Archives for category: execution by hanging

Galloping Gertie Gallows, Montana Territorial Prison

These gallows were a special moveable or ‘galloping’ model that could be moved from site to site. The gallows used in the execution of Joe Vuckovich and a number of other people in Missoula were probably stationary, but this photo taken at the territorial prison in Deerlodge MT captures the menace of these machines.

Photo taken from a fascinating blog about unusual prisons, you should check it out:  http://www.oddarena.com/2011/12/worlds-strangest-prisons.html

Out of the blue comes this diary entry:

“Fri. Feb. 17.

Poor old Volchavitch hung at 6:15 in the a.m.

I stamped a little dress over. And Ruth worked on a new cap for me.

In p.m. Ruth bathed & we just got cleaned up when Esther nelson came.  She stayed until about 4:30 then we went down town for our walk & got medicine for me & turpentine for Ruth’s side.

Nice warm day.  Snowed a little.”

It may have been modern 1922 with streetcars, movie theatres, and department stores — but this is a shade of the wild west I find chilling, as is our pregnant young diarist’s matter-of-fact description.

Who was poor old Volchavitch, and why did they hang him?  My first step was, of course to search the internet…first, his name was really Joe Vuckovich.  The historic records agree with our diarist; he was hanged on what became a nice warm day, Feb. 17.  Though I doubt it was very warm on those gallows in the pre-dawn blackness of the old jail yard in Montana winter.