From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about a Civil War hanging in present-day Logan County, West Virginia.
Squire Sentenced Man To Be Hanged In This County
Constable George Scaggs Carried Out Edict Of Justice Of Peace John Perry Near Taplin In Logan County’s Only Legal Hanging
Nothing but the gnarled weather beaten stump of an old locust tree remains today to mark the scene of Logan county’s only legal hanging.
The stump is standing just below the highway at the mouth of Taplin hollow and is the only landmark which calls to mind the hanging of Henry S. Walker, convicted of murder by Squire John Perry of Man in the spring of 1862 and hanged the same day by Constable George Scaggs, uncle of Emmett Scaggs, prominent lawyer, and brother-in-law of Eli Gore, old resident of Stollings.
A story is told that Henry Walker came down Taplin Hollow late one night in the closing months of the civil war on a “scouting” tour. He entered the home of Uncle Frank McKesson and for no apparent reason seized a double bitted axe and chopped to lifeless, bleeding masses the bodies of Uncle Frank and his wife and then fled to Raleigh county.
One week later Constable George Scaggs arrested the man in the county where he was hiding and brought him before Justice of the Peace John Perry.
Squire John Perry had a fine eye for justice and he was meting it out under the Virginia law which allowed a justice of the peace to pass the death sentence.
George Scaggs was delegated as executioner and Walker was put on a wagon and brought to Taplin down the river road to the spot where he committed the crime.
Old-timers say that a crowd of men, women and children laughing and passing jokes on the show they were to see followed the wagon to the scene of the proposed hanging and watched tensely as a rope was thrown over the limb of the locust tree and the noose was placed snuggly around the neck of the murderer.
He was placed on the flour barrel, a couple of feet of the slack in the rope was taken up and tied securely to the trunk of the tree, and George Scaggs, without any preliminaries, kicked the flour barrel from under the man.
The man fell to within six inches of the ground and the awed onlookers gasped as they heard an audible crack which told them the murderer’s neck had snapped. He hung quivering at the end of the rope several minutes before the peace officer cut him down and placed him in the wagon to be taken to Man for burial.
The same crowd followed the wagon back to Man, but it was a crowd of sober individuals who had seen a human life pass into oblivion. There was no joking and even the children talked in muted undertones.
Source: Logan (WV) Banner, 01 June 1937.