Monday, March 21, 2011

The Murder Of Nellie Moneyhun

Located at Friendship Cemetery in Springdale, AR.
Nellie Susan
Dau of J.G. & L.A. Moneyhun
Born Dec 18, 1887
Killed Feb 2, 1913

Her happy soul has winged its way
To one pure, bright, eternal day.
No pain, no grief, no anxious fear
Can reach thepeaceful sleeper here.


The following informatin was taken form Deathpenalty.

Broken Heart End On GallowsIt was a story of unrequited love.

Omer Davis, 18, of Springdale, loved his teacher, Miss Nellie Moneyhun. He misinterpreted her attention and kindness toward him as romantic interest. The teacher was engaged to marry Sam Claypool. Davis was devastated when Nellie told the school children her plans.

Davis went to the Moneyhun home to visit Nellie the evening of Feb. 2, 1913. He tried to convince her to marry him instead of Claypool. He talked with Nellie and her parents for some time.

Davis asked Nellie to step into the vestibule. He drew a .38 pistol from his coat pocket and shot her in the forehead. She fell into the living room and into her father's arms. She died instantly.

Davis then tried, unsuccessfully, to kill himself. He suffered a bullet wound to the forehead.

When J.G. Moneyhun approached Davis, who was on the floor, Davis raised the gun to shoot him. Moneyhun grabbed the pistol and the hammer fell on the flesh between his thumb and forefinger, but failed to fire. He wrestled the revolver away from Davis, grabbed a shotgun and fired it into the air. Davis ran away. He was later caught by a posse outside Springdale.

Davis said at his trial that the shooting was an accident. His attorneys argued he was mentally incompetent and too young to be tried as an adult. Some newspaper accounts described Davis as a "dull-minded creature."

The jury convicted him May 10, 1913, and the judge sentenced him to death.

A crowd gathered by 5 a.m. outside the jail to watch the execution on Sept. 11, 1913.

Davis ate a hearty breakfast, then deputies escorted him from his jail cell, though a bathroom window and directly onto the scaffolding.

Davis, wearing a blue shirt, striped overalls, tan socks and a new pair of shoes, reportedly showed no remorse or emotion.

His final words: "I want you all to meet me in heaven, for I am going there."

Rev. Marion Nelson Waldrip said a prayer. Deputies fitted Davis with a black hood and 2-inch-thick rope.

Sheriff Sam Caudle sprung the trap at 6:39 a.m. Davis fell about 6 feet. His neck was broken. The body was allowed to hang for about 15 minutes before being cut down and taken to a funeral home.

The Washington County Sheriffs Office provided a floral wreath.

The rope, hood and gallows were sent back to the state penitentiary in Little Rock.

Davis was the last of 18 men hanged with the 2-inch rope and his was the last scheduled legal public hanging in Arkansas.

The state took over all executions from counties the same year and changed the method of death to electrocution.

The following are all the newspaper clippings I could find.

Oakland Tribune, Sept 11, 1913; pg 1 Oakland California

Reno Evening Gazette, Sept 11, 1913;  pg 5 Nevada, AZ
The Daily Northwestern, Sept 11, 1913;  pg 1 Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The Mansfield News, Sept 11, 1913; pg 1 Mansfield Ohio
The Sheboygan Press, Sept 11, 1913;  pg 1 Sheboygan Wisconsin
The Washington Post, Sept 12, 1913; pg 1 Washington

The Chillicothe Constitution, Sept 12, 1913;  pg 1  Chillicothe Ohio

The Frederick Post, Sept 13, 1913; pg 8 Maryland


The following statement is from Fighting Death.
The last legal hanging in Washington County was of Omer Davis, according to information from county records. He was hanged on Sept. 11, 1913, on the gallows on the north side of the old Washington County Jail, just south of the old Washington County Courthouse, where Davis was tried for the murder of his teacher, Nellie Moneyhun.

The following is from Sheriffs 1908 - 1940
•In 1913, Omer Davis, 19 years of age, was hanged for the murder of Nellie Moneyhun, a teacher from Spring Valley.

•Deputies Holcomb and Jackson were in charged of making sure the equipment was in working order.
•Deputy Robert Curtis assisted Sheriff Caudle when he was pulling the trap on Omer Davis who was killed from a broken neck.
•The newspaper complimented the sheriff's force and the manner of the hanging and the way that it was conducted.
•This was the last legal hanging in the State of Arkansas.


  1. Okay, after that great post, can you believe the only question I have is this: Why did they take him out the bathroom window to the scaffold?

    The bathroom WINDOW? What?

    1. The scaffold was built next to the jail. There was no room for steps. He was taken through the window directly onto the scaffold. Nellie was my grandmother's cousin. Another of my grandmother's cousins, Miss Eva Atwood, one of the first nurse's in NW AR went with Homer's mother to Fayetteville from E. of Springdale in a wagon. His mother took his body back to the farm by wagon, where he was buried. Nellie told the school children she wouldn't be back to teach the next year as she was going to get married. Homer went to her house and said he wanted to tell her goodbye as he was going to go to Calif. to live. She wished him well. When he was leaving he shot her, then tried to kill himself. He walked to White River, and he was tracked by his footprints in the snow. The Moneyhun house has been torn down recently, but it was a 2-story white house on the north side of Friendship Rd., just a little ways from Friendship Cemetery, where Miss Nellie is buried.

  2. Thats a great question! I tried finding a picture of the scaffolding and the jail but had no luck. To make a guess, I would say the scaffolding was built up next to the jail without steps leading up to it so they would go out the window directly onto to it. But is just a guess. I will keep looking for an answer.

    1. The old jail is still there. It is the 3-story (?) building just south of the old courthouse. You look directly at it coming down Mountain Rd onto College at the stop light.

  3. Marcheline - I wanted to know the same thing. Lol. Great job, Tammi.

  4. Jeffrey Dahmer was just being arrested when I was pregnant with my now 20 year old son. It haunted me that some poor woman carried a child for 9 months that turned into a monster. This story was very sad to me, as it did sound like this kid was mentally delayed - or something. And this poor mother. I feel so sorry for her. (The story was very interesting!)

    1. Homer Davis wasn't a monster. He was 'slow' or what we call mentally challenged now. I have seen pictures of him with the men that built the old bridge over White River on hwy 112.

  5. they would build the gallows close to the jail with a high window so that there would be no steps to keep someone from trying to rescue the one being hanged.

    1. In this case, it was actually the only way out. And the only way to get onto the gallows.

  6. The information you have on this web page is incorrect about the last legal hanging in Arkansas. The last legal hanging in Arkansas was July 15, 1914 of John Arthur Tillman at the Logan County Jail in Paris, AR. We hope you will change your incorrect information for the sake of accuracy. Thank You, Jeanne Reynolds, Executive Director/Curator Logan County "Old Jail" Museum and the Logan County Museum Association Board of Directors.