The vigilantes prepare to hang Cora and Casey

Preparations for the execution of Charles Cora and James Casey were simple. Wooden platforms, each equipped with hinges at the building line, were extended about three feet from two windows on the second floor of vigilante headquarters facing Sacramento Street. Ropes that passed over horizontal beams protruding from the roof, which then went to the top of the building and out of sight, held up the end of the platforms. From these same beams hung the fatal ropes with nooses affixed. While these tasks were in progress crowds gathered in the streets, on vacant lots across from the building and on rooftops everywhere nearby, and as the news spread the crowds grew even larger.

The James Casey and Charles Cora hanging

Hanging James Casey and Charles Cora

About half past twelve there came a mighty rush from the funeral on Stockton street to the execution on Sacramento Street as nearly twenty-five thousand people hurried over and crowded in as close as they could, yet only a small number would see or hear much. Shortly before the execution several thousand committee members marched by company onto the street and cleared them of onlookers then stood in long lines many men deep with bayonets fixed on their muskets. A cannon was brought up to command Front Street and another for Davis Street. Armed men covered not only the roof of the committee’s headquarters but adjoining buildings as well. The Committee of Vigilance would brook no interruption to their plans to execute Casey and Cora.


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