The Saga of Tom Horn: The Story of a Cattlemen's War: with Personal Narratives, Newspaper Accounts, and Official Documents and Testimonies

The Saga of Tom Horn: The Story of a Cattlemen's War: with Personal Narratives, Newspaper Accounts, and Official Documents and Testimonies

The Saga of Tom Horn: The Story of a Cattlemen's War: with Personal Narratives, Newspaper Accounts, and Official Documents and Testimonies

The Saga of Tom Horn: The Story of a Cattlemen's War: with Personal Narratives, Newspaper Accounts, and Official Documents and Testimonies

Synopsis

An epidemic of cattle rustling in southern Wyoming in the 1890s and the desperate straits of stockmen set the stage for this saga of Tom Horn, a former Pinkerton detective, an expert hunter and dead shot, and one of the most mysterious and controversial figures in the history of the Old West. Some radicals in the powerful Wyoming Stock Growers Association turned to the man who once boasted, "Killing men in my specialty; I look to it as a business proposition, and I think I have a corner on the market." Cattle thieves were duly warned, blood was shed, and Tom Horn was implicated but never charged. Then on the morning of July 18, 1901, Willie Nickell, the fourteen-year-old son of a Wyoming sheepman, was shot. Horn's career was ended.

The arrest, trial, and execution of Tom Horn ignite fireworks in Dean Krakel's book, and a colorful cast of cattle barons and lawmen adds to the sizzle. A jury convicted Tom Horn, but his hanging did not settle the specter of guilt.

Excerpt

Today few stories are more alive, colorful and controversial than are those of Tom Horn in Wyoming. It has been approximately one-half century since the State of Wyoming took his life--yet mystery shrouds the entire affair. An atmosphere of taboo often greets the prober.

Despite numerous books, dozens of features, and hundreds of articles written about Tom Horn, some distortions, false rumors, and injustices persist. Thus this is an effort to salvage truisms from the few who knew . . . who are still living. To analyze in chronological order official records and facts of the case dating from Horn's entry into Wyoming in 1894, until the date of his execution in 1903. In his autobiography, The Life of Tom Horn, Horn covers his life prior to the former date. Authenticity has been the primary goal of presentation, as well as has been the preservation of the near profane atmosphere of this era.

The study has been bigger and more revealing than just that of one man. For in this minute of history was arrayed a pageant of personalities unassembled before--unequaled since. It involved the life and death of a way of living that revolved around a code of the range. The Horn trial set the stage, provided the cast, then the drama, and without warning, pulled the final curtain down--the new order had won its foothold.

But for Old Cheyenne it was a glimpse into her past--into her closet of skeletons. Into yesterday when she, like Dodge City and Tombstone, was a hell raiser. That was the heyday of homicide, the big herds, and tangled economics--with only a sprinkling of law and order to interfere. And so the Tom Horn case made her think, to remember and to pulsate--this was an anti-climax. Cheyenne was suddenly alive again--then she was suddenly sad . . . for the lifeless form of a man and a cherished way of life dangled at the end of a rope--both would be gone forever.

The personalities, the old range codes, and the atmosphere of Frontier Cheyenne are gone--but their spirit remains. This spirit has in part been kept alive by a rip snortn' show called Frontier Days--and memories of a hard bucking old outlaw by the name of Steamboat.

And so, the case marked the birth as well as the death of an era, for this was the Daddy of 'em All--this is The Saga of Tom Horn!

DEAN KRAKEL, Laramie, Wyoming.

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