1910 Hanging of Earl Thompson
Without a Murmur, Earl Thompson, the Negro Boy,
Meets Death on Scaffold at Williamstown.
Earl Thompson, the 17-year-old negro, who was convicted of rape, was hanged at daylight Saturday morning last [Jan 8, 1910] in an enclosure in the court house yard in Williamstown.
The authorities took snap judgment on the morbid public by having the execution take place at an early hour.
The night before the execution Jailer asked Landrum if he was going to die game. Before he went to bed, he said “After this little nigger is gone I am not going to have people say they had to carry him to the scaffold. As I am compelled to die, I will die game.”
About 1:05 he went to his cell, lay down and slept soundly until 4:30 when he was aroused by the jailer.
At 4:45 he ate a hearty breakfast consisting of a piece of ham as large as his hand, gravy, butter, preserves, cup of coffee and two slices of bread.
He then donned the clothing that he was to die in, and when asked if there was anything else he wanted replied in the negative. Ask if he cared to have a little toddy, he replied, “No, I don’t want to drink any whiskey now.” He also refused a cigar. Dr. Menifee arrive shortly before 6 o’clock and found the condemned man in good physical condition and pulse good.
At 6 o’clock the Sheriff arrived and read the death warrant to him and he expressed his readiness to die like a man. At about two minutes after six the black cap was adjusted on Thompson’s head in the jail, strap buckled on one arm and the procession began for the scaffold.
Reaching the scaffold the condemned man walked underneath a beam and gamely stood waiting the end, and when asked what he had to say made the following statement:
Gentlemen, I have committed a crime that I ought to be hung for and I am ready to go, I have prayed to the Lord and He has told me that my soul was saved and that my neck would be broken. I hope this will be a lesson to both white and colored boys. I have gotten down on my knees and prayed to my God, and he has told me that I was saved. I done a crime that I ought to be hung for, and I ought to pay the penalty. The town people have certainly been good to me and I want to thank them for it; and I want this to be a lesson to both little colored boys and white boys. I have prayed to the Lord for my dear old mother, and that, gentlemen, is why I’m willing to die. I have caused he more trouble than any boy in Dry Ridge. I am sorry for it and I hope it will be a lesson to both white and black boys.”
Asked if he accomplished the purpose for which he went to the home of Ransom Roberts he replied that he did not and that he had never at any time admitted that he did, although he tried to carry out his designs.
After signifying that he had completed his statement and was ready, the straps were quickly adjusted around his legs and hands and the drop was sprung by Sheriff Leary, who also tied the knot, at exactly 6:12. Further than the noise occasioned by the trap, there was no sound of any kind made and the prisoner was not pronounced dead until 6:29, taking just 17 minutes to die. Death was due to strangulation, and his neck was not broken.
Immediately underneath the scaffold a coffin had been placed on a pair of trestles by undertaker Elliston, and the rope which was twelve feet long, made of the best manila rope, costing the county one dollar per foot, was untied and the corpse placed in the casket and buried early Friday morning at the Williamstown Cemetery at the expense of the state.
About forty people were present at the execution, several coming in later and were disappointed. Among the crowd without the enclosure were several women who were not admitted to the enclosure.
From the Grant County News, as reprinted in the Falmouth Outlook of January 14, 1910.