On this date in 1892, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction and sentence in the case of a man who called himself George Smith, but whose true name was almost certainly something else. In January of 1891, Smith had shot and killed Bells,Texas City Marshal James F. Isbell during a failed robbery in a Bells saloon where the marshal moonlighted as a bartender.
Smith’s journey to the gallows was anything but swift and sure. Only after a failed insanity plea, a mistrial, a second trial and conviction, a death sentence, an appeal to the state’s supreme court, and petitions for clemency to the Texas governor, did he pay the ultimate price for his crimes. George Smith was hanged at the Grayson County jail in Sherman, Texas in July, 1892.
Marshal Isbell’s tragic death, and George Smith’s long road to justice, are detailed in Chapter 5 of Some Gave All.