On Tuesday, September 18, 1900 the first legal execution was performed in Ripley, TN. Henderson House was hanged in what was known as the Negro Cemetery better known today as Canfield Cemetery. The crime which was committed by Henderson House was murder of a white man. On October 4, 1896 at the Isabel Bar located on the Mississippi River in Plumpoint Henderson House murdered a White man named Duncan Goodrich. According to newspaper accounts at the time a whiskey boat had been drawn up to the banks of the Mississippi River and was dispensing liquor to a crowd of Blacks and a few White people. A craps game was also in progress between Goodrich, House, Alf Halliburton and a few others. A dispute arose and Goodrich was shot in the back. Henderson House and Alf Halliburton were identified as the murderers.
They were officially charged with the crime by a grand jury in November of 1896. While awaiting transport back to Ripley to face charges Alf Halliburton escaped and was not captured again until 1898 in Atoka, TN. He was later acquitted. Henderson House left Lauderdale County, TN the night of the crime. He was later captured in Jonesboro, Arkansas in August of 1899. He was tried in March of 1900 and sentenced to be hanged on May 18, 1900. His case was appealed to the state Supreme Court and affirmed with a new date of execution to be August 18, 1900. He was granted a reprieve by Governor McMillian until September 18, 1900.
On September 18, 1900 Henderson House was brought from the Shelby County Jail in Memphis, TN by train. He was transported by a closed carriage to Canfield Cemetery. While on the scaffold he professed to committing the crime stating that he realized he must die and did not want to go on with a lie on his lips. The execution took place at 11:00 am and the trap was sprung by Ira Barfield. He was pronounced dead by Dr. James Lackey, the county physician. Only 8 people attended the execution and none of them were relatives of Henderson House. At the request of House a Black preacher named Rome Johnson was present and delivered a short message and a prayer. House was buried near the place of execution.
“A Peep Into the Past.” Lauderdale County Enterprise [Ripley, TN] 17 Sept. 1926. Print.