Jackson Crow

August 6, 1884, was election day in the Choctaw Nation. Charles Wilson, the incumbent, was running to retain his seat as county representative against Robert Benton. As Wilson returned home early the following morning, he was confronted by Benton, Jackson Crow, and nine other men. Wilson and Benton argued and Wilson was killed.

That Wilson was murdered was clear; parceling responsibility for that killing was the harder question. Investigation revealed that Crow and Wilson had been at odds for months after Wilson played a role in Crow’s arrest for murder. Though Crow was ultimately cleared, he swore retribution against Wilson. Wilson and Benton had also feuded.

Crow was the only one of the men who was not a member of the Choctaw Nation, meaning he was the only person subject to the jurisdiction of United States courts. Because of their prominence, the men tried in Choctaw court were handled with leniency. Crow, on the other hand, was the son of a Native father and Black mother who had never taken advantage of the Choctaw citizenship available to him.

What role Crow’s vulnerability to US jurisdiction played in his prosecution is unclear. Whatever the case, he was arrested on January 2, 1887. At trial in Fort Smith, Crow argued that he played a minor role in the skirmish that resulted in Wilson’s death and that Benton was the killer. That defense failed and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on February 10, 1888.

Along with two other men, Jackson Crow was hanged on April 27, 1888.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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