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True Crime in 1831, Part 16 - "Oh, my God! the hour is arrived."

Bucks County Almshouse, BCHS Collection

After his conviction, Lino kept himself occupied by writing the history of his life. He had become even more of a celebrity and curiosity. Edward Wellmore, a young artist from Philadelphia, approached Sheriff Morris and obtained Lino's consent to sit for his portrait. The drawing was made in India ink and was printed by Childs & Inman, lithographers. Some young ladies, desiring to have some locks of Lino's hair to adorn themselves with, requested a person to procure it for them. It was obtained and the hair was fixed in rings and brooches.

There was even a rumor circulated that the governor had pardoned him. It may have arisen from the visit Deputy Attorney General Ross made to Lino about a week before his execution date to make some effort to obtain a reprieve. During that visit, Lino disclaimed any participation in the murder of William Chapman and said that he never was actually married to Lucretia; it was a mock ceremony performed by a friend of his whom he had procured for that special purpose. The arsenic which he purchased in Philadelphia was intended to be sent to a friend in Cuba and had actually been forwarded. If only the Governor would give him sufficient time he could corroborate these assertions. So artfully and ingeniously, and with such apparent sincerity, did Lino relate and reiterate these statements that he so succeeded in staggering the belief of Mr. Ross in his guilt. Under these circumstances, he thought proper to address the Governor, detailing this conversation, and requesting a suspension of the execution for some days, until that matter could be enquired into. The letter was dispatched and Mr. Ross immediately visited Philadelphia, for the purpose of ascertaining the truth of Lino's assertion in regard to his marriage.

Mr. McIlvaine, the Recorder, he called upon the brother of Bishop Onderdonk, with the certificate of marriage, to see if the hand writing could be recognized. The brother examined the signature and declared, without hesitation, that he knew it to be genuine. He said, moreover, that he knew the Bishop had married the parties, for he had mentioned the fact to him. This announcement convinced Mr. Ross more fully than ever of the worthless character of Lino and he instantly dispatched another letter to the Governor, as a contradiction to the first.

When Mr. Ross returned to Doylestown, he went to Lino's cell to communicate what he had learned. Thinking that he might have misunderstood him, he again asked if the marriage was real and Lino related the same story of a mock ceremony and forged certificate. Mr. Ross then told him that he had ascertained this to be untrue and that being so grossly deceived, after so many protestations, he could not interfere to prevent the law from taking it course. Lino, upon being told this, became great enraged. He loaded Mr. Ross with epithets of abuse, calling him a "contemptible miscreant" and finally struck him a blow with his fist which, had Mr. Ross not succeeded in catching on his arm, would have been overpowered and caused serious injury.

When the Sheriff received the death warrant and read it to him, Lino asked to look at it and then remarked that "the governor wrote a very good hand."

There were instructions that no individual would be permitted to see Lino out of curiosity; his counsel at his insistence expressly forbid it and the Sheriff was determined to enforce the rule. Lino complained heavily of the admission of strangers into his room. However, numerous reporters would visit him and he spoke, without reserve, of his life and character. His stories were contradictory and invented, apparently, to excite the wonder of the curious. He denied having murdered Mr. Chapman, declaring that Lucretia administered the poison, though, if they understood him correctly, with his knowledge and full consent. He complained of the injustice of the law in allowing her to escape, while it required him to suffer death and presumed it was done because he was a foreigner. He talked freely about his approaching execution and seemed flattered with the idea of being an object of so much curiosity.

The Sheriff also told reporters that every evening about dark, he heard Lino conversing to himself in Spanish. The nature of his soliloquies, he was, however, unable to ascertain, as they were occasionally pathetic, as in supplication, and in an instant loud, commanding and boisterous, as if in a violent passion. Lino would continue them for two or three hours.

Several clergymen of different denominations visited Lino, but the result had been far from satisfactory, as immediately upon leaving, he made them subjects of ridicule and jest. He manifested not the least contrition for his offense, but appeared perfectly insensible to the horror of his situation and careless as to the consequence of dying in an unprepared state.

Though he had but a few days to live, he talked, laughed and played pranks, with as much freedom as if he were not convicted. While receiving his food one evening, Lino requested the Sheriff to come into his room and see the devil, who had been teasing him for some time. Mr. Morris complied, and asked in what shape the evil one appeared. Lino answered, by directing his attention to a cricket, which was singing in a corner of his room. To this Lino commenced speaking, commanding it now to sing, and now to stop singing, and swearing dreadfully when it disobeyed. Again he would appear in good humor, and in a soothing tone, using many fond and endearing expressions, beseech the cricket to entertain him with more music, and to be sure to call and see him again.

