Isaac Parker

Isaac Parker

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Isaac Parker was born in Barnesville, Ohio, on 15th October, 1838. He was admitted to the bar in 1859 and worked as a lawyer at St. Joseph, Missouri. For a brief while during the American Civil War Parker served as a corporal in the 61st Missouri Emergency Regiment.

In 1862 Parker became city attorney for St. Joseph. He also served as a congressman (1871-75) before being appointed judge for Western Arkansas. At this stage of his career Parker held progressive political views and was a leading advocate of woman's suffrage and rights for Native Americans.

Parker base was at Fort Smith. It was a region with serious law and order problems and one of Parker's acts was to appoint 200 deputy marshals. He was appalled by the large numbers of these men who were killed by criminals. Parker was determined to get the region under control and ordered the building of gallows that could accommodate twelve men at the same time.

In the next 31 he passed the death sentence on 168 men and four women, of whom, 88, all men, were executed. As a result of these deaths, Parker was given the name the "Hanging Judge". George Maledon, was Parker's Lord High Executioner and executed 60 of the men. He also shot dead five men who tried to escape from Fort Smith jail.

Parker did sometime show sympathy for the criminals who appeared before him. In 1882 Belle Starr was found guilty of horse stealing and only received a sentence of one year in prison. John Overton, found guilty of fraud, was told by Parker: "Go home and sin no more." However, Overton was 98 years old.

In 1889 the Supreme Court judged that people sentenced to death could appeal. Of the 46 people convicted by Parker, who took their cases to Washington, 30 were judged to have been victims of unfair trials. Parker complained that the "appellate courts exist mainly to stab the trial judge in the back". Parker defended himself by arguing "I never hanged a man. The law hanged him. I was only its instrument."

Parker was also ordered by Washington in 1891 to bring an end to public executions. This was followed five years later by the death penalty being abolished.

Isaac Parker died on 17th November, 1896 and is buried in the National Cemetery at Fort Smith.


PARKER, Isaac, a Representative from Massachusetts born in Boston, Mass., June 17, 1768 attended the common schools and was graduated from Harvard University in 1786 studied law was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Castine, Maine (until 1820 a part of Massachusetts) held several local offices moved to Portland, Maine, and continued the practice of law elected as a Federalist to the Fifth Congress (March 4, 1797-March 3, 1799) appointed United States marshal for Maine district on March 5, 1799, and served until December 21, 1803 moved to Boston, Mass., having been appointed by Governor Strong an associate justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts on January 28, 1806, and presided as chief justice from August 24, 1814, until his death professor of law in Harvard University 1815-1827 served as president of the State constitutional convention in 1820 served as a trustee of Bowdoin College for eleven years and as an overseer of Harvard University for twenty years died in Boston, Mass., July 25, 1830 interment in Copps Hill Cemetery.

Legends of America

U.S. Deputy Marshals at Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1892.

Invoking an image of weathered cowboys riding hard on the range, chasing outlaws in a running gunfight, are the U.S. Marshals of the Old West. And while those images were “real,” especially with many of the brave men working in Indian Territory under the jurisdiction of “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker, or in the fledgling western territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and others many may not know that the U.S. Marshal Service is more than 200 years old.

The U.S. Marshal Service was created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the same legislation that established the federal judicial system. When George Washington set up his first administration and the first Congress began passing laws, both quickly discovered an inconvenient gap – there was no agency established to represent the federal government’s interests at the local level. Part of the problem was solved by creating specialized agencies, such as customs and revenue collectors, to levy the tariffs and taxes, but there were numerous other jobs that needed to be done.

Many of these tasks fell to the U.S. Marshal Service. Given extensive authority to support federal courts, Congress, or the president, these marshals and their deputies have served subpoenas, warrants, made arrests, and handled prisoners for more than two centuries.

And though these are the most well-known of their tasks, they had numerous others as well, including the disbursement of money. The Marshals paid the fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. Attorneys, jurors, and witnesses. They rented the courtrooms and jail space and hired the bailiffs, criers, and janitors. They made sure the prisoners were present, the jurors were available, and the witnesses were on time.

