ON the 9th of February, 1844, William Clark and Esther Foster were executed. Clark was a white man, and Esther a black woman. They were both convicts in the penitentiary at the time they committed the murders for which they were executed. Clark's offense was that of killing Cyrus Sells, one of the prison guards, at a single blow, with a cooper's axe. Esther's offense was that of beating a white female prisoner to death, with a fire shovel. The two murders were in no way connected, but happened within a few months of each other, and the prisoners were both tried and convicted at the same term of the court. The defense in Clark's case, was insanity. In the woman's case, that the killing was not premeditated, and consequently not murder in the first degree. Doubts were entertained by some whether either should have been convicted and executed--but
they both were. The gallows upon which they were executed, was erected on the low ground, at the southwest corner of Mound and Scioto streets, in Columbus. The occasion called together an immense crowd of people, both male and female, and it was a day of much noise, confusion, drunkeness and disorder. A well known citizen of the town, Mr. Sullivan Sweet, was pushed over in the crowd, and trampled on by a horse, which occasioned his death in a few hours. Many, however, of the citizens of the town prudently refused to witness the scene.
A good wax figure likeness of Clark is to be seen at Captain Walcutt's museum.
In the spring of 1846, a case of kidnapping occurred at Columbus. On the 27th of March, after dark, Jerry Finney, a black man, who had resided in Columbus some fourteen or fifteen years, was decoyed over to the town of Franklinton, to the office of William Henderson, Esq., who was, at the time, an acting justice of the peace of Franklin Township. The necessary certificate, etc., having been previously prepared, Jerry was forthwith delivered over by the justice, in his official capacity, to the decoying party; one of whom was Alexander C. Forbes, of Kentucky, who held a power of attorney from Mrs. Bathsheba D. Long, of Frankfort, Kentucky,
to whom it was claimed that Jerry belonged, and owed service, as an escaped slave. Jerry begged for a fair trial, but in vain. He was immediately hand-cuffed, and put into a carriage, standing at the door for that purpose, and drove to Cincinnati, from thence to Kentucky, and delivered over to his former mistress.
As Jerry was generally known by our citizens, (having been cook and general waiter or servant at most of our public houses,) his sudden disappearance from our midst, and the time and manner of his capture, created some excitement. And the following persons were arrested and held to bail to answer the charge of kidnapping: William Henderson, Esq., Jacob Armitage, Henry Henderson, Daniel A. Potter, and Daniel Zinn.
At the July term, 1846, of the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, a true bill of indictment was found against all of the above named persons, together with Alexander C. Forbes, (the agent,) for the unlawful seizure, etc., of Jerry.
At the following September term of said court, all of the defendants (except Forbes, who had not been arrested,) were put upon trial. A. F. Perry, Esq., Prosecuting Attorney, and Wm. Dennison, jr., conducting the prosecution, and F. J. Matthews, Esq., and Col. N. H. Swayne, counsel for the defendants.
The case occupied several days, and much interest
was manifested by those who were acquainted with the defendants, and with Jerry. During the progress of the trail, on of the jurors, Dr. George Richey, was taken sick, and unable to attend further at the court. At this juncture of the case, all of the defendants, as well as the State (by her counsel), agreed to proceed with the eleven remaining jurors. The case was ably conducted on both sides, and quite a large number of bills of exceptions were taken by the defendants' counsel as to the rulings of the court. The jury retired, deliberated, and returned a verdict of guilty as to Esq. William Henderson, and not guilty as to the remaining defendants. Esq. Henderson was then remanded to jail, and the other defendants discharged from custody. The court suspended passing sentence upon Henderson, and the case was then, by his attorneys, taken up to the Supreme Court upon error, and among the many errors assigned, was, in substance, this: that it was not within the province of the defendant to waive his objection as to the absence of one of the jurors, and the proceeding in the trial with the eleven jurors, was error. This objection the court sustained, and decided the case upon that point; and Esq. Henderson was discharged.
By the authority of the Legislature of this State, Hon. William Johnson, a distinguished lawyer, and now residing in Cincinnati, was employed to institute pro-
ceedings in the Kentucky courts, with the view of settling certain legal questions, and which would, as claimed by our authorities, result in the liberation of Jerry from bondage. Mr. Johnson appeared before the Kentucky court, argued his case with masterly ability, but the decision was against him; and here closed all legal proceedings growing out of this case.
Jerry remained in Kentucky for some months as a slave, until by subscription from the citizens of Columbus, a sufficient amount of money was raised to purchase his freedom, and restore him to his family. He returned--but with the seeds of consumption sown in his system. Within a short time he wasted, sickened and died.
In the month of April, 1851, a homicide was committed at the Franklin House, in Columbus, then kept by Grundy Taylor. The victim was George Parcels, and the perpetrator of the homicide, Thomas W. Spencer. The parties were acquaintances and friends. The tragedy commenced with playful jokes, which were succeeded by frenzy of passion on the part of Spencer, who in that state of frenzy, discharged a pistol at, and killed his friend. Spencer was indicted for murder in the first degree, and tried at the March term of the Court of Common Pleas, 1852. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to six years confine-
ment in the penitentiary. After serving out about one year of his sentence, he was pardoned by Governor Wood.
In the month of May, 1851, a murder was committed by George W. Slocum killing his wife some two or three miles from Columbus, on the farm of Mr. Jacob Hare, then occupied by a Mr. Robertson. Jealousy was at the bottom of this tragedy. Slocum was indicted for murder in the first degree, and tried at the June term, 1851, and convicted of murder in the second degree. Sentence, confinement in the penitentiary during life.
On the 27th of April, 1854, Cyrus Beebe, one of the city police, was killed by William Jones, alias William Morgan. Jones had committed some burglaries in Licking County, and had been arrested, but made his escape, and was pursued by the Licking County officers, who supposed him to be at the Scioto Hotel, in Columbus. Beebe, by request, accompanied them to aid in making the arrest. Jones refused to surrender. Several pistol shots were fired on both sides, when Beebe was shot dead by Jones, who ran and made his escape from the crowd.
The city Council caused him to be advertised, and a reward of $500 offered for his apprehension. No cer-
tain intelligence was ever had of him until the summer of 1857, when he was arrested in Wisconsin, and brought to the Franklin County jail. In November, 1857, he had his trial in the Court of Common Pleas, and was found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the penitentiary during life.
On the 4th of July, 1855, Henry Foster, a young man of about nineteen years of age, a native of Columbus, was killed on the street by a shot from a pistol, by some one of the association of Turners. This association was composed of young Germans. The object of their association was to practice and improve themselves in various kinds of athletic exercises. They had their officers, and their rules and regulations, like other societies. On this occasion they were marching the street in procession, when it appears they were assaulted by some boys--Henry Foster of the number--by throwing stones into their ranks, which assault was returned, and from the throwing of stones, the firing of pistols ensued, when Foster was shot down and died in a few hours.
This created a great excitement, and some thirty or more of the Turners were arrested and hurried into jail. From thence they were taken before 'Squire Field where they underwent a legal examination, and a
number of them were held to bail. But on trial no conviction was ever had, as the individual who discharged the fatal shot could not be identified.
In the month of April, 1856, Nicholas Kelley, a youth of about eighteen years of age, a son of Mr. N. J. Kelley, of Columbus, was shot by a German named Christian Henold, on the river bank near the Harrisburgh bridge, in the vicinity of Columbus, for a trifling provocation. Henold was indicted for murder in the first degree, and tried in July, 1956. The jury returned a verdict of murder in the second degree, and hi was sentenced to the penitentiary during life.
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