Myrtle Kimmell had come to Wyoming to teach school early in
1901 from Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is near the location
of Tom Horn’s birth in Scotland County in the northeastern
part of the state.
She was born on June 21, 1879 in St. Louis. Her mother, Frances “Fannie” Ascenath
Pierce Kimmell, was born in Hannibal in 1843. Frances was one of ten children
in a socially prominent family. In July 1864 she married Elijah Lloyd Kimmell,
whom she met in St. Louis where he was working for a railroad. Elijah was born
in Williams Center, Ohio in 1842 and was a Civil War veteran.
|One of Frances’ brothers, Glendolene’s
Uncle Edward Pierce, was a playmate of Samuel Clemens, better
known as Mark Twain. The Pierce family home at 321 North Fifth
Street in Hannibal was only a block from Clemens’ boyhood
Glendolene had two siblings, John Pierce Kimmell, who was born in 1865 and died
March 23, 1882. Daisy Natalie Kimmell, who was born in 1870, died June 27, 1872.
Elijah Kimmell died in 1881 in St. Louis. Glendolene, her brother and mother
moved back to the family home in Hannibal upon his death. Both of Glendolene’s
parents and siblings are buried in Hannibal.
Glendolene’s name first appears in the Hannibal city directory in 1895
and 1897-1898. (Directories were not printed every year.)
Physically small in size in adulthood, she was estimated to be only four and
one-half feet tall.
She was one of a group of young women recruited to teach in the West at the turn
of the century. On her way to Wyoming it is believed she visited an uncle, Charles
Pierce, who was working for a railroad and living in Jamestown, North Dakota.
She arrived in Wyoming early in 1901.
Tom Horn’s comments in his so-called confession that Glendolene was of
mixed blood, possibly having a Hawaiian or Polynesian ancestry, were stimulated
by alcohol and his imagination. He added that she “spoke most every language
on earth.” She denied the ancestry and language comments and said, in the
affidavit she filed as part of the appeals to the acting governor to commute
Horn’s death sentence, that if she spoke many languages that she would
not have been teaching school in Iron Mountain, Wyoming.
She authored a lengthy document in Denver in April 1904 that was printed in the
appendix to Tom Horn’s autobiography. In it she said that part of her reasoning
for coming to the West and to teach at the Miller-Nickell school was that she
had “been most strongly attracted by the frontier type. I was happy in
the belief that I would meet with the embodiment of that type… [but] I
was doomed to disappointment, for all the cattle men and cow boys I saw were
like the hired hands ‘back East.’”
In contrast, her description of Horn is different: “…there stopped
at the Miller ranch a man who embodied the characteristics, the experiences of
the old frontiersman.”
Kimmell had been warned against going to the Miller-Nickell school
because of the feud between the two families. However, she entered
into an agreement to teach at the school and to board at Miller’s
ranch with her eyes wide open. She stated in the inquest into Willie
Nickell’s death that she felt the experience would give her
a better understanding of human nature.
Tom Horn and the teacher, from a painting, “Iron
Mountain Morning,” by L.D. Edgar, Western Heritage Studio.
The print is available from www.westernheritagestudio.com
Her testimony in the coroner’s inquest further reflect feelings of disdain
toward the homesteaders. Under questioning by the district attorney, Walter R.
Stoll, she confirmed the events of July 15-August 4, and provided her own reasons
why Kels Nickell and Jim Miller were inevitably bound to clash.
The first part of her testimony in response to questions by the prosecutor covered
the happenings at Miller's ranch when they learned of Kels being shot on Sunday,
Walter R. Stoll, district attorney and
later Tom Horn’s prosecutor (author’s photo)
|KIMMELL. Well, Sunday morning I didn’t
leave my room until twenty minutes past nine. The occasion for my leaving
then was that Gus Miller came into the front room just next to mine and
announced to his father that Nickell had been shot....
STOLL. Up to that time, that is when you went into the room, upon hearing
what Gus had said, you hadn’t seen any of the Miller family that
KIMMELL. Yes, I had seen Victor.
STOLL. Where and when had you seen him?
KIMMELL. I looked out of the window of my room about half past eight and
STOLL. Had you seen any other members of the family?
KIMMELL. I saw some of the little children playing about but none of the
STOLL. Do you know anything about any of the older members being about
the house previous to this time?
KIMMELL. I woke up the first time at five o’clock; everything in
the house was still.... At seven o’clock I heard Mr. Miller in the
front room just off of mine....
STOLL. How do you know it was Mr. Miller?
KIMMELL. He was passing back and forth, and singing....
STOLL. How do you know whether Mr. Miller and Mrs. Miller occupied the
same room the night before?
KIMMELL. I don’t know about that night.
STOLL. Is it their general habit to occupy separate rooms?
KIMMELL. Mr. Miller has a room by himself and Mrs. Miller has a room with
of the children….