But this was only a part of what the Marshals did. The Marshals have also taken the responsibility for a number of other tasks over the years, such as taking the national census through 1870, distributing Presidential proclamations, registering enemy aliens in times of war, capturing fugitive slaves, and protecting the American borders.

Their motto is “Justice, Integrity, and Service,” and through the years, their heroics in the face of lawlessness have often become famous, especially in the days of the Old West, which has so often been portrayed in popular films, and invoking the many images we have of these courageous men today.

In the second half of the 19th century, the U.S. Marshals became synonymous with the “Wild West” as they made their mark on history in the many lawless frontier towns. In many of these places, the marshals were the only kind of law that was available, and knowing this, numerous outlaws made their livelihoods in these fledgling towns that had not yet become structured enough to provide for their own authorities. Here, in “wicked” places like Deadwood South Dakota Tombstone, Arizona and the plains of Indian Territory, U.S. Deputy Marshals became famous as they pursued such notorious outlaws as Billy the Kid in New Mexico Dalton Gang, Belle Starr, and the Rufus Buck Gang in Indian Territory Jesse James in the Midwest and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch in Wyoming and hundreds of others.

Though popular western films generally showed these fearless men as forming a posse, pinning on their silver star-shaped badges, and pursuing the outlaws in a running gunfight, that the marshals always won, this was in truth, not the norm. In fact, in Indian Territory (which later became Oklahoma), 103 deputies were killed between 1872 and 1896, roughly a quarter of the number slain throughout the marshals’ history. The territory, controlled by Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was described by a Fort Smith newspaper as the “rendezvous of the vile and wicked from everywhere.” Some of the true courageous men who made names for themselves here were Heck Thomas, Bass Reeves, Bill Tilghman, Chris Madsen and dozens of others.

In other areas of the west, more men who made names for themselves included Seth Bullock in South Dakota Bat Masterson in Kansas Joseph Meek in Oregon William Wheeler in Montana and again, dozens of others. Two of the most recognizable men who served as U.S. Deputy Marshals were Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok. However, they gained their notoriety primarily through their own exaggerations and film depictions, rather than the courageous acts shown by many more deputy marshals.

Once the Wild West was tamed, the U.S. Marshal service began to suffer in the 20th century as their star faded and the FBI flourished. Though they protected the home front during World War I and were heavily involved in enforcing Prohibition laws, they had essentially lost their “specialty,” and by the 1950s found themselves acting as bailiffs for the federal courts and requesting background checks. In the 1960s, their importance again rose as they enforced court-ordered racial desegregation and the Federal Witness Security Program which was established in the 1970s.

Today, the Marshal Service still has responsibility to enforce federal laws and orders issued by the court, as well as prevention of civil disturbances, continued protection of federal witnesses, terrorist events, hostage situations, and numerous other duties directed by the Department of Justice, such as assisting in airport security after the terrible attack in New York on September 11, 2001. Current Deputy Marshals are required to carry firearms and to become proficient in the latest electronic communications equipment and security devices. Their work continues to hold the constant threat of violence involving personal risk to the many men and women who pledge to protect the justice system.

Over the years, some 400 marshals have been killed in the line of duty. Their famous five-sided star is the oldest emblem of federal law enforcement in our country.

To celebrate their courage and bravery and provide information on the service’s rich history, fundraising efforts are currently underway for the U.S. Marshals Service National Museum, which will be established in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Early life

Parker was the youngest son of Joseph Parker and his wife Jane Shannon. He was raised on the family farm near Barnesville, Ohio. He attended Breeze Hill primary school, followed by the Barnesville Classical Institute, a private school. He taught in a county primary school to pay for his secondary education.

When he was 17, Parker decided to become a lawyer. He combined an apprenticeship with a local lawyer with his own self studies. He passed the bar exam in 1859.

Sailor who died at Pearl Harbor laid to rest in St. Louis nearly 80 years after his death

The body beneath it was a Navy mess attendant from Woodson, Arkansas, who enlisted at 17 to get out of his small town and find opportunity.

The teenager died on the U.S.S. Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese fighters bombed Pearl Harbor.

His parents, sister and two brothers were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, but his body remained, unidentified, in Hawaii for nearly 80 years.

