Will someone please tell me what information is in the jacket of an old Ft. Smith, Ark. Criminal record?
I'm still looking for my family in Oklahoma, and there are several persons in those records with the same last name.
The information varies. Some files simply contain a summons. Others contain the hand written transcriptions of testimony, warrants, sentencing and transportation to a specific prison, grocery lists and just about everything else specific to the case.
In terms of searching for relatives, if you're lucky, you'll find referenced to where the individual arrested lived and possibly a reference to some of his kin. You will not find date of birth or death unless your relative was the victim.
My many thanks for your answer.
I have another record question, please.
I now have the Ft. Smith record of a John Newcomb, (1870)who I think was an Indian, but how do I know where to find the actual trial records?
Is the record in Van Buren, Arkansas?
Your best bet is to contact the archieve folks at Fort Worth, Texas. That's where all the Ft. Smith Records are held. If they don't have them they can direct you to the right facility.
But, sometimes, the only record may be the original warrant and/or correspondence concerning it. As I said earlier, content varries. Fort Worth also has on microfilm the court dockets. It's tedious work, but you can trace the progress of the individual through the court system and often find gems of information.
Thanks once again, Tower!
I'll go back to the archieve folks at Ft. Worth, Tx. & see what else, if anything I can find.
One more question, if I may, Tower.
The record says, "John Newcomb did on or about sixteenth day of July A.D. 1870 in the Western District of Arkansas, and Indian County (or Indian Country...hard to make out, wilfully and feloniously and with alice aforthought kill and murder Charles Coker (I think it's Coker.) a white man and not an Indian by birth, marriage or adoption..."
I surmise John Newcomb is/was an Indian. Do you think that is the case?
Left the m off of malice, and didn't get the ) after "hard to make out"...
I'm not Tower and definitley not an expert, but maybe the note about the victim "not" being Indian is related to the conflict over whether the Fort Smith court had jurisdiction over Indian crimes against Indians on Indian land. If so, it would not necessarily mean Newcomb was Indian.
Just a wild guess. You could of course check the Newcomb name against the Indian rolls.
I don't see a John Newcomb on the Final Roll, but I do know that a John W. Newcomb, Stockbridge (on the Kansas Reserve) had a son named John. That John W.'s grandson, Thomas is on the Final Roll.
I'm thinking this may be John W.'s son. Maybe I need to go look at who was hung at Ft. Smith.
Oh, I see what you're saying. I think you're right. Thanks, again.
Like Playwright said, the statement re: Indian heritage is standard language because the Supreme Court limited the District Court's jurisdiction to crimes wherein one of the parties, either victim or perp, had to be a U. S. citizen. Indian Nations, the Five Tribes, had their own courts and laws applicable to tribal citizens and if both parties were Indian, the Indian court had jurisdiction. This lead to a lot of confusion particularly as some tribes adopted their Freedmen and some did not; and because some tribes insisted white intermarrieds were citizens of the tribe and not U. S. citizens. So, the court had to make a decision and the Prosecuting Attorney often included such a statement on the prayer for a warrent and in the formal charge. Like the little boy and the skunk, you get familar with something and you learn a whole lot more than you cared to.
Coker was white, so Newcomb could of been either white or Indian, but either way, because Coker (one of the party) was white it went to Ft. Smith?
I found many Cokers on the Cherokee roll, then
I ran across this book:
I'm not sure how accurate it is, but I found this in it.
Indians Chase a Sheriff Ten Miles.
