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By Bartee Haile

After the wild young outlaw’s battle royal with buffalo soldiers on Oct. 10, 1874, Joe Horner sure seemed headed for an early grave. No one could have possibly imagined that half a century later he would be the guest of honor at a state funeral in Oklahoma! Hoping to put the post-Civil War strife behind them, the Horners left Missouri in the fall of 1866. Their first North Texas stop was in Denton County, but they later turned their collective attention to ranching on the fringe of the frontier not far from Jacksboro. By the spring of 1874, Josiah “Joe” Horner was punching people instead of cattle. The 27 year old hell raiser beat a man to a bloody pulp in one of Jacksboro’s two dozen saloons, a savage and senseless crime that resulted in an indictment for felony assault.

When hot-headed Horner rode into town on that fateful Saturday in October, the grand jury had added two counts of cattle rustling to the list of his alleged offenses. He made a beeline for the nearest watering hole but got into an argument with two black soldiers before the bartender even poured his whiskey.


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