Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Johnson County War Build-Up

Frank M. Canton was known as a lawman, operating as a range detective for the Wyoming Cattle Grower’s Association, and then twice as the sheriff of Johnson County, Wyoming.  At the time of his defeat, the Johnson County War was building up.  This was a battle between the big cattle ranchers and the small ranchers and farmers.
Frank showed up on the side of the big cattle ranchers.  During this time, Canton was suspected of shooting more than one man… in the back. Although nothing was proved, once the war was over, he found it necessary to go elsewhere.
That “elsewhere” was Oklahoma, where he did triple duty as under sheriff of Pawnee County and U.S. marshal for Marshal Evett Nix and “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker.  After he helped wipe out the Doolin gang and other major outlaws, things settled down in Oklahoma.  So Frank headed up to the new frontier, Alaska, where he served for a while as a deputy U.S. marshal.
With failing health, Frank Canton went to Texas where he supposedly had an audience with Jim Hogg, who was a friend as well as the Governor of Texas.  Frank confessed to the Governor that his real name was Joe Horner.  And that while in his mid 20’s, while living in Texas, he had been wanted for bank robbery, rustling and the shooting of two soldiers.
Taking into consideration his age and the number of years he had served as a lawman, the outlaw, Joe Horner, was given an official pardon, and the lawman, Frank M. Canton returned to Oklahoma where, on September 27, 1927, at the age of 78, he died.

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