Men Executed at Fort Smith: 1873 to 1896

drawing of execution of Cherokee Bill showing large crowd gathered around gallows structure.  Cherokee Bill is standing on scaffold with a rope hanging from the cross beam.  Standing in the distance on the scaffold is a woman, Cherokee Bill's mother.
Execution of Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill, March 17, 1896

From 1873 until 1896, the federal court conducted executions on the grounds of the courthouse. The gallows scaffold was located against the southeast corner of the wall that surrounded the old fort.

From 1873 through 1896, eighty-six men were executed on the gallows at Fort Smith. All the men executed were convicted of rape or murder. After the Civil War, there was a mandatory federal death sentence in cases of rape or murder.

 

Execution Data

Notes about the the table.
The * after the age indicates an approximation
The execution date is listed in Year/ Month/ Day format.

Information about the men executed on the gallows at Fort Smith.
First NameLast NameAgeDate Crime CommitedConvictionVictim(s)Execution DateBurial Location
 

Execution Statistics

  • Executions occur for 23 years (August 15, 1873 to July 30, 1896)

  • 86 men put to death total, in 39 separate executions

  • of the 86 total, 79 men were put to death during Judge Parker's tenure (1875-1896

  • 35 American Indians (41%) (includes mixed-bloods)
  • 33 White men (38%)
  • 18 African-Americans (21%)
  • 18 executions of one man

  • 9 executions of two men

  • 5 executions of three men

  • 2 executions of four men

  • 3 executions of five men

  • 2 executions of six men

  • 160 people (including 4 women) were sentenced to death by Judge Parker

  • 43 commuted to life or lesser prison sentences by the President

  • 2 Pardoned by the President

  • 31 appeals resulted in acquittals or overturned convictions

  • 2 granted new trials and later discharged

  • 1 shot and killed while attempting to escape

  • 2 died in jail while awaiting execution

  • 7 executions were open to the general public (1873-1876)

  • 32 executions allowed only a limited number of spectators (1878-1896)

The seven executions open to the general public attracted large crowds, often coming from the surrounding area.
After 1878, when executions were conducted privately, between 22-45 spectators were present on average.

  • 2,000 - August 15, 1873

  • "A Large Concourse of people..." - October 10, 1873

  • "A vast crowd... one-third being women." - April 3, 1874

  • "... comparatively few spectators." - January 15, 1875

  • 5,000 - September 3, 1875

  • 7,000 - April 21, 1876

  • 1,000 - September 8, 1875

 
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    Last updated: October 17, 2021

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