But recently, U.S. defense department officials tasked with identifying those killed in war ran tests on the teen's remains. They analyzed DNA, dental records and anthropological indicators, and in September they found a match.

Isaac Parker was ready to come home.

On Tuesday, 97 years to the day Parker was born, a procession of family members, some from the St. Louis area, rolled into Jefferson Barracks, welcomed by sailors dressed in white and a rifle salute.

They watched as servicemen folded an American flag draped across Parker's casket and handed it to his niece. A bugler played taps. Onlookers saluted.

"I didn't think it was possible," his great-niece Keli Curtis said after the ceremony. "I think it's beautiful."

Parker was one of roughly 79,000 Americans who remained unaccounted for after World War II. Some were buried as unknowns in cemeteries around the world, while others were lost at sea or deemed missing in action, according to the defense department's POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Recent technological advancements, including DNA analysis, have helped speed up the process of identifying remains, but there are still roughly 72,000 servicemen unaccounted for.

On the ship where Parker worked, the Oklahoma, more than 400 people were killed. Parker was one of 2,008 sailors and 2,403 total people who died that day at Pearl Harbor. It's unclear how Parker was able to enlist at just 17 — a year before he was technically eligible — but Curtis speculated a family member may have signed for him.

And his commitment to service went on to inspire other generations of his family. Parker's great-nephew, Air Force Brig. Gen. Brandon Parker, attended the ceremony via videoconference from deployment overseas.

Glenn Curtis, a military officer and relative of Isaac Parker by marriage, said it was important to the family for him to finally be honored and laid to rest.

"To have this finally happen, it's a very good thing," he said.

People outside of the family came to honor Parker, too.

Corky Newgent and Sue Stutz both had fathers who fought in World War II and said they came to the cemetery to honor Parker, even though they had no connection to him.

"All these veterans need to be honored," Newgent said.

Parker's family said they were thankful to everyone who went to honor their loved one, and they also thanked the U.S. military for bringing him home.

"I do feel good that he is in his final resting place with his family," said his niece, Angela Curtis.


Fort Parker was established about two miles (3.2 km) north of present-day Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas, United States, by Elder John Parker (1758–1836), his sons, Benjamin, Silas and James, with other members of the Pilgrim Predestinarian Baptist Church of Crawford County, Illinois. [1] [2] [3] Led by John and Daniel Parker, they came to Texas in 1833. [4] [2] [3] Daniel's party first settled in Grimes County, then later moved to Anderson County near present-day Elkhart and established Pilgrim Church. Elder John Parker's group settled near the headwaters of the Navasota River, and built a fort for protection against Native Americans. It was completed in March 1834. Fort Parker's 12-foot-high (3.7 m) log walls enclosed four acres (16,000 m 2 ). Blockhouses were placed on two corners for lookouts, and six cabins were attached to the inside walls. The fort had two entrances, a large double gate facing south, and a small gate for easy access to the spring. [5] [2] Most of the residents of the fort were part of the extended family of John and Sarah Parker.

Soon the settlers were making their homes and farming the land. Several had built cabins on their farms, and used the fort for protection. [1] Peace treaties were made with surrounding Native American chiefs. [ citation needed ] The Fort Parker inhabitants had also allowed a Texas Ranger company to use the Fort, perhaps not understanding that many Native Americans regarded the Rangers with hatred for their Indian fighting. [ citation needed ] The Comanche, more properly known as the Nʉmʉnʉʉ, were on a raiding party.

On May 19, 1836, a large party of Native Americans, including Comanches, Kiowas, Caddos, and Wichitas, [6] attacked the inhabitants of Fort Parker. In her memoir, Rachel Plummer wrote that "one minute the fields (in front of the fort) were clear, and the next moment, more Indians than I dreamed possible were in front of the fort." [7]

One of the Indians approached the fort with a white flag. No one believed the flag was genuine. Silas Parker wanted the five men present to man the walls and fight as best they could. Benjamin Parker felt that by going out he could buy time for the majority of the women and children to flee out the back (small) gate. He felt that there was simply no way that five men would be able to hold the Indians out more than a second or two, as they could use ropes to scale the walls. He felt that the war party would then kill everyone in the fort, and the unsuspecting men in the fields. He argued with Silas that they had to barter their lives for time for everyone else. [7] Their father agreed with Benjamin. [7]

