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Fort Smith
City of Fort Smith
Downtown Fort Smith
Downtown Fort Smith
Flag of Fort Smith
Official seal of Fort Smith
Logo image shows a red building with flag on top and the words "The City of Fort Smith, Arkansas" in blue
Hell on the Border
Location of Fort Smith in Sebastian County, Arkansas.
Location of Fort Smith in Sebastian County, Arkansas.
Fort Smith is located in the United States
Fort Smith
Fort Smith
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Sebastian
Founded 1817
Incorporated December 24, 1842
 • City 68.23 sq mi (176.72 km2)
 • Land 63.99 sq mi (165.74 km2)
 • Water 4.24 sq mi (10.98 km2)
463 ft (141.1 m)
 • City 89,142
 • Density 1,392.97/sq mi (537.83/km2)
 • Urban
122,947 (US: 257th)
 • Metro
279,974 (US: 165th)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
72901-72906, 72908, 72913-72914, 72916-72919
Area code(s) 479
FIPS code 05-24550
GNIS feature ID 0076952
Interstate Highways I-40, I-49, I-540
Other major highways US 64, US 71, US 271
Website City of Fort Smith

Fort Smith is the third-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 89,142. It is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas–Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents that encompasses the Arkansas counties of Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian, and the Oklahoma counties of Le Flore and Sequoyah.

Fort Smith has a sister city relationship with Cisterna di Latina, Italy, site of the World War II Battle of Cisterna, fought by United States Army Rangers commanded by Fort Smith native William Orlando Darby. The city also has a mutual friendship-city relationship with Jining, China.

Fort Smith lies on the Arkansas–Oklahoma state border, situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau rivers, also known as Belle Point. Fort Smith was established as a western frontier military post in 1817, when it was also a center of fur trading. The city developed there. It became well known as a base for migrants' settling of the "Wild West" and for its law enforcement heritage.

The city government is led by Mayor George McGill (D), who made history in 2018 when he was elected as the city's first African American mayor, and a city Board of Directors composed of three members elected at-large and four members elected by ward.


The site that would later become Fort Smith became part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Soon after, the Pike Expedition (1806) explored the Arkansas River. Fort Smith was founded in 1817 as a military post. A stockade was built and occupied, from 1817 until 1822, by a small troop of regulars commanded by Major William Bradford. Around the fort a small settlement began forming, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824 and moved 80 miles further west to Fort Gibson. Army sutler and land speculator John Rogers (who some genealogists claim to be an ancestor to 20th-century Oklahoma comedian Will Rogers) bought up former government-owned lands and promoted growth of the new civilian town of Fort Smith, eventually influencing the federal government to re-establish a military presence at Fort Smith during the era of Indian Removal and the Mexican War.

Fort Smith's name comes from General Thomas Adams Smith (1781–1844), who commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment in 1817, headquartered near St. Louis. General Smith had ordered Army topographical engineer Stephen H. Long (1784–1864) to find a suitable site on the Arkansas River for a fort. General Smith never visited the town or forts that bore his name.

In 1838 the Army moved back into the old military post near Belle Point, and expanded the base as part of the federal policy of removing Cherokees and Choctaws from their ancestral homelands in the Southeast and resettling the survivors in the nearby Indian Territory. Many displaced Native Americans settled in Fort Smith and Van Buren, while Sebastian county was formed in 1851, separated from Crawford County north of the Arkansas River. In 1858, Fort Smith became a Division Center of the Butterfield Overland Mail's 7th Division route across Indian Territory from Fort Smith to Texas and a junction with the mail route from Memphis, Tennessee.

The fort was occupied by the Confederate Army during the early years of the U.S. Civil War. Union troops under General Steele took control of Fort Smith on September 1, 1863. A small fight occurred there on July 31, 1864, but the Union army maintained command in the area until the war ended in 1865. The town became a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists, and other victims of the guerrilla warfare then raging in the Border States. Federal troops abandoned the post of Fort Smith for the last time in 1871. The town continued to thrive despite the absence of federal troops.

Two of Fort Smith's most notable historic figures were Judge Isaac Parker and William Henry Harrison Clayton, sometimes referred to as W.H.H. Clayton. In 1874, William Henry Harrison Clayton was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by President Ulysses S. Grant. Fort Smith was a bustling community full of saloons and outlaws, just across the river from Indian Territory. William Clayton realized a strong judge would be necessary to bring law and order to the region. He knew of a strong judge in Isaac Parker. But there was a problem, as Judge Parker had been appointed Chief Justice of Utah Territory and confirmed by the US Senate. With the help of President Grant and US Senator Powell Clayton, former governor of Arkansas, William Clayton was able to undo that appointment and redirect Judge Parker to Fort Smith.

