The gallows had been constructed on the grounds adjacent to the County Poor
House. This area, bounded by Steuben, Stanley, and McClyman Streets and
Duane Ave., was at that time well beyond the developed portion of the city.
The Poor House building stood alone on a large, flat sandy plain, supposedly far
enough removed from the eyes of morbid curiosity seekers. However, the
excited multitude of ten to twenty thousand followed the procession,
accompanying John Van Patten as he marched to the place where he was to
keep his appointment with the gallows.
John, since his recent religious revelation, was in an excellant frame of mind that
day, chipper and talking to everyone within reach. He was offered the use of a
wagon to carry him his "last mile," but he refused it, preferring to walk all the
As the 'Schenectady Cabinet' reported it later "at his particular request, the
martial music struck up a quick march, when he moved forward with a firm and
undaunted step to the place of execution." John actually seemed to be enjoying
himself, savouring the attention being paid to his death - an attention he never
received while he lived.
The dramatic scene at the gallows was colorfully described by the 'Cabinet' -
"when he arrived at the fatal spot, he ascended the scaffold with perfect
composurs (composure). Here a trifling accident occured - when he first got to
the drop, it gave way and he fell to the ground; it was, however, soon replaced,
and he again ascended with the same firmness."
John stood patiently waiting on the platform while "the Rev. Mr. Brayton
delivered an excellent discourse, well suited to the occasion," and other speakers
took their turn addressing the assembled throng. The prisoner then spoke to his
God, and begged forgiveness, and "earnestly exhorted those around to shun the
temptations of the devil." The last words put to him by Rev. Brayton were,
"Does Jesus appear precious?"
John replied, "I am happy." At precisely 2 p.m. on February 25, 1825, the drop
fell, and when his body was taken down twenty minutes later; John F. Van
Patten was troubled no more.
|John Frederick Van Patten
Part III: The Hanging
Source: Press of the Mohawk Sentinel; 1825.
Source: John F. Van Patten's cellblock confessions; 1825.
Source: Tales of Old Schenectady, by Larry Hart; 1975; pgs. 143-145