By Fred Harvey Harrington
Isaac C. Parker, the strict U.S. pass judgement on for Indian Territory from 1875 to 1896, introduced legislation and order to a lawless frontier sector. He held court docket within the border urban of citadel Smith, Arkansas, yet his jurisdiction prolonged over the Indian tribal lands to the west. urgent juries for convictions, Parker despatched seventy-nine convicted criminals to the gallows-as many as six at a time. extra ofen than now not, notwithstanding, he handed sentences on hundreds of thousands of liquor buyers, rapists, and livestock and horse thieves-even throwing Belle Starr within the detention center for stealing a horse from a crippled boy.
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In 1946 Harrington announced that he was at work on a book about this frontier jurist. " His prediction that Hollywood scriptwriters would eventually "present the matter in an even more distorted fashion" was even more prescient. It is the good fortune of present-day readers that this fine scholar began his research in the 1940s, because he was able to interview not only James Parker, Isaac Parker's grandson, but also other persons who had known the popular judge. , and in libraries and historical societies throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma.
So wrote the crime reporters who attended sessions of Judge Parker's court. These reporters were not deceived by legends. They based their stories on what they saw. And, seeing frontier bad men every day, they knew, and said, that Robin Hood did not ride the Western plains. Page 30 Chapter Two Listen Now to the Dreadful Sentence I sentence you ... to be hanged by the neck until dead. And may God, whose laws you have broken ... have mercy on your soul. Judge Isaac Parker The crowd came early lest it miss the show.
Readers of Hanging Judge will note the skepticism with which he approaches the many outlaws of that unfortunate land, who are accorded heroic qualities by popular writers. "Robin Hood did not ride the Western plains," admonishes Harrington (p. 29). At times he cannot resist sprinkling bits of wit among such critical remarks. In noting that Belle Starr, the infamous female outlaw, was not "a lady Robin Hood," Harrington goes on to say that this ''nymphomaniac'' never led a band of outlaws. "Belle Starr slept with many outlaws," concluded the author, "but gave orders to very few" (pp.