Josefa , an orphan from an early age, ran an inn in her tumble-down home in San Patricio County, Texas.
John Savage, a trader who had stayed overnight in her establishment, was found bludgeoned by an ax at the side of a river near her home.
Josefa and her son are arrested for his murder and held for a trial overseen by Judge Benjamin Neal. Judge Neal had a diversified history as a newspaper editor, teacher, politician and boarder raider.
The head of the grand jury was the sheriff who arrested her. Jury members included men who were facing trial for their own crimes.
Josefa did not testify at her trial, only stating she was not guilty. It was thought that she may have been protecting her son, who possibly did the deed. Evidence was weak, and circumstantial. Another theory was floated about that perhaps she was gathering information on reasons to enter the civil war for Texan legislatures, and her death was a political measure.
The jury found her guilty and suggested clemency. She was 63 years old. Judge Neal sentenced her to hang from a tree on November 13, 1863. Some say she is the first woman executed in Texas. She was pardoned inn 1985 by Texas Governor White.