Mitchell Anderson - A Choctaw Boy Executed
A Seventeen Year Old Boy Executed in Choctaw Fashion for Murder
Fort Smith, Ark., May 7 - Mitchell Anderson, a Choctaw Indian, seventeen years old was yesterday executed according
to the custom of that Nation for the murder of another boy named Winchester, last summer. Anderson was convicted
in court of the Marshalatubbel district and was sentenced in February. He shot Winchester while the latter was
passing a lonely road, then horribly mutilated the body and secured $15. The condemned youth was seated upon a
blanket in an open place with a piece of white paper over his heart; the executioner knelt before him and with
one shot killed him. Anderson denied the killing until within the last few days. (The Abilene Reflector, May 14,
1885, page 2)
An Indian Execution
Fort Smith, Ark., May 7 - Mitchell Anderson, a Choctaw Indian 17 years old was yesterday executed according to
the custom of that nation for the murder of another Choctaw boy named Winchester last summer. Anderson was convicted
in the court of the Wosholatubbee district and was sentenced in February he shot Winchester while the latter was
passing along a lonely road, then terribly mutilated the body and secured $15. The condemned youth was seated on
a blanket in an open place with a piece of white paper pinned over his heart with the executioner knelt before
him and with one shot killed him. Anderson, denied the killing until within the last few days when the decision
reached by the supreme judge convinced him there was no hope, when he acknowledged and said his father was the
instigator. (The Waco Daily Examiner, May 8, 1885, front page)
Mitchell Anderson, a Choctaw boy aged 17, was executed in that nation Wednesday the 6th for
the crime of murder. He killed another Choctaw named Winchester last summer and robbed him of fifteen dollars.
(Indian Chiefain, May 14, 1885, page 3)
Mitchell Anderson, a Choctaw Indian, seventeen years old, was recently executed at Ft. Smith,
Ark., for the murder of another boy named Winchester, last summer. According to Choctaw custom, Anderson was shot
by the executioner through the heart. (The Abilene Reflector, May 14, 1885, page 2)
Jim Bird - A Negro Fired into a Number of Men - J. W. McKivey Shot in the Eyes and Young
Martin in the Face is Still at Large - Tuesday night a party of seven white men from Mira started to the house
of Jim Bird, a negro owning and cultivating a small farm. Bird had recently had a dispute with mr. dominick, a
merchant at Mira, over a settlement of an account. During the affray which followed, Mr. Dominick was beaten by
Bird, against whom there was filed a warrant for assault. When near Bird's house five of the party halted near
a gate while McKivey and young Martin advanced and called to Bird to come out. Bird doubtless was anticipating
this call, and as he opened the door of his house he fired deliberately at the two men named. McKivey who was a
clerk of Dominick, was shot in the eyes, and young Martin received a shot near the left eye which fortunately is
not serious. It is feared that McKivey will lose his sight altogether. He is at the Sanitarium under treatment.
After Bird had fired, the part of five dispersed and left McKivey and Martin on the field.
McKivey was helpless. Martin however, fired into the house until he had exhausted his ammunition. When the party
of five returned and related what had occurred people from Mira and Rodessa and the vicinity were summoned, but
when they reached Bird's house Bird had skipped and eluded his pursuers by crossing into Arkansas. Before leaving
his house, Bird went on outside where he saw McKivey who had crawled there for shelter. He was almost frozen. Bird
threatened to blow out his brains and left him after kicking him several times. Bird is said to be a daring and
fearless negro. He was well armed and determined on resistance to the death when he left his home.
