"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"John Childers' Soul Has Gone to Hell --"

"Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen." George Savile

As promised, I will tell you the story of a man named John Childers and the judgment that comes to those who mock God and His commandments. 

On Friday, August 15, 1873, the United States government hanged John Childers in Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

In an age of "social justice" when Americans seem concerned about oppression and injustice, but pay little attention to crimes committed, even releasing criminals "without bail," we're due for a good reminder that ultimate justice is in the hands of Almighty God. To flaunt His moral code is to jeopardize your existence.

The following is excerpted from Glenn Shirley's superb 1957 book Law West of Fort Smith: A History of Frontier Justice in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) 1834-1896.

Deputy United States Marshal James Messler adjusted the noose about the prisoner's neck. He placed the big knot under the left ear in the hollow just back of the jawbone and took up the slack. Then, mopping huge drops of perspiration from his forehead with a soiled bandanna, he stared down the thirteen steps at the two thousand sweating sight-seers who packed the jail yard inside the grim stone walls of abandoned Fort Smith.

It was the afternoon of August 15, 1873. The sun boiled down. There was not even a tiny stir of breeze. The sky was clear except for a small black cloud coming up in the southwest. It crossed the Arkansas River, and as Messler adjusted the noose, seemed to pause and hover over the scene. 

The crowd waited. 

The prisoner was John Childers. He was strong, of muscular build, five feet eleven inches in height, and twenty-four-years old. He had been born in cowskin Creek in the Cherokee nation to a white man and a Cherokee woman. He had spent his childhood in wickedness, and at the time of his arrest for murder, a crime so cold-blooded and vicious, scarcely one among the many assembled could not recite the revolting details. 

On the morning of October 14, 1870, Childers met an old man named Reyburn Wedding. The old man made his living trading with the Indians, and Childers came across him near Caney Creek below the Kansas line in the Cherokee Nation. Reyburn drove his wagon with a fine black horse that caught Childer's fancy, and the outlaw began dickering for a trade. Reyburn Wedding declined the offer, saying he was not interested in parting with the animal and drove on. 

Childers' face darkened. Deciding to have the horse at any cost, he spurred his poney ahead, overtaking the peddler. Hitching his mount to the tailgate of the wagon, he climbed into the seat beside the old man. 

According to testimony developed later at the trial, Childers' bargained for the horse twenty-seven times, and twenty-seven times Wedding refused. Finally, Childers seized the surprised trader by the head, whipped a long knife from his belt, and before Wedding could move to defend himself, stretched the old man across the back of the seat and slashed his throat from ear to ear. Then the outlaw dumped the body in the water, stripped the harness from the horse he coveted, and rode away. 

Deputy Marshals of the United States government eventually captured John Childers in Indian Territory, transporting him to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Judge Isaac Parker sentenced him to die by hanging on August 15, 1873. 

Behind Childers on the newly erected gallows stood a guard of six deputies headed by Marshal John Sarber. Sarber asked the convicted horse thief and murderer, "Are there any last words you wish to say, Childers?" 

The killer tossed away his cigar, and for the first time since his capture, he appeared disturbed. "Didn't you say you were going to hang me?" 

"Yes," Sarber replied.

"Then," Childers responded cooly, "why in the hell don't you." 

The marshal buckled Childers' hands to his sides. The black hood was placed over the killer's face and adjusted. Then the marshal gave the signal. The assigned deputy released the bolt and John Childers' neck tilted curiously to one side as he shot to the end of the rope. 

And at exactly that same moment a remarkable thing happened. 

As the door fell from under Childers' feet, a tremendous clap of thunder shook the earth of the enclosure, drowning completely the thudding noise of the cumbrous trap. The black cloud hanging above the fort had seemed innocent enough. From it now shot a bolt of lightning. It struck the frame of the gibbet, shooting a thousand tiny sparks into the air. 

"John Childers' soul has gone to hell -- I done heerd de chains a-clankin'!" screamed an ashen-faced Negro woman as she hysterically waved her arms and swooned in the center of the throng. Then the cloud burst open and for several minutes rain poured down, soaking the bewildered crowd.

None present could ever deny the startling phenomenon that attended the execution. The entire proceedings -- the grim ritual on the scaffold, the celestial detonation, the pyrotechnics, and sudden drenching -- filled the spectators with awe. 

