This week in 1865
“I had made a request not to have my photograph taken, for fear my friends would recognize me. Somebody else made a request that it should be taken, and Chase [the sheriff] paid more attention to them than to me, and let them try to take it as I came out. You can see what kind of man this Chase is, and if I had a chance I would take his photograph d—d quick. I don’t think they got a good one. So my friends will not know it. Perhaps my photograph will be the means of finding out who I am, but I doubt it d—dly. I have nothing more to say, and you may go on as soon as you please, for it is no consolation to me to be kept standing here in the cold.”
— Henry Wilson, convicted of murder, hanging, New York.
Executed December 22, 1865
A career burglar, Wilson was executed for slaying of Henry DeVoe, whose home he had been robbing. Wilson admitted to killing two other New Yorkers—Burr Burton in Syracuse and Mrs. Lewis in Lancaster—and told police he was the man wanted for a host of unsolved crimes. He went to the gallows three days before Christmas. A reporter for the Rochester Democrat censored Wilson’s profanities, which appear to be derivations of damn.
This week in 1890
“I killed the men. I do not regret [it], but they tell me it was wrong. If so, I am sorry. You see how I am here. Try and help my people. If so, tell them how I died, and warn them not to do as I did, or they may die, as I have to die. Be kind to my people and see that they do not want. I am glad you come and I thank you for being here and for what you have done for me. See that I am buried with my people.”
— Pierre Paul, convicted of murder, hanging, Montana.
Executed December 19, 1890
Paul, a member of the Pend d’Oreilles Native American tribe, participated in the shooting of two white men. He addressed his final statement to two Native American chiefs who were attending his hanging. Afterward he said “Good night” to his defense attorney and then amended it to “Good-bye.”
This week in 1998
“As the ocean always returns to itself, love always returns to itself. So does consciousness, always returns to itself. And I do so with love on my lips. May God bless all mankind.”
— James Ronald Meanes, convicted of murder, lethal injection,Texas.
Executed December 15, 1998
Ohio welder Meanes and his accomplice Sandoval “Carlos” Santana shot the driver of an armored car as it stopped at a Houston department store. They stole $1.1 million and fled only to be caught an hour later. The Associated Press reported that “judicial oversight resulted in an additional seven years on death row for Meanes after prosecutors lost track of his case once a federal judge rejected an appeal in 1988.”