August 15, 1873 Execution
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?
Fort Smith National Historic Site has records of over 1,770 people employed by the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas from 1872-1896. The majority of these employees were U.S. Deputy Marshals.