As soon as the sheriff's office was apprised of the trouble, Deputy Nicholson hurried to
the scene, but he was too late to secure Bird. There was no undue excitement nor threats or attempts at lynchings
as reported, as there was no one to lynh. (The Caucasian, January 19, 1905)
TOM PONASKA EXECUTED
Tom Ponaska, a Creek Indian, was executed for murder by shooting. He sat calmly on his coffin
and looked into the barrels of the two guns airmed at him. (The evening Bulletin, October 11, 1893)
JOE DICK LEGALLY SHOT FOR THE MURDER OF THOMAS GRAY
Eupaula, Ind. Ter., Feb. 19 – Joe Dick, the murderer of
Thomas Gray, was executed yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock at the Eufaula court
house, seven miles west of this place. Just before going out to be executed
Dick confessed to his attorney, Burnie MacIntosh, to having killed Gray. He
then walked calmly to the place, removed his coat, and after having his hands tied
behind him and his feet manacled, sat down at the foot of a tree to await the
fatal shot. Light Horseman John Hawkins was the executioner. Two balls were
fired into Dick’s breast, and with a groan he fell back and died in seven
minutes. Only a few people witnessed the execution. (The Manchester Journal,
Thursday, February 22, 1894, page 2)
Joe Dick, a Creek murderer, was executed at Eufaula court
house last Friday for the murder of Thomas Gray, an enemy who he shot to death
where the latter was at work in a field. (The Indian Chieftain, Thursday,
February 22, 1894, page 3)
THREE EXECUTIONS IN STATE PRISON
Wigger, Bruster and O’Neil Pay Extreme Penalty for Murders
State Prison, McAlester, Okla., June 29 – Three men, Walter
Wigger, white man, and Willie O’Neil and Theodore Bruster, negroes, were
electrocuted for murder here soon after midnight this morning.
Wigger was the first to go, the 2,300 volt charge being
applied to his body at 12:09 and again at 12:21. He was pronounced dead at
O’Neil was the third to die. The switch being pulled at
12:26 and his death announced at 12:33.
Wigger, who was sentenced to death for the murder of his
sweetheart, Mrs. Ruth Harris, 19 years old, whose throat he slashed two years
ago at Picher, Okla., in jealousy, entered the execution room nonchalantly,
smoking a cigarette, at 12:06 a.m. His deep set blue eyes blazed in his white
face when standing before the chair he was asked by the warden if he had
anything to say.
“I ain’t got nothing to say to these people,” he exclaimed
angrily, looking at the newspaper men. “They’ve done published enough about me.
I ask you not have them here.”
The straps were fastened about his writs and bare left
ankle, the cap adjusted and the leather mask extinguished the cigarette which
he had dropped from his lips.
“You are choking me,” he said, and when the executioner,
Rich Owens, moved towards the switch a few paces behind him, “I hold nothing
against you, my boy.”
Owens pulled the switch. Wigger was dead. His body was
removed on a stretcher.
Three minutes later, Bruster entered, a slight negro who
walked lightly to the chair, in which a moment later he was to die for the
killing of William Heenan, Muskogee merchant, in a robbery. Again the query as
to whether he had anything to say.
“No, sir,” said Buster, “I haven’t.”
Two charges of electricity were necessary to satisfy the
physician he was dead. A moment later his body was lifted from the chair and
conveyed by negro trustees, away down the whitwashed corridors of the basement.
O’Neil entered at 12:25. He stood erect before the chair and
asked if he wished to make a statement, said in an even voice, “I wish
everybody good luck.” As the cap was placed on his shaved head, he smiled. The
charge was applied. He had expiated the murder of Mark Hipscher, street car
conductor at Oklahoma City.
It was all very methodical. At 11:15 the warden read the
condemned men their death warrant. At midnight he assembled the witnesses,
spectators and newspapermen in his office to tell them that Wigger would die
first, followed by Bruster and then O’Neil. Through several barred gates of the
prison interior he led the way to the death room.
The spectators were seated facing an iron grating behind
which was the chair. On either side of it, were the official witnesses, the
half dozen physicians, warden and the executioner. A moment later, Wigger
entered, died, and his body was removed. All three executions occupied less
than half an hour.
While the current was being applied the warden stood near
the front of the cage. The executioner worked a small wheel on a switch board
behind the chair, with a hand skilled by electrocution of eight other
The prisoners were clothed in light black prison made suits,
the left legs of which were slashed to make possible adjustments of electrodes
to the calves.
Their black coats were buttoned over white shirts, opened at
the throat. Their heads were shaven.
The prison was silent, aware, Dr. Newell said, through the
secret channels known to prisons of the approach and passing of the execution.
