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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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Stories from the Federal Court Era

detail of late 19th century sketch of Fort Smith courtroom showing lawyers and prisoner

Detail of Courtroom Sketch

Collection of Fort Smith NHS

The heroic deeds of Fort Smith's deputy marshals and the heinous crimes of outlaws in the Indian Territory have provided inspiration for numerous novels and movies. But, the true stories of the men and women associated with the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas at Fort Smith are just as fascinating as the fictional depictions.

Also check out:
People of the Federal Court Era
Federal Court Era Places

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.