Click on each of these documents to see them in larger and more legible form. All are courtesy of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives.

As the legal proceedings in the dramas of Haymarket drew toward a conclusion, every action continued to follow the "scripting" prescribed by official documents. In many instances, the disparity between the intentionally neutral, dispassionate, and formal language in which these documents spoke and the awesome subjects they discussed has a deeply unnerving effect on the reader, even more than a century after the fact.

This is very much the case in the top document on the left, which officially records that on October 9, 1886, it was "ordered, and adjudged by the Court" that Albert R. Parsons "be confined in safe and secure custody" until December 3, 1886 [the original date of execution] and that between ten in the forenoon and two in the afternoon "be, by the Sheriff of Cook County according to law, within the walls of said Jail or in a yard or enclosure adjoining the same hanged by the neck until he is dead." With characteristic thoroughness, the legal language also commands the sheriff to carry this out. One of these documents was prepared for each of the condemned men, identical except for the name.

Click on the two-page document that begins on the bottom left to view Sheriff Matson's official handwritten certification, signed by witnesses (including several physicians), that he did "duly execute" Albert R. Parsons at 11:57 a.m. on November 11th, 1887, "in conformity with the sentence of the Criminal Court of said County of Cook," in pursuance of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The final document here, on the bottom right, is the back of the Louis Lingg's execution order. Written and signed by Matson, it states, "I hereby certify and return [?] that the within sentence was not executed on the within named Louis Lingg—for the reason that the said Louis Lingg committed suicide before the time set by the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois for the execution of said sentence to wit on the 10th day of November 1887."