This week in 1920

“Are—they—really—going—to—hang—me? Don’t— let—them. Save me. Jesus—Mary—Joseph. My little baby! My wife! . . . I’m—going—my—rest. Take— care—me. Where are you, Mr. Meisterheim [his jailer]? Talk to me.”

“Be brave, Frank. It’ll be over in a minute.”

“Shake hands once more then. Are they—really going—
to hang me?”

— Frank Campione, convicted of robbery and murder, hanging, Illinois.
Executed October 14, 1920

Part of the Cardinella Gang, Campione and company were responsible for more than four murders and 250 holdups and burglaries, according to authorities. The gang killed Albert Kubalanzo for $6.30. During the months he was in jail and on trial, Campione sang lullabies to his pillow night and day. Even when admitting that he had been feigning madness, Campione held the pillow. “I’ll die happy if you let me keep this pillow with me,” he said. “It reminds me of my baby son.”


This week in 1933

“It looks pretty dark, but if I have to, I guess I can take my

— Morris Cohen, convicted of murder, electric chair, Illinois.
Executed October 13, 1933

A thirty-eight-year-old barber, Cohen got the electric chair for the murder of Officer Joseph Hastings during a robbery attempt at Chicago’s Navy Pier. A secondary headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune read “Record for Speedy Justice Is Set.” He had been executed less than two months after the crime.


This week in 1797

“When I think how I have sinned against the great God, my heart breaks and tears run from my eyes . . . I forgive every body, and hope that God will have mercy on me. Now in the 28th year of my age, I commit my spirit in to the hands of a merciful . . . God and hope he will receive me for his great mercy’s sake. I die in peace with all mankind, and beg that all people will take warning by my awful end.”

— Stephen Smith, convicted of arson and robbery, hanging, Massachusetts.
Executed October 12, 1797

A slave born in Virginia and owned by William Allen, Smith ran away from his master and robbed houses. He claimed that his father was a religious man but his mother encouraged him to steal. In Boston he was indicted for arson and robbery, then sentenced to death.


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