|Click on the small images on the bottom to select the main image on display.
The prisoners' last morning was a busy one. Spies exchanged letters with William Salter, who had been refused admission. Parsons supposedly gave his guards another lecture on anarchy and brotherhood, while Fischer and Engel debated whether Lingg's suicide was preferable to standing together on the scaffold. Fischer told the bailiffs how he had dreamed pleasantly of his native Germany. At various points they individually and collectively recited and sang the poetry and song of revolution. Engel declared their innocence, asserting that there was no conspiracy and that he did not know the identity of the bomb-thrower—though he would not reveal it if he did.
The prisoners received a few telegrams of support. In response to one of them, Parsons asked that his red silk handkerchief be conveyed to the sender. Among the telegrams is the one displayed here, from "Four Citizens" in San Francisco, who wrote, "Bravo Parsons; your name will live when people will ask each other who was Oglesby." Parsons supposedly signed and dated it on the back, then presented it to bailiff Wilson S. Brainerd, saying, "I will make you a present of this as a relic." Click on the second image to see a newspaper article on this incident.
The other small images are linked to what appear to be other execution-day signatures by the four doomed men. Fischer's (third image) included the date and the location in the Cook County Jail, along with the slogan, "Anarchy is Liberty!" Parsons (fourth image) quoted American revolutionary patriot Patrick Henry's famous phrase "Liberty or Death," which he and the other prisoners had repeated many times when asked by members of the clemency movement to appeal to the governor for mercy. Spies and Engel (fifth and sixth images) simply signed their names.
These were not the only mementos the prisoners left with their captors. According to one newspaper story, as Lingg was dying a deputy snipped off locks of his auburn hair and handed them around as souvenirs, while others "picked up bits of the dead man's jawbone and teeth, which were scattered about his cell by the explosion. They were carefully put by for relics."