November 2014 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Fort Smith, Arkansas - Wikipedia 

The site of Fort Smith became part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Soon after, the Pike Expedition (1806) explored the Arkansas River. Fort Smith was founded in 1817 as a military post. Around the fort a small settlement began forming, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824 and moved 80 miles further west to Fort Gibson. Army sutler and land speculator John Rogers (who some genealogists claim to be an ancestor to 20th-century Oklahoma comedian Will Rogers) bought up former government-owned lands and promoted growth of the new civilian town of Fort Smith, eventually influencing the federal government to re-establish a strong military presence at Fort Smith during the era of Indian Removal and the Mexican War.

Fort Smith's name comes from General Thomas Adams Smith (17811844), who commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment in 1817, headquartered near St. Louis. General Smith had ordered Army topographical engineer Stephen H. Long (17841864) to find a suitable site on the Arkansas River for a fort. General Smith never visited the town or forts that bore his name.

In 1838 the Army moved back into the old military post near Belle Point, and expanded the base as part of the federal policy of removing Cherokees and Choctaws from their ancestral homelands in the Southeast and resettling the survivors in the nearby Indian Territory. Many displaced Native Americans settled down in Fort Smith and Van Buren, while Sebastian county was formed in 1851, separated from Crawford County north of the Arkansas River. In 1858, Fort Smith became a Division Center of the Butterfield Overland Mail's 7th Division route across Indian Territory from Fort Smith to Texas and a junction with the mail route from Memphis, Tennessee.

The fort was occupied by the Confederate Army during the early years of the U.S. Civil War. Union troops under General Steele took control of Fort Smith on September 1, 1863. A small fight occurred there on July 31, 1864, but the Union army maintained command in the area until the war ended in 1865. The town became a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists, and other victims of the ferocious guerrilla warfare then raging in the Border States. Federal troops abandoned the post of Fort Smith for the last time in 1871. The town continued to thrive despite the absence of federal troops.

Two of Fort Smith's most notable historic figures were Judge Isaac Parker and William Henry Harrison Clayton, sometimes referred to as W.H.H. Clayton. In 1874, William Henry Harrison Clayton was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by President Ulysses S. Grant. Fort Smith was a bustling community full of brothels, saloons and outlaws, just across the river from Indian Territory. William Clayton realized a strong judge would be necessary to bring law and order to the region. He knew of a strong judge in Isaac Parker. But there was a problem. Judge Parker had been appointed Chief Justice of Utah Territory and confirmed by the US Senate. With the help of President Grant and US Senator Powell Clayton, former governor of Arkansas, William Clayton was able to undo that appointment and redirect Judge Parker to Fort Smith.

Judge Isaac Parker served as U.S. District Judge 18751896. He was nicknamed the "Hanging Judge" because in his first term after assuming his post he tried 18 people for murder, convicted 15 of them, sentenced eight of those to die, and hanged six of them on one day. Over the course of his career in Fort Smith, Parker sentenced 160 people to hang. Of those, 79 actually were executed on the gallows. Judge Parker represented the only real law in the rough-and-tumble frontier border town. His courthouse is now a National Historic Site where "More men were put to death by the U.S. Government... than in any other place in American history."

William Clayton was appointed US Attorney by four different presidents and later served as Chief Justice of Indian Territory. He was instrumental in achieving statehood for Oklahoma and together with Territorial Governor Frank Frantz, carried the Oklahoma Constitution to President Teddy Roosevelt after that state was admitted in 1907. Governor Frantz and Judge Clayton both lost their territorial positions when Oklahoma was admitted to the Union.

The Army returned to Fort Smith in 1941 with the establishment of the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation east of the city.

On April 21, 1996, a large tornado destroyed and heavily damaged much of historic downtown Fort Smith around the Garrison Avenue Bridge. The storm left 4 people dead in western Arkansas. Channel 5 KFSM-TV in Fort Smith covered the tornado and produced a documentary of the event shortly after called 'Sundays Fury'. Days later, the Eads Brothers Furniture Building was destroyed by one of largest fires in Fort Smith's history.

