Dora Wright and Joshua Harvey lived in Wilburton, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, with Annie Williams, a seven-year old child. Reports varied as to whether Wright and Harvey were married and as to whether Williams was their child, a step-child, or a foster child.
Whatever the case, in the weeks before her death in February 1903, authorities became aware that Williams was being abused. Whatever efforts were made to stop that abuse were unsuccessful. Then, on February 3, Wright notified authorities that Williams was dead.
When authorities went to the home, they found evidence of horrific abuse. Though Wright acknowledged beating Williams, she claimed that her death resulted from a rape committed by a white man.
At trial in federal court, Dora Wright was convicted of murder on May 30, 1903, and sentenced to death on June 4. Charges against Harvey were not pursued.
Along with Charles Barrett, Wright’s was the first federal death sentence imposed in the newly constituted court.
In a fast-moving case, Dora Wright was hanged on July 17, 1903.
Dora Wright was the first woman ever executed by the United States government.
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Holdenville Democrat Apr 7, 1927 The arresting officer Thomas Whaley arrested Charley Barrett of Calvin, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory for the murder of John Hennesy employed on the Choctaw, Coal Railway when he found Uncle Johnny washing his clothes down on the Canadian River south of the railroad encampment. Whaley got wind of Charley Barrett (coming into a great sum of money to buy cattle) and followed up on that clue. Ends up with Barrett finally confessing just before he hung beside your Dora Wright at McAlester’s new prison. source newspapers.com. I research for our Hughes County Museum, Holdenville, Oklahoma.