Judge Isaac Parker
Judge Isaac Parker, Hanging Judge

William Clayton was appointed US Attorney by four different presidents and later served as Chief Justice of Indian Territory. He was instrumental in achieving statehood for Oklahoma and together with Territorial Governor Frank Frantz, carried the Oklahoma Constitution to President Teddy Roosevelt after the state was admitted to the Union in 1907. Governor Frantz and Judge Clayton both lost their territorial positions when Oklahoma became a state.

The Army returned to Fort Smith in 1941 with the establishment of the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation east of the city.

On April 21, 1996, a large tornado destroyed and heavily damaged much of historic downtown Fort Smith around the Garrison Avenue Bridge. The storm left four people dead in western Arkansas. Days later, the Eads Brothers Furniture building in downtown Fort Smith was destroyed by one of the largest fires in the city's history.


Fort Smith is located at 35°22′7″N 94°23′55″W / 35.36861°N 94.39861°W / 35.36861; -94.39861 (35.368691, −94.398737).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.6 square miles (167 km2), of which, 61.7 square miles (160 km2) of it is land and 3.9 square miles (10 km2) of it (6.3%) is water.


Fort Smith has generally mild winters and hot, humid summers. The monthly mean temperature ranges from 39.4 °F (4.1 °C) in January to 82.3 °F (27.9 °C) in July; on average, the high stays at or below freezing on 5 days, reaches 90 °F (32 °C) on 74.7 days, and 100 °F (38 °C) on 10.7 days annually. The average first and last occurrences for freezing temperatures are November 5 and March 29, respectively. Extreme temperatures range from −15 °F (−26 °C) on February 12, 1899 to 115 °F (46 °C) on August 3, 2011. Fort Smith is situated near an area known as Tornado Alley in the central United States. The city has been struck by three major tornadoes, which occurred in the years of 1898, 1927 and 1996.

Climate data for Fort Smith Regional Airport, Arkansas (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1882–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Average high °F (°C) 49.9
Average low °F (°C) 29.0
Record low °F (°C) −11
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.81
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.4
trace 0.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 7.5 7.8 9.7 9.1 10.7 9.3 6.5 6.3 7.7 8.4 7.5 7.7 98.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 1.1 0.8 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 3.0
Average relative humidity (%) 69.5 67.6 63.9 63.8 70.7 70.9 68.9 68.6 71.8 69.4 70.3 71.2 68.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 173.5 172.5 215.2 236.1 274.8 304.0 327.6 294.5 233.1 220.7 162.5 156.3 2,770.8
Percent possible sunshine 55 56 58 60 63 70 74 71 63 63 52 51 62
Source: NOAA (sun and relative humidity 1961–1990)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 144
1850 964 569.4%
1860 1,532 58.9%
1870 2,227 45.4%
1880 3,099 39.2%
1890 11,311 265.0%
1900 11,587 2.4%
1910 23,975 106.9%
1920 28,870 20.4%
1930 31,429 8.9%
1940 36,584 16.4%
1950 47,942 31.0%
1960 52,991 10.5%
1970 62,802 18.5%
1980 71,626 14.1%
1990 72,798 1.6%
2000 80,268 10.3%
2010 86,209 7.4%
2020 89,142 3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Fort Smith racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 50,728 56.91%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 7,602 8.53%
Native American 1,555 1.74%
Asian 5,103 5.72%
Pacific Islander 65 0.07%
Other/Mixed 6,623 7.43%
Hispanic or Latino 17,466 19.59%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 89,142 people, 36,210 households, and 22,349 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 86,209 people, 34,352 households, and 21,367 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,391.2 people per square mile (537.2/km2). There were 37,899 housing units at an average density of 612.3 per square mile (236.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 69.3% White, 9.0% Black or African American, 1.8% Native American, 5.3% Asian (2.2% Vietnamese, 1.7% Laotian, 0.3% Asian Indian, 0.2% Filipino, 0.1% Korean, 0.1% Chinese, 0.1% Hmong, 0.1% Pakistani), 0.1% Pacific Islander, 10.3% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. 16.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race (11.6% Mexican, 2.2% Salvadoran, 0.4% Guatemalan, 0.3% Puerto Rican, 0.2% Honduran, 0.1% Cuban, 0.1% Peruvian, 0.1% Colombian).

