• Dennis McCaslin

He Hung 'Em High - Silas Hampton and Seaborn Kalijah - October 7, 1887

Few men in the annals of the American Old West represent the phrase “frontier justice” as well as Judge Isaac C. Parker, the infamous “Hanging Judge” of Fort Smith, who ruled over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas with an iron hand from 1874-1895.

During his 21-year tenure on the bench, Parker presided over 160 cases that resulted in the sentence of death and 79 of those men met their final fate at the end of a hemp rope attached to the stone, wooden, and mortar gallows that defined and justified the nickname “Hell on the Border” on the Arkansas-Indian Territory border. In later life,

Parker was quoted as saying, “I never hanged a man, the law did,” and it was the keen sense of adherence to the law that allowed the court to operate and clean up what had become a lawless civilization in the years after the Civil War.

These are the tales of the men that met their final justice under the auspices of Parker's court.

October 7, 1887 - Silas Hampton and Seaborn Kalijah

Silas Hampton and Seaborn Kalijah were executed on October 7, 1887.

Hampton, an 18 year old Cherokee, killed a white farmer, Abner Lloyd, for $7.50 and a pocketknife. When arrested, Hampton reportedly said "Don't take me to Fort Smith; kill me right now."

After arresting Seaborn Kalijah on January 17, 1887, Deputy John Phillips left the prisoner in the care of his posse: Mark Kuykendall, Henry Smith and William Kelly.

Upon returning the next morning, Phillips found the three lawmen murdered and Kalijah gone. The prisoner was rearrested and found guilty of the killings.

Both men were buried in unmarked graves at Fort Smith's historic Oak Cemetery.