March 1999


Frank Canton was born under the name of Joe Horner in 1849. He turned up as Frank Canton in Wyoming (after an early career as an outlaw) in 1880, and became a small rancher. He served two terms as sheriff. When he was voted out of office he became the head of the vigilante band put together by Wyoming's wealthy stockmen in their war against rustlers. Later, when the small homesteaders and ranchers put an end to the vigilante band, Canton became a deputy U.S. Marshal in Wyoming and then in Alaska's Klondike region.

Upon his return to the States he was employed by the Texas Cattle Raisers Association. There had been trouble for sometime between the cattlemen and the homesteaders, and when Albert Bothwell (a cattle baron) and some friends hanged Cattle Kate and her friend James Averill, alleging they were rustlers, war was declared between the two factions.

Frank Canton led the group referred to as the Regulators who embarked upon a reign of terror among the homesteaders.

On April 5, 1892, forty-six of these so-called Regulators or invaders assembled at Cheyenne. Upon their arrival at Casper, they began their "list" hunt of the homesteaders. The invaders laid siege to a cabin in which were two of the alleged suspects, Nick Ray and Nate Champion. Ray was killed early on, but Champion held off nearly fifty gunmen for a twelve hour siege before being killed himself.

Later a trial was held for Canton and his cohort Major Frank Wolcott, but with the help of some high powered lawyers, they were freed. Rumors were that anyone foolish enough to offer testimony would simply "disappear". The outcome of that trial split the state for years.

In the years following the conflict, Frank Canton was to climb higher up the social and political scales and eventually achieved an enviable reputation as a scourge of outlaws and rustlers!

Marshal E. D. Nix (under whom Canton had served as deputy U.S. Marshal in Oklahoma) said of him, "Frank Canton established a reputation as a fearless officer that gave him an honored place in the regard of Oklahoma citizens". Canton was also honored by four governors with appointments as adjutant general. He died in 1927.

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Frank Canton

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Last Modified 5-4-99