Infamous Piece of Chicago History Goes on the Block: Gallows





It could be the perfect Halloween treat -- or trick -- for that person who already has everything else: a gallows.

About to be auctioned is the gallows that was built to hang anarchist labor organizers convicted in the Haymarket Affair in the late 19th century. It continued to be used for decades to hang some of Chicago's most infamous criminals.

Since 1977 the gallows has stood in a Wild West theme park run by two history-buff brothers in small-town Union, Ill. Before that it had languished, disassembled, in the basement of Cook County Jail in Chicago.

The gallows would have been destroyed after Cook County discontinued hanging in 1927 if it were not for a fugitive named"Terrible Tommy" O'Connor, who escaped from death row in 1921, four days before his scheduled execution for killing a Chicago policeman. The gallows was preserved so O'Connor's sentence, which specified that he be hanged, could be carried out should he ever resurface. Theories held that O'Connor returned to his native Ireland to fight the British, fled to Mexico or became a Trappist monk. His tale is the basis of the films"The Front Page,""His Girl Friday" and"Switching Channels."




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