|Birth: ||Jun. 27, 1868|
|Death: ||Nov. 21, 1937|
Ed Smalley is best known for the arrest and court ordered hanging of Tom Horn in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Around the turn of the 20th century cattle was king in Cheyenne. Some of the ranchers tried to bring in sheep as their preferred live stock. The cattle ranchers were going to have none of this.
Seven miles from Iron Mountain was the ranch of Kels Nickell, the only sheepherder in the area. On July 18, 1901, Nickell's 14-year old son, Willie was shot and killed by two bullets in the back. At the time Willie, tall for his age, was wearing his father's coat and hat and was riding his father's favorite horse. It is generally believed that the killer mistook Willie for Kels. The culprit left no footprints or shells at the scene. Seventeen days later someone shot Kels, wounding him in the arm, hip, and side. Victor Miller, a neighbor who was involved in a feud with Kels over the sheep in cattle country, was initially suspected of the crime. Ultimately suspicion turned to Tom Horn because of Horn's involvement in prior killings.
In October, 1901, Horn was in Denver staying at the Windsor Hotel on the corner of Larimer and
18th. In Denver, Horn went on a binge in the LoDo Section of Denver. Among the establishments he visited was the Scandinavian House Saloon at 1719 Blake Street, two blocks southeast of the present site of Coors Field. Within the saloon, Horn, while drunk, bragged to Frank Mullock and
Robert C. Cousely that he was at the center of the Willie Nickell case and admitted that he fired the shot. At the Windsor, Horn was found in his room, passed out, with a broken jaw that he apparently received in a fight he picked with a professional boxer at Pennington's Saloon on
On Saturday, January 11, 1902, Horn met with Deputy U. S. Marshal Joe LeFors in Cheyenne and the two engaged in conversation. Unbeknownst to Horn, two witnesses were in the next room: a short hand stenographer, Charles Olnhaus, and Laramie County Deputy Sheriff, Leslie Snow. During
the course of conversations over two days, Horn allegedly admitted that he killed Nickell with his Winchester Model 1894 30-30 rifle and placed a stone under Nickell's head as his "sign." Horn told LeFors that he, Horn, had been paid in advance and received $2,100 for killing three men and taking five shots at another. He told LeFors that the reason there were no footprints is that he was barefoot. LeFors asked whether Horn had carried the shells away, to which Horn responded: "You bet your life I did." On Monday, January 13, Horn was arrested in the bar of the Inter-Ocean Hotel by Laramie County Sheriff Edwin J. Smalley, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff Richard A. Proctor and Chyenne Chief of Police Sandy McNeil. Deputy United States Marshal Joe LeFors watched.
John Coble paid for Horn's defense, with Horn being represented by the general counsel for the Union Pacific, John W. Lacey, formerly a Wyoming Supreme Court justice.
The exact employment relationship of Horn to the Iron Mountain spread or to Coble is, however, uncertain. The ranch foreman, Duncan Clark testified, after Willie Nickell was killed, that Coble was east in Pennsylvania at the time. Clark could not say whether Horn worked for Coble because Horn "just comes in and goes out." In response to a direct question of whether Clark knew where
Horn came from when he rode in two days following the killing, he responded: "No, sir, he never tells me and I never ask him. I never expect to get the truth anyway." At the time Horn was riding a T Lazy Y horse, a brand still in use in the Chugwater area.
At the conclusion of the two-week trial, on October 24, 1902, at 4:20 p.m., the jury foreman called to the bailiff telling him that the jury had reached a verdict. Seventeen minutes later, with the jury in the box, the verdict was read. The jury of 11 whites and one black, found Horn guilty on the sixth ballot.
