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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

December 20, 1878 Execution

drawing of rope tied as noose
On December 20, 1878, James Diggs and John Postoak were executed at Fort Smith. Juries convicted both men of murder in unrelated cases. In 1873, Diggs murdered J.C. Gould, a cattle drover, for the sum of $27.00. Although arrested immediately after the crime, Diggs was released when the court in Fort Smith failed to bring any witnesses against him. Deputy Marshal James Wilkinson heard about the case several years later, rearrested Diggs, and located the witnesses, some as far away as Michigan and Ohio by this time. The officer's persistent efforts resulted in a guilty verdict. Postoak committed his crime in October of 1877, shooting and killing John Ingley in the Creek Nation.

Did You Know?

foundation remains of first fort overlooking Arkansas River

The U.S. Army selected a spot overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers for the site of a fort. Soldiers from the Rifle Regiment arrived in 1817 and named the site Fort Smith after their commanding officer, Thomas A. Smith.