Spirit of the American Doughboy

Fort Smith National Historic Site, the most prominent landmark, which includes the remains of the original 1817 fort on the Arkansas River. Inside is the restored courtroom of the famed "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker, and the dingy frontier jail aptly named "Hell on the Border." Eventually, this would become the unofficial nickname for all of Fort Smith.

Belle Grove Historic District, a 22-block area in downtown Fort Smith comprised nearly 25 restored homes that span 130 years of varying architectural styles.

Miss Laura's Social Club, a former brothel and the only remaining building from the Row, is home to the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau and the only former house of prostitution on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Chaffee, primarily used as a training facility by regional National Guard and Reserve Corps units as well as active military units from other installations. In 1958, the entertainer Elvis Presley stopped off at Fort Chaffee en route to his basic training in Texas. It was here that the public information officer John J. Mawn told a news conference that Presley would receive the standard "G.I. haircut" and would resemble a "peeled onion".

Annual attractions

Old Fort Days Rodeo, Fort Smith's annual Old Fort Days Rodeo and Barrel-Racing Futurity offers nearly ten days of Wild West activities. It has been held every May since the mid-1930s and is now rated as one of the top all around rodeos in the country.

Hanging Judge Border Feud High School Rodeo, the rodeo is held every March or April schedule permitting. This event is held at Kay Rodgers Park, and includes all of your usual rodeo events as well as the spring livestock show. The events are open to any high school students.

Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Fest, since it began in 1991, the Riverfront Blues Festival has become one of the biggest, hottest and jazziest annual June events in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, attracting jazz aficionados from a wide area of the blues-rich south, and "name" blues artists and performers from all over. The two-day event makes for a delightful music-filled weekend in Fort Smith, hearing blues, blues, blues on the banks of the Arkansas River.

Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair, One of the largest bi-state fairs in the nation, Fort Smith's Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair attracts thousands of fair-goers during its ten-day run in late September. They come to see exhibitor competition in everything from arts and crafts to livestock, and enjoy carnival rides, the midway excitement, nightly big-name grandstand entertainment, and plenty of good food.

Fort Smith Airshow, Sponsored by the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the spectacular Fort Smith Airshow occurs bi-annually every other spring or fall.

Fort Smith Juneteenth Community Festival Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Benjamin Bonneville - Wikipedia
Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (April 14, 1796 June 12, 1878) was a French-born officer in the United States Army, fur trapper, and explorer in the American West. He is noted for his expeditions to the Oregon Country and the Great Basin, and in particular for blazing portions of the Oregon Trail.

During his lifetime, Bonneville was made famous by an account of his explorations in the West written by Washington Irving.

Early life

Benjamin was born in or near Paris, France, the son of the French publisher Nicolas Bonneville and his wife Marguerite Brazier. When he was seven, his family moved to the United States in 1803; their passage was paid by Thomas Paine. Paine had lodged with the Bonnevilles in France and was godfather to Benjamin and his two brothers, Louis and Thomas. In his will, Paine left the bulk of his estate to Marguerite who had cared for him until he died in 1809. The inheritance included one hundred acres (40.5 ha) of his New Rochelle, New York farm where they had been living, so she could maintain and educate her sons.

Early career

In 1813 the young Bonneville received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated after only two years, receiving a commission as brevet second lieutenant of light artillery. In his early career, he served at posts in New England, Mississippi, and at Fort Smith in the Arkansas Territory.

In 1824, he was transferred to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory and promoted to Captain. While traveling to France, he was a guest of General Lafayette. After returning from France, he was transferred in 1828 to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri.

While in Missouri, Bonneville was inspired by the writing of Hall J. Kelley, as well as editorials in the St. Louis Enquirer (edited at the time by Thomas Hart Benton) to join in the exploration of the American West. Bonneville met with Kelley, who was impressed by him and appointed him to lead one of the expeditions to the Oregon Country; it was scheduled to leave in early 1832. The lack of volunteers for the expedition forced the delay and eventual cancellation of the expedition, leaving Bonneville unrequited in his ambitions.