People who witnessed it shuddered with fear, and those who had come to mock and jeer at the law never again attempted to explain away what they witnessed.

John Childers' soul had gone to hell.

The Leavenworth Times (Kansas) Front Page Report on John Childers' Execution in Fort Smith

 


32 comments:

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

It’s obvious by Childers’ last remark, he wanted to be known as a tough guy. He died instantly with a broken neck.

If it had been a ‘short drop’, it would have taken many minutes to die, and he might have changed he mind about being tough and pleaded to Jesus to save him and the bolt of lightning would never have happened.

As it was the Black lady was right.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Strange how the brain says “his”, but the fingers write “he”, then the brain reads “his”.

Maybe my brain is the only that does tha. :)

Christiane said...

some thoughts on the 'death penalty'

"As the door fell from under Childers' feet, a tremendous clap of thunder shook the earth of the enclosure, drowning completely the thudding noise of the cumbrous trap. The black cloud hanging above the fort had seemed innocent enough. From it now shot a bolt of lightning. It struck the frame of the gibbet, shooting a thousand tiny sparks into the air."

so the story tells us that the bolt of lightning destroyed the frame of the gibbet, the INSTRUMENT of execution of a human person made in the image of God:
a person who is deriving his human dignity FROM GOD as a gift, a dignity that is NOT able to be earned or lost through the person's behavior.

Is it not in our faith to believe that respect for LIFE applies to all mankind, even the perpetrators of terrible acts?
Do the Psalms not speak to us of God's long-suffering mercy towards us?
Psalm 130, this:
"If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"

When Our Lord was incarnated, He became for us the Revealer of God in the fullest sense.
And are we not asked in Romans, chapter 2, this:
" ...do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? "

so there we come to 'kindness' and 'tolerance' and 'patience' and we REMEMBER the most powerful forces in the arsenal against evil are those that are comprised of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. . . . and not our own vengeance and judgement?

And we KNOW that the Pharisee who pointed to himself as 'righteous' did not find favor with God, but it was the man who came, knowing he had sinned, and repented and asked God for mercy that God recognized that day.

Maybe in God's time, that murderer might have repented and sought the mercy of God? We cannot know that, no. But we know from the story that it was men who hung the murderer for his terrible crime against an innocent man;
and we know that IF we want to see the lighting strike as a SIGN from God, then we are told that the bolt struck the instrument of execution, and not the murderer himself.

Human life: from conception to natural death, to be respected because its dignity comes from the Creator, the Giver of Life, in Whose image the human person was made.

so that is another way of looking at the incident as it was reported,
and how, in God's time, the murderer might have turned towards God and His mercy,
but instead, in a rush to judgement AND the employment of the death penalty, we cannot truly know what might have been.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

You said, “a person who is deriving his human dignity FROM GOD as a gift, a dignity that is NOT able to be earned or lost through the person's behavior.”

Jesus said, “So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7: 19-20 NLT)

Do you agree that “actions” means the same as “behavior”?

Therefore, the behavior of a murderer has lost his dignity he once had from God.

George Savile said, “Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but horses may not be stolen.”

The same applies: ‘Men are not hanged for murder, but men may not be murdered.’

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

Hey, REX RAY

check your bible CHAPTER for the context of that verse, and I think you will see that it uses the imagery of 'fruit' as it is used to evaluate someone in the same sense as the imagery of 'fruit' is used to describe the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit'.

If this is confusing, let me know. I will try to connect the dots hopefully more clearly.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I read your link about the shooting at a school and the struggle to forgive, but you’ve removed that comment.

Jesus said, “So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7: 19-20 NLT)

You said, “Check your bible CHAPTER for the context of that verse, and I think you will see that it uses the imagery of 'fruit' as it is used to evaluate someone in the same sense as the imagery of 'fruit' is used to describe the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit'.”

I checked Criswell’s Study Bible notes that give their explanation on what that verse means: “Jesus suggest only a few will be saved.”

RB Kuter said...

Not that anyone here is like this, but ever wondered how those adamantly opposing the "death penalty" accept the execution of millions of innocent children just prior to their being delivered, or following?

Probably no explanation, but is a curious question, don't you think?

