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1895: Florence English and Amanda Cody

On this date in 1895, Amanda (Mandy) Cody became the first woman hanged in Georgia’s Warren County when she died with her (male) lover Florence English for murdering Cody’s husband, Cicero and dumping his body in a swamp.

According to The Penalty is Death: U.S. Newspaper Coverage of Women’s Executions (citing the Atlanta Constitution), they were all set to get away with it until English told his mother and “to the surprise of all, [she] told it to the white people living near.”

To credit the New York Times (Nov. 23), they went to the gallows in a rhapsodic religious transport.

SANG HYMNS WHILE BEING EXECUTED

A Negro Man and Woman Continued Their Melody Until the Drop fell.

WARRENTON, Ga., Nov. 22. — Florence English, twenty years old, and Mandy Cody, both colored, were executed here to-day for the murder of the latter’s husband. They died in the ecstacy of religious enthusiasm.

A trio of colored ministers held a prayer meeting in the corridor of the jail during the early morning. The prisoners at times mingled their supplications with those of the preachers, producing intense excitement. The culprits stood in the midst of the visitors, swaying their bodies to and fro, singing plaintive melodies characteristic of the black race.

Shortly before noon the prisoners marched from their cells to the scaffold. As they stepped on the platform both commenced singing an old negro camp meeting melody, “We’ll Soon Be on the Way to Heaven.” While their hands and feet were being pinioned, the murderers still continued the hymn.

They refused to make a statement. The black caps were then drawn over their faces, the hymn still being sung with renewed vigor. When the trap was sprung they were still singing.