Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Hanging of Tom Horn, 1903

Dear Friends

Since many of you have asked for my research on Tom Horn, here it is. So now, put a pot of coffee on and find yourself a place where the children can't hear you cussing me out.

I'll start by saying that America's Western Frontier was officially declared closed by the United States Government in 1890. And yes, there are some Old West Historians who argue that the Old West, the nation’s "final" frontier where law and order was often a home-spun enterprise, died when Tom Horn was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming on November 20th, 1903.

Tom Horn was sentenced to death for the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy. Some Tom Horn fans have written to say, "Well the boy was big for his age" -- as if that makes a premeditated murder, an ambush, OK somehow. Well, it doesn't.

At the time, Horn was working as a paid assassin for the local cattle-barons attempting to enforce their control of the open range of southeastern Wyoming against the growing number of rustlers and sheep headers in the area.

On the Western frontier where Tom Horn's gun was for hire, he gave his cattle-baron employers full measure of what they paid for. And yes, it is said that he took their deadly secrets with him into eternity.

As for his supposedly adoring young schoolteacher ladyfriend, Glendolene Myrtle Kimmel, she described him, "He was a man who embodied the characteristics, the experiences and code of the old frontiersmen." And yes, she added to the myth.

Horn was born near Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri, November 21, 1860. His father was a prosperous farmer, his mother, as he recalled her, "was a powerful woman ... a good old fashioned Campbellite."

In 1876, he was sixteen when he left home after a "disagreement" with his father. Like others who floated from job to job working their way West, he worked on the railroad in Kansas, then joined a team of freighters heading to Santa Fe.

His next job was driving a stage for the Overland Mail from Santa Fe to Prescott, Arizona. It's said that his first contact with the Apache was near Camp Verde where he worked as a cowboy riding night herd.

An Army Scout

The extent of Horn's experiences in the West was like many others in that he floated from job to job. He was known for having the job of being a stagecoach driver and cowboy was not out of the ordinary for someone to do for work in those days.

What supposedly made Horn extraordinary was his claim of being an Indian scout and interpreter, and his being one of the men involved with capturing the Apache Chief Nana. Fact is, Horn was quite the bragger and was well known for his tall tales. One in particular which grew legs later was his claim that he persuaded Geronimo to surrender. But yes, he was a scout for a time before becoming a hired killer who would boast "my stock in trade is killing."

When he left the Army after less than a year, like most all of the white Army scouts, fact is all he could speak was what was termed "border" Spanish. No, he was never "fluent" in Apache. And frankly, he was never fluent enough in the Spanish the Apache spoke to talk to Geronimo in a conversation.

According to Horn, at eighteen he was employed by the quartermaster's department to herd horses for the Army posts. And there at Fort Whipple, Horn met the famous Indian scout Al Sieber who immediately hired him as a scout.

Supposedly joined him as Mexican interpreter at San Carlos for $75 a month. According to Horn, it was there that he also met Mickey Free, the celebrated one-eyed Apache-Mexican scout, who became a close friend.

Later, Sieber appointed Horn as a liaison scout between the Apache and the Army at San Carlos and Fort Apache. It was during that time that he supposedly met Apache Chief Geronimo.

True West Magazine stated that Horn told readers in his biography, which was published just before he was hanged, that Al Sieber hired him as an assistant in 1876, and that Horn immediately became a scout.

Just for the record, I see Tom Horn as much a psychopath as John Wesley Hardin was. And while I do not but any credence in the word of a psychopath, I put no credence in Hardin's biography the same as I put no credence in Horn's biography. And frankly, it always surprises me when historian observe anything coming from the likes of killers like Horn or Hardin. Since they have absolutely no compunction to lying, cheating, or killing the unsuspected or the innocent for a dollar, why would anyone believe anything they have to say?

Besides the source being faulty, the problem with Horn's statements is that it doesn't coincide with records. For example, records show that Horn did not arrive in Arizona Territory until 1881. Army quartermaster records indicate Horn was first employed in September 1881 as a teamster at Whipple Barracks, near Prescott. He soon moved on to the pack train service and remained there until 1885, when the Army began using him as a scout.

It was in the fall of 1885 that he become a chief of scouts, a position he held until October 1886 -- about a year. Point is, no, he was never an Apache interpreter.

Horn loved to tell tall tales and told folks that Geronimo himself insisted that only Horn serve as his interpreter.

While Horn was present in the final pursuit of Geronimo in the summer of 1886, he was never Geronimo’s interpreter. This is especially true for the formal surrender in Arizona in September 1886.

Horn was part of the unit that escorted Geronimo to the train at Bowie Station that transported the captives into exile in Florida, but he was one among many others. When a Indian Bureau scandal shook Washington that year, all civilians were banned from the Indian agencies and the Army scouts lost their jobs.

According to Horn's autobiography, and yes it is a piece of work that should be taken with a lot of salt considering it was widely known that Horn enjoyed telling some very tall tales, he said that he and Sieber joined Ed Scheflin and watched the birth of Tombstone. Horn said that while Sieber worked a claim they had staked out, Horn supplied the camps with venison at $2.80 a deer.

Horn said that in October they were recalled to Fort Whipple to join the Sixth Cavalry as scouts. After he and Sieber helped to bring in Geronimo for the first time, they were again fired in the spring of 1879 when federal appropriations ran out.

For a year, Horn worked for Tuly, Oches & Company in Tucson, supplying beef for the Apache at San Carlos. And yes, once again civilians were issuing the rations and corruption was rampant. As Horn recalled, one agent when arrested could not account for $54,000 in food and clothing he had received between six and eight months at San Carlos. but frankly, no one has verified this to be true.

When the Apache war had begun, Horn said that he first served under Colonel Forsyth, hero of Beecher's Island battle, then as a scout when Captain Adam R. Chaffee's troopers of the Third and Sixth Cavalry met the Apache at Chevelon's Fork on the Little Colorado River. The Apache had lost a number of warriors and withdrew to be pursued by Chaffee until they agreed to return to the agency.

In the summer of 1886, Geronimo led a large number of warriors into Mexico. General George Crook ordered Captain Emmett Crawford, one of the finest young officers in the Indian Fighting Army, to track down the wily chief -- Horn, as chief scout, accompanied the expedition.

Under a new treaty allowing American troops to move into Mexico to seek out runaway Apache bands, the tiny army crossed the border and continued on into the Sierra Madre. On the Aros River, Horn and his scouts found the Apache chief's camp. While they engaged the hostiles, they were attacked by Mexican irregulars and Crawford was killed.

It's said that it was his time as a scout with the U.S. Cavalry where he perfected his skills with firearms and tracking. For many years, especially after Horn had been executed for killing a child, the US Army refused to credit him for the part he had played during the Apache campaign. They had no desire to give credit to a child killer.

After Horn's autobiography was published, an autobiography which was finished a short time before he died on the gallows, Army officers contemptuously dismissed him as a braggart. In the section of his autobiography that describes the Apache wars, Horn is said to brag about his bravery and courage. Of course, if he was truly brave or courageous, why would he later become a killer for hire whose specialty was killing at a distance with a rifle?

By 1887, Tom Horn was out of the Army and a participant in in the Arizona Territory’s Pleasant Valley War, a feud between the Grahams and the Tewksburys that began in 1882 and lasted over ten years.

Just three weeks after the Pleasant Valley War began, 1890, Horn was in the employ of the Pinkerton Detective Agency as a tracker tasked with tracking and finding various suspected lawbreakers. In reality, Pinkerton didn't use his services but a few times.

Horn's biography reads: "While Pinkerton's is one of the greatest institutions of the kind in existence, I never did like the work, so I left them in 1894. I then came to Wyoming and went to work for the Swan Land and Cattle Company."

A Hired Gun Or Hired Killer?

Horn became one of the many hired guns for the large cattle owners some time after being let go by Pinkerton after the Johnson County War. Horn had been in Wyoming and the Brown’s Park area years before that, 1894 according to his autobiography which is really only half true at best. But many historians who have studied Tom Horn believe that he was in that area as early as 1892, already working for the big cattle interests with other gunman while doing on-and-off work for the Pinkertons.

It appears he alternated working between Arizona and Wyoming when weather conditions and the pay were suitable. During the period following Wyoming's Johnson County War, more people became aware that most of the cattle barons were from the East or Foreigners.