To pursue his desire to explore the west, he petitioned General Alexander Macomb for a leave of absence from the military, arguing that he would be able to perform valuable reconnaissance among the Native Americans in the Oregon Country, which at the time was under a precarious joint occupation of the U.S. and Britain. It was largely controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. Macomb granted his request, a 26-month leave running from August 1831 to October 1833, and instructed him to gather all information that might be useful to the government. In particular, he was to pose as a fur trader and find out the natural history of the region, its climates, soils, geography, topography, mineral production, geology, and the character of the local tribes. Expenses for his exploration were paid by private donors, including Astorian Alfred Seton and possibly John Jacob Astor.

Marriage and family

Bonneville married and had a daughter with his wife. After they both died, he did not remarry until after retiring from the military in 1866, when he settled in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There he married Sue Neis.

Expedition of 1832

The expedition that would be known as the most notable accomplishment of his life began in May 1832, when Bonneville left Missouri with 110 men, including Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth and field lieutenants Michael Cerre and Joseph Walker. The voyage was financed by John Jacob Astor, a rival of the Hudson's Bay Company. The expedition proceeded from Fort Osage on the Missouri River, up to the Platte River, and across present-day Wyoming. They reached the Green River in August and built a fur trading post, which they named Fort Bonneville. The mountain men called it "Fort Nonsense" and it was never used for trading.

In the spring of 1833 , Bonneville explored along the Snake River in present-day Idaho, drifting into the head of the Salmon River and eventually into Fort Nez Perce. During this trip he engaged a guide, John Enos (Enos), a 10-year-old Shoshone nephew of Gourd Rattler (Washakie) and Pahdasherwahundah (Iron Wristbands); Enos later served as a scout for the Fremont expedition.

He also sent a party of men under Joe Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake and to find an overland route to California. Walker discovered a route along the Humboldt River across present-day Nevada, as well as Walker Pass across the Sierra Nevada. The path later became known as the California Trail, the primary route for the immigrants to the gold fields during the California Gold Rush. Much speculation has surrounded Bonneville's motivation for sending Walker to California. Some historians have speculated that Bonneville was attempting to lay the groundwork for an eventual invasion of California, then part of Mexico, by the United States Army.

John McLoughlin, the director of the Columbia operations of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, heard of Bonneville's mission. He forbade his traders from doing business with Bonneville and his men. Bonneville reported that many of the Native Americans he encountered in the Snake River were also reluctant to displease the Hudson's Bay Company by trading with the Americans.

In the summer of 1833, Bonneville ventured into the Wind River Range in present-day Wyoming to trade with the Shoshone. By this time, he realized that he would not be able to return east by October as planned. He wrote a lengthy letter to Gen. Macomb summarizing some of his findings and requesting more time, specifically to survey the Columbia River and parts of the Southwest before his return.

Trying to reach Oregon

After spending the early winter at Fort Bonneville, he set out westward in January 1834 with the goal of reaching the Willamette Valley. He and his men traveled up the Snake River, through Hells Canyon, and into the Wallowa Mountains, where they found a hospitable welcome by the Nez Perces along the Imnaha River.

On March 4, 1834, they reached Fort Nez Perces, the outpost of the Hudson's Bay Company at the confluence of the Walla Walla River with the Columbia. Pierre Pambrun, the HBC commander of the fort, welcomed him but refused to do business with him. Empty handed, Bonneville and men retraced their course back to southeast Idaho and made camp on the Portneuf River.

In July he made a second trip west, determined to trade with the Hudson's Bay Company. He followed an easier route across the Blue Mountains, where he met Nathaniel Wyeth once again and camped along the Grande Ronde River. By this time he and his men had become desperate for food and supplies. At Fort Nez Perces, they found the same rejection from Pambrun. Instead of returning immediately east, Bonneville and men journeyed down the Columbia towards Fort Vancouver. Along the river, he attempted to trade with Sahaptins but without success. He came to realize that he would probably receive the same rejection from McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver and decided to turn back east.

He spent the winter of 183435 with the Shoshone along the upper Bear River, and in April 1835 began the voyage back to Missouri. He reached Independence by August and discovered that although his letter requesting an extension had arrived, it had not been delivered to Macomb. In the meantime, his commission had been revoked.

Washington Irving

Bonneville journeyed east hoping to be able to recover his commission. On the way to Washington, D.C., he stopped in New York City where he was received by his patron John Jacob Astor. While staying with Astor, Bonneville met Washington Irving. Bonneville regaled Irving with tales of his adventures, tales that Bonneville planned to include in a book he was working on.

