Jailed horse thief slashes his throat | Turning Back the Pages

•100 years ago — Jan. 1914•

Jailed horse thief slashes his throat

Despondent over his imprisonment in the County Jail at Lake George, where he had been confined for several weeks to await the action of the Grand Jury on a charge of stealing a horse, Whitman Gifford of Hague, slashed his throat Jan. 2 1914 with a razor and inflicted wounds which caused his death two days later at Glens Falls Hospital.

Gifford was confined in a corridor of the jail with James Gifford of Glens Falls, who was not related to the Hague man. The men were locked in the corridor because of plumbing improvements being made in other parts of the jail. Gifford was shaving and after he was finished went into a bathroom off the corridor and crawled in between a bath tub and the wall. A few minutes later the Glens Falls man was attracted by groans and upon investigating found his fellow prisoner lying prostrate between the wall and the tub with blood flowing freely from his self-inflicted wounds.

James Gifford than shouted for aid and was heard by Undersheriff Mac R. Smith. The two placed the injured man on a cot and summoned jail physician Dr. Charles K. Burt and Dr. Bean of Lake George, who ordered Gifford’s removal to the Glens Falls Hospital where he was taken on a Hudson Valley trolley car.

At the hospital Dr. Burt and Dr. Thomas Cunningham worked over him for two hours. Although greatly weakened by loss of blood, he was expected to recover. In closing the gashes in the man’s throat the muscles used in swallowing were rendered useless and it would have been necessary to provide a means of feeding him through the stomach. He died before that became necessary.

The crime with which Gifford was charged was stealing a horse from Charles Belden of Horicon while Belden was a prisoner in the County Jail last fall awaiting trial on a charge of bigamy. When Belden got out of jail, he went to Gifford’s place in Hague and recognized his horse although Gifford had cut off its tail and mane and painted the white spots with black paint.

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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