, 1986)
43. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya (November 29, 1941)
44. Partisans by the Sonderbataillon Dirlewanger (Uncertain date, 1942)
45. Mary Surratt and the Lincoln assassination conspirators (July 7, 1865)
46. Hannah Ocuish (December 20, 1786)
47. Che Guevara (October 9, 1967)
48. Prince Mustafa (Oct. 6, 1553)
49. Marion Braidfute (Uncertain date, 1297)
50. Maximilien Robespierre (July 28, 1794)
51. The Belsen war criminals (December 13, 1945)
52. William Johnson (June 20, 1864)
53. Mohammed Bijeh (March 16, 2005)
54. The In Cold Blood killers (April 14, 1965)
55. Henri Languille (June 28, 1905)
56. The Lonely Hearts Killers (March 8, 1951)
57. Cameron Todd Willingham (February 17, 2004)
58. Father Miguel Pro (November 23, 1927)
59. Dr. Jose Rizal (December 30, 1896)
60. Willie Francis (when he was successfully executed May 9, 1947)
61. Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe (late 41 BCE)
62. Not Willie Francis (when he survived the electric chair May 3, 1946)
63. John Wayne Gacy (May 10, 1994)
64. Mona Fandey (November 2, 2001)
65. 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr. (June 16, 1944)
66. England’s last hangings (August 13, 1964)

For whatever it’s worth, the most popular post actually published in Year VI was by a very wide margin the first-person account of a horrifically botched Thailand execution.

One of the more noticeable site trends in the past year has been the continued steady growth in traffic share of mobile devices. Those accounted for only a bit over 10% of the traffic in Year V (Nov. 2011-Oct. 2012), but that soared to 25% in Year VI (Nov. 2012-Oct. 2013). The month-over-month change shows a still stronger trend than that, with site views from desktop devices bottoming out at 68.7% in August 2013 before rebounding ever so slightly the past two months. Both mobile phone views and tablet views have grown by about +50% relative to where they were last October — perhaps facilitated by plumping for WPTouch Pro, money very well spent by my lights.

Guest Posts

The site has always managed to get by on the kindness of strangers, several of whom once again contributed a trove of guest posts.

In addition to those named below, a special thanks is due my correspondent “Mastro Titta” (here‘s the inspiration for the name) for adding countless names and dates to our expansive archives of potential source material. Similar gratitude goes to Tom E. for reasons which will become clear in the near future.

Grazie to them, and to all of these …

Co-authored with Bora Chung

Our 2001 days‘ meta-post musings on the death penalty in dystopian literature

Nancy Bilyeau

May 17, 1521: Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
May 27, 1541: Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Richard Clark

July 29, 1879: Kate Webster of the Barnes Mystery

dogboy

May 23, 1876: The Lennie mutineers
July 14, 1584: Balthasar Gerard, William the Silent’s assassin

Robert K. Elder

Mar. 9, 1981: Steven T. Judy
Aug. 16, 2001: Jeffrey Doughtie

Meaghan Good

With this year’s contributions (and there are many more already scheduled for future dates), Meaghan’s published posts on Executed today ran past 100. As noted last year, we’d have been hard-pressed to keep this operation running all these years without her prolific and thoroughly researched output.

Nov. 13, 1943: the Zalkind family
Nov. 14, 1930: Mao Zedong’s wife
Nov. 15, 2011: Oba Chandler
Nov. 28, 1828: James “Little Jim” Guild
Dec. 13, 1889: John Gilman
Dec. 16, 1678: Stephen Arrowsmith
Dec. 23, 1926: Petrus Stephanus Hauptfleisch
Dec. 27, 2001: Kojiro Asakura
Jan. 6, 1836: Abraham Prescott
Jan. 19, 1894: Albert Bomberger
Feb. 6, 1997: Michael Carl George
Feb. 18, 1862: Margaret Coghlan
Feb. 26, 1909: C.Y. Timmons
Mar. 22, 1882: George Parrott, who was tanned and made into a pair of shoes after hanging
Mar. 24, 1936: George W. Barrett
Mar. 30, 1883: Emeline Meaker
Apr. 6, 1752: Mary Blandy
Apr. 7, 1933: The “killers” of Pavlik Morozov, an engrossing story of Soviet mythmaking
Apr. 13, 1942: Four Jews from Bedzin and Sosnowiec, with a cameo in the classic Holocaust graphic novel Maus
Apr. 15, 1921: Mailo Segura
Apr. 25, 1900: A triple hanging in McMinnville, Tenn.
Apr. 27, 1940: Wilhelm Kusserow
May 2, 1883: Heinrich “Henry” Furhmann
May 12, 1936: Buck Ruxton
May 25, 1721: Joseph Hanno”, “miserable African”
June 1, 1936: Arnold Sodeman
June 3, 1886: 22 Uganda Martyrs
June 8, 1866: Anton Probst
June 10, 1944: The Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane
June 14, 1897: Choka Ebin
June 18, 1827: Kentucky Gov. Joseph Desha pardons his plainly guilty son Isaac
June 20, 1944: Jakob Edelstein and family
June 24, 1890: A segregated quadruple hanging
July 1, 1943: Gay Dutch Resistance fighter Willem Arondeus
July 9, 1920: Lee Monroe Betterton
July 30, 1888: A 76-pound Newfoundland
Aug. 9, 1786: Tom, a “faithful, industrious, healthy slave”
Aug. 18, 1941: 534 Lithuanian Jewish intellectuals
Aug. 19, 1897: Harvey DeBerry
Aug. 23, 1849: Rebecca Smith, to save her children from want
Aug. 28, 1765: Three Burglarious Johns
Aug. 31, 1876: The reprieve of boy serial killer Jesse Pomeroy
Sep. 12, 1864: George Nelson, Indiana Jones rapist
Sep. 15, 1939: Charles McLachlan
Sep. 18, 1953: Louisa May Merrifield
Oct. 2, 1901: James Edward Brady
Oct. 4, 1648: Alice Bishop
Oct. 5, 1943: The children of the Bialystok Ghetto
Sometime in early Oct. 1943: Yitskhok Rudahevski
Oct. 16, 1946: Neville Heath, torture-killer
c. 19: Some wicked priests of Isis, according to Josephus