In many cases they were from big Eastern corporations as managers. They became tired of seeing settlers and sheep move in. And of course, they were tired of seeing "rustlers" take their cattle. Then again, to the big cattle men at the time, whether they were settlers or sheep-men or thieves didn't matter. To them, they were all "rustlers".  And their solution, well that was to hire men willing to commit murder to protect their herds.

The movies makes it sound as if Tom Horn was one of a kind, but in reality Horn was one of many so-called "Stock Detectives" in the Wyoming territory alone. We forget that even fired Texas Ranger Bass Outlaw was a "Stock Detective" before murdering another Texas Ranger.

Most of them captured rustlers and brought them in to face the law, Horn was a bushwhacker in that he shot his suspects from a distance and left his victims face down dead on their land or even on their doorsteps. His specialty was killing from a distance, and definitely not face to face or in public.

It is said that people feared the sight of a solitary man on horseback outlined on a ridge-line or sitting beside a campfire. Tom Horn was the Wyoming boogieman to many at the time.

Bounties on the heads of sheep ranchers, settlers, and cattle rustlers usually paid anywhere from $300 to $600 a man. That was big money during a time when a working cowboy made $30 a month. Horn was known to collect and satisfy his employers. And yes, in the eyes of the cattle barons, the term "rustlers" did not always mean cow thieves. Some were homesteaders who refused to leave the free range, had staked out water as part of their claim and were stubbornly willing to fight it out.

Horn stalked them until there would be a solitary shot and his victim's body would be found by his children, wife, or friends. Some historians have said Horn placed a small stone under his victim's head as his trademark, but this appears to me to be a legend of sorts.

Horn worked for some of the wealthiest and most powerful cattlemen in the West including in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming. And yes, he would roam the countryside prowling the valleys and isolated canyons, searching for signs that a rustler had used a running iron to change a brand.

While killing mostly unarmed men and scaring others was lucrative, Horn had become a drifter on the high plains. He moved from spread to spread and had only transient friends and saloon admirers who crowded around him to hear his boasting and tall tales while accept his drinks that he bought with his blood money.

In Brown's Hole, once Butch Cassidy's headquarters, Horn killed "Nigger Isam" Dart and Matt Rash. They were two suspected rustlers.

In the early summer of the year 1900, Matt Rash found one of Horn's famous notes tacked to his door. It was a warning to both him and Isam Dart to quit their rustling and leave the country or else.

Matt thought it was big talk, a bluff, and decided stick it out. He was shot twice as he ate breakfast on the morning of July 8th. He had just enough life left in him to crawl to his bed, remove one of his boots, and attempt to leave a note scrawled in his own blood.

Isam Dart, a sometimes partner of Rash, was an emancipated slave. He was a freed slave who until the Civil War carried the name of Huddleston who was his slave owner.

Dart received his note from Horn on September 26th, 1900. At dawn on a cold October morning, Isam Dart died of a single gunshot wound to the head as he stepped out of his cabin heading towards the corral.

Horn lived with wealthy cattle baron John Coble north of Laramie, Wyoming, since about 1894. John Coble was the son of a wealthy Pennsylvania family. He was in fact an Easterner who had gone West rather than accept an appointment at the United States Naval Academy. Coble is said to have been like most Easterners who romanticized about the West after reading Dime Novels. He believed the myth and accepted the fraud as fact.

John Coble had established the Frontier Land & Cattle Company with young Irish nobleman Sir Horace Plunkett, only to be wiped out in the bitter winter of 1886-1887. Sir Horace returned to Ireland and a brilliant political career while Coble moved to Iron Mountain, Wyoming, where he established a ranch.

Coble viewed Horn as a link to the days of the frontier. Remember, these were the days of Wild West Shows and the romantic notions of the West. A lot of people were making a lot of money romanticizing about the West that was never as they portrayed it.

Horn is said to have accommodated Coble by playing the role of the intrepid Indian fighter while entertaining Coble and his guests at the Cheyenne Club. Horn was the "Forest Gump" of his time as he told tales supposedly placing him at just about every historic event in the Old West in the 1800s.

Yes, according to Horn, he moved the herds up the Chisholm Trail, stalked the Apache, settled Tombstone, and tamed the West almost all by himself before breakfast.

While living with Coble, Horn began to search out "rustlers" and others of annoyance to Coble. This was the reason Horn met the Millers, a homesteading family, and the strange little schoolteacher who boarded with them.

The schoolmarm Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell is said to have been born in Hawaii, but supposedly arrived in Wyoming in July of 1901 by way of Hannibal Missouri -- if that makes any sense at all. By way of San Francisco maybe, but by way of Missouri is certainly taking the long way to get to Wyoming.

Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell is said to have been a round-faced girl who some thought was Chinese because she reportedly looked Asian. She supposedly had a deep desire to see the Wild West with its gallant frontiersmen about whom she had read so much about.

By her own statement in the supplementary articles to Horn’s autobiography, she had come West because she was "strongly attracted by the frontier type."

Miller's sons were said to be a disappointment to her. But the "legend" Tom Horn fulfilled her dreams with all sorts of tales. As she later wrote, "he was the true embodiment of the romantic man of the West, tall, lean, hawk-eyed with an air of danger about him."

It's said that she was good for Horn's ego and bankroll, as he basked in her admiration and hero worship. While being the object of her admiration, Horn also learned of the feud between the Millers and their neighbor -- the homesteader Kels P. Nickell.

As with other places in the West, feuds over land had been going on in an out of court for a long time. Miller and Nickell had been in and out of court, and once they had such an angry confrontation. That was when Nickell is said to have actually tried to slash Coble with a knife.

Then when Nickell brought in sheep, the cattle country rose against him. But that didn't matter to the fiercely stubborn Kentuckian Nickell who defied his neighbors and stood guard over his flock armed with a shotgun.

Child Killer?

On the very early morning of July 18th, Kels Nickell's 14 year old son Willie went out to saddle up and stay overnight with his father at the sheep camp. His mother waved good-bye and went back into the house. Shortly after two shots rang out.

It was later that morning when the two younger Nickell boys found the body of their brother at the corral gate. Apparently he had been knocked from his saddle with one shot, then as he weakly tried to run toward the house he was shot a second time. Mrs Nickell later testified that she did not hear them and remained in the house.

Yes, it's true that Horn had a real aversion to killing people in public. During his life he may have shot and killed at least four men that can be confirmed. So yes, the story that he killed as many as 15 to 20 is all just myth most likely made up by Horn himself. As with others who were hired to do such things, a great reputation served them well.

It is interesting to note that Horn's contemporaries never regarded him as a "gun man" or "man killer" or a "shootist." Because of his reputation shooting his victims from ambush, he was considered a "bushwhacker."

Horn liked to brag about his marksmanship, but realistically t is believed that his shots were always less than 100 yards. Some say 50 yards. The distance of the his rifle shots must not have been very far because he was known to walk over to his victim's body to examine the body. He was known to shot from fairly close hiding position.

Kels Nickell's 14 year old son Willie was shot as he was closing a gate at his father's ranch. It is believed that the boy tried to run but staggered or crawled approximately 60 to 70 yards up the road towards home before dying from a second shot. Willie Nickell died of two rather nasty gunshot wounds to the torso.

Willie was wearing his father's hat, coat and was riding a big bay horse belonging to his father. When his body was found, he had been rolled over on his back and his shirt opened so whoever killed the boy inspected the exit wounds.

Later at Horn’s trial two physicians with military experience testified about the wounds. One said the wounds were from soft-nosed .30-30 rounds, the other said they were inflicted by .45-90 rounds.

Willie’s head was found to be lying upon a flat rock. Settlers who knew of Horn's MO, his "modus operandi," and his reputation named him as the killer. But Horn produced an alibi saying that he was on a train between Laramie and Cheyenne on the day Willie was killed. No one could confirm he was on that train.

Victor Miller was also a suspect but schoolmarm Glendolene Kimmell, the schoolteacher, testified at a coroner's jury that he was at home when the shooting took place. It was also believed that Victor Miller and Glendolene Kimmell were romantically involved.

John Coble was a friend with Jim Miller who was also feuding with Nickell. It is believed that Horn sent Nickell a message for Miller and Coble by killing his son Willie.

