1880 DEATH CARD FOR A YOUNG MAN SENTENCED TO HANG

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Item Code: L14436

CDV sized card telling the story of 22 year old Walker Kilgore of Mexico, Missouri who was hanged on March 5, 1880 for the murder of a man in 1879.

The obverse of the card has a black cross at top with a drawn portrait of Kilgore beneath. Below the image is “WALKER KILGORE – AGE 22 YEARS – TO BE HANGED MARCH 5TH – AT MEXICO, MO.”

The reverse of the card is completely covered with text giving the details of the crime. The title at top reads “THE CRIME THE DOOMED BOY COMMITTED.” The text is then divided into three parts “THE MURDER,” “CAUSE OF THE MURDER,” “KILGORE’S BIOGRAPHY.”

The card has yellowed some with age and shows some light surface dirt around the edges but all the artwork and text are in excellent condition.

Walker Kilgore was a partner with an older man named Robert Railey. The two men got into a dispute with a local man named Lorenzo Dow Willingham over some corn planted in a field near Railey’s house. While Willingham was harvesting the corn Railey encouraged young Kilgore to take a gun and confront Willingham. When he did, angry words were exchanged. Kilgore claimed that Willingham pulled a gun so Kilgore shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the face. Willingham later died. His gun was found at the scene of the shooting but it had not been fired. Kilgore turned himself in and told the sheriff he shot Willingham in self defense while he was hunting rabbits. Later he admitted to Railey’s encouraging him to confront Willingham. Kilgore was sentenced to hang and Railey left the country to avoid prosecution.

The trial and hanging were a big event in Mexico, Missouri at the time and was covered by the local newspapers. Kilgore was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Mexico, Adrian County, Missouri.  [AD] [ph:L]

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