I know more about Tom Horn than I want to admit. I even have the trial transcripts from his murder trial that was held in 1902. Also, back in 1985, I visited his grave on a couple of occasions at the 9th Street Cemetery in Boulder, CO.
To say he was an “interesting” fella is an understatement. My Horn family historians (my dad’s name was also Tom) always stood by the belief/legend that the Tom Horn that was hanged in Cheyenne in 1903 was my grandfather’s half-brother. I started studying genealogy and most specifically my Horn family history in 1978. Delta had transferred me to Denver, and a big part of my responsibilities was in selling the attributes of flying Delta to the many divisions and departments of the Church of Latter Day Saints. On some of my trips to Salt Lake City, I would take the time to use one of the many LDS genealogy libraries (each Ward had it’s own library). Later on, I found the LDS Ward in Louisville, CO, which was about 1/2 mile from my house. I would sometimes have to wait a few days for the main library in SLC to send reference material to Louisville, but I could always use anything they had in their files. Needless to say, this type of research is much easier nowadays with the internet. Anyway, my studies showed our previously determined family studies were wrong. I found that my Arkansas grandfather, Joseph Robert Horn, was a first cousin to Tom Horn from Scotland County, Missouri. My dad was a “spittin’ image” to Tom Horn. Matter of fact, the picture of Tom Horn sitting in front of the cell braiding the horsehair rope that would eventually break his neck looks just like my dad in his mid twenties.
Tom, while working as a freighter on the Santa Fe Trail, lived part time with the Apache. During this time, he learned quite a bit about the Apache culture and language. Later on, this helped him in getting a job working for General Crook as an interpreter. Legend says he helped bring in Geronimo, but I think those claims were exaggerated. No doubt, he worked on the “project” of bring in the Apache chief. Tom also served as a Pinkerton detective, and obviously fit right in with this group. Since many of the Pinkertons used questionable methods of bringing in their quarry, his skills as a back shooter were most appreciated by his colleagues. These are also the skills that caught the eye of John Coble who was then serving as a member of the Wyoming Cattleman’s Association.
Coble’s obituary reads, “He hired Tom Horn as a ‘Cattle Detective’ to help stop cattle rustlers. Coble paid John W. Lacey $100,000 for Tom Horn’s defense. After horn was hanged, Coble’s wealth dwindled. In December, 1914 he shot himself in the lobby of a hotel in Elko, Nevada.” A sad ending for someone I believe to have been a good man. Tom, on the other hand, was not such a good man. In my view, Tom Horn’s hanging was justified. Interestingly, in the mid 1990’s he was tried again in a mock trial during the Tom Horn Kick ‘n Growl festivities in Cheyenne, Wyoming and was found innocent. In my view, he may have been innocent of murdering young Willie Nickels, but he was most certainly guilty of murdering many others during his tenure as a “Cattle Detective.”
Just my opinions,
YES TOM HORN OF NACONA, TEXAS WAS A DELTA AIRLINES MAN.
THE NAME GOES DOWN IN HISTORY AS WELL AS A MOVIE WAS MADE CALLED “TOM HORN”
A ALL TIME WESTERN A FAVORITE OF MINE. ITS STAR ACTOR WAS STEVE MCQUEEN.
NOW TO GET TO A STORY OF THE OLD WEST.
I HAD A CHANCE ONCE WHEN A TEENAGER TO TAKE ON A SUMMER JOB ON A SHEEP RANCH IN SOUTH DAKATO. SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE. IN THE MOUNTAIN STATES OF IDAHO, MONTONA AND WYOMING YOU CAN STILL FIND THE SHEEP HERDERS COVERED WAGON. NO ELECTRICITY OR RUNNING WATER. JUST A MAN, HIS SHEEP DOG, AND RIFLE. THE LAST ONE FOR BEARS AND MOUNTAIN LIONS WHICH PREY THE WILDERNESS.
THE OLD DAYS MOST OF THEM CAME FROM THE OLD COUNTRY WHERE THE BASQUE PEOPLE LIVED IN ITALY. A TRADITION THAT WAS BROUGHT TO AMERICA FROM OUR IMIGRANTS.
THE SHEEP HERDERS COVERED WAGON, THE ONE ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE AND THE WINDMILLS CAN STILL BE FOUND. I FOR ONE HOPE THEY NEVER LEAVE BUT MUST SAY THEY ARE A DYING ICON.