• 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?

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.