|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
(1781–1844), who commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment in 1817,
headquartered near St. Louis. General Smith had ordered Army topographical
engineer Stephen H. Long (1784–1864) to find a suitable site on the Arkansas
River for a fort. General Smith never visited the town or forts that bore
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 1875–1896.
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
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".
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
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.
|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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 1834–35 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.
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
Bonneville Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada
Bonneville County, Idaho
Bonneville Salt Flats
Lake Bonneville, the Pleistocene ancestor
of the Great Salt Lake
Bonneville Peak in the Portneuf Range
Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls,
Bonneville High School in Washington
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
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
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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