The killing of a boy set the people on fire. Soon the county offered a reward of $500 and reward posters appeared, then state of Wyoming matched the county's reward offer of $500 and reward posters appeared on fence posts and telegraph poles.

Willie's father is also shot!

Something that is never talked about, and the movie Tom Horn conveniently left out, is the fact that just a few days after his son Willie was shot on July 18th, on July 23rd, his father Kels Nickell got into a fight with John Coble and Coble’s foreman, George Cross, at the Western edge of Nickell’s homestead over some cattle. 

During the two on one fight, Kels Nickell is said to have actually knifed John Coble in the abdomen. This was a wound that was said to be serious but not life threatening. Although that doesn't make any sense since any wound at the time was fairly life threatening because of infection.

Then on August 4th, Kels Nickell was shot and wounded from ambush, the bullets shattering his arm. Riders near by scared away the would be killer. Later as he lay in the hospital, Kels Nickell learns that a number of masked men had clubbed many of his sheep to death. 

Some say that Horn sent Kels Nckell a message by killing his son, but that message did not work. So on August 4th, Horn is said to have ambushed and shoot Kels Nickell. It was only after that ambush that Kels Nickell moved on. And yes, it is believed that Tom Horn took credit for shooting Kels Nickell and forcing him to move on.

Remember, he was quite the bragger. Besides, he certainly could have done it because Horn was still free to do so. Remember, when Kels Nickell was shot, Horn had not been arrested yet. He was not arrest for killing the Nickell's boy until the following year.

Joe LeFors' Investigation

While we think that the interest in the killing of a boy would not die away, believe it or not, it's said that the interest in the murder of Willie Nickell gradually died away. And frankly, while the movie Tom Horn was not favorable to him, if it weren't for Joe LeFors -- the murder of Willie Nickell would have been forgotten.

While the movie shows LeFors to be a corrupt cop bought off by the cattle barons, that wasn't the case with Joe Lefors. Fact is Joe LeFors, who was the Deputy United States Marshal in Cheyenne. He didn't let the murder of a young boy go without attention. It is said that he doggedly continued to investigate the boy's murder even after some told him that he would be putting his own life in danger doing so. 

After he had interviewed the Millers, while in Denver on a shopping spree, Miss Kimmell wrote a long letter to Horn to warn him that LeFors was asking questions about him. Some believe this was an attempt to get Horn to leave the area. Instead, Horn ignored the letter and continued to make his nightly tour of the saloons.

Horn who had not been in Cheyenne for years discovered the city was no longer a large cow camp where a cowboy with money was king. The night was lighted with electric signs, the wooden sidewalks were gone along with the old fashioned stores and their false fronts. It was a modern city. 

To the supposedly adoring Ms Kimmell, Tom Horn in his high-heeled boots and sombrero, was a living legend -- but to some of the people the city of Cheyenne, Horn was see as a living anachronism. Yes, seen as something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time period -- something or person that belongs to an earlier time.

It's said that when Horn was sober, he was a delightful companion who held the attention of a crowd with an endless storehouse of anecdotes and fanciful stories about the frontier. But when drunk, he was a violent and unpredictable killer. And since Horn was 6’1” and weighed in at 204 lbs, he was very capable of being very violent without a gun.

Drunk or sober, Tom Horn liked the sound of his own voice and talked a great deal to prove it. Of course, if you listened well, you'd soon find that Horn placed himself at every historic event in the West even if they took place before he was born. But for many at the time, Horn's reputation, whether inflated or not, was a link to the frontier that was fast becoming a romantic memory.

It's said that when Horn walked into a saloon, he was quickly joined by admirers who were always ready to buy him drinks and listen to tales of his supposed bravery and courage. It is known that on a few occasions Horn let his mouth write checks that his ass couldn't cash -- and did in fact get the stuffing knocked out of him.

One such brawl took place in the first week of October 1901 in a Denver Colorado bar brawl. The outcome of that brawl wasn't one that Horn wanted to brag about. He actually got his jaw broken and was laid up for nearly twenty days in a St. Luke’s Hospital.

No, the fight wasn't with the legendary boxing champion Jim Corbett as in the movie Tom Horn. Fact is, he never met the legendary boxer Gentleman Jim Corbett.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Joseph S. LeFors, in his autobiography, states he was first introduced to Tom Horn by Cheyenne police chief Sandy McMcNeil in Frank Meanea’s saddle shop. Horn was buying a scabbard for his Winchester and he and LeFors talked about guns. But there is a good chance that they may have had first met in the early 1890s when Horn was employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

Marshal LeFors was in Laramie gathering information regarding the day of the Nickell murder when Horn had arrived in Laramie "on a steamy shaken horse" that had obviously been ridden hard. Horn had left a bloodstained sweater at a cobbler's shop.

The marshal set a trap for Horn. On the pretext that a rancher-friend in Montana wanted a good "Stock Detective". According to the movie Tom Horn, Lefors found Horn drinking heavily in a boasting mood as usual. Supposedly between chews of tobacco, the cattleman's hired killer told how he had been paid "twenty-one hundred dollars for killing three men and shooting five times at another." 

He also calmly told LeFors how he shot the Nickell boy at "three hundred yards" and called it "the dirtiest trick I have ever done ... killing is my specialty ... I look on it as a business ..."

Behind the door of LeFors's office were Deputy Sheriff Leslie Snow and Charles Ohnhatus who was the district court stenographer. Charles Ohnhatus was not some amateur at taking statement, he actually recorded everything Horn told LeFors just as if Horn were sitting in court. And yes, LeFors let the drunk "Talking Boy" brag all he wanted.

After Horn left, Deputy US Marshal LeFors swore out a warrant for murder and Horn was arrested in the lobby of the Inter-Ocean Hotel.

According to court records, Deputy U.S. Marshal LeFors acknowledged in direct examination from Walter Stoll that his conversation with Tom Horn had occurred in the morning, starting around 11 o’clock, and that it had "perhaps" continued in the early afternoon. LeFors also stated that Horn’s condition was not drinking and that he was "sober and rational."

The Arrest

Tom Horn was arrested without incident on Monday the 13th of January 1902. County Sheriff Edward J. Smalley, Under-Sheriff Dick Proctor, and Chief of Police Sandy McNeil were the arresting officers. Federal Deputy US Marshal Joe LeFors is said to have supervised the arrest. Some say from a distance, while others say he stood next to Chief McNeil at the time of the arrest.

Horn's Model 1894 Winchester, serial #82,667 in .30 WCF, was taken from him at his arrest the next day. It had been shipped from the Winchester factory on the 19th of June 1900.
The Trial

Horn's trial in the fall of 1902 was one of the most sensational of its time. The West knew the legendary killer was not as important as the unlined issue of the case -- that being the wealthy influential cattle barons war against small mostly penniless homesteaders and sheepherders. Some said the trial was the old century colliding with the new, but most knew it was about big money and power and greed which are as old a sin itself. 

As for the cattle barons, the members of Wyoming Stock Growers Association paid over $1,000 per member to pay for Horn's defense counsel -- which was said to be the best that money could buy. Foremost among them was former Judge John W. Lacey, Wyoming’s first Chief Justice. Other members of the team were Timothy F. Burke, Roderick N. Matson, Edward T. Clark and T. Blake Kennedy.

On the prosecution’s side of the aisle were Prosecuting Attorney Walter R. Stoll and a couple young attorneys named Clyde M. Watts and H. Waldo Moore, no slackers here by any means either. Unlike the movie Tom Horn which depicts the trial outside, the trial was in reality held on the second floor of Cheyenne's old courthouse.

And yes, it was a spectacle as every day the courtroom was jammed with on lookers. Cattlemen and homesteaders came on horseback, in fringed carriages, and wagons loaded down with children, some who would boast years later to their grandchildren how they had seen Tom Horn, the child killer, during the days he had fought for his life in the small dusty courtroom.

The trial ran from October 10th until October 24th, 1902, and was presided over by Judge Richard Scott. Some say the prosecution’s case rested on circumstantial evidence, the "LeFors Confession" and public opinion. One of the many things that hurt Horn’s case was the fact that the jury was not completely sequestered -- and Horn himself.