Benjamin knew he was going to be killed. According to Rachel Plummer's account, Benjamin returned to the fort, after his first talk with the war party, and told his brother and father that he believed they would all be killed, and that they should run swiftly to the woods. Silas again argued with him, telling him they should push the big gate shut, and man the walls. Ben pointed out, rightly, Rachel said, that there was no time, and their "course was decided." He told her, "run little Rachel, for your life and your unborn child, run now and fast!" She said he then straightened up and went back outside. [7] She recounted how Silas told her to watch the front gate, after Benjamin had gone out to talk to the Indians the second time, when she herself wanted to flee, while he ran for his musket and powder pouch. [7] "They will kill Benjamin," she reported her Uncle Silas saying, "and then me, but I will do for at least one of them, by God." At that moment, she said she heard whooping outside the fort, and then Indians were inside. [7]

The 3–5 minutes bought enough time that the majority of the women and children did get away. Rachel Plummer, who was pregnant, was afraid she would not be able to keep up while carrying her two-year-old son, and so she stayed in the fort. [7] She began running after seeing the Indians come into the fort, holding her little boy's hand, while behind her she said she saw Indians stabbing Benjamin with their lances, and then she heard "Uncle Silas shout defiance as though he had a thousand men with him. Alas, he was alone, and soon dead." [7] Lucy Parker, who also had a small child, stopped to argue with her husband Silas, begging him to come with her. [7] Elizabeth Duty Kellogg stopped to gather up their savings, $100 in coins, before she attempted to escape.

Benjamin Parker was killed, and before the fort's gates could be closed, the raiders rushed inside. Silas Parker, who was outside with his brother, was killed before he was able to get back inside the gate. Samuel Frost and his son Robert were killed inside the gate, as they attempted to flee. John Parker was castrated and then scalped. His wife came out of the woods when she saw his torture and was captured. [7] Lucy Parker and her youngest two children were initially captured but were rescued by David Faulkenberry as he ran up to the fort from the fields. Her two oldest children, however, along with Rachel and her son, and Elizabeth Kellogg were successfully kidnapped.

In all, five men were killed, some were left for dead, two women and three children were captured, and the rest escaped into the wilderness.

  • Elder John Parker (aged 77 years 8 months, killed) and second wife, Sarah Pinson Duty
      (aged 55 years 4 months)
  • Benjamin F. W. Parker (aged 48 years, killed)
  • Isaac Parker (aged 43 years 1 month) (aged 38 years 10 months) and wife, Martha Duty
    • Sarah Parker (aged 18 years 9 months) and husband, Lorenzo Dow Nixon (aged 17 years 2 months, captured) and husband, Luther Martin Thomas Plummer (aged approximately 24 years 11 months)
      • James Pratt Plummer (aged 1 year 4 months, captured)
        (aged 8 years 7 months, captured) (aged approximately 5 years 11 months, captured)
    • Silas Mercer Parker (aged approximately 1 year 11 months)
    • Orlena Parker (aged approximately 11 months)
      • Abram Anglin
      • Silas Bates
      • Elizabeth Dwight
      • Evan Falkenbury
      • Robert Frost (killed)
      • Other Frost children

      Note: Killed were Samuel Frost, Robert Frost, John Parker, Benjamin Parker and Silas Parker. Captured were Elizabeth Kellogg, Cynthia Parker, John Parker, Rachel Plummer and James Plummer all of them were later ransomed or freed. Their captivity took several years, except Mrs. Kellogg, who was ransomed within 3 months. Among the tortures the captives suffered, the women were repeatedly raped by their captors.

      Isaac Parker (1838-1896)

      Background. Isaac Parker was born in Belmont County, Ohio. After studying and teaching school, Parker was admitted to the Ohio when he was twenty-one. He moved to Saint Joseph, Missouri, where he practiced law and worked for the Republican Party. In 1864 he was elected district attorney and served as a presidential elector for Abraham Lincoln. Four years later he was elected to a judgeship, and in 1870 to Congress. In 1875 President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Parker to be chief justice of the Utah Territory. After the Senate had confirmed Parker, though, Grant decided to send him instead to Fort Smith, where the federal circuit court for the Western District of Arkansas had jurisdiction over thirty counties in Arkansas and the entire Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). Parker, at thirty-six, was the country ’ s youngest federal judge.

