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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

September 9, 1881 Execution

rope tied as a noose
Five men were executed on the Fort Smith gallows on September 9, 1881. The motives for their crimes ranged from mistaken identity to senseless violence. In August of 1880, William Brown, trying to defend himself against a man who threatened his life, fired at a shadowy figure moving toward him. Instead, Brown killed his friend, Robert Tate. Self defense was also the claim of Patrick McGowen and George Padgett, but juries found both men guilty of murder. Brothers Abler and Amos Manley shot and killed Ellis McVay, a farmer who offered them shelter for the night of December 3, 1880. Their motive was unknown.

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