1898: James Fleming Parker

Add comment June 3rd, 2016 Headsman

This morning in 1898 — allegedly after enjoying the company of an obliging prostitute during the preceding night as a favor from the sheriff, a childhood friend* — James Fleming Parker hanged on Courthouse Square in Prescott, Arizona.

An effective tort lawyer would have saved Parker from his untimely end, for his path to the gallows began when he lost a prized horse struck by an Atlantic and Pacific train and the railroad — spiraling towards bankruptcy in the wake of the Panic of 1893 — came up with only the most niggardly award.

Incensed, Parker went and got his the old-fashioned way: by sticking up an A&P train.

A few things went wrong.

For one, Parker botched the heist and had to flee the iron horse with an underwhelming haul, a dead confederate in his wake.

For another, he’d been recognized and was arrested a week later after a chase through the Arizona wilderness.

And finally, he decided to double his bad bet by leading a jailbreak while awaiting trial — in the course of which he fatally shotgunned a deputy district attorney who had responded to the hue and cry. Parker was lucky to end up in the clutches of that friendly sheriff instead of lynched to the nearest trestle or telegraph pole by an angry posse, but the upshot was the same.

Last sentiment, according to the Tombstone Epitaph** (June 5, 1898):

I have not much to say; I claim I am getting something that ain’t due me; but everyone who is going to be hung says the same thing, so that cuts no figure. Whenever people say I have to go, I am one that can go.

And then he went.

* If so, this last communion followed hours after Parker’s conversion to Catholicism.

** Really.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Arizona,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Murder,USA

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1903: Hilario Hidalgo and Francisco Renteria

2 comments July 31st, 2010 Headsman

Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my Administration and to me, as your Governor and as a citizen.

Statement (pdf) by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on signing the anti-immigration law, which went into effect July 29, 2010

Some stories are just plain classics.

In February 1903, two Mexicans shot up Goddard Station stagecoach stop, for motivations that were never plain. (There was no robbery, but it might have been revenge.)

The shooters got away, but law enforcement soon enough decided that a couple of railroad workers on the Mexican side of the border matched their description, and contrived to lure them into Arizona where they could be arrested.

Hilario Hidalgo and Francisco Renteria, were put on trial for their lives in Prescott, Ariz., in June 1903, where they were doomed to hang on the strength of eyewitness testimony and thirty minutes of the jurymen’s time. Appeals forbidden, the sentence was executed on this date — not six months after the crime.

With feelings of profound regret and sorrow, I hereby invite you to attend and witness the private and decent and humane execution of two human beings, namely: Richard Roe and John Doe. Crime — Murder.

Said men will be executed on July 31, 1903 at 12 noon. You are expected to deport yourself in a respectful manner and any flippant or unseemly language or conduct on your part will not be allowed. Conduct on anyone’s part bordering on ribaldry and tending to mar the solemnity of the occasion will not be tolerated.

-Sheriff’s invitation to the hanging, quoted in Frontier Justice in the Wild West: Bungled, Bizarre, and Fascinating Executions

The men cracked wise at the reading of their death warrant — “I have heard that repeated so often that if it was a song I would sing it to you,” reported the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 1, 1903) — and with “perfect nerve” checked out, calling only “Adios! Adios!” from the scaffold.

It was the last hanging in Prescott, Ariz.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arizona,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Mexico,Murder,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,USA

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