The jury had to walk two and a half blocks to take their meals at the Inter-Ocean Hotel where they would engage in conversations with other restaurant patrons about the trial. The jurymen were also subjected to catcalls and threatening remarks by some and cheering by others on their way to and from the courthouse.

This is in addition to the incredible political pressure for a conviction, it was very near Election Day for Prosecutor Stoll. Subsequently, a carnival-like atmosphere prevailed and the court was packed everyday with members of the press, some from as far away as New York and of course the locals.

The big city reporters from back East strut about in derbies and celluloid collars while cowboys in tight Sunday suits and ties with tiny knots were there as well. Self-conscious "witnesses" in their best suits, and farmers with mud-splattered boots and collarless shirts, all attended.

The highlight of the trial was the testimony of Joe LeFors and Tom Horn. The marshal detailed how he had set the trap for Horn, then read his "confession." Horn denied he killed the boy and insisted LeFors had doctored the notes in his quest for the $1,000 reward. 

Tom "Talking Boy" Horn

Horn's defense team's biggest problem was Horn himself -- or more precisely Horn's mouth which they couldn't keep shut. Like it or not, Horn was not the stoic figure some try to paint him as, in fact his defense team soon found out why famed Apache Chief Geronimo nicknamed Tom Horn "Talking Boy".

His defense team found out they couldn't get him to shut up once he was on the witness stand. "Talking Boy" certainly lived up to the Apache warrior's nickname under Prosecutor Stoll's questioning.

Of course he also shot himself in the foot after a comment that many feel really turned the proceedings against him. It was an answer to a question about a witness’s earlier statement. Otto Plaga said he had seen Horn, "He was just spooking along in his usual way, about 25 miles away from the scene -- only an hour or so after the shooting of Willie."

One of Horn's attorneys, Blake Kennedy wrote this is his memoirs: "Plaga gave me an affidavit to the effect that he had seen Horn on horseback at a point where it was practically impossible for him to be, had he been at the spot where the killing took place, which I thought was very valuable evidence; and it would have been except that Horn, when testifying himself upon the trial, not willing to subdue his passion for 'braggadocio' responded to a question that he supposed it would not be impossible for a man who was a good rider and knew the country to cover the ground between where the killing took place and where Plaga had testified he saw him."

Yes, Tom Horn was anything but stoic and actually debunked a witness that may have gotten him off. Imagine that!

A sense of drama, or is it all just myth?
Tom Horn Jury
On the morning of October 23rd, 1902, the jury returned a verdict of guilty and Horn was sentenced to be hanged. He was returned to his cell while appeals took place. And supposedly the big question at the time was: Would Tom Horn betray his wealthy accomplices to save his own life?

Supposedly at the time, there was in fact a plot to blow up the jail by Horn's cowboy friends which was uncovered in December. In the saloons the story was going around that Butch Cassidy was gathering his Wild Bunch to help in Tom Horn's escape. Of course it didn't matter that at the time Cassidy was in South America and most of his gang were dead or in jail.

Five sticks of dynamite were "supposedly" found in the snow outside the wall of the jail and guards found a length of lead pipe hidden in the range killer's pants leg.

All in all, the winter passed and in August as the city prepared for its annual Frontier Days. That was when Horn made a desperate attempt to escape. His partner was Jim McCloud (also spelled Macleod), waiting trial for robbery.

Horn's attorneys fought to the last hour to save him.

Supposedly a grief-stricken Miss Kimmell, who had gone back to Missouri, gave a last-minute affidavit in which she claimed she had "overheard on three different occasions" two men talk of how they had shot the boy. The attorneys appeared before Governor Chatterton, but after a hearing, he ruled that the schoolteacher "was not telling the truth but seeking to shield Horn" and refused to postpone the execution. 

He also revealed there was "a plan by which the train which took Horn to the penitentiary was to be wrecked and the prisoner freed. But that was contingent upon his securing a commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment. But I have given the matter the last consideration and the execution will take place on Friday without fail ..."

Horn did try to Escape! 

In the cell next to Horn was a safe-cracker by the name of "Driftwood Jim" McCloud (or Macleod), prisoner 802. McCloud constantly complained of stomach problems and was prescribed a medicine he needed to take twice a day and the deputies had to open his cell door to do so. The mechanism that remotely opened McCloud's cell door, also opened Horn's cell door.

So, on Sunday, August 9th, 1903, at 8:00am, when the cell door to McCloud was opened to dispense his medicine -- Horn and McCloud decided to make their break. County Under-Sheriff Dick Proctor was tied up with a window cord to affect their escape and they proceeded into the Sheriff’s office in search of weapons.

But as fate would have it, they overlooked a cabinet containing five .30-30 Winchesters and McCloud then ran out a side door leaving Horn to wrestle the Under-Sheriff alone. Horn snatched a pistol from Under-Sheriff Proctor, that he didn't know how to use, beat the officer and ran. 

According to historian Lee A. Silva, the handgun Tom Horn tried to use during his escape attempt was a John Browning designed, Fabrique Nationale (FN) manufactured, semi-automatic pistol.

 The F.N. pistol had a slight resemblance to the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless. Silva met with Richard Proctor, grandson of Under-Sheriff Dick Proctor from whom the little F.N. was forcibly removed by Horn. Richard Proctor is still in possession of his grandfathers F.N. semi-automatic pistol which carries the serial number 56666.

Horn ran out the same door used by McCloud, but when hearing the Cheyenne police shooting at his old roommate, Horn decided to run south then East towards Capitol Avenue.

Beware of the Merry-Go-Round Operator!

Believe it or not, a Merry-Go-Round Operator by the name of O.M. Aldrich spotted legendary killer Tom Horn running. In response Aldrich grabbed his own .38 caliber Iver Johnson pistol and took a shot at Horn. But sadly, Aldrich missed. It is said that Horn then turned and tried to return fire, but didn't know how to operate the semi-automatic pistol. 

The Merry-Go-Round Operator Aldrich got up behind Horn and pulled the trigger again. This time his shot creased Horn's head -- stunning the killer. And yes, believe it or not, it is said Horn fainted when shot sending him down face first into the ground.

As Horn tried to regain his feet, he again attempted to fire at Aldrich -- and again he didn't know why the FN semi-automatic pistol wouldn't fire. By this time Robert LaFontaine showed up to help Aldrich tackle Horn.

After being clubbed several times on the back of the head by the Merry-Go-Round Operator Aldrich with his little Iver Johnson .38 caliber pocket pistol, the famed Tom Horn stopped resisting and surrendered to Aldrich. Yes, the Merry-Go-Round Operator whopped the hell out of Tom Horn!

Robert LaFontaine said later that he spent most of his time pulling Aldrich off Horn for fear he was going to kill the killer. Imagine that!

A Crowd Escorted Horn Back To Jail
Horn was lead back to jail by a large group of townies and city policemen Otto Aherns, a second officer named Stone and Deputy Sheriff Leslie Snow. The last few days before Tom’s execution armed troops surrounded the block where the jail and courthouse were located and supposedly a Gatling gun was placed on the roof.
As for being railroaded?

I have never believed that Horn was railroaded. I've never believed that was the situation simply because there was no need for him to be railroaded and there has never been any proof as such. Let's be frank here, other than in a plot of a Hollywood movie, there is absolutely no evidence, absolutely none presented to anyone, to prove that there was some sort of conspiracy to get rid of Horn because he was some sort of embarrassment as the movie Tom Horn tries to say.

Fact is, Horn applied his trade for many years with many other ranches and associations in Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and even Utah. In every instance when he was done, he was simply paid and moved on to other ranchers who needed his services. So why was he all of a sudden a supposed embarrassment when everyone made no secret as to what he was there for?

Besides, why would the Wyoming Cattlemen's Association and Coble specifically be the only people to want to frame him -- especially when knowing full well that all they would have had to do to make him go away was to pay him and send him on his way? And if he was "railroaded," why would the cattle-barons pay for the best lawyers that money could buy to defend him? Does that sound like someone trying to railroad someone?

Also remember that the Johnson County War proved how the cattle-barons were above the law because of their political influence. It was a fact that the Wyoming Stock Growers Association had friend in the White House.

In a second ambush, Kels Nickell was shot a few days after his son was killed and many thought that was Horn as well. As for Kels Nickell being some recent homesteader just arriving there, fact is Kels Nickell was actually in that area before Coble was. Coble was the newcomer to the area.

