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Fort Smith Part II: A second fort was built in 1838 due to fears of Indian attacks and operated as an important supply depot during westward migration. The fort was in use until 1871 and occupied alternatively by both Confederate and Union troops. From 1872 until 1896 the Federal Court for the Western Arkansas District operated out of the former enlisted barracks, converting the building into a prison, courtroom and offices. Judge Isaac C. Parker presided, the court having jurisdiction over Indian Territory, being one of the largest, busiest, and deadliest districts. Nicknamed "the hanging judge," Parker heard of 13,000 cases - 344 were for capital crimes, and 79 of 160 he sentenced to hang actually faced the gallows.
Pictured here is the Barracks/Courthouse/Jail. Like my other visits to the park I ended up hanging around until just after sunset. I imagine this building I looked just as ominous for prisoners delivered here for trial.