Author Topic: Frontier Justice  (Read 426 times)

Offline W. Gray

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Frontier Justice
« on: July 22, 2012, 06:39:46 PM »
Wilma, Bullwinkle, and others were having a discussion on another thread and topic, the Century 16 Massacre in Aurora, CO, about frontier justice. In this case about hangings.

This reminded me of post I made to another forum:

The first legal hanging in Independence, Missouri, my hometown after Howard, occurred on May 10, 1839.

Independence is the county seat of Jackson County.

A female Jackson County resident offered $150 to a local man named Henry Gaster to murder her husband. (That would be the equivalent of $5,000, today) He agreed.

The female and her husband lived on a farm six miles southeast of Independence square.

Gaster, the hit man, aimed a long gun into the victim’s cabin through a hole in the wall and shot the husband in the heart.

Gaster and the wife were arrested with Gaster placed in the Jackson County jail.

Gaster escaped by digging under the floor but was captured in southwest Missouri and returned to Independence.

The wife was convicted for her part and given a prison sentence, but was pardoned before going to the state penitentiary—apparently because there were no facilities for her at this time in history. She was an abused spouse and had unsuccessfully tried to kill her husband twice before she hired Gaster.

In an open area southwest of the square, a gallows was erected consisting of two tall upright log posts set in the ground with a cross log above over which a hangman’s rope was thrown.

A wagon carrying Gaster sitting on his coffin was driven from the then county jail, on Main Street just south of the present 1859 jail, to the hanging site. (This would have been about one mile)

The horses were maneuvered between the two posts positioning the wagon and coffin directly below the cross bar.

“Thousands” from near and far were reported to have attended the event.

Jackson County sheriff John King placed the noose around Gaster’s neck and his deputy, Joe Reynolds, placed a black hood over his face.

With Gaster standing on his coffin, the wagon was driven away leaving Gaster dangling by his neck.

Gaster left behind a wife and six children. The murdered victim left behind eight children.

"If one of the many corrupt...county-seat contests must be taken by way of illustration, the choice of Howard County, Kansas, is ideal." Dr. Everett Dick, The Sod-House Frontier, 1854-1890.
"One of the most expensive county-seat wars in terms of time and money lost...” Dr. Homer E Socolofsky, KSU


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