another man was to be executed in Brown’s Hole in 1900.
Isam Dart was born in Texas 1855 and had arrived in Colorado
in the 1870s or early 1880s. By one account, he first bore the
name Ned Huddleston, who may have been the slave owner who owned
Huddleston/Dart’s parents. He supposedly had lost an ear
in a knife fight with an Indian with whose wife Dart had become
Dart rode with the Tip Gault gang, according to the same source,
while it was attempting to escape with stolen horses belonging
to Margaret Anderson’s outfit south of Saratoga, Wyoming
in 1875. In that episode, a previous Carbon County sheriff owned
a ranch through which the horse thieves were pushing the herd.
An evening shootout occurred, leaving all the thieves except
Dart dead around a campfire. Dart spent an uneasy night next
to the unburied body of one of the luckless thieves, and then
stole money belts and whatever other loot he could gather up
before he escaped on foot. He was wounded by a rancher when he
attempted to steal a horse, and was found by an accomplice on
Isam Dart (Museum of Northwest Colorado, Craig, CO)
|It is known that he was an accomplished
horse breaker and all-around top cowhand, and superb at cutting
out and roping cattle.
Dart ran for election as constable in Sweetwater County, Wyoming
in 1884. The position was to be in Coyote Creek Precinct, forty-five
miles southwest of Rock Springs and a few miles north of Irish
Canyon, an eastern access to Brown’s Hole. Dart won the
election, with eight votes.
Dart was not without sin. Three indictments for branding neat
cattle in Sweetwater County were brought against him by the Territory
of Wyoming in 1889, but were discharged.
Dart was acquainted with one of the robbers of the Union Pacific
train at Wilcox that took place north of Rock River, Wyoming
on June 2, 1899.
Dart’s involvement was described in a letter from Rock
Springs to U. S. Marshal Frank Hadsell dated August 12, 1899.
Little did Dart know that Tom Horn would investigate the robbery,
and that Horn’s scrutiny of Brown’s Hole a year later
would lead to his own death.
After the Wilcox heist, D. G. Thomas, the county and prosecuting
attorney for Wyoming’s Sweetwater County, wrote Hadsell
that Angust McDougal had arrived in town from roundups south
of Rock Springs and Powder Springs. He said that McDougal met
a man “faged [sic] and worn out by hard riding, having
six horses well shod, and one of the [sic them] packed.” Thomas
continued that Isam Dart was accompanying McDougal and had known
the man for many years. McDougal, too, knew the man.
The man, however, apparently Dart knew better than he did McDougal
and therefore felt he could confide in him. He asked Dart what
he knew about “the condition” of the country. Dart
replied that everyone knew the area was in an uproar over the
recent robbery of the Union Pacific. The man told Dart that at
the time of the robbery he was in British Columbia.
Dart persisted in talking about the robbery. The man, inquiring
about McDougal, and on being told who he was, said, “don’t
tell, for God’s sake don’t tell any one you saw me.” As
Dart pursued the matter of the holdup the man “virtually
admitted that he was one of the parties, as he remarked, ‘I
had a hell of a time keeping away from the hounds… Dart,
you must not give me away.’
“This man’s name was Joe Curry, Joe Southerner, alias Tom
McCarty, who used to work with Joe Hazen on the range.”
D. G. Thomas continued in his letter that McDougal would be interested
in apprehending the man as long as he was in the company of a
deputy sheriff and was paid for his work. He added that Hadsell
could actually meet the man in Thomas’ office or should
send a “discreet” man to do so, and that Hadsell
should keep the matter a “professional secret.”
He concluded by saying that Tom O’Day (of the botched 1897
Belle Fourche, South Dakota bank robbery) along with Charles
Stevens (a.k.a. White River Charley) and John Jinks (alias John
Ray) “are in this neck of the woods.”
It is not known but apparently Hadsell did not follow up on this
golden opportunity, or the man may have disappeared. He may well
have been George Curry, whom a number of authorities believe
was one of the robbers and whom the Union Pacific wanted to apprehend.
Curry ended up being killed in a shootout with a posse in Utah.
A fateful development for Isam Dart occurred two months after
Matt Rash’s murder. Boldly dropping his alias, on September
26, 1900, Tom Horn signed his own name to a complaint naming
Dart as a horse thief.
Dart suspected that trouble was ahead for him after Matt Rash’s murder.
He holed up in a cabin with six other individuals, including Sam and George Bassett,
Louis Brown, Billy Rash, Larry Curtin and Elijah B. “Longhorn” Thompson,
on his ranch on remote Cold Spring Mountain in Brown’s Hole. The whole
bunch had been friendly with Matt Rash, and figured their names were on the list
of those to be exterminated. Some may have been right.
On the morning of October 4, 1900, Dart died of a single gunshot wound as he
and the others filed out from the cabin toward a corral. In the cold and windy
dawn, none sighted the killer. They bolted for the cabin where they barricaded
themselves until nightfall. The next day they found two thirty-thirty caliber
shells at the base of the tree that had hidden the assassin. Tom Horn was known
to pack a thirty-thirty Winchester.
Tom Horn (WY State Archives)
Read the rest of what happened to
Isam Dart in
Tom Horn: Blood on the Moon