1909: C.Y. Timmons

Add comment February 26th, 2013 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

Minutes after midnight on this date in 1909, an Oregon plasterer named C.Y. Timmons was hanged at the state prison in Salem, Oregon for the murder of Estella, his wife of two years.

On October 21 the previous year, he had put an ax in the back of her head, slit her throat from ear to ear with a straight razor and then attempted to take his own life with the same razor. The two were discovered by the neighbors at 7:30 the next morning when a partially unclothed C.Y. came knocking on their door, “covered in blood from head to foot.”

C.Y.’s wound, as R. Michael Wilson explains in his accounting of the case in Legal Executions After Statehood in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, was serious but not fatal, and it responded to medical treatment: “The gash had missed the veins and arteries but had severed the trachea, but it had sealed and prevented him from drowning in his own blood.”

Timmons quickly regained his ability to speak and told authorities Estella had cut his throat while he was sleeping. He grabbed the razor from her hand, slit her throat in self-defense, and then finished her off with an ax. Then he lay down and waited until dawn before he went and asked for help.

The truth came out, however, and at his trial in mid-January 1909, C.Y. admitted that he’d gone round the bend with jealousy over his younger wife’s* affair with one Robert Hornbuckle. C.Y. and Estella had been quarreling for a long time about her relationship with Hornbuckle. Only the day before the murder, the couple had met with an attorney to procure a divorce — a drastic measure in that day and age.

During the meeting, Estella told the lawyer that her husband had a violent temper, especially when he had been drinking, and that he had threatened her life on numerous occasions.

C.Y. apparently believed his victim’s alleged infidelity would outrage the jury into acquitting him. Not so; they deliberated a whopping 35 minutes before finding him guilty. C.Y. broke down in tears when the verdict was read. And, for what it’s worth, all evidence indicates that Estella’s “affair” with Hornbuckle existed only in her husband’s imagination.

C.Y.’s hanging was as gruesome as his crime, as Wilson records:

[A]t 12:31 p.m., the trap was sprung and Timmons dropped six feet, one inch. The force of the drop caused the neck wound to open and for some time the hanging figure breathed through the gaping wound beneath the rope, and the body was drenched with blood. The attending physicians differed on whether Timmons’ neck was broken in the fall, but later examination proved that the vertebrae had been dislocated. This complication, breathing through the open wound, prevented pronouncement of death until 12:54 p.m., and the body was allowed to hang another seven minutes to ensure he was dead.

The murderer was buried separately from his victim, at the Lee Mission Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

* Her age was given in different accounts as either 19 or 21; C.Y. Was 37. Another pathetic detail to her tragic life: Estella was an orphan, raised in an orphanage after her parents both died of tuberculosis.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,Murder,Oregon,Other Voices,Sex,USA

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1882: Ham Yeatts

Add comment August 4th, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1882, William Hamilton “Ham” Yeatts was hanged in Chatham, Va., for the murder of his friend Pressley Adkerson.

When a fellow lures you to a deserted stretch of rural train-track and pops a cap in your head, it’s a given that he’s nursing some manner of grievance.

In the case of Ham Yeatts, that grievance is said to have been a rivalry with Pressley Adkerson — really, we couldn’t make these names up — over the affections of the local knockout, Fanny Rorer. This here page claims that Yeatts, having just wed the girl, was aghast to discover that his friend had deflowered her premaritally.

But we take note of this report of the hanging in the Richmond Daily Dispatch to the effect that the provocation was merely the victim’s nasty prophecy that Yeatts was liable to end up in a penitentiary, the stronger cuckolding allegation arising as the doomed youth made a desperate play for clemency.

Yeatts’s hanging was delayed by a week when he raised these claims of offended manhood — resulting in a bid on his life by a lynch mob, “defeated of their laudable ambition by the alertness of the guards”* — but it was all to no avail.

He requested that he be executed in a blue flannel suit, and that his body be encased in a metallic coffin with a glass face and be placed in an upright position in a cemented grave with steps leading down into it so that those who wished to see him “lying in state” could do so.

So … add vanity to wrath, envy, and lust on Ham’s cardinal sins register.

After the execution the crowd turned their attention to the circus, which had just entered the town, and Yeatts and his crime were for the time forgotten.


Though sometimes described as the last hanging in Pittsylvania County, it apparently wasn’t.

Yeatts was only one of four men hanged in various places around the U.S. that August 4, as the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle described in its next day’s edition …

FERNANDINA, Fla., August 4. — Merrick Jackson, colored, was hanged here to-day, at 1 o’clock, p.m. He murdered a colored boy, named John Thomas, near King’s Ferry, on November 19, 1881. On the scaffold he offered up a prayer, and thanked the Sisters of Charity for their kindness to him. He met his fate with composure. He died by strangulation.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., August 4. — Harrison Carter, colored, who murdered Lewis Adams, colored, at Baldwin, in this county, on January 6, 1882, was executed in the ail hard here to-day.

MOBILE [Ala.], August 4. — Armand Coleman, colored, was hanged, to-day, at West Point, Miss., for the murder of Georgia Bright, on May 13, 1880. He was sentenced to be hanged on May 4, 1881, and the case was carried to the Supreme Court, where he was resentenced, but respited by the Governor till to-day. Three thousand persons were present, a large number of whom were negro women. The prisoner ascended the scaffold with a firm step, smiling pleasantly. He said he was willing to go and trusted in God. He denied his guilt to the last.

It was not all the hangman’s day, however. Louisiana Gov. John McEnery respited the scheduled August 4 execution of Jack Chapman in Bossier parish. (Chapman still hanged, on September 22.)

* The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Ill.), July 31, 1882.

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

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