More records from Judge Isaac Parker aka the “Hanging Judge” to be available.

 You might be asking why a woman in Minnesota would be interested in the records of this well-known federal judge from the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith. The National Archives in Fort Worth has a giant collection of his records and today they can be viewed on Ancestry.

It’s an easy, but partly sad, reason. My children and grandchildren have ancestors who appeared before Judge Parker. My father-in-law was born in Arkansas and before his parents were even married, his father had the “opportunity” to appear in Parker’s court. The reason? Altering $! silver certificates to make them $10 and apparently not too well. Michael Warren was not hung, or else my descendants wouldn’t be here today! He was sent to prison in Michigan. I’ll save the rest of that story for a future blog post. Oh, he wasn’t their only ancestor or relative to appear before Parker. Again, stories for another day.

Yesterday, on the bicentennial celebration of Arkansas Territory, it was announced that a huge collection was purchased and will be housed at the state archives in Little Rock. Further, they will be digitized and available later this summer. I want to touch them but before I can get back to the state archives, there will be an opportunity to view them online. “The documents will be accessible on the archives database that is searchable for free online at

“The collection, which contains about 6,000 pieces and was appraised as $477,665 in value, was bought by the state for $314,500, said Department of Heritage spokesman Scarlet Sims.”

The collection was acquired from the sons of the late William Fadjo Cravens of Fort Smith, a former congressman, lawyer and Fort Smith banker who passed away in 2012. His grandfather, William Murphy Cravens, had been a defense attorney in Parker’s court in the mid-1800s.”

Read the fascinating full story in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.


© 2019, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

2 comments on “More records from Judge Isaac Parker aka the “Hanging Judge” to be available.

  1. Do you know if these records would include marriage records for Indian Territory in 1889 when the Federal District Court for I.T. was attached to the Western District of Arkansas? I can’t find my great grandparents marriage license records.

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