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The Hanging of James Fields at the Carding Mill.

Leavenworth was witness to an execution in 1846. James Fields, of near Milltown, Indiana, was hanged for the heinous crime of murdering his mother. Fields allegedly came home late one night while under the influence of liquor and ordered his mother up out of bed to fix his supper. When she did not move as quickly as he felt she should, he drew a revolver and shot her. Mrs. Fields died three days later, on June 10. A grand jury indicted Fields on a charge of first degree murder. He was apprehended by Sheriff Dan Clark and lodged in the county jail at Leavenworth.

Fields pleaded not guilty on grounds of a false sense to the indictment. Held early in November, the trial brought out little to disprove Fields' guilt, but the jury failed to bring in a verdict. A new jury was selected immediately and a second trial started at once. The prisoner was found guilty as charged, and was sentenced by Judge John Lockart to pay with his life for his crime. The date of the execution was set for December 18, barely a month hence.

A gallows was built by the carding mill. Hundreds of people flocked into Leavenworth to witness the hanging. The condemned man rode from the jail in a horse-drawn wagon, sitting on his coffin, as six armed men marched behind. Fields was placed on the trap door and the noose adjusted around his neck. Sheriff Clark struck at the rope which would release the trap door, but in his understandably highly nervous state, missed the rope. The second try sprung the trap, but the rope broke. Several nearby spectators held the condemned man up as high as they could, others tied the rope back together, and the execution was consummated. Fields' body was buried just east of town, alongside the road to Corydon, Indiana.

Source: Buried Neath the Waters by: H.O. "Whitley" Jones

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