In language, Fort Smith has more than ten Asian languages spoken by more than two percent of the population. Also, the increase in immigration from Latin American countries in the late 20th century increased the number of residents who speak Spanish. 7.10% reported speaking Spanish at home, while 3.38% speak Vietnamese and Lao, and 2.50% speak Tagalog.

In 2000 there were 32,398 households, of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.4% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,157, and the median income for a family was $41,012. Males had a median income of $29,799 versus $22,276 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,994. About 12.1% of families and 15.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.2% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.



Fort Smith, Arkansas History Museum
Fort Smith Museum of History
Fort Smith Birney car 224 at 6th & Garland (1997)
The Fort Smith Trolley Museum offers trolley rides year-round.
  • Fort Smith Regional Art Museum opened to the public on January 19, 2013.
  • Fort Smith Museum of History, almost adjacent to the National Historic Site the museum contains numerous exhibits, displays and artifacts that tell the story of Fort Smith's history—from the first fort in 1817, through the westward expansion, and on to the Civil War, the Gay Nineties, Fort Chaffee, and the emergence of a modern city.
  • Fort Smith Trolley Museum is a railroad museum which displays a number of antique trolleys and related items. One of the trolley cars and three of the locomotives in its collection are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Fort Smith Air Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the development of aviation in Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
  • The Clayton House Museum The Clayton House Museum is the original home of William H.H. Clayton. It is open for tours and rentals for weddings, meetings, events, and much more. The house holds many Clayton artifacts, and boldly tells the history of Mr. Clayton as well as the western frontier.


Fort Smith has an active music scene. There are frequent live performances in the downtown area by local and national Jazz, Blues, Country, and Rock bands. Local bands regularly frequent the riverfront area highlighting the river valley's finest.

  • Fort Smith Symphony, the oldest orchestra in the state. The symphony is a per-service professional orchestra composed of musicians from Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springfield, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman, Dallas, Little Rock, New York, Florida and other communities. The Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter, regularly performs at the Arkansas Best Performing Arts Center.

Dance and theatre

  • Western Arkansas Ballet, a regional dance company which regularly presents programs at area schools and the Performing Arts Center. Their major annual event is the presentation of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet.
  • The McCafferty School of Irish Dance offers instruction in the art of Traditional Irish Dance. Dancers from the school have competed at local, regional, national and world championship levels of competition, and some have performed professionally in international shows such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Dancers perform at many local events. The Fort Smith branch of the school is supported by the Fort Smith Irish Dance Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded to provide support and facilities for the dancers.


As the largest city in western Arkansas, Fort Smith offers many activities and attractions. Fort Smith's theatres and event venues regularly host major concerts and touring theatre companies.

Event venues

  • Riverfront Amphitheater - Located next to the Arkansas River, the Riverfront Amphitheater represents one-third of the River Park Complex.
  • Fort Smith Convention Center, with 140,000 square feet of space, is one of the largest convention centers in the region, second only to Little Rock's Statehouse Convention Center, with 225,000 square feet. Fort Smith Convention Center has more than 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of exhibition space. Many trade shows, conventions, and other events are held here each year. The performing arts theater is home to the Fort Smith Symphony and has seating for 1,331 people.
  • Kay Rodgers Park - site of the Expo Center, with 24,000 square feet (2,200 m2) of meeting and exhibition space, and the Harper Arena, which is a covered open-air stadium that can seat 7,000 to 14,000 attendees for a variety of events.
  • Second Street Live - This Performing and Visual Arts Center has an intimate 250-seat theater and 1,500 square feet (100 m2) Art Gallery.


Fort Smith is the main shopping destination of Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. Central Mall is the state's largest indoor shopping center in terms of area. Retailers in the city include Dillard's, J. C. Penney, Sears, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, The Home Depot, Lowe's, and Kohl's. Several smaller and niche retailers also can be found throughout the city as well.

