First Legal Execution in Umatilla
The first legal
execution of a white man took place on January 5, 1881, in the jail
yard at Pendleton. Edward (or Arthur) Murphy was hanged by
Sheriff Martin for the murder to T.D. French, near Heppner, the
previous May. Murphy was herding a band of sheep for S.S.
Snyder, and allowed them to trespass on French's field. Snyder
complained about this and another herder was sent to take charge of
the herd. That night French was approaching the camp, when
Murphy seized a pistol, went out to meet him, and after a few angry
words shot him dead. Murphy was tracked for three days, when
he turned himself in at Heppner. He was almost hanged then,
but was taken to Pendleton for trial. He was convicted and
sentenced in November.