The Osborne Hanging

John Osborne John Marion Osborne was born in Clay County, Illinois in 1846. He served in the Iowa Cavalry of the US Army during the Civil War. After the war was over, he joined a band of thieves and robbers called Frank F. Sidney's Western Bandit Volunteers and was convicted for larceny and sent to the State Penitentiary at Fort Madison. He was released for good conduct after two years.

He lived in Galesburg until 1871 when he moved to Yates City and found work on the farm of John M. Mathews. On Aug. 5, 1872, Adelia M. Mathews was found dead in the basement of her home. Her throat had been cut.

Osborne was arrested for the murder the next day. He was held overnight at the magistrate's office. The next day, a large crowd gathered and loud shouts of "hang him" were frequently heard. A guard of 22 citizens escorted him to the train station. As the mob became unruly and produced a rope, Osborne was smuggled into a baggage car and the train departed. Still fearful of security, Osborne was moved to a Peoria jail until his trial.

The trial was held in Galesburg on Feb. 5, 1873. A reported crowd of 3,500 attended the trial. Included in the evidence was tracks found in the cellar and through the field outside of a size 6 boot, the size Osborne wore. He was found guilty and sentence was passed on Feb. 20. March 14, 1873 was set as the date for the hanging.

Although Osborne claimed he was innocent at the sentencing, he wrote a confession the night before his hanging. He claimed he had been offered $5,000 to kill Mrs. Mathews because she had overheard a conversation and was to be a witness for her father in a lawsuit.

The day of the hanging, he reportedly ate a dish of oysters at 8 a.m. before washing and dressing. A scaffold had been erected outside the northwest corner of the Jail.

According to the old records, Osborne was pronounced dead eight minutes after the drop and his body was allowed to dangle for another 35 minutes. His body was placed in a coffin and the public was allowed to view the remains for half an hour before the coffin was taken to Galesburg for interment.

Hanging Noose

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