Only a few trusties clustered in the window of the kitchen,
saw the witnesses file through the courtyard to the basement door, toward the
execution room. (The Ada Evening News, Friday, June 29, 1928, front page and
TWO BROTHERS TO BE CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
Highway Robbery Charges to be Placed Against E. F. Hembree
and A. Y Hembree
Both Brothers Had Been Convicted of Other Crimes, Records
Gainesville, Texas, March 12 – Preparations were made here
today for an operation upon Miss Leota Bosley for the removal of a bullet fired
by one of two robbers Sunday night as she was riding with a companion near
Her escort Chad Thurman, beaten and robbed by the men,
accompanied her here from a hospital at Duncan, Okla., last night. He denied
having identified two men held in jail there as the robbers. His home was in
Duncan, March 12, - County Attorney S. H. Singleton said he
would file charges of criminal assault and highway robbery late today against
E. F. Hembree, 39, and A. Y. Hembree, 23, brothers in connection with the
shooting of Leona Bosley, school teacher at Loco, Sunday night, and an attack
Singleton said the elder Hembree was convicted of murder and
robbery at Antlers several years ago and pardoned by former Gov. J. C. Walton.
A. Y. Hembree was convicted here of automobile theft a few years ago.
E. F. Hembree said he was running a “whiskey route” between
Grady and Stephens counties. Both men said they were near Loco Sunday, but that
they reached Bailey, their home, about 8 o’clock Sunday night.
Pieces of a broken windshield and bumper found near the
scene of the attack fitted the car one of the suspects was driving, Singleton
Oklahoma City, March 12 – Records of the state pardon and
parole office show that Edward Hembree, an Indian, was committed to the state
penitentiary at McAlester in November, 1915, to serve a life sentence for
murder on a conviction in Pushmataha county. He was paroled in September 1921,
and received a full pardon in September 1923. J. C. Walton was governor at the
time the pardon was granted. (The Daily Ardmorite, Wednesday, March 12, 1930,
E. S. HEMBREE DIES IN CHAIR
Choctaw Indian Pays Penalty For Attack on Loco School
M’Alester, April 17 – E. S. (Choc) Hembree died in the
electric chair early today in keeping with the stoicism credited to his race.
Four minutes after being strapped into the death chair, to
which he walked calmly, the 34 year old Choctaw Indian had paid his penalty for
criminally attacking and shooting Leota Bosley, 23 year old school teacher of
Loco, 13 months ago.
Just before the death helmet was placed over his head and
face, Hembree smiled at the 50 men who witnessed the execution, then waved
farewell with his left arm before it was strapped to the chair. The smile
seemed somewhat forced, and as the helmet slipped over his face he appeared to
grit his teeth and steel himself for the electric shock.
Before walking to the death chair, Hembree had shaken hands
with 14 men in the room, including state penitentiary officials, doctors,
official witnesses and the prison chaplain. Just before seating himself in the
chair he reached over the back of it and shook hands with the state’s executioner.
Asked by the Warden Sam Brown if he had anything to say,
Hembree’s only words were “I appreciate all the favors you have done for me,”
he hesitated and then added, “that is about all.”
He was pronounced dead by the attending doctors at 12:11
Did Not Relent
Hembree went to his death without saying anything to
indicate he had relented in his bitterness toward his younger brother A. Y.
Hembree who had escaped with a 25 year prison sentence for his part in the
attack upon the young school teacher.
Free on a $25,000 bond pending appeal of his sentence the
younger brother was with other members of the family in a cottage near the
prison grounds during the execution.
The doomed man in his last hours expressed bitterness
towards his brother because he hadn’t done his part. Their father explained
that the younger brother had let Choc take the rap.
During his last hours, Hembree prepared several statements
for delivery to his family after the execution. One of his last requests was
that the Bible presented him by the prison chaplain be presented to his mother,
who had fought until the last hours to save her son. Hembree’s wife and two
small daughters with his parents during the execution, also had sought to avert
the death penalty by appealing to Governor Murray.
