Road Construction I-540
Traveling West on I-40? To avoid construction delays, do not take Exit 7 (I-540 S). Stay on I-40 west and take Exit 1 Dora. Stay on Hwy 64D for 6 miles and follow signs to Fort Smith. After crossing over the river, turn right on 4th ST & right on Garland. More »
January 16, 1890 Execution
Twice in the history of federal hangings in Fort Smith, six men were hanged at one time: September 3, 1875 and January 16, 1890. On that 1890 date Harris Austin, John Billy, Jimmon Burris, Sam Goin, Jefferson Jones and Thomas Willis died on the gallows.
Austin was found guilty of shooting and killing Thomas Elliott in a dispute over whiskey. Billy and Willis robbed W.P. Williams in the Kiamichi Mountains and then killed him. A jury convicted Jones of the murder of Henry Wilson for the $12.00 he carried. Burris and Goin killed Houston Joyce as he traveled through Indian Territory. Originally, Judge Isaac Parker had sentenced nine people to be executed on this date, but three received reprieves or commutations.
Did You Know?
The conditions at the federal jail at Fort Smith were so horrible that it received the nickname "Hell on the Border." Up to 50 men were crowded into one large cell with limited ventilation and poor sanitary conditions.