The Mountain Eagle
Whitesburg, Letcher County, Kentucky, May 26 1910.
GOES TO THE SCAFFOLD
Floyd Frazier, the Young Man Convicted of the Murder of
Mrs. Ellen Flanary on May 21, 1907, Pays Extreme
Penalty of the Law on May 19, 1910.
OVER 3,500 WITNESS AWFUL PAGEANT
"Good-bye to everybody, forever and forever! My mother, oh, my mother! Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!"
- were the last words heard from the lips of Floyd Frazier as Sheriff Cook severed the small cord that stood between him and eternity. This done and the awful remorse of living was over. This done and three thousand souls and more had witnessed the most solemn pageant, the most solemn spectacle, that can come to one of earth's fallible creatures. This done and our citizens had witnessed the first legal execution to take place on Letcher's fair domain.
The sun rose as early as usual on last Thursday morning but ere this section had been bathed in its rays the streets of Whitesburg were full of people. As the day wore along every road leading to the little town added to this influx. It was a very sober crowd considering the great number present. The day dragged along without incident worth mentioning until about 1 o'clock when Sheriff Cook announced from an upper window in the Courthouse that the crowd should assemble over on the College grounds at the place prepared for the execution. The exodus then commenced and soon the streets were cleared.
In a half hour after the crowd gathered the sheriff and guards went to the jail and the prisoner was delivered to them by Jailer Hall, and placing him in a carriage they drove slowly to the scaffold. When the carriage conveying the prisoner arrived the massive crowd had become a little restless but lapsed into almost profound silence when Sam C. Tyree, at the request of Sheriff Cook, spoke a few appropriate remarks from the top of the scaffold admonishing the people to be on their best behavior, and called special attention to the seriousness of the occasion and the profound thought that should pervade the mind of every individual present. The prisoner hesitated a moment at the bottom of the stairs, then with assistance walked up and on the platform. There was a hush like unto death itself during the interim. The great crowd at last caught a realization of the awful solemnity of the occasion and with bated breath awaited the terrible ordeal.
The prisoner made around on the scaffold talking in broken sentences to and clinging to those around him. Floods of tears were streaming down the cheeks of many who had perhaps not shed tears in years. Soon stenographer Day mounted an arm of the scaffold and as he caught the statements from the prisoner declared them in strong tones to the audience. All listened with patience. Before this Mr. Day was taking every word uttered on the platform by the prisoner, who requested that we reproduce said stenographer's notes which are as follows:
Incidents as Reported by
Stenographer D. I. Day
At 1 o'clock sharp by Eastern time the prisoner left the jail and was placed in the carriage driven by P. E. Holcomb and conveyed to the scene of the execution. Arriving he dismounted, assisted by Sam Collins, Will Hall and others, and started to ascend the stairway, but only got up a few steps till he backed down and called for Jane Gibson. She came to him and the prisoner whispered something to her but I could not get the exact words. Whatever it was it required an answer and he demanded that she say "yes or no." Miss Gibson finally answered "no" and he then shook hands with her and proceeded up the steps with the assistance of the guards. After a bit he was asked if he desired to talked to the crowd and he replied, "All I have to say is that my mother did not know nothing about the crime they accuse me of, and which they are trying to get her into. She is clear as the angels."
He then called Dr. Fitzpatrick and said, "Doctor, you are a good man, too; you are for what is right. My mother is clear of what they are ' cusing' her of. There is nothing against me, there is not the breadth of a hair against me, there is no sin against me. I have been forgiven for all I have done; the Lord has pardoned all my sins, what sins I have done. Doctor, if they put anything in the paper against me - that is, this way, if they have no respect for me they ought to have some for my people. I do not want anything put in the paper against me only what is right. There is somebody in this crowd that has something they want to publish, and if they have no respect for me they ought to have for my people, for we all have good people. I am against anything being published in my statement only what is right. Where is the picture man, Doctor? They are trying to take my picture and I don't want them to, Doctor." Judge Fitzpatrick then requested that no pictures be taken of the young man and the photographers withdrew.
Dr. Venters then came up and asked Floyd if he knew him. He said "I think not." Doctor said "you know I was down to the jail to see you." The prisoner said "yes," and talking on said, "I have some good friends - good people - and I have some bad ones, too, Dock. My mother never gave me any bad counsel. We have good people and we have some bad ones, and if you have no respect for me have some for my people, and don't have anything put in the paper only what is right."
He called J. M. Day to him and said, "Jim, when I was going to school to you I was not thinking of having to come to this." Mr. Day said he never thought of it, either. Floyd said, "All I dread is the sting of death and there is nothing to that for it is soon over. My mother, she has some good people, too. Jim, if I had listened to you and mother I might never have been here. Mother was always good to me and always talked right to me."
