Original gallows photograph of a syphilitic murderer whose harassing advances were repeatedly rejected by the young woman he killed. Image of Hurt Hardy.
Original gallows photograph of a syphilitic murderer whose harassing advances were repeatedly rejected by the young woman he killed

Original gallows photograph of a syphilitic murderer whose harassing advances were repeatedly rejected by the young woman he killed

St. Genevieve, Missouri: 1937. Unbound.

This 6.5” x 8.5” press photograph is captioned on the reverse:

“International Chicago 2-27-37. With 400 persons crowded around the gallows within a stockade on the county farm near here, Hurt Hardy, 31, was hanged for the murder of his sweetheart, Ethel Fenestock. In 1935 (sic) Hardy is shown standing on the gallows with legs strapped just before the hood was placed over his head. Sent to A and C lists.”

There is also a backstamp that reads, “Received Examiner Reference Library Mar 1, 1937”.

The photo caption has two additional errors besides the “1935” date. Hall was 32 at the time of his execution, and the young woman murdered by Hardy was not his “sweetheart.” Local newspapers reported that the 20-year old had repeatedly spurned Hardy’s advances, and Find-a-Grave provides additional details:

“He shot Ethel through a crack in her barn door as she was preparing to milk some cows on September 28, 1935. A professional hangman from Illinois, who had executed 59 other condemned convicts, was brought in to conduct the hanging. The hangman placed a black hood over Hardy’s head and strapped his arms and legs to his body, before hanging him.”. Very good. Item #009340

To no avail at his trial, Hardy claimed his actions were due to a tertiary case of syphilis. Wikipedia notes that Hardy is often identified as the last person to be publicly executed in the United States, however that is not technically true. Officials had built a 16-foot tall enclosure around the gallows to ensure only those authorized would be able to view the execution. However, 1,400 eager spectators showed up to witness the hanging. 400 somehow entered the enclosure and were allowed to remain for the execution, while the remaining 1,000 remained outside the wooden fence and listened. Just before the trapdoor was sprung, Hardy told the crowd, “I will be happy to meet my sweetheart in the beyond.” Hardy was the hangman’s 69th, not 59th, execution (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 Feb 1937).

Very scarce. As of 2019, there are no photos of Hardy’s execution for sale in the trade. OCLC shows no institutions hold Hardy execution photos. Although the Rare Book Hub shows no auction records for photos, a photograph with a different view of Hardy on the gallows was sold on eBay in 2013.

Price: $250.00

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