Old West Lifestyle & Stories


On November 21, 1860 hired killer Tom Horn was born in Memphis, Missouri.  Tom was raised on a farm, and like many young farm boys, he loved to roam the woods with his dog and rifle, hunting for game.  He was an unusually skilled rifleman, an ability that may have later encouraged him to gravitate towards a career as a professional killer.

At the age of 14, Tom left home after a particularly savage beating from his father.  He started working as a teamster with mules in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His skills got him a job with the U.S. Army, where he served as an interpreter with the Apache Indians; learned to be a skilled scout and tracker; and tracked the cunning movements of the famous Apache warrior Geronimo.

Tom started his career as a hired gunman when he went to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  Horn’s four-year stint with the Pinkertons impressed his next employer, the Wyoming Swan Land and Cattle Company. Swan and other big ranches hired Tom to control rustlers.  It’s not known exactly how many rustlers and other troublemakers he killed.

“Killing is my specialty,” Horn reportedly once said. “I look at it as a business proposition, and I think I have a corner on the market.”

In 1903, Tom Horn was arrested and hanged for the killing of a 14-year-old boy.

Many historians today don’t believe Tom killed the boy.  Although it carried no legal weight, few years ago Tom was given another trial, and found innocent.

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