The Arkansas News is a history newspaper, published by the Old State House Museum, on different topics in Arkansas history. Please feel free to browse the archives below. The newspapers are available as whole issue PDFs or by individual articles.
Crime and Punishment in Arkansas
« Back to 1994 Fall Issue Articles
Three Executed for Murder of Railroad Conductor
NEWPORT — Today the state exacted the ultimate punishment as Tom Brady, Albert Mansker, and James L. Wyrick were executed for their part in the murder of train conductor W. P. McNally at Olyphant on the night of November 3, 1893.
A large crowd, estimated at more than a thousand, came to see the executions, but in line with the thinking of those who believe public executions are too much like circuses, only 25 people were permitted to watch the triple hanging. Fortunately, Newport photographer W. D. Ross covered the scene, and his photographs of the grisly event sold well.
Readers will recall that on the night of November 3, eight masked gunmen attacked the St. Louis and Iron Mountain passenger train No. 51 while it was unloading a passenger at Olyphant, the small flag stop south of Newport. Conductor McNally, an old and beloved railroad man and 32nd degree Mason, borrowed a pistol and fired at the men but was struck in the chest by a shot and killed.
The bandits robbed the express car and removed money and jewelry from the passengers before escaping.
Jackson County Sheriff J. M. Hobgood of Newport called out the posse and was joined by forces from ten other counties.
The bandits were soon caught and proved to be seven farmers from Benton County, mostly from near Siloam Springs. They had been talked into the robbery, their first criminal activity, by a man who gave his name variously as Jack Williams or Albert Mansker. He turned out to be John Hill from Mammoth Spring. Hill had been involved in train robberies in Texas before coming to Arkansas.
One bandit, George W. Padget, turned state’s evidence. On the strength of his testimony, three of the ringleaders were convicted of McNally’s murder.
Area residents do not recall another big train robbery before this episode and believe the example set today will guarantee robbers will stay out of northeast Arkansas.