Foote, Julia A.J.
|My Teacher hung for Crime.|
My great anxiety to read the Testament caused me to learn to spell quite rapidly, and I was just commencing to read when a great, calamity came upon us. Our teacher's name was John Van Paten. He was keeping company with a young lady, who repeated to him a remark made by a lady friend of hers, to the effect that John Van Paten was not very smart, and she didn't see why this young lady should wish to marry him. He became very angry, and, armed with a shotgun, proceeded to the lady's house, and shot her dead. She fell, surrounded by her five weeping children. He then started for town, to give himself up to the authorities. On the way he met the woman's husband and told him what he had done. The poor husband found, on reaching home, that John's words were but too true; his wife had died almost instantly.
After the funeral, the bereaved man went to the prison and talked with John and prayed
Finally the day came for the condemned to be publicly hung (they did not plead emotional
insanity in those days). Everybody went to the execution, and I with the rest. Such a sight! Never
shall I forget the execution of my first school-teacher. On the scaffold he made a speech, which I
cannot remember, only that he said he was happy, and ready to die. He sang a hymn, the chorus of
"I am bound for the kingdom;
Will you go to glory with me?"
clasping his hands, and rejoicing all the while.
The remembrance of this scene left such an impression upon my mind that I could not sleep for many a night. As soon as I fell into a doze, I could see my teacher's head tumbling about the room as fast as it could go; I would waken with a scream, and could not be quieted until some one came and staid with me.
Never since that day have I heard of a person being hung, but a shudder runs through my whole frame, and a trembling seizes me. Oh, what a barbarous thing is the taking of human life, even though it be "a life for a