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Cowboys & Outlaws

Episode: Frontier Hitman


The notorious Tom Horn, hanged for a murder of a 14-year-old boy in 1903, is a pivotal figure in the taming of the Old West. A cowboy-turned-range-detective for big ranchers, he built a fearsome reputation as a professional hit man. Was he a cold-hearted assassin or a framed innocent man?


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The History Channel

History Channel Critique

It's called The History Channel. That being the case, why does it tolerate so many errors of fact in the case of “Frontier Hitman,” a segment on Wyoming's Tom Horn? And why does it use three bogus so-called authorities when in fact only one was a real authority.

The most egregious error is stating that Horn killed Willie Nickell, the 14-year-old son of a sheep rancher who was murdered on July 18, 1901 at Iron Mountain, Wyoming. Tom Horn did not kill the boy.

A second glaring error by The History Channel is its implication that a trial followed the murder of William Lewis, and that Horn was the killer. Lewis was murdered in 1895, also at Iron Mountain. The History Channel covers a murder trial after the Lewis killing. There never was a murder trial, only a grand jury investigation, and Horn did not ever testify at the grand jury hearings.

Why did it disregard Tom Horn's chief accomplishment, that he was chief packer for the army in the Spanish-American War?

Why does it show Horn wearing an Australian outback-type coat, since these were not introduced in the US until long after Horn was dead?

Why is Horn showed using two different Winchester models?

The questions go on, but the bottom line is that The History Channel is not what it is called.


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