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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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March 17, 1896 Execution

drawing of gallows showing execution of Cherokee Bill with a large crowd in attendance

Execution of Crawford Goldsby
alias Cherokee Bill

Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill, was executed on March 17, 1896. A jury found Goldsby guilty of the murder of Ernest Melton during a robbery of a store in the Cherokee Nation. While awaiting an appeal, Goldsby engineered an escape from the new jail. On July 26, 1895, he pulled a pistol (which had been smuggled to him) on a guard in the jail who was assisting in the nightly lockdown. As the guard reached for his gun, Goldsby opened fire, killing him. He was once again convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Again the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the first verdict. As Cherokee Bill began his walk to the gallows, surrounded by a crowd of 3,000 he remarked that "this is about as good a day to die as any."

For more information on Cherokee Bill follow the links below.

Cherokee Bill: On The Outlaw Trail
The Capture of Cherokee Bill
Cherokee Bill's First Murder Trial
Cherokee Bill's Escape Attempt From Jail
The Execution of Cherokee Bill
Letter Regarding Cherokee Bill

Did You Know?

Park staff and volunteers demonstrating using lindstock and slowmatch to ignite the cannon's primer

The soldiers who came to Fort Smith in 1817 were still using some 18th century technology and drill. The cannon was discharged using a lindstock and slowmatch to ignite the primer, which originally was loose powder or a turkey quill filled with powder.