Date Original



This collection consists of a teaching kit issued by the U.S. Marshals Museum, and sponsored by the Fort Smith Museum of History, Fort Smith National Historic Site, and the Clayton House. These materials are used as teaching aids for children pertaining to how law and judicial power was administered in late 19th century Arkansas. Materials include information on U.S. Marshals, the judicial system of the late 1800s, photocopies of legal documents, transcriptions, portraits, and biographical information on prominent figures from Fort Smith who worked in the judicial system, were criminals, or frontiersmen. Also included are one DVD containing aforementioned documents and one children’s book on black U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves.

Biographical/Historical Note

Fort Smith was established in 1817 as a military post due to its strategic location for keeping peace. Though abandoned in 1824, fur trapper and supplier John Rogers helped to reestablish Fort Smith as a prominent settlement with a strong military presence in the 1830s and later came to be considered the city’s founder. In 1872, Fort Smith became the headquarters for the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas and the Indian Territory. As such, this federal trial court was to administer law, keep the peace, and exercise judicial power and punishment. Prominent figures of this region during this time were “hanging judge” U.S. District Judge Isaac Parker, U.S. Attorney and chief prosecutor William Henry Harrison Clayton, and one of the first black lawmen Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Life and Law in Late 19th Century Arkansas teaching kit, MS.000732


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Life and Law in Late 19th Century Arkansas teaching kit, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History