Executed Today: Two guys in Cheyenne

Another ET entry: two men were lynched on this day in 1868 in Cheyenne, Dakota Territory (it didn’t become part of the state of Wyoming till 1890). One had shot a man; the other rustled livestock. They didn’t seem to have anything to do with each other and I think it’s just a coincidence that they were both hanged on the same night.

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Executed Today: Robert Emond

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, everyone. I’ve got a new Executed Today story for you: Robert Emond, hanged on this day in Scotland in 1830.

It’s a sad and all-too-familiar story of family problems, domestic violence and a loser who finally acted out in a jealous, paranoid rage.

The state had an ironclad case, and in the end Emond itself admitted his guilt. One question remains, however: according to the evidence, Catherine Franks’s body lay in the pigsty for two days or more, and the neighbors finally found it when they came to investigate the pig’s squeals of hunger. Why did the pig not eat HER?

My latest Executed Today entries

I’ve had a few entries run recently on Executed Today that I hadn’t mentioned on this blog yet, so here goes:

  1. January 14, 1792: John Phillips hanged for robbery in Dublin, Ireland. Little is known about the case, but he would probably have been reprieved but for a little snafu with the paperwork.
  2. January 18, 1884: Maggie and Maggie Cuddigan lynched in Ouray, Colorado. They had adopted a little girl from an orphanage and proceeded to starve, neglect, maltreat and abuse her for months until she finally died.
    The outrage must have been tremendous even by lynch mob symptoms — how often do you hear of white women, particularly visibly pregnant ones, getting lynched? The dead man’s own brothers did nothing to help him, though they might have been able to stop the lynching, and afterwards, the local priest refused to perform the funeral service and none of the local cemeteries would accept their bodies.
  3. February 20, 1948: Thomas Henry McGonigle gassed in California for the 1945 murder of fourteen-year-old Thora Chamberlain.
    This was a murder-without-a-body case, one of the first in the state. (Though, after I’d already written the entry, Tad DiBiase told me it wasn’t actually THE first.) Thora is featured on Charley.
    I’m really glad they took the risk of prosecuting this. They had a very strong case, but many prosecutors wouldn’t have wanted to touch the case without Thora’s body. McGonigle was clearly a very dangerous man and sounds like a serial killer in the making if he wasn’t one already.

General stuff on my end

Some unexpected — but awesome — things have happened as a result of the Longreads article that came out a few days ago. I don’t want to say anything more because nothing may come of it.

I’m working on hammering out the dents etc. on the new website format. Right now, my priority is re-adding the cases that mysteriously vanished off the face of the earth. Then I will focus on re-adding the details of disappearance to cases where that information vanished off the face of the earth. This is a pain and is taking awhile but I shall prevail.

I have a new Executed Today entry, one I had agonized over for quite awhile and am very proud of. The reason being that the executed person was almost certainly transgender, but this all happened in the 1940s before most people knew transgender was a thing. I wanted to do right by her/him without playing down the seriousness of the crime.

Anyway, back to work.

ET: Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty was executed in Dublin on this day in 1782 for robbing a guy and stealing stuff worth £15, a small fortune in those days. What followed was a riot at the scaffold, a body-snatching and a police chase — as in, first the police were doing the chasing, then they were being chased themselves by the people they’d been chasing earlier. What fun!

In the entry I quoted from a book about executions in Dublin, noting, in part: Surgeons were regarded with suspicion as their dissections prevented families and friends of deceased felons from waking their bodies.

I realize that “waking” in this instance means “holding a wake with the bodies as per the Irish tradition” but I think the author’s choice of words was unfortunate. It sounds like they were trying to wake the dead person back up.

My mom, who’s a bit of of a Hibernophile, says the reason wakes were so popular in Ireland is cause the British curtailed freedom of assembly, and a wake was one of the few events where Irish people could gather without risk of arrest.

ET: Margaret Savage

I’ve got an Executed Today entry for today about armed robber Margaret Savage, who was hanged in Dublin, Ireland on this day in 1787. She was one of the many victims of the UK’s Bloody Code, which levied the death penalty for all the manner of minor offenses that would have been punished with probation or a fine today. The idea seems to have been “the easier it is to commit a crime, the more harshly it should be punished.” It didn’t work.

(And before any of you tell me that Dublin isn’t in the UK, it was back then.)