1 comment January 19th, 2016 Headsman
On this date in 1894, West Virginia hanged before a crowd of 3,000 for a mining camp murder three months before.
Hardy was reportedly already at odds with Thomas Drews, a fellow laborer in the booming Appalachian coal industry, over their mutual pursuit of the same woman when Hardy lost big to Drews in a craps game on October 13, 1893.
While it’s true that twenty-five cents doesn’t really seem all that “big”, this sum could represent a decent slice of a day’s pay in the coal mining game, and that in an industry where downward wage pressure had generated a ferocious national strike only months before. Hardy was profoundly nonplussed to have to fork over the sweat of his brow to a love rival and, with the added incitement of whiskey, shot Drews dead. (Ten more spectators at his hanging wound up in stir themselves for drunk and disorderlies.)
Hardy’s execution has pride of place in Americana as the inspiration for the tune “John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man”. (Or simply, “John Hardy”; as a folk figure, he has occasionally been confused or conflated with John Henry)
One of the most popular folk ballads in American history, the song has foggy origins but amazing reach: it has been performed, covered, and reinterpreted by a scores of artists including the Carter Family, Lead Belly, Duke Ellington, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan with the Grateful Dead.
On this day..
- 1735: Alice Riley, Savannah ghost - 2017
- 1476: Israel, the last execution of the Trent blood libel trial - 2015
- 1891: James Eubanks - 2014
- 1894: Albert F. Bomberger, for the Kreider family murders - 2013
- 1880: Prevost, predatory Parisian policeman - 2012
- Daily Triple: 1880 and death - 2012
- 1866: Martha Grinder, the Pittsburgh Borgia - 2011
- 1661: Thomas Venner and the Fifth Monarchy Men - 2010
- 1870: Jean-Baptiste Troppmann, mass murderer - 2009
- 532: Hypatius and Pompeius, for Byzantine sports riots - 2008
Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Murder,Pelf,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,USA,West Virginia