Some notable shopping locations in the city of Fort Smith are:

  • Rogers Avenue
    • Central Mall
    • GreenPointe Shopping Center
    • Massard Crossing
    • Stonewall Village
    • Williamsburg Square
  • Phoenix Avenue/Greenwood Ave.
    • Fort Smith Pavilion
    • Maybranch Square
    • Phoenix Center


  • Fort Smith National Historic Site, the most prominent landmark, which includes the remains of the original 1817 fort on the Arkansas River. Inside is the restored courtroom of the famed "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker, and the dingy frontier jail aptly named "Hell on the Border." Eventually, this would become the unofficial nickname for all of Fort Smith.
  • Belle Grove Historic District, a 22-block area in downtown Fort Smith comprises nearly 25 restored homes that span 130 years of varying architectural styles.
  • Fort Chaffee, primarily used as a training facility by regional National Guard and Reserve Corps units as well as active military units from other installations. In 1958, the entertainer Elvis Presley stopped off at Fort Chaffee en route to his basic training in Texas. It was here that the public information officer John J. Mawn told a news conference that Presley would receive the standard "G.I. haircut" and would resemble a "peeled onion".

Annual attractions

  • Old Fort Days Rodeo - Fort Smith's annual Old Fort Days Rodeo and Barrel-Racing Futurity offers nearly ten days of Wild West activities. It has been held every May since the mid-1930s and is now rated as one of the top all-around rodeos in the country.
  • Hanging Judge Border Feud High School Rodeo is held every March or April, schedule permitting. This event is held at Kay Rodgers Park, and includes rodeo events as well as a spring livestock show. The events are open to any high school students.
  • Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Fest, held since 1991
  • Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair - One of the largest bi-state fairs in the nation, Fort Smith's Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair occurs over a ten-day period in late September.
  • Fort Smith Airshow - sponsored by the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the Fort Smith Airshow occurs bi-annually every other spring or fall.
  • Fort Smith Juneteenth Community Festival - Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Sports and recreation

In addition to sports teams sponsored by Fort Smith Public Schools and University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Fort Smith has several independent recreational sports programs and annual tournaments administered by local organizations:

  • Fort Smith Marathon
  • Battle at the Fort Volleyball Tournament - held each January at the Fort Smith Convention Center
  • United Way Charity Golf Classic - May 2020 at Hardscrabble Country Club
  • Fort Smith Tournament of Champions - high school basketball tournament
  • Fort Smith Church League Baseball
  • Ben Geren Softball Association
  • River Valley Futbol Club
  • River Valley Cycling Club
  • Western Arkansas Pickleball Association


  • Fort Smith is named by Forbes as having the lowest cost of living in the United States.
  • Fort Smith is also ranked sixth on its list of "Cities in America for Cost of Doing Business".
  • The bathrooms at Fort Smith Regional Airport were voted as the best public restrooms in the United States in 2005.

Sister cities


Fort Smith has long been a regional manufacturing center, with major plants located in the city operated by Rheem, Trane, Georgia-Pacific, Gerber, Kraft Heinz Company-Planters Peanuts, Mars Petcare, Umarex USA, Graphic Packaging, International Paper, Pernod Ricard-USA, and many others.

Fort Smith is home to several corporations, including Baldor Electric Company, a member of the ABB Group, ArcBest Corporation, and poultry company OK Foods.

According to the city's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Baptist Health, Former (Sparks Health System) 2,400
2 Baldor Electric Company 2,393
3 OK Foods 1,800
4 Fort Smith Public Schools 1,783
5 Mercy Hospital Fort Smith 1,487
6 188th Fighter Wing 1,100
7 University of Arkansas at Fort Smith 951
8 ArcBest Corporation 936
9 City of Fort Smith 914
10 Rheem-Ruud 900


Higher education

Bell Tower (night)
Reynolds Bell Tower

The city has one major university that is part of the University of Arkansas System. The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith was founded in 1928 as an extension of the Fort Smith Public School system, with the superintendent, James William Ramsey, acting as the college president and the high school principal as dean. Known originally as Fort Smith Junior College, the institution operated within the Fort Smith public school system until 1950, when the school was incorporated as a private, nonprofit institution with its own governing board. In September 1952, the college moved from borrowed facilities in the high school to its current site, initially occupying 15 acres (6.07 ha).

In 1966, the institution's name was changed from Fort Smith Junior College to Westark Junior College and in 1972, it was renamed Westark Community College, indicating the larger area to be served and reflecting the more comprehensive mission.

The name of the college was changed yet again in February 1998 to Westark College, more accurately portraying the role and scope of the institution.

On December 15, 2000, the Board of Trustees of Westark College entered into an agreement with the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas to merge with the University of Arkansas System as a four-year institution. In 2001, the Sebastian County electorate voted to support the merger. A formal request to change affiliation status to that of a bachelor's degree-granting institution under the name of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith was submitted to the Higher Learning Commission in August 2001 and approved by the Institutional Actions Council on November 19, 2001.