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,
my take on your verse, this:
"Matthew 7:19-21
New Living Translation
19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."

has to do with the imagery of 'good fruit' from the perspective of the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit' showing up in a person's way of living,

so that rather than the 'perfect behavior of the Pharisee who points to that other sinner',
God may be more inclined to recognized a humbled honest man who asks for mercy because he knows he is a sinner and is repenting of his sin,

I see the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit' as THE Christian indicator of whether or not a person has taken in the sacred words of Christ to heart, and been humbled enough to receive the grace of the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit' in how he then lives and relates to others.
This 'fruit' ? Turns out it is much maligned among our modern day culture warriors as weakness and they have turned instead towards what they now think is 'strength', which is sad;
because the actual fruit of the Holy Spirit IS the greater power in confronting evil in this world, this:
" . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control." (from Galatians, chapter 5)

imagine how strange it would be to be able to live without having contempt for others and being able to differentiate the pain underneath the 'bad behavior' of those who act out their pain in violent and self-destructive ways?
Imagine, having seen the pain in these people, instead finding some compassion for their situation that has brought them to harming people and themselves;

I think Our Lord presented a case to the Pharisees where He did not challenge their right to stone the woman adulteress,
but instead, He confronted them as to the secrets of their own sins and told them that 'he is without sin, cast the first stone';
and they sadly walked away, knowing the truth His Words had imparted to them.

Can a sinner who has murdered an innocent still repent and be saved? It has happened.
And is it possible we can now look at the death penalty differently IF we take in the ancient words to heart, these?
"do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?" (from Romans 2:4)


kindness, patience, the possibility of giving enough time to repent and ask for mercy?

would this, IF POSSIBLE, not be the better way to bring closure to evil than for us to take 'vengeance', IF INCARCERATION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH WOULD PROTECT OTHERS FROM HARM ????

people see it different ways, sure, and likely 'frontier justice' often was the only way available to keep order when 'life long incarceration' was not an option as it is today

but still, one wonders about those executed young by 'frontier justice'
if, an option HAD THEN existed giving them time in life-long incarceration, would some good have come from the grace and mercy of God to change their lives for all eternity???

All I know is that God judges along a higher way than we humans do, and though we try, and we must make effort to be just and keep order and protect the innocent from harm,
still
I think even in our wounded humanity, we owe it to God and to ourselves to consider:
IS THERE A POSSIBLE OPTION for us that is 'higher' than 'vengeance' and does THAT OPTION include from us the fruit of the Holy Spirit in allowing life incarceration an opportunity for God's grace to enter?

Victorious said...

RB, I don't know if you checked the link I provided in another thread, but I think you may find it interesting so far as the subject of abortion. The article covers a number statistics as well as some myths like this one:

MYTH: Women have abortions for selfish or frivolous reasons.The decision to have an abortion is rarely simple. Most women base their decision on several factors, the most common being lack of money and/or unreadiness to start or expand their families due to existing responsibilities. Many feel that the most responsible course of action is to wait until their situation is more suited to childrearing; 66% plan to have children when they are older, financially able to provide necessities for them, and/or in a supportive relationship with a partner so their children will have two parents8. Others wanted to get pregnant but developed serious medical problems, learned that the fetus had severe abnormalities, or experienced some other personal crisis. About 13,000 women each year have abortions because they have become pregnant as a result of rape or incest1.

It's definitely a complicated issue imo.

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

You wrote: “Can a sinner who has murdered an innocent still repent and be saved? It has happened.

I agree. I’ll make up a story:

A 30-year-old man rapes and murders a teenage girl that’s not a Christian. He’s not executed, spends life in prison, becomes a Christian, dies an old man, and goes to heaven, She goes to hell.

RB Kuter said...

Thank you, Victorious. That is valid information and of course the plight of mothers must be considered when assessing a proper, Godly, response. Which brings to mind, what do you believe God's position on this would be in a situation where, for example, there is a young teen, or even adolescent child who is violated and as a result becomes pregnant? What is the most Godly manner to approach that situation to minimize the lifelong damage that has already been done?

Tough question, but you and I have the abiding presence of God's Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts if we are indeed born-again followers of Jesus Christ and as Scripture tells us, "you have the mind of Christ". So even though we certainly are not God, we do have the capacity for Godly discernment and assessment on such matters, don't you think?

I realize and agree with some former comments that we are so lacking in many provisions to avoid such unwanted pregnancies and there are indeed many remedies that could be provided in the sense of working women having leave for pregnancies, etc. This is an imperfect world. We must function with what we have to work with while campaigning for improvements.

