The city grew around a fort established in 1817 to keep peace between the Cherokee and Osage peoples. It is named for General Thomas A. Smith, commanding officer of the force that built the fort. The city was incorporated in 1851. A new fort (now a National Historic Site) built nearby in 1838 was vacated by the army in 1871. In 1875 the fort became a federal court, distinguished by the decisions of Judge Isaac C. Parker, who dealt sternly with lawlessness in the area.
Federal Court for the Indian Territory (1875)
was appointed by President U. S. Grant
and often known as the hanging judge
federal prison was transferred from the basement
to the new structure built on the right side of the courthouse
Park Service presenter, Tom Wing
telling of the American Civil War, the hats worn
(Confederate artillery uniform on top)
Another important building in Fort Smith was
Miss Laura's Social Club
located between the railroad and the river did a thriving business
(Photo authorized by Carolyn Joyce, aka Miss Laura)
meeting Miss Laura at front door and buying the "tokens"
the gentlemen waited to meet the "entertainers"
stain glass window on the stairway to "paradise"
model of an entertainer
typical bedroom of one of the nine girls
Return to Arkansas page
Return to United States page
Return to People and Places