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State Executions



Leadville, 29 – Frank Gilbert and Merrick Rosengrants were hanged this morning in the presence of about 7,000 people. Rosengrants declared his innocence, while Gilbert claimed self-defense. Everything went off quietly. (Salt Lake Herald, Saturday Morning, July 30, 1881, front page)


Execution of Franklin Foster and Henry Stone for the Murder of Isaac H. Augustus

Today the 24th of May, Franklin Foster, 20 years of age, born in Stoddard county, Missouri and Henry Stone, 21 years of age born in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri, both members of the 19th Missouri Cavalry, in obedience to the sentence of Judge gale, of the District Court, were executed in this city, for the murder of Isaac H. Augustus and – Sluman, near the Junction House in the Platte, about 100 miles east of this place, on January 5th, 1866. Foster has made a free and full confession of his guilty, and in it implicates Stone. Stone also made a confession, denying any connection with the murder for which he is executed, but admits his guilt of the confession of four other murders of men in the States.

All the forenoon, vehicles of all descriptions have been arriving from the country, loaded with men, women, and children, doubtless drawn here to witness the execution.

The Gallows, with all its horrid paraphernalia, was erected at the foot of the low bluff overlooking Cherry creek, near the southern boundary of the city, in plain view of standing room for thousands upon thousands of spectators. Adjoining the fatal engine of death, a platform was raised for the accommodation of the officers, clergy, and members of the press.

The Prisoners, Foster has been attended until yesterday by Rev. Mr. Potter, a Baptist minister, but at the prisoner’s request Rev. Father Macheboeuf, Catholic, was then called, and since been ministering to his spiritual welfare, until this forenoon when Rev. Mr. Clark, a Baptist clergyman was called. Rev. Mr. McClure was ministering to Stone. We are informed by Mr. Haskel, the Jailer, that they both slept soundly last night. This morning Stone ate a hearty breakfast, but Foster declined eating until consultation with his spiritual adviser.

At one o’clock the prisoners were taken from the jail in a closed carriage to the place of execution, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Bailey, Deputy U. S. Marshal Earl and Jailor Haskel. We are told that on the way they showed the utmost indifference, even joking each other upon their impending fate. They were neatly dressed in a new suit of clothes, consisting of black pants, white shirts, brown linen coats and slippers.

At The Gallos, they moved up the steps without a quivering muscle and indeed preserved the same stoical indifference until the fatal trap dropped from under them. They were accompanied to the platform by Sheriff Sopris and officers, Rova, McClure, Potter and Clark. Rev. Mr. McClure read some passage of scripture, the hymn commencing “Rock of Ages,” and addressed the Throne of grace behalf of Henry Stone, and Mr. Clark on behalf of Foster.

The following questions were asked of Foster:

Q: Do you trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, and in Him alone? Ans.: I do.

Q. Do you hope for resurrection and eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord? Ans.: I do.

Q. Do you feel that you have accepted Christ as your Savior, and die with a simple trust in his stoning blood? Ans.: I do.

Q. Do you still adhere to your published confession? Ans.: As far as made it is all true.

Questions of the same purport were propositioned to Stone, and answered in the same manner.

In reply to the questions of Rev. McClure, Stone had nothing further to say in relation to his confession.

In 4 minutes after the drop fell, the pulsations of stone were yet distinct, while those of Foster were trifle stronger than natural. In 6 minutes the heart of Stone had nearly ceased beating. In 7 minutes they were both perfectly unconscious and dying fast. In 0 minutes the straps were removed from their arms, and at 9 minutes to 2 after they had hung 17 minutes they were both pronounced death and were cut down.

There was probably not less than 3000 spectators present, who were very quiet  a more orderly and well behaved crowd was never seen together in any country. Not a loud remark or an action calculated to mar the solemnity of the occasion from any one. Lieut. Williams was on the ground with his Company, “B” of the 6th U.M., which surrounded a small space round the gallows and the space enclosing the gallows. After the prisoners were cut down the vast crowd dispersed in the same orderly manner that they had witnessed the solemn validation of the laws, which spoke volumes for the good sense and lives of law and order of our people.

