The eighth grade Arkansas History class from St. Joseph High School traveled to Ft. Smith on October 8 to visit that city's National Historic Site. The students went there because it houses a replica of the judicial chambers used by Judge Isaac Parker, a U.S. District Judge who presided over cases in Northwest Arkansas for 21 years during the late 19th century. He became known as "the hanging judge" because of the number of persons sentenced to die during his tenure.
The Site also contains the original courthouse jail. Its conditions were so poor and inhumane that it became known as "Hell on the Border." The U.S.Congress ultimately intervened after an expose written by a woman who'd visited the jail became public. Parts of the newer facility built as a result that expose are also on display. A guide took the students to each location, gave them historical background information. and answered their questions.