      The Indian Territory. The Western District of Arkansas had approximately seventy-four thousand square miles of land and eighty-five thousand people. The trouble spot of the district proved to be the Indian Territory, where five Native American tribes lived — Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. (They had been forcibly moved there in the 1830s by the federal government). Federal and state law did not apply to them, and their laws did not apply to the twenty-six thousand non-Indians who had illegally migrated to the region. Plains Indians not living on the reservation hunted in the western areas of the territory, and Texas cattlemen used vacant lands to graze their herds before taking them to the slaughterhouses and railroads in Kansas. Renegades fled the law in their own states to take up residence in the territory, where there was little chance of capture. It was said that “ There is no Sunday west of St. Louis — no God west of Fort Smith. ”

      The Hanging Judge. Parker ’ s predecessor, Judge William Story, had resigned after only fourteen months in Fort Smith rather than face impeachment. Parker arrived to find the court in disrepute and outlaws in control of the territory. On 10 May 1875 Parker ’ s court opened for business in the two-story brick federal courthouse, which had two jail cells in the basement. Eighteen people came before Parker that day charged with murder fifteen were convicted. On 3 September, six of these men were executed in a public display of the law ’ s power. Five thousand people, including reporters from as far away as New York, came to watch. Parker was quickly given the name “ the hanging judge ” in the next twenty-one years he would sentence 160 people to death seventy-nine would hang on the gallows at Fort Smith.

      Parker ’ s Posse. Parker hired two hundred deputy marshals to assist in the “ fight between the court and the lawless element ” in the Indian Territory. This force, though, was hardly enough to do more than chase after known criminals. A marshal received two dollars for arresting and bringing a suspect into Fort Smith. In addition, the government would pay the deputy six cents per mile and expenses when he traveled on official business and could present the proper receipts. Capturing a suspect and successfully bringing him to Fort Smith might earn a deputy marshal thirty or forty dollars. The deputy would not be paid if the suspect was not returned to the fort. For the suspect, resisting a federal officer would mean one year in prison: for a man facing execution if found guilty, this was not a severe penalty. If a suspect resisted and the deputy killed him, the deputy was responsible for paying burial expenses and would not receive any compensation from the federal government. During Parker ’ s judgeship sixty-five deputy marshals died trying to apprehend suspects. Parker petitioned the federal government for more manpower and money, but the Indian Territory had no representation in Congress and his pleas went unheard. Congress did remove the western half of the Indian Territory from Parker ’ s jurisdiction and divide it between the federal courts in Kansas and Texas.

      Parker and Indians. In 1881 David Payne led a group of whites called “ Boomers ” onto lands that had never been assigned to any specific tribe. The white settlers began homesteading and were driven out by the U.S. Army, but they kept coming back. Finally Payne was brought to Fort Smith and charged with intruding in the Indian Territory. The Five Tribes and the cattlemen who grazed their herds on the vacant lands joined the suit, paying lawyers to assist the prosecutor at Fort Smith. Though most whites supported the Boomers, arguing that they had a right to vacant land, Parker ruled that the land rightfully belonged to the Cherokee and fined Payne $1,000. Though the Cherokee regarded Parker as their ally, in this case, as in others, he merely followed the letter of the law. When the Cherokee tried to stop the Southern and Kansas Railroad from building a line through their lands, Parker refused to grant an injunction to stop the railroad. The Cherokee tribe, Parker ruled, was not a sovereign entity and so could not claim the right of eminent domain against the superior claim of the United States. In 1888 the Supreme Court affirmed Parker ’ s ruling, and the following year Congress opened portions of the Indian Territory to white settlers.