Unlike how the movies portray homesteaders, Kels Powers Nickell was typical of Americans who got out of the Army and decided to stay. Kels Nickell came West when he served in the US Army under General Crook in 1876. He fought in the Indian Wars and was no slouch when it came to fighting.

Nickell fought under Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud in southern Montana, north of Sheridan, Wyoming. Crook lost the battle, which forced his retreat to the south just days before Custer’s annihilation. Nickell was counted as part of the force at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in the census of 1880.

After his discharge that year, he moved to Camp Carlin on the northwest outskirts of Cheyenne, and opened a blacksmith and farm machinery repair shop. He got married in 1881, and filed a homestead claim in 1885, a few years before Coble arrived in the Iron Mountain region.

The Coble and Nickell feud started over land. In 1885, Nickell filed for an additional 480 acres of government land, which could be acquired for $1.25 per acre. Over the course of years, he bought, sold and filed desert claims -- which was a common way to acquire arid government tracts by going through the motions of irrigating them.

Coble and Nickell were arch enemies and had a long history of being such. And yes, John Coble was friends with Jim Miller who were also feuding with Kels Nickell. 

From 1894 to 1901, Horn worked as an "enforcer" for the large cattle interests in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. He was charged with the task of tracking down and "dealing justice" to those suspected of stealing cattle or encroaching on their range. Horn’s “justice” was delivered by a bullet fired by his .30-30 Winchester carbine from a concealed position.

Supposedly, Horn had studied his victim and was familiar with his routine. When it came to Willie Nickell, it was surmised that in the early morning hours, Horn nestled in a group of rocks overlooking the entrance of the Nickell’s ranch He saw his victim approach the gate and dismount. Horn stood up from his concealed position and aimed his rifle. 

It is believed that he suddenly realized that the person in his rifle sights was not his intended victim. It was his fourteen-year-old son, Willie, wearing his father’s hat and coat. Seeing Horn, the boy whirled and ran. After an instant of indecision, Horn fired a series of shots and watched the boy collapse to the ground, dead.

Tom Horn could have escaped justice if it were not for the extraordinary detective work of the legendary Old West lawman Joe LeFores who tricked "Talking Boy" Tom Horn into confessing his crime. Horn was tired and convicted on October 24, 1902.

The Hanging of Tom Horn

On the morning of November 20th, 1903, Horn went to his death, scorning requests that he turn informer and name the wealthy cattle barons who paid him to murder the defenseless ranchers and rustlers. When he died on the gallows in Cheyenne on a November morning in 1903, the city was under martial law after rumors had been printed Horn's "cowboy friends" would storm the jail and release him.

Such a thing was not a Wild West fantasy -- not many years before Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch riders had been prepared to free his fellow outlaw Matt Warner from a Utah jail until Warner's wife begged him not to do it.

Those there were said have held their breath until the trap was sprung to let Horn's body dangle at the end of the hangman's rope. Horn had been hired by prominent men in the cattle industry and the prosecutor had indicated his death sentence might be commuted to life imprisonment if he talked. Horn scorned the offer. He was a cool calculating killer.

His supposedly adoring Miss Kimmel was heard to say, "He never broke the code -- to betray an employer or a friend was unthinkable."

Too bad she didn't understand that the code she spoke off was not meant to cover for criminal behavior such as murder. The Cowboy Code was scorned by outlaws, badmen, con men, scoundrels, and man killers.

Eyewitness Account of the Hanging

Horn was executed with a new, and supposedly, more humane, method of hanging that relied on the emptying of a bucket of water to trigger the release of the trap door upon which the condemned man was standing.

The following eyewitness account of the hanging of Tom Horn was written by John Charles Thompson, a reporter. His newspaper account was originally published in the Denver, Colorado, Posse of Westerners: 

"We newspapermen were crammed into a little space at the edge of the platform adjoining Horn's cell; the visiting sheriffs were marshaled on the first-tier level below.

The Irwin brothers, flanked by guards, stood beside them. The executioners and a venerable Episcopal clergyman, Dr. George C. Rafter, an acquaintance of Horn, were on the gangway at the opposite edge of the platform.

Beside the Irwins stood two physicians, Dr. George P. Johnston and Dr. John H. Conway. They were gentlemen of the highest integrity whom nothing could have induced to contribute to a criminal conspiracy.

Horn, his back against the cell grill, was half-reclining on his narrow bed, puffing a cigar. He was perfectly composed. His soft shirt was unbuttoned at the collar, this exposing the scar of the wound he had suffered in a fight at Dixon.

'Ready Tom,' said Proctor.

Horn arose, carefully placed his cigar on a cross reinforcement of the grill, strode firmly the few steps required to take him to the side of the gallows platform.

He nodded to the Irwins; sardonically scanned the peace officers below.

Ed,' he commented to Smalley, 'That's the sickest looking lot of damned sheriffs I ever seen.

'Would you like us to sing, Tom?' asked Charlie Irwin. ‘Yes, I'd like that,' responded Horn.

So, while Proctor buckled straps that bound Horn's arms and legs, the Irwins, each in a rich tenor, sang a rather lugubrious song popular on the range, Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad.

The clergyman read his church's prayer for the dying Horn, standing relaxed, listened without a tremor.

‘Would you like to say anything?' asked Smalley.‘No,' replied Horn.

‘Tom,' spoke up Charlie Irwin, ‘did you confess to the preacher?

No,' was the reply

Proctor adjusted the noose, formed with the conventional knot of 13 wraps, to Horn's neck; drew a black hood over his head. Smal¬ley on one side and a friend of Horn, T. Joe Cahill, on the other, lifted the doomed man onto the trap.

Instantly the sibilant sound of running water permeated the breathless stillness; the instrument of death had begun to operate. To the straining ears of the listeners that little sound had the magnitude of that of a rushing torrent.

Smalley, his face buried in the crook of an arm resting against the gallows tree, was trembling.

‘What's the matter,' came in a calm tone through the black cap, getting nervous I might tip over?’

Seemingly interminable, the sound of escaping water ran on.

‘Joe,' said Horn, addressing Cahill, ‘they tell me you're married now. I hope you're doing well. Treat her right.'

Indubitably, he was the best composed man in that chamber of death.

Still the sinister sound of running water; then mercifully, the leaves of the trap parted with a crash and Horn's body hung through the opening.

Thirty-one seconds had elapsed since he had been lifted onto the trap!

He fell only four and one-half feet; his head and shoulders projected above the gallows floor. This drop was not sufficient; his neck was not broken. Proctor had feared to arrange a longer drop, apprehensive that stoppage of the fall of a body so heavy as Horn's might tear the head off. The slam of the massive hangman's knot against the side of Horn's skull knocked him into unconsciousness, however, and he did not suffer. For seventeen minutes the physicians with fingers on his pulse, felt impulses as a mighty heart labored on; then the pulse ceased.

Tom Horn was dead – unconfessed!

Yes, its eyewitness accounts like that that add to the myths of Tom Horn.

Another Myth: "No One Wanted To Hang Horn"

Actually, there were quite a few folks who wanted to hang Tom Horm. Fact is there was quite a line formed to pull the lever. You see besides some of the family members of the "nesters" who he had reportedly killed, the list also including Kels Nickell whose son was shot by Horn.

And let's talk about the notion that "it was an accident." Friends, it was a murder of a teenager while in the commission of a homicide. Horn intended to murder whoever was at that house. There is no accident here. Whether it was the father or his teenage son, Horn intended on murdering someone.

As for his hanging? Looking at the times, the late 1800s and early 1900s, we have to remember that it was a time when people were already looking into more "humane" ways of preforming executions. In fact, as earlier in 1881, the state of New York established a committee to determine a new "more humane" method of execution to replace hanging.

Alfred P. Southwick, a member of the committee, developed the idea of running electric current through a condemned man after hearing a case of how relatively painlessly and quickly a drunk man died due to touching exposed power lines. We have to remember that the first Electric Chair execution in New York's Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890.

The electric chair was adopted by Ohio in 1897, Massachusetts in 1900, New Jersey in 1906, and Virginia in 1908, and soon became the prevalent method of execution in the United States, replacing hanging.

As for Horn's gallows, were they specially built specifically to hang Tom Horn? No it wasn't. 

