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    [John Coffee "Jack" Hays]. California Letter Sheet Stone Lithograph: "Execution of Jose Forner, Dec. 10, 1852. on Russian Hill San-Francisco, for the Murder of Jose Rodrigues." The first legal execution in San Francisco is illustrated in this 10.25" x 8.5" lithograph. Forner is seen swinging by the neck above an open trap door. Surrounding the gallows atop Russian Hill are soldiers of the local militia, the Marion Rifles, standing at attention, arms shouldered, forming a perimeter to keep the crowd of spectators under control. Standing halfway up the gallows' stairway is a lone figure, presumably the legendary Texas Ranger, Col. John Coffee "Jack" Hays (1817-1883), the first sheriff of San Francisco. Mounted to a backing board, the image is moderately toned. A small tear, measuring approximately 5", is faintly visible from the left edge, but has been repaired. Mounting tape along the upper edge.

    In the late afternoon hours of October 8, 1852, 32 year-old, Spanish immigrant Jose Forner y Brugada found himself killing time before meeting friends for dinner. According to his confession, he decided to take a walk to see the "Steam Paddy," a steam excavator that had arrived the year before. While watching the machine, he was approached by an acquaintance, Jose Rodrigues, and after a short exchange, Rodriques attempted to rob Forner, stabbing him in the process. Rodrigues fled and dropped the knife. Forner gave chase, picked up the knife, and killed his attacker. He was subsequently tried for murder, found guilty, and was sentenced to die.

    This was the first execution to be carried out in San Francisco, presided over by Sheriff Jack Hays. Following his service in the Mexican War, Hays headed west to California where, in 1850, he was elected sheriff. On the fateful morning of December 10, Sheriff Hays read the execution order and, after a short speech by the condemned, he used a hatchet to sever the release, thereby carrying out the execution of Jose Forner. State executions were carried out by the various sheriffs until 1892.


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    Auction Dates
    September, 2013
    21st Saturday
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