"The day that McGinnis was hung it got as dark as could be and at four o'clock you couldn't see your hand before you." Quote taken from the narration of, Jennie Eliza Fields ..., "but he never did, Johnny Powers killed him."

The Only Atonement For A Horrible Crime
Goes Unfaltering to his Doom!

Today was enacted the closing scene in a remarkable drama in real life commenced on the night of July 5th, 1888. Patrick McGinnis, who murdered Deputy Sheriff Robert Lockwood, expiated his crime on the gallows. He maintained the coolness and nerve which has characterized his actions since his capture and conviction, and during the past few days of his life when certain doom was staring him in the face, not a tremor, no trace of remorse or fear of death was visible on his countenance, and in the hour of his death his indifference did not forsake him.

One o'clock p.m. was the hour named in the death warrant for the execution, and when the hour drew nigh, the prisoner with all shackles removed, in company with the sheriff and deputies and Rev. Father Henrich of Baker City, proceeded to the scaffold at the rear of the jail. Those who expected to see McGinnis display weakness were disappointed, for instead of being assisted to mount the stairs he stepped in advance of the guards and bounded up the steps as though eternity were for years removed, and not for only a few short minutes.

Upon being asked by Sheriff Gray if he had anything to say, he protested his innocence and declared he was not the murderer of Robt. Lockwood. His hands were strapped to his sides, his feet secured, the noose adjusted and the black cap drawn over his face, when after a short prayer by the priest, the soul of Patrick McGinnis was launched into the great world beyond, where if guilty his protestations of innocence only increase his condemnation. The drop was sprung at 1:15 and in 22 minutes Drs. Horsley and Scott pronounced life extinct, and the body was lowered and placed in the coffin. The victim's neck was not broken, but death was caused by strangulation, although not a movement or struggle was perceptible at any time.

The history of the crime with which McGinnis was charged and for which he was subsequently tried and voncited, and the circumstances attending the trial may be briefly outlined as follows: At the 4/1888 term of Circuit Ct. he was indicted by the grand jury for branding horses not his own and bonds fixed at $1,000 but afterwards reduced to $600. About the first of May he was placed under arrest, and failing to give the required bond for his appearance at the Nov. term of Ct. was held in custody, and attended by Robert Lockwood, jailer and deputy sheriff for Grant Co., and as his crime was not of such a nature as to warrant a strict watch being kept over his actions, he was allowed all the favors usually accorded a criminal of his class, having the liberty of the sheriff's office during the day, and the corridor of the jail at night. A Piute Indian was confined at the same time, charged with the murder of a man named Bright in Harney Valley. This prisoner was feared and every precaution was taken by the jailer to not allow him to obtain an advantage in any way, he being confined in the iron cell at night.

On the night of July 5th about 11 o'clock, the jailer was found dead in the jail corridor with a bullet wound in the back of his head and the prisoners both gone. His remains were cared for and a reward of $1,500 for the escaped prisoners. They were both subsequently captured - the Indian over on the Malheur and McGinnis on the John Day near Mt. Vernon. Evidence at the preliminary hearing substantiated the belief that Lockwood came to the jail in the early evening to attend the wants of the Indian who had complained of being sick during the day, and that when in the act of unlocking the cell in which he was confined, McGinnis fired two shots, one missing the officer and the other taking effect in his head as before stated, producing instantaneous death. How McGinnis obtained the weapon-which was "the office pistol", and always kept in a drawer in the sheriff's office, is not known, and perhaps will never be, for no confession was made on the gallows nor any statement to implicate any one. That secret died with Pat McGinnis, and could anyone have been implicated with him in the killing of Lockwood, their own confession, when they are called "to meet Him who judgeth all things", must reveal the fact.

Excerpt taken from the "Narrative Accounts of Jennie Eliza Fields:"

"The day that McGinnis was hung it got as dark as could be and at four o'clock you couldn't see your hand before you. That was the day he was hung. He was hung over here in the courthouse yard - where the courthouse is being built now, where it is going to be built - that is where it was, I know. Mrs. Wood, Jennie Matlock Wood, and all of us walked up the creek and we couldn't hardly see where we was going it was so dark, just awfully dark, and we stopped down on old China steps and rested for awhile and finally decided we could come back, as we decided they had left, and they were just coming from the cemetery. I thought it was terrible to hang an innocent man. He was supposed to have killed Bob Lockwood but he never did, Johnny Powers killed him - another young fellow. It finally come out before old lady Lockwood died, she told it. She said Johnny killed him. But we have had lots of episodes around here of all kind, first one thing and then the other."

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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