Actually in 1892, which was many years before the hanging of Tom Horn, Cheyenne architect James P. Julian had designed the water operated gallows.

Yes, it was designed and built in 1892. It was created with the reasoning being that it would not require an executioner to spring the trapdoors.

The system alleviated any stigma of guilt placed upon anyone. The design was said to make a hangman obsolete. 

So no, it was not designed special just for Tom Horn. That's just another myth perpetrated by the movie "Tom Horn."

Fact is, that water operated gallows was created 11 years before the Horn hanging and actually remained the official gallows until Wyoming began using the gas chamber in the 1930s.

On that Friday morning on November 20th 1903, it was cold, windy and gray for what would be Laramie County’s last legal execution. Horn awoke early, had a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, cakes, bread and black coffee.

At approximately 10:30 am, Tom Horn was led from his cell for the last time. Frank and Charlie Irwin tried to sing the Baptist hymn "Life’s Railway to Heaven" -- "Keep your hand upon the throttle and your eye’s upon the rails."

The story goes that Frank and Charlie had to stop several times to compose themselves and wipe away tears before they could start the next stanza. But frankly, that's all part of the myth.

Because of the shackles worn by Horn, he had to be lifted onto the trapdoor of the gallows and then a black hood was placed over his head. There was no conversation and thirty-one seconds after Horn was placed on the trap he fell four-and-a-half feet into eternity. 

Again, unlike what Hollywood wants us to believe, his death was not as pleasant as portrayed in the movie either. Fore when he fell, he was knocked unconscious by the heavy hangman’s knot and died of strangulation a long agonizing 17 minutes later. Yes, 17 minutes of strangling to death.

Somehow, I don't doubt that the father of the boy that he shot enjoyed watching him die like that. You see, after Horn's body was cut down and taken to the local undertaker, it's said that Kels Nickell met the corpse at the mortuary and pulled back the rubber poncho.

Reports say Kels Nickell looked at Horn's dark blue face and nodded his approval -- as if satisfied before turning away and leaving.

The next day was Tom Horn’s 43rd birthday. And yes, his body was retrieved from the Gleason Mortuary by his brother Charles and taken to Boulder Colorado to be buried. John Coble of the Swan Land and Cattle Company paid for the cost of the coffin and all expenses associated with the funeral in Boulder.

John Coble paid for an elaborate coffin. Charles Horn accompanied the body of his brother to Boulder, Colorado, where it is said that more than two thousand gawkers followed the cortege to the cemetery. And yes, the Horn family is said to have kept a guard at the grave for some time to prevent ghouls "from digging up the corpse and selling it to showmen to put on exhibit."

In the long run, Coble and Miller won their long fight against Kels Nickell as he was forced to sell his spread and move to Cheyenne where he was said to have opened a steam laundry.

Wyoming State Capitol, 1890 
For the record, Cheyenne had a population of almost 12,000 people when it became Wyoming State Capitol in 1890.

It was a very large cosmopolitan city. It was nothing like the sparse cowtown that was portrayed in the movie "Tom Horn."

Fact is, the city of Cheyenne was a city in that it had brick building and sidewalks. It had enjoyed an incandescent lighting system since 1883.

It also had telephone service since the early 1890s. Which by the way, really wasn’t too shabby for a state with a total population of 92,531 in 1900.

After Horn's hanging, there were rumors in Cheyenne that Tom Horn was never executed but actually been freed through the power and political influence of the cattle- barons.

And yes, like Elvis, soon people were swearing that they had seen Tom Horn here and there. And believe it or not, some folks wondered if he was still stalking nesters, sheep-men, or getting ready to dry-gulch some settler. Some wondered if maybe, just maybe, he'd decide to shoot another unsuspecting kid who might just be wearing his father's hat and coat -- all as a supposed "favor" to a friend.

I can understand that feeling. After all, for settler in the Old West, bushwhacking killers like Horn were the original boogiemen.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reasons The Feds Want To Seize Our Property


Why is the Federal Government so Hell bound to take possession and obtain total control of so much land both public and private?

Since the Federal Government decided to surround the Bundy Ranch with snipers and all sorts of military type weaponry, there as been an awakening of the American people to take a closer look at an issue that has been lurking in the shadows for many years now.

That issue is the Federal Government's land grab, the seizure of private property, the wrongful eviction of property owners, the confiscation of property including cattle and other livestock, and the destruction of homes, equipment and livestock by armed Federal Agents sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Right now, as you read this, throughout the West there are probably thousands of ranching families who are being thrown off their land because of legal troubles with some agency of the Federal Government.

Whether it's the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest Service, the National Parks Service, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Internal Revenue Service, there are Americans right at this moment in legal struggles to hold on to their property.

Why is the Federal Government on a mission to wipe-out small farmers and ranchers, and confiscate their lands?

Depending on who you talk to, the answers change:

1) Some say this is all part of the Socialist Agenda of the Obama Administration;

2) Some say it is all a part of the Obama Administration's plan to make us more dependant on Foreign food sources;

3) Some say it's simply part of a growing Police State here in the United States;

4) Some say it's part of an agreement between big money Environmentalists and the Democrat Party;

5) There are those who say it's all about mandates in the contractual agreement that the Federal government signed with the UN under Agenda 21;

6) Some say it is a combination of both Agenda 21 and how it fits the needs and ultimate purposes of an administration with a Communist agenda of controlling every aspect of our lives;

7) And yes, there are those who simply see the Federal Government as out of control and out of hand hungry with power.

What is Agenda 21?

First thing, Agenda 21 is real. It is not made up by nutcases afraid of the government.

Agenda 21 is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

Agenda 21 is a contractual plan of action with the United Nations with regard to the "sustainable development" within sovereign nations. 

For Environmentalist, the term "sustainable development" is an organizing principle for human life on planet Earth.

It's their desires for a future state in which human societies, our living conditions and our resource-use, meet their vision of what we humans need.

I agree with those who say that is in line with the Communism manifesto of totalitarianism.

After all, it is a plan of action, an Environmentalist agenda for the UN and individual governments around the world to execute at the Federal, State, and local levels in the United States and other nations all over the globe.

This contract binds governments around the world to the United Nation's plan for controlling the way we live, eat, learn, move and communicate - all under the noble banner of saving the earth.

If fully implemented, Agenda 21 would have the government involved in every aspect of life of every human on earth.

The U.N. and its Agenda 21 reaches into all aspects of our lives by becoming part of policies at the Federal, State, and local governments - including that of Community Groups.

Agenda 21, Chapter 28, specifically calls for each community to formulate its own Local Agenda 21 implementation program:

"Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organizations, and private enterprises to formulate 'a Local Agenda 21.' Through consultation and consensus-building, local authorities would learn from citizens and from local, civic, community, business and industrial organizations and acquire the information needed for formulating the best strategies." - Agenda 21, Chapter 28, sec 1.3

In April 1991, key international environmental figures including Al Gore, along with senior officials from the United Nations, and the World Bank, gathered at what was called an "Earth Summit."

At the summit, representatives of 179 nations officially signed the Agenda 21 contract and many more have followed since. Nearly 12,000 local and federal authorities have legally committed themselves to the Agenda.

In practice, this means that all of their plans and policies must begin with an assessment of how the plan or policy meets the requirements of Agenda 21 -- and no plans or policies are allowed to contradict any part of Agenda 21.

Local authorities are audited by UN inspectors and the results of the audits are placed on the UN website.

The people who are in favor of Agenda 21, such as the Obama Administration and the Democrat Party, believe that individual rights have to take a back seat to "the collective" while they implement their agenda.

Yes, under Agenda 21:

1) Individual rights give way to the "needs" of communities

2) The needs of the community will be determined by a committee acting as a governing body.

3) Government takes control of all land use.

4) Private property is eliminated, primarily through Environmental Programs such as the Wildland Project and Smart Growth/Sustainable Development.

5) Agenda 21's Wildland Project will dictate how most "Public Lands" will be set aside for non-humans.

6) People are packed into congested settlements which are labeled as "islands of human habitation" close to mandatory employment centers and mass transportation as personal vehicles will be banned.

Does it sound like Communism?

Well, is should simply because most involved with creating this are fervent leftists and Communist sympathizers who believe in the concept that says, "For communism to work, we all have to be Communist."

