Tag Archives: Hanging

Wyo Whiskers: Tom Horn

I case you missed it, today is the 110th anniversary of the death of notorious Wyoming bad boy (and wearer of a fantastic ‘stache) Tom Horn. Rather than doing a standard bio for such a well know figure, how about a few illustrated fun facts?

Tom Horn standing outside his cell in the Laramie County Jail. (WSA Wagner Neg 30A)

Tom Horn standing outside his cell in the Laramie County Jail.
(WSA Wagner Neg 30A)

Did you know….

1. Horn wrote an autobiography called A Vindication: Life of Tom Horn while in jail? The book was posthumously published by John C. Coble.

The cover of Horn's autobiography.

The cover of Horn’s autobiography.

2. Horn served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War?

3. There is an (incorrect) rumor that Horn shot Steamboat, the legendary bucking horse? The story goes that the old horse was so well loved that when the time came to put him down, no one had the heart to shoot him. So they dragged Horn, the most cold-hearted man they could find, out of jail and made him do it. There are clearly a couple of big holes in this story, but the largest may be the dates. Horn died in 1903, a full 11 years before Steamboat’s demise in 1914.

Colored postcard showing "Steamboat" the bucking horse in action (WSA P90-28)

Colored postcard showing “Steamboat” the bucking horse in action
(WSA P90-28)

4. Horn’s trial is one of the few from that time period in Wyoming where the trial transcript was preserved? The nearly 1 cubic foot of material is available at the Archives.

A page from the testimony of John M. Bray from Horn's trial transcript.

A page from the testimony of John M. Bray from Horn’s trial transcript.

5. Horn had a talent for braiding horsehair? He was well known for this skill and many examples of his work can be seen in museum collections.

Tom Horn braiding rope in Sheriff Smalley's office (WSA Sub Neg 2089)

Tom Horn braiding rope in Sheriff Smalley’s office
(WSA Sub Neg 2089)

6. The gallows upon which Horn was hanged was designed so that the convict would hang himself?

The Julien Gallows set up at the State Penitentiary in Rawlins (WSA Sub Neg 9136)

The Julien Gallows set up at the State Penitentiary in Rawlins
(WSA Sub Neg 9136)

7. The 3rd Territorial Legislative Assembly met in the same building where Horn was hung? When the 3rd Territorial Legislature convened in 1873, the Capitol Building had not yet been built. The 9 councilmen and 13 representatives met in the newly constructed Laramie County Courthouse. This original building has since been razed, but the current Laramie County Courthouse Complex sits on the same block.

The original Laramie County Courthouse at 19th and Carey. (WSA sub Neg 8737)

The original Laramie County Courthouse at 19th and Carey.
(WSA sub Neg 8737)

8. Horn escaped from jail? He was recaptured before he got too far and was escorted back to jail by a large crowd.

Escorting Tom Horn back to jail after his recapture (WSA Meyers Neg 625)

Escorting Tom Horn back to jail after his recapture
(WSA Meyers Neg 625)

9. There was a black man on Horn’s jury? His name was Charles Tolson.

Tom Horn's jury  (WSA Sub Neg 15339)

Tom Horn’s jury. Charles Tolson is second from the right in the front row.
(WSA Sub Neg 15339)

10. Steve McQueen, who portrayed Horn in the 1980 movie , Tom Horn, was married in Cheyenne? McQueen claimed that he chose the location because he liked the way Cheyenne looked as the location for the news stories.

Local news coverage of Steve McQueen's marriage in 1973.

Local news coverage of Steve McQueen’s marriage in 1973.

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