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Judge Isaac Charles Parker

Judge Isaac Charles Parker

Birth
Barnesville, Belmont County, Ohio, USA
Death 17 Nov 1896 (aged 58)
Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA
Burial Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA
Plot Section 9, Grave 4000
Memorial ID 1824 · View Source
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US District Court Judge, Folk Figure. 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 Saint 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 in 61st Missouri Emergency Regiment, a home guard unit. In 1864, he was elected as a Republican to the 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, 1875and 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 penal, but he was a strict adherent to the letter of the law and when the law required hanging for an offense, the offender 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. Over 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.

Bio by: Tom Todd


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1824
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Judge Isaac Charles Parker (15 Oct 1838–17 Nov 1896), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1824, citing Fort Smith National Cemetery, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .