Description

    Samuel W. Harman. Hell on the Border; He Hanged Eighty-Eight Men. A History of the great United States Criminal Court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and of Crime and Criminals in the Indian Territory, and the Trial and Punishment thereof before his Honor Judge Isaac C. Parker. Fort Smith, Arkansas: The Phoenix Publishing Company, [1898]. First edition. 8vo, xiii, 714 pages. Includes six pages of reviews of the book at the end. Portrait of Judge Isaac C. Parker as frontispiece, which is chipped at the top. Illustrated mostly with photographs, but a few drawings are present. Original green printed wrappers decorated with black; edges are chipped and worn. Soiling of the spine and covers are evident. Rubbing on the back cover exposes the stitching of the textblock in places. Very mild toning on the pages, some pages are faded toward the back, but no text loss. Soiling on the bottom page edge.

    Judge Isaac C. Parker (1838-1896) first sought a career in Republican politics, and was elected to two terms in Congress beginning in 1870. However, when political fortunes in the area turned against the Republicans, like many dispossessed officeholders, he sought a federal appointment. In March 1875 President Grant appointed Parker to his judgeship, based at Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the Western District of Arkansas, an area of some 74,000 square miles, which included the entirety of the Indian Territory. His disgraced predecessor, Judge William Story, had resigned rather than face charges of graft and corruption. Anxious to restore the Court's reputation, Parker went after violent crime aggressively. The number of hangings he ordered was in part simply the result of the large number of cases which came up for trial in his jurisdiction (he often held court six days a week, and up to ten hours daily). Executions in those days were often public events attended by rambunctious crowds, and Parker brought this to a halt by erecting a tall fence which closed off the gallows from public view. Nonetheless, he was known far and wide as the "Hanging Judge."

    Of the book, Adams said: "Exceedingly rare. The rare original edition has become a collector's item and is the chief source of practically every book and feature story about the old court and Oklahoma outlaws. It originated from an idea of J. Warren Reed, the criminal lawyer who was such a thorn in Judge Parker's side. Although Reed's name does not appear, he financed its publication. He had Samuel W. Harman, a professional juryman, write it, and it appears under his name. The book was printed in an edition of only 1000 copies, and though large, statistical and dry, the first edition was soon exhausted because of the reputation of Judge Parker's court." From Graff: "An important source book, - all the statistical part of the book, the biographical sketches of those connected with the court and the transcriptions from the Court records, were the work of C.P. Stearns and are said to be scrupulously accurate..."

    Reference: Adams, Burs I:171. Adams, Guns 929. Adams, One-Fifty 68. Campbell, pp. 71-72. Anderson 1642:525. Rader 1780. Dykes, Rare Western Outlaw Books, pp. 22-23. Bauer 386. Graff 1785. Littell 800. Howes H203.


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    Auction Dates
    March, 2012
    3rd Saturday
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