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EXECUTIONS IN MADISON COUNTY

 

 

Source:  Edwardsville Intelligencer, January 23, 1892

     The first execution of which there is any record was that of Eliphalet Green. Green was a laborer in Abel Moore's distillery on Wood River, and became involved in a quarrel with one William Wright, also in the employ of Abel Moore, the result of which was the killing of Wright. The murder occurred on Christmas eve, 1823, and caused great excitement. Green was arrested, a special term of court was ordered to be held on the 13th of January 1824. Green was indicted by a grand jury of which E. J. West was foreman, and immediately tried before Judge John Reynolds, one of the justices of the Supreme Court. The trial took place on the 14th of January, the day following the indictment of the grand jury. Green was found guilty by a jury of which James Mason was foreman, and sentenced to be hung on February 12th, 1824. The execution took place in the creek bottom near the bridge on the Springfield road. W. Buckmaster was sheriff at the time, and James Turner Attorney General.

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The second infliction of the penalty was for the murder of Jacob Barth:

 

Source: Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857

     Yesterday, between nine and ten o'clock a. m., sentence of death was pronounced upon Robert Sharpe, George W. Sharpe, and John Johnson, for the murder, on the 12th inst., of Jacob Barth. The sentence is that between the hours of ten o'clock a. m. and six o'clock p.m. on the 19th day of June, proximo, the prisoners are to be hanged by the neck until they are dead. While this dreadful sentence was being pronounced, the prisoners were _____ moved, and went freely.

 

     The crime was committed on the night of May 1st, 1857, on the road between Troy and St. Jacob. Barth was a peddler and was waylaid and shot while returning from St. Louis. Three men, George Gibson [or George W. Sharpe], Edward Barber [or John Johnson], and Joseph Watson, were indicted on May 16th, by a grand jury consisting of F. T. Krafft, foreman; J. L. McLanahan, James Whiteside, Aaron Ruby, Jacob Leder, W. M. McCain, J. J. Parker, James Kelt, Josiah K. Gillham, B. L. Dorsey, L. S. Wells, L. R. Weeks, John Macon, Collier Brown, John Cox, George Moffith, C. W. Layman and Jacob B. Cox. The trial commenced on May 21st. A jury consisting of J. H. Williams, L. W. Tindall, George Hedges, William Sandbach, G. G. Wilson, Jacob Prewitt, Abram Prewitt, Benjamin Heustis, Ignatz Sneeringer, I. B. Randle, William Keirsey and Francis Agnew, found the defendants guilty, and on May 29th they were sentenced by Judge William H. Snyder to be hung on the 19th of June, 1857. Watson, one of the murderers, was a mere youth, and had his death sentence commuted by executive clemency. During the Civil War he was pardoned out. He entered the army and served faithfully to the end, and it is said, now resides in St. Louis a respected citizen. The other two, Gibson and Barber, paid the penalty of the crime on the gallows, which had been erected on the grounds of the county farm, south of the city. This murder created the most intense excitement, particularly among the people in the eastern part of the county, where Barth, the murdered man, had lived. An organized body of men, numbering about 500, headed by Savage and Smiley, appeared on the streets one day, to take the murderers out of the jail to hang them, but Z. B. Job, with the assistance of several prominent citizens, among them Judge Joseph Gillespie, F. T. Krafft and J. S. Wheeler, succeeded in quieting the infuriated mob. During the excitement, the Alton Guards were ordered out and for ten days remained in charge of the jail. On the day of the execution, the town was thronged with people from all parts of the county, to see the hanging.     Read the story of their execution here:  The Hanging of George W. Sharpe and John Johnson, June 1857

 

     According to the obituary of Sheriff Zephaniah Job:   In 1856 he was elected sheriff of the county, and it was in this capacity that he officiated at the hanging of some men who had killed a German peddler near Troy, in Madison county. There was intense excitement at the time, and an effort was made to lynch the prisoners. Sheriff Job could get no one to guard the jail except three men, Josh Dunnegan, John Wheeler and Nelson Montgomery. These three men were posted with the sheriff where they could command the approach to the jail and had instructions to shoot to kill, when the mob made the attack. The demand was made for the prisoners, and Sheriff Job defied the crowd. As the aged gentleman told of this story of the past, the strong heart of older days which had not quailed was no longer so strong, and the tears which came not in the olden time when the incident occurred flowed freely, showing the shadow of the emotion of an event fifty years gone by, which was then concealed, but through a half century reached out its influence and touched the old man keenly. By a trick Sheriff Job got a delay from the mob and managed to get a company of militia from Alton, who defended the prisoner. When it came time to hang the prisoners, Sheriff Job refused to permit anyone else to do the work. One of the prisoner's sentence was commuted to imprisonment, and he was afterward pardoned.

