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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

September 20, 1894 Execution

John Pointer, age 21, was executed on the Fort Smith gallows on September 20, 1894. In December of 1891, Pointer, a native of Arkansas, was traveling from Texas to Eureka Springs in the company of William Bolding and Ed Vandever. On Christmas night, the group camped in the Choctaw Nation. The next morning the bodies of Bolding and Vandever were found in a creek, each killed by blows from an axe. Deputy marshals arrested Pointer as he tried to dispose of the wagon and team in McAlester, Choctaw Nation. Found guilty by a Fort Smith jury, Pointer appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The original verdict was upheld.

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.