Now the author will relate another incident that oc
curred in Marion count}^, Arkansas, in the early settling of
this country. There was a large relation of the Coker
family who lived in that county. One of the Cokers raised
two families, one by a white woman and the other by an
Indian woman. The Indian family, after they had grown
up and become men, resided a part of the time in the Na
tion, where the mother lived, and a part of the time they
remained in Marion county where their father and Bother
relatives lived. They were very dangerous men when
drinking, and the whole country feared them. The}^ had
been in different troubles, and had killed three or four
men, and if the authorities attempted to arrest them, they
defied them, and would go to the Nation and remain
awhile. There was a deputy sheriff in the county by the
name of Stinnett, who claimed to be very brave, who said
AND NORTHERN ARKANSAS 27
he would arrest them if he found their whereabouts. The
Cokers learned what Stinnett had said, and that the war
rant for their arrest was in his possession, so they got some
good tow strings and vowed that whenever they met him
they would arrest him and take him to Yellville and put
him in jail. A short time afterwards they met him in the
public road. As soon as Stinnett recognized them,
and having heard of the threats they had made, he
wheeled his horse and put spurs to him. They drew their
revolvers and put spurs to their horses in pursuit, com
manding him to halt. But Stinnett spurred his horse the
harder. They pursued him a distance of about ten miles;
but Stinnett s horse proved to be the best, and he made
his escape. They again returned to the Nation.
The good people, generally, of the county were terror
ized and afraid to raise their voices against them, and it
became a question as to whether they had a man in the
county who had the courage to attempt their arrest. They
made it a question in the next election, to elect a man that
would make the arrest, if such a man could be found in the
county. There was a man living in the county by the
name of Brown, who was a cousin of the Cokers, and he
told the people that if they would elect him, he would ar
rest them or they would kill him. He was elected by a
large majority, and, after he had qualified, took charge of
the office. The first time the Cokers came into the settle
ment, he summoned two men, thought to be brave, who
pledged themselves that if it became necessary they would
die for him. He then went to the house of one of the
Coker family where the Cokers were staying, and on his
arrival found the two Coker brothers sitting in chairs in
the yard. He was within some thirty feet of them before
they saw him. Their guns were sitting near them, and
they seized them; but before they could present them
28 HISTORY OF SOUTHERN MISSOURI
Brown had his revolver cocked and leveled at one of their
heads, and told him not to attempt to raise his gun or he
would kill him. Coker turned his back to him with his
gun on his shoulder, secretly cocked it, and leveled it upon
Brown as near as possible without taking it from his shoul
der and fired, missing his aim. About the same time
Brown discharged his revolver at Coker and made a slight
scalp wound. The other Coker threw his gun upon Brown
and fired, killing him instantly. The two men who were
acting as a posse for the sheriff turned and fled, leaving
Brown lying dead on the ground. After the shooting the
Cokers fled to the Nation and remained there.
The author will now relate another incident that oc
curred in the same county. For years the Cokers and Ho-
gans had been intimate friends, and drank, gambled, and
horseraced together a great deal. There came up a troub
le between Coker and one of his brothers-in-law, and one
evening Coker, in company with Hogan, went to the house
of this brother-in-law. Both had been drinking. Coker
swore that he would ride onto the porch of his brother -in
law, and made the attempt. His brother-in-law caught
the horse by the bridle and warned him not to ride onto
porch, and that if he did he would kill him. Coker drew
his revolver, spurred his horse, but as he entered the porch
his brother-in-law shot him dead. Coker being a cousin
of the Indian Cokers, they charged Hogan with inducing
him, while drinking, to go to his brother-in-law s house,
so as to give him a chance to kill him, and that Hogan s
life should pay the penalty. Shortly afterwards Hogan
was traveling on an old trail that led along the bluff of
White river. The river here made a bend in horseshoe
shape, following the bluff all around. The Cokers learned
that Hogan was going to pass through this gap, and they
lay in wait for him, cutting off all avenues of escape possi-
AND NORTHERN ARKANSAS 29
ble so he would be forced into the horseshoe for his escape.
When he came in sight they raised the Indian warwhoop,
and drew their revolvers. Hogan looked around and saw
that his pursuers were in about a hundred yards of him.
He saw his predicament, as for a quarter of a mile he con
fronted the bluff, and that there was only one avenue of
escape. He went to the edge of the precipice and looked
over. There, under the bluff, lay the deep, blue waters
of White river, 150 feet below. Again he turned his eyes
toward his pursuers. He knew it meant death if they
caught him; so he made the fearful leap over the bluff,
striking the water where it was about twenty-five feet deep.
