100-year-old killing still a mystery

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The Museum of Northwest Colorado will host Chip Carlson, a historian and author from Cheyenne, Wyo., at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at the museum.

Carlson has become an expert on Tom Horn and will give a lecture and slide show on the famous cattle detective and his demise. The event is free and open to the public.

Assistant museum director, Jan Gerber, said it is exciting that this expert is coming to speak in Craig.

"He really is the leading authority on Tom Horn," Gerber said. "He's done a lot of research on the subject, and historically Tom Horn is relevant to the community."

It was 100 years ago, in July, 1901, that Willie Nickell, a 14-year-old boy, was murdered in Southeast Wyoming. Tom Horn, a notorious cattle detective, was convicted and hanged for the killing of Nickell, a crime that still provokes controversy. The crime took place in a remote area Northwest of Cheyenne.

"Two Conspiracies: To Murder Willie Nickell and Hang Tom Horn," is Carlson's lecture on the events that led up to the hanging of Horn.

A year before the Nickell murder, Horn is believed to have murdered two Browns Hole men, Matt Rash and Isam Dart. Both men were suspected of rustling. Three large ranchers in the region had hired Horn at the suggestion of Horn's then employer, who said the only solution to the rustling problems was to hire the detective. The plan was to investigate the problem and pay Horn $500 for every know cattle thief he killed.

Carlson illustrates how Horn's Wyoming affairs were part of an overall scenario of a changing West at the turn of the century.

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