Black Cap Closes The Last Act Of Taylor Tragedy


Jordan Taylor was hanged today at 12:55 o'clock, standard time. At 12:30, he was led forth from the jail and walked to the gallows inclosure with composure. The inclosure was surrounded by a vast crowd of people, both male and female, but no demonstrations toward tearing down the inclosure were made. To prevent this, about 29 armed guards were placed inside a rope stretched some 15 feet from it.

Taylor mounted the steps with firmness. He was attired in a neat suit of black, with linen collar and a black necktie. He was told to make any statement he wished and address the spectators substantially as follows, in a calm and firm voice:

"Friends, this is a serious thing to face. It is a trying thing, but a man is born to die, and it seems I have got to die today. Man's days are numbered, and my number has run out. I committed a terrible crime, but it was the first trouble I ever got into that amounted to anything. I am very sorry that I did it, but it is now too late. I was a fool, but it is too late now. I have been brought up right and never gotten into any other trouble. Young men (I see some young men here), let me tell you, it is a bad thing to lust after a woman. She will surely bring you to a bad end. I hope you will let me be an example to you. I hope this is the last gallows that will ever be put up in this town. It is not the first, and I am not the first man ever hung. I never saw a gallows or a rope like this before. It is a hard thing to die, but I feel willing, for Jesus' sake. But I am mighty sorry that I have come into this fix. I am thankful that this is all that can be brought up against me."

Here, he saw a friend and said to him, "Joe, how's your health? You must study about me when I'm gone." He then called for water and drank with relish and resumed, "I am going to meet death, but I am thankful that I don't dread it. I have suffered more in jail than I expect to suffer here."

Rev. C. G. Garratt (Negro) then read a statement denying that Taylor had ever stolen a saw from Mr. Forbes, as someone had charged. He then offered up an earnest and appropriate prayer, at the conclusion of which the preparations began.

The black cap was first put on; but while the prisoner's feet and legs were being strapped, he asked that it be taken off, and that his legs not be bound so tightly, as it hurt. "I want to see as long as I can," he said.

When he was securely bound, the cap was replaced, and he called upon those around him to shake hands with him. He pressed the hands of several persons with a convulsive and nervous grip, all the while muttering "farewell, farewell." He trembled and had to be supported during this ordeal. At precisely 12:55, standard time, Sheriff Boyd pulled the lever, and Taylor shot through the opening in the twinkling of an eye. His neck was broken, and the flesh torn in one place slightly, and he never moved a muscle after he fell. Death must have been painless to him.

Mr. Boyd shook hands with the doomed man before pulling the lever. It was his first experience of the kind, but the painful duty was performed in the best possible manner.

The body was cut down at 1:16, in just 21 minutes.

He was then placed in his coffin and taken outside, and the coffin was opened to allow the crowd to see the corpse, after which it was taken to the potter's field and buried.

Those Present
There were but 48 persons inside the inclosure, though eight or ten others were let in after the drop fell. The local press was represented, and several correspondents were also on hand. Most of the local physicians were present and a few members of the bar. A fair proportion of the spectators were Negro men. Revs. Garratt and Allensworth were on the scaffold with the prisoner. A clap of thunder came just as the trap was sprung, and a slight rain was falling when the body was cut down.

The Gallows, Rope, And Cap
The gallows were located close to the river bank, on a spot of ground owned by the city, within a few yards of the jail. It was in an inclosure 25 feet square, made of oak plank 16 feet high. There was but one place of ingress, a small door on the south side. There was a crack or knothole here and there, but even these were protected by armed guards on the outside. The scaffold was a first-class piece of work and was erected by Mr. M. L. Christian.

The upright posts and crossbeam were of heavy and substantial timbers and underneath the beam a hole was dug out about two feet deep. From the beam to the bottom of the hole was 15 feet. The platform was about seven feet square, and the trap door was three feet square, all made of thick oak plank. The door was hung on the south side by hinges underneath. On the north was a lever that was attached by a wire to a heavy iron bolt to hold the door up on the underside. By pulling the lever, the bolt was slid back, the door fell, and the body dropped down. The platform was about five and one-half feet below the beam and seven and one-half feet from the ground, and it was reached by steps right opposite the door to the inclosure.

The drop through the door was about six and one-half feet, so that the prisoner's head was about one foot below the platform and his feet about two feet above the bottom of the hole. The gallows were nearly whitewashed and taken altogether it was faultlessly constructed and arranged for the purpose for which it was intended.

The rope was of the best hemp and was purchased new, especially for the execution of Taylor. It costs about $7 and was three-fourths of an inch in diameter.

