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Last Suffolk Hanging 1834

Footnotes to Long Island History

Last Suffolk Hanging 1834

by
Thomas R. Bayles

Navy

 


 
The story of the last execution of a criminal in Suffolk County in 1834 is given in the following article which appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for October 12, 1895.
"Riverhead, L I Oct 12, 1895; The story of the last public execution in Suffolk County in 1834 is recalled by the unearthing of the remains of William Enoch, who was hanged for the murder of his wife on July 31, 1834.
"He was buried in what was then the Potter's field but, which is now the center of the village. The bones were unearthed by workmen excavating for a cellar on the premises of Yetter & Moore, on the corner of Griffin and Railroad avenues yesterday afternoon.
"The remains were identified as those of Enoch from the fact that his feet were encased in boots, the leather of which was well preserved. According to some of the old inhabitants, Enoch was buried in his boots. Dr. L. L. Howell has one of the boots on exhibition in his office."
"Henry L. Griffin, proprietor of the Griffin House, well remembered Enoch's execution, and he told the story to an Eagle reporter. The negro was convicted in June 1834, when Selah B Strong was acting district attorney, H Ogden Edwards was judge, and Richard W Smith of Coram was sheriff.
"Crowds came from all parts of the country to witness the execution, many coming in wagons and bringing their lunches and chairs. The excitement was great and the affair was looked upon as a holiday for all."
"Enoch's funeral sermon w a s preached before the execution in front of the old court house by Rev Mr Harris, pastor of the old Aquebogue church at that time.
"During the service Enoch sat with the sheriff in a carriage, chewing tobacco, and looking as unconcerned as if going to a country fair. After the sermon he was driven across the river to what is called Brooklyn, where the public execution took place in the center of a crowd. Many climbed into the trees to witness it."

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