True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 8
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8 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
reported the tact to the authorities here. Proper papers were
made out and Hyde was arrested and brought back. That was
in 1853, and the hanging took place in what was afterwards
known as Hangsman Grove just on the southeast corner of the
old cemetery out of the San Felipe Road. At that time and for
many years after, that place was away out in the country, but
is now thickly settled, with blocks of houses far beyond it.
Captain Thom. Hogan was sheriff of Harris County at the
time and was so nervous and excited that he stood on the trap
with the condemned man and was about to cut the rope that
held it in position, but was dragged of before he could do so.
The next execution to take place out there was that of a
negro named Johnson, in 1868, followed about two years later
by the execution of another negro named Johnson. I witnessed
both of these and at the last one I learned something that has
done me more good and helped me to have faith in my fellow
man than anything that has ever occurred to me. I suppose
every reader of these lines has heard one or more honorable
man get on the witness stand In court and swear to something
that was not true. Such swearing is not confined to any one
class, but the very best men-men of the highest integrity have
been guilty of it. The majority of people put them down as
willful liars and let it go at that, without attempting to go
further. Not so with me. I have faith in them and know that
they are telling what they think is true. The reason for my
feeling that way is explained by this incidence. When the
last negro was hanged, I was standing where I could see him
plainly. I saw the hangsman adjust the rope about his neck
and fit the knot under his left 'ear. I was on the right side.
The negro wore a white shirt with a big, turned-down collar.
When the drop fell I saw the rope peel back the,black skin
for about an inch, leaving the white flesh exposed for a moment.
Then several large drops of black looking blood formed
on the wound, slowly trickled down and fell on the white
After the negro was cut down I went with the doctor to the
old pest house on the bank of the bayou to see the postmortem
examination he was going to make. Of course the first thing
I looked for was the wound on the neck, but, to my amazement,
I found none. The skin was unbroken, not even scratched.
The truth is that I had simply seen something that I expected
to see, without knowing that I expected to see it. I was greatly
excited, but wa not conscious that I was so. Ever since then
when I have heard absurd and palpably false statements made
in court, by reputable men, I have felt that those making them
were telling the truth, or at least what they thought was the
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/8/?rotate=90: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .