January 11, 2011
In 1871, the federal district court for the Western District of Arkansas was moved from Van Buren (Crawford County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County). This old barracks building served as the site of the federal court for approximately twenty-four of the next twenty-five years. For twenty years, starting in 1875, the famous Judge Isaac Parker handed down 160 death sentences from this courtroom. Seventy-nine of those executed were hanged on a gallows just a few yards from the building. The court’s jurisdiction ended in 1896, and today the building is part of the Fort Smith National Historic Site.