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JENNINGS COUNTY, INDIANA

State Executions

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NAME OCCUPATION CRIME METHOD DATE COUNTY
Sage, George
murder/burglary hanging 25May1866 Jennings

GEORGE SAGE

Indianapolis New (Indianapolis, Marion County, IN) 26 May 1866
THE GALLOWS
EXCITEMENT IN JENNINGS COUNTY
A MURDERER HUNG
GREAT CROWD IN ATTENDANCE
HE DIES GAME

At thirty-five minutes past one yesterday afternoon, in Vernon, Jennings county, George W. Sage paid with his life the penalty of an atrocious crime.

On the 17th of March last, this man Sage went to the house of his near neighbor, William Todd, eleven miles south of Vernon, and finding that both Mr. and Mrs. Todd were away, robbed the house, and in cold blood attempted to murder the three children there, two little girls aged respectively six and nine years, and a little boy not two years old. He beat their heads with a brick until he deemed his slaughter of the innocents complete, and then deliberately walked off about after a mile to where his cousin was building a house, and there engaged in a pleasant chat with some of his acquaintances, until he was arrested on suspicion of having committed the horrid crime.

The two elder children recovered from their injuries; the youngest, Willie F.G. Todd never recovered from the injuries received. Sage was arrested, tried before Judge Berkshire, in the circuit court of Jennings county, about the 20th of March, found guilty and condemned to be hanged, which sentence was carried into execution yesterday.

THE CRIMINAL
Sage was a man thirty-five years of age, and about five feet ten inches in height. While by no means an intellectual man, his appearance did not indicate that lack of intelligence which has been atrributed to perpetrate a crime of such magnitude. The first impressions conveyed by a hasty glance would be those of a man of no decided character, weak and vaccillating in purpose, but not decidedly bad.

THE CROWD
From all points of the compass the people poured out in dense masses to be present at the execution. Although it was understood the execution was to be private, such is the morbid feeling of curiosity on these occasions that thousands assembled for the bare purpose of being present in the town at the town of the execution. From early dawn they began coming, on foot and on horseback, in all sorts of conveyances. Far down the roads could be seen long lines of buggles, wagons and troops of riders hurrying frantically, to the show.

THE GALLOWS
The gallows was a most admirably constructed engine, erected under the supervision of Sheriff Dickson. It was situated in the court house yard, and was surrounded by a high enclosure of rough boards, which shut out the tragedy form the sight of the eager crowd.

THE EXECUTION
Sage is reported to have slept well, eaten his last breakfast with a good appetite, and conversed cheerfully with those about him. He was led from his cell under strong guard, accompanied by his spiritual adviser and the Sheriff. At his appearance the excitement among the vast crowd of spectators was almost uncontrollable. The masses surged too and fro, in the endeavor to get a look at the criminal. Women scrambled and fought for good positions, and fathers held up their children that they might see the doomed man. He walked with head erect and eyes straight in front, looking neither to the right nor the left, to the place of execution, entered the enclosure, and mounted the gallows with a firm step.

HE MAKES A SPEECH

On the scaffold, Sage made a short speech, in a cool and collected manner, with no perceptible tremor in his voice. He protested his  innocence of any premeditated murder, but admitted he had gone to Mr. Todd's to rob him. He wanted the money to make a payment on some land purchased in Illinois, which was about to be forfeited. The little children caught him in the act, and he thought he must kill them to insure his own safety. He repented of what he had done, and hoped in meet everybody in heaven.

THE FALL OF THE DROP
The last consolations administered to the wretched man, at thirty-five minutes past one o'clock the drop was sprung. A dull, sickening thud was heard as the rope arrested the body in its downward fall of five feet, and the body of George W. Sage hung dangling in the air. The neck was evidently broken by the fall, as there was not violent struggling, only a slight muscular contraction visible. After hanging for about fifteen minutes, the body was examined, pronounced dead, cut down and delivered to the wretched father, who was in waiting outside.



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