• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

August 15, 1873 Execution

drawing of rope tied as a noose

The First Execution in Fort Smith

The first execution carried out by the federal court at Fort Smith took place on August 15, 1873. The condemned man was John Childers, convicted by a jury for the murder of Reyburn Wedding. In October 1870, Childers met Wedding in the Cherokee Nation and killed him for the $280 he possessed. Although Deputy Marshal Vennoy arrested Childers a short time later, he escaped from the federal jail (in Van Buren, Arkansas at that time). Recaptured in 1871, Childers was re-sentenced by Judge William Story. On the gallows Childers confessed to the crime.

Did You Know?

reproduction of keelboat on Arkansas River with first fort soldier reenactors

Fort Smith was established on Christmas Day, 1817. Approximately 70 Rifle Regiment soldiers arrived by keelboat after a long journey on the Arkansas River.