Last public execution in USA, 1936

Share this on Facebook download .zip with all pictures

I did my Senior Thesis on this event. The popularity was in some ways a fluke: Under Kentucky law at the time if a Sheriff died his wife could fulfill the rest of his term- which was the case in Owensboro: the wife of the deceased sheriff was the acting sheriff at the time Bethea was to be executed. Because it was within the duties of the sheriff to presides over the executions (and usually be the one to actually conduct them) a news story sprung up about the “Kentucky Hang-woman,” which attracted a lot of outside attention from the press, resulting in numerous reporters being sent to Owensboro, including (if I remember correctly) reporters from the New York Times. This is also partly the reason for the large turnout: executions were rare enough to attract crowds, and the added spectacle of the “Kentucky Hang-Woman” just increased the allure.

On the day of the execution, the sheriff refused to be the one to actually conducted the execution and had a deputy do it, making the reporters present upset that they had been denied their story. In response, they made one up- claiming that the onlookers had swarmed the body and torn it and the scaffolding apart for souvenirs, called the whole affair a “Carnival of Death” (a blatant lie- almost every witnesses describes how somber the atmosphere was after the execution). The incident got a lot of press, and it was such an embarrassment for Kentucky that it banned public executions forever.

Interesting fact: the scaffold at the execution was provided by a private citizens, who had attended a botched hanging when he was younger and had been so traumatized by the event that he would travel the state and offer his services to make sure hangings were conducted properly.

Edit: Thanks for the gold!

Latest Comments
  1. RomaMcray December 28, 2016
  2. Tiaeld December 21, 2016
  3. Garan December 20, 2016
  4. Uskunte December 20, 2016
  5. LatashiaReece December 17, 2016
  6. TyroneVautour December 14, 2016
  7. Ceribo December 6, 2016
  8. Oldtiavor December 5, 2016
  9. Zimmermann169 December 3, 2016
  10. Ensulard November 26, 2016
  11. uruch November 17, 2016
  12. Darpolo November 11, 2016
  13. ArletteMaddix November 10, 2016
  14. garza77 October 30, 2016
  15. Ensulard October 30, 2016
  16. Xojyw October 29, 2016
  17. Kinild October 27, 2016
  18. Umedar October 26, 2016
  19. Undihin October 10, 2016
  20. Burageorm October 10, 2016
  21. Iss October 9, 2016
  22. Darpolo October 8, 2016
  23. Awust October 7, 2016
  24. Aselme September 26, 2016
  25. Rodel September 21, 2016
  26. StacyHickox September 17, 2016
  27. Korah September 13, 2016
  28. Nitanen September 8, 2016
  29. Radbel September 7, 2016
  30. Rodel September 4, 2016
  31. Odynu September 4, 2016
  32. Haizden August 31, 2016
  33. Rynepi August 28, 2016
  34. Skelashat August 26, 2016
  35. Neab August 22, 2016
  36. Cheann August 21, 2016
  37. osade August 15, 2016
  38. TyroneVautour August 14, 2016
  39. Chawler July 31, 2016
  40. NelsonBakken July 27, 2016
  41. wasdenmzd July 22, 2016
  42. Nicolhowle July 14, 2016
  43. AlexTibbs July 11, 2016
  44. Endvesa July 11, 2016
  45. guin7865 June 20, 2016
  46. Rel June 18, 2016
  47. Nitanen June 18, 2016
  48. Tiarad June 18, 2016
  49. LeonardEdlund June 16, 2016
  50. Burageorm June 14, 2016
  51. Ludser June 11, 2016
  52. uruch June 3, 2016
  53. UrsulaNeel June 3, 2016
  54. Mcglade666 May 31, 2016
  55. Tabelque May 31, 2016
  56. Radbel May 26, 2016
  57. lamoureux89 May 23, 2016
  58. Isquaugh May 19, 2016
  59. TyroneVautour May 15, 2016
  60. Fitinack May 15, 2016
  61. mcnabb May 12, 2016
  62. Rodyn April 25, 2016
  63. Awust April 13, 2016
  64. Ustche April 12, 2016
  65. Rel April 9, 2016
  66. kolinmcrae April 6, 2016
  67. Ongha March 15, 2016
  68. Ybele March 13, 2016
  69. GaleBostick March 12, 2016
  70. Orpsam March 11, 2016
  71. kolinmcrae February 28, 2016
  72. Tabelque February 25, 2016
  73. Iceru February 22, 2016
  74. Cerlory February 21, 2016
  75. WendellAhmad February 21, 2016
  76. Kinild February 19, 2016
  77. VinitaRezendes February 18, 2016
  78. Tabelque February 8, 2016
  79. Chawler January 31, 2016
  80. Nyest January 24, 2016
  81. Lavonne1 January 21, 2016
  82. Endrr January 19, 2016
  83. Suloon January 19, 2016
  84. Zapes January 8, 2016
  85. Mylil January 5, 2016
  86. Unthon January 3, 2016
  87. walters1981 January 3, 2016
  88. RebeckaGuyton December 29, 2015
  89. milonekilone4 December 25, 2015
  90. AlexTibbs December 24, 2015
  91. Xojyw December 16, 2015
  92. Stramald December 14, 2015
  93. Emn December 14, 2015
  94. AdalbertoHumes December 8, 2015
  95. ArletteMaddix December 4, 2015
  96. MilesVickers December 3, 2015
  97. Chaiwor December 1, 2015
  98. Imale November 29, 2015
  99. EviaBruss November 27, 2015
  100. sarkisian93 November 24, 2015
  101. Skelashat November 18, 2015
  102. barbozaIsland November 17, 2015
  103. Jacquiline1999 November 15, 2015
  104. walters1981 November 7, 2015
  105. Radbel November 7, 2015
  106. Issdar November 2, 2015
  107. Whail November 2, 2015
  108. ShahidAqq November 2, 2015
  109. Emtny October 29, 2015
  110. Fitinack October 28, 2015
  111. Phois October 24, 2015
  112. Endvesa October 14, 2015
  113. Orpsam October 11, 2015
  114. deardorff3 October 3, 2015
Comments are closed.
Click on Like Page, to get new amazing photo every day on facebook.