The Hanging judge

Jadon Gibson

“I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until dead,” Judge Isaac Parker directed toward Sam Fooy in 1875. “And may God have mercy on your soul.”

Parker was new to the bench and had vowed to bring law and order to the lawless southwest territory. He was rapidly gaining a reputation among bad men.

“They were bad eggs, men of great depravity, great wickedness,” a court reporter wrote. “They acted out of burning lust, unholy greed or pure unadulterated meanness. They’re like preying wolves…unfit to live.”

Parker set the hangings of eight men for the same day – September 3, 1875 – although President U.S. Grant commuted the sentence of one man to life imprisonment. Another man was cut down in a hailstorm of bullets while attempting to escape the hangman’s noose. Heck Campbell, Dan Evans, Sam Fooy, Smoker Mankiller, James Moore and John Whitting would keep their date with hangman George Maledon.

Judge Isaac Parker

The hangings brought thousands of people to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“I dreamt I was on the gallows before a great crowd of people,” Fooy told a reporter a couple days prior to his hanging. “I was sick and weak and felt like fainting. I didn’t think I could face death. Just then a fellow stepped up from the crowd and came right to me. ‘Look here Sam,’ he said. ‘Don’t you be afraid. Jesus is standing under the floor and he will catch you in his arms.’

‘“That made me feel strong and when the drop came I felt no pain but fell asleep and woke up in a beautiful garden. It was the most beautiful place I ever saw. It had running waters and stars from the sky were dancing on the waves.”’

Fooy told those present for the hanging that he was anxious to “get out of this world. I am ready to die and will not delay you one extra minute.”

“I have lived like a man and will die like a man,” James Moore, the next doomed man to speak, said clearly. “I am ready to die. I see men here who are worse than I have ever been. I hope you make peace with God before you come to my condition.”

Rev. H. M. Granade stepped forward when John Whiting was asked if he had anything to say.

“My father taught me to be honest and to avoid the great sins that disgrace the world,” Rev. Granade read from Whittington’s note. “But he didn’t show me religion. He showed me how to drink whisky. That is what brought me to the gallows. If I had been raised to live right and treat people right, I would be a happy man at home with my family. Since I’ve been in prison I’ve learned so much about living right but it came too late.

“I worry for my wife and two little boys who are way out on the Red River. What will become of them? I leave them in the hands of a gracious God in whom I have learned to trust. He has freely and fully pardoned all my sins. To him I gave my soul. I shall this day be in heaven.

“Parents, I give you this dying warning. Train your children in the way they should live. Give them encouragement and praise them for the positive things they do. Discourage them from wrong.”

The following three men to speak each proclaimed their innocence.

Rev. Sample spoke briefly and led the throng of people in singing Nearer my God to Thee and Come let us join our Friends Above. Black robes and hoods were put in place and nooses adjusted around the necks of the six men. The trap door was sprung and soon all were dead.

Judge Isaac Parker sentenced 172 murderers to the hangman’s noose, more than any other judge in American history. We’ve titled this series the Hanging Judge. Copyright 2018 jadon gibson

Editor’s note: Jadon, a native of Harrogate, TN, looks further into the career of “The Hanging Judge” Judge Isaac Parker next week at bereaonline.com. His stories are both historical and nostalgic in nature. Don’t miss a single issue.

A Voice for God – a voice for good

Judge Isaac Parker became known as The Hanging Judge in the lawless Southwest Territory in the late 1800’s. He sentenced 172 men to the hangman’s noose. I’m using two of their last-minute final words for ‘A voice from God – a voice for good’ this week.

“I dreamt I was on the gallows before a great crowd of people,” Fooy told a reporter prior to his hanging. “I was sick and weak and felt like fainting. I didn’t think I could face death. Just then a fellow stepped up from the crowd and came right to me. ‘Look here Sam,’ he said. ‘Don’t you be afraid. Jesus is standing under the floor and he will catch you in his arms.’

‘“That made me feel strong and when the drop came I felt no pain but fell asleep and woke up in a beautiful garden. It was the most beautiful place I ever saw. It had running waters and stars from the sky were dancing on the waves.”’

Fooy told those present for the hanging that he was anxious to “get out of this world. I am ready to die and will not delay you one extra minute.”

Rev. H. M. Granade stepped forward and spoke for John Whiting when he was asked if he had anything to say.

“My father taught me to be honest and to avoid the great sins that disgrace the world,” Rev. Granade read from Whittington’s note. “But he didn’t show me religion. He showed me how to drink whisky. That is what brought me to the gallows. If I had been raised to live right and treat people right, I would be a happy man at home with my family. Since I’ve been in prison I’ve learned so much about living right but it came too late.

“I worry for my wife and two little boys who are way out on the Red River. What will become of them? I leave them in the hands of a gracious God in whom I have learned to trust. He has freely and fully pardoned all my sins. To him I gave my soul. I shall this day be in heaven.

“Parents, I give you this dying warning. Train your children in the way they should live. Give them encouragement and praise them for the positive things they do. Discourage them from doing wrong.”

That’s good advice as it will always come back to hurt them… sooner or later.

Part one of the four-part story about Judge Isaac Parker, the Hanging Judge began today at bereaonline.com. The dying words of these doomed men are thought provoking.

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