Strange Endings, the Last of Things
Famous Endings, the Last of Things
LAST DEATH FROM SMALLPOX
In September, 1978, Janet Parker, an English medical photographer, was exposed to smallpox as the result of a laboratory accident. She subsequently died. On May 8, 1980, the World health Organization declared smallpox eradicated. Some samples remain in laboratories in Atlanta and Moscow. When scientists destroy the samples the smallpox virus will become the first life form intentionally eliminated from the earth.
LAST EXECUTION IN TOWER OF LONDON
The last execution in the Tower of London took place on Thursday, August 14, 1941, when Josef Jakobs, a German spy, was shot by an eight-man firing squad. Because he had suffered a broken ankle when he had parachuted into England on the night of January 31, 1941, he could not stand before the firing squad and he was, instead, seated in an old Windsor chair and tied up. Five of the eight shots pierced his heart.
LAST GUILLOTINE EXECUTION
The last public execution by guillotine was on June 17, 1939. Eugen Weidman was executed before a large crowd in Versailles, France.
The last nonpublic use of the guillotine in France, at Baumetes Prison, in Marsailles, was the execution of convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant, on September 10, 1977. France abolished capital punishment on September 9, 1981.
LAST PERSON BURNED AT THE STAKE
Phoebe Harrius was convicted of coining false money, a crime of high treason at that time, and was executed by being burned at the stake in front of Newgate Prison in England, in 1786.
LAST SURVIVING SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Charles Carroll was the last of the 59 men who signed the Declaration of Independence to die. He passed away in 1832 at the age of 95.
LAST SURVIVING US WAR VETERANS
American Revolution (1775–1783)
Last veteran, Daniel F. Bakeman, died 4/5/1869, age 109
Last widow, Catherine S. Damon, died 11/11/06, age 92
Last dependent, Phoebe M. Palmeter, died 4/25/11, age 90
War of 1812 (1812–1815)
Last veteran, Hiram Cronk, died 5/13/05, age 105
Last widow, Carolina King, died 6/28/36, age unknown
Last dependent, Esther A. H. Morgan, died 3/12/46, age 89
Indian Wars (c. 1861–1898)
Last veteran, Fredrak Fraske, died 6/18/73, age 101
Mexican War (1846–1848)
Last veteran, Owen Thomas Edgar, died 9/3/29, age 98
Last widow, Lena James Theobald, died 6/20/63, age 89
Last dependent, Jesse G. Bivens, died 11/1/62, age 94
Civil War (1861–1865)
Last Union veteran, Albert Woolson, died 8/2/56, age 109
Last Confederate veteran, John Salling, died 3/16/58, age 112
Spanish-American War (1898)
Last veteran, Nathan E. Cook, died 9/10/92, age 106
LAST US MUTINY HANGING
The last US Navy man hanged for mutiny was Midshipman Philip Spencer in 1842. The son of Secretary of War John C. Spencer, he had schemed with 2 others to turn his ship to piracy.
LAST US PIRATE HANGING
The last person hanged in the US for being a pirate was Capt. Nathaniel Gordon, in New York City on March 8, 1862. Gordon had been smuggling slaves into the US.
LAST US PUBLIC EXECUTION
The last public execution in America was the hanging of a 22-year-old black man named Rainey Bethea at Owensboro, KY, in 1936. Bethea had been convicted of the slaying of a 70-year-old white woman. By five o'clock the morning of the execution, 20,000 people were in the field, including over 200 sheriffs and deputies from various parts of the U.S.
LAST US SOLDIER EXECUTED FOR DESERTION
Private Eddie Slovik was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death for desertion during WWII. He was shot by his own unit, the 28th Infantry Division, in a small town in northeast France. There were 70 executions by firing squad during WWII, but Slovik's was the only one for desertion. The rest were for rape or murder.
LAST VIET NAM WAR DEATH
The last American soldier killed in the Vietnam War was Kelton Rena Turner, an 18-year old Marine. He was killed in action on May 15, 1975, two weeks after the evacuation of Saigon, in what became known as the Mayaguez incident.
LAST WITCHCRAFT HANGING
The last person hanged for witchcraft in the American colonies was executed on September 22, 1692.
LAST WOMAN HANGED IN ENGLAND
Ruth Ellis was executed by hanging in 1955; the suspension of capital punishment throughout England made her the last woman to be executed by this method.
LAST WWI DEATH
The last soldier killed in World War I was Pvt. Henry Gunther of Baltimore, MD. The official end of the shooting was supposed to coincide with the signing of the armistice at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918. Pvt. Gunther was with Company A, 313th Infantry, 79th Division of the US Army as it advanced upon Metz near the German border. Gunther's platoon ran into an ambush. Enraged by the enemy machine-gun fire, Gunther charged the German position with fixed bayonet. At the very moment that a messenger arrived with word that the war was ending at 11:00 a.m., Gunther was shot through the left temple and left side, at 11:01. General Pershing's order of the day named him as the last American killed in the war. Posthumously, he received the Distinguished Service Cross.