Parker's First Sentencing of Rufus Buck -- 1896
The five members of the Rufus Buck Gang were convicted of rape and sentenced to die in 1895. This initial verdict and sentence was appealed to the Supreme Court. Following their unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court, Judge Parker had the opportunity to resentence them to death. The execution of the Rufus Buck Gang on July 1, 1896 was the second to last execution to occur at Fort Smith.
I want to say in this case that the jury under the law and the evidence could come to no other conclusion than that which they arrived at. Their verdict is an entirely just one, and one that must be approved by all lovers of virtue. The offense of which you have been convicted is one which shocks all men who are not brutal. It is known to the law as a crime offensive to decency, and as a brutal attack upon the honor and chastity of the weaker sex. It is a violation of the quick sense of honor and the pride of virtue which nature to render the sex amiable has implanted in the female heart; and it has been by the lawmakers of the United States deemed equal in enormity and wickedness to murder because the punishment fixed by the same is that which follows the commission of the crime of murder.
Your crime has been proven beyond question, and the evidence showing the manner of its commission exhibits it as of the most repulsive and abhorrent character. The proof shows that each of you first took part in the robbery of the house of Henry Hassen, and afterwards that each of you in the most revolting and brutal manner in turn outraged his wife, Mrs. Rosetta Hassen. Some of you held the family at bay. Some of you overcome all resistance by armed violence while each of you in turn committed the terrible crime against decency and virtue, and you all exhibited the most horrid and brutal depravity. The acts so aroused the indignation of your own people, the Creek Indians, that they were almost persuaded to take you from the officers and execute upon you summary vengeance. It was only through respect for the law, and the belief that it would be enforced in this court, that induced them to permit the officers to bring you here.
As reported in the Fort Smith Elevator, September 27, 1895.
Did You Know?
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.