Anthony Blair (criminal)

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Anthony Blair
Born c. 1849
Washington County, Tennessee
Died September 26, 1879(1879-09-26) (aged 29–30)
Hamblen County, Tennessee
Criminal penalty Death by hanging
Criminal status Deceased
Conviction(s) Murder

Anthony Blair (c. 1849 – September 26, 1879) was an American convicted for the murder of his 16-year-old stepdaughter Maggie Blair. He was executed by hanging, the first such execution to occur in Hamblen County, Tennessee.


Blair lived with his stepdaughter Maggie in Washington County near Jonesborough. Maggie had left Blair's house and, from May 1879, lived and worked for William Donaldson in Hamblen County. The girl was described as very smart and industrious. Blair learned of her whereabouts and on July 29 went to Russellville, Tennessee, immediately making his way to the Donaldson residence. He entered the kitchen, where the girl was preparing dinner with Mrs. Donaldson. He told Maggie that he had something to say to her and asked her to come outside the house. She refused, saying he could say what he had to say in front of Mrs. Donaldson. Around this time, William Donaldson rode up and Blair immediately left the house.[1]


The following night on Wednesday, Maggie went with others to the prayer meeting at the black church near Russellville. Returning, Blair passed on persons who had been to the church service. He headed on to Russellville after some conversation but after going a short distance, turned back and took another road where the young people, including Maggie, had taken. He overtook the party and immediately walked up to his stepdaughter, who was walking in the rear with a black boy named Taylor. Pushing Taylor away, he caught her hand and said: "You must go home with me on the train tonight to your grandpa", and pulled her along the road 150 to 200 yards, saying she should go. Maggie struggled to loosen herself from his grasp, saying she would rather die than go, whereupon he drew a pistol and shot her twice. She died the following Saturday, aged 16.[1]


After being convicted at trial, Blair's execution was set for September 26, and a crowd estimated at eight to ten thousand came to watch. A reporter described the day's events:


  1. ^ a b c "Anthony Blair Hanged. Ten Thousand Spectators to See Him Die—The History of His Crime." The New York Times, September 27, 1879, pg. 5.

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