The merger, which became official on January 1, 2002, endorsed the concept of UA-Fort Smith as a unique university, one that offers applied and traditional baccalaureate degree programs, one- and two-year associate and technical programs, and noncredit business and industry training programs. While the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith is the city's only state supported institution of higher learning.

In addition to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS), the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), a private, non-profit institution, welcomed its inaugural class in August 2017. Graduates of ARCOM receive a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.

Elementary and secondary education

The public schools in Fort Smith and Barling are operated by the Fort Smith School District. Currently, the district includes 26 schools. During the 2019–2020 school year, the district had an enrollment of more than 14,748 students. It has 2 high schools, 4 middle schools, 19 elementary schools, and 1 alternative learning center. Fort Smith public schools provide education from kindergarten through the 12th grade, as do some private Protestant schools. Catholic parochial schools offer education through the ninth grade.

Middle Schools in Fort Smith include Chaffin Middle School, Ramsey Middle School, Kimmons Middle School, and Darby Middle School. Private schools covering the same grade range include Trinity Catholic School, Union Christian Academy, and Northside Christian Academy.

High schools in Fort Smith include the public Northside High School and Southside High School, along with the private Union Christian Academy and Northside Christian Academy.

Fort Smith previously had a Catholic grade school for black children, St. John the Baptist School; it closed in 1968.



Fort Smith is a major transportation hub for the surrounding region. It sits at the crossroads of two major interstate highways, is surrounded on three sides by the Arkansas River, is served by 1 major and 2 regional/switching railroad companies, and is the home of a regional airport.

The city sits just southwest of the intersection of Interstate 40 and Interstate 49. Interstate 49 will extend southward to meet Interstate 30 in Texarkana, Texas. US 71 and US 64 also run through the community.

Fort Smith FSM
Fort Smith Regional Airport

Fort Smith is served by the Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM), which is used for military aviation for Fort Chaffee and home of the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, but is also served by two commercial airlines with flights to Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta.

Jefferson Lines bus service also links Fort Smith to other communities such as Little Rock, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City, as well as intermediate points, with numerous connections to other cities and towns.

The city is located on the Arkansas River, part of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System and is served by the Port of Fort Smith.

Fort Smith is served by the Kansas City Southern Railway from a branch connection on the mainline at Poteau, Oklahoma, and affords connections to other railroads at Kansas City, Missouri, and at New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition, the regional railroad company, the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad directly serves Fort Smith and provides connections through the St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis gateways to the east. The Fort Smith Railroad provides local switching service to a variety of businesses as well as providing haulage for the Union Pacific Railway with which it connects at Van Buren, Arkansas. At this time, there is no direct passenger service from Amtrak. The closest point for such service is Little Rock.

Within the city, public bus service is provided by the Fort Smith Transit (FST). As of January 2015, FST operates 6 fixed routes, as well as paratransit service for disabled persons and Demand Buses.

A trolley-replica bus operates in the downtown area, providing transportation between the Belle Grove Historic District and the Fort Smith National Historic Site. The Fort Smith Trolley Museum operates genuine trolleys, but as a historic attraction, rather than as transportation.


Fort Smith Municipal Water Plant 02
View of the coagulation and flocculation processes at the Lake Fort Smith WTP

Fort Smith uses two water treatment plants (WTPs) for its drinking water; one near Lake Fort Smith in Mountainburg and one on Lee Creek. The city announced August 12, 2021 that the Massard Water Reclamation Facility would need to undergo a $22 million upgrade to avoid failure. If failure occurs, nearly all of East Fort Smith and surrounding towns would be without wastewater treatment, causing wastewater to flow into the Arkansas River. It has had little to no upgrades since built in 1966.

Notable people

Notable figures who were born in, lived in, or are otherwise associated with Fort Smith.