Want proof of the Communist Doctrine which says the state, the government, should be the only landowner?

Take a look at this as stated in the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements:

"Land cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable...."

Yes, this is happening today. And yes, if we allow this to take place -- we can erase all of our Western culture in the United States.

Our freedoms, liberties, and rights to ownership will be lost if we do not fight this.

Take a look at this video explanation of what's taking place:

We Must Stop The Land Grab!

While there are cases taking place right now, we need to build a legal barrier to stop further expansion of the ongoing Federal land takeovers in the West.

While there are many case, there are a few that both ranchers and Federal officials are watching with great anxiety as the conflict moves toward resolution.

One of course is the Bundy Ranch situation, and another is now going on in Texas. And yes, there is another of importance as well because of what the courts have ruled so far.

The Diamond Bar Ranch

On February 11th, 2014, Kit Laney was met with law enforcement officers from the U.S. Forest Service who handed him a piece of paper telling him that his family's Diamond Bar Ranch in southwest New Mexico would be shut down -- and his 300 head of cattle grazing there would be removed.

While this was going on, other Forest Service law enforcement officers nailed similar notices on fence posts along the highway to inform neighbors that after Feb. 11th, they should not attempt to enter the Diamond Bar property.

Laney knew there would be an on-the-ground confrontation to enforce a 1997 court ruling which says his cattle are trespassing on federal land. On February 11th, that day arrived.

The Laney family insists the land in question belongs to them but the Forest Service says it belongs to the Federal Government.

Not a surprise to most Americans, so far the Federal Court has sided with the Forest Service.

But Laney is not willing to throw in the towel and give up the land that has been in his family since long before there was a U.S. Forest Service.

Moreover, in New Mexico, there is a “brand law” that says, essentially, no cattle may be sold or transported out of state without approval from the State Livestock Board.

All Help Is Appreciated

County Sheriff Cliff Snyder notified the Forest Service and other State and Federal officials that even though the Forest Service has a court order authorizing the confiscation of the Diamond Bar cattle, "legally" they "cannot be shipped and sold without being in direct violation of NM Statute."

His memo also says "I intend to enforce the state livestock laws in my county. I will not allow anyone, in violation of state law, to ship Diamond Bar Cattle out of my county."

The Diamond Bar Ranch is at least 180,000 acres and includes some of the most beautiful land in southwest New Mexico, situated between and including portions of the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness areas.

Laney’s ancestors began the “Laney Cattle Company” there in 1883 when the area was still a territory. In those days, “prior appropriation” of water determined grazing rights to the land. That meant the first person to make beneficial use of water obtained the “rights” to the water and to the forage within an area necessary to utilize the available water.

Laney’s ancestors acquired the water rights and the attendant grazing rights on the land now claimed by the federal government.

In 1899, the Federal Government withdrew from the public domain the land that later became the Gila National Forest, which included much of the land on which Laney’s ancestors had valid claim to water and grazing rights.

Seizing Legal Precedent

Several court cases have determined that land to which others have claims or rights attached cannot be considered "public land."

Bardon vs. Northern Pacific Railroad Co. specifically states:

"It is well settled that all land to which any claims or rights of others have attached does not fall within the designation of public land."

Consequently, Laney reasons, since his ancestors had acquired legal rights to the water and adjacent grazing land before the federal withdrawal, his land could not be considered a part of the public domain.

When the U.S. Forest Service was created in 1905, one of its first concerns was to find a way to settle disputes among ranchers whose water rights resulted in conflicts over grazing areas.

The Forest Service stepped into these territorial conflicts and proposed a way to resolve the disputes -- acting as an outside mediator.

The rancher parties to the dispute voluntarily agreed to allow the Forest Service to help by having them measure the available water to which each participant had legal rights and designate the appropriate forage land required to make beneficial use of the available water.

The designated area was called an “allotment.”

The idea was that ranchers "voluntarily" paid the Forest Service a fee for their "adjudication service", a portion of which went into a fund from which the ranchers could make improvements to the range and water access.

The Forest Service issued a permit, which designated the forage area and the number of cow/calf units, or AUMs, that could graze the allotment.

Laney’s ancestors participated in this type of Forest Service adjudication process in 1907, three years before New Mexico became a state.

The system worked well until 1934, when Congress enacted the Taylor Grazing Act.

This law changed the status of the grazing permit from a "voluntary" process agreed to by the ranchers, into a mandatory "license" required by the federal government.

Few ranchers realized this law eventually would strip them of their rights and the land they had worked for generations.

The Problem

Kit Laney’s problems began shortly after he acquired the Diamond Bar Ranch, adjacent to the original Laney ranch, in 1985.

The bank from which he bought the ranch had entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Forest Service which passed to Laney, the new owner.

The agreement required the owner to make certain improvements to watering systems within the Wilderness Areas on the ranch.

The original agreement allowed access to the work areas by mechanical equipment, but environmental organizations pressured the Forest Service to forbid mechanized access, and the agreement was modified.

Laney agreed to use mules and non-mechanical means to live up to his end of the agreement.

When he acquired the Diamond Bar, the allotment provided for 1,188 head of cattle.

By 1995, the Forest Service reduced the allotment to 300 head.

When the permits came due for renewal on the original Laney ranch and the Diamond Bar, in 1995 and 1996, Laney decided he would not sign the permits, since he believed the land was his, not subject to permits issued for grazing on federal land.

Kit and Sherry have spent hours in courthouses in Catron, Grand and Sierra counties, searching titles and documents all the way back to the original claims of water and grazing rights in the 1800s.

They have developed a clear chain of title showing continuous private ownership of the water rights and the attendant grazing rights on the land that is now claimed by the government.

They believe the government’s original withdrawal of the land in 1899 could not include their land, since private property rights had attached to the land.

Neither the Forest Service nor the federal court are impressed with Laney’s reasoning, and the Forest Service is moving to rid the ranch of cattle.

And without a means of utilizing the water and land for any productive purpose, the Laneys too will have to leave – unless they can get someone to pay attention to their rights.

For nearly 100 years, federal agencies and ranchers worked together to improve the range and to develop a growing economic foundation for Western states.

Things began to change with the rise of the environmental movement in the late 1970s.

By the mid 1980s, the Federal Government began a concerted and coordinated effort to rid the West of ranchers.

In 1992, with the publication of the Wildlands Project, the reasons for squeezing out the ranchers, and other resource providers, began to come into focus.

The Wildlands Project envisions at least half of the land area of North America, restored to “core wilderness areas,” off-limits to humans.

Wilderness areas are to be connected by corridors of wilderness, so wildlife will have migration routes unhampered by people.

The Diamond Bar ranch lies directly in the path of a key wilderness corridor.

Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 resulted in the placement of environmental organization executives in key positions throughout the government.

Bruce Babbitt, formerly head of the League of Conservation Voters, became secretary of the Department of Interior, and George Frampton, formerly head of the Wilderness Society, became chief of the U.S. Forest Service. These, and other environmentalists in government, came from the very organizations that promoted the Wildlands Project.

Environmental organizations pressured federal agencies with lawsuits and good-ol’-boy influence to impose the goals of the Wildlands Project through various government initiatives.

Kit and Sherry Laney are among hundreds whose lives and livelihoods have been forever uprooted by the government’s willingness to advance the goals of the UN and the Wildlands Project.

The Laneys say they have a ray of hope, however.

It Has To Do With The Wayne Hage Decision

On Jan. 29, 2002, Judge Loren Smith ruled in a similar case that Wayne Hage "submitted an exhaustive chain of title which showed that the plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest had title to the fee lands" which the federal government had claimed to be federal land.

Wayne Hage lost his cattle, but now the court has ruled that a "takings" has occurred, for which the government must pay "just compensation."

The Wayne Hage decision has sent ranchers across the West rushing to courthouses, searching for and documenting the "chain of title," to the land, grazing and water rights.

Kit Laney has completed his search, and recorded the "exhaustive chain of title" in each of the county courthouses where his land lies.

He may not be able to stop the removal of his cattle, even with the help of the local sheriff.

But Laney has served notice that he does not intend to roll over and let the government simply take what his family has worked for generations to build.

He says he will fight as long as he has breath.

The Forest Service, and the other federal agencies now know they can no longer pick off a single rancher, and move on to the next.

