• Dennis McCaslin

'He Hung 'Em High' - John Stansberry - July 9, 1890





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.

July 9, 1890 - John Stansberry

John Stansberry was executed on July 9, 1890, having been found guilty of murdering his wife.

Although he and his wife had a new baby, Stansberry had fallen in love with someone else.

To sever the ties that prevented his marriage to another woman, Stanberry killed his child on September 20, 1889.

About a month later, he murdered his wife with repeated blows from an axe.

Stansberry was arrested while still at his wife's grave after the funeral and was convicted shortly thereafter.