Louis Cook was called and he said, "Louis, you can do something for me that I cannot do for you." Cook said, "honey I don't know what it is." and he said, "you can take my life and I cannot take yours. My life is just as sweet to me as yours is to you. Some have said to me, 'if I was in your place I would do this, I would do this -'." He failed to say what they told him to do.
The sheriff was calling over the guards and called out Henry Raleigh's name. Turning to Dug Day the prisoner asked "is Henry Raleigh here? Is he the man that petitioned against me? If he did I don't want him up here on the scaffold with me. I like the man alright and have nothing against him now, whatever."
He then called over Charley Hogg, and taking him by the hand said, "Charley, you have a good mother; she has always awful good to me, and she was good to you, too, and she was always good to everybody so far as I know."
"I want to see Willie Hogg," he said," and being told that Willie was there but did not care to come upon the scaffold, he said, "Tell him he is a good boy and he has a good mother, so far as I know." He turned to Charley Hogg and said, "Charley, was there anything mother told you to tell me?" Charley said, "no, nothing only her request was that you be brought over there tonight." He clung to Mr. Hogg and wept. "Oh, Lord! Who is going to take me, Sam?" (he was asking Sam Collins). Sam replied, "anybody you want to take you, Floyd." He asked, "have they got anybody to take me?" and then someone asked if he wanted James H. Frazier to take him and he said, "Jim Frazier, some people 'does' not like Jim, but I do. Every man has his faults; he has his and I have mine and we all have our faults."
"How much time have I got yet," he asked. He was told about a half hour and he said, "give me all the time you can. Jim Frazier is a good man, I think; but every man has his faults, you have yours and I have mine."
Turning to Jim Day he said, "Jim, you used to whip me but you are forgiven alright for it now; you did wrong in whipping me. I am not running you down nor 'nothing' but you are mean, or I think it, but I forgive you now for all you have done." Mr. Day said "I may have done wrong, but I did not think so at the time, and if I did do wrong I want to apologize to you and ask you to forgive me. I might have been wrong but I thought I was right." Floyd said, "you are forgiven now; you drawed me up there and whipped me and said you ought to. You gave me out some words to spell and I spelled them and I could not give the definition and you whipped me, and if you were to give them out to me now I could not define them." Mr. Day said, "well, Floyd, I want you to forgive me, if you have anything against me for what I have done," and he replied, "you are forgiven for all now. You whipped me because I could not spell some words and give the definition, still you 'says' I will make you stand up there until you do spell them and I asked you for my books to go home and you would not let me have them, and you said I had to stand up there and learn them, and I 'says' "I can stand up here until my legs come off and then I cannot spell them." You whipped me too hard by rights, didn't you?" Jim said, "I don't know, I might have, but I did not think so then." He turned around and spoke a few words to Karl E. Davis but requested that what was said be not taken down.
He then said to Charley Hogg, "Charley, you have a good mother." Mr. Hogg said, "your mother wants you to be buried at Steve Adams'." "Old Steve's" he asked. He was told yes. He was asked if he had any desires as to where he should be buried and he replied, "I have no desires where, just tell her to have me put wherever she wants to, just so it is on solid ground, no matter where it is." Speaking to Charley Hogg, he said, "Charley I guess I have 'seed' Willie my last time. He is a good boy."
Louis Cook walked by and the prisoner said, "Louis Cook is a big fellow, stepping around like he is." Charley Hogg said, "yes, Floyd, but he is compelled to do this." He replied, "yes, but he can do something for me that I can't do for him; he can take my life but I cannot take his." Mr. Hogg said, "yes, but you ought not think hard of him." Floyd said, "I would love to tell him, you tell him * * * all I want is justice."
He was requested to stand up so the people could see him and he arose talking but asked that it not be put down. He looked all about him and finally said to Monroe Fields, "do you want to see this done, Monroe Fields?" "I want to see it done if it has to be done. I do not mean that I want to see it done, unless it has to be done," replied Mr. Fields.
At 1:57 they began tying the rope around his arms but he strongly opposed this. The sheriff told him he had to and by persusion of those around him succeeded. He placed one foot on the trap door and drew it back quickly, as if he feared it might fall, but being assured it was safe stepped on it with both feet. He said, "I cannot think hard of 'no' man; I think hard of none of you, I cannot afford to."
At 2 o'clock the rope was placed about his neck and the cap drown down over his head. He asked the sheriff for another minute. He said, "Sheriff Cook you have a heart like a bull dog." He then said, "say this, 'Sam Collins is my best friend', and scream it out at the top of your voice." He said this to no one in particular. Then he spoke his last words. "Good-bye to everybody, forever and forever! My mother, O, my mother! O, Lord! O, Lord!"
