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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

April 21, 1876 Execution

drawing of rope tied as a noose
On April 21, 1876, five men were executed on the gallows at Fort Smith. With a motive of robbery, Gibson Ishtanubbee and Isham Seely murdered a white farmer and his housekeeper on May 10, 1873. William Leech also killed to rob his victim. He murdered his traveling companion on March 8, 1875, as they rode through the Cherokee Nation. When Orpheus McGee shot and killed Robert Alexander on April 20, 1874, he said he did so for revenge. McGee claimed that Alexander had murdered a friend of his. On October 12, 1875, Aaron Wilson killed James Harris with an axe and then shot and killed Harris' 12 year old son. Again, the motive was theft.

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.