      Parker and the Supreme Court. Since Parker ’ s court was both a district court and a circuit court, his decisions were final. The only recourse for a person convicted in Parker ’ s court before 1889 was a presidential pardon. In that year Congress passed the Criminal Appeals Act, giving the Supreme Court jurisdiction to hear appeals in federal criminal cases. Between 1890 and 1897 the Supreme Court reviewed forty-four cases from Fort Smith it reviewed only nineteen cases from all the other federal courts in the country. Of the forty-four cases from Fort Smith, the Supreme Court reversed thirty-one convictions. An average of more than four men each year were hanged at Fort Smith between 1875 and 1890, with Parker generally favoring large group hangings. The average fell to two each year after 1890. The Supreme Court chastised Parker, sarcastically calling him the “ learned judge, ” for his emotional and inflammatory charges to the jury. Parker retorted that if a jury was guided it would render justice, which was the greatest pillar of society. ”

      Parker ’ s Death. With the Indian Territory opened to white settlement, and the Supreme Court and Justice Department almost routinely correcting him, Judge Parker grew ill in the summer of 1896. Ada Patterson, reporter for the St. Louis Republic, interviewed the dying judge, who had grown famous in the press as a blood-thirsty monster. Patterson was deeply moved by Parker ’ s fundamental decency. “ I am glad to have the honor of knowing this alleged cruel judge, ” he wrote. According to the reporter, he was a hero, “ worthy of the fame of the most just of Romans. ” On 17 November 1896 Parker died. Prisoners in the Fort Smith jail tried to celebrate, but throughout the Indian Territory there was mourning.

      State acquires files of 'hanging judge'

      Swannee Bennett (left), director of the Historic Arkansas Museum, talks with 8th U.S. Circuit Appeals Judge Morris Arnold during a ceremony Friday at the Capitol where the acquisition of the papers of Judge Isaac Parker was announced. More photos are online at

      Roughly 60 years ago, a man with a passion for the past put self aside, reaching into a fire to save records that once belonged to one of the best-known judges in American history.

      The documents of Judge Isaac Charles Parker, better known as "the hanging judge," recently were acquired by Arkansas.

      The acquisition was revealed Friday during an event in the state Capitol rotunda regarding the bicentennial of the formation of the Arkansas territory. Arkansas was established as a territory on March 2, 1819, and became a state in 1836.

      Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the crowd that Arkansas was replete with "bigger-than-life" characters during a "rough and tumble" time in the state.

      "One of those characters that really reflected the roughness of Arkansas and its history was Judge Isaac Parker," Hutchinson said.

      Parker, who served as a federal judge for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith from 1875 to 1889, had jurisdiction over 74,000 square miles of what was known as "Indian Territory."

      During his tenure, Parker tried 13,490 cases, with 9,454 of them resulting in guilty pleas or convictions, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture website. Parker sentenced 160 people to death, often by hanging -- earning him the reputation as "the hanging judge." He died in 1896.

      "Judge Parker left a trove of records that tell the story of his time," Hutchinson said.

      The collection, which contains about 6,000 pieces and was appraised as $477,665 in value, was bought by the state for $314,500, said Department of Heritage spokesman Scarlet Sims.

      The purchase was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, which will pay $157,000 this year and the remainder in 2020.

      "Each year, [Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council] grant money is earmarked for historically significant Arkansas artifacts in need of conservation, and this collection certainly fits that criteria," Sims said. The grants are funded by revenue from real estate transfer taxes.

      The collection was acquired from the sons of the late William Fadjo Cravens of Fort Smith, a former congressman, lawyer and Fort Smith banker who passed away in 2012. His grandfather, William Murphy Cravens, had been a defense attorney in Parker's court in the mid-1800s.

      In the late 1950s, Fadjo Cravens, an amateur historian, was working with a small group of people to preserve historic records from the Western District of Arkansas when someone arrived at his office to say that the city clerk was burning records that had been housed in the old courthouse. That structure had been demolished to make way for a new facility.

      "My dad ran back to the courthouse and was pulling the records out of the fire," David Cravens, one of the sons, said. "He asked, 'Can I have these?' and they said, 'Yeah, that's fine.'"

      Fadjo Cravens kept the records in a filing cabinet at his home for several years in a climate-controlled room.

