|Frank M. Canton,
who had himself been a deputy U.S. marshal and sheriff of Johnson
County and who subsequently lost an election to rustler sympathizer
William “Red” Angus, is believed to be the murderer
of John Tisdale in Johnson County. Tisdale was gunned down in
a wagon as he drove toward home in December 1891. He was an honest
homesteader who had gone to Buffalo to handle some business matters
and purchase Christmas gifts for his wife and children.
Canton participated in the Johnson County Invasion in April 1892,
siding with the cattlemen. That alliance added to the enmity
the homesteading community had already developed toward him.
He then moved to Oklahoma which, in terms of geography, provided
him with a measure of safety from the homesteader/rustler element
in central Wyoming.
Canton was working as an undersheriff in Pawnee County, Oklahoma
Indian Territory. In 1895 he was in pursuit of John “Jack
Smith” Tregoning, who had escaped from the penitentiary
in Laramie on November 15, 1894.
Canton wrote to
William A. Pinkerton in Chicago on April 7, 1895, asking for
help from Pinkertons in the form of a man who would be a good
tracker and sleuth.
On April 12, William Pinkerton replied:
| I am in receipt of your very full and complete letter
of April 7th and note contents. As we have not got the right kind of
man for this rough work out there, I have referred the matter to Supt.
McParland at Denver, sending him a copy of your letter. I was greatly
pleased to hear from you and did not know of your change of place. I
imagine that whoever goes out on this work will find it rather difficult
to do and we have not got at this office available such a man as I feel
satisfied would fill the bill in every particular.
Tom Horn who used to be with our Denver office would be a good man for the place,
and I will ask McParland to communicate with him and see if he cannot be got
for the service and for the length of time you want him. He is not in our service
now. You probably know of him. He is well acquainted all through the western
country among cattle rustlers and all that class of men, and is a thorough horseman
and plainsman in every sense of the word. I note particularly that you want to
get Jack Treganing (sic.) who escaped from the Laramie penitentiary where you
sent him for life and that he is down in that country. I should be very glad
to hear of his capture....
James A. McParland wrote to Canton in Pawnee from Denver on April 13, discretely
avoiding the mention of any names:
| Yours of the 7th to Mr. W. A. Pinkerton has been
forwarded to me with instructions that if any of the Operatives at this
office who were capable of doing work of this kind were available that
I should at once send him forward to you.
You are well aware that it will take a peculiar man to do this work, in fact
a man as it were, to the Manor born. I have such men at this office but at the
present time they are engaged on other operations. In fact I have three that
could do this work or that I could detail upon it but at present they are unavailable
and it is impossible for me to say when they would be at liberty. I know of a
man although not working for me but I could recommend him as he formerly did
work for me. I have not got his address at the present time but he is liable
to write me at any time and as soon as he does I will suggest to him the fact
that this matter is ready to be taken up and will have him communicate with you.
I can guarantee the man. If he undertakes this matter no better man could be
found for the work that you wish to have done. I, like you, would very much like
to get hold of Tregoning as poor Henderson was an intimate friend of mine.
The “no better man” was, of course, Tom Horn.
Tom Horn (author’s