Hogan was a wicked man and cursed a great deal. He
swore it didn t take him long to reach the water, but that
he thought considerable time intervened from the time he
struck the water until he reached the top again. He swam
to the bank which was but a few feet distant. His pursu
ers came to the precipice, looked over, and said that they
had made Hogan do something they had intended to do,
and that was, to take his own life, as they supposed no hu
man being could make the leap and live. After cutting
his saddle and bridle to pieces, they turned his horse loose,
and reported that Hogan was killed. Hogan traveled
around under the bluff for about two miles, made his way
home, wound up his business, sold his farm, and moved
into Fulton county, Arkansas, which ended the trouble be
Some information sent to me about Charles Coker, by email:
So, the family claims that James M. Coker, brother to Charles, was "Indian", altho. the record says he was white, & Nowata is where the Delaware/Lenape were/are. It's also where the Stockbridge Newcoms came to I.T., from Kansas, with the Delaware. & this area was a part of the Cherokee Nation.
Sorry it has taken me a couple of years to respond to your reply regarding Charles Coker, however, I never got notificaton that you responded to my posting. The only information I have on Charles Coker, brother of Ada Coker Barr is the following:
b. 1888 in AR
m. Katie Smith in 1913, Nowata, Nowata Co., OK
His parents were: James M. and Mary E. Coker, both b. AR and Indian
I did locate Charles Coker, b. 8/24/1854 d. 7/16/1870 buried in Coker Cemetery, Nowata Co., OK According to other Coker researchers on Ancestory.com, Charles Coker was the brother of James M. Coker. Their parents were John R. and Annie Hogan Coker. I checked some of the newpapers in Nowata Co., and they only contributed articles after the 1900s.
I am sorry that I have not been able to move you closer to what may have happened, but I just have general information on the Coker family line. I was hoping to connect with a Coker descendant who might have knowledge of their Barr/Davis lines. If there is anything that I can do to help in your search, please let me know.
Being Indian did not mean they had to be on the rolls. Many did not sign the rolls for the very reason the complaints had a need to describe whether a person was white or indian, a difference in the justice. It went beyond that of court matters and into the administration of the indians lives.
My folks were Indians , at one point that had a little money from land they had in Mississippi but when arriving in Arkansas and Oklahoma, it slipped away. But they would not sign the rolls for the obvious prejudice that did exist.
The distinctions in justice are very apparent.
Hi osiyo, well, I did later find a John Newcomb, Delaware Indian on a roll. It stated he had left the Cherokee Nation, so I think he is the John Newcomb who killed Charles Coker in 1870, and he left the Cherokee Nation after that.
But stories about this killing are conflicting. Thank you.
I have seen in a census where a Native person said he was white. & changed his age, but I think it was to lay low from the law.
and in the Coweescoowee District,
Re: 1890 Cherokee Nation Census, Indian Territory
(there are othe Cokers in the 1890 census, but these are the only ones I have transcribed as of today)
Name Race Sex Age Married Occupation
> Coker, Calvin, NCherokee, Male, 40, Yes, a Farmer
> Coker, Lizzie A Delaware, Female, 40, Yes
> Coker, Charles NCherokee, Male, 19, No
>> Coker, Cherokee, NCherokee, Male, 15 , No
> Coker, John R. , NCherokee, Male, 13, No
> Coker, Ida M., NCherokee, Female, 9, No
> Coker, William P., NCherokee Male, 7, No
> Coker, Frank R. NCherokee, Male, 5, No
> Coker, Calvin, NCherokee, Male, 1, No
I promise you , Indians avoided logging in as Indian, it cost them plenty in exercise of law and other matters. My grandfather told me something that sounds like racism , and is, but not the explanation from his mouth. "they didnt sign the rolls because that would put them below the n----r"..My people were Indian and it is amazing the thinking that carries on within us that is Indian. As I said on another post. My people came here from Mississippi where they actually owned hundreds of acres, the laws consistent in time with the trail of tears, forced my people to head towards Oklahoma, they stopped first in Arkansas, they ended up in Indian Territory and lost all they ever had, they became part of the mix, but they refused to sign the rolls. I was benefit to the Indian who had nothing but terrible for the Indian who might have had something.
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