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“Troublesome”

“Troublesome.” It was a word Tom Horn himself used, first to describe the times at his birth and his early years, and later to describe Willie Nickell’s father. It was appropriate.

His father’s – and grandfather’s – troubles, of their own making, started in the 1840s in Ohio, where both Tom’s father and mother were born. Father Thomas Horn was born in Knox County in 1825, and mother Mary Ann Miller was born in Coshocton County in 1831.

Thomas Horn (author’s photo)

Thomas’ father, Hartman Horn, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1794 and was a descendant of German immigrants who had settled in that part of Pennsylvania.

Years after Thomas and Mary had secretly left Ohio for Scotland County, Missouri in 1852, a former partner of Thomas found and continued legal action against him. On November 21, 1867 John Thompson filed suit against him at the Scotland County Circuit Court for $1,650. He had entered a bill in chancery in 1851 in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas in Mt. Vernon against Horn and others, requesting settlement of a dispute that dated to a transaction in October 1849, when Horn was still living there.

Thompson’s suit alleged that Horn and he had been partners in a deal to buy cattle in Knox County and drive them to Baltimore, sell them, and split the proceeds. Hartman Horn, Elijah Patterson and Harris Thompson, John’s brother were part of the arrangement.

Thomas Horn was to buy cattle but had to borrow a thousand dollars from the Knox County Bank in Mt. Vernon in order to finance the deal. He had proposed that Thompson borrow a similar amount and that each provide a guarantor. The arrangement proceeded; Thompson’s guarantor was Harris, while Horn’s was Hartman. The idea was that Thompson’s experience in the cattle business would be of major importance, “to some extent offsetting skill capital”, but that both would give equal attention to the project. The loan, a “Bill of Exchange,” was procured at the Bank of Baltimore, Maryland. The entire cost of the cattle plus expenses of the drive to Baltimore was $1,927.93 plus a few small expenses paid in Baltimore by Horn.

Horn left the cattle with a man “by the name of Gregory,” according to the Knox County court records. Gregory was to sell the cattle, and deposit the money to an account Horn had set up in his own name at the Bank of Baltimore. The cattle were sold for $2,110.72, and Gregory deposited the amount to Horn’s account.

Horn, together with his father and Elijah Patterson, then withdrew the money, the bank having failed to encumber it. Thompson claimed that Horn next purchased a drove of hogs that Hartman and Patterson were already feeding; Thomas drove them to the East, sold them and loaned the proceeds to his father and Patterson. Apparently Thomas Horn’s plot was to shield the money from John Thompson by having Hartman and Patterson become indebted to him – a plot that implies that the three had together set it up in advance….
     

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