Rev. Mr. Clark informs us that Foster confessed to him that he had murdered a man in Dillon, Missouri, about seventeen months since.

We hear that Stone has made another confession to his spiritual adviser, but we have been unable to see Mr. McClure since the execution to learn the truth of the matter. (Rocky Mountain News Weekly, May 30, 1866)


Royston and Abshier Are Resigned to Fate

Canon City, July 18 – Howard L. Royston and George Abshier, members of the Lamar bank robbery gang, were resigned today as they faced execution tonight at the state penitentiary. Barring a remote possibility that a reprieve might be granted at the last moment, the execution will be held sometime tonight. Their only hope for deferring the death sentence lies in willingness to tell everything they may know of unlawful enterprises in which they or the Fleagle brothers, Ralph and Jake may have engaged.

Word from the prison indicated they refused to tell officers anything concerning any crime outside of the hold up of the First National bank of Lamar in May 1928, in connection with which four men were killed. Ralph Fleagle was executed last week for his part in the Lamar robbery and Jake Fleagle is the object of a nation wide search as the fourth member of the gang.

Canon City, Colo., July 17 – Possibility that the execution of Howard L. Royston and George J. Abshier, Lamar bank bandits, would be postponed for several days arose late today when Ralph Carr, U.S. district attorney, and a postal inspector, had been closeted with the condemned pair for several hours.

Carr was understood to be trying to get the pair to “come clean,” on several holdups and robberies alleged to have been perpetrated by the Fleagle brothers and of which Carr apparently believed Royston and Abshier had knowledge.

The chance that the execution of the two would be postponed was held, however, to be only remote. Reports trickling from the conference room indicated that Royston and Abshier were playing for time in a grim game in which they held the trump cards.

The executions tentatively have been fixed for tomorrow night. (The Greeley Daily Tribune and The Greeley Republican, Friday, July 18, 1930)


Triple Hanging
The Murderers of Policeman Solomon Pay the Penalty Last Night
Canon City, June 26 – The first triple hanging in the history of Colorado occurred at 8:30 tonight when Albert Noble, Wm. Holt and Enocicio Romero, the murderers of Policeman Solomon in Trinidad paid the penalty of their crime on the gallows. The men had used every effort known to the law to escape the death penalty and when the last appeal failed them they took their fate very differently. Holt was an American 22 years old, and when he found he must die he lost never completely, even losing control of his vocal organs during the past few days.
With Noble it was different. He was an Englishman 35 years of age and the shadow of the gallows did not seem to worry him in the least.
Romero, who was a Mexican 38 years old, feared death, and sought consultation in religion.
When the critical moment arrived all three men displayed wonderful nerve and walked firmly to the death chamber. The nooses were arranged around their necks and at 8:32 the weight fell and the three men shot up in the air. There was a momentary struggle and then the bodies swung quiet. At the end of fifteen minutes the physicians pronounced the men dead and the bodies were taken down.
An autopsy showed that the neck was broken in each case and death must have been instantaneous.
The crime for which the three men suffered the death penalty was committed in the city of Trinidad one night in November 1895. The three men had planned to rob the Horse Shoe gambling house when Solomon, a policeman put in an appearance and intercepted them. The trio was armed to the teeth and when Solomon called a halt on their operations, one of the number, presumably Noble, shoved his gun into the officer’s face without a word of warning and fired, killing him instantly. They then made their escape but were afterwards run down and captured. (Aspen Daily Times, June 27, 1896, front page)