Lino, by Edward Wellmore, 1832

On Wednesday, 20 June, the respectable and usually quiet town was in a strange state of commotion. Troops--infantry, rifle corps and cavalry--from all parts of the county were pouring in rapidly, with martial music and parading through the principal streets, prior to taking up quarters for the night, and horses and vehicles of every description were seen approaching the town on all the adjacent roads. The bustle and confusion formed a scene of animation which the people of Bucks County had never before witnessed, and it was earnestly hoped that a similar occasion would never assemble them again. The six principal hotels were soon crowded to overflowing, and every private accommodation was called into requisition, without being sufficient numbers who desired them. Very many were content to take up quarters for the night in barns and out-houses, and others to perambulate the streets until daylight. Booths for the sale of fruits and other refreshments were stationed all over the town.

On Thursday morning Lino still did not appear to realize the horrors of his situation. during the night, Lino did not sleep, but entertained his guard the whole night through, with light and trifling conversation, mixed up with no small share of marvelous stories. He ate heartily of cakes and sweetmeats. In the morning he consumed an unusually large quantity of food for his breakfast.

He had a barber called, who shaved him and dressed his hair in a fashionable style. He conversed with his usual lightness and freedom upon indifferent subjects, until the clock struck 9, the signal for leaving the prison, when he evinced considerable agitation, and exclaimed "Oh, my God! the hour is arrived." From that time his demeanor changed. He gave himself up to a contemplation of his fate, and conversed earnestly with the priest.

In fact, Lino had attempted suicide on Tuesday and Wednesday. He first broke up his ink bottle, and after pounding the glass fine, strewed it over his food, which he swallowed. The little he succeeded in forcing down, was not sufficient to do him serious injury. Foiled in this, he next procured from the ashes in his hearth, an old wrought nail, which by rubbing on the walls of his prison, he sharpened to a fine point. With this he made a large gash in his arm, which bled profusely, and would, no doubt have caused his death, had not one of the attendants entered his cell. The wound was bound up, but he again sought to open it and, from that time, he was never allowed to be alone. In reply to the enquiries of the jailor, he said that he wished to weaken himself, that his death might be more easy.

He dressed in a black hat, black frock coat, buff vestcoat, and striped pantaloons. When the rope was put about his neck, he very carefully smoothed down his shirt collar, lest it should be rumpled. He said was cruel to hang him up like a dog, but that he was determined to die like a soldier without flinching.

At half past nine o'clock, Lino left the prison and rode to the Bucks County Almshouse, two miles from Doylestown in an open wagon, in company with Sheriff Morris and Reverend James Foulhouze. The civil authorities rode in advance of the prisoner, and were followed by about twenty persons; assistants and friends of the Sheriff. The military part of the assemblage consisted of about two hundred and forty horsemen and between two and three hundred foot soldiers, summoned by Sheriff Morris to give solemnity and due formality as well as to preserve order. There was not the least excuse for the military display, although from wild ideas in the heads of the public, from Lino's bombast, that Venezuela was so bent on preventing the hanging of such an important a citizen that troops would be forwarded for that purpose. If that were to happen, then it was necessary to be prepared by surrounding the scaffold with the brave troops. It was the largest body of uniformed soldiers which had assembled in Bucks County since the Revolution and was headed by Major General William Tennent Rogers, of the county militia.

Nothing was left undone to make the "show" a success either by nature or by man. The weather was perfect, a little too warm perhaps, but the sky was bright. The location was on the right bank of the Neshaminy Creek, just above the bridge on the almshouse farm. It afforded ample room; the stage and amphitheater were perfect. Sheriff Morris had experienced great difficulty in procuring a location, in consequence of the opposition made by the owners of property in the neighborhood. This was taken as the last resort, and except for the inconvenience arising from its distance from Doylestown, it was in every respect suitable for the purpose at hand.

As many as 10,000 people were drawn together to see Lino swing off to eternity. The crowd consisted of men of all ages and not more than 100 women. Not only were the morbidly curious from Bucks and adjoining counties, but from New Jersey as well. A circus had come to Doylestown the day before, thinking to make something out of the crowd, but that event fell flat. It was one thing at a time with that public and, since circuses came once a year, hangings were extremely rare so who knew how long one would have to wait for another to occur.

At about ten o'clock the procession reached the place of execution.

The gallows was placed in the center of a large field and around it the troops were formed in a hollow square, the cavalry on the outside. Into this the wagon containing Lino and the guard of the Sheriff entered and the square was again closed up. Lino raised the edge of the umbrella by which he was sheltered from the sun, to look at the gibbet; which, both then and afterwards, he surveyed with cool deliberation; and about which, its structure and action, he appeared to ask several questions. He looked upon the crowd often and in every direction, conversed freely with those around him and sometimes smiled.

