The Death Drop

 Last Friday, the city of Covington was nearly overrun by the crowd that assembled to see the execution of Phil Watson, the negro wife murderer.  Notwithstanding the Sheriff had not made public the time of execution, some four or five thousand persons made their way through the deep snow drifts to Willow Run Bottom, just back of Linden Grove Cemetery, by the time the fatal moment had arrived, which was at 10:45 a.m.

This immense throng was composed largely of women and children, who, on their way to the scene, laughed and spoke as flippantly of what they expected to see as though solemnity was to them unknown.  Such was the haste of many that they would run over banks into itches, and sometimes fall into the deep snow, and for a time be completely obscured.  In short, the movement of the crowd was as ludicrous as the occasion was tragic.

Watson, it will be remembered, killed his wife some time during the last summer by smashing her skull with a hatchet. He was captured, tried at the last term of the Kentucky Criminal Court, and sentenced to be hanged.  Strong efforts had been made to get the Governor to commute the sentence to imprisonment for life, but he would not interfere, so last Friday Phil paid the penalty of the law by hanging.  His age was something over three-score years, and he died bravely.  When asked on the scaffold if he had anything to say, he gave utterance to the following:

“Farewell vain world, my Lord Jesus Christ has called me and I’m gwinne home.  There’s a mighty heap of rascals left behind me who will follow me through the torments of hell.”

The execution was conducted without a blunder, and after the body had hung about 25 minutes, it was cut down and given in charge of the undertaker.  Watson was the first man ever hung in Kenton County, and had the time of the execution been announced in the morning papers, no doubt there would have been twenty thousand witnesses.


from the Boone County Recorder, February 7, 1878