In Indian Territory, who would have thought the Five Civilized Indian Tribes leaders would complain to the Federal government about the problems caused in the Indian Nation by intruders such as whites and Negroes committing horrific crimes? In the 1870s, the Judge and Federal District Attorney at Ft. Smith were known to rig cases and the criminals were soon set free to cause more trouble. The Indian Nations had their own courts and jails for the Indians, but they had no jurisdiction over the renegades who invaded their territory and continued to disrupt the peace.
In 1875, President U.S. Grant became aware of the problem and sent Judge Isaac Parker, a fellow
Republican, to bring law to the Western Judicial District of Arkansas. It covered over 70,000 square miles and Judge Parker had less than 200 men--one U.S. Marshal and the rest Deputies.
In 1875 a U.S. Marshal's salary was $90 a month and Deputies only received mileage, 6 cents per mile. They also received upon delivery $2 for each summons or prisoner delivered. This was for dangerous, hard work. The court paid for the cost of transporting prisoners, that transport being a prisoner wagon accompanied by a chuck wagon with a cook, drivers for the wagons and extra mules and horses. It may have been led by one deputy or several.
These wagons were nicknamed "tumbleweed wagons" because they seemed to aimlessly meander across the prairie from area to area to collect their prisoners. Their tour took two to three months. Prisoners were chained to the floor of the wagon. When they set up camp for the night they were chained to a tree or wagon wheel. They created quite a spectacle as they passed through towns. Crowds formed to watch the parade make it's way through town.
http://www.okgenweb.org/~okmurray/Murray/stories/tumbleweed_wagons.htm (Contributed by Dennis Muncrief - November, 2003)
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