The Wayne Hage decision, and the determination of Kit Laney has inspired thousands of ranchers to resist the government’s pressure and have actually begun to push back.

Where Are We Now?

The Federal Government, the BLM surrounding the Bundy Ranch with snipers and agents in a tactical military equipped situation was seen as un-American by many of us.

They spent over 3 Million Taxpayer Dollars to gather cattle they say was "trespassing" on high desert lands that have been used by his family for 140 years.

Yes, this has woke up a lot of Americans.

Now Americans are coming together from all over the United States, saying, "Enough is enough" as we all get behind Americans who are being unfairly targeted by the Feds.

Now angry, I believe the Americans are in the process of pushing the Federal Government all the way back to Washington DC  -- and out of our lives.

This article is compiled using many sources.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield - California Compliant & Available

Dear Friends,

Back on January 26th, Smith & Wesson and Strum Ruger announced that they decided to quit selling semi-automatic handguns in California over a new state shell casing "stamping" requirement.

The new gun law "supposedly" helps law enforcement, but all it has done is drive Smith & Wesson and Ruger to make the announcement.

Firearms rights advocates correctly stated that the measure was really about doing an end-run to take handguns out of California.

As usual, it does nothing to stem the flow of illegal guns in the hands of criminals, as it only effects law abiding citizens.

The California law requires semi-automatic handguns have a technology that imprints a tiny stamp on the shell casing so it can be traced back to the gun owner. Of course if the gun has been stolen, the gun owner probably has nothing to do with the crime that the gun was used in.

In January, both Smith & Wesson and Ruger called the so-called "micro-stamping" technology unworkable in its present form and can actually impair a gun's performance.

Firearm microstamping, or ballistic imprinting, works by engraving a microscopic marking onto the tip of the firing pin.

When the gun is fired, it leaves an imprint, usually of a serial number, on the bullet casings.

The telltale mark "theoretically" allows law enforcement investigators to trace the bullet to the registered gun owner.

California’s law is the first in the nation to be implemented and was originally signed into effect in October 2007, but not implemented until recently. Several other states are considering similar measures.

Of course, what is good for some Californians is not good for all Californians as all state, county, and city law enforcement agencies are exempt from microstamping requirements for some unknown reason.

Critics say tracing a bullet to a registered gun owner does little to fight crime, since criminals often kill with stolen handguns.

But frankly, there are folks like myself who believe that the technology is not about catching bad guys -- after all, if it was, why isn't it mandatory for a semi-autos including the ones carried by the police.

If law enforcement would be included, wouldn't that give crime scene investigators an ability to discern a bad guy's bullet from an officer's if the need arose.

And no, I am not saying that police are bad. I am saying that it is common place to have reviews of whether or not a police shooting was "good" or "bad".  And if, as those in favor of microstamping say it is and that technology is so very accurate, then maybe that technology would help to clear an officer after a police shooting.

Many like me believe tracing bullets is not the real intent of the law in the first place.

"This is the latest attempt to undermine the Second Amendment in California by politicians with little to no knowledge of firearms, who seek to impose their liberal values upon those who choose to protect their families with the constitutional right to own a handgun," said Chuck Michel, West Coast Counsel for the National Rifle Association, an Adjunct Professor at Chapman University and author of the book "California Gun Laws."

I agree.

Smith & Wesson said it expects the sales of its California-compliant revolvers, which aren't required to have microstamping, to offset the financial impact to the company.

Company President and CEO James Debney vowed to continue to work with industry groups to oppose the law, while providing California customers with products that do comply with California law.

Well, it seems that Mr Debney has done just that.

"Grandfathered" California-Compliant Smith & Wesson M&P Shield  

April 14th, 2014, a news story sent to me reports that Smith & Wesson will now start shipping its line of M&P Shield pistols to California.

New 9mm and .40 S&W pistols, which are "grandfathered" prior to California microstamping mandate, non-microstamped, are California compliant and approved for sale here.

Besides and e-mail, my brother called and said he was getting one as soon as he could get an order in.

He sent me and article today, actually dated April 13th, stating Smith & Wesson Corp. announced today that it has commenced shipping non-microstamped, California-compliant versions of its popular M&P Shield pistols.

Approved and added to the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale prior to the microstamping requirement, the new M&P Shield pistols offer customers in California a slim, concealable, lightweight, striker-fired polymer pistol specifically engineered for personal protection.

The M&P Shield

This is one nice handgun.

When it comes to personal defense pistols in general, concealed carry weapons, I’m pretty much like everybody else in that as much as I love my full-size Model 1911 and its .45 ACP stopping power.

That sort of stopping power is what I’m gonna strap on my belt or tuck in my waistband when I need to leave the house to run into town.

This pistol is built to professional specifications and standards are designed in the M&P Shield to serve as a dependable carry gun for private citizens.

As for concealability, the measure of how easily a handgun is concealed, the overall length, width, height, and weight all come into play.

Some of these specifications are more important than others. For example, overall length might matter since a long barrel or slide extends further down a person's side when using an inside-the-waistband holster -- which happens to be the most common method of concealing a handgun.

Length, width and weight are the two most important specifications for concealability.

The S&W M&P Shield would work fine. It is lightweight, compact, and is extremely unobtrusive into my pocket.

And yes, the California-compliant M&P Shield is available in both 9mm and more powerful .40 S&W.

In accordance with state regulations, the new M&P Shield pistols feature a tactile loaded chamber indicator and a magazine safety. The pistols also feature a single-sided thumb safety.

The California compliant models feature the original popular design elements which include a high strength polymer frame with a black, corrosion resistant stainless steel slide and barrel.

Measuring a compact 6.1 inches in overall length with an unloaded weight of only 19 ounces, the M&P Shield pistol is easily concealed and can be conveniently carried during everyday activities.

"Since its initial introduction, the M&P Shield has quickly become one of the most popular personal protection firearms on the market," said Mario Pasantes, Smith & Wesson’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Global Professional Sales.

"Lightweight, comfortable in the hand and highly accurate, the M&P Shield provides the same trusted and proven features found in the full-size M&P pistol, but with an easily concealable profile that is suitable for self defense purposes. As California consumers face a diminishing list of pistol choices for personal protection due to the state’s microstamping requirement, we are proud to offer them access to our newest and most popular pistols in non-microstamped yet fully compliant versions."

The M&P Shield is standard with a 3.1 inch barrel and retains familiar operating features on the left side of the frame, including a simple takedown lever, flat profile slide stop, magazine release and thumb safety.

For optimal firearm control, the M&P Shield is standard with a fixed textured backstrap and additional texturing at the forward portion of the grip.

An extended trigger guard allows for operation of the pistol with or without gloves.

The M&P Shield is standard with a 5.3-inch sight radius, which allows for fast tracking and smooth target acquisition while the pistol’s short, consistent trigger pull helps deliver consistent accuracy.

That trigger pull is mighty important because that is just one more factor that makes the M&P Shield user-friendly.

Nominal trigger travel from rest is only .300 inch, and the reset stroke is only .140 inch. Nominal trigger pull weight is just 6½ pounds.

Friends, with its uniform short, crisp trigger pull, which again is the same mechanism as found on full-size M&Ps, this is one of the best, shortest and most crisp Double Action trigger pulls on the market.

And yes, that makes it very easy for either men or women.

Internal features of the new M&P Shield mirror the standard M&P Series.

Its stainless steel internal chassis reduces flex while providing a stable shooting platform and its low-bore axis helps maintain ease-of-use and a comfortable feel.

Other familiar features include a passive trigger safety designed to prevent the pistol from firing if dropped and a sear release lever that eliminates the need to press the trigger in order to disassemble the firearm.

For more information on the new California compliant M&P Shield pistols visit: or visit
for exciting new videos on all the latest products.

Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC) is a U.S.-based leader in firearm manufacturing and design, delivering a broad portfolio of quality firearms, related products and training to the consumer, law enforcement, and military markets.

The company’s brands include Smith & Wesson, M&P, and Thompson Center Arms.

For right now, Smith & Wesson facilities are located in Massachusetts and Maine.

For more information on Smith & Wesson, call (800) 331-0852 or log on to:

And yes, if you're wondering, I do have my mind set on getting one sonner or later.

Tom Correa