A month or two later, Irving visited Bonneville again, at the D.C. barracks where the latter was staying. Bonneville was having difficulties writing his adventures. The two of them agreed that for the sum of $1000, Bonneville would turn over his maps and notes so that Irving could use them as the basis for his third "Western" book. The result was The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, published in 1837.

More military service

In Washington, Bonneville petitioned tirelessly to Secretary of War Lewis Cass to have his commission re-instated. In early 1836 he was successful. In subsequent years, he was given assignments on the western frontier at Fort Kearny in the Nebraska Territory and in the New Mexico Territory at Fort Fillmore, where he became the commander of the third infantry regiment on February 3, 1855, after the death of Colonel Thomas Staniford. He also served in the Mexican-American War, taking part in the Veracruz campaign of Winfield Scott. He was part of the occupation of Mexico City. He was promoted to Colonel of the 3rd Infantry Regiment in 1855, and twice commanded the Department of New Mexico.

Bonneville retired from the military in 1861 but was soon recalled to duty during the Civil War, reaching the rank of brevet Brigadier General. From 1861 to 1863 Bonneville served as superintendent of recruiting in Missouri with a brief stint in 1862 as commander of Benton Barracks in St. Louis. He retired a second time in 1866 and moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he married a second time, to Sue Neis.

He died at age 82 in 1878. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.

Bonneville's namesakes include:

    Booneville, Arkansas, an altered spelling of Bonneville
    Bonneville Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada
    Bonneville County, Idaho
    Bonneville Salt Flats
    Lake Bonneville, the Pleistocene ancestor of the Great Salt Lake
    Bonneville Slide
    Bonneville Peak in the Portneuf Range
    Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho
    Bonneville High School in Washington Terrace, Utah
    Bonneville Dam, after which the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was named
    Pontiac Bonneville, an automobile made by General Motors from 1957 to 2005
    Triumph Bonneville, a line of motorcycles made by the British company Triumph
    Bonneville International, a broadcasting company
    The Bonneville House, Event Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, once home to Sue Neis
    Bonneville (crater) on Mars.
    SS Benjamin Bonneville, a World War II Liberty Ship.

Frank Dalton - from Wikipedia

 Frank Dalton (June 8, 1859 November 27, 1888) was a Deputy US Marshal of the Old West under Judge Isaac Parker (the hangin' judge), for Oklahoma Territory, as well as the older brother to the members of the Dalton Gang, in addition to being the brother to William M. Dalton, once a member of California legislature, and later an outlaw and leader of the Doolin Dalton gang alongside Bill Doolin. Frank Dalton is not to be confused with J. Frank Dalton, who made many claims to be famous people, including his claim of being Frank Dalton, and later Jesse James.

Dalton became, without much effort, the success story of the Dalton family. He was commissioned as a Deputy US Marshal, serving under Judge Parker, and quickly developed a reputation as being a brave lawman. Based out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Dalton was involved in a number of shootouts and high risk arrests over a three-year period. However, on November 27, 1888, he and Deputy J.R. Cole were on the trail of outlaw Dave Smith, wanted for horse theft. As they approached Smith's camp, Smith fired a shot from a rifle, hitting Dalton in the chest. Deputy Cole returned fire, killing Smith, but was then shot and wounded by a Smith cohort. Cole was able to make his escape, however, believing Dalton was dead. Dalton, however, was still alive, and engaged the outlaws in a short gunbattle. One of Smith's cohorts was wounded, and a woman who was in the camp was killed during the crossfire. Frank Dalton was dead by the time Deputy Cole returned with a posse, having been killed with two additional rifle shots by outlaw Will Towerly. The outlaw wounded by Dalton never revealed his own name. He died shortly thereafter, but not before naming Towerly as Frank Dalton's murderer. A newspaper of the time indicated Dalton had begged Towerly not to kill him, saying he was already dying. However that was a rumour, and there were no witnesses to the crime who ever made that statement. Towerly was killed one month later by Deputy William Moody and Deputy US Marshal Ed Stokley. Stokley was also killed during the gunfight. Dalton was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Coffeyville, Kansas, not far from the graves of his two outlaw brothers, Grat and Bob.

