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First (and only) Legal Execution as told in the History of Macoupin County

    Aaron Todd and William Todd, were citizens of Indiana. On the 26th day of January, 1840, they were traveling towards Indiana from the west, and in their company was their cousin, Larkin Scott. Near Elm Grove, in this county, Larkin Scott was murdered by the brothers for a small sum of money he had with him-some $26. He was killed by repeated blows from a bludgeon, dealt by Aaron Todd. The corpse of the victim was, a few days later, found upon the prairie, and the officers of the law set themselves to work to discover  and apprehend the murderers. James C. Clark, a constable of Elm Grove, was especially active in ferreting out the perpetrators of this heinous crime, and the brothers, Todd,  were apprehended in Indiana, and brought hither for trial. They were tried and convicted. Wm. Thomas presided on the bench. The defendants being to poor to employ counsel, the court assigned as their attorneys Francis H. Hereford, Josiah Fish, John A. Chestnut and John M. Palmer. The Jurors were: Amos Snook, Archellis Tungate, Joseph Huddleston, Jeremiah Suiter, Fountain Land, Moses True, Thomas Hughes, Travis Moore, Thos J. McReynolds, Jacob Kinder, Joseph Phillips and Aquilla P. Pepperdine.
    The States Attorney being absent, the court appointed David A. Smith as attorney for the people during that term of court. The trial began on the 5th of May. The verdict of the jury was that Aaron Todd was guilty of murder in the first degree, and on the 8th, Judge Brown sentenced him to be hung on the 2nd day of June next, and that on that day, between the hours of twelve o'clock A.M. and four o'clock p.m., the said Aaron Todd be taken and conveyed to some convenient place within one mile of the court-house in Carlinville, and then and there be hung by the neck until he be dead, for the offence of murder whereof he stands convicted by the jury aforesaid; and the court doth further order that the sheriff, by himself or deputy, execute the order.
    The verdict fixed the punishment of Wm. Todd, at two years in the penitentiary. On the 8th, an arrest of judgement was entered in the case of William Todd. He finally came clear.
    The news that a man was to be hung on the 2nd of June spread far and wide, and when the day arrived that the sentence of the court was to be executed, not less than 8,000 people had gathered in the county seat. The scaffold was erected south of West Main Street, below the depot. Major Burke officiated in person. Dr. John Logan, Colonel of the 44th regiment of militia, had five hundred of his men in line for the preservation of order. The execution was witnessed by an immense concourse of people. Todd met his fate bravely, and with resignation. Two weeks before, he made a profession of religion, and died in the hope of a better life.
     He was buried on the west side of the burying ground, at some distance from other graves. Some days after his remains were interred, they were exhumed, and his head and one arm were severed from the body, and taken away.

Execution of Lester Kahl
Statement of Lawyer Indicates trial is at an end.

        Macoupin county's long record of no legal executions may be broken at Carlinville on December 22 when Lester Kahl, 24 years old, is lead to the gallows for the death of his bride of three weeks, Mrs. Margaret Kahl who was shot by the young farmer and buried in a shallow grave for several days before the body was found. As briefly told in the Intelligencer Saturday afternoon, Kahl was ordered executed by Judge Frank W. Burton when the defendant entered a plea of guilty Saturday morning.
        "It is the duty of this court to see that justice is done," said judge Burton. "No worse crime has ever been committed in Macoupin county. Therefore, I sentence you to hang by the neck until dead."
        Attorney E. C. Knotts of Springfield represented kahl. He asked permission of the court to make a few remarks after sentence was passed. Attorney Knotts offered no complaint and said he had no fault to find with the order. It indicates no attempts will be made to save the man's life.
        After killing his wife, Kahl announced that his wife had gone away with a strange man and woman in an automobile. He was put through a rigid grilling, broke down and confessed. He admitted having killed his wife with a gun she had taken him.
        Kahl afterwards denied the confession and indicated he would claim insanity. An arrangement was made Saturday for him to withdraw the plea and he entered another, throwing himself on the mercy of the court.
        While waiting to hear his fate, Kahl sat upright in his chair. As he heard the words which would plunge him into eternity he dropped his head but said nothing. Suddenly he pulled at his chest as though it was difficult for him to breathe. His father, Edward Kahl, sat with a bowed head and said nothing.

Lester Kahl was hung December 1924 in Macoupin County Illinois for murdering his wife Margaret Kahl
Submitted by
Src #19


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