This is an immediate, life and death situation involving literally millions of lives. What should our passion and focus be?

Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

Why do you think that God would send the victim to hell?

It sounds a lot like how fundamentalism among some of the extreme Muslim tribes treat women victims of rape, that they are punished for being a victim of a sex crime.
Fundamentalism in ANY religion rarely allows for the great mercy of God, sadly.
Fundamentalism is the 'way of the Pharisee' in the temple who praised himself as 'worthy' before God and pointed at 'that other sinner' with contempt, but in the end the Pharisee did NOT find favor with God.

I'm not sure of your reasoning here, REX RAY.
Did I misunderstand something in your story. It's like a story that needs more information in it to make sense. Can you fill in some details or tell me what I didn't 'get', and thanks.

OTOH,
Have you mailed in your vote yet? Don't forget to vote EARLY. And SAFELY. Best advice I can give you these days.




Christiane said...

Hello REX RAY,

You told a story
but it is not the same as 'THE Story'.
In 'THE Story', our hope for the poor child resides completely in the great and infinite mercy of the God Who made her.

RB Kuter said...

Certainly those who have abortions are sometimes forced into that situation of being pregnant through abuse that results in lifelong consequences whether they have the abortion or not. There are also instances when it is a decision between whether the mother will be allowed to live or the child due to health conditions. These are those situations involving extreme conditions that are a minute percent of the millions of abortions being done every year.

We do not live in a perfect society and there are situations that cause a pregnancy to be a huge burden and upon the mother who may have no means to provide for the child and herself. Political measures should be made to accommodate the problem such as leave for single, working Moms, training on birth control, etc.

The question that continually comes to my mind and heart is, "What is God's position on these matters?"

Even in those relatively few instances of abuse and rape, "What would God have us do?"

Another question that comes to my mind is, "If the child was visibly in the open so as to be lying in the crib instead of hidden in the womb, what circumstances would justify our literally tearing it apart for the purpose of eliminating its presence?

I continue to contend that one day the winds of rational thinking will shift to the reality and horror of what we are doing. Future generations will look back upon this generations with our practice of the mass murder of millions of infants and wonder at the horror of it in a similar way that we are confounded by Germany's Holocaust. I believe that is the way God views it today.

RB Kuter said...

Certainly those who have abortions are sometimes forced into that situation of being pregnant through abuse that results in lifelong consequences whether they have the abortion or not. There are also instances when it is a decision between whether the mother will be allowed to live or the child due to health conditions. These are those situations involving extreme conditions that are a minute percent of the millions of abortions being done every year.

We do not live in a perfect society and there are situations that cause a pregnancy to be a huge burden and upon the mother who may have no means to provide for the child and herself. Political measures should be made to accommodate the problem such as leave for single, working Moms, training on birth control, etc.

The question that continually comes to my mind and heart is, "What is God's position on these matters?"

Even in those relatively few instances of abuse and rape, "What would God have us do?"

Another question that comes to my mind is, "If the child was visibly in the open so as to be lying in the crib instead of hidden in the womb, what circumstances would justify our literally tearing it apart for the purpose of eliminating its presence?

I continue to contend that one day the winds of rational thinking will shift to the reality and horror of what we are doing. Future generations will look back upon this generations with our practice of the mass murder of millions of infants and wonder at the horror of it in a similar way that we are confounded by Germany's Holocaust

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

Sorry REX RAY,
I wrote two responses that did not appear. I did try.
You take care.

RB Kuter said...

Victorious; Certainly those who have abortions are sometimes forced into that situation of being pregnant through horrible abuse that results in lifelong consequences whether they have the abortion or not. There are also instances when it is a decision between whether the mother will be allowed to live or the child due to health conditions. These are those situations involving extreme conditions that are a minute percent of the millions of abortions being done every year.

We do not live in a perfect society and there are situations that cause a pregnancy to be a huge burden upon the mother who may have no means to provide for the child and herself. Political measures should be made to accommodate the problem such as leave for single, working Moms, training on birth control, etc.

The question that continually comes to my mind and heart is, "What is God's position on these matters? Is taking the life of the child EVER justified in God's assessment?"

Even in those relatively few instances of abuse and rape, "What would God have us do?"

Another question that comes to my mind is, "If the child was visibly in the open so as to be lying in the crib instead of hidden in the womb, what circumstances would justify our literally tearing it apart for the purpose of eliminating its presence to remedy collateral circumstances?" These are questions which we must assess given our claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and our "having the mind of Christ".

