Worland author and historian John W. Davis will discuss the 1902 trial of Tom Horn on Nov. 28 for the monthly meeting of the Pahaska Corral of Westerners at the Sunset House Restaurant in Cody, Wyo.
There is a no-host dinner starting at 6 p.m. followed by the presentation, which begins around 7 p.m. The dinner and the presentation are open to the public.
In 1902, the state of Wyoming tried Tom Horn in Cheyenne, Wyo., for the murder of a 14-year-old boy, Willie Nickell. Davis describes this event as “probably the most sensational murder trial in the history of the state.”
Horn’s acquittal seemed likely since the cattlemen who supported Horn hired six attorneys to defend him. Yet the people of Wyoming, according to Davis, “for years had watched cattle barons and their hired killers literally get away with murder. They held deep and strong opinions that Horn was a hired assassin, but that a conviction was highly unlikely because of all the money and influence supporting Horn.”
The state of Wyoming had only one attorney of merit representing it, a part-time prosecutor named Walter Stoll. Davis said Stoll “was a lawyer of exceptional talent and the trial of the case was a litigation masterpiece.”
Davis is a retired attorney who practiced law in Worland for more than 40 years. He is the author of "A Vast Amount of Trouble," a book about the 1909 Spring Creek Raid; "Goodbye, Judge Lynch," a book about a 1902 murder north of Ten Sleep; and "Wyoming Range War," a book about the 1892 Johnson County War. The University of Oklahoma Press released his most recent book, "The Trial of Tom Horn," in March.
The Pahaska Corral of Westerners is the local chapter of Westerner International, founded in 1944 and dedicated to stimulating interest and research in the history of the American West.