Hangin’ Times in Fort Smith


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For twenty-one years, Judge Isaac C. Parker ruled in the federal court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, the gateway to the wild and lawless Western frontier. Parker, however, was not the “hangin’ judge” that casual legend portrays. In most cases, the guilt or innocence of those tried in his court really was not in question once their stories were told. These horrible crimes would have screamed out for justice in any circumstance. Author Jerry Akins has finally arrived at the real story about Parker and his court by comparing newspaper accounts of the trials and executions to what has been written and popularized in other books.

Jerry Akins is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and worked as a missile technician for fourteen years. In 1980, he relocated to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he began to immerse himself in the history of the area, including the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas and the cases of Judge Isaac C. Parker. He is a frequent contributor to the Fort Smith Historical Society Journal.

Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.