Tom Horn, the last man legally hanged in
Before coming to
In 1892, Horn came to
After the war, Horn returned to his former job as a stock detective. He brought in a number of rustlers only to have lenient judges fine them and release them.
On July 18, 1901, Willie Nickell was shot and killed northwest of
The Nickell's next door neighbors, the Millers, were likely suspects, and had demanded they move away with their sheep.
The county commissioners hired a deputy
Horn went on trial in
There was doubt cast upon Horn's guilt, however, when hearsay evidence, not allowed in the trial, was printed in the local newspapers. It seems Vic, the 15-year-old son of the Miller family, admitted to at least two people that he'd gotten into an argument with Willie that day and shot him.
Horn was hanged in the courtyard of the
Horn asked his friends Frank and Charlie Irwin to sing "Life is Like a Mountain Railroad" (sometimes stated as "Life’s Railway to Heaven.") before he was hanged. Rumor had it that this request was to cover any last-minute admissions Horn might make about influential men who may have hired him as a gunslinger.
J. Julian, the same man who designed the Capitol building, invented the gallows. The gallows was later used for executions at the historic old penitentiary in Rawlins until the gas chamber was put to use in the 1930s.
Thanks to Chip Carlson, noted Tom Horn historian
Richard T. Ammon, local historian, 2006.
Centennial Historical Committee, Cheyenne, The Magic City of the Plains (Cheyenne Centennial Committee: Cheyenne, Wyoming) 1967.
Adams, Judith, Cheyenne, City of Blue Sky, (Windsor Publications, Inc.: Northridge, CA) 1988.
Flynn, Shirley E., Let’s Rodeo, Vol. 1, (Wigwam Publishing Co.: Cheyenne, WY) 1996.
Gast, Doris Shannon, The Story of Wyoming, (Douglas Enterprise: Douglas, WY) 1938.
Downtown Development Authority, "Cheyenne Historic Downtown Walking Tour," (Beierle/Bricher-Wade) 1998.