Hembree at the time of the criminal attack against the woman
school teacher was a farmer in Stephens County, in Southern Oklahoma. He
previously had been pardoned from another murder conviction. (The Daily
Ardmoreite, April 17, 1931, front page & page 2, Friday)
Tom Guest Gets New Reprieve
Governor Holloway Grants Until July 17 to Man Scheduled to
Oklahoma City, June 2 – Governor Holloway today issued a
reprieve until July 17 for Tom Guest, whose execution had been scheduled for
It was Guest’s fourth reprieve since he entered death row at
the McAlester penitentiary in December 1927.
Both Guest and Claude Hager were scheduled for execution
Friday and the latter also received a reprieve until July 17. Guest was
convicted for the murder of Baily Browder, Asher druggist and Hager for the
murder of Walter Harp in Ottawa county. (The Daily Ardmoreite, Monday, June 2,
1930, front page)
Alienist Board Gives Findings
Two in Death Row Declared Insane, Another Under Observation
Oklahoma City, Feb. 15 – George Call, convicted of murder,
and Dave Brown, convicted of robbery, are insane, a board of alienists, who
examined eight men in death row at the state penitentiary, reported to Governor
Henry S. Johnston.
Joseph Hubka, convicted of killing Joe Novotny, his brother
in law, at Tonkawa, is under observation and no report will be made on him at
the present time, the report said.
Dr. O. O. Hammonds, state health commissioner; Dr. F. M.
Adams, superintendent of the eastern Oklahoma hospital at Vinita and Dr. D. W.
Griffin, superintendent of the Central State hospital, at Norman, made up the
board, which examined the eight men.
Call, who is 26 years old, was convicted in Pittsburg
county, and Brown was convicted in Alfalfa county. Both were sentenced to die
in the electric chair.
Brown’s condition was described as “chronic insanity.”
Those held to be sane were Walter Wigger, 30, convicted in
Ottawa county for murder of his sweetheart; Marion Jewell, 32, convicted in
Delaware county; Tom Guest, 45, convicted in Pottawatomie county; Theodore
Bruster, 21, negro, convicted in Muskogee county and Willie O’Neil, negro,
convicted in Oklahoma county. (Ada Weekly News, February 22, 1928, front page)
March 9 Designated for O’Neal Execution
Oklahoma City, Feb. 17 – Of the eight men in death row at
the state penitentiary, electrocution had been set for only one, a check of the
status of the condemned men showed Thursday.
Willie O’Neal, negro, is scheduled to die in the electric
chair March 9. He was convicted in Oklahoma County for the murder of Mark
Hipsher, street car motorman. His conviction has been affirmed by the criminal
court of appeals and the sanity board in its report yesterday held he was sane.
Date for the electrocution of Walter Wigger has not been
set. Wigger was sentenced to death for the killing of his sweetheart, Mrs. Ruth
Harris, at Miami.
Those who have appeals pending in the criminal court of
appeals are Tom Guest, Marion Jewell, Joe Hubka, George Call, Dave Brown and
Theodore Bruster, negro. (Ada Weekly News, February 22, 1928, front page)
Holloway Grants Stay to Hager on Eve of Execution
Orders Sixty-Day Reprieve to Permit Study of Companion’s
Belated Murder Confession
Investigator Says He Believes Moore
Serious Doubts Raised by Inquiry, Governor Says; Two Others
to Go to Chair Tonight
Oklahoma City, July 16 – Gov. W. J. Holloway today issued a
60 day reprieve for Claude Hager, sentenced to die tonight for the murder of
Walter Harp, Ulysses, Kas., farmer. The governor declined to stay the
executions of Tom Guest and Edward Forest, also condemned to die shortly after
The governor reprieved Hager to permit further study of a
last minute confession of Elmer Moore, 22, serving a life sentence in the same
killing, exonerating Hager. An investigator sent to the penitentiary by the
governor reported he believed Moore’s story was true.
Guest was convicted of the murder of Bailey Browder,
druggist at Asher, who was killed when he offered resistance to robbers
following the looting of an Asher bank.
Forrest, a Negro, was sentenced to death for an assault on a
white woman in Stephens county in 1928.
I have caused an investigation of Moore’s statement and the
result has raised such serious doubts in my mind as to some of the
circumstances of the killing that it is my duty to make further inquiry into
the case, the governor said.