Melissa S. Green

Apr. 14, 1950: Eugene LaMoore Alaska’s last execution

Courtney Thomas

Mar. 25, 1586: Saint Margaret Clitherow
May 14, 1631: Mervyn Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven

Robert Wilhelm

Jan. 10, 1879: Benjamin Hunter, of the Hunter-Armstrong Tragedy

Interviews

In addition to outright guest posts, interviews with a variety of expert sand specialists illuminated a number of unusual cases.

Editor’s Picks

Regardless of traffic prominence, these are a few of the many daily posts that were among the most interesting to research and write.

Meta Content

A want of hours in the day led us to go easy on some of the aspired-to meta content. In addition to the post for our 2001st consecutive day (op. cit.), we extended our sidebar “decade-defining executions” series to the 1970s, and ginned up an election day tour of U.S. Presidents and the death penalty. We also took a very quick and dirty look at which U.S. governors have signed the most death warrants.

If all goes well, we’ll manage a bit more of these in the year to come.

* Actual sum total of persons executed in the 2,192 posts — or however many it ends up being — would be an interesting figure to have but an extremely tedious (not to say depressing) job to compile.

** This same thing happened with Cameron Todd Willingham: when the New Yorker put the story in the national eye, our longstanding account of Willingham’s likely innocence was one of the few already online and became one of the most visited pages on the site in 2009. As one can see from the traffic ranker above where it now sits at #57, it’s been subsumed for everyday websearchers by the many thousands of new Willingham links in the past few years.

1698: The last Streltsy executed in October

This entry in our Corpses Strewn series on the October 1698 extirpation of the Streltsy is courtesy of the diaries of Austrian diplomat Johann Georg Korb, an eyewitness to the events.

Again, in front of the Kremlin Castle two others, whose thighs and extremities had been broken, and who were tied alive to the wheel, with horrid lamentations throughout the afternoon and the following night, closed their miserable existence in the utmoft agony. One of them, the younger of the two, survived amidst his enduring tortures until noon the following day. The Czar dined at his cafe (commode) with the Boyar Leo Kirilowicz Narefkin, all the representatives and the Czar’s ministers being present. The successive and earnest supplications of all present induced the monarch, who was long reluctant, to give command to that Gabriel who is so well known at his court that an end might be put with a ball to the life and pangs of the criminal that still continued breathing.

For the remainder of the rebels, who were still guarded in places round about, their respective places of confinement were also their places of execution, lest by collecting them all together this torturing and butchery in the one place of such a multitude of men, should smell of tyranny. And especially left the minds of the citizens, already terror-stricken at so many melancholy exhibitions of their perishing fellow men should dread every kind of cruelty from their sovereign.

But considering the daily perils to which the Czar’s Majesty was hitherto exposed, without an hour’s security, and hardly escaping from many snares, he was very naturally always in great apprehension of the exceeding treachery of the Strelitz, so that he fairly concluded not to tolerate a single Strelitz in his empire, — to banish all of them that remained to the farthest confines of Muscovy after having almost extirpated the very name. In the provinces, leave was given to any that preferred to renounce military service for ever, and with the consent of the Voivodes to addict themselves to domestic services. Nor were they quite innocent: for the officers that were quartered in the camp at Azov to keep ward against the hostile inroads of the enemy, told how they were never secure, and hourly expected an atrocious outbreak of treason from the Strelitz; nor was there any doubt but that they had very ambiguous sympathies for the fortunes of the other rebels. All the wives of the Strelitz were commanded to leave the neighbourhood of Moscow, and thus experienced the consequences of the crimes of their husbands. It was forbidden by Ukase, under penalty of death, for any person to keep any of them or afford them Secret harbour, unless they would send them out of Moscow to serve upon their estates.