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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Federal Court Era Places (1872-1896)

interior of courtoom as it looks today with Judge's bench in center of wall

Restored Courtroom of Judge Isaac C. Parker

Memories by Jody

Today visitors come to Fort Smith to see the federal courthouse used by Judge Isaac C. Parker from 1875-1889. However, the building was originally the military barracks and not ideally suited for a courthouse. The courtroom was small and not lavishly furnished. The former mess halls in the basement were converted into two large jail cells, nicknamed "Hell on the Border."

 
 

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.