1913: Joe Richardson lynched

3 comments September 26th, 2010 Headsman

Shortly after midnight on this date in 1913, Joe Richardson was hauled out of jail in Leitchfield, Kentucky, and lynched on the town square for attempting to assault an 11-year-old girl (white, of course).

“The little girl was on her way to school about 8 o’clock in the morning,” reported the Crittenden Record-Press (Oct. 9, 1913) “when, it is said, she was attacked by the negro who was frightened away by approach of the neighbors.”

According to Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940,

photographs rendered the violence of a lynching visible and accessible to a wider audience. Although, as will be shown, the public for these images was imagined as relatively narrow or contained, they nevertheless seemed to punctuate the lynching as a public spectacle. Small posses that quickly lynched their victims outside town but paused long enough to take pictures intended their actions to be witnessed … ‘the [Richardson] mob worked quietly and most of the citizens of Leitchfield knew nothing of it until the body was found hanging from a tree early this morning … A large crowd congregated … after the hanging was reported.’ A photograph of Richardson’s hanging body was mounted on a card and peddled door-to-door by an unknown photographer.

This lynching site claims that it was only after the work was done that townspeople realized the hanged man was the local drunk, and had “merely stumbled into the child, and not even torn her dress.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Borderline "Executions",Common Criminals,Disfavored Minorities,Hanged,History,Innocent Bystanders,Kentucky,Lynching,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Rape,Summary Executions,USA,Wrongful Executions

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1913: Ernest Austin, the last hanged in Queensland

1 comment September 22nd, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1913, Ernest Austin was hanged at Brisbane’s Boggo Road Gaol — the last person to suffer that fate in Queensland.

Austin stalked an 11-year-old girl down a dirt road — one that inconveniently recorded the distinctive prints of his heel-less boot — and raped and murdered her.

This “mental deficient” (“The State Slays Its Own Creation,” headlined an anti-death penalty newspaper, alluding to Austin’s institutionalized upbringing) was resigned to his fate even prior to conviction. Resigned enough to hurry it along.

Witness opened the cell door, and found accused standing with an upturned cell bucket by his side. O’Callaghan shook out all the blankets, and found a rope plaited of three strips torn off a blanket. Witness said to accused:—”You should not do anything rash.” Accused replied:—”I will be hanged anyhow.” Witness then said:—”You are not found guilty yet.” Accused said:—”I admit I murdered the girl.”

Little wonder the government wasn’t interested in clemency.

Nine years later, Queensland became the first Australian state to abolish the death penalty.

Austin’s ghost is supposed to haunt Boggo Road Gaol to this day, even though the section of the prison where he died has long since been demolished. The haunting story seemingly rests on an urban legend that Austin was some outsizedly diabolical creature and not the run-of-the-mill pathetic malefactor that a century’s perspective might suggest.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Australia,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Diminished Capacity,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Sex,The Supernatural

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1913: Antonio Echazarreta, defending Matamoros

3 comments June 4th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1913, constitutionalist troops in the Mexican Revolution consolidating control over the border town of Matamoros shot a 23-year-old colonel who helped lead the city’s volunteer resistance.

Garrisoned by fewer than 50 regular soldiers, Matamoros put up only brief resistance to Gen. Lucio Blanco‘s June 3-4 attack, many of its government officials and wealthy denizens bolting over the Rio Grande to adjacent Brownsville, Texas.*

But some of the young guns in town had an overdeveloped sense of heroic machismo and sold their lives dearly to postpone the inevitable.

Groups of young Matamoros men, some of them fourteen and fifteen years old, volunteered for service under irregular huertista officers. They fought stubbornly until early in the morning of June 4. A number of them were captured and executed by Blanco’s men. (Source.)

Echazarreta’s leadership of these ill-fated guerrillas saw him up against the wall this day, but also saw him into the revolution folk song about the city’s conquest, “Corrido de la toma de Matamoros”. Nor was the revolution yet finished with Matamoros, or its martial prowess.

In 1915, as the rival revolutionary factions openly broke with one another, carrancistas loyal to President (and Villa rival) Venustiano Carranza inflicted a signal defeat on Villa at Matamoros that began Villa’s march into political and literal wilderness. It’s commemorated in yet another revolutionary corrido, here sung by Jose Suarez (via the U.S. Library of Congress):

[audio:Corrido_villesta_de_la_toma_de_Matamoros.mp3]

* An interesting photo album covering this battle is available here.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Guerrillas,History,Mexico,No Formal Charge,Power,Public Executions,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions

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