BEFORE THE NEEDLES
Excerpts From MISSISSIPPI EXECUTIONS
Source: developed from the data file "Executions in the United States, 1608-1987: The ESPY File", Espy, M. Watt, and John Ortiz Smykla, Principal Investigators. Funded by the National Science Foundation. This dataset represents the most complete list of executions in the United States compiled to date.
# NAME AGE RACE SEX OCCUPATION CRIME METHOD DATE MTPL COUNTY
44 HOLMES, WYATT BLACK MALE ? MURDER HANGING JUN 24 1881 HINDS
51 HILL, PLEASANT BLACK MALE ? MURDER HANGING DEC 14 1883 HINDS
65 HALL, WILLARD BLACK MALE ? MURDER HANGING MAY 22 1888 2 HINDS
79 STORY, EUGENE 26 WHITE MALE ? MURDER HANGING JUN 2 1891 HINDS
92 BOBBY, IVEY BLACK MALE ? MURDER HANGING JAN 9 1895 HINDS
93 WELLS, JOHN ? MALE ? MURDER HANGING JUN 18 1895 HINDS
118 SASSER, JOHN WHITE MALE ? MURDER HANGING MAR 11 1902 2 HINDS
124 COCKE, ASHLEY WHITE MALE ? MURDER HANGING JUL 22 1902 1 HINDS
153 WASHINGTON, WILL BLACK MALE ? MURDER HANGING JAN 3 1908 1 HINDS
189 MCKAY, GEORGE 45 WHITE MALE SHARECROPPER MURDER HANGING MAY 22 1925 HINDS
190 DONAHUE, PATRICK 37 WHITE MALE MILL WORKER MURDER-ROBBERY HANGING MAR 26 1926 HINDS
197 WALTON, MARION 24 BLACK MALE ? MURDER-ROBBERY HANGING FEB 24 1928 2 HINDS
232 WILLIAMS, PHIL BLACK MALE FARM HAND MURDER HANGING DEC 6 1934 HINDS
275 CROSBY, JAMES BLACK MALE ? MURDER-ROBBERY ELECTROCUTION APR 28 1944 HINDS
294 RATCLIFF, , WELDON 25 BLACK MALE ? MURDER ELECTROCUTION MAY 1947 HINDS
303 GIPSON, MONROE 19 BLACK MALE ? MURDER ELECTROCUTION JUN 25 1948 HINDS
310 WILKERSON, OTIS BLACK MALE ? MURDER ELECTROCUTION JUL 14 1950 1 HINDS
316 PRICE, JEFRO 28 BLACK MALE LABORER MURDER ELECTROCUTION DEC 20 1951 HINDS
331 MCNAIR, O., C. 24 BLACK MALE ? MURDER ASPHYXIATION-GAS FEB 17 1956 HINDS
332 RUSSELL, JAMES 32 BLACK MALE ? MURDER ASPHYXIATION-GAS APR 5 1956 HINDS
334 JONES, WILLIE 38 BLACK MALE FARM HAND MURDER-ROBBERY ASPHYXIATION-GAS JUL 13 1956 HINDS
St # Victim Race Sex Offense Mo Day Year County State Note
12 King, James Blk Male Grave robbery Sep 4 1883 Hinds
13 Gaddis, George Blk Male Grave robbery Sep 4 1883 Hinds
14 Negro, Unnamed Blk Male Rape Dec 19 1883 Hinds
43 Holt, Ben Blk Male Murder Jun 29 1885 Hinds
100 Shortney, Curtis Blk Male Murder Sep 12 1888 Hinds
186 Smith, Henry Blk Male Burglary May 25 1894 Hinds
187 James, Wm. Blk Male Burglary May 25 1894 Hinds
199 Negro, Unnamed Blk Male Insulted girls Mar 27 1895 Hinds
204 Puckett, Theodore Blk Male Robbery Jul 5 1895 Hinds
226 Evans, Jesse Blk Male Attempted assault (rape) Apr 14 1897 Hinds
265 Martin, James Blk Male Murder & attempted rape Dec 23 1899 Hinds
266 West, Charlie Blk Male Murder & attempted rape Dec 23 1899 Hinds
270 McAfee, Henry Blk Male Attempted rape Apr 19 1900 Hinds
289 Bell, Jody Blk Male Attm. criminal assault (rape) Mar 20 1901 Hinds
360 Sims, Tamp Blk Male Attempted murder May 8 1906 Hinds
425 Beeman, Joe Blk Male Murderous assault Dec 17 1912 Hinds Mississippi Uncertain
Breaking on the Wheel
The combination of pain and the longevity of this sentence will be the most severe that you can endure. It begins with a wheel and its iron rim. You will be tied to stakes, naked and spread out upon the ground, where triangular blocks of wood will be placed beneath each of your joints. One by one, we will smash them to splinters with the rim of the wheel, from your wrist to elbow, shoulder to hip, knee to ankle, and then the bones between. This will be done with caution, so as not to accidentally inflict a fatal blow and release you from your penance. Then, your shattered limbs will be woven through the spokes of the wheel which was your destruction, and bound in place. You will be hoisted up, and left to bake in the sun or freeze in the snow, and left as food for the scavenging birds who will pick your eyes from their sockets as you watch. Death will not come peacefully or soon.