I am therefore granting Hager a 60 day reprieve. Hager was
convicted largely upon the testimony of Moore. About two-thirds of that
testimony is different, as Moore now tells the story. I cannot let Hager die
without pursuing the investigation to the end.
As to Forrest and Guest I will not interfere with the
judgments of the courts and the executions will take place tonight.
Death Watch Placed
The death watch was placed last night; all of the men were
eager to learn of possible last minute action on the governor’s part; all said
they were ready to “go down.”
E. P. Hill, pardon and parole attorney, studied records in
cases of each of the three men and reported to the governor. No recommendations
were made, it was said.
Governor Holloway was asked today why Mrs. Ethel Harp sister
in law of the man slain in April 1928 had not been questioned concerning the
murder. She was seated in the front seat of an automobile when Harp was fatally
slugged. Moore and Hager were in the rear seat.
Mrs. Harp also was rendered unconscious from a blow on the
head, but not until after Harp had been beaten. Both were dragged into a field,
where Harp died.
The three men sparred with guards on the death watch
throughout the daylight hours Wednesday.
Hager Not Yet Informed
McAlester, Okla., July 16 – When informed he had been given
a reprieve Claude Hager’s face broke into smiles and he offered to divide his
chicken dinner with the warden.
“Like chicken?” asked Hager of the warden when informed of
the reprieve. It’s mighty good and it’ll taste better now too.
The warden declined. Hager’s face then broke into broad
smiles and traces of tears were shown in his eyes.
I’m sure glad to hear it, he said. I thought all along the
governor would do something.
Guest was eating his chicken in a nearby cell when told of
Hager’s reprieve. He said nothing about being mentioned for clemency.
Well I’m glad he got it, he said. It will help him along. I’ve
got several of those myself.
Forrest, the negro, when informed of the reprieve said That’s
good. I’m glad. I may get one of them myself.
The warden said he would not inform the other two men they
had been refused clemency. Their heads will be shaved early tonight and they
will be dressed in civilian clothes in preparation for the execution.
The Rev. W. B. Ailstock, prison chaplain, will be with the
men most of the time until the hour of doom. The chaplain said the Negro had
accepted Jesus Christ.
Back in Death Row
Hager again was placed back in death row after word of the reprieve
had been received. He was in a cell about 1,200 feet from the death cell, where
he spent last night.
Prison barbers this afternoon shaved the heads of Guest and
Forrest. Other preparations were under way for the double execution at
The prison electricians during the day tested the chair and
its connections. The hum of the motors was plainly heard throughout most of the
Guest and Forrest today were in cells only 25 feet from the
Hager early in the morning greeted an Associated Press
correspondent cheerfully although not yet informed of his reprieve.
There is a chance to the last hour, Hager said. I know that
Elmer Moore who was in the murder case with me should have made his declaration
before the criminal court of appeals passed on my case. Then it would have been
He made this statement while placing his order for lunch,
which was to be served to the three condemned men in their death cells. He
I never was any more ready to go. If that reprieve does not
come from the governor, I’ll go down, but I’ll die innocent. It will be the
At that time Warden Newell was in receipt of only unofficial
news of the 60 day stay of execution. Hager had written a letter to his
brother, George Hager, a vegetable peddler at Dallas Texas asking him to spare
the expense of another trip here.
Tom Guest will go to his death with sealed lips if he
carries out intentions expressed to visitors this morning. He said, If I were
to tell you what I’d like to, no newspaper would publish it. He is cheerful and
keen-eyed today but resentful of failure to obtain clemency.
Negro Appears Nervous
James Edward Forrest youthful Negro who will be executed
tonight appeared nervous and ill at case today. He smiled blandly, but
indicated he was afraid of death. His last letter written to his mammy was one
of regrets. He held no hope of clemency but declared:
I would never let anything like this happen again if I was
given a chance to live. I believe that as much as I have suffered in this here
death row, over this scape I got into, a life term in prison would serve
everybody just as well as my death tonight will.
His eyes carried a look of horror as he spoke to the
approaching march to the death chair. He was busy writing out his order for
dinner. This he handed to an official assigned on the death watch. He asked
that fried chicken, cake and ice cream be included in his menu.
Both Hager and Guest asked that their dinners be served with
the same, with soda pop for the three. (Miami Daily News Record, front page and
page 6, July 16, 1930)
Guest and Negro Go Smiling to Deaths in Chair
I’m Going Home, Young Forrest Calmly Replies to Warden’s
Question as Straps are Adjusted
Slayer Winks at Reporter in Room
Bandit Helps Attendants Adjust Electrodes and Comments on
Nice Treatment in Prison
McAlester, Okla., July 17 – Two men, a white bank robber and
a Negro violator of a white woman, expiated their crimes today in the electric
chair at the state penitentiary here.
Solaced by acceptance of religious faith, both men walked to
their doom as calmly as though they had been approaching a dinner table.
Tom Guest, who killed a man during a robbery of the bank at
Asher, went to the chair smiling a few minutes after the surging current had
taken the life of Edward Forrest, 22 year old Negro, convicted of assaulting a
farm wife near Comanche, Stephens county, two years ago.
Negro “Ready to Go”
The death march started exactly at midnight. Smiling the
Negro was escorted toward the lethal chair. He hitched at his trousers and
looked about him.
Boy have you any last words? Asked Warden J. Q Newell as the
straps were adjusted.
I’m prepared to go, replied the Negro clearly. It’s gonna be
a great day when we meet the Father over yonder and I hope to see all you men
over there. I’m goin’ home.
At 12:05, Rich Owen, official executioner threw the switch.
Forrest was pronounced dead at 12:08 a.m.
Guest, once reputed to be the most dangerous man in the
Seminole oil fields, entered the death chamber casually and smiled into the
tense faces of the spectators.
Howday, is Guest’s greeting
Howdy gentlemen, he greeted them before Warden Newell could
ask for last words. I’ve been treated very nicely since brought here. Reverend
Ailstock (the chaplain) has been very nice to me. I want to say that I’m facing
some men out there (indicating the crowd on the outside of the steel wire
enclosure) and I believe that I am better and purer hearted than some of them.
With that Guest seated himself in the chair. W. B. Ailstock,
chaplain said Guest had repented about an hour before.
Helped Adjust Straps
The condemned man seemed interested in helping the
attendants adjust the leather bands, the electrode on his bare leg and metal
cap on his shaven head.
He smiled and winked at a reporter.
Owen threw the switch at 12:13 a.m. and at 12:15 Guest was
It was almost three years ago that Guest was awakened in the
Pottawatomie county jail at Tecumisch to be told he was condemned to die.
I’m rough enough to stand it, he muttered as he rolled over
on his cot.
Many Visitors Barred
Many would be visitors were turned back at the gates;
several women were denied passes to witness the execution, it being against the
Claude (Blackie) Hager, convicted of murder of Walter Harp
in Ottawa county missed the midnight special by a scant 14 hours. He received a
last minute reprieve from Gov. W. J. Holloway who postponed his execution for
60 days to investigate further the confession of Elmer Moore, 22, taking full
responsibility for the crime.
In electrocuting Guest and Forrest in the early hours of
Thursday, the state departed from a custom that has been usually followed in
many states, that of inflicting capital punishment on Friday.
Forrest, the ? prisoner was under his third conviction when
he went to his death, faced his third execution date, was the twenty-third to
die in the electric chair, and was 23 years old.
Anniversary of Hanging
Twenty-seven years ago today McAlester witnessed the first
legal executions in the then Choctaw nation, with the double hanging of Charles
Barrett, White, and Dora Wright, Negro. There were 103 witnesses.
Dora Wright, 38 had been convicted at Wilburton of burning a
10 year old adopted child to death with a red hot iron.
Barrett, 27 paid the penalty for the alleged murder of an
aged Calvin recluse. Barrett in a confession made just before the hanging, said
the theft of a life time savings of the miser caused the crime.
Dr. William L. Taylor, who assisted Dr. J. A. Munn, penitentiary
physician at the executions of Tom Guest and James Edward Forrest here today,
has officiated at every execution in the state since 1900. He said he believed
that all executions should be conducted publicly as a warning to others. (The
Miami Daily News Record, July 18, 1930, Front page and page 2)