The History Behind These Arkansas Gallows Is Truly Grim
Fort Smith is the second largest city in Arkansas, and it’s full of unique history. The fictional figure of Rooster Cogburn and the experiences of the heroine Mattie Ross from the book True Grit and the subsequent movie adaptations give great examples of this border town’s important place in Arkansas history—but there’s something even better waiting for you in modern-day Fort Smith. Namely, the gallows of the infamous Hanging Judge of the Old West, Judge Isaac C. Parker. They serve as a living memory of a time when the U.S. Marshals based in Fort Smith were responsible for bringing justice to the whole of the still-wild Indian Territory right across the Arkansas River.
J.B. Weisenfels has lived in rural Arkansas for three decades. She is a writer, a mom, and a graduate student. She is also an avid collector of tacky fish whatnots, slightly chipped teapots, and other old things. In her spare time she enjoys driving to the nearest creek to sit a while. If you were to visit her, she'd try to feed you cornbread.