John Thompson is hanged in Renton, in the first legal execution in King County, on September 28, 1877.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 11/05/1998
  • Essay 227

On September 28, 1877, in the town of Renton at the south end of Lake Washington, John Thompson is hanged. A jury has convicted Thompson of murder. This is the first legal hanging in King County and the first execution of a white man in Washington Territory.

On February 4, 1877, at Agnew's Saloon on Renton's Walla Walla Avenue, Thompson got into a barroom fight. The brawl moved out onto the street. A man named Solomon Baxter tried to break up the fight, and Thompson stabbed him in the stomach. Baxter died the next day. A jury found Thompson guilty of murder. The King County sheriff carried out the hanging.


David M. Buerge, Renton: Where the Water Took Wing: An Illustrated History (Chatsworth, CA: Windor Publications, 1989), 29-30. Also see University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, "Pacific Northwest Index."

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