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The Execution of John Hoffman

The Columbus Dispatch
Tuesday, December 16, 1884
Transcribed by

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And Pleading with the Reporters Not to "Down Him" in the Papers—Pathetic Scene During the Reading of the Death Warrant—The Trap is Sprung, and the Murderer of His Son is Legally Punished.

Special to THE DISPATCH.:

CINCINNATI, O., Dec 16.—John B. Hof-fman was hanged in the jail yard at 10:13 this morning. It was the most dramatic hanging tin the history of the county. A most effective scene occurred in the cell when the Sheriff read the death warrant. On entering, the Sheriff said, "Good morning, Hoffman."

"Good morning, sir," was the reply.

"Sit down! Sit down!": said everybody about him.

"Oh, no. Let me stand; let me stand up," pleaded the old man with tears in his eyes.

"All right, then. I have to read this to you, Hoffman. it is a part of a disagreeable duty," said Col. Hawkins, as he unfolded the death warrant.

"That's all right," said Hoffman bravely. He looked at the gaping crowd and then at the Sheriff. He sobbed. There was a stir of sympathy in the crowd which made a noise. Then it was so still that the rustling of the stiff document was heard plainly. The old man stood in his shirt sleeves and held a handkerchief to his eyes. the long, dry legal procedure was ended without a word from him.

"Mr. Moses," said the Sheriff to the bailiff, "come forward and put on the handcuffs." Then the old man commenced to break down, "Oh, help me, God!" he cried in his broken English, and cried like a woman.

"Bear up, man! Bear up!" said the Sheriff. "Now where is your coat?" Then there was a hunt for it and, with many a groan and sob and cry, the old man was helped to put it on for the last time.

Then occurred a most dramatic scene. The writer has seen twelve hangings, but never such a pitiable sight in the cell of death. An old gray-haired man, four minutes from the grave, held out his hands in supplication to reporters and begged: "Don't run me down in the papers! Don't do it; I was a man; I am a man; so help me God! Oh, God! Oh God! Oh!" His last words ended in a gurgle of groans and tearful cries.

After a terrible scene of tears and groans the old man was led to the scaffold. He had to be carried up the steps and was in danger of falling. He broke out into groans when he saw the rope, and shouted: "They take my life; that's enough!"e and refused further spiritual advice.

When Kleeman put on the leg and breast pinions the old man said, "What are you doing! Oh, God! Oh, God!"

"Ready?" asked Col. Hawkins.

"All right," said Deputy Kleeman.

The lever was quickly pulled, the body fell quickly, and after the first rebound it was seen that the neck was broken. There was no twitching, no convulsion, and the rush of doctors to feel the pulse was the first noise to break the moment of suspense and silence.

Western Assoiciated Press Dispatches:

CINCINNATI, Dec. 16.—John B. Hoffmann was hanged this morning in the jail yard for the murder of his son in January, 1882. He wept while listening to the death-warrant, and begged piteously to not be "downed in the papers." He had to be held while being handcuffed, and was supported on the scaffold by two men while the noose was adjusted. He made no speech.

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