Spokane Courthouse interior

Sheriff Christopher C. Dempsey, second from left, is on the telephone in the Spokane County courthouse in a 1897 photo. Dempsey may have been preparing for the execution of Gin Pong, who was convicted of a gruesome hatchet murder. The Spokesman-Review said Pong was “a large Chinaman whom other Chinamen all despise and fear.” It would be the second of four official hangings in Spokane County history, not counting informal “necktie parties”. Curiosity brought some four thousand people, including children and many women “of refined appearance”, to walk through the jail, peering into Pong’s cell before his execution. The last hanging in Spokane was in 1917, after which the state mandated that any capital punishment would be carried out at the state prison in Walla Walla.

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Image One Courtesy of Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

In the 1897 photo Sheriff Christopher C. Dempsey, second from left, is on the telephone in the Spokane County courthouse. Dempsey may have been preparing for the execution of Gin Pong, who was convicted of a gruesome hatchet murder. The Spokesman-Review said Pong was “a large Chinaman whom other Chinamen all despise and fear.” It would be the second of four official hangings in Spokane County history, not counting informal “necktie parties”. Curiosity brought some four thousand people, including children and many women “of refined appearance”, to walk through the jail, peering into Pong’s cell before his execution. The last hanging in Spokane was in 1917, after which the state mandated that any capital punishment would be carried out at the state prison in Walla Walla.

The 2012 photo shows Spokane County Budget Director Robert Wrigley sitting in a cramped office in one of the round turret rooms, once part of the county sheriff’s office, of the Spokane County Courthouse. The office was once where prisoners were led into the court house from the jail, which was north of the courthouse.


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