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Execution of Patrick Hartnett

The Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday, September 30, 1885
Transcribed by

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A Bloody Scene of Horror--Firmness of
the Condemned in the Face of Death
--Joking With the Officers While
They Arrange the Noose--Summary
Success of the Execution--The Body.

After having had two trials, two postpone-ments of the death sentence and a hearing before the Supreme Court, Patrick Hartnett, the Cincinnati wife murderer, this morning suffered the full punishment for his horrible crime, and, as if fate had decided that, despite the murderer's unflinching courage, his death should be as terrible as that of the helpless woman he killed, the execution proved one of the bloodiest affairs of the kind on record in this State.

Yesterday afternoon Warden Peetrey told Hartnett that Father Brady was in the prison and would like to speak to him. Father Brady was Hartnett's spiritual adviser at the Hamilton county jail, and seemed to be held in high regard by him, but Hartnett, misunderstanding the Warden's words and probably not catching the full name, said:

"So he's in, is he? Well, I'll be d--d if I'm a-caring. It's where they all ought to be. I've got no use for these priests and preachers, anyway, and I wish they wouldn't come bothering me at the last moment."

The Warden explained the true state of affairs, and Father Brady was admitted to the prisoner's cell. The two had a long convers-ation, but no impression was apparently made on the prisoner, who seemed very glad when his spiritual adviser left.

The prisoner's appetite was excellent, even voracious, throughout the day, every one of his meals being unusually hearty. In the morning he asked for a drink of whisky, which was refused him, but he said positively that he would not take any stimulants later in the day, as he did not want people to think that he had to "fill up" in order to die game. During the afternoon he continued to laugh and joke with his guards, his little trouble with John Parr having been amicably settled and his assurance having been given that, if anyone should attack John, he would jump right in and help him out.

In the evening Hartnett ate his usual supper and, in addition, disposed of a quart of oysters. He was dressed in the plain, cheap brown suit provided by the State for his burial, with a white shirt, and in these clothes he walked about his apartment all evening, smok-ing, laughing and seeming to have quite a jolly time. About 9 o'clock he lay down and took a little rest.

Criminal Bailiff Joe Moses returned from the Lancaster Reform School at 9 P. M. The burial yesterday morning of Sheriff Beresford's brother-in-law detained him and his two deputies, F. J. Kelly and George W. Long, until a late train, and they did not get to Columbus until nearly 11 o'clock. They repaired immediately to the prison and Sheriff Beresford, going to Hartnett's cell, read the death-warrent to the prisoner, who took the matter as a sort of bore, but showed no signs of any emotion. After this duty had been performed the Sheriff and his party went up street, not returning until about 12:30 o'clock.

The Warden's, Clerk's and Secretary's offices during the evening, especially toward midnight, presented an animated appearance. Every desk was occupied by a newspaper man, and the constant calling of messenger boys, the hurried sending of the telegrams and mysterious packages of manu-script, and the numberless questions that were asked of every official that would be likely to know anything about the prisoner's condition kept the small crowd in a turmoil that reminded one of an ant hill whose occupants had been disturbed. At midnight all of the persons invited to witness this execution were on hand, and the only thing necessary was the presence of Sheriff Beres-ford and his assistants. It was understood that Hartnett had named Deputy Warden Marriott, Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Holmes as his friends to be present at the wind-up, but in the evening Warden Peetrey announced that a change had been made, and that, instead of Dr. Montgomery, D. L. Bowersmith, of the Enquirer, would be admitted. The newspaper men named by Sheriff Beresford to be present were Allen O. Myers, of the Enquirer, and George H. Gordon, of the Evening Telegram, Cincinnati. At the last moment word was sent to the prison that Myers would not be present and J. T. Winship, of the Journal, local staff, was nominated to represent the Enquirer. The persons who were present and entitled to witness the execution were as follows: Warden Peetrey, Sheriff Beresford, Bailiff Joe Moses, Deputies

