Armidale’s first execution
(FROM THE ARMIDALE CHRONICLE, JUNE 24.)
The first execution that has ever taken place in Armidale occurred within the precincts of the gaol on Tuesday morning, the 23rd June. The one who suffered this extreme penalty of the law was a youth barely 17 years of age, named Gotlieb Eichhorn, of whose crimes and whose conviction our readers are well aware, and we can spare them a repetition of the sickening details. (Eichhorn was convicted of an atrocious outrage on a young woman). The culprit, after he was condemned, was attended by the Rev. F. Tait, Wesleyan minister who found him at first in a most deplorable state of ignorance, in fact, so great was his mental depravity that his advisor was dubious as to whether he should be able to bring the unhappy youth to a due sense of his awful position. However, Mr Tait persevered in his labours to instil into him some good, and he has every reason to believe that Eichhorn was at last capable of realising his position and the enormity of the offence he had committed. He confessed to Mr Tait that he was guilty of the deed, and expressed great sorrow that he should have committed it, and ever since he has been zealous in his attention to his teaching. Some time ago he requested Mr. Tait to tell his parents that he had confessed, as he did not feel equal to telling them himself. That gentleman did so, and Eichhorn’s parents came to see him on Wednesday. On hearing from the prisoner’s own lips that he had confessed to his crime they both poured forth a torrent of abuse on the unfortunate lad’s head. In fact, so great was their abuse that the governor of the gaol (Mr Caldwell) had to interfere to stop it, on which the unnatural parents merely shook hands with their child, said “Good-bye,” and left, and have never been near him since, nor when asked to claim the body would they have anything to do with it. The condemned youth appeared, attended by the Rev. F. Tait, and he walked firmly and unassisted to the gallows. On his arrival his spiritual advisor left him, and the condemned looked down to see where he was to stand, moved himself directly into the middle of the drop, and stood calm and ready for his doom. Death must have been almost, if not quite instantaneous ; in fact, except a slight tremble a few seconds after his fell, there was no other movement of the body. The body was allowed to hang for half an hour, and Dr. Sheldon having pronounced life to be extinct, it was then cut down, placed in a coffin, and buried, under gaol, supervision, in the Wesleyan burying ground, where the Rev. F. Tait attended.