  • Martine Bercher, former University of Arkansas All-American defensive back.
  • Ron Brewer, former National Basketball Association player.
  • Kodi Burns, former Auburn University quarterback, now wide receivers coach at the University of Tennessee.
  • Ravin Caldwell, former National Football League player.
  • Glen Condren, former National Football League player, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons; born in Fort Smith, 1942.
  • Harry Feldman, former Major League Baseball player.
  • Jim Files, former National Football League player.
  • Jack Fleck, professional golfer, 1955 US Open winner.
  • Ryan Franklin, pitcher for St. Louis Cardinals and Olympic gold medalist.
  • Craig Gentry, Major League Baseball player.
  • Brett Goode, Former National Football League player. Super Bowl Champion long snapper with the Green Bay Packers.
  • Neale Henderson, Negro league baseball player.
  • Priest Holmes, former National Football League player.
  • Jim King, former National Basketball Association player and NBA All-Star.
  • Jahlil Okafor, Professional basketball player, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets; born in Fort Smith, lived in nearby Moffett, Oklahoma until the age of 9.
  • Scotty Robertson, coached at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, and for four NBA teams; born in Fort Smith in 1930.

Actors, musicians, and media

  • Katharine Alexander (1898–1981), actress.
  • James Cotten, film director, actor, writer, producer.
  • Juliette Danielle, actress.
  • Charlie Jones, sportscaster.
  • Douglas C. Jones, author of historical fiction.
  • Brandon Keener, actor.
  • Jerry Keller, singer.
  • Laurence Luckinbill, actor.
  • Rudy Ray Moore, singer and actor.
  • Rossi Morreale, reality show star, actor, and television host.
  • Brad Neely, modern web artist.
  • Marty Stouffer, creator of Wild America TV series.
  • Alphonso Trent, jazz bandleader and musician.

Politicians, lawyers, and judges

  • John Boozman (born 1950), United States Senator and former United States Representative for Arkansas's 3rd congressional district; Northside High School graduate and football player for the Arkansas Razorbacks; brother of Fay Boozman.
  • Virgil Bozeman (1912–2007), Illinois state representative and lawyer
  • Charles Winchester Breedlove, Los Angeles City Council member, 1933–45, born in Fort Smith.
  • Clifton R. Breckinridge (1846–1932), a Democratic alderman, congressman, diplomat, businessman and veteran of the Confederate States of America Army and Navy.
  • William Lee Cazort (1887–1969), former Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, graduated from high school in Fort Smith.
  • W. H. H. Clayton (1840–1920), soldier, attorney, judge, justice of the Central District Court in Indian Territory; lived in Fort Smith 1873–1893, while serving under Judge Isaac Parker, before moving to McAlester, Oklahoma; buried in Fort Smith National Cemetery.
  • Mark Darr (born 1973), former Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, was born in Fort Smith.
  • Jake Files (born 1972), state senator from Fort Smith since 2011; former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • William Meade Fishback (1831–1903) was a Democratic Governor of Arkansas and selected to be a member of the United States Senate but was not allowed to serve.
  • Charlene Fite (born 1950), educator in Fort Smith and Republican state representative from Crawford and Washington counties.
  • B. G. Hendrix (1922–2020), former state representative for Fort Smith.
  • Carol Kelso (born 1945), former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly and Executive of Brown County, Wisconsin.
  • Marilyn Lloyd (1929–2018), Democratic Congresswoman from Tennessee's 3rd congressional district, 1975–1995; was born in Fort Smith
  • George E. Nowotny (born 1932), Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for Sebastian County from 1967 to 1972; resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Carolyn Pollan (born 1937), former member of Arkansas House of Representatives, longest-serving Republican and longest-serving woman member of the chamber.
  • Isaac C. Parker (1838–1896), the "Hanging Judge".
  • William L. Spicer (1918–1991), chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party from 1962 to 1964, who quarreled with Winthrop Rockefeller; owner of a chain of drive-in theaters.


  • Benjamin Bonneville (1796–1878), explorer of the American West.
  • John R. Clarke, author and Scientific Director at the United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit
  • Charles M. Cooke, Jr., World War II admiral, naval strategist, Commander of the USS Pennsylvania during the attack at Pearl Harbor.
  • William O. Darby (1911–1945), heroic World War II general.
  • Alyse Eady (born 1988), Miss Arkansas, 2011 Miss America first runner-up.
  • Jeff Gillan (born 1957), journalist
  • Ozro Thurston "O.T." Jones, Sr. (1891-1972), second Senior Bishop of the Church of God in Christ
  • Mame Stewart Josenberger (c1870-1964), businesswoman and club leader in Fort Smith
  • Bass Reeves (1838–1910), thought to be one of the first African Americans to have received a commission as a U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi River.
  • Cap Tilles (1865–1951), capitalist and philanthropist.
  • Frederick Hinde Zimmerman (1864-1924), businessman, and founder of the Grand Rapids Hotel.

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