Execution at Canon
Jordan and Augusta Hanged at 8:30 o’clock Last Night
Jordan’s Courage Deserts Him
The Slayer of Foreman August Gelsin Has to Be Carried to the Execution Room – Peter Augusta Demeanor In Marked Contrast to That of His Fellow-Murderer-Sustained by Considerable Fortitude and Meets Death Philosophically – Former Executions.
Canon City, May 11 – Thomas Jordan and Peter Augusta were hanged at 8:30 o’clock tonight, the execution passing off without a hitch. All day the prison officials remained silent as to when the execution would occur, and the strictest secrecy was maintained as to the plans for the fatal moment. Up to the very last Jordan paid but little attention to anything or anybody and reiterated the assertion that he wanted either a full pardon or to be executed. In the place of the murderous and dangerous ruffian who so brutally murdered the inoffensive August Gelsin, there was a trembling shaking wretch, who, when the hour for the expiation for his crime was at hand, had to be carried to the few steps to the execution house.
Peter Augusta presented a marked contrast to his fellow murderer. While not possessing half the education of Jordan he appeared to be sustained by considerable fortitude. He talked rationally and awaited his end philosophically. He abandoned all hope of interference as was ready to meet his doom to the very last. Augusta stuck to his story of how he killed Harry Sullivan, claiming self defense, and that he went to the woman’s house where the tragedy occurred at her request. He claimed that after getting there he refused to enter, but finally yielded. When Sullivan came at him he thought he had been enticed there to be robbed, and seizing a pair of scissors killed the man in self defense.
The gallows used had previously executed the following murderers and never failed to give complete satisfaction: Aoverto Grego, November 8, 1890; James T. Joyce, January 17, 1891, William C. Davis, September 22, 1891; Charles William Smith, December 1, 1891, and Thomas Lawton, May 6, 1892. With the exception of the invited guests, the execution was in private, and all present are sworn to strict secrecy. The law which governs executions is most stringent. The penalty for divulging any of the details is a fine of from $50 to $500 and imprisonment of from thirty days to six months, or both, at the discretion of the court. The passage of this law is on account of the disgraceful scene which occurred at the public execution of Andy Greene, the negro murdered, in Denver. On that occasion the entire population of Denver turned out, and the disgraceful scenes enacted are a blot on the history of that city. (The Aspen Daily Times, Sunday Morning, May 12, 1895)


Condemned Murderers
Arnold and Andrews Curse Each Other – The Double Execution Will Take Place Some Time Tonight
Denver, June 15 – Without a suspicion of remorse Fred Arnold and Newton Andrews are in their cells at the execution house of the state penitentiary replying carelessly and even blasphemously to questions of guards, and declaring that they don’t care whether they live or die. Both have refused to listen to the spiritual advisers and turned from the advice of Chaplain Lucas to curse one another.
Warden Cleghorn of the state penitentiary has set the double hanging for tomorrow night, some time between 6 and 11 o’clock. Neither of the condemned men have been officially notified of the exact time of the execution and each believes that another reprieve is coming for him.
Tonight when the mother and wife of Arnold will reach Canon City from Greeley, the murderers will realize that all hope is over and then it is believed that they will make a written confession. They practically agree to make a confession when all hope is past. (The Aspen Daily Times, Friday Morning, June 16, 1905, front page)

Last Words Are Spoken
Fred Arnold Said He Was Not Fit to Die – The Last Sad Interview With Parents and Girl Wife
Canon City, June 16 – Goodbyes were ended and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Arnold and Frederick Arnold’s girl wife started back to Denver shortly after noon today. The last words of Arnold to his parents were: “Goodbye, papa and mamma; I will meet you in heaven, for I have never killed anybody and I don’t feel guilty.”
Canon City, June 16 – Before the streaming eyes of two women, one his mother and the other his wife, the boasted bravado of 19-year-old Frederick Arnold dissolved into a spell of weakness compared to his cursing man and his maker conduct that has characterized him since and Newton Andrews, who was placed in the death. For a moment, while in the warden’s office gazing into the agonized face of the woman who bore him into the world, this youngest and most depraved of the trio became as a little child and joined the women in prayer. It needed this touch to completed his misery. Possibly for the for the first time the enormity of the crime and the supreme penalty the court condemned him to pay, dawned upon him. He clasped the bars of his cage-like cell so tight that the veins in his hands stood out like cords. His voice, that has resounded in blasphemy throughout the corridor, became choked and gentle. “God, God,” he exclaimed once, “I am not fit to die.”
Denver, June 16 – The hanging of Frederick Arnold and Newton Andrews marks the second instance of capital punishment since 1896. In that year, Albert Ople, William Holt, and Dominco Romero were hanged for the murder of John Solomon at Trinidad. The execution of these three murderers is the only case wherein a multiple hanging took place since 1899. (The Aspen Daily Times, Saturday Morning, June 17, 1905, front page)

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