Joseph C. Hurst

Joseph C. Hurst

Lancashire, England
Death 30 Mar 1900 (aged 29)
Glendive, Dawson County, Montana, USA
Burial Wadena, Wadena County, Minnesota, USA
Plot Island
Memorial ID 73413856 View Source
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The Wadena Pioneer Journal, March 30, 1900

Joseph C. Hurst Hanged Early This Morning at Glendive, Montana
Termination of a Remarkable Murder Case - Young Man Was Born in Wadena - Was Well Known Here.


Glendive, Mont., March 30. - Joseph C. Hurst was hanged here this morning at 2:28 o'clock. He maintained his innocence until the last, and said he was not the man wanted. He said he forgave all who had worked against him.
Helena, Mont. March 28. - There was an affecting scene in the governor's private office when Mrs. Joseph C. Hurst, wife of the man condemned to die at Glendive Friday for murdering Sheriff Dominick Cavanaugh, made a fearful plea to the governor to commute the sentence to life imprisonment. In company with W.S. Hurst, the young man's father, Mrs. Hurst visited the governor and was granted what proved to be a painful interview. She pleaded as only a woman can plea for executive clemency. She asked that her husband's life might be spared in the belief that another committed the crime, and that action by the governor would prevent perpetrating a great wrong.
The governor patiently heard her and assured her that he had the matter under consideration, and was giving it all the thought it deserves. The governor has finished reading the entire record in the case. He has looked over the numerous petitions and letters bearing over 6,000 names that have been sent to him from all parts of the country.
So many petitions and letters seeking clemency were never received at the executive office of the state before. Among the petitions is ne from Otter Tail, Minn., where the Hurst family lived. It is signed by many leading citizens beginning with L.L. Baxter, county judge.
Lieut. Gov. Smith, of Minnesota, wrote the governor as follows: "I have become interested through friends in the case of Mr. Hurst, now under sentence of death for murder. The good reputation he always bore at his home in this state is inconsistent with the belief of his guilt. I trust you will, with a kind heart and a desire for fore extending mercy to a man whose life history is inconsistent with the probability of guilt, examine carefully into the facts and extend executive clemency if possible."
It is not believed Gov. Smith will interfere with the sentence. His decision will probably be announced tomorrow.
Helena, Mont. March 28 - Governor Smith announced today that he would not interfere in behalf of Joseph C. Hurst, sentenced to hang Friday at Glendive for the murder of Sheriff Cavanaugh in December, 1898. The governor made his decision public in a long letter to the attorneys who have been striving to secure executive clemency. He reviews the case, comments upon leading features of the evidence, especially that of Gilmore, the only witness, who directly connected Hurst with the murder, and concludes that the showing made at the hearing granted those seeking to secure a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment, does not warrant executive action.
He says, in effect, that for him to interfere after the district and supreme courts have passed upon the case and adjudged Hurst guilty, would indeed tend to judicial anarchy. As has been stated in the Journal, the case of Hurst is the most memorable in Montana's history. No previous appeals to the governor to exercise executive clemency attracted such widespread attention and brought to the governor's office so many petitions. There are seventy petitions from Montana people, containing over 5000 names. There was a long petition from Otter Tail county, Minnesota, where Hurst once lived, signed by District Judge Baxter and many other leading citizens, begging the governor, on account of Hurst's good reputation when he lived in that community, and on account of the circumstantial character of the evidence, not to permit the execution.
Lieutenant Governor Smith, of Minnesota, also wrote a personal letter to the governor asking him to commute the sentence if the evidence justified it. There was a protest signed by 135 citizens of Dawson county and there were several letters from people there opposing execution clemency. Hurst's attorneys will not stop with the governor's refusal to interfere, but will make a last effort to secure a stay in the courts by an application for a writ of probable cause. Advices from Glendive are that the sheriff is preparing for the execution and will carry out the mandate of the court next Friday unless stopped by the courts.
A recent dispatch from Butte, Mont., says: Joseph C. Hurst, a young man, is sentenced to be hanged at Glendive on March 30, and the evidence that has lately come to light leaves no rom for doubt that he is innocent of the crime of murder, for which h he is to hanged for the killing of Sheriff Dominick Cavanaugh on Dec. 23, 1898. The supreme court was appealed to, but decided that it culd not pass on the sufficiency of the evidence against Hurst and there were no errors in the records upon which eh could be given a new trial.
Attorney General Nolan refuses to appear in the case because he claimed it should be dismissed. He had investigated it before Hurst was tried and said no proceedings should ever have been taken against him.
Hurst and his friends and attorneys were so confident that the case would not be allowed to go to jury that little defense was offered, but his conviction followed as a result of the public feeling over the murder, and as somebody's conviction was demanded. Not only was no evidence against Hurst, but a positive alibi was proved and the fact that he was a friend of the murdered man and a juror was a brother of the state's two most active witnesses. There seems no prospect of saving the young man, and the people of the state are highly wrought up over the case. Preachers, secret societies, women's clubs and many state officials familiar with the facts are exerting themselves to prevent the execution, but their only hope is in executive clemency or a pardon, and Gov. Smith is not in the state.
Wadena was very much interested in Joseph C. Hurst's case from the fact that he was the son of W.S. Hurst, one of our prominent citizens. No one in Wadena believes the boy was guilty of the crime, and a large petition was secured here among those who have known the young man since boyhood days. It is believed the governor of Montana did not interfere in his behalf on account of politics.

The Anaconda Standard March 31, 1900
Where Mr. Hurst made his mistake was in not getting a change of venue to Silver Bow County.

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