The actor Robert Lansing played Frank Dalton in the NBC television series The Outlaws in a two-part episode "The Daltons Must Die", which aired early in 1961.

Evett Dumas Nik - from Wikipedia

Evett Dumas Nix, often known as E.D. Nix, (September 19, 1861 - February 6, 1946) was a United States Marshal in the late 19th century handling the jurisdiction that included the wild Oklahoma Territory, later to be the state of Oklahoma. He was first appointed in 1893, in the closing years of the Old West, during the last years of the "Hanging Judge" Parker tenure.


Born in Kentucky, his uncle was a county sheriff, and his father a deputy sheriff. He went into business, working in sales and operating a grocery store and a hardware store. In 1885 he married childhood girlfriend Ellen Felts. Nix first came to Oklahoma during the Land Run of 1891, and was a Guthrie, Oklahoma, businessman with many influential friends, to include rancher Oscar Halsell, who for a time employed Bill Doolin and other members of the Doolin Dalton Gang, and who was involved in the 1884 Hunnewell Gunfight. When he was appointed to the position of US Marshal he was only 32 years of age, the youngest holding that position at the time.

Law enforcement career

He took over in a very volatile time. The Doolin Dalton gang was in full swing, committing bank robberies and train robberies in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. The outlaws had a haven in Ingalls, Oklahoma, and Marshal Nix wasted no time in moving to bring the gang down. His first course of action was to organize a posse to take the outlaws in Ingalls. With Deputy Marshal John Hixon in the lead, Nix dispatched a posse of fourteen Deputy Marshals to Ingalls. On September 1, 1893, in what would become known as the Battle of Ingalls, three of his deputy marshals, Deputy Marshal Thomas Hueston, Deputy Marshal Richard Speed, and Deputy Marshal Lafeyette Shadley were killed in the ensuing gunbattle. Outlaws "Bittercreek" Newcomb, Charley Pierce, and "Dynamite Dan" Clifton were wounded, but escaped. Outlaw "Arkansas Tom" Jones was stunned and captured after dynamite was thrown at him by Deputy Marshal Jim Masterson. And a saloon owner known only as Murray was badly wounded by the marshals when he began shooting at the lawmen in defense of the outlaws.

To topple the gang, Nix organized a special elite group of one hundred marshals, including Heck Thomas, Bill Tilghman, and Chris Madsen, who became known as the Three Guardsmen. Marshal Nix was staunchly defensive of his deputies, and the actions they were forced to take in order to bring the gang to justice. With Nix in support of them, the marshals began to whittle away at the gang, and by 1898 the entire Doolin Dalton gang had been wiped out with the exception of "Arkansas Tom" Jones, who was in prison. After his release he returned to breaking the law and was killed by lawmen.

Two years after the Battle of Ingalls, saloon owner Murray was seeking damages for having been shot by the marshals. Marshal Nix stood in defense of his deputies, and addressed the Attorney General Judson Harmon directly on the matter, stating in part; "Murray and other citizens catered to their trade, carried them news of the movements of deputy marshals, furnished them with ammunition, cared for their horses, permitted them to eat at their tables and sleep in their beds", and continued "This man Murray came to the front door of the saloon either just before the outlaws left the building or just after, it is not known which. However, when he first appeared in the doorway, he had the door open just a short distance and had his winchester to his shoulder in the act of firing", he then added that "Three of the deputies seeing him in the position he was in, fired on him simultaneously. Two of the shots struck him and one broke his arm in two places." The letter is now housed in the National Archives.

Later life and death

Nix was dismissed from his position after an audit in 1896, after critics accused him of misusing funds. Many now believe that he was merely the victim of the fee system used at the time for payment of Deputy Marshals, and he actually did not mismanage any funds. He returned to life as a businessman in Guthrie following his dismissal, in which he saw success. In 1929 Nix co-authored a book titled Oklahombres with Gordon Hines, detailing much of the work that went into bringing the gang down, in addition to the hunting down of many other outlaws, including the Jennings Gang. He also documents his youth in Kentucky, and reflects on the changes that had taken place from the 1890s to the 1920s in the way of the outlaws and the lawmen.

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