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The Hanging of the Hodges


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On the 11th day of May, 1845, the Hodges brothers were arrested in Nauvoo, Illinois, for the recent murders of Johannes Mueller and Henry Leiza in nearby Lee County, Iowa. After a five day trial in the Iowa Territorial Capitol at Burlington, Iowa, the jury quickly returned a verdict: “We, the jury, find the defendants, William Hodges and Stephen Hodges, guilty of murder.” The courtroom broke into applause. And, though he later expressed concerns over the correctness of the verdict, Judge Charles Mason “with depth and emotion” ordered that they be hung by the neck until they were dead. The sentence was carried out on the 15th day of July, 1845. The Hanging of the Hodges documents the recently rediscovered route taken by the prisoners from the Des Moines County jail to the gallows and focus on a firsthand account of the execution as described in the July 17, 1845, edition of the Burlington Hawk-Eye.

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