As he had lately lost a great deal of blood, he looked pale and feeble, but did not betray any expression of fear. The only apparent expression of mental pain was his very frequent draughts of water, which might however have been taken on account of the heat and dust and recent loss of blood.

As he remained on the platform of the gallows for more than an hour, seated on a chair, waiting for the moment which he himself had selected for his execution, he took occasion to notice those of his acquaintance whom he observed among the crowd. He also conversed with Sheriff Morris, his counsel, Mr. McDowell, and the clergyman. The hour delay only helped the refreshment stands that had been set up for the event. The delay had in mind the vision of the traditional horseman on his foaming steed arriving from Harrisburg, with Governor George Wolf's reprieve held aloft in his hand. That was not to be.

As the fatal moment drew near, the death warrant was aloud. Then, as if bored with the proceedings, he said, "Is there no music? In that my soul delights." He was then asked if he had anything more to say. He made a short speech in Spanish to the spectators. A distinguished physician from Philadelphia took it down on the spot, word for word and provided the translation to a reporter:

"Americans, you have here an innocent victim! As many of you are thirsting for his blood--for although you chastise him he is innocent. By whom is he chastised? By whom has he been betrayed? To whom has he done any wrong? Let all those to whom I have done any wrong pardon me, if there be any body; because he himself pardons all his enemies, in order that God may pardon him, and grant him everlasting life in heaven. He does not fear death, and he is not to be considered here as feeble, but courageous. Although he is about to shed his blood, he is able to show he is strong and not feeble. If any one wants to take leave of him, he desires him to come and shake hands with him."

Immediately a number of persons pressed through the crowd and ascended the scaffold and shook his hand. He next thanked General Rogers for the good order he maintained. He said that the place was well suited for such an affair, and asked how many were there, civil and military; he liked to see soldiers, as he had once been a soldier himself; it gladdened his soul, but the uniforms seemed strange. He criticized the height of the platform and the size of his coffin, which had been placed before him; asked how long it would take him to die, and how long they would let him hang, and added it made no difference anyhow. He wanted his funeral put off till the next day so that the public could all see him. He requested the Sheriff to send away an adverse witness he saw before him. He then kneeled on the scaffold and prayed earnestly for some time.

Sheriff Morris would act the official hangman, a task he dreaded, but did not shirk. Lino wanted his hands left unbound, but told the Sheriff to do his duty. Before his hands were tied Lino felt the rope around his neck and adjusted his hair and arranged his dress. The rope was uncoiled from his shoulders. When the cord was fixed over the beam, and the cap drawn over his head, he turned to the crowd and bowed twice, saying "Farewell, my friends, farewell--poor Mina, poor Mina--he die innocent, he die innocent." These were the last words he spoke.

The trap was knocked away and Lino was launched into eternity. The death struggle was unfortunately protracted, by an oversight, in not giving a length of rope sufficient for a fall that would have broken his neck immediately. Contractions of muscles and heavings of the chest were noticed in the body for nearly ten minutes. Not a sound came from the vast crowd. They looked on without the slightest expression of sympathy or pity. The feeling against Lucretia was so strong, that had she been within the reach of the people, she would have shared the same fate as Lino.

By half past eleven the scene closed. The troops retired and the crowd dispersed without any noise, any tumult, or the slightest disorder. The body was taken down and buried in the adjacent almshouse woods.

But this, the final earthly ceremony, did not end all. About an hour after it was buried, Lino's body was taken from the grave by several Philadelphia physicians. Some 18 years before, it had been asserted, that one Peter Mathias, who had been executed had secretly been brought back to life by a galvanic battery, his neck not having been broken. The doctors applied this method (called Galvanism) to Lino in order to recall life, but in vain. The battery would not work well, and the attempt was made at too long a period after the execution. The physicians had originally made arrangements for a neighboring house to be used for their examination immediately following the execution. The engagement was entered into with the tenant of the building, but the landlord, on learning the circumstance, objected, fearing that his property would be damaged. Unable to obtain a suitable place, the medical men were compelled to suffer the burial of the body and the dispersion of the crowd before attempting their experiments. One of them expressed the opinion that life would surely have been restored, had the remedy been applied in time. They then proceeded to dissect the body. The neck had not been dislocated, but life had ceased by strangulation. About fifty persons, residents of Doylestown, witnessed the dissection.

It was said that Lino's body was then decapitated and his head was taken away for examination, most likely for phrenological examination. It was also hypothesized that his brain must differ from those of other men, for none but his could conceive and execute such diabolical purposes as he accomplished. His organs were also removed and placed in a bucket for scientific studies. His skeleton was allegedly preserved, but its location is now forgotten.


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