Gibbeting was a post mortem punishment used for such people as highwaymen and pirates. After they had been hanged in the normal way, their body was taken down and then coated in pitch. It was then put into an iron cage which they had been previously measured for and had been specially made for them.
This cage went over the head, torso and upper legs. The cage and body were then suspended again by a chain from the gibbet which was like a simple gallows but normally higher and set up at a prominent place, e.g. a crossroads or the top of a hill. The body would be left until it had rotted away - perhaps a year or more - to serve as a reminder of what happened to these classes of criminal. Gibbeting also denied the criminal a decent burial which was a punishment in itself in those days (16th - 18th centuries)
Two slightly different methods of burning were used. The first, consisted of using a heap of faggots piled around a wooden stake above which the prisoner was attached with chains or iron hoops. The Spanish Inquisition preferred this method as it had the greatest visual impact.
The second method, mostly used on witches, was to tie the condemned to the stake and heap faggots all round them, effectively hiding their sufferings from sight so that they died inside a wall of flames . It is said that Joan of Arc died by this method.
Technically it was not an execution when Giles Corey was pressed to death during the fiasco known as the Salem Witch Trials. When Giles Corey was indicted he did something nobody else had dared to do. He stood mute, refusing to answer to his indictment. And under both English and New English law a man who refused to answer could not be tried.
He could, however, be tortured-be subjected to 'peine forte et dure'-until he either answered or died. Accordingly Giles Corey was pressed: placed upon the ground with gradually increased weight piled on him. It took him two days to die....Calef adds the brutal detail that 'in pressing, his tongue being pressed out of his mouth, the sheriff with his cane forced it in again when he was dying.' Why he would chose to undergo so terrible a death has been the subject of much debate among nineteenth-century historians, some of whom guessed that he was trying to preserve his property for his heirs.... According to Calef: 'Giles Corey pleaded "not guilty' to his indictment, but would not put himself upon trial by the jury (they having cleared none upon trial), and knowing there would be the same witnesses against him rather chose to undergo what death they would put him to.' Giles Corey, then, was pressed to death because he would not agree to be tried by the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer. His death was a protest-the most dramatic protest of all-against the methods of the court".
In January of 1811, a powerful uprising of slaves took place in the area of New Orleans, Louisiana. On January 8, 1811 over 500 slaves, led by a laborer named Charles on the Deslonde plantation (some 26 miles upriver form New Orleans) downed there tools and grabbed a few weapons. They then proceeded to march on the city. Their goal was to capture the city and free all the slaves in the lower Mississippi valley. As they moved down the river, they pushed back the slave owners and their caretakers, killing many and burning several plantations. There rallying cries were, "On to New Orleans!" and "freedom or death!" They got to within 10 miles of the city, where they were attacked by U.S. government troops. Casualties well taken on both sides. This was the largest slave revolt in the United States. In the end, 56 of the leaders and participants were killed in battle or tried and later executed by hanging. The heads of many of the slaves were then put on poles along the river to discourage any further rebellion.