Martha Place
The door of the execution room was reached a minute
before 11 o’clock. Mrs. Place had closed her eyes
before this and determined not to open them. As she
entered the chamber she held in her right hand a
Testament. She walked steadily, guided by the warden
and the clergyman. She was dressed in a black gown
with big sleeves and a few fancy frills at the bosom.
Otherwise it was plain. She wore russet slippers. Her
hair hung in two braids down her back. Near the crown
a little spot had been clipped short. Mrs. Place showed
no signs of her long imprisonment. She was as healthy
and hearty as on the day when she strangled her
The warden and the clergyman led her to the chair and
she sat down. The warden beckoned to the two women
physicians to stand close, and their gowns hid the scene
of the buckling of the electrode on the woman’s leg,
near the knee. When the work was done one of the
women doctors pulled down the skirt so that the
electrode and the leg were covered. The head electrode
had been fastened on meantime. The warden beckoned
the two women to stand back. They stepped away five
feet or so.
The moment that the condemned woman
expelled her breath the full current of 1,760 volts
was turned on -  just two minutes after the party
had entered the room. It was kept on only four
seconds. The reduced current was continued
fifty-six seconds. The only outward sign of this
was a clenching of the hands and an instant later
a straining near the mouth, the only part of her
face left uncovered. There was no straining at
the straps, no movement of any kind. So quickly
was it all done and so silently that those in the
room who had not seen an execution before did
not realize that the work was done until after the
current was reduced to 200 volts and the
clenched hands relaxed.
Then Dr. Irvine felt of the artery in the throat to
see if there was any pulse. There was none.
There was a full half minute wait and he felt
again. Then he stepped back and the custom of
giving a second full shock was followed.
The current this time was kept on but a few
seconds. When it was turned off Dr. Irvine felt
again for the signs of life. He pulled a
stethoscope from his pocket and calling up one
of the women physicians asked her o unloosen
the woman’s gown. Then with his
instrument he listened. There was no sign of a
heart beat. He handed the instrument to the
woman. She also placed it over the dead womanâ
€™s heart and listened full ten seconds. As she
straightened up she shook her head. The
clergyman took the Testament from her limp
hand of the dead woman and handed it to the
other woman. Less than seven minutes had
elapsed from the party had entered the room and
it was all over.