Sunday, May 15, 2011

More on the Execution of Bumgardner

The Marietta Register, February 21, 1867

The account of the execution of Hanson Bumgardner issued from the Register Office in an extra, may be found on our first page.  Some points in addition to those furnished by our reporter - we were not present - may be noted.

Rev. W. M. Mullenix, of Whitney Chapel - Methodist Episcopal Church - the spiritual adviser of Bumgardner, was with him every day, for weeks, and constantly and strenuously impressed upon him the importance of a full confession.  On the day before the execution, about 11 o'clock, A.M., Mr. Mullenix told him that he could not hope for salvation if he should not confess, if guilty of the murder of Eubank.  His reply was:  "If I committed that murder I hope God will burn my soul in hell forever."

The counsel for Bumgardner applied to the Governor for a commutation of the death penalty to that of imprisonment in the Penitentiary for life.  About 5 o'clock on the evening previous to the execution, Sheriff Hicks received a dispatch from the Governor, refusing to commute the sentence.

While Bumgardner was standing on the trap-door, his arms pinioned, his legs bound together, the hood drawn over his face, the rope adjusted around his neck, everything in readiness for his last moment, Mr. Mullenix whispered to him:

"Hanson, did you murder Eubank?"

"I did not!"

The Sheriff then asked:

"Are you ready, Hanson?"

"Yes sir, I am."

The drop fell, the neck was dislocated, and - the body was taken down after hanging 28 minutes, and immediately sent to the Harmar depot, on the way to Harrison county, West Va.

The medical attendants were Drs. Hart & Bartlett, (B. F. Hart and J. C. Bartlett), and Dr. S. D. Hart, Coroner.  The arrangements of Sheriff J. A. Hicks were admirable.  He was chiefly assisted by his brother, Thomas Hicks, Deputy Sheriff.  J. M. Johnson, Sheriff of Athens county, and Capt. Levi Barber, of Harmar, also rendered assistance.  Col. W. B. Mason, County Treasurer, and Capt. Geo. Benedict, Commissioner, were present, besides those before named, also reporters for the press, and Constable Davis, of Hockingport, who pursued Bumgardner, and was the means of his arrest.  The Sheriff had a guard of ten or fifteen men, outside of the jail.

The enclosure in which the execution took place, was on the easterly side of the jail, covering the side door - was 17 ft. high.  The scaffold was 12 ft. long by 7 wide, and 4-1/2 ft. high - double trap-door in the centre - and with the gallows, was built by Maj. Darius Towsley.

Comparatively few people assembled outside the jail.  Except the guard, there was at no time, we think, over one hundred and fifty, and very few of that number were citizens of town.  They were very quiet.

Remarks.  If any think Bumgardner may have suffered unjustly, such thoughts can as well be dismissed at once.  His declarations of innocence were on purely technical grounds - first, that he did not actually do the killing, although connected for the robbery of the murdered man, with those who did do it, (as he said,) he himself concealing it, and appropriating to his own use all the murdered man's property then with him; second, that the murder was (as he said) in West Virginia, hence, as he called it, "a very unjust thing" that he should suffer under the laws of Ohio.  According to his own story, Bumgardner was guilty of the crime of murder, both in law and in morals.  And there is no evidence whatever that leads to a reasonable suspicion that any person was connected with him in the murder, or that it was not done in Ohio; but the evidence is that he alone did the deed, and did it in Ohio.  This is the belief of all who are best acquainted with the facts - those with him since his trial.  His own word he constantly falsified - his speech at the gallows giving the lie to his protestations "before God" at the time of his sentence.

Bumgardner was a man about six feet tall, and weighed perhaps 180 pounds.  He was physically strong, but morally weak.  He possessed a great deal of nerve - that nerve which could cut off the head of Eubank.  He had very strong affection for his children - would save them from stain as far as possible.  From these points in his character it can be seen why he declared himself an "innocent man."

No comments: