From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Benjamin

(born: 1850) Benjamin Smith from Harrison County, KY enlisted in the U.S. Army February 3, 1872 in Louisville, KY. He served with the 9th Cavalry, Company L.

On August 26, 1876, Private Smith accompanied Private James "Jimmy" Miller to a dance hall in West Las Animas, CO. The men were stationed at Fort Lyon. 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 that 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 July 1, 1876.

For more see "James Miller" in the Catalog of Colorado Executions website; the James Miller and  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, 2/20/1877, p. 2.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harrison County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lyon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Eddyville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, Benjamin,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-19 16:02:48