In August 1903, while his appeal was pending, Horn with another inmate of the jail, Jim McCloud, attacked Deputy Proctor, broke into the Sheriff's office and stole an automatic pistol. Leslie Snow came upon the scene and gave the alarm. In the meantime Horn and McCloud made it out onto the street with McCloud and Horn heading in opposite directions. Horn first headed east on 19th Street
one block to Capitol, the Courthouse being on the corner of 19th and Ferguson [now Carey]. Horn then headed north on Capitol and then east on 20th being chased by a passerby, O. M. Eldrich. Eldrich fired at Horn and Horn attempted to fire the automatic at Eldrich. Apparently Horn was unfamiliar with the safety on the automatic and was unable to fire the gun. Pedestrians then overpowered Horn and he was returned to the jail.
While awaiting the outcome of an appeal, Horn spent his time braiding a rope and writing an autobiography. Additionally he busied himself with correspondence. In March of 1902 he had complained to John Coble that except for Charlie Irwin and Coble he had no visitors. His
appeal was denied on September 30, 1903. Following the denial of the appeal a flury of letter writing resumed accusing those who testified of perjury. By November Horn seemed resigned to his fate. On November 17, 1903 he wrote Coble:
Proctor told me that it was all over with me except the applause part of the game. You know they can't hurt a Christian, and as I am prepared, it is all right. I throuroughly appreceiate all you have done for me.No one could have done more. Kindly accept my thanks,for if ever a man had a true friend, you have proven your-self one to me. Remember me kindly to all my friends, if I have any
As preparations for the execution neared, fears arose that friends would attempt to break Horn out of jail. Thus, extraordinary precautions were taken to prevent another escape. The Courthouse was surrounded by Companies A and E of the Wyoming National Guard. Other prisoners were placed on a lower floor of the jail, leaving Horn along on the top floor. A curtain was placed over the
window in Horn's cell preventing him from seeing the construction of the gallows below and, more importantly, precluding the exchange of signals between Horn and his friends. Deputy sheriffs were at every window.
The invitations to the hanging were duly issued. The prosecution could invite twelve, Horn six. Kels Nickell was denied an invitation. Roman Catholic and Episcopal priests visited with Horn, but Horn denied to Charlie Irwin that he had gotten religion. Invitees reported to the rope barriers at the courthouse at 7:00 a.m. On the roof, Sheriff Smalley's gatling gun stood guard. While
waiting, one Denver Post reporter told the others as to the number of executions he had attended. The executions were passť, he said. They were no more emotional that "the killing of a rat." Later, it was discovered that the stone-hearted reporter for the Post cried during the hanging.
On November 20, 1903, Horn was led to the gallows by Deputy Proctor and T. Joe Cahill who at the time was a clerk. Cahill later served as Chief of Police in Cheyenne 1934-1940. Cahill apparently exhibited some nervousness. Horn commented, "What's the matter, Joe? Ain't losing your nerve, are you?" Deputy Proctor placed the noose made from Horn's own rope over Horn's head. Horn obliged by ducking his head and thrusting it through the noose. Sheriff Smalley and Joe Cahill then picked Horn up and placed him on the trap.
Horn's body was claimed by his brother Charles. In a later letter to Coble, Charles Horn noted that he had failed to write his brother prior to the execution. Horn was buried in Boulder, Colo. The funeral expenses were paid for by Coble. A guard was posted at the grave.
As a result of an altercation between Coble and Nickell at the railway station over Nickell's sheep, the suspicion has always been that Coble paid Horn to do in Nickell. This has never been proven and it may well be speculated that Horn was merely performing an unsolicited favor of
ridding the neighborhood of a sheepman.
Benjamin H Smalley (1846 - 1915)
Mary J Castle Smalley (1850 - 1916)
Edith A Sloan Smalley (1880 - 1959)*
Robert J Smalley (1909 - 1958)*
Edwin John Smalley (1868 - 1937)
Eva Gertrude Smalley Morse (1875 - 1954)*
Plot: Lot 1175 Sec H
Maintained by: remmitt
Originally Created by: Eric Crow
Record added: Aug 20, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 29170126