2 comments January 1st, 2015 Headsman
In contemporary America, it would be next to unthinkable to schedule an execution for New Year’s Day — and asking the associated team of wardens, guards, executioners, witnesses, lawyers, and journalists to ditch New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and do a ball drop to a lethal chemical injection would be a complete nonstarter.
But the First of January, especially prior to the age of widespread telecommunication, was not always so sentimentally held. The Espy File of historical American executions records none whatsoever for Christmas Day, but several have occurred on New Year’s. We’ve previously profiled some of them in these grim annals, like Sylvester Henry Bell and Archilla Smith.
January 1 of 1926, “just 15 minutes after the arrival of the New Year” in the words of the Associated Press report, was the occasion in Huntsville, Texas for electrocuting African-American Melton Carr for raping a white woman in Walker County.
I have found hardly any information pertaining to this case online, but the detail that Carr was reprieved from an earlier execution date “on a petition from officials and citizens of Walker county” — implicitly, white citizens — might be a suggestive indicator for a crime so incendiary under other circumstances. We have seen that detail before in the case of Tom Joyner’s ancestors, who had broad clemency support because the racial politics of the time made an open judicial exploration of their actual innocence impossible.
After that game, there would be only more January 1 execution date in American history: the 1943 double gassing of Rosanna and Daniel Phillips.
On this day..
- 1912: Sikat-ul-Islam, by the Russians occupying Tabriz - 2017
- 1831: Edmund Bushby, Swing rioter - 2016
- 404: St. Telemachus, gladiator-slayer - 2014
- 1841: Archilla Smith, Trail of Tears Cherokee - 2013
- 1943: Rosanna and Daniel Phillips - 2012
- 1943: Lojze Grozde, beatified Slovenian - 2011
- 104 B.C.E.: Jugurtha - 2010
- 1892: Sylvester Henry Bell - 2009
- 2002: 'Ali bin Hittan bin Sa'id, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad, and Muhammad bin Khalil bin 'Abdullah - 2008