John Isaac West
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was arrested for the murder of a man in a neighboring county. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. After a failed escape, he was hanged in front of a crowd of 6,000 which had a festival-like atmosphere, since many brought lunches. This was the last public hanging in Boonville, Missouri.
The Osage Valley Banner, May 22,1879
John I. West was hanged today on the old fairgrounds near this city for the murder of a fellow tramp named Shin, some time last October. Some eight thousand persons were present.
The prisoner addressed the assemblage for about thirty minutes and denied the statement made on his trail by one of the principal witnesses for the State. He then baded farewell to the crowd, the black cap was placed on his head, his arms and feet secured, and the trap sprung, but the rope and body fell, straightened out, and turned over.
The body was then seized by four or five men and held up, the ropes readjusted, and a signal given by the sheriff, again swung off. The scene is described as being one of the most heart-rending ever witnessed.
West died game. He was cool and collected and walked to the scaffold with a firm, steady step. His father, from Chapin, Ill., witnessed the execution. West died at just 12 o'clock.