At the Request of James Dougle
Excerpt from the story of James Dougle:
Throwpete walked down the hall, knocked on the door and heard a loud voice boom from the other side.
“Who wants ta’ know?”
“Take too long to explain. Got some trouble in Round Hill. Need help.”
“Round Hill’s not my problem. I am in fact, U.S. Marshal Walter Sampas and I am fixin’ to ride out in three days time to Oklahoma Indian Territory as requested by President of the United States Chester A. Arthur. Go on now, this is not my business.”
Throwpete put his mouth to the crack of the door and spoke as loudly and deliberately as he could mange.
“Sir, hear me now. There is an angry mob fixin’ to crucify a man for murder after a kangaroo trial, the execution ordered by Judge Isaac C. Parker. They are nailin’ this man up as we speak.”
“Crucify? Did you say crucify? Did you say Judge Isaac Parker? Did you mean crucify as on a cross?”
“I did sir. I ‘spect they’ll use a cross.”
U.S. Marshal Walter Sampas sat in a wooden office rocking chair, his booted feet up on the desk. He wore the top to his long John’s and had his hands clasped behind his head. He sported a long mustache nearly down to his jaw line and his hair was dark and greasy, well down below his collar. There was a large Colt Peacemaker revolver chambered in .44-40 with an ivory grip sitting on the desktop next to a bottle of whiskey. Sampas looked at Throwpete for near half a minute.
“Son, I must say you are one of the sorriest pieces of humanity I have seen, even in these parts of Arkansas. You look much like a half drowned rat.”
“I can see why you’d say that sir. I spend a lot of time being thrown in the horse trough by the roughnecks in Round Hill. They all call me ‘Throwpete’.”
“I surmise you are like the town idiot, is that true?”
“That’s what they think sir.”
“But that is not true, is it?”
“Uh, sir, I don’ know sir.”
“What would be your opinion on this?”
“I would say no if I had to say sir.”
“I would too. You are no idiot as you articulated yourself well and concisely through that door. You got my interest. You say a crucifixion, you say Judge Parker, you say Round Hill, and I am supposing there is no law there?”
“No, no lawman sir. He was shot dead within the week. No Judge, that’s why we had Judge Parker come over. No preacher. No law but Jasper Palmer, saloon owner.”
“A part of my job as U.S. Marshal is to replace local authority where there is none. I have been to Round Hill and it’s about as sorry and uncivilized a town as I have ever seen. I ‘spect there is no legal local authority there even when there is a living Sheriff. Tell me the full story. Sit and have a drink of this whiskey if you will.”
“I feel there is not much time sir, but I will sit with you. Sir, I feel I must tell you this man in question is a black man.”
Sampas only waved his hand above the table palm down indicating he did not care.
Throwpete took a drink and told Walter Sampas the story from beginning to present, how he had seen James Dougle that morning walking out to plead his case for debt leniency with Josborg, then how he had been accused of murder. The man Dougle had described the incident as an accident and not as an act of murder.
“A truth to be determined by a judge and jury, not a mob and a saloon owner,” said Sampas. Yet, Throwpete went on; the man was now in the custody of a mob who had rushed him to trial at the Diamond Bar Saloon where Judge Isaac Parker had presided to get a quick verdict in order to come back to Fort Smith to dress for dinner. The man James Dougle by then was beaten soundly and probably not fully in his right faculties. He had asked why didn’t they just crucify him. Saloon owner Palmer had appeared to be anxious to sponsor such an event, and profit from same.
Walter Sampas lifted his boots off the desk and onto the floor. He looked Throwpete straight in his eyes.
“So you are telling me there is a man, possibly innocent, without a fair trial being railroaded out in Round Hill, and is bein’ nailed to a cross as we speak instead of being awarded a decent hangin’?”
“I guess that would sum it, sir,” said Throwpete.”
“And the Honorable Judge Isaac Parker presided in a saloon?”
“We got no lawman, no jail, no court, no preacher, no nothin’ in Round Hill. For a fact the undertaker is a coffin maker and no more.”
"I'll get my gear," said Sampas.
Research & Images: The Story of James Dougle
The Fort Smith Commissary where U.S. Marshall Walter Sampas would have had his office.
Dallas City Hospital 1874
Colt Pistol that Walter Sampas would have carried
Model 1873 Winchester carbine lever action rifle