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Birth Year : 1850
Benjamin Smith, from Harrison County, KY, enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 3, 1872 in Louisville, KY. He served with the 9th Cavalry, Company L. On August 26, 1876, Private Benjamin Smith accompanied Private James "Jimmy" Miller to a dance hall in West Las Animas, Colorado. The men were stationed at Fort Lyon, and Miller had been to the dance hall earlier that night and was insulted and forced to leave at gunpoint. The dance hall was reserved for whites on this particular night. When Miller returned with Smith, the two men fired into the dance hall from the porch and killed John Sutherland. Smith and Miller were tried in a civilian court: both were found guilty and sentenced to death. Smith's sentence was commuted to life in prison by Colorado Governor John L. Routt (1826-1907), who was born in Eddyville, KY. James "Jimmy" Miller, from Philadelphia, was hanged on February 19, 1877. It was the first execution in Colorado; statehood had been granted to the Colorado Territory on July 1, 1876. For more see "James Miller" in the Catalog of Colorado Executions website; the James Miller and the Benjamin Smith entries in On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier II, by I. Schubert and F. N. Schubert; and "How a soldier was hanged," Logansport Journal, 02/20/1877, p. 2.
Subjects: Executions, Migration West, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Harrison County, Kentucky / Las Animas, Colorado