      "They did nobody any good to be in our possession," John Cravens, another son, said. "One of the things that we were very focused on with the state was making sure it was shared with the [U.S.] Marshals Museum and other Arkansas-related causes."

      The museum is scheduled to open in the fall.

      David Cravens said he didn't realize the significance of the collection as a child, but knew they were special by his father's admonishments that touching the papers too frequently would cause them to deteriorate.

      "They were in great shape," David Cravens said of the documents.

      About a year ago, family members decided to find a permanent home for the collection. They called their father's longtime friend, Swannee Bennett, director of the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Bennett pointed the family to the Arkansas State Archives.

      Wendy Richter, director of the State Archives, said the collection is a very significant acquisition for the archives. While the records themselves seem like ordinary, everyday things, they "tell us about the Western frontier," Richter said.

      Travel vouchers by deputy marshals are contained in the collection and offer vivid descriptions of their surroundings and the people they interacted with, Richter said.

      Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the agency over the archives, said the State Archives has been organizing the collection and will soon begin digitizing them.

      Richter said the digitization project should be completely online by midsummer.

      The documents will be accessible on the archives database that is searchable for free online at

      "It's almost like a journal," Richter said of the documents. "The deputies tell, in detail, they had lunch with so-and-so in this town, where they stayed, what they did. Someone who is willing to really delve into them will get a lot of rich information. Once we digitize them, they'll even be able to track a certain marshal through his life. They can just follow along from one document to the next and see what they're doing. They can just put in the marshal's name and follow them."

      The original documents are stored at the State Archives in Little Rock and are available now for public viewing.

      "It is a fascinating collection that tells an interesting story of early Arkansas," Hurst said. "I think that they are documents that will be well used, not just by Arkansans, but they will hold interest for people throughout the country."

      "Historians, writers and, who knows, moviemakers will want to access these papers," Hutchinson said.

      John Cravens said family members decided they could not adequately preserve and care for the collection on their own. He is excited, he said, about viewing the collection online once it is digitized and seeing it permanently preserved.

      "This place can take care of it for eternity, as long as there are people around," he said.

      Isaac Parker - History

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      Brief History

      Early History
      In 1855, Parker County was created by the Texas State Legislature and named for pioneer and State Representative Isaac Parker. Parker was the uncle of Cynthia Ann Parker, a little girl who was stolen from her home by Indians during the Texas Revolution. Cynthia Ann lived among the Comanche and became the mother of Chief Quanah Parker. The Town of Weatherford was named for the State Senator for this district, Thomas Jefferson Weatherford (1811-1867) of Dallas. (More history available online at the Texas State Historical Association and on Wikipedia).

      Weatherford Today
      The City of Weatherford occupies a territory of approximately 27.04 square miles. Weatherford is located at the intersections of U.S. Highways 180 and 80, approximately 30 miles west of the City of Fort Worth and approximately 60 miles west of the City of Dallas. Interstate 20 runs along the City's southern boundary and provides for major access to Fort Worth and Dallas.

      Weatherford is situated such that it has maintained an independent identity from the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex yet its close proximity to this major urban area has had a direct effect. Residents find themselves able to achieve a rural lifestyle without sacrificing the conveniences and labor market of a major metropolitan area. Many Weatherford residents commute into the Metroplex to work.

      Much of the City's commercial and industrial growth is directly attributable to its relative location to the Metroplex. The City's major commercial and industrial employers find Weatherford attractive since it offers the advantages of convenient access to the region's major transportation and shipping infrastructure without the disadvantages related to physically locating within a major urban area.

      Historically, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex has enjoyed an extremely low unemployment rate. It has also enjoyed the growth of a diverse economic base. The outward growth of Dallas/Fort Worth will impact the transition of Weatherford from its farming and ranching roots to increased urban residential, commercial, and industrial development.

