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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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June 28, 1892 Execution

noose
On June 28, 1892 John Thornton was executed for the murder of his daughter. In 1891, Thornton was living in the Choctaw Nation and had long been suspected of abusing his daughter, Laura. On November 11, enraged that Laura had recently married (only six days earlier), Thornton shot and killed her. At his trial, the 65 year old Thornton pled not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he was drunk at the time of the murder and did not know what he was doing. This did not sway the jury. Thornton was convicted and sentenced to death for his crime.

Did You Know?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.