Even though Tony Chebatoris became the only person to be executed within the state of Michigan in 1938, he was not the first to be executed for a crime on Michigan land. Even though the death penalty ceased to exist in our state in 1846, the federal government deemed it necessary to exterminate Chebatoris.

So, as I mentioned, he was the only one executed in the state of Michigan, but not the only OR first in Michigan territory…that goes back a little further.

The very first person to be executed for a crime on Michigan land occurred centuries ago, when Michigan was under French jurisdiction. In the fall of 1683, a man described as an “Aboriginal North American” was executed for the crime of murder.

The man’s name is listed as ‘Folle-Avoine’ (translated, means “mad oats” in English). He was executed by a firing squad on November 29, 1683, and became the first person on Michigan land to be exterminated for committing a crime.

Years later, in 1705, future executions were accomplished by hanging.

When Michigan became a state in 1837, executions for crimes still continued. Capital punishment in Michigan was discontinued in 1847 and has remained that way ever since.