      What Weatherford Has to Offer
      Weatherford has a rich western heritage filled with colorful characters and personalities. Legendary cattle drivers Oliver Loving, Charles Goodnight, and Bose Ikard are just a few of the notorious cowboys that make up Weatherford's history. Both Loving and Goodnight served as the inspiration for Texas author Larry McMurtry's novel Lonesome Dove. Because of this heritage, "Western" events abound throughout the year. The Goodnight Loving Festival offers a wide variety of western arts, crafts, and activities. The Parker County Frontier Days and Sheriff s Posse Rodeo, is one of the largest in Texas and provides fun for the entire family. Other historical figures have helped shape Weatherford. Mary Martin, internationally known Broadway star, renowned for her portrayal of Peter Pan. Her son, Larry Hagman, became forever immortalized as the villainous J .R. Ewing, of the television melodrama, Dallas. Portrait artist Douglas Chandor moved to Weatherford and married Weatherford native Ina Kuteman. Known internationally for his portraits of the rich and famous including Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, he designed and built a beautiful botanical garden which is now owned and operated by the City of Weatherford. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright grew up in Weatherford and is a regular visitor to community events and gatherings.

      Named by the State Legislature as the Peach Capital of Texas, Weatherford and Parker County growers produce the biggest, sweetest, juiciest peaches in all of Texas. The Peach is celebrated each year at the Parker County Peach Festival, Weatherford's largest one-day event. In addition an outgrowth of the County's historic "First Monday Stray Day Sale", in which the County, local farmers and ranchers sold off animals at the town square, today Weatherford holds a its own "First Monday Trade Days". First Monday Trade Days take place the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday prior to the first Monday of each month. Hundreds come for the antiques, arts, crafts, food and fun. Finally one can still enjoy the Farmer’s Market located just a block off the town square.

      Known as the Cutting Horse Capital of the World, Weatherford is home to dozens of professional trainers, hall-of-fame horses and is in close proximity to Silverado, where several National Cutting Horse Association affiliates hold local competitions.

      Perhaps Weatherford's greatest treasure is the abundance of historic homes and buildings. More than 60 Queen Ann, Victorian, and other architecturally significant homes built at the turn of the century sit along the tree-lined avenues where horse drawn carriages once carried the pillars of the community.

      The crown jewel is the breathtaking Parker County Courthouse. Completed in 1886 of Parker County limestone it is located in the geographical center of the County. This second empire style courthouse is the heart of downtown and the entire community.

      The Weatherford Independent School District celebrates a quality education provided every day from pre-kindergarten through high school. The Weatherford ISD serves 7,500 students throughout 254 square miles and 11 campuses.

      Weatherford is home to Weatherford College. Weatherford College was established in 1869 and is the oldest continuing community college in the Southwest. Weatherford College serves more than 5,700 students and offers more than 25 courses entirely online. Weatherford College will begin its new baseball program in the new Roger Williams Stadium.

      The City of Weatherford's health needs are served by Weatherford Regional Medical Center. The Medical Center offers state-of-the-art medical technology in an atmosphere of warmth and compassion. The medical staff and other health care professionals provide sophisticated diagnostic techniques, surgical procedures, and a wide range of outpatient services.

      In addition, in Weatherford one can enjoy water sports on Lake Weatherford, play many fine area golf courses, or participate in many activities organized by the Weatherford Parks and Recreation Department or other youth and adult organizations. Weatherford is home to many churches and social organizations that provide for one's spiritual and civic needs.

      Weatherford City Government
      Weatherford was incorporated in 1858. Currently, the City of Weatherford operates under a Home Rule Charter first adopted in 1918 and last amended by voters in 2010. The Charter provides for the Council-Manager form of government. The City Council consists of a Mayor and four Council Members. The Mayor and Council Members are elected at large and serve staggered terms of three years.

      The City Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, City Judge, and all boards and commissions, including the Weatherford Municipal Utility Board. All Department Heads and employees serve at the direction of the City Manager.

      The City of Weatherford owns and operates its own electric power distribution system. The City competitively serves almost 13,000 electric customers located in and around the City environs.

      The City Manager oversees the budget for the entire City and manages the following departments and activities: Police, Fire, Transportation & Public Works, Capital Transportation Projects, Utilities, Special Projects, Municipal & Community Services, GIS/Mapping, Planning & Development, Parks & Recreation, Human Resources, City Secretary, Finance, Office of Management & Budget, Economic Development, and the Public Library.

      Watch the video: Historic Ft. Smith u0026 Hanging Judge Parker (November 2022).

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