Fort Smith National Cemetery
Sebastian County,

61st Missouri Emergency Regiment
Missouri Home Guard
Civil War Union
October 15, 1838 - November 17, 1896

Section 9 Site 4000

Federal Judge

Isaac Charles Parker, the youngest son of Joseph and Jane Parker was born in a log cabin outside of Barnesville, Ohio. He attended the local schools and taught himself law. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1859 at the age of 21. Shortly thereafter he relocated to St. Joseph, Missouri, There, in 1861, he met and married Mary O’Toole and together they had two children. He earned a reputation as an honest attorney and in 1861 was elected to the office of City Attorney. Four days after he took the office, the Civil War broke out. The war caused him to rethink his political positions and he broke with the Democrats and enlisted serving briefly as a corporal in the 61st Missouri Emergency Regiment, a home guard unit. In 1864, he was elected as a Republican to the position of County Prosecutor for the Ninth Missouri Judicial District. In the fall of that year, he cast a vote for Abraham Lincoln as a member of the Electoral College. In 1870, he was elected to the US Congress and easily reelected in 1872. By 1874, the political atmosphere in Missouri had changed to the point he knew he could not be reelected. He began a campaign for appointment as judge of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith. On March 18, 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him to the position. He arrived in Fort Smith on May 4, 1875 and held court for the first time on May 10, 1875. In his first term, eight men were found guilty of murder and six of them were hung at the same time on September 3, 1875. Of the other two, one was killed during an escape attempt and the other was commuted to life in prison because of his youth. He was supposed to hold court four terms each year – in February, May, August, and November – but the caseload was so great, the terms ran together. He was holding court six days a week and each day lasting up to ten hours. He tried 91 defendants in his first eight weeks. He soon earned the nickname of “The Hanging Judge” from his critics. The people in the Indian Territory loved him and with the help of his 210 deputy US marshals, the territory was being rid of its organized gangs and violent criminals. In actuality, the Judge was an opponent of the death penalty, but he was a strict adherent to the letter of the law and when the law required hanging for an offense, the offender was hung. In his 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. Guilty pleas or convictions were handed down in 9,454 of the cases. He sentenced 160 people (156 men and four women) to hang, though only 79 men (no women) were actually hung. The rest either died in prison, appealed, or were pardoned. More than half, 109, of his deputies were killed in the line of duty, while they killed more than that many outlaws. When the August term of 1896 began, the Judge was too sick to preside over the court. Twenty years of overwork had contributed to a variety of ailments, including Bright’s disease. He died in Ft Smith, Arkansas.


Contributed on 9/9/08 by tomtodd
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Record #: 53982

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Additional PARKER Surnames in FORT SMITH NATIONAL Cemetery

Additional PARKER Surnames in SEBASTIAN County

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Submitted: 9/9/08 • Approved: 8/17/13 • Last Updated: 5/5/22 • R53982-G0-S3

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