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Early life[ edit ] Thomas Horn, Jr. The family owned acres bisected by the South Wyaconda River between the towns of Granger and Etna. Tom was the fifth of twelve children. The dog was tragically killed when the young Tom got into a fight with two boys, who beat Tom and killed the dog with a shotgun. Cavalry as a civilian scout, packer and interpreter under Al Sieber during the Apache Wars. Horn did a great job in his work for the army, and soon rose through the ranks. In one instance, as the army was crossing Cibecue Creek, they were ambushed by Apaches warriors positioned on high ground.
Desperate, Sieber ordered Horn and another scout, Mickey Free , to break away and return fire from a hill. Together with the soldiers, the men managed to repel the attack. Morgan slipped through the banks opposite the Apache line and provided covering fire for the cavalry, as well as killing a number of Apache warriors. His ranch consisted of cattle and 26 horses, and he also laid claim in the Deer Creek Mining District near the canyon.
Unfortunately, it was short-lived, as cattle thieves stormed his ranch one night and stole all his stock, leaving a tremendous loss and bankruptcy for Horn. In his line of work, Horn developed his own means to fight cattle rustling , which he described: I had more faith in getting the calf than in courts.
I saw him ride by. All he wanted was to be seen, as his reputation was so great that his presence in a community had the desired effect. Within a week three settlers in the neighborhood sold their holdings and moved out.
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That was the end of cattle rustling on the North Laramie. Historians have not established which side he worked for, and both sides suffered several killings for which no known suspects were ever identified.
As a deputy sheriff, Horn drew the attention of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency due to his tracking abilities. Hired by the agency in late or early , he handled investigations in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming and in other western states, working out of the Denver office. He became known for his calm under pressure and his ability to track down anyone assigned to him. In one case, Horn and another agent, C. They tracked them all the way to the home of a man named Wolfe, said to be in either Washita or Pauls Valley , Oklahoma , along the Washita River.
In his report on that arrest, Horn stated in part "Watson, was considered by everyone in Colorado as a very desperate character. I had no trouble with him. He is alleged to have been involved in the killing of Nate Champion and Nick Ray on April 9, , and was a prime suspect for the assassinations of ranchers John A. In his memoir, Two Evil Isms: Pinkerton told me that Tom Horn was guilty of the crime, but that his people could not allow him to go to prison while in their employ.
Horn was exonerated for that crime and for the murder of Fred Powell six weeks later. William was killed by an unknown assailant in , and his associate Robert Christian disappeared the same year. Although his official title was "Range Detective", Horn essentially served as a killer-for-hire. By the mids, the cattle business in Wyoming and Colorado was changing due to the arrival of homesteaders and new ranchers.
By doing so they decreased the availability of water for the herds of the larger cattle barons. Violent gunfights such as the bloody shootout that resulted in the death of nine trappers in Big Dry Creek , as well as the lynching and burning of homesteaders Luther M. Mitchell and Ami W. Ketchum, precipitated the Colorado Range War. Rash, however, defiantly stayed and continued working on his ranch. The dying Rash unsuccessfully tried to write the name of his killer, but no trace was left of the murder.
Only the accounts and rumors from various people point to Horn as the one responsible.
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Rash was supposed to be married to a nearby rancher, Ann Bassett , and the woman accused "Hicks" of being the murderer. Around the same time, Horn also suspected another cowboy named Isom Dart of rustling.
The gang, which had rustled cattle in the Saratoga area, had been wiped out in a gun battle. Dart also had three indictments returned against him in Sweetwater County. The assassin was said to have set up a sniping position under the cover of a pine tree, overlooking the cabin from a hill. As Dart and his friends came out of the cabin, Horn shot him in the chest from a distance.
Prior to the assassination, Horn had instructed a rancher named Robert Hudler to ready a horse miles from the murder scene for his getaway. Working for the government[ edit ] During the Wilcox train robbery investigation, Horn obtained information from Bill Speck that revealed which of the robbers had killed Sheriff Josiah Hazen during their escape.
Horn passed this information on to Charlie Siringo , who was working the case for the Pinkertons. Horn personally witnessed the bravery of the famous Rough Riders and colored regiments , the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries, during their assault on San Juan Hill , as well as the humiliating rout of American soldiers under Brig. Although the packers were non-combatants, they were still prone to attack by Cuban rebels. Horn considered himself lucky to have lost no tracker during the war, although Horn recalled that he and his men were under constant fire as they delivered rations and ammunition to the soldiers.
At one point he was bedridden and was deemed unfit for combat. Upon recovering, he returned to Wyoming. Shortly after his return, Horn began working for wealthy cattle baron John C. They were cattle ranchers. Jim Miller was no relation to the Texas outlaw Jim Miller. Kimmell, the young teacher at the Iron Mountain School. Kimmell was supported by both the large Miller and Kels Nickell families, and she boarded with the Millers. Horn entertained her with accounts of his adventures. That day he and males of the Miller family went fishing; he and Victor Miller, a son about his age, also practiced shooting, both of them with.
Some 60—80 of his sheep were found "shot or clubbed to death. They were jailed on August 7 and released the following day on bond. Horn was still inebriated from the night before, but Lefors gained what he called a confession to the murder of Willie Nickell. Horn allegedly confessed to killing the young Willie with his rifle from yards, which he boasted as the "best shot that [he] ever made and the dirtiest trick that [he] ever done.
Walter Stoll was the Laramie County Prosecutor in the case. Scott, who presided over the case, was running for re-election. He gathered a team for the defense headed by former Judge John W.
Lacey and which included attorneys T. Reportedly, Coble paid for most of the costs of this large team. According to Johan P. Bakker, who wrote Tracking Tom Horn, the large cattle interests by this time found Horn "expendable" and the case provided a way to silence him in regard to their activities.
The Rocky Mountain News noted the carnival atmosphere and great interest from the public for a conviction. The prosecution introduced testimony by at least two witnesses, including Lefors, as well as circumstantial evidence ; these elements only placed Horn in the general vicinity of the crime scene.
During the trial, Victor Miller testified that he and Horn both had. She had resigned from the school in October and left the area, but was in communication with people in the case. It contained little about the case. Accounts of its contents appeared in the press, but the original document has since disappeared.
Horn was initially given an execution date of November 20, Execution[ edit ] Tom Horn was one of the few people in the "Wild West" to have been hanged by a water-powered gallows, known as the "Julian Gallows". Julian, a Cheyenne, Wyoming architect, designed the contraption in The trap door was connected to a lever which pulled the plug out of a barrel of water. This would cause a lever with a counterweight to rise, pulling on the support beam under the gallows.
When enough pressure was applied, the beam broke free, opening the trap and hanging the condemned man. Horn was hanged in Cheyenne. At that time, Horn never gave up the names of those who had hired him during the feud.
Historians including Chip Carlson believe he did not, while others such as Dean Fenton Krakel believe that he did, but had not realized he was shooting a boy. Tom Horn trial, concluded that although Horn could have committed the murder of Willie Nickell, he probably did not. Blood on the Moon , there was no physical evidence that Horn had committed the murder. In addition, he was last seen in the area the day before it occurred, and the conditions of his alleged confession made it without value as evidence.
Carlson believed the prosecution made no efforts to investigate other possible suspects, including Victor Miller. Carlson described Horn in the trial as "his own worst enemy. The more he talked, the tighter the noose" became.
Walter Coy appeared in the episode as Sam Clayton. Horn was a made-for-TV movie starring David Carradine.
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