I continue to contend that one day the winds of rational thinking will shift to the reality and horror of what we are doing. Future generations will look back upon this generations with our practice of the mass murder of millions of infants and wonder at the horror of it in a similar way that we are confounded by Germany's Holocaust

Christiane said...

REX RAY,
we can hope for God's Mercy for children of all ages for whom this world offers little mercy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU7F-snR35k

Christiane said...

REX RAY,
we can hope for God's Mercy for children of all ages for whom this world offers little mercy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU7F-snR35k

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

I was beginning to wonder if you were all right, because you always reply to questions. “You take care” can be many things.

Today, our Fannin County Missionary, Darrel, (He could hold me over his head with one hand) came by. He wants me to teach him to ‘tape & bed sheetrock’ while working on a small Spanish church being built four miles from here. (It’s across the highway from Sam Rayburn’s home who was Speaker of the House long ago. His home is a museum now.)

Their pastor takes no salary as he has a good job a few miles away. I went with Darrel to see the church. Only two bathrooms have sheetrock. Other rooms and the 18-foot-high ceiling of the auditorium have none. They’ve hired a plumber, but everything else is done by church members.

I’m guessing we’ll help them sheetrock.

RB Kuter said...

Victorious, have made several attempts to respond without success. Let me try again.

I totally understand and accept that there are situations that make a pregnancy an extreme burden, particularly in cases of rape, child molestation, incest, and life threatening conditions of mother.

My question is, "What situation would warrant a child sitting in a crib literally being torn apart limb by limb so as to eliminate it?" and one more, "What would God have us do in such situations? Kill the child by mutilation? For what justification?"

If these children were "visible" and not hidden within the womb of the mother, it would be considered murder and a horrific, inhumane, act. One day the winds of society's perspective will shift and this age of mass abortion will be seen for what it is and that generation will ponder at how this generation could have been so inhumane, much as we view The Holocaust.

Christiane said...

REX RAY,

I can see you doing the work. Darrel sounds amazing. And that pastor who takes no 'salary' also sounds wonderful.

Will you wear a 'mask'? Face shield, also? Work gloves? Work clothing to wash as soon as you get home?

Good to be needed in one's later years. Better to be useful. And best to serve those who need help in Christ's Name. Sounds like a winner. But have a care for 'safety' and protection from viral spread, even though the Ray guardian angels are legendary for their care, don't tempt God by being 'careless' or smug . . . do what is the better way and take care of yourself. Be sensible.
Prayers for you will be said, you bet.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Yes, Darrel is amazing. He’s a retired missionary from Hungry. While there, my older sister and husband went three times with a team to his church to witness through interpreters.

He has three daughters. One has a high school assignment of interviewing someone. She picked me as a person who builds things.

They’re members of our church, and live ½ mile from us in one of the houses that my younger sister has reserved for missionaries.

RB Kuter said...

Wonder what's up with getting comments posted?

Christiane said...

something to think about

https://baptistnews.com/article/who-knew-unalienable-rights-could-undermine-life-liberty-and-true-happiness/#.X4ObbNBKi70

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

It seems strange, you a Catholic, quoting Marv Knox who was editor of the Baptist Standard for years. We became friends through the many letters to the Baptist Standard I wrote that were printed.

His “unalienable-rights-could-undermine-life-liberty-and-true-happiness” could be summed up: Your right to smoke ends where my nose begins.

Rex Ray said...

RB Kuter,

You said, “What’s up with getting comments posted?”

“Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author” has turned conversations into letter writing.

I’m amazed that Wade is a pastor and still has time to write his great posts. Putting this added time consuming of approval is like burning a candle at both ends. Reminds me of:

“…Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.” (Exodus 18:13 KJ)

connie said...

For those debating what to do about a pregnancy conceived by rape?

I was conceived in rape. I like to think my life is worth exactly what yours is.

that is all.

Rex Ray said...

connie,

Yes, your life is worth what everyone’s is.

A visitor spoke in church, and it was a plea to his mother who wasn’t there. She treated him differently than her other children as he was the result of her being ‘gang raped’ by German soldiers.

His words brought tears to our eyes as he told of many good things he had accomplished. It reminded me of Jesus telling a crowd that wanted to stone him: “…believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done…” (John 10:38 NLT)