A site a few hundred feet north of Highway 6 at Gallatin, and just west of Route MM, marks the spot where two murderers died in 1886, in what were to be among the last public hangings in Missouri. Joe Jump and John Smith were found guilty of the murder of William C. Gladson, an Iowa man, who was in the Gallatin area as a teamster for the Rock Island Railroad on a track-laying project.

The motive for murder was Mr. Gladson’s weekly paycheck. Two men storing grain in an outbuilding in south Gallatin found a blood-stained hat near an abandoned well. Bloodstains in the well led lawmen to the lifeless body of the victim.

This is the public execution of Joe Jump at Gallatin on July 23, 1886. The hanging was witnessed by an estimated 20,000 citizens. Joe Jump, along with John Smith, are the only persons arrested, convicted, and hanged in Daviess County, MO, in 1886. Their execution was the result of a crime of murder, committed for money.

John Smith, 22, was executed by public hanging on Aug. 7, 1886, for the murder of William C. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885. Smith along with Joe Jump killed the Iowa teamster to steal his Rock Island Railroad weekly paycheck. Smith was executed on the same wooden gallows used to execute Jump just two weeks earlier before a crowd estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 people. (postcard from family of Claude & Cora Haver; courtesy Kyle Reno, 2016)

The trial produced much publicity and on the day of the Jump hanging, July 23, 1886, the Rock Island ran special trains into Gallatin for the benefit of spectators. Ice water was sold by the glass and small portions of the hanging rope were sold as souvenirs.

John Smith gained a brief reprieve from then-Governor John Marmaduke, but public pressure prevailed and Smith was hanged in another public action on August 7. There was a crowd present, but not the thousands who had watched Joe Jump die on the wooden gallows erected near the Rock Island depot. Sometime later the state recognized the right of every man to some dignity in death, and the era of public executions was ended.