Kelly and Long, Dr. Holmes, Deputy Warden Marriott, D. L. Bowersmith (as a friend), Dr. Montgomery (as physician of the institution), Sheriff Baker, of Clark county, Deputy Sheriff McPherson, of Delaware; Deputy Sheriff Arnold, of Seneca; Coroner Garrick, of Hamilton county; Guard Parr, Guard Miller and the two newspaper men, Messrs. Winship and Gordon. No arrange-ments had been made at 1 o'clock as to the disposition of the body, but at that time Joe Moses received a telegram from Patrick Gleason, of Cincinnati, asking him to send his Columbus address, so that any action taken by Hartnett's friends might be wired immediately.

At one o'clock preparations began for the journey to the death room. The heavy shoes of the officials and visitors were removed, and the soft, noiseless "sneak" slippers in use at the Penitentiary, were put on in their stead. Heads were bared and lanterns procured, and at 1:10 the party started into the yard, and by a roundabout course to the scaffold. Just outside the reception room, in the death range, the lanterns were dropped. The party then entered the scaffold room, passing through the reception room, and ranged themselves along the wall, opposite the drop. Warden Peetrey, Sheriff Beresford and Deputy Kelly entered the prisoner's cell to prepare him for exe-cution, the deputy placing on him the thongs and handcuffs. Sheriff Beresford, the Warden and Deputy Long then mounted the scaffold and tested the trap. It worked perfect-ly. Everything was then put back into its place, Sheriff Beresford went back into the cell room, and Warden Peetrey left the scaffold, leaving Deputies Long and Kelly alone on the platform. At this moment Father Brady, Captain McGuire, of the night watch, and Dr. Gerhardt, of the hospital, entered, swelling the number present to twenty. Among these was a representative of THE DIS-PATCH.

Just before the party reached the place Hartnett had disposed of a cup of coffee, a piece of pie and some doughnuts, and had smoked several cigars, so that he was in a very good humor at the time of the ex-ecution. When bound, he laughed and joked, even the spectators in the execution room being able to hear him.

At 1:20 the door from the death cell opened and Hartnett walked boldly up the steps and upon the scaffold, a broad smile diffusing his face, which looked quite comical under the peculiarly shaped hat which he wore. No time was lost in unnecessary pre-parations. The prisoner was placed on the trap with his face toward the spectators. Catching sight of D. L. Bowersmith, he called out:

"How de do, Mr. Bowersmith."

Dan responded pleasantly and Hartnett called out to Coroner Carrick:

"Why, how are you, Mr. Carrick?" then, "I guess you don't dnow me any more, Mr. Carrick."

At this time the noose was being adjusted. Deputy Lang [Sic.], who was naturally somewhat nervous, placed the knot on the right side. His attention was called to the mistake and he corrected it. Deputy Kelly placed the black cap in position, but removed it long enough to let Hartnett say that he didn't want to say anything and then replaced it.

All was in readiness in less than two minutes after Hartnett appeared on the scaffold and at 1:25½ o'clock this morning Sheriff Beresford threw the lever. . . . Immediately after the drop the puls beat at the rate of 100, but at 1:26, just half a minute after dropping, the murderer was dead.

. . . Two convicts brought in a rough pine box, with wide cracks between the boards, and the body was placed in it until arrange-ments as to its disposition could be completed.

This morning a telegram was received by Warden Peetrey from friends of Hartnett directing that the body be shipped to Cincinnati. The remains were then turned over to Coroner Egan for proper attention and shipment this afternoon or evening. So the medical men will not get the body as expected.

Hartnett was the last man under sentence of death in the Penitentiary, and his execution leaves the slaughter pen uninhabited. The place will be thoroughly renovated and put in readiness for the reception of the next man to pay the penalty of the law with his life. Pending the arrival of the other victims the apartment will be closed. It is expected that Webster, the Ashtabula county man convicted of murder in the first degree [next line missing].

sentenced to-day, will be the next to arrive. There are in the State a number of murder cases pending in the several counties, and it is highly probable that the executions will be of frequent occurence a few months hence.

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