 

Tale of 1857 Murder Remembered

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 30, 1903
Frank Clement has in his possession a pamphlet published in Edwardsville in 1857, which contains an account of the murder of Jacob Barth, a peddler, near Troy, by George Gibson, Ed Barber and Joseph Watson. Z. B. Job was Sheriff, and the murderers were captured early next morning near Lebanon. Their trial took place almost immediately after a mob had attacked the jail and had been repulsed. The prosecuting attorney was Philip B. Foulke, and the attorneys for the defense were Seth T. Sawyer, Friend S. Rutherford and John Trible. The murder was committed because Barth refused to let the three ride. They pleaded not guilty, but were convicted and sentenced to hang June 19, 1857. Watson was a mere boy, and his sentence was commuted, but the sentence was executed in the cases of the other two. Before execution the three culprits made a confession and said they had started out from Iowa with the intension of robbing people and committing murder if necessary. The only speech in the pamphlet is an impassioned plea for justice and for law and order by F. S. Rutherford, the conclusion of which is given below: "Now violence has been threatened and I want to say in behalf of myself and associate counsel and the court, that no threats of violence, come from what quarter they may, wilt frighten us out of our sense of duty and propriety. For myself, I big defiance to mob law, and am ready at all times to promptly meet any attempts at the overthrow of law and order, and help to mote out summary justice as the attempt deserves. I am satisfied that twelve good men and true, can be found in this county to give any man a fair and impartial trial." Of all the actors in this trial, Judge, Prosecuting Attorney Foulke, Attorneys Sawyer, Rutherford and Trible and Sheriff Job, the latter is the only one now living, after fifty years. Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Trible became soldiers in the War for the Union, the first as colonel of the 97th Illinois Volunteers, and Mr. Trible as captain of Co. I, same regiment. Captain Trible was wounded in the knee at the battle of Arkansas Port, Arkansas, and was brought home to Alton where he died shortly after his return. Colonel Rutherford was taken ill in New Orleans while in command of his regiment, was brought home to this city where he died on the 20th of June 1864. Philip B. Foulke was elected Congressman from this district and is long since dead. Seth T. Sawyer died at a good old age in this city some years ago. Judge Snyder, who tried the case, died many years ago. Z. B. Job, then Sheriff, is still hale and hearty - and full of vim, as ready to stand up for his rights as ever, whether it be in the courts or elsewhere. He has passed the four score mark.
 

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     The third case was that of William Bell for the murder of Herman Wendall. Wendall lived about four miles and a half west of Edwardsville, on the St. Louis road, with his wife and one child. Bell was admitted into the family as a boarder. An intimacy sprang up between him and Wendall's wife, the result of which was the shooting and killing of Wendall. The murder was committed on November 21, 1868. Bell was indicted at the May term of court in 1869 by the following grand jury: H. K. Eaton, foreman; Leander McLean, H. T. King, M. A. Kline, Lewis Ricks, Antony Beck, C. P. Richmond, David Rinderer, Xavier Sutter, F. J. Haag, J. G. Robinson, A. Foster, J. W. Terry, John Suppiger, Ed Elliff, Charles Edwards, J. H. Kublenbeck, Sam Cough, William Bond, Wesley Reaves and George L. Whaling. The trial commenced on October 16th, before a jury consisting of William Jageman, W. McMilley, Thomas Hoggs, A. Cowan Jr., Thomas M. Tarit, Sidney Robinson, Samuel McKinney, James N. Sandbach, J. W. Scarborough, O. D. Oberlin, Jacob S. Deck and William E. Lehr. It lasted three days and resulted in a verdict recommending the death penalty. Judge Joseph Gillespie delivered the sentence on October 20th, fixing the date of the execution for November 12th, 1869. The sentence was executed by Sheriff L. W. Moore, at the old jail yard in lower town.                Read the story of Bell's hanging here.

 

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     The fourth execution took place seven years ago today, January 16, 1885. [William] Felix Henry, a colored man, suffered the penalty. On March 29th, 1883, two young negroes, Henry DePugh and Albert Ross, were found dead in their hut at Rocky Fork, a negro settlement several miles northwest of Alton. Weeks passed into months and the public mind became reconciled to the fact that the murderer would never be found. A clue which was followed up by Fred Vollbracht, then deputy sheriff of Alton, led to the arrest of Henry. An indictment was filed March 18, 1884 by a grand jury composed of D. C. Scheer, foreman; J. C. Ammann, John Wagner, Nicholas Meyer, Franklin Jones, William Black, Louis Kientz, M. B. Pearce, James B. Thomas, William S. Judy, Anton Wieneke, Henry Weeks, L. C. Keown, Carl Engelke, Harrison Barco, William Harshaw, William Head, George Storbeck, Thomas Biggins, S. A. Chamberlain, Isaac Davis, T. V. Whiteside and Edward Malloy. The case was continued from the March to the October term. It was the first case on the docket and was called on the first day of the term. The jury consisted of Frank Moore, T. W. L. Belk, Barney Durer, Peter Kremer, Alvis Hauskins, Victor Senn, John Luttrell, Joseph Berger, G. L. Howard, Gus Burgess, J. C. Riggin and W. G. Herbert. The case went to the jury on the second day in the evening and they brought in a verdict next morning, fixing the punishment by hanging. Judge William H. Snyder sentenced the prisoner, fixing the execution for December 19, 1884, but he was subsequently resentenced and the date was changed to January 16, 1885. George Hotz, who was then serving his first term as sheriff, carried out the order. The scaffold was erected in the same place where the scaffold stands today.  [see below]

 

TWO COLORED MEN MURDERED
Source: New York Times, March 30, 1883
St. Louis, March 29 -- A terrible murder is reported here from Alton, Ill. Six miles from there is a negro settlement, the largest in the county. Henry Depugh and Henry Ross, cousins, lived there together in a little hut. They were unmarried. The hut is about half a mile from any house. They were last seen alive on Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday morning they were found dead in the hut by a neighbor. Ross was lying on the bed, with several cuts in his abdomen. Depugh was lying on the floor, his brains scattered against the side of the hut. His head and shoulders were terribly lacerated, as though he had been killed by a shot from a gun. There was no evidence of a struggle on the part of Ross; he was killed while sleeping. The hut's interior was not much disarranged. Two guns and several other articles are missing. It is said that Depugh had money, but none was found on the premises. The men were evidently murdered, and the position of Ross indicates that they did not kill each other. Who did the deed is still a mystery. Both men were honest and industrious. Depugh is the son of the Rev. Mr. Depugh, a colored Baptist preacher. Coroner Yonree went to the place and held an inquest, but no light was thrown on the tragedy. It is claimed by some that the object of the murder was revenge, and that testimony can be produced implicating persons living in the vicinity.
[See below - the hanging of William Felix Henry for the Murders of Henry Ross and Henry Depugh.]

 

MEETING DEATH ON THE GALLOWS - THE EXECUTION OF WILLIAM FELIX HENRY FOR THE MURDER OF HENRY ROSS AND HENRY DEPUGH
Source: New York Times, January 17, 1885
Edwardsville, Ill., January 16 -- William Felix Henry, colored, was executed here today for the murder of Henry Ross and Henry Depugh, both colored and both single men. The two men were found murdered in their house at Rocky Fork, about six miles from Alton, in March 1883. The crime was traced to W. F. Henry, who was arrested, convicted, and afterward confessed his guilt. During the last four days the doomed man appeared to find great consolation in religion, and was almost constantly attended by clergymen. Last night he did not sleep, but passed the time playing on the French harp, telling stories, and singing songs. This morning he dressed carefully, and at 8 o'clock the death warrant was read to him. The Rev. Mr. Depugh, father of one of his victims, visited the condemned man, took his hand and forgave him. After joining in a prayer, the doomed man was pinioned and led to the gallows. The black cap was adjusted, and at 1:12 P.M. the trap was sprung and 12 minutes later the man was dead.

 

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Read the story of the execution of Patrick Boyle for the murder of John Muench, 1892.

 

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Nikola Gavrilovich to Hang For Murder of His Wife in 1910

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 12, 1915

     Judge Hadley this morning sentenced Nikola Gavrilovich, aged 33 years, to be hanged by the neck on Friday, April 16, in the court yard in Edwardsville for the murder of his young wife five years ago in Madison. When the prisoner was brought before Judge Hadley after the verdict of the third jury, declaring him guilty and recommending that he be hanged, Judge Hadley said: "Again a jury has found you guilty of murder, and there is nothing left to do but carry out the law. I order that you be remanded to the common jail of Madison County from whence you came, there to be confined until Friday, April 16th, when the sheriff will take you out and hang you by the neck until you are dead. And may God have mercy on your soul."

 

     Gavrilovich understood the judge and smiling, he answered "All Right." He was then led away to go to the death cell to await his doom. His attorneys stated they did not know what they would do. The trial of this foreigner has cost the county over seven thousand dollars. He has been in jail five years and this is the third time that a jury has found him guilty, but is the first time he has been sentenced. A gallows was constructed last June on which to hang the same man, and he was granted a new trial. There seems no power that can save him now, unless the Governor will commute his sentence.

 

     [Note: According to the Troy Weekly Call, December 5, 1913, Gavrilovich and his wife were separated. He came from Flat River, Mo., to Madison to see her and demanded $150, which he claimed he spent to bring his wife to this country. Upon her refusal he pursued her and stabbed her seven times, leaving the dagger sticking in her heart. He escaped but was captured and tried in the circuit court in the fall of 1910. He was apparently a raving maniac, and was declared insane and sent to the insane hospital at Chester. Some time ago he was pronounced sane and released from that institution. He was from Bulgaria, and in 1913 was 28 years of age.  In July 1915, Gavrilovich’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at the Chester, Illinois penitentiary.]

 

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