The black cap was simply a black bag about 15 inches deep, with a shoestring to tie it around the neck. It was the same used on Wm. Morrow, at Clarksville, last Friday, having been borrowed from the Sheriff of Montgomery County, Tennessee. It looked like an old one and had probably been used before Morrow wore it.

Taylor's Last Confession
A representative of the South Kentuckian took down the following confession from Jordan Taylor, on the day before his execution, in the jail, in the presence of his spiritual advisers, Revs. Jas. Allensworth and Cain Garratt. His language is corrected, but the substance of his statement was as given. The confession was supplemental to his last sworn statement, which appears on another page:

"When I started from Mrs. Bronaugh's that night, I sat on the yard fence until Sally Saunders came out to go home. She had come over there to work just to aggravate me and get my money from me. We left together and went down the path towards Casky. I had no intention of killing her when I started, but I picked up the axe at the gate intending to give her a beating with the handle of it when we got down in the field. We walked together until we got nearly to the railroad at Casky, when we sat down and talked for about half an hour. We talked about threats she had made to have me shot. I told her I was done with her, and she couldn't enjoy any more of my money. I was expecting to meet another woman down in the field, and I left Sally at the gap to go back, but she followed me down there and kept worrying me about money to go to Louisville the next Friday.

"About that time, it began to rain a little, and I got up and started towards to the barn. She followed me, and when she got to where I killed her, I told her again to go on home, as it was raining. She said she was neither sugar nor salt. Then the devil got into me. She was breaking me up in my calculations and aggravating me to death. The devil and the lick came together. She was walking alongside of me, but not in reach of the axe. I made a jump at her and hit her on the head with the back of the axe. She fell without a word.

"I looked at her and was sorry I had done it. I would have helped her up, but I saw she was hurt too bad to get well. I then hit her two or three more licks with the back of the axe, but did not touch her with the blade (Taylor reiterated this statement, although his attention was called to the fact that the woman's head was split open). I took her by the feet and dragged her to the willows and then went home. I didn't look for the other woman. It was then about nine or ten o'clock. If I had planned to kill her, I would have done it differently. I had no intention to do her harm, and if she had gone on about her business, both of us might have had life and liberty today. This is about all there is to tell concerning the killing."

Taylor then referred to the statement that he had robbed hen-roosts and emphatically denied it. He said, "I never stole a chicken in my life. I stole some gear once, when I was wagoning, because mine was stolen, and I didn't want to take my team home naked. I used to take watermelons. I used to tell folks when they planted their patches to plant some for me. The conjure bag I had was not gotten from Lee. I had it myself and kept it just to lie about I never believed in Lee's 'conjure' business, but kept the 'Jack' just to have fun over it.

"This is all I have to say. I hope you will sympathize with me and not "burlesque" me in your paper."

Taylor Baptized Yesterday
The condemned man was taken from the jail yesterday afternoon at three o'clock and immersed in Little River, about 100 yards from the jail, and within ten steps of the gallows. An effort was made to keep the matter quiet, but in spite of all precautions, fully 500 people got wind of it in time to attend. He was led forth in handcuffs, and in order to guard against the possibility of suicide by drowning a rope was tied to his arm and held by the sheriff on the bank. He was taken about 30 feet from the eastern bank and baptized underneath the spreading limbs of a sycamore tree on the opposite side.

Before entering the water, a hymn was sung, and Rev. Jas. Allensworth (Negro) offered a fervent prayer, and then he was led slowly in with Rev. Allensworth on his left and Rev. Cain Garratt (Negro) on his right. The latter administered the divine ordinance in a solemn and impressive manner, while profound silence was maintained by the spectators; both white and black. Taylor was then quietly conducted back to his cell. The minister who baptized him was of the Baptist faith. After returning to the jail, sacrament was administered to the prisoner by his spiritual advisers.

His Last Hours
Taylor slept but little during his last night on earth. He occupied a cell with Henry Martin (Negro), who killed Wiley Hutcherson a few months ago. He slept, but little and his agony was fearful. Speaking to the sheriff a day or two before, the miserable wretch begged to be hanged at one instead of ten o'clock. He said, "I don't want to die, and I would tell a lie if I said I did. I want to live every hour I can, and then I'll try to die like a man. The judge gave me every day he could, and I want you to give me the last hour and the last minute you can. While I am here I knows where I is, but when you get done with me, I don't know where I'll be."

The sheriff was moved by his pleadings and changed the hour to one o'clock.

Taylor ate a hearty breakfast of beefsteak and eggs this morning and appeared to be trying hard to nerve himself up to meet his fate bravely.

He spent most of the morning in prayer and in consultation with his spiritual advisors. He ate dinner with relish and appeared to be truly resigned to meet his fate when the fatal hour arrived for him to start to the gallows.