This week in 1855

“I am perfectly willing to die. The man you have got in jail for aiding me is perfectly innocent, and ought to be let go; but that Blair deserves all I’ve got. He was as much to blame as I was. . . . Yes; I hate this world and my own life and I’m going to leave it. I’ll be in Paradise before sundown. Now, farewell, farewell, meet me in the other world. I want to see you all in Heaven. Whisky brought me to this—I expect you along in a few days. Farewell, all my friends.”

— Stephen Short, convicted of murder, hanging, Kentucky.
Executed January 19, 1855

An inebriated Short shot a Mr. McFarland, his employer at Clinton Furnace, who had fired Short’s son and, according to a newspaper report, “endeavored to keep his hands from drinking whisky.” 

The Blair mentioned in his final speech was, according to Short, the man who told him to shoot. Short spent the time before his execution hanging rats in his cell and “speculating on the analogy between the death struggles of these animals and men.” More than six thousand people were present to witness the double execution of Stephen Short and fellow murderer William Hanning, who parted with “I haven’t got anything against any man in the world. I hope nobody’s got anything against me now.”




 

This week in 1924

“I will see my wife—she will meet me with outstretched arms. She knows I never harmed her but I was always kind and good, not only to her but to everyone…They had the one idea that I was guilty. I am not. In a few minutes I will be ushered into eternity where all secrets are known. Over there they will judge me and they will say I am innocent.”

After the blindfold was placed on his head:
“Say good-bye to my brother and daughter.”

— Omer R. Woods, convicted of murder, firing squad, Utah.
Executed January 18, 1924

To the last moment, Woods staunchly denied his guilt in the killing of his sickly wife. He allegedly killed her in her bed and then attempted to set fire to the body to collect insurance. Woods maintained that robbers had killed her and even named one of them.




 

This week in 1942

In the electric chair:
“I got it coming.”

— Bernard Sawicki, convicted of murder, electric chair, Illinois.
Executed January 17, 1942

Sawicki shot a seventy-two-year-old farmer who he claimed had him put in a St. Charles juvenile correctional facility. He then went on a robbery and murder spree which claimed three more victims, including a policeman, Charles Speaker.




 

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