Amos “General” Dupree (Execution of)
Amos Dupree, described in the Arkansas Gazette as “a repulsive looking negro, as black as the sable hues of midnight,” lived in Monroe County, where he was “enamored” of Pennie Bonner, “a dusky damsel of engaging quality.” However, Ed (sometimes referred to as Robert) Harris, “a dude…arrayed in store clothes,” also pursued Bonner and “being possessed of an oily tongue soon succeeded in alienating the affections of Pennie Bonner from Dupree.”
On June 15, 1894, Dupree snuck up on Harris as he was plowing a field and “without warning, proceeded to perforate Harris with buckshot” in “a deliberate and unprovoked murder, devoid of a single extenuating circumstance.” He was quickly captured and charged with first-degree murder.
After winning a change of venue, Dupree was tried at DeValls Bluff and convicted on September 17, 1895, with the Gazette reporting that the jury found him guilty of shooting Harris and “putting him to sleep in the first round, for which diversion Dupree is now posing as the central figure in a hanging bee.”
He was jailed in Des Arc (Prairie County) as he awaited his execution, scheduled for November 15, 1895. A newspaper correspondent visited him there two days before he was to hang and wrote that he found him “on the floor shooting craps with another negro…he seemed indifferent,” adding that “he is an illiterate brute, void of humanity.”
Dupree was taken from the Des Arc jail on the morning of November 15 and transported on the steamboat Rex to DeValls Bluff, where a crowd of around 1,000 people had gathered by the time he arrived at 10:00 a.m. He asked to make a statement and, at 1:30 p.m., was “allowed to mount the judicial rostrum” in the Prairie County Courthouse. He admitted killing Harris, “as well as many other heinous offenses,” and “warned young men and old against taking the life of a fellow being and said he was going straight home to glory.” A preacher then led the audience in singing “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” with “the condemned man joining.”
Dupree was then marched to the gallows, “smiling in pleasant recognition to friends and acquaintances among the colored people and to all intents and purposes as unconcerned as if going to a cake walk,” a Gazette reporter wrote, noting that his “courage and bravado never for a moment wavered.”
The convicted murderer mounted the scaffold, where a noose was placed around his neck and a black cap adjusted over his face. At 2:00 p.m. the county sheriff said, “good-by, General,” and released the trap door. Dupree dropped eight feet, “and after a few spasmodic twitches of his limbs and muscles, his spirit went scurrying over the great divide, beyond which we know nothing.”
For additional information:
“Amos Dupree Hanged.” Helena Weekly World, November 20, 1895, p. 2.
“He Died Game.” Arkansas Gazette, November 16, 1895, p. 1.
“Murder in the First Degree.” Arkansas Gazette, September 19, 1895, p. 3.
“A Negro Hanged.” Fayetteville Weekly Democrat, November 21, 1895, p. 3.
“Will Hang Friday.” Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1895, p. 1.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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