At 2:02 the rope that held the trap door was cut by the sheriff and he fell through. Doctors Roark, Fitzpatrick and Venters at once began to feel his pulse.
At from ten to twelve minutes after the drop he was pronounced dead and in four or five minutes more the rope was cut and his body placed in the coffin. Dr. Fitzpatrick says he thinks that the neck was broken, while others including Dr. Venters thought not. If his neck was not broken it was due to the arrangement of the rope in tying. When placed in the coffin the body was gently lifted into a carriage and conveyed to the home of his mother, Mrs. Nancy Adams, on head of Little Cowan, where it remained for the night. The next day the body was interred in the Steve Adams graveyard on the same creek.
This unfortunate young man was about 24 years of age and leaves a widowed mother and several small brothers and sisters. There is no better or more highly connected family of people living in Letcher County than the Fraziers and we regret much on their account this unfortunate affair and its sad ending.
On the evening before the execution the editor of this paper visited the prisoner in his cell. He was the very picture of despair. Every word and action of the young man indicated very clearly that he had no hopes for the future in this world, but that his hopes were anchored beyond the veil there seemed to be no doubt. In the course of his remarks he said, "I do not care what is printed now about me, only I want it to be the truth and the truth will clear my poor old mother. You promised to say sometime ago that my mother was clear but I did not see it. Let that come out next week." Then he remarked about the statement made over a year ago, and said it was nearly all false and he did not want it printed and we told him we would not. He then mentioned Sam Collins and said he had held some ill feelings about him but that he had concluded that Sam was his friend and he wanted him to go on the hill with him. This request reached Mr. Collins and accounts for the presence of Mr. Collins on the scaffold.
Two or three days before his execution the prisoner did make a lengthy statement and as we are informed swore to it, but as it was made so as to clear his mother and contains nothing of importance to the public our readers will excuse us for not publishing it.
From every indication Sheriff Cook was anxious and very anxious to get the terrible task off his hands. Everyone could see the terrible ordeal through which he was passing. He was the very picture of worry itself. Amid it all, however, he performed his duty with excellent nerve, bearing up well under the awful task.
Now that this matter that has so long agitated the minds of our people is all over, we trust our readers will excuse us if we refer to it no more in future issues of this paper.
Only once in a very liberal, casual way, have we editorially referred to the Floyd Frazier case. Now, that the finding of the jury and the decree of the court has been satisfied, we will add another word and "wash our hands" of the whole incident. Soon after the editorial referred to above was published it came to us that some of our friends were "champing the bit" and accusing us of taking the part of the condemned man.
In writing that editorial we wanted to make it plain that we were only expressing a one man's opinion, a personal opinion, and that, too, after carefully searching in our heart to see whether or not there was prejudice in it for or against any one of God's creatures. Why? Mrs. Ellen Flanary was a relative of ours. Our lips trembled, our heart ached and our eyes overflowed with tears when we thought how awful must have been that death struggle for her over in that little lonesome ravine up on the head of Pert Creek. What influences were brought to bear and how the killing took place God alone knows. The judgments of God are not like the judgments of man. He will do all His creatures right. He made us all and He is no stranger to our thoughts and the motives for our acts. I would not harm the humblest or the mightiest of His creatures except in self defense. The verdicts of the juries, the law, the decrees of the courts and public opinion had woven a net around the victim that no act of man could unloosen. We saw it all, and God knows our heart wrung with pity, for he was a human, moving as surely and as swiftly as one can move toward a certain fixed fate. The inevitable was upon him. Whether he had mentality enough or not to realize it, it seemed uncertain. Realizing this ourselves could any heart look upon it and not turn away in pity?
And now since he has gone into the presence of God, we are glad that we felt kindly toward the poor victim. We are a tub upon our own bottom and speak only for ourselves and reserve unto every other tub the right to its own bottom. Oh, that every one of God's creatures everywhere could but realize its own human responsibility! Then, "as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them," would come in with such force that the world would be better. The Eagle is enlisted in the battle for the betterment of humanity and as long as it can think a thought, push a pencil or turn a wheel it will be found at its post. Its human, nothing but human, and it may get wrong, but when it does it will believe its right; it may err, but if so it will be on the side of the living and on the side of mercy. With us now the tragedy is ended and the curtain down. May it redound to the betterment and awakening of humanity. The following beautiful lines from Holmes come crowding into our mind and we close this with them:
"Oh, Father, grant thy love devine, To make these mystic temples thine, When wasting age and wearying strife, Have sapp'd the leaning walls of life, When darkness gathers over all And the last tettering pillars fall Take the poor dust, Thy mercy warms, And mold it into heavenly forms.
Letcher County, KY, Genealogy