John Stansbury

On October 13, 1889, John Stansbury (or Stansberry) killed his wife, Mollie, with an axe. He then staged a robbery and told associates that he was out of town when the killing occurred. The couple lived in the Creek Nation.

When an investigation failed to find evidence to support Stansbury’s story, he was arrested. Further investigation suggested that Stansbury had previously killed the couple’s daughter.

Authorities determined that Stansbury had killed his wife so that he could marry a Creek woman and thereby gain rights in the Territory.

At trial in Fort Smith, Stansbury was found guilty on February 27, 1890, and sentenced to death.

John Stansbury, who professed his innocence until the end, was hanged on July 9, 1890.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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