Fort Smith, Arkansas sat on the border of Indian Territory in 1875. It was a rowdy place filled with brothels, saloons, and outlaws. It was said that there was ‘no law west of Arkansas’ and not much in Fort Smith. That changed when Judge Isaac Parker was appointed to the bench. Known as ‘the hanging judge’, Judge Parker was stern and unbending in his application of the law… his court often referred to as the ‘court of the damned’. The jail at Fort Smith where outlaws were held awaiting trial wasn’t a pleasant place to be and was considered to be ‘hell on the border’.
When Judge Parker issued a warrant for a man, it was up to the U. S. Marshalls to bring him in to stand trial. It was a dangerous job and required the toughest of men. Among these men was Matthew Kelso, a former bounty hunter who Judge Parker convinced to become a Deputy U. S. Marshall. Judge Parker wanted outlaws brought back alive for trial so their misdeeds and punishment would provide an example for others. Bringing outlaws back alive was something Deputy Kelso often had difficulty in doing.
On a return from a failed assignment where he had to kill two outlaws, Deputy Kelso has a chance meeting with Calib Bixby when he stops at his small ranch to water his horse. Calib lives alone in Indian Territory… over 70,000 square miles of hostile terrain and has a close relationship with the Osage Chief, Yellow Dog. Calib relates a story of an unwelcome visitor to his ranch and gives Matt a gold watch that belonged to a friend of his. The watch and story of how it came into Calib’s possession leads Matt to an investigation of a murder, a corrupt Sheriff, a